Boundaries Crossed

by Sarah

Rating: NC-17

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

Summary: Decisions made.

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 24

After the crowning of the King, the rest of the Fellowship moved into a house in Minas Tirith. Gandalf, along with Gimli and Legolas, was given the upper chambers. With amusement, Gandalf watched as his lovers inspected the area, clearly trying to decide which bedroom would serve their purposes best. He smiled as they selected a room because according to Gimli, "It has the biggest bed and the balcony faces the sea."

Gimli spent time each day with the dwarven representatives King Thorin III had sent to the crowning of King Elessar. Gandalf knew that Gimli's respect and loyalty to the new King of Gondor was helping to forge a strong friendship between the two kingdoms. Legolas was usually with Gimli, and Gandalf was aware of the speculation that this caused among the dwarves. The dwarves had been in Minas Tirith for about a week when Gandalf arrived at a meeting concerning the new alliance being formed between the kingdoms of Gondor and Erebor to find that he was watched closely, and the Istar quickly realised they were looking for signs of jealousy in him over the obvious closeness of Legolas and Gimli. The wizard suspected that his own fondness for both of his lovers and their affection for him increased the puzzlement of the dwarves. Gimli and Legolas had discussed the matter with Gandalf, and it had been decided that family and friends should be told of the three's relationship first. Therefore, they had not explained matters to the confused dwarves. Gimli had given them a lengthy letter to take back to Gloin, but he had not related anything personal in the missive, believing that such news was better delivered in person.

One early May evening Legolas stood on the balcony softly singing while Gimli and Gandalf sat smoking in the outer chamber just past the bedroom. Gandalf, after making sure that Legolas' attention was elsewhere, set his pipe aside and in a low voice said to Gimli, "Elves honour the date of conception, not the day of birth. If you do not wish to wait that long, however, I can tell you that Legolas' birthday is four days hence."

Gandalf himself had come by the knowledge of the date from a casual mention of it in Ithilien during one of his talks with Legolas. Now the wizard and Gimli made plans in hushed voices, both very aware of Legolas' excellent hearing.

Four days later, Legolas climbed the stairs to their shared chambers. His mind was busy puzzling over Gimli's recent behaviour. The day had begun as usual and had continued as on previous ones. Then, after a splendid feast, Gimli had mumbled something about fearing it was going to rain and he might get soaked. Much to Legolas' bewilderment, Gimli had dashed out of the banquet hall. Before the archer could follow him, King Elessar had engaged Legolas in a conversation about the gardens planned for the city.

When next Legolas looked around, Gandalf had left, too. Thinking that perhaps they wanted to talk with just the two of them, Legolas had prolonged the discussion with the King. He had walked home in the drizzling rain, missing Gimli. They had been inseparable since their arrival in Minas Tirith, and now Legolas realised how quickly he had become accustomed to having the warrior at his side.

The sudden rush out the door reminded Legolas of his first meeting with the dwarf. Much had changed since that time, and Legolas believed he knew dwarves better than did any other elf, yet despite that, Gimli had managed to mystify him once more.

Inside the chamber, Gimli rearranged the candles and said to Gandalf, "I wonder where our elf is. It is too cloudy for stargazing. How long did you tell the King to delay him?"

"Not this long. I suspect he thought we wanted to be alone and is giving us time," Gandalf answered, grinning at Gimli's impatience.

Gimli turned toward the door. "I shall fetch him."

It was then that Legolas opened the door and halted, blinking at the scene before him. Candles in various places lighted the room, and the scent of his favourite sweet wafted in the air. On a small table sat a covered dish, a wine bottle and three crystal goblets, and two brightly wrapped packages. Comprehension arrived almost as quickly as Gimli, who was at his side with a warm towel to wipe the drops of rain from his face.

Gimli said, "We know elves do not celebrate the birthday itself, but we both have something to give to you and did not desire to wait."

Legolas smiled. It pleased him that they had decided to do this, although he was uncertain how his mates had managed to make plans without him knowing about it. "I have never marked a birthday before." Excitement tinged his voice as he glanced at the boxes on the table.

Once Legolas had taken a seat, Gandalf picked up one of the gifts and said, "We thought this one should be first."

No longer trying to contain his exhilaration, Legolas eagerly unwrapped the gift. Inside was another box, this one's cover lined with velvet. Prying the case open, Legolas excitedly peered inside. Within were three gold rings with matching necklaces.

Legolas gasped. He stared at the jewellery for a moment and then reached out to grab both his lovers' hands. "I wanted this so much! Thank you!"

Gimli squeezed Legolas' hand as the warrior said, "It is right to do, and we desired it, too. My people also have the custom of exchanging rings, but we give necklaces with them, because sometimes it is not safe to wear a ring while we are working. During those times, the ring is placed on the necklace until it can be worn once more."

Legolas nodded, his eyes shining with happiness. Gandalf took one of the rings, and Gimli turned his palm up so the archer's hand rested within his. Gazing into Legolas' eyes, Gimli glided the ring onto his mate's finger. The elf looked down at this symbol of commitment and then back up to where his lovers were gazing at him quizzically.

"I had to guess at the size. Does it fit?" Gimli asked.

Suddenly Legolas recalled a night when after their love making Gimli had repeatedly caressed his fingers and had said, "I love long, slender fingers." Gandalf had laughed, but now Legolas understood why Gimli had been concentrating on his fingers. Legolas moved the ring on his finger and smiled. "Your deduction was correct."

Gimli pressed Legolas' hand, and, taking another ring from the box, he placed it on the elf's palm. "You may," he said.

Legolas understood what he was given permission to do and perceived it as another gift. He met Gandalf's eyes and slowly guided the ring onto the wizard's finger. He kept the fingers of one hand entwined with Gimli's. Gently, as if lifting a treasure, Legolas slid the final ring from its slot. Presenting it to Gandalf he said, "I imagine you have secretly desired this for years. Give me the joy of seeing you fulfill that wish."

