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 16

Shadowfax raced toward Rohan bearing Gandalf and Gimli. His pace could have been much faster, but he sensed that Gandalf did not want him far ahead of the two horses that followed closely behind him. Shadowfax was also aware that the other being he was carrying was not entirely comfortable with him. It did not matter to Shadowfax, because he could also sense Gandalf's love for Gimli, and therefore the dwarf was accepted by the horse.

Warm, familiar arms encircled Gimli as Shadowfax carried them toward Edoras. He waited, unsure what he was waiting for. Tears filled his eyes as the realisation came. These were the arms within whose embrace he had learned to truly love someone, but with Legolas he had came to associate love with belonging. Despite all the comfortable familiarity and the love he held for the wizard, the sensation of belonging was absent. He does not belong to me or me to him, Gimli reflected. Gimli did not look for Legolas, but he could sense the archer even when held by another. His spirit touches mine even though we are apart. And yet...

Gimli shifted so he could look at Gandalf. And yet, he longed to have the right to move back against the wizard and later to touch and hold and reassure himself that Gandalf was well. I no longer have that privilege, and such thoughts are disloyal to Legolas. Gimli did not try to prevent the tears that started to cascade down his cheeks.

The second Gimli began crying in earnest, Gandalf was aware of it. His mind moved from Frodo to the dwarf he was holding. How well I know him. Better than anyone else. It has taken years of loving him for me to be so perceptive of his feelings. Now, he thought sadly, it is Legolas' turn. Still, he could not prevent himself from squeezing Gimli to comfort him. Nor could he avoid the twinges of envy.

"I need to tell you something," Gimli began, his voice strained with sorrow. He had never hurt Gandalf before, and he wished with all his heart that he could avoid speaking the words that would bring pain.

"I already know, my friend," Gandalf said gently. His mind flashed back to the moment when he had been informed. Despite telling Gimli many times in the past that he wanted the dwarf to find his one, Gandalf had experienced sorrow.

Gimli closed his eyes in relief. He guessed that the Lady Galadriel had informed Gandalf of the events in Lothlorien.

"I was given the knowledge, but there is one thing I would like to hear from you, for it would bring my heart solace.

"Does he love you, Gimli? Tell me that this is not a temporary diversion for him."

"He loves me so much that he will die when I do." Gimli answered.

Gandalf's spirit sank like someone in quicksand at the realisation that Legolas would now die. If he had considered it before, he might have foreseen this as a possibly. "Then he has bound you to him." Gandalf said. He was not entirely successful at keeping the despondency from his voice, but he doubted the dwarf noticed, as Gimli was still crying.

"Soon." Gimli wondered now if it would indeed be soon. If I cannot keep my thoughts faithful to him, how can I possibly commit my heart? How unfair to him. Gimli loved Legolas. He was as sure of it as he was certain of the paths of his home in Erebor.

So why was his heart pining for another?

Gandalf did not say anything else to Gimli. He did not feel able to. Surely his speech would convey the depth of his loss to Gimli, and the dwarf was already miserable.

In Lothlorien, Gandalf had believed that he could hide the sadness but the instant Gimli had joined him on Shadowfax and they were close again, the unhappiness had seized him. The memories had begun to rush in like a tidal wave.

Now as Gimli wept, one in particular caused Gandalf's heart both joy and distress. The recollection wafted into his conscious like a gentle breeze, but with hurricane force it reminded the wizard of all that would be no more.

The night Gimli had taken him to a small cave not far from the dwarf's home in Erebor. The cavern was secluded within the mountain but had an opening in the roof. Gandalf had built a small fire, and Gimli had made a bed of soft furs. They had lain under the stars and made love several times. Gimli had whispered his secret name to Gandalf that night.

Gandalf cherished the memory and hoped the time would arrive when longing and misery would not mar his reminiscences of Gimli. Currently, the heartbreak seem to outweigh all else.

Not desiring to dwell on the situation, Gandalf turned his thoughts back to Frodo, about whom he was very worried. Everything seemed so close to an end now, but whether the outcome would be in their favour he could not tell.

As Arod sprinted toward Rohan, Legolas' heart was happy, and his spirit rejoiced. Gandalf was back! Merry and Pippin were well!

Legolas was aware that Gimli was going to struggle with revealing to Gandalf the happenings in Lothlorien. He recalled the devotion between the two. It was not going to be easy for either of them.

