"I don't know why you insist on arguing, Aragorn," Legolas said smugly, leaning back in his chair, arms behind his head and long legs stretched out before him.
"I am just stating a fact, I am the faster runner. Don't feel too bad, I am an elf after all."
Aragorn scowled in response,
"And what do you base that fact upon Legolas?"
"My elvenness?" Legolas raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Have you met my Father?......and then there are the ears." He pushed back his hair to reveal a perfectly pointed one. "They are generally a give away."
"NOT your elvenness!" Aragorn sighed, "That is not in doubt and neither is your ability to be annoying. I mean your running prowess as well you know."
"Do you not remember when we ran on the plains of Rohan?" Legolas leant forward intently. "I was definitely the faster of the three of us."
"I do not remember it that way Legolas. I was the one in front, you were back with Gimli most of the time."
"Because someone had to look after him, you were positively negligent!" Legolas cried.
"That's enough! I did NOT need looking after!" Gimli leapt out of his chair in the corner of the room. "I was guarding the rear. Someone had to do it!"
"Relax Gimli," Legolas reached over and patted his hand kindly. "You kept up admirably of course, but you must admit, I had to keep an eye on you or who knows what might have happened. You could have disappeared down an Orc hole or worse. Aragorn would never have noticed!" And he threw Aragorn an accusatory glare.
"An Orc hole??" Gimli roared with disapproval and Aragorn saw his chance, how remiss of Legolas to give him such an easy opportunity to score points.
"Indeed Legolas, is your education lacking?" He smiled, "since when do orcs live in holes?"
Too late Legolas realised his slip, he had been overconfident. He would not let it happen again.
"Troll hole then....." He waved his hand airily as if it was of no concern.
"Trolls don't live in holes either....it is caves Legolas.....caves!" Gimli could not resist pointing out his friend's error.
"Caves, holes, it is all the same surely."
"They are not-"
"Let it go Gimli," Aragorn cut him off before he could protest further. "You know how he is, he will argue black is white. The point is Legolas," he continued patiently. "You cannot deny I led the way in Rohan, I was the faster."
"Only because I let you."
"You LET me??"
"Under Elrond's instructions of course. You were the great Dunedain tracker. I had to let you go first, especially after the mess you made of Amon Hen. You had just lost the ring bearer. I needed to try and build up your confidence. You didn't really think I could not have tracked the hobbits just as well, if not better than you?"
"I had just lost the ring bearer????....." Aragorn was astonished. "You had to build up my confidence?"
"Yes so you could fulfil your destiny and so on and so on. Elrond specifically told me I was to make sure you were allowed to shine. You were hardly going to be able to rule the world of Men moping around regretting the fact you hadn't taken my advice in the first place."
"Your advice?!" Aragorn wished his voice had not risen to quite as high a squeak. It really wasn't very manly.
"I TOLD you a shadow and a threat were growing in my mind. It is not my fault you wouldn't listen!"
"Because I did not want to know about your phobias!" Aragorn pushed back his chair and stood up, making sure he looked his most kingly as he did so.
"We will sort this out Legolas. We will have a race. I will be first and then we can leave this topic alone once and for all."
Legolas rose in one swift movement. Did he have to be so graceful ALL the time, Aragorn thought resentfully.
"Very well Aragorn." He said sweetly. "I accept your challenge. Tomorrow, on the Pelennor. You and I. Gimli can referee it."
"Wait, I never said I would be involved in this stupidity!" Gimli protested wildly but all to no avail.
Neither of them were listening to him.
Gimli was most surprised when the birds outside his window woke him. Where was Legolas? How had he let him sleep in this long? He had been sure that drafted elf would wake him before the crack of dawn so he could spend hours discussing the glorious defeat of Aragorn which was sure to follow when they had this ridiculous race. Really, Gimli thought, he didn't know why Aragorn got himself into these situations.
Still, of Legolas there was no sign and it was most unusual. He decided he had best go find him and his room would,be the best place to start
"Legolas!" He rapped hard on the door. "Legolas get up."
