Love Lost

by Beryll

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Gandalf/Saruman

Summary: Film canon. Arriving at Orthanc, Gandalf thinks back to his blissful relationship with Saruman long ago and to how his lover had fallen into evil.

Warnings: angst, references to non-consensual sex

Beta: Nefertiti


Gandalf stood before the tower of Orthanc and tried to remember what he had felt when he had last been there. It was difficult to rekindle that memory, for it was buried deeply. Buried under too much hurt that had followed it. It had been fear. Fear, for he had just discovered that little Bilbo had found the one ring. Had just sent Frodo on his dangerous mission. Had come here to ask advice from the one person wiser than himself. The one person he trusted unthinkingly. The person to whom he had given his soul, his love and his body willingly and gladly. An imperceptible shiver ran through him, when he recalled their last meeting.

Maybe he should have been warned by the cold and somewhat sarcastic greeting that something was amiss. But hope for reassurance, for a gentle word had been too loud to let him hear that inner voice. It had felt so good to be in Saruman's strong presence again. To feel his old and wise mind move quickly behind that immobile face. He had felt the darkness shadowing that mind as well, but even this warning had gone ignored. He attributed that shadow to the worrying news that he had brought. And then everything had been shattered: his hope, his trust and, yes - his love. For how could he still love this man who was only a shell now, filled with the evil of Mordor. A man who had given himself over to Sauron. But it hurt, oh, how it hurt, to lose the one who had been most important to him over the course of the ages.

When it had started, he had been young, by the standards of wizards. And Saruman had even then been ancient. But how different from what he later turned into. A vigorous man, who never stayed in his tower for more than a month. Who roamed the whole of middle-earth to gather knowledge, to forge alliances between reluctant partners, to settle disputes peacefully -he had been a harbinger of good.

And Gandalf had followed him gladly. Learning and watching that endless energy in awe. Never would he have believed then, that the burden of the White would someday fall to him. Although his own power had already been considerable, he had felt like an apprentice to Saruman. One day he had even asked to be taken on officially. But Saruman had refused, smiling, and said that he could not teach what Gandalf needed to learn. That wisdom and friendly manners were not learned from a master but only with time.

Gandalf smiled sadly. Obviously not enough time had passed. For had his wisdom grown, would he not have recognised the change in Saruman much sooner? And - as his friend assured him - his manners still left a lot to be desired. Back then he had just stood there, like a rebuked child, feeling sorry for himself. And Saruman had looked at him with those bright eyes of his and suddenly pulled him into a tight embrace. Unsure what this meant, Gandalf had sought to find the emotions behind his mentor's behavior. And had found himself enveloped in a sea of warmth and gentleness. So strong and so pure was the love his teacher felt for him that he had felt inadequate in his rising thoughts of lust, thoughts that he could not contain. And as he himself had reached for Saruman's thoughts, he had not been able to hide his failing. He had tried to cringe away in shame. But Saruman had taken his stirrings to be what they truly were. The rising of a deeper love than Gandalf had thought possible. Saruman had not forced the issue then. He had even allowed Gandalf to run away and bury his confusing emotions deep within himself.

Only years later, when they had met right here on the steps of Orthanc to discuss politics and general gossip alike, had Saruman reached for Gandalfs troubled mind. And with a single soft touch to Gandalf's cheek and a kindness that lightened his heart had brought him out of his shell.

All his confusion and insecurity had been exposed to warm sunlight and had suddenly not been so frightening anymore. Words had been neither possible nor needed. Their minds had joined in such an intimate way on that summer day that the joining of bodies that followed in the night had been but a pleasant aftertaste.

Gandalf had stayed the whole summer in Orthanc, and so had Saruman. Both spending endless days wandering the path below the ancient trees. Silently communicating their thoughts and feelings, knowing true peace for the first time in both their long lives. Knowing complete trust and safety in the loving arms and minds of each other.

