Blood of a brother: Guilt-Ridden by Niroveka|
Summary: He lost a brother due to his mistakes. And now he is about to lose a son...
NOTE: NON_SLASH. None whatsoever. Movie-verse. A slight fill-in-the-blanks.
“He was like a brother to me.” The words were barely whispered to the listening ears. “I should have seen how it corrupted him. I could have saved him.”
“This was not your fault, mellon. You did what you could. Sometimes, our best is not enough.” The voice, though calm, held a slight tremble, a hint of sympathy for his friend’s loss.
Another voice joined the elf’s. “I have discovered the same, wise one.” The voice was gruff and deep, but comforting nonetheless. “We were all deceived by him.”
“You will never understand, Theoden, Legolas. I knew him better then anyone ever did...and I could have stopped hi. I could have saved many lives by protecting him. Now that he is dead, the information we need is lost forever.”
“Gandalf,” Theoden cut him off. “I could blame myself for allowing Grima to escape. Had I arrested him, Saruman would still be alive...and the innocents would not have the fear of death that they are now sure to have.”
“I should have been quicker, Mithrandir,” the elf sighed his own thoughts aloud. “Grima killed Saruman because I did not notice his murderous intentions until it was too late. Blame me, if you desire...I do.”
“No, young one,” Gandalf replied softly. “This is not your fault. The death of...Saruman...was meant to be. The Valar have a plan for this...but,” he contradicted himself, “the blood of a brother shall be on my hands, for all time.” The Wizard paused, and a mist seemed to cover his eyes.
It took Legolas a moment to realize that the beloved Maiar was weeping. “Gandalf...” he touched his shoulder, comfortingly.
Just then, the horn sounded, calling them to break camp. Theoden looked up from his place by the fire, where he warmed himself from the chill morning air. He sighed. “We must continue on to Meduseld. Eowyn and the others will be waiting.”
The Wizard nodded slowly. “Thank you, my friends. Your support is highly appreciated in these dark hours.” The elf and the king bowed in humble respect, and left to prepare for their continuing journey.
Gandalf sighed inwardly. Now he could think to himself without interruption. Truly, he did welcome the love and encouragement of his fellow warriors and friends, but he knew that all of this was his fault, and no one else’s.
He had known Saruman for centuries; they had worked for the Valar side-by-side for untold time, and now...it was over. The blood of Saruman, his fellow Maiar, his brother...was on his hands. And to make matters worse, if the armies of Middle-Earth could not stop Sauron’s forces, the blood of thousands would be upon his head. The information of the Dark Lord’s movements had been lost when Saruman had been killed, and now they were stumbling in the dark, only praying and waiting for Sauron’s next move.
‘How could I have let this happen?’ he thought, his mind tormenting him with unanswerable questions. The memories engulfed him...
There had been so many signs...Saruman’s lust for power should have been so evident to him...
Joining the Council so suddenly...
Gaining their trust...
His interest in the seeing stones...
Gandalf rubbed his eyes, tiredly. He knew exactly why he had failed to see...because they had been mellon-nin...once...
A tear spilled onto the old, trembling hands. Gandalf snorted, and rubbed his eyes with his long sleeve. He never cried, ever. How could he shed tears for such a traitor as him? Yet, the memories would not dim; he could not chase them away.
He had seen his best friend change so much...so much had been lost. He had seen the friend he loved most, the one who loved goodness, who loved the nature, the one who was so pure of heart, that friend had disappeared. In his place, a hard, deceptive man, greedy for power...Saruman’s power had changed everything.
The Wizard’s sightless gaze was diverted suddenly to the quiet chuckles behind him. Turning his head, the aged man beheld the young ones snickering over something. Aragorn and Legolas...they seemed so content to be with each other...to have that someone to lean on. Despite the trouble and depression they knew they would soon face, each still rejoiced in the presence of each other.
Gandalf sighed once more. They still had one another’s love, as brothers should. He had had such a thing...once...He breathed in deep, and stood, clasping Glamdring to his side. He could not help the feelings of guilt and blame that hung over him, and he could not shake them away.
He felt for the large object in his sleeve, still carefully tucked away from certain prodding eyes. His strong hand gripped the ball tightly, anger at friend’s betrayal rising unwanted in his heart.
A little head suddenly appeared at his left, large curious eyes peering up at him. “Gandalf?” a slightly squeaky voice broke his thoughts. “Gandalf?” the hobbit’s tiny hands pulled on his sleeve. “Are you alright? King Theoden is ready to leave.”
“Yes, I know Peregrin Took, I’m not deaf.” He grimaced at his own words, but he was not in the mood to apologize to the little fellow. He would take care of it later. He shifted the palantir to his other hand, taking careful note of the watchful eyes that followed his every movement. He humphed and made his way to Shadowfax, waiting casually by Brego and Arod.
Aragorn and Legolas were there as well, but they said nothing to their silent friend, knowing what ran through his mind. There was nothing to say...Gandalf would never forgive himself.
