In the Darkness Bind Them

by Henrika

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Sauron, Gandalf/various uruk-hai, Gandalf/Saruman

Summary: AU; Sauron has regained the One Ring and won the war. Gandalf is trapped. Will the Istar be able to resist the Dark Lord's attempts to break him?

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They belong to J. R. R. Tolkien. I make no money of this.

A/N and warnings: This story is very dark and deals with disturbing matters like graphic violence, graphic rape, torture, humiliation and much more. If this is not your cup of tea, now is probably the time to turn back. You have been warned!

Archiving: My own site, Lord of the Rings - my Gandalf slash fiction and art and Meddling in the Affairs of Wizards (hopefully!) Others, please ask first.

Dedicated to: Nefertiti, for so kindly helping me with beta and suggestions. Without you this story would probably still be in a file somewhere in my PC. Many hugs to you, my dear!


Chapter 20

The two Istari stood beside each other in the soft evening breeze, gazing out over the sea and at the ship that would finally take them and the last of the Elves who had survived Sauron's onslaught over to the Uttermost West.

Twenty months had passed since the defeat of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring, and Middle-earth was finally beginning to recover from the darkness that Sauron's short but terrible dominion had inflicted.

The wizards turned to face one another: both clad in a shining, white garb that matched their long, strikingly white hair and beard. Saruman raised one hand and ran it through Gandalf's soft strands, now reaching to his shoulders.

"Your hair has grown," he pointed out, enjoying the feel of the silken material in his hands. Real silk itself was not any softer. He had run his hands through Gandalf's hair a number of times in the past year, much preferring his traditional appearance to the cropped head Saruman had been forced to see at Barad-dûr.

"Yes, of course it has," Gandalf replied with a chuckle. "And I'm not complaining. Finally I am beginning to feel like my true self again."

Saruman's face went serious. "Your true self, yes... Will you miss Middle-earth, Gandalf? It is not likely that we will ever return."

Gandalf let his gaze wander over the surroundings and tried to take as many impressions as possible into his memory, as memories would soon be all that remained of his time in Middle-earth. It was almost exactly 2000 years since his arrival here. Those years had not passed in the blink of an eye, but somehow the time suddenly felt short.

"Yes..." he murmured, turning to face his lover again. "Of course I will miss it."

Saruman drew Gandalf into an embrace and let him rest his head on his shoulder. Saruman himself would miss Middle-earth as well, but not in the same sense as his fellow wizard. He had never been as sociable and outgoing as Gandalf, who had made various personal friends among many mortal races. Gandalf was not only leaving his home but many people who were close to him as well.

Of course, he had also lost many friends in the war. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas were only a few of them. Elrond, who had been one of Gandalf's closest friends during all his time in Middle-earth, had been killed as well, and that knowledge brought grief to the Istar's heart every time he thought of it.

Still, the situation could have been worse. When releasing Sauron's prisoners, they had found Galadriel in one of the dungeons - shackled, emaciated, and dressed in rags, but very much alive, and finding out that at least one of his oldest friends had survived the terror brought consolation to Gandalf's heart at the time.

Galadriel's face was pale, her cheeks were hollow, and she was but a mere shadow of her true self, but Gandalf could see a radiant light igniting in her eyes when she saw who had come to rescue her.

"Mithrandir... my dearest... Are you real?" she asked in a mixture of wonder, doubt, and awe.

"Very much so, my Lady," he replied with tears in his eyes as he enveloped her slender, frighteningly thin frame in his arms. Not much was left of the tall, proud golden Lady of the Forest, at least physically, and he had to support her after freeing her from her bonds, as she was too weak to walk on her own.

After giving Galadriel some much-needed food and drink, Gandalf told her about Sauron's defeat, the destruction of the Ring, and that they were now free. He left out parts of what had happened to him and Saruman, however, as he didn't think Galadriel in her current state was ready for such news. Galadriel began to cry, but whether it was with sorrow or relief, Gandalf did not know.

"I have something that belongs to you," he then said, taking out Nenya, the Ring of Water, and placing it on her finger.

Galadriel gasped, hastily moving her gaze between Gandalf and the Elven ring.

"I don't know what power it has left, now that the One Ring has been destroyed, but in any case, it is yours, and you shall have it back," he said, ruefully thinking that he had one more Ring which could not be returned to its true owner.

