Legolas shifted the small brooch in his hand. The intricate metal work in the shape of a Riverside wildflower was astonishing! Not to mention that flowers were a rare subject for dwarven finery. Legolas was fairly certain that flowers did not grow under the lonely mountain, meaning that Gimli must have gone on a little excursion for the reference.
What a sweet gesture, Legolas thought to himself. It was really a beautiful gift; truly, nobody knows how to make gems and metal dance quite like a Dwarrow and Gimli was a talent.
He half wonder's if Gimli knows anything about flower language.
The gift itself was an unexpected delight. Legolas had arrived to much fanfare in Erebor and he was given a warm welcome by Fili, King under the Mountain. That night, after a dinner filled with bawdy tales, strong drink and far too much red meat for Legolas’ taste; Gimli had pulled the elf aside and presented him with the little trinket. He had stammered and stuttered his way about it, flushed and haughty.
Such was not an unusual attitude for the dwarf and Legolas found it endearing of his friend, more often than not.
Gimli had frustratedly grumbled something about “pretty-boy elves”, dropped the brooch in Legolas' hand and shuffled off. Now, an hour after the fact, Legolas is laying in his far too short bunk in the spare family quarters of Erebor, holding the brooch up to the light of the hearth. The glint of the gems in the warm light is mesmerizing and the craftsmanship is impeccable.
He feels his heart flutter just a bit.
The flowers were set with opals and deep blue aquamarines, accented by dark blue sapphires. The metal that bound the whole thing together was a brilliant silver color, that if not for its rarity and worth, Legolas would have sworn it was sacred mithril.
Regardless of whatever vein of silver the brooch may be, it had quickly become dear to him.
He would have to coordinate his outfit to the little blue brooch tomorrow; he recalls bringing a rich looking blue velvet robe and white britches that would do well. Legolas falls asleep warm and content with the brooch on the stone nightstand next to him.
Even in the dark corridors of Erebor the elf still rises with the sun out of pure routine. He brushes and puts his long hair in a crown of plaits. Had he any access to daisies he would have woven them into the braids; but he knows this would have immediately earned a days – no months – worth of laughter and ribbing from his dwarven companions.
Legolas dresses for the day and proudly displays the little brooch on his breast pocket.
Balin soon arrives to escort the elf to Breakfast.
"Morning to you, lad! Well, you look a picture. Brazen thing, aren’t you?”
"Wearing the colors of the line of Durin. How blatant." Balin winks playfully.
"Oh! Is that inappropriate? I wasn’t aware!"
Legolas flushes and half turns to run back to his quarters
"I can go change, I’ll go change!"
"Now hold on now, laddie! You needn’t go and change. I was just thinking it was mighty forward of you, but perhaps it’s different for you Silvan's."
Balin claps him on the back but misses and almost smacks the elf’s behind.
"???" Legolas isn't sure how to respond.
"So, have you thought about what you're going to give him in return? If you need any advice, I'm your dwarf. Helped Gloin and Gerta raise the boy, so I know him pretty well if I say so myself." Balin looked proud of himself at that, having never had any children himself he had obviously treated Gimli as his own son.
"I had considered going to the markets and getting him something, but what would you suggest, Sir Balin?" The elf decided to humor the old dwarf. Legolas had a decent idea of what sort of gift Gimli would appreciate (Axes, a new helmet, maybe a good meaty dinner?), but maybe Balin could bring something new to the table.
"Well first off Lad, It has to be home made! How's your crafting?"
"I've had near three thousand years to perfect Fletchery, flower weaving and Sindarin calligraphy. He fond of any of that?" Legolas gives an incredulous smile. Dwarves and their strange societal conventions; if gifts are meant to be homemade then why are there so many pretty things for sale in the market?
Balin chokes with laughter, surely at the flower weaving bit.
"As much as I think giving Gimli a pretty little flower crown would be fantastic, The fletchery may be your best bet. Maybe make a decorative arrow? Somethin' lovely looking, to hang above the mantle, yeah?"
"Well, I certainly can. I just hope he likes it; I know dwarrow rarely appreciate the art of the bow."
"Oh I think it shan't be an issue, Laddie." Balin winks as he opens the door to the King's dining hall and leads Legolas in.
He takes his seat right across from Gimli and bids him good morning; the dwarf grunts in response, a strange look on his face. Legolas silently notes the way Gimli is staring at the brooch pinned to the dark blue fabric.