"I am up," came the answer through the keyhole.
"Then let me in. It is mid morning lad, where have you been?"
"I have been here Gimli."
He let out a long sigh, sometimes it could be so tedious talking to the elf.
"Come out Legolas so I can talk to you properly."
Why ever not? Gimli wondered.
"Then let me in then." The door opened a crack and Legolas peered out.
"Is anyone else there?"
"No of course not!" Gimli had had enough. "Stop this foolishness and let me in Legolas," and he pushed his way through the door which Legolas hurriedly slammed behind him.
Gimli stood astonished in the middle of the room. It was in chaos. Legolas was never the most tidy but this was a disaster even for him. The entire contents of his wardrobe seemed to have been strewn across the floor.
"Legolas, what on earth are you doing? Get dressed lad. You are supposed to be having this race with Aragorn in less than an hour or had you forgotten?"
"That is the problem Gimli. I cannot get dressed. Someone has stolen my trousers!"
"Don't be ridiculous." Gimli was well used to Legolas's eccentricities but this one took the cake. "Anyone would think you didn't want to run. Stop fooling around."
"You find them then!" Legolas waved towards the pile of clothes. "Help yourself."
But sure enough, when he looked he discovered there were tunics, shirts, even a beautifully beaded robe he could never imagine Legolas wearing but no trousers. He had to admit defeat.
"There are none. What have you done with them? Who did your packing?"
"I did my own packing thank you. Aragorn is responsible for this. He has stolen them. He is afraid to race me and this is how he intends to get out of it!"
"I don't think so Legolas," Gimli frowned. "Aragorn is an honourable man. He does not, as a rule, steal people's trousers."
"Who else would do it?! I need you to go and get them back from him." Legolas was all earnestness.
"I am not going to see Aragorn and accuse him of stealing your trousers! You do it if you insist on believing this madness."
"I cannot!" Legolas was horrified. "I am a prince Gimli, I have standards to maintain. I cannot walk the corridors without my trousers.......and besides my father would kill me if he heard."
"Wear this then!" Gimli held up the glittering beaded robe and Legolas recoiled in horror.
"You can't be serious. I would not be seen dead in that."
"Why did you pack it then?" Gimli tried to ask but found himself bundled very unceremoniously out the door.
"Just get back my trousers." Legolas whispered loudly before he shut the door. "I will wait here for you." And the door slammed shut leaving Gimli alone in the corridor.
"Well you can hardly go anywhere else," he said grumpily, as he trudged off towards Aragorn's chambers.
"For the life of me I dont know how I get myself into these things."
He was muttering to himself the entire trip through the winding corridors. This really was the bitter end. How on earth was he supposed to put this preposterous idea to Aragorn?
Guards were on duty outside Aragorn's door which was in itself unusual, and they moved forward to prevent Gimli access as he approached.
"Let me through" he blustered loudly.
"The King is busy, he has given orders he must not be disturbed." Gimli eyed them up and decided he didn't fancy a fight that particular day. Perhaps he could just return to Legolas and tell him he had been denied entry........but no.....then the elf would somehow take umbrage and this bad situation would become worse, he just knew it.
"He will see me. Tell him I need an audience.....urgently."
"He said no one was to be admitted. He was quite clear about that." The guard stared at him grimly.
"No one doesn't include me, obviously." Gimli paused for thought. What could he say to get them to let him in? Then it came to him.....Legolas of course. Aragorn was always completely and unreasonably worried about Legolas. If he thought he was ill.....
"Tell him I come on behalf of the elf. It is an emergency." The guard looked doubtful and Gimli thought he had to up the pressure.
"Did you not hear me say an emergency? Do you want the Elven King after you when he finds out his son has been neglected?"
That was enough to get the guards moving.
Urgent muffled conversation was had through the door and he heard Legolas's name mentioned several times.
Eventually the door opened.....only just a crack...... The guards stood back and Aragorn's hand reached out and dragged him in.
He had no time to compose himself.
