The dwarf never took his eyes from him. He could feel them boring into his back, watching his every move.

He had expected some animosity from him, after all Thandruil, the king of Mirkwood who once held Gloin, Gimli's father together with twelve other dwarfs in his dungeons was his father. So it was to be expected that Gimli showed no love towards elves and even less towards Legolas.

The elf did not always agree with his father's actions and although dwarves were not much loved by his people he wished no-one to live through the darkness of the dungeons for even a short time. And had they not managed to escape by ways unknown they might very well still be locked up, long forgotten by the elven king.

But now he was on a quest that would decide over the fate of middle earth and if the dwarf found his amusement in watching him, so be it. He would not say or do anything to provoke the dwarf any further.

So he walked in front of Gimli, watching his companions and his surroundings, trying hard to ignore the dwarf.

Nightfall came and Legolas used the short moment the dwarf's attention was diverted from him while setting up camp to quickly slip away and escape into he deep green of the surrounding woods. The relief to finally be away from this scrutiny was immense.

'Two can play that game, master dwarf.' He thought to himself, a smile forming on his lips as he swiftly climbed the tree next to him. Without making a sound he made his way through the thick green of the trees until he found himself right over Gimli. With a gleeful grin he made himself comfortable and started to watch the dwarf.

Gimli had just settled down and looking around obviously noticed the elf missing. Amused Legolas watched as he started to get up, now scanning the woods. But he never looked up into the tree right above him. The elf wondered if Gimli was really going to look for him when Sam called out, announcing that their meal was ready. Hunger was obviously stronger than the dwarf's mistrust of him for he went to get a plate of food.

Not feeling hungry at all Legolas did not move but stayed were he was. For a moment he caught Aragorn looking up, scanning the treetops. He reached out and grasped a small branch in front of him, moving it the slightest little bit. He knew the ranger had caught the sign for he looked directly into his direction, a smile appearing on his face for the shortest of moments.

Temptation won out when Pippin tried to help himself to Legolas' ration of food. Smiling at Sam's defense Legolas called out.

'He shall have it Sam, I do not feel hungry'

Although his words were directed at the hobbits he kept his eyes on the dwarf and was not disappointed. Gimli almost dropped his plate at the voice coming from only a few feet above him.

The elf shook with suppressed laughter as he watched the angry dwarf get to his feet. This was good.

Deciding that now as the dwarf knew where he was, it was no fun staying here he changed his position to a tree where he had a good outlook at their surroundings as well as the camp. Getting comfortable once more his eyes strayed back to Gimli just in time to see him giving a deadly glare towards the tree he had been in before. Once more he had not noticed the elf moving right over his head.

The fellowship started to settle down to sleep and it was Gimli who asked first. 'Who is going to keep watch tonight?'

'I will. For I do not need sleep the way you do.' Legolas offered. He did not feel tired and was quite content to stay up here.

This time the dwarf did not show any sign of being startled the elf noticed slightly disappointed. Aragorn gave a nod and Legolas' eyes turned away from the camp. The time for fun was over for tonight, but the game would continue for many days, Legolas getting out of sight every time Gimli let his attention slip only for the shortest of moments. It never ceased to amuse the elf how easy it was to elude his eyes and watch him in return without the dwarf ever noticing.

Concentrating on his surroundings Legolas could feel his companions relax in sleep one after the other. Only a stubborn dwarf stayed awake as if not trusting the elf to keep properly watch.

'Stupid dwarf.' The day had been long and hard and although Gimli had refused to show any sign of tiring neither the next nor any of the following days would be any easier. They should try and get rest when ever possible.

@@@

Sam's questions about elves were endless. He gave his best to answer them all as he walked next to him but each explanation only seemed to cause five more questions. But it was a good way of letting time pass and he enjoyed the company of this little people. Lighthearted they were and trusting, not like some others. He talked and jested with them, part of his senses still kept on their surroundings. And blocking out the feeling of a pair of dark, distrustful eyes fixed on his back.

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The night was cold and the hobbits returned with only a handful of dry wood. Not enough to start a fire, no mentioning of keeping it going through part of the night.