The archer could perceive the connection between himself and Gimli, though they had not yet bonded. Legolas realised that the dwarf would probably still desire Gandalf. Legolas did not know how long Gimli and the wizard had been lovers, but he guessed that it had been many years. The depth of devotion he had witnessed spoke of a long-time love.

Legolas frowned. His own feelings for Gandalf, which had slept with the joy of discovering love with Gimli, had awakened at the sight of the wizard. Gandalf and Gimli might wish to set aside their former feelings, but Legolas understood that it would not be effortless for them to do so. He had watched as Gandalf had helped Gimli to mount Shadowfax. Their hands had clasped and lingered just a moment longer than was necessary.

It was going to be a difficult transition for all of them.

Gimli began to lay his bedroll out next to Legolas'. Shifting to his side, Legolas observed the dwarf's actions and then glanced to where Gandalf was standing, apparently lost in thought.

"Gimli..." Legolas whispered and then paused. He did not know what to say. There did not appear to be any reason to enquire how Gimli was doing. The dwarf's eyes were red from weeping.

Asking if Gandalf was all right seemed equally pointless. I would rather have my heart ripped from my body than to lose Gimli. Legolas anguished over how it must wound Gandalf to know that someone else was Gimli's one. Legolas longed to comfort the wizard. If I feel this way, how much more must Gimli, who was long his lover, desire to console Gandalf.

Legolas sighed. The woebegone expression on Gimli's face made his own heart jerk in anguish. He imagined that he should feel envy and upset, but this went beyond all that. Instead there was just a steady ache that resonated with each beat of his heart. He loved both of them, and seeing them hurt brought his own heart torment.

It was difficult to see Gimli hunger for someone else, but Legolas felt compassion over it. He had not forgotten the kiss between the two of them that he had observed. Gimli was giving that up because Legolas was his one, and he loved the archer. Gandalf, too, would pay a high cost.

Legolas said the only thing that might encourage: "I love you, Gimli. I have always known and accepted that you love him still."

Gimli held Legolas' gaze. "I love you, too, my one. I belong to you. Even when we are not together your spirit touches mine." He reached for Legolas' hand and gripped it.

"I do understand, Gimli. I imagine that the two of you were lovers for many years. I do not blame you if those feelings are not so easily left behind. I could end a relationship that brought me joy and love for you but not without great anguish."

Gimli's eyes brimmed. He wondered if he'd be so understanding if their positions were reversed. Probably not. My blasted jealousy and quick-to-state-my-first-thoughts tongue would surely cause Legolas trouble.

Legolas rubbed Gimli's arm and reflected. It was said that the memories of mortals faded with time. Gimli's love for Gandalf probably would not diminish, but as the years went by surely his sorrow and longing for the wizard would lessen.

Would the Istar's memories also grow fainter or would they remain ever bright? Would they bring Gandalf solace eventually, or would he always cry for what was gone?

Legolas peered over at the wizard. Gandalf was standing, wrapped in his cloak. He looked lonely, and Legolas' heart stirred in an understanding pain. He remembered being alone, and Gandalf had a worst heartbreak to deal with than Legolas had when he had pined for the wizard.

Staring up at the sky, Legolas wished he could ease both of his friends' suffering. He thought, This might have been the best reunion between Gandalf and Gimli, if I were not the dwarf's one. The archer recalled Gimli's greeting of Gandalf and grinned. Maybe not. Seeing a way to give Gimli some cheer, Legolas squeezed his lover's hand and said, "How glad I am that I am much taller than you!"

As Legolas expected, Gimli instantly replied, "You are not all that much taller! A foot, maybe a little more. And what does that statement mean?"

"It means that my head is safer from you. The dwarven habit of greeting a friend with a threat to their life is the strangest thing I have ever seen in all my long years. Gandalf is right. You are dangerous!"

"That is not a habit of dwarves!"

Legolas smirked at him. "Then it is just you that is so peculiar! Thank you for enlightening me! Grateful I am for my height that is much more than yours!"

Gimli groaned. It was plain that Legolas had anticipated each of his responses. "Elves," he muttered.

Their eyes met, and they laughed.

Their laughter wrenched Gandalf's musings away from what he would be facing in Edoras. He struggled briefly with the jealousy that desired to have command over his heart. He missed having Gimli at his side. The steady, reliable support had become like a firm rock he could lean on. The absence of such encouragement was sorely missed. Almost as much as he missed having Gimli as a lover.

