How far will you go for friendship?

Near the Anduin

Of the Friendship between Legolas the Elf and Gimli the Dwarf

Notes: So, exactly what happened to make Gimli decide to go with Legolas over the Sea? This is my take on what must have been something beautiful.^^ (No, they are not in love.)


To Be Best Friends. . .

The Third Age was over forever. Most elves had left for the West, Men now dominated Middle-earth, and all the speaking peoples live in peace.

Gimli the Dwarf had been Lord of the Glittering Caves for a long time, and it was now 90 or so years into the Fourth Age. He couldnít complain about much, except perhaps of a longing for adventure, the likes of which he hadnít experienced since the end of the Third Age. But that he could ignore (although he secretly believed his faithful notched ax was starting to get rusty from disuse) because the companions who had shared those same adventures. . .or at least, most of the companions. . .were still with him, especially a particular person. . . .

He must be, Gimli thought as he flipped through annals of his family history, the only Dwarf who ever really became an Elf-friend. A long time ago he would have scoffed at the title, not seeing anything very special about it in particular, but now his feelings were changed, quite changed, because of two very special people. One of whom he would never see again. . . . Gimli reached into his pocket and gently fingered the small box there, smiling at the thought of what was inside. For a while he let himself drift in the bittersweet nostalgia of bygone days, ignoring the present, ignoring now.

Then he blinked, and and the world around him began to move again. No use wallowing in memories, Gimli decided resolutely, and stood. After all, it had been a while since heíd visited the other person who changed his mind about being an Elf-friend.

He caught other dwarves giving him puzzled looks as he prepared for his journey, for they knew where he was going, and they couldnít understand why. After all, he was going to visit an Elf, not for the first time, and not because he had any pressing business, but because he wanted to, which must have made his kinsmen have slight doubts about his sanity. What normal Dwarf would want to be friends with an Elf? Gimli could almost sense their unspoken question and bit back a small smile. He could get angry at them for the unsavory rumors that must have spread behind his back, but that would just be wasting his time. Besides, it wasnít as if he were a "normal Dwarf."

Legolas hadnít changed all that much in appearance over the course of the years, as was the way with Elves, and Gimli knew that. . .but he still couldnít help being a little jealous. After all, he was getting old, and his hair was slowing graying, while his friend here, drinking wine slowly from a cup, didnít look a day older than from the first time they met in the Council of Elrond. Not that he cared about appearances, but it annoyed him that sooner or later, old age would catch up to him, and then. . .well, heíd go into Fangorn first before he would let the Elf beat him in anything physical. Puffing smoke from his pipe, he absent-mindedly wondered how old his friend was.

Legolas, over his cup, noticed the Dwarf giving him a (he thought) rather disturbing stare, and wondered if something got on his face when they were eating. Finishing his wine, he lowered the cup. Gimli didnít stop his staring. He placed the cup on the table with a loud clunk! Gimli persisted in his staring. Finally, the Elf burst out, "Yes?"

Gimli started, grabbing a hold on his pipe before it slipped out of his mouth and onto the floor. "What?"

"Do you see anything interesting on my face?"

Gimli raised his eyebrows at the seemingly inane question the Elf was asking, before realizing that he had been staring rather rudely. He puffed a few more time on the pipe, breathed a long wreath of smoke out, and asked, "How old are you?"

Legolas looked at Gimli as if he couldnít decide whether the Dwarf was joking or actually serious. "Is that important?" He countered.

"Can you not tell me?" Gimli replied, between puffs.

"Of course, but I see no purpose."

"To satisfy my curiosity." A long, continuous wisp of smoke floated up toward the ceiling.

Legolas poured himself another cup of wine. "Much older than you, my friend." He settled back and took a drink.