'Let me take care of that.' Gimli offered, his hands closing around his axe. He eyed a slim tree in front of him.

Legolas breath caught. How dare the dwarf think of even raising an axe towards a young and strong tree, taking the life of something so beautiful?

His hands balled to fists and he took a step forward. Before he could open his mouth to voice his feelings a hand on his shoulder stopped him. Casting an angry glance sideways he saw Gandalf standing next to him, shaking his head.

With a quick movement Aragorn had grabbed Gimli's arm.

'There is no need of that.' He cast a glance over the dwarf's head. Fire flared in the wood elf's eyes as they met his, his hands were balled to fists. But he did not move and Aragorn knew how much self control this cost him.

'Legolas?'

The elf nodded slowly, and directing one last glare at the dwarf's back he turned and slipped away. The hobbits had not found much, but he was an elf. He moved faster and lighter through the dark and he knew the woods like only a wood elf could. He could hear the tree's soft breathing and feel the life surrounding him. Marveling in it for a few moments his anger lessened.

'Stupid dwarf' he mumbled, shaking his head. It was like his father had said. They seemed to care not for living things. With a sigh he let go of his dark feelings, the peace of the woods around him easing his mind. Then he shook himself and turned to his appointed task.

@@@

Their food supplies grew less and less and he could fell the ever hungry hobbits' mood change slightly. Aragorn had turned to hunting but life of any kind faded from around them the closer they came to the mountains and more often then not their meal only consisted of old bread and cheese.

The first time he found some fruits and brought them with him he did not expected the enthusiastic reaction. Seeing the laughter and joy in the little one's eyes over something so simple made everyone smile. Even the dwarf.

His eyes were still there, following him everywhere Legolas went. But somehow he had gotten used to it and he simply ignored the dwarf and kept away from him.

He was fond of the hobbits and so he often strayed from their way to find some fruits and berries, offering them to everyone. And everyone would accept them happily but the dwarf.

The nights had grown colder and so close to the mountains no protecting woods shielded them from the wind anymore. Legolas was hardly affected by the cold but he noticed the others having a hard time especially those who had to keep watch.

Knowing that anybody else's pride would not allow it he only relieved the hobbits from their duty, taking over most of their watches. Neither Aragorn not Gandalf seemed to notice, at least they did not comment on it. The hobbits were grateful, only Merry was reluctant to let him take over.

He assured him that a few hours sleep was all an elf needed from time to time and finally the hobbit gladly made his way over to the warm bundle of blankets were they all were huddled together next to the fire.

That night he lost track of time as he got lost in his surroundings. He already missed the trees and the little life that still existed here could not fill his longing. He strained his senses as far as he could and for a few moments he could almost smell the green woods.

He woke Gimli to late.

'What do you think you are doing, elf?' Gimli hissed at him. 'If you feel the need to relieve the hobbits from their duties to prove how superior you are that is one thing. But I do neither need nor want your help with anything, at least in fulfilling my duties towards this fellowship.'

The elf cast a quick glance over their companions to make sure they had not been woken. 'I apologize master dwarf, I did not mean to lessen your burden. The night is clear and I enjoyed the calmness of the stars too much I fear.'

He hardly managed to make it sound as sarcastic as he meant it. His exertions had drained him.

'Crazy elf.' The dwarf hissed and moved out of his blankets to take in his position. With a shrug Legolas watched him go. 'Stupid dwarf.' He mumbled before laying down. He slipped away in the world of elven dreams in an instant, walking under the deep green treetops of Mirkwood.



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Moria. He shuddered only at the mentioning of this name. Tales had been told of the endless darkness of those mines, the lost home of the dwarves. His relief to hear Gandalf reject the idea to pass through those mines was endless.

Neither snow nor cold bothered him the way it did the rest of the fellowship as they made their way over the mountain. He could see the annoyance on the dwarfs face as he watched him and just for the fun of it he passed him once more, his feet quick and sure on the snow, hardly leaving a mark at all.

The others were waist deep in snow, getting forward only slowly. He ran to the back again, smiling innocently at the dwarf.

He found Pippin had stopped, cold and tired and without much fuss he slung the exhausted hobbit over his back.

