2. Chapter Two
'And it seemed to me too,' said Gimli, 'that my choice would remain secret and known only to myself.' - Gimli on Galadriel's 'mind-probing', FotR
To a false friend the footpath winds
Though his house be on the highway.
To a sure friend there is a shortcut,
Though he live a long way off
Time mattered not.
Gimli had always been aware of time – he was mortal after all, though he would see many Men be born and die before it was time to lay down the axe and pass beyond the veil. He had also always been aware of the timelessness of the elves, and in some ways resented them for it.
He had never imagined a place could be timeless as well. The mountains, as constant as they were, still changed. Time would touch them, just more slowly.
Lórien was timeless. At once it felt older than anything he had ever felt, and still young. Birds would sing as if they had always been there and always would. The sun rose and dawned and it seemed as if no time had passed at all. Yet more to wonder about, amidst confusing thoughts.
Not to mention fear. For his feet were dangling high above the ground, and the tree had not looked this tall from the ground.
'You must see Lothlórien as we do, from the trees,' indeed. Dwarves belonged on the ground. Whatever had possessed him to agree to climb up? There was really no reason to, the elves guiding them had turned back. Although Gimli was sure the trees had eyes. This was a seeing forest.
Perhaps he had wanted to prove a point. To himself, as much as the elf. And to whomever was watching and regarding him with distrust. He could feel the elves's eyes on him and though he did not understand their language, he had heard the resentment in their voices when Legolas had insisted he come.
Legolas looked happy though, his ageless face shining in the dawning sun. The elf walked as lightly on the branches as he did on the ground, while Gimli clung onto the nearest branch for dear life.
"I suppose you find this amusing," the dwarf remarked.
Legolas suppressed a smile. "Trees are clearly not for the dwarves, for you look as miserable as an orc in sunlight."
"You were not so cheerful yourself in Moria," Gimli replied sourly and the brightness disappeared from Legolas's features.
Gimli instantly regretted it, for memories of Gandalf began to assault him. He had not had time to think it over properly, and grief waited in the dark corner of his mind. Yet it had to wait there a while longer. They had little time for grief.
"The darkness of Moria did not come from just a longing for the open sky," Legolas said after a moment. "Though I could not see much beauty in it."
"And if Lothlórien was burned and black, would you suddenly forget its beauty?"
"Then do not say Moria is not beautiful," Gimli said forcefully, letting go of the branch for just one moment to get a better grip.
The world went around and the beloved ground greeted him hard.
Legolas's face came into view, leaning over him. Bright hair brushed against his arm, and suddenly another image came to him.
Light in the darkness. He could feel warm skin against his, warmer than he could have imagined. A flame – drawing him in always.
'Gimli,' the flame whispered. 'Touch me. Take me. I am yours.'
Skin against skin, lips against lips and light against dark.
And Galadriel's voice, soft yet filled with steel, echoing in his mind: 'This you may have. But will you sacrifice the Quest and the Fellowship for it? What will you chose, Gimli, son of Glóin?'
Staggering, Gimli got to his feet, breathing hard. The ground seemed to spin under his feet for a moment as he tried to regain his senses.
The elf regarded him with concern.
"Nay, I am not hurt, Legolas. I felt dizzy for a moment, it has passed."
"It was a long fall. Perhaps..." Legolas began.
"Perhaps next time I will know better than to imitate an elf," Gimli said hotly. "Enough of this. You have shown me the forest, and night is falling. I desire food and rest."
With that he begun to trot off, before suddenly realising he had no idea where they were and which direction led back to the others. Turning, he saw the elf leaning against the tree, arms crossed.
"Do all dwarves change their mood as suddenly as the winds change?"
"And elves do not? Blindfolded I was requested to walk through the forest, treated as if I were an enemy and suddenly I am welcomed as a friend. But I see how they regard me still, all save Lady Galadriel."
"The elves here have had reasons for their distrust," Legolas replied, still leaning against the tree. "As have I."
"Have *I* given you reason for distrust? It would seem to be that elves scarcely trust anyone but their own kindred."
"The same can be said for the dwarves. Yet Lord Elrond trusted you to join the Fellowship." Legolas paused. "Gandalf trusted you."
"But you do not," Gimli concluded and again wondered why it mattered to him. Why was he here? A silly notion, it had been. He should have stayed asleep, and not approached the elf in the first place.
But there had been something about Legolas that night – an air of loneliness, of grief, of… Longing? The dwarf was not sure what it had been, only that he had felt the same. The vision of Lady Galadriel had troubled him and the meaning had eluded him. Riddles and visions. Where was an orc's neck to chop at when needed? Perhaps it would not make the path any clearer, but at least he would feel less useless.
What good had he done in Moria but to watch Gandalf fall?
"I trusted Gandalf, and I trust Lord Elrond. I trust Lady Galadriel, and she feared you not. Will you accept that?" Legolas finally offered.
Gimli merely bowed.
"Come then, Master Dwarf. You are heading towards Mirkwood if you continue that path."
Sighing, Gimli begun to follow the elf through the trees. Somewhere in the distance the mountains of home probably glimmered, out of sight. Home...
And yet – here, the air so bright and fair, silently following Legolas – he was glad he had come.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.