In the Darkness Bind Them

by Henrika

Rating: NC-17

Pairing:Gandalf/Sauron, Gandalf/various uruk-hai (for now).

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 7

When Gandalf woke up, he was shaking and freezing, despite the fact that his body felt burning hot. He tried to curl up in order to ease the ague, but he had nothing to wrap around his naked body, so it didn't help at all.

He realized that he was feverish. He had never felt this weak before. His head felt so heavy that he could hardly lift it, and sitting up was completely out of question. If he even tried to move a little, his body objected by making him dizzy and nauseated.

And he was coughing. Every now and then he suffered through a body-racking attack that nearly threatened to make his ribcage burst. Breathing itself was like hard labour. It suddenly seemed as if his lungs had shrunk until they were too small to sustain life in his body.

Gandalf tried to figure out how long he'd been locked up in here. Two days, maybe more. There was no way to be sure. Sauron had not come down to see him, which of course was a relief. Probably it was a part of his punishment. He didn't care. The Dark Lord's sneering face was a sight he could do without.

An uruk had come by a couple of times to bring him water and a piece of bread. To ease the ache in his sore, dry throat, Gandalf had sipped the water, but he had not touched the bread. In this condition he couldn't eat no matter how hungry he was.

Suddenly a violent attack of coughing struck him and made his airways clench and his body convulse in fierce cramps. Gandalf thought it would never end, and when it finally did, he was feeling like a tattered rag doll. Something warm and wet was leaking from his mouth, and when he brought his fingers to his lips, he could see bright red spots on them when he withdrew them again.

It was blood. He was coughing blood. It had to mean that this was serious --a lot more serious than he'd believed until now. He had seen Men with the same symptoms, and when they were coughing blood it often indicated that they didn't have much time left.

He was dying. The news was a shock to Gandalf. Despite his wishes to achieve a clean and simple death, he did not want to give in now. Not like this. Not to a disease.

Very well, he thought then. At least my death will defy Sauron's wishes. It was a small consolation, but at least it was something.

He lay still for many hours, accepting his fate and no longer trying to fight the disease which he knew would claim his life. The sooner the better. Preferably he wanted to die before Sauron returned to get him.

He barely heard his cell door opening, and when he opened his watery eyes to look what was going on, he could only see a blurred shape, tall and quite slim, carefully entering his cell. It was far too small to be mistaken for the Dark Lord and too thin to be one of those brawny uruks.

When the shape came closer, Gandalf could see that it was the female uruk he had fought in the hallway before Sauron recaptured after his escape attempt. She was holding a battered cup with some kind of fluid in one hand and a plate with some bread and boiled vegetables in the other.

Gandalf closed his eyes again. She didn't seem to fear him, and he could understand why. Despite being a white wizard he didn't exactly look menacing, curled up in a corner, shaking like a dry leaf in the wind. He was pitiful.

The uruk crouched and set the cup and the plate down on the floor next to him, but instead of getting up and leaving, she fixed him with her eyes and reached out her clawed, coarse hand, placing it on his hot forehead.

"No, leave me alone..." Gandalf rattled and tried to shrink back from her touch.

She just muttered something unintelligible in her own language and withdrew her hand after a while. Her body language revealed that she was distressed, but apparently there was nothing she could do about it.

Gandalf watched her leave, and she closed the door and locked it, although there was really no point in doing that. The wizard was hardly capable of trying to escape in his current condition.

"Come in, although I hope you have a strong cause to come here," Sauron called when he heard knocking on his door. He had not summoned anybody at this hour, and only his most trusted servants would dare to visit the Dark Lord uninvited.

The door opened, and in came the last creature he had expected to see. He had not given his only female uruk-hai any name, despite the fact that she was one of his closest servants. As he did with most others, he only saw her as an object, not an individual.

"What are you doing here? I did not summon you," he said coldly, standing by his window and staring out through it. He did not turn to face her when she entered -- a sign that he was not pleased to have her there.

"My Lord, I am very sorry to disturb you, but I ask for permission to speak freely," she replied, humbly bowing her head.

Something in her voice caught Sauron's attention, and he turned around, still with a stern expression on his face.

"What is it?" he asked.

"My Lord, the wizard is ill," she said carefully.

Sauron arched an eyebrow. "Ill?" he asked sceptically. Of course she was speaking of Gandalf.

"Yes," she said. "His body is burning, and he sounds like this," she informed him, and then tried to mimic the rattling sounds of Gandalf's laboured breathing. "My Lord, I... I believe he is dying," she added to make sure her master understood the seriousness of the wizard's illness.

