Disclaimer: Middle-earth and the characters used belong to Tolkien and Tolkien Enterprises. I only take the liberty of borrowing them. They are always returned in one piece, though possibly bearing new scars.
Môrtele, Basinah, and Wajih are mine.

1st Place May 2007 Teitho Fanfiction Contest “On Location”


Minas Tirith, Gondor
Sixth Level
Near the Sixth Gate and the Houses of Healing


The call came as soon as he stepped under the archway of the sixth gate, and Legolas’ footsteps faltered to a stop and his head jerked around. He turned from the opening, ignoring the curious glances from the guards and open admiration displayed in the looks thrown his way by passersby. Even though he had settled in Gondor with his people many years ago, his kind still caused a stir among the mortal residents of the city.

The elf-lord’s eyes scanned up and down the stone street of the sixth level, passing over that which he did not seek. Three women chatted gaily with one another near the Houses of Healing, one holding a basket of herbs in her arms. She probably was a leech from the Houses who had stopped to speak with passing friends. Two soldiers walked through the sixth gate, skirting the elf with only a passing glance and nod, their strides taking them with determination towards the seventh level. Most likely they were reporting for duty at the Tower of the Guard; it was nearing the change in the Watch. Near the entrance to the seventh level, a stable boy led two horses from the stables. The blood-bay mare and grey gelding were almost certainly being led down to the Pelennor, where they could seek pasture. The horses’ trembling bodies and intelligent eyes spoke to Legolas of green grass, warm sun, and clean water.

But his attention was focused on determining the source of the cry for assistance. It was a silent petition, yet one the elf was more than familiar with. His bright gaze turned left, back towards the Houses of Healing. There was a guard standing at an iron gate which led into a small garden where a great oak raised its head to the heavens. The oak was the oldest living tree in the city and the tallest, towering up over the wall that surrounded the gardens where leeches raised herbs for healing. It dwarfed the little yard where it resided, a place where children could play safely while family members visited those injured or ill. The trees thick branches swept nearly to the ground, making it a popular climbing tree among the older children who visited it. Oft times, the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen could also be found sitting among its branches, singing sad, but moving songs in words few understood.

Legolas hurried past the guard and into the small garden towards the tree, his eyes darting among the branches, looking for signs of distress. His feet slid to a stop and his jaw dropped, however, when his gaze came to rest on a figure high in the tree. He stood there for several moments, blinking as his jaw opened and closed without a sound. Then bright, elven laughter echoed off the garden walls.

The melodious sound brought curious guards, servants, even a lord and lady or two to stand looking strangely at the elf-lord standing in the garden under the oak. His grey eyes never left the heights of the tree, some thirty plus feet above, as peals of laughter came from deep within his being, spilling out like music from a harp and causing many to smile. Few had heard the elf truly laugh in such a manner, and many found themselves chuckling along despite not knowing the cause of the elf’s merriment.

“Blast it all, Legolas! This is not funny,” a voice roared from the branches of the tree, causing many of those watching to gasp; the thick foliage of the tree hid the dwarf in its branches from their view. “I demand that you do something!” The gazes of those watching shifted from the tree back to the giggling elf, who was now holding his sides as tears streamed down his fair cheeks.

The prince shook his head, not even attempting to hold in his amusement at the dwarf’s expense. “I think not, Gimli. You got yourself into this, you shall be the one to get yourself out,” Legolas called up to his friend through his chortles. “Or down, as the case may be.” A most unelvish snort came from the fair creature, and he covered his mouth and nose with a long-fingered hand, shaking further with laughter, his other long arm still wrapped around his side.


The breath left Gimli in a rush and his eyes closed in annoyance. Slowly, he counted to ten in Khuzdul, and when his anger and embarrassment did not lesson, he counted again in Westron, followed by Sindarin. Renewed laughter came from below, and the dwarf realized he had counted out loud, even if it was muttered. Drat that elf and his hearing! Gimli thought, his face and ears feeling very warm.

With great effort, the dwarf tried to adopt a calm and friendly air. “Legolas, make these people leave.” There was a hard edge to his pleading voice. “And then, my friend, I kindly request you, as a wood-elf, to use your irritating aptitude with plants to get me out of this tree!”

