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Story Notes: A big thank you to Pythoness and Amy for help.

On the Edge of a Dream

By Marina


I should be sleeping. We ran for hours yesterday, and we'll run again tomorrow. The orcs are getting away and we can't really afford to stop for the night, only it's impossible to go so long without any rest. I should be sleeping now, but I can't.

Or maybe I can't wake up. All those days since Lothlorien I walk around as in a dream. Everything's still enchanted: I left the elves' land, but it's still with me. He said that the memory would be my reward. Such an elven thing to say, too. But I think I'm beginning to understand this. My memory's like a mirror, true - but some days I feel like I'm surrounded by this mirror, nearly living in it.

I wonder what would my father say if he knew what I'm thinking. Something about dwarves and elves not mixing well, probably. Oh, our family was never very vindictive. Plenty of dwarves still can't talk about Nauglamir. Not so with us, but ... to each his own. Dwarves in the caves, elves in the forest and so on. I used to think the same.

But now... I'm changed. And it's not the end, I'm changing still. Well, some things, of course, stay the same. I always looked for beauty, pursued beauty. I'm a dwarf - if we see something beautiful, we want to keep it. It used to be simple. What can be more natural than admiring someone's craftwork, or treasures found under our mountains? These are the things in our blood.

But can this be enough? I'm not meant to live my life under the mountain, not any more. Oh, I miss home, true. Who doesn't? I try to imagine it, try to make the memory calm me. Only I can't trust my memory any more. Where my eye should see sharp and clear lines of good dwarven work, now mists and pastels appear.

That mirror of Galadriel's - I never thought to see it. I was always taught that elven magic is better left alone. And then she brought me there. Just appeared before me when I sat under one of those trees and suddenly I knew I had to follow her. So I did. And saw the mirror. Doesn't matter that much what you see in it. It's just... it seems to be smooth as a jewel, but it's not. The ripples start, and all the clarity disappears, and then you see: of course it's not a jewel, it's just water. Ordinary water, but not ordinary at the same time.

I probably started to change even before that. I slept in the houses of elves, I ate with them, but I thought it wasn't about me. Just another pretty picture to keep in memory.

I didn't notice the picture becoming alive. When did the elven songs and the elven gardens stop being exotic as a new jewel and became a thing of necessity, nestled in the stash of memory that I'll hide to the last days? I never noticed. Before now. Before Lothlorien.

Boromir was afraid to go into Lothlorien. Maybe I should have been, too. People like Boromir don't get frightened without reason. I think he knew that this forest would change our lives forever, and that was what troubled him. But what use is it to be afraid? What does Galadriel's mirror show you if not your own soul and heart? And I'm not the kind of dwarf who is afraid of himself.

And after looking at yourself in that mirror, there's no going back. You can't forget the truth and pretend it doesn't exist. Maybe Men can; they can be anything they want. We dwarves only can be ourselves.

Do elves even worry about things like that? Do they worry at all? I look at Legolas, and sometimes I think he's like a mirror himself: I see only myself and my thoughts reflecting back at me. What is he really thinking?

Here he stands, and he may as well be far from here. We went a long way with him, and there is still a longer one to go. We faced enemies and entered the darkness, and I trusted him to be there. I trust him - there's no question of it. But do I know him?

For a moment I thought I did. There in the strange forest full of elves who stayed out of our eyes, walking with him, talking, but not really talking - I was sure I knew him better than any dwarf who worked and played and drank with me.

When we walked around Lothlorien, I didn't think about him being an elf. It was just him, my companion, someone surprisingly easy to talk with and at the same time so different from me that it was a challenge to explore him, to get deeper into his mind and soul and see what jewels I could find.

And then we parted ways, and I looked at him going up these damned trees and I was reminded of who he is and who I am. And I was thinking about him again, only in another way. I was taught to distrust elves; all dwarves do in some ways. But at the same time no true dwarf could help being intrigued by their beauty.

Maybe we do something in common, only our races see beauty in different forms. His is easy to see. He is like a crystal so well polished by nature that it doesn't even need working over, just the setting worthy of it for everyone to be enchanted. But how could he see any beauty in me?

I know what I am like. I'm a fine dwarf, many have told me that. Does it matter for an elf? Maybe for Legolas all dwarves are about the same - no distinction between fine and ugly, young and old, just dwarves.

I don't want to compare myself to him; for some reason it scares me. I shouldn't compare: we are made of too different stuff. I keep telling myself this, and usually it is true. I like the difference; I never met someone like him, and I want to explore this mine of new possibilities.

By day we are companions and we have our mission and our roles to play, all is easy and fine, and all obstacles we meet are good food for a dwarven axe and an elven bow.

But at night... night is his time. Here he stands, off in that dreamland where all the elves go to. It is fine for him, but what am I doing tossing and turning, trying to follow him?

No, I really should sleep. No dwarf ever did anything good by not sleeping at night. I should leave the dreams to Legolas and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be another day, and there'll obstacles I can ram through. And dreams? Maybe Legolas will tell me his sometime. Later. Maybe tomorrow.

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