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A/N: This story is set during The Return of the King, around the time of Gimli’s discovery of Pippin on the Battle Fields. Legolas is probably a little more like his movie self, rather than his book self in this fic, in that he’s a bit more close and reclusive. Obviously, I don’t own the characters, but I hope the Prof won’t mind me using them too much!
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In my time spent with these mortals, I have learnt so many of their strange traditions and customs, and the gift that they posses and loathe. Perhaps that is why my father kept me away from mortals in my youth (of it could even be called “youth”). One would think that by now I would be used to death; I have seen so much in my wanderings from Imladris, and yet still it barely has meaning to me. I have not, you may say, adapted to it, as I have adapted to the need of hobbits to have six meals a day. Or the curious pass-time of smoking pipes that all of my companions seemed to enjoy. Or the desirability of ale. Or the fierce competitiveness of dwarves, especially when it is against an elf.
No, I have not yet adapted to death.
When Gandalf fell, I was grieved for his loss, but I seemed not to comprehend it in the same way that my companions did. Poor Peregrin hardly spoke a word for many a day afterwards, and it was rare to find Frodo with dry eyes. I shared their pain, but I knew it was different. I suppose it was because I felt that I would see Gandalf again, some day. I knew that he was one of the Maia, akin to the Valar themselves. And perhaps, one day, if it would be my fate to pass into the West, I would meet with Mithrandir once more. But the mortals would not, for death is their gift, or their curse.
The pain was much worse when I came upon Aragorn and Boromir. At first, I feared that they had both been slain, for Aragorn moved not, so great was his grief. But the slightest movement revealed that we had lost only one of the men of our company. At that moment, I realised how definitive death was. Never again would I see Boromir’s stern, proud smile. Never again would I hear his voice, strong and loud, as he befriended the halflings. Never again would he ride to his city to be greeted by the people that loved him so. He had been taken from this world, taken from those that loved him, and they would never see him again.
It was an odd feeling, to say the least. I have never forgotten the pain that welled up inside.
But nothing can compare to the grief I feel at this moment. Nothing could have prepared me for it. It seems unfair that this should be our payment for all the deeds that we have done for this world. Gimli’s cries of sorrow fall upon deaf ears, for I have time only for my own despair.
Peregrin. Pippin. Pip. He had so many names. “Fool of a Took” seemed to be Gandalf’s favourite. As I look upon his small, limp form resting in the arms of Gimli, who is weeping uncontrollably, I feel my own eyes mist over. Another strange feeling, for I cannot remember the last time tears fell from my eyes. Perhaps when I was a small child, but that was a great many lives of men ago.
I cannot find the words that I wish to speak. I doubt the Gimli would hear them anyway. But I want to release the guilt that I feel along with my grief. It is my fault. It is my fault that the smallest of us has fallen. He was standing so close to me when the battle began. I am sure that I heard either Gandalf or Aragorn (with all the noise, I cannot be sure which one it was) cry out to me: “Watch out for Peregrin.”
But I did not. As the waves of the enemy washed over us like a sea, I lost site of Pippin. So small was he, amongst so many, I suppose it could be argued that no one could have been able to keep a close watch. But I, Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood, should have been able to. I should have stayed closer to him. I should have called to him to stay close by.
My thought suddenly turns to Merry, waiting patiently in Minas Tirith. How shall we tell him this grievous news? And Frodo and Sam? It has said that they have been found, but is this the prize that they should receive for their toil? To wake up and find that the youngest and dearest of them has been slain?
I hope that Merry will deal me a painful death for not keeping Pippin safe.
I wonder if Elrond did not foresee this. Gandalf had told me that he had been reluctant to send Peregrin along with us. Is it not possible that the Lord of Imladris foresaw this cruel end that fate had in store for the most beloved member of our company? He knew what would befall on this dark day and tried to prevent it. He tried to allow the world to hear Pippin’s laughter and feel his infectious joy.
My sorrow slowly turns to anger. If this is so, why then did Gandalf not agree with Elrond’s decision? So much could have been saved if not for the stubbornness of the wizard.
I know the answer, just as I know it is not my place to deal judgement. Pippin would have come with us, whether he was permitted to or not. Such is the will of a Took, I am told. More stubborn than any wizard.
Gimli’s cries have now been reduced to pathetic whimpers. Such a strange sound to be coming from the dwarf. I am used to his gruff snarl and sharp tongue, both suited to his look. He looks up to me with eyes redder than the sunrise.
“Even now, he frustrates me so!” Gimli states. He places his hands on Pippin’s cheek with surprising gentleness. “I want to shake the life back into him. I want to bring him back. Never did I think that I, Gimli son of Glóin, could care so much for one so small.”
I nod numbly, and bend to pay my own last respects. Pippin always had so much trouble keeping his curls in order, and even now a lock of hair blocks the view of his closed eyes, matted with the blood of another. Even as my hand comes close to his skin, I feel an unforeseen warmth. This day has seen me touch enough clammy faces to know the feel of one who has died, and as my hand finally comes into contact with the halfling’s soft skin, that is not what I feel.
He is far from the warmth that I have felt at other times, on the rare occasions he sought comfort from me, as it was his cousins that had caused his distress. But his feel is not that of one that is dead. Further investigation reveals other signs that we had missed in our hastiness. Pippin takes small breaths, so shallow that we can be forgiven for thinking the breathing had stopped. My hand strays to his chest, where I can feel the very faint thud of his heart. A startled gasp finally escapes from my throat.
“What?” the dwarf demands. “What is it?”
“He yet lives, my friend.” And as I speak, the tears finally find their way down my cheeks. “You may still have your chance to shake him, and vent your frustration.”
“Alive?” Gimli’s eyes search my face to find any trace of jest. A foolish deed; how could I jest about something like this? Not finding what he searched for, a grin spreads across what mouth I can see beneath his beard. “Alive! That is a joy beyond hope.” He looks down at Pippin. “You shall certainly get it from Gimli, small one, once you are well enough. He does not like to be tricked into grief!”
I laugh. “Come, Gimli, we must bring him to Aragorn! I am pleased that we do not have to return bearing ill news and only the body of a brave hobbit.”
Gimli nods and stands. Again, I am amazed by the care he takes when moving. He must fear causing further hurt to Pippin’s already broken (but alive) body.
I follow after Gimli. I believe I have found another curiosity that I have not yet adapted fully to. The will of the Tooks is not so easily repressed. Perhaps one day I will understand that it will take much more than battle, or being crushed by a troll to extinguish Peregrin’s spirit.
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A/N: This story was somewhat inspired by Baylor’s “Fate and the High King’s Falcon”. I tried to put my own little spin on Legolas and Gimli’s discovery of Pippin’s “body”, because it was a scene that always interested me from the books. Let’s all hope it’s in the movies!
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