Boundaries Crossed

by Sarah

Pairing: Gandalf/Gimli

Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: Tolkien owns them. I make no money on my story. I claim only the original characters and ideas.

Feedback: Please.

Warnings: Slash. Sex between two males.

Archiving: Meddling in the Affairs of Wizards. Others please ask. Beta work and lovely suggestions: Nefertiti. Thank you very much! Any mistakes left are mine.

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


Chapter 12

A story repeated itself in Gimli's mind. It told of a dwarf that had lost a gold coin. In a frenzied effort to find it, he upturned far more valuable treasures and left his home in a messy ruin. Gimli's people always laughed when the tale was recounted for they were certain that no dwarf would be so foolish as to scatter priceless gems in a search for a single gold coin. Yet the account was very ancient. So old that many believed that Mahal himself had given it to Durin as a caution against letting greed rule a person's actions.

Gimli was not having trouble with greed. The endeavour to be a source of morale for the entire Fellowship in Moria was reminding him of the story, though. Like the dwarf in the narrative, he was scurrying all over the place. Only in his case it was a busied attempt to encourage everyone. He was beginning to feel like a rope pulled too far, causing it to fray. And in truth, he did not like Moria, either. His worry over Balin and the other dwarves increased with every hour.

Still, Gimli sang to the hobbits, and tried to get Boromir's mind off whatever his imagination created. Gimli had learned that if he visited Boromir sometime during each hour and spoke a few words of cheer, the man was fine. But if he left Boromir to his own ponderings for too long, the man would have anxious questions to ask and would call Gimli apart from the group to get answers. Boromir never bothered the rest of the Fellowship with his enquiries, and the dwarf was glad for that. The fears of cave-ins, pits that might suddenly open under one's feet, snakes, and other things were best not shared.

Aragorn walked in a brooding silence, and that bothered Gimli immensely. After the man's warning to Gandalf during the debate over whether to go through Moria, the dwarf fretted over his lover's safety. He could not help but wonder if Aragorn was silent due to seeing some horrific vision of the future that none of the rest of them could perceive.

Gandalf was often calling Gimli to the front to be with him, and this was slightly discouraging. Gimli felt that he should be helping the wizard, but he was positive that he was not. He was not familiar with the paths of Moria. It did, however, temporarily take his mind off fears for his people that were supposed to be here. They should have been found by now.

Despite being certain that he was not aiding the wizard, Gimli was not comfortable with being far from Gandalf, either. Every time Gimli left Gandalf's side his concern over the wizard rose. He would have liked to remain close to his lover just in case some danger threatened the group.

Looking up at Gandalf, Gimli said in a whisper, "I should go talk to Legolas."

Gandalf nodded. He was grateful for Gimli's constant effort to keep the group untroubled. He needed to concentrate on detecting the correct routes. He was aware that the dwarf felt frazzled, but he knew he could rely on Gimli. The steady loyalty he had always cherished before was loved more than ever. He appreciated that Gimli was willing to aid Legolas, too. Despite the occasional snappish declarations between the two, they did seem to be forming a friendship.

Gandalf recalled one day right before they had attempted to cross the mountain. He had been sitting talking to the archer. Legolas had been reclining on one side of him and Pippin on the other. Gimli approached them and the elf had instantly moved, leaving the place closest to the Istar for the dwarf. Gandalf had known that Legolas was aware of his relationship with Gimli.

Gimli had taken the first guard duty that day. Gandalf had sat next to him and debated how to bring the subject up.

Before he could decide, Gimli had very quietly said, "Legolas loves you. It is in every look he gives you. The love and longing are both clearly there. He addresses you differently from the rest of us, too." Gimli had asserted his opinions with a trace of aggravation and a huge amount of "but you are mine" in his tone.

Gandalf had wrapped an arm around the dwarf and replied, "What you feel is true, but, my lover, my heart will always remain with you. I know it is bothersome, but please if you can find it within you, be gentle to him. You have my devotion and faithfulness; he has nothing. And, Gimli, elves can die from unrequited..."

The wizard had been startled when Gimli had suddenly stood up, scattering the blankets, and still keeping his voice low hissed, "He is going to die?"

Gandalf had answered, "I hope not! His emotions have not had a chance to grow that deeply yet. I certainly have not encouraged him! Sit down, my dear dwarf. You have removed the blankets from both us, and the wind is bitter."

Gimli settled in next to the Istar, putting the blankets back around them, and said fearfully, "So you don't think..." He did not say more. He gazed up at the wizard and waited.

