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 13

Legolas sat in the talan in Lothlorien and stared out the window. His focus was not on the dawn that was leaving traces of glittering light across golden leaves. His entire attention was on the pain that pounded in his heart like a hard driving rain. Legolas wanted to deny what had occurred in Moria, but the agony in his body would not let him. He swayed slowly back and forth.

What happened to a wizard after he died? Legolas had never imagined that a wizard could die. Did Gandalf now reside in Mandos Halls? Was his spirit given to the Valar? Did that spirit return to Valinor or to Eru beyond the world?

If anyone knew it would most likely be Gimli or the Lady Galadriel. The Lady was already aware of far more of Legolas' heart than the elf wanted to dwell on. He had tried to hide nothing from her. In his sorrow, he had not cared what she was cognisant of.

Yet if he desired an answer concerning Gandalf's fate, he preferred to talk with Gimli. Gimli did not make him feel as if his spirit was being turned inside out and then examined for flaws.

Legolas had not tried to speak with Gimli privately since their arrival in Lothlorien. He had seen the dwarf only at one of the morning meals. Gimli had not attended the other repasts. Legolas envied the fact that the dwarf had the freedom to be left alone in his grief. Legolas had been given one day of solitude. He had sat in the talan unconcerned for the passing of time and trivial things such as meals. He had not been allowed to continue.

On the second day, two hours after the dawn, an elf had arrived at his door. He had informed Legolas that he had been assigned to escort the archer to each meal because, "We understand you are not familiar with the paths."

Legolas had not been fooled. He was being guided to the Fellowship at each repast because the Lady had decided that he had to eat. He did not argue, for his strength seemed consumed in the affliction of his heart.

Legolas wondered if the Lady had also requested that her people pay close attention to him. The second day had included a steady stream of visitors to express sympathy for all the Fellowship had gone through. This was beyond wearing on Legolas. He assumed that everyone realised that he loved Gandalf, which was an added sting to his heart. He did not like being so obvious. It angered him, too, because it was Gimli that had lost a lover, yet Legolas comprehended that many of these elves would never consider showing kindness to a dwarf.

The third day, Legolas had fled the talan as soon as light touched the sky and had wandered the paths seeking out the most secluded areas. He had not bothered with meals.

Today, he intended to flee again before anyone visited him. Yet he was aware that if he did not appear for at least one meal, someone would most likely hunt for him. So he planned on being at the late morning breakfast. Gimli was fortunate for no one disturbed him.

Legolas recalled the one repast at which he had seen Gimli. The dwarf had sat and stared sadly at his plate, hardly eating anything. Gimli had not even glanced at Legolas. The archer realised that this was due to the agony that Gimli was experiencing, but he could not help but remember how he had agreed when Haldir decided to blindfold Gimli. He recalled too his own protest when the dwarf had suggested that Legolas be blindfolded, also. He wondered if Gimli held the whole matter against him.

Sadly Legolas tried to understand why he had behaved so callously over the blindfold incident. He recalled the despair that had the Fellowship in its icy grip when they had arrived in Lothlorien. He and Gimli, though, had had special reason for the bereavement to dominate their reactions to everything. Legolas acknowledged, too, that the jealousy he felt concerning Gimli's relationship with Gandalf had also been there. He had never had the opportunity to know Gandalf very well, but Gimli had been allowed intimacies.

Now, as he thought about the incident, Legolas wished he could have bottled up all those emotions, and kept them close, concentrating instead on how Gimli was treated. Gimli was cherished by Gandalf, but Haldir and the other Lothlorien elves had not known that. He had.

Never again, Legolas vowed. Never again would Gimli stand alone against discrimination, for Legolas was determined that from now on he would prove to be true. The next person to give Gimli trouble would quickly discover that the dwarf had someone that stood with him.

Legolas did not probe his strong emotions over this issue. His heart felt far too tender to withstand any close scrutiny. He was certain that he had lost his heart in Moria, and yet there was still a part that remained. The Lady had inspected this hidden area, but all she had shown him was his memories of Gimli. Gimli laughing over a shared jest with Pippin. Gimli gazing up at Gandalf with adoration. Gimli singing to the hobbits with that rich, deep voice of his. Gimli in battle, and the revelation that the dwarf would not only be a good friend to have, but also someone who would be a perfect shield brother. He had been grateful more than once for the fact that Gimli was close by during the skirmishes in Moria. It amazed him how quickly they had learned to battle together as a team. There were few even among Legolas' own people who could do as well by his side.

