the folly of elves
Gimli wasn't blind. Sure, he was a dwarf, and dwarves were (unfairly) known for their insensitivity about the delicate nature of courting, but he had been around the other races of Middle Earth long enough to recognize the look in Legolas' eyes. It was, almost, the same as the look he got when he climbed his first mallorn tree, or walked beneath the spreading branches of ancient Fangorn. It was not quite lust, and it was not quite love. Gimli thought that the closest analogy he could come up with was the feeling that swelled up from somewhere below his stomach every time he thought about the golden locks of Galadriel.
Gimli wasn't blind. The look in Legolas' eyes was worship, pure, unadulterated worship. For a man. For a human, a mortal, a man destined to do great things, be great things. But not with Legolas. The elf's eyes shone like they were lit from within by Earendil's star. He trembled with his desire. He burned with hope and belief. Gimli wanted to smack the elf, pick him up and shake him, pull him down by one of his pointy ears and growl out the folly of loving this man. Didn't fair Arwen spend long, lonely days in her bower, immortal heart breaking for a man who would be dead in a blink of her eye? Couldn't Legolas—Legolas, whose keen eyes had guided them so truly on their chase—see that he loved Aragorn in vain?
Gimli wasn't blind and he knew what a failed courtship looked like before it even started. That was why he'd broken it off with the charming dwarf-lad who'd been utterly convinced that he, Gimli, was really a dwarf-lass; a common mistake because everyone was called so-and-so's son, no matter what their gender. It was easier that way, and most dwarves had other things to think about than gender, important things like mithril and diamonds. But that was dwarves, and this was humans and elves, and Legolas and Aragorn. Their courtship was bound to end as badly as Gimli's had, and mostly for the same reasons but primarily because Legolas was an elf and Aragorn was a man who loved another elf, a pretty, dark haired, elf maid.
Gimli wasn't blind; he could see the appeal of Aragorn. Aragorn was shiny, in a special, human fashion, and like all dwarves Gimli coveted shiny things. But Aragorn's shine was that of sunlight on water, not torchlight on faceted crystal, so it was easy for Gimli to appreciate that shine in a purely aesthetic fashion and not covet that shine for himself. He would follow Aragorn--out of friendship and respect--but not like Legolas followed him, and he would mourn Aragorn's passing--for Gimli would live on past his friend's death--but not as Arwen would mourn for him. Because Aragorn's shine attracted elves like moths to fire, or hobbits to food. They looked at Aragorn, and suddenly all their vaunted wisdom went flying out of their pretty little heads and they were reduced to, well, humans. For all that they were immortal, elves were only children. They didn't know how to react to Aragorn's blinding light in a rational, measured fashion because they were such innocents, such damned innocents about so many, many, things.
Gimli wasn't blind. He knew a great deal of his animosity stemmed from the fact that Legolas was the first elf he had been friends with, and the first person--man, dwarf, hobbit, elf, even troll or orc--who had managed to make him think of the world in terms of sunlight and moonlight and wind, instead of gemstones and gold and streams of silver mithril. He knew that he wished Legolas would look his way with those love filled eyes, tremble with inexpressible need, whisper words of love through the touch of his hands, the tilt of his head, the twitch of his lips.
Gimli wasn't blind, but he thought Aragorn was, and he thought that the greatest tragedy the Ring had ever wrought was to bring this beautiful, beautiful elf in contact with shining Aragorn. The dwarf would have given a full suit of armor for the honor of being loved by Legolas Greenleaf, Legolas of the keen sight and swift bow, and pretty, piercing, sapphire eyes. Legolas was a treasure beyond measure, something that shone so brilliantly even in the dark nights, even in the midst of battle, even in blood and squalor and sadness and rain and mud. He was more precious than the Ring and Gimli was a dwarf who knew how to value and guard and love precious things. Gimli would follow Aragorn to the gates of Mordor and into the fiery grasp of Sauron himself; he would take up the ring and cast it into the Cracks of Doom; he would fight a hundred orcs—a thousand, a million, an army; he would brave the depths of Fangorn; he would give up his own life, and happily too. He would do anything to keep Legolas' eyes forever free of the shine of diamond tears.
But Gimli wasn't blind and he knew that whatever he did would be useless. Arwen wasn't the only elf that had given their soul—their love—to Aragorn. What could a dwarf who spilt beer on his beard ever offer to Legolas, the elf that cast an enchantment like the mallorn trees of Lothlorien. How could he, Gimli Gloin's son, an expendable dwarf of insignificant position ever compare to Aragorn, the heir of Elendil, the king of Gondor.
Aragorn. The folly of elves.