by Milly of Isengard

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Gandalf/Saruman

Disclaimer: no bread made, of course. Saru belongs to me (I wish) everybody else JRR's.

Warnings: strong slash / angst / violence / torture (halfling and otherwise)

Summary: Gandalf goes alone to Isengard in an attempt to parlay Saruman into surrendering - or failing that, to at least bring him back alive. It goes badly, and Gandalf falls prey to his former friend. To make it even worse, the halflings Merry and Pippin are captured and brought to Orthanc.

Chapter 15 - Understanding

Saruman strained against the shackles desperately - he was not feeling well at all by this point- his mind wheeled and crashed in on itself, and always, the red colors, spinning - he could not force his thoughts to clear now, and the fog which had invaded his mind only intermittently before, was now an all-encompassing shroud.

Gandalf has lost his wits, such as they are, he thought wildly, and I am at the mercy of a madman! The fact that, he himself had been engaging in far more horrific acts than this slight physical discomfort, only a very short time before, did not even enter his mind.

Mithrandir turned back to Saruman, who stared at him with wide, wild eyes.

Gandalf's Staff was thrumming loudly, and it still was lit up with the outward manifestation of Power.

Mithrandir was now certain of what he had feared - it was a difficult test, and a hateful one, but it was the only way to be sure.

Curunír was beyond caring if he was found out, and found out, he was now indeed.

"No more secrets, Curumo. It is in the open now!"

And to prove the point to the fullest, he pulled open the sash of Curumo's robes and flung them open:

Of his arousal, there was now no doubt.

"Gandalf - " Curumo began to say something, and then he gave up- what could he say? There was really nothing to be said, not now.

Mithrandir stood there in silence, and for a very long moment, they simply regarded each other.

"You - need help, Curumo. Badly.", Gandalf said gently- and the coldness in his voice was gone now.

"I do not know where the cure may be found, but I pray it exists. So this - this is what motivates you now - this fascination -this - this love affair with pain! - and yet, until now, you knew it not, but only ached with desire to inflict it."

He sighed, and then said carefully:

"And now, that you have truly tasted that which you yearn for, I see it is to your liking."

He frowned darkly, and shook his head sadly.

"Too much to your liking, I am afraid. The sickness in your soul must be addressed - and conquered! If you will not allow it- it will only devour your entire being. I will do what I can to help you- but you must allow it - if you do not, I fear you must remain restrained, for there will be none that can trust you!"

Saruman scowled at Mithrandir, and proceeded to unleash his rage-

"A pretty speech, Gandalf! Yes, very pretty! But what will happen when you finally release me? For you must either release me, or kill me!"

"Oh? He who is in chains yet, ought to keep his tongue in check!"

"I will kill you! I promise you that!"

Mithrandir replied in a voice of subdued power:

"Ah, you resist wisdom these days, do you not? I alone hold a Staff, and I alone have the Power to release you! Your crimes are now multiplied and amplified beyond my worst fears, and yet you still maintain the false air of superiority! Your senses- your desires- have been twisted into what they were never meant to be, and you have indulged your sick passions freely, never once feeling any restraint!"

Curunír glared at Mithrandir in fury, but now he fell silent.

And now Gandalf allowed his expression to soften somewhat, and he finished:

"I say this to you, not out of any hatred for you, but to force you - by violence and pain if that is the only way - to realize your dire situation! You can never be turned back, if you will not see you are heading the wrong way!"

Saruman snarled at him, an incoherent sound of pure rage- and total madness - and strained yet again to break free, and then slumped weakly in the restraints.

The fury took him utterly then, and he raised himself up again, and Mithrandir saw that the look on his face was sheer insanity. He had degenerated drastically since the torture he had witnessed, and it seemed as if this had merely caused something to bloom fully now.

His eyes flashed with hatred and anger of a kind Mithrandir had never seen before, and he began to rage again:

"I will make it my personal joy, to torture to death all you love, and you will be the very last, so you may witness it all! You have stolen my Staff, and taken my rightful Office, you thief, you usurper! But you have forgotten, I still have my Voice, and failing even that, my knowledge! I know spells, even said from a great distance, to kill, and to torture, to burst the organs and blind the eyes! Your halflings will never be safe, never, never, do you hear me!"

He had taken on an almost unearthly appearance, and his expression was beyond all reason. This was no mere outburst of anger at being defeated, Mithrandir realized, no normal response to his situation. It was so much worse than that.

And he truly could kill and hurt from a great distance- the ancient lore he knew was nearly endless.

Mithrandir recalled back, when Curunír had been far more lucid - he had pleaded with him to not be imprisoned, preferring death to being locked away.

And even if he was locked away, in hope of a future cure - he is not bluffing: he will use his magic, even when imprisoned.

Frodo, Pippin, Merry, Sam - they will never walk in safety again, as long as Curumo lives.

Could I just keep him in thrall, with my own magic, then - a sort of living death? Mithrandir shuddered- somehow, this seemed the cruelest of all. No, I cannot do that. I will have cut him off from any release from this- from any hope at all.

"Enough! Be silent, Curumo - be at peace, now!"

Mithrandir reached over to him, and touched his face gently - Curunír shivered slightly, unsure if this would be followed by some sort of painful action.

Curunír felt all his strength leave him, then, and he collapsed again, semi-conscious, held up only by the shackles.

It's too late, Mithrandir thought sadly, there is no way to save him now. Even I must at last confess this to be true.

There is no hope for him now, not in this life.

I cannot reach him!

Mithrandir regarded him with a look of inexpressible grief, and then made his decision.