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 8

"Here. Drink this," Saruman's voice said, and Gandalf could feel his head being lifted from the pillow. Saruman put a cup with some kind of herbal brew to his lips, urging him to drink it. He did and swallowed a few mouthfuls of the sour but warm fluid that pleasantly soothed the ache in his throat and chest.

He started coughing again, and Saruman withdrew the cup. He slowly laid Gandalf back against the pillows and put his hand on his forehead to check if he'd gotten any cooler.

Barely. Whatever this disease was, it was burning him up. It was almost a miracle that Gandalf was still alive.

The room where Sauron had chosen to put him was clean and tidy, but not quite warm enough, so to compensate for that, Saruman had covered the diseased wizard with a thick, warm blanket. Gandalf's skin was red and hot, and his eyes were watering.

Gandalf was only vaguely aware of the surroundings. He could hear Saruman moving in the room, but his eyes were aching and blurred, so he chose to keep them closed. With his mind so fogged, eyesight would be of no avail.

He began to drift off and did not fight the feeling. Maybe it was the disease or the brew Saruman had made him drink, but whatever it was, it was a nice feeling. Gandalf didn't think of Sauron at all when he finally drifted into a peaceful slumber.

For two days Gandalf was in a semi-conscious state, and noticed very little of what happened around him, despite the fact that he - presumably - never left the room where he had been put.

The fever kept its hold of him, and for a long time it seemed like it would not let him go, but Saruman was a skilled healer, and he was also stubborn, and did not give up his attempts to get Gandalf from the clutches of the disease, even though it seemed hopeless at times.

His ministrations were worthwhile, and on the third day after Gandalf had been transferred here from the dungeons, he finally woke up to something that could be called consciousness. He opened his eyes and found himself staring up at a high, dark ceiling; blurred at first, but gradually clearing up. His eyes no longer ached that much, and that made it easier to focus.

He looked around in the room, and discovered that there was a window, though with iron bars across it. Of course. The Dark Lord couldn't risk a chance of escape.

Except for the bed he lay in there was no other furniture in the room. No, wait. There was a small, wooden beside table to his right. That was all. This room wasn't a dungeon, but it wasn't exactly hospitable, either. But this was Barad-dûr, so what could one expect?

Very well. At least he was lying in a bed now, not naked on a cold stone floor. Well, he was still naked under the covers, he could feel, but he was not cold now. Rather he was warm. Gandalf pulled his arms out from under the heavy blanket, regarding his flushed skin. He was still feverish, but it wasn't as bad as before. From experience, he knew that the fever was going down when the patient began to feel warm.

A dull pain in his left wrist reminded him of the beating Sauron had put him through just before he threw him into the dungeon. Someone - Saruman, obviously - had bandaged it and put on a splint to put the bones back in place, and thus help the healing process.

Suddenly a key was turned in the lock, and Saruman opened the door, entering with a bowl of herbal brew in his hands. He briefly glanced in Gandalf's direction and saw that his fellow Istar was awake. He said nothing, just silently approached the bed and placed the bowl of brew on the table next to the bed.

The fallen Istar looked sullen, as usual. His long, snow-white hair hung free and partly concealed his face. His dark eyes were visible, though, and when he looked at Gandalf, the other could clearly see that Saruman was not pleased to find him awake and conscious.

Saruman was dressed in a simple black robe, with a sash around his waist to keep it together. Gandalf assumed that bright clothing was not allowed at fortress Barad-dûr. At least Sauron had allowed Saruman to keep his hair and beard and not subjected him to the same humiliating shaving process as he did with Gandalf.

For a long while the two Istari just stared at each other. They had known each other for a very long time, and for most of that time they had been friends and allies, but there were obviously no such feelings left between them now.

"Good evening," Gandalf finally said to break the uncomfortable silence. He wasn't exactly sure what time of the day it was, but judging from the colour of the light it was evening or late afternoon.

