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.

Ro's lovely Gimli is at the link below. This is close to how I see Gimli. Thank you to Ro for permission and to Haleth and Nefertiti for allowing me to link to it.

http://www.heartofslash.com/html/a_custom_shattered.htm


Chapter 15

Gimli sat under a mallorn and watched as not too far away the hobbits played a game. It was a simple game with the goal of trying to earn the numbers on the player's board while not rolling zero too many times with the dice. Gimli had participated in several of the competitions, but today there was a matter that was continually distracting him, and he had left to contemplate it.

Gimli held a small, flat piece of marble in his hands. The dwarf had brought it from Erebor. He kept several items for carving with him as he liked to stay busy. It was just a flat piece of stone and not very big, about the size of Gimli's hand, but it was enough.

Gimli had started working with no particular plan of what he was going to cut into the stone. Its purpose was to keep him occupied, nothing more. Yet as he toiled, a design had developed.

Gimli glanced at the game again and then pulled his tool set from his pack. He scowled at the marble and grumbled, "I am beginning to think like an elf."

In truth, Gimli was pleased with the scene he had slowly shaped. He intended to give it to Legolas one day, as he was certain that the elf would be happy with it.

Gimli sat working with the item in his hands for a few minutes. Then he ceased and began to try to puzzle out what was bothering him: the feeling that he had lost all sense of time in Lothlorien. He knew days had passed, but he was unsure of how many. He could recall the hours spent with Legolas, but he could not pin them down their number. This disturbed him, and as he laboured he began to place the days in categories.

There were days of overwhelming grief. Days when either he or Legolas could do nothing but cry and long for Gandalf. Countless hours spent weeping in each other's embrace. Sometimes, falling into an exhausted sleep afterwards, to rest the hours away close together. On other days, they would sit silently beside the stream, tired from mourning, and reassure each other with little touches while the hours slipped by.

They frequently talked of the love they shared for the wizard. At first these conversations were often buffeted by jealousy. Legolas confessed that he feared the memories Gimli held so closely to his heart. "There will always be a part of you that I cannot touch."

Gimli replied, "You are my one. Yes, I have my memories of him, but now I belong entirely to you. We will make our own memories, my elf. When I create memories with you, I will be making them with my one."

Gimli, too, had experienced sensations of envy. Sometimes the dwarf was uncertain whom he was jealous over: Gandalf or Legolas. And what bothered Gimli immensely was the times when he was positive that he was jealous over both of them.

Gimli discovered, though, that Legolas had told the truth when the elf had said that his love for Gandalf had not been allowed to grow. Legolas' recollections of Gandalf were far fewer than Gimli's. The dwarf realised that he had an abundance of memories compared to the archer's. Legolas told of Gandalf's statement of commitment to Gimli when the elf had asked the wizard for intimacy. This had brought more tears from Gimli, but it had also soothed and comforted, for it was a reminder of how well Gandalf loved him.

Gradually as they became closer and more confident of receiving love, they began to accept the devotion to Gandalf in the other's heart, and the feelings of jealousy were less with each conversation.

Gimli glanced down at the item in his hand. That meant at least a week and a half had gone by since their arrival in Lothlorien, but he felt sure there had been more days. For there had been the days of quiet talking. There were occasions when the conversations had been on very serious subjects.

Gimli recalled a bright, sunny morning in the little glade by the stream. A crisp breeze had been blowing and the trees around the meadow had swayed softly with it. They had lain on a blanket and spoken of the price Legolas would pay for loving a mortal, and that night in the tent Gimli had cried over it, burying his face in his pillow to stifle the anguish. He mourned not just over Legolas but also for the elf's family, and this included Legolas' father. He might not like Thranduil, but he knew the loss of a loved one too well to want anyone to face such sorrow. Understanding that love for him would bring this fate to Legolas, and cause all those that loved elf to grieve hurt Gimli.

There had been many nights of crying quietly into his pillow. Lamenting over Gandalf, anguishing over Oin and Balin, and mourning for the added sorrow Gloin would feel when he learned that his son's one was also Thranduil's son.

Gimli added more days to his accounting, because he and Legolas were not together every day. There had been times when he had spent the mornings chiselling the picture into the marble and the afternoons with the hobbits. At least five days had been spent that way, Gimli thought.

One was very clear. The hobbits had decided that day to study him while he toiled. Pippin had asked Gimli, "Is this the kind of work you do in Erebor?"

Gimli replied, "I have many tasks at home. What I enjoy doing best is working with gems. I feel that is also where I do finest work."

Gimli glanced at the faces staring at him intently. One of them bears a burden few could manage, the warrior thought, They are probably here with me to keep Frodo's mind away from the Ring. Gimli's gaze settled for a second on Frodo, and then on Pippin. Not of age, Gimli reflected, but my people would treat him as an adult now due to the ordeal in Moria. He handled himself well. I shall tell him so soon.

Gimli was certain that he had told them all most dwarves would have divulged when asked about their life. Still, I can do my part in keeping Frodo's thoughts away from his burden without revealing anything that would be considered an indiscretion by my people.

