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 17

Gandalf was searching for the scattered members of the army of Rohan. It was not necessary to urge Shadowfax to hasten, for the horse sensed his urgency and sped across the plains. Gandalf's thoughts were about gathering forces for the upcoming battle. In spite of that, every time Helm's Deep was mentioned, he pined for Gimli. Still, by the time he had gathered enough men to divide them and give separate tasks to groups, his mind had begun to accept that Gimli belonged to Legolas.

Yet a sense of restlessness invaded his spirit. A yearning for Gimli that was not a longing of the body. It went far deeper and found a home within in his heart. A persistent need that would not be so easily dislodged. Gandalf did not have time to even try. There was too much that had to be done. There were too many people to be concerned over, and it was not possible for him to dwell on just one. The Istar took comfort in the fact that bringing Men to Helm's Deep would mean a better chance that Gimli would survive the skirmish.

As Shadowfax halted to drink from a stream, Gandalf once again recalled Gimli. The wizard wondered if the battle had commenced. "Be safe, Gimli." Gandalf whispered.

The waiting for combat seemed endless. Gimli was certain that if he fell asleep, he would dream of being forced to stand here at Helm's Deep for eternity. Forever waiting for a conflict that would never come.

Gimli started to ask Legolas if he saw any sign of battle and then decided against it. He had asked twice already. Legolas had answered cheerfully both times, but continual questioning might tire the elf's patience.

Gimli glanced up at Legolas. He and Legolas had chatted some, but the elf had been quiet since answering Gimli's last question. "I would not mind knowing your thoughts, Legolas."

Legolas glanced down from the parapet. He did not know Andorian well and had been trying to recall what memories he did have of the elf. "Andorian."

"Andorian," Gimli repeated. "I have no idea what that means."

"Andorian has two bond mates. I suppose you find that quite shocking. Something only elves would do. I imagine your people never..." Legolas halted. Gimli was no longer looking at him. The dwarf seemed to have discovered something interesting about his boots. The archer opened his mouth and then shut it firmly. If he was going to question Gimli on this matter he had best go forward carefully, or the warrior might decide not to tell him anything.

"Your folk have done something similar before?" Legolas stated his question very quietly and in a manner he hoped was soothing, his tone that of someone asking about the weather.

Gimli's head came up, and he stared at Legolas in disbelief. The elf was enquiring about a private subject in the same fashion one might use to ask if a person was tired. "Once. It was a huge scandal for awhile," he muttered.

Gimli was clearly not inclined to say any more on the issue, so Legolas probed again, "What happened? Can you tell me about it?"

Gimli did not understand why Legolas wished to pursue the topic, but perhaps the elf was bored or needed to keep his thoughts away from the upcoming combat. "The three were silversmiths. The one female among them knew that the two males had each found his one in the other. She felt..." Gimli sighed heavily and tugged hard at his beard.

Legolas noted Gimli's action and thought it quite possible that he would be told no more. Gimli's other hand gripped his axe firmly.

Gimli struggled on, "She desired children, and her time for that was almost completed, but she had not found her one. So they had a private stating of vows and a celebration party afterwards. Many people refused to attend, but there was still quite a big gathering."

"Did you go?"

"Aye. Saw no reason not to. Not my place to tell people how to live."

Gimli pulled his beard and hoped the trying conversation was over. It appeared it was not, for Legolas asked, "Some dwarves considered this scandalous, though?"

"Aye. Although there are those that believe our women should be allowed such a choice without censor as there are so few females, and children are needed. Eventually the gossip died, and they were accepted well enough." Gimli jerked his beard.

"Leave some of that for me to enjoy later!" Legolas waited until Gimli's hand was at his side, then peered out into the gloom. Legolas turned back to Gimli. "I can detect nothing new." He continued, "I am sorry, Gimli, but I am curious. Did she have the children she longed for?"

"She had twin daughters."

Legolas fingered his bow and scrutinised Gimli. The dwarf did appear a little agitated but not overly so. Plunging ahead, Legolas asked, "Did it work for them? Did they come to love her?"