"So Gandalf... you are awake..." Saruman muttered in reply.

"Yes, I am better now, though my chest..." He coughed. "...still hurts, especially when I speak."

Saruman shrugged and then nodded at the bowl of brew he'd put on the table. "Drink that. Maybe it will ease your pain."

Gandalf did as his fellow Istar suggested and carefully started sipping the hot brew. It certainly didn't taste very nice, but whatever Saruman had put in it, it had a soothing effect on the ache in his throat and chest caused by the infection.

"What time is it?" Gandalf asked when he had out the bowl back on the table.

"It's evening," Saruman replied shortly. "I was to check on you to see if there has been any change, and I must say there has," he added with a sarcastic smile. "The Lord will be pleased to hear the news."

Gandalf lowered his head. Oh, no, he thought. If Sauron finds out I am feeling better, he will most certainly take me away from here. And I am not well yet. Better, yes, but not well.

To assure Saruman he was definitely not well yet, Gandalf simulated an attack of coughing, which later turned into a real attack. His face became red from lack of air and the pain caused by the coughing, and by the time the cramps had ceased, he could feel he had a large clod of phlegm in his mouth.

"Spit it out," Saruman said and took out a piece of grey cloth from his robe pocket and held it under Gandalf's mouth. The clod was greenish and didn't exactly look tasty. Gandalf shivered, and Saruman withdrew his hand and put the cloth with the sputum back into his pocket.

"That comes with the disease," he explained sternly. "It is in your lungs. The brew I have been giving you helps you to expectorate it."

Gandalf pulled a few deep breaths and rubbed his sore throat with his hand. No, he was definitely not well yet. It would probably take long before he was, if he survived this ordeal at all.

"Thank you," Gandalf said quietly and turned his head up to look into Saruman's eyes. Was there really nothing left of his old friend? If there wasn't, he could not do much about it, but in case there was, Gandalf was going to do everything in his power to draw out the old Saruman again.

Saruman just snorted and shook his head. "For what, Gandalf?" he asked.

"For saving my life."

Saruman's piercing, dark eyes narrowed, and Gandalf could see his jaw muscles flex when he clenched his teeth. "I only saved your pitiful life because Sauron very specifically explained what he'd do with me if I let you die!" he said spitefully. "Do you think I did it for you? How presumptuous, as always. No, Gandalf; rest assured - I did not."

Gandalf shrugged. "Still, you saved me. Without your care I would be dead now. I didn't know you went to Mordor, Saruman. How long have you been here?"

"Long enough..." Saruman muttered. "Why do you care?"

"It was just a question. Why did you go here? To serve Sauron? I don't understand."

"What is there to understand?!" Saruman hissed angrily. "I went here, because I, unlike you, was wise enough to understand there could be no victory against Mordor!" He snorted. "You grey fool! Now look at you! I have not much to be happy about, but I am glad that I am not in your skin!"

"If only you had helped us, we could have won the war against Sauron," Gandalf said, and did not avert his eyes from Saruman's. "Now... everything is...lost. The world of Men has fallen, and all is covered in darkness. Was that what you really wanted? What has Sauron done with you? How could you offer yourself to him freely? We were sent here to battle him!"

"I liked you much better when you lay unconscious and silent!" Saruman snapped. "I don't believe I have to explain myself to you, Gandalf. So shut up and be quiet! I have nothing to say to you."

Gandalf sighed deeply and finally lowered his eyes. Saruman was the same as he'd been last time they saw each other, in Isengard, where Gandalf broke his fellow wizard's staff and excluded him from the Order of the Istari. Nothing had changed. He was still proud, self-absorbed and malevolent.

"Saruman..." he tried in one last attempt to find the person Saruman had once been. "Will you not talk to me? Once you always used to confide in me. Why not do so now? I haven't changed."

Saruman didn't answer. Instead he turned away from Gandalf and went to the window to regard the little sky he could see through the iron bars that had been placed there. The night was coming, and already one could see the faint light of twinkling stars high in the sky.

