“That was a foolhardy move you made this day, Legolas. You defend me as though I were a maiden you sought to look upon you with favor.”
“And is it not so? Am I too different, mellon-nin, from the fair Lady whose hair you still carry?”
Gimli flushed as red as his beard, but harrumphed. “I am no maid.”
The Elf stepped closer to him, all teasing gone from his eyes. “Nor am I, and yet I find it matters not. I would go with you whither you willed, Gimli son of Gloin, and defend you against whatever foe chose to raise word or sword against you, for as long as you would have me at your side.”
Gimli looked down, not trusting his own hearing. “I would sooner have you at my side than any Dwarf, Legolas Thranduilion, maid or no.”
Legolas knelt and lifted the Dwarf’s chin with a gentle finger. Dark eyes met light as both sought the meaning behind this speech. The time had come, it seemed, to have out this change in their relationship that had begun to develop in Lórien.
In later years both would confess to not knowing who moved first, although when Gimli first told the tale to his father, he claimed that the Elf had first kissed him (and, of course, to have pulled back would be impolite. And then, well, no Dwarf would dispute the irrevocability of a soul bond). But regardless of initiation, their passion was decidedly mutual, and bond they did, before that night had passed (after Legolas slipped Aragorn an elixir to prevent him from waking and questioning their absence).
In the morning they continued on their journey, and while Aragorn marked the change, he had little time to wonder at it. For there was Fangorn to explore, and Gandalf to discover, and Rohan to save, and by the time he next had any rest the matter had settled out of his mind (and if he wondered at the depth of his sleep for the rest of their journey, he put it down to having grown accustomed to sleep beneath the stars rather than in closed chambers).