"I don't know them well. Oifur is the only one I've had much contact with. I have gone to some of their parties including the celebration after the twins' birth. They are always happy. If you want my opinions, I'll give them."


"I think there was already some love between them to begin with. The three had worked closely together for many years. This is most likely why she selected them instead of a dwarf that had not found his one. She knew the two very well, and no doubt was already devoted to them."

Gimli paused, trying to order his thoughts. "If a dwarf comes to think of something as belonging to him, he can be very possessive and usually loves the item. But I'm not sure that is the best kind of love. The best kind puts the other person first."

Gimli thought for another moment. "The three had worked together for so long that they probably perceived her as part of their partnership and therefore belonging to them. And while neither could love her with that special love given to a dwarf's one, they put her desire for children above themselves. So they did care for her. I think, sometimes, love is not just feeling but doing. Do you see, Legolas, what I am saying?"

"Yes," Legolas said softly. "And I imagine she loved them very much because of what was given her."

Legolas considered what Gimli had said about love. His path seemed clear, but he felt as if the darkness in his spirit would swallow him up. He clutched his bow and once again searched the darkness. Softly he said, "We have to think of Gandalf in this matter. You and I might need each other, but he needs you."

Legolas took a deep breath and braced himself to say the words. "Each time Gandalf is with can... I'll allow..." Legolas felt the tears and blinked them away. "You may go to him."

Gimli pondered this. By "go to him", Legolas seemed to mean "be intimate with" judging by the choked sob that mingled with his words. "I cannot do that!"

"We have to put him first."

Gimli understood now. "Legolas, I appreciate your compassion. I love you. You are a very kind-hearted person. But I cannot go from your bed to his. It wouldn't make Gandalf happy. I would long for you and make him more miserable.

"Legolas, the situation between the three dwarves is different from our circumstances. Oifur seems to be like any other dwarf and probably capable of being just as jealous as any of us. I don't think he let Minur leave his bed. I believe she moved in with the two of them."

Gimli reached for his beard, and then, remembering Legolas' admonishment, dropped his hand down to his side. "I imagine that is what happened with Andorian, too. The new lover shares the bed with the other two. It is certainly the only way I would think such an arrangement would work. Otherwise jealousy would tear them apart."

Legolas said nothing, letting the relief flood through his body. Despite his offer to Gimli, the archer was not certain how he would have endured it if the dwarf had agreed to it.

Eventually Legolas' heart calmed, and he started puzzling things out in his mind. He was sure that Gimli was grateful for his silence. It had been an interesting conversation, but it still did not provide them with a solution. It made sense, he supposed, that the new lover would simply partake of pleasure with the two that already had a relationship.

Gimli was right. There was, Legolas imagined, less potential for jealousy that way. Or perhaps not. For each would have to watch a loved one be intimate with another.

Although...Legolas smiled. Observing could be enthralling, too. He recalled his own fantasy of being held by Gimli while Gandalf explored his mouth. He imagined his fingers caressing not one but two beards, and he sighed happily.

Gimli was busily reviewing their conversation. The purpose of it seemed obvious now to the dwarf. Legolas was searching for a way to ease the heartache he and Gandalf felt.

Gimli did not intend to think too long on Legolas' suggestion. He missed Gandalf and might be tempted to consent to it. Gimli comprehended that he could easily tell himself that it would be no different from the years that he and Gandalf had kept other lovers. Yet he knew it would not be the same. He loved Legolas with a fervency that was unlike the fondness he had for his dwarven lovers. Legolas was his one, and Gimli had been truthful when he had stated his need for the elf. If I accepted Legolas' proposal, I would hurt my one, and only succeed in making all three of us more miserable than we are now. Nor would Gandalf ever agree to such a plan, for he would be wise enough to see the sorrow we would create for ourselves.

The dwarf glanced up at Legolas. The archer had a dreamy expression on his face, and Gimli started to ask what Legolas was thinking. Recalling the results of such a question last time, Gimli hesitated. It might be better not to know.