So he had begun, "Placing a gem into an item is intricate work. Everyone thinks that rocks are strong, but some of them are really very fragile. A gemstone has a rather complex growth pattern in most cases, with multiple planes of weakness. The trick is to select the right ones to fracture the rock along, thus creating the beautifully faceted stones that everyone loves. A tap in the wrong place leaves a person with lots of useless shards and dust. That is why I love the task; both for the challenge and for the reward of a beautiful result when I'm done."

Later that same day Gimli had had a long discussion with Pippin. Gimli recalled Pippin's anguished, "He was mad at me, and maybe I caused the Balrog to awaken."

Gimli regretted that he had not spoken to Pippin sooner. Legolas' words to him about how awful it would have been if he and Gandalf had spent their last time together upset at each other had come back to Gimli. He had answered Pippin, "No, my friend. Pip, remember that Gandalf was sometimes quick with his temper, but he never stayed upset at anyone. He took your watch that night, did he not?"

Pippin had nodded, eyes filled with unshed tears.

Gimli added, "As for the evil in Moria, I believe what we brought into the caverns roused it. And I am certain Gandalf would have told you the same thing if he were here!"

Slowly Pippin had nodded, his eyes reflecting a renewed peace.

Gimli mused on all this and concluded that it was quite possible that they had been in Lothlorien for two weeks or more, for he had other memories, too. He could remember a cool afternoon by the stream. He and Legolas had sat quietly and watched the water flow for a while before talking.

They had discussed their family's reactions to any union between them. Both of their cultures required parental approval before a commitment was made between two people. Legolas and Gimli were sure that neither would be granted such acquiescence.

Gimli had told Legolas, "It will be understood by my people that I intend to love you anyway, for a person's one comes before all else -- even parents' assent. In order to have that tolerance from my kin, though, you would have to be comfortable with me openly declaring that you are my one. They will not understand how it is possible for an elf to be a dwarf's one, but I'm probably thought of as odd already. My father, however, will still be considered within his rights to disown me if he disapproves enough. I think he will express his dislike over the idea..." Gimli sighed, "loud and often probably, but I doubt he will disown me."

Legolas had replied, "Without my Lord's blessing, recognition of our love will be slow to come from my people. I believe, though, that once the bond is accomplished and can be clearly seen we will be given tolerance and eventually acceptance."

They had gone over the various options. They could ignore the future completely, as it seemed very uncertain. It was possible that they would not live to see their homes again. Or darkness could overtake the world, and trivial things such as where a person found consolation at night would not matter to anyone.

Legolas and Gimli had both rejected this choice. It did not feel right to them. Yet there seemed little they could do besides acknowledge that they would not have their parents' favour and would be going against their cultures' standards by loving despite the lack of approval.

They were in agreement on several other matters. Even knowing that any union between them would not be approved of, they did not intend to try to prevent love from happening.

Legolas had been adamant that he wanted Gimli to openly acknowledge him as the dwarf's one. Gimli was pleased. He had not lived in shame before when his choice of Gandalf as a lover had not been within his people's customs. Gimli did not want to hide as if disgraced in the future, either.

They had shared the evening meal later and had talked of their favourite pastimes. Gimli spoke of reading and games. Legolas mentioned good stories, his preferred games, and singing under the stars. Gimli had added that he enjoyed fashioning items out of stone. Legolas had reached across and rubbed Gimli's shoulder. Affectionately he had stated, "What a diligent being you are! Do you not ever just sit and sing simply because the day is good?"

Gimli had realised then that Legolas was beginning to love him, if the elf did not already. Teasing he had replied, "That is left to the elves, who are best at it!" He had brushed his fingers through the silky strands of Legolas' hair and said, "We do sing quite often among ourselves, and because we are happy. We sing in sad times, too. I have a feeling that I shall be spending plenty of nights under the stars singing. If I'm lucky."

Legolas had leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss against Gimli's lips. "If the War goes well, you shall be. May we be granted many such nights."

Gimli continued to carve the details into the stone. As he worked, he put the days into groups as he remembered the events: the times of grief, the ones where they talked on deep issues, and the hours apart.

Two weeks then, maybe two and half. Aye, it would have to be two and half, could be even three. Because there were other days. The days that could only be described as special to the heart. Lying next to Legolas watching the sun set and the moon rise afterwards.

They had spent those hours just learning about each other. They told of their lives before they met. They taught each other the ways of their separate cultures. Most importantly they spoke of their secret desires and fears. They whispered of their anxieties over their families and homes that were in danger from the threat of Sauron. Legolas' unending battle against the Shadow for so many years fascinated Gimli. He had declared, "You, my friend, have the stamina of a dwarf!"

And for the first time since Gandalf's death, Legolas had smiled.

Gimli cherished that day, and he added it to his list of time spent in Lothlorien.

Gimli could remember one day, at least, sitting under a tree for a time near the Fellowship's tent. He had spent several hours fighting with his doubts over becoming intimate with Legolas. A part of his heart felt disloyal to Gandalf for even considering the matter. Still, he knew the wizard had expected him to take another lover after Gandalf left Middle-earth. Gimli had never really thought about this aspect of the future beyond how it would hurt when Gandalf had to leave. He did not want his first time with Legolas to be shadowed by his feelings of guilt, so he struggled with the issue.

Legolas was his one, and that gave the elf right to intimacy, but Gimli was conscious that it was not fair to either of them if his heart brought regret and unhappiness into the act. Gandalf's words in Rivendell came back to Gimli as he mused on the subject, "I would be happy if you found your one after I leave, for that will bring your heart ease." There was absolutely no doubt, Gimli reflected, that Legolas brought his heart ease and comfort.