“But Gimli,” Legolas smirked, “why should I deprive these good people of such fabulous entertainment? It is not everyday one sees a dwarf in a tree, and even less common to see one attempt to get themselves down.”

Closing his eyes again, the dwarf in question counted ten once more, making sure to do it mentally this time, and wondered how he had allowed himself to get into this mess.

Several hours earlier….

The small boy sniffed, blinking back tears that threatened to spill down his cheeks. He was not a very good prince at all if he could not take care of his pet and keep her from harm. Eldarion took a shaky breath and looked up into the oak again, pleading with Môrtele to come down. But the small creature only mewed softly, frozen to her spot high in the branches.

Grasping his hands around the lowest bough, five-year-old Eldarion tried once more to climb into the tree, so that he might rescue Môrtele from an unpleasant fate. He pushed with his toes, and pulled with his arms, but the branch was just too high for him to pull himself up. His fingers slid across the rough bark as he lost his hold, causing a burning sensation across his fingertips. A sob caught in his throat, and he sank to the ground with his back to the oak’s trunk, cradling his sore hands in his lap as he let the tears fall down his cheeks.

“Eldarion?” The gruff voice from above spurred the boy to open his eyes. He hastened to try to wipe the evidence of his tears away, hissing as the movement caused the raw skin on his hands to throb more. “Why are you here alone? Did you hurt yourself, laddie? Let me see.” A stout body lowered itself beside him.

“Gimli!” Eldarion cried out, his face and body relaxing with the dwarf’s presence. If there was anyone who would understand his predicament, it would be his father’s good friend, Gimli. The dwarf told wonderful stories and, for some reason, was one of the few who never hushed the prince if he cried, but held him and allowed the tears to fall. The boy had overheard Legolas tease Gimli about “mothering”. It was strange, since Gimli was nothing like his mother, but Legolas could be strange at times. When he was younger, he thought it was because the tall, fair being was an elf and all elves must be strange, but he had since learned that his mother was also an elf, or mostly, so he had decided that Legolas must just be different… sort of like how his uncles were ‘different’.

The child could not understand why Legolas thought it odd for the dwarf to like children as much as he did, but Legolas seemed to think it was so. Not that Eldarion disliked Legolas; the Prince of Gondor loved the elf and the games he played. But he did find it confusing why two close friends like Legolas and Gimli argued and fought constantly. His mother, the queen, told him that if he could not get along with the other boys, they would not be allowed to play together any longer. Maybe someone needed to tell the elf and dwarf this, so they would stop ‘bickring’ all the time.

“Naneth is in the Houses because one of the ladies is having a baby. Only, the baby isn’t coming like it should. I come here and play sometimes when she or Ada helps in the Healing Houses. Did you know Naneth’s adar was a great healer? She learned a lot from him.”

“Aye. Lord Elrond was a great healer.” Gimli picked up the boy’s right hand with care and began to examine it. “This isn’t bad, lad. Your hands will probably hurt for a bit, but it will lesson and you most likely won’t notice it tomorrow.” Gimli smiled, his eyes drifting over the stone wall. “I cannot tell you how many times I hurt my hands when I was a lad. In time, your hands will toughen up, and this sort of thing won’t happen as easily.” The dwarf looked at the boy’s other hand and frowned. Pulling a small tool from his belt, Gimli gently began to remove a splinter of bark from the prince’s palm. “Eldarion, how did this happen?”

Eldarion leaned against the solid shoulder and buried his face in the dwarf’s shirt at the sting. “Môrtele won’t come down! I tried and tried to get her, but I’m too little, and I hurt my hands on the tree.”

“Hmmm… this tree here?” A moment of hesitation, then the boy nodded. “The tree you are not supposed to climb without an adult to assist you?” The small, dark head lowered until his chin nearly touched his chest.

“But Gimli, Môrtele is up there!” Eldarion declared without looking up. The dwarf’s shoulder shook, and the child turned his head to see Gimli struggling not to laugh.