"And Vilya?" Galadriel asked, fearing that the answer would not be pleasant, judged by the look on the Istar's face.

"I have the Ring of Air with me, but nay, it cannot be returned to its rightful bearer," Gandalf replied sadly. "Lord Elrond is dead. I am sorry."

Galadriel nodded silently, trying to accept the cruel fact. She had seen her own husband and many more of her kin being slaughtered by orcs when Sauron's troops came to invade Lórien, and now she also had to deal with the death of her daughter's mate. The hopes that Celebrian and Elrond would sometime be united across the Sea were forever shattered.

"I am sorry," Gandalf tried, using his hand to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "I loved him too. He will not be forgotten in this realm. His wisdom and renown will live on."

"So much death..." the she-elf sobbed, with pearly drops of tears flowing down her now bony cheeks.

"I know. But it's over now. No one else is going to die."

Gandalf took his old friend's slender hand in his own and squeezed it gently. Galadriel was alive, and it didn't seem as if she had any apparent physical injuries, apart from emaciation, but how was her soul? She could have been tortured, and even raped - though Gandalf prayed that was not the case, as Elves took such a violation even worse than other races -despite the fact that nothing was visible outwardly. He realized that the only way to make sure was asking her.

"Have you... I mean, have they...? Have you been...assaulted?"

Galadriel regarded him with her large, blue eyes, which seemed to have lost some of their usual piercing clearness. "You mean...taken by force? No," she said quietly. "They beat me, took all my belongings and my freedom, but not...that, and I thank Eru for it. Why, Gandalf? They didn't... not to you...?"

Gandalf knew that lying about it to Galadriel was no use, so he simply nodded.

"Oh, Mithrandir, my friend, I am sorry..." the ancient Elf said and reached out her hand to caress Gandalf's cropped head. Galadriel was forever grateful that she had not been assaulted that way, but Gandalf had not been as fortunate. She could see that he was reluctant to talk about it, and that was fine, as she didn't want any further details.

"And your hair..." she said. "What has happened to you?"

"It will grow back," Gandalf said reassuringly and gently lowered Galadriel's hand from his head. "It was just a humiliation, among so many others. But it's not permanent."

Galadriel knew what a disgrace it was for anyone to have one's head shaved, and she wondered what Gandalf could have done to deserve such a punishment. Of course he didn't deserve it. It was just an expression of Sauron's malice. She started to realize that what she had been forced to endure was mild, at least compared to what had been done to Gandalf.

Until then Saruman had stayed behind while Gandalf tended to Galadriel, wrapping his cloak tightly around him and concealing his features with his hood to prevent identification. He felt that Galadriel might still see him as a traitor and a renegade and therefore not be overjoyed to see him or to know he had teamed up with Gandalf. He tried to listen to their conversation, wondering if Gandalf would refer to him and explain the situation to Galadriel, but so far he had not heard his fellow wizard mentioning his name.

Gandalf had Saruman in mind the whole time, though, and was simply waiting for the right opportunity to reveal the true identity of his companion.

When he finally beckoned to him to step forth and reveal himself, they both slightly feared her response, but Galadriel, despite her current weakness and infirmity, saw nothing threatening in Saruman's presence.

"All that happened was apparently not evil," she just said quietly and embraced the white wizard almost as warmly as she had embraced Gandalf.

"Don't fear me, Curunir," she then said, catching Saruman's reluctant gaze with her eyes. "I am happy that you found a way back to the light."

Galadriel was there with them now, fully recovered and once again her true self: the proud Lady of Light as they all knew her. Nenya, although diminished, was on her finger, just as Narya was on Gandalf's. Vilya had passed on to Elrohir, the only one of Elrond's children who had survived Sauron's reign of terror. Arwen had taken her own life shortly after finding out that Aragorn had fallen, and Elladan was among the many that had died defending Rivendell.

The younger twin stood by his grandmother, tall and lean and dark, like all Elves of Noldorian descent, and at this moment so like his late father that Gandalf found it uncanny. Elrohir looked truly lost and sad without his twin, by whom he had stood ever since the time in their mother's womb. The grief over those who had been lost was obvious not only on his face but on those of everyone present.

