Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A/N:Thank you for all your support and reviews, you guys are awesome!
So I want to send out a big thank you to my Beta Doublekross.
All the improvements you see are credited to her. She opened my eyes to the many mistakes I make, and I hope she'll continue to do so in the future.
For the first time since the Fellowship set out from Rivendell to destroy the one ring, Gimli did not know what to do. Gandalf was off doing Durin-knows-what while Legolas and Gimli were awaiting certain death within the walls of Helms Deep. Sam and Frodo were off running around Middle Earth with an evil ring that was in all likelihood trying to corrupt them. Boromir and Aragorn were dead, and Merry and Pippin's fate remained a mystery because Gandalf thought it would be amusing to keep the rest of the Fellowship in the dark. Gimli kept his hopes high, even when the filthy orc told him and Legolas that Aragorn had taken a tumble over the cliff. He refused to believe all was lost, not until he saw Aragorn's dead body with his own eyes. Legolas was grieving, and Gimli needed his friend to get his head back on his shoulders, because orcs would be attacking Helms Deep very soon.
As he watched Legolas stare blankly into the distance, he worried. Gimli was not a dwarf of many words, he wasn't one to easily offer comfort to someone grieving. What could he say to lessen the grief? He would likely say something that wasn't meant to be said, something wrong and inappropriate. He immediately dismissed the idea of trying to comfort the elf. It would go terribly wrong and he would end up embarrassing himself, which was something that he did too often as it was.
He could try to yell at the elf, perhaps shock him out of his grief, but he would in all likely-hood receive a punch in the face, and that did not sound very attractive to him. Gimli sighed and once again found himself wishing he could just get the lad drunk. It would solve so many problems. Unfortunately he needed the elf sober and ready to fight, not drunk out of his mind. He returned to his earlier thoughts. He could try to give the elf an inspirational speech, speak about Aragorn and how he would not have wanted Legolas to give up. Gimli sighed with frustration, he was not very good at those either, he usually left that to Buffy. He felt a pang in his heart at the thought of his brave, good-hearted sister. She would have known what to say. He wished again that his sisters were with him, if only to get the annoying elf to stand up and fight for his life. Buffy would probably be wise and comforting, talking about death as if it were not the end of the line. And Faith would grab the elf by his ear and tell him to grow a pair. Gimli suppressed a chuckle at the thought of his fiery sister grabbing the proud elf by his ear as if he was a small child. It would have been a funny thing to see, of that he was sure.
But as Gimli wished, with everything he had, for some guidance, he suddenly knew exactly what to say. He slowly walked over to Legolas and stood beside him. He pulled out his axe and twirled it expertly before setting it down on the ground to lean on. He instantly felt better. His axe had a calming effect on him. Just the mere touch of it could bring him peace.
"Are you alright, lad?" he asked gruffly. He cringed when he heard his own tone of voice and reminded himself once again that this needed to be handled delicately. After he was done here, he was going to kill as many orcs as possible in order to erase the womanly emotions he was now willing himself to feel. Legolas remained silent. "You know lad, he could still be alive."
Legolas froze. "He is dead, Gimli. You saw the cliff. It is impossible that he survived." Legolas' hand tightened on Aragorn's necklace. He would have to make sure it was returned to Arwen, Aragorn would have wanted her to have it back.
Gimli cleared his throat nervously. "I do not know Master elf. I have seen that lad do many, many impossible things; I would not give up on him yet."
Legolas turned his face towards Gimli with a scrutinizing gaze. "You do not honestly believe that?"
"I do, I do." He cleared his throat once again. "Let me tell you a story about impossible things, and maybe then you will understand why I still hold hope." Legolas remained silent, which Gimli took for assent. He nodded swiftly and took a deep breath, silently praying he was doing the right thing. Gimli had no trouble with telling a good story. He was a dwarf, story telling was in their blood. But this particular story was different. It was personal, for he actually knew and loved the girl in this tale. It felt like he was betraying a certain trust that was placed in him by sharing this story with Legolas. This tale was not his to tell, and he could only hope his sister would understand, and not hurt him too much when he would tell her what he had done.