"My words were that they can die. I believe if we both permit him to keep his dignity and do not make it worse by calling attention to it, he will be fine. I've seen no signs that he is fading. Glance over there at him, Gimli. The only one of us not huddled under a blanket. If he was in danger, he would feel the cold."

Gandalf had searched his mind for more indicators that an elf was fading, but it was not something he was familiar with. He could only recall that one. "I think he is managing well enough and should recover in time. I just believe it is very important not to make it more difficult for him."

It did bring the Istar sorrow that Legolas clearly loved him and hurt over it. He admired the way the elf was good-natured through every hardship despite his feelings. Except when we are all suffering from the mountain's cold and he must jest. Gandalf thought. That is a little too much cheerfulness.

Now, as he walked with the inky darkness of Moria pressing against him, Gandalf was happy that Gimli had allowed Legolas his pride. The dwarf had not once mentioned it to Legolas or given any indication that he was aware of the elf's feelings.

Dropping back to where Legolas was, Gimli asked, "All right?"

Legolas nodded, but he said, "How do you know when to come talk to me?"

"You are usually so quiet that no one could detect your presence. When the caverns begin to bother you, you start inspecting your weapons, and I hear you."

"It is not like my home at all. How I long for the lamps you sang about!"

"Aye. I would like that myself." Gimli glanced up at Legolas. He regretted his comment at the doors of Moria, but he could not apologize. He could hardly say, "I am sorry. I should not hold you responsible for your people's failings." That would not do at all and might earn him another admonishment from Gandalf. He greatly hoped to avoid that.

Gimli was determined, though, to start viewing Legolas as an individual and not just as an elf. As a being separate from his people, Legolas himself was a good person. Gimli had learned much about the elf since the start of the Quest. He had discovered that the reserve he first thought was due to an attitude of superiority was actually just a part of a quiet, serene nature. Gimli could not say that Legolas treated anyone, the dwarf included, with an arrogant attitude.

The hobbits loved Legolas, and Gimli could understand why. The archer was kind and patient. Not once had he got irritated by their questions, and he never complained about hunting for food or any other chore assigned to him. He often took one of the hobbit's guard duties, asserting that as an elf he did not need or want the sleep. Gimli suspected that Legolas was not aware that the dwarf knew he did this. Legolas was humble and did not promote himself.

Gimli no longer minded Legolas' chattering, either. He had noticed that the hobbits found solace in Legolas' singing and his frequent and apparently carefree moods. Gimli had conversed enough with Legolas to know the elf thought deeply on matters, so the dwarf realised that the warrior had plenty of worries; he just kept them to himself.

All in all, a person that one would be glad to call a friend. Gimli found to his surprise that he believed Legolas would respect him and consider him one if he gave the elf the opportunity. If, he thought ruefully, I can constrain my blasted tongue and not hold him or his people accountable for affairs that I would not want placed on the shoulders on my own kin.

Legolas was making quick, nervous glances around the passageway.

Gimli jerked himself from his reflections and began searching for something to get Legolas' concentration off the darkness. Gimli could hear the hobbits whispering anxiously among themselves behind him. He wished Lord Elrond had sent a host of dwarves with the group, for he could not be in several places at once. He reckoned that he could tell the hobbits a story. This reflection reminded him of another thing he liked about Legolas. The elf was very open, quite unlike his own more private nature. An idea sprang forth, a way to help Legolas and the hobbits, too. "Legolas, I realise you are not at ease here, but I need you to do me a favour. I am not comfortable relating the tales of my people, but yours often share their stories, do they not?"

"Yes, we are not as secretive as dwarves. No offence intended."

"None taken. What I need you to do is to be a storyteller to the hobbits. Keep their minds off the darkness, even if your own cannot forget it."

Gimli felt Legolas' eyes on him for several seconds before the elf replied, "That would be a most wise course. Thank you."

Gimli nodded, "First...Legolas, I am sorry for my hasty words at the gates. It was unkind of me. Moria makes me feel defensive, and greatly do I fear for Balin and his people. My father's brother went with Balin. We were close, and I dread to imagine..." his voice trailed off. He did not mention the persistent disquiet in his spirit over Gandalf's safety. That would only make Legolas' own misgivings about Moria stronger and give him another reason to be upset.

"I did not know you had actual kin here. You often use the term to refer to any of your race. Still, I should have been more understanding. How different we are, Gimli, yet how alike when it comes to not being capable of keeping careless thoughts to ourselves! I hold no grudges, and as you have none, all is well."

