"While traveling to the Blue Mountains, I once passed through the Shire and met this Cotton family you speak of in the markets; they have a fair daughter," Gimli tells Sam over supper one evening, his eyes twinkling as the hobbit's face flushes red.
Gimli startles out of a dangerous doze when Boromir lifts Frodo free of the deepening snow, and after Gandalf consents to fire, Gimli immediately reaches for his flint; but his stiff, shaking hands fail to strike any flame that holds, and watching a languid Pippin slump against Merry, he wonders how long he can stave off his own deadly desire to sleep.
Gimli's heart burns as he stands fierce and defiant beside Gandalf, listening with growing rage as the Fellowship debates traveling through Khazad-dûm—Moria, the Black Pit, they name it—and seeming to take no thought for the once glorious birthright they spurn with callous words.
Even as his keen eyes and quick mind track the weave of tunnels around him, Khazad-dûm's close quarters remind Gimli that no one in the Fellowship has bathed for several days.
In the depths of darkened halls, kneeling before Balin's fissured tomb, Gimli pales with the thought that the dwarves might have given up Bilbo and the whole of the Shire to Mordor as ransom for a legacy—a Black Pit—that now betrays and disowns them.
Staring in horror as Gandalf and the shards of Durin's Bridge plunge into the chasm, Gimli cannot help but remember his own eagerness to venture into the ruined mines and the role the dwarves played in waking the creature that falls entangled with the wizard.
When Gimli invites Frodo along to view the still waters of Kheled-zâram, he does so for several reasons: he desires to find something yet unspoiled from his ravaged heritage, he desires to see the stars of Durin's crown glittering from the water's depths, and he desires to end the persistent whispers in the back of his mind that suggest the sunken crown belongs not to Durin or even Dáin Ironfoot but to Gimli Glóin's son—who could take back Khazad-dûm and restore the dwarves to their rightful kingdom now.
For perhaps the first time in his life, Gimli counsels venturing even further into Lothlórien's sheltering trees, keenly aware that Khazad-dûm is less than a day's march behind and that the mines will not contain their teeming orcs past nightfall.
Gimli's memory of the Beornings' honey-cakes pales in comparison to the taste of lembas wafers, for lembas not only pleases the senses but also nourishes mind, body, and spirit; he cannot help comparing it to Legolas, who for all his elven nonsense has begun to reveal an inner core as stalwart and steadfast as any dwarven foundation.
Reduced to a stammering simpleton before Galadriel's grace, Gimli makes the boldest request of his life—a single hair of her golden head; she rewards him thrice over, but greater reward cannot be found beyond her first words to him of dark Kheled-zâram, icy Kibil-nâla, and many-pillared Khazad-dûm.
Gimli notes the new moon—and the startling realization that they spent nigh unto a month in Lothlórien—before Sam does, but he cannot bear to speak of it; it is a bitter reminder that elven wonders belong to a time and a place no longer in harmony with the march of mortal days.
Despite Aragorn's admonishment to leave behind all that can be spared, Gimli takes a moment to search the baggage and find the silver belts Galadriel gave to Merry and Pippin; he hopes to return these belts, and by clinging to this hope, he seeks to somehow thwart the despair that comes with the thought of three lone hunters both overtaking and overcoming an army of orcs.
There is wild freedom in the way Legolas leaps astride Arod, now bereft of saddle and rein; Gimli feels none of it as he is lifted up behind the elf, and he clings to Legolas without care for the spectacle he doubtless makes in front of Éomer and his men.
The musty forest presses close, and the steady approach of an old man in gray rags—an old man with a growing feel of terrible power—causes Gimli to ask the unthinkable and beg Legolas to loose his arrows unannounced, unchallenged, and unawares.
Though he stands as a representative of the dwarves, Gimli vows that Gríma Wormtongue will suffer an untimely demise for his brash words against Lothlórien, and only Gandalf's restraining hand prevents Gimli from making good on that promise before the very throne of Edoras.
After Gimli aids Gamling in damming the culvert against orcs, he watches the blocked Deeping Spring spread slowly from cliff to cliff and struggles against the thought that all in Helm's Deep now find themselves similarly trapped.
It will cause no end of uproar back at the Lonely Mountain, but gazing around the Glittering Caves through pain-clouded vision, the battle above ringing loud in his ears, Gimli feels himself sink deep into the cavern rock as though it were home.
While he might never admit it to Legolas, seeing the elf alive again after the Battle of Helm's Deep is a far better victory than winning their grisly game of orc-killing.
Gimli openly scoffs at the molasses-coated voice issuing down from Orthanc but then watches in disbelief as the surrounding Rohirrim nod agreement to Saruman's twisted lies of peace and friendship.
Shadowy forms flicker about them as Legolas describes the dreadful shapes his eyes discern in the rolling mists of the Dead; brave dwarf though he is, Gimli is desperately grateful that Elladan, not Legolas, elected to ride as the company's rearguard this day.
He flees from orcs in his ancestral home, weeps at the last sight of Lothlórien, and grieves Boromir's fall as though the man were a kindred dwarf, yet nothing afflicts Gimli so deeply as finding Legolas stricken on the southern battlefield, impaled not by arrow or by spear but by the cry of a gull.
Aragorn's commandeered armada labors upstream into the night without help from wind or current, and all the while they are forced to watch the red glow beneath the clouds where Minas Tirith burns; hope fades until it is little more than an ember, and almost Gimli believes it would be swifter to abandon the boats and run.
The builders of Minas Tirith clearly possessed scope, vision, and skill, but to Gimli's eyes, those who now care for the City see not the true roots of deeper stone but only the fits and flourishes of surface rock, similar to the way they see—or stare at—the elf and dwarf walking in their midst.
Searching the carnage around the Black Gate, Gimli's breath stops short at the sight of a hobbit foot protruding from beneath the carcass of a massive hill-troll; his breath begins again in frantic gasps when he heaves his weight against the creature and realizes he might not be able to move it.
Gimli is nothing if not a dutiful son, yet after the War, he cannot remain in the Lonely Mountain; a dwarf is nothing without his kin, but Gimli's kin has grown to include beardless brothers of all shapes and sizes.
Author's Note: I thought I should put in a quick explanation for the silver belts. It might be argued that Merry and Pippin wore the silver belts Galadriel gave them, but I find that a little unlikely. Hobbit sensibilities would probably speak out against wearing something so valuable in the middle of the wilderness, plus it would be too reflective and might attract attention. I think Shirebound actually makes that argument in the story "Belts of Silver, Leaves of Gold."
Anyway, in my mind, the belts were not on their persons but rather in their packs, which were sitting safe and sound back at camp during the attack. And Gimli, being attune to all things Lothlórien, would be the most likely candidate to retrieve the belts and take them along. For what it's worth, that's my reasoning in the twelfth prompt.
And to all who read (and especially to all who reviewed) many thanks! I hope you enjoyed!
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.