Gimli took a deep breath before he spoke. "I know a girl who was chosen to be the warrior of her people. She was the protector in a long line of girls that guarded a passage that stood between her people and evil creatures who would bring about the end of their world. Now she, not unlike our friend Aragorn, did not want to have a special destiny. She did not want to be the protector of her people, but she had no choice. She wanted to be a normal girl, grow up, find a husband, become a mother. But because of her destiny, she knew she never would. You see the girls of her line were always chosen young, and more often then not died within the year. There was only one girl chosen at a time. One would die, and the next girl would be called. This girl was fifteen when she was chosen, still a child, really. But she reluctantly took up the mantel of her destiny, and fought for people who could not fight for themselves." Gimli looked up to find Legolas watching him curiously, and smiled faintly. Buffy's story had that effect on people, and Gimli loved listening to it over and over, even after ten years.
"She fought by herself?" Legolas asked softly.
"In the beginning she did. Later, she gained friends, allies. But they were few, and the enemies were many." He took another deep breath. "In the beginning she was told not to tell anyone of her destiny, no one was to know, not even her mother and father. This brought her under unbelievable pressure, for the creatures she fought did not come out into the light. To battle them, she had to fight at night under the cover of darkness. Her mother and father often caught her sneaking into her house in the dead of night, and demanded that she tell them were she had been. She could not. She would often hear her mother and father quarrel about her, and unfortunately, they drifted from each other in the process, until one day, her father left them."
Legolas choked in shock. "He left them? Her father just left the girl and her mother?" he asked incredulously.
Gimli nodded solemnly, "Yes, he did. To this day, the girl still blames herself."
Legolas looked at him with disbelieve etched on his features. "It was not her fault! Despite the fact that she could not tell them, he should not have abandoned his wife and child. She should not blame herself for his mistakes."
"And yet she does," Gimli interjected. "It is very much in her nature to do so. She carries around the weight of her destiny on her shoulders, and I assure you lad, it is not a light weight to bear. She is used to carrying things. This is just one in a line of many things that were not her fault, yet she feels guilty about them."
He sighed sadly. "When her father left, she and her mother moved to another town. She thought she would be able to forget about her destiny. She thought this town would be a new start for her, a chance to start fresh, without having to do battle every night. And die in anonymity for a cause no one would know about. She was wrong. She was once again pulled into the never ending struggle between light and dark, fighting in a war that was raging before her time and would rage still long after she was gone. Although she hated what she was in the beginning, she was slowly starting to accept her inevitable fate. She had lasted for longer then a year by then; not the longest amount of time a girl from her line had ever survived, but not the shortest either. She fought foe after foe, night after night, risking her life in the process, and lived a normal life during the day. That was what made her special, what made her stand apart from the girls before her; she had a life of her own, something worth fighting for. She had friends that discovered her secret and decided to aid her in her battle. She went to feasts, danced and laughed, and held on to life with everything she had --it was what made her such a great protector. She understood that she would die eventually, for such was her fate, it is the way of the warrior. But when word of her death came, it caught her unaware."
Legolas gasped. "Her death? What do you mean, how could word of her death reach her when she was not dead? Was it a mistake of some kind?"
Gimli shook his head solemnly. "No Master elf, word of her death reached her in the form of a prophecy. It was written hundreds of years before her birth, that she would face her enemy, and that she would die."
Gimli shifted his stance, and leaned back on his axe.
"A prophesy? Of her death? That means she's dead now," Legolas sighed sadly. "Prophesies always come true."
"That they do lad, that they do, at least in one form or another," Gimli stated with a small grin. "The girl," he continued softly, "Panicked. When she discovered she was prophesied to die, she told her friends she was done, she was finished. She told them she would not be going to meet her enemy knowing her fate was to die by his hands. She was sixteen years old, and she didn't want to die."
Legolas sighed sadly. "That is...understandable. She must have been frightened."
"Aye lad, she was. But something happened that changed her mind. An attack. The girl's friend found the bodies of a few children her age they used to know. The creatures had killed them, and enjoyed it, that much was evident. The girl knew then that she couldn't stay hidden while innocent people were being killed one by one. She knew that her destiny was to be their protector and she could not idly stand by and watch them die, even if it meant she had to sacrifice her own life in order for theirs to be saved. She knew what was meant to be had to come to pass, so she went out to meet her enemy and died."
Legolas watched Gimli with an incredulous expression on his face. "You know, maybe you should have left me be. I am feeling much worse then I was feeling before you started comforting me. You are obviously very bad at this."
Gimli chuckled softly. "Patience lad, it gets better."
He grinned when he saw Legolas' blatant disbelief, and continued his story.
