Warnings: Implied slash

Disclaimer: No infringement upon anyone but Tolkien is intended--him, I infringe upon blatantly.

A/N: This was my first piece of fanfic, and it's still my favorite. You may note a similarity in the dancing sequence to Sarah AK's "Return to Mirkwood": Sarah is aware of this and gave me permission to post as is.

It was evening in Minas Tirith and the newly crowned King of Gondor was, for once, not to be found amongst his friends at one of the casual evening parties the recently arrived Elves were so fond of throwing. Instead, he was sitting in one of the many gardens, slightly removed from the partying, an expression of intense contemplation on his face. Anyone who had caught sight of him would have known better than to disturb him.

Aragorn sat deep in reflection, his thoughts moving back and forth over everything he had observed of the relationship between two of his friends, examining all the little gestures and phrases under the new light of what he had seen tonight. It had been such an innocent thing, to cause such a violent reaction in him. He had simply been standing there, talking to one of the many Gondorian nobles and scanning the crowds for some sort of escape from the man's dismal conversation, when his eyes had alighted on Gimli. Aragorn had immediately lost what little interest he had in whatever the noble was saying, for the expression on Gimli's face spoke of some depth of emotion. Gimli was watching something across the garden with an expression so intense it could only speak of possession--and yet there was some uncertainty there, some sense of longing, of being kept from whatever this thing was he desired to possess. Aragorn had followed Gimli's gaze onto the dance floor to where it rested on Legolas, dancing with one of his elven friends. He seemed unaware of the look Gimli was giving him, and yet there was no doubt in Aragorn's mind that Legolas was, indeed, the object of the dueling emotions he detected in Gimli's intense gaze.

After that Aragorn had quickly excused himself and allowed himself some time to think. It was as if that one look had suddenly crystallized something for him, and he found himself pouring over evidences of growing affection between his two friends, appalled that he had sensed nothing before. It was little things, really. Like the way they walked together. Aragorn doubted if they were even aware how Legolas shortened his stride while Gimli simultaneously lengthened his, falling into a happy medium without seeming to try.

Or the way Legolas had taken to shuffling his feet slightly as he walked, off-setting his silent Elven grace so Gimli would never be startled by his approach. And how upon hearing that slight scuffle Gimli would reach to put out his pipe, even if he had just lit it. No matter if there were other smokers present or not. Aragorn knew how much Gimli loved to smoke and once or twice he had raised an eyebrow at this gesture, but neither Gimli nor Legolas seemed to think anything of it.

Nor did Legolas seem to think anything of the difference in his speech patterns. Or was he even aware of them? During the Quest Legolas had often slipped into Silvan in times of duress, confident in the knowledge that Aragorn at least would understand him. But Gimli did not--and in the past few months Legolas had abandoned his native tongue entirely.

Aragorn sighed and prepared himself to re-enter the party before he was sought out. He knew his absence would become conspicuous soon. Yet he wished he had more time to reflect on this. How had he not seen it sooner? It was true these were all little things, none on their own cause for much thought. But put together by someone who knew them both well, these little gestures and concessions spoke of love.

And as Aragorn made his way back to the lights and the dancing, he noticed one more thing--that as Legolas danced, he never strayed to an area where Gimli would be unable to see him. Apparently without conscious thought, and yet Aragorn suddenly wondered. He wondered if Legolas was indeed aware of the piercing gaze that followed him across the dance floor--aware, and enjoying it.