Nodding, Gandalf gripped Gimli's hand first before gliding the ring to its home. For several long moments, nothing more was said.

Then Legolas reached for the other package, quickly opening it. Surprise gripped him, and happiness threatened to overflow his heart. He looked up at Gimli. "I saw you work on this often and thought it was just an idle pastime. This is stunning!"

Legolas studied the relief, his fingers lightly grazing over the art. Etched in precise detail were the mallorns and the stream by the meadow where they had first made love. "Oh, Gimli!"

"I thought you should have something from me in our new home in Ithilien," Gimli said.

Legolas nodded. Once more, his digits mapped out the design. "And I believed you never noticed the trees!"

Gimli shrugged. "I have a reason to take note of them now."

They talked for a while, sharing the wine and cake, and then Legolas said, "There is one gift I would yet ask, although if either of you is not ready, I will understand."

When Gandalf and Gimli nodded, Legolas stated softly, "I want to watch you two make love tonight."

Gandalf looked to Gimli. He did not feel he would have any problem granting Legolas his wish, but dwarves were very private beings. He was not surprised, however, when Gimli's first response was concern for the elf.

"Are you certain you will be fine with this, Legolas?" Gimli asked. When the archer gave his assent, Gimli stated, "Then I will agree as long as you promise that should you experience any unpleasant feelings, you will cease and join us."

"You have my promise," Legolas vowed.

They both looked at Gandalf now. The wizard nodded. "I have no problem granting this."

They moved to the bedchamber to express love in another way. Legolas dragged a chair to a place where he could get a good view of the bed. Gimli and Gandalf began to undress each other. Every touch was a caress of love, Legolas thought. Clothing was dropped onto the floor almost as if the removal of such hindrances to lovemaking was an afterthought. Their concentration was solely on each other and on savouring the uncovered flesh.

Legolas watched as his lovers' lips met. Gimli leaned into Gandalf, his mouth parting in an unspoken request. The wizard's tongue glided inside, tasting the wine the warrior had earlier partaken. The dwarf's tongue curled around the Istar's and then moved over it in a slow, sensuous dance.

It was little touches that spoke so much of their love for each other, Legolas concluded. The love was there in the wizard's hand gently rubbing Gimli's back and in the way the dwarf's fingers affectionately wandered through Gandalf's hair. Feeling the stirring in his loins, Legolas took a deep breath. Watching the two as they separated to glance into each other's eyes, Legolas thought their love was the most erotic thing he had ever beheld.

Gimli and Gandalf eased down onto the bed together, still holding tightly onto each other. The dwarf's hands fluttered over Gandalf's back and then lightly over the wizard's sides. The warrior tilted his head back in offering. Sweeping Gimli's beard aside, Gandalf began placing tender kisses and nips along his lover's neck.

Legolas slowly started undoing the laces on his leggings. Each tremble from Gimli produced a corresponding shiver in the archer. Every gentle bite from Gandalf brought forth a moan from the Gimli and caused the archer's fingers to fumble with the ties. A whimper broke from Legolas as Gandalf's hand brushed over Gimli's chest. How well the archer knew the heat and the contrast between softness and strength that was Gimli. The dwarf's brown nipples were already tight and erect in anticipation of the interest soon to be paid to them.

A warm hand brushed over the dwarf's chest, hunting. Gimli gasped when searching fingers found a nipple and swept over it before pinching lightly. The wizard's tantalizing mouth descended to claim a peaked nipple, teeth grazing gently over it. A whimper resounded from Gimli as soft lips surrounded his nipple and suckled.

The stubborn ties finally undone, Legolas stood briefly to let his pants fall to the floor. Gimli and Gandalf both paused and looked back at him. "Not yet," he answered the unasked question. "I am content here." He knew his body spoke for him, his cock hard and glistening.

Turning his concentration to Gimli again, Gandalf's mouth created a path of fire across the warrior's chest as it sought out his other nipple. The dwarf began to writhe, his hands entwined in Gandalf's beard.

Gandalf slowly licked downwards, leaving a hot wet trail to mark his passage. He twirled his tongue around Gimli's navel before plunging in. The wizard's hands rested lightly on Gimli's hips, and he muttered, "Love you, my dwarf."

Gimli's answer was lost in a moan as intense heat encompassed his cock, swallowing him completely. His hands clenched tightly at his sides as the wizard's beard tickled his testicles.

Legolas observed as Gandalf sucked Gimli deep into his throat. The archer's hands rushed to his erection, and he began to slowly stroke it. The wizard slid up to swirl his tongue around the darkened crown of Gimli's arousal before taking him back into his throat. His snowy white hair and beard cascaded over the warrior's body. Occasionally, Gimli would recall that Legolas was watching and would tenderly brush the wizard's tresses back. The result was an enticing peek at Gandalf's face, vividly displaying the wizard's intent to give pleasure and his tenderness toward Gimli-as well as a glimpse of the dwarf's broad erection, wet from the Istar's loving passion. The wizard's nipples were taut little peaks, and Legolas whimpered as he remembered how those tight nubs felt under his fingers. Legolas' hand moved quickly over his cock, pausing then and panting as he realised that he was about to spend too soon.

A whimper of objection came from Gimli when Gandalf withdrew. Gimli's eyes journeyed down to the erection that jutted heavy and eager between Gandalf's legs. His own cock jerked in happy anticipation as the wizard seized the bottle kept by the bed. Dark grey eyes full of with passion and love met Gimli's. The warrior spread his legs wide, drawing his knees up. Gimli yelped when he felt Gandalf's wet tongue probing at his opening, coiling teasingly around his entrance before lashing gently over it. The dwarf cried out, and he wrung the sheets under him as the delightful wetness breached him.

Breathlessly, Legolas watched. His gaze lingered on Gimli's face, the happiness and eagerness to join with his lover that was so clearly shown there. Auburn hair was draped over a pillow and the dwarf shook with the ecstasy. Legolas could no longer see Gandalf's face, but he easily imagined the passion and devotion imprinted there. The elf squirmed in the chair, and once more his fingers went to his hardness.

