Birthday Celebrations

By Nieriel Raina


Chapter 1

Ridiculous Deliberations


March 1

Year 6, Fourth Age


The sound of music and laughter overflowed from the large ornate doors leading to the main hall of the Citadel, where festive banners lined the walls. Appetizing cuisine of every imagining filled tables, while kegs of ale and bottles of fine wine flowed freely. Ladies in sparkling gowns twirled like gemstones on the dance floor as noble men in dashing attire swung them about the room to the lively tunes. It was a magnificent party, a celebration fit for a king! And well it should be, for today was the first of March, and all of Minas Tirith was celebrating King Elessar’s birthday.


Standing off to the side of the room, about half way between the tables laden with delectable foods and the tables holding the ale and wine, two different sort of folk stood side by side, watching the festivities. The taller of the two cocked his head slightly to the side and a puzzled look settling over his features. He looked down at his shorter, burlier companion who was guzzling ale from a large mug.


“I fail to understand the significance of this celebration, Gimli,” he declared as he sipped his own wine, his eyes warily drifting over the group of unattended ladies across the way that seemed to be hovering ever nearer to his companion and himself.


The dwarf lowered his mug and blinked, looking up in surprise at the golden-haired elf. “It is common among our kinds to celebrate the day we entered the world. Is it not thus with the elves, Legolas?”


“Nay,” the elf replied almost casually, somewhat distracted by his thoughts on birthday celebrations and unwed ladies who resembled vultures waiting for a beast to take its last breath. “The day of one’s birth is not significant to us for it is not the beginning of our lives. Life begins with its creation, not the advent of birth.”


This statement seemed to pause Gimli a moment. “Yes, well it is not as if one can be exactly sure WHEN such an occurrence takes place. A birthday is a sure date, rather than a simple guess,” he stated with a smart incline of his head to emphasize his words.


Legolas, in the midst of swallowing another mouthful of wine, choked. Coughing, he looked at his companion in shock, his bright grey eyes wide he contemplated what the dwarf had just said. “A guess? Why must you guess as to the day of your begetting?” he asked incredulous.


The dwarf stared at the elf for a moment as if his pointed ears had suddenly sprouted wings. “Legolas, surely you do not need me to explain such things to you? I am aware that you are unmarried, but surely your father informed you how such things occur?”


The elf narrowed his eyes and glared at his friend. “I am quite aware how life begins, Master Dwarf! But I must wonder if you share such awareness as to be unsure of such an important date as one’s begetting day!”


“Why you pointy-eared…” Gimli completed his thought with a colorful insult, capturing the attention of several guests nearby.


In a matter of minutes, the two friends’ voices had raised greatly, their ‘debate’ over the matter drawing a small crowd, and the attention of the guest of honor. The king strode towards his loudly arguing friends, shaking his head slightly in irritation. What now? He wondered.


“My friends!” Aragorn cut in, not waiting for the elf and dwarf to pause for breath. “Is there some reason you must disrupt my birthday celebrations with such language? Surely whatever disagreement you have can be settled later, without so many…witnesses.”


“Nay, Aragorn!” Gimli protested. “This matter is ABOUT such celebrations!” The dwarf turned his dark eyes on the king. “This elf seems to think that one should not celebrate the day of their birth, but rather the day of their begetting! As if it is possible to know such things! BAH! Utter nonsense!”


“Gimli…” Aragorn tried to explain, but his voice was drowned out by an incensed elven prince.


“NONSENSE?! How difficult is it to know when you have created a new life? Such things are not difficult to know, Gimli!” Legolas fumed, grey eyes flashing as he took a step towards the dwarf.


“And how many new lives have you created, Legolas?” The dwarf questioned in a loud voice, his eyebrows rose in suspicion.


The elf had enough decorum to blush slightly and look affronted. “As you have already stated, I am unmarried! Such an act would bind me to another, therefore the answer is none!”


“HA! Then you are not such an expert on the subject! You cannot know the exact date! Unless…I knew the elves kept detailed records, Legolas, but surely you do not write down every time…”


Legolas gasped in horror. “NAY! Not every time, only when a child is conceived! It is a special record, held dear by the parents…” Legolas lowered his head as a sudden sheen covered his eyes. “My father cherishes the official record of my conception, and the memories it brings of my mother….”


Gimli frowned at the sudden change in the elf’s emotions. Blast it all! Just like the elf to get all sentimental over a good argument! But he stepped forward, nevertheless, and laid a hand on the elf’s arm. “I did not mean to insult your traditions, Legolas, or to bring up pain from the past. I was jesting. I just do not understand how you can be so sure of when a coupling has produced a child.”


Raking a hand through his long hair, Legolas sighed in exasperation, all trace of the wetness gone from his eyes. He looked at the dwarf superciliously. “And I do not understand how you can be so ignorant in such simple matters.”


Gimli’s beard bristled and his eyes flashed at the insult. He growled a response in Khuzdul, which Legolas apparently understood, for he countered it with a Sindarin curse. The elf and dwarf began once more trading insult for colorful insult, bringing smiles to the faces of those who knew the two friends well, while concern and distress marked the faces of those who did not know of the strange rituals the peculiar friends shared.


Aragorn watched it unfold with a mixture of vexation and amusement. Around him, those listening to the bickering duo exuded laughter or gasps of astonishment. Finally, the man had all he could take of the disruption to his birthday celebration. He should be dancing and laughing with his beautiful wife, who he noticed was watching the unfolding scene with bemused eyes hidden behind her wine glass, not arbitrating a debate between a stubborn dwarf and impossible elf!


“ENOUGH!” The King of Gondor bellowed. The whole room went silent for a few heartbeats as Aragorn grabbed Legolas’ sleeve and Gimli’s tunic, dragging them from the room to a nearby balcony which overlooked the courtyard where the White Tree stood, seemingly glowing in the moonlight. Behind them, whisperings and laughing began anew, though many eyes continued to stray to the balcony doorway where the Three Hunters had disappeared.


As soon as the king released them, Legolas and Gimli turned to look at Aragorn, who was trying very hard to look annoyed despite the chuckles threatening to break forth. The man took a deep breath and adopted his best ‘Elrond-is-angry’ look, before addressing the issue at hand.


“While I appreciate the differences between the two of you and your need to settle them in your own manner, I will not have you disrupting the festivities to do so. Therefore,” Aragorn raised a brow, managing a look that would have had his brothers in fits of laughter, “we will settle the matter here, and return to the party with no further incidents. Understood?”


Legolas and Gimli exchanged an astounded glance, but both nodded somberly. Legolas raised an eyebrow of his own, reminding all present of his royal heritage. “Very well, my lord. Please, enlighten us on the matter, so that we may return to our usual merry selves and enjoy the rest of this…entertaining evening.”


“Aye, laddie. Set the record straight, for I would like to get back to my ale and some of that roast venison, while the elf here is just itching to ask the lasses to dance!”


“Nay, I am not!” Legolas blanched at the thought. “I refuse! I will not be held captive by their giggling and ….”


“Ahem,” The king cleared his throat, once again reminding them of the matter at hand. “I am sure the ladies would love a dance with BOTH of you, but that is not the issue we are discussing. I believe the matter was begetting versus birthday celebrations and whether or not such days could be known for certain.”


“Nay, Aragorn, the issue of birthdays has been agreed upon from start…it is whether or not one can be sure of their begetting day which we were discussing.” Legolas corrected the king, earning him a dry look from narrowed steely eyes.


“Aye, how is it Legolas can be so sure of his begetting day, when you and I know our parents could not have known such a thing?” Gimli inquired. Bright grey elven eyes and dark brown dwarven ones held the King in their gaze as they waited patiently for an answer.


