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This is so well-written... I've read it over several times, just savoring the way you've worded things. Like this: "The boy in me, learning his high lineage at twenty, determined to live up to it, determined to keep it untarnished, that boy still wails within me 'Cannot I fight these battles with the sword?'"
Loved this. Particularly loved the exploration of Gandalf's character and morality - as good and as kind and as well-meaning as Gandalf was, he was also a manipulator. His kindness had to be tempered with cynicism, and he had to be capable of ruthlessly using even those he loved, otherwise how could victory ever have been achieved? Yet it's a side to him that's rarely acknowledged or written about. The mingled respect and resentment Aragorn feels towards him and the whole dynamic of their relationship is fascinating. What I really loved was that it all rang true in a way so many fics don't. Aragorn, Gandalf, Boromir, Denethor - they all acted and thought in a way that seemed genuinely consistent with their characters. So um... *thumbs up* ^_^