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Never A Monster He Couldn't Love

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Newt surfaced from the biting chill of the Norwegian seawater drenched, dripping, and extremely disgruntled.

He was only investigating this tip because he was bored, really. He’d been lying low in a tiny fishing village on the lookout for the operatives of a magical creature smuggling ring, waiting for them to make a move and reveal their hideout. He was also categorically not supposed to be there. He had overheard one of Theseus’ conversations about the case with Baylard, his colleague, in which the location was mentioned, and decided to politely ignore his elder brother’s subsequent insistence that Newt was absolutely not to get himself involved. Despite years of fretting over Newt, Theseus was apparently yet to learn that that was practically an invitation.

There hadn’t been anything remotely in the realm of threatening yet though. The place was so small that it would be more suspicious if wizards didn’t interact with their muggle neighbours, so Newt had lurked in the village pub for a few evenings in the hope of hearing something. His observational skills had come in handy for identifying the wizards in the community. The tip of a wand peeking out of a pocket or a sleeve, the silver gleam of a Sickle mixed in with someone’s muggle money as they paid for their drink, even the instinctive hand movement unique to startled wizards, reaching for a wand and then pausing at the last moment as they remembered the watching muggles: clues like these had given him suspects, but he was unsure yet whether they were smugglers, undercover aurors or not involved at all.  Other than that, there was little he could do until he had more information and he’d found himself at something of a loose end. The previous evening though, his tried and trusted tactic of shrinking into a corner and hoping others forgot he was there had failed him. Hence he had endured a very long and rambling conversation with a muggle fishmonger, desperately wishing for an escape from his interlocuter, who seemed oblivious to Newt’s discomfort. He had, however, slipped in a mildly interesting point about several villagers hearing otherworldly singing in an incomprehensible language coming from the coast. When Newt prodded him for more information, the fishmonger, slurring his words, insistently warned him off going after ‘the nøkken, who croons and plays his lyre and lures young fools like yerself to a watery grave’.

It had been too much to hope for that it would be selkies, or magical creature related in some other way. No colonies at all were documented in this region of the coast, there was not enough shelter and the waters were not easily habitable. Nevertheless, Newt, being Newt, had gone diving to investigate. And his search had turned up absolutely nothing. Hence he found himself shivering as his numerous Warming Charms and the Strengthening Solution he’d taken wore off, battered by fierce currents and inwardly grumbling at himself for being foolish enough to take a muggle’s account of what was probably a fisherman who’d had one too many for an indication of the presence of magical creatures. Wearily he shook the water from his ears and turned towards the shore. Then he stopped, barely remembering to tread water in his shock.

He’d found his singer.

He could only make out faint strains of the song over the lapping of the waves, but even that was enough to utterly amaze him. It was a lament, the aching cadence of the melody telling out its yearning and regret, and Newt felt tears spring to his eyes despite not understanding a single word of the singer’s language. And what a language it was: though his travelling had made him an able linguist, it was like nothing he had ever heard before. It was stately and regal, reminiscent of Latin almost, but with an elegant fluidity to it too: what a river of molten gold would sound like if it were put into words. It was coming from a human-shaped figure on the shore, and Newt very carefully adjusted his charms for underwater vision to a general Supersensory Charm. Since he was already beginning to wonder whether this singer might be a little more than human, amplifying the song probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, but even if it got him into a sticky situation, it would be all be in the interests of research- at least that was what he told himself. He was so far out that he wasn’t particularly worried about being noticed as he swum closer: it would be impossible to distinguish him from a seal at that distance.

Or so he thought, until the singer abruptly cut off mid-phrase and turned his head sharply to stare out towards him.


Maglor thought he had accepted that he didn’t deserve to hope four long ages ago.

The unexpected sight of a ginger head in the sea proved him wrong.

Because just for one, fleeting, glorious moment before rationality could kick in, a spark of optimism he believed long-dead woke up and cried he’s here! It’s Maedhros, he survived or came through Mandos, he’s coming back for you to take you home, you are not forsaken!

He let the hope consume him, steal the breath from his throat and cut him off mid-lament for the dead of the First Kinslaying, before he brutally crushed it.

It cannot be. How utterly foolish to even imagine that. Maedhros burned, and he dwells in Mandos still, if not the Void. None of us can be forgiven. We are utterly, irredeemably forsaken.

Aside from the impossibility of ever earning the Valar’s forgiveness, it was a ridiculous thought anyway. As if Maedhros could swim back from Valinor, and now he looked closer he could see that the hair was the wrong shade of ginger, a lighter tawny to Maedhros’ fiery red.