Gandalf recalled Shadowfax's arrival. Without thinking about it, the wizard had called Gimli to go with him. A fleeting glance from Legolas to Gimli had reminded Gandalf of the change in circumstances. Still, Gimli had instantly gone to Gandalf, and presumably Legolas understood that he and the dwarf needed some time to talk.

Gandalf hoped that his yearning for Gimli would fade instead of growing stronger as time went by. As it was now there was constant pain in his heart and a thirst in his spirit that could not be quenched.

Gandalf sighed softly. He had told Gimli that he would be happy for the dwarf to find his one. He was determined to try and be just that. Somehow, he had to help Gimli to not grieve over what was lost and look at what was gained. It would cause strain between Gimli and Legolas if the dwarf continued to mourn over him.

Legolas and Gimli had ceased whispering to each other. Gandalf glanced over at them. He could not suppress the surge of longing to once again be the lover at Gimli's side, and tears came unbidden to his eyes. He stood looking toward Rohan and let the tears fall.

Legolas stared at the sky for a while before sleeping. He noticed Gandalf's occasional glance toward Gimli and guessed at the reason. The two Legolas loved most were unhappy. Legolas put an arm over his eyes and cried.

They had travelled for hours, and the sun was sweeping the sky clear of night with its rays. And still, Gimli struggled with himself. There were so many things he felt he should say to Gandalf while he had the opportunity, except that none of it seemed right. Gimli longed to tell Gandalf that he would always love him, but surely that would just bring more pain to the wizard. Gimli desired to tell Gandalf that he would have never taken another lover so soon after Moria, if Legolas were not his one. Yet he was confident the wizard already comprehended that, and what good would it do to state such things, besides soothing his own twinges of guilt?

Gimli wanted to thank Gandalf for all the love the Istar had given through the years, but to sum up their relationship with a simple thank you did not seem possible. Gimli was certain that if he tried, he would cry again, and he wished to avoid that.

Gimli remembered his father's belief that he would discern how to handle the situation when he found his one. But I don't. Gimli thought. I don't know how to deal with this.

They were nearing a stream, and Gandalf realised that soon the horses would run closer together. If he was going to talk to Gimli, he should do so now. This should be a time of joy for the dwarf, even though the world was in turmoil.

Gandalf glanced down at Gimli. I shall have to express my gratitude for this special dwarf to Aulë. Truly, Gimli is everything Aulë hoped for when he created dwarves.

Gandalf remembered something Aulë had told him so long ago. The Vala had asserted, "I fashioned dwarves so they could easily carry burdens. They were made to be strong, durable."

Gandalf hesitated, then spoke to the dwarf in a low voice, "Gimli, I have had many burdens since I came to Middle-earth. Our friendship has often made the weight of my problems much lighter. The years we were lovers are my happiest and most cherished, despite the growing darkness."

Gimli swallowed hard. Looking back at Gandalf he nodded. "I will always treasure our time as friends and then lovers. I am so glad we had those years together."

"Concentrate on that, my friend, and be happy. Do not let the past destroy your future. We both knew this could happen.

"And if Legolas does not value your love as he should, I shall make it difficult for him to be near a tree!"

Gimli smiled. "For a time."

They both laughed.

Like the music of wind chimes their laughter carried itself to Legolas' ears. Jealousy stabbed through his heart. How easily mirth comes to Gimli now that Gandalf is here.

Then the memory of the night before seized him. He had joked with Gimli, and they had both laughed. It was not just Gimli. We are able to be merry now he is back. We were mourning before.

Arod was coming even with Shadowfax, and Legolas glanced at Gandalf and Gimli. I hope when Gimli is old and our days are at an end, we too can laugh despite the tears.

Legolas did not have time to dwell on the matter, because Gandalf began to talk with them about Evermind, the flowers on the mounds.

Talk and more talk. It seemed endless to Gimli. "Time presses," Gandalf had said. More than once.

Yet here they sat eating in Edoras as if they had all of eternity to idle away while the Enemy drew closer. Gimli glanced at Gandalf, who was talking to King Theoden. Gimli recalled Gandalf's hand on his shoulder earlier, halting him from rash action when Grima had spoken evilly of the Lady Galadriel. There had been a power and strength in the wizard's grip that was both familiar and unfamiliar. A bit like standing in the shade on a summer's day, Gimli reflected. One might feel the heat, but to really experience it a person had to come into the sun. Gimli had not desired to disobey Gandalf's wishes, but he was sure he could not have moved forward had he wanted to.