Arms closed around his neck and he smiled at the mumble of thanks as he carried him after the others.

This was no good place to be for the little ones. The snow was almost as high as they were and the cold wind cut through everything. Legolas doubted they would make it.

He noticed the dwarf stubbornly carrying on. Determination he did not lack of, the elf mused as he put the hobbit down and went over to Sam who had started to slightly fall behind.

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The mountain had defeated them. Exhausted and frozen they had stumbled back, fleeing the piles of snow it had cast down on them. Only one choice was left and Legolas did not want to go there.

Moria.

Everything inside of him cried out, only thinking of the dark caves formed by the dwarfs making his stomach clench. But he had seen the way the dwarf's eyes lit when Frodo decided to go through the mines and he would not show his fear. Not to a dwarf.

So his swallowed his cry of dismay and followed Gandalf without a word of protest as he led them to the walls of Moria.

Starlight let the door to Moria appear. It had been made by elves and dwarves in a time when the two had still been friends. For a moment he wondered at that. Gandalf's voice called out in a commanding tone.

Legolas' held his breath, a cold feeling of fear welling up. It was nothing he could control but he did his best to hide it.

Nothing happened.

For a while he stood and watched as Gandalf tried each and every single password he could remember, using the elven tongue as well as the one of the dwarves. He soon realized it could take some time and cast a glance around. He had been too wrapped up in his inner turmoil to notice much of his surroundings before. He made out a tree next to the door and fled there, the comforting sound of its breathing soothing his nerves. He leaned his back against its trunk, feeling the rough texture of it even through his tunic. He remained there his arms wrapped around his bow, keeping watch over the fellowship, wishing with all his being for Gandalf to never remember the password.

His wish was granted but another solved the riddle and finally the doors swung open. But enough time had passed for him to get a tight grip of control on his feelings. A last time he touched the bark of the tree before he stepped away and slowly entered Moria.

Darkness slowly lifted as Gandalf's staff emitted a soft blue light.

'This is no mine, it is a tomb.'

Gimli's cry of denial echoed in his ears and a twinge of sympathy went through his heart at the gruesome sight before him. The dwarves that had dared to return to Moria no longer were. Their remains littered the hall and stairs. Picking up an arrow a cold shiver went through him. It fell from his fingers and he quickly draw one of his own.

'Goblins!' he hissed.

'Get out!'

But it was not meant to be, for they were attacked from behind and only barley did they manage to free the ring bearer from the grasp of the creature in the water. Their only way of escape was through the mines and they had just entered them again when with a loud rumble part of the ceiling came down and the doors were blocked.

They had no choice but to follow Gandalf into the endless dark of Moria.

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He was cold, colder than he had ever been facing the angry mountain. Gandalf had stopped for he had no memory of this place and the fellowship had settled down, grateful for the break. But Legolas could not relax. He stood watch, his arms wrapped around his bow, his senses reaching out in the darkness. He could feel nothing there but death and the creature Gollum.

He had thought of telling Gandalf that he had been following them for some time now, but his keen ears heard the conversation between the wizard and Frodo and he realized that there was no need.

His eyes wandered to Gimli who was sitting quietly, his head bowed. His grief was obvious and for the first time the elf felt nothing but sympathy for the dwarf for grief was deeply felt by the elves.

No one was as relieved as Legolas when Gandalf cried out in sudden realization and they moved on.

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He forced himself to slow his running and stop, although he would have wanted to run on forever. The horror of watching Gandalf fall added to the strain of the past days was almost too much.

He took a deep breath, forcing his swirling emotions under control as he raised his head and looked up at the sky. The first time since forever that he could feel and see anything but death and coldness.

'Legolas, get them on.'

Aragorn's voice called out to him much too soon, but he moved knowing they had to get on. Too dangerous it was to linger here.

'Give them a moment for pities sake!'

'By nightfall this hills will be swarming with orcs. We must reach the woods of Lothlorien. Gimli, Legolas, get them up.'

He leaned down to Merry, helping him to his feet. Only reluctantly the hobbit let go of Pippin who was lying on the ground, sobbing.