Gimli realised that there were other issues involved, too. He would be starting completely over with Legolas. He knew Gandalf well. He could easily recognise when the tension in the wizard's body was due to pleasure and when it was a result of discomfort. He understood the signs that said Gandalf wanted him to prolong their loving, and he could discern when the Istar desired a quick release. The wizard's moods were something Gimli was well acquainted with, too. He had no trouble perceiving when Gandalf wanted to take and when he desired to be taken. Each spot that brought special joy when touched was known by Gimli. He would have to learn all this anew with Legolas.

In the midst of the wrangling with himself, Gimli realised that what he was really afraid of was something deeper than any of the things his mind had chosen to trouble him with. Gimli was fearful that Legolas would not find him as good-looking as one of the elves that were so eager to talk to the archer. The dwarf was aware that among his own, he was considered very handsome. Gandalf had often expressed his admiration in the form of compliments and whispered love. Gimli could recall one night as they had snuggled together, Gandalf had asserted, "You are the most attractive dwarf I have ever seen." Gimli had grinned, and the wizard had said, "Yes, I am partial to you, but I also have an excellent memory!"

Gimli doubted that Legolas had any real notion of what dwarves were like under their clothes.

These reflections from Gimli brought forth an additional reminiscence that included an hour from another day. He had been sitting with Legolas under a tree at dusk watching the rain fall. Legolas had placed a blanket over tree limbs to protect them from getting wet. They had been talking and gazing into each other's eyes. There had been a pause in their conversation, and Gimli had said to Legolas, "You are indeed beautiful, my friend."

Legolas had teasingly replied, "Even my very pointed ears?"

Gimli had comprehended then that some insecurity could not be helped and also that it did not really matter what Legolas looked like. He loved the elf.

Love. The knowledge that he would willingly put Legolas first in all he did. As writing on a beach is washed away by the tide, so love swept away all the other obstacles. Gandalf had asked Gimli, "Promise me that you will not let your love for me prevent your heart from finding its home." He would do as Gandalf had stated he should. He would love his one.

Lingering traces of anxiety might remain but Gimli did not intend to let them determine his actions.

That evening, Gimli had answered Legolas' question with one of his own. "Tell me, my one, do you love trees solely for their beauty?" He had observed as Legolas' eyes had widened, and the archer began to realise the reason for the sudden change in subject.

"Nay. Each tree has a personality that belongs to it alone. And the beauty differs because not one is the same as another."

Gimli had continued, "But if you love one, you cannot love another as much, is that not right?" Legolas had shifted then, and Gimli had pulled the archer into his arms.

Legolas had replied, "Nay, and I am not without insight. I understand the meaning within the words, Gimli."

"Aye, I love you for who you are. I admire your loveliness, but it is not what draws my heart to you. Your ears are beautiful, but your spirit is exquisite. And for me, there is one tree that is special above all others, for it is the one I belong to."

Legolas had held him tightly and replied, "As the beeches are special to my people, so my bonded one shall be to me."

Gimli's memory of that day was clearer than a mountain lake. He had been gifted with another of Legolas' smiles as the elf had relaxed against his chest. They had talked and watched the drizzle turn the landscape into glistening points of colour for an hour before going back to the Fellowship that evening.

They had been here three weeks then, maybe more, Gimli concluded. Gimli put the stone into a small bag and tucked it into his pack. Legolas would be arriving soon.

Later that day, they reclined next to each other on a soft brown blanket close to the stream. The last tinges of daylight had disappeared from the sky, and the stars were slowly making their appearance. Except for the occasional chirp of some insect and the soft sound of the wind, it was quiet. The day had been warm, but the night's breeze was cool and refreshing.

Legolas stretched slightly and glanced at Gimli. The dwarf smiled at him, and Legolas sighed as a feeling that was almost contentment invaded his senses. Before Moria, smiles and laughter had been common for Gimli. Now smiles were rare for both, and neither ever laughed. He missed Gimli's laughter.

Staring back up at the sky, Legolas said, "I like stars."

"I had no notion that you did." It was said seriously, but there was amusement in Gimli's tone.

It was not laughter, but at least it was not sorrow. Shifting to his side, Legolas reached out and with a tip of a finger touched Gimli's hair. When the dwarf did not budge, he let his fingers glide into the silky auburn strands.

Gimli moved closer to Legolas, letting his head come to rest against the elf's chest.

Legolas let Gimli's tresses fall through his fingers and thought back over their days in Lothlorien. The place was not like his home, and the odd sense that time had stopped made him uneasy. The elves of Lothlorien were referred to as "his people" by the rest of the Fellowship, but these elves had different ways and customs. They were not like his folk. Legolas believed that three and a half weeks had gone by, but he was not completely sure.

How many times had they cried together with Gimli's strong arms wrapped around him? Days when he sought Gimli's embrace for the comfort to be found there. There was the morning that they had left together before dawn had even arrived, for Legolas had spent the long night hours awake with sorrow, and, finding another minute alone to be unbearable, he had hastened to Gimli. The warrior had not complained or questioned Legolas on being awakened. They had slipped from the tent into the early morning darkness.

