After the battles are won and the wounds are healed Gimli sees another side to Legolas. He sees the skin the elf is most comfortable in. Gone is the warrior that fought side by side with him on burnt battlefields and went deep underground as no other elf had for many years. Now Legolas is again the Prince. His clothes glisten in the Gondor morning sun as they await their chance to speak with Aragorn who will be crowned king within the coming weeks and Gimli suddenly worries that Legolas would prefer to be with his own kin than himself. He is no Prince and his clothes are ragged and stained from the battles.
He doesn’t shake the feeling, especially as Legolas seems in no rush to leave the city and go on their travels as they had previously planned, instead seeking out his kin and spending hours speaking with them and all but ignoring Gimli. In fact, he seems in no rush to do anything at all and it strikes Gimli that Legolas has all the time in the world. Death will not come for Legolas naturally as it will Gimli and that puts fear into the heart of the dwarf. He has grown used to having Legolas by his side, watching his back, making him chuckle and expanding his horizons to things he could never have imagined before.
Confronting the fact of his friend’s immortality leads Gimli to confronting his own inevitable death. Somehow he has survived the quest of the Ring and the battle for Middle Earth and Mahal he is grateful for that but one day he will still die. Legolas will move on and find another friend and that hurts because dwarves are possessive souls and somewhere along the line Legolas became his elf and that is something else Gimli has to confront because when did that happen? Really, that is his problem. It isn’t the fact that he is going to die or that he will leave Legolas alone, because he managed just fine for years before they met, but that Legolas will replace him.
The idea crosses his mind that Legolas might be his One. He strikes it as a ridiculous notion immediately but that doesn’t mean it leaves his troubled thoughts. Long has he waited to find his One and long has he been disappointed. It never occurred to him to think outside his own kind but the more he thinks of their inevitable parting the more it hurts deep inside like the old stories said it would. For every reason that it cannot be Gimi has a memory of a battle he had fought to save Legolas and the elf for him.
They leave Gondor far behind them and Gimli becomes more convinced that indeed, Legolas is more than just a friend to him and more importantly that he should say something. By the time he works up the courage he doesn’t have to because Legolas speaks of the future as they cross open country and the time for him to leave Middle Earth. Gimli’s breathe catches in his throat for a split second before Legolas informs him the time he had spent away from him after the battles were in fact about seeking passage to the undying lands for Gimli as well as himself. He wonders if Legolas knew more about the dwarves and their culture than he let on, wonders if he remembers the dwarves of the mountain from before when they were more open about such things. It matters little. What matters is that when Gimli shifts forward on the steed and presses his forehead to the elf’s shoulder he is not pushed away and the hand that rests upon the elf’s hip is covered by another.