The hobbit's grief for a moment made him waver, his own emotions welling up, but he had to push them away to deal with them later. There was no time for this now. He could not get the crying hobbit to his feet and noticing that the others had already started to move on he simply picked him up and carried him in his arms. Only Boromir had lingered and he made his steps long and quick to catch up to the others, the man of Gondor following him.

The hobbit's sobs continued and his tears soaked the elf's tunic. Feeling familiar eyes on him Legolas looked up and found Gimli looking at them for a moment before turning away again.

The dwarf's ability shown in fight had come as a surprise. From someone so small and stout Legolas had not expected so much agility and speed. The heavy axe he had handled with practiced ease, cutting into the enemy with deadly accuracy and never showing a sign of weariness. Even now he was keeping up with Aragorn a lot easier than the hobbits.

They followed Aragorn who set a quick pace until the hobbits could hardly move any more before he finally called a halt. There was no way they would be able to reach the golden woods today.

After gently lowering the now sleeping Pippin to the ground Legolas stretched his aching arms. Much longer he would not have been able to carry the little one.

Closing his eyes he strained his senses, reaching out far into the dark. What he felt made him almost smile. There was life around him again, and for the moment nothing threatening. Opening his eyes he met Aragorn's questioning glance and gave him a nod. They were safe here for now.

'Can you keep watch tonight, Legolas?'

Confined in the dark mines he had not been able to find sleep nor to wander in his elven dreams and he started to feel the lack of it. But even now too much was on his mind and in his heart and he knew that he would not find rest tonight and so he gave his consent. The rest of the fellowship he knew to be even wearier then he was and his senses were keener than most.

He took in his position and noticed the dwarf already asleep. For once he had not doubted the elf's trustworthiness by fighting to stay awake while he kept watch.

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The night was cool but clear and he relinquished in the soft glow of the stars. Trapped in the mines he had longed to see them with an intensity that bordered on physical pain. But his joy to feel their light on his skin again was dimmed by the grief in his heart.

For a long time had he known Gandalf the Gray, for often had he visited Mirkwood. Legolas' mother had been fond of him, even if his father never really liked the wizard.

Trying to keep his thoughts away from his grief they turned to the one thing that seemed to occupy his mind more often than he wished. All his life dwarves had been said to be so much different from elves. And maybe they were, they surely did not have the elegance and easy beauty the elder race possessed.

But Moria, despite it's darkness had revealed something Legolas had never expected. Even though partly destructed and robbed of light the realm of the dwarves still held a breathtaking beauty. Different than anything Legolas had ever seen before but he hardly knew anything about dwarves.

It was nothing an elf ever would be able to create for they never cut into nature that way. It was nothing he could ever understand, for he was a wood elf, born and grown up in the deep forest of Mirkwood and he loved the woods and the open air more than anything. It was part of him.

Gimli's love and longing for the mountains and caves seemed so alien and yet so familiar to his own love for trees and stars.

A soft sound woke him from his musings and told him that one of the hobbits stirred and he turned his head to look at them. He could see Pippin slowly getting into a sitting position. The hobbit had been the one most shaken by Gandalf's fall and Legolas had a suspicion of the reason why. Pippin had gotten to his feet and trying to be silent he walked a few steps away from his sleeping friends.

With one last look around Legolas also got to his feet.

Pippin let out the smallest sound of surprise as the elf soundlessly materialized next to him.

'I did not mean to startle you' he whispered apologetically.

Pippin just looked at him, despair still lingering in his eyes.

'What troubles you, my friend?' Legolas asked softly although he already knew the answer.

'Nothing.' The hobbits voice was bitter as he turned away from the elf.

'Do not feel guilt for Gandalf's death. For it was not your fault any more than it was mine.'

Slowly Pippin shook his head.

'It was me who caused the noise that draw the enemy's attention on us. Without this stupid mistake of mine the Balrog would have never woken.' He said, his eyes wide with guilt and pain.

'You are wrong with that, my friend for the enemy long before knew we were there. I could feel it drawing nearer but too late did I tell Aragorn of what I felt. But I do not think that either of us could have changed what came to pass. The enemy would have found us and the Balrog would have never let us pass without a fight.'