Gimli frowned as he gazed upon his lover. The archer's mood had quickly changed from sadness to...Gimli studied Legolas. The elf appeared to be slightly flushed. As if he is aroused, Gimli thought. If Legolas was dreaming of things that brought about an erection, then perhaps it was best not shared. Still, if he was thinking of someone else, and that was the result... Gimli scowled.

There was no winning with this impossible being, and it was plain they were headed for another uncomfortable, distressing discussion. Maybe this was the way elves handled pre-battle tension. Everyone would be so frustrated and irritable by the time the enemy arrived that they would welcome killing orcs with a vengeance. Discerning that he might regret it, Gimli blurted, "What is going on in that strange elven mind?"

Legolas sighed. He was reluctant to give up his dream for harsh reality. The fantasy was dispelled, but the hard bulge in his leggings would take longer to be rid of. "I will tell you, if you will answer something for me."

Gimli's only answer was to glare at the elf.

"You look almost like an upset bear." Legolas teased. Legolas felt relief, because it was likely that he would not have to divulge his musings to Gimli. The dwarf did not seem to desire to have another conversation on private issues.

Gimli was very curious about what the archer was going to ask him. "Very well, ask what you will."

Legolas grimaced. Now he would be obligated to reveal his fantasy, although he reckoned it was only fair after making Gimli talk about things the dwarf would rather not disclose. "Did Gandalf tell you where he was during the time the two of you were lovers, and how long have you been his lover?"

"That is two questions! Not one!" Gimli groused.

"They fit together."

Gimli felt that statement could be argued, but he did not choose to do so. "At first, Gandalf did not tell me."

"Did you ask?" Legolas already guessed the answer.

"No. It was not my concern." Gimli wondered why Legolas was thinking about this and if he would ever understand the elf.

"If you worry over him, then it is your concern. Go on." Legolas encouraged.

"After we were lovers for a while, Gandalf would sometimes tell me where he was going before he left. I knew of the search for Gollum. But if he was gone for a long time, I realised that he was probably not in the same place that he was going to when he left."

"Did you tell him that you needed to know his whereabouts?"

"No. I understood that Gandalf has work to do. It would not aid him if I clung to him."

"I imagine he needed that kind of understanding in a lover. I could not give it, for I require a sense of commitment. I would not feel I had that if I never knew where he was. Were you both happy?"

"That is a third question! Aye, we were. Until Rivendell. Then we were restless, wanting to belong to each other, and knowing we did not."

"Yes, that must have been difficult." Legolas felt he understood now. Most likely for many years, the two had other lovers. They had been content with this type of agreement at first, but the years had gone by, and their love for each other had increased. They had both began to want commitment and a sense of belonging. Yet they had been deeply in love and so had experienced restlessness and not unhappiness over what was missing. Gimli had longed to aid Gandalf, and by giving the wizard a place of love and rest, he had done so.

Suddenly from the Dike there were yells and battle-cries.

"There is something happening below."

Gimli laughed. "I can hear, Legolas. I just cannot see as well as I'd like to over the wall. Tell me what you behold."

"Riders are coming up the ramp. They are being driven in with the enemy at their heels. The gate is being closed behind them. Do you think Gandalf is with them?"

"I suspect not. Pursuit would not come so close to them if Gandalf was there. The Orcs would show fear then!"

Legolas smiled. "You are right!"

Gimli was aware that he had not answered Legolas' enquiry about how long he had been Gandalf's lover. He wondered if he should just appreciate the silence and be quiet himself, yet his curiosity burned at him. "It is your turn now. What was exciting you?"

"You do not have to be so blunt!" Legolas took a deep breath. "I used to have this dream and talking about Andorian and Oifur made me remember it." He paused.

Gimli waited.

After a moment, Legolas said in a whisper, "I imagine are holding me while Gandalf kisses me, and I have my fingers in both of your beards."

Gimli was stunned. Gimli had anticipated that Legolas' thoughts were of a private nature, and he had hoped he was part of the elf's secret ponderings. Legolas' imagination was definitely far more advanced than his own, for Gimli did not believe he would have ever dreamed of such a thing.

