Boundaries Crossed

by Sarah

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Gimli. Gimli/Legolas. Legolas/Gandalf/Gimli.

Summary: The sequel to Barriers Broken. The story deals with the time of the Quest and afterwards.

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.

Chapter 21

Shadowfax raced across the plains, each footfall bearing Gandalf away from his lovers. It was three hours now, the wizard reckoned, since he and Pippin had left the company behind. He had spent that time recalling all he could about the palantir and talking with the hobbit. Now Pippin slept, and Gandalf was left alone with his thoughts. Yet not really alone, Gandalf reflected. Every breath he took seemed mingled with Legolas' and Gimli's. The sensation was a bit disconcerting, but Gandalf valued it greatly. As long as it was there, he knew that his lovers were well.

The wizard wondered where the two were now and if Aragorn would take the quickest path to Minas Tirith. Legolas and Gimli would choose to follow Aragorn. Gandalf missed his lovers and longed once again to hear their voices, even if it meant watching them struggle to communicate in a manner that spoke more of love than discord.

Already, Gandalf concluded, he thought in terms of loving two. He eagerly looked forward to their reunion and being held close again by his mates, with Legolas curled around him and Gimli secure against his chest. He hoped they could find comfort with each other in this time of darkness.

Gandalf frowned. It was not entirely honest to tell himself that he wanted the two to find succour in each other. The Istar did hope that being together would mean encouragement to both of them. Yet he was not completely at ease with the form that the consolation might take. Gandalf was once again beginning to view Gimli as belonging to him, and the wizard feared the new conviction would be easily shaken. He could imagine the pair holding and touching each other and could not prevent the twinges of jealousy. Gandalf was still adjusting to the concept that Legolas was not just Gimli's lover but his also. He did not desire to have that new connection to Legolas weakened by a sense of jealousy on his part.

The wizard was glad that he had not shared his feelings with Gimli and Legolas. I will have to leave them often enough before the final departure. It is best that I let them do all they can to strengthen their relationship; even if that means they make love.

Pippin stirred in his sleep. Gandalf glanced down at him, and his thoughts strayed to two other hobbits. He wondered how Frodo and Sam were doing. Once more the sense that time was going too fast seized the wizard, and he forgot all else but thoughts of the mission.

Two days after Gandalf's departure with Pippin, Legolas and Gimli arrived at Dunharrow. After supper, they departed for the booth they shared with Aragorn. When they had settled in separate cots, Legolas called softly, "Gimli."

Shifting to where he could see Legolas, the warrior answered, "Aye." He could hear the murmur of the Men in nearby booths so he kept his own voice low.

"Elladan and Elrohir probably have the same abilities that any elf has."

Gimli puzzled over this for a moment and then, deciding Legolas' statement was unsolvable, asked, "This means what?"

"An elf can tell when another elf is bonded by looking into their eyes. I can feel our bond easily, and I imagine it can be seen just as easily."

Gimli considered this information. His first thoughts were ones of dislike of the concept, and then glancing at Legolas he swiftly changed his mind. It was best that there was some indication that Legolas belonged to his lovers. Gimli thought it would aid him in keeping the possessive feelings at bay.

Gimli was silent for so long that Legolas began to fret that the dwarf was very upset by this information. Then he heard the warrior chuckling.

Gimli teased, "You're not an elf! You're a walking announcement!"

"Not purposely, I'm not!" Legolas said indignantly.

"I suppose that soon you'll tell me that other elves can also tell whom you are bonded to."

"Nay." Legolas hesitated. "Mostly not." The archer was surprised Gimli's next words.

"I hope, my elf, that they can discern who your mates are, else you might find yourself the centre of disapproval stronger than what people might feel knowing there are three in our union. Because they are liable to see the affection between us. Though mayhap they will mistake it for friendship alone but if not... hopefully we will be fortunate enough to be with Gandalf again soon and sometimes...the way you look at him...well, it is obvious that you love him."

Legolas comprehended now. He decided not to inform Gimli that the dwarf always gazed at Gandalf with adoration that was plain to anyone who was truly watching. Legolas stated, "I am positive that I look at you at times in the same manner. You are concerned that others will assume I am faithless to my bond, as it will be difficult to judge if I am united with you or him. They might be confused, but they would eventually realise. Elves are never unfaithful. The connection between us would diminish if I was false. You would know."

Neither said anything for a few minutes. Legolas, hearing Aragorn's voice outside their booth and understanding that their time alone was almost over, whispered, "Do you mind much?"

"No." Gimli replied.

Aragorn came into the tent and their time to talk was gone, but Legolas did not care. He had heard a firm certainty in Gimli's voice and was content.

At dawn, Aragorn took the Paths of the Dead along with Legolas and Gimli.

By early evening of that day, Gandalf was beginning to feel certain that he had overlooked something important, because of the increasing apprehension in his spirit. Although he had reviewed the facts many times before, Gandalf counted the number of days before Minas Tirith could reasonably expect aid from Rohan. The estimate was always the same and never did it seem that Gondor would receive support soon enough.

Nor was this matter the only thing Gandalf knew he had reason to be concerned about. Frodo and Sam were often in his thoughts. And he could not help but be anxious about what conditions he might find in Gondor when he spoke with Lord Denethor. Telling the Lord that his favoured son was dead was not information that would be easy to report. Boromir's demise greatly saddened the wizard, and Gandalf deemed that the sorrow he felt over it might account for his sense of misery. Still, the nagging feeling of distress was discouraging. Gandalf told himself that he was doing everything he could possibly do. Yet he continued to examine events, searching for anything significant he might have failed to notice.

Twilight was approaching and in the distance Gandalf could see a wall of stone. The sound of hammers and busied work could be heard through the mist. Repairing the wall of Pelennor was over late, but Gandalf experienced relief. At least, Gondor did not slumber unaware of their increased danger. Perhaps once he knew the conditions in Minas Tirith, the uneasiness in his spirit would subside.

Gandalf's arrival in the city, however, did not abate his growing concern. He paced the floor in the chamber that he shared with Pippin and considered the day's events. Perhaps he should have spent more time teaching Pippin about the history of Gondor on the trip to Minas Tirith, but Gandalf suspected that it would have made no difference. His conversation with Denethor would still have been strained, and Pippin would have still sworn loyalty to the Lord. Not that Gandalf disliked Pippin's action. It was a generous deed. Pippin might not have thought of the possible consequences, but no one could predict the outcome anyway. The wizard had hoped that Faramir would be in the city, and his disquietude over the Man's absence seemed to feed fuel to the fire of misgiving in his spirit. He walked back and forth and wondered when Faramir would return.

"Hullo!" said Pippin, poking his head round the curtain. "I thought you had forgotten all about me. I am glad to see you back. It has been a long day."

"But the night will be too short," said Gandalf. "I have come back here, for I must have a little peace, alone. You should sleep, in a bed while you still may. At sunrise I shall take you to Lord Denethor again. No, when the summons comes, not at sunrise. The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn."

