Boundaries Crossed

by Sarah

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: 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 9

Gandalf sat in the conservatory surrounded by the exotic flowers that the elves grew here. He wanted to think over recent events.

Three days after the council, another meeting had been held. This one had been with the Mirkwood elves. As Gandalf had expected, Legolas had been selected to go with Frodo. The wizard had watched the quiet discussion among King Thranduil's people.

Gandalf's only regret over the wood elves' choice concerned Thranduil. The King would look eagerly for Legolas when his people arrived back in Mirkwood, only to be told that his beloved son would be going on a dangerous Quest.

Today the dwarves had been summoned, and Lord Elrond had put the same request to them. Unlike the Mirkwood elves, the dwarves had no intention of conversing in front of Lord Elrond's people. Gloin had told Elrond that he and his people would speak on the subject and give the Lord an answer shortly. Then they had all left for Gloin's chambers, where the decision was made in private.

Gandalf had been with Elrond when a message had been delivered to the Elven Lord. Elrond had read the missive and then had handed it to the wizard. Gandalf was not surprised when he saw the contents of the note. His eyes had focused on one sentence. "We will send Gimli, son of Gloin."

Now Gandalf silently considered the outcome of both gatherings. The choices were made, but he wanted to establish exactly what he felt about sending Gimli with Frodo before he began to discuss the subject with the dwarf. The wizard was not certain yet, but unless the scouts brought some news that changed his mind, Gandalf planned to go with Frodo. He had expected to feel happiness on seeing that Gimli had been elected to be part of the Quest, and indeed his first thought was one of joy. Yet it had been the sensation of relief that had gripped him the most, and the easing of a tightness in his chest that he had only been dimly conscious of before reading the note puzzled him. He intended to search out the reasons for these emotions.

It was possible, he reflected, that the relief he experienced was due to the fact that the dwarf going with Frodo would be one he knew. Gandalf trusted Gimli concerning the ring. Out of all the dwarves Gandalf had been acquainted with, Gimli was the least likely to be tempted to take the ring out of desire for riches or other things loved by dwarves. His spirit was lighter at the knowledge that a dwarf he could rely on would be with the hobbit, but the wizard did not believe that was the entire cause for the sense of comfort he felt at the idea of going with Frodo and keeping Gimli at his side. Gandalf discerned that he would be taking his lover into danger, but sending him back to Erebor could not be considered safe either. Erebor was facing a war. Gimli could die in battle, and he would be far away and of no aid...

Ah, there it was. The explanation for why he had experienced consolation at the notion of his lover being near him during the future events.

Thrain.

He had arrived too late to help Thrain. And now he was afraid that Gimli would be in some great peril and look for Gandalf, and once again the wizard would be too late. This time, however, he risked failing to help a dwarf who had given him steadfast devotion and loyalty throughout many years. A person who loved him dearly. He flinched at the thought. Gimli would face risks going with Frodo but if Gandalf went also than at least they would not be miles apart.

Gandalf would rather have Gimli at his side than some place else where all the wizard could do was worry. Gandalf was deep in thought and only dimly aware of the elf that was approaching him.

"May I speak with you, mellon nín?"

Gandalf nodded and motioned for the elf to sit down. His thoughts were still on Gimli.

Serious eyes regarded him and then in a very low voice the elf said, "There is a rumour spreading itself through Imladris that your lover is here. They say he is a mortal."

Gandalf's attention quickly focused on the elf beside him. "Do you hunt me out to discuss gossip?" He kept his own voice calm.

Elven eyes never left the wizard's as the answer was softly spoken, "It is strange how once you lose something you realise how much value you placed on it to begin with. If he is mortal the time will arrive when you will be free again. Or maybe when this is all over, you will wish to return to Aman, where he cannot go. In either case, perhaps you will seek me out then. Maybe this time I can show you the love you clearly were seeking."

Gandalf sighed. "My friend, one cannot replace someone he loves so easily."

"I understand this far too well now. A lesson learned too late but one not soon forgotten. A chance. It is all I ask."

Gandalf felt his own heart ache. Sadly he replied, "What he gives me is not just love but devotion and loyalty. You and I may have been lovers but beyond friendship there was nothing to keep us together. I hope you will find love, but my heart belongs to him. I could not give you the love you deserve, for my heart will never be completely free."

"So you would spend an eternity alone afterwards because of pining for him. If I take second place in your heart, so be it. Again I ask that you consider it when the time arrives. Nothing more." He stood up. "Be safe, meleth."

Once Gandalf was alone again, he sighed heavily. When he had parted from his elven lover here, the elf had not acted as if it had mattered, and Gandalf had felt that he was right in believing the other male was not hurt by his ending the relationship. Many years ago the Maia had been inclined to deepen their friendship but had received no encouragement from his lover, so Gandalf had decided to let things stay as they were. Gimli, however, had never wavered in his love for the wizard.

Gandalf stood up. It was time to talk to Gimli.

The wizard found Gimli in their chambers in front of the fireplace. He had a book, but he was staring into the fire. He smiled as Gandalf came into the room and asked, "Did Lord Elrond tell you?"

"Yes." Gandalf sat in the chair next to Gimli. "How did your people decide? Were you given a choice or just told?"

"It was discussed and then I was asked. It is considered an honour to be picked, but there is no disgrace in refusing. I could yet change my mind, and while they would not be pleased, there would be no shame in it." Gimli rested his hand over the wizard's. "There is a matter that I wish to speak of. I am not sure that such things should be conversed about, but I feel you should know. Are you still planning to go with Frodo?"

"Yes, unless some unforeseen circumstance occurs that requires my attention elsewhere."

"Then you should know." Gimli sighed. It would be painful if his lover did not trust him around the Ring after he revealed his knowledge, but Gandalf had a right to be informed. His fingers wrapped of their own accord around the wizard's hand. "I am certain that you remember my father asking where the three were."

