Barriers Broken

by Sarah

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Gimli

Summary: A sequel to "A Custom Shattered." Gandalf feels his love for Gimli growing and senses a threat in Middle-earth.

Disclaimer: : It belongs to Tolkien. I make no money. I claim only the original ideas and characters.

Author's note: The story takes place in the year 3009.

Beta: Nefertiti. Thank you, Nefertiti, for the beta work, comments, and suggestions. Any mistakes are mine.


Chapter 2

Gandalf stood next to his horse, wiping his face with the cloth they had handed to him, and watched the dwarves tend to the animal. He had left horses in their care before and knew they could be trusted. Most of them, however, had no particular affections for horses so he usually stayed until his animal was settled in. He was whispering soft words to the animal when he caught Gimli's name in the background and looked up to see Garon frowning anxiously at him.

"No need, no need at all to stand there drenched like that. Liable to catch your death. We've never done wrong by one of your horses. If ye want the beastie talked to, I'll do it. You should go to your home. I'll send ahead for Gimli and..."

"I can manage myself. It's the middle of the night. Let Gimli sleep."

Gandalf wondered if his voice sounded as tired to the dwarf as it did to him.

It must have, for he saw Garon motion to one of the younger dwarves who left the stables at a fast pace.

The wizard started down the stairs to his chambers, reflecting as he went on how his living arrangements had changed through the years. During his first visits to Erebor, he would ask and be granted rooms. Then Gimli and he became lovers, and Gandalf was told at his next visit that he had been assigned guest chambers that were reserved permanently for him. Ten years into his relationship with Gimli, the Istar arrived only to be escorted down one level into rooms next to the ones that the guards kept. No longer placed in guest rooms but instead given a place with the dwarves.

That had lasted only five years. Those had been a good five years, and Gandalf had visited Erebor often, staying as long as he felt he could each time. He had returned late one afternoon, and Gimli had happily informed him that he had been given quarters several levels down and among the families.

The chambers were cold and dark. Gandalf lit his staff to see by and made his way to the inner rooms. He glanced around at the bed built between four stone pillars rising to the roof, the lamp with the clear white stone stand by the bed, shelves carved out of the walls themselves, the huge fireplace and next to it a recess for sitting cut into the cavern's wall. It was here that Gandalf headed after grabbing some dry clothes from one of the shelves. He collapsed into the recess, dropping the clothes on top of one of the pillows that rested on each side.

Gandalf sighed. I should have found a place to wait out the storm. he thought. He looked around the room with eyes so tired that they were blurry.

Gimli had made changes to the place after Gandalf had requested him to years ago. The wizard laughed as he glanced at the painting which had been shifted two feet away from the bed. Gimli had placed thick white and blue rugs around the bed. The recess Gandalf rested in had been done by the dwarf's own hands. He had put the niches in the wall so the room could hold more candles. The bed had a thick light blue quilt with down pillows. Gandalf struggled with his wet clothes as he longed to settle in the bed and rest. He paused again, gazing at the bed, and leaning back into the recess. It was good to be back.

The loud pounding on the door jarred Gimli from a sound sleep to consciousness. "Go away," he mumbled, shoving his pillow over his head. The pounding continued, and he sat up, trying to order his thoughts. It was the middle of the night. Why would anyone be knocking on his door? Fear set in as he realised there could only be one reason for it. Something bad had happen to one of his loved ones. Climbing out of the bed and heading toward the door, he attempted to place everyone. His family and friends should be in their own beds and not in any danger. He had lately been thinking that Gandalf might be due for a visit, but when thoughts of the wizard popped into his head, he instantly stifled them. He had learned long ago that dwelling on when the wizard might return only heightened his worry and longing for Gandalf.

His anxiety increasing with each step, Gimli reached the door, and jerking it open, demanded, "What is wrong?"

"Gandalf has arrived, and he's not in good condition." Buron replied.

All the worries Gimli felt during the walk to the door combined with the lingering concern over Gandalf's welfare that he could never quite rid himself of. He grabbed the door post to steady himself and inquired, "Has he been injured?"

"No. He is just tired and soaked with winter rain. Do you want me to wake the help?"

Gimli slumped against the door frame in relief. He shook his head. "Do you have food cooking at the guard post?"

"Aye, I'll bring some to Gandalf's rooms."

"Thank you."