Aragorn sighed heavily. Finally! We will end this ridiculous deliberation! Calmly, the man began addressing the issue at hand. “Gimli, elves are different from mortals in regard to begetting young. In order to conceive, both father and mother must wish for a child, and they can feel the new life the moment it is created, for parental bonds are strong among the elves from the moment of conception. Thus they DO know the exact moment when their children were conceived.”


With his explanation given, the King waited for the outburst of indignation from the dwarf and the smug remarks from the elf. Instead, Gimli’s mouth hung open in shock, and he blinked a couple times before closing his mouth and looking expectantly at Legolas, waiting for his friend to respond.


Legolas’ eyes brightened in curiosity even as his face took on a skeptical look. “Mortals do NOT know…? How then…?” Bewildered grey eyes searched Aragorn’s and Gimli’s faces by turn.


The man smiled slowly, sympathetic to his friend’s confusion. “Nay, my friend, for us, conception is similar to many animals, though I dare say that is not an exact representation of the process.”


The elf shook his head in bafflement. “…like animals…I never…”


Gimli began to grin at the look upon Legolas’ face. He could almost see the elf’s mind working over this piece of news. Unsurprisingly, Legolas began to blush. “If you will excuse me, I believe I need a glass of wine.”


As Legolas walked swiftly back inside the hall, the man and dwarf broke into loud guffaws, holding their sides as they fought for air. Neither heard the elf’s last words, muttered under his breath as he strode to the nearest bottle of strong Dorwinion.


“I always thought they bred like rabbits.”



Chapter 2

A Turn Around The Floor


Rodwen tossed her dark hair over her shoulder and pouted. It mattered not that there was no one in the ladies’ lounge to see her, for she was standing before a large mirror admiring her feminine wiles. The pout slipped into a triumphant smirk as her eyes glittered in confidence. Surely, he will not be able to resist that expression! she thought to herself, carefully arranging the dark curls over her shoulder once more. A few more tugs on her golden gown to get it to hang just so, and she glided from the lounge, her eyes scanning for her prey among the multitude of guests mingling in the huge formal hall of the Citadel.


At first glance, he was no where to be found. She searched more carefully through the crowds, her brown eyes hunting among the many male guests who seemed to be the center of the attention of several small groups of unwed ladies. Nothing. He was not here! Rodwen felt tears begin to form in her eyes, but she could not let them fall. Crying would make her eyes red and puffy, most unattractive and improper for the daughter of a nobleman.


She smiled demurely at a passing lord, and continued to glance over the room. Rodwen was proud of her father. He was on the king’s council and a good man. It was regrettable that he had married later in life, and that it had taken several years for her mother to conceive her. Her parents were much older than those of her friends, and anxious to see her married off to some noble or lord of Gondor. Unfortunately, the best ones were already taken. The king himself had wed soon after claiming his throne and the new Steward less than a year later. Many of the young eligible men had been killed during the war, and now she was simply another of many young ladies of title with few acceptable prospects when it came to making a good marriage.


But there was one unwed noble in the king’s court, one who was most desirable by all the unwed ladies, and not only among the younger generation. Rodwen had watched single ladies as old as sixty chase after him. She shook her head in disgust. He would never be attracted to them, not when he was so beautiful himself. Perfect…yes, he is perfect, she thought.


Rodwen walked the perimeter of the room, passing a set of open balcony doors. She paused near a wine table when she heard faint mumbling. A flash of green and gold caught her eye, and she realized she had finally found the one she sought…and he was alone! She inched closer, avoiding eye contact, to make it seem as if their meeting were only coincidental. Yet her eyes could not help but stray to his form, clothed in elegant attire and holding a large goblet of deep red wine. A light-green formal tunic, embroidered with leaves in gold and silver thread, graced his lithe body, offsetting the darker green leggings. Upon his golden head sat a silver circlet, seemingly made of beech leaves intertwined. He was simply breathtaking, and Rodwen could not stop the sigh which escaped her lips.


Bright, grey eyes darted uneasily in her direction at the sound, widening at finding her standing close to him. She smiled as decorously as she could, lowering her eyes in proper respect as she curtsied to the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen and the Lord of Asgarnen in Ithilien. When she raised her eyes again, she noticed the much larger space that now existed between them and the suspicious look he was giving her. She cringed inwardly as she realized her plan was not working as she had dreamed. Time to employ other tactics, Rodwen. Think! In seconds, her daring mind had thought up a rather devious scheme.


She bit her lip nervously and pretended to be searching the room for someone. Bringing her eyes back to the elf nearby, Rodwen smiled sweetly and asked, “Excuse me, Lord Legolas, but have you seen Lord Gimli? I was hoping he would ask me to dance, but he seems to have disappeared.”


As she had planned, the suspicious look in the elf’s eyes disappeared immediately, and to her delight, he smiled. He moved swiftly in her direction, stopping only a pace before her. “My lady,” he declared as he bowed, “I fear the good dwarf has taken some respite, outside with the king, to settle a misunderstanding we had earlier. I am sure he will be rejoining the party shortly, and would be most pleased to dance with a lady as beautiful as yourself.”


Fighting the urge to squeal at the complement, one she had previously heard him only bestow on the queen, Rodwen smiled brightly and batted her eyes. “Do you really think so?” she asked hopefully. He nodded amiably, and she knew it was now or never. Reaching deep inside, she employed her best acting skills. She let her face fall in sudden alarm and her lower lip began to tremble slightly. “But I am not a very good dancer,” she told him, looking up anxiously at the prince. “What if he does not like me because I have not had a chance to dance often enough to improve? I fear my heart would break if he refused me.” She finished in a whisper and was delighted to see immediate concern in the elf’s face. Keeping her own mask in place, she waited, not daring to say any more.


“Perhaps, my lady, you and I could take a turn around the floor, and I could show you a few easy steps? Though I am certain Lord Gimli will not notice whether you dance well or not, he is not one to dance often either.” He offered his hand gallantly, and smiled encouragingly.


Rodwen stared at the long fingers, wanting with all her heart to reach out and latch onto him and never let go. It took all her will-power to resist. “I am certain you must be mistaken, my lord! Surely, such a handsome and noble dwarf is an expert on the dance floor.” Now, she sounded almost indignant as she raised her chin, challenging him to deny it.


“Handsome dwarf?” The prince muttered almost under his breath, looking quite distressed at the thought. He raised his eyes and voice, extending his hand further in invitation. “My lady, dance with me first, and then you shall see who is an expert on the dance floor!”


Hesitantly, Rodwen took his arm and allowed him to lead her to the floor. Legolas never saw the smirk of victory that crossed her face or the smug looks she surreptitiously gave the other ladies who looked on in envy. She smiled at him and engaged him in lively conversation as he twirled her expertly around the room. All the while, her partner thinking it had been his idea to ask the lady to dance.


Chapter 3
It Was Only A Dance


Aragorn returned to the hall as the musicians were playing a bright and cheery number, leaving Gimli on the balcony smoking his pipe. As he crossed the room, a green and gold blur passed on the floor. The King's steps faltered and he stopped to stare disbelievingly at the striking couple swirling around room, all smiles and animated chatter. A familiar presence coming to his side pulled Aragorn’s eyes away from the remarkable sight.


“How did this come about?” he asked, looking into crystal grey eyes which sparkled in the torchlight. “Legolas never dances with the ladies, other than you, of course.” Aragorn smiled lovingly at his beautiful wife, and she reached up a hand to caress his cheek affectionately.