Gimli paused in dining to study the wizard for a second. He pondered all that had happened in the golden hall. How lonely he must be at times. None of us really knows him. Not even me. Feeling miserable, Gimli shoved his plate away.

As Aragorn and Legolas were arrayed in mail, Gandalf looked over at Gimli. The dwarf's eyes met his, and Gandalf swallowed as his heart jumped in his chest. He could not suppress the strong feelings of love or the worry over Gimli going into battle.

Legolas watched Gimli and Gandalf exchange glances. The love Gandalf held for Gimli was, for one brief moment, displayed in the wizard's eyes.

Gimli's words echoed in Legolas' mind. "You are my one. Nothing we do or do not do changes that. Nothing will ever change that."

Legolas had no doubt that Gimli was his, but the archer's heart was heavy with sorrow for Gandalf.

After five hours of travel with the Rohirrim, they made camp but lit no fires.

Gandalf found a place to rest not far from Shadowfax. He felt sad, lonely, and even a bit lost without Gimli. The sensation that time was rushing past him quicker than any sand in an hourglass was frustrating. He could not speed events along any faster. Wrapping his cloak around himself, Gandalf tried to sleep.

Legolas and Gimli sat together in one of the outer circles. Gimli was exhausted and rested his head against Legolas' side. Peering up at Legolas, he stated, "I have been thinking. I'm going to be forthright with you."

A brief pang of anxiety gripped Legolas, but Gimli's next words soothed the ache.

Gimli declared, "I love you with a love deeper than any cavern there ever was."

Gimli slipped an arm around Legolas. In the dark, he did not believe that any of the Men around them would notice. He had already realised that even Legolas did not see as well in the dark as he did. Eomer's vision dimmed as the light did. "I am accustomed to being apart from Gandalf. Some years I was anxious for his safety a great deal, but most of the time the worry was buried under the business of my life. A hidden vein of love and concern, never forgotten but set aside so that it might not crack and cause an avalanche.

"Yet once he was back, I needed to be in his arms, to touch and reassure myself that he was safe. What I'm trying to say, Legolas, is that my distress should ease. It's just this first meeting after Moria..."

"I understand, Gimli. You need to assure yourself that he is well and are used to intimacy as a method of comfort. Not a bad means of solace if one is allowed it!"

Legolas ran his hand over Gimli's braided hair. No one was paying them any attention, and as long as they kept their voices very low they had a semblance of privacy. "I recall my feelings when I first comprehended that Gandalf was back. I would have loved a hug myself! I would like to comfort him in his sorrow, too. So I am not going to judge you, Gimli. We will just have to give our relationship time."

Gimli glanced up at him. "How fortunate I am that you are so kind! There is one thing that I hope you are aware of. I might want to set my mind at rest about his well-being with intimacy, but I could not. It is not that I would not, although that is certainly true. I could not, since I would reach for you and call your name. I need you."

Legolas smiled. "Yes, I could not accept another as I would want for you, and whisper your name even when in the arms of someone else."

A short while later, Gimli fell asleep, one arm around Legolas.

It took Legolas a while longer to nap, for an odd sense of unease had invaded his spirit, and he could not decipher the reason for it.

Gimli noted Gandalf's sudden departure from the Rohirrim, and he was aware of the worry that instantly took hold of him. Everything had changed between him and the wizard, and yet some things were the same.

Legolas watched as Gandalf left, racing to whatever errand the Istar felt was essential. The archer frowned. Gandalf had not stated where he was going. Was that a typical farewell that Gimli had learned to endure? Surely not. Gimli had not objected to the abrupt leave-taking, though. That might have to do with the presence of so many people, but Legolas suspected that was not the answer. Gimli seemed to be quite willing to declare his opinions no matter what company they were in. Gimli may have kept quiet because he and the wizard were no longer lovers, or out of respect for Gandalf, but now that Legolas thought about it, he could not recall the dwarf ever voicing a complaint about the Istar's actions. Legolas was certain that if he left Gimli's side with a similar parting, his lover's upset would be clearly heard.

