He could hear the gulls.
Gimli glanced out the window of the little house they had built upon their arrival to the Undying Lands, but he couldn't see any of the infernal birds. The blasted things wouldn't even give him peace in the end.
He sighed and turned back to where Legolas sat on the edge of their bed, one hand holding his and the other slowly running through his snowy beard. Legolas slowed as he ghosted over their marriage braid. His eyes were wet, though he seemed determined that none of the tears would yet fall.
“I am sorry, Legolas, âzyungelê,” Gimli breathed as he reached his hand over to where Legolas held his tightly, “I wouldn't want to leave you, I would stay if I had any say in the matter...”
Legolas froze and grasped him tighter, though he was careful not to pull at his beard. He spoke as his hand returned to it's task of combing through his beard as if it was full of knots and not well brushed. “And I would fight all the hordes of Mordor once more to follow you if I could,” his voice was soft and strained with emotion despite the attempt at a light tone.
Gimli mock frowned,“Unfortunately, it seems Mahal is determined to keep all his children to himself, not over fond of sharing his treasures I suppose. Made us in his image you know.” He winked.
He was rewarded for his lacklustre attempt at humour with a small smile that briefly lit up his love's face. This made his own heart pound before, once more, Legolas seemed to dim before him. They both sat there, eyes locked and breathing becoming more ragged as time slipped away from them.
Gimli was doing his best to remember every aspect of his beloved's eternally beautiful face, though he was sure that he had never seen it so full of anguish. Just as he was determined to remember all his mortal mind could it seemed that Legolas, with his immortal elven memory, did not wish to miss a minute of their last moments together. For they both had known for some time that Gimli was nearing the end of his mortal life.
Once more, he heard the gulls.
Suddenly Gimli had his elf nearly in his lap as Legolas placed his hands on either side of Gimli's face and brought their foreheads together. He was breathing heavily and there was an angry glint in his eyes. Gimli felt a wetness on his cheek as a single tear escaped his beloved's control.
“We will be together again.”
“I will find you.”
“Aye. You're the better tracker, my love. Though I'll do my best.” With great effort he lifted his hand to Legolas's hair. Once more his hands ran with gold more precious than any metal. His heart gave a flutter as it always did and he brushed against the dwarvish marriage braid in his love's hair.
“We may be parted until the ending of the world and the beginnings of the Second Song, but we will be together again.” Legolas's eyes sparked with determination even as another tear fell.
Gimli pulled Legolas closer and gave him a soft kiss, full of as much love and promise as he could muster. They melted against each other. He loved this elf with everything that he was. He was out of breath when they parted.
Legolas clung to him and his eyes were swimming. “I'm not ready to lose you.” He whispered before pulling in a choking breath.
Gimli wanted to cling tight and never let go, never leave his One alone, never bring him this pain. But he was too weak. His body was refusing to listen and he could barely manage to lift his hand to one that Legolas still held to either side of his face.
But Legolas managed a smile once more and shook his head, sending a few tears flying.
“I love you.”
And it was that simple. Legolas loved him, had given him his heart just as Legolas held his. Legolas was his husband, his One. They were bound in the ways of the elves. They had defeated Mordor and the enmity between their peoples. Gimli had won the approval of Legolas's father. They had sailed together, he was the first dwarf to set foot in Valinor. Now Gimli would pass into the Halls of his Ancestors leaving his love alone. It hurt, deep in his chest he felt like his heart was being ripped out, for it would stay with Legolas though Gimli himself could not.
“And I love you, forever.” He knew this, just as he knew he was a dwarf, it was written into the very fabric of his soul.
“Aye,” Legolas laughed even as the tears began to flow in earnest.
And finally, Gimli could no longer keep his blasted old eyes open, his final sight his beloved One laughing and crying. He used the last of his strength to press his hand once more against Legolas's.
He breathed out, “Legolas.”
“Gimli,” Legolas sobbed and pressed their foreheads together, “Gimli,” he cried.
He could hear the gulls.