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The Muse has been busy, cross-fandom and everything. I'm especially pleased with this one.
edit, 4/28: have changed errant 'stocky' word to more appropriately Dwarvish sentiment.
edit, 12/4: I was a Best Bet!!

Title: Antiphon to Light
Characters: Gimli, Galadriel, Pippin, Legolas
Prompt: 85: She
Word Count: 1,548
Rating: G
Summary: Gimli meets Galadriel, and is forever changed.

:~: Epiphany :~:

"Who of the Galadhrim, even Celeborn the Wise, would pass nigh and would not wish to look upon their ancient home, though it had become an abode of dragons?"

It took Gimli precious seconds to comprehend, to truly absorb what she had said.

Dwarves have very quick minds, so this was extraordinary. Gimli knew that other, less enlightened races, especially Elves, thought that since Dwarves were captivated by gold and gems, and didn't spout off poetry with the slightest provocation, that they were slow thinkers. This, of course, was absolute rubbish. The members in their small company, the Men and hobbits, Gandalf, too, had been far more perceptive than that. No, it wasn't that Gimli's mind was at all torpid; it was the words themselves that she had uttered in her low, resonant voice. This being, this radiant, magisterial, luminous creature had defended him. She had defended Gimli's enthusiasm to see his forebears' home; in doing so, she had rebuked her husband.

Gimli was awed. Enraptured. Spellbound. That must be it. Without a doubt her power rivaled Gandalf's, and Elrond's, for that matter; this had to be Elvish witchcraft.

He was wrenched from his discordant musings as she continued, his mind stunned into silence as Galadriel spoke the names of the tribal geographies they had recently passed. With surety and grace, the Khudzul slipped from her tongue. Gimli was parched, thirsty for each dropped word as it fell on his ears. In all his life he'd never heard the syllables of his ancestral language uttered with such beauty. Simply by saying the word, the unfathomable depths of Kheled-zâram were brought to his mind's eye. The hairs on his arms and chest rose as he understood that she viewed them that way as well. In a dazzlingly quick flash Gimli was allowed to comprehend that she had been there when the Doors were made. She knew his kind, the determined naugrim that made the stones sing. They — he — held her respect.

He looked up in amazement and saw manifest in her expression an overwhelming tenderness. For the first time in his 140 years, as he stood to speak some homage to her, Gimli felt faint.

:~: Eulogy :~:

Smoke curled in filmy, serpentine paths into the air. Gimli was caught up in memory, his fingers twining through one of his plaits. He was surprisingly peaceful given the dearth of solid rock around. Even in Rivendell there had been many stone buildings, structurally sound through aesthetically not to his tastes. But Galadriel was here, somewhere in this land of fields and trees that were so alien and yet so endearing.

"May I join you?" a chipper but cautious voice asked.

Gimli turned to his visitor, who raised his pipe in salute. "Certainly, Peregrin."

Gimli was convinced more than ever that the whole land here was enchanted; what astonished him was that he cared not a whit. He supposed that he should be more worried at his own magnanimity, but he couldn’t be bothered to worry overmuch about that, either. The hobbit puffed next to him in companionable silence, his behaviour equally uncharacteristic. It didn't last.

"I suppose we'll be leaving soon," he said thoughtfully. "More's the pity. I've felt safe here, even if it is all a bit dreamy, if you know what I mean."

Gimli nodded. It was as though the very air was suffused with healing, although he certainly hadn't felt so when they had first arrived. He chuckled softly to himself, thinking of Legolas' righteous indignation at having to be blindfolded as Gimli had been. The Lady had allowed the cloths to be removed; Galadriel had put her confidence in Gimli even before setting sight upon him. Perhaps she had sensed him from afar, it was entirely possible. He felt encumbered by his language, as it simply couldn't capture her wisdom and transcendent beauty.

"What are you thinking about?" Pippin asked, scooting around to face Gimli. "I don't know that I've ever heard you laugh before."

"Nothing of interest to you," Gimli replied, softening the rebuke by patting Pippin's knee. "Unless you, too, are thinking about our most wondrous host. Vrâlsfire," he murmured reverently.

Pippin looked at him in confusion. "Vrail what?"

"Vrâlsfire," Gimli repeated. "Diamond. Galadriel," he said, smoothing over the syllables as if polishing the very gem.