“And just who is Môrtele?” A smile twitched at Gimli’s lips.

“She was a gift from the ambass’dor of Harad. She’s my new pet.” Eldarion pointed up into the tree where a bundle of mostly white fur and bright green eyes masked with black huddled on a high branch gazing down at them. A long, black tail twitched behind it. “Master Wajih said she is a kitten – a baby cat. Many children in Harad have cats for pets, and they are good at hunting mice and rats once they are full grown.”

“A cat!” The dwarf gasped, looking up, eyes wide. Eldarion could feel his companion’s body tense against him. “Like a lion, then? The ambassador gave the son of the king a killer for a pet!?” Instantly, Gimli was on his feet, pulling the son of Aragorn up with him and making to leave the garden.

Eldarion struggled against the hold on his arm, digging in his heels. “No! She’s not like a lion, Gimli. Cats are much smaller, smaller than most dogs, even!”

The dwarf stopped and looked down. “You are sure? It could be a… They could have plotted to…” Gimli stuttered to a stop, and took a deep breath. “I have seen the damage a lion can do, Eldarion. We have them not far from the Lonely Mountain. They dwell near the Iron Hills. One swipe of their horrid claws and…”

“I’m sure, Gimli! Master Wajih has one of his own with him, a full grown cat. Her name is Basinah.” Gimli looked doubtful, and Eldarion continued to explain. “Môrtele is her kitten, and she just got old enough to leave her mother. Ada knows about it. He thought having a pet would teach me r’spons’bilty. Nana said Môrtele was cute, but I should pick another name. Ada talked her into letting me keep it Môrtele. I think he told her something about Iml’dris and her Adar.”

Gimli ran a hand over his beard, his brow creased in thought. “So, it’s not going to get much bigger than it is?” Eldarion’s head bobbed with much enthusiasm. “And she won’t come down from the tree?” The small head shook side to side. “Are you sure she’s just not tired of ye?” Eldarion’s eyebrows shot upwards when Gimli’s accent thickened and the dwarf started looking up at the tree with a gleam in his eyes.

“Master Wajih said there were no trees in Harad, or not many, so I should be careful or she could get stuck. Cats can learn to climb trees, but they don’t know how automatically,” the boy quoted. “I tried to keep her away from the tree. I really did, but she ran very fast and climbed up it before I could catch her!”

“Where’s the elf?”

Eldarion blinked. “Huh? Oh, I don’t know. Ada said they were going to practice arch’ry, and I was to leave them alone so they could talk adult talk. I don’t know when they’ll be done. Sometimes, it feels like they are there all day.”

Gimli smirked, a look that caused Eldarion’s heart to skip a beat and he gulped, for the boy had come to associate it with adults who were plotting against one another. “I’ll get yer cat… what’d you call ‘er, a kitten?”


“I’ll get yer kitten for ye provided ye never tell Legolas I climbed a tree. Do ye promise?”

Eldarion’s heart raced. His mother had told him he should be careful when Gimli’s accent thickened, for it could mean trouble. Eldarion had never seen Gimli climb a tree before, or any dwarf for that matter, and most dwarves did not seem to have an affinity with trees and plants. But the boy was trusting and assumed Gimli would not attempt anything he was not capable of doing.

Present time….

The boy is too trusting, Gimli thought, his grip tight on a branch to maintain his balance. Legolas was now folded double with his laughter and had ceased speaking to him. Gimli found it rather irritating that his friend had yet to offer his help with the crowd ever growing larger. “Must you continue to laugh, Master Elf?” The dwarf shifted on his branch. His backside was feeling the effects of sitting on a tree limb for too long. “It truly is not that amusing.”

Breathless, Legolas attempted to straighten, keeping his arms wrapped round his belly. “What is not that amusing, Gimli? The fact you are stuck in a tree? Or that you felt a need to be like the elves to begin with?”

“Why you…” A colorful curse erupted from the enraged Lord of Aglarond, causing the ladies in the garden to gasp in shock. Several turned up their noses and left at the vulgar words, but the men present chuckled with the elf who was again folded double in laughter.

“That is NOT why I am stuck in this tree!”