Daybreak came when they were by the stream, but Legolas could not recall it. Not just his heart but his spirit had clung to Gimli that morning, for the elf had been certain grief would overcome him. He did recall his anguished sobs and Gimli's anxious, "Legolas, he would not want you to fade. And I cannot lose you, too!"

Legolas remembered how he had been relaxing in Gimli's arms that morning, taking comfort there and finally resting. Gimli had fallen asleep. In the middle of the nap, the dwarf had begun crying for Tharkun in tones of distress. Not knowing what to do, Legolas had held Gimli closely. He hoped that Tharkun was the dwarven name for Gandalf as Mithrandir was the elven one. He detested the idea that Gimli had some unknown lover that he cared enough about to say the name in his sleep.

"You had better be calling for Gandalf, love." He had whispered the words but his voice clearly was soothing to Gimli, for the dwarf had muttered, "Legolas." And turning his head into the elf's chest, Gimli had continued his sleep in peace. The jealousy Legolas had experienced when Gimli asked for another was eased by the calming effect hearing his voice had on the dwarf.

As he recalled this memory, Legolas buried his head into Gimli's soft hair. He would have survived without Gimli, but he could not imagine how. The dwarf smelled of autumn bonfires and of the spicy biscuit Legolas' people made. He had stated so once and had received one of Gimli's declarations in return.

Gimli had stated, "I do not smell like a biscuit!"

Legolas had just replied, "Spices. You smell of spices."

Putting an arm around Gimli, Legolas remembered the many conversations between them. He suspected that Gimli had been surprised to discover that the elf was familiar with the many types of gems, for his father loved precious stones. He had found out that Gimli knew the names of various stars as well as he did-even though the names he used were different. He was pleased to find that he and Gimli shared a love of moonlit nights and of books.

There were the far more serious discussions on matters such as their families. It saddened Legolas to know that he was increasing Gloin's suffering. He had shed tears over Gimli's family as well as his own loved ones. Sometimes this had been done with Gimli, and at other times he had cried alone in his talan.

One of the most difficult conversations had taken place right after the sharing of a noon meal. They had observed the sunlight dance over the little stream's water and discussed how things would be different if Gandalf had lived.

Gimli had said, "There would have been a great of deal of heartache still, my one. He would have spent many hours in council with the Lady Galadriel. Most likely you and I would have kept each other company during that time. And eventually at some point while we were together, I'd have known. Then there would have been sorrow for each of us.

"Legolas, you should not feel guilty. You did not decide for my heart to choose you. It would have hurt him, but he was always clear to me. He would understand when I found my one, and I was free to do as I must."

Now Legolas pondered this while his fingers moved through auburn tresses. He loved Gimli's hair. Gimli allowed Legolas' fingers freedom, but the elf recalled another evening when they had strayed for the first time to the warrior's braids. Every muscle in Gimli's body had become strained.

They had been resting on the same blanket, talking as the afternoon sun warmed their skin. Legolas had casually reached out to touch a braid, and Gimli had reacted with tension. Legolas could imagine only too well the reason for the sudden stress in his friend. Gandalf must have prized Gimli's hair, too. The wizard had probably tenderly removed the braids before love-making. Legolas had apologised.

Gimli's response had fully awakened the love Legolas was beginning to feel for the dwarf. Gimli had grabbed Legolas' hand and placed a kiss on the knuckles. "You are my one, and nobody has more right than you." He had turned to his side and put Legolas' hand back against the braid.

Legolas had hesitated. "If you are not comfortable with it..."

"Legolas, it is I who should apologise. My heart and spirit acknowledges you; my body should, too."

"Nay, Gimli. If you forgot his touch so easily, truly I would have cause to worry, for I could never be sure that your love for me would not also be quickly set aside. Your heart may know me, but it holds him still. I would not have it otherwise. I can wait."

Gimli had replied, "You are correct, but it is time to build our own memories."

As Legolas' fingers had gently explored his braids, Gimli jested, "Am I to climb trees for this house of love we are to construct, or will you go with me into the caverns?"

"I imagine that I would be more at home in caves than you would be in a tree."

Their conversation drifted to another area that had reminded Legolas that he should never assume things with Gimli.

Gimli did not presume that just because Legolas was his one, they had to be intimate someday. "Usually there is intimacy, but it is not required. You are my one. Nothing we do or not do changes that. Nothing will ever change that."

Legolas remembered well the alarm that had raced through his spirit and Gimli's reaction. "Do not look so distressed. I did not say that we would not."

Despite the initial anxiety over Gimli's statements, Legolas found encouragement in them afterwards. Often he would repeat them to himself.

That afternoon, however, he had realised anew that they were bringing two cultures together. He had explained to Gimli that elves bonded not just the heart but the spirit and the body in union. Once initiated, the bonding had to be consummated in a physical joining.

Gimli had simply replied, "Very well. When the time is right for both of us, we shall do so."

Darkness had settled now over the glade. Far off the sound of an owl could be heard, and close by the noise of night insects. The pleasant music of the creek played.

Legolas wondered what Gimli was thinking, and as if to answer the unasked question, the warrior said, "I am sure you heard Aragorn say that we will be leaving soon. I know Boromir will go to Minas Tirith, but I hope Frodo will not."