Lastly, the Lady had brought to his attention to the day when Gimli had stayed awake through most of Legolas' watch. Legolas had commented that he did not mind travelling at night for he enjoyed the stars. Gimli had asked him to repeat a story about the stars that the archer had related to the hobbits earlier. A pleasant hour went by as Legolas narrated the tale. He had afterwards told Gimli several poems that his people loved, and then realising that perhaps the dwarf had no interest at all in stars had inquired, "Do you find all this boring?"

Gimli had replied, "No. If I was bored I'd have told you that dwarves did not listen to such things and gone to sleep."

Legolas recalled the shared laughter, and his timid request for a story of Gimli's people. He had been fearful of rejection, since he knew very well the famed reclusiveness of dwarves. He had believed that Gimli was going to refuse him because the dwarf had glanced at him and was silent at first. Then he had lowered his voice and recounted a fable that was lovely and sad.

It was about the creation of Durin, and how Mahal had been prepared to destroy his people. Gimli ended the account with, "It is said among my kind that there is a star missing for every dwarf that would have never existed were it not for Eru's mercy. To remind the world of the light that would have been lost."

Legolas had been moved to tears. Gimli had touched his arm, and had stated gently, "It is probably a myth only, Legolas, designed to encourage a race that sometimes wonders if their Creator remembers them."

Legolas had answered, "If it is not true, then it should be!"

As he sat in the gathering light of morning, Legolas realised that he and Gimli had already been friends before either of them had appreciated the fact. This meant that Gimli probably did not hold the episode with Haldir against him. Gimli had lost more than he had, but Legolas loved Gandalf, too. Gimli would understand his anguish far more than anyone else.

Legolas was sure an elf could not bear so huge a grief without fading. He could not grasp how dwarves managed to survive the rending of the spirit and heart. Gimli might not have been bonded to Gandalf in the same manner that an elf would be to his mate, but their spirits had been close. As joined as two could be without an elven bonding.

Taking a gasping breath, Legolas closed his eyes tightly, and his body trembled. How did Gimli stand the suffering? How could he even breathe for it? Legolas' own misery felt like a choking grip on his body. Legolas was certain that dying as elves did when they lost their bonded one was far more merciful than living with unrelenting pain.

A ray of sunlight touched Legolas' face, its warmth and light caressing as if to bring comfort to his heart. His eyes opened, and sighing, he stood up. His 'guide' would be arriving soon. It was time to depart.

When Gimli woke each morning, there was a brief second of peace before memory followed by bolts of sharp, crisp pain rushed through every fibre of his body. It would take almost an hour before he could gather the strength to move despite the dolour, and get up. Today, as he laid, heart racked with misery, his ears caught the whispered voices of the hobbits.

"You would get caught, Pip." Frodo was saying. "Legolas will notice if you sneak food onto his plate."

"He is not eating enough. We love Gandalf, but Legolas was in love with him and..." Pippin replied.

Merry interrupted. "Nonsense, Pip. Gimli is the one that loved Gandalf."

Gimli frowned. His love for Gandalf was the one thing that had not disappeared in Moria.

Before he could declare his feelings, Pippin declared, "It's not loved, Merry! Love does not die when the person does!"

His voice contained tearful woe, and Gimli sighed. He had heard Pippin cry late into the night ever since they had left Moria. Soft sobs that spoke clearly of the distress of all the Fellowship.

"I know that, cousin! I did not mean it that way. But you cannot distract an elf long enough so that Legolas will not notice if we add food to his plate. It is not like travelling with the group, since then moving food from pack to another is easy. None of them are very observant, except for Gandalf. If you are sitting in front of Legolas, though, he will surely catch you. Besides, he doesn't eat what is on his plate, anyway."

Gimli heard the implication, and sat up. "You've been adding food to Legolas' pack?"

Gimli addressed Merry, but it was Frodo who responded. "We need our warriors to be strong. Yet we noticed, a few days after we left Rivendell, that everyone was continually giving us their food. We understand why, and we only put back some of what was given us. Gandalf was aware of it, for he caught Merry doing so right after Hollin."

Gimli considered Frodo's reply. He imagined Gandalf had found the situation funny. It would fit his sense of humour. "Dwarves truly do not need to eat as much as hobbits do. Do not add anything to my pack!" He tried to sound stern, but the dejected faces prevented it, and instead he only came across as if he was grumbling. "Where are Aragorn and Boromir?"

"They left after first breakfast. Which you missed. Aragorn went walking and Boromir..." Merry shrugged. "I do not know where he is."

"We came back." Frodo stated.

"We thought we would have a second breakfast with you. Legolas was not at the first, either." Merry added.