Insight came to Legolas. Perhaps the reason Gandalf and Gimli had not felt they belonged together was not just because of the wizard not being the dwarf's one. That would have been a major factor, but the other one seemed plain to Legolas. Gimli out of respect, adoration, and understanding about Gandalf's work in Middle-earth, had never put any restrictions in their relationship. In all the years the two had been lovers, Gimli had probably never asked Gandalf where he was going or where he might be found. And Gandalf, not accustomed to answering to anyone, had not changed his ways with Gimli.

Legolas did not know this to be true, but he strongly believed it was.

The darkness was thick around them as they climbed higher and higher into the gloomy folds of the mountains' feet. The Men were talking, but Legolas barely noted the conversation. His thoughts were elsewhere. His spirit kept nudging him, but he still could not discern why.

As they journeyed under a moonless sky, Legolas continued to reflect. He reviewed the conversation he and Gimli had had that night. He began to analyse their discussion sentence by sentence.

There it was. The part of their talk that had started the odd disquiet in his spirit. Gimli had admitted to desiring Gandalf, and Legolas had confessed his own need. Empathy and having similar feelings of his own washed away the jealousy Legolas might have felt, but he was not sure what he could do about either of their emotions.

Legolas shifted their conversation around until his musings started to weary him. He let his thoughts drift, relaxing until he was close to reverie. His ponderings were of happy times with his family. Celebrations of begetting days, coming of age parties, bonding ceremonies, all these slipped through his mind as fresh and bright as a summer morning. He was reliving a brother's bonding ceremony when Gimli's voice rose, and Legolas paused in his contemplations.

Gimli and Eomer were chatting about battles. Eomer was describing how they had chased and then cornered some orcs.

Gimli was saying, "Aye! Slaughter them all!" Encouraging Eomer as if he had been at the skirmish.

Legolas smiled. Eomer and Gimli were finding plenty in common despite being willing to kill each other not so many days in the past.

Legolas had made no protest when Gimli had agreed to travel with Eomer. If the two were to fight together, then it was best that they become friends.

Legolas wondered how many conflicts he himself had experienced. He could count them, but the idea was unappealing. Trying to bring his deliberations back to happy occasions, Legolas began to recall victorious homecomings when, like a ray of sunlight through a cloud, a memory pierced through his mind.

The courtyard of his home. Warriors being greeted by family members joyous to have them back.

Andorian being embraced by his lovers.


Andorian had two bond mates.

Now Legolas' mind raced through memories, flipping through them as one might turn the pages of a book, hastily looking for a certain paragraph.

Finding his place in the book of memories, Legolas remembered sitting around a campfire years ago. Andorian saying, "Denying that we both love and want him is doing far more damage to our relationship than bringing him into our bond could possibly do."

The next paragraph on the page was easy for Legolas to locate. King Thranduil at the dining table stating, "I am not going to interfere in my people's private affairs, but a bond of three has been tried before. All they achieved was trouble and affliction."

Legolas went back to his first recollection. Andorian being embraced by his lovers. They were thrilled to have him back safe. The relationship had flourished in happiness for five hundred and sixty nine years. If there had been problems or were current troubles, they were not of such import that they had prevented the bond from thriving.

Shutting the book, and returning to the present, Legolas looked over at Gimli.

He could think of one option now, but Gimli had, in a sense, said that would not work. Legolas could let Gimli be with Gandalf when the wizard was around, keeping the dwarf for himself at all other times.

Even if Gimli would agree to such an arrangement, he was not sure that he could be that understanding and let Gimli go back to the very lover Legolas himself longed for. To observe from the outside once again, and this time to truly desire them both. Legolas did not believe he could endure spending the night alone, constantly aware that they were loving while he needed them.

Still, Legolas did not know how long he could abide watching the two he loved suffer. Gimli might need Legolas, but it was plain to the archer that he needed Gandalf, too. Gimli felt his pining for the wizard would ease in time, but would it? Might it just be like Legolas' devotion that blossomed anew each time the elf saw Gandalf again? And what of Gandalf? As an immortal, he might gradually come to hold his love for Gimli as a dear memory, but for now the heartache was one more burden for the wizard to bear.

Legolas recalled Gimli and Gandalf talking together after the rest of the Fellowship had commenced to rest. He remembered how their voices would blend together, becoming one.

Legolas sighed. Time might aid them, but it would surely be a long and dreary interval before it did.