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 14

The early afternoon sun in his eyes woke Legolas. For a few minutes, he felt at peace. He was cradled against the warm comfort of firm flesh, the soothing rhythm of a beating heart provided a sense of rightness before the reality of the situation arrived. He was nestled in Gimli's arms, for they had cried so much that weariness had overcome both of them, and they had fallen asleep.

Legolas wished he could stay where he was, because all the misfortune he had suffered seemed held at bay while he rested in Gimli's embrace. The dwarf was stirring, though, and Legolas knew he could not let Gimli wake up thus entwined and perhaps attribute the sensation to Gandalf's presence, experiencing fresh longing for his lost lover. Legolas did not wish to be the cause of the pain that would follow when the mistake was realised.

"Gimli, mellon nín, you need to wake up." Legolas shifted slightly to put a small distance between them, but he did not move completely away. He watched as dark eyes opened and the melancholy entered as memory came. Tenderly he rubbed the dwarf's shoulder.

Gimli sighed. He had been dreaming of being a child again, safe and happy in his parents' home. He was quite comfortable with Legolas up against him, and the elf seemed as reluctant to move as he was. He eased sideways so he could look into the archer's eyes. Still too sleepy to think coherently, Gimli said the first thing that came to mind, "When I was very young, my father brought into the house some egg shells that a robin left behind. Your eyes are exactly that colour. And I do not like all the elves here that are so friendly to you!"

The dwarf bit his tongue. What was it about Legolas that made him blurt things out with no thought of the consequences? His statement was the truth, but it did not need to be spoken. Gimli expected Legolas to pull away from him, but instead the elf rested his chin on Gimli's shoulder and said, "As we are declaring things that we regret stating seconds later: I will say that you have beautiful eyes and that your instant love of the Lady makes me feel..." He paused, losing the courage to continue.

Gimli nodded. "Aye. I understand. You feel what I do when every elf in the place wants to speak to you. The question is: what are we going to do about it?"

Legolas placed his head on Gimli's chest now. "I do not have the strength to fight my heart once more."

"Perhaps it is only grief that plagues both of us. We are drawn to each other by a common repining for Gandalf."

Legolas considered this statement. Slowly he said, "I suppose that could be true." Legolas did not add that it was also a possibility that he wanted to be loved so much that he was deluding himself to think that his heart felt something that was not really there. Legolas did not believe that either theory was true, but he was unsure how to express his conclusions to Gimli.

"I feel right and content here." He nuzzled Gimli's chest to show his point. "I care deeply for you, and I like being with you. My heart feels at peace with you. I comprehend that this isn't love, Gimli, but I believe it could easily become love. We might be drawn together because of a shared sorrow, but I don't think it is the only reason I care for you. It is just a small facet of my own emotions for you, not the entirety of it."

Taking a deep breath, Legolas rushed on, "If your only attraction to me was due to a need for comfort, I doubt you would continue to let me rest so closely."

Gimli was suddenly made even more aware of their position. Legolas' head was on his chest, and the elf had one arm wrapped around him. The archer had a leg pressed against him and had curled another around Gimli's feet. Gimli had one hand on Legolas' back and the other on the archer's arm.

All that Legolas had stated was true. Gimli glanced past the blue eyes to the blonde hair scattered across his chest and a new torment pricked at his heart. Gently he said, "You should not love me, for I am a mortal, and I do not want to love again until I find my one. Something I do not believe will happen."

Legolas tensed as confusion reigned in his mind. "Gimli, you shall be annoyed with me but I..." He listened to the steady dwarven heartbeat for a second. "I saw the two of you in Hollin going back to the Fellowship. Kissing. I did not linger, but for a moment I did watch. You were so beautiful together, and there was such love expressed between the two of you."

Gimli imagined that he should be angry, but instead he felt proud and sorrowful. Legolas had seen the love between him and Gandalf. Never again would that love be displayed intimately.