"Her enemy was called 'The Master'. Years before the girl came to his town the earth shook, and trapped him underneath in a cave or tunnel. He was trapped there for decades without the strength to free himself. After the girl came to his town, he had made many attempts to break free of his prison, but they were all thwarted by her. He knew he had to be patient though, for he had read the prophesy centuries before. He knew she would meet him, he knew she would die, and he knew he would be freed. She went underground to meet him, knowing she would die, but before he killed her, he made sure to tell her that he needed her blood to free himself. He told her that had she never come down to meet him, he would still be trapped underground, and she would still be alive. After that, he threw her unconscious body to the ground, where it fell into a shallow pool of water. The girl drowned."
Legolas frowned, "I still do not understand how things will get better, for they seem to be getting worse." His mind wandered to his friend. Aragorn had fallen of the cliff into the water. Did he drown like the girl did, or did the fall kill him? Legolas was not certain he wanted to know.
"It did get better," Gimli continued. "Because an amazing thing happened. As I told you before, the girl was unlike her predecessors. She had friends, family, a life. It was one of those things that saved her. Her friend followed her down, not wanting her to die. When he came upon her lifeless form, he quickly pulled her from the water, and breathed life back into the girl. He saved her."
Legolas looked at Gimli with surprise. "She lived?" he asked with a pleased note to his voice.
"Aye, she did lad. She lived, and made it back to the surface right in time to kill her enemy," he said with a grin. "Although, he did come back to life in the end," Gimli said with a frown. "But that's a story for another time."
Legolas watched Gimli disbelievingly. "He came back too? Is that a...normal thing? People coming back from the dead I mean."
"No. Well, yes. No, not really, it is difficult to explain. The only living person that came back to life was Buffy." Gimli looked like he was getting confused himself, which made Legolas smile.
"Wait, Buffy? The warrior girl's name was Buffy?"
Gimli grinned. "Yes it is lad, and she better not catch you saying anything about her name for I know from personal experience the pain her fist can bring you. Aye that girl is a menace. She seems pleasant enough at first, but I'm warning you my boy, it is all to lure innocent dwarves into a false sense of security. I only said one little thing about her name, and suddenly I was hovering above the ground being held by my beard." Gimli rubbed his beard absentmindedly. "And her screeching...I did not know what was worse; my poor beard in the grasp of that maniac, or her insane screeching voice telling me that I better apologize because her mother gave her that name. It turned out her mother was a touchy subject."
Legolas watched Gimli shake his head as if trying to clear it from a memory. "But I digress..."
"Wait," Legolas interjected before Gimli could move on to rest of his story. "You have actually met this warrior girl you speak of? You have spoken to her?"
Gimli grinned. "Aye lad, I sure did. And what a fine first impression she made, she broke my nose."
"She did? Where is she? When was this? Is she still alive?"
Gimli sighed. "It was ten years ago. Seems like it should be longer, for it is strange to think of the time she was not a part of my life. But it has only been ten years ago that I first laid eyes upon her and her sister."
Legolas was curious. The girl sounded like a mighty warrior, and even more so because she had obviously earned the respect and admiration of a dwarf such as Gimli. If she was the appointed protector of her people, then why was she not fighting Sauron? Was he not a creature of evil, one like the girl was chosen to fight? Perhaps she had fallen in battle. Gimli had not answered his question about her being still alive.
"Does she still live Gimli?"
Gimli nodded. "Aye, she does. She is a hard one to kill lad, people have succeeded before, but she always maneges to find her way back, even from death. She has died at least three times, yet she still lives to this day."
"But that is impossible!" Legolas spluttered. "It is impossible for a mortal to return from death, even in the firstborn the only one known to have returned from death was Glorfindel, and he was sent back by the Valar."
"Nothing is impossible lad, that is what I was trying to make you understand by telling you this story. She has faced enemies like Sauron before, some even managed to kill her, but when she died, she took them with her. They never defeated her, even if they killed her. She sacrificed her life in order to kill them, but they never won, and she always came back. I do not believe Aragorn is dead Legolas. His destiny is to become the King of Gondor, unite all men and fight and defeat Sauron. He cannot be dead, because without him, we will lose this war, and I do not believe, not even for one second, that we will lose. So you see lad, Aragorn has to be alive, he just has to be."
Legolas watched Gimli for a second before he nodded. "Perhaps you are right."
"There is no perhaps about it lad, I am right."