Gimli smiled. "Aye." He did not have time to say more, for Gandalf called his name.

When he arrived back, the wizard said, "If I remember correctly, we should be at an intersection soon. I will want your ideas on the direction to take."

They came to the branching of pathways. Gandalf stood thinking and then said, "Gimli, your opinion?"

"The left way has a faint smell of dank water. The right is better. It is receiving fresh air from somewhere, but I would deem that it is a far-off opening someplace. The air seems freshest straight ahead but..." Gimli sighed. He was the dwarf, and he should be able to give good advice, but his assessment was not even logical.

"Yes?"

Gimli shrugged. "I do not like the feel of it."

"Good! We are agreed."

A huge sense of relief came to Gimli. He had, at least, helped confirm a decision when his own opinion concurred with Gandalf's view. The fact that his assessment had been one that agreed with Gandalf's gave Gimli confidence and encouragement.

Legolas sat silently in a corner of the cave as the Fellowship rested. Gandalf was whispering something to Gimli, and briefly the elf focused on them. Then, sighing, he turned away. He had not been very successful in preventing his heart from falling deeply in love with the wizard. He loved Gandalf's humour; he enjoyed joking with him and talking to the Istar. He loved Gandalf, and it was time to accept that. He comprehended that he would never be loved in return, but this, too, he would deal with. His heart grieved over it, and there were moments when he envied Gimli his place at the wizard's side and in Gandalf's heart.

Yet he saw very clearly why Gandalf would love Gimli so much. How many trips had Gimli made just to soothe an apprehensive elf? It certainly had not taken the dwarf long to discover when Legolas felt distressed.

How often had Gimli reassured Boromir? The dwarf had somehow identified when to talk to Boromir, too, but Legolas could not discern what signs Gimli was descrying. He did know that the man's fretting had ceased a few hours after they had been in the mines and that Gimli appeared to be responsible for it.

Gimli had said Moria made him feel defensive, yet he seemed to be keeping that emotion in check. When Boromir had called the dwarf aside to ask if there were holes in the roof that things might fall from, Gimli had heard the fear in the man's voice and answered it with calming words of how dwarves would tunnel to go upwards. They did not make holes to climb up from one level to another.

Legolas had heard the whispered words between the two, but he recalled no defensiveness in Gimli's tone. When the dwarf had every reason to be vexed, he had chosen instead to perceive Boromir's anxiety every time the man had questioned him.

Perhaps, Legolas guessed, the dwarf's insight came from so many years in Gandalf's presence. Or maybe it was something the dwarf was born possessing and had developed over his lifetime. Whatever its origin, the desire to care for others had to have been there, or Gimli would not go through the effort it must take to be so patient when he is very troubled over Balin and the other dwarves, Legolas concluded.

Gimli's understanding aided the entire Fellowship. And makes me like him even though I feel jealous of him on occasion, Legolas realised. He wondered exactly how old Gimli was. Young still, the elf guessed.

Then there were the many times Gimli had tried to take the hobbits' fears from them by talking to them. Legolas was aware that Gimli's assigning the hobbits' ease to him had been designed not just to aid them but him also.

The dwarf was devoted to Gandalf, and that by itself Legolas believed was of great worth. Gandalf liked compassion in people, and Gimli had that trait in abundance. Gimli encouraged others and his own spirit was not easily disheartened. He's sensitive, too, Legolas decided. Gimli never disturbed the wizard when Gandalf was deep in thought.

Legolas remembered Gimli's words and his own reply at the doors of Moria. He did not really care whose fault it was that the good will between dwarves and elves waned. He just resolved that it would not be he that caused dissention. Gimli would be a good friend, and he hoped that the dwarf viewed him in the same fashion.

Legolas glanced over at Gandalf. The wizard was keeping guard. Gimli was putting a blanket around the wizard's shoulders, his touch a gentle caress. Gandalf was contemplating the right passages to take, but he smiled at the dwarf. Legolas knew what would happen next. He had seen it often since he had started to observe the two. They would talk quietly for a time, and then Gimli would lie close to the wizard.

Legolas tried to ignore them. Normally, he moved far enough away that, while he could distinguish the tone of their voices, he could not grasp the words. He might desire to rest at a distance where he could not hear them, but in the limited space of the cave, it was impossible to do so. He caught Gandalf's "I love you" and listened while the wizard described some of the qualities he appreciated in the dwarf.

