Written for the A_L_E_C "Hopeless Love" challenge. For Belegcuthalion for her birthday. Beta by RiverOtter.
Gimli Glóin’s son returned from a circuit about their campsite to sit on a fallen log in the shadows of the riverbank, where he had decent vision but where he himself would be difficult to detect. The others were asleep, from what he could tell, at least. Legolas had rolled himself into his cloak and lay quietly near the rest, his eyes open, apparently weaving the fleeting glimpses of starlight above into Elvish dreams, as he’d not turned his eyes toward Gimli as the Dwarf walked by.
Thinking of the Elf led to other thoughts, and Gimli reached into the special pouch in which he carried those of his greatest treasures he’d brought with him on this quest, carefully bringing out the Lady’s gift to him, holding out the three strands of hair, not surprised at all to note he could see them clearly in spite of the darkness of the night.
“Nothing can come of it, of course,” he muttered to himself after a time, as he carefully coiled the three hairs together. “It’s not that she’s free to love me back as I find I love her. She’s married, after all, and to one of the greatest of Elven lords remaining within Middle Earth! And she is an Elf! Since when to Elves and Dwarves mate? Not that she’d ever love the likes of me!
“Oh, she was polite, and recognized I’m smitten by her. At least she didn’t behave as if were merely a joke, a matter to laugh at or to pour scorn upon!”
He was silent a time further, sighing as he stowed the hairs back into the pouch and hid it away again within his clothing. He sat, lost in thought, his hands upon his knees as he watched the rippling glints of light from the flowing river. “My father,” he at last told himself, “will be so disappointed in me. He’d hoped that when we returned to Erebor I’d give thought to finding a wife. But where, among the women of our people, will I ever find the equal to the Lady of the Golden Woods? For now that my heart and fealty are given to her, no one but her equal could stir me to love.”
And with another sigh he reconciled himself to the thought of remaining unwed for the rest of his life. Not, of course, that this was unusual among his people, after all.