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Questions-Bethann

Title: Questions
Author: Bethann
Rating: PG  for graphic images
Theme: Spring/Green
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.

 

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
livejournal
Mar. 19th, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
Volume 92 / Issue 8
User estelanui referenced to your post from Volume 92 / Issue 8 saying: [...] (Rating: G) by -- Questions [...]
engarian
Mar. 19th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
This is beautifully vivid, and I loved seeing this through Gimli's eyes. Your statistic at the end is chilling and a good reminder for those of us who are fortunate enough to live protected lives.

I will suggest that you might want to edit and put in your lj-cut html codes :-)

- Erulisse (one L)
bethann66
Mar. 19th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Interestingly even in the US and Britain underage people can join the military. They just can't serve in active duty until age 18 (an age where incidentally no no one in the US at least, will sell you a beer or rent you a car). In fact one statistic I read says that 40% of the soldiers in the UK joined at age 16. In other lands it is not uncommon for little children and very young teenagers to act as soldiers. If such things happen in real life I felt that certainly that could have happened in a fictional universe especially when so much was at stake. Even Tolkien himself suggested that Pippin was underage at the time of the quest, we just carried the idea a little further.

Also I would be very happy to follow your suggestion, but you will have to explain to me what you mean and how to do it since I am completely unfamiliar with LJ and will admit to being a dunce about such thing. LOL
Thanks so much for your comments!
Beth
foxrafer
Mar. 19th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
I know Tolkien didn't provide much information about him at all (including his age) I think the idea of him being a child is an interesting premise and I thought this was a really compelling story. Writing it from Gimli's pov was very effective. Their relationship is one of my favorites from the story.

Edited at 2012-03-19 07:58 pm (UTC)
bethann66
Mar. 19th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I do realize this is not an easy premise to swallow for a lot of people and I do not believe necessarily that Tolkien meant him to be underage (in his tale it was not important), but from clues in the story we can pretty much confirm his age at being at least under 1,000 (some say likely under 700) years, considerably younger than Arwen, who was over 2,700 at the time of the quest and the youngest Canon elf whose age we know for certain. We have written a whole series of stories based on this premise and a lot of things are better explained if you have read the whole thing. In those stories I almost always write from Gimli's pov. I'm happy you found it an interesting AU.
Beth
ceshaughnessy
Mar. 20th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
Beth, this is a lovely glimpse into a special friendship, very touching. It shows some deep thought on Gimli's part and focuses on an innocent aspect of Legolas the warrior. Also like the way you used your element! Hope to see more stories from you!!
bethann66
Mar. 20th, 2012 10:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the story and found it touching. I know its not a premise a lot of people care for, but I appreciate people accepting my AU ideas. I was trying to show a contrast between the war images and the fragments of innocence left over. I have a sketch that goes with it that I may post at some point in the future. Thanks so much for encouraging me to post this.
ceshaughnessy
Mar. 20th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
I look forward to your sketch! And, challenges are especially good places to "challenge" our ideas by writing and presenting something like this. I'm sure it will be appreciated by all who read it. Thanks for sharing it with us!
blslarner
Mar. 24th, 2012 10:02 am (UTC)
A sad commentary on the necessities of warfare. Thought provoking.
bethann66
Mar. 24th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you found it thought provoking since that was my intention here. I don't usually write dark things like this, but once in a while they turn out that way! Thanks for letting me know you liked this!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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