I want to thank everybody who ever took the time to review this story, any even more those of you who did several times. Judging on the number of reviews, I got the distinct expression that you all liked my writing... :-) and that is a very nice feeling...

Threatening me with several drastic actions as well as bribes ensured quick updates :-) and the many suggestions and thoughts helped me to develop this story.

Another huge THANK YOU goes to Little My who offered to beta read and does a great job! By now she corrected all chapters, so I will soon repost this story in an fully edited version.

To all of you who asked: yes, there is a going to be a sequel. :-)
*waving to everybody who joined her mailing list* you will receive an email as
soon as the first chapter is posted!

So... here it is... the last chapter... and as always: please tell me if you like it :-)


Dawn had come and the elf still did not stir, his body needing the rest it had been denied for so long. Gimli had not missed how long it had taken Legolas to fall asleep, but he had pretended not to notice. He was rewarded with the elf finally slipping into his world of dreams, his eyes becoming vacant and unfocused. It was then that Gimli had leaned over, watching him intently for any sign that something was amiss. But to his great relief he could not discern any disturbance in Legolas' sleep.

He kept watch over the slumbering elf even when night turned to day and his stomach started to growl. He had promised to guard him and he would not leave his side.

He missed the moment Legolas woke and jerked upright when an amused voice suddenly broke the silence. 'You had better go and look for something edible, ere your stomach decides to leave without you.'

Dark eyes twinkled at him with open laughter and the dwarf could feel the dark mood that had started to settle on him during the past hours lift.

He rose and gave a mock bow. 'If your Highness has rested enough, I will take my leave.'

Legolas answered with a sublime wave of his hand. 'I can manage on my own from here on,' he said in a superior tone.

'I am not so sure about that,' Gimli mumbled and only a quick step saved him from the slap aimed at his head.

'You are getting slow, elf,' he taunted and made a quick exit. Something hit the door as it closed behind him, and with a snicker he yelled, 'As I said - slow!'

He walked away, a satisfied grin on his face, ignoring the indignant voice wafting after him.


More than an hour had passed ere Legolas saw Gimli again. The dwarf was deep in conversation with Eomer and Aragorn, and the elf did not wish to intrude. So he joined Faramir and the man was delighted to have the elf's sole attention for once. He used the chance to broach a subject that had long been upon his mind. The two walked the paths of the garden, soon deeply immersed in an animated conversation.

It was for lunch that all came together again, and Legolas quickly noticed Gimli was missing. Silently he slipped away from the group to look for his friend. He found him, sitting on a log, smoking his pipe and obviously lost in thought. Without a sound he lowered himself onto the ground next to the dwarf. He sat there, patiently waiting to be acknowledged, not wishing to disturb his brooding friend.

'Do you have naught else to do, no singing or talking to trees?' The dwarf's voice held much sarcasm but Legolas refused to feel offended.

His voice was soft as he answered. 'If you wish to be left alone, I will leave.' But he made no sign of doing as he had said.

Long seconds passed ere Gimli removed his pipe from his mouth and spoke softly. 'Nay, my friend, I did not intend to drive you away. But I have much on my mind and may not be good company right now.'

Legolas did not react, but stayed where he was, watching his friend as he sat there, lost in thought once more. Then, with a deep sigh Gimli let his hands fall on his thighs, looking down on them. Only now did Legolas catch a glimmer of red in the hand that did not hold the pipe. He craned his neck to get a look at what it was the dwarf held. Gimli noticed his curiosity and without a word he held out his hand, offering the small thing over for the elf's inspection.

Carefully Legolas took it from him, holding his breath as its unique beauty was revealed. It was a delicately wrought necklace, made of mithril and decorated with rubies. For a long time he admired the piece of jewelry ere he passed it back to the dwarf. Gimli pocketed it, his eyes meeting Legolas'. The elf was deeply shaken by the depth of emotion he could see mirrored in the dark orbs.

'If a dwarf courts a maid, he creates one piece of jewelry to gift her with. It is to be a demonstration of his skill in craftsmanship. It is up to her to accept or decline it.' His voice was so soft, only elven hearing would have been able to pick up the words. 'I never had a chance to give this to her.'

