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Might Have Beens  by Larner

Written for the A_L_E_C "He Survived" challenge.  For J_Dav for her birthday.  Thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.

Saved, but with Worries Doubled

            “Fly, you fools!”

            But Aragorn did not fly--instead he threw himself down upon the crumbling bridge as it hung out over the abyss, grabbing onto the Grey Wizard’s hand, and hauling him by sheer, desperate strength up onto the remains of the span.

            Boromir grabbed the Ranger’s ankles, dragging both Gandalf and Aragorn more fully onto what remained of the bridge until all were well back from the end, back where the surface remained basically solid.  Once he was certain the span under them would hold, he let go of Aragorn and began crawling backwards, guided by Pippin’s hand on his ankle.  Aragorn also rose to his hands and knees and did the same.

            “Gandalf!” hissed the Ranger as the Wizard stayed still a time longer.  An arrow from behind them bounced from the edge of stone at Gandalf’s feet, and as if that were the stimulus he needed, at last he also rose to his hands and knees and crawled forward, keeping his eyes on Aragorn’s face as he went.  Once all were nearly to the solid ground at the end they rose to their feet, turned, and lunged off the bridge into the arms of their fellows.

            Gandalf alone lingered on the bridge, and peered now behind him, the expression on his ancient face mixed.  “I am not certain,” he murmured as he slowly rose to his feet and turned briefly to look back.  “I am not certain you did the best thing, my friend, in rescuing me.  That evil will still remain within Middle Earth, and will surely be drawn to its former fellow’s side now that Sauron has awakened and returned to his former strength.  I can but grieve for that, and rejoice it did not manage to take possession of the Ring.”

            Another arrow fell just short of him, and he shuddered, then hurried forward to set his hand on a white, shaking Frodo.  “Let go your fear, Frodo--I am well enough.  Nay, it is time for us to go forward and finish this as we can.  But to know we face two Balrogs at the end, and not just one!”

            Both he and Frodo took deep breaths, and then turned to hurry onwards, out the East Gate onto the mountainside, then down the hill, down towards Lothlórien gleaming gold in the distance below them.


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