Hard to Forgive, Hard to Forget - Chapter 4; A Grave Error

Gimli soon felt a heaviness in his eye lids, sleep was soon going to get the better of him but before he gave into it there was one other little matter niggling at the back of his mind and he suspected this Galathil may be able to shed some light on the problem.

"Where is Legolas' mother ?" he asked quietly.

The question came from out of the blue and took the Lieutenant completely by surprise, once recovered from the shock, anger took over with the swiftness of a hawk on the wind.

"What business is it of yours dwarf ?" the elf demanded sharply as his frame of mind changed yet again.

Gimli suspected his enquiry would be a difficult one for the elf to hear yet he was taken aback by the elf's vehemence. Absently he thought how easy it was for these creatures to change their disposition tenfold in the blink of an eye. But he pressed on despite Galathil's response and he did his best to explain his reasons for asking.

"I do not ask out of mere flippant curiosity Master Elf...... though it is hard for me to admit it, I fear I may have caused my friend harm earlier," he sighed gravely, "I made an off hand comment about his mother and both he and that brusque Captain of yours reacted rather badly to it, though in different ways I might add."

"What did you say ?" the young warrior asked worriedly as he glared at the dwarf with barely concealed anger in his dark eyes.

Gimli's attention was suddenly rooted to the scattered leaves covering the forest floor between his large boots. Eventually he recounted his words to the elf.

"I asked him if his mother had not taught him any manners," he muttered, yet the admission was clearly heard by the warrior beside him.

"Tis a wonder Sindadur did not cleave you in two Master Dwarf," he informed the dwarf, "you are most fortunate to be alive this night."

"I believe he was about to," Gimli admitted softly, "but Legolas held him back and spoke to him in the grey tongue, I know not what he said. Please, tell me of his mother."

"Queen Aranalph is dead Master Dwarf," Galathil stated bluntly.

Once more the dwarf was forced to hang his head in shame, how could he have been so foolish, true, he had never heard of a Queen of Mirkwood before, not in passing conversation at least.
In his father's halls there was only one royal member of Mirkwood that warranted discussion and none of it was favourable.
At the time he was simply not interested in learning any more about elves than was necessary. The less dealings he had with the creatures the better but now his attitude had changed greatly and he had hurt his closest friend with his ignorance.

"I have made a grave error," he sighed heavily once more, shaking his head, "tell me Master Elf what foul deed or creature robbed my friend of his mother ?"

Suddenly Gimli was aware that every elf in the vicinity was staring at him none too kindly. He felt extremely uncomfortable as he nervously gripped the handle of his axe.

"I feel it is best you cease with your questions Master Dwarf before they get you into serious trouble," Galathil warned in a disturbingly calm tone as his irate eyes surveyed the camp, "take your rest now while you can," he insisted and got up to leave.

"Please," Gimli called out, "tell me or I shall ask him myself when he returns," he bluffed.

Seriously he did not think he could mention the incident to Legolas for quite some time, he would have to pick a suitable moment in private to apologise to his friend for his carelessness.

Galathil was torn between protecting his Prince from further hurt by the dwarf's pesky questions and his reluctance to reveal such private information. Finally his concern for Legolas won over. He returned to the dwarf's side and glared down at him.

"Queen Aranalph died in child birth Master Dwarf," he seethed, "she died bringing the Prince into this world and never had the pleasure of knowing her son, so you see she could not have taught him manners, though you dare to question the etiquette of the royal house of Mirkwood."

The Lieutenant paused a moment to compose himself.

"Speak of this to no one dwarf !" he warned then turned abruptly and left Gimli alone in his growing misery.

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