Aragorn crossed the Ringlo on the Dawnless Day, as it came to be called. The company camped not far from the river late that night. Legolas and Gimli sat a short distance from where Aragorn and Halbarad were talking.

Gimli's senses were dulled by fear. The dread of the company of dead behind them seemed to have settled into the warrior's blood. The absence of dawn and daylight due to the darkness from Mordor multiplied his terror. Each long dark hour seemed stretched on purpose to cause petrification.

Legolas was experiencing an increasing sense of alarm. Aragorn's plan was to cross into the Lebennin tomorrow and drive the enemy towards Pelagir. At Pelagair they would fight the corsairs. By the time of the next battle Gimli might be so worn due to persistent panic that he would not be capable of fighting well. Legolas worried he would lose Gimli in the upcoming conflict if the dwarf stayed flustered and upset. The warrior would not sleep, and he was constantly alert and frightened. Perhaps if he could get Gimli to talk to him, the dwarf would forget his surroundings long enough to relax and get some rest.

The archer glanced down at Gimli. The dwarf was fingering his axe and seemed ready to jump to his feet at the slightest sign of danger. Legolas searched his mind for something, anything, to get Gimli's thoughts away from the Dead that surrounded them. He had discarded several topics as not interesting enoughbefore his mind selected one. It could become a distressing subject, but if Gimli concentrated on something besides his environs, then perhaps the warrior would become calm. Legolas detested seeing Gimli so terrified, so he scooted close to the warrior, and in a low voice he asked, "What do you believe your father will say about our arrangement?"

His lover's words filtered through the dismay controlling Gimli, and astonishment was added to the warrior's emotions. Legolas wanted to have a long talk about parents! The elf had no sense of timing! The archer plainly did not understand how alarming it was to have the Dead nearby.

Gimli muttered, "It doesn't matter at all what my father thinks! I shall die of fright long before I have a chance to see him again."

Legolas could not fully understand Gimli's words, as they were both whispered and mumbled. It sounded like something about dying of fright first. "Nay! I forbid it! You are permitted death from old age, and I can forgive perishing in battle but not of fear!"

This brought a muffled groan from Gimli but nothing else. Trying again, Legolas said, "My father shall not be too pleased. I imagine he will eventually accept it..." Eventually, Gimli thought. Eventually to an elf might be longer than his life span. Legolas continued, "It is not just you. He did not approve of my interest in Gandalf."

Shifting closer to the archer so that their hips touched, Gimli enquired, "Why would he object to Gandalf?"

Legolas grinned. Finally he had captured Gimli's attention. The elf replied, "Because Gandalf travels so much. My Lord is right in concluding that I need commitment. Your father had no dissention with your relationship with Gandalf?" Throwing a quick glance around to make sure that no one was paying them attention and that there was nothing new to be distressed over, Gimli answered, "It was not what he would have chosen for me, but he gave me no trouble over it until Rivendell. He wanted me to avoid Gandalf while we were in the Hidden Valley. We were concerned over how the elves would react. Most elves do not like dwarves-even those who treat us with tolerance."

Gimli was still peering nervously around, but his voice had steadied, so Legolas replied, "Most elves know very little about dwarves. Were the elves in Rivendell difficult to deal with?"

This was greeted by silence, and Legolas worried he had lost Gimli's attention, but then realised the warrior was only making sure that no one was near enough to hear them.

Then the dwarf whispered, "No. They were very kind, and I like them. They shared stories concerning Gandalf that happened long before I was born. Glorfindel told me about Gandalf's first arrival in Rivendell. I like Glorfindel a great deal. Something about him reminds me of Gandalf."

Legolas started to let the subject go, but remembering that the purpose was to distract Gimli, he asked, "So you had no problems?" "Nothing beyond minor annoyances."

When Gimli volunteered no more information, Legolas said, "Such as?"

"Someone wanted me to knock on the door of the chamber that I shared with Gandalf..."

Legolas' mind flew back to the first meeting with Gimli when the dwarf had been carrying all his belongings. He was moving into Gandalf's rooms. Legolas concluded.

Gimli was continuing, "Another time, I was sitting on a bench, and one of them said to another as they strolled by, "I suppose I can discern what Gandalf sees in him. His hair is beautiful, and he's quiet and does not disturb anybody. Besides, Gandalf probably likes beards as he keeps his own so long."" Loosening his grip on Legolas slightly, Gimli added, "Elves have strange reasoning at times. They..."

"What?" Legolas interrupted. "They said that in front of you?"

A warning glance from Gimli reminded Legolas that he needed to keep his voice low. Otherwise they would be overheard by those around them. Gimli was quiet as he replied, "Aye, as they walked past where I sat. Elves know we do not hear as well as they do, and sometimes they do not lower their voices enough. We are accustomed to that."

Legolas doubted he could ever become accustomed to such treatment, and he disliked Gimli being subject to that attitude. He had no time to dwell on it, for Gimli was saying, "The biggest irritation was dealing with Gandalf's former lover. That elf said, as a way of introduction, that it was difficult to tell one dwarf apart from another, but he assumed I was Gimli. I almost said I wasn't!" Outrage surged through Legolas. He could vividly imagine the elf's tone of voice; just enough arrogance in it to make it clear that he thought himself superior but not enough for Gimli to have a right to be indignant. Legolas expressed his ire by saying, "He was jealous, Gimli. I can tell one dwarf from another effortlessly. I am positive he could, too. Did he state those words like this, 'I assume you are Gimli.'" Legolas put a certain haughtiness into his speech, remembering to talk quietly. He noted that Gimli had set his axe aside.

Gimli became very still and Legolas wondered if he had offended the dwarf. Then Gimli asked, "You do that very well. Do you practice talking in that fashion, Legolas?"

There was amusement in Gimli's voice, and Legolas relaxed. "Most certainly not, my dwarf!"

"Then it is something you were born knowing how to do, which is worse! And nay, that was not his manner. Though from his words I would say that he did want me to understand that he did not see dwarves as important enough to try to perceive the differences among them. Nevertheless, I suspect the fact that I was Gandalf's lover had humbled him. He was puzzled and upset and annoyed: partly at me but mostly because he could not fathom why Gandalf chose me over him. Gandalf loves elves, after all."

This statement coming from Gimli stunned Legolas. It did not seem to be something to discuss with his lover now. He wanted to divert Gimli's attention and was willing to do so with distressing subjects if necessary. This, however, had the possibility of being a heart-hurting issue, and Legolas did not believe it would aid the dwarf to have it examined in detail at the current time. Although Gimli had stated it casually and not as if there were any pain in it. Nor was Legolas sure it was a matter that he should probe into; this was something between Gandalf and Gimli.

