Title: Gone beyond the veil-for the spring is sprung challenge
Disclaimer: I am not and have never been called Tolkien
A/N: This story is set on Tol Eressëa and 50 years after the death of Gimli
I have been told it needs a tissue warning!
If you are reading this laddie, then I have gone to meet my forefathers in the great halls beyond the veil.
I look forward to meeting those who have gone before me, most especially my father Gloin. I will have much to tell him and others; who would have ever believed that I, Gimli Gloinson, would be the longest living dwarf since Durin the Deathless.
My life has been a wonder and these last years with you at my side are something I will treasure wherever my old bones go to.
Do not ever at anytime think I may have regretted crossing the sea with you; we were the last of the Fellowship and it seemed fitting somehow that we who at the beginning couldn’a stand the sight of one another, should eventually have become as close as kin. I may never have said it out loud, but you knew it as well as me that you were the son of my heart and the thought of being separated from you when the time came for you to leave Middle Earth was not something I could have borne. What is more lad, coming with you meant I could once again set eyes upon ‘My lady’ and for that sight alone I would have been prepared to have swum here if your boat had not been available to carry me.
I admit there were times on the journey when I wished I had; we dwarves are not really meant to be sailors!
Nor, before you ask, did I miss my own folk once I had crossed the sea. I knew my separation from them to be temporary and my time with you short by your reckoning at least, even though we had over a hundred years here together. What is more, irritating as you can be, I couldn’t have left you to face this new challenge alone, and your Adar knew it when he asked me if I intended to accompany you.
Hah, now that has thrown you hasn’t it? You didn’t think Thranduil and I would discuss your needs…What lad, didn’t it occur to you that we both have your best interests at heart?
While your Ada could not, in all fairness, desert his wood and his people when it came time for you to leave, he could at least ensure there was someone with you that would take care of your needs.
That someone was me… I would have come anyway without his plea, but the fact that he was prepared to give your care into my hands made me very proud. Ai, lad, but who would have thought the son of Gloin and the son of Oropher would have something in common or that that thing would be a pointy eared elvish princeling!
So, lad, I ask that you do not mourn my passing; know I have lived longer and in more comfort than any other dwarf has a right to.
In my years on Tol Eressëa, I have met with and spent time in the company of many of the great names in history; aye and I admit to meeting with more than a few who were not at all enamoured of a dwarf being allowed to travel to the Undying lands. I regret only that their prejudice had such an effect on you. Do not deny it. You were very discrete lad, but I know how many times you refused invitations from those who would shun me, aye and how many times you went up against others to fight my corner. I hope that my presence here offered ye more comfort than pain…There was no pun intended there, although I do not doubt that ye are giving me that disdainful ‘you have to be jesting’ look of yours.
Be honest lad, there have been a few occasions when it was necessary for me to ‘discuss’ your conduct with you, like the time ye nearly killed yourself climbing up that rock face to get that piece of black basalt I coveted. What made ye think I would put a piece of stone above your life, ye foolish elfling?
But now that is in the past just as I am, and I am going to have to leave your care in the hands of others for awhile. I have already spoken with Elrond and Erestor and when I give this letter into Gandalf’s hands, I will talk to him as well. Ye will be well looked after in the time after my departure and the arrival of your father.
Yes, ye daft elf, of course your Ada will come. I know you have never been convinced that he would choose to leave Middle Earth, but I say again to ye, he will come.
He will make the final journey, him, and his entire household. The sons of Elrond will travel with him, aye and my lady’s husband too, Lord Celeborn; Glorfindel promised he would see it done and I for one would not choose to doubt the word of the Balrog slayer. You will see them all again and if I am any judge of it, in a much shorter time than ye believe.
I am sorry I will not be there when Thranduil arrives; what a stir he will set up amongst the old tabbies here on the island, and how happy you will be. I would have liked to have been there at your reunion, but Illúvatar had other plans for me it seems and I do not deny my old bones are grateful for this time of rest.
Still, I repeat we will see each other again, you and me, Aragorn and Arwen, Merry and Pippin and all our other friends. I know that Illúvatar would not have allowed us all to have become so close, so much like family, that at the end of all things he would keep us apart.
Hold that thought in your mind, princeling, and know we will be in each other’s company again when the time is right.
Until then, live and love your life, grow into the elf I know you are capable of being. Be a support to your Adar and your people and maybe, at some time in the future, you may meet that special Elleth who will steal your heart away; don’t wrinkle your nose, it may happen.
And most importantly of all do not mourn for me more than you must. Tears are all very well lad, but do not let my death drown your own zest for life. Dance, sing, drink a skin or two of wine, shoot a quiver full of arrows into a target, run through the canopy, and laugh lad, for life is good wherever we are and being apart for awhile will not harm us, because our friendship will endure this life, this world and the next.
Legolas folded the increasingly fragile piece of parchment up and placed it inside his tunic, and then he put his hand to his heart and bowed his head in homage towards the stone cairn where Gimli had been laid to rest, fifty years ago to the day.
No matter how many years went by, the sting of the loss he had felt did not diminish and he was still alone; his father had not sailed, and the hope that had ignited in his heart when he had first read Gimli’s last letter was now struggling to stay alight.
“Ai, Gimli I would give anything for you to have proved me wrong just this one time. To hear you say ‘I told you so’. I miss you still my friend.”