"That is not an answer. Just about every Elf left in Middle-earth is much older than me." Gimli said, but didnít bother to press the matter further. Come to think of it, he didnít think any Elf had ever bothered to say how old they were. Understandable, he supposed, since they lived on until the world itself ended, if they werenít slain first. Legolas smiled without answering, and then, placing his cup down, he shifted his gaze toward the western window, and started to sing softly. Gimli caught snatches of phrases as they drifted to him. It was Elvish speech, but he could understand a few of the words, one in particular being "sea." The Sea.

Some day in the future, his friend would follow the longing which had been stirred so long ago. Some day sooner or later, Legolas would set sail over the sea, leaving Middle-earth behind forever. The thought filled him with an aching sense of regret and loss. As cowardly as it sounded, he hoped the day would not come while he was still living.

Curse those gulls. He hadnít given any thought to them when he had first heard them, sitting behind Legolas upon the horse Arod. He hadnít been worried when his friend first voiced his longing for the sea, not really believing that any longing could stay with someone for the remainder of their lives. But the years passed, and while the Elf didnít constantly dwell on Ďthe sea this,í or Ďthe sea that,í it was apparent to Gimli, his best friend, that "the Sea" was never far from Legolasí heart.

The Dwarf smoked his pipe slowly, stealing glances toward his friend from time to time. The song had ended, and now the Elf was simply gazing out the window quietly. His eyes were troubled as if by something he saw in the pale blue autumn sky.

To Take Leave. . .

Years passed peacefully in the Glittering Caves. Gimli often visited King Elessar at court, and many times the two of them stayed awake long into the night, reminiscing fondly their adventures during the Third Age. At times the Dwarf even journeyed to visit Merry and Pippin, those good Hobbits, who were always overjoyed to see him. In the beginning, Legolas would cheerily accompany him on these trips. But after a time Gimli began to notice more and more that his Elven friend seemed too preoccupied and withdrawn to enjoy much of the visits, eventually opting to stay in Ithilien instead of going on long journeys. The Elf stared into space constantly, and often fell into a strange, uncharacteristic melancholy which worried Gimli.

Yet, despite all his concerns, he never truly considered what Legolasí behavior might implicate.

~~~~~~

Everything wonderful must one day fade, and the entirety of Middle-earth mourned grievously upon the demise of King Elessar, and the successive departure of Queen Arwen. It was an end to their beautiful love and the end to a prosperous, glorious reign.

But for some inhabitants of Middle-earth, the passing of Elessar also held another kind of bittersweet end, and the seeds of a magical beginning. . . .

~~~~~~

One morning, a few months into the 100th year of the Fourth Age, not long after the death of King Elessar, Gimli arrived in Ithilien to visit Legolas. The Elves there, by this time completely used to Gimliís sudden visits, paid no mind to him as he walked toward Legolasí dwelling.

But Legolas wasnít there. Gimli couldnít believe his ears at first when the Elf who answered his knocks told him very politely that the prince had gone on a journey.

"What kind of journey? Where did he go?!" Gimli demanded.

The Elf paused. "I. . . I do not know if I am at the liberty to say, Master Dwarf."

"I am Legolasí friend," He argued, "Iíll not harm him."

The Elf looked for a moment like he wanted to say there was no way Gimli would have the chance to even touch Legolas anyway, but then he replied. "No, it is not that I think you will harm him, Master Dwarf. But he has explained explicitly not to tell anyone of his whereabouts."

Gimli fought to control his temper. "Surely you realize that doesnít include me! Just tell me where he is, and Iíll stop harassing you." Seeing an obstinate look cross the Elfís eyes, Gimli added, "Otherwise I promise you Iíll stand here, right in front of this door and not let anyone pass until he gets back."

Severely annoyed, the Elf opened his mouth to speak, but then a clear, feminine voice interrupted him from behind. An Elf maiden emerged from within the dwelling and smiled gently at Gimli. "Do not be angered, Master Dwarf. He has recently arrived here and does not know of your friendship with the prince."

