Sapphires Set in Diamonds
I carved my first jewel when I was ten. Crawling through the narrow sparkling jeweled corridors of the mines I found it, a ruby, unformed yet perfect. I tapped it out gently with my hammer, delighting in the stones. Then I took it to my father's workshop. Days I sat with it, refining its facets, revealing the light it contains and reflects. Each day its form changed slightly. When it was complete I brought it to my father. "Gimli," he said, "you have created beauty."
Dwarf women are not beautiful. We are not formed in beauty, do not speak beauty, can not create beauty with words and song. Only our hands as they touch the gold and gems can shape the beauty we long for.
* * * * *
The fellowship does not know. They see an ax, a warrior. A bearded dwarf. If dwarvish lore were as well known as the lore of the elves perhaps they would guess. For when dwarvish women go out into the world we do not adorn ourselves with jewels and fine clothes in the manner of elven or human women. What would be the point? My mail and my ax will suffice.
* * * * *
Galadriel has seen. I had not expected to love her. We dwarves do not seek to find beauty in anything that walks upright. Yet when our eyes met at the testing she saw me. "What I am you are," she said, "dwarf-maid." More fair is the lady Galadriel than all the mithril of Khazad-dum, I answered, and her eyes are sapphires set in diamonds. "What I am," she said, "you are." Then I saw myself transformed into one of her maidens in the woods of Lorien. I was tall and golden. Around me the leaves of Lorien trembled like living jewels. When I reached out to touch them my fingers were long and delicate. Then the hand of an elf-man was on my shoulder. Legolas. I turned and fell into his embrace. "Gimli," he whispered, "My wife. My treasure." How cruelly Galadriel read my desires! I shook my head. Longing burned me, but I had promises to keep.
"Dwarf women are not beautiful," I growled.
Galadriel laughed, and in her laughter she grew even more fair, even more radiant. But the beauty of flesh, even elven-flesh, is not like the beauty of stones, and the heart aches at the thought that it will one day pass from the earth. I asked for a lock of her hair.
That night I lay wrapped in my blanket next to Legolas, clenching and unclenching my fingers, fighting a desire to reach over to him, to entwine my fingers in his hair that caught the light of the moon like mithril. I made a fist, then bit it. The testing was over, and I had passed. Or failed. I rolled over and placed my fingers on the hilt of my ax.
* * * * *
You all know the story of the quest, of the orcs and Saruman, of the War of the Ring. You also know how I marched with Legolas in the quest, and rode at his side. After Lorien, Legolas and I passed into an easy friendship. Desire flared, but I learned to live with it.
I kept Galadriel's hair with me, and the words of her blessing, "Your hand shall flow with gold but over you gold shall have no dominion." Frodo's gold ring had never tempted me, it could only bring power, which I did not crave. It was this, this golden elven hair, that drew my yearning. I looked at Legolas, and was silent.
* * * * *
I saw Galadriel for the last time at the great wedding, when the kingship of Gondor was renewed. During the rejoicing I found her. Lady of the dwarves , she called to me, mind to mind. Do not mock me , I replied. I did not mean to mock, gentle Gimli. I would see you also wed and joyous before I leave this earth. I scowled. Suddenly I was angry. She must know my longing. I passed her test, and remain as I am. And LegolasGaladriel smiled, reading my mind. And Legolas? Did I not tell you that your hands shall flow with gold? Remember, dwarf-maid. What I am, you are.
What I am, you are.
I gazed after her as she rode away to absorb into my soul the last moments of her beauty before the turned to the west and was gone.
* * * * *
In Moria I found a strain of mithril blended with gold that seems to shine of its own accord. I mixed it with the purest diamonds and molded a goblet at once luminous and transparent. Inside the rim of the cup I set sapphires for the blue in an elvish eye. Around it I set gold and silver filigree to catch the light of the stars. At the very base of the goblet I set my first childhood ruby. Finally, on each side I set a pearl-dusted letter. G for Gimli. Or Galadriel. L for Legolas.
But how should Legolas know? And how can I find the words to tell him?
We stood beneath the sheltering trees of Fangorn. Not Lothlorien. But still blessed with the elvish presence I was doomed to find beautiful. His face was enraptured as he took the goblet in his hands. His fingers traced the G, then the L. I gazed up at him, at each crease in the smile I had come to love. He knelt before me in the shadows and his face was just below mine. Then he put down the cup and took my hands in his. There were no words to say and so we were silent. Then there was one word, and we said it together: Love. Love. You are my friend. You are my brother. You are my love. We filled the cup with the waters of Fangorn, drank together, and pledged our vows.
The light first shone in the two trees of Valinor in the west. Then it was imprisoned in the Silmarils. When those were gone, some of the light remained in a phial kept by Galadriel, and in her hair. When those too have gone from the world the light will still remain, sometimes, in the song of the elves and the hands of the dwarves. When even those are gone, the light will remain, for a moment, in the heart that remembers, stronger than sapphires, stronger than diamonds.
We fell together on the leaves, laughing. I kissed his face, his neck, his golden hair flowing through my hands. Our lips met, searched, parted. I relaxed in his arms, finally at peace. As he reached to undress me I thought after all our confessions of love, he still does not know that I am a maid. He found out soon enough, though, and it did not matter.
Notes: I join the chorus of voices begging apologies from the great professor for causing him to turn in his grave. The cross-dressing dwarf was his idea, though — in the appendix we are told that dwarf women have beards and that when they go out into the world they dress as men. So maybe Gimli was a dwarf woman, and the hobbit narrators just didn't notice.
And yes, this is my first posting.