A deep frown had replaced the bemused expression on Sauron's face. Dying? That couldn't be true. Olórin couldn't die yet. Of course, the cunning wizard could be faking illness to get some attention, but something which he couldn't specify told Sauron that that was not the case now. What if Gandalf really was dying?

"I believe he needs a healer, my Lord," the female said.

Sauron gave a short nod. "Fine. I will get him a healer!"

Sauron went down to Gandalf's cell for the first time in three days, bringing the supposed "healer" with him. He actually hated to demand the sullen creature's services, but as things stood now, he didn't have much of a choice. Olórin was fatally ill, and who could help him better than a fellow Istar?

When they opened the cell door, Gandalf was still curled in a foetal position, and his appearance instantly revealed that the she-uruk had not been exaggerating. He was trembling, his skin was red-hot, and just as Sauron entered, another violent attack of coughing struck him, causing his slender body to convulse as never before.

Gandalf had fresh blood on his lips when he looked up to see who had come. To his surprise, he could see two shapes this time. One was unmistakably the Dark Lord, and the other...

His eyes were sore and unfocused, and they ached when he tried to flex them in order to see more clearly. The other shape was smaller than Sauron: slim, but only half a head shorter than the Dark Lord. He seemed reluctant to enter, but Sauron grabbed his shoulder and more or less shoved him inside.

The smaller figure muttered something Gandalf could not grasp, but when he came closer his features were revealed.

"Saruman!" Gandalf said in a raspy whisper.

"Gandalf?" Saruman asked, not trying to hide his rather mild surprise. Sauron had told him about Gandalf beforehand, but not even Saruman had expected to find his fellow wizard in such a deplorable condition. Gandalf honestly looked as if he didn't have much time left.

Hesitantly Saruman turned his head to look at his Lord. Sauron nodded at him with a scowl on his face. The white wizard turned to Gandalf again and knelt beside his feverish and trembling body.

"Oh, Saruman... Help me, please, help me..." Gandalf managed to croak, and he grabbed the robes of the Istar who had once been a trusted and beloved friend. He didn't know what he was hoping; maybe that Saruman would take him in his arms, hold him, warm him, and murmur soft words of comfort in his ear.

None of this happened. Saruman's pale, noble face expressed only coldness and disgust, and with a frown he firmly removed Gandalf's trembling hand that gripped his robe. Grieved, Gandalf realized that he had soiled himself again not so long ago and probably didn't smell very nice. Not that it mattered. He was dying.

Matter-of-factly, Saruman did what Sauron had ordered him to do and tucked his left arm under Gandalf's back, lifting him into a half-upright position. Then he placed his other hand on the diseased wizard's burning forehead to check his temperature.

The fever was high. Saruman listened to Gandalf's rattling, laboured breaths and then concluded that the source of the infection was probably in his lungs. The blood on his lips - both dried and fresh - was strong cause for alarm. This type of infection could be cured, but Saruman wondered if it not was too late in Gandalf's case.

"Well?" Sauron asked after a short silence.

"His lungs are infected," Saruman told him. "The disease has gone far. He might be beyond my help. You have kept him here too long."

"Heal him!" Sauron ordered his servant.

Saruman sighed and with obvious signs of irritation in his voice said, "I cannot heal him in this cold and filthy dungeon." "He needs warmth, a bed, and medicine. He is cold and dehydrated, and his temperature is raging. I cannot guarantee that I can heal him even if I try."

Gandalf could hear Sauron and Saruman discussing his condition over his head, as though he wasn't even present. Well, he almost wasn't. A few more hours and he would be dead.

Saruman's long and bony hand moved from his forehead to his throat to check his pulse. Gandalf could feel his heart beating much faster than it should, due to his gradually deteriorating lungs.

"Do you want him to live?" Saruman gravely asked Sauron.

"Of course! Would you be here if I didn't?" Sauron snapped irritably, not really liking the tone in the fallen wizard's voice. He didn't sound quite as humble as he should.

"Then may I move him? There is little I can do for him here."

"If that will help."

Saruman tried to get his other arm under Gandalf's knees in order to pick him up from the floor, but Sauron approached and pushed the white wizard away quite brusquely.

"I will carry him myself," he said and scooped Gandalf's feverish frame into his ungentle arms. "Come," he added, nodding at Saruman, and with that both the Dark Lord and the fallen Istar left the cold dungeon together with the almost unconscious Gandalf.