Slightly mollified, Gimli repeated his question, and the Elf maiden repliedó

"He has gone down to the Anduin, Master Dwarf, to prepare. . . ."

Cutting her off, Gimli thanked his informant without really knowing what he was saying, then turned and rushed away in the general direction of the river, leaving the two Elves staring after him.

Finally the newcomer spoke. "The Prince has a Dwarven companion?"

"Yes," the Elf maiden smiled again. "Have you not heard?"

"It is a bit unusual," the other allowed, though frowning as if he disapproved, which was likely.

The Elf maiden shrugged, a gentle gesture that hinted at the sensation of softly falling leaves. "Times and people change, my friend. I, for one, wish them well."

~~~~~~

After what seemed like an eternity, Gimli rounded the last bend in the road, and skidded to an astonished stop. Legolas was there, but beside the Elf, there was also. . . .

"What madness is this?" He stared with disbelief at the half constructed, small ship before him.

"I am building a ship, Gimli," Legolas said without turning around.

"Iím not blind! I can see itís a ship," the Dwarf retorted sharply. "Where do you think youíre going with a ship?"

"King Elessar has passed away," was the quiet reply. "Therefore it is time for me to pass away from Middle-earth as well." The Elf finally turned and faced his friend.

Those words stung. "You mean to say," Gimli spoke slowly, struggling to keep his voice under control. "You mean to say that your loyalty for King Elessar was the only thing keeping you from leaving?" That was it then. If Aragorn had passed away earlier, Legolas would have left earlier. Their friendship didnít matter in the long run, did it?

A small silence ensued as they gazed at each other. Finally Gimli broke off the gaze and turned sharply. "I wish you luck on your journey." He began to stalk off.

"Gimli." Legolas called out, and the Dwarf stopped, almost unwillingly. "I did not mean it that way. It is just that. . . ." He trailed off, a trace of uncertainty in his voice that made Gimli turn back toward his friend.

"It is just what?" He asked, his voice harsh in the sudden stillness. The small breeze that had cooled the afternoon just a few moments ago was gone. "Is there nothing else in Middle-earth that can keep you? Are all the beauties of this place faded and worn to your eyes?"

"No," the Elf replied. "There are, as you once said, many wonders left in Middle-earth, and I was very fortunate to have shared some of them with my good friend. You are right. I was only going to stay until the passing of King Elessar. But I was not going to forsake you, Gimli. . .if youíre willing."

The Dwarf couldnít quite understand, immediately, what Legolas meant. He wouldnít stay in Middle-earth, but he wasnít going to forsake. . . . Gimli gave a small cry of amazement as he realized. "Me. . .? Go with you. . .?!"

"Only if youíre willing," Legolas abruptly returned to working on the ship, avoiding Gimliís eyes as if he were afraid to see something he didnít want to see there.

"I would have to leave Middle-earth. And leave the Glittering Caves." Gimli muttered, more to himself than anyone else. "I have no interest in the Sea. No more building. No more good stone beneath my feet."

"Only if youíre willing," Legolas repeated stoically, and his hands moved faster, the arch he was carving taking shape much more quickly than he apparently noticed.

The Dwarf slowly took a step forward and breathed deeply to calm himself, as he had seen his friend do often in the past. It might have worked if the air didnít get caught in his throat and remain lodged there like a piece of rock. With an effort, he spoke up, "What are you working on? I could help."

"You donít know anything about ships, do you, Gimli?" Legolas gave a small sigh and turned. "Donít change the subject. Iím prepared for whatever answer you give me."

Gimli casually leaned against a piece of wood and gave a yelp as the thing slipped from its unstable perch. "Whoa!!!" With a huge crash, he fell hard on the ground, dislodging another board from its place. When the smoke cleared, the Dwarf sat upon two pieces of broken planks with another one across his lap, and such a comical expression of annoyance on his face that Legolas started to laugh.

"I donít think you even know how to move when youíre near ships."

Disgruntled, Gimli stood and dusted himself off. "Dwarves donít go on ships." He grumbled, "Why should we need to know anything about them?"

The Elf checked his laughter and looked serious again, even troubled. "Does that mean. . . ."

