Chapter 6. New Arrivals
“Legolas, wake up!”
Upon hearing the excitement in Elisiel’s voice and feeling the gentle hand shaking his shoulder, Legolas slowly refocussed his eyes from his inner dreams and gazed questioningly at his Nana’s radiant face.
“What has happened?” he asked as he sat up slowly, grimacing slightly as he noticed that the pale light of dawn still lingered.
“There is a ship on the horizon!” Legolas awoke fully at the import of this news, for not since he and Gimli arrived had another sailed from Middle-earth.
“Adar is coming!” he declared happily as he searched his heart and found that the melody that was his bond with Thranduil was no longer merely a faint sweet sound in the background, but growing louder and stronger.
“Ai, Thranduil is coming home,” whispered Elisiel as she hugged Legolas close and mother and son shared their tears of joy.
“I must tell Gimli,” said Legolas as he threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. A sudden alarming thought crossed his mind. “I wonder what Adar will think of living under the same roof as a Dwarf?” he asked Elisiel who offered a reassuring smile as she made her way to the door to allow her son his privacy as he dressed..
“I am certain he will learn to accept dear Gimli in time, but I suspect your Adar’s thoughts will be elsewhere when he arrives,” she said with a gleam of desire in her eyes that caused Legolas to blush at the implication of her words.
“Ai, he will only have eyes for you, my sweet Nana,” he agreed with a smile as he kissed Elisiel’s cheek.
Gimli received the news with mixed feelings. He was happy that the day Elisiel had been waiting eagerly for had finally arrived, but he was filled with trepidation as to how he and Thranduil would greet each other. As far as the Dwarf was concerned, he was prepared to make every effort to befriend the elder Elf, if for no other reason than to please Legolas and Elisiel. He hoped the once King of Mirkwood would feel just as mellow.
The white sails of the ship could only be seen drawing ever closer as Legolas, Gimli and Elisiel made their way to the harbour. Not surprisingly, they were not the only ones awaiting the ship, for there were many curious onlookers as well. Among them, were Elrond and Celebrían who had also just arrived, both almost glowing with happiness and anticipation.
“It appears that Thranduil is not the only one expected this day,” said Elisiel as she rushed to greet her friends. The two women exchanged a friendly embrace and much laughter ensued as their merriment was fuelled by the prospect of being reunited with their loved ones.
“It seems we will also be graced with the company of Elladan and Elrohir, if the light in your eyes is any indication, my lady,” commented Legolas as he inclined his head slightly in greeting.
“Indeed, and not only are my sons coming home, but so too is Adar,” she exclaimed with delight. “Oh, Elrond what am I to do?” she asked, turning to her husband with a hint of dismay in her voice.
“Do about what?” Elrond raised his eyebrow in confusion.
“I can not decide which of my sons I should kiss first,” she replied.
“Elladan.” Legolas answered for him and Elrond nodded his agreement. Celebrían’s departure had weighed heavily on the hearts of all who loved her, yet Elladan had tried to ignore his grief in a desire to be strong and offer comfort to his younger brother. Such an act of love was worthy of one in return.
“Decide on the way to the dock my friend,” suggested Elisiel. “Look! Galadriel is already there, and the ship has passed through the entrance, we should hurry!” As the group quickly moved off to be closer to where the ship would come to rest, Gimli caught Legolas’s attention with a quick tug on his sleeve.
“I think I will go to the clearing and ensure the preparations for the welcoming celebrations are in order,” he told his friend.
“As I have tried to tell you before, you have nothing to be concerned about Adar’s arrival. It does not mean you are no longer welcome in our home, but you will have to speak with him sooner or later” replied Legolas, easily discerning a reluctance to do so was the real motivation for his friend’s departure.
“Aye, and so I shall but it may be that our conversation would become a little heated and I do not wish to spoil your mother’s reunion with any words of ill feeling or anger between your father and me,” explained the Dwarf.
“You have such a compassionate heart and loving spirit, dear Gimli, ‘tis no wonder that you have become so well loved amongst my people, which is something totally unheard of for a Dwarf, especially since many of your stone carving friends are from Mirkwood,” said Legolas as he looked back to see the ship had finally come to rest and heads of gold, silver and black could be seen setting the gangplank in position.
“It would seem so, although I sometimes find myself wondering if some are not simply befriending me to try and win your favour and perhaps convince you to court one of their sisters,” teased Gimli with great affection.
“Not that you would even entertain such unlooked for solicitations on my behalf,” said Legolas, eyeing his friend warily.
“Of course not! So far I have refused them all!” Gimli snorted with exaggerated affront.
“Why have you never said anything to me about this before?” asked the Elf with a frown.
“As I tell the kin of your would be suitors, such is for your heart alone to decide. Were you interested in any of the maidens, you would have made your intentions known,” Gimli replied with a shrug. Legolas was not comfortable with the notion of his friend being used in such a manner and said so.
“I see no harm in seeking to find a match for a loved one, and I take no offence from those who do. Anyway, the arrival of Elrond’s sons, who we both know are as equally sought after as a certain Wood Elf, will undoubtedly take some of the unwanted attention away from both you and me,” chuckled the Dwarf.
“One can only hope,” replied Legolas, joining in his friend’s laughter.