He could see Pippin was listening and hoped his words would help to lift the burden from the hobbits heart. To heavy a guilt this was to carry. When he did not answer he left his side, giving him the space and time he knew he would need.

His own heart was heavy, not with guilt for he truly believed that it had been nobodies fault, but with the ache of loosing someone he had known and considered a friend for as long as he could remember. But now was not the time to grieve, to dangerous was their position. Tomorrow they would reach Lothlorien and would be under the protection of the golden woods. A smile formed on his face as thought of this place that was said to be the most beautiful of all elven realms in middle earth.

@@@

It was even more beautiful than he had imagined it to be.

And all the glory of the golden wood was only a mirror of its Lady. Beautiful she was beyond words to describe it and a light seemed to radiate from her, pure and golden. Never had he seen anyone like her. He bowed his head in awe and respect.

For the shortest moment he could feel her mind touch his as she acknowledged him for who he was. When she withdraw he felt strangely bereft for the short connection had for a moment brought joy to his heart and lifted the dark burden it carried.

His eyes fell on Gimli. The dwarf who had warned the hobbits of the elven witch that would not be able to enchant him with her beauty had a look of pure awe on his face and in his eyes.

With wonder Legolas realized the look not leaving Gimli's face even as they were led away and shown their sleeping places. A dreamy look was in the dwarf's eyes and it was then that Legolas realized what had happened. The same dwarf who claimed to mistrust any elf, who called them the most annoying of all creatures and disliked everything about them had fallen for the Lady Galadriel.

He would have laughed at this realization had not the darkness in his heart started to form to a hardly ignorable pain that had seemed to grow ever since they had entered Lothlorien.

He left the company of his friends to take his bath, enjoying the clear water as he washed away the dirt and grime of days. Returning to the place he had shed his clothes he found them neatly folded and clean. Next to them a silver flask was placed.

He slipped into his leggings and silver tunic, the feel of clean clothes against clean skin a luxury missed for a long time. Picking up the silver flask he had a strong suspicion of what it contained and sniffing on it found it confirmed.

He returned to his friends to place his green tunic with his belongings. The silver flask still in his hands he turned to walk away again, seeking solitude. A soft elven voice rising to a song made him stop for a moment and listen.

'A lament for Gandalf.' He said almost to himself. It cut into his heart, bringing down the walls around his emotions.

'What does it say about him?'

He turned to Merry, knowing he would not be able to translate the words without being overwhelmed.

'I have not the heart to tell you. For me the grief is still to near.'

Merry seemed to understand, a sad smile on his lips. They all hurt.

The elf turned again, needing to be alone he walked away until he was sure to be out of earshot. The beauty of his surroundings was soothing, but it could not lessen the pain. He sat, carefully placing the silver flask next to him. He was grateful for it, but not sure if he would need it. The potion was said to be strong and only seldom used for it was not in the nature of elves to suppress their emotions.

Angry footsteps neared. Looking up he noticed Gimli had followed him, an angry look on his face. He wondered what he might have done to enrage the dwarf like this.

'What kind of creatures are you? Do you grief at all or does death mean nothing to you for you are immortal yourself?'

It was just another sign of how little the dwarves knew about elves. But right now Legolas felt not up to explanations. The unjust accusation angered him and fighting the pain in his chest he shot back at Gimli.

'What would you know about grieving? Gandalf was my friend for more than two thousand years. Loosing him hurts more than you will ever understand!'

He did not notice the look on the dwarf's face as he added a little bit less harsh but with bitterness lacing his voice.

'How can a mortal ever understand what death means to us, who we are…' his breath left him as once more the grief welled up in his heart and manifested itself in a sharp pain shooting through his body with sudden vehemence. Gasping he doubled over, his arms wrapping around his chest.

The pain seemed to go on forever until it gradually lessened and finally ebbed away. Taking a shaky breath the elf straitened and found himself looking in the dwarf's eyes again. Something had changed in them, the anger was gone.

'Are you well, master elf?' Gimli asked, trying hard to keep sudden concern out of his voice.