“I do not count,” she told him, a smile gracing her lovely features. “I am not exactly sure how this happened, my love. She caught my eye earlier, when I became aware she was scanning the crowd like a tiger on the prowl, and she even managed to sneak up on him unawares. Whatever you three were discussing on the balcony had him completely distracted. As soon as Legolas realized the lady was standing next to him, he quickly put a healthy distance between them, and watched her warily.” Arwen shook her head in disbelief at what had happened next. “I do not know what she said to him, Estel, but he moved back to her very quickly and bestowed her with such a look of concern…and then, he offered his hand. She did not take it right away, but continued to speak. She is very good; I have to give her that. Before I knew it, Legolas had her out on the floor, laughing and smiling like old friends. He has no clue that he is being played like a finely tuned instrument.”


Aragorn snorted in amusement. “I wonder if she is aware, however, that this is one instrument which is tightly strung and will snap if played too forcefully. Legolas does not like to be played. He prefers to be the musician…though rarely have I seen him indulge in such fancy.”


“He is not immune to the ladies, my love. He has dutifully placed his responsibilities above enjoyment for most of his life. But neither has the right lady come along. One day, he will not mind the attention, though you are correct, when the time comes, he will be the one who wants to do the playing…or chasing, whichever happens to be necessary.”


“That I would like to see!” The king smiled at his queen, and laced his fingers with hers as he pulled her onto the floor.


Arwen beamed at him as she melted into his arms. “As would I, my husband, but I fear it will not happen until long after he has departed these lands.” The thought sobered them both, and they lost themselves to the music and each other in comfort.




Gimli stared frozen in place, his eyes telling him something which he knew must be a trick of the light. There was simply no way, by all Mahal held dear, that the elf was dancing with one of those … those … vultures! The dwarf's eyes narrowed at the lady swirling gaily in the elf's arms. So, one had managed to somehow trick his friend into dancing, but that did not mean the elf was interested in her. Or did it? Gimli scowled. Blast it all! I’m not losing my best friend to one of those tittering, brainless females!


Moving around the perimeter of the floor, the Dwarf made his way in Legolas’ direction. He would rescue his friend even if he had to gallantly ask the lady to dance himself! She would have to be very rude to refuse, and in the process, the Dwarf would be able to read his friend and determine his intentions. If the elf had simply been tricked, Gimli would take much enjoyment out of teasing him mercilessly. If Legolas was interested… well, he would have to devise some way to be rid of the lady before his friend grew more smitten.


But first, Gimli, you must painstakingly ascertain the lady’s intentions…and that will take well thought out tact. Fortunately, I am a Dwarf! Gimli continued his internal debate with himself, striding up to the persons in question as the music drew to a close.




As the dance ended, Legolas bowed to the lady, noticing her radiant smile. She was actually a pretty fair dancer, and a pleasant conversationalist. Perchance, the ladies were not as terrible as he had imagined, and he should be more willing to dance with them. After all, he had enjoyed himself immensely, and it was only a dance, nothing more.


From behind him, a gruff voice declared loudly. “Well, Legolas, here you were worried that none of the ladies would dance with you, but you’ve found a most lovely partner who can match you quite well.”


“Gimli,” the elf turned to glare at the Dwarf who was beaming in a most irritating fashion. And perhaps I would rather die a slow torturous death at the hands of Orcs, than be hounded constantly by a Dwarf about my association with females, Legolas reconsidered.


“May I introduce Lady Rodwen? She was gracious enough to grant me a dance in your absence, but I am happy to say it is you she wishes to dance with, my friend.” Legolas missed the paling of the lady’s features and her sharp intake of air, but he did notice the dwarf's frown and took it to mean Gimli was highly displeased at the thought of dancing with the lady. “I am sure you will be most pleased to spend the rest of the evening with her, she is a charming dancer.” Legolas smiled encouragingly at Lady Rodwen, happy to both turn the tables on the unsuspecting Dwarf and be seen as a valiant lord to the pleasant lady.


“Now Legolas,” Gimli scolded, “you know I do not dance well…you would not wish me to harm the lady’s feet, would you?” The Dwarf smirked. “You are the dancer, elf, and since the lady is already here on the floor, it would be most dishonorable for you to refuse her another dance or two. If you will forgive me, Lady Rodwen, I will leave you with the noble Lord of Ithilien.” Gimli bowed grandly to her.


“Of course, Lord Gimli. I completely understand.” She smiled sweetly at him, and the Dwarf hurried from the floor.


Legolas turned to look apologetically at the lady, and noticed a change had come over her. There was now a possessive gleam in her eye that had not been there before. He took a step back in trepidation. The lady flipped her hair elegantly over her shoulder, and looked at him expectantly. When he did not offer his hand, her lip began to tremble as she affected a masterful pout as she batted her large brown eyes at him.


AI! I am a fool! For centuries, I have avoided much more cunning females than this, yet all this one had to do was praise a dwarf's dancing. I am losing my touch. Legolas berated himself for being taken in so easily and allowing his pride to get him into such a compromising position. But Gimli was right, the music began anew, and Legolas was left with no choice, but to continue dancing with the lady or retreat in disgrace. He smiled stiffly at her and held out his hand. To his horror, he realized the next dance was a slow, sensuous one. Oh Valar! Anything but that!


The lady snuggled up against him, and the elf utilized every bit of self-control he had accumulated over his long years to avoid pulling away in revulsion. One dance…one more dance and I bow gracefully and leave. Maybe Gimli would wish to engage in a drinking game…or I could throw myself from the tower and be done with it, for I will never live this down!




Off to the side of the dance floor, many guests watched the couples dancing to the slow, soothing music, bodies moving closely and seductively. Two figures watched the king and queen lose themselves in each other and smiled. Their eyes met briefly before straying to another couple on the dance floor. Both hid smirks behind either a glass of wine or mug of ale, but neither could draw their eyes away from the atypical scene. This couple had the attention of seemingly every single female in the room, many of which were glaring daggers at the lady in the golden gown dancing with the handsome lord. The hostility they radiated was stifling, and the two guests moved to a far corner, their eyes still upon the couples dancing slowly.


“Tis a shame your fair lass could not be here, Faramir. Then you could be joining the lovers out on the floor.” Gimli winked at his companion.


“I miss her greatly, but she is having a grand time in Edoras I am sure. And I get to actually watch a most curious phenomenon that I am sure I would have missed, had Eowyn been here to distract me.” The steward’s eyes shone as he grinned at the dwarf, and both began to laugh at the uncomfortable looking elf on the floor, who appeared he would enjoy nothing more than peeling himself away from the scheming lady and running in terror.


“Oh, she’s very good. I am quite impressed with the lass, but he’s on to her now.” Gimli smirked. “The elf will bolt as soon as this song is over, I wager. We should see he does not escape…this could be a very enjoyable evening if we can manage to keep him here.”


“Gimli, that is cruel! Surely we should let him escape, he looks quite ill.” Faramir commented, noticing the elf's complexion was beginning to match that of his green tunic. “Besides, Lady Rodwen will not let him get away so easily…she is quite a determined young woman with tracking skills that rival King Elessar’s when it comes to finding a male in the Citadel.”


“You take much fun out of the game, good Steward,” Gimli conceded. “Very well, we will let them play it out without our aid, but we will observe them closely.”


“And step in if we believe the dear prince needs assistance. Trust me, Gimli, she does not play fairly.”


“Hmmm…” Gimli’s eyes narrowed upon the lady once more. “Then she will wish she had never begun the game.”


Chapter 4
Into The Gloomy Darkness


The moon shone brightly down on the garden, its walks and open spaces seen almost as clearly as in the daylight. The shadows, however, were dark abysses, where couples wishing to lose themselves could slip unseen if they so pleased, except to the eyes of an elf. On the balcony overlooking the fragrant flowerbeds, Legolas stood peering into the gloomy darkness. It appeared this garden was empty of guests, as most of the couples were still enjoying the moving strains of music coming from the main hall. Alighting easily on the ledge, the elf prepared to drop into the shadows below.