“Ah, so you finally admit you are stuck?” Legolas’ head lifted and he grinned ear to ear. “Good! I may begin contemplating helping you down now.”

“My being stuck was never in question, you giggling, clay-brained, pointy-ear!”

That sobered the elf. He stood straight up, all traces of mirth gone from his now red face. “I do NOT giggle!” Legolas glanced at the gathered crowd, whose eyes were now focused upon him. Gimli watched the blush deepen, creeping up the prince’s cheeks and spreading to his ears when a few observers chuckled at the elf’s expense.

Gimli grinned, his teeth a flash of white against the auburn of his beard. “Sure you do. And you blush as well… just like a pretty maid.”

A snort from the crowd, and the color drained from Legolas’ face, leaving his ivory complexion even paler than normal. Gimli could see the elf’s fists clenched tight at his sides, and the grey eyes flashed with fury. “You take that back!”

A soft smile. Now, he had the elf where he wanted him. With much care, he stood up, proud of himself for not wincing. Balancing on the branch on his toes and holding another limb firmly for support in his right left hand, Gimli peered down with smug satisfaction. “Why don’t you come up here and make me!”

Legolas was in the lower branches faster than Gimli’s eyes could follow, and he continued to move upwards with great speed, but to the dwarf’s consternation, the elf’s movements slowed, then ceased. From a perch about ten feet below the dwarf, Legolas looked up, and Gimli could see his friend had caught on to what the he was trying to do. Stretching out on his back along the limb and balancing impossibly with hands behind his head, Legolas smiled. “Nice try.”

Gimli sighed and maneuvered gingerly back into a sitting position. He glanced down at his right hand, which was streaked with blood, and held the swollen limb stiffly out of the prince’s line of sight.

Several hours earlier…

“Don’t fall, Gimli!” Eldarion looked up nervously at the dwarf who was balancing precariously on a branch that looked too slender to hold the dwarf’s weight. The boy bit his lip then gasped when Gimli’s foot slipped. But the dwarf righted himself by using a jutting branch to stabilize his ascent.

“I’m not going to fall, lad.” Gimli pulled himself up to the next branch, his feet sure and steady. “Look, I’m almost to your cat. Come on, little cat,” Eldarion’s sharp ears, courtesy of his elvish heritage, could hear Gimli’s gruff voice calling out to the creature perched on a branch just above his head.

“She’s a kitten!” Eldarion cupped his hands around his mouth. “Her name is Môrtele.”

“Come on, Môrtele,” Gimli crooned as if speaking to a child. “Come to me, and we’ll get you safely back to the ground.”

“I didn’t know you talked to animals like Leg’las, Gimli.”

“I do not talk to animals like that blasted elf does!” the dwarf growled, looking down at him. Eldarion’s lips puckered in thought. He was sure he had heard Gimli use the same tone of voice that Legolas used when calming a frightened animal. Was that why the elf teased the dwarf?

The boy’s eyes widened as Gimli hauled himself up to the same branch where Môrtele crouched, hissing.

“I thought you said she was nice!”

A small, velvet paw, white splashed with black, dashed out at the dwarf, and a menacing growl came from the kitten’s throat.


“She is,” Eldarion assured him, “but she’s scared. Keep talking nicely to her… GIMLI!” The boy’s scream echoed off the walls as the dwarf fell.


Gimli made a pivotal mistake. He anchored himself with one hand and reached for the reluctant kitten with the other. But Eldarion had not warned him about the kitten’s sharp claws… or teeth, and he had forgotten his earlier comparison with lions. The dwarf simply wanted to grab the critter and get back down to safety. The terrified cat growled and hissed, slashing at the dwarf’s hand several times with a paw, claws extended, and sinking her teeth in for good measure when Gimli did not let go. The pain combined with a struggling ball of fur was too much for the bearded one, who was not made for climbing trees. Gimli let go of the kitten at the same time that his fingers slipped from the branch.

Môrtele landed on her feet on the limb below, and with a dwarf crashing down above her, she quickly learned to climb down a tree.