Gandalf nodded. He was curious as to why this was bothering Gimli.

"I think..." Gimli whispered. "I think I know their location."

"My dear dwarf, you cannot possibly know where they are!" Gandalf did see now why his lover was upset. If Gimli believed that he was cognisant of the other three then the wizard might feel he was more dangerous if he seized the Ring than someone who was not aware of how to find the elven rings. Gandalf, however, discerned that neither of Gimli's assumptions were true. "I would like to hear your speculations."

Gimli looked at him, and then the dwarf's grip on his lover's hand tightened. "I do not desire for you to tell me if I am right. Should the enemy ever capture me, it is best that I never have certainty of the matter."

Gandalf could not control the shudder that ran through him. This echoed his own thoughts about Thrain.

Gimli put an arm across the back of the chair and gazed at the wizard.

"That is a terrifying thought! And I was not there in time for Thrain, and it bothers me."

Gimli leaned up to kiss Gandalf's forehead. "We talked among ourselves about this after the council. We all admire you and love you even more for your attempt. The effort was well done. Not many would have searched in such a place. If your worry is for me, I do understand that you have obligations to fulfil. I would not die feeling betrayed because you did not arrive."

Gandalf smiled. "You do indeed ease my heart, Gimli. So what is your first guess?"

"Cirdan."

This was far closer to the truth than Gandalf had imagined his friend could get, but he was quiet and did not reply.

"As for the second Ring, is it not in the air around us? Lord Elrond."

Now Gandalf could not prevent a surprised stir. How Gimli could have any notion of what the Lord kept so hidden puzzled the Istar. Gimli's choice of words was also startling.

"The other...the last one..." Gimli sighed.

Gandalf scrutinised Gimli. He perceived where his lover was going with the conversation, but how Gimli had arrived at his conclusions eluded him. Gimli was obviously very troubled over having to disclose his knowledge. The hand holding Gandalf's was clenching tightly, and Gimli used the other to pull his own beard. The very fact that Gimli did not just boldly state what he knew meant the dwarf was reluctant to speak of it at all. The wizard started to lay his other hand on Gimli's shoulder, and the dwarf grabbed it.

Gimli kissed the palm of the hand he held. Placing kisses across it and down to the fingers, he said, "I am intimately acquainted with these fingers. I have allowed only a few others to know me in the fashion you have. The other resides with you."

Gandalf felt as if he had been attempting to read in the dark and light had just been given to the pages. He understood. Having spent so much time in the company of Narya while making it a continual habit to study the wizard, Gimli had become sensitive to the three. Gandalf also realised that he was accustomed to Gimli openly discussing subjects with him, but dwarves by their very nature tended to be aware of far more than they let be known. There was still two things that puzzled him, though.

Gimli released both his hands and with what Gandalf thought was a particularly rough tug of the dwarf's beard said, "There are some matters that are my responsibility to know about you, as we are lovers. I should recognise when you are anxious or sad. I should have a good notion of when you need to be left alone to think. There are other areas, such as how long you have been here, that are not my concern but as I love you and enjoy you, it seems acceptable to me to puzzle out. Some issues, though, I never question you on, and if you talk of certain subjects I may remember it but I refuse to dwell on it. I try to respect your secrets. I have often thought that my being dwarf aids us because I understand the need to not have one's affairs pried into. This is not something that is my concern.

"Should I be captured, I am trained and attaining secrets from a dwarf would not be so easy anyway. The question is, do you trust me to go with Frodo now?"

Gimli reached for his beard again, and Gandalf quickly seized his hand. "That is quite enough, my dear friend! I am not upset and my trust in you has not lessened."

Gimli wished the chairs' arms were not in their way. He longed to sit far closer. He wished for Erebor, but he wondered now if they would ever be there together again. His eyes filled with tears.

Gandalf was saying, "I am curious as..." He stopped. "Gimli, what is wrong?" He let go of Gimli's hand.

Gimli wiped his eyes and said, "Perhaps we will never be together in Erebor again."

Gandalf shifted the chair so he could put his arms around his lover. Gimli clasped him tightly, and the wizard sorrowed over his friend's hurt. Gandalf had believed that he would be the one to grieve in the relationship. He had accepted that as part of the cost of loving a mortal.

It was another matter entirely to have Gimli unhappy. That brought a sadness that seemed to overflow from his heart to capture and hold both his body and spirit. "If...when this is won, I will not disappear instantly, Gimli. I doubt anyone will grudge my making a few trips to Erebor before I leave." Inside the wizard felt the hurt grip him even stronger. His words were a temporarily salve to sooth a wound that was too deep to be so easily cured.

Gimli nodded. After a short silence he asked, "What were you curious about?"

"Why you selected that hand and not the other."

Gimli considered the question. "Impulse."

"How did you ever manage to conclude that I have one of the three?"

"This was not a subject that I pondered. Father was asking at the Council, and I was looking at you, and my heart knew. After that I started thinking of the others."

"Gimli, you never have to feel guilty for discovering something about me. If I do not want you to talk about a topic, I can always say so! I also realise that you like to muse over mysteries. I am pleased you find me such an intriguing one."

Gandalf stopped and placed his hand over Gimli's heart. "You have given me many confidences over the years, and I have observed you many times for the sole purpose of learning more about you. I know minor things like which wine you prefer and far more intimate matters, too. That is the way it should be between lovers.

"If you are willing, share with me what you know of Erebor's defenses. Perhaps my knowledge can give you some advice to impart to your father before he leaves."

"Aye, that would be helpful. I was given plenty of information, as my King was hopeful that you would indeed advise us."

They moved to the table and spent the next two hours discussing plans.