Boundaries Crossed

by Sarah

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Gimli

Summary: The sequel to Barriers Broken. The story deals with the time of the Quest and afterwards.

Disclaimer: They belong to Tolkien. I claim only the original ideas and characters.

Feedback: Please.

Beta: Nefertiti. Thank you! Any mistakes left are mine.

Chapter 1

Gimli followed his father down the passage, often falling behind as his thoughts slowed him.

They had been summoned to their King just hours after the arrival of another messenger from Mordor seeking news of hobbits and a ring. Gimli wasn't surprised that the summons included him.

Almost a year ago, after the first sinister horseman had appeared to make the same inquiry, Gloin had asked to have an audience with their King. He wanted to go to Rivendell to tell Lord Elrond that Bilbo was being sought.

Gimli had sat in the chair in his bedroom and pondered over what to do. Gandalf had clearly said that he was not to mention Bilbo. Surely now that the hobbit was being asked for, his father would come to the same conclusions Gimli had reluctantly arrived at long ago. The King had heard the story of the re-gaining of Erebor often enough. He, too, would be likely to see the reason why Bilbo was being hunted.

Gimli had seen clearly that they should send someone to Lord Elrond and let him know that Bilbo was being sought. He had felt both relieved and guilty when his father told him that their King did not want to ask the advice of elves and had decided not to send anyone.

Gimli was relieved because if someone was sent, he had the distinct impression that he would be that someone. The passing years had brought a change in Gimli's feelings about the relationship he shared with the wizard. Gimli was no longer comfortable with the thought of Gandalf's other lovers. They had agreed to such an arrangement, and Gimli did not long to deny the wizard any comfort he could find. Still, the idea of facing a lover in Rivendell brought out jealous feelings, and he felt as if he was being torn apart with conflicting emotions.

When those first strong jealous feelings over Gandalf's other lovers had started, Gimli understood more fully how much he loved the wizard. He had made a decision. He was uncertain at first how to avoid causing his dwarven lover pain until he realised that one of his female cousins was very fond of the other male. He had repeatedly brought his cousin and his lover together. Then when he saw that love was beginning to develop between the two, he had ended the relationship with the other dwarf. It had been more difficult than he had believed it would be to watch his former lover marry. The resulting loneliness had been expected, but what Gimli had not anticipated was that his worry over Gandalf seemed to increase tenfold. It had been three and a half years since the wizard had visited Erebor. The last two years had been the worst as Gimli's anxious thoughts plagued him.

The guilt remained because Gimli was aware that Gandalf would want to know that the Shadow trailed the ring and Bilbo with it. Still, he could not leave without the King's permission. He could not go to the King himself without giving information that he had been told in confidence. "I'd prefer you to not even hint at anything concerning Bilbo." so the wizard had said and by nodding Gimli had given his word as far as he was concerned.

It caused him sleepless nights as he pondered. Could he change the King's mind if he spoke of Bilbo, and more importantly, should he? If the King was reviewing the events and was uncertain about why Bilbo was being sought would the wizard take kindly to Gimli going to the Lord with his own concerns and most likely removing all doubt? Gandalf had not been sure about the suspicions he had hinted at to Gimli. The dwarf was sure, though, that the enemy would not be seeking Bilbo unless Gandalf had been correct in his assumptions.

Even if he convinced the King of what Bilbo held, his Lord might decide not to send anyone to Rivendell. He could possibly conclude that such a mission was too dangerous, and then there would be no hope of Gandalf ever being getting told.

How much of his reluctance was due to his desire to avoid going to Rivendell? What would Gandalf want? Gimli doubted the wizard desired him to obey blindly with no thought at all. The problem, Gimli reflected over and over, was that he could not match the wizard's thinking and he had no notion of what he was to do now. So he had kept quiet.

Now the decisions were being taken from his hands, and Gimli only hoped he would be able to do what was best for Erebor while keeping his loyalty to Gandalf. His heart pulled him toward Rivendell with his powerful yearning to see the wizard and reassure himself that his lover was well. The jealousy and bewilderment over whether his actions were the right ones continually fought with his need to see Gandalf.

The King and three of his advisors were at the meeting when they arrived. There was a long stone table with claw feet that seemed to spring from the floor and braziers in various places to provide light.

At first the conversation was on Lake Town and the humans' reaction to the pressure they were all experiencing. They, too, had the messengers from Mordor visit with demands. Gimli knew that soon enough the attention would belong to him.

Eventually, the King turned to him and asked, "Did Gandalf advise you on what we are expected to do under these circumstances?"

Gimli did not answer right away. He discerned that they would be patient, and he had to think how to form his words. Gandalf had not said that he was to be informed if anyone inquired concerning Bilbo, but the wizard would surely want to know.

Gloin replied, "I maintain that we should make these events known to Lord Elrond. If he knows, Gandalf will find out soon enough."

Gimli added, "I agree. Gandalf told me that Erebor was to be prepared for war." Gimli had no hesitance about telling this fact. The King already knew this information, for he would have realised that was why Gloin had got involved in keeping their army on alert over the years. "He did not say what to do if we were threatened due to knowledge over Bilbo's whereabouts, but I believe he would trust in our discretion."