'Where do you think you are going?" A deep, amused voice inquired, causing the elf on the balcony ledge to halt.


Turning, Legolas found Faramir standing in the doorway, a smirk upon his face, arms crossed over his regal tunic befitting his status. "I thought to enjoy the gardens for a time," Legolas answered carefully, hoping the Steward would accept this answer.


"By climbing over the balcony like a fugitive?" Faramir grinned at him. "Come Legolas, there are better ways to enter the gardens…or do elves enjoy dropping from high places?" the Steward asked, walking over to look at the good fifteen foot drop into the shadows below. "Besides, most would prefer to take a lovely lady with them as they strolled the garden paths," Faramir added with a wink.


Legolas blanched and dropped back onto the balcony landing. "In that regard, I am not like most. I prefer solitude when communing with the trees."


"I know," Faramir replied seriously. "I was only jesting. I saw you slip out this way and came to warn you. You chose the wrong lady to dance with, Legolas. The lady is on the prowl and will not let you go so easily, my friend. Rodwen is quite tenacious. She will now feel she has some claim on you…some right to insist on you being at her side. Even now, I seriously suspect her of planning your wedding."


"Planning my…" Legolas gulped and paled further, shaking his head in disbelief. "There will be no wedding," he declared hotly. "It was just a dance! Not a marriage proposal, and I would not have even asked her to dance if she had not deceived me…."


Faramir began to laugh. "Legolas, I do believe you are frightened of a young lady who has barely seen two decades!"


Fire flared to life in the prince's eyes. "I do not fear her, Faramir. But I learned long ago, for reasons I do not quite understand, females flock to me and fight for my attention. More than one has tried to ensnare me, which is why I usually keep my distance. This one took me off guard. In the past, only among elf maidens have I seen such cunning. I will not make the mistake again."


Faramir shook his head in amusement, a small smile upon his face. "You take me too seriously, my friend. I meant only to tease you. I apologize. I see this subject is not humorous to you at all. In that case, you should know Lady Rodwen was last seen heading this direction. I will hinder your escape no longer." He reached out and patted the elf on the shoulder. "Good luck! Should I tell Aragorn you have taken your leave for Ithilien?"


"Aye," Legolas replied, relief on his fair face. "And I have no plans of returning. The King will not get me to attend another of these events. Not after that pesky dwarf allowed the situation to escalate into an incident! He could have relieved me after one dance and it would have been over…"


Chuckling, Faramir interrupted, "I am afraid not, my friend. She had you in mind the whole time. You had no idea what you were in for, Legolas. I truly wish you a happy departure. I will convey your regrets to Aragorn, and see you in Ithilien when I return."


As soon as the Steward took his leave, Legolas alighted again on the balcony ledge, and dropped quickly into the garden. Remaining hidden in the shadows, he allowed his eyes to scan the trees, walks and gloomy spaces in between once more, before sighing in relief. There was no one here. He stepped out of the darkness onto one of the paths and took exactly two steps when a charming female voice stopped him in his tracks.


"There you are! I feared you had abandoned me, or worse, been beset by some lady and were too galant to inform her you were already spoken for this evening!" Rodwen rushed to his side, smiling up at him hopefully. Boldly, she reached out and took his arm.


Legolas felt frozen in place, his mind reeling in disbelief. How? Where? The lady had materialized out of nowhere! It took him a good thirty seconds to react, but when he did, he moved quickly and without hesitation. Pulling back forcefully, he retrieved his arm, but almost landed himself in a garden pool as his movement carried him backwards. Recovering his balance, Legolas stood seething as the lady bestowed him with a feigned look of hurt.


"I am not spoken for, my lady! A couple of dances does not give you claim on me. It would not even have been one dance if you had not schemed to use my friend against me. Now, I will bid you a good night." He turned to walk away, but was stopped by her tight grip upon his arm.


"You cannot do this to me! How dare you humiliate me in this fashion! After pretending to like me…"


"Lady, I treated you with the manners your gender and title demand, nothing more." Rotating back around, he met her angry eyes with compassionate ones, surprised himself that his anger had receded to pity. "Lady Rodwen, you are a beautiful and pleasant girl and there are plenty of young men who would be honored to have your affections. I fear you misunderstood my intentions, and for that I apologize. I am not interested in becoming attached to any lady in Gondor, for my heart has already been captured by another." He watched disbelief and true hurt cross her face and he sighed and gently touched her cheek. "I am sorry. If you would so kindly release your grip upon my sleeve, perhaps I could escort you back inside to your father?"


Rodwen frowned at him as two tears splashed down her cheeks. The material of his tunic slipped through her fingers as her hand dropped down to her side. She lowered her head, and took in a shuddering breath. "No," she whispered so faintly, Legolas could hardly hear her. "I wish to remain here for a time."


"You should not be outside without an escort, my lady, and I have no desire to remain." He held out his hand. "Please? You will feel better once you are back inside with your family."


She looked up at him with such anger in her eyes, Legolas took a step back. Tears streamed down her cheeks, yet she raised her chin defiantly. "I do not need an escort, my lord," she declared vehemently. "You will regret what you have done!"


A puzzled expression crossed the elf's face at her words and he took a step back towards her, intending on asking what she meant, for indeed it sounded like a threat. But he never got the chance to speak, for the lady suddenly screamed and dropped to a heap on the path, shaking and crying as she pulled at her dress. Legolas was unsure of what happened, and thinking perhaps some night creature had crawled under her dress and bitten her, stooped beside her and laid a hand on her shoulder.


"Are you alright, Lady Rodwen? Did something bite you?"


Shouts and running footsteps sounded from several directions and Legolas looked up to find several guards and many guests arriving to see what the commotion was all about. Shoving his way to the front, Lord Tharlos came to stand before the kneeling prince and sobbing girl. "What have you done?" the man asked, pushing Legolas away from his daughter. "Rodwen? Are you alright child?" The man knelt behind the lady and drew her into his arms as she turned her head to sob into his shoulder.


Legolas stood, confused at the man's question, but glad someone might be able to make sense of what was happening. The noble stroked his daughter's hair and seemed to be getting some information from her, but Legolas could not understand what she was saying with all the mutterings from the surrounding crowd of guests. 


"Get out o' my way!" A gruff voice bellowed, and the elf turned to see Gimli pushing his way through the growing crowd, followed by Faramir and Aragorn. The people swiftly made way for their King, and soon the three came to stand beside Legolas, looking questioningly at the scene before them.


"What happened here?" The King inquired.


Before Legolas could answer, Lord Tharlos glared up at the elf and declared, "The elf has behaved inappropriately towards my daughter, sire! I demand justice!"


A/N - In regard to Legolas saying his heart had been captured by another... He is referring to the sea.


Chapter 5
At Least One Witness


"The elf has behaved inappropriately towards my daughter, sire! I demand justice!"


Gimli lunged towards the man and his shameless wench of a daughter, determined to rip the lying tongue out of that blasphemous vulture! How DARE she accuse his friend of such a thing! Strong hands held him back as his feet continued to pummel the gravel path. NO! He was NOT going to let her get away with such a thing!


Soft-spoken words finally got through to his brain. "Gimli, please? Stop," Legolas was holding him back and asking him to restrain himself. The dwarf paused his movement and looked up into the elf's sorrowful eyes.


"But Legolas! She…she…." The dwarf stuttered searching for the right words.