The perplexed expression remained on Pippin's face. At last he sucked on his pipe, cheeks hollowing as he shook his head. "You're the only Dwarf I've ever known," he said as he exhaled, the fragrant tobacco rising before his face. "And not to be rude, but I must say that sometimes I don't quite understand you."

For a few moments, Gimli thought back to his fellow silversmiths, and one particular lapidarist. Their ways and habits made perfect sense to him, as was fitting. He didn't pine for the Mountain or anything sentimental and ridiculous, though his hands did miss the tools he normally used for hours each day. How did he appear to this young hobbit? It honestly hadn't crossed his mind to wonder about such things, especially since Gandalf's fall, followed so quickly by their hasty passage into this realm.

"What do you mean?" he asked finally.

Pippin seemed startled, then delighted to be able to continue the conversation. "Well, Dwarves don't like Elves. That's been obvious. But since you met Celeborn and Galadriel, that’s changed. You've even gone off walking with Legolas, just the two of you. It's rather a surprise, that's all."

Gimli chewed on the stem of his pipe. "Dwarves are perhaps more complicated than you realised." He leaned in, speaking in a low voice. "I am changed because she looked into me. She may be an Elf queen, Peregrin, but she sees with Dwarvish eyes."

Satisfied with the profundity of his compliment, he sat back. Pippin mulled over the comments before giving a slight shrug.

"I'm quite sure I still don't understand you. Hungry?"

Gimli shook his head and waved the hobbit along. Once he was alone again, he closed his eyes, seeing Galadriel's ethereal face, and he smiled.

:~: Threnody :~:

He couldn't sleep. Gimli was getting more and more irritated at himself for allowing his thoughts to ramble. After several days of travel on the river, with most everyone in the company silently engrossed in his own ruminations, Gimli needed to talk. Thankfully it was Legolas on the watch. Had it been anyone else, he would've kept grumbling until eventually he fell asleep. With quiet care he dug out from his bedroll and walked around the small phalanx of hobbits. Continuing past the Men, he saw they both slept soundly. Aragorn's face still appeared less troubled, a gift from their days in the Wood, no doubt.

At last he saw Legolas, standing motionless a ways up a hill. Gimli walked up to him, treading lightly on the undergrowth until they were side by side. The night was smothering in its darkness, the moon's light hidden in clouds. Despite this, Legolas' eyes held their own phosphorescence, and Gimli saw with gratitude that there was no mocking in the Elf's gaze.

"You miss her," Legolas said softly.

Gimli nodded gravely. "Dwarves do not fear death, but I do not wish to leave this world without having made a shrine worthy of her gift. The metal and how to craft it — it dwells on me, and is a delightful pastime, but I know my thoughts need to return to our upcoming tasks."

Legolas pondered Gimli's hushed rumblings before replying. "Where is your gift?"

Gimli scowled, but eventually tapped at his heart. No one would steal his treasure. Legolas especially, Gimli supposed, would never consider thrusting his pale fingers under his jerkin to rescue Galadriel's golden strands, were Gimli slain and left to rot on some battlefield.

Or perhaps Legolas would do exactly that.

"Do you think we will ever see her again?" Gimli asked, surprised at the desperation in his voice. He realised that implied in the question was one he stoically kept to himself: would they ever go home again, and if so, would there be a place for him? He was so changed now; even his dearest of brethren might find him inaccessible, or odd. What kind of Dwarf was he that he found it fitting to share his feelings with an adolescent hobbit, and obsessed about three hairs from an Elf's head? He needed his axe in hand and some orcs to kill. That would help set him to rights.

In the lingering silence, Galadriel's parting words to him rang in his head, her wish for him intrinsically Dwarvish. As though at the end of a long, satisfying night of song and ale, Gimli felt the need for rest overtake him. He turned toward camp, assuming that Legolas had no words on the matter.

"The future is a dark mist of unknowing," Legolas said. Gimli rounded to face him, surprised that he spoke.

"I do wish to be in her presence again, and sing songs of renewal in her fair woods." A faint smile traipsed on Legolas' lips. "And I hope that you, my friend, are at my side."

Gimli nodded. "May Mahal will it."

"Good night, Gimli."

Once back under his blanket, Gimli placed his gloved hand at his chest, and fell fast asleep.

* * * * *

Author's Notes

Vrâlsfire is an anagram I made from the word for diamond in High Icelandic: alsverfir.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 28th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
That was very moving and intelligent. The films were disgraceful in making Gimli comic relief, though his interaction with Galadriel was not too badly portrayed. It is nice to see him being given the respect that he is due.

