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One Last Journey
Summary: Legolas and Gimli set out on a journey, their last and most important. There is mention of character deaths. Second place in the Teitho contest 'Journeys'.
Legolas Thranduilion looked down at his friend. "Well? What do you think?"
Gimli son of Glóin did not look up. "I think we should have gone to the Grey Havens."
Legolas sighed. "You know why we did not. Círdan is too far away. You would never have survived the journey."
Gimli made a noise of disbelief deep in his throat, but he knew the Elf was correct. His old bones creaked as he shifted his weight, leaning more heavily upon his cane. "Well, if you think I’m getting into that rickety looking tub of yours, you’re sadly mistaken, Master Elf."
Legolas gave the Dwarf an exasperated look. "It is not rickety and it is not a tub."
"It’s rather small," Gimli pointed out, refusing to give up his complaining. "It can’t possibly hold more than one person."
"It is large enough," Legolas retorted. "It will carry us both where we wish to go."
"Well, how do I know it’s safe?" Gimli demanded. "How do I know it won’t sink five minutes after we leave the cove? Hmm?"
"Because I built it," Legolas replied levelly. "I have spent the last six months building it, and the last five decades learning how from the people of Dol Amroth and the shipwrights at Pelargir."
Gimli cast his friend a teasing look. "Fifty years, is it? I always knew you were a slow learner."
Instead of retorting as Gimli expected, Legolas squatted on his heals so that he was at eye-level with the Dwarf, his expression (and Gimli had had ample time to learn all of them) one of concern. "What is it, my friend? Why are you so reluctant? We spoke of this. You agreed with me."
"Aye," Gimli said gruffly, nodding and stroking his now white beard. "Aye, I did." Then he paused, and looked about him. They were alone, the two friends. The small cove that had been Legolas’ home these last six months was south of Emyn Arnen, just north of the confluence of the Erui with Anduin. There was a shack that had served as his residence, though Legolas rarely bothered to sleep there, preferring the nearby trees. The wharf was a slapdash affair, serving only a single purpose: to hold the small sailing vessel that was tied to it. All around in the gathering gloom on this last day of Yavannië were the detritus of Legolas’ labor: hammers and saws and wood shavings, the frame on which he had built the ship. Gimli had not been there for most of it, having returned to Aglarond to settle his affairs, then arranging for supplies for their journey when he returned to Minas Anor. Arwen had already departed and Eldarion was still getting used to the burden of the winged crown that now graced his brow. Gimli had been glad to leave the White City, still in mourning for their beloved Elessar. He had reached the cove only the day before and now it was Cormarë, as the day was called, and he and Legolas would celebrate it one last time on the shores of Middle-earth.
"What is it, Gimli?" Legolas asked again.
Gimli gave the Elf a grimace. "I... I’m not sure I can do this, Legolas," he said softly, hating to sound like a puling babe.
Legolas nodded. "You are afraid...."
Gimli glared at his friend. "Afraid!" he roared. "I fear nothing! Why you pointy-eared little..."
Legolas held up a hand. "Sîdh, mellon nîn. That is not what I meant."
"What did you mean, then?" Gimli demanded gruffly.
Legolas sighed. "I only meant that you have doubts that you will truly be allowed to come to Valinor. You question your right to do so."
"I am a Dwarf," Gimli said. "What am I going to do surrounded by plaguey Elves?"
Legolas smiled somewhat wickedly. "You will happily insult each and every one of them and damn the consequences," he answered.
"Not all of them," Gimli retorted softly, not looking at the Elf-prince.
Legolas’s smile became more sympathetic. "No. Not all." He stood up and looked gravely upon the Dwarf, his friend these last hundred and twenty-odd years. There was no one else left of the original Fellowship. They were the last. Aragorn had returned the Gift of Life to Eru six months earlier and Arwen....
He shook his head, as if to clear it of certain images. He had grieved at the deaths of each of his Mortal friends: Merry and Pippin, Éomer and Éowyn and Faramir, and finally Aragorn. All dead. All gone where he could never follow. All save one: Gimli. He looked at the Dwarf, his expression becoming fond. Dear old Gimli. Stubborn to the end, but as staunch a friend as anyone could hope for. He felt himself blessed beyond the lot of Elves or Mortals for having known the Dwarf. He knew his friend had little time left. At two hundred and sixty-two years of age, Gimli wasn’t the oldest Dwarf to ever live, but his time was nearing.
"I promise you, Gimli, you have naught to fear," he said gently. "The Valar will not gainsay you. Lady Galadriel is waiting for you. You do not want to disappoint her, do you?"
Gimli gave the Elf a quizzical look. "How can you know that I will be allowed to take the Straight Road with you?"
"I know," Legolas replied with all the self-assurance of an Elven Prince. "I would not have us separated on this final journey, my friend."