Deep in his musings, Legolas barely registered the rest of the dwarf's words, "He also wanted to be assured that I love Gandalf as much as the wizard cherishes me." Gimli paused and then said, "He was not fond of me understanding his motives as plainly as if he had written them on parchment for me."

Gimli sighed. "I am sorry, Legolas! I do not want to complain about them. I cannot think clearly with those...those...people so close by! I do not dislike elves, and I was treated well. You asked about annoyances, and as I said these things were minor."

"You are a very patient, compassionate person."

Gimli did not reply and continuing to try to keep the dwarf from dwelling on their surroundings, Legolas said, "I find it insulting that they would gossip about you without being very confident that you could not hear. They seem to imply that as long as you are not very noticeable and are quiet you are bearable. I resent that. They are right that your hair is beautiful, but they are wrong to infer that you are not very noteworthy. Your hair has glossy red tints that I think any elf would consider worth remarking. And I noted your lovely eyes the first time I beheld you. You are not quiet, either." Legolas jested.

"Is that last statement supposed to be a compliment?" Gimli protested.

"Yes." Legolas stated firmly.

"Thank you." Gimli fidgeted and peered into the gloom. The rest of the company, with the exception of Aragorn and Halbarad, were dozing although Gimli saw that several of the Men started often in their sleep.

Gimli was a little calmer, and Legolas thought it was time to suggest that the dwarf nap. He pulled a blanket from his travel gear and threw it around both of them. He jerked another cover from Gimli's pack and handed it to his lover, whispering, "Please try to sleep, Gimli. We will be facing battle again soon. It would be best if you have had some rest."

"I cannot sleep, Legolas." Gimli muttered. He glanced at Legolas and moved so his head rested against the elf's shoulder. He did not protest when Legolas slid an arm around him and covered them again with the blanket. After a second, Gimli shifted to the elf's chest, finding the steady elven heartbeat to be a comfort.

Another solution to Gimli's terror occurred to Legolas, but he was unsure about how to implement it. He might be able to use their connection to bring support to Gimli. Legolas' people viewed the union of spirits as taking place during a physical joining. Yet the pulse of his mates' heartbeats seemed to echo within his own. Legolas thought it likely that he could soothe Gimli through their link without their loving.

Gimli's head was against his chest, and the dwarf was quiet, but he was holding himself alert.

"Meleth nín, you will not gain strength if you do not sleep. Rest and I will keep watch."

Gimli relaxed slightly, and his eyes closed. He dozed, but his slumber was fitful. His fingers clasped and unclasped Legolas' tunic. Occasionally a long shiver would shake the dwarf, and he would tremble in the elf's embrace.

Legolas placed his hand over the dwarf's heart and tried to shift some of his own serenity into Gimli's spirit. A sense of consternation gripped Legolas, and the elf's breath lodged in his throat. He had not fully comprehended the extent of Gimli's trepidation, and now it seemed to be rushing freely into him. It took Legolas several long minutes before his breathing was tranquil again.

Keeping his arm around Gimli, the elf studied his beloved. Legolas could imagine the dark eyes that were currently covered by lashes that were more red than brown. It was plain that his endeavour to share his own peace with Gimli had benefited the dwarf. It was not the deep sleep Legolas wished for Gimli, but the warrior was no longer tense and constantly fidgeting. His fingers had loosened, but he still quivered in his slumber, though that did not happen as frequently.

In Minas Tirith, Gandalf sat at the small table in his chambers. Pippin was napping, and the wizard was alone musing over the occurrences of the day. He had prevented the Nazgul from destroying Faramir, but his relief at having the Man safe in the city had been short-lived. After a heated conversation with Lord Denethor, Faramir had departed to try and regain Osgiliath.

The strange discouragement that resided in Gandalf's spirit had steadily swelled all day and now his body was becoming physically exhausted due to it. Gandalf considered trying to sleep for a short time. He glanced at his bed and a sudden longing for Gimli rushed through him. Memories of the many times he had arrived in Erebor weary from the journey and had rested snug against his lover came to mind. Gandalf sighed. There had been no time to create many memories with Legolas, but he missed them both.

Getting up, Gandalf pulled the blankets on the bed down. He kicked his shoes off, but he stayed dressed. He only intended to rest for a short time, and he wanted to be ready should he be needed.

In bed, Gandalf's thoughts again went to Gimli. He recalled a breakfast over ten years ago. Gimli had studied him intently throughout the meal and finally the wizard had stated, "Do I have food in my beard?"

Gimli had laughed and stated, "No. I am memorising you, because I love you so much."

And how much I love him! Gandalf mused. The wizard remembered how he had contacted Gimli at Helm Deep's. Legolas had stated that they were not truly separate from each other, and the bond must make communication even easier. Gandalf's thoughts hastened to the dwarf.

A wave of sheer panic and horror invaded Gandalf's spirit, leaving him gasping, his heart pounding. How was Gimli going to function with that amount of distress?

Now Gandalf had no doubt about the origin of all the agitation he had been experiencing. Gimli was afraid. Legolas was disheartened because of it, and both of them were pining for him. The wizard grimaced. His own fervent fretting over Faramir might have added to Gimli's trepidation.

The Istar stared up at the ceiling and wondered what to do next. Surely there was another possible way to contact the dwarf if he could just think of it.

Suddenly the storm in his spirit transformed into a restless breeze. "Legolas." Gandalf whispered in relief. Somehow, the elf had managed to settle Gimli. The wizard did not want to intrude on a private moment, and his first thought was to try to get some sleep. Yet he could still feel the disquiet that remained in Gimli and the tug on his spirit that spoke of their desire for him.

Another method of connecting with his lovers came to mind. He might be able at least to communicate with the spark of Gimli that he carried in his own spirit, especially now that the disturbance inside the dwarf had relented somewhat. Gandalf let one of his favourite images of Gimli dominate his mind. He pictured Gimli sitting by a hearth; the glow from the fire highlighting the red hues in the dwarf's tresses. Slowly Gandalf enfolded the part of Gimli contained in his own spirit, letting his tranquillity infuse the warrior's unsettled essence. Gradually the agitation completely faded from Gimli.

Gandalf sensed Gimli's great devotion to him. It was so mingled with the dwarf's knowledge of who his one was and his love for Legolas that Gandalf realised the elf was probably correct. The day might arrive when to Gimli there was no difference as far as who was his one. They would seem the same to Gimli.

Next, Gandalf found the glimmer in his spirit that was Legolas. Gently the wizard surrounded the elf's core with his own, allowing the fledgling love he felt for the archer to flood into the elf's spirit.

Gandalf smiled as Legolas' love for him streamed into his spirit. Feeling at peace and encircled by his mates' love, Gandalf turned onto his side and fell asleep.

Legolas had been keeping guard over his dwarf, loving holding one of his bond mates. He often scrutinised Gimli as he held the dwarf firmly, admiring the thick auburn beard and the elegant facial features. Gimli stirred, and for a second Legolas was anxious that the dwarf would awaken. Then Gimli smiled and cuddled closer to Legolas. The tremors ceased entirely, and the warrior appeared to finally be in a deep sleep.