Gimli stood in the entry way for a few minutes after Buron left trying to recover, happiness quickly replacing the fear he had felt, leaving only concern for how Gandalf was doing. He hastily went back to his bed chambers, changing into day clothes. Grabbing some towels, he left his home and rushed down the passage that would take him to the wizard.

Gandalf heard footsteps and glanced up. Gimli stood framed in the doorway. He must have lit the lamps, for the room behind him was in light. The Istar perceived that he had been falling asleep, wet clothes and all.

Gandalf's eyes took in Gimli. The dwarf's hair fell over his shoulders, his beard was rumpled slightly, and he had a sleepy look about him. Gandalf wondered if he had been pulled from the bed of some lover. He winced inwardly as an unfamiliar emotion swirled through him. Before he could dwell on it, he felt warm hands touch him and heard Gimli say, "You can't sit dripping water. I don't know if you can get sick or not, but you must be uncomfortable." Gimli was easing Gandalf's clothes off as he spoke.

"I told them not to disturb you."

"Aye, but you are in Erebor. I was very clear. I'm to be informed."

Gimli's fingers worked at the clothes, and he got the last ones off. Gandalf shivered, and the dwarf began drying him with the towels he had brought. They were soft and warm, and Gandalf remembered that Gimli kept towels by the fireplace in his own chambers in case the wizard should arrive. The dwarf must have hugged them to himself on the way over to keep the warmth in. His happiness at being near his lover again filling his heart, Gandalf reached out and caressed the dwarf's face.

Gimli's hands made soothing circles as he wiped the water from Gandalf's body. He smiled up at the wizard and asked. "Do you need something to eat?"

"Just want to sleep." Gimli had finished and Gandalf moved to the bed.

"When did you last eat?"

"This morning."

Gimli wrapped the quilt around him as soon as he was in the bed.

Gandalf sat silently on the bed and watched as Gimli started a fire in the fireplace.

Gimli said, "I'll be right back. Try to stay awake a bit longer. "

Gandalf was slowly warming up but he was shivering still. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander. If he had arrived in Imladris tired and cold, there would have been servants to assist him, but not once had his lover there got up in the middle of the night to see to his welfare. In fact, Gimli was the only one ever to have given up sleep just to see how he was doing, no matter where the wizard was.

Gandalf frowned. He had made it a firm practice not to compare lovers during his time in Middle-earth, and he did not intend to start now.

Gandalf felt Gimli sit on the bed. "Here, I've put this in a mug. It's hot, so go slowly. There's wine on the stand."

The wizard nodded and took the mug wrapped in a cloth. A small sip revealed the contents to be savoury broth from chicken soup. Hunger pangs set in, and he was glad Gimli had brought food.

"Thank you, my friend."

"You are welcome. I'm just glad you are not injured."

"Injured. Why would you think I was harmed?"

"Buron said you were not in good shape."

Gandalf peered over the mug at Gimli. He couldn't recall Gimli ever expressing concern about him getting injured before. Many people over the years had asked him to be careful before he left, but Gimli never had. "You've never mentioned being worried before."

Strong hands brushed Gandalf's shoulders as Gimli replied, "Not because I don't care. I do worry sometimes. I just have this little speech I give myself every time I get anxious. About how you survived long before Gimli, Gloin's son was born. It's not as if you are going around saying, 'I want to take risks today, but Gimli would be displeased, so I won't.' "

Gandalf laughed. He sat the empty mug down and had some of the wine.

"Do you need more?"

"No, thank you."

Gandalf laid down and snuggled under the blankets.

Gimli slipped his tunics off and eased his lover against his heated chest.

"Gimli, I must feel very cold to you. You are always so warm."

"You feel like happiness to me. You are here, and you're safe."

Gimli's chest felt so warm. Gandalf sighed against him. He could rest here. Gimli never asked anything from him. He wondered if he should encourage the dwarf to leave, though. If his friend had left a lover, the other dwarf would not be too pleased when Gimli did not come back.

Gandalf loved having Gimli close and was reluctant to give up the delightful warmth. He quickly fell asleep.

The wizard awoke to the smell of eggs and bacon. He dressed and made his way to the kitchen, where he found Gimli had already started eating. A plate and cup had been put on his side of the table.

"I didn't want to wake you. You looked at peace." Gimli said, sliding both the eggs and bacon across to Gandalf's side of the table.

Nothing was said for awhile as both concentrated on the food.

Finally, Gandalf leaned back in his chair, and said, "Is it going well with you, Gimli?"

"Aye." Gimli paused and studied the wizard. "Been worrying again, have you?"