Just when Gimli believed he could take no more, the wizard's tongue left him, and he felt a lubricated finger massage him and then slowly submerge itself inside him. Closing his eyes and inhaling deeply, Gimli welcomed the digit. Gandalf eased in and out of him a few times before bending his finger.

Gimli's eyes flew open, and he cried out as heat and delight rushed through his body. Gandalf's finger grazed the little nub again, and the same thrill raced through him. Craving more, Gimli gripped the digit within him. He was rewarded when a second finger was added. Once again Gandalf's digit curled, and Gimli bucked with a cry. A third finger joined the first two, and Gimli pushed down onto the digits that were deep inside him, rubbing that area that made him see stars.

When the wizard's fingers were removed from his body, Gimli whimpered, not wanting them to leave yet desiring more. There was a pause, and then Gandalf whispered into the dwarf's ear. "Look at Legolas."

Gimli opened his eyes and gazed at the archer. Legolas' hair fell around his shoulders, his skin taking on the added glow it always had when he was aroused, and he was staring at them with eyes the colour of the midnight sky. The archer was giving his cock firm strokes, the head of it moist with his desire.

Gimli moaned at the erotic display. He nuzzled his head into the wizard's arm and breathlessly said, "He doesn't appear to be having any problems."

"I am well!" Legolas replied. His fingers halted briefly to make a motion for them to continue. He gazed upon his lovers as the Istar stared at him. The wizard's eyes were that dark grey that the archer knew Gimli loved as much as he did. Legolas could see that he was adding to the already heightened passion between his lovers as Gandalf wrenched his attention from the elf. The wizard slid his hands under Gimli and tugged his lover upwards. Realising what his lover desired, Gimli put his legs on Gandalf's shoulders. Gimli's instant knowledge of what the Istar wished and the quick response from the dwarf made the hard flesh under Legolas' fingers throb. The Istar put his arms under his dwarf's legs and shifted Gimli into position.

Legolas was studying them both intently now. Even without Gimli's whispered, "Aye," Legolas knew from the look of rapture that overtook Gimli's face and the intense concentration on Gandalf's when the wizard breached his lover and the crown of his cock slid into the dwarf. His lovers' fingers entwined together as slowly the wizard started to push inward, feeling the muscles around him begin to relax as he went deeper into the snug velvety heat. Gandalf gasped as Gimli pushed outward, drawing him in until he was fully sheathed. With a groan the wizard pulled half way out and then thrust back inside, adjusting the tilt of his hips as he moved.

Gimli cried out and pushed back against him as the wizard's cock pressed over his special bundle of nerves. His hips thrust upwards of their own accord.

As a delightful music to Legolas' ears, their soft sounds of pleasure mingled together: Gimli's deeper timbre blending with the tender "I love you" and quiet moans from Gandalf. Quickly Legolas shifted, gasping. The tension in his testicles was warning him to slow his strokes, and with a deep breath, the elf held himself still.

Gimli had one hand clasping Gandalf's and the other on the wizard's leg, urging him to thrust deeper, harder. Plunging faster and farther into his mate, Gandalf's slender fingers encircled Gimli's erection, his hand moving in a steady motion. His thumb fondled the tip of Gimli's arousal at each upward stroke, spreading the moisture there to make his touch wet. His dwarf responded by tightening his muscles on each of the Istar's lunges forward.

As Gimli's channel clenched around Gandalf's erection, the wizard eased back and then pushed far inward, his seed spurting within the clasping passage. Gandalf's thighs quivered, and like lightening bliss flashed throughout his body. Just as quickly, his spirit reached for his mates and joined with them, producing matchless euphoria.

The exhilaration in Gandalf's face brought such ache and need to Legolas' body that he spread his legs and grabbed his arousal, fiercely pumping it. He could detect the tremble in the fingers that were grasping Gimli's cock and knew the effort, done for love, that kept Gandalf's strokes firm and steady. The archer's hand was busy over his cock. He took in the sight of Gimli as spasms overtook the warrior's body and streams of the milky semen gushed out and over his wizard's hand. Gimli's spirit sang its happiness at joining with those of his lovers. A swift glance at Gandalf's face revealed to Legolas the delight the Istar received at giving Gimli pleasure. One more quick stroke, and Legolas cried out in elation as he came and tremors of rapture overtook his body. The bliss of his spirit reuniting with his lovers gave him further ecstasy, and he shook with it.

Despite their exhaustion, Gandalf and Gimli turned their gazes to Legolas at his cry. The elation of Legolas' climax was so forceful that his seed sprayed out, drops on it splashing Gandalf and Gimli. The wizard and the warrior grinned at each other.

"I believe our Green Leaf is doing well." Gandalf said as he collapsed into Gimli's arms.

"Aye," Gimli replied as he held his mate close. They both shivered and panted in the aftermath of their joy. Gimli said, "Join us, my elf."

Legolas nodded, but it was another second before he could command his muscles to move. As soon as he arrived in the bed, he found himself fervently embraced by his lovers, who placed him between them. Gandalf nuzzled his neck, and Gimli moved to his side to place an arm around the archer. "How are you faring, my Green Leaf?" Gandalf asked.

"I am ecstatic! I have never beheld anything so beautiful and erotic!" Legolas answered. He sighed in happiness.

Gandalf brushed Legolas' hair back and massaged the archer's shoulders. They rested in contented silence for a time. Gimli kept his arm around Legolas.

After a while, Gandalf said, "I know you both have been trying very hard not to ask a certain question. I have seen the glances when the future is discussed. I will be staying in Middle-earth for another year, probably more. I have people..." He got no further. Legolas pounced on top of him, and Gimli scooted over and began raining kisses across his face. Gandalf was speechless. He had feared that they would see it as too little time, and now he realised how thankful they were for any days at all.