Gimli stared off into the distance. Vaguely, he could see the outline of mountains at the edge of his vision. This was his home, the only place he could conceive of living in. The thought of leaving was unbearable. But now his best friend was throwing ages of conflict between Dwarves and Elves to the wind, going so far as to actually invite him to go along over the Sea. It was an astonishing offer, and something he couldnít quite envision. Should he accept? And more importantly. . . .

Could he actually leave Middle-earth, for any sort of friendship? Could he leave the Glittering Caves he had grown to love, and all the memories associated with this world? He wasnít an Elf; he couldnít understand the longing that had been awakened in his friend. . .he couldnít see why Legolas had to leave. Gimli looked down at the ground and stared at the still blades of grass. Middle-earth was his home, the only home he knew. He couldnít just take off and sail away to a world that was completely alien to him. Gimli cleared his throat and began to speak, "You are a wonderful friend, Legolas, a better friend, in my opinion, than many of my own kin are to me. I am. . ." he paused, unsure of which word to use, ". . .honored that you would even think of taking me out to sea with you. Truly honored." He looked up at the Elf and smiled gruffly. "But I donít think I can leave Middle-earth. And I admit I know nothing about ships past rowing a boat. I wish you the best of luck on your journey."

Legolas was silent for a while, looking down at his hands, then he smiled softly. "I knew it was too much to ask. I apologize, Gimli." The words were almost a whisper.

"Donít bother," Gimli replied quickly, "It was a comfort that you did ask." There was another short silence that he broke with a question, "When are you planning to leave?"

"In a week," the Elf answered, his voice returning to its normal tone as he turned to look at the Anduin. "It must be beautiful."

"What?"

"The sea. I canít wait to look upon it."

Gimli stared at the slim figure of his companion, outlined by the sunlight, and turned from him. He couldnít say anything good about the sea, not when it was taking his friend away. "Well, I think Iíd better go, Legolas."

"Are you coming back to say farewell when I leave?"

Gimli stood still, back facing the Elf. What could he say? He didnít want to be here when Legolas sailed off to the West, leaving him behind. "Of course," he managed finally. "Since I wonít be much help here, Iíll take leave for now."

"You donít have to come if you donít want to," Legolas called out.

The Dwarf paused for a moment, then nodded silently, before increasing his pace and finally stepping out of sight around the bend of the road. Legolas stood for a time, staring longingly in the direction his friend had gone. Then he roused himself and turned to his work again with a small smile. "Farewell, Gimli."

The Decision. . .

Gimliís eyes opened wide as he lay in his bed, and he sat up, staring at the darkness around him. He blinked, memory of the dream that had awakened him coming back with a rush. . . .

He and Legolas had been back in Helmís Deep, and he was excitedly describing the beauties of the caverns while the Elf looked around skeptically, and not without nervousness, at the dim surroundings. Then, just as he was about to increase the light of his lamp and thus illumine the veins of the ores in the walls, his lamp went out with a hiss. Gimli had started, dropping the thing, and had cursed as he stooped to pick it up. Then he had noticed how silent Legolas was. . .as if. . .as if he were no longer beside him. Gimli could remember the strange, stifling feeling that welled up in his chest at that very moment in the dream, and he had called out the Elfís name, trying to find him.

He could hear a sound that he had difficulty placing. The Dwarf couldnít figure out what it was, until the sound increased, became clearer and more defined in his ears. Then he realized what it wasóthe sound of waves crashing upon a shore. The sound of the Sea.

An incomprehensible fear overcame him in the dream at that moment, and he started forward, forgetting the lamp and crying out Legolasí name, over and over. Where was his friend? Why was there the sound of the Sea? Werenít they in the Glittering Caves, far from the cursed Sea?

Then. . .as if in answer to his calls, he heard a faint, but clear voice singing. Gimli began to walk toward it, certain that it was Legolas, and suddenly, he could hear the words of the songó

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,

The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever!

And he had awakened. The dream haunted him and refused to fade away. Gimli could still hear the haunting melody of the song, as if his friend was beside him singing at that very moment. Only five more days until Legolas leaves Middle-earth forever, and he could not forget their friendship, even in his slumber.