Eventually, Gandalf's turn to sleep would arrive. The Istar would move near to Gimli. And sometime in the night, Gandalf's hand would come to rest in Gimli's. Then Gimli would enclose his lover's hand, sheltering it within his broad fingers. They would do all this without ever waking, and Legolas' heart would ache with the desire to be so loved.

His heart was not the only thing to throb with agony. His treacherous deliberations would show in vivid detail the two of them kissing, and his body would ache along with his heart. Gimli's tender covering of Gandalf's hand brought thoughts of other ways the dwarf sheltered the wizard's body.

Legolas wondered if they realised how their voices changed when they conversed privately at night. Gimli's would deepen and Gandalf's would become tender. Sometimes even in his repose, he could discern them and their voices would blend together in harmony. He could not help but imagine how delightful that harmony must be in bed. He already knew how erotic they looked together.

Often as Legolas tried to sleep, his musings would wander and he would see himself with Gandalf, his fingers stroking the Istar's silky white hair, his body resting within the wizard's embrace. Legolas would wrench his mind away from his fantasies, but it was not always soon enough to prevent an arousal and a depressed heart to accompany it.

Lately, Legolas' wishful thinking had taken on a new aspect that disturbed him. The vision would commence with him in the wizard's arms, the elf's fingers straying from the soft hair to the beard to tenderly caress, and then Legolas' imaginings would shift. His fancies seemed to take heights that he had never known he could reach.

In his dreaming, Legolas' fingers would ensconce themselves deep within the wizard's delightful silver beard. His digits would be stretching luxuriously in the soft white strands when auburn would become mingled with the silver. Legolas' fantasising would continue on as if nothing unusual had occurred. It would be Gimli holding him closely, while Gandalf's tongue plundered his mouth. Legolas' fingers would be merging the two beards, twining in and out of them, his body humming with ecstasy.

Then there would always be the sudden painful jar back to reality, usually brought about by some member of the Fellowship stirring in their sleep or a change in the watch. His body would cry with frustration, and his heart felt defeated.

Legolas inferred that Gimli was intruding into his unrestrained fantasies because the dwarf was such a part of the wizard. Gimli was always close by the Istar. The archer could not prevent himself from resenting Gimli's intrusion into his most private thoughts. Legolas had snapped at Gimli when the dwarf came to tell him it was his turn to watch. He had quickly apologised, feeling disgusted at himself for not being able to control his emotions better.

All these ponderings travelled through Legolas' reflections as he sat, his back against the cave's wall. Legolas put his head on his knees and sighed softly. He was weary of the fight. His heart could love as it would, and he would suffer the consequences, but the continual arguing with his feelings was over. He could not stop loving Gandalf. He peered at the two of them. Even the way they regarded each other conveyed deep love and a long standing intimacy.

Gandalf sighed. He simply could not remember the route he had taken out of Moria last time. He did recall one thing, although he supposed Gimli believed he was too occupied with trying to think of a way out of the caverns to notice the date. Gimli was sitting silently next to him. The wizard had no choice but to dwell on the paths, but he intended to spend a little time with his lover. "Gimli, come a little closer."

The dwarf scooted over so their bodies touched. He put an arm around the wizard. Gimli kept quiet about his dread over Aragorn's caution to the Istar. Gandalf had enough to deal with. He did not need a jittery dwarf added to his troubles.

The rest of the fellowship was sleeping, but Gandalf kept his voice very low, "I am aware of the date, Gimli."

"Aye, seventy years now. I am honoured to have been your lover for so long and to be loved by you."

Gandalf smiled. His fingers found Gimli's beard for a swift, pleasurable touch. "I love you. Your heart has no shadow, and you are a dwarf of great integrity. I have always prized your steadfastness, but now more than ever do I treasure it. Your courage strengthens my spirit. When we are in Lothlorien, we will celebrate our anniversary, and I shall share more memories with you."

Gandalf had one revelation that he was saving for Lothlorien. He intended to share the name he had in his youth with his lover there. Names were important to dwarves, and Gandalf wanted to give this as a special gift of his love for Gimli.

"Aye." Gimli desired that time more than anything else. He was certain that Gandalf was his one and did not understand why his heart did not have those feelings of knowing that Gloin had assured him it would. Gimli fervently hoped that being with Gandalf so much and the wizard's disclosures would cause his heart to finally recognise the Istar as the dwarf's one. Perhaps that would happen in Lothlorien.