Gimli paused in the kissing to ask, "You will be staying in Minas Tirith for a while then?"

"I plan to do so, yes. In addition, I think I will travel a way with you when you head home. The hobbits..."

This sentence was also interrupted by a whoop of joy from Gimli and such a tight embrace from Legolas that the wizard felt breathless. "My Green Leaf, do remember that I need to breathe also!"

With a grin, Legolas eased off the Istar, so that Gandalf now had his lovers on both sides. "Now, as I was trying to say," the wizard said sternly, aware of his mates' smiles, "I still have some people I wish to see before leaving, and I plan on travelling with the hobbits as far as Bree. So our paths will be the same for a time."

Legolas curled his fingers in Gandalf's beard. "After we separate, when can we expect to see you again?"

"Well, I understand you are going to each other's homes..." Gandalf grinned at the wry expression on Legolas' face. He knew that his lovers were eager to see family and friends, but neither expected that their parents would be happy over the news of their relationship. "Am I correct that you both will be returning to Minas Tirith?"

Gimli answered, "Aye, we will visit Legolas' home and then mine. I will gather the people I need and get the supplies to build the gates of Minas Tirith. Once that is accomplished, Legolas and I will return to the city."

"Then I shall come back to Minas Tirith, also," Gandalf said. "I hope to meet you here; either before you arrive or shortly afterwards."

Legolas smiled. "Another gift! I must celebrate birthdays more often! How rewarding they are! Thank you, my mates!"

Gandalf and Gimli traded happy smiles.

They shifted until all three were comfortable and as the rain beat upon the window, they fell asleep.

Thunder roared and rain splattered on the windowpane. Gimli shifted restlessly in his sleep. His repose had started out securely. He had been tucked under Gandalf's arm, and Legolas' hand was on his hip. His dreams were of the three of them, sitting under the stars. He and Gandalf were smoking, and Legolas was singing quietly.

Gandalf stirred, his eyes fluttering open. His first thoughts were of happiness and the comfort of the elven bond that kept his spirit connected with his lovers. Legolas was nestled next to him. He felt fulfilled and at peace and wondered why he was awake. He realised that Gimli was moving agitatedly and was no longer in his embrace. Lightening flashed outside, and for a second the darkness of the chamber was banished.

Gimli's dreams had become unpleasant, filled with ships taking both of his mates away. He longed to call for Tharkun but that designation was no longer a part of Gandalf. Suddenly he was in the wizard's embrace and although Tharkun was no more, he had been given a name that was prized above even it. He turned his face into his lover's chest and whispered, "Olorin."

Gandalf had nestled Gimli against his chest when the dwarf said his name. The memory of his vision at Helm's Deep came flooding back to him. This night was what he had seen then. Legolas was snug against his back, and Gimli was resting peacefully now. Gratitude filled the Istar, and his thoughts flew to the Valar, who had granted him the bonding with these two individuals. He was grateful for the Valar's consent and for the vision that had given him knowledge of their approval. It was through Legolas that his spirit was united with Gimli, and the wizard was very aware of how having both of them made him feel complete. He ran his hand over Gimli's chest. When he had first realised that he loved the dwarf, he had thought of telling Aule one day how much Gimli meant to him. Now he knew that words would fall short to express his love for his mates. He would never be able to adequately state his thanks for being allowed to have the joy of these two lovers. The Istar lay awake for a while, listening to the storm outside and rejoicing.

The warm days of May slowly melted away, bringing the hot days and summer skies of June. One balmy night, Legolas awoke suddenly. He reached for Gandalf, only to find the middle of the bed empty. He could hear quiet footsteps in the outer chamber and debated whether he should get up. He could not imagine any reason for Gandalf to be pacing. There was no longer any danger in Middle-earth, or was there? Softly, he called, "Are you well?" The only answer was of a door pulled shut, and he realised that he had called too late. If Gandalf had felt that there was a threat to Middle-earth and had needed them, he would have awakened them, Legolas concluded.

Gimli was beginning to wake up, and placing a hand on his lover's shoulder, Legolas said, "I know. I miss him too. I suspect we will have to get accustomed to it." He snuggled next to Gimli holding him close, not surprised when the warrior shifted several times. He knew his dwarf was trying to find a familiar form. In a soft voice, Legolas began to sing, and Gimli drifted back into deep sleep.

In the morning, Legolas got up and retrieved a note from the other chamber, bringing it to a tousled-looking Gimli. The dwarf was glancing around the room as if it was responsible for spiriting Gandalf away. Together they read the missive. It simply stated that the wizard would be back soon and that there was nothing to be alarmed about.

After reading it, Legolas said, "I do not understand why he had to leave in the middle of the night."

"That at least is easy to decipher. Gandalf is thinking during the day, and we keep him busy in the evening. They probably found it best to contact him while he was at rest," Gimli replied.

"I thought his work was done." Legolas said softly.

"Be glad it is not!" Gimli said.

When Gandalf arrived back later that day, he was surprised at the keen greeting his lovers gave him once they were alone. "I was not away for long, my dear ones!" He explained that he had gone with Aragorn to the feet of Mount Mindolluin. Aragorn had found a sapling of the White Tree and had planted it in the court by the fountain.

As he recounted where he had been, Legolas and Gimli exchanged a quick look. They could discern the wistfulness in Gandalf's tone and a catch in his voice as he mentioned the White Tree made both comprehend that the finding of it had made the wizard homesick. In Gimli's eyes, Legolas saw clearly the dwarf's resolve not to hold Gandalf back when the Istar felt it was time to go home. Legolas noticed the tender way Gimli covered Gandalf's hand with his own as the wizard talked. The archer enfolded the Istar's other hand.

The next day, the Lady Arwen arrived in Minas Tirith. The wedding of King Elessar and the Lady Arwen took place not long after that.