Gimli felt himself falling, heard Eldarion scream below. He reached out to grab something, anything to break his fall. His injured hand grabbed onto a branch, and he held onto it like a life line. But the dwarf’s momentum and weight wrenched his wrist, and he cried out as he felt and heard something snap. Purely on instinct, his other hand reached up and secured him as his feet found firm footing on a thick branch. Trying hard to ignore the stabbing pain in his wrist, Gimli stood heaving for breath, cursing himself for ever trying to do something only an elf should attempt.

“Gimli! Gimli!” Eldarion’s cries came from below, and he managed to take a look down. His head whirled, and he wondered if the height had finally begun to affect him. Dwarves were not meant to climb trees, he decided.

“I’m alright,” Gimli called down to the frightened child. “But I’m going to need some help getting down. I think I’ve broken my wrist.” When one is stuck in a tree more than twenty feet off the ground, it is better not to deny one’s injuries. Gimli ignored the sting to his pride for admitting this weakness.

“I’ll get Ada!” Eldarion turned, running from the garden as fast as he could.

“Eldarion! Wait! Not your father…” But it was too late, the boy was gone.

Present time….

Not that Legolas was still with Aragorn anyway, Gimli thought, looking down at the elf who lay calm as you please, hands folded on his chest, on a branch no more than ten inches in diameter. His eyes were closed so Gimli knew he was not asleep. But Gimli was growing more tired by the moment, and his injuries demanded tending. It was time to let his friend know the extent of what had happened.


The prince smirked, but did not even bother to open his eyes.

“Lad, I… um….”

“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING!” Both elf and dwarf flinched at the herald’s cry and looked down into the courtyard.

The crowd parted as King Elessar strode into the garden. He looked around at the gathered crowd, his stern eyes resting on several guards for a brief moment. He did not speak a word.

“Everyone out,” one of the guards said to his king’s unspoken command. The crowd broke up and with much reluctance began filing out of the garden.

Aragorn walked over to the tree, and looking up, his eyes came to rest on the elf laying on a branch beneath the dwarf. The king frowned. “It is not usually your nature, mellon nin, to leave an injured friend in dire circumstances.” His eyes moved from the prince to Gimli, who sighed heavily. Now, he was in for it.

“Injured?” Legolas immediately rose to a sitting position, his legs dangling below the branch. “Gimli, you are injured?” Grey eyes reflected great concern.

Before he could answer, Eldarion slipped out from behind his father. “Gimli! Are you okay?” The boy gazed up at him, worry clear in his face.

“I’ll be alright, lad,” Gimli called down, before turning his eyes back to his friend. Only, Legolas was no longer there.

“Easy, my friend,” a soft voice came from beside him, and he would have slipped off the branch had strong arms not wrapped themselves around him. “Where are you hurt?”

Gimli’s pride screamed for him to deny it, but he swallowed it down and said, “My wrist. I think it’s broken.”

“I have some bandages.” Aragorn lifted himself up beside the elf, and Gimli jumped. Where did he come from? Gimli wondered. Bah! Elves and those with elvish heritage. Tree dwellers! The lot of them!

“Lean against me,” Legolas told him, tugging him backwards into a more stable position against the elf’s chest, “so that Aragorn may bind your wrist.”

Gimli laughed. “Never thought I’d see the day my injuries would be tended in a tree.”

The king snorted. “It’s nothing new for us.” He looked up at Legolas with a smile.

“Indeed,” Legolas concurred. “However, our injuries usually occurred on the ground. Tell me, Master Dwarf, why were you in the tree to begin with, and how did you come to injure yourself?” His eyes fell onto the dwarf’s hand. “And how did you manage to be attacked in the process, for that was not caused by this gentle oak!”

The corner’s of Aragorn’s mouth twitched as he examined the dwarf’s hand. “Ah, this is the work of Eldarion’s kitten, if I am not mistaken. It will need to be thoroughly cleaned when we descend, for their bites are known to fester.” Gimli grumbled. “They are pleasant creatures for the most part, Gimli, but when cornered or frightened, they fight back tooth and nail.”