'I am fine, master dwarf.' Legolas answered feeling another wave of pain slowly developing. 'I would like to be alone, for opposite to your opinion I do grieve, but would prefer to do so in private.'

'And you do so by sitting and drinking some fine elven wine?' the anger was back in the dwarfs voice. Most of it was directed at Gimli himself, he had not wanted to show any kind of worry about an elf and he let it out on Legolas.

'You do not understand.' The elf whispered, wishing desperately to be alone. Then he would be able to let go. Keeping up this front cost him dearly, but he was not going to let a dwarf see him crumble.

'No I do not, but to tell the truth I do not want to. Who would want to understand the ways of an elf?' he shook his head and started to turn away his anger spent and sudden tiredness in his bones, as he took one last look at the Legolas' face. He paused.

The pain had become unbearable, the arms still curled around his chest tightened as he desperately tried to hide it until Gimli was gone. But his reserves were waning quickly and he was starting to loose the struggle. A mixture between moan and gasp escaped him and he felt the dark eyes of the dwarf boring into him.

'Just leave me alone,… please, Gimli.' He whispered, hoping the stubborn dwarf would finally leave.

Gimli felt a slight shock as the elf for the first time simply called him by his name. He did not look well, he realized, his face had grown even paler. His breathing was ragged and he seemed to not even realize what he had just said.

All of a sudden Gimli's presence did not matter anymore to Legolas. The pain was all consuming and trying to lessen it he curled up, his eyes closing as everything else retreated.

'Master Elf? Legolas?'

He could hear Gimli's voice but the words had lost all meaning.

'Have you been wounded?'

A hand touched his shoulder, grabbed it but he was hardly aware of it.

'Legolas!'

He fought not to slip into darkness, dimly aware of voices and then a hand that forced his face up. Instinctively he moved his head out of the grip, a low moan escaping him as the pain flared up once more. Then it seemed to lessen for the slightest bit.

His eyes must have drifted shut on their own accord and he had a hard time to force them open again. Only slowly did they focus on the two faces in front of him.

Haldir was here, his voice gentle as he asked him in elvish.

'Did you not take the potion?'

The pain in his chest made breathing hard and speaking impossible. But no answer was necessary as Haldir offered him the silver flask. He reached out with his left hand, noticing it's trembling. The other arm he left were it was, curled around his chest. It seemed to lessen the pain inside a bit. He grasped the flask but only for the shortest moment before it slipped from his trembling fingers. He did not have the strength left to hold it. It would have fallen to the ground had not Haldir caught it.

Darkness tried to claim him again and the pain was breaking his strength to fight it. He hardly noticed as his eyes closed again and he started to slump forward.

A strong grip on his shoulders forced him upward again and something cold touched his lips.

Words softly spoken in elvish yet demanding his attention reached him.

'Stay awake Legolas. You need to drink this.'

Feeling the liquid on his tongue as Haldir poured it into his mouth in a small trickle he swallowed reflexively. It burned down his throat, cold and hot at once and for a moment, although he would have thought it impossible, it seemed to even intensify his agony. But when it's burning lessened it seemed to take some of the pain with it.

And with it the darkness retreated and this time he had a less hard struggle to open his eyes.

Haldir was kneeling in front of him, the silver flask Lady Galadriel had given him in hands. Once more the flask was lifted to his lips and he needed no softly spoken command to remember to swallow.

The grip on his shoulders still held him upright he realized, but right now he did not care. The immense pain lessened more and more and he started to fell lightheaded. Feeling drained and weak he allowed himself to be manhandled by Haldir who wrapped an arm around him and lowered him backwards in the grass. He managed to move his legs on his own, getting them into a more comfortable position.

Only when he was resting in the grass did he realize who his other companion was. But by then the potion he had swallowed had worked its magic and he felt sleep overcome him.

The last thing he heard was the dwarf's voice.

'Is he well?'

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When he woke again Aragorn was sitting next to him, keeping a silent watch over him. He moved his head as soon as he stirred and upon seeing the awareness in the elf's eyes a genuine smile broke out on the ranger's face.

'You're finally awake, my friend. Are you well?'