Pippin spoke, "Legolas is not doing well, Gimli. I don't believe he eats when he is away from us. And he looks like he isn't sleeping. We are all miserable, but Legolas...I don't's just worse with him somehow. He likes you. Maybe you could talk to him?"

Gimli did not have any notion of what to do about Legolas. He feared the elf would die of his anguish over Gandalf. It was yet another thing that depressed Gimli's heart. Legolas loved Gandalf, too, yet he did not have even the memories that the dwarf treasured.

Still, Legolas had other elves to comfort him. Gimli had heeded the elf that had accompanied Legolas to the table last time. "He has his own here, Pip. They can help him far more than I could. Perhaps he will be at the meal." It was not enough, but it was all the answer Gimli could give. There was, he realised, no way he could avoid breakfast now without further distressing the hobbits, so he got up.

Legolas joined them at the table shortly after they sat down. Gimli glanced up long enough to note that Legolas was alone, and without the escort of the day before. He also observed the downcast eyes and the dejection in the voice that answered greetings.

Gimli watched as Legolas reached for an apricot. He slowly worked on his own food. Breakfast was the only meal where depression did not fully steal his appetite. Still, eating was more a chore than a pleasure. He was constantly thinking of which foods Gandalf had liked and disliked. His mind brought back memories of shared meals with his lover. Before Gimli's plate would be empty, he would be too sorrowful to want to finish eating.

Gimli's musings would continue with the thought that Gandalf was a spirit now. He had told Gimli he would not take a bodily form once he left Middle-earth. This meant that the wizard would no longer experience the pleasure of a tasty meal. Gimli would begin to add all the things that Gandalf enjoyed that he would no longer have. Each new item to the list was like another heavy rock weighing Gimli's heart down with fresh sadness.

Gimli tried to comfort himself with the knowledge that Gandalf could always choose a form if he missed such experiences, but the dwarf was not sure this was true. It was one thing to give up the body willingly, yet another to have it forcefully taken from one. Memories of Moria would flood his mind, drowning it with depression.

Through the misty haze of unhappiness, Gimli was aware that all these concerns were holding back, like an unstable bulwark, the truer emotions that threatened to tear his heart apart. The feelings of loss, the sense of guilt that berated his spirit, the heartache of missing his lover, the knowledge that he would not see the wizard until he arrived in Mandos Halls, and worse that never again would they touch and love. He could not dwell on it, for it seemed beyond enduring.

Such ideas would haunt his dreams and wake him up, stealing away the oblivion of sleep, replacing it with the strangling woe of bereavement.

The only time Gimli's ponderings wandered from Gandalf was when he thought of Oin, Balin, and the dwarves. This alone was a blow that Gimli believed would take him years to recover from. The affliction his father would feel when he received the news nagged at Gimli, too. How Gimli wished he could protect his parent from the misery of losing his only sibling!

Gimli attempted to remind himself that he still had many loved ones to be grateful for. As the dwarf reflected that they would aid his father as he mourned, Gimli's gaze fell on Legolas. The elf was poking at a piece of apricot with his fork. He appeared to be close to tears, and there was a despondent decline to his shoulders. Gimli studied Legolas' plate. A thin piece of bread with a tiny nibble taken from it, a small cube of cheese untouched, and some slices of apricot, maybe half eaten, were all that adorned the elf's dish.

Gimli frowned. Legolas was, as far as Gimli knew, a light eater, but surely elves needed more than that to survive. The hobbits were right to be concerned. Gandalf's words about elves dying from unrequited love came again to Gimli, as did a story he had read in the book Gandalf had given him.

Gimli tried to remember. Was it Luthien? No, that was another story, Gimli thought, although he was uncertain. It had been about an elf wasting away from grief. Gimli's focus came back to Legolas' uneaten cheese, and panic suddenly claimed the dwarf. His fork clattered to the table. The sudden comprehension that he considered Legolas a good friend hit him forcefully. He did not want to lose the elf!

Memories made their way swiftly to the surface of Gimli's mind. Running from Moria. Wanting to throw himself on the ground and never get up again. Not caring if the orcs killed him. Every time he felt he really would give up and let the hurting win, there had been a firm touch on his elbow, and a soft, "We must go on, Gimli, saes."

Now he marvelled that Legolas had somehow found the will to help him despite the elf's own wretchedness. The dwarf felt a small hand on his arm, and heard Pippin's anxious voice, "Are you all right, Gimli?"

Gimli glanced down at the hobbit's worried face. "Aye. Just not hungry."

Legolas watched as Gimli left the table and went and sat under a tree. He looked at Gimli's plate, which still contained plenty of food. He noted the hobbits gazing after the dwarf. Catching Pippin's attention, Legolas asked, "Does he sit there most of the day?"