Ages had past. Saruman had tired of wandering, but not of his quest for knowledge. And always, into whatever darkness Gandalf went, he had known that there was warmth and light and safety to return to. How often had he come here to rest. To let Saruman's soothing hands and mind ease his hurts and fears. To share bread, bed, and soul with the man he loved. He fought the urge to wrap his arms around himself, for suddenly Middle-earth seemed to cold too live in, and he stared up at the tower. Up to the highest platform, where Saruman had imprisoned him. How clear the memory still was in his mind, though much had happened since. When Saruman had first suggested that Gandalf join him in his alliance with Sauron, his mind had balked at the very thought. He had not even been able to think, much less believe, that Saruman had made such an alliance. The White Wizard must have seen the absolute denial in his eyes. And had Saruman still been the man he was before, he would have given up on convincing him and killed him there and then. But he wasn't. The thorny malice that had replaced his heart had not allowed him to accept defeat so easily. And Gandalf had been banished to the top of the tower to suffer for his stubbornness. And suffer he did. Not so much from hunger and cold, but from what he had to witness from up there. He watched helplessly, as Saruman's orcs ripped the beautiful gardens of Orthanc to shreds and turned them into a poisonous wasteland to rival Sauron's own backyard.

Saruman's words from days long gone had echoed in his ears. He had just come back from long and lonely travels, worn thin by the evil he had seen. Feeling grey and dirtied, not fit for his duties at all. Saruman had led him into the gardens and had showed him the first spring-blossoms, sparkling silvery in the moonlight. "This is, how I see you, beloved." he had said. "Not grey, but pure silver, which shines the more, the more light you shine on it." And Gandalf had leaned in to him gratefully, hardly able to believe such kindness - how a man so wise could see so much beauty in one as foolish as he. Now whatever beauty he might have in himself seemed just as despoiled as the gardens below.

And every night Saruman had come to him. First with honeyed words and great promises. Then with threats. Then screaming and shouting. Then cursing him in every language of Middle-earth. Then he had used force. Taking Gandalf's body again and again just to prove that he could. Gandalf had endured. Knowing that somewhere to the west was a much to young hobbit struggling to make things right, a burden that should never even have entered his life. And that he had pushed this horrible burden on Frodo. He had become dazed with the horror of it all. The days had blurred into each other, becoming an endless waiting for the nights and his tormentor. And still he had held on to foolish hope, had desperately believed that somewhere inside Saruman, there had to be a spark of the man he loved left. And if he only suffered enough, if he held on long enough, he would be able to reach that spark, to rekindle it.

And again his hope had been crushed. For on that last night, Saruman had just stood there, not laying a finger on Gandalf's broken body, and had taken him with his mind. Had poured the darkness into Gandalf, filling him to overflowing. Never before had he felt such despair. He had fought him as well as he could, but there had really been no strength left in him. Saruman had torn through his defenses effortlessly. And he took delight in the terrible pain he caused. Gandalf had felt that, beyond any doubt. And had finally realized that the man he loved more than his life, his soul, his very sanity was truly dead. That the thing before him was but an empty husk, filled with Sauron's evil.

That had broken him at last. He had surrendered to Saruman's onslaught. Had allowed him to plunder his memories of happier times and darken every single one of them, so that he would never know true happiness again. At last, when the sun rose, he had discarded Gandalf's battered mind like a broken toy and left. Gandalf knew for certain that he would have returned the next night to continue his work until the darkness had consumed Gandalf as well. And he had not had the strength to fight anymore. He did not even have the strength to throw himself off the tower and kill himself. Saruman had won.

And then the great eagle had come and taken him away. Had brought him to Rivendell, to safety.

And he had hidden well how close he had come to the brink of destruction. Elrond had seen the shadow lurking in his eyes. Frodo had seen that he had aged. And Aragorn had clasped his shoulder in sympathy. But none of them had known the true extent of the darkness in his heart. How he fought it every day to keep it from overtaking him. And he had been losing. Every day a bit more.

That was the reason he had followed the balrog into darkness. To keep his friends safe, not from the balrog but from himself. How could he have known, that this older, much darker evil would be what burned Saruman's lesser darkness from his own heart. He had emerged made new not only in body, mind and wisdom, but also in his heart.

Yes - it still hurt. Yes - he had lost his love. But so had countless others. He could no longer dwell in his selfish sadness. There were others who loved him - as friend, as mentor. And for them he would fight, so that they would not have to endure what he had. To keep them safe. And with that knowledge firmly in his mind, his eyes focused on the high balcony and he called out to the thing that had once been Saruman the wise.