If you don't mind, I have a couple of comments:

"internalise" is a very modern usage, and has a rather jolting effect.
Also I am not certain that "ethereal" is an entirely apposite description of Galadriel, who if anything is more "there" than most people the Company meet. For me anyway it has certain unfortunate connotations of Victorian tweeness.

"stocky" in this context feels like a euphemism, which seems unlikely for a Dwarf on this issue. Why not just "short"? Also would height really be something that Elves hold against Dwarves, or Dwarves be sensitive enough about to construct euphemisms for? Or slow thinking, for that matter. Elves might criticise Dwarves for excessive devotion to gold and astuteness in bargaining maybe, but surely not for either stupidity or shortness.

I realise that these are rather nit-picky remarks, sorry. But it's a lovely fic, so I thought it worth mentioning the very minor points above.
Apr. 28th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comments; I may end up tweaking it thanks to your attention to the details of the words, especially the nuances of the Dwarf/Elf interaction ones. I'll need to go back to The Hobbit, as the Elves of Mirkwood are decidedly less refined than their southern neighbors. They had plenty of criticisms for Thorin & company! As far as I can tell, until Gimli was in Rivendell, the only experience with Elves he would have had would have been those of Mirkwood, and his father's comments about how he was treated by them. ;)

Again, thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave some astute concrit.
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
This was just, no, it wasn't 'just' anything; it is lovely, lyrical, beautifully written and a pleasure to read. Wordsmithing such as this is so very rare. Such depth you have given to Gimli. I loved the chat with Pippin, and Gimli's thoughts of what would become of Galadriel's hairs should he fall. I enjoyed it immensely, from start to finish! Amazing work! Thank you!
Apr. 28th, 2006 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you so very much! I'm glad that you enjoyed this story and the interplay between Gimli and Pippin and other elements you mentioned. It's wonderful to have you as a new reader; matildabishop is a dear and suggested some of your stories to me, so I'll be doing some reading as well. I'm so glad you appreciated this; I have a few combination Tolkien/HP readers/writers, but not all that many.

Welcome to my flist! :D I'm looking forward to exploring your LJ as well.
Apr. 28th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
This was, may I say, lovely, and does a lot to reinitialise my view of Gimli and of Peregrin from the movie versions back towards (my imperfect vision of) the originals.
Thank you.
Apr. 28th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! That scene came totally out of my imagination, but as I reread sections of LotR, Gimli's interactions with the hobbits and Legolas provide all sorts of wonderful fodder for more gapfillers. I've learned to let go of my anger at Gimli being used for comic relief in the films, and just enjoy it for that, but in my writing, I wish to reinstill the complexity, depth of character and honor that (perhaps despite himself!) Tolkien gave him.

Many thanks for your kind words.
Apr. 28th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
Lovely! You know how fond I am of Gimli -- and your Tolkien fic just sings! (I am not so sure about the "stocky" part -- but I do recall Tolkien describing Gimli as "stumping" along at some point on the journey.)

What a beautiful piece. I am so moved... *hugs*

Apr. 28th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comment! I've changed the "stocky" part, as you're right (and others pointed out), it doesn't fit. I am so glad you enjoyed it. :)

May. 12th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
Antiphon to Light
Very good! You write as an elf. Do you have pointy ears?

May. 12th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Antiphon to Light
Very good! You write as an elf. Do you have pointy ears?

No, no. I look like a red haired Eowyn. I'm far more like the Rohirrim and Dwarves by nature, not Elf-kind. But I'll take that as a compliment. ;)

Thank you for reading and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for linking this from your LJ.

No problem! :)

I don't usually read Tolkien fan fic, because I can't imagine it won't be ridiculous and pedestrian compared to canon. This really resonated for me and felt right! Maybe I need to get over my biases.

Goodness— that's high praise, indeed. There's some absolutely amazing Tolkien fanfic out there, at least to my mind. Depending on what you like, or which cultures, perhaps I could point you to some if you cared to read it, but rereading the canon material is what always provides the most inspiration to me. I recently posted about some of my own favorites of my writing, including some Tolkien; you might like The Hours; it's pretty short, but I tried to pack a lot into it. And it won some awards. :)

Thanks for taking the time to read this one!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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