The warrior was reminded of a child's game that his people played with small rocks. The little ones would try to make a form with the stones. Points were earned for complexity of the design. A fox complete with tail would gain more points than a simple face. Gimli felt that he had been given a handful of pebbles and was expected to come up with an intelligent design that everyone would be satisfied with. He began to go over their conversations.

When Gimli did not respond, Legolas started to worry that he had hurt the dwarf. Gimli could consider his fantasy an indiscretion.

Legolas began to form his apology, but before he could say anything, Gimli asked, "Legolas, about Andorian and his bond mates; you thought of them, because you wished that you could allow me to be Gandalf's lover again? Is that how your thoughts went?"

"Yes, only it would hurt me too much. Yet I hate seeing the two of you unhappy."

"I could not leave your embrace!" In his mind, Gimli set the first stone down. Legolas was clearly seeking a solution that would relieve the anguish he and Gandalf were experiencing. The elf was even willing to sacrifice his own heart out of love for Gandalf. Gimli put another pebble in place.

Legolas had been dwelling on Oifur and Minur's relationship with Riin and somehow that had caused the archer to dream. "Legolas, how did your musings manage to wander into that fantasy of yours?"

"I am curious about how they made the marriage successful and was thinking that it would be difficult to watch your lover be intimate with another. Might not be so agonising if you love both of them and were part of the loving."

Part of the design was created, but Gimli still had no idea what the final portrait would be. It was plain that they were both concerned over Gandalf's sorrow. Gimli was glad for that, since it made Legolas understand and accept the dwarf's longings for the wizard.

It was obvious, too, that as much as he loved Legolas, he still needed the wizard. Legolas might not need Gandalf in the same way that Gimli did, but it was apparent to the warrior that the elf's desire for the wizard was easily brought to life. Legolas had been pondering Andorian's situation, and had slipped into a fantasy that clearly gave him enjoyment.

The design was becoming evident, but Gimli was cautious about placing the next part of it down. If he asked Legolas if the archer was pining to make that dream come true, then he must be prepared for the possible answer. If Legolas said he desired a bond of three could Gimli accept that?

Gimli felt very uncertain that he could. Legolas was his one, and Gimli had no desire to share what belonged to him. Still, Legolas already loved Gandalf, and that did not bother Gimli. Perhaps because my own feelings for Gandalf are far stronger than Legolas' so I can hardly blame him for his devotion to the wizard.

Nevertheless, in order to have that kind of understanding between the three of them, Gimli would have to be willing to let Gandalf give his heart to Legolas. Gimli was reluctant to do so. He was the only one in Gandalf's heart, and he did not wish to share his place there.

Gimli recalled his thoughts in Lothlorien and how he had promised himself that if it were within his power, Legolas would speak of being cherished, not of longing for love. Legolas had Gimli's devotion, but he had never gained Gandalf's. If Legolas was loved by both of them, then there would not be an unrequited love in the archer's heart. Gimli felt ready to put another rock down now.

Legolas had yet to experience the full happiness love could bring. In the beginning, this had been due to their grief over losing Gandalf. After receiving Gandalf back, Legolas still had not been able to have joy in his new love, because of the turmoil Gimli and the wizard were undergoing.

Gimli perceived that if he and Gandalf could be intimate again, this time with Legolas, then all three would be content. Or they would be if Gandalf could come to love Legolas, but Gimli was confident that the wizard would. How could anyone not love Legolas?

Gimli's own words about the best kind of love being one that would put the other person first came to the dwarf's mind. It was selfish to not want to share Gandalf's heart when Legolas had to let Gimli carry love for the wizard. And if he truly cherished Gandalf, then he should want the Istar to be loved and happy.

It suddenly occurred to Gimli that any claim he had on Gandalf had vanished like mist under the heat of a morning sun. The wizard could go back to that elf in Rivendell and take comfort there. Gandalf could give his heart to his former lover.

Like the wind changing direction, Gimli's perspective shifted. He now saw the advantages to a relationship of three. Legolas would feel fully loved. Gandalf could have both of them and be granted the ease that only love could bring. Gimli would not be losing anything, he would gain Gandalf back.