Legolas propped himself up so he could stare into Gimli's eyes. Sensing no rage from Gimli, he went on, "I do not understand how you can say he is not your one because..."

Gimli did not hear the rest of the sentence. The world was lost to him. All he discerned was the lovely azure eyes and golden hair around his face and the words "your one". It was as if he had been standing on a rock, sure of his footing, and suddenly the ground beneath him vanished. His throat constricted as his heart seemed to find permanent residence within it.

Gimli knew!

He knew as well as he was cognisant of the types of gems that had passed through his hands during his life. He was as sure of it as he was certain of his own name.

Legolas paused in his speaking. Gimli did not appear to be listening to him. The dwarf was staring at him as if he no longer recognised him. "Gimli?"

When the dwarf did not answer, alarm raced through Legolas. "Gimli, if I've said something that..."

The upset in Legolas' voice brought Gimli back to the world. "I...It is all right, Legolas. I need to sit up." He eased the archer out of his arms and sat up. Putting his head on knees, Gimli took several gasping breathes.

A sense of panic was overcoming Legolas. "Gimli, should I go find Aragorn?"

Gimli peeked over at Legolas. "Truly, I am well." If Legolas had been a dwarf, perhaps the archer would know, too, and Gimli would be seeing recognition instead of anxiety in the blue eyes studying him. Maybe, though, it was better this way. They needed time, and Gimli wanted to give his friend the knowledge only when it could be imparted with a sense of its specialness.

He had much to think about, but he perceived that what was done here and now was of utmost importance. Gimli was aware, too, that he had some apprehension over informing Legolas. Gimli did not desire Legolas to base the decisions concerning their relationship solely on his importance to the dwarf.

Gimli reached out and touched Legolas' arm. "I love Gandalf so much, and this parting will forever hurt, but he was not my one. We talked about it and believed it was because we were separated so often. He thought, and I agreed, that part of it was due to the fact that there was so much about himself that he could not reveal to me. Now I wonder if it was simply because there is another who is my one."

Legolas had said that his heart experienced peace with Gimli. Gimli understood. He not only felt his heart had found peace, but there was a settled-at-home emotion that resided there now. There was an acknowledgement in his spirit that for the rest of his life he would belong to Legolas. The deep, abiding love he had for Gandalf was unchanged, but these sensations were new.

Legolas scrutinised Gimli. Something had changed between them, but he was unsure what it was. He could sense it in the way Gimli was addressing him and looking at him. There was a quality to it that could, Legolas thought, be called tenderness or even affection. Certainly he could not recall Gimli ever speaking to him in such a fashion before. The touch on his arm could be described as a gentle caress given to a beloved one.

Gimli's gaze fell on the basket the hobbits had sent with them. He was not hungry, for sorrow still overflowed from his heart like a cup that was far too full, but Legolas needed to eat. "Legolas, I doubt you have much of an appetite, but will you share a meal with me?"

"I will try."

Gimli opened the hamper and looked inside. "Tell me what you'd like." He began calling out items.

Once they were settled with food between them, Gimli said, "I was wrong to suggest that perhaps your feelings are due only to grief. I do feel that we are going to have to be careful, or we will be mistaking sorrow and need for comfort for love."

He paused to gain the will power to continue. Knowing that Legolas was his one made him want to rein in his impulses and not do anything that would risk a divide between them. He had already lost so much and could not stand the notion that this too would be taken from him. Gimli resisted the urge to grab Legolas and keep him close. Legolas was his one, and he had to do what was best for the elf. "Legolas, do you want us to try avoiding each other? I do not wish this, but will you be able to survive my death if our hearts love? For surely my life span must seem short to you."

Legolas sighed. "I will not survive losing a love that has been permitted to grow. I hate what this will do to my family, for one day they will grieve as I do now. This is why I do not understand how Gandalf could not be your one. Clearly, things are different for dwarves than they are for elves. We usually love only once, and when we do it is strong and lasts forever. And I do..." He stopped. He did not want to cause Gimli more pain.

