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Tea and Questions by Nath

Author: Nath
Title: Tea and questions
Rating: G
Theme: Two Sides to Everything
Elements: "Did Radagast actually fail in his mission?"
Summary: Olórin faces an unexpected question from Sam.
Word Count: 1073

Having poured tea for Sam and himself, Olórin sat down carefully on the low bench in the hobbit’s small garden. He had not taken form as Gandalf for some years, and he had forgotten about bad knees and creaky joints.

“But Radagast,” Sam said unexpectedly. “What about him? Why isn’t he here?”

“How do you mean, what about Radagast?” Olórin asked in return, surprised by the question. Perhaps he should not have been, but he had grown disused to such surprises.

“Well, at the Council of Elrond you said that he is a worthy Wizard, and a master of... of shapes and changes of hue; but when you went to Isengard, you noticed that Saruman’s robes were changing colour, and that it wasn’t a good thing to break light to see what it is. Did he turn bad like Saruman?”

It was good to see how Sam had rallied after arriving in Aman; he was quite elderly, and it had been a shock for him to find that Frodo had not been able to wait for him, but he had recovered well, only saying that they would meet again soon enough anyway, and Rosie was waiting for him also, and his Gaffer, and...

Olórin was dragged from his contemplations by an impatient cough, and he could not help but laugh to himself. Sam might have become a very important hobbit, Mayor of the Shire and friend of the King, but he was still as quietly persistent as the young gardener’s apprentice had been, though he was perhaps even more pointedly polite about it now.

“Bad? No, Radagast did not turn bad,” Olórin said at last. “And if you recall my words at the Council of Elrond, you will perhaps also remember that I said then that Radagast sought me in good faith, or I would not have been convinced by his words.” He fell silent with a sigh. No, Radagast had not, as Sam put it, turned bad; and yet...

“But...” Sam went on hesitantly.

“I would say ‘spare me your buts, Samwise Gamgee’, except that I doubt it would do much good.” the Maia interrupted him in a tone that was supposed to be stern. It was too welcome to be talking to a hobbit again to mind being so questioned.

“But,” Sam repeated, now with an expression that somehow reminded Olórin of Tooks rather than Gamgees, “Why didn’t he come with you?”

“He has chosen not to. So far, at least...” Sam’s confused look was almost comical, and Olórin continued. “Radagast may not have followed the Enemy, but he did fail.”

“Why? Because he didn’t defeat Sauron?” Sam looked indignant.

“That was not our task, and had it been, we would all have failed. No, we were sent to strengthen those who stood against Sauron, not to face him directly.”

“But if you hadn’t been sent back after the Balrog killed you, you couldn’t have finished your work either!”

Olórin blinked at the outburst. “You have come a long way since I caught you spying that day at Bag End,” he said at last, causing Sam to blush furiously. “Yes, I failed as well, at least then,” the Maia went on, “But I was offered a another chance to fulfil my task, though with no guarantee of success or survival. And Radagast may not have turned bad, but his tending solely to bird and beast was an abandonment of his original task. Also, his years of aid to Saruman, though given in good faith, would have led to disaster had Saruman found the One Ring as a result.” Olórin glanced at Sam, whose expression was half-stubborn, half-confused, and he sighed. “I should perhaps go back further: five Wizards were sent to Middle-earth. Two of my brethren, the Blue Wizards, travelled far to the East and South. I have heard little news of their journeys. Then there was Curunír, Saruman, and we know his fate.”

“And you and Radagast,” Sam interrupted.

“Yes. Now, if you will let me finish... The Valar determined who would be sent: the Blue Wizards were chosen by Oromë, Curunír was chosen by Aulë, and Radagast, Aiwendil, by Yavanna.”

“And you?”

“Manwë and Varda spoke in my favour,” said Olórin, recalling how even then Curunír and he had ended up in opposition to each other, though it was only apparent in hindsight.

“Oh.” Sam fell silent, then went on again. “But if... if Radagast was sent by Lady Yavanna, why do you say he failed because he looked after animals? Did they not suffer as well because of Sauron? What if she asked him to do that?”

Olórin shook his head. “Samwise, your heart is as kind as ever, but I doubt Radagast was given special instructions that none other knew of, nor was it Yavanna who set us our task.” No, not Yavanna. And perhaps, ultimately not Manwë either...

After a while, Sam asked, “But didn’t Radagast do a lot of good as well? And where were you when you were dead? The same place we go, Mortals I mean, or somewhere else?”

“That, I may not tell you. As for the former, yes, he did do some good in the Ring War, for without him I would not have escaped from Orthanc, and who knows what might have happened then.”

