A birthday fic for Russingon5Eva, who requested something featuring Gandalf and Sauron: have a great day, my friend! :)

*This story adheres to AzureSkye23's marvelous head!canon that Sauron and Gandalf were, in fact, brothers in the thought of Ilúvatar.

Alone in the courtyard, the Maia rests his hands on the battered white stone of a parapet, eyes drawn East by what could be a gathering storm. Sable clouds march ever westward, stifling the crimson of sunset. The final sunset, he thinks, and bows his head.

The swirling shadows avail nothing against the Maia's gaze, swarming around his lofty citadel like so many storm clouds. He places a four-fingered hand on the black steel of his window-sill, watching: and smiling. Tomorrow, he thinks. For tomorrow, he wins.

His staff stands beside him, the white-ash rod another sentinel for the Tower of Guard. Yet like its fellows in black and silver, it is powerless against the amassing Darkness; Olórin knows this. His own impotence twists knots in the stomach of his fána.

From afar, he descries Minas Tirith, an obscene white finger, standing alone to defy the shadows-his shadows. The fact is still somewhat surreal; without the Ring, doubt has become Sauron's closest companion, questioning, mocking, with the spiteful voice of his one-time Master. It remains by his side, in his ear, yet now it is slowly smothered by the darkness.

Anor's last scarlet rays are enmeshed one by one in the lengthening snares of shadow. (He counts them as they go, and silently laments them.) The clouds protrude from Mordor like the fingers of a blackened hand, dark claws that beckon first, then seize. (He knows that story far too well.)

Melkor, he imagines, never doubted; perhaps it was that confidence that long ago drew Mairon from the light. "But what is light, in the end?" he murmurs, and his voice is lost in the howling, clanging clamour of his armies below. Olórin knew light-Olórin was light-yet the issuing clouds will extinguish even him.

Though the Maia's current fána bears the creased skin and blanched hair of an aged mortal, it is nevertheless as radiant as the Timeless Halls of He who gave Olórin a second chance. The form emanates light, and with it hope, even here beneath the fading sun. But for little longer.

He planned to laugh. For two thousand weary years, he has bided his time, waiting, watching, hoping for the day when he would arise victorious, painting the sky with darkness as his trophy. But seeing from afar the wizened figure, with helpless eyes fixed East, mirth withers on his lips.

Cheers resound from the circles far below him, shouts of welcome to reinforcements from the countryside; they echo, unintelligible, off the city's stone skeleton. The Maia sighs-even these spare troops will not be enough. Nothing, fight as he may, is ever enough.

That fragile figure; that wilting white flower, blooming in the rain to be battered by the storm; that snowy head bowed by cares too great- is almost pitiable. Almost. Yet that same white blaze (once masquerading in ashes) left Valinor itself, just to watch him fall.

Olórin bites his lip, eyes yet helplessly adhered to the celestial pall inching ever Westward from the Land of Shadow-the land of his brother. The notion strikes him like a blow; too long has he masked the threat beneath other guises. Nothing is easier to hate than the Dark Lord, the Enemy, the Nameless.

Yet Sauron once knew that pale, wizened form, called it 'brother,' called it dear. Once. A laughing voice, a thoughtful word- no longer. He made an enemy of his only ally the day he swore his soul to Melkor. Melkor-who would be so very proud to see him now. He clenches his eyes shut: Is that- the approval of his brutal Master- what he wants?

Mairon. I can love you no more. The hand the Maia stretches East would seem to any outside eye defiant; it is in truth a beckon home. Mairon. Golden eyes dancing with a spark of curiosity; restless hands, ever making; thin lips curved into an ironic smile... No. His brother is dead to him; what remains is a lethal ghost.

A single, flickering red lamp has illumined the chamber; Sauron now wishes it snuffed out. The scarlet flame sears even beneath his eyelids; darkness is safer- truly? Darkness stole from him his innocence, his family, his hope; now he seeks to wrap the world in it. Why? It is the only thing left for him.

Anor makes ready to descend forever beneath the Earth, and the consuming shadow begins to take her last red rays. Mairon, Mairon, the Maia inquires, do you rob the world of light because you have none for yourself? A lone tear trickles warm down Olórin's creased face, a tear for the Maia who was, and for the shadow that should not be.

Sauron opens his eyes, turns his back on the spiteful lamp, and watches the shadows it casts undulate on the walls like phantoms at play. Their blackness is hardly distinct from that without. He splays his hand against the window-pane; ensnared in his own darkness, he cannot find its outline. Brother, if only for your light. A tear meanders its way down the Maia's cheek.

He watches, form tense beneath his argent robes, as the Sun drops, her last ray an accusatory finger as it too, is devoured by the Shadow. He is left in the twilight, hands resting once more upon the parapet. (Battle awaits tomorrow, and no dawn is to come.)

The red flame flares up once before it dies, illuminating every crevice of the chamber as by a bolt of lightning. Sauron sets his jaw and lifts his chin as the lamp sputters and goes out; tomorrow, he wins-he has no purpose for the light. He belongs here, in the darkness that remains.