Marigold's Tale Challenge 37 - Hidden Strength by Slightly Tookish
Feb. 4th, 2007
10:18 am - Hidden Strength by Slightly Tookish
Pippin comes across Gimli in Rivendell, and both of them learn a few things...
Title: Hidden Strength
Author: Slightly Tookish
A/N: Thank you to marigoldg and llinos for the betas!
Pippin had always planned on having an adventure one day but this adventure was certainly not much like the one he had hoped for.
In his mind Pippin had imagined a happy sort of escapade with his cousins. They would go on a long journey that would take them outside the Shire for some time – ever since he was very young Pippin had thought it would be great fun to follow Bilbo's footsteps and see Rivendell and the Lonely Mountain – before returning home eager to share stories and tales of their experiences, their packs weighed down with little treasures and oddments they had collected along the way.
Never had Pippin pictured the peril he had experienced, along with his cousins and Sam, in recent weeks. He had never anticipated fleeing the Shire, pursued by creatures more frightening than he could have ever imagined, creatures that had nearly killed Frodo. Nor had Pippin imagined that soon he would be embarking on another adventure, one that promised to be even more dangerous than the last.
In just a few days he would leave Rivendell as part of the Company. Frodo and Merry had been spending their remaining time in Elrond’s House holed up in the library peering at dozens of maps spread across a large table. Sometimes Pippin joined them, but he had never enjoyed looking at maps and quickly grew bored. Sam spent most of his time fussing over his and Frodo’s baggage, arranging and rearranging the items inside so that he carried the most. Bilbo often passed the mornings quietly in his room, alternately writing and napping, and the hobbits had seen little of Gandalf and Aragorn as they determined the best road for the Company to take. And so Pippin found himself alone after the morning meal, wandering through the halls and thinking about his first grand adventure and where the next one would take him.
He never grew tired of exploring the House of Elrond. It seemed that there was always something new to discover: an elaborately decorated room, a gallery of exquisite art from another age, an unexpected corridor that would lead Pippin in a new direction. Pippin came upon one of these today, a winding hallway that led to an outdoor walkway, shielded from the wind and cold by a roof and delicately carved railings. Pippin paused for a moment gazing in wonder at a waterfall that cascaded beside the bridge to pool in the river down below before he continued along.
At the end of the walkway a large, heavy door was propped open to reveal an enormous workroom. Benches and high tables lay in neat rows and upon the walls hung various tools. Stacked neatly against one wall were barrels of various sizes. The room was empty save for one other person, and Pippin lingered in the doorway, curiously watching the scene before him.
There was Gimli the dwarf, rolling a barrel nearly as large as himself across the room. Pippin watched as Gimli stopped and opened the barrel, almost expecting another dwarf to emerge from it, just as they had in Bilbo’s stories. But when Pippin leaned further into the room, perching on his toes, all he could see was sand inside the barrel.
The movement from the doorway caught Gimli’s attention, and he glanced up. He regarded the hobbit with some measure of surprise, more likely expecting to encounter an elf. Narrowing his eyes, Gimli peered closely at Pippin, recognizing him as the smallest and youngest of the hobbits – the one, if rumour had it, Elrond had especially tried to keep from joining the Company. But Gandalf had supported Pippin, and that was enough to assure Gimli. He recalled from his father’s tales that the wizard knew a good deal about hobbits, and Gimli was certain there was some reason why Gandalf wanted this young one to join the Company. With a word of greeting, Gimli motioned for the hobbit to come closer.
Pippin beamed and hurried over to Gimli’s side. He had seen the dwarf at mealtimes but they had not yet spoken more than a few words to each other. “Hullo Gimli! What are you doing?” he asked eagerly, his eyes straying to the barrel once more.
Gimli raised an eyebrow at the hobbit’s exuberance. “Mail rusts easily, if one is not careful,” he explained, reaching for a shirt of steel-rings that Pippin had not noticed lying on a nearby bench. “I wish to clean it now, before we set out.”
With wide eyes Pippin stared at the mail shirt, listening to the rings jangle against each other as Gimli moved it. His fingers twitched, wishing to touch the strange shirt, and he reached out his hand before withdrawing it quickly, aware that the dwarf was watching him closely.
But to Pippin’s surprise, Gimli chuckled. “Here,” he said, holding out the mail shirt to Pippin. “You may have a closer look; I do not mind.”