"Very well. We should see if we can learn more. Gloin, select a few besides Gimli to go with you and see what Lord Elrond has to say of these matters."

"Would it not be best to leave Gimli here? Should war arrive sooner than expected, his battle skills would be of great aid to Erebor." Gloin replied.

Gimli was grateful for his father's efforts to insure that he would not have to go to Rivendell but he knew it would be to no avail. He had mentioned to his father that he was reluctant to leave Erebor, but he had not said why.

The King replied, "I do not expect Gimli to attempt to use his relationship with Gandalf to get information, but I think his presence would be a needful reminder of the importance of Erebor."

Gimli frowned. "He does not need such a reminder but if you decree that I go, then so be it."

Gloin stated, "I still see no point in having Gimli's company. Gandalf has never forgotten our concerns before. Everyone here is cognisant of how elves view dwarves. If Gimli does accompany us, I shall encourage him to distance himself from the wizard. It is one thing to violate customs in Erebor, and quite another to do so in Rivendell, where they could both face the mockery of elves."

The King glanced at Gloin and then at Gimli. "I cannot afford to take chances where the welfare of my people is concerned. Even if they shun each other, the fact remains that Gimli's very presence would be a poignant reminder to Gandalf that he has special reason to be concerned for Erebor. My advisors have told me that many are of the opinion that the wizard cares deeply for Gimli. And if Gandalf is not in Rivendell, Lord Elrond will tell him when he does arrive that Gimli was there. I strongly suspect the wizard is in Rivendell."

Gimli said nothing. He hoped Gandalf was in Rivendell. Lately, he had felt a growing unease over the wizard's well-being. He had awakened several times in the night over the past months with the strong impression that all was not well with his lover. The distress seem to be fading, and Gimli desperately wished that meant that whatever danger Gandalf had been in had passed, leaving the wizard unharmed. His heart was calling for him to go to Rivendell to see if Gandalf was there or if there was news of him. He wanted some reassurance that his actions had been the right ones. Yet what if the wizard said Gimli should have gone to the King immediately after those foul creatures made their first appearance? He hated the idea that he had failed Gandalf.

One of the King's advisors spoke up, "Gandalf did warn Gimli in the solitude of his quarters that we were to be ready for war. Perhaps that is his preferred way of imparting news to us." he chuckled.

Gimli shook his head. "No. He just did not want to panic people, and if he had gone to the King with such tidings, there would have been anxiety among us."

The King replied, "Whatever his reasoning was, he may choose to do so again. You will go, Gimli."

Gimli replied, "I will do as you bid. My relationship with Gandalf, however, is not about gaining information nor will I devalue our friendship in any way." He couldn't keep his displeasure out of his voice but the King ignored it.

Later as Gimli sat at his father's table sharing an ale with him, the dwarf felt weighed down with cares. He wondered whether, after the first messenger had appeared, he should have told the King about Gandalf's suspicion. His vision took in the wood stove, the wide black marble counter next to it, the cabinets above the counter that held mugs and goblets, and lastly the small bins with flour and spices without seeing any of them.

Gloin cleared his throat, and Gimli came out of his reverie to focus on his father.

"Gimli, we must talk."

Gimli nodded. He reckoned that much of what his father would have to say would be unpleasant.

"I've never said anything to you before about your...." there was a pause while Gloin gulped down some ale.

Gimli resisted the urge to bluntly state what his relationship to Gandalf was. He was not sure the wizard would appreciate such an outburst.

"...friendship with Gandalf but you need to understand that our customs and laws are there for our protection. As I stated to our King, what is politely ignored in Erebor might not be so disregarded elsewhere. I like Lord Elrond's people, but the fact remains that they consider us to be ugly and unclean. They would not accept one of us as a lover and I fear..." Gloin took another sip of his ale.

Gimli waited. He said nothing, although he perceived where his father was taking the conversation.

"It matters not what the wizard feels about this. The elves in Rivendell would think less of him if they knew about you. Despite what our King believes, I believe that you should avoid him. Best for him and you. No hurt feelings that way."

Gimli wondered how his father could make that last statement. Gloin clearly had no idea of the depth of Gimli's feelings for the wizard. The whole concept of going to Rivendell and what he might face there was a painful one.

Still, his father was right. The elves would probably feel there was dishonour in loving a dwarf. Besides, he dreaded the thought of being told by Gandalf that in Rivendell his elven lover was owed the rights to his bed.

Gimli nodded. "I will do as you say. I want you to understand something, though." His voice became firm. He would not quarrel with his father, but some things needed stated. "I am not ashamed of my relationship with Gandalf. Out of concern for his standing with the elves, many of whom he considers friends, and for my own private reasons, I will not approach the wizard. But neither will I apologise for the times we have shared or be embarrassed about them. Not for them or even for you, though I love you. If I had felt my actions were disgraceful, I would never have done them in the first place." Gimli stood up. "Whatever the circumstances in Rivendell, I will do what is best for him. Have you said all you want to say?"

Gloin was staring at him and slowly nodded.

Gimli put his hand on his father's shoulder. "I love you, father, and I know you are trying to spare me pain."

Gimli made his way to his own home, feeling even more burdened than he had at the start of the day.