Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the plotline. Even Gildor Inglorion isn't mine--Tolkien had him first.

Warnings: None except that it's slash. A faithful reviewer, Melanie, asked so nicely for this that I couldn't refuse. For anyone familiar with my previous work, this has a very different tone. Melanie wanted a tender, romantic little fic that discussed Gildor's and Haldir's relationship, so that's what this is.

Archiving: OLAS and anyone else who wants it, just let me know.

A/N: This is a continuation of my previous Unspoken story arc (Unspoken/Revelations/Changes.)

One Last Time

Part 8

By Rune Dancer


Third Age, 180: Imladris

The beech wood liked the mobile one. He was one of the first ones, and had long been resident under the trees. It had been but a sapling when he first came to Imladris, and it had recognised that he was little more than such himself. They had grown up together; as it stretched its arms toward the sky, he had played under its branches, or climbed them with other saplings of his kind, but had been careful not to break any of its twigs or rip away its leaves. Of course, most of the first ones were careful, but their saplings, well, they could be thoughtless sometimes.

As he grew older, this one was often away somewhere. The beech wood didn't really understand the concept of away, but it had heard the first ones talking and knew it meant beyond-what-could-be-seen. He would come back, however, from time to time, and sit again under its spreading leaves. Sometimes they would talk, others times not, but the beech wood always liked having this one near. He had good roots, as the trees said.

But today, there was some problem with the mobile one, who sat against its bark but did not speak. The beech sent several queries along its trunk, and echoed them in its swaying branches, asking what was wrong. But the mobile one sat unhearing. The beech wood decided to ask the ash, which always boasted that it understand the mobile ones better than the other trees.

"Is it perhaps that he is diseased," the beech wood asked, remembering with a shudder the only time it had not felt like speaking, when that awful rot had attacked its roots several cycles back. The mobile one felt different than usual, deader inside, as if parts of him had also begun to rot. When the beech wood had had this problem, however, some of the mobile ones had come and poured a strange liquid around its base, and slowly, it had recovered. It wondered now if they had any more of the substance; perhaps this one could use some.

The ash seemed to ponder the point, slowly as was its fashion. It considered the beech wood too quick to decide things, and often said so. "Perhaps," it finally said. "Although, he may be in need of watering, for look, he leaks rain."

The beech wood considered this. It was true. It had never seen one of the first ones do that before, so it could not be normal. "But why should he need water? Just this morning, the rains came." The beech wood had lost a few of its older branches in the storm, but neither it nor any of the other trees had been seriously harmed. The rains had felt good, and already the water coursed through its wood, helping new leaves to sprout.

A willow joined the conversation now. "I once heard it said, that when the mobile ones are sad, they make rain for themselves, as this one does now."

"Who said?," the beech wood asked, somewhat surprised that it had never heard this, too.

"A burrowing creature told me," the willow replied.

The beech wood considered this. It did not usually pay attention to the rumours the burrowing things told, for they were not always reliable. "But what sadness can he have," the beech wood asked when the trees had all pondered this new concept fully. "For the rains came this morning, and now the sun shines." It was agreed that this was true. It was, in fact, a glorious day, with a great deal of bright sunlight causing all their leaves to open fully and lift even more skyward. The ground felt good as well, being still damp with moisture, and the river flowed faster than normal, gushing happily over its rocks. Small creatures scampered about, looking for berries, and a nest of the flying ones in the beech wood's branches were happily reporting that there were many crawling things that the rain had washed up. So many that the flying things' small ones were refusing any more to eat.

Yes, it was, indeed, a good day. The beech wood thought about this for a time, until the sounds being made by the mobile one began to intrude on its thoughts. It was not speaking to the trees, nor did the sounds it was making seem like those it used to speak with other mobile ones. The sounds disturbed the beech wood, although why they did so, it could not have said.

