"Never trust an Elf," Gloin's voice was deep and echoed in the hall as he walked beside his son. "They kept us in strait prison for days without number and then had the audacity to demand a reward for harboring us!"
"And now you must travel with this" -- Gloin muttered a word in the dwarf-language that would have incensed any Elf to murder if they knew what it meant -- "this very son of the king who mistreated us so!" He lowered his voice. "Perhaps a well-aimed axe might not be amiss, if chance should call for it."
"I will consider it, Father," Gimli said. "Indeed, keeping you prisoner was an ill deed enough, without the woe that followed, losing Thorin."
"Ah, but we got the Mountain in the end, son," Gloin answered. "We got the Mountain, and that was worth all the suffering. Wealth has flowed into our hands, and we have not seen the likes of it since we walked in Moria."
"Are there no messengers from Balin?" Gimli asked, an oft-repeated question.
"Not in years," Gloin replied. "We must suppose he is too busy to spare someone to send. Moria must be rich still with treasure."
"I am certain it is," Gimli said. "I still do not understand why Gandalf wishes to lead us through the Gap of Rohan, so near the traitor Saruman, and not simply through Moria."
"Neither do I," Gloin said, and sighed. "Beware of that Elf! He means you no good."
"I know," Gimli answered.
"Have an eye on that dwarf!" Elrond told Legolas. "I do not trust him or his ways."
"Surely," Legolas said, "the Children of the One might lay aside quarrels, though they be Age-long, to war together against the one Enemy."
"Pah!" Elrond said. "You are little more than a child yourself, or you would not speak so rash. The feud between elves and dwarves will never be laid aside, not though the world should change again."
Legolas smiled. "They once said, Lord Elrond, that nothing could trespass on Melian's fences, yet your forefather did so and came to Luthien. May I not believe that one day elf and dwarf will together walk in friendship?"
Elrond sighed. "Believe it, if it please you."
"Too little hair," Gimli muttered under his breath. "Too pale a face. And entirely too quick. That Elf is the ugliest being I have ever seen in all my days. I would prefer even the hobbits to him."
"Speak you of me, Gimli son of Gloin?" Legolas cried from behind him, laughing.
"Nay!" Gimli said, turning. "I spoke of..."
"You spoke of me, do not deny it! I fill your thoughts, Gimli, do not say nay!"
"You do not 'fill my thoughts,'" Gimli growled. "Elvish rubbish!"
Legolas laughed. "To respond to your words with my own thoughts, I would say only that I think you beautiful."
"You think -- you think me beautiful!" Gimli sputtered. "I thought Elves were supposed to see better than Dwarves, not worse."
"My eyes are as good as any of my people," Legolas said, swinging down to sit beside Gimli on the rock. "And I find you lovely."
"You are strange indeed."
Legolas only smiled and looked up at the sky.
Night in Moria. Gimli lay on the rock, happier than he had ever been in any feather bed. Next to him, Legolas turned and twisted, trying to get comfortable and failing.
"The warmth of your body next to me...." Gimli heard Legolas whisper in his ear, low and hot.
"Is terrifying," Gimli retorted.
He heard Legolas laugh low in the darkness, and felt an arm swing about his waist.
"I would gladly be lost in the hairs of your beard," Legolas said. "Gladly would I kiss you with the thousand kisses of the dwarves, before the sun lit up the caves. Far more gladly would I stay with you here in Moria than live in Lothlorien without you."
Gimli let Legolas keep the arm about his waist, and they both fell into sleep.
"Come with me, Gimli!" Legolas said one evening in Lothlorien. "I have heard that you wished to explore the land. If I were with you none would challenge you."
Gimli stood. "I could stretch my legs," he said.
"And I have something to show you, besides," Legolas added. "Something I believe you may like."
Legolas led Gimli down a dark path as the Sun set. They emerged from underneath the trees to the entrance of a small cave, filled with the music of water.
They disappeared into the cave, and were not seen again for many hours. Only soft elven-laughter was heard from inside it, mixed with the lower laugh of the dwarf. All those who passed by thought it pretty indeed. If a little odd.
"The memory of Lorien shall remain ever green and fair in your heart," Legolas said as they took the boats out onto the stream.
"Memory is not what the heart desires," Gimli sighed.
"What do you wish for, then?" Legolas asked, eyes widening with hope.
"My very own pesk of an Elf," Gimli said. "Ugly, ill-mannered, and entirely too tall."
"My beautiful dwarf!" Legolas exclaimed. "Consider the bargain done."
Gimli murmured something under his breath about "a well-aimed axe, indeed," as they swept out into the river Anduin.