Sam nodded, letting the subject go, though it was clear that he was far from satisfied as yet. No doubt he would let it sit quietly for some days, then return to it again.

That evening, enjoying a pipe for the first time in decades, Olórin found he could not let go of Sam’s question; could he truly say that Radagast had failed in his task? Had not, considered by the same harsh measure he had applied to Radagast, Frodo also failed? For it had not been Frodo’s own will that had led to the Ring’s destruction, but unintended intervention from Gollum. Should he not show Radagast some of the same consideration, the same mercy, as Frodo?

It truly was a pity that Radagast was not in Valinor; he and Sam would have gotten on well. At least until Radagast’s birds ate all the seeds from Sam’s garden, Olórin added in thought, chuckling softly to himself at the image of an irate hobbit chasing after his fellow Maia.

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Aug. 17th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
It was too welcome to be talking to a hobbit again to mind being so questioned.

How delightful that Gandalf still has an impertinent and unquenchable hobbit to deal with.
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
And he clearly needs the lesson:)
dreamflower02
Aug. 17th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
There are several reasons I like this: for one thing, you go against the common idea that Frodo would still be around after 60 years. For another, you show how much Sam has grown over his years as Mayor and the patriarch of an extensive family. And finally, you show up one of Gandalf/Olorin's best characteristics: his fondness for hobbits!

And I really love the way Sam stuck up for Radagast, even though he'd never actually met him!

Great job!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you:) Glad you liked it.

Sam and Radagast would probably have gotten along splendidly. I can't quite see that Frodo would still be around; I don't have the Letters at hand right now, but iirc there are several references in there to Mortals in Valinor, and if anything his remaining lifespan would be shortened.

I'm afraid I was a bit unfair to Gandalf here for the sake of the debate, by having much of what he learned in Middle-earth wearing off so soon, and needing a 'refresher course' in the shape of Sam.
gamgeefest
Aug. 17th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC)
It is so easy to forget Radagast. He may have lost sight of the larger mission, but he did play his part, just as all the others did. And as Gandalf points out himself, were it not for Radagast, Gandalf could not have played *his* part, a very important part indeed. I'd call it a draw.

Love the image of Sam chasing after Radagast's birds!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
*heh* And who's to say that Radagast wasn't meant to stray...
surgicalsteel
Aug. 17th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I like it when people stick up for Radagast!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you:)
blslarner
Aug. 17th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
I prefer to think that Radagast's real work started AFTER the war was done, helping to restore the lands to balance. But a most interesting debate!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
It probably did, but that's outside Olórin's current view.
lindahoyland
Aug. 17th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
A fascinating story which made me think. I love your Gandalf.
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you:) I was worried I was slightly too harsh in his characterisation here as far as his judgement of Radagast goes.
(Deleted comment)
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you:) Nothing like hobbits to extend the mind (and with second breakfast, the waistline as well; lucky for Gandalf that he did a lot of walking *g*)
harrowcatliz
Aug. 17th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
A really interesting discussion. I liked this a lot.
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you:)
claudia603
Aug. 18th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
aww...Radagast! :)
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
and his garden-ruining birds *g*
pearltook1
Aug. 18th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
An interesting story, Nath. I always liked Radagast even though we know so little about him. And I do think Sam would feel drawn to him as well. :-)
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you:)
someplacetobe
Aug. 18th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
A wonderful story but, I must confess, all that has stuck with me from it is this:
It truly was a pity that Radagast was not in Valinor; he and Sam would have gotten on well. At least until Radagast’s birds ate all the seeds from Sam’s garden, Olórin added in thought, chuckling softly to himself at the image of an irate hobbit chasing after his fellow Maia.

A delightful scene to imagine!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
*g* Indeed delightful.
cookiefleck
Aug. 18th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
Gosh, I just love this story. What dreamflower said, plus the ending lines. Perfect in every way. Thank you!
mrowe
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
And thank you:) It was quite a fight to write it, so it's good to know it strikes a chord.
antane
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Cute ending! And an interesting question too. Radagast had failed in his original mission but he had not failed and become evil. He just got distracted and derailed, but he did do good also. And Frodo did not fail for his vocation was to be Ring-bearer, not Ring-destroyer. What a shame that Frodo wasn't there to see Sam. Cute also that Gandalf knew saying 'spare me' would not help and too delighted to be with a hobbit again to be too stern.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mrowe
Aug. 28th, 2010 10:27 am (UTC)
Thank you:) I'm glad you enjoyed this little snippet.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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