"I think that he is ill," it said once more, returning to its first line of thought. It remembered that, when it had been rotting, it took no joy in even beautiful days such as this. Some of the old trees that were no longer there, had reported feeling the same before the end. But this mobile one was not old, and besides, they did not die as trees did. The beech wood sent an inquiry down its trunk once more, but again, the mobile one did not respond. The beech wood thought about this. Then it asked the ash to explain things to the trees closer to the Great Burrow in which the mobile ones took shelter; they could tell one of the other first ones that one of them was ill. The first ones must have more of the liquid that had made the beech wood's roots come alive again. Maybe they could water the mobile one with it and he would feel better.

The whisper ran through the treetops quietly, and the beech wood felt the vibration in its roots when one of the mobile ones heard it. This one, though, the beech wood did not know. Yet it realised, as the first one came closer, that he was tree-friend, for his murmurs were understandable to the beech wood. The tree-friend did not come close to the mobile one, however, but stayed farther away, under the shade cast by the willow. The beech wood waited for the tree-friend to bring the liquid, but he did not, so it sent a query to him through the willow.

The willow took time to think about the request, but finally spoke to the tree-friend. "The beech wood says the mobile one rots at the roots. It says he needs the liquid that makes the rot go away. Will you bring it?"

The beech wood asked the flying things to be quiet, so it could hear the tree friend's response.

**He is not ill. He is sad. I have no potion that will make that better.** The tree-friend spoke quietly, but the beech heard the sound of his voice and wondered if, perhaps, he was not also ill. Usually, when the mobile ones spoke, their voices echoed with the joy of life and the happiness to be found in all living things. The song in their voices was like a gentle wind in the branches, or like the burbling of the brook now as it flowed quickly from the rain. But this one's voice did not convey those feelings. The beech wood thought about that.

It decided to be a little annoyed with the ash, which must have explained things badly to the trees near the Burrow. "You must tell the trees near the Great Burrow that they sent the wrong mobile one. This one is a stranger here and does not understand about the liquid that kills the rot. He may also be ill as well; I cannot tell. You must tell the trees by the Burrow to send another."

The ash thought about this. It decided to be annoyed with the beech wood, for questioning its abilities to communicate with the mobile ones, and reminded the beech wood that it had stood when the beech wood was still but a sapling. "I knew you from a nut," it said, its branches quivering slightly, "and I have always said you are too hasty. You assume too much. Let the mobile ones alone and they will fix their own problems."

The beech wood did not consider this. The ash probably had rot, too. Instead, it asked the flying ones to takes its request to the trees by the Great Burrow, and one of them flew off to do so. While it was gone, the tree-friend finally moved towards the mobile one, and sat down beside him under the beech wood's spreading branches. They did not talk in the language of the mobile ones; indeed, if they spoke at all, the beech wood could not hear them.

It decided that they did not speak, for they were sitting right under its branches and it would have heard. It could hear even the crawling things wriggling through the earth in the ground around it, and the song of the flowers that grew in the grasses. No, they did not speak, but the tree-friend moved very close to the mobile one, and put his branches around it. This did not seem to help the mobile one, who only leaked more and made more of the disturbing sounds-that-were-not-speech. The beech wood tried itself to explain to the tree-friend the need for the liquid, but the tree-friend was now not talking either.

The beech wood considered this. It decided that, whatever rot had afflicted the mobile one, must have spread to the tree-friend, who had also begun to leak slightly. This alarmed the beech wood, which did not at all like the idea that two of the mobile ones were now rotting beside it. It tried to draw its roots further down into the ground away from them. The beech wood was fond of the mobile one, but it had already had rot once and did not want to have it again. It sent another of the flying things to request aid from the burrow.

Soon, the first flying thing returned and apologised to the beech wood for taking so much time. It told the beech wood that it had not been able to find the leader of the mobile ones, but had flown into the nest place of one of the leader's saplings. There it had found two of the mobile ones, but they had not been interested in listening, as they were busy mating. The flying thing had courteously waited for them to finish, but they took a very, very long time, and so it had finally decided to circle them singing until one of the mobile ones asked what it wanted. The flying thing had then explained that one of the mobile ones was rotting beside the beech wood, and the beech wood asked if some of the liquid used to cure rot could be brought so that the mobile one might be watered with it. The flying thing reported that the two mobile ones had not seemed to understand this. They had just looked at it for a while, and then gone back to mating.