The departure would take place only hours from now in the light of the morrow, and yet there was one thing to be done.

Sauron. The fallen Maia was kept incarcerated in the cellar of a small house near the Havens, awaiting the departure. Gandalf saw it as his duty to make sure that Sauron's situation remained fairly comfortable, despite his imprisonment, and he was in duty bound until the end. Sauron did not welcome his visits any more than he enjoyed paying them, so he was happy that the tiresome task of having to face his rapist and abuser while pretending that it did not affect him would soon be over.

"I have to go and have a talk with Sauron," Gandalf told his fellow Istar. "It will only be hours now, and... Would you like to come with me? You haven't...--"

"No," Saruman said shortly. "I do not wish to see him."

Gandalf sighed. Of course that was the answer he had expected, but he never gave up hoping for some moral support. Saruman had not wanted to face Sauron once since their return from Mount Doom, and he had apparently not changed his mind. His only answer every time was a blank refusal, and though Gandalf could understand him, he was a little disappointed in Saruman. They were in this together, after all, so why leave everything to him?

Gandalf sighed and turned around to leave. "Fine," he said, trying not to show his annoyance.

"I cannot face him," Saruman sighed, lowering his eyes in a mixture of self-pity and shame. "I can't, Gandalf."

"I know," Gandalf replied, even managing a small smile. "Just wait here for me, alright? It will not take long. He is my responsibility until... or really, he's ours, but..."

"You are the head of the Istari now," Saruman remarked casually. "You can deal with him."

"Saruman, he is trapped in the shell of a mortal body," Gandalf tried to explain. "He cannot harm you anymore. He cannot harm anyone."

"I will wait for you here," Saruman said, and by that effectively put an end to Gandalf's attempts to persuade him.

"Fine. I had better hurry, because there is not much time left."

Gandalf briefly squeezed Saruman's hand before heading off in the direction of Sauron's prison. The fallen Maia was safe and secured inside his cell with walls of stone and bars of wrought iron, but despite all, a guard was always stationed outside the house.

The guard - a handsome blond elf - rose and immediately granted Gandalf permission when he approached, holding the door open for him. The main purpose of the attending guard was not to keep Sauron from escaping but rather to keep unwanted visitors out, since after all there were many in Middle-earth who wanted to see Sauron dead.

Carrying an oil lamp, Gandalf descended into the cellar where Sauron was kept incarcerated. The former Dark Lord, who was now just a fallen Maia, was lying on his narrow bunk bed, though he wasn't sleeping but was staring blankly into the grey stone wall. Sauron glanced in Gandalf's direction when he heard the approaching steps and raised an eyebrow, but he didn't bother with any greeting.

Sauron's cell was small but clean and comfortable compared to those where he had kept his prisoners. He was also fed regularly and did not have to worry about starvation.

As Gandalf emerged outside his cell, Sauron closed his eyes and kept his body perfectly still.

"Open your eyes, Sauron. I know you are not asleep," Gandalf remarked pointedly.

Sauron opened his eyes in reply, and a sardonic little smile danced about his lips. "Well, now," he said, still not moving anything but his lips. "Is it not the great Olórin? To what do I owe the honour of your visit?"

Gandalf sighed. "We are departing in a few hours. I thought you would like to know that. The ship is docked. Now we are only awaiting the light of day."

"Fascinating..."

Gandalf sat down on a wooden chair that had been brought down particularly for his visits and crossed his legs under his long, white robe, putting his staff against the wall. He sighed.

"Sauron, you may or may not realize this, but I am here to help you, which will be a whole lot harder with that bad attitude of yours."

Sauron let out a short sarcastic chuckle and finally bothered to sit up and look directly at his visitor. "Help me, Olórin? Is that what you say? And now you expect me to be grateful?"

"I will take you across the sea so that you can be sentenced fairly by the Valar. That is more than you are entitled to expect, considering what you have done. You know, if it were up to most people in Middle-earth, you would come to the gallows."

Sauron shrugged and looked away. "That would be fine by me. Sentenced fairly, you say? And what will Manwë do with me, do you think? Throw me into the Void as he did with my mentor? Yes, that really sounds like something to look forward to, doesn't it?"