“I believe it has already started,” said Gimli as he pointed to where Elladan and Elrohir were standing with their arms wrapped tightly around Celebrían. Several of the maidens nearby were openly gazing at the handsome sons of Elrond with more than a passing interest. Legolas smiled as he imagined his friend’s likely reactions to such attention, should Celebrían ever let them escape from her arms, and then turned to witness the sight he had waited so long to behold.
Thranduil all but ran down the gangplank and caught Elisiel in his arms, twirling her around before setting her on her feet and claiming her lips in a kiss so passionate that a few eyebrows were raised at their lack of propriety. Legolas sighed with contentment to see his parents together once more.
“Well, there is no mistaking how much the King of Mirkwood loves his Queen,” commented Gimli, obviously impressed by Thranduil’s ardour.
“The same can be said of the Lord of Lothlorien and his Lady,” said Legolas as Celeborn greeted Galadriel in much the same manner.
“Well what are you waiting for, laddie? Go and say hello to your father, I will speak to you later,” said Gimli as he gave Legolas a friendly shove in the back to head him towards the dock. The Dwarf watched the emotional reunion of the Elf and his parents, and then wandered slowly towards the clearing, suddenly feeling very much alone.
“Why so sad, Gimli?” asked Olórin who seemed to appear from out of nowhere startling the Dwarf.
“Gandalf! You have certainly not lost your skill at catching people unawares,” said Gimli with a smile to soften the gruffness in his voice. “What brings you here? Our paths have not crossed for years.”
“These feasts to welcome new arrivals are always most delightful, and I have a mind to sit and share some Longbottom Leaf with the only other being who appreciates it,” said the Istar with a wink.
“An excellent idea,” agreed the Dwarf as they chose to sit in a spot near the edge of the clearing where their smoking would not bother the sensitive noses of the Elves.
“Legolas looks happy,” commented Olórin as the Elf entered the clearing with his arms around each of the waists of his Nana and Adar.
“Aye, that he does, and little wonder. His family is together again,” replied the Dwarf.
“Should you not go and pay your respects to Thranduil?”
“As I told Legolas, I do not wish to become involved in a confrontation that could darken Elisiel’s happy reunion,” Gimli explained.
“So you sit here alone feeling sorry for yourself. It may be that you would find a friendly greeting awaits you. It has been many years since the war, and the very fact that Thranduil is here means that he must have changed slightly since you last met.”
“Or Elladan and Elrohir simply threatened to give him a sleeping draught and put him on the ship if he did not sail,” suggested Gimli with a wicked gleam in his eye. Olórin laughed merrily and nodded knowingly.
“I believe they made that threat to Celeborn,” he said without explaining how he knew and Gimli did not ask. “Anyway, whatever the reason, he is here now and I think you might be pleasantly surprised at his response.”
“Very well, I will do as you suggest since it is unlikely you will give me any peace until I do,” grumbled Gimli. He put out his pipe, stood and straightened his tunic and walked confidently over to where Legolas and his parents were now seated. He cleared his throat noisily to attract their attention and was rewarded with encouraging and affectionate smiles from both Elisiel and Legolas.
“Welcome King Thranduil. I am pleased to see you safely arrived in Valinor. I trust your voyage was enjoyable,” he said with a respectful bow. The once Woodland King stood and returned the bow and then to the astonishment of all, favoured the Dwarf with a brilliant smile.
“Thank you for your words of welcome, Gimli son of Glóin, but you need not address me as King, for I no longer near that title. Please call me Thranduil,” he replied. “As for having an enjoyable voyage, it was not. My stomach protested to the movement of the sea in a most disagreeable manner,” Thranduil admitted.
“Gimli was sea sick, too Adar,” said Legolas with unseemly mirth at Thranduil’s and Gimli’s mutual plight.
“And I had to endure the presence of my annoyingly cheerful companion,” added Gimli. Thranduil actually laughed out loud at the friendly insult aimed at his son.
“You have my sympathy. Fortunately for my sanity, Celeborn kept his grandsons’ exuberance more or less under control.”
“If I may be so bold, your attitude towards me seems a little more friendly these days, and your mood quite jovial,” said Gimli who was feeling more confused as the light hearted conversation continued.
“There is little point in holding a grudge that belongs to the world we left behind, we are both here to start a new life. I can not help but respect you for the sacrifice you have made out of love and friendship for my son. To be willing to follow him over the sea to a land filled with less than friendly strangers speaks of your courage and the strength of your bond. You are most welcome to remain in my home, and hopefully we can also become friends.” Gimli was overwhelmed by Thranduil’s words, and even more so by the hand that grasped his in a warrior’s clasp.
“I thank you for your words and gratefully accept your offer of continued hospitality. I am also prepared to forget the animosity of the past,” said Gimli as he returned the grip in kind and winked Legolas whose eyes shone brilliantly with happiness now that his Adar and his dearest friend were at last on friendly terms.
“Excellent, and now if you will excuse me, I believe I hear dance music. Come, beloved shall we scandalise the Noldor with a display of Woodland affection on the dance floor?” he asked Elisiel in a seductive voice, causing her to blush prettily as she took her husband’s hand and lead him eagerly to join in the dance.
“Well that went better than expected, although I suppose the next time I see Gandalf he will be gloating insufferably,” said Gimli with a sigh of resignation as they watched Elisiel and Thranduil move as one in time to the unheard music of their hearts.