Gimli dipped some bread in a jar of honey and offered it to his friend. "I can guess what you are going to say. And I think you should state it. It's essential that we are honest about our feelings. So go on if you can."

Even as Gimli spoke the words, he knew he would have to follow his own advice. He was not sure how to tell Legolas that the archer was his one, but somehow before they left this glade he would find the words. Besides, there were plenty of elves in Lothlorien that would be willing to comfort Legolas if Gimli did not. It was best to have it declared before they parted again.

Legolas was listening to him, but the archer had not accepted the morsel, so Gimli brought it up to the elf's mouth, where lips as soft as swan's down brushed his fingers in the taking of the treat.

Legolas swallowed the sweetened bread and said, "I love him, Gimli. So much. I don't think that will fade."

Gimli had braced himself for the anguish of hearing another declare love for Gandalf, but the hurt was minor compared to the solace of having someone else that understood. The relief was scarcely felt before the sizzling heat of another overwhelming emotion, jealousy, seized hold of him. He scowled at the jar of honey as he doused some of its contents over bread. He disliked Legolas declaring love for anyone besides him.

Gimli promised himself that later when he was alone and had time, he would try to recall every single word his parents had ever said about what it would be like when he discovered who his one was. These powerful, fluctuating emotions were making him wonder if he knew himself at all.

Legolas continued, "Among my people, it is rare to love twice. Yet my love for Gandalf was not accepted by him, and therefore could not bind my spirit. You stir my heart, and I want to see if it is possible for us to love. Gimli, I saw what love was like seeing the two of you together. I beheld love in each look and every touch between you both, no matter how casual that caress was." Tears filled his eyes, and he was barely aware of taking another tidbit of bread from Gimli.

After the piece was eaten, he said, "I would give anything to love and be loved like that. A second chance is very uncommon, I believe a third would be impossible."

Gimli's heart squeezed in sympathy. If it was left up to him, never again would Legolas speak of desiring to be loved in a tone that held heartache and longing. Instead Legolas would talk of being cherished.

Gimli dipped another slice of bread into the small container. He wondered how long it would be before the elf became fully cognisant of his actions and protested. "My father says there are different kinds of love. A person can love a parent deeply and still hold a devotion just as strong for a lover. It's not the same but still love, and one is not made less by the other."

A spark of disappointment was ignited within Legolas' heart. He would like to know Gloin. Yet he doubted the dwarf would ever speak to him in a friendly fashion.

Giving Legolas a sip of the mead, Gimli said, "Gandalf...he..." The dwarf paused, taking a breath, and then went on, "He thought that having learned how to make love grow, it would be easier for me to do so the second time." He ceased until Legolas' eyes had met his and then went on, "I am going to be devoted to my one."

Legolas opened for the offered food from Gimli and considered the dwarf's words. He was certain that he had witnessed this devotion before between Gimli and Gandalf, yet the expression and tone of this sentiment indicated otherwise. The statement was a vow, and Gimli was giving it to him. Why? Was he hearing Gimli's assertion correctly?

Once he could speak, Legolas said, "I have seen that devotion. Your one shall be a most fortunate person. Yet it causes me great fear, for I would face another bereavement should you meet your one."

Gimli instantly regretted not telling Legolas the second he knew himself. He would not have the elf harbour this worry. Gimli reached out again, this time to let his fingers trace a smooth chin. He noted that Legolas leaned slightly into his caress.

A new fascination came to Gimli as he felt Legolas' skin under his fingers. The elf's skin was softer and silkier than rock ground into powder. "I promise you that you have nothing to fear in this matter. My heart will not forget its first love. For Gandalf was the first that I gave my heart to. Yet if you can tolerate that, and we let this relationship become stronger, there will never be anyone to take your place." Gimli intended to seize this opportunity to tell Legolas. He cut another piece of bread and began, "You are my one."