"That is not for me to decide, Sauron, but all I can give you is a fair chance. If you repent now and offer to help rebuild what you have destroyed, I am sure the Valar will be lenient with you," Gandalf replied. "But perhaps that is indeed beyond your ability. Perhaps you were truly lost the day you decided to follow Morgoth."

"Melkor!" Sauron snapped angrily. "His name was Melkor! "Morgoth" was just an offensive nickname created by people like you!"

"Alright, then. Melkor. Do you miss him, Sauron? Is that why you are so bitter?"

Sauron smiled inwardly and looked down to regard his right hand, whose two middle fingers were severed from the knuckles. "You know," he said. "My single mistake was not killing Curumo right away. Or you. Without you he never would have rebelled. But I wanted to keep you. Perhaps that was my real mistake. You."

Gandalf did not like to think back to the time he had spent as Sauron's pleasure slave at Barad-dûr, but he knew that it was all behind him now and that he should be proud of himself for staying true to his mission even under such dire circumstances. Sauron had not managed to break him despite repeated attempts, including some that almost claimed his life.

The fallen Maia broke the oppressive silence. "Why has Curumo not come too see me even once? Is he still afraid? Pathetic creature, he is. Afraid of a mortal imprisoned behind bars."

"Why? Do you have something to say to him? If so, I can bring him a message from you," Gandalf replied, not wanting to discuss Saruman's absence with Sauron, since he didn't really know the reason for it himself. Perhaps Saruman was still afraid, despite the fact that Sauron was unable to do anymore harm.

"No, I have nothing to say to that worm," Sauron said, leaning back against the wall in his cell.

"Have you anything to say to Middle-earth, then?" Gandalf asked. "You are not likely to ever return here after our departure, so this might be your only chance. Anything?"

"What? Are you expecting an apology?" Sauron asked and gave a scornful and sarcastic chuckle. "How presumptuous!"

"Just anything."

"Well, in that case I would like to say that I regret nothing. If I could go back in time and do things differently, I would only have disposed of you and your miserable partner earlier and thus prevented my defeat." The former Dark Lord sighed. "Other than that, I am really proud of myself. And I think my Master would have been, too."

"You never answered my question before," Gandalf pointed out. "Do you miss him?"

"I do not wish to join him in the Void, if that is what you're asking. Of course I felt lost and empty when he was taken from me, but I was also given a chance to prove my true quality." Sauron laughed. "I must have done well, considering I even managed to frighten the Valar. I was the reason you were sent here, after all. You and those other simpletons."

"Yes," Gandalf agreed. "We were sent here to aid the free peoples of Middle-earth to battle you."

"Did you like it here, Olórin?" Sauron smirked. "Certainly there are many advantages to being embodied, right? Comfort of the senses: food, sex... You must have learned a lot about that during your... How long has it been? 2000 years? I only had a few months. In a way I do envy you."

"Well, soon we will both be disembodied again. Enjoy it while it lasts."

Sauron shot Gandalf a predatory look through the bars, and the wizard could detect a malicious glint in his pale blue eyes. A shiver passed through his body. He had seen that particular look many times in Sauron's eyes and was again reminded of the time when he was still in the Dark Lord's power.

"Yes, Gandalf... Come in here and get on all fours on this bunk, and I might enjoy it after all. Your posterior feels so good, especially when you flex your inner muscles!"

Gandalf could feel a cold hand gripping his heart at those words, and he reflexively grasped for his staff. Sauron's scornful laughter soon filled the entire cellar.

"No? Then why so upset, Olórin? It's not as if I can walk through these bars and come after you. Are you sure you do not want to reconsider? I believe I could make you feel really good. You can't seriously claim that Curumo can manage to satisfy you?"

Gandalf rose from the chair, gripping his white birch staff so hard that his knuckles were paling. His heart was pounding far too quickly in his chest, and he was also starting to feel giddy. He had to leave now. The cellar had started to feel much too narrow, and he needed fresh air as quickly as possible.

"Leaving so soon, Olórin?" Sauron called after him, still laughing. "Are you sure my offer does not attract you? We only have a few hours, after all."

"Quiet!" Gandalf snarled in reply. Despite some hesitation, he turned around to look Sauron straight in the eye to prove that he was not so sensitive that a simple and low attempt like that could get him off balance. "If I were you, Sauron, I would watch my tongue. You are at a clear disadvantage, and an attitude like that will not improve your situation. Remember what I have told you. I would like to help you once we arrive in the West, but that requires some cooperation from you."