"We’ll be separated for good once I’m dead," Gimli snorted, and then instantly regretted his words when he saw the pain in Legolas’ eyes. He had been appalled at the sight of his friend when he had arrived the day before. Legolas had lost weight and his eyes had a haunted look to them. The Dwarf knew without being told that Legolas was finally succumbing to the Sea-longing that he had managed to hold off all these years while Aragorn lived. Now that the Dúnadan was gone, Legolas had no more reason to stay in Middle-earth. Gimli was the only one of his friends left.
"I might not make it anyway," Gimli said in apology. "Perhaps I should just stay here where I belong."
Legolas gave him a considering look, tilting his head to the left. Gimli found he could not look the Elf in the eye. "Do you truly wish to die here, Gimli? Alone?"
"I’ll have my kin...."
"Kin!" Legolas spat, showing anger for the first time. "What about me? I cannot stay here, Gimli. Even now it is all I can do to stop myself from jumping into that boat and sailing this very minute. Yet, I would not desert you in your final days."
"I’m not dying yet, laddie," Gimli retorted with an amused snort. "I may be old, but I still have many more years left in me."
"Years that I cannot give you," Legolas said sadly. "Not any more. Yet, if you come with me, then it may be that so near to the Blessed Realm we might have even more years together. And... and if you die along the way, I will at least be there to farewell you." He gave the Dwarf a wistful look. "Please, Gimli," he pleaded. "Let us take this last journey, the only journey you and I can ever take together while you yet live."
For a long moment Gimli said nothing, merely standing there staring at the grey sailing vessel bobbing in the waters of the cove. Then, he nodded, turning to Legolas. "If... if I don’t make it, will you see that...?"
"I will," Legolas promised, knowing to what the Dwarf was referring. "I will see that the Lady Galadriel receives your gift."
"Then, let us be off," Gimli said, suddenly no longer indecisive. "Let us take this one last adventure together."
Legolas’ smile was brilliant and it was as if the Sun herself had suddenly risen. He held out a hand. "Come, then, Gimli."
"What are you naming her?" Gimli asked, ignoring Legolas’s hand.
Legolas lowered his hand and gave him a slow smile. "I thought I would leave that to you," he said.
"My one and only contribution to this enterprise," Gimli snorted.
"Not true!" Legolas retorted with all seriousness. "You brought all our supplies. I’ve not had the time to gather any. So, what name do you suggest?"
Gimli thought about it for a moment or two. "Well, if it’s a name we’re looking for... what about... ‘Legolas’ Folly’?" He gave his dearest friend a sly smile.
Legolas looked at him in exasperation and huffed. "I assure you, this vessel is as seaworthy as anything Círdan has ever built."
"Hmph. That remains to be seen," Gimli muttered, pretending to be unconvinced. Then he gave Legolas a shrewd look. "So, what name did you give her? You’re the one who built her. By what name did you call her as you were crafting her?"
"What makes you think...?"
"I know you, Legolas," Gimli said. "I know you well enough to know that you probably sang to the plaguey thing while you were putting the planks together."
Legolas reddened slightly, giving Gimli an embarrassed smile. "Actually...."
"Yes?" Gimli enquired, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"Elwing," Legolas muttered, not looking at the Dwarf. "I called her ‘Lady Elwing’."
For a moment Gimli did not respond, then he nodded. "A good name." He then turned to the vessel and gave it a profound bow. "Gimli son of Glóin at your service, Lady Elwing."
Legolas cast him an amused look. "I’m sure she appreciates the courtesy. Shall we go, mellon nîn?" He held out his hand again and this time Gimli took it, allowing the Elf to help him aboard and settle him by the rudder, before Legolas went about securing the last of their supplies. Finally, he loosed the ropes, giving the boat a small push before lightly jumping in and unfurling the sails, which immediately fluffed in the breeze and they were away.
"iLend vedui," Legolas whispered as he watched the sails billow in the breeze while Gimli steered the boat into the river’s current.
"What was that?" Gimli called out.
"Nothing," Legolas said without turning around, keeping his eyes to the fore. "We’re on our way at last, Gimli!" And there was a note of excitement in his voice, a rising anticipation that had not been there before.
Gimli laughed. "Yes, we are! The last adventure!"
As the Lady Elwing swept down the Anduin towards the Sea, neither Elf nor Dwarf ever looked back, and only the stars witnessed their going.
‘Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down the Anduin and so over Sea; and with him, it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed an end was come in Middle-earth of the Fellowship of the Ring.’ — Appendix B, Tale of Years.
Words are Sindarin unless otherwise noted.
Cormarë: (Quenya) Ringday, 30 Yavannië (22 September). See Appendix D.
Sîdh, mellon nîn:‘Peace, my friend’.
iLend vedui: ‘The last journey’.
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