Legolas could imagine where Gimli was going with the conversation. He ceased his exploration of Gimli's hair. "You wish to stay with the hobbits."

"Aye."

"My place is at your side. Where you go, so shall I."

Gimli gently touched Legolas' chin. The silky feel of skin there always intrigued him. "I am glad. I do not want to be separated from you. I guess I do not have to remind you, though, where Frodo will probably go."

"Nay. You do not."

They were quiet for a moment, and then Gimli said, "Legolas." He waited until the archer was looking fully at him. "I love you, Legolas."

For the first time since Gandalf's death, Legolas' heart flooded with an emotion that drove all vestiges of grief from it for a while. He hugged Gimli tightly, and replied, "I love you, too."

Returning Legolas' embrace, Gimli held onto Legolas. "You are wonderful, my elf."

Legolas snuggled into Gimli, feeling loved. He sensed another unfamiliar emotion: happiness, and at its heels guilt for feeling joy. Something Gimli said echoed in his mind. "Gandalf died saving us. He would not want us to spend the days in sadness. Always there will be a bit of sorrow tucked into our hearts now, but we should not feel guilty for experiencing happiness. Who knows what darkness is ahead? Best seize what little gladness we can now. I don't think he would disagree."

Gimli felt Legolas nestle into him, and he enclosed the elf in his arms. There was security and delight in being open with someone that kept no secrets from him. With a pang of guilt, Gimli understood that Gandalf had been correct when he had stated, "There are things I've never revealed to you, but when you find your one there will no secrets, only a time of discovery."

It felt good, too, to be first in someone's priorities. Legolas had no goals that came before Gimli. As soon as the thought came, remorse followed. Gandalf had done all he could to be in Erebor for each of their anniversaries, and he was often there for Gimli's birthday. Gimli knew he would never forget how cherished and joyful it had made him feel the years Gandalf would arrive in Erebor to celebrate his day of birth with him. He also remembered the night Gandalf had appeared in Erebor drenched and cold from winter rain because the Istar had wanted to be with his lover on their anniversary.

Even though the events in Moria would always hurt, Gimli suddenly felt he was fortunate in many ways. Not one but two remarkable beings loved him. And Gandalf cared for him enough to allow him to love the other one. Any remaining self-reproach vanished at that thought. Just as he loved the wizard enough to permit Gandalf to take a lover in Valinor, despite his own feelings about it, so the Istar cherished him. He had declared, "Keep the devotion you have for me in your heart as a treasure, and I will do the same for you." Gimli was positive that Gandalf still loved him, and he would keep his devotion to the wizard hidden in his heart.

Gimli looked down at Legolas, who was resting on his chest. He tugged gently on his friend's arm, and Legolas moved up to gaze into his eyes. Gimli put his arms around Legolas' neck before pressing his lips on the archer's.

Legolas leaned into Gimli, his mouth opening in an eager invitation, and the dwarf's tongue allowed itself the luxury of tasting the elf's sweetness, berries and honeyed wine. Their tongues touched, and Gimli's breath quickened. Wanting more, Gimli deepened the kiss, plundering Legolas' mouth. A shudder ran through Legolas. With a reluctant moan, Gimli separated from Legolas. He smiled against Legolas' frown. "My one."

It was stated as a question, and Legolas answered the unspoken enquiry. "I am ready. I would not wish to leave Lothlorien with this undone. We do not know what will happen in the future. If death should come to either of us... I love you, and I need this time before we leave, yet I would not rush you."

"More time would just give me additional reasons to imagine why you might not like being with a dwarf."

Legolas smiled, and his finger traced Gimli's lips. "And I can think of a multitude of things that you might not like about an elf."

Capturing the elf's hand, Gimli said, "I cannot think of even one."

Gimli leaned forward, and their lips joined again. The dwarf's tongue glided into the sultry moistness of his elf's mouth. A zealous tongue greeted his entry with hot, wet flicks, causing Gimli's heart to race. Gimli's hands delved through Legolas' hair and gently eased him forward into their kiss, demanding more.

Taking Gimli's tongue captive, Legolas slowly sucked on it, relishing the firm, wet muscle. Releasing it, Legolas waited and was not disappointed as Gimli began a long, lingering exploration of his mouth, touching every part of it. Only when Gimli withdrew from him, did Legolas perceive that he was clutching Gimli's shirt tightly. Relaxing his fingers, he gazed into dark eyes that were hazy with passion.

Legolas started to undo the ties on Gimli's shirt. He was not surprised to find an undershirt, but when removal of that one only revealed another, he asked, "Gimli, exactly how many tunics are you wearing?"

Gimli answered, "Three, because it is customary for dwarves to wear that many when among outsiders."

Legolas had assumed that Gimli, having had one lover who was not a dwarf, would not be as nervous as he himself was about this experience. This was quite possibly an error. Placing a kiss against Gimli's lips, Legolas slid his hands under the warrior's shirt, to settle at the top of Gimli's broad shoulders where his fingers splayed out to cover the hard muscles. His hands meandered over Gimli's shoulders and down. Legolas loved the solidity and strength that flickered beneath the surface of Gimli's warm, soft skin. "You are a delight to touch. So much strength and firmness. And you remind me of a summer day."

Gimli tried to hold still and let the elf discover him, but he could not avoid trembling at the gentle exploration nor the straining of his cock as pre-come moistened his leggings.

