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At The End of All Things

Chapter Text

It came from the West, a hot wind that blew in off the sea, and a creeping fog that followed. It blew through the empty echoing Havens and gentle rolling hills, where there were no people to see it coming and warn the major cities. As it rolled across the land, the wind scorched the grass and plants and the fog grew thicker and darker; a shadow blotting out all the light.

The people realised the danger too late, cowering in their stone homes as the fog came and did not leave. The Sun above grew black and those who ventured into the mist did not return. In the dead of night, strange noises crept past their homes, rattling the rooftops, and a distant roaring haunted the distant hills.

But in the fog, a shadow passed. Whatever it touched withered with as if from a bitter cold, coated in frost, yet appeared blackened as if burned. It cared little for the people that feared its passing, for they were much diminished from the Men of old. These Men had no names for the creatures that now haunted their cities and countries, no name for the terrible Shadow that passed them by with questing intent.

But once, the Shadow had a name, had many names, and was known to every single being that dwelt on Arda. As it blew through these hither lands, more and more thought came back to his mind, more than just this imperative instinct.

Give him back to me.

The Shadow pulled up short, seeing the ruins of a great gate that bridged a gap in an immense mountain range. It looked oddly familiar, he thought, looking down at the destruction. In his mind’s eye, he could see how they might have looked, where the towers would have been best placed, where the secret ways might have been. But this was not what he had come for. It was...further.

He looked out to the east, spying the desolation beyond, and a single solitary mountain. This land was utterly silent, and dust blanketed everything. Not a single thing lived here, or dared to. Even the plants, normally so quick to overtake ruins when they are abandoned, were scarce and timid.

Give him back to me.

Who was he looking for? He did not know. But every instinct urged him deeper into this haunted land, leaving all who followed him behind to ravage the fertile lands. He had to go on.

Time was meaningless as he searched, since the sun and moon held no sway over him, and under his Shadow their light could not be seen. Yet he felt as though he had searched every inch of this desolate country before he sensed even the merest hint of his quarry.

He descended to the earth, shaping himself into a familiar form as he drifted steadily downward - tall, far taller than even the Ñoldor; hair that rippled a deep blue and black, like the quiet night, scored with streaks of gold; eyes that burned white like the hottest flame. His bare feet touched the land, sending up a small puff of dust. He sighed, breathing deep of the ashen air. It felt like home. He looked down at his body, feeling a small smirk twitch at his lips. How long it had been since he had looked so fair. This was how he belonged, in the form that had housed his spirit at the height of his powers, when he had borne a crown of Silmarils.

Melkor walked through the dust and black ruins, carefully nudging aside rocks and wreckage, heedless of the soot that stained the hem of his robes. Soot and ash had never truly bothered him, for how often had spent time in the forges of Utumno and Angband, watching him work? He had always been in his element then, spinning gold and other metals into wonders beyond the petty imaginings of the other Maia and the Eldar. That was when he had been most beautiful, to Melkor’s eyes.

There he is.

Anyone else might have missed it, even a Vala, but Melkor was far beyond all of them. His keen eyes spotted the shadow that stirred at his steps, the quiver of a faint power. It was like the warning growl of a beaten dog - or a wolf. This shadow was just a wisp of a thing, a threat to none, but still it had pride. He had always liked that.

Melkor knelt and gathered the fragmented wisp into his hands; it was like holding smoke, for the wisp slipped and tried to flee from him, even gathering its small amount of power to strike at him. The attack amounted to nothing, save to drive it to exhaustion, shrinking its form even further.

Is this all you are now?” He thought to this little thing in his cupped hands. There was a mind in there, he knew, just as he knew that this was everything he had sought, the thing that had driven him to cross lands and oceans and void. It was damaged and fragmented now, but it was him, and he was his.

Come now.” Melkor nudged the mind of the wisp, using his Power to urge it back together. He had pieced his own self back from nothing, he could do this too. But his touch was not gentle, and the wisp writhed under the piercing cold and intense heat that it brought. But there was nothing Melkor could do to ease the agony it was enduring as he poured his Power into willing this resurrection.

“You can do so much better than that,” Melkor urged aloud, a slight flicker of pleasure sweeping through him at the sound of his voice, the resonant strength of it. “You have always hated anything less than perfection, my dear Lieutenant. Use my strength, and be whole once more.”

Give him back to me. For he is precious to me.