Legolas met his eyes evenly and their gazes locked. "It was not your honor that was attacked, Gimli. It was mine," the elf voiced softly, yet firmly. Gimli sighed. Yes, it was Legolas' place to defend his own honor, but by all Mahal held dear…


"Legolas, you have more honor than any other person I have ever met!" The outburst left Gimli's lips before he had time to consider his words, and a brief twinkle of amusement sparked in the elf's eyes as a small smile turned his lips for a second. Confound it all! He had not meant to admit that to the elf! It was one thing to know it was true, yet another entirely to feed that arrogant creature's pride.


"Thank you, my friend," Legolas laid a hand on the dwarf's shoulder. "I can handle this myself. If I require assistance, you will be the first I ask."


The dwarf nodded and stepped back reluctantly, but continued to glare at the woman in a heap of skirts sitting on the ground. If only he had rescued the irritating elf on the dance floor…he should have eviscerated the conniving female hours ago with his ax. Gimli chewed on his mustache; it did no good to think of what he should have done. Now they had to deal with the current predicament, and short of strangling the lady, Gimli wasn't sure what he could do to help.


"My lord," Legolas addressed the King of Gondor. "If possible, I would speak to the lady without her father present."


"NO!" Tharlos declared, eyes turning towards his King as he rose to his feet bringing Rodwen with him. She buried her head in his shoulder, refusing to look at the many people gathered around staring at her. "Sire, I will not allow it! He has done enough harm as it is."


The King's advisor turned burning eyes upon the elf, but Gimli noticed Legolas did not flinch or have any trouble meeting the nobleman's eyes. The dwarf smirked. That alone should prove Legolas innocent, for no guilty party could look the lady's father in the face so calmly.


Without breaking eye contact with Lord Tharlos, Legolas beseeched the King. "I have the right to face my accuser, do I not King Elessar?" Gimli beamed.


The King's face remained a stern mask, but the dwarf saw the approval in Aragorn's eye. "You do indeed, though not alone. You will need at least one witness…"


Gimli did not wait for Aragorn to finish his statement. "I will go and bear witness to what is said."


"As will I," the Steward of Gondor stepped forward to stand next to Gimli, his eyes furious at the accusations made against Legolas. "It is my place to stand witness in such matters, my King."


"Yes, it is," Aragorn acknowledged. "However…"


"But my lord!" Tharlos cried out. "I claim grievance with these witnesses. They do not meet the correct criteria. They know the accused well and are therefore biased in their opinions…"


Aragorn turned cold eyes upon his advisor and the man grew silent. "Prince Faramir," the King announced, turning back towards his Steward. "While I have no doubt that both you and Lord Gimli would be honest, I cannot allow either of you to act as witnesses for the very reason Lord Tharlos has pointed out. Nor can I myself or the queen fill the role."


Aragorn paused and Gimli noticed the strained expression on his face. The dwarf began to fret. While Aragorn would never believe these allegations, he was still King and had to follow proper protocol in such matters. This was not a joke or a simple issue he could smooth over. These were serious accusations.


"Lady Rodwen," The King addressed the weeping girl hiding against her father. "You will look at me child when I address you." Slowly, the girl turned to face the King, sniffing and wiping at her wet cheeks. Gimli took pleasure in noting the fear in her eyes. "These are powerful accusations against a respected overseer of Ithilien and prince of Eryn Lasgalen. I advise you to meet with Lord Legolas and settle any differences between you behind closed doors, rather than pursuing this matter in court, for I can assure you these charges will not stand. Elves do not commit such crimes. I do not believe they are capable of it, for the same done to one of their kind would almost assuredly result in death for the victim."


Hushed whispers raced among the people present, almost muffling the sharp sound of boots on gravel, signaling another arrival in the garden. "What is going on here? I want this crowd dispersed now. Whatever has happened is most assuredly no one else's business. Move along! The party is still inside." The stern voice was immediately obeyed, though reluctantly by most. Couples and groups moved back inside towards the main hall, and Gimli caught sight of a man standing, arms crossed across his chest, dressed in the uniform of a high ranking member of the King's Guard. He was young for his rank, but the War and its casualties had granted many young soldiers the opportunity for quick advancement. The frown on the Guard's face grew to a look of surprise when his eyes met those of his King.


"Sire! Forgive me, I did not know you were here or I would not have intervened." The man apologized as he bowed.


A smile flitted across the King's face and he inclined his head. "Not at all. I appreciate you dispersing the crowd. This is not an issue for the public in any case, but a private matter simply needing a witness to resolve. Am I right, Lady Rodwen?"


Gimli turned to look at the girl and found her eyes glued to the guard as a blush crossed her cheeks. She quickly dropped her eyes and murmured, "Yes, my lord, if one can be found."




A smile teased at the elf's lips as he watched the young lady blush when her eyes met the Guard's. Subtly watching the Guard, he noticed the man watching the lady closely. Legolas might not be experienced in the matters of love, but he knew interest when he saw it. He tried not to grin at this change in the scheme of things.


The King faced the Guard, a frown creasing his brow slightly. "Commander Arnien, are you not?"


The soldier nodded, "Yes, my lord. I am newly transferred to the King's Guard. I reported to the Captain only yesterday."


"And already you have proven yourself quite capable," Aragorn commented, his face thoughtful.


Commander Arnien smiled, "Thank you, my lord. Did you say you needed a witness to settle a dispute? I have served in this capacity before, my lord. I would be more than willing to do so now, if it so pleases you." Legolas watched Arnien's eyes stray from the King to Rodwen. He was not sure the man would be the best person to witness the conversation, but it was not his place to question the King's assignment of a witness.


"It does, Commander. See Lord Legolas and Lady Rodwen to my library and remain with them as witness until this matter is resolved." The Commander saluted the King and stood to the side waiting for his charges. Aragorn turned back one more time to eye Lady Rodwen coldly. "And it WILL  be resolved, my Lady. Am I understood?"


She raised her eyes to those of the King and blinked. "Yes, my lord, I understand completely."


Chapter 6
A Father's Concern


With the crowd dispersed and Arnien escorting Legolas and Rodwen to the King's library, only three men were left standing in the quiet garden which had been chaotic only a few minutes ago. From the main hall, noise of the continuing party drifted towards them as the King and Steward eyed the Advisor cautiously, waiting for the outburst that was sure to come.


Faramir knew this nobleman well, and while he was a good man with great insight, he was a little too ambitious and scheming at times. But the Advisor was also a father whose only daughter had been found in a somewhat compromising situation. Faramir was not sure how he would have responded himself, if it had been his own daughter in a similar situation. But of course, he would never suspect Legolas of such vile actions…the elf was a dear friend and one whom the Steward admired for his sense of propriety and utter respect for the female gender. If anyone knew how to treat a lady, it was Legolas, followed closely by Gimli, but not many knew that about the dwarf.


Lord Tharlos stood frowning in the direction his daughter had departed several minutes ago, clearly disturbed at the outcome of his accusation. Turning to look at the King, he finally spoke quietly. "My lord, I am not happy with this arrangement. My daughter's reputation…"


Aragorn held up a hand, stopping the man from speaking further. "Lord Tharlos, I happen to know that if Legolas had shown actual interest in your daughter, you would have been delighted to see her married off. Trust me when I say Legolas would never harm your daughter. He will have her best interest in mind. You might be surprised when this is all over."


So, the King had not missed the exchange of glances between Rodwen and Arnien either, Faramir thought. Leave it to something as simple as the King's birthday celebration to become such a spectacle! The amused Steward held his tongue and silently watched the conversation play out between his King and the nobleman.