"My, Prince Legolas! What a lovely brooch, where ever did you get such a piece?" Princess Dis leans to address the elf from her place to the left of King Fili. Her eyes dart pointedly to Gimli, whose skin is now muddled and flushed.
"…Why, Lord Gimli gave it to me. It is quiet pretty, is it not?" The entire table, all 24 seats and those occupying them, go silent at this. Legolas' hunter instincts kick in and a pit grows in his stomach. Animals only go quiet when a predator nears.
Fili, Kili and Dwalin immediately snap their heads to stare, open-mouthed at Gimli, who has sunken low in his chair and is staring intensely at his plate.
Did he say something unacceptable? Secretive Dwarrow.
Dis grins wickedly.
"What a thoughtful gift from our Gimli. Tell me, Prince Legolas, are you intending on returning the favor?"
Legolas takes in the slight shift in the room at Dis' question. Everyone subconsciously cranes themselves a little closer to the conversation, various looks of intrigue and wonder on every face.
He suddenly becomes aware that what he says in response will hold a terrible amount of weight to the crowd of dwarves.
He looks to Gimli, slightly panicking, only to be met with stark vulnerability on his dear friends face. Gimli's eyes are searching for something in his as the pregnant silence drags on.
"… If you must know, Princess Dis, I am intending to return the favor." Legolas keeps himself still as a fair majority of the room gasps in unison, including the King under the mountain himself. "Although, I would have preferred to surprise Gimli with a gift, as opposed to telling everyone at breakfast."
"My apologies, Milord. We dwarrow do love a good gift giving." Dis looks like a cat that got the cream.
"Mahal's beard! If uncle Thorin were here, there would be hell to pay!" Kili not-so-quietly whispers across the table at his brother; Fili swats at him and tells him to shut up.
Ok, that’s enough of that, Legolas thinks.
Perhaps it's time to get some answers from Gimli, who has been scarce of words since the elf arrived in Erebor.
After the awkward breakfast concludes, Gimli races as fast as he can out of the room, which is not fast at all; natural sprinters his arse.
It's comical how fast and in such few strides Legolas catches up with Gimli.
"To where do you rush, Mellon? I feel as though we've not had a moment to ourselves since I arrived in Erebor. I was hoping to speak with you." The elf flashes a near-threatening smile as he effortlessly blocks Gimli's escape route. "Privately, perhaps?" He tilts his head in question.
Gimli makes eye contact for the first time in three days.
"… Aye, suppose it's only fair. Come along. My quarters." Gimli sighs as he begins to lead the elf up the high steps to his home.
Gimli leading him home was garnering some very unsubtle whispers from some older Dam's. Surely they didn’t know about an elf's sensitive hearing.
Legolas shook it off as he entered the dwarf's living quarters. All the more questions to ask his friend.
The room was warmed by the hearth and an iron chandelier hung low over a small dining table in the center of the room. Furs and linens were draped over a stone sofa adjacent to the fire, and all-in-all the room felt homey. Two large brass doors stood across from each other in the room, assumedly leading to the sleeping and washing rooms.
"Alright, Gimli!" Legolas bends closer and points to the brooch on his chest."What is this and why is the entire court losing their heads over it?"
Gimli maintains Legolas' eye contact, but shifts uncomfortably.
"I wanted to ask you last night; but- but my nerves got the best of me." He casts his eyes downward, seemingly ashamed. "Y'just looked so…So!" He's bright red.
"… My friend, it's a courtship gift. I wish to court you. I haven't counseled with my kin about this, but- but they know a courtship gift when they see one. And, and you!" Gimli looks like he's about to blow a gasket. "You come in to breakfast, wearing my gift! Like a badge of honor! Like y'can't wait to be- be- c-courted by me! Have some decency, Man!!" The dwarf is dizzy eyed and fuming.
Legolas silently assesses the situation.
"Just to confirm, you wish to court me? In a romantic manner? You desire me as a husband, Gimli?" His tone is even and his face betrays no sign of any fettering. In this moment he looks strikingly like King Thranduil; Cold, elegant and ever-thinking.
"Damn it Elf! Of course, romantically! I wouldn’t desire you as a husband if there weren't any desire to be had! Do the elves do this so differently?!" Gimli is now pacing impatiently across the stone floor of his home, still fuming.
"… Perhaps we do." Legolas is still staring, uncharacteristically unemotional. "Woo me."
Gimli stops mid-stride and snaps his head around to lock eyes with the prince.
"What?" he spits.