"Gandalf..." he said grimly. "I really don't think we should discuss this further."

"But I do," Gandalf persisted. "Tell me, Saruman... why are you wearing black? I know you hate that colour."

Gandalf could clearly see Saruman's slim shoulders tensing up when the words were spoken. Of course Gandalf already knew the answer; Saruman had not chosen to wear a black robe, but Sauron had made him wear it. The garment was too large for the slim wizard and hung on his tall, straight body like a shapeless baggy sack, or a curtain.

"Did Sauron dress you?" Gandalf then asked, still expecting a reply. He knew that the Dark Lord had, but he wanted to hear it from Saruman's own lips.

"Yes, he dressed me!" Saruman finally snapped back and spun around to glare at Gandalf. "He knows I hate black, but my choice was to either wear this or to go naked, and I made a choice." The wizard then snorted contemptuously and looked down at Gandalf, whose lower body was modestly covered by the thick blanket.

"He didn't dress you at all, did he?" he said. "No wonder, really, considering what he's used you for! Did you enjoy it?"

Gandalf shrunk back from the mean and spiteful words. Sauron had raped him, and now Saruman made it sound like it was his own fault. Gandalf knew that was not true, but the words of his fellow Istar hurt him nonetheless.

But Saruman was not done yet. He had noticed that Gandalf looked like he'd just been hit across the face, and that was a response he wanted to see more of.

"What? Don't you think I know?" he sneered. "You really are cheap, Gandalf! Whore yourself to Sauron like that, just so he won't kill you! It's so typical to you. Even I would not go that low. Bravo!"

To Gandalf it actually felt like the air was knocked out of him completely. "I did not agree to lie with him willingly!" he cried out in an unusually high-pitched tone, and noticed that his mending lungs objected to it strongly. "Don't even suggest that! He raped me! I would never do it willingly!"

Saruman just stared at him coldly, and said, "Now don't lose control of your bladder again, Gandalf. It was most disagreeable to wipe you clean from your own piss. Maybe Sauron likes to do it, but that is not the case with me."

Gandalf was at a loss for words. He realized that arguing with Saruman would take him nowhere, so he chose to keep quiet.

"Saruman..." he then said in a calm and low voice. "I can understand your bitterness, but taking it out on me won't help you face your own dire situation. Tell me something... Did Sauron... Did he rape you as well?"

Saruman snorted scornfully and then chuckled to himself. "No, believe me, the Lord has never shown any such interest in me!"

It was hard to tell how sincere Saruman was, but Gandalf decided to trust him. "If he didn't rape you, then what did he do? I can see that you hate him, almost as much as I do."

"He did a lot of things..." Saruman hissed.

"Tell me, my old friend. What did he do to you?" Gandalf asked carefully, knowing that he had touched a sore spot. If he wasn't careful now, he would never get Saruman to confide in him.

Saruman sighed deeply, and Gandalf could see his shoulders tensing up again. He approached the bed with a sinister expression and sat down on the edge of it.

"You want to know what he did?" he asked in a hollow voice. "Alright, then. I will show you!"

Until now, Saruman's long white hair had been framing his face and hiding whatever deformities there now were. Now he slowly pulled it back on his left side, displaying his ear, or rather what was left of it.

Gandalf gasped in sheer shock. Saruman had no ear left, only a mat of fresh scar tissue revealing that the ear had been removed by something sharp not too long ago.

"Oh, Saruman... I am so sorry..." Gandalf whispered truthfully. Seeing it was awful.

"Oh, I bet you are!" Saruman snorted and let his long hair fall back to conceal the terrible proof of humiliation. "Why not laugh at once, and mock me?"

"Saruman, I will not mock you," Gandalf said. "I am sorry you had do endure that. I really am."