Legolas chewed on the food, which Gimli for some unfathomable reason kept feeding him, and gazed into the dwarf's dark eyes. Comprehension arrived before Gimli was finished with his declaration, making his heart suddenly race, and his breath seemed too shortened for proper respiration. The last particle in his mouth went down too hard, and he watched as Gimli hastily grabbed the jug of mead. After a huge gulp of the liquid, Legolas managed, "You think that I am...?"

"I do not think, Legolas. I know. It's different from anything in my life before now. Whether you ever love me or not, my heart will forever consider itself as belonging to you. That is a new feeling for me. My heart will continue to love him, but it already cleaves to you, and my spirit recognises you. Even now, I feel a connection to you that I have never experienced with anyone else. As if every breath I take is tied to you. This is something I have not known."

Legolas was chewing the food, but he was staring at Gimli, and the dwarf wondered if his words were out of place or perhaps not understandable. Struggling, Gimli said, "I cannot explain it, Legolas. My heart just knows you are home. I don't want you to feel obligated to me. Nor do I desire your pity."

Legolas felt stunned. In many ways, Gimli was describing something that sounded very much like an elven bond. Tears once again came to his eyes, but these were not drops of woe; they were expressions of gratitude for what he was being given. He grabbed Gimli's wrist, halting the dip into honey, "Then I would have this continue, Gimli! It has nothing to do with pity and everything to do with a chance for love!"

Legolas continued, "Gimli, you know that Gandalf never returned my love for him. I was not allowed to explore and share those feelings, so they could only develop so far. My heart and spirit has never been committed to anyone. I did not see Gandalf often. I think in the beginning he thought my emotions were just a passing fancy."

His friend's response relieved Gimli's inner worry. There was no pity, just eagerness in Legolas' voice. "I want this, too, Legolas. Many dwarves never find their one. If they are fortunate enough to do so, that person becomes everything to them."

Legolas took a deep breath. His heart was buried under the avalanche of mourning, but he could sense happiness at the edge of the sorrow. Legolas took the mead Gimli handed him, taking a long drink of it, as it seemed that was what the dwarf wanted him to do. Then he asked, "Gimli, why do you keep giving me food?"

"I'm worried about you."

Legolas frowned. This brought them straight into another of his insecurities. "You are concerned since I am grieving or because I look sickly to you?"

"Because you are sad. Do you think that you look ill to me?"

"You often ask me if I am well. It brought me solace in Mor..." his voice faltered and he did not go on.

Gimli pondered this statement. Was he always questioning the elf about his welfare? "I ask you often?"

"Yes." Legolas hesitated, and then taking one of the biscuits, he offered it to Gimli.

"I am sorry." Gimli wondered if he had been bothering Legolas at every turn. Worse, the elf had assumed it was due to his appearance. He took a bite of the dessert that Legolas was holding up to his lips.

Legolas answered, "It is of no consequence. I am relieved that my features are not distasteful to you."

Distasteful! What an impression he must have given to Legolas! He glanced over the archer. His mind reviewed all the elves he had ever seen. He could honesty say..."Legolas, were it not for the Lady Galadriel, you would be the loveliest elf I've ever laid eyes on!"

"That is high compliment indeed, Gimli! One I shall accept, though I fear there are many elves that far surpass me in beauty."

Legolas was pleased at Gimli's quick shake of his head. "You are certainly the handsomest dwarf I've ever seen, and with one exception, I would say that you have the best beard ever!"

Gimli perceived who that one exception was. With a voice choked with mourning, he said, "He had the loveliest beard, did he not, Legolas?"

Their eyes met, and although nothing was spoken, much was declared. An acknowledgement of their shared grief over Gandalf shone from both eyes, but there was also a renewed hope reflected to each other. A hope that somehow they would manage despite the heartache, and an assurance that no matter what the future held, they would face it together.