"Right tell me what his demands are!"
Aragorn was straight on the offensive and Gimli was left trying to catch up.
"Look Aragorn, you must know I am here under duress. I do not for a minute believe this wild story the elf has made up but it was easier to come here and sort it out myself." He paused to get his bearings,
".......and why are you not dressed this late in the day? Do you not have meetings and the like?"
"You know very well why I am not dressed." Aragorn was furious.
"Tell me what it is Legolas wants so he will return my trousers!"
"YOUR trousers? He does not have your trousers...it is his trousers he wants." Seriously this could not get any more confusing.
"Stop playing games with me Gimli. I have had enough of his tricks.....and if he thinks this will stop me racing he has another think coming. I want my trousers back. Tell me what I must do to get them."
"Look Aragorn," Gimli tried being patient. "I swear to you Legolas does not have your trousers. He has none himself which is exactly why I am here instead of him. He cannot go out."
But Aragorn wasn't in the mood to listen.
"Right." He said, "So he is determined to be difficult. Take him this note then." He scribbled angrily on some paper. "Make sure he knows I will not tolerate this. That should get him to cooperate."
Gimli stared at the note that had been thrust into his hand.
"You cannot give him this!" he cried in horror, "It will enrage him. You do not want to do that Aragorn."
"Oh do I not..."Aragorn stared at him...."because what will he do then...take my shirts as well? Take him the note Gimli. Get my trousers back."
It was with a heavy sigh Gimli retreated to the corridor. He had not managed to get the trousers back.....not that he had thought they were there for a second, and now Aragorn had none either. He briefly wondered if he should make a detour to check on his own trousers.
And then there was this note. He certainly could not deliver it.
What to do? He thought. A solo trip back to the Glittering Caves was looking very tempting right about now.
Aragorn was fuming. The nerve of Legolas sneaking into his room and removing his trousers. And then sending Gimli to laugh at him as well. It was obviously purely for his own amusement because Aragorn knew Legolas had no need to be worried about the race. He didn't need to stoop as low as stealing trousers to win it, he would come first with one arm tied behind his back.
He really didn't know why he got himself into these wild competitions he had no hope of winning every time Legolas came to visit. He had to make a note to drink less of that elven wine Legolas bought with him. It was obviously potent.
But the fact he was always going to lose the race was beside the point.....to not even let him run it was insulting! He wasn't THAT slow. Just wait until Gimli delivered that note......actually he thought Gimli would have been back by now.....just where was he?
He was pacing the floor muttering when a terrible swearing from his balcony shattered what peace there had been. What was that? Aragorn jumped a mile. He was torn between going to investigate and hiding in the closet...he was not very suitably dressed after all.
Never a one to shirk danger, investigating won out in the end, but it was a close call.
The sight that greeted him was the last thing he expected to see for it was Legolas. That in itself was not completely unexpected. Legolas often chose to enter by climbing the walls and coming over the balcony rather than the far more sensible method of walking down the corridor. But it was not just Legolas, it was Legolas wearing what could only be described as a dress......in fact......he was pretty sure it WAS a dress!
He let out a splutter of laughter, he could not help himself.
"What are you doing?! Do you realise how ridiculous you look?"
"Thanks very much." Legolas stood, hands on his hips and Aragorn could only laugh. "And now that you have finished laughing at me can you give me back my trousers." Legolas sounded most affronted.
"Anyway you are not exactly suitably dressed yourself. Why are you still wearing your nightgown?"
That stopped his laughter short.
"You know why that is. Give me back my trousers."
"Are you mad? I don't have your trousers." Legolas cried, "If I did do you think I would be wearing THIS??"
He had a point there.
"Why ARE you wearing that?" Aragorn found himself smiling everytime he looked at him.
"Because Gimli was supposed to rescue my trousers from your clutches and he hasn't returned. I have come to get them back myself. You don't think I am going to stroll through your corridors in my underwear?"
"Perhaps....." Aragorn spluttered, "Perhaps your underwear would be preferable to a dress."