"Trinkets are pretty, but words and vows are prettier to an elf. Woo me, Gimli, son of Gloin." Legolas has seated himself rather rudely on the dining table, not blinking as Gimli wanders closer.
Gimli rests a hand on the Elf's knee and nods solemnly. If he wants words and feelings and vows, that’s what the prince will receive.
"I won't pretend I know anythin' about flowers. That’s why I consulted Master Gamgee, him being a gardener and more importantly a hobbit. Those Shirelings know their earth-crafts, they do." He gently reaches up and touches the brooch and Legolas leans forward to meet his hand. "He recommended this pretty little flower. It's native to the banks of the Celduin and fairly rare, so it took a bit of digging to find any references on it. I may have gone for a bit of a trip when Erebor's libraries proved unhelpful."
So he did leave the mountain to do some research. Legolas' demeanor stays even, but he can feel his pulse quicken just a bit.
"I'm sure I don’t need to tell you what Gloxinia means. Flower language seems like it'd be a common interest for hobbits and elves, no?" He grins, still red in the face.
"You'd be correct on both accounts. You do remember upon our first meeting you shouted to 'Never trust an elf' and you lunged at me with your axe drawn, right?" Legolas grins back, reaching out and absently playing with one of Gimli's red braids. "Mellon, tell me. Do all dwarves show love at first sight in such a way, or was your attitude in the beginning unique unto you?" He laughs softly, his voice a whisper.
"None of that now, I was young and impetuous. Need I remind you less than a day later we were sharing a horse and racking up kills in sport together? I may've not had a name for the feeling at the time, but I felt in my bones -in my soul- that you were my One." Gimli cups the elf's cheek and they exchange soft looks before he continues. "Unfortunately, I'm not a poet. I picked the gems 'cause I thought they would be pretty on you. I was right, I was."
Gimli strokes a bit of Legolas' hair.
"I used Mithril for the vines and leaves." Legolas gasps a little; so it was Mithril!
"I thought it was appropriate, what with it catchin' the light how your hair does. There's no way I couldn’t use Mithril-"
Legolas cut him off with a kiss.
He separates, near breathless.
"That’s very sweet. I am sufficiently wooed." The elf slides off the table and onto his knees to more efficiently kiss Gimli.
Legolas releases his hold on Gimli's face and the dwarf comes away flustered and dizzy.
"Does- Does that mean I can court you?" The Dwarf asks.
Legolas kisses him again. "Yes, Meleth, only if I may court you as an elf does." He's grinning ear to ear. Gimli looks optimistic, but suddenly wary.
"And what does that entail, exactly?" The dwarf asks nervously. Legolas' eyes go dark and a mischievous look casts upon his features.
"Why don’t you show me to your bedchambers and we'll go over it in detail."
"Balin told me my gift to you needed to be homemade. I suppose this doesn’t count as a homemade gift, correct?" The elf relishes in the soft grunts of the dwarf beneath him. Gimli's rough hands grasp at Legolas' hips and the elf keens.
"Mahal's mercy, it should!" The dwarf groans and Legolas laughs airily.
By the time dinner rolls around, half of Erebor knows about the courtship; King Fili himself, chief amongst those spreading the information. Princess Dis had sent ravens to the Shire with messages for the inhabitants of Bag End; her letter to Bilbo was filled with excitement and hope for the couple, while the letter to her brother was carefully worded. One must tread lightly with a man of Thorin's sensibilities.
Kili on the other hand, had also sent word to his Uncles, and cousin Frodo. And to Tauriel of Mirkwood. And to the other twins, Elladan and Elrohir in Rivendell. And to Arwen and Aragorn all the way in Gondor. And of course he sent a raven to Faramir and Eowyn, as well.
Being a prince aside, Kili had never grown out of his 'speak now, think later' mindset. Needless to say, all letters sent by his hand had the eloquence and tact of a tavern floor. Fortunate that most on his mailing list would find the letters endearing, if not funny.
Everyone and their mothers had noticed when Legolas and Gimli had missed lunch with the King, so obviously they had come to the natural -and correct- conclusion that the courtship was going swimmingly.
Many members of the court began taking bets on whether or not the couple would be joining them for dinner.
Half the room begrudgingly gives up various amounts of coin to each other as the couple enter the dining hall, looking very self conscious.
Legolas' strange, almost limping gait does not go unnoticed by Dis and Fili, who quietly pocket the gold coins from their won bet.
"So boys, how was your private lunch?"