Using the tips of his fingers, Legolas slowly mapped his way across Gimli's chest. The middle finger of each hand slid over a hardening nipple, and Gimli moaned. Legolas smiled at the discovery. Gliding his hands up a little, he rested his thumbs over the erect buds, rubbing gently. A happy sigh mingled with a whimper from Gimli, and the temptation to cease the expedition and beg to be taken seized Legolas. Taking a deep breath, Legolas resisted the urge, his body trembling with the effort.

As the maddening digits stroked his nipples, Gimli considered hurrying matters but dismissed the inducement. He would not have their first time rushed. Legolas' arousal throbbed against his leg, and Gimli groaned.

Legolas' tongue traced Gimli's lips, and one hand moved to the middle of the dwarf's chest while the other settled at the warrior's quivering stomach. Legolas whispered, "There is a tree in my home that has leaves with silky hairs on the underside. You feel far better."

Gimli's fingers sketched Legolas' chin and then followed the outline of the elf's lips. "I already know what your skin is similar to. My people grind rock to polish gems. The result is a powder that is softer than any silk. Your skin is akin to that, only it is beyond the beauty of any gem. How lovely is your glow! I want to feel more of you."

Legolas nodded, happy at Gimli's words, but his fingers curled into his lover's chest hairs, savouring the feel of it under his fingers and anticipating what it would be like to have it against his body. Removing his hands, he sat up.

When both their shirts were off, Legolas cuddled next to Gimli. He cried out at the first contact of his skin against the firmness and warmth of Gimli's chest. His hand found the warrior's beard, and his fingers entangled themselves in the downy strands.

Gimli nuzzled Legolas' hair, inhaling his friend's scent. Legolas was pressed tightly against his chest and panting in his ear. Fingers played throughout his beard, while the other hand rubbed his back. Wrapping an arm around Legolas, the dwarf's fingers moved over the archer's torso. Creamy skin rippled under his digits, and Gimli moaned. Gimli's breath caught as Legolas' hand glided down over his stomach and started to undo the fastenings on his leggings.

It took some exertion to get under all of Gimli's clothes, but finally Legolas' endeavourers were rewarded by the feel of hot, rigid flesh. Burying his head into Gimli's beard, Legolas whimpered as his fingers freed the dwarf's erect cock. Beginning a survey of the aroused member, Legolas charted the width and length of his lover, pausing to spread the wetness over the broad head while Gimli trembled against him. Legolas recalled the conversation with Gimli where he had firmly stated that he wanted the dwarf to take him. Now he shivered in both anticipation and a slight fear.

Gimli's body quivered under Legolas' investigation of his erection, and his heart felt overwhelmed with love. Gimli was very conscious that Legolas was relieving his anxieties with the elf's lingering, tender study of his body. Longing to return the love and make his own discoveries, Gimli began to loosen the laces of Legolas' leggings. As soon as the eager flesh was released, Gimli stroked it from base to tip. Legolas' cry of pleasure was muffled against Gimli's chest.

As Gimli's fingers fastened around his cock, Legolas thrilled at a new delight. Gimli's hand around his flesh was unlike anything the elf had ever experienced. Not soft yet not rough, a bit like a horse's mane. The dwarf's skin brought a friction to Legolas' erection that was beyond simple pleasure. "Do that again, Gimli." Legolas whispered.

Slowly Gimli glided his hand first up and then down, rewarded with another whimper from Legolas. Gimli shifted and putting his hand around both erections he brought them together, stroking the needy organs. Legolas gripped his shoulders moaning with the bliss. Leaning up, Gimli captured Legolas' lips tasting the sweet nectar and parting lips to slide inside. Thrusting deeply within, his hand kept a steady pattern that harmonized his tongue.

Gimli's body tightened, and Legolas rocked against him. Gimli pulled away from his lover. Misty eyes that reminded Gimli of a midnight sky opened to look upon him. The dwarf wondered now how he could have ever imagined that Legolas' eyes were abnormal. Like the celestial sphere above them, Legolas' orbs were ever changing depending on the elf's moods. "Lovely you are."

Legolas smiled, but his mind was centred on his body's demands. He sat and kicked his leggings the rest of the way off, noting that the dwarf was doing the same. Legolas was panting and too aroused to feel anxious anymore. Gimli appeared to have forgotten his cares, too. The warrior's chest was heaving, and Gimli's hands trembled as he took his clothes off.

Stretching his arm out, Legolas got his pack. A search revealed a small bottle which he gave to Gimli. His gaze held Gimli's, and he whispered, "I love you."

"I love you, too."

Lying back on the blanket, Legolas spread his legs, pulling them up and holding them apart with his hands.

Gimli's hand flew to his chest. He felt sure his heart would stop as the beautiful, long legs opened wide for him. He took a deep breath to steady himself. Getting the vial, Gimli poured some of it on his fingers.

Gimli moved between Legolas' thighs. The elf's elegant shaft projected above his firm stomach. Pearly drops were collecting at the swollen head. Shifting down, Gimli let his tongue swirl and flit over the sensitive flesh. Massaging the tight entrance while his tongue played over Legolas' cock, he drew forth moans and breathless whimpers from his lover.

