Shall I tell this part, the last, and by far the most painful?
I will tell you that for seven weeks, Saruman and I feigned allegiance to Sauron, and there were many trials, and many tests, and we passed them all.
Once, Sauron forced Saruman to prove his loyalty- we knew that test was coming, of course – and ordered him to slay me.
As Curumo stood over me with a broadsword, I saw – for the first time since we had come to this wretched place – the old look in his eyes, the look of evil and madness.
The look of a traitor.
I understood that he truly was prepared to carry out Sauron's command, and I grieved – more than anything- at having lost him again. In what I believed to be my last moments, I made a silent plea to the Valar, that if I could not save our lives – I could at least save my old friend's soul.
Sauron laughed with hearty wickedness, and bade Curumo to lay down the sword.
With obvious genuine disappointment, he did so, but said almost conversationally to his Master – for Sauron truly was that:
"My Lord, your indulgence, but if we do not see this through now -"
Sauron had looked at Saruman with something like true love at that moment, and had answered him in tones of deep malice:
"No, it will be alright, but Curumo- you surprise me- albeit pleasantly!"
I must tell you, that there came a night, when the chance to escape appeared, out of nowhere, and I forced Saruman at the point of a blade to accompany me.
How he cursed at me, through clenched teeth, and I truly understood that while I had feigned my submission to Annatar, Saruman certainly had not. But I refused to let him go again. I forced him to freedom, to his very last chance.
And I will tell you that we were pursued by the Wraiths, who this time were not out to capture, but rather to kill.
They cornered us, and I fought them all alone- Curumo was of no mind to do battle- alas, he ought to have understood that he was considered an escapee now, as guilty as I.
On the brink of finally driving them away with the Light, one of them drove his deadly sword into Curumo, deep into his side, and he made no sound at all, but collapsed immediately.
I used the last of my energy to drive away the Fallen, and tended to Saruman, who lay groaning quietly on the cold ground.
He was by nature pale, but now he looked ashen and grey, and his eyes had rolled up in his head. I took him up in my arms, and he struggled weakly against me then, but it was a half hearted battle.
And what came then, as he lay dying in my sorrowful embrace, was a
tale only I could tell:
he was unconscious for much of the time, and mercifully so. The Wraith's malignancy had flowed into him from the sword thrust, much as it had done to Frodo – and now, within a matter of moments, he was fighting for every breath.
It is a tale I tell with regret, and yet hope, as well, as you will understand, at length.
Seemingly endlessly, Curumo thrashed and moaned in the grip of the mortal evil coursing through him.
I held him all the while, leaving only for a moment here and there, to try to maintain my grip. It is very difficult to watch even an enemy suffer – and this was my blood brother – one of my own very rare kind – and then the fever came, on the fifth night, with a fury I had never seen before in an illness.
His temperature was so intense it was painful to touch his skin, and the delirium alternated with a near-coma.
Once, he sat bolt upright, startling me, and then frightening me even
more by looking at me with a total lack of recognition. I could see in his eyes that he had no idea who I was. It is only the fever, I had told myself then.
But it was to be much worse.
For three days and three nights he lay in sweltering, unnatural heat. It was, most likely, his own body trying to defeat the invading cancer of the Wraith's sword. Any Man or even Elf would have been dead by now, yet grimly he clung to life, as his fever climbed to such intensity I could feel its heat as I held him.
One morning, the fever suddenly broke – and I had a powerful intuition that something had been cleansed, somehow – purified. There had been a purification that would have been impossible otherwise. From where the knowledge came, I do not know.
Saruman opened his eyes and looked at me – "Curunìr? How are you
feeling?" I asked gently, fearful of his response.
He stared at me, as if trying to remember something, and then said,
in a toneless voice: "Gandalf – Mithrandir -? I – I have felt better–
I think -" - his deep confusion was obvious, and I will not bore you with the details of that morning, but suffice it to say that Saruman now remembered very little, after the devastating fever:
He knew me, but little else. No memory of the Ring, or Sauron, or the War. Or anything he had done or said, for good or ill. Not even what our Mission had been to Middle Earth, or who had sent us.
And all his learning, as if it had never happened at all- gone. All of it.
But he is still guilty of what he's done!, Theoden had cried angrily, when I had grimly informed them of the situation.
I had stared at him hard, with great anger, and he had clenched his fist, and turned away from me, muttering.
The others had been, for the most part, shocked, then compassionate, merciful.
I was grateful, and relieved.
He is waiting for me now, in that same cottage, only the door is, of
course, not locked, and there is no need to forbid him anything.
Saruman often reads the books and manuscripts I bring him – the vast loss of his memory, not quite total but very nearly so, has not touched his wisdom and intelligence, and his desire to learn is as powerful as ever.
Treebeard comes to him, and visits with him, speaking in gentle rumbling Entish tones, never mentioning anything of the past, but only teaching ( re-teaching ) him on the ways of nature –
No one speaks of the past to him.
Sauron? He eventually was defeated, and was sent to Mandos, for another attempt at his own redemption. There is always hope, isn't there?
Penance, I think to myself sometimes, as we lay in each other's arms through the dark night, penance, and redemption.
The penance had been very hard, but the redemption- well, that is priceless, isn't it?
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.