Insert the usual disclaimer stuff, yadda, yadda>
The longest journey
Gandalf grimaced as his beloved sword, Glamdring, sliced open yet another vicious Orc from neck to waist, spilling black blood and entrails. Their task was all but impossible for Frodo and Sam were dead and the remnants of the armies of Gondor and Rohan were outnumbered over ten to one by the Dark Lord's army, here at the Black Gate, here, at the end of all things...
His heart ached to unleash his power and destroy this foul horde in fire and lightning. But to do so would result in the birth of a new Dark Lord. Long had he known of his potential to become something far more evil than the creature he had fought for millennia. So he fought in the only way that he was allowed, as a man.
He dodged a deadly swing from a monster of an Orc, one of the Uruk'hai, and parry the returning stroke, only to twist the dark creature's blade away and to his left, while rotating his own body in a graceful circle that put maximum power in the stroke that cleanly separated the beast's head from its shoulders.
Without pausing, he stepped to the side to avoid the falling body and to find another target when a powerful wave of fear and pain washed over him. Indeed, whatever it was, it seemed to have caught everyone's attention for everyone, man and beast, seemed to pause and look towards its source.
Barad-dur. The Black Tower.
Keen eyes, attuned to more than just light and colour, picked up the swirling aura of the darkest magic as it seemed to gather itself tighter and tighter, in and upon itself, centering on the all-seeing Eye.
The fear that was not his own washed over him once more and before he could comprehend what was going on, the base of the Tower began to crumble.
With a roar of energy and a strangled cry in the minds of all present, the Tower began to topple and fall, only to explode, halfway down in black light.
Frodo! Sam! The were alive! They had done it!
The shockwave slammed everyone back and the ground began to open up all the way from the remains of the Tower to their position.
Gandalf, seeing the collapse, now called upon his powers freely, binding together the rock beneath his allies feet and allowing the ground to open up to either side of them, swallowing the Orc army up completely.
Within seconds, the men of Middle Earth and one very old Wizard were all that remained.
With the eruption of Mount Doom and the frantic search and rescue of those two incredible Hobbits, Gandalf simply had not had the time to think about everything that had happened so far.
Now, back at Minas Tirith, while everyone, Man, Elf, Hobbit and Dwarf alike, was busy celebrating the wedding of Aragorn and Arwen, Gandalf slipped away, to his room.
There alone and on the balcony, he began to cry.
He shed a tear for everyone he had lost over the vast span of time he had lived.
He cried for so long and so hard, that he did not think the world would every need to cry again, for surely his grief could never be matched and so no one should bother to try.
After a time, he gathered himself together. Lighting his pipe, he began to smoke and watched the night sky, at peace with himself at last and wondering what the future would hold for him.
A simple, single knock on his door made him smile.
"Enter, my old friend." He called out, without turning away from his scrutiny of the stars.
Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, entered thusly and moved to stand next to the powerful wizard on the balcony.
"How are you coping, Mithrandir?" Elrond asked quietly as he studied his friend.
Gandalf blew out some smoke contemplatively. "I feel a little lost." He admitted wryly. "With the destruction of the Ring, The Dark lord is totally and utterly destroyed. My work is finished."
Elrond's brow creased slightly. "You are sure? I didn't want to ask before, especially around men, for they might interpret my question wrongly but you are sure he is finally dead?"
The Wizard nodded firmly. "The Ring or Power was his last Horcrux. I have destroyed the other six. He has nothing to bind him to this or any other Realm. Thanks to a remarkable Hobbit, he has been utterly destroyed."
Elrond sighed deeply and many, many years seemed to leave his features and the stress and a millennia of fighting finally began to seep out of him.
"What will you do now?" He asked softly.
Gandalf sighed. "I wish I could return home and see my world one last time. But too much time has passed and I doubt anything recognizable still stands. That said, Hogwarts had lasted for millennia before I was born, it would not surprise these old bones to find she survives still."
"Hog…warts?" Elrond stumbled over the unfamiliar term.
Gandalf smiled wryly. "It might amuse you to know that it was the place that I went to school as a boy."
The stunned expression on Elrond's face made Gandalf laugh with delight. "Surely you did not think that I was born this old, my friend?"
Elrond shook his head. "It…never really occurred to me. You haven't really changed in the thousand years I have known you. It is…hard…to imagine you as a child."
Gandalf laughed heartily, like he had not done for many months, before the final re-appearance of the Ring.
"Oh, my young friend, I was indeed a small and troublesome child." Gandalf opened his mouth to continue but paused suddenly, his face creased in concentration.
"Gandalf?" Elrond ventured, curiously.
The Wizard stirred from his thoughts and looked at the ageless Elf with mild shock. "Do you realize that literally no-one from this Realm knows the beginnings of my life and how it was intertwined from the start with the rise of the Dark Lord?"
"I know that you came to us in pursuit of the Dark Lord…" Elrond replied. "…along with the other four Istari."
Gandalf snorted with wry humor, a distinctly 'Man-ish' gesture and something that Elrond couldn't ever recall the Wizard doing.
"I was not Istari, old friend, and be thankful of it. Great men they were each of them wielded their power a little too freely, something that can have unwanted side-effects, as seen with that fool, Saruman. No, I was simply a traveler who had joined the Istari on the journey here to Middle Earth."
The old Wizard smiled as fond memories floated upward and caressed him like the sun on a warm summer's day.
"I have been called many things, old friend. Istari, Mithrandir, Incanus, Prospero, Thoth, Solomon…many names, in as many places…
Elrond studied the Wizards smiling face and was caught by the twinkling eyes. For as long as he had known Gandalf, those eyes, so full of wisdom and at times, pain, had always been a startlingly ice blue but know, with a relaxed and mischievous grin, those eyes were a strikingly vivid green.
"…and it has been many, many years since anyone has called me by my true name…Harry Potter."
Gandalf knew that the Elves took great stock in names and that, although the words were unfamiliar, the powerful Elvish Lord could feel the truth of the name and that truth shook him to the core. He led Elrond back inside and gestured for him to sit down in one of the comfortable chairs.
"You know how the story ends, old friend…" Gandalf continued. "Let me tell you how the story began…"
And so Gandalf talked, long into the night.
And Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, learned of Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Sirius, McGonagoll and Remus, Fudge, Snape, many, many others and, of course, lest we forget, Tom Marvolo Riddle.