Legolas barely had time to wonder at this happy change when his spirit felt the gentle caress from Gandalf. Legolas let his heart carry love to Gandalf as the archer revelled in the new union.

Gimli's abhorrence of the Dead did not vanish for the rest of the journey, nor did the fear completely disappear, but it did become something the warrior could easily tolerate. He was conscious that Legolas often bolstered his courage by using their bond to assist his spirit.

Through combat and turmoil, Legolas and Gimli arrived at Minas Tirith. When the conflict was over and tents had been set up, Gimli went out to search for news. He scrutinised the battlefield. Halbarad's fall was far too vivid in the warrior's mind, and Gimli wiped his hand across his eyes. He focused his bleary vision on the people moving across the field. There was a Man giving orders to those carrying the wounded off to the houses of healing. Gimli headed toward him.

When he arrived at the Man's side, Gimli waited patiently until the soldier had a chance to talk to him. "Do you know how Gan... Mithrandir fares?" Gimli asked.

"He is in the city and is well."

Gimli queried, "What news is there?"

The Man shook his head sadly, "Lord Denethor is deceased and King Theoden has perished. The Lord's second son, Faramir, is fighting for his life in the houses of healing."

The dwarf was attempting to accept these ill tidings when the Man added that the Lady Eowyn had also expired in battle, and the hobbit Meriadoc was not expected to live. Terrified that he will only hear of more loss from the Gondorian, Gimli managed a choked, "Pippin? Is Peregrin..."

"The perian is uninjured." The Man answered.

Gimli muttered, "Thank you." He made his way back to where he and Legolas had set up a tent. Legolas had found a small chest somewhere and was hauling it inside when Gimli arrived back.

Gimli waited until the elf was finished before stepping into the tent. The archer had clearly been busy in the short time Gimli had been gone. The tent now contained a large pallet, jugs of water, and the chest.

Gimli began remove his armour. He said softly to his lover, "I was told that Gandalf is unscathed." The warrior registered the quiet intake of breath that betrayed Legolas' relief. The dwarf had known that if Gandalf had perished, they'd have sensed it through their union. He had been uncertain if he and Legolas would be conscious of it had Gandalf been harmed, though. Plainly Legolas had not been positive they would, either.

Gimli commenced to take off his vest. He dreaded having to reveal the rest of the tidings. Wadding his dirty shirt into a ball, the warrior said, "Pippin is unhurt." Yet Gimli's mind rebelled at his words. How could he say Pip was not hurt? If Merry did not live it would be a grievous blow to all of them but especially to Pippin.

"There is something you tell me not, for your voice holds much sorrow." Legolas said, as he braced himself for whatever it was that Gimli was not disclosing.

Gimli met Legolas' eyes and stated gently, "It is only a first account, my elf. Perhaps later details will not be so grim."

Legolas nodded. It must be bleak information to cause Gimli to be hesitant to relate it.

Sadly, Gimli asserted, "Lord Denethor is deceased, and Rohan lost their King today. Faramir has been injured and is not doing well. And the Rohirrim..." Gimli swallowed. "He said that the Lady Eowyn fought with them, and she is no more, and he told me that Merry might not...he might..."

Legolas opened his arms, and Gimli rushed into them. They stood for a long while and wept together.

Gandalf departed the Houses of Healing. Tucked into his hand was a small map that Aragorn had drawn depicting where Legolas' and Gimli's tent was located.

Legolas and Gimli had cleaned themselves and shared a leisurely meal, but they did not speak much. They had napped for a short time, and then Legolas had left to see if Aragorn had arrived. He came back to report that the Man had not returned, but he had heard that Eowyn was not dead and had been taken to the Houses of Healing. Still, everyone had declared that the woman and the halfling, Meriadoc, were gravely wounded. Legolas had occasionally gone to see if Aragorn had come back. Each time, when he came into the tent again, he had shaken his head.

Now, using a bundle of hay as a back rest, they sat with dampened spirits, quietly together. Legolas nuzzled Gimli's hair. "Perhaps Aragorn will tell Gandalf how to locate us and maybe..."

Gimli nodded. "I hope so."

Outside, Gandalf finished counting tents and called softly, "Legolas? Gimli?"

Gimli and Legolas jumped to their feet. "Come in!" Legolas called. The instant Gandalf was in the tent and the flap fell shut, Gimli was in the wizard's arms. Gandalf hugged the dwarf tightly and reached for Legolas. Holding them close, Gandalf said, "How wonderful it is to see you both!"

Gimli looked up at Gandalf and said tearfully, "Merry? The Lady Eowyn?"

Gandalf felt Legolas tense in preparation for bad news, and Gimli trembled against the Istar. Hurriedly, Gandalf answered, "Eowyn will recover. And Merry was grumbling that his pipe was missing when I left. He will be fine. Aragorn called them both from the darkness and healed them. He saved Faramir's life, also. Faramir is now the steward of Gondor."

Gimli sagged against Gandalf. Legolas gripped both of them. Gandalf wrapped his arms tightly around the two, giving them a chance to recoup.

The wizard noted the living space: a makeshift bed with a bale of hay for a headboard, a flickering candle on a chest sat next to a pitcher of water and small bowl containing a few apples and apricots. Their packs and weapons were placed near the chest. "Let us move to bed so we can talk," Gandalf said.

They settled in, Legolas on one side of the wizard, and Gimli on the other. Legolas requested, "Start with Merry and Eowyn, please, and go back from there until the time we were sundered."

So Gandalf told of Lady Eowyn's and Merry's heroic deed. He did not go into the details, but he related enough of Lord Denethor's final minutes that the faces of the two listening to him showed shock and dismay. Gandalf spoke of the days before the battle, and gently he divulged to them that Faramir had seen Frodo and Sam. He did not mention his worries over the path Frodo might have taken. Discerning that Legolas might hear about Gollum from Pippin, the Istar put his arm around the archer. "Gollum was with them. He has become their guide."

"Their guide!" Legolas cried. "If Gollum harms them, it will be because..."

"It will be because Gollum cannot resist the ring. The blame will not lie with you, my dear elf! You were surprised by an assault that was much stronger than you could have expected. The lure of the ring would have caused Gollum to keep trying to find some way to flee. It was inevitable that he would escape considering that he had the Enemy's help." Gandalf stated firmly.

Gimli added, "It is not your fault! I believed, at first, that if Gollum had been given to dwarves, he would never have managed to get away." Gimli rubbed the elf's back. "But that is not correct! I've seen the forces we are dealing with much closer now, and Gandalf is right, my elf. It was not something you could have prevented!"

"I agree, my Green Leaf." Gandalf asserted. "Frodo made the decision to permit Gollum to direct them. He probably did so because it helps them keep watch on Gollum, but I'm sure the fact that he needed someone to show him the way influenced his choice, also."