Grinning, Pippin took the shirt from Gimli – and nearly dropped it. It was so much heavier than he had expected! Gimli had held it with just one hand, holding it as easily as Pippin did one of his own linen shirts. Pippin could not imagine how anyone could wear such a thing.
Though his face was grave Gimli’s eyes twinkled in amusement as he watched Pippin struggle momentarily to keep his grip on the shirt before he managed to hold it high enough to inspect the rings more closely. He was impressed by the hobbit’s fortitude; in truth, he would not have been surprised if Pippin had staggered beneath the weight of the mail. But now Gimli could see there was a certain quiet strength and power within the small creature that he had not anticipated, and it lightened his heart. For the first time he truly understood why, of all the creatures in Middle-earth, the Ring was to be carried by a hobbit, Pippin’s own kinsman Frodo.
It was Gimli who spoke first. “My father gave it to me upon my coming of age,” he said, surprising himself by sharing information unbidden. Somehow it seemed to him that the hobbit would appreciate learning more and he was correct, for Pippin immediately turned towards him, listening eagerly.
“It is a tradition among the dwarves for sons to receive shirts of mail from their fathers when they reach adulthood,” Gimli continued. “The shirt is given in preparation for battle and symbolizes the father’s wish to protect his child, for he is the one who crafts the mail, ring by ring.” Gimli sighed at that. He already missed his father, who had left Rivendell the month before, wanting to return home before deep winter set in and the roads became impassable.
With a sympathetic smile Pippin returned the shirt to Gimli. “It’s splendid,” he said. “Although it is so heavy that I cannot imagine anyone wearing it comfortably! Won’t you find it uncomfortable to wear it while walking such a long way?”
“I am accustomed to it and do not find it a burden,” Gimli replied. “But first I must clean it.”
“Right, you were about to do that before I interrupted,” Pippin laughed. It was a joyful noise, and Gimli found himself smiling at the sound of it. “Is that what all the sand is for?”
Gimli nodded. “Coarse sand will shine it up, and later I will oil it to protect it from rusting,” he explained as he dropped the shirt into the barrel and closed the lid tightly. Then he turned the barrel onto its side again and began rolling it.
Quickly Pippin leapt over to Gimli’s side, helping him to push the barrel along. Gimli was touched by the gesture, for he had not expected the hobbit to help him, and nodded his thanks.
“We hobbits don’t wear chain mail,” Pippin said. “There’s no need to, but a shirt like that would have helped poor Frodo, I think. I don’t suppose he would want to wear one, though.” His face was grave when he glanced over at Gimli. “I’m glad all of us will be there to help Frodo. I don’t know how we ever would have managed to reach Rivendell without Strider, and now we have you and Legolas and Boromir, and Gandalf of course. I’m ever so relieved!”
Strength indeed, Gimli mused to himself. News of Frodo’s recovery from the Morgul-wound had amazed them all. Glóin had turned to his son and said, “Hobbits will always astonish you! I remember how surprised we were to find Bilbo alive after the battle so long ago. Should you get to know hobbits, my son, you will learn that there is more to them than meets the eye. Little do they realize how they endear themselves to the hearts of others. Beware of them, Gimli!” he had added with a laugh.
For a time Gimli and Pippin pushed the barrel along in silence, each one’s thoughts turning towards the journey that lay ahead. At last Gimli deemed that it was time, and opened the barrel to remove the mail.
“Goodness!” Pippin cried, touching a few of the rings, astonished at how clean they had become. “All that from a little sand! Will you bring some with you Gimli, so you can clean your shirt along the way?”
“No,” Gimli replied. “It would be too much trouble to carry, when we must pack so lightly.” He sat at one of the tables to oil the shirt. Pippin continued to watch him curiously until his stomach growled loudly enough for both to hear.
“It must be nearly time for elevenses, my only hope for convincing my cousins to leave the library,” Pippin said with a grin as he slid down from his bench. “We usually eat in Bilbo’s room. Won’t you join us, Gimli?” he added hopefully.
Gimli paused in his task, surprised at the invitation, and glanced up. “Thank you, Pippin. As soon as I am finished, I will join you there,” he promised.
“Wonderful!” Pippin said, heading towards the door. “Let me go and find my cousins. See you soon, Gimli!” With that he dashed off through the covered walkway.
Gimli watched Pippin disappear as Glóin’s words echoed in his head. With a harrumph he returned to his task. Something told him that he ought to keep an eye on these hobbits…