Chapter 5. The Gift
The following day Olórin escorted the two friends to Elrond’s home and then left them seated in the library, listening as the Lore Master reaffirmed that he greatly desired to record a detailed history of the aftermath of the Ring War, and to do that he would need Legolas’s assistance, which the Elf was more than willing to provide.
“I must warn you Legolas, that writing such an account will be a long process, especially when the author was as attentive to detail as I am,” he said seriously. Legolas and Gimli exchanged an amused glance at the elder elf’s quite accurate, as far as they were concerned, perception of himself. “I expect at times it will be emotionally draining to be asked to recall memories of the deeds of so many of friends no longer living and I do not wish to cause you grief. If you find you can not continue at any point, I will not press you to do so,” he said to the younger Elf.
“I want to do this, painful though it may be but I thank you for your concern,” replied Legolas with a sad smile.
“Perhaps we should begin with the rebuilding of the White City,” suggested Elrond, choosing a topic that was not of such a personal nature.
“An excellent place to start,” agreed Gimli who was ever willing to speak of his kin’s achievements. “Those mithril gates were a masterpiece when finished but the work was made difficult by the destruction caused by the siege… ” he began, speaking more slowly as he realised Elrond was taking notes. Several hours and much detailed description later, Gimli’s account was complete and they joined Elrond and Celebrían for the evening meal before returning to Elisiel’s home.
Elrond and Legolas had decided to allow several days between their meetings so that the Lore Master could prepare a rough outline of their talks for the younger Elf to comment on when he returned. Legolas found he looked forward to his time with Elrond, not only because he was interested in what they were doing, but also because the once fearsome warrior occasionally told tales of his and Thranduil’s younger days.
However, whilst Gimli was content to satisfy Elrond’s curiosity about Aglarond and the rebuilding of Minas Tirith, he quickly lost interest when the conversation turned to the antics of young elvish warriors or the political aspects of the Fourth Age. So it was that the Elves had become accustomed to the Dwarf excusing himself almost on arrival, knowing that Gimli was pleased to simply wander out into the extensive gardens where there was many a quiet place to sit and enjoy his pipe.
On this particular day he chose a grassy area that formed the bank of a shallow stream that flowed through the trees near the edge of the gardens, and as he watched the clear water trickling over a small rocky ledge, his thoughts turned to how he was to spend his days. Gimli did not begrudge his friends their mutual interest and was the first to admit that he was not as scholarly or as interested in the written word as was Elrond. He preferred to preserve history carved in stone, yet he also needed something to do to pass the time. His face lit with a brilliant smile as the solution to his dilemma crossed his mind.
After examining his surroundings more closely, Gimli’s well trained eyes soon spotted a rock formation that met his requirements and he began making plans. Although the task would likely take many years to accomplish, the Dwarf was certain both Elrond and Celebrían would appreciate the gift. Pleased to have a sense of purpose, he returned to the library and made a few sketches of the miniature of Imladris he planned to carve into the rock.
“What a lovely idea, Gimli,” exclaimed Celebrían that night at the evening meal when he explained what he proposed to do.
“Of course you have permission to begin whenever you are ready,” added Elrond, equally pleased with the Dwarf’s plan.
“Gimli is not only an expert stone carver, but he is an artist as well,” commented Elrond the next time they met as he studied the drawing Gimli had done of the structure he planned to carve into the stone.
“Ai, the fountain he built for Arwen’s garden was admired by many as a masterpiece of sculpture,” said Legolas, ever willing to praise his dear friend’s skills.
“I think we should ask him if he would be wiling to provide some sketches for the book,” suggested Elrond as he and Legolas sat at the small table on the balcony outside the library, enjoying a goblet of wine and a break from their work. They had been discussing Aragorn’s final years as King, and both were feeling their grief.
“Did my sons attend the funeral?” asked Celebrían, who often sat and listened as Legolas answered Elrond’s endless questions in as much detail as he could.
“Ai, they did. They visited me in Ithilien on their way back to Imladris.”
“You did not go to Minas Tirith?” she asked with some surprise.
“Nay. We said a private farewell a few days before,” he whispered as he bowed his head with renewed sorrow.
“How could you not…?” began Celebrían, stilling her voice as she saw Elrond shake his head.
“Enough questions, my love,” he said as he placed a comforting arm about the shoulders of the grief stricken young Elf.
The work on his gift was proceeding much too slowly for Gimli’s liking, since he only tended to it when he accompanied Legolas on his visits to Elrond. One day he inadvertently mentioned his frustration to Celebrían with whom he had developed unexpected friendship ever since she had begun bringing refreshments at mid day and then remaining to keep the Dwarf company as they shared the meal. Gimli found Celebrían to both charming and extremely helpful when it came to recalling some of the smaller details of her home and she often remained with him until Legolas was ready to leave.
“Then you might consider staying with us for a while, should you wish to spend more time on your carving,” suggested Celebrían. Gimli was taken aback by the offer and briefly considered it.
“It would be most convenient not to have to stop in the midst of a delicate task,” he said thoughtfully although he was reluctant to leave his family as he considered Legolas and his mother to be. “Perhaps I will stay a few days every now and then,” he replied finally deciding such an arrangement would be highly suitable. To his relief, both Legolas and Elisiel thought it a good idea also.
“Of course, I expect you to make me a similar gift when you are finished rebuilding Imladris,” teased Elisiel. “If I can not have Thranduil, I can at least have a replica of his palace.”
“As you wish, my lady,” agreed Gimli.
As the miniature Imladris began to take shape. Elrond’s wife was not the only Elf to take an interest in the Dwarf’s handiwork. Those who had taken to stonework as a craft came to watch Gimli work, and to learn the techniques that were legendary even among the Firstborn. Naturally Gimli was eager to show his talents and he soon found himself with several keen and talented students. To the astonishment of both Elf and Dwarf, the initial rivalry between their two races quickly vanished and neither saw each other as anything other than simply as beings with a common interest.
Such detail was carved into every part of the replica that well over a three years, no time at all for the Eves, but seemingly endless to Gimli, had passed before the work was completed. In gratitude for the gift, Elrond and Celebrían invited all the artisans and many of their friends to celebrate its unveiling. To the delight of all, Olórin made an appearance and added the final magical touch… the welcoming lights of the Last Homely House shone once more.
.“Thank you, Gimli, it is absolutely beautiful and the workmanship is perfect,” Celebrían said to the Dwarf, who blushed as she bent to kiss his cheek.
“You are most welcome, my lady;” replied the Gimli with a bow.
“Do you plan to make any more such replicas?”
“Aye. I think Elisiel desires a carving of Thranduil’s Halls,” he said with an affectionate smile for another of the elvish ladies with whom he had become friends. “Please excuse me, I believe my students beckon for my attention,” said the Dwarf as he noticed one of his friends waving to him.
“It is just as I remember it,” Celebrían sighed as she rested her head on Elrond’s shoulder and gazed at her former home that held so many happy memories.
“Ai, and let us hope that the lights call our sons home to us as they always did,” he whispered as he turned a pleading gaze to where Eärendil watched from above. “Tell them we miss them, Adar.”