Sighing, Tharlos shifted his feet nervously before meeting the King's eyes. "You do not have a daughter, or any children yet, Sire. You do not understand a father's concern for his offspring. And you do not understand Rodwen. She needs a husband to care for her…"


"I may not be a father yet, but I had the best father in all of Middle-earth, and he was a great example to me…especially in regard to loving a daughter. Rodwen needs a father who loves her whether she finds a life mate or not, Tharlos, or whether that man be of noble blood or not. As your only child and heir, Rodwen will not be left bereft if she does not marry. I understand you had her late in life and you and your wife worry about her being cared for if something should befall you, but she is yet young…and she is quite pretty and charming when she wishes to be. If you did not pressure her into marrying for status, but rather allowed her to wait for a man who will love her and cherish her for who she is, she would be a happier young lady, enjoying the festivities, instead of stalking unwed nobles and lords."


Faramir smirked. Despite the short years he had been king, Aragorn son of Arathorn was no fool; he knew his advisors well. Faramir found his chest swelling with pride for this man who had become almost a brother to him. He hid a grin. Boromir would have loved this situation, watching this all unfold. His brother would have been right there in it with the King, giving the noble Advisor a tongue lashing he would never forget. Faramir continued to keep his thoughts to himself. Sometimes it was more amusing to just observe and ponder the events. He must remember to tell Eowyn about this. She would find it all extremely entertaining when she returned from Rohan. Thankfully, his White Lady was visiting her brother and his family in Edoras, or she would have personally seen to Rodwen herself. Legolas may have been able to hold back Gimli, but Eowyn would have been a force hard to restrain. Faramir cleared his throat and coughed to hide his growing grin behind a hand, rubbing his face slightly as he watched the nobleman fidget apprehensively at the King's words.


Dropping his eyes, Lord Tharlos stared at the ground before him with a thoughtful expression on his face. When he spoke, it was with great respect and sorrow. "You are right, of course, my lord. I did not realize I was placing such pressure on Rodwen. I will speak with her and let her know she is free to marry whoever she wishes. I want her to be happy…she should be happy."


"That would be very wise of you. Now, about these accusations against Lord Legolas…what exactly did your daughter tell you he did to her?" Aragorn watched the man closely, and Faramir found himself intrigued. This man had insight that he would never understand. He was amazed to see the nobleman's shoulders slump and his head hang in shame.


"I apologize, King Elessar. Seeing my daughter there on the ground with the elf over her… I just assumed… All I could understand her saying was she was frightened. I should not have spoken in such haste. I beg your forgiveness. I will speak to Lord Legolas as well. Deep down I know he would never harm my daughter, but … she is my daughter," Tharlos finished lamely, looking up with great regret in his face.


Aragorn's face hardened at the man's confession. "You will formally renounce your accusations against the Lord of Asgarnen and you will personally apologize to the prince. I would suggest you do so within hearing distance of Lord Gimli if you value yours and your daughter's throats." The King smiled ever so faintly when the man blanched. "Now I believe the rest will resolve itself. Come, let us return to the festivities where you can make your announcement, then we will await the outcome of Legolas and Rodwen's conversation."


"Thank you, King Elessar," Lord Tharlos bowed and walked quickly back towards the main hall.


Aragorn turned to Faramir, and the Steward could not stop himself any longer. He laughed aloud. "Quite a show, my lord! Tell me, are all your birthdays so eventful? I recall last year was not a peaceful celebration either."


Chuckling, the King slapped Faramir on the shoulder. "Ah, but that was because my brothers were visiting. Elven celebrations are never peaceful! Next year, I believe Arwen and I will disappear to a quiet retreat somewhere and forego the festivities."


Faramir grinned. "As your Steward, I must remind you it is your duty to let the people celebrate such a special occasion. As your friend, I believe they can do so without your presence. But come, I wish to hear this announcement from Tharlos!"


Laughing the two friends made their way back to the noisy hall, but both stopped to glance down the hall leading to the King's library. They shared a look. What WAS Legolas saying to the lady? They both looked forward to hearing the elf's account. But first, an announcement must be made for those who had heard the accusations against their friend.



Tharlos- means 'white pillar'. A nobleman of Gondor, an Advisor to King Elessar. He sits on the King's Council and holds the title of Lord.


Tharlos is seventy-six years old. His wife is sixty-five. Rodwen is twenty-one. You can see this is an unusual family…and perhaps now, you have a greater understanding of Rodwen?


Chapter 7
Nothing But A Perfect Gentleman


In the King's library, two small couches sat facing each other. It was to this seating arrangement that Legolas headed, and waiting for the lady to seat herself first, he gracefully sat opposite her, watching her nervously twist a handkerchief in her hands. Behind him, Commander Arnien stood watching them curiously, but Legolas ignored the man. His presence was only a formality; this was a personal matter as far as the prince was concerned.


After observing the lady for a few minutes, noticing her trembling lips and tear filled eyes, he asked, "Why?"


She looked up at him, and as she blinked, two tears ran down her cheeks unheeded. "I did not accuse you of being improper; my father did. I only thought…" her voice broke and she dropped her eyes. "I did not think; I behaved foolishly. I was angry and hurt…" She bit her lower lip and lowered her head as she struggled to continue.


Legolas just watched and listened patiently, knowing there was much more here than he had previously thought. The elf had a revelation in the garden; a flash of insight into the lady and her behavior. When he had first danced with Rodwen, he had enjoyed her company.  During the first dance, she had been relaxed and  pleasant, not the scheming vixen she allowed herself to become afterwards. Legolas wanted to understand why, so he waited.


With a tremulous voice, Rodwen continued in little more than a whisper, "You have been nothing but a perfect gentleman, and I did enjoy dancing with you. I am sorry." She looked up at him regretfully.


Sighing, Legolas leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he looked at her. "And in the garden, you thought if you screamed?"


She inhaled sharply, her eyes growing wide and her cheeks turning red in embarrassment. "I thought people would come, and you would…" Rodwen covered her face with her hands and began to weep. "It was wrong! I am so sorry. You do not understand…"


"No, I do not understand. You attacked my honor, lady, whether by direct accusation or not. This is not something I take lightly, and at the moment, you are lucky to still be in one piece, not only from Lord Gimli's hands, but from my own, as well." The elf's words were stern, his voice cold and hard.


The lady lifted her eyes, fear replacing the regret and tears on her face, her expression bordering on terror. Her eyes strayed to the Commander standing behind the sofa on which the elf sat.


Legolas straightened, catching her eye. "He could not help you if I wished to harm you, but strangely, I find I do not. I take no pleasure in exacting revenge upon a woman, less so from one who has behaved as you have; you have shamed yourself with your actions, and you will have to live with the consequences. Do you understand this?" Not once did the coldness leave the prince's voice or stony features.


Trembling now from shame as well as fear, Rodwen could barely nod her head. She gulped, unable to take her eyes from the icy grey orbs piercing through her. Suddeny, she completely broke…her face dropping into her hands as she sobbed shamefully, tears of true sorrow. "I-I…h-hate…b-being this…w-way!" she cried.


In her sorrow, she did not see the elf's eyes soften, or the truly concerned look upon his face. Legolas reached out and gently touched her arm. "I want to understand. I want to know why a beautiful and charming young lady finds it necessary to attempt trapping a lord, when she should be letting the young men chase her, which no doubt they would do, if you would simply be yourself. I want to know why an intelligent woman would stoop to something so beneath her true nature, knowing it could not possibly succeed." He removed his hand and waited for her to explain.


Her tears subsided as the elf spoke kindly. Wiping her face with her handkerchief, Rodwen met his eyes sadly; sniffing, she found her voice, though it was shaky. "My parents are getting old. They had me late in life, and fear I will not find a suitable husband before they pass from the world. My father holds a high position on the King's Council. I am expected to marry according to that position, but so many young lords were killed in the war! I do not have many options, my lord."


"Why must you marry nobility? There are many honorable young men in the city, many advancing their positions quickly with the continuing peace," Legolas noted, thinking of the Commander standing behind him.