His forming was slow and faltering, but with it came the familiar rush of heat that Melkor had always welcomed. And then, all at once, there he was before him, as radiant as the first time they met - albeit with a few, not unwelcome, changes. But he was perfect: hair that flowed to his waist, in shimmering shades of gold, like fire given life; a tall and lithe form, as graceful and supple as a cat, quick to change to its master’s desire; a high and noble face, much like that of an Eldar, with the same pointed ears. And when he opened his eyes, they, too, were like fire, flickering and changing hue, and Melkor was, for a moment, entranced.

He held Mairon’s face in his hands, and gave a small smile. The power it had taken to resurrect Mairon had not been insignificant, but it was certainly worth it; for this moment, if nothing else. Mairon was now entirely of him, for it was Melkor’s power that flowed through him, severing him entirely from even the faintest claim of Aulë. The Maia looked up at him, and Melkor saw the brief confusion there, the disbelief.

He is mine, utterly, unto world’s end and darkness unending.

“Master,” Mairon’s voice was soft and hesitant. “Is this...real? How can this be?”

“I have returned,” Melkor whispered, letting his forehead rest against Mairon’s. “And thus, so too, have you. The battle will begin very soon, my dear Lieutenant. Will you fight for me, one last time?”

Chapter Text

They lay together in the large chair, limbs entwined, so close that it was hard to tell where one body began and the next began. A storm battered the walls of their fortress, a howling rage that refused to be soothed, giving voice to the rage that had built in Melkor for so long.

He held Mairon close to him, one hand gently stroking his flame-bright hair, revelling in the warmth of his body pressed up against him. The Maia was fast asleep, exhausted from his re-embodiment at his Lord’s hand, but Melkor could not bring himself to take his eyes off him, nor send him to a more comfortable bed. He had long waited for this day. 

A war was coming, more terrible and more destructive than ever before, and they would be at its heart. Together, as was only right. Melkor remembered all too well that fëa-wrenching loneliness of the Void, listening to Mairon’s whispered prayers in the night that he was unable to answer. He remembered the agony in his own fëa as Mairon ripped his apart for the crafting of his Ring. And he remembered in fury as the Valar plotted and spun to topple his Maia at every turn.

They would pay for every injury done to them both. Every Vala and every Maia would burn. Every Elf, and Man, and Dwarf, and Hobbit would scream their last breath beneath his storm.

For his Mairon.

Mairon stirred in his arms, his fair face twisting as he sensed his Lord’s rage, even caught deep in sleep. Melkor froze and then resumed his soothing petting of Mairon’s hair, shushing him back to calm rest.

“Hush now, my dear Lieutenant,” he murmured, pressing his face down into Mairon’s hair, breathing in the familiar scent of ash and hot metals, and without the tang of Aulë’s ownership that had long tainted it. Mairon was now wholly and utterly his. “Sleep and recover, Mairon. I will need you in the war to come.”

For now, while they rested and their deep bond reforged itself in their closeness, the storm outside would keep any ambitious Valar at bay for a time. They did not have long like this, but Melkor was determined to enjoy every second. It was strange, in its own way, to be holding someone and to be held once more, after so long in the nothingness of the Void. 

Mairon gave a deep sigh, burrowing in closer to Melkor instinctively as he sunk back down into restful sleep. Melkor was careful to keep his own body temperature high, for if he let himself be cloaked in his usual darkness and extreme cold, he would only hinder Mairon’s recovery. Already he could sense the growing power in the Maia and was glad.

Would there be time for them to speak as they had long ago? To bicker fondly and to taunt? He needed Mairon to fall back into his role as his Lieutenant, to keep him from following his temper and his impulses with his calm perfectionism. Would Mairon be able to do that still? He had long behaved under his own power, following his own desires, answerable to none. Perhaps he had changed.

Once the Valar were defeated, he told himself, there would be time again to be as they used to be. His dear faithful Mairon would be by his side forever, Lord and Lieutenant ruling this Arda until time failed, or Illúvatar came to smite Himself. 

Melkor glanced quickly around the starkly furnished room, a far cry from the lavish suites they used to inhabit, and then assured that there was no one around to see, pressed a soft kiss into Mairon’s hair.

 Then, he closed his eyes, sending out his mind in different directions. He had a war to plan, forces to muster, and thankfully he did not actually need to be physically present to do any of those. For now, he could just stay here and enjoy the warmth, and the company, and the deep satisfaction in his fëa.