At Balin's Tomb by Zdenka

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Story Notes:

Written for MangoTea, for Fandom Stocking 2016. Warning for referenced canonical character death.

"The others followed; but Gimli had to be dragged away by Legolas: in spite of the peril he lingered by Balin's tomb with his head bowed." (The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm")


Gimli stood with his feet braced and his axe gripped in his hands. He could hear the echoes of the enemy’s great drums still resounding in the air and feel them through the rock. The moment seemed to stretch; the sight and sounds of the battle grew distant. In the echoes, he heard a voice speak his name. It was a voice he knew from his childhood, and dear to him.

“I am here,” he answered silently, in the language of his own people--the language he had not heard or spoken since he and his father reached Rivendell.

“Gimli,” the voice said again. Balin’s voice. “Have you come even here? But you always were adventurous.”

“This was not the meeting I hoped for,” Gimli said heavily, “when I sought for you and the others.”

“I wished to look in the Mirrormere,” Balin said, “seeking the wisdom to lead my people. I went alone, and the Orcs were waiting in ambush; and so I fell. Look in Kheled-zâram before you leave this place, Gimli. Durin’s crown still rests there; they cannot seize it or tarnish it.”

“I will,” Gimli promised, feeling sorrow swell in his heart. “But it grieves me that your tomb lies here alone.” In their days and nights of traveling through Khazad-dûm, the voice of the stone had spoken to him only of emptiness and long silence.

“Do not grieve too much. It is a fair tomb, and built well. I was called Lord of Moria, though it proved vain in the end; so long as my tomb lies here, the Enemy cannot say that he has driven us out entirely. Let my bones lie here--if need be, until Durin comes again! But I do not think it will be so long. I believe that our people will dwell here again, that these halls will once more shine with many lamps and ring with hammers.” Balin fell silent for a moment. “Remember what you have seen here, Gimli. I would have the beauty of this place remembered among the living.”

“I will remember,” Gimli said, his throat tight. He would have stayed longer to speak and listen, heedless of danger, but someone was tugging on his arm and calling his name. The spell was broken; dazed, he let himself be pulled from the chamber. It was Legolas, he saw with surprise, whose hand gripped his arm; Legolas, who was looking at him with concern and sorrow. The enemy’s drums beat loudly, and the harsh voices of Orcs were close behind them.

With reluctance, Gimli turned from the chamber where Balin lay. He would not have thought the Elf would pull him out of danger, or mourn for his dead; but Gandalf called for them to run, and there was no time. Gimli tucked it away in his heart to think upon later.




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