Rodwen sighed in resignation. "Lord Legolas, I am my father's only child and heir. He will not accept just any suitor! There are not many my father will accept as suitable, who are still unwed or are not ancient!"


These words were Legolas' undoing. He lowered his eyes and fought to suppress his grin, but could not stop the snort of amusement. He glanced up at the lady with laughter shining in his bright grey eyes and found her frowning at him in confusion.


"It is not funny, my lord!" she cried.


The prince leaned back and crossed his arms across his chest, smiling calmly, as his head tilted slightly to the side. "You misunderstand, my lady. You show obvious revulsion for those you consider ancient, yet I am older by far than the eldest in your land. It was this that amused me, not your pain."


The lady looked at him, puzzled. "I do not understand, but I do not know much about elves. I was too young to attend the King's wedding feast when so many elves were in the city. The only ones I have met are yourself, the queen and her brothers, and all of you appear not much older than myself." She looked at him curiously.


Legolas chuckled and inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement of her words. "And of our kind, I am among the youngest, but our people are immortal, Rodwen. I have seen centuries…almost two millennia have I walked amongst the trees." He smirked when she paled slightly, her eyes wide as saucers. "So, to you, I am truly ancient!" His eyes sparkled with mirth when she groaned and buried her face again in her hands. But he turned serious when her shoulders began to shake. "My lady?"


She looked up hesitantly, mournfully. "I have been so foolish," she whispered.


"Aye, but I do not believe you are the only one to blame, my lady." Legolas patted her hand reassuringly. He did not want to simply berate her; he wanted to see her change and become true to herself, no longer subject to other's expectations. "Now, why must you seek a husband, lady. Why do you not simply enjoy life and allow one to seek you?"


"But I already told you, my lord. There are not many who would seek me from which my father would accept a proposal! Yet, he reminds me daily that I am soon to be considered an old maid if I do not find a suitable husband quickly." Tears began to fall from her eyes. "I do not enjoy seeking out eligible nobles, Lord Legolas. I did not enjoy trying to manipulate you… I would prefer to be the one pursued…to be able to simply enjoy a party or a gathering without feeling I am disappointing my parents."


"Nonsense! You are no where near old enough to be considered an old maid!" A deep voice spoke out forcefully from behind him, and Legolas wondered what had taken the Commander so long to speak. "And you should not have to feel you are a disappointment to your parents. You should be free to be yourself. While I find your earlier behavior reprehensible, in this, it is your father who is in the wrong."


"I agree with the Commander, Lady Rodwen, and I will speak with your father about the matter if the King has not already done so," Legolas assured her. "But now you have a choice to make…will you continue behaving in such a foolish and unrewarding manner, or will you change, and be true to your heart? For a short while when we danced, I saw YOU, and that lady has much to offer if she would but step forward." The prince searched Rodwen's face as she pondered these things.


Gradually, a look of peace settled over her features. "Do you truly think I have hope of doing this?" she asked quietly.


"I do," Legolas nodded, noting the agreeing nod of Arnien as well. "I think you are a strong, determined woman who can do whatever you wish, if you would only make the effort."


Ever so slowly, the lady's eyes began to sparkle and a small smile turned her lips. "Thank you," she whispered, her grateful eyes meeting his encouraging ones.


He met her smile with one of his own, "The time to change is now, Lady Rodwen. I suggest that you return to the celebrations with the intent of nothing more than enjoying yourself. What has happened tonight is between you and I, and except to remember your wish to change, you will not dwell on it. Agreed?"


"But the people…"


"Will gossip about what happened, that is part of the consequences of your actions. It will take time for them to see the change in you, but you can give them a good glimpse of it in the remaining hours of the festivities. Let us hope that most will mind their own business and keep rude comments to themselves… However, if some insist on making it their business, I will remind them that it is not…with the help of a dwarven ax, if necessary!" He grinned. "Now you simply need someone to escort you…"


"Lady Rodwen?" Commander Arnien spoke hesitantly, and Legolas admired the Commander for what he was about to do. The lady's reputation would be tarnished for a time, and it would be noted who associated with her. "I would be honored to escort you back to the festivities, if you would allow me. And perhaps, you might honor me with a dance?"


Rodwen looked over Legolas' shoulder at the Commander with awe. Her cheeks grew slightly pink as she replied, "I would love to dance with you." She smiled warmly, and Legolas was relieved to see it was genuine. There was no cunning, just openness and honesty. It was good to see.


The Commander cleared his throat. "Lord Legolas? Is there anything else you require of us?"


Legolas smiled and stood, shaking his head. "Nay, go enjoy yourselves. I will be along shortly."


Arnien stepped around the couch and offered the lady his hand. She took it and stood, taking his arm as he led her towards the door.




Legolas' words paused the man. "Yes, my lord?"


"Make sure none say anything disparaging to the lady until I arrive." Legolas commanded. 


"Of course, my lord! I would not stand for anyone to speak derogatorily towards a lady!" Arnien's eyes flashed at the thought and his hand protectively covered the lady's fingers holding his arm.


"Good." Legolas smiled.


Chapter 8

A Successful Birthday Celebration After All


The library was completely silent. Not a sound could be heard, and unless one saw the elf leaning quietly against the back of a small sofa, no one would know he was there. A slight frown creased his fair brow and his eyes strayed over the dark shadows in the far recesses of the room. To an observer, it would appear that he was deep in thought.


Then he smiled. "Get your miserable dwarven rear in here, Gimli, or are you planning to hide in the shadows all night?"


Across the room, the dwarf stepped sheepishly through a doorway hidden in the shadows. He smirked at the elf. "How long did you know I was there, elf?"


Legolas grinned. "From the moment I heard you stomp up to it, dwarf. I think it is safe to say that I am the only one who heard you…" He paused and smirked himself. "Your breathing always gives you away as well."


"What would you have me do, suffocate?" Gimli quipped, eyeing the elf suspiciously. 


The elf's smile faded somewhat. The dwarf was not fooled by his jests. "I would have you not eavesdropping, Gimli. Could you not trust me to handle the matter?"


Frowning, the dwarf walked over and sat on the couch facing the elf's back. Legolas turned, propping himself against the back of the opposite couch with his arms and waited patiently for the dwarf to answer.


Gimli sat thoughtfully, stroking his beard. Looking up, he met the elf's eyes evenly. "Wasn't you I didn't trust. It was her…but it seems I misjudged the lass." The dwarf stilled his hand and leaned slightly forward, one arm across his knees as the other pointed at the elf. "You…" he smiled and dropped the hand. "I admit it. I'm impressed. You handled that with grace and dignity. I'd have killed her without finding out the poor girl was suffering so."


Legolas returned the smile and inclined his head in acceptance of the rare compliment. His grey eyes glittered in the torchlight. "If she had continued with such actions or accusations, I might have allowed you to bring your ax into the situation…if I did not do it myself. No one questions my honor," the elf finished stubbornly.


"Hmmph," the dwarf agreed. Then he beamed at his friend. "Well Legolas, you've been the perfect gentleman for most of the night, charming the ladies and what not. It's high time we rejoined the festivities. I say we challenge Faramir to a drinking game…you up to that?"


The elf smirked. "I'll drink you both under the table," he determined.


"Probably, but I could stand being good and drunk after all this," Gimli told him, standing to his feet.


Unseen, the elf mouthed, "So could I," with a smile as he straightened and started walking towards the door behind his friend. He grinned. "But then I will have to listen to you moan and complain about your aching head in the morn…after being unable to sleep from your intolerable snoring! That awful noise penetrates the stone walls, I will have you know!"


"Are you going to drink with me or not, elf?" The dwarf grumbled, stopping to glare at his friend.