He did not bother to wipe away the tears that had formed, letting them fall freely; there was no one here to see after all.
“Here you are young elf.”
Legolas spun round to find Olórin standing smiling at him, the brightness of the day dimmed by the radiance of his true form as a Maiar.
The prince wiped the tears from his eyes with his sleeve, something that had any of his former care keepers seen him doing would have earned him a sharp reprimand.
The erstwhile white wizard merely opened his arms and enfolded the elf in his embrace, holding him close.
“There now,” he eventually put Legolas from him. “No more tears. You know it was not Gimli’s way to mourn.”
Sniffing somewhat dolefully Legolas muttered, “I miss him.”
“As do we all, child. Come, sit beside me here so we can talk.”
Not giving Legolas time to object, Gandalf steered him away from the cairn and back to the top of the hill where a seat had been placed with a fine view of the house that Gimli had designed and then built when they had arrived in Tol Eressëa.
The building was of warm stone, with many open walkways and wide windows, which looked out onto the beautiful woods beyond the more formal garden near the house. Gimli had taken great pride in combining the best parts of the designs of the home Legolas had lived in when he was Lord of Ithilien, and the house that his daeradar had first built in Amon Lanc. There was even a nod to the architecture of Thranduil’s stronghold in the stone pillars and the elegant carved wooden swags and panelling.
Legolas had always argued that it was far too large and grand for his needs, but the dwarf had been insistent and in the end Legolas had let him have his way.
Large portions of the building were permanently closed off and since Gimli’s death no one had entered them except the housekeeper and Lord Erestor, who made use of the unused rooms to store furniture, artefacts and books that had been sent from Middle Earth and had yet to be needed at New Imladris where Elrond and Celebrian now resided.
Knowing Gandalf would not speak until he was ready; Legolas settled back into the seat and allowed the peace of the morning to offer him solace.
“You still keep his letter I see.” Olórin nodded to where the elf had secreted the parchment. “Do you read it often?”
Legolas looked a little sheepish.
“Almost every day, if he knew he would no doubt tell me I am nothing more than a ‘daft elf’ but when I read it, I hear Gimli’s voice again and it brings me comfort.”
“Nothing wrong with that, young one; there was much wisdom in his words and if they give you comfort, he would be happy to know it.”
“They do…I only wish…” he fell silent
“What do you wish?”
Giving the Maiar a sideways look Legolas continued softly, “I wish that he had not been so sure that my Adar would sail, for it saddens me to know that he was wrong. He was so certain that Ada would join me here.”
“What makes you so certain Gimli was wrong?”
“Well…he is not here and although there have been many sightings of grey ships in the harbour at Avallónë, none of them brought news of my father.”
“You should have more faith, young Greenleaf”
Legolas turned wide eyes filled with desperate yearning on the old wizard.
“You have heard something?”
Laughing Olórin nodded.
“I have indeed. My old friend Ossë sent word this morning that a great fleet of ships has been sighted, ships flying the banners of Eryn Lasgalen, Gondolin, Imladris, and Lothlorien. The last of your kind are coming home, your father amongst them. And from what Ossë tells me, they are bringing every bird and beast that wished to travel with them. Horses, hounds, raptors, squirrels, not to mention every book from the libraries of three realms and the remaining tapestries and furnishings from your home, when Thranduil Oropherion decides to move, he does it in style, it appears.”
His face now alight with joy, Legolas leapt to his feet, tugging on the wizard’s hand to get him to stand also.
“Ada is coming…We must go and meet him…I must tell them at the house…”
Then his face fell as he bethought him of the lack of a welcome his home would provide.
“Now what is amiss?”
“Thanks to Gimli’s insistence, my house will be big enough to provide a proper home for Adar, but it is mostly empty and closed up…not fit for anyone, least of all my king.”
Once again Olórin laughed.
“Then it is as well for you that Gimli Gloinson was more farsighted than you gave him credit for young prince. Not only did he trust that your father would eventually cross the sea, which is why he built such a large dwelling. He also arranged with Erestor that, should your father begin to send boxes, furnishings, tapestries or any other items he might decide upon in the years leading to his arrival, Erestor would store them in your so called empty rooms. From what Erestor tells me, your father has shipped just about every stick of furniture and statuary he could move and the Elrondionnath and Lord Celeborn did the same. There will be no shortage of furnishings for those rooms Gimli insisted were built, even when Elrond gets his share delivered to New Imladris.
“Adar has been planning this then…but why not tell me?”
“Because there was always the chance, a small one perhaps that he or one of the others might not get to sail west. Not all evil has gone from Middle Earth; your father would not have your hopes raised only to have them dashed again. His love for you is such that he would do nothing to hurt you, not even unintentionally…and now enough questions and worries. Let us go and break the news to your household and then we will ride to Avallónë and await the ships.”
“Yes, hurry Gandalf. I must be there when he comes!”
But before he raced down the hill towards the house, Legolas looked back once more at Gimli’s cairn and was not at all surprised to catch a glimpse of his great friend as he had been in the prime of his life, his smile merry and his dark eyes gleaming as he mouthed ‘I told you so’. Then the sound of deep rumbling dwarven laughter surrounded him as the shade vanished and Legolas knew then that he and his friend would one day stand reunited and laughed in turn.
The End or maybe the beginning?