Legolas slowly nodded, and Gandalf said sternly, "You are not the first nor will you be last who had their mercy used against them by evil. I was glad when I discovered that you were to be in charge of Gollum's care, and I have not regretted that you were selected. Imagine how much worse Gollum would be now if he had been mistreated and then escaped!" He pulled Legolas to his chest and tugged Gimli closer.

Only when Legolas was comfortable did Gandalf continue until he reached the night they were separated. Gandalf observed the two as he spoke and felt saddened at the changes he perceived in them. There was quietness in Gimli, and the dwarf's dark eyes appeared older than the warrior Gandalf remembered. Legolas had an air of unhappiness about him that had definitely not been there before. The wizard comprehended that war altered people, but it still brought pain. A great deal of their enthusiasm appeared to be replaced by a silent determination to carry on despite the cost. "I've missed you two!" Gandalf exclaimed. "Now you both must share what has happened since I departed!"

Legolas shifted and, relinquishing his place against the wizard's chest, he allowed Gimli to rest there. Neither spoke for a moment. Then Gimli said, "I suspect you've already guessed the route we took to Minas Tirith and how I reacted to it." He glanced up at the Istar, who nodded. Gimli went on, "Were it not for my loyalty to Aragorn, I am sure I would not have continued." He turned his head into Gandalf's chest and whispered, "You must be ashamed of me."

"No, my love! I suspect that my worries added to your fear." Gandalf stated.

Gimli shook his head. "I might have increased your anxieties, but my terror was so strong, I doubt that anything you felt could reach me through it."

Gandalf kept his arm around both of them. The wizard answered, "It is my opinion, my dwarf, that you were very brave! There can be no courage if there is no fear to overcome. I am not ashamed of you! I am proud of you!"

"So am I!" Legolas added. "I watched you grapple with the terror, but you never surrendered to your fright."

Gimli nodded, saying, "I'll never be proud of my fear, but we are here and it is over."

Legolas sighed softly. "There is something I must tell both of you." He hesitated and then said quietly, "Gimli." When the dark eyes he loved so well were focused on his own, the archer declared, "I love you so much. Nothing will ever change that. By your side, I shall always be. I promise you." He reached out and let his fingers please themselves in the beards of his lovers where they were joined on the wizard's chest. "I heard the gulls during the battle, and my heart cries with the longing to journey across sea. I..." Legolas halted. Gimli had begun to turn away from his gaze and was nestling farther into Gandalf's embrace. "Nay, my dwarf! I swear you mean far more to me than any call to a land I do not even know! I do not want to leave you!"

Gandalf protectively held Gimli tight, but he kept his other arm around the elf's waist. He was all too familiar with pining for another place. "Legolas, if Middle-earth was at peace, would this be a desire that would be too powerful to fight?"

"Nay, truly my heart craves above all else to be with Gimli! I would not want to leave my hobbit friends or Aragorn. My home is here."

Gandalf nodded. Gently rubbing Gimli's back, he stated, "I have been in Middle-earth a very long time, and there were times when I yearned to go home. Duty has held me here, but love is a far more potent sustainer."

"But to hold onto him is selfish." Gimli whispered.

"Nay!" Legolas objected. "I choose to stay with you, and I want you to be my sustainer! Have you not been in the past? Gimli, meleth nín, it is not selfish when it is what we both wish!"

Gimli gazed into Legolas' eyes and asked, "You are certain?"

"Yes!" Legolas answered. When he saw reassurance in Gimli's eyes, he said to Gandalf, "I hope the next time we are reunited, we can greet you with kisses instead of our trials!"

Leaning over, Gandalf put his head on Legolas' shoulder and the archer embraced him. Gimli stayed against the wizard's chest. The Istar asserted, "I wish to hear about what concerns my mates! The two of you do struggle at times, but you continue despite the obstacles. I admire both of you."

Gimli smiled up at him, and Legolas bent over to press a gentle kiss against the wizard's lips. The elf shivered in anticipation of what the night would bring. Gripping Gimli's shoulder, Gandalf's tongue traced the outline of the archer's lips. They drew apart a little. Grey eyes and blue met and expressed happiness at being together.

Watching the two of them, Gimli realised that he was beholding the establishing of a new love. He sighed happily and reaching up he tenderly caressed the soft curve of the elf's firm chin. With his other hand, he rubbed Gandalf's left nipple through the tunic, feeling the fingers on his shoulder tremble in response.

Desiring to feel Gimli's touch better, Gandalf removed his tunic and began tugging off his breeches. Legolas and Gimli eagerly divested themselves of their clothes also. As they shed their garments, Legolas whispered, "We waited for you, beloved."

Gandalf's hands stilled for a moment, and he sighed softly at the relief he felt. "You two should not have to..."

His relief did not escape notice from Gimli and Legolas. "We chose to. You have every right to be uncomfortable over us loving without you. We need you, too." Gimli said.

"Gimli is right. Our union is too new. We are not ready to make love without you. And you..." Legolas leaned over to place a kiss on Gandalf's lips. "You are not ready for us to do so, either!"

"I love both of you." Gandalf answered. Inclining his head, the wizard parted Legolas' lips with his tongue.

A judder of melting enchantment flowed sensuously over Legolas as Gandalf possessed his lips in a passionate kiss, his tongue probing the archer's mouth with a tantalising flicker. Legolas moaned deep within his throat, feeling his body meld with that of the lithe form that held him.

Gandalf's body heated, and his cock swelled as the archer trembled in his arms. Legolas tasted sweeter than any candy he had ever sampled. He broke the ardent kiss with a small groan. Inhaling Legolas' faint woodsy scent, he submerged his face in the aromatic flaxen hair, and wound his arms about the slim waist, nuzzling the archer's neck and whispering, "I love you," in his ear. Pleased with the moan that escaped Legolas, his tongue outlined the curve of a delicate ear.

Gimli's hands were roaming over his lovers, discovering and treasuring the differences. He brushed lightly across their erections.

The wizard shuddered as Gimli rubbed him in a sensuous caress. His cock rose to its complete hardness.

The elf's hand joined the dwarf's, and together they moved over the Istar's erection in long, slow strokes.

Gandalf's head fell back and his snowy white hair cascaded over his shoulders. Gimli's erection jerked in response, and Legolas reached out and wound his fingers in the Istar's silky tresses.

Gandalf shifted to face Gimli, and the warrior eagerly wrapped his arms around the Istar's neck, pulling his lover down. The wizard crushed his mouth against Gimli's with an urgent, plundering kiss. His hands lovingly trailed down the length of Gimli's body and over the firm arc of his back, pausing on the curve of the dwarf's hips. He stretched his fingers, pressing down gently to relish the soft warm flesh and his lover's quivering. His breathing ragged, Gandalf leisurely placed passionate kisses down Gimli's throat, nipping at the base. He glided down to the muscular chest to delight in silky, auburn hair. The wizard's tongue flitted around Gimli's navel, his hands moving to cup the warrior's buttocks.

