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 3

Gandalf enjoyed the first day at Erebor. Gimli visited several of his friends and kin, who greeted the wizard warmly. He also went to every one of the dwarves that Gandalf had helped regain Erebor. The wizard doubted that Gimli actually had errands at every place they stopped. He was clearly sharing his joy at having Gandalf back among them.

Gandalf was very aware of the absence of Balin and those he had taken with him. The wizard had not been in Erebor when they had left. He would have advised against any such expedition.

Gimli had told him in a very quiet voice that his people felt that they were hedged in with not enough room for a growing population. They also imagined that there might be yet undiscovered wealth elsewhere.

It was something else Gimli had said that had increased Gandalf's anxiety. He had stated in a whisper, "It is like a shadow fell over Erebor. Once we were content." Then he had added, "In secret only do we discuss such things," and Gandalf understood that Gimli was giving him a confidence.

As they visited Gimli's friends and relatives, no one gave the wizard any indication that all was not well in Erebor. Yet Gandalf knew that if Gimli would tell him such a thing despite the fact that the other dwarves would not approve of the disclosure, then the uneasy situation must indeed be real.

The two hours before the evening meal were spent watching Gimli set a gem into a ring. He had promised to have it done by a certain date and was putting the finishing touches on it.

Gandalf had always admired Gimli's work and observed the whole process with interest. Gimli had such a delicate, precise touch but then, Gandalf reflected he already knew those hands could be caring and gentle. The wizard watched Gimli's hands in fascination as his friend laboured over the ring. Anticipating the night ahead, Gandalf glanced away several times when the fascination started to lead to arousal. Gimli was able to find the best way to caress a gem to bring forth its inner fire. Gandalf sighed softly. His lover was also very capable of bringing fire from a living being. Thankfully, Gandalf mused, Gimli was intent on what he was doing and not disturbed by the wizard's thoughts.

Gandalf's ponderings went to another ring, and he quickly cast these musings aside. Better to be flustered by Gimli's actions than to continually dwell on that. Gandalf's reflections went to an eagle Gimli had crafted for an anniversary gift after they had been lovers for twenty years. It had basalt for eyes, and when freshly polished the insets gleamed. The body was carved from an iron-bearing rock, the alternating red and brown bands of which resembled feathers. The white head was done with limestone. The sculpture seemed almost real.

Gimli had said hesitantly when giving it to him, "I know you can't keep items..."

Gandalf had held the small carving in his hands, delighted with it, and replied, "I am in Imladris the most. It will stay there." The maia had few possessions that he cherished but the eagle was loved.

Similar insecurities had plagued Gandalf over the one gift he had given to Gimli. The Istar had presented his lover with a copy of a book that he had rewritten in the common tongue so that Gimli could read it.

The book had been written in Imladris and Gandalf had contributed so much to it that he was listed as one of the authors. It was one of the few history books that, in the wizard's opinion, had an honest view of the races of Middle-earth. It covered dwarven history far better than most, and, Gandalf believed, more accurately. Although he was aware that Gimli would not like knowing some of that account, there was much that he might enjoy.

It was not an in-depth book, more a summary of main events, but Gandalf felt the fact that it was not completely slanted toward one race's perspective made it unique. The volume contained a chapter on hobbits, and that alone would have made the narrative unusual. It still focused mainly on elves, as little was known of the dwarves, and the majority of the research was undertaken by an elf. Gandalf had been insistent that if the treatise had his name on it, the story would also give an unbiased narrative of elven history.

Gandalf hoped that because he had contributed to the work, Gimli might like the book. He had been pleased at Gimli's reaction. The dwarf had held the book for awhile, his fingers tracing the letters that spelled Mithrandir.

This response had confirmed much of Gandalf's beliefs of Gimli's personality. As his lover had sat there, happy just because of the wizard's name on the book, Gandalf had recalled Thorin and other dwarves he had known that had put such a high value on gold and jewels. Most of Aulë's children attached such significance to treasures, and Gimli

certainly prized these things. Still, if given a choice of a gift, he would ask for something that included a part of the person he cared for over gold.