The beech wood considered this. It did not know how to make the request any clearer, as it seemed perfectly so already, but asked the flying thing to go back and try again. Meanwhile, it regarded with increasing alarm the two mobile ones underneath its branches, which were now speaking to each other in the language used by the mobile ones, but it did not sound the way it should. It sounded as if they were lamenting the fact that they had the rot, but the beech wood could not be sure as it did not understand very well the speech that the mobile ones used with each other.

The flying thing returned with the second flying thing. They had met up in the nest room of the sapling of the leader of the Great Burrow. They reported that the sapling and its mate were now coming, but warned the beech wood that they were not pleased. The first flying thing explained that it had returned to the room with its nest brother to find that the two mobile ones were still mating. This seemed strange behaviour, as they had surely had enough time by now to finish and, considering that the beech wood had said to hurry, the flying things had not thought it wise to wait.

The first flying thing had therefore landed on the nest and explained--very courteously, he assured the beech wood--that the two mobile ones were rotting much worse now, and badly needed to be watered. The sapling had then thrown something heavy at the flying thing, which had retreated to the entryway. The second flying thing assured the beech wood that the first flying thing had been very polite and in no way deserved the attack. The first flying thing explained now that it felt a debt to the beech wood, which had been a very good place for its nest and had always warned the flying ones if any danger approached them. As it very rarely asked for anything in return, the fling thing had not wanted to return with its mission unfulfilled yet again. So the two flying things had discussed the issue.

They quickly decided--for the flying things decided everything quickly--that the sapling and the other mobile one had had more than enough mating time already, and must attend to the beech wood's request. They had noted that rain seemed to keep some of the creatures of the forest from mating, although it had never had that effect on the things that fly, but they decided to see if perhaps something similar might get the attention of the mobile ones. So they flew over to where a pretty bunch of flowers from the meadow resided in a small thing-that-holds-water. They picked up--with some difficulty, they informed the beech wood--the thing-that-holds-water, and carried it to the nest at which time they dropped it on the two mobile ones.

"It did get their attention," the first flying thing informed the beech wood.

"But they are not happy," the second flying thing announced.

The beech wood considered this. It had no desire to make unhappy the sapling of the leader of the mobile ones, with whom the beech wood had had many pleasant conversations through the years. It also, however, did not want to have the two mobile ones continue to rot on its roots. It thanked the flying ones, which flew away to the top of its branches and began a conversation about the strange mating habits of the first ones.

The beech wood checked on the two mobile ones that sat on the ground below its branches, only to find to its surprise that they had stopped leaking. They were making strange noises again, but they were somehow different than the other noises. It took the beech wood a moment to decide that they, too, were now mating. It considered this.

The creatures of the forest did not mate when they were injured or hurt. So perhaps it had been wrong and the two mobile ones did not rot after all. It had no more time to consider this, for the sapling and one of the oldest of the first ones now appeared. It was true, the beech wood decided; the sapling did not look happy. The sapling had brought the liquid, however, the beech wood was glad to see. Indeed, he had brought a very large container of it, which he threw all over the two mobile ones.

"Well, the beech assured us you needed watering," Elrohir said, and turning, stalked back to the house.

"Do try not to upset the trees further," Glorfindel added over his shoulder as he hurried to catch up to his lover.

"I think we should continue this conversation indoors," Haldir commented, wiping water out of his eyes.

Gildor agreed, laughing, but stopped for a moment as they started to leave the glade. He ran back and put his hands on the beech. **Thank you**

**You no longer rot?**

**No, I no longer rot.**

The beech wood's leaves rustled slightly in pleasure. It would enjoy reminding the ash of this, the next time it boasted that it best understood the mobile ones.

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