Legolas took deep breath and turned to stare into the distance once more. "Tell me, how did she survive? You said she died at least three times. I know what happened the first time, but what happened the second time she died?"
Gimli sighed sadly. "She defeated her foe, but it was too late. Her enemy had already set in motion a chain of events that would bring about the end of the world. She opened a...gateway that would bring unspeakable horrors into their world, there was only one way to close it."
Legolas turned back towards Gimli, and watched as he rubbed his eyes tiredly. "The blood that was used to open the gateway, would have to stop flowing. The person whose blood was used in the ritual to open the gateway needed to jump inside it and die."
Legolas turned back to stare into the distance. "It was hers wasn't it? The blood that was used to open the gateway was the girl's."
"No, it was not."
Legolas turned to Gimli in surprise. "It wasn't? Then why-"
"It was her sister's blood," Gimli interjected calmly. "Her sister was the one that was suppose to jump into the gateway. She was the one that was suppose to die, not the girl. But before her sister could jump, the girl stopped her."
Legolas did not know what to say. What would he have done, if he stood in her place? Would he have let his own sister jump to her death? But if she did not, the world would end, everyone would die, including his sister. It would have been an impossible decision to make. He felt pity for the girl and the position she was placed in. "What happened next, Gimli?" he asked softly.
"The girl realized, it was all about blood. She realized that her blood, her sister's blood, was the same. So she told her sister she loved her, and jumped in her stead."
Legolas gaped at Gimli. "She what?" he asked shocked. He was not expecting that. But, when he thought about it, it did make sense. It would have been the decision he would make if he had been in her place. The world would be saved, his sister would live. It would have been a good trade to make for his life.
"So it killed her, the gateway, she did not survive?"
Gimli grinned. "No she did not."
"But she lives now?"
Gimli nodded, grin still etched on his features.
"But how? Where did she go after she died? How did she come back?"
Gimli smiled. "The girl once told me, that the greatest wizard that ever existed once said. Death is but the next great adventure."
Legolas turned to Gimli in surprise. "Gandalf said that?"
"No," Gimli said while shaking his head. "Albus Dumbledore did."
"Who in Eru's name is Albus Dumbledore?"
"I have no idea, lad. No. Idea." Gimli answered. He shifted his stance, and lifted his axe from the ground. He gave it a little twirl before he fastened it on his back. "Just think about what I told you, Master elf."
He nodded at Legolas briefly before he turned to walk away. He stopped when he heard Legolas call his name and turned around.
"Do you think I could meet her? After we have won this war, do you think you could introduce me?" Legolas asked softly. He looked Gimli in the eyes, trying to convey his thanks.
"Oh do not worry about that Master elf, you will meet her soon enough."
Legolas smiled faintly. "Like your sisters?" he asked remembering Gimli telling him and Aragorn about his sisters and how they would meet them soon enough.
Gimli grinned. "Exactly!" he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He turned around, and this time Legolas let him go. He had a lot of things to think about, starting with how they were going to win this war. They needed Aragorn to do that, but Legolas knew that he and Gimli would have to do his part until he came back --and Aragorn would come back. Legolas would just have to believe that because Gimli was right, they could not win this war without Aragorn. His mind drifted back to the story Gimli told him. The girl...Buffy...she sounded fascinating. What a hard life she had led. He thought about Gimli's assurance that he would indeed meet her soon and sighed. "I cannot wait," he said before he turned around to follow his friend.
When he walked into the hall and saw the familiar features of his friend's face, he froze. Aragorn. Aragorn was alive, and headed his way. He remained frozen, unable to move out of his friend's way. Aragorn stopped abruptly when he looked up and saw Legolas standing before him. Legolas remained frozen, but his heart warmed when he saw his friend was indeed really here. "You are late," he said reverting to his own language instinctively. Aragorn startled in surprise and watched his friend with a scrutinizing gaze. Legolas frowned while his eyes examined his friend thoroughly. "You look terrible."
Aragorn smiled at his friend and put his hand on his shoulder. Legolas' hand tightened around the necklace he still held. He extended his hand towards Aragorn and opened it. When he saw what Legolas was holding out for him to take Aragorn felt surprised. He thought he lost his necklace, and felt overwhelmed with gratitude. He took it from Legolas an instantly felt better. "Thank you," he said with a grateful smile.
Legolas grinned, things were looking up. Aragorn was back, just as Gimli had told him he would be. Things were looking up indeed.