The tender caresses over and around his entrance and the enthusiastic licking up and down his arousal increased Legolas' grip on his legs as he tried to hold still. Gimli's beard floated across his skin as softly as warm water. Heat flickered like flames of fire throughout the archer's body, and his longing for Gimli multiplied. "Gimli...please...aniron..."

Gimli glanced up at Legolas and then carefully pushed one finger inside his lover's channel.

Instantly reminded that Gimli's fingers were broader than an elf's, Legolas gasped and tensed with the penetration.

At once Gimli became very aware of Legolas' brief tension, and it gave him confidence that he could decipher his lover's other signals, too. He comprehended that he needed to go slowly with Legolas. Gently he rotated his finger and tried to concentrate on giving Legolas' pleasure rather than on the sleek, compact walls that would be bliss to sink into.

Legolas whimpered softly. The moisture and heat sucking at his cock took his mind away from the finger that was sliding in deeper. Gimli's tongue danced over the slit of his elf's shaft as his finger circled inside Legolas. Then his lover's mouth would slide down his length, Gimli's tongue capering across his flesh. Gimli's mouth was pursed snugly around his cock, lips tight against the impassioned skin, like a fiery glove sliding up and down. Legolas' whimpers became louder, and his hips moved upward into the delightful fire.

As Legolas bucked under him, Gimli added another finger and stretched both inside the narrow channel. Twisting a digit, he searched, and suddenly Legolas cried out.

Dazzling light flashed behind Legolas' eyes, the sensation low in his body making him keen and squirm. "Again, Gimli!"

Gliding his fingers firmly against the tiny gland inside, Gimli moved his digits back and forth over it. Glancing up at Legolas, the dwarf smiled. Hair the colour of daylight was tossed over shoulders and across the blanket. Legolas' eyes were tightly shut, and his face had a dazed expression.

Gliding his mouth up the hot flesh, Gimli swirled his tongue over the dewy head, whilst attempting to pour oil on his hand. It splashed over his palm, but he managed to get plenty on a third finger. Legolas' channel was widening well, but Gimli wanted to loosen his lover as much as he could. He wished for Legolas to experience as little pain as possible when receiving a dwarf for the first time.

Gradually, Gimli added the third finger, his tongue probed the slit of Legolas' cock. He tried to be sensitive to any indication of stress in his lover.

Moaning, Legolas was barely aware of the third finger making gentle circles within him. The discomfort was dimmed by the sultry tongue swirling over the head of his cock and the tension building in his loins. The fingers deep inside him stretched and skimmed over the bundle of nerves and bliss sped throughout his body. Reaching down, he tugged Gimli's hair, "If you don't stop...I shall..."

Carefully Gimli withdrew his fingers. He couldn't resist one last lick over Legolas' arousal, which twitched in response. Gimli asked, "Ready, love?"

Opening his eyes, Legolas found Gimli's dark ones and nodded. Legolas parted his legs farther.

Gimli's cock surged at the display. He caressed Legolas' hip. "You are beautiful." He reached for the oil and spread a generous amount over his cock. Pouring the liquid on his finger, he slipped it inside Legolas' passage and applied more fluid around the narrow channel. Gimli wanted Legolas as prepared as possible.

Legolas was conscious of the care Gimli was using with him. He squeezed Gimli's arm. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Moving up between Legolas' open thighs, he pressed the tip of his cock against his lover's entrance.

Legolas breathed in and then with an outward exhalation pushed out, welcoming Gimli into his body.

Quicker than he had planned, Gimli was swallowed by encompassing heat. He cried out and stilled, his hands clenching and unclenching in an effort to restrain himself from thrusting deeply. His body trembled with the endeavour as he studied Legolas' face for any suggestion of discomfort. Gimli willed himself not to move, as plainly Legolas was not ready.

Gasping, Legolas tried to relax as the thick head breached him, bringing both an unpleasant sting and a hint of bliss. He grabbed the blanket under him and gripped it willing any strain into his fingers not his body. Realising that Gimli was not going to move without guidance from him, Legolas looked up. "All right."

Gimli slowly began to embed himself until his cock was completely sheathed. He paused to give Legolas a chance to adjust.

Legolas rubbed Gimli's back. Never had he felt so spread, and the burning ache made him grateful for Gimli's slowness. The dwarf's hands were roaming his body with lingering caresses over his hips, moving down to massage the head of his cock, his wide thumb distributing the fluid. The gentle friction took his focus away from the twinges of pain. Taking several gasping breathes, Legolas tentatively pushed up against Gimli.

Long legs enclosed Gimli causing the dwarf to feel sheltered by warmth and love and desire. Despite Legolas' eager movements, Gimli could tell from his lover's face that the archer was not yet ready for anything but gentleness from him. Angling his hips, Gimli hunted for that one area that would distract Legolas from any distress. Gimli knew that his aim had been correct when as swiftly as a bird takes flight, the expression on Legolas' face changed from discomfiture to bliss. Gimli rocked against the spot, and a cry came from Legolas. Keeping his strokes slow and gentle, Gimli strived to contain the powerful need to move quickly.

The slow steady thrusts and the broad, flared head continually rubbing over that one region enflamed Legolas' senses. No longer did he feel pain. Instead there was a blissful sensation of being filled and completed. His hips rose to greet Gimli's lunges. They kept to the unhurried pace, both wanting to prolong their first time together. Writhing and moaning, Legolas grasped Gimli's hips urging him to thrust deeper. "I love you so much," Legolas whispered.