'It is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I have ever seen.' Legolas did not speak further, knowing words were of no use here. Gimli's pain could not be soothed by words.

Another long silence stretched and Legolas moved into a more comfortable position, content in being allowed to stay here, not expecting Gimli to share more of his deepest feelings.

So he was slightly surprised when he heard Gimli's voice again.

'I will return to the Lonely Mountain and I will mourn what I have lost. But I will not stay there.' His tone had changed, and he sounded more alive as he spoke of the future. 'I promised Aragorn to help him in rebuilding the White City and this is what I will do. Then I will build a new dwarven realm for myself and every dwarf that wishes to follow me. Do you remember the Glittering Caves?'

'Aye, I do. How could I forget the place you forced me to see against my better judgment?'

'We had an agreement,' Gimli protested.

'That was the only reason that I did follow you. I must have been out of my mind when I agreed to that.' Legolas shook his head in mock dismay.

'You did agree with me that there was beauty to be found in that place.' There was slight accusation in Gimli's words now.

'I would have agreed to anything to get out of those caves again.' The teasing tone made the dwarf smile, as he remembered well the elf's discomfort during this expedition.

'The Glittering Caves will become a new realm of dwarves, more beautiful than any other.'

'Of this I am sure, my friend.'

It was Legolas now whose thoughts seemed suddenly to be far away and it was the dwarf's turn to watch him closely.

'The time of the rings has passed.' The elf's voice sounded slightly lost and Gimli could feel a tightening in his chest.

'They will leave Middle Earth soon and sail over the sea to Valinor, the Undying Lands, and many elves will follow them.'

The deep longing in these few words amplified Gimli's fear that Legolas would choose to go with them. The thought of losing his friend hurt, and he dreaded the words he would hear now.

A bitter laugh escaped the elf and his next words brought a shiver down Gimli's spine.

'Legolas Greenleaf long under the tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.'

And Legolas spoke no further.

The dwarf did not have an elf's patience and so he could not stand the silence for long.

'You will go with them?'

The elf turned his head to look at him and it seemed as if he had woken from a deep dream. He shook his head as if to clear it. His eyes were dark and solemn and his voice was sad as he answered his friend's question.

'I feel the longing and it tears at my heart. It is as the Lady Galadriel foresaw; the trees of Greenwood no longer bring me the peace they once did. I wish to hear the sounds of the sea, to smell the salt in the air. But there is still a part of me that is bound to Middle Earth and its hold on me is as strong as ever. Nay, Gimli, my time has not come yet to leave these shores. I will dwell in these trees a little while longer, if not in Greenwood, then not too far away.'

A smile broke out on his face. 'You were not the only one to give a promise. My lord has allowed me to lead a group of elves to Ithilien, to restore its beauty, so it will become again what it once was.'

Gimli tried hard to keep the smile from his face but his eyes sparkled. He lifted the forgotten pipe to his mouth, taking a deep draught. The elf's nose wrinkled in distaste as a smoke ring passed his face, but he did not comment.

They remained there, in companionable silence until the sun set and Gimli's stomach once more let out a growl, evoking a snicker from the elf.

'It seems to me your stomach is quite vigorously demanding to be fed,' he teased.

'No wonder, with all the elven food. I long for a real meal, adequate to fill a dwarf's stomach,' Gimli retorted, ignoring his fondness of said food.

'Then I fear there will be no use in joining the others for the evening meal,' Legolas sighed with deep disappointment. 'There will be naught there to fulfill your cravings.'

But Gimli had already gotten to his feet.

'Better a hardly edible meal than naught at all,' he decided, already moving towards the place where the meal would be served.

With a fond smile Legolas jumped to his feet, overtaking the dwarf with light steps.
'Who is getting slow, now?' he cried and with a snarl Gimli fell into a trot, knowing well he could not catch the nimble elf but still rising to the bait.

'One day, I will get you,' he mumbled as he lost sight of his friend. 'One day, you will see.'

Silvery laughter answered him as keen elven ears picked up his words, and as no one could see him, he allowed himself to smile openly.

*the end*