Given that their coupling was the first of its kind, Legolas perhaps should have foreseen the missteps they’d make -- that he’d make -- but he’d been naive and simply overwhelmed by the joy he found in watching as Gimli’s belly grew that he’d not thought to discuss the finer details of the process.
He’d hardly realized that Gimli had been nesting at all -- Legolas had only noticed because a number of his finer silken robes had gone missing without explanation, and when he’d gone to investigate, he’d caught sight of Gimli rifling through his wardrobe and picking out a few more pieces to waddle away with.
It had been a curious sight, though he’d be lying if he said it did not fill him with a sense of excitement. He’d long waited for Gimli to begin to nest, knowing that it would be his time to surprise him with a gesture of his own; to do his part as Gimli’s alpha to provide and lend a hand in building a comfortable space for Gimli to settle and rest -- and when it came time, birth.
But when he’d entered the spare room, arms full of fabrics and weavings he’d saved specially for this day, Legolas saw Gimli’s frame stiffen, a wary expression upon his face instead of the pleased one he’d been expecting.
“And what are you here for?” Gimli’s voice was surprisingly cold, and Legolas could do nothing but stare.
“To help with the nest,” he said simply.
Gimli turned several shades redder at that, his eyes betraying the anger and hurt he felt, though Legolas -- for the life of him -- could not fathom why.
“I am perfectly capable-”
“Of course you are,” Legolas soothed, “But you’ve been on your feet all day. Why don’t you rest, Gimli?”
His dwarf seemed to bristle at the suggestion.
“Just a for a little,” Legolas promised, “I’ll just add these to the nest, arrange them however you’d like.” He’d hoped that Gimli would have been a little more open to this -- he’d looked forward to this day, after all. Sharing this intimacy in preparing the nest together.
And then Gimli did something Legolas could not have expected.
He began to weep.
He did not wail, nor sob outright -- he was stifling himself, that much was clear -- but tears rolled down his cheeks nonetheless, his fists clenched in frustration or humiliation, Legolas knew not.
It was all Legolas could do to rush forward and take his mate in his arms, despite that he was sure that he himself was the cause for Gimli’s tears.
“I am sorry,” he apologized, though he was still unsure as to what he was apologizing for exactly, “Please, meleth-nin , there is no need for tears.” He stroked Gimli’s back gently. “What have I done to upset you so?”
Gimli did not answer.
Legolas thought, doing his best to pinpoint when things had gone awry.
“Did you not wish for me to help build the nest?” he asked eventually.
Gimli shook his head, and Legolas’ heart sank. He supposed it couldn’t be helped.
“I don’t mean to helplessly weep upon your shoulder,” Gimli sniffled, “It’s the heightened highs and lows of carrying a babe, I imagine.” He chuckled, but the sound fell flat.
Legolas said nothing, continuing to stroke his back soothingly instead. He didn’t need to explain himself, and he knew that. Legolas would wait until he felt ready to speak -- if he would feel ready to.
“For dwarves,” Gimli rasped, much later, “Omegas are meant to build the nest, to surprise their mate with their work. It is our duty to show that we are capable of creating a place worthy of birthing our alpha’s dwarrowling.”
Unease settled heavily within Legolas’ chest, creeping downwards into his gut.
“Alphas... They are not meant to assist, unless their omega is hurt or ill or otherwise unable.” Gimli swallowed, and Legolas felt a cold pit take shape in his stomach. “So when you offered your help, I... I thought you were saying...” He trailed off and looked away.
“You thought that I believed you incapable,” Legolas finished, heart aching for the hurt he’d inadvertently caused his love. “Oh, Gimli, I am sorry, I did not mean for you to take it that way.”
“I take it that elves do things differently,” Gimli sniffled, and Legolas nodded meekly.
“For elves, nesting is such a rare act as omegas are even rarer, and so the building of it is almost a sacred intimacy. It’s something that mates do together, so I’d been storing some fabrics in our room, to imprint our scents on them for this very purpose. Though I now see I should have offered them to you without trying to interfere.
“Oh.” This time, it was Gimli’s turn to look perplexed as he wiped at his eyes. “I’ve taken away something you wished for, then,” he said sadly, looking down at the nest that he’d built on his own.
“It is alright,” Legolas promised, kissing Gimli’s forehead, “I only wish for you to forgive me for not realizing that I was overstepping.”
“Nay, you did no such thing as overstep,” Gimli murmured, tugging his husband down for a proper kiss. “I know now you only meant to help, and truly, I am grateful.”
Legolas beamed, and carded his fingers through Gimli’s hair, a fondness to his touch.
“I will leave you to finish,” he said at last, starting to pull away, “And you may call me whenever you wish me to see your magnificent work.”
But then Gimli was holding him where he was, not quite letting him go.
“Stay,” Gimli murmured, expression hesitant and bordering on shy, but voice as sure as stone.
“Are you certain? You needn’t yield simply to please my selfish desires, you know.” Legolas said.
“And you know I’d never do anything to simply please you,” Gimli teased, the playful glimmer in his eye familiar, seeming to be much more himself now that they understood one another at last, “But aye, if our babe is to be born into two realms, we may as well begin to mend the gap between customs here and now.”
He settled a hand to the small of his back, stretching a little with a grunt.
“And as loathe as I am to admit it, shuffling around to build this so far has taken its toll on my back. Come help me.”
“Of course, my dearest.”