The Elf turned round to look once more at his most treasured possession. His gaze caressed the wavy pattern of gilded leaves along the mighty curves, and halted on the familiar leather grip. He had just let it go and yet his fingers itched to touch it again as if they had a mind of their own. He willed his hands to remain at his sides, almost clutching at the rich silk of his borrowed tunic.
‘But what if...’ he ventured.
‘There is nothing to “what if” about,’ retorted his friend dryly. ‘Come on, we are going to be late.’
The Elf clenched his fists, not moving from where he stood.
‘I must make sure...’ He lunged forwards, irritably attempting to shake off the hand that grasped his elbow.
‘No, you must not,’ insisted his companion, without releasing his hold. ‘That piece of firewood will still be here when you return.’
‘Firewood? It is a mallorn bow!’ cried the Elf, outraged. ‘A gift of the Lady of the Golden Wood, more precious than gold. Since we left Lórien, it has always been at my side, but now... You should understand, you carry her lock of hair everywhere, and stare at it with lovesick eyes when you believe no one is looking. Unlike you, I cannot just wrap my gift into a knot around my fingers.’
‘I am certain I can help you with that,’ growled the glaring Dwarf, reaching out towards the bow.
‘Do. Not. Even. Dare. Lay one of your fingers on it and you shall become my next practice target. I will shoot off each and every one of your ridiculous beard braids.’
The Elf was perversely gleeful as his friend froze in shock. He did not often have the chance to use the tone he had learnt from watching his father in his most severe tongue-lashing mood. Without another glance at his bow, he strode out of the tent and almost tripped over someone who was about to enter.
‘I came to find you both before the soon-to-be King sends half of the Grey Company to drag you to his presence,’ said Elladan. He frowned. ‘Is there a problem?’
‘None at all,’ answered Gimli with asperity. ‘I was persuading our friend here to leave behind his pretty toy during the coronation.’ He pointed at the bow.
‘I see,’ laughed Elladan. ‘Come on, Legolas. We can go hunting tomorrow but today peace demands your most heroic sacrifice.’