"And I have given you my answer."

"Suit yourself," Gandalf said, and left. This time he did not turn his head to look back. Saruman was waiting for him by the shores as he had promised, and when the Istar saw the distraught expression on his lover's face, he was instantly worried.

"Gandalf? What happened? Did he try anything?"

Gandalf shook his head and tried to give Saruman a reassuring smile. "No, not like that. He is just... Well, he is Sauron, after all. He won't even let me help him. Perhaps he doesn't understand."

"Why are you so concerned about helping him?" Saruman asked accusingly. "He deserves PUNISHMENT, not lenience!"

"I know that, and yet he doesn't deserve what was done to Morgoth. I hope Manwë will find another solution."

Saruman snorted. "No, right: he deserves something worse! You can't seriously suggest that you will defend him before Manwë! Gandalf! After all he has done, you still think he deserves your help?!"

"He doesn't, but it is my duty to offer it. He is my responsibility."

"Not after we have arrived in Valinor. I just don't understand you."

"It might not be too late," Gandalf suggested carefully, knowing Saruman would object to the whole idea of Sauron repenting, and perhaps he was right. Gandalf just thought it was never good to give up one's hopes.

"Gandalf," Saruman sighed, shaking his head. "Do you really believe that yourself?"

"No," he admitted. "But I can hope."

"It is futile."

"Maybe, but not impossible."

"Even if he somehow repented, do you think anyone would ever trust him again?"

"The Valar would know if he were truthful. Maybe he would not be given any position of power, but he would be allowed to...exist."

Saruman snorted. "Gandalf, he is beyond your help. You have to realize that you can't save him. He chose his fate a long time ago. There is nothing anyone can do to help him. All you can do is to see that he is brought safely to Valinor."

"And that I will," Gandalf replied with a slight hint of sadness in his voice. He didn't know why he felt sad. Sauron's fate should really not concern him, especially not after their arrival in the Undying Lands. The fallen Maia deserved to be punished for his deeds, and the Valar would sentence him more fairly than anyone in Middle-earth could. It was the only option.

The wizards could see that the sun was rising in the east, and that meant they were soon setting out on their long voyage over the Sea. It had been almost 2000 years since last time they made that journey. Gandalf silently wondered if anything had changed in Valinor during their long absence. Probably not, he concluded. The Undying Lands were as eternal and ageless as the Valar themselves, and 2000 years was still a relatively short period, even though it certainly felt very long to mortals.

The Elves that would accompany the Istari on the journey started to congregate around the ship that would carry them over the Sea. Most had sad looks on their faces when they gradually started to step aboard. Elrohir was no exception. Gandalf could understand him. His twin, father, and sister would not follow him aboard the ship, after all, and he was leaving the place that had been his home since his birth for something he had only heard of in tales. Elrohir was no longer counted as a young Elf, but his posture and expression at the moment made him look much like a poor, orphan Elfling.

Sauron was brought forth from his temporary prison down in the cellar by some of the Elves and was taken aboard the ship collared and manacled. Gandalf had decided that Sauron would remain locked up below deck throughout the voyage so as not to jeopardize the safety of his fellow travellers. He did not have access to any special powers in his current shape, but he could still constitute a threat if he was not closely monitored, and out at sea, Gandalf did not want to take any chances.

Saruman looked away when Sauron was led past him, and did everything to avoid his scorning, predatory gaze. He exhaled in relief when Sauron was taken below deck and thus out of his range of vision.

Gandalf noticed his fellow Istar's discomfort and calmingly rubbed his back to assure him that there was nothing to worry about. "You won't even have to see him during the voyage," he promised. "Maybe it's for the best."

"I just...hate him," the wizard sighed wearily.

Gandalf nodded gravely. In a way he hated Sauron too, and both Saruman and he had very strong reasons. "And you are entitled, my dear. Come now, let us go aboard."

Smiling, Gandalf took Saruman's long-fingered hand in his own, and together they were the last to step aboard the ship that would soon leave Middle-earth never to return. There was grief in their hearts, but also relief. Now their long mission was finally over.

The End