It took a few moments to answer that questions. There was still a slight ache in his heart but it was nothing compared to what he had felt earlier.

'I am much better.' He simply said, getting into a sitting position. He knew Aragorn understood very well what had happened.

'That is good. Gimli was watching over your sleep most of the time. I sent him away to get some rest of his own, not long ago. I dare say you gave our friend quite a scare.'

Legolas did not answer. He remembered Gimli being here, but why had he stayed? To keep watch over his sleep?

'I guess Haldir is to blame for that.' Aragorn chuckled, answering his unspoken question. 'It seems he warned Gimli to immediately get help if your eyes should close.'

That brought a grin to the elf's face. But at the same time he felt confusion. The dwarf had never shown much but contempt and mistrust for him until now.

The ranger got to his feet. Knowing the elf would be fine he could go now and get some rest himself.

'Sleep well, Aragorn and thank you.'

He smiled for he could see the confusion in the elf's eyes. The dwarf's concern had surprised him.

Legolas stayed there for a long time, letting free his grief, mourning a friend.

Much later he would wander through the golden wood and listen to the laments sung by other elves.

Only when the next evening came did he return to his companions.

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During the meal he could feel Gimli watching him again. But it felt different now. There was no mistrust in his eyes anymore. Legolas did not really know how to read him and unsure of what to do he never met the dwarf's eyes.

He had found himself thinking of a way to repay Gimli for the concern shown on his behalf but was hesitant to mention to the dwarf what had happened the day before. He had shown weakness and did not want to dwell on this.

Finally the meal was over and his mind made up and he approached Gimli.

'Master Gimli?'

The dwarf looked up pretending to just notice him. He did not bother to answer him, just looked at Legolas.

'I would ask you to accompany me tonight, if you have nothing better to do. There are some things in Lothlorien that might bring joy to a dwarfs eyes, almost as much as the Lady herself.'

As he waited for the answer he found himself searching the dwarf's eyes for any sign of contempt. Why should it bother him if a dwarf thought him weak?

'Nothing can compare to the Lady Galadriel. But I might accompany you for I have not seen much of her land yet.'

He was surprised and relieved at once. And Aragorn smiled as he watched them walk away.

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The beauty of Lothlorien seemed endless as he showed Gimli places he had discovered the night before and found even more places he himself had not seen yet. His companion was silent, listening to him whenever he found something to point out to him.

He could see Gimli's open admiration for the craftsmanship of the elves as often his fingers would trace the contours of a especially beautiful piece.

They had walked for some time when the strain of the last days started to catch up with Legolas and a short glance at Gimli also showed signs of exhaustion in his step and face. There was one more place he would have liked to show the dwarf but was reluctant to do so. He did not know if Gimli was welcome there.

A now familiar presence made itself known in his mind. Joy flowed through him as he felt the Lady's voice.

'The elf-friend is welcome wherever he chooses to follow you, Legolas.'

And so he directed his steps to the hall of mourning.

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Legolas stopped when he caught sight of the hall. He had not been here the night before, not ready to share his grief with others. The hall was filled with elves sitting on silken cushions on the ground, singing or simply listening to the laments.

A golden haired elf hastily made his way to them.

'Welcome to this place, Prince Legolas.' he said in elvish. His eyes flickered to the dwarf. 'Shall I call someone to lead the dwarf back to your companions?'

Subtle words to indicate Gimli was not welcome here.

Legolas stretched to his full height, his head held high. Hardly ever did he use the authority of being of noble blood, but this moment he looked every bit the prince of Mirkwood he really was.

'He is Gimli, son of Gloin, called elf-friend by the Lady Galadriel herself. ' he answered the elf using the common speech and not keeping his voice down. He indented to let everybody hear what he had to say. 'And the Lady gave him leave to join us if he wishes. Mithandir was a friend of his, and he grieves for him as well.'

The other elf did not question his lady's orders. Only for a moment his eyes rested on the dwarf. Stories quickly made their way around, in Lothlorien no less than anywhere else. Almost every elf had heard about the dwarf who had come to the golden woods and had fallen in love with it's lady. And unbeknown to Legolas another story told by Haldir about same dwarf keeping watch over a grieving elf.