Gandalf was very proud when during his next visit Gimli had not only been able to quote parts of the book but could also with amazing accuracy discern which parts belonged solely to Gandalf. They had many enjoyable evenings of discussions due to the gift, with Gimli sometimes pointing out where the elven writer had not been totally correct in his view of Durin's people. Gandalf had felt joy in Gimli's interest in the book.

Later after an evening meal with Gimli's family, they enjoyed a quiet smoke together. Gandalf wondered yet again if perhaps his worries were unfounded. The entire time they smoked, Gandalf debated with himself. Maybe he should say nothing to Gimli. Yet his heart was loudly proclaiming that he should.

The very reasons that made Gimli the one he should talk to were also the reasons Gandalf was reluctant to confide in him. He did not want to involve the dwarf in any way with his mission, for Gimli was his friend and lover. Unfortunately, that also meant the Istar trusted him far more than anyone else in Erebor.

There was also the fact of Gimli's intelligence. Once he brought issues out the dwarf would think about them and was liable to arrive at some correct assumptions. Gimli would have heard the tale of the re-gaining of Erebor many times, and the dwarves would have seen no reason to keep the ring secret. Yet Gandalf needed someone who would think and not just give answers heedlessly.

The smoke was over, and Gandalf knew he must speak. Sighing he said, "Gimli, has anyone been asking about Bilbo?"

"Asking about Bilbo? You mean about his welfare?"

"No. I mean outsiders wanting to be told of his whereabouts. If anyone has been questioning you or your father about him, I'd like to know."

"No one has mentioned Bilbo except for my father occasionally and those who normally would."

Gandalf was relieved. Perhaps all his suspicions were wrong. "If someone did start to ask would your people tell of Bilbo's location?"

Gimli frowned but Gandalf understood that it was not in response to his question. It meant that Gimli was resisting a quick denial and instead considering his answer carefully. The silence that followed verified Gandalf's opinion.

After a few minutes, Gimli replied, "I can't see any circumstance that we would. Inquiries from outsiders tend to rouse suspicion and distrust among us. It would lead to us asking questions, but I doubt we would volunteer any information. Still it is possible one of us might tell. Perhaps by talking too much to someone, but that would not be done with a stranger. Certainly never by an outsider outright asking."

"Exactly what I thought." Gandalf paused. He could not see a way to accomplish his goal without causing Gimli to connect his inquiries about Bilbo with what he wanted done in Erebor. "Gimli, is the guard on Erebor kept alert?"

Gimli's dark eyes fixed on him and Gandalf felt certain that the dwarf was already adding the issues together. "I would not know. I think so. I can find out. If I do so while you are here, it would cause anxiety. People will conclude that I know something I'm not sharing due to my relationship with you."

"I am probably imagining trouble where none exists, Gimli. Once I leave, however, I'd appreciate it if you did see to it that the guard on Erebor never gets lax. Also if you can you might want to influence your King to keep his army prepared for..." He stopped.

Gimli had stood up abruptly. "I do not like this." he declared. "I'm getting some ale and then I'll be back. I have some of that wine you like. Do you want some?"

"Yes." Gandalf understood that Gimli would rather have bad news clearly and bluntly stated, but the wizard did not desire to give any notions to the dwarf that he did not already have. The less Gimli knew the safer he was. Nor could Gandalf easily overcome his unwillingness to give cares to the very person who had through the years done all he could to ease his own burdens.

After Gimli had returned with the drinks and had as usual seated himself in the chair closest to Gandalf, he said, "You want us ready for war. I am confident my King will listen to me. My people may not realise I influenced the King. However the King himself will understand that I would never be requesting changes if it were not for you."