During the days that followed Gimli was often with the Lady Galadriel. Gandalf noted that Gimli's admiration for her only grew, and her fondness for the dwarf was evident to all. That devotion, however, took a turn that Gandalf did not expect. It started with a request for him to meet her at the city wall overlooking the house he shared with the rest of the Fellowship.

Around noon that day, Gandalf stood on the wall of the city and looked down. Below was the courtyard of the house he currently lived in. It was a warm, sunny July day, and the hobbits were placing lunch on a table they kept outside. After adding several baskets of cooked chicken to the table, Gimli sat down on a bench. Legolas put wine and glasses out and then joined Gimli. The archer gazed up at Gandalf and waved. Legolas whispered something to Gimli, who looked up and waved also.

Sensing Galadriel's presence, Gandalf turned to greet her.

Smiling, she came to stand at his side. She watched the scene below for a moment before saying, "I wish to speak to you about Gimli. I have become very fond of him, and I believe that affection is returned."

Gandalf laughed. "I think you are very safe in that assumption!"

Galadriel nodded. "I am aware that the Valar have reasons to dislike me. I have stood against the Shadow for many years, however, and perhaps they might be inclined to grant me a small reward. Moreover, you certainly deserve a gesture of gratitude, not to mention some recompense for the love you are leaving behind."

Gandalf frowned. She had some agenda in mind, and he had the distinct impression that he should proceed cautiously.

Before he could say anything, she said, "I would not claim much. Nay, what I desire is not all that large."

Gandalf followed her gaze to Gimli, as his thoughts raced. "Let us speak plainly," he said. "What tiny gift do you want, and how does it relate to Gimli?"

She smiled. "I did not say tiny." Suddenly serious, Galadriel said, "My powers are fading now, yet I have seen much. Legolas and Gimli still have work to accomplish in Middle-earth. The time will come, though, when Gimli will be old and his deeds here completed. From the Valar, I would ask permission for Gimli to sail when Legolas does. I would like your support. Although if we both requested the same reward..."

She left her sentence unfinished, clearly expecting Gandalf to consider its ending, but he was in too much shock to do so. A wild image came to him. He would be in Valinor, and they would all be rejoicing over defeating Sauron. He would turn to Aule and casually say, "I would like to have Gimli, Gloin's son, as payment." He could easily imagine how well that would be received. He sputtered, "You cannot just claim a dwarf as a prize!"

Galadriel nodded. "True, but I can petition for this privilege. Surely Aule is entitled to grant one of his children the consent, and a single dwarf would hardly be noticed at Tol Eressea."

"Hardly noticed!" He repeated, shaking his head. "As much as I hate leaving Gimli, I do not feel I have the right to reward him for being my lover!"

Now it was her turn to frown. "You will be assisting me, because Gimli has been named elf friend. He has played a vital part in the battle against Sauron. With Legolas, he will create a peace between elves and dwarves that will be unsurpassed by all that went before and never forgotten by either race. There will be a long-lasting friendship between Gondor and Erebor, and he has already helped to create the beginnings of that amity. Gimli will be our reward. If we agree to this plan, I would be careful how you phrase it to him. He will not view it as a gift."

Gandalf gazed down to the courtyard, where Gimli and Legolas were laughing at some story the hobbits were telling them. She was right about that much. Dwarves loved Middle-earth. Gimli was more likely to perceive such an offer as punishment for being so bold as to become the lover of an Istar. He noted that she planned on him being the one to inform Gimli if such an opportunity were given to them.

Below them, Legolas leaned over to say something to Gimli, and they both turned their gazes to him and smiled. Gandalf understood now why she had chosen to meet here and at this hour. She wanted him to behold his lovers while he reached a decision. He could hardly blame her for that, though. She was clearly reluctant to say a final farewell to Gimli. He understood that only too well. He thought of Arwen, her beloved granddaughter, and Galadriel's love for Lothlorien. Galadriel was losing much, and in that sense, she was indeed asking little. If it were presented to Aule as a favour, desired because of love for one of his children then perhaps the Vala would side with them.

Taking a deep breath, Gandalf said, "I will ask, but what you want is unprecedented. Assuming we are granted authorisation, we still have to get Gimli's agreement. That might prove as difficult as getting the Valar's approval!"

Her countenance beamed with happiness, and she laughed. "Perhaps, but I believe he will agree. For love, his love for you is stronger than even that of Middle-earth. The devotion he has for Legolas is just as powerful." She smiled. "And I would like to think that his desire to see me once more will help you attain his consent."

Galadriel laid a hand on his shoulder, "Thank you, my friend. It would make my departure easier to bear if we are granted this, since it would be one less loss. He brings cheer to my heart." She looked down at the group below. "I have caused you to miss a meal, but I deem that the hobbits will be started on the second by the time you arrive."

Galadriel left him with much to think about.

The next morning, as pale pink streaked the sky, Gandalf mounted Shadowfax and left the city. He had told his lovers, the evening before, that he would be taking Shadowfax for a long run tomorrow. They did not question him, probably assuming it was another mission like the finding of the white tree.

Around noon, Gandalf arrived at a small meadow with a stream running through it. He let Shadowfax graze and took shelter from the heat under a huge birch. After a sip of water from his flask, Gandalf pondered Galadriel's words. Gimli's ultimate fate would concern Aule the most. And as much as Gandalf would prefer to bring any appeal about someone he dearly loved to Nienna, he would not risk offending Aule by doing so.

Gandalf began his appeal to Aule with his first recollection of Gimli as a small, curious lad. He continued with their official meeting, the slow development of friendship, the first hug, the sharing of pipeweed and the quiet talks. Gandalf paused only when he reached the memory of their first tentative kiss. He did not wish to give himself an erection, but he did want Aule to know just how much he cherished Gimli. Deciding that instead of the lovemaking, he would reflect on the times afterwards; hours of whispered love, nights spent in each other's arms. Gandalf lingered over how Gimli's unwavering love had given him solace and encouragement through the years.