'Then take a seat Prince Legolas and Gimli, son of Gloin.' With this words they were led to a place only slightly apart from the others. Wine was offered and they were left alone.

Legolas was aware of curious looks they received, but none of them were unfriendly. This was a place to gather and share the grief felt over the sudden loss of a friend. There was no room for animosity.

His mind soon turned to the laments sung by sweet elven voices and he remembered to translate them to common speech for Gimli to also understand them. The laments told about adventures Mithandir had faced, of all the things he had ever done for the elves. The dwarf had settled on his cushions nipping on his wine and seemed content. He never spoke, only listened. When Legolas voice caught and he needed a pause before he was able to continue his translations he would never show a sign of impatience. Only understanding shone in his eyes. For the first time they sat next to each other, completely at peace.

Then a solitary voice rang out.

'Legolas, sing to us.'

He shook his head answering in the same language.

'I can not.'

But all eyes were turned on him now and other voices called out, asking him to tell of Mithandir's last adventure. He shook his head again, not wanting to do this. The pain was still there, and he was not sure if he could face telling the whole story yet.

'What is it, they ask of you?'

He did not find the words to answer Gimli's question. Part of him wanted to hold back, keep the grief inside, another wanted to let it all go, cry out his pain and sorrow.

Finally he gave in, holding his hands up in defeat. Immediately silence fell.

Legolas knew that beside the lady and the lord of this realm probably nobody knew what had happened and on what kind of quest they were. All they knew was that Mithandir had fallen into shadow. He had to be careful with his words to not tell more than should be known.

He needed a few more moments. He sat there, his head bowed, waiting for his feelings, the deep admiration for the wizard, their friendship and the deep pain of loosing him to well up in his heart until it was close to bursting.

Finally he raised his head and allowed his emotions to form to words and escape his mouth. Waving a sad and sweet melody they left him and floated high over his audience and slowly ebbed away.

His silver voice told the story of nine who left Rivendell on a quest. Told about lighthearted hobbits, brave men, a fearless dwarf and a wise wizard making their way through the wilderness.

He never caught the look on Gimli's face as he told the story of the dwarfs of Moria, defeated and slaughtered by dark foes for his eyes were tightly closed. Once more he could see it all in front of him.

Tears he could not hold back slipped from his eyes as he described the fight against the Balrog that cost Mithandir's life.

When his voice had faded and silence still remained he opened his eyes and met Gimli's. The dwarf's tears were silent proof to emotions no less deep than those of an elf.

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They would leave Lothlorien soon. A feast was held to say a last goodbye to the fellowship. Although hardly anyone knew how perilous their quest really was everybody seemed to feel that maybe not all of them would ever come back.

The meal was delicious and even the hobbits had more than enough to eat. Elven wine was served and with amusement Legolas watched a certain dwarf have his goblet once more refilled. Despite his misgivings against elves Gimli had developed a great liking for elven food and even more for their wine.

During the past weeks a strange friendship had formed between Legolas the elf and Gimli the dwarf. Had Legolas taken Gimli with him that first time to show his gratitude in showing him Lothlorien, he had done it again solely to enjoy the dwarf's companionship.

Both were surprised how easily, without the need of many words they had forged a bond of friendship.

Legolas winced as said dwarf, high in spirits, started to sing. No matter how fond he had become of Gimli, his singing was still painful to hear.

'My friend…' his words fell on deaf ears as the hobbits added their voices. Although a lot nicer to listen to than Gimli they still could not really drown out the dwarf's loud voice.

For a moment silver laughter reached Legolas' ears and looking into the direction it had come from his eyes fell on Haldir. The other elf looked as relaxed as he had ever seen him. For once he was not on guard, just one of many sitting on the long table. Giving Legolas a look of pure mischief he opened his mouth – and added his voice to the chaos.

It was too much.

Legolas could not hold back his laughter as he watched and heard dwarf, elf and four hobbits sing a terrible tune. It was either laugh or cry and he had always been the merry type. Or maybe it was the first step to loosing his mind, he was not sure.