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The Making of A Spy by Alquien

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Table of Contents

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Chapter notes:
Beta: Very special thank-yous to rubyelf and Flair, for super-fast last minute beta and helping explain the background of the Men of Middle Earth, especially Rohan.

Written for: Lordhellebore (for LotR Slashy Santa 2013)

Requesting: Gríma/Éowyn (consensual or at least dub-con), Gríma gen, something (either a pairing or gen) with an orc and whoever else you choose

Scenario/Prompt: I like bittersweet fic, situations where there's no right decision, characters who find (at least temporary and maybe uncomfortable) comfort in unexpected places.

It was with a great deal of relief that Théoden King learned that his chief advisor, Gálmód, had asked the king’s formal permission to be married. Most of his advisors simply made an announcement of their upcoming nuptials in an open session. But Gálmód, an older man who had served as a junior advisor to Théoden’s father, Thengel, was used to the older, more formal ways of the court. For reasons that were never clear, Gálmód married later than was usual for most men in Rohan and the woman he chose for his wife had been long resigned to life as a spinster. So perhaps it came as no surprise when several years passed before his wife finally gave birth to their son and only child, Gríma.

When Gríma was just over a year old, tragedy struck the little family. No-one quite knew what happened, but a house fire took the life of Galmod’s wife one spring day. Gálmód had been working late at the Hall, going over some figures for a planned road project, when he heard the fire bell ringing. Fire was a constant worry for the town of Edoras and all able-bodied citizens came running when the fire bell sounded. Gálmód dropped the papers instantly as his young aide helped him into his robes and took care to see that all of the candles were extinguished before following his employer.

Gálmód noticed the smoke rising and realized it was very near to his house; as he drew closer with his fire team, he realized it was his own house. Panicked, he dropped his equipment and raced to his home noticing the thick black smoke rolling out of the front door. His wife lay motionless just inside the doorway, Gríma tightly held in her arms. The healers quickly removed the soaked blanket from the screaming child and discovered that he suffered severe burns on his upper torso and face. It took many months of careful nursing but Gríma healed with less scarring than had been feared, leaving only his extremely pale face and loss of eyebrows to serve as the most obvious reminder of the childhood tragedy.

But there were other far-reaching effects of Gríma’s recuperation. Gríma’s skin became extremely sensitive to sunlight, which forced him to stay inside on the brightest days. He could only go outside for very short periods of time, and then only if he wore a heavy cloak and hood.

The other children found him strange; some of the advisors forced their children to visit him and play but they had little interest in indoor games, preferring to ride their ponies. Gríma couldn’t ride (due to allergies and the fact that even ponies scared him – those huge teeth could cause him to lose a finger), so the visits soon came to a halt.


In the middle years of his reign, Théoden King decreed that all of the children of Rohan would learn basic skills such as reading and writing and simple mathematics. Further education would be available to those children who were able to pass certain tests. It was an unprecedented move, for prior to this only the nobles and a few of the merchants had bothered to have their children educated in such a fashion.

There were some of the more conservative members who complained that since Théoden had been born in Gondor, he was too influenced by ideas that did not belong to the Eorlingas culture. But Théoden was determined to see that Rohan became the equal to Gondor and other realms; Rohan would not be allowed to be known as a poor cousin to the others.

As the king’s chief advisor, Gríma’s father, Gálmód, was proud to serve such a far-sighted monarch.


Gríma trudged home from school one dreary spring afternoon. He was one of the few children who actually enjoyed attending school and as usual, the classes were over too soon for his liking. He was the best student in his class, which did not make it any easier since only a few girls and the king’s son Théodred were any real competition for him. The girls did not matter; Théodred did. For Théodred was well-loved by all and considered to be the male ideal (and everything that Gríma secretly wished he could be too but wasn’t.)

But today had been different, for their teacher had announced that the best student would be allowed to study for two weeks in the summer at Orthanc, the home of the wizard Saruman. It was thrilling news, but Gríma feared he would not be thought good enough and that the teacher would choose to send the king’s son, Théodred instead. Gríma was determined to be the student chosen, and worked even harder at his studies.

But Gríma had no need to worry about Théodred, for his interest was set on one day leading his own éored.


Unknown to all, Saruman had discovered one of the lost palantír. Saruman was one of the brightest and shrewdest of the Maia who had journeyed to Middle Earth and it was these very qualities that would prove to be his undoing.

“You will soon have an apprentice,” Sauron told him. “You must prepare a place for him.”

“I need no apprentice.” Saruman had replied in a cold voice. “Apprentices – especially Men – have only proved to be more trouble than they are worth.”

“I did not think you were so short-sighted,” Sauron said, in a resigned tone. “Perhaps I should have remained silent when you first contacted me.”

“Forgive me, my lord. I spoke too hastily. What is your wish?”

“As you know, Rohan is vital to our plans but we have been unable to find any potential friends in that land. But it seems that things are changing. There is a young man in Rohan, and he is in need of a tutor. His father is the chief advisor to the king and he is destined to eventually succeed his father.”

“You surely do not mean for me to journey there and offer my services as a mere teacher. Why, I have just started the new breeding program for the Uruks; the time I lose now can never be made up.”

“I realize that,” Sauron smoothly replied, thinking to himself that Saruman was an even bigger fool than usual. “I think it would be best if he came here during part of the summer, perhaps a week at first. There is no need to hurry; we must be very subtle.”

“Yes, indeed.” Saruman found he was beginning to like this idea and smiled thinly.

“After all, subtlety and cleverness are your hallmarks, my friend.” Sauron knew he had the Maia well in hand now. “Treat him well, give him access to your books and laboratory and he will be more eager than ever to prove himself worthy to return the following year.”

As soon as the connection was broken, Saruman went to his desk and began write.

To Théoden King of Rohan, I send greetings…


Théoden studied the missive from the Istari with a certain amount of trepidation before putting it on his desk and turning to look out of his window. He had little liking for the man, and neither had his father, Thengel. One of his father’s most trusted advisors had been a man named Thorongil and Théoden wished he could have their council once again. Thorongil had warned his father that the Istari of Orthanc was not to be trusted and would need to be handled with great skill.

“There are some who say ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer’,” Thorongil had said in his quiet voice. “But that is not always wise, especially when dealing with the Istari.”

“Quite right,” Thengel had said and the talk turned to other matters.

Sighing quietly, Théoden went back to his desk and picked up the letter once more. There was nothing actually wrong with it, yet he felt there was something he was missing. But since he had no solid reason to refuse outright, Théoden decided to let the teacher announce it to the class tomorrow.


Six weeks later, Théoden watched from that same window as the wagon carrying Gríma left for the youth’s two week stay at Orthanc. The boy had had a hard start in life; perhaps this chance was what he needed to turn his life around.

Chapter end notes:
Author’s Notes: Rohirrim is Sindarin and is mostly used by outsiders; the name they use for themselves is Eorlingas.

In 'Return of the King', it is explained that Théoden was the only son of King Thengel. He was born in Gondor, where his family lived until Thengel became king of Rohan.

Gálmód is the father of Gríma, although he is only mentioned in passing once by Gandalf.

Thorongil is, of course, one of Aragorn's many names and the one he was known by at this point in time.

Please Note: This was originally posted at (lj) lotr_sesa under my alternate pen name of samtyr.