Gandalf stopped after the events that had taken place at Rivendell. He had a small lunch of bread, an apple, and some cheese. Once he was finished, he concentrated on Gimli's deeds during the war. Only when he had reviewed the warrior's recovery of Pippin did the Istar muse over occurrences that he knew from others. He thought of the Lady Galadriel and Gimli, and their friendship that had begun so quickly.

Then he considered Legolas' love for both of them and how their devotion to Gimli, had in a sense, led them to a union of three.

Gandalf contemplated what would happen in the future including Gimli's plans for a colony in Aglarond and Legolas' intention to settle with elves in Ithilien. He thought of the way the two had sat and talked of overlapping visits and other means of being together as much as possible.

He mused over his conversation with Galadriel and for the first time allowed himself to hope that Gimli would be granted the permission the Lady sought for him.

Lastly, Gandalf let the love he felt for his mates speak of the peace they gave him, the feeling of home and belonging he sensed when with them, the way they cherished him, how they had respected his work, and the pain that leaving them would bring.

When Gandalf was finished, the afternoon heat had begun to cling to his clothes. Getting up, the wizard went to the creek and removing boots and socks, put his feet in the cool water. He thought of Nienna now and how he loved her. Much as Gimli loves the Lady Galadriel and looks up to her, Gandalf reflected. It will hurt him when she leaves. He thought of Yavanna the Vala Legolas felt was closest to his people. Legolas had experienced the call of the sea. How much easier it would be for him to set it aside if he knew that one day he could obey the pull and take Gimli with him!

A gentle, cooling breeze ruffled his hair and beard. No answer came with it, but Gandalf did not expect one yet. His petition would surely be debated among the Valar, and a response might be a while in coming. He suspected it would not be the last time the Valar would have to discuss Legolas and Gimli and the bond that united the three.

He lingered for a while in the little meadow and then returned to Minas Tirith and the welcoming arms of his lovers.

No answer arrived in the leisurely summer days that followed, but Gandalf was not uneasy over it. He imagined that the Valar would need time to decide.

Eomer returned to Minas Tirith, and the next day the funeral escort of King Theoden set out. Gandalf, along with the rest of the Fellowship, went with the escort, which also included Queen Arwen, Celeborn, and Galadriel with their people, and Elrond and his sons.

One evening they stopped by a lake to rest for the night. There was a bustle of activity as the preparation for the evening meal began. Gandalf stood by King Elessar watching the sunset. The Istar paused in conversation to look for his lovers. Legolas was standing not far away talking to Elrohir. Gandalf's gaze drifted to Gimli. He was close by and in earnest conversation with Lady Galadriel. Gandalf observed them for a moment. The affection between the two was obvious. The wizard thought of her request and sighed. Hers was not the only parting that would be tinged with sorrow. He had heard his mates' plans of coinciding visits, long stays, the times of travelling together and how separations would be dealt with. Legolas would be spending a great deal of time with dwarves, and Gimli would be with elves often. They would have friends among both races. And each time one of the elves that claimed Gimli for a friend left Middle-earth, there would another sad departure. Legolas would also face many farewells because of befriending mortals. How difficult that would be for his spirit, unable to even consider going to Tol Eressea for renewal!

As Gandalf watched, Gimli bowed a farewell to the Lady Galadriel. He came to Legolas, and Elrohir greeted him with, "Elvellon." The dwarf smiled happily and answered, "Evening." The wizard discerned that Gimli had become accustomed to the title given to him by Lady Galadriel and Legolas.

Following Gandalf's gaze, King Elessar laughed and teasingly said, "I would not have ever imagined it, but I see that you and Gimli have a shared love of something besides pipe smoking."

When Gandalf glanced enquiringly at Aragorn, the King said, "You both love elves! He has become quite fond of them. He is getting adept at dealing with the initial dislike some of them have for dwarves and changing it into respect and friendship."

It was then that Gandalf had his answer.

Later that evening, Gandalf sat with Gimli. They were enjoying a smoke and waiting for Legolas. It was the elf's habit to take a stroll under the stars each night. The Istar pondered how to discuss this matter with his mates. The best thing to do might be to talk to Gimli alone, so that Legolas did not hope for what the dwarf might not do. Yet his heart told him that in such an important matter, it was wrong not to include Legolas.

The wizard studied Gimli absently, noting his lover's beautiful auburn hair, neatly trimmed beard, muscular shoulders, and dark eyes. Gandalf was certain that the happiness in those eyes was not just due to the defeat of Sauron. The deeper relationship with him and the love of Legolas had created the joy that fairly radiated from Gimli. Currently, though, Gimli was looking very serious, and Gandalf knew it was because his dwarf was aware that something was amiss with him.

After they finished smoking, Gandalf pulled Gimli close. He held the dwarf tightly, conscious that he was causing the warrior to be anxious. "All is well, my lover," he whispered in Gimli's ear.

"Has there been a change of plans? Will you be leaving sooner than expected?" Gimli asked.

"No, beloved. My plans are the same," Gandalf answered.

They both turned as Legolas came into the tent. The archer instantly asked, "Is something wrong?"

Gandalf answered, "No. I was musing over something and caused Gimli unease. I need to talk to you both about an issue, though. Come, rest next to us."

When Legolas was settled, Gandalf asked, "Legolas, do you know why Gimli and his people never long for the sea or Tol Eressea as you do?"

Legolas nodded. "Because Aule did not instill the longing within them."

Pleased with the archer's answer, Gandalf asked another question, "Do you know what Aule gave them instead?"

Legolas was silent, considering the matter. Gimli grinned as he watched the archer's face. He could tell Legolas was thinking of various answers and discarding them. Gimli himself did not know the answer.

After a moment, Legolas replied, "Nay."

Gandalf said, "He wanted them to be of service to Middle-earth, and he gave them a love for it. That love is just as strong as your pining for Tol Eressea. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I do." Legolas said.