"It is a robe, if you don't mind." Legolas was quick to reply. "And I found it at the back of my wardrobe. One of your previous visitors must have neglected to take it with them. It is certainly not mine!"
"Gimli was here." Aragorn tried to change the subject but the dress was very hard to ignore. "Has he not bought you my note?"
"I have seen no note from you. What was it? A ransom demand? Really Aragorn, if you wanted to call off the race you only had to ask. I knew you would regret it in the morning."
"I did not...... Well, perhaps I did think better of it but that is not the point. The point is....I do not have your trousers and you.......as you so clearly point out, obviously do not have mine. So who does have them?"
Legolas frowned, his face an image of intense concentration.
"Gimli!" He cried in excitement. "Gimli has them!"
"He is the only one to know of the race. He has been going between us amusing himself at our discomfort....where is he now I ask you?!" Legolas flung his arms wide.
"Perhaps...." Aragorn was unconvinced.
"Who else can it be? They are very sneaky, dwarves, you know. We must plan our revenge Aragorn."
"You know Legolas," he sighed, "I would settle for just getting our trousers back." The last thing he wanted to do was entwine himself in the middle of a war between Legolas and Gimli.
"Though I must say, that dress really suits the colour of your eyes."
He managed to duck in time to avoid the book thrown across the room aimed disconcertingly close to his head. You would almost think Leoglas was upset.
"These two will be the death of me." Gimli sighed. He still don't worked out how to get himself out of this situation. He couldn't go back to Legolas but he didn't want to go anywhere near Aragorn either.
"Gimli, you sound troubled, what bothers you?" It was the sweet voice of Arwen that called to him from where she sat under the oak tree. "Come and sit with me." she beckoned.
"I am wondering how the Lord of the Glittering Caves has ended up an errand boy." He said glumly.
"And who are you an errand boy for may I ask? And why does it cause you so much unhappiness?" Arwen was so kind, she always soothed his ruffled feathers.
"Legolas and Aragorn seem to have lost their trousers."
Arwen looked at him in surprise, then a look of pure amusement drifted across her face.
"They have what?"
"They have me running between them trying to get trousers back that don't exist, neither of them will listen. The only good to come of this is the end of that dratted race."
"Ah, the race," Arwen said sagely, "Well it is a relief Estel won't be embarrassing himself on the Pelennor today."
"You did not think he would win then?" Gimli gave her a hard look.
"Of course he would not win," she laughed. "Legolas is twice the speed of him when he tries....he is an elf! I blame my brothers of course."
"Your brothers are not here." Sometimes, Gimli found, Arwen spoke in riddles as badly as Legolas did.
"If they had only let Estel win once.....just one thing when he was growing up he wouldn't have this overwhelming need to prove himself the better." she explained. "It is always the same, Legolas comes to visit, they have a drink and Estel ends up agreeing to the most ludicrous competitions he simply cannot win."
"Well I am supposed to deliver this note to Legolas" he handed it too her, perhaps she could suggest a way out of this.
He watched as she read over it casually then looked up in alarm.
"You cannot give him this! It will start a war between Ithilien and Gondor!"
"Aragorn was slightly upset when he wrote it. I have no intention of delivering it." He said,
"What I cannot figure out is who has taken their trousers in the first place."
"Come on Gimli," Arwen smiled sweetly, "Who has enough stealth to enter Legolas's room while he was sleeping."
"That's what I can't get my head around." he complained. "The lad can sense a mouse even if he is asleep. If it was not Aragorn.....then who else? It could only be another elf-"
He stopped abruptly and looked up at her in surprise receiving the most innocent ladylike smile in return. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth he thought.
"Oh well," Arwen placed Aragorns note aside and picked up her needlework.
"Such a shame, I guess they will have to race another day."
And Gimli continued to gaze at her in amazement.
'I was right all along, never trust an elf,'
He murmured to himself.
'And that obviously goes for the whole entire lot of them."
Disclaimer: as always all Tolkiens, not mine.