Saruman's voice was low and sullen, and his dark eyes were glowing with suppressed hatred. "Three of his monsters uruks were restraining me, while a fourth one sliced it off," he told Gandalf. "The Lord himself was watching, of course. He told me that if I was ever to disobey him again, I would lose my right ear as well. I do not want that. He said he was "kind" to let me keep my hair, so that I could hide it."

"Saruman... it will heal," Gandalf tried, not quite finding words.

"How is this supposed to heal?" Saruman asked bitterly. "I am marred for life, Gandalf."

"I told you, I am sorry," Gandalf said, and slowly reached out for Saruman's bony hand that lay over the covers. Gandalf placed his hand atop that of his fellow Istar, and though Saruman did not return the gesture, he did not recoil from it either, and that alone was a comforting thought.

"Do you know what else he said?" Saruman murmured with his head bent down, hair falling over his face.

Gandalf shook his head.

"He said... After cutting off my ear, he said he would have used my body to satisfy his carnal pleasures, if I had not been so ugly."

"Come here," Gandalf said, opening his arms and offering Saruman into his embrace. The reaction he received was all but wanted. Saruman recoiled from Gandalf and the bed with a deep snarl escaping his throat and eyes glowing with pain and anger.

"Don't you dare pity me!" he snarled at Gandalf. "Keep your pity for yourself! You will need it more than I when he is done with you! You stupid whore! He only keeps you alive because he likes that big cock of yours!"

Gandalf sighed. Of course. Saruman was too proud to accept sympathy, and Gandalf suspected that he was the last person Saruman wanted sympathy from. Perhaps the old Saruman was indeed gone?

"I did not offer pity; I offered comfort and understanding," he tried to explain, although he didn't expect Saruman to listen to him.

"Why would you offer me that?" Saruman asked suspiciously. "I know you loathe me as much as I loathe you."

"Nay, Saruman, I do not loathe you," Gandalf said sincerely. "Why do you believe that?"

"What do you think I am? Stupid?" Saruman snorted. "No, Gandalf, I can assure you I am not. I neither want nor accept your feigned compassion."

"Who are you to decide that it's feigned?" Gandalf asked.

To this, Saruman had no answer. The truth was that he could not decide whether or not Gandalf was sincere, although he wanted to believe that he wasn't. One of the reasons why he loathed his fellow Istar was Gandalf's courage and his ability to stay true to his task despite everything Sauron had done to him. Before Saruman had always thought of Gandalf as someone lesser than himself, but grimly he'd begun to realize that he was wrong. Gandalf was stronger. Much stronger.

"Whether or not it is feigned, I don't want it!" he spat out. "You keep your compassion to yourself!"

Gandalf shrugged and decided to stop his efforts to offer Saruman comfort. If the fallen wizard was too proud to accept it, then fine. Gandalf was starting to get tired again and didn't find the efforts worthwhile. He began to wish Saruman would leave so he could get some rest.

"Then go to your Lord, serve him, and see how you are rewarded," he said tiredly, not even bothering to look at Saruman.

Saruman scoffed. "I almost wish I had not worked so hard to save your life, Gandalf Stormcrow. Maybe watching you die would have been worth the loss of my other ear as well!"

Gandalf didn't answer. He had nothing to say to Saruman. His old friend was truly gone, and in his place was someone not worth the time or the effort to argue with. Gandalf wished Saruman would leave him alone. He still needed time to heal, and bickering with Saruman would not help him do so.

"Leave," he said simply and now turned his blue eyes to meet those of Saruman. The fallen wizard's dark eyes narrowed, and Gandalf could see a flex in his jaw muscles. Saruman chose not to speak, but instead turned and strode out of the room.

Gandalf could hear a key being turned in the lock, and Saruman's steps that withdrew from the place. Despite the fact that the brew had gotten cold, he picked up the bowl and drank what was left, as he didn't know when he'd be allowed to drink or feed again.

When he was finished, he curled up in his blankets and fell asleep.