Gimli's breath caught as the impassioned kisses seared his flesh with desire. Slender hands grasped his buttocks and squeezed gently. The dwarf reached around Gandalf and found Legolas' firm stomach. His hand slid down to enclose the elf's hard shaft. He thumbed the ridge under the head. Then he collected Legolas' scrotum, fingers rolling agilely over the rounded masses held within.

Legolas groaned openly and leaned into Gimli's fondling. His fingers continued to twine in and out of Gandalf's hair.

Departing from Gimli, Gandalf turned to Legolas. The wizard's tongue swiped over one of his nipples, and then Gandalf's hot mouth sealed over it to suck gently for a moment. Moving upward, Gandalf captured Legolas' mouth, slipping his tongue between the elf's lips with a teasing brush and wringing a quivering moan from the archer.

Gimli enclosed Gandalf's cock with his free hand, fondling the head before sliding down the throbbing hardness. An idea occurred to him, and the dwarf paused. He studied both of them and sighed. There seemed to be no way to actually do what he was thinking of.

The warrior's sigh, though soft caught the attention his lovers. Legolas and Gandalf glided apart and turned their attention to Gimli.

Suddenly Gimli realised that it had been a long time since he and Gandalf had needed to talk in order to express wants. They had conversed; whispers of love, quiet sharing of fantasies, mutters of praise, but explanations had not been necessary. Gimli mumbled, "I would have you two together, but I do not know how."

Legolas cast an appealing "You would know better than I" look at Gandalf. His chest heaved from unspent passion.

Gandalf caressed Gimli's hair, "My dwarf?"

Gimli's hands moved upward over their erections and he said, "I would taste you both. Together."

Understanding now, Legolas stated, "I think if..." He leaned against the hay and spread his legs, pulling his erection upwards. He smiled at the whimper from Gimli and Gandalf's intake of breath. Patting the blanket between his legs, the archer said to Gandalf, "Come sit here. We will put our legs over each other, and Gimli can have his wish."

It took some manoeuvring and shifting, but finally Gandalf and Legolas could bring their erections together. Gimli moved in front of them and leaning forward his tongue swept over the leaking heads, savouring the mingled taste of his lovers. Taking a big breath, he accepted both erections into his mouth. It was more difficult than he had expected, and he pulled back. Gandalf's hand rested on one of the dwarf's arms, and Legolas' on the other. "Easy," Gandalf stated at the same time that Legolas said, "Careful."

Inhaling deeply, Gimli once again covered both arousals with his mouth. Slowly he eased down.

Legolas found and gripped Gandalf's hand. He knew it was essential that he not move, but it was difficult to keep still. The wet heat of Gimli's mouth encompassed the head of his cock, and Gandalf's rigid shaft pulsated snugly against his own.

Blazing need pounded through Gimli's veins at having both his lovers' hard cocks completely filling his mouth. For a moment Gimli thought he might have to draw back a second time. Telling himself that if he could get beyond the flared heads it would be easier, the dwarf began to cautiously move downward.

Watching Gimli take both of them sent shivers of passion through Gandalf. His fingers clenched and unclenched around Legolas' hand. His voice shaking, he whispered to Gimli, "Easy, loved one, easy, Gimli."

Having managed to get past the crown of his lovers' erections, Gimli experimentally flipped his tongue over them, rejoicing in the cry that sprang from Gandalf and the whimper from Legolas.

Despite Gimli's delight, it was not an effortless task. A vivid image of another evening came to Gimli's mind. Lying in bed, Gandalf's hard cock burying itself in his throat. It had been the wizard who had taught him how to take another male deep into his throat. He remembered giving the wizard that pleasure and how it had also bought such extreme ecstasy to him that now many years later he recalled the time clearly. He had concentrated on Gandalf's voice then, and now he focused on the Istar's whispered words of love as he attempted to keep his jaw relaxed. Slowly he sealed his lips around the firm shafts. Very carefully Gimli slid down until the rigid lengths bumped the back of his mouth, and then he glided upwards. He placed his hands on his lovers' hips to balance himself.

Legolas' fingers entwined with Gandalf's as he cried his delectation out. The wizard's voice was not steady, but he continued to murmur love to Gimli, extolling the dwarf's beauty and strength.

In a leisurely slide, Gimli eased back down until the wizard's cock tickled the back of his throat, and Legolas' erection twitched at the end of his tongue. Wrapping his tongue over the hot flesh dominating his mouth, Gimli began to suck both.

Gandalf turned slightly, so he and Legolas could hold onto each other. Neither could control their shaking at the intense ecstasy when the slick tongue enfolded their erections, and Gimli started to suckle them. Passion raced through the wizard, and he could feel the rise and fall of Legolas' chest as the archer panted. The elf's rigid erection was pressed tightly against his own. Gandalf's words were breathless as he continued to whisper to Gimli. "That's wonderful, my dwarf!"

As the wet muscle curled around him and hot suction encased his cock, Legolas forgot all else but the need to remain unmoving for Gimli and the quivers running through Gandalf that heightened his own bliss. He attempted to add his encouragement to the Istar's, but all he could manage was an occasional, "Uma! Yes, meleth nín!"

Before too long Gimli craved more air and gradually edged upwards, his hand replacing his mouth around the stiff rods. Reluctantly he withdrew. Straightening up, Gimli stated, "I suppose I'll never master that, much though I'd like to." He glanced up at his lovers. They were clinging to each other. Legolas looked dazed, his eyes so dark that they were almost black, and Gandalf's eyes were tightly closed, one hand grasping Legolas' and the other curled into a ball. "Perhaps my skill is not all that important." Gimli jested.

Tenderly, Legolas helped Gandalf to shift behind Gimli and then pulled the dwarf down between them while whispering, "Thank you for that delight," in the warrior's ear. Legolas watched as Gandalf caressed Gimli's back and he said softly, "I love you, my dwarf."

Gimli shifted to rest on his back, gazing up at his lovers with adoration.

Legolas' fingers brushed Gimli's arousal and Gandalf's mouth latched onto the dwarf's nipple. Sliding down, Legolas nibbled the underside of the hard column arching between the dwarf's legs. Capturing the swollen head, the elf twirled his tongue around the crown. Legolas' hand nestled into the white beard that was draping Gimli's belly.

Gandalf nuzzled into Gimli's chest before pinching the dwarf's other nipple. The warrior struggled to remain motionless under the onslaught of bliss. Warm lips suckled his nipple while a hot mouth glided down his arousal, both bringing to him to a higher level of longing.

A shuddering moan broke from Gimli. His eyes were tightly shut. Gandalf's mouth worked first one nipple, then the other into a small erect nub. The wizard's beard fluttered over his stomach in a soft caress. Legolas was kneading Gandalf's beard, and Gimli could feel the elf's knuckles clamping against his flesh. The archer's tongue twirled over Gimli's cock, probing gently at the slit, flicking over the head and then dancing down the length. Gimli thrashed under the attention, giving up his intention to be still.