They were both studying him, discerning that he was leading them somewhere with this discussion. Gimli was still against the wizard's chest, and Gandalf run his hand down the dwarf's back. "What a blessing you have been to me! If the Valar regard you as highly as I do than you are high in their favour."

Legolas shifted restlessly and said, "Come, now! You are making me grateful for Gimli's odd way of bluntly announcing news without a care to the shock that is caused. What is troubling you?"

Lowering his voice, Gandalf stated, "The two of you still have work to do in Middle-earth, but when Gimli is old, he has been granted permission to sail to Tol Eressea with you, should he choose to do so."

Gandalf saw the sudden comprehension of the reasoning behind his questions in Legolas' eyes. The archer said softly, "Nay, I would not ask this of Gimli."

The dwarf had turned his head into Gandalf's chest. In a whisper so muffled that the wizard could barely hear it, Gimli said, "But you will not be there."

Gandalf tightened his hold on Gimli and said, "I am not forbidden to go there. If you chose this fate, I would wait for you there when the time drew near. The Lady Galadriel would, too."

Reaching out, Gandalf pulled Legolas closer. Nothing was said for a time. They sat quietly, each absorbed in his own thoughts.

Gandalf was remembering the earlier years of being Gimli's lover, before his suspicions about Bilbo's ring had increased. He had thought then that he would be with Gimli often when his lover was old. He had not looked forward to that time, because Gimli was a mortal, but he had not dreaded it either. He had viewed it as a season of deep companionship. He had known that due to his travels he would probably not be at his lover's side when Gimli died. Despite that he had hoped he would be there when the dwarf's spirit returned to his creator. If his lovers came to Tol Eressea, he would have his wish. Yet he did not want it if the cost was too high for Gimli.

Legolas was also thinking of the price Gimli would pay. He was aware of the love the dwarf held for the mountains in Middle-earth. He knew of the joy Gimli had over the caverns of Aglarond. He would not take that from the warrior. He had planned to be at his dwarf's side when Gimli was elderly. He had images of them travelling over Middle-earth toward the end of Gimli's life and visiting all the warrior's favourite spots. He had never thought of actually going to Tol Eressea, and he believed it was best to not begin dreaming about it now.

At first Gimli's musings were similar to Gandalf's. In his heart, the warrior had seen his years of old age as a time for drawing even closer to Gandalf. And although he knew Gandalf's mission was far more important than a single dwarf, he had hoped that the wizard would be there when he died. He could have that now if he wanted, but Gimli was unsure that he could bring himself to leave Middle-earth.

All of Gimli's favourite regions in Middle-earth came to his mind. There would be no last lingering walks through Aglarond or Erebor once he left. He would have to leave both kin and friends, never to see them again. It would mean not being placed in the tombs next to his ancestors. He would die in a land that would never be his, and he would be entombed alone, for elves did not expire.

Legolas' hand was firm on his back, and he could hear the steady beat of Gandalf's heart against his ear. Gimli's typical way of dealing with a dilemma was to view it from every angle he could imagine. Now he pondered the alternative. He could stay in Middle-earth surrounded by his family and friends and loved places. Yet if he did so, he would have to give up his dream of being with Gandalf in his last years. He would bind Legolas to Middle-earth, for the archer would not leave without him. Moreover, his farewell to the Lady Galadriel would be final.

What was there really to hold him to Middle-earth once he was aged? It was probable that he would outlive the hobbits and perhaps even see King Elessar's funeral. Did he love the places of Middle-earth more than his lovers? He could still have those lingering walks; they would just have to take place a little earlier than planned. No matter what he decided, those travels would be a goodbye to Middle-earth. It was only his destination that would change.

Was it so important to be placed among his fathers at his demise that he would toss away the opportunity to share those last precious years with Gandalf and to give Legolas his dream? The lonely tomb that he imagined would be his in Tol Eressea would not be so alone if Legolas died when he did. It was possible, though, if he did go, he could encourage the bond between Legolas and Gandalf. Maybe it was a slim hope, but he thought there was at least a small chance that Legolas would not perish when he did if the archer still had Gandalf.

Gandalf was saying, "You do not have to decide now. After all, you have many years to think about it, my dear dwarf!"

Gimli straightened up. "I do not need years. I will go with Legolas when the time comes."

Legolas met the wizard's gaze as they both tried to decide whether to rejoice or to give up their own desires and attempt to convince Gimli that they did not ask this of him.

Gandalf spoke first. "Gimli, I have always thought that somehow despite my journeys I would see you often during your old age. No matter what Legolas and I would wish, should you ever feel it is too much, we would understand."

Gimli nodded, but his decision had been made. He would not review it again, because he knew that to do so would only mean doubt. No, he would let his choice become a fact through the years, so that when the time arrived his resolve would be as unmovable as a mountain. He glanced up at Gandalf.

Instinctively Gandalf knew what Gimli required. Gazing into the dwarf's dark eyes, Gandalf said, "I give you my word, Gimli. I will look for you when the time comes."

"Will I recognise you?" Gimli asked.

"My dear dwarf, if you come all that way than the least I can do is assume the form you love," Gandalf replied.

Gimli smiled and then leaned up to whisper something to Gandalf.

Legolas laughed at the whispered, "I will bring you a pipe and some weed," and the happy agreement from Gandalf.

Gimli put his arm above Gandalf's where it rested around Legolas' waist, and once more they formed a happy circle of three.

"Lady Galadriel will be thrilled. I will let you tell her, Gimli," Gandalf said.

Gimli considered this, and said, "You obtained the privilege, I suspect. You may tell her."

Gandalf slid his fingers under Gimli's beard. "You are the one that must pay for the happiness given to those who love you. And so you should reap as many benefits for it as possible. I will give you the pleasure."

The next evening as the sun's rays dimmed, Gimli sought out the Lady Galadriel. He had been waiting all day for a chance to talk to her in private. Now she was standing in front of her tent and was alone. Gimli hastened to her side, only to find that all his rehearsed words did not seem sufficient. She waited patiently as Gimli first studied the ground and then the sky.