Halting his own steps, the elf narrowed his eyes at his friend. "Aye, but I'm not drinking ale!"


"Agh," Gimli blanched. "It's your choice, but… Fine, I'll drink your bitter wine, but YOU have to get Faramir to agree to the contest." Gimli crossed his arms and lifted his chin defiantly.




The two friends grinned at each other, and continued out of the library and down the hall towards the celebration which was still going strong.




As soon as they reentered the main hall, Aragorn motioned them over to where he stood alongside Arwen and Faramir, watching the dancing couples. Gimli quickly picked out Lady Rodwen and Commander Arnien sweeping across the floor. He grinned at the elf standing at his side. "You should ask the lady to dance again, Legolas. Show her there are no hard feelings…though the other vultures might take that to mean they are free to prey upon you!"


Legolas paled, but replied calmly, "The ladies are not vultures, Gimli. I wonder how many others are under a similar kind of pressure from their fathers…I will speak with Lady Rodwen openly, and that should still most of the wagging tongues."


Gimli winked, "Then you will dance again?"


Grinning, Legolas chanced a glance at the King. "I think I would like another dance… My Lady?" He held his hand out towards Arwen, offering her a charming smile.


Aragorn frowned, "Legolas, there are dozens of single ladies just waiting for you to ask them to dance. Must you dance with my wife?"


"Yes!" Legolas answered as the Queen laughed and took his hand, smiling over her shoulder at her disgruntled husband. "I am sorry, my love. It would be unfair to keep such a graceful dancer on the sidelines, and I have not danced with Legolas all night."


Rewarded with a brilliant smile from the queen, the prince laughed and swirled her out onto the floor as the King of Gondor pouted. "I was to have the next dance," he complained.


"Oh, come off it, laddie. Let the princeling have his fun…" Gimli chastised the man. "She will soon be back in your arms, and I'll have the elf up to his pointed ears in Dorwinion. I've never seen him so much as tipsy, and I do believe it is well overdue," Gimli grinned at the King, who to his chagrin, beamed back at him.


"That is quite a sight, I warn you. But how do you plan to stay sober long enough to see it?" Aragorn asked curiously, his wife momentarily forgotten.


"YOU'VE see the elf intoxicated?" The dwarf sputtered indignantly.


"Indeed, I have, though only once, but I have heard stories, my friend, from my brothers…and my wife!" The King laughed at the look on the dwarf's face. "But again I ask, how do you plan to remain sober to see it. Dorwinion is extremely strong, Gimli. It is one of the few drinks which can affect a wood elf…"


Behind him, Faramir raised a curious brow of his own at the conversation. "A drinking game?" he asked. When Gimli nodded, the man smirked. "Ah, Master Dwarf, you are planning to switch your drink, I wager."


Gimli chuckled deeply. "Indeed I do! And you must join us Faramir. Together we will drink the elf under the table! Come, we shall need to find some form of juice to substitute for wine."


Faramir bowed grandly and swept his arm out, "After you, Master Deceiver. I shall enjoy this immensely."


"And I shall enjoy watching the elf put you both in your places. He will not fall for it," Aragorn declared with amusement.


"We shall see," Gimli told him. "We shall see…"




"I admire you, Legolas. What you did was very gracious. You could have easily asked for her to be formally punished," Arwen remarked as they danced.


"Better to see her changed…and happy. I hold no hard feelings against Lady Rodwen. She understands what she did and the repercussions. While the commander was kind enough to ask her to dance, it will be some time before any young man dares to pursue her. The other ladies will also speak of her harshly. She does not have an easy time ahead of her. That is punishment enough." Legolas smiled into the queen's eyes as she shook her head in amusement.


"You are truly one of a kind, my friend. But one day, you will meet your match. When that day comes…" She laughed at him when he paled.


"Let us not speak any more of ladies this night!" he declared firmly, a warning look in his eye. When the dance came to a close, the prince led the Queen back towards her husband. "I must speak to Lady Rodwen briefly, and then I believe I have a drinking game to win. I must find the Steward and convince him to join us."


"A drinking game?" She smiled mischievously at him and pulled him to a stop. "I believe you and I have a rematch of our own which is long overdue…"


Legolas grinned. "Aye, but your brothers are not here, my Lady." His eyes twinkled with mirth.


"I believe they were passed out when we called the game…the rematch is between you and I!" Arwen replied and laughed heartily when he smirked.


"The King may not appreciate his wife, the Queen, joining such activities during his birthday celebrations…but who am I to exclude you, if you insist on joining in with us?" Legolas asked, bowing grandly to her.


She smacked him soundly on the arm. "I do," she insisted. "Go speak to the Lady, and I will find our good Steward and convince him to join us as well. We shall meet in the far corner."


"As you wish, my Lady!" Legolas bowed again, and went to seek out Lady Rodwen.




The King of Gondor was quite miffed. After Lord Tharlos made his formal apology to Legolas, the elf, dwarf, Steward and his WIFE had disappeared. And now he found them here! His wife smiled up at him, but as soon as he lifted the lady into his arms, she fell sound asleep against his shoulder. 'So much for further celebrations,' he fumed, glaring at the elf who was blinking at him in confusion.


"I dunna unnerstand," Legolas garbled. "She onl' ha' m'be se'ente'n. Or wassit eightte'n?" He shrugged. "I tole 'er not to do it, Es'el," he slurred, smiling slightly at the man. His head lolled to one side and he stared at the Steward and dwarf smiling smugly at him. "You though' I didn' know you switch' yer drink, huh?" the elf grinned, when they both frowned. "Ne'er try to foola elf."


Aragorn began to chuckle, despite his soundly sleeping and intoxicated wife. They had, after all, been discreet and moved into a side room for their game, even if he had not been invited to join them. Faramir chuckled beside him while Gimli outright guffawed. Drunk elves were quite amusing, and by the Valar, Legolas could do with being good and drunk after such an evening.


When the elf tried to stand, the men began to laugh harder. Legolas could not quite keep his balance and was swaying from side to side. "Gimli, I think our friend might require some assistance."


The prince began to sink towards the floor, and the dwarf hurried to his side and steadied him. "Come, Legolas. I will help you to your room. I think you will sleep well tonight, my friend."


Blinking sleepily at the dwarf, Legolas asked, "Will you sing me t' s'eep?"


"Will I what….?" Gimli gaped at his friend, but both Aragorn and Faramir laughed all the harder.


"Yes, Gimli, please see his highness safely to his room, and make sure he stays there. According to Arwen, he has a tendency to wander when he has been drinking this much. You might lock his balcony door…" the King paled slightly. "It would not do to find he had fallen from that height. I must see the Queen back to our quarters, hopefully without witnesses to her condition," Aragorn glared again at the wobbly prince.


Gimli sighed, "He really did suggest she not join in, Aragorn. She insisted…some unfinished contest from centuries ago. He beat her fairly." The dwarf grinned. "If we had not been drinking grape juice, I dare say, Faramir and I would have been out an hour ago. I'm impressed with the lad."


Faramir frowned slightly, before inquiring, "But do elves suffer from hangovers? I fear he may not feel so well in the morning." He grimaced, "or the Queen either, for that matter."


A slow smile crossed the King's face. "They will both get what they deserve. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I will see my wife off to bed."


Faramir and Gimli bowed to the King, while Legolas leaned against a wall with unfocused eyes.


"Come on, laddie. Let's get you to bed, too." Gimli shook his head in amusement when the faintest of snores came from the elf. "Now who isn't going to get any sleep, hm?"


Together the dwarf and the Steward half carried the Lord of Asgarnen back to his room. After tucking the princeling in, Gimli settled on the balcony with his pipe and decided it had been quite a successful birthday celebration, after all. 


The End

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