When Gimli had started to scrunch the sheets with his hands, Legolas edged off the dwarf and released the wizard's beard. He sat up and seized a nearby pack. Groping through it, Legolas produced a bottle. To Gandalf he queried, "Will you be all right with Gimli in the middle?"

Gandalf considered for a moment and then grinned. "Yes."

Gimli breathed a sigh of relief at the confidence in the wizard's voice. He was beyond caring how they loved as long they continued. He moved to lie on his side.

The wizard pulled Gimli back against his hardness, eliciting a long moan from the dwarf. The wizard slithered his fingers slowly over Gimli's hips and brushed them across the head of the warrior's cock. He swirled his thumb around the engorged crown while Gimli trembled. Then he accepted the vial from Legolas. Gandalf poured some over his own fingers and Gimli's.

Shifting to his side and downward, Legolas raised his leg to give Gimli access to his body. The dwarf trailed a finger over the elf's arousal. He gave it a firm stroke before rubbing the heavy sac underneath and then slipping one finger down to tease the furrowed entrance below. Carefully he placed the tip of his finger inside and very slowly inched it forward. His finger cautiously moved in languorous loops that increased in range, widening the archer.

Gimli put one leg over Legolas and tugged the elf closer. Gandalf's finger gently circled the warrior's opening, and the dwarf moaned his need into Legolas' back. The wizard's finger penetrated Gimli, rotating lazily, until the guardian muscle had opened enough for a second digit. Withdrawing from Gimli's body, he added another finger and tenderly pressed forward again, repeating the little circles.

Legolas was floating in blissful sensation as Gimli's finger moved inside him. He gasped loudly when a second digit breached his passage.

The elf's gasp was experienced by Gandalf, who was suddenly carried to another time and place when Gimli had taken him the first few times. It had been more difficult than he had anticipated. Reaching over Gimli, the wizard began to rub Legolas' hip in a soothing motion.

Gimli felt the archer relax again and continued to gently widen the elf's channel. Gandalf's fingers shifted inside the dwarf, and Legolas bore down on Gimli's digits. Laying his head on the elf's back, Gimli shut his eyes. His heart soared with happiness, and the warrior placed kisses over Legolas' back. Scissoring his fingers carefully, Gimli's fingertips grazed lightly over the tiny bundle of nerves concealed inside his lover. Legolas crooned and trembled around him.

In a leisurely fashion Gimli thrust his digits in and then pulled them almost out. Gandalf's fingers were twisting deep inside him, causing his kisses on Legolas' back to be mingled with his panting. Gimli's erection was trickling with his yearning as it throbbed, confined between his lovers. "I need you both." Gimli whispered.

The Istar caressed Legolas' slim hips before his hand gravitated down to the elf's buttocks to squeeze. Carefully removing his fingers from Gimli, the wizard snatched the oil. He dashed some of the fluid over his aching cock and then drizzled more over his fingers. Gently, Gandalf took hold of Gimli's shaft and started to slick the throbbing flesh with slow, deliberate strokes, rolling the dwarf's hardness between his palms.

Feeling Gandalf's hands move against his back and hearing Gimli's soft cries of pleasure, Legolas realised that the wizard was preparing the dwarf in hopes of easing the way for him. "I am ready, melethryn."

When both arousals were thoroughly covered, Gandalf moved up, pushing the tip of his cock against Gimli's stretched opening. Slowly he penetrated his lover, gasping as the hot tightness enclosed his flesh.

Clutching the blanket under them in his fist, Gimli resisted the desire to lean back and impale himself as the steel flesh entered his body. Instead he eased forward. Exhilarating heat swathed his erection in a powerful clasp that made his senses reel. Moaning, Gimli concentrated on being aware of Legolas' every breath. He did not want to make quick movements to cause Legolas discomfort or give Gandalf the notion that the elf was ready for faster love-making.

Legolas quivered as the wide head of Gimli's lubricated cock nudged his entrance. He breathed in deeply and pushed outward, groaning as he was pierced. The ache was less than expected, and elf's body twitched with enjoyment as slowly and with care he was breached.

When Gandalf's cock was fully encased in the velvet channel, he paused, panting against the dwarf's back. His hand returned to Legolas' hip to rub affectionately. Gimli began to gradually pull Legolas back against them. Judging by the soft mewls from the archer, Gandalf doubted Legolas was experiencing more than a twinge or two of pain.

When Legolas was fully seated against them, all three were still for a long moment, allowing hearts and minds to adjust to their bodies' actions.

Gandalf opened his eyes and beheld their joining. For a fleeting second, the wizard felt a flash of jealousy, but it vanished as Legolas' fingers entwined with his. He loved both of them, and he would not grudge their devotion to each other.

Legolas was happy to have his lovers united with him. He felt the brief tremor in Gandalf's hand as it rested on his hip. Sympathy seized the elf, and he weaved his fingers with Gandalf's.

Gimli was completely lost in bliss. Legolas' body trembled around him, and Gandalf was snug against his back. He felt almost squished between the two of them, and the idea was pleasing to him. Aware that Gandalf might find this moment difficult, Gimli groped for the wizard's arm. He got a handful of the Istar's beard instead and without thinking about it, he positioned it over himself. This was not entirely for Legolas, rather it was due to his own love of Gandalf's beard, but immediately there was a soft croon from Legolas and mirth from the wizard.

The end of the wizard's beard suddenly tickled Legolas' stomach, and the archer's hand instantly reached out to burrow within the silky strands of Gandalf's beard.

With a breathless laugh, Gandalf understood that he was already beginning to cherish this new relationship as much as the old one with Gimli.

Rocking back into Gimli, the elf encouraged the warrior to thrust. Gandalf grasped the dwarf's hips to guide him, and together they began to move.

Gimli started to thrust, awkwardly at first, trying to get accustomed to being taken while taking. The acute ecstasy of it drew breath from his lungs while making his blood race and his heart pound. Each plunge was done with care and twice Gimli changed positions. He knew his search was successful when a loud cry erupted from the elf.

Legolas was drowned in ardent pleasure as the hard cock plundered his channel and Gimli's beard caressed his back. He felt Gimli's restless movements and then white light flashed behind his eyes as the dwarf's phallus rubbed over his special region. Driving himself backwards onto Gimli produced shouts from both his lovers.

Trembling with exhilaration and enjoyment, Gandalf gave loving circular touches over the smooth elven hips. Legolas was still kneading the tip of his beard, and the occasional slight tug on his chin somehow added excitement. Gimli's muscles were alternately gripping and releasing his arousal. Thrusting deep inside Gimli, each lunge raking his cock over that certain gland, the wizard reached a rhythm with a dwarf.