“You don’t say?” The dwarf rolled his eyes in response as Aragorn began to bind his wrist. Legolas chuckled behind him. “And don’t you start! If you had simply helped me down to begin with…”

“Truly, I am sorry.” Legolas patted his shoulder in consolation. “I had no idea that you were injured. And I could not simply help you down… not right away.”

Aragorn looked up at the prince, mouth slightly ajar and eyes narrowed. “Do I wish to know why you could not help him down straight away?”

“I would like to know!” Gimli growled. “I would never….” His eyes widened and he quickly shut his mouth as a memory assailed him. “I had nothing to do with that!” he snapped.

“I’m sure you didn’t,” the elf replied, “however, neither did you quickly come to my aid. If I recall…”

“Alright! You made your point. I laughed, I could not help it! How many times does an elf…”

“How many times does a dwarf get stuck in a tree?” Legolas retorted, not allowing Gimli to finish his question. Aragorn looked between them, his brows drawn together with confusion, but it seemed he decided it was probably wise not to ask, for he continued to wrap Gimli’s wrist in silence. “You laughed, I laughed, we are even.”


“If you are done discussing your differences,” the king’s voice was filled with authority, drawing their gazes, “we should see to getting Gimli down to the Houses of Healing, where I can tend his injuries in a more proper manner. The wrist will need to be set.”

“Agreed.” Legolas began to maneuver himself and the dwarf so that Gimli could stand upon a thick branch just below them. “With your assistance, my lord king, and that of the tree, I believe we shall be on the ground shortly.”

The tree? Gimli just hoped he would make it back to firm ground in one piece.


“See, Gimli? She isn’t so bad when she’d not scared. Watch her chase the string!” Eldarion dragged a piece of string, suspended from a stick, across the floor. Gimli had to admit it was quite amusing to watch the small cat chase the writhing yarn with both front paws trying to hook it in her claws. He was thankful she was now angry with the string, and not his aching, scratched hand.

Bright elven laughter echoed off the walls of the room in the Houses of Healing. Its melodious sound brought Gimli’s eyes up to the door, where Legolas entered, a large cat purring in his arms. Aragorn had insisted Gimli stay under the care of the healers until they were sure his hand did not become infected, but he did not mind being cooped up with such entertaining company.

Aragorn entered behind Legolas. “How does your wrist feel, Gimli? Are the herbs helping with the pain?”

“Aye,” the dwarf smiled. “And Eldarion smuggled Môrtele in to amuse me.”

Legolas snorted. “Môrtele? Fitting,” the elf observed, noting the primarily white kitten looked as though she had just sat in a pile of black soot which marked her rear and tail, “if a somewhat unusual name.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” Aragorn agreed with a smirk. “I suppose it is fair turnaround after the names I came up with that made my adar cringe.”

“Indeed!” Legolas laughed. It quickly turned into a grimace when the kitten’s mother, Basinah, decided to climb up onto his shoulder. She sat perfectly balanced, like an elf on the branch of a tree.

“She has elven grace, Legolas,” Gimli pointed at the cat perched on his friend and grinned.

“She does not!” the elf disagreed adamantly. “She has claws, which she is digging into my shoulder to maintain that poise.”

The room echoed with laughter as Legolas grimaced and tried to pry the cat from his shoulder. Gimli guffawed the loudest, seeing Eldarion laugh alongside Aragorn. Seeing the boy so happy, the kitten safe in his master’s arms and Legolas with a cat now hanging onto his back, Gimli decided it was all worth it, after all.

I Meth


Môrtele (MORE teh lay) – Sindarin for ‘dark rear-end (literally the hind most part of the body)’
Wajih – an Arabic name meaning ‘Noble, notable, distinguished’.
Basinah – an Arabic name meaning ‘Kitty, kitten’.
Aglarond – The Sindarin name for the Glittering Caves.
I Meth – the end

A/N – If you have not seen a map of the sixth level of Minas Tirith, it might be helpful. The Houses of Healing are to the left when you come through the gate into the sixth level of the city. To the right are the stables and then the gate going up to the seventh level is carved into the stone of the jutting rock. The Houses of Healing are surrounded by a garden. The children’s garden is my own creation.

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