Gradually Gimli's thrusts became faster and deeper. He was fully seated inside his lover's body, moving in and out of Legolas' snug, smooth heat. Legolas' arms and legs were draped around him. Gimli's release was rising inside him like a huge wave. Finding Legolas' straining flesh, he made his strokes complement his thrusts inside the narrow cavity.

Legolas yelped as his erection was suddenly enclosed in warmth and firmly stroked. Over and over, Gimli's shaft pierced his body deeply, giving him pleasure that spread throughout his body in ever increasing feelings of ecstasy and need. His eyes were closed tightly, but they flew open when Gimli moaned, "Legolas."

Gimli held Legolas' hand, working his lover's length with his other hand, keeping a continual tempo with his long, deep thrusts. His gaze never left Legolas'.

Gimli's cock constantly brushing that one spot, the dwarf's hand maintaining a regular rhythm with his erection, and his lover's brown eyes plainly showing love for him all fanned the fire in Legolas' loins. With a loud cry, his seed flowed over his abdomen. Surge after surge of delight rushed through his veins.

Legolas' wail and tightening body produced a groan from Gimli. The channel's wall was gripping his cock, and his body shook with passion. Moaning, he emptied himself deep inside his beloved.

For long minutes, Gimli rested over Legolas letting the currents of euphoria stream through him. Eventually, his breathing evened out. Legolas was still panting slightly, and his fingers were lodged within Gimli's beard.

"Need to move, love," Gimli said.

Legolas smiled, and tugged Gimli's beard before letting go.

Gimli eased out of Legolas. He was very careful, but he noted the wince from his lover. Legolas had been right when he had stated that it was best for Gimli to take him for the first time in Lothlorien. "I need to become accustomed to you while we are here and have time. It is probable that our love may have to be done much quicker than we would like in the future, when time alone might be an indulgence that is not often granted and is soon over."

Legolas shifted to his side and retrieved several cloths from his pack.

Gimli dipped them in water from the creek, wringing them out and warming them with his hands. He carried them back to Legolas and with tender, soothing motions cleansed his lover. Once he washed, too, he cuddled with Legolas. Gimli sat up long enough to fetch another blanket to pull over the two of them when the breeze turned cold.

Legolas was singing softly. Gimli did not understand the melody that was being sung in Legolas' own tongue, but he could discern the happiness in the tone. It seemed like an age since he had heard Legolas sing. Not after Mor...Gimli halted his thoughts. When Legolas was silent, Gimli asked, "How long do you think we've been in Lothlorien?"

"I am uncertain. I believe we have been here three and half weeks."

"Aye, that is my reckoning, also."

Legolas began to rub Gimli's shoulders. "I need to tell you how elves bond. Usually, two meet and feel they can find love together. Much as we did. There is a time of friendship followed by a betrothal ceremony. Most unions are between male and female, but there are quite a few exceptions." He glanced down at Gimli, who was settled against his chest. "Regardless, most couples keep to the same customs, as we find they help bring about the deep, intimate bond that is desired."

Gimli moved up to rest by Legolas so he could look into his lover's eyes. Now that the elf was no longer experiencing passion, his eyes were the light blue that Gimli normally beheld. He listened as Legolas said, "After the year of betrothal, there is the rite of bonding. The two ask for the blessings of the Valar and invoke Eru's name as witness to their vows of eternal love and faithfulness."

Legolas paused. Gimli was studying him. Legolas placed his hand over Gimli's heart. "I shall want those words declared between us before too long. I would ask you to bind with me tonight were I confident of my ability to accomplish the union of spirit that occurs along with the consummation after the pledges are spoken. Needless to say, I have not done this before!

"I can sense a restlessness in my spirit as it longs for completion with you. It is not strong, though my love for you is. I would like to wait until it is a clear, powerful feeling. I believe it will be easier to bring our spirits together then. I do have some fear of waiting as we face a very uncertain future."

Gimli nodded. "If you feel we should wait then we will. Some things cannot be done in haste despite the times we live in." The warm hand over his heart made him feel loved and secure. He did not require more.

"Will you tell me how bondings are done among your people?"

Gimli chuckled. "We call it marriage, and it is only between males and females. There is a betrothal time and a wedding. We, too, have special words that are spoken and judging by what you said, I imagine they are similar to what your own people declare. The differences between our cultures appear to be that we do not bind the spirit, nor do we place as much value on physical joinings as elves do."

Legolas heard Gimli's words, but his mind focused on one issue. He sat up, the blanket falling around his hips. "If this is done only between a male and a female, what does everyone else do?"

Gimli tugged at Legolas, pulling the willing elf back into his arms. "They exchange their vows privately, as you and I will, I suspect. One of them will move into the other's home, and typically there is a party and celebration acknowledging the pair as belonging together. This is only done when both agree that they have found their one."

Calmed now, Legolas snuggled back against Gimli.

The night was peaceful around them with the occasional call of an owl and the chant of the brook. They talked quietly for a while and then fell asleep in each other's arms.

The night hours ebbed by. Gimli's dreams of happiness with Legolas blended with a joyful memory of Gandalf in Erebor.

Far away, on the peak of Zirakzigil, Gandalf was given life anew.