The design was completed in Gimli's mind and heart now. He wondered if Legolas had even started to put matters in place. Gimli comprehended that before he started suggesting anything to Legolas, the elf needed to be aware of some issues.

Legolas had been daydreaming about Lothlorien. He had been imagining that Gandalf had not died in Moria. Instead when Gimli discovered that Legolas was his one, the elf had moved into their bed to share it with them. Legolas was cognisant that even if Gandalf had survived Moria, events would not have gone that way. He was also attempting to avoid dwelling on anything that might cause an arousal. He was concentrating on the idea of being loved by both of them: sharing meals, long talks, and walks under the stars. Legolas was deep into these pleasant notions when Gimli called his name. "Yes, Gimli."

"Even if you were not my one, I would not have received everything I lost in Moria back. Gandalf the Grey is not the same as Gandalf the White."

Legolas frowned and focused on Gimli. "He has more power now, but I do not understand how that would have changed the love between you. In fact, it is very clear that it hasn't."

"Gandalf the Grey was Tharkun. Gandalf the White is not. So my heart tells me. I know it should not matter, but it does. I felt that my use of that name made me special to him, even though it is just the dwarven designation for Gandalf. It's gone, and I have lost something important that tied us together."

Legolas had heard many things about dwarves. Since coming to know and love Gimli, the elf had realised that many of these tales were not true or were exaggerated. It was said that dwarves put a great value on appellation, and obviously this story about them was true.

Gimli was contemplating another issue. Before any bonding took place Legolas should know that if the War was won, Gandalf would not stay in Middle-earth. Gimli was unsure if the wizard wanted that talked about. He had not given Gimli permission to discuss it with anyone. Trusting that Gandalf would inform Legolas of this essential fact, Gimli decided to say nothing just yet.

Tentatively Gimli asked, "Legolas, about your fantasy. People often imagine things that they would never like in reality. Is this something you truly believe you'd want?"

Legolas gazed at Gimli trying to judge what the dwarf desired. His own heart was lucid on its longings. The trouble was not determining what he cared for. That was easy. His problem was preventing himself from constantly dreaming of it. "It is, for I love both of you, and my spirit pines for the two of you to be happy. I will admit, too, that I have selfish motives, for my love and desire for him has only abated a little due to our love. It is the only resolution that would bring happiness to each of us. Though well I know the risk. Gandalf might never come to love me."

"How could he not?"

Legolas started to laugh and then, realising that Gimli was serious, grinned instead. "There was a time when you found me very annoying."

"I was foolish! Gandalf is never unwise!"

Legolas laughed. "You are accurate about Gandalf never being unwise. And I hope you are correct about him being able to love me. Otherwise, this might bring even more heartache to all of us."

"Aye, but I truly feel he will love you before long."

"I wish I was so certain. Do you want this, Gimli?" Legolas asked.

"Aye, but I will confess that my reasoning might not be the best. I want you to be loved by Gandalf, too, since you care for him. I long to once again be close to him. His happiness is very important to me. And I do not like the thought that Gandalf might go to that elf in Rivendell for love!"

Gimli's voice had become fiercer than any bear's growl, and Legolas kept his amusement to himself. Gimli's mind might state that Gandalf did not belong to him, but the dwarf's heart plainly had a differing opinion.

"What elf in Rivendell?"

There an almost undetectable sharpness to Legolas' question, but it was just enough for Gimli to perceive that the archer did not like the notion of Gandalf's former lover either. Gimli answered, "He comes up to me with all these questions that really amount to the fact that he wishes to have my lover."

Legolas did not feel this was an adequate reply, but he could understand Gimli's upset. Still, it brought up something else they should discuss. "Gimli, if we do this, will the feelings of jealousy be too formidable for you to be content?"

Gimli considered the matter. "I reckon I will be happy. I do not feel irate when I think of all three of us being lovers, as I do when I imagine him touching Gandalf."

"Yes, I accepted you as his lover, but I do not want anyone else to be close to him in that fashion."