Pippin replied, "There or in the tent."

Legolas glanced back at Gimli. The dwarf had buried his head into his hands. If Gandalf had been here, Gimli would be spending his days seeing the beauty of Lothlorien and the nights in his lover's arms. Gandalf would not want his dwarf just sitting there lamenting. Making a quick decision, he said, "If the four of you would prepare us a lunch, I will see if I can get Gimli to go walking with me today."

Astonishment was reflected on his friends' faces, but Merry quickly said, "We will!"

Getting up, Legolas walked over to Gimli. When the dwarf peered up at him, he said, "I apologise for the incident concerning the blindfold. I failed once again in being understanding and fair. Yet I promise you now that the next person that has a dissention with you will quickly discover that they have one with me, too. You shall not stand alone."

Gimli stared at Legolas, trying to understand this declaration. "I do not blame you for the problems we had entering Lothlorien. We were both overwhelmed by grief. I cannot accept your vow, for I would take nothing from you that was given out of guilt."

Legolas crouched down so that his face was on a level with Gimli's. He searched dark eyes tinted with sorrow, and was not surprised to discover no blame there. "Then will you accept it for friendship's sake?"

Gimli gazed into eyes of darkened blue, and said, "Aye, I will."

"I have spent a day here walking the trails. I found some peaceful spots. I was lonely, though. Would you come with me today?"

"Aye." Gimli said again, slowly standing up.

Gimli was oblivious to the paths Legolas chose. He was far too occupied with being irate. It seemed that after every two steps they took, they would be halted by some elf wanting to talk to Legolas. Legolas would introduce him to the person, but it did not make a difference to Gimli. They were all the same to him. Far too tall, mostly silver haired, very annoying and often unable to speak much in the Common Tongue, which meant the dwarf was left out of the conversation.

Legolas sensed Gimli's rising ire, but he was at a loss as to the reason for it. He could understand being aggravated because many of these people did not speak the common language. Gimli had probably known two languages since he was a toddler. Still, irritation was one thing, fury was another. And Gimli was clearly angry.

The next time someone stopped them, Legolas rested his hand on Gimli's shoulder. He felt the slight ease of tension and saw Gimli glance up at him. Legolas kept his hand on Gimli throughout the brief conversation. The archer noted the other elf's observation of his action and the disapproving frown, but that only prompted Legolas to shift so that he was standing even closer to Gimli.

After the elf had left, and they had continued on Gimli said, "He didn't like that much. I reckon they feel you should keep company with your own people."

Legolas looked over at Gimli. There was wrath and another emotion in the dwarf's speech. A sentiment that the elf had become all too familiar with since the start of the Quest. Gimli does not like the other elves speaking to me in what is a private conversation for the most part because he can not understand what is said. It makes him feel possessive over me, Legolas realised. I've been jealous over Gimli's relationship with Gandalf, but have never felt such over him. The second the thought was finished, a vivid image of Gimli and Galadriel was formed. The instant attraction had unsettled him, and now he knew why. I am jealous of her!

This was such a startling concept that Legolas was still struggling with it when they were halted yet again. This time Legolas moved closer to Gimli quickly, and again placed his hand on the dwarf's shoulder. Legolas was acutely aware of the Lorien elf's censuring look in response. Legolas did not care, since Gimli's wrath appeared to be lessening.

As soon as the other elf had departed, Legolas said, "We will be on a quieter path shortly. I do not enjoy the frequent interruptions either. They all seem very willing to aid me in recovering, but I am not so sure that it is even possible. Nor do I like their attitude. They would not be so openly critical if you were with Gandalf."

Compassion began to cool the anger Gimli was experiencing. The next trail Legolas selected was quiet and secluded. Trees grew closely on each side, and at each branching of pathways, Legolas chose the one that took them farther into the woods. Gimli spent the time trying to decide why he felt such possessiveness concerning Legolas. It was plain that his feelings for the elf went far deeper than he had believed. He was very uncomfortable with the notion. It made him feel disloyal to Gandalf.

Gimli had arrived at no solution beyond an uneasy ache in his heart when Legolas brought them to a small glade that was enclosed on two sides by trees and a stream on the third. It had a flat area covered with white and yellow flowers, and then the land dipped in a slope that ended with the creek. The quiet sound of water over rocks filled Gimli's ears, reminding the dwarf of the mountain streams of his home. Giving Legolas a thankful glance, Gimli dashed forward to the water. Finding a spot that was mossy and looked comfortable, Gimli settled down to listen to the watery rhythm.

