Gimli enjoyed exploring. Gimli's father, Gloin, had raised him on tales of Thorin's expedition for the Arkenstone. Gimli wanted to follow his father's footsteps, maybe even surpassing them. His own journey was nothing like his childhood daydreams. It was wearing, terrifying, miserable, difficult, and often boring. He relished every second. That was why he accepted the elf's invitation to sail west to Valinor.
Gimli would travel farther than any other dwarf before or after him. He had not realized that he would be the only dwarf on the continent. It seemed silly, but he did not consider how alone he would feel. He missed his family, but it was the small things that drowned him in nostalgia. He missed drinking a pint of ale by the firelight; he missed seeing faces with real beards, not sissy elf-beards; he missed sitting in a chair where his feet touched the ground.
Gimli's friends did their best to make him feel at home, but it was not enough. Legolas was always good company, but he did not appreciate dwarven culture. Bilbo's Khuzdul was terrible enough it might have been orcish. Lord Elrond's Khuzdul was perfect. Too perfect.
That was the problem with Valinor. Everything was too perfect.
A brooding dwarf was not considered perfect. This, no doubt, was why Lady Galadriel had kidnapped Legolas and Gimli for a tour of Tirion.
"That sculpture, the one of the maiden? That was carved by my aunt, Nerdanel," Galadriel pointed her perfect finger at a sculpture of an elf. It was perfect. Gimli snorted.
Lady Galadriel paused. She stared hard at Gimli. Apparently his snort had not sounded appreciative enough. After a long minute, Galadriel gave a tiny, secretive smile. "Come, Gimli. I'll take you somewhere I know you will enjoy."
Perfect, thought Gimli as he followed Galadriel and Legolas. They made their way through crowded markets, serene garden paths, and pleasant neighborhoods. They ended at a simple structure. Another art studio, judging by the chiseling Gimli heard coming from inside.
With a shocking lack of decorum, Galadriel opened the door and walked in. Gimli and Legolas followed her inside.
Gimli examined the tableau. Tools of various sizes sat on dusty workbenches, partially hewed stone lay scattered around the room, and sketches were tacked on the walls.
An elf leaned over a large piece of marble, wearing a well-used tunic, with his silver-gold hair tied back from his face. Gimli could tell he was a skilled craftsman, even if he was an elf.
The sculptor, unaware of his audience, continued to deftly tap at the marble in front of him. Lady Galadriel delicately cleared her throat.
The elf jumped, the chisel slipped, and a large chunk of rock flew off the sculpture and across the workroom.
"Gabil Maha-me turgl!" exclaimed the elf, sticking his wounded thumb in his mouth. "Are you trying to send me back to Mandos, sister? That took hours!" he grumbled, gesturing at the ruined marble shape.
"Watch your tongue, brother. My guests do not need to hear your filthy language." Galadriel gave him a stern look and he glared back.
Legolas diplomatically refrained from snickering. Gimli guffawed.
The unfortunate elf's filthy language was more beautiful than the songs of Tirion's minstrels.
The elven sculpture looked down at Gimli with raised eyebrows. "You are a dwarf!" He smiled broadly. "I am pleased to be in the company of one of Aule's children again. I have missed consulting with dwarven craftsman."
Gimli grinned. There were very few elves who respected dwarven culture, and even fewer who liked them. This elf's genuine enthusiasm Made Gimli grin. "My lord, I am Gimli, son of Gloin. It is an honor to meet someone who appreciates fine craftsmanship."
The elf bowed elegantly. "Dorok khuzsh, Ezbad Gimli. Here in Valinor I am Finrod, but in Middle Earth I was Felegund, King of Nargathrond."
Gimli responded with wide eyes and a strangled gasp. Legolas, seeing that his friend was quite speechless, tactfully broke into the conversation. "It is an honor, my lord. I am Legolas, son of Thranduil." He presented a courtly bow which would have made his father nod with approval.
" Gimli stuttered.
Legolas smirked again, Galadriel laughed merrily, and Finrod smiled. He addressed Gimli, "Perhaps you would like to return, Lord Gimli? I would love to speak with you. I am afraid my Khuzdul is ancient and rusty, but I am curious to know about your people's dwellings under the mountains. I have heard of them from some of the elves from Middle Earth, but they were unable to answer my queries on architecture and design."
Gimli gazed at the elf with delighted shock. His silence prompted Legolas to speak up once more. "We would be delighted, My Lord."
"Excellent." Finrod turned to Galadriel. They spoke quickly in Quenya, which Gimli was far too flustered to comprehend. Galadirel, Legolas, and Gimli took their leave, teasingly, graciously, and awkwardly.
When Gimli was once again noticing his surroundings, he realized he was lagging behind his guide. Legolas had noticed and doubled back.
"It is strange, to meet someone so famous," Legolas observed.
Gimli stopped and stared at his friend. "Famous? Felegund is not famous. Among our people, he is legend. The caves of Nargothrond were one of the finest fetes of architecture in the First Age. There are few elves in all of history that have treated us with fairness, but even my parents spoke the name 'Felegund' with reverence. The stories say that the glittering mithril veins of Beleriand's caves dulled after he died by Sauron's hand."
Legolas glanced over at his friend and grinned.
"What?" asked Gimli suspiciously.
"Are you going to ask him for a strand of his hair?" the elf teased. His smile faltered when he saw the dwarf's expression.
Gimli grunted when his insufferable companion wisely trotted forward to rejoin Galadriel. He grinned when he was left alone. The day's expedition had succeeded in easing the pang on homesickness he had been struggling with.
Dorok khuzsh- greetings friend
Ezbad Gimli- Lord Gimli
Gabil Maha-me turgl- By Great Aule's beard