They were both quiet for a time. Gimli was trying to let what they were planning to do become real to him. Like ocean waves, feelings washed over him. Joy at the thought of holding Gandalf again, overwhelming love for Legolas who was going to permit it, and an unsettling sense of possessiveness. They were both his! Gimli did not like this attitude and was trying to shuffle it away, when a new delight occurred to him. He was thinking of Gandalf as his! He sighed in pleasure at this concept.

Legolas' musings were on far more practical topics. How they would bring about what they had agreed on, whether Gandalf would ever love him, if the wizard would say yes to their proffer, the responsibility that was now his: to somehow bind not two spirits but three in union when he had already been anxious over accomplishing such a feat with only two. It was liable to be more difficult to unite three individuals.

There was also the knowledge that Gandalf's spirit was probably very different from an elf's or dwarf's. It would certainly be stronger and more powerful. That could mean that Gandalf would assist him in binding the three of them, but the unknown quality of it was also a little frightening.

Selecting the one worry that would probably be their first concern, Legolas said, "Will you ask Gandalf or shall I? I would feel better if you did. There is probably not much he would deny you, whereas he has refused me before."

Gimli's happiness dissolved. "He will never agree."

"Why not?"

"You are my one. Gandalf will believe that he is interfering in our relationship," Gimli replied.

Legolas answered, "We are both unhappy without him. He would know that our sadness would harm our relationship more than his accepting us would. Have hope, Gimli! He wants you very much, and that is greatly in our favour!"

Gimli nodded. His heart was too overflowing with emotions to say anything. He felt humbled most of all. He glanced around the bulwark, standing on tip-toes to gaze down into the valley below. The fires continued to burn. The darkness seemed to have deepened. The air was still, and Gimli thought a storm was looming. He said the first thing that came to his mind. "What time do you think it is, Legolas?"

"First I am to be your eyes, and now you wish for me to be a clock, too!" Legolas laughed. "It is just after midnight."

Gimli glanced back down and then across the Dike. Gandalf was out there, somewhere far beyond his vision. Peering over at Legolas, he asked, "Where do you suppose he is?"

"I wish I knew."

Gimli bit his lip and then voiced the fear gnawing at him. "You don't reckon he went to Isengard, do you?"

Alarmed, Legolas stood up, only to ease back down again as he realised that there was nothing he could do about it if Gandalf had. He hissed, "Surely he would not do so alone! Not after last time! Though he is more powerful now."

Legolas tried to think of something to say that would calm their anxieties, but his worry would not be easily dismissed. "I imagine he is...he is..." Distress tugged at Legolas, and in exasperation he cried out, "What could he be doing! By the stars, does he not realise that he is needed here?"

Their conversations before had been conducted quietly, with Gimli often dropping his voice to a whisper as he discerned that Legolas could hear him. Now with the rise in the elf's speech, several men turned to look at them.

Gimli heard the irritation in his friend's voice, but his ears also remarked the slight tremble that told what the true emotion was. He's as worried as I am.

Resolving to keep any comments about Isengard to himself from now on, Gimli said, "He is only one wizard, after all. I deem that he is needed in many places, and he is where the need is greatest. That should not be Isengard."

Legolas nodded. "You are right. Still, glad I will be to see him again."

"Aye." Gimli stared out into the darkness. His heart and spirit searched for Gandalf, reaching across the miles for his loved one.

Far away as Shadowfax bore Gandalf over the plains, the wizard felt the brush like a zephyr across his spirit. "Gimli," he whispered.

A vision played in Gandalf's mind. Lightening blazing across a dark sky. Gimli standing against the wall. The dwarf was gripping his axe and gazing down at a dike filled with Orcs. Hundreds and hundreds more were pouring over the Dike and through the breach. Gandalf thought he perceived Gimli yelling to Legolas, "Come down from there, crazed one!" Thunder rolled, and it started to rain.

Gandalf's heart sought Gimli's to bring love and encouragement to his friend.

At Helm's Deep, Gimli did not know why he was certain, but he was. For a brief moment, he felt surrounded by a warm, familiar love. "He is well, Legolas!"

There was no time to explain as arrows whistled over the battlements.

The assault on Helm's Deep had begun.