~~~~~~

"Would you like another drink, Lord Gimli?" The Dwarf serving him shuffled uncertainly around the vicinity of Gimliís chair. "Excuse me, Lord Gimli?"

"What?" Gimli finally stirred from his deep thought and looked up. "Oh! Fine, fine. Just one more." The servant obediently filled the cup and bowed, exiting. Staring intently into the cup, he wondered if the ship Legolas would be sailing in was finished yet. After all, there were only four more days.

Only four more days! What was he thinking? After four days he would never see his comrade and best friend again. Dwarves donít sail over the Sea, after all. Dwarves stay in Middle-earth, where they were born, grew old, and finally passed away. They certainly werenít immortals, and no Dwarf has ever left Middle-earth for any sort of friendship, especially for an Elf.

But. . .who said he couldnít be the first? He was the only Dwarf that ever became an Elf-friend in the Third Age, after all. He could be the first Dwarf to sail over the Sea, and. . . . Gimli gave a little cry of frustration and leaned back in his chair. Whoíd ever heard of mortals sailing over the sea and emerging alive, for Auleís sake?! It wasnít as if the Eldar in the West would permit this crossing anyway, no matter what he did. More likely theyíd just toss him back into the Sea and laugh at him for having the cheek to even set foot in an Elven ship.

His friendís voice suddenly flashed across his mindó

"Are you coming back to say farewell when I leave?"

Setting his cup gently upon the table, Gimli sat up straight again, pondering the question. He had known when he walked away from Legolas three days ago that his friend would understand if he didnít show up to say goodbye. In fact, he had been able to tell, from Legolasí tone of voice, that the Elf didnít really expect him to come at all.

A piece of wood in the fireplace crackled loudly and broke, startling him so that he half-rose out of his chair, hands groping instinctively for his ax. Then he broke into a small laugh and settled back down again, a memory slowly rising from the dark recesses of his past and forming vague pictures before his eyes, pictures with lines that gradually sharpened, becoming lucid in front of him.

Another fire, a campfire, was flickering away merrily before him. He looked up from staring at the flames and met his friendís bright Elven eyes. It was a trip they had taken a good amount of years back, where they, by an unfortunate accident, actually ran out of provisions and had to hunt for food. . .Legolas had said something before the fire, something that stuck in his mind for a while, strangely enough. . .what was it that he said? Something about. . .he thought perhaps it was. . . .

The Elf was staring into the shallow bowl he had been eating from. He frowned. . .and then he said. . . he said. . . . "Iím sure you werenít careful. Thereís hair in my rabbit stew."

The memory ended. Gimli raised his eyebrows and muttered, "Thatís probably your hair, Master Elf. I say you were shedding."

Speaking of hair. . .Gimli reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wooden box. Tenderly, as if it were a robinís egg, he uncovered the lid. Three strands of beautifully golden hair gleamed, nestled in the dark velvet that covered the interior of the box. Lady Galadrielís hair. He had treasured it for years, attempting over and over to create a suitable setting to guard the Ladyís gift. Nothing he made had ever seemed good enough for the loveliness of Galadriel, in his opinion. Finally Legolas had jokingly brought over the ornately carved little box, lined with sable velvet like the night sky on the inside, saying that if it didnít do justice for the Ladyís hair, he could use it to store the pipeweed he so enjoyed. Gimli had snorted at the suggestion, but accepted the gift anyway. Come to think of it, he never got around to telling Legolas what he finally decided to do with the box, and that he had thought somehow the box and Galadrielís hair seemed to fit perfectly, as if they were two adjoining pieces of the same puzzle.

