Rating: PG for graphic images
Elements/ spring green
Word count 1226
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N This is one story in a series of AU stories created by me and my co author that highlight the unique friendship of Legolas and Gimli. Yes there are au elements, the main one being the age at which elves reach adulthood. We know what Professor Tolkien said about this, but we have respectfully decided to ignore it. In our AU elves reach adulthood at 1,000 years of age so in this story and all our stories Legolas is just a bit shy of coming of age (in mortal terms like someone in his late teens maybe, though there are differences of course). You have to accept this little au idea for this story to make sense. In our series Gimli has acted as a sort of guardian to Legolas since Gandalf fell in Moria. That is another story that I may post at some point if anyone is interested in reading it. Sorry this is a bit late, but I hope you enjoy!
A/N 2: Some have wondered how Legolas could be an established warrior and yet often behave like/be treated like a child as is depicted in some stories on this group. My answer is that many people throughout history have been called to fight before their time.
In this little ficlet Gimli contemplates this topic…
I have just come outside to lean against the newly built portico to enjoy a few moments of the early evening breeze before staying in for the night, when I notice my elfling is still out there working on something in what will eventually be the garden. We have discussed this before. He should not be working this late in the day, no matter how much stamina he thinks he has. No one has endless energy and it is my job to make certain he does not work himself to death. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. I am about to go out and remind him of this fact once again when I notice what it is he is `working' on. In the middle of the rapidly greening field he has found a patch of dandelions and is busy tying their supple green stems together to make a long yellow chain.
I smile for it is good to see him indulging in such a carefree activity for a change. Lately he has been very weighed down with the heavy responsibility of establishing his new colony and has had little time for simple pleasures. I am here to help him get started in his new home. It is my pleasure to do so and I am happy for him. It is an honor- a reward- and one rightly bestowed upon him for his numerous sacrifices before, during and after the war. Most certainly I am pleased for him. I can think of no one else who deserves it more, and yet I wonder if he is ready for it.
I know what he says-what others say- but is he truly ready? I have even said it myself-gone out of my way to reassure him that he is more than prepared and yet is it true or is that just wishful thinking? Am I only hoping that by saying it often enough it will become a fact? There is no way to know.
What I do know is that were he born at a different time in history there would be no question about it. He is not yet an adult, and children belong with their parents. Expecting them to take on adult responsibilities is wrong. The pressure of such a daunting task is too much for one who isn't finished growing up
Yet how can a person say that to a battle-tested war veteran? He is that as well.
Even as I watch, he picks up one of the dandelions that has turned to white fluff and blows on it hard so that the stem is left naked of its fuzzy head. There is no mistaking the delight that registers on his face as the soft down floats away in the fading sunlight.
I lump forms in my throat at the poignant contrast this makes from other times and places. I recall darker images from not so long ago. One of him yanking an arrow from a twitching corpse and wiping away the black blood before returning it to his quiver. Of him slicing the heads from two foul beasts at the same time without blinking an eye. Of us together piling the carcasses of the slaughtered enemy and then lighting them on fire to cleanse the land after a battle. One of him stepping over the bodies of slain comrades, looking for a particular friend and recoiling in horror upon finding that friend pop-eyed and gurgling, strangling on his own blood. Of him setting his jaw and then slitting the poor sod's throat to ease his passing.
I watch now as he ties the ends of the yellow chain together to form a wildflower necklace and then loops it over his arm to carry home. His expression is still guileless and childlike so that to those who do not know he seems to be unaffected by the terrible carnage he has experienced. I know better. He carries deep scars and likely will always will.
The life he has led was not by his own choice, but was chosen for him not by force but by training. King and country come above all else. The needs of the people must be met first before personal needs are even considered. . He has lost the opportunity to experience the natural selfishness that is part and parcel of being a child.
That early training has made him a valiant and strong warrior; one who is deadly in battle and who strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy. I would not like to face him in battle myself!
And yet does that make it right? Do adults have the right to manipulate youngsters into whatever mold best suits their need at any given moment? Do they have the right to steal an individual's youth from him for a cause, even if it is a noble one? Must the good of the many always come above the good of the one? What if that one had no say in his destiny? I am uncertain.
What I am certain of is that he is not alone. I have seen those of my own kind packed off to battle years before they should have been considered battle ready. I have seen boys with piping high voices dragged from their mothers' skirts and handed swords and shields they could barely lift. Among both the allies and the enemy I have seen the corpses of lads who likely still had some of their milk teeth. It is an unsettling thought at the very least
As I watch him walk toward me I wonder who really is this person I have come to know and love as if he were my own flesh and blood.
Is he a courageous Prince and leader of people or an overburdened adolescent?
Is he a war hero or an exploited child?
Has he made a great sacrifice or is he the sacrifice?
I do not know the answer to these questions. Perhaps there are none. I only know that I am here to do my best to pick up the pieces and to be a friend and advocate to the best of my ability. It is my self-appointed duty to patch up and protect whatever is left of the shambles of his childhood. I cannot imagine my life without him and were it not for the war and the circumstances of his life our paths would never have crossed.
He mounts the steps to the porch and kisses my cheek in passing as he places the green and yellow dandelion necklace around my neck.
Was it worth the forfeiting of his innocence for me to have found the most important relationship of my life?
I wish I knew.
Children as young as 5 years old make up 10% of the world's combatants. More than 300,000 underage soldiers serve in conflicts around the globe according to United Nations' reports.