"That is fine. I don't want to panic everyone. Gimli, I could be wrong. A suspicious wizard who has fought evil so long that he perceives danger where it is not. I sincerely hope that is all it is."

Gandalf had thought this would reassure Gimli but the dwarf took a long drink of his ale and then shook his head. "If you are sensing danger, then I'd be willing to wager quite a bit that you are right. Anything else I should be aware of?"

Gandalf sighed. He hated doing this to Gimli. "I'm concerned that as years of peace go by your people will relax and not be prepared to defend Erebor as well as they could if they stayed on their guard."

Gimli sighed heavily. "I'll remember your warning. Whatever did Bilbo do to..." He suddenly went silent. His thoughts went to Bilbo and an oft-repeated story which included a ring. He knew too one of the things Balin hoped to find in Moria. Gimli's mind raced ahead to a deduction that he did not want to acknowledge, much less accept. He told himself was imagining things, yet he was aware that there could be no war unless there was a foe, and ever had the dwarves one Enemy.

Gandalf felt he could almost read Gimli's thoughts. His lover was slowly drawing the pieces of a story together, and from the way Gimli was scowling, the dwarf disliked his conclusions as much as the wizard hated causing them. Gandalf let Gimli have his time to muse over the conversation. He perceived that interrupting his friend might cause the dwarf to believe the wizard wanted to distract him. And if he thought that, he might also decide that Gandalf was certain there would be a war and wanted to stop his thoughts.

After a time, Gimli said, "I appreciate the warning and will do what I can. Erebor will not fail you."

"You can only do your best. Take your father into your confidence if you need to. He is good friends with your King. Although I'd prefer you to not even hint at anything concerning Bilbo."

Gimli nodded.

"Now I wish to talk of other matters. I appreciate your kindness last night. You could have sent servants, but I'll admit I'm glad you did not. It's far better having aid done with love then help without it. I should not have tried to make it to Erebor so fast causing you inconvenience but..."

Gimli said softly, "I'm aware of the date. Or rather the anniversary yesterday. You've made it here for twenty of them after all and that is far more than I ever expected. I was very surprised when you arrived the first time on that day. I refuse to even think you might return at that date, as it causes me to fret over your welfare too much, but I am happy when you do."

Gandalf smiled and opened his arms. Gimli got up and came to him. The wizard wrapped his arms tightly around the dwarf. "We became lovers sixty years ago as of yesterday, and I really desired to spend the night in your arms."

"You did." Gimli's fingers ran through Gandalf's hair. There was amusement in his voice along with love.

"Yes, but I was not planning on being so exhausted. Nor risking upsetting anyone you might have been with." Gandalf laid his head on Gimli's shoulder. He didn't like the idea of Gimli spending their special night with another lover, but if it brought his friend comfort, he would not begrudge it.

"I'm alone on the anniversary. I prefer it that way. I remember us, although not just the pleasure. I recall your voice and your laughter. I love your laughter. I think of your delightful beard and beautiful eyes. The way you've always treated me with respect when I probably have little comprehension of most of your life. The confidences you have shared with me. Many things."

Gandalf listened to Gimli's recital and felt overwhelmed with love and sheltered by the arms that returned his hug. "Gimli, I've done the same over the years. I have never spent our day with anyone else." His fingers began to undo Gimli's braids. "I remember a great deal, too. Your dark eyes, the trust you've given me through the years, the kindness you've shown me, and..." he loosed the ties, "the way your hair looks as it falls loosely over your shoulders." Again, he paused and tentatively pressed his lips against Gimli's. "And this, too."

They kissed lightly, just to enjoy each other, both desiring to delay the passion that would quickly overcome all else once started. Gandalf murmured, "I intend to rest here for a while, Gimli. Time enough for one of those parties."

"Aye." Gimli answered, his voice deepening.

Their lips brushed gently together again, and both whispered, "I missed you" at the same time.

Amused, they drew back slightly to smile at each other.