Gimli had sat for a while before he glanced around for Legolas. The elf was sitting against a tree close by. "Thank you, friend. I thought nothing could bring me any comfort, but being here does. I can close my eyes and be home again, before all this trouble started."

"I find the water soothing also, and I'm relieved to be with someone who can truly understand my despair. You're the only one that can comprehend what I feel." The last statement was said very quietly, but Gimli heard him. " Perhaps you feel the same about me. I know there is nothing that can ease the hardship, but if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."

Gimli studied Legolas. Gimli had been Gandalf's lover, but Legolas carried the wizard in his heart, too. They shared that with each other along with a friendship that was both part of the devotion to Gandalf and separate from it. "Aye." He swallowed and then began. "The last time I was by a stream, it was a bigger one in Hollin. I was with him and happy, despite all the threats we faced." Gimli wrapped his arms around himself. His voice trembled as he said, "I miss him so much."

Legolas scooted a bit closer and replied, "I am sorry, Gimli." He did not mention how much he missed the wizard and how he longed to hear Gandalf's laughter again, out of fear that Gimli would resent hearing another pining for his lover.

Gimli observed the bent head, and he edged nearer to Legolas. "It is all right. I know you miss him, too. He lives still in your heart, as he does in mine."

Softly Legolas answered, "How long have you known?"

"Since shortly after Hollin." Before Legolas could start trying to guess Gimli's feelings on the matter and begin to fret, the dwarf added, "I cannot say I liked it very much, but I do not blame you."

"I tried to fight it, but I was unsuccessful."

"Hearts cannot be commanded, Legolas. I fear they go as they will regardless of the mind's desires."

Gimli's words were stated as if he was speaking more to himself than to Legolas, and the elf wondered what the dwarf was thinking about.

Gimli did not continue with the subject. Instead he said, "They charge my kin for all the Balrog did and see not the calamity it was for my people. Now that burden has been made real for me, and what has happened is my fault."

Legolas frowned. "Your fault? How could you be responsible for any of this?"

"I heard Aragorn's warning, yet I encouraged Gandalf and supported him and..." Gimli's words were blocked by a restrained sob.

Moving closer to the dwarf, Legolas answered, "Gimli, it is not your fault! Think for a moment, my friend, of how you'd feel right now if you'd spent the last days together in strife! That would be beyond bearing! And you know he would have gone through Moria anyway. There was no other viable option. Your loyalty should not be held to account as if it was shameful. I paid no attention to Aragorn's words, for I believed that nothing could ever happen to him."

The idea of arguing with Gandalf over the wizard's choices was distasteful to Gimli, and he realised that Legolas was right: it would have been truly horrible to have spent their last time together upset at each other. Gimli had held this emotion of guilt inside closely, but he was relieved that he had divulged it to Legolas.

Shifting nearer to Legolas, their hips now touching, Gimli glanced up, and said, "You give my heart peace."

Gimli's disclosure of something that must not have been easy to reveal helped Legolas to inquire about what was troubling him. "Gimli, where is Gandalf now?"

Gimli understood what Legolas was asking. He was uncertain how to answer. He had never shared anything the wizard had told him concerning Gandalf's true identity. Gimli gazed into saddened blue eyes, and thought, He needs to know.

"It was usually my death we talked about, because I am a mortal." He took a deep breath, and Legolas' fingers squeezed his shoulder. "Only once did we discuss the possibility of his...of..."

Legolas slid his arm around the dwarf.

Gimli rested his head on Legolas' shoulder. Gimli went on, "His spirit would have gone to the Valar. He is in Valinor. And, Legolas, he told me that he would not take a body again once he was back in Valinor, and secretly I was glad for I hated the thought of another touching him. upsets me so much! How he loved so many simple pleasures like eating and smoking! And it is all gone! Gone!"

Legolas tightened his hold on Gimli. Tears came to his eyes. There was nothing to answer to this so he just held Gimli close. Gently he said, "It has to be his choice. Though well I realise that does not comfort. Do not feel remorse over your jealousy, Gimli. The emotion is normal between devoted lovers."

Gimli turned his head into Legolas' chest, feeling the archer draw him even closer into an embrace. Tearfully the dwarf muttered, "How difficult it will be for my father that his only sibling is no more. I would do much to shield him from the heartache! Years it will take before I recover from the loss of my Uncle, but losing Gandalf will never be mended. I shall never hold him again! I want him back!"

Gimli burst into tears, and clung to Legolas. Time went by, but all Gimli was aware of was his own sorrow and the heaving of Legolas' chest as the elf cried with him.