Gandalf clucked Shadowfax into a trot, pulling in behind Theoden and Eomer as the thundering horses rushed past. Aragorn and Legolas did the same, but pulled up a little ways off so they could talk out of the other’s earshot.
“I don’t understand it, Aragorn,” Legolas’ brows were narrowed in thought. “Why does he blame himself for this?”
“Because they were as close as you and I, prince,” Aragorn answered grimly, eyeing their mutual friend just ahead of them. “I knew him many years before the War...I know how far back their relationship went. They were like brothers, Legolas, fighting for the same things, loving the same things...before Saruman turned to evil...before darkness crowded his mind.” Aragorn looked at the elf sadly. “Gandalf lost his closest friend that day...”
Legolas nodded. It all made sense. They had both been selected by the Valar to protect and benefit mankind; of course that would bring them close.
“They have been friends for countless generations; he has told me of their adventures, things that you and I cannot even begin to fathom...much worse than anything the twins ever got us into.”
“Is there something else?”
“I believe so,” the Ranger answered, knowingly. “He cannot help but think, that since he lost Saruman, the closest friend he ever had, perhaps he will not be able to hold on to Frodo either...”
Legolas looked at him curiously.
“Perhaps he has sent him to his doom, and he will lose another friend, one that he loves dearly. He has been like a father to Frodo for as long as he’s been alive. Gandalf fears for him, he fears that perhaps he’s being punished for “allowing” Saruman to get away with so much evil.”
“You don’t believe that is true, do you?” Legolas could not help but ask.
Aragorn shifted his eyes back to the white figure before them. He shook his head. “No,” he said firmly. “No, he is not being punished by the Valar...perhaps only by himself. He must listen to his heart, which speaks the truth, if he is ever going to forgive himself.”
“We must help him to forgive himself, Aragorn. He said he has the blood of his brother on his hands...we must help him see past that. I know I would want someone to help me if I felt that way about you.”
The Ranger nodded. “We will help him, Legolas. All we need do is be there for him.”
“If he loses Frodo...”
“I know Legolas,” Aragorn sighed. “I know.”
Several days later, before the gates of Mordor...
“Who would have thought that one so small could have endured so much suffering? And he did, Gandalf...he did...”
His heart sank. So it was true...he had lost them both...he had lost a brother, and a son...
Their tormentor tossed something heavy in his face. As he caught it, his hands seemed to freeze to the familiar metal.
“Frodo!” he heard a hobbit cry, which one his dulled mind could not tell. ‘Frodo...’ was all he could think. The mithril felt cold and heavy in his hands.
The Mouth of Sauron continued speaking, but what he said, Gandalf could not tell. The next thing he knew, Aragorn cried out in passion and slew the creature, screaming to them not to believe it, it was not so. Frodo was not dead, there was still hope.
The Wizard tried to hold onto his words, to hold onto the hope in the King’s voice, but they drifted away soon after they were spoken. He had failed them...he had failed them both. He had left Saruman drift away from him, and he had sent Frodo to his death...he had betrayed them...both...
The gate suddenly opened before them, and his instincts took over. He gathered the mane of the Mearas into his hands, and followed Aragorn and Brego back to the waiting army behind them. His mind cleared a little as he stood listening to the Heir encourage and strengthen his men, Gondorian and Rohirrim alike.
As Aragorn spurred his men on, Gandalf caught one last glimmer of hope: “A day may come, when the courage of Men fails. When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship; but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear, on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!” The ring of swords echoed over him, sending glorious chills down his spine.
“...When we forsake our friends...but it is not this day...this day we fight!” Yes, this day, he would not give up on his friend, on the lonely hobbit crawling up the Mountain, by giving into despair. He knew in heart, Frodo was still alive. He knew it had to be true.
The sudden silence was deafening. Aragorn stood before him, Legolas and Gimli at his side. Gandalf could feel the presence of the Dark One. He shuddered inwardly, his resolution shaking for a moment.
But all fear disintegrated, when the King turned to him, and looked him squarely in the eye, a tear threatening to spill. But he understood.
They ran after their Leader with all their might. They gave their all into that charge, a charge that they knew would ring out through all history. “For Frodo! For Frodo!” the call echoed through their mind with every blow and parry. “For my friend,” the elf and dwarf thought. “For my brother,” the hobbits thought. “For our world,” the King thought. “For whom we hold dear,” Gandalf whispered to himself. “Frodo is my hope now.”
Several hours later, in Imladris...
Gandalf laughed. He laughed longer than he could have ever hoped to laugh. Frodo lay before him in a gigantic bed, laughing too. His little friend was going to be all right. The little one he looked to as a son...was going to be all right.
Aragorn and Legolas smiled at the Wizard’s happiness. He had found his hope again, in a little friend that many would never have expected. He had lost a brother...and had made a friendship...that would last forever.