Today is the Day

by samwisegirl

(Dedicated to MelBaggins)

Today is the day:

Gimli awoke to sunlight streaming through his window and into his eyes. He squinted against the light, and stumbled out of his bed and over to the window. He looked out into the morning glory of the forest. He still was not used to staying here, but he had made a promise. Legolas had requested his presence for a time before he had to sail over the sea. Gimli’s heart skipped a beat, and he remembered that today was the day. He moaned low in the back of his throat, and blinked back tears that were beginning to form in his eyes.

He dressed slowly; each movement heavy, plodding. Each breath tearing at his lungs, each heartbeat tearing his soul apart. He combed out his unruly beard; what was once a luxurious reddish-brown was now shot through with gray wisping tendrils like gossamer threads. His face was deeply lined, and his voice was deeper and gruffer than it had been when he was a young and proud warrior. His hands, once strong and firm, now shook with a palsy that curled his fists into claws. Legolas still looked as fair as they day they had met, yet he did not begrudge the elf this, it merely endeared the rascal to Gimli even more. He made Gimli feel young, he treated the dwarf as if he had not aged. They still had their contests, and the old dwarf could still keep up with the ornery elf on his good days.

When Legolas had first told him about his yearning for the sea, Gimli had chalked it up to elf foolishness. He did not think his friend was serious. He had asked Aragorn about it, and the king had told him about Valinor, and the Grey Havens. That one day, their elf friend would go there, when he was ready.

One time, Gimli had asked Legolas to tell him about the crossing over the sea, and Legolas had described it to the old dwarf in all its resplendence; he told the Gimli in terms he would understand. He likened the shimmering water to the finest of mithril caves when the light shone upon it; he described the smell of the salty air in such a way that Gimli could actually taste the fragrance in the back of his throat if he thought about it hard enough.

Gimli sighed heavily; today was the day his friend, his constant companion, would leave him. Forever. He covered his face with his calloused hands, and silent sobs racked his sturdy frame. A knock on the door shook him from his reverie. He wiped his eyes with his beard, and went to answer the door. Legolas stood there, dressed in the manner befitting his princely status.

“It is time” he said quietly. He noted Gimli’s red-rimmed eyes, and a wave of affection for the old dwarf washed over him. He linked arms with his best friend, and they slowly walked to the stables. They made mindless chatter as he saddled up their horse. He leapt nimbly onto the steed, and helped Gimli up behind him. Together, they rode to the port where their ship was housed. During the journey, they talked about everything under the sun, except where they were going, and what was going to happen. Gimli would occasionally touch Legolas on the shoulder, as if to remind himself that the elf was still there.

Legolas had built the boat himself; it was a small vessel, finely crafted, and well suited to travel the long distance to Valinor. They dismounted, and Legolas nimbly darted around the small craft, making preparations for it to sail. Gimli watched the elf in silence, not offering to lend a hand, and deeply hurt that Legolas seemed so eager to leave. Finally, it was time. Legolas hunkered down in front of the dwarf, so they were eye to eye, and said quietly, “Did you know that Galadriel resides in Valinor now?”

A small smile flitted across the old dwarf’s face as he remembered the golden lady of the wood. Whenever he thought of her, a warmth permeated his entire being. “No, I did not know”, he murmured gruffly.

“I suppose this is goodbye” he whispered faintly, trying to hold back his tears.

“Goodbye?” the elf asked quizzically, a mischievous grin permeating his fine features. He laid a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder, and said softly, “You are coming with me.”

“What?” Gimli yelped, stunned.

“I received a message from the Lady Galadriel. She has personally vouched for you. You are given special permission to join me in Valinor, that is, if you want to come with me.” Legolas’ smile touched his eyes and made them sparkle in the morning sunlight, and he winked at his old friend.

“Why you blasted elf!” Gimli shouted. “You knew all along, didn’t you? You made me think...” he trailed off, bursting into tears. An alarmed Legolas put his arms around the dwarf and hugged him tightly.

“I will never leave you, my friend. That I promise you. You really would have missed me, wouldn’t you?” he asked in wonder. He still was amazed sometimes at how much the old dwarf had weaseled his way into his heart.

Gimli stepped out of his embrace and scowled. “Don’t you dare tell anyone I cried”, he sniffed.

“I promise”, Legolas said solemnly, holding a hand across his heart.

“Good. Now let’s go”, the dwarf said sternly.

The two companions boarded their tiny vessel and set sail. As they crossed the sea, Gimli sniffed the salt air, and smiled under his beard. He was thinking of the three golden hairs that he kept safe, entwined in the braids of his beard. He sat down next to Legolas and laid his hand over the elf’s. “It’s just like you described”, he said quietly. “Thank you.”