"The trouble is that I feel so many things about it, that I almost wish you would just read my thoughts." Gimli started.

Galadriel laughed. She was very conscious of Gimli's dislike of any prying into his mind.

"I love both of them, and the thought of never seeing you again brings great sorrow to my heart. When Legolas sails, I shall go with him," Gimli declared.

There was an intake of breath, and when Gimli looked up, he was surprised to see tears in her eyes.

"I am glad! So glad! I shall wait on the shore when the time comes, my heart eager to see you once more!" Galadriel asserted.

Gimli felt his own eyes become moist. "I am grateful for your part in attaining permission."

"I am aware that this will not be easy for you, Gimli, but my joy will be beyond reckoning when you arrive."

Gimli smiled. "And I shall be very happy when once again, I can behold your beauty."

At the feast that night, Gandalf knew when Galadriel looked across the table at the wizard that Gimli had told her. Her gaze held Gandalf's. He was very aware of her devotion to Gimli, but the depth of gratitude in her eyes surprised him. Gandalf glanced over at Gimli and thought, I should not be surprised at her love for my dwarf. She has seen the light in Gimli that I love so.

The Valar having made their decision, Gandalf knew that he had his own decision to make soon.

Gandalf did not try to make that decision until after King Theoden's funeral and the journey to Helm's Deep. Legolas was keeping his promise to Gimli and was going with the dwarf to the Glittering Caves. Gandalf watched them depart, and then sat down on the bed they shared. He stared absentmindedly at the far wall. He intended to travel with the hobbits as far as Bree after the trip to Isengard. Gimli was going with Legolas to Fangorn and then to Mirkwood. It would probably be best that they continued to be lovers. It would give them encouragement and make it very clear to Thranduil that the bond was already a fact, not something that could be disputed. Nevertheless, was he ready to let them be intimate in his absence? The Istar thought he was. Legolas and Gimli were always together in Minas Tirith, and he had come to think of them as being a part of each other. His love for Legolas had grown deep, mostly because of who the elf was as an individual, but it was also due in a small way to Legolas having become so close to Gimli. Gandalf knew that they had already agreed that he was free to love one if the other was absent. He resolved to talk to them when they returned. While he was waiting, he would pack, for tomorrow they would head for Isengard.

Later that evening when the three were alone in their chambers, Gandalf said, "While I am gone, I give my consent for you and Gimli to be lovers."

"Are you sure?" They said together, and Gandalf laughed. "Yes, I am positive. Despite your overly frequent jesting, I find I think of you as one now. And I love you both dearly, my mates!"

Gimli said, "I will be fine if you and Legolas are intimate in my absence, because I am very confident in the love both of you have for me."

Legolas joked, "And so you should be!" Yet his eyes met Gandalf's, and a promise to never do anything to betray Gimli's faith in them was exchanged.

Then the archer said, "I realised the night I watched you two make love that your devotion for each other is not a threat to me. Besides the welcome back was great!"

Gandalf smiled. "Yes, I shall expect a wonderful reunion!"

Legolas held his hand out. When Gandalf placed his own in it, Gimli covered them both with his hand. Legolas declared, "You will certainly receive one!"

"Aye," Gimli stated.

They held his hand tightly, and Gimli said, "The parting will come all too soon."

Legolas said, "We shall miss you. May the Valar bless and keep you while we are apart!"

"And may they bring you back safely to your lovers!" Gimli added.

"Thank you!" Gandalf said. He clutched the hands surrounding his and said, "May all your plans be successful. You have built a strong foundation for your love. May your devotion for each other continue to grow, and may you always be steadfast in your love." He smiled upon his lovers and said, "I hope to be in Minas Tirith when you arrive back. If not, then shortly afterwards. I will not leave Middle-earth before I see you both again. As I said I will be here for at least another year."

Legolas gripped the wizard's hand and asserted, "Gimli and I love you so much!"

"And I love both of you!" Gandalf answered.

Releasing his mates' hands, Gandalf went to his pack and came back with two letters. To Gimli, he stated, "You said in Hollin that if you and Legolas became friends, I should explain it to your father." The wizard grinned as he saw the memory come back to Gimli. "And I answered that I would gladly sit with Gloin and tell him how proud I am of such a friendship and how wonderful his son is!"

Gimli laughed. "You do have an excellent memory!"

Gandalf smiled. "I will not get a chance to sit with him and talk before you see him, so I thought to give you a note to deliver to him. I did not tell him of the new aspect of our relationship." The wizard squeezed the archer's hand. "I wrote of my love for you and how devoted Legolas is to you. Because I believe that it might help if he is sure that Legolas does indeed love you."

Handing Legolas another missive, Gandalf stated, "I considered carefully what to tell your father. I fear your bond to us will give him much grief. So I tried to make it plain to your Lord just how much you are loved by both of us. I do not want him to see only the end. I attempted to give him a vision of what you have gained and will have for eternity. I desired to dispel the myth that dwarves become stone when they expire. Gimli may be mortal, but his spirit will not die and neither will our love perish.

"I hope this will ease the way for both of you." Gandalf said.

"Thank you," Legolas answered.

"Aye, I reckon we will greatly need those letters." Gimli said. "I think we will be in Mirkwood at least a couple of weeks and maybe the same in Erebor. It will take me a bit of time to gather the people and materials required to build the gates the King wants."

Gandalf nodded. "I plan on travelling with the hobbits as far as Bree, and then after that I intend to visit with a few friends before heading back to Minas Tirith."

They sipped their wine quietly, all three already feeling the ache of departure.

They loved long into the night. After the loving they lay quietly talking and tenderly caressing each other. Gimli and Legolas took turns holding the wizard close. When he realised that he was being shuffled back and forth, Gandalf's joyous laughter filled the chamber.

So it was that despite the sadness over the impending parting, delight was in their hearts as the lovers drifted into repose.