Lady Galadriel had left for the West as well, just as Legolas would be doing in a few daysí time. And, Gimli thought suddenly, if he went with Legolas, he might just be able to see the Lady again, even for a fleeting second. What a magical thought!

Gimli stood, pushing back his chair, and stared down at the box and its contents for a long time, a strange gleam in his eyes. Many scenes flashed by before him, and he could seeóLegolas pulling back his bow, ready to shoot down an enemy, the Ladyís wise and kind smile, her hand reaching for her golden locks of hair, Legolas running lightly over the grass to get a closer look at something he found interesting, Lady Galadrielís lips moving as she spoke words of comfort to him when he first came to Lothlorien. . . .

The next morning, when the servants came to wake their master, no trace of the Lord could be found. Not much was missing, a few provisions, a cloak, and Gimliís ax, but otherwise everything of the Dwarfís was left untouched. After some confusion a few of Gimliís closer Dwarf friends discovered a note that had been left upon the dining table, written in the Lordís hand.

"I have gone to visit my good friend Legolas, and we shall embark upon a long journey, from which it is doubtful I shall ever return. I leave the Glittering Caves to the care of my cousins, and I trust that they will do everything in their power to keep things as peaceful as they were before my departure. Lastly, do not attempt to search for me, as I have left of my own free will, and am quite content with my decision.