Captured between his two loves, Gimli's head spun at the rapture. Their cries of glee were the most beautiful sounds that his ears had ever perceived. Gandalf's erection unerringly stroked that one area, and Legolas' passage was tight and hot. Reaching over he found the jutting column between the archer's legs, relishing the rigid steel under his fingers. He began to stroke Legolas' erection with a firm clasp that matched his and Gandalf's thrusting. The Istar's beard draped over him in a white curtain, making Gimli felt sheltered and loved. The combined thrill resembled nothing the dwarf had ever imagined, and his eyes were moist with joy as his whimpers joined with that of his lovers.

A broad hand enclosed Legolas' cock, and the elf arched back in rapture. Legolas moved in time with his lovers, lunging within the strong enclosure of Gimli's hand and impaling himself upon the dwarf's hardness.

They swayed together in a dance of love and passion. As their bodies were joined, so slowly their spirits reunited again. Gandalf was aware of the ebbing of light that was Legolas and Gimli entering his spirit. Legolas was only dimly conscious of the renewing of their bond as the need in his loins built to a crescendo. Gimli had been eagerly awaiting the experience and almost as soon as Gandalf knew it, the dwarf too recognised the brilliance that seemed to surround him. He gave a grateful cry and stilled, moaning to Gandalf, "Please."

The comprehension that Gimli was holding off his own release in a desire to fully feel Gandalf's climax inside him produced scorching need in the wizard. With a long, hard thrust the wizard's seed gushed outwards in a rush of gratification and rapture so strong that Gandalf felt light-headed with it.

Legolas groaned as the hard plunges within him ceased, but Gimli's hand never halted the wonderful firm strokes over his cock, easing any complaint. The merging of spirits brought fresh enchantment as his lovers' essences flowed into his own.

Gandalf's rigid rod raided Gimli's depths. The dwarf felt the engorged head pulse against the walls of his channel, and the hot seed of his beloved filled his passage. For a second, he savoured the intimate moment, unlike any he had known with Gandalf before, because now the wizard's spirit entwined with his own. Determined that Legolas would share in the supreme happiness and bliss, Gimli lunged forward, striking that one spot.

Gimli's hand encircled the archer's arousal, fingers cupping the head, the broad thumb brushing the slit. With each forward thrust, the warrior's cock caressed the little gland inside Legolas. Twisting the blanket under him, the elf's spirit completely reunited with his lovers, and Legolas' body unleashed his passion. Shuddering, he plummeted into satisfaction and bliss.

The tight channel around Gimli constricted, jerking his peak from him. It dashed through his veins with such power that his body shook, and the yell in his throat was quenched for his need to have air.

For a long while, nobody moved. Gimli lay in a joyful daze, not caring that he was compressed between two very warm bodies. He was only conscious of the pleasurable relaxation of his body and the rejoicing of his spirit as it mingled with its mates. Legolas' spirit was occupied with celebrating the brilliance and heat of his bonded ones' inside his own. Tremors of felicity still ran throughout his body. Gandalf rested, one arm slung over both of his mates. The wizard's eyes were wet with love for the two beings that were recovering in his embrace. The joining of both body and spirit brought a sense of fulfilment and completeness to Gandalf that he had never experienced before but now understood that he needed. Merriment filled his heart as he realised that Legolas still had one hand kneading his beard. "I love you both very much!" Two "I love you's" floated back to him, one in Gimli's deeper timbre and the other almost sang to him.

Reluctantly, Gandalf let himself slip from Gimli's body, saying as he did so, "I have never experienced anything like that!"

There was a chuckle from Gimli as he eased back from Legolas. The dwarf stated, "I should protest that statement, but I know what you mean!"

Legolas smiled. "I'm glad I can add a little to your enjoyment!" he jested. He grabbed a cloth, darted water over it and began dabbing Gimli's palm.

Dwarf and wizard reached out to him, Gandalf to squeeze the elf's arm, and Gimli to caress his chin. The Istar said, "Because of you, my dear elf, Gimli and I are united in a way that we would never have been without you. We both love you. I love your caring, unselfish, and gentle nature. The two of us have become more complete because of you."

"Aye, I agree. Our love was wonderful and satisfying for so many years. Yet having you with us adds to it in so many ways."

Overwhelmed, Legolas ceased cleaning, his eyes tearing. Gimli slipped to the other side of him. He and Gandalf wrapped the archer in a tight hug.

Later after they had washed, they cuddled together for a time. Gandalf reposed in the middle with his lovers cuddled alongside him. Gimli's chin rested on his shoulder, his beard draped over the Istar's arm. Legolas leaned against him and pressed his face into the wizard's neck. Their hands were linked and nestled in his beard. The wizard laughed. "I am pleased that you two find my beard so entertaining!"

"It's beautiful!" Gimli answered.

Legolas stated, "We missed you so much!"


Gandalf's mention of his beard reminded Legolas of something. He propped himself on an elbow and, reaching out, gently traced Gandalf's eyebrows, trying to discern them from Gimli's perspective.

After a moment of this examination, Gandalf laughed. "What is your opinion?"

Gazing into the Istar's eyes, Legolas declared, "Perfect! Just like the rest of you!"

"Aye, very erotic!" Gimli added.

"Erotic." Legolas repeated.

Gandalf held back the laughter threatening to burst forth. Legolas' face showed bewilderment as the archer struggled to understand Gimli. The elf glanced from the dwarf to Gandalf's eyebrows. Then he stated, "Erotic, because you love him so much that everything about him is treasured. I understand."

Gandalf swallowed. Legolas still sounded very puzzled. At least, the wizard told himself happily, they were talking so peacefully that no one hearing them would think that there had ever been discord between them.

Gimli was shaking his head. "I do love him so much that I treasure everything about him, but that is not why I find them exciting. Before we were..." Gimli halted and looked up at Gandalf, who nodded.

"Before we were lovers, we were at a party, and I was giving Gandalf trouble. I was drunk, Legolas. You know how he looks at people when he wants them to cease with the foolishness."

"Yes, and anyone with the slightest amount of sense does quiet at that point!" Legolas declared.

Gandalf grinned. It was amusing to listen to them. Gimli's tone implied that everything the wizard did was without flaw, and Legolas was still attempting to decipher the dwarf's reasoning.

"Aye," Gimli replied. "I know when to shut up, Legolas! was very arousing!"

"I give up!" Legolas asserted. "It is impossible comprehend how a dwarf thinks! Enlighten me, Gimli. Just why do you find his eyebrows erotic?"

"They are bushy!" Gimli declared.

"Bushy." Legolas said, in the same perplexed tone he had earlier stated, "erotic." He turned and stared at briefly at Gandalf's eyebrows before shrugging and giving up.

The happy sound of Gandalf's mirth once more was heard in the tent, and Legolas and Gimli exchanged looks of joy.

For a very brief time, the three exulted in their love, and the troubles of the time were set aside.