"Naturally I have some concern. All these years you've never mentioned any trouble, but I can't help but think that it couldn't have been that easy."

Gimli finished his own meal and replied, "You ask every time you visit, and I do appreciate the concern. Telling you I can handle Erebor does not seem to alleviate your worries, so I've decided to answer you differently this time." He took a sip of his ale. "When we first become lovers, there were some difficulties. I could hardly inform a lover, 'Don't expect me around whenever Gandalf is here. I tend to disappear.' Time took care of it."

Gimli paused. He was not comfortable talking about his other lover but understood that Gandalf fretted over him far more than necessary. "He knew ahead of time. I didn't tell him. He brought it up. He knows, and he accepts it. I don't believe it's causing him distress."

The wizard thought that perhaps he could name the dwarf Gimli was talking about. He had noticed one dwarf in particular that stayed close to Gimli during those parties. And then suddenly he had quit coming to the parties. Gandalf had seen the dwarf a few times since, and he had been friendly enough if a bit distant. For a second, the wizard dwelt on the other male, and then his mind shied away from it.

Gimli did not add what his dwarven lover had said, "You will always be back in my arms. I have that knowledge. He is here but a short time, and you return to me once he leaves. It is in my arms that you take comfort when Gandalf departs. I have you far more than he ever will."

Gandalf's thoughts moved to another unpleasant subject. He was too close to Gimli, and it was interfering with his other relationships.

The last time he had been in Imladris he had missed Gimli so much that he had longed for the dwarf even when he was in the arms of another. The wizard had left Imladris earlier than necessary because he felt it was not fair to the elf. He knew though that he would have to make some changes soon, and it would involve being alone far more often.

Aloud Gimli said, "He doesn't approve of us. He says, 'Dwarves should not be intimate with those not of their kind.' but he can make such statements all he wants, for I'm well aware of what caused him to be attracted to me in the first place." Gimli grinned now. "He's known we were lovers since that first party and believed I would have learned from your experience. Therefore, I would be more exciting than another."

Gandalf smiled. "So our relationship has brought you benefits."

"Aye. Apart from the early adjustments, I've only had one incident to cause trouble. That happened shortly after you were given chambers among our families. I guess even though most people would just ignore our relationship if allowed to, they are cognisant of it. I've tried to keep your wishes in mind, too. I know you wouldn't want me in fights."

"Definitely not, Gimli."

Gimli searched Gandalf's eyes. He hoped the wizard would understand. "I have to keep respect."

Gandalf nodded. "I don't like it, but I do see the need for maintaining dignity."

"I've only had to defend our relationship once and avoided anything I thought you would not like then. I was bargaining over the mining rights in a certain cavern. He wanted it as a wedding gift for his daughter. So I'd have gladly taken a loss on it but, we no sooner had started the bartering than he told me, "Being Gandalf's lover has made you think better of yourself than you ought." As it was declared in private, I could handle it without any action that would cause you distress. I simply made sure that he paid twice the value for the rights. He discerned my point. "Other than that event, I've never had any troubles. I have some unfinished tasks that I must deal with today. How long do you plan on staying?"

Inwardly, Gandalf sighed. His plans depended on the information he was here to gain. He fervently hoped Gimli's answers to the questions he had to ask would mean he could rest here, if only for a little while. "I'm unsure. I need to find out a few things first."

Gimli nodded. "Is there anything I can aid you with?"

"Perhaps after the evening meal we can discuss some matters. I'll know better then what needs to done."

Gimli grinned. "Very mysterious. The trade route is doing well, and the harvest of weed was good. I stocked the pantry here this morning. After the evening meal, we can have a good smoke, and then you can confuse me with half-answers and vague statements that mean something only to you. Is this acceptable?"

Gandalf laughed. "You get more complimentary as the years go by. My dear Gimli, I like your plans. Will I see you before then?"

Gimli smiled and he reached across the table, enclosing Gandalf's hands in his own. "If you wish you can come with me while I tend to matters. I know several people besides me who will be glad to see you again. I talked with my father this morning, and he asked me to invite you to have the evening meal with him."

Gandalf nodded. "I will go with you. I might get some of my answers, too."

Gimli got up and was putting dishes in to soak, but Gandalf heard him mutter, "I love you and your vague statements."

"Gimli?" Gandalf stood up and took his dishes over.

"Aye?"

Gandalf enclosed Gimli in his arms. "I love you, too."

Gimli hugged him and sighed happily, "Nothing vague about that."