Gimli, son of Gloin."

~~~~~~

Amazed at this completely unexpected turn of events, the Dwarves instantly prepared to leave for Ithilien, where Legolas and many Elves from Mirkwood dwelt, in order to inquire about the disappearance of their Lord, despite Gimliís wish that they shouldnít search for him. Yet there were many other matters to deal with from the after effects of Gimliís departure, so that the Dwarves who were leaving had been obliged to stay a while and help tie up the loose ends before finally embarking upon their trip.

Upon their arrival at Ithilien, they asked many Elves about Gimliís cryptic disappearance, but received no satisfactory answer, other than the very disturbing fact that Legolas had set sail for the West only a couple of days ago, and there was the distinct possibility that the prince had taken someone else with him.

Baffled by the inexplicable behavior of their Lord (for what sane Dwarf would leave Middle-earth for any reason?), Gimliís kinsmen returned to the Glittering Caves, unable to do anything more but adjust to this unusual circumstance. Rumors began to spread about Gimli the Dwarf, rumors of him actually sailing away to the West with Legolas, son of King Thranduil, which was unthinkable in a great majority of Dwarven opinions. But years waned, and the rumor was never proven or disproven, so it came to pass that Gimli became known far and wide as the only Dwarf who had ever left Middle-earth for the lands in the West.

Epilogue

The cool breeze ruffled his hair as Legolas sang a song of the Sea softly to himself. He was sailing alone, strangely enough, for none of his kinsmen were ready to depart Middle-earth, since Ithilien was so fair now that they were quite content to stay there. But not him.

He was ready to leave Middle-earth. In fact he had been ready for years now, but he couldnít find it in his heart to forsake his friends, especially. . . .

This departure would be better, Legolas decided, if he only had someone to share it with. He hadnít really wanted to travel alone, but he couldnít force anyone to come with him, and he couldnít wait any longer. He had to leave now.

But something was holding him back. Legolas looked toward the bend in the road where his friend had walked around seven days ago, and bit back a sigh of regret. Gimli probably wasnít going to come, and he really should set sail, but a nagging feeling that he should wait just a while longer kept him standing there, at the side of the ship, staring back at Middle-earth.

He had been much more disappointed than he looked when Gimli refused the request, even though it wasnít very astonishing at all. Legolas smiled wryly to himself; it all seemed so ridiculous now, he could hardly believe he actually bothered asking Gimli to leave Middle-earth. No matter how much their friendship meant to him, he couldnít ask the Dwarf to just pick up and sail away from the only world he knew; it would be selfish, and unfair to Gimli anyway.

So why in Elberethís name was he still standing there staring dumbly back at Middle-earth?

"Thatís it," he said aloud to absolutely no one. "Iím leaving. Farewell, Middle-earth. And farewell, Gimli." Legolas, with a show of will and determination, turned away from the land and got the shock of his long Elven life. He gave an embarrassingly loud yell of utter astonishment, backed up a few steps, nearly made his spine telescope by hitting into the railing of the ship, and probably wouldíve fallen into the water if a rough hand hadnít gripped his arm tightly.

"Not farewell just yet, Legolas," Gimli said, his face twitching from suppressed laughter. "Is it safe to let you go now?"

"You. . .you. . . ." Legolas stuttered, staring at the Dwarf as if he were the Balrog from Moria. It must have been the first time he had absolutely no idea what to say. Finally Gimliís grinning face seemed real enough for Legolas to attempt a coherent sentence. "I thought you werenít coming!!"

"I wasnít," Gimli admitted, shrugging and letting go of Legolasí arm. "But I changed my mind."

"You changed your mind?" Legolas repeated in disbelief. "Gimli, this is kind of. . .well, donít you think this requires a bit more. . .thought?!!"

"I thought about this for a week, Legolas," the Dwarf retorted. "I lost sleep over this. I lost weight over this, for Auleís sake. And Iím tired of thinking, so I came."

"But Middle-earth is your. . . ." Legolas began, not really sure why he was trying to dissuade his friend from making the decision he had hoped he would make. Had Gimli seen how disappointed he was when the Dwarf refused the first time? Was that the only reason he had so rashly changed his mind?

"My home? Yes, I know itís my home. And Middle-earth is still beautiful to me," Gimli gazed in the direction of his homeland almost wistfully. "But whatís beauty when you have no companion to share it with?"

"Youíre not joking about this. Youíre really coming," Legolas said, as if stating those words aloud would make the whole situation seem less like a dream.

"I hardly think this is something Iíd joke about," Gimli snorted. "Now, are you quite over your shock, or should I feed you some wine?" Then he abruptly burst out laughing. "Ah. . .I canít stand it anymore. . .! You really should have seen your face, Legolas!! It was. . .it was even more priceless than your expression the first time we visited the Glittering Caves!!"

"And just who was the cause of that, Gimli?" Legolas asked with his eyebrows raised. "I seem to remember somebody playing a lot of practical jokes at my expense."

But Gimliís mirth was contagious, and soon the Elf found himself laughing as well, but perhaps, more out of relief than at his own reaction back in Helmís Deep.

A while later they were both leaning against the railing, although with Gimliís height, only half of his head could be seen from off board the ship. "Now, my friend," the Dwarf said, "We can both take our final look at Middle-earth."

Legolas only nodded, a faint smile on his face. Gimli smiled as well, murmured a quiet farewell to the land that he knew, then carefully pulled out the beautiful wooden box that the Elf had given him, and stared hard at it, deep in thought. Noticing this, Legolas turned to the Dwarf.

"What do you have in there?" He asked curiously.

Gimli gently put the box away and shrugged. "Itís the other reason I decided to come with you."

Legolas gazed at his friend, puzzled for a while and thinking about the remark Gimli made. Suddenly his eyes lit up, and the Elf smiled. "Ah, I see."

The Dwarf pretended not to hear and looked down at the water lapping gently at the side of the ship. "Well, when are we starting off?"

"Right now." Legolas replied, and began to walk toward the head of the ship. "And Gimli," he added, turning slightly, "Iím flattered that you actually decided to use my box for that purpose."

"What, for my pipeweed?" Gimli retorted, not missing a beat. Legolas laughed without replying, and the Dwarf bit back a small smile as he switched his glance westward, where they will sail toward the wide expanse of the Sea.

The End