Perhaps our fates were never in our hands all along, he began to muse as he had many times over the past centuries. When we were younger, he was always praised for his fiery locks, and I for my eyes like a storm-tossed sea. Perhaps the flames were always waiting for him, as this long slow drowning in ages of loneliness was waiting for me.

No, you do not get to drown yourself in pity, Maglor Fëanorion, he told himself sternly. We chose, to swear our oath and to honour it with murder. If you are to drown yourself, it shall not be in self-pity, but in true regret.

He pulled himself from the well-trodden path of his meditations, and applied himself to the more immediate problem, which was the fact that the person in the sea couldn’t possibly be an elf, and therefore there was some crazy fool of a human in one of the most hostile parts of the Norwegian sea in the middle of winter.

And Maglor had a choice to make.

At the end of the First Age, as he knelt there on the shore which would become his prison for the following millennia, shaking with pain and fury and grief as the jewel he had killed for, lost a father and six brothers for, destroyed his soul for, sank under the waves, he had made another choice. He hadn’t sworn it, even to himself: the very thought of anything resembling an oath made him physically sick. But he had chosen not to follow his brother into the fire, because the families of those he had killed did not have the mercy of such a quick ending. They had to carry on, living immortal elvish lives, with the pain of the losses he had caused weighing heavy on their souls. If they were forced to live with their losses, then the truest repentance he could make would be to live with his, live with what he’d done, endure as they had been forced to. But he knew that his very existence caused dissent like an impurity fissuring the metal on a smith’s anvil. If he remained among his kin (did he even have the right to call them that anymore?), he risked being drawn into further conflict, either killed too quickly by someone with every right to vengeance, or worse, harming others again. He flung his sword after the Silmaril into the sea, weeping as his father’s last gift to him vanished for good, and made his choice.

He chose to endure, and to disappear. To never again be the cause of another death. To hide himself away from all society and to flee from contact with living beings, in order to spend the rest of his existence reliving the horror that was the First Age while the rest of the world moved on.

Now, four ages later, those same choices put him in a complicated position. If he had seen the man in any other circumstances, he would have fled and hoped that the human assumed he had imagined him. He didn’t look like he was in trouble, but Men simply did not have the strength to keep their bodies warm for long in such conditions- he wouldn’t have it in him to make it back to shore, Maglor was sure of that. There were no boats around either: how on earth the man had got himself out there in the first place was beyond Maglor. So, there was the dilemma. To run and hide himself and avoid all the complications that would come with revealing what he was; or to save a life because in some strange twist of fate, it looked like he was this man’s only chance.

And maybe, a unique chance for him, too: to finally do something with those Silmaril-scarred hands dripping with too much elvish blood that might save life rather than destroy it.

He flung off his cloak, dived into the sea, and made his choice.


As the mysterious singer grasped his arm and towed him back to shore, Newt’s mind was in overdrive, coming to several conclusions.

Firstly, that whoever the singer was, he wasn’t human. He had initially toyed with the idea that perhaps he was a wizard who had invented charms to enhance his voice, but then he had obviously seen further than even a Supersensory charm should permit and swum out to Newt with speed and grace so natural that it couldn’t possibly be the result of spells or potions.

Secondly, that his profile didn’t match any of the part-human or humanoid magical creatures Newt knew. Once the man (or not) had got close enough for Newt to identify features, he had taken in the wild, tangled, waist-length black hair, fanning out behind him in the water; the elegantly pointed ears; the chiselled, though somewhat gaunt, facial features; the tall, spindly frame; and the strange sickled shape of the hands, at odds with how the rest of him seemed to simply exude grace. He had rattled through all the options quickly: he couldn’t be a true-selkie, since they were notoriously poor in water without their skins. Veela had seemed most likely with that enchanting voice, but the hair colouring would already make him an extremely rare specimen, and the speed was far beyond anything a Veela could accomplish. All the other options were quickly rejected, which led Newt to the breathtaking conclusion that he was looking at something completely new to him. And since this was about magical creatures, if Newt hadn’t known about them before, then neither had the rest of the wizarding world. He might be on the brink of the discovery of his lifetime.

Thirdly, his newest discovery was in the process of taking him prisoner.

Newt was not particularly panicked about this. As long as it was a creature capturing him, and not any type of wizarding authority, the outcome was likely to be a unique observation opportunity rather than tedious annoyances and being berated by Theseus. He theorised that perhaps he had inadvertently invaded the creature’s territory in coming to this little-frequented patch of seashore. Hopefully all it would take would be proof that he wasn’t a threat in order to avoid any unpleasantness. Not having any prior knowledge about the etiquette of these creatures (now there was a thought- were there others?) might make things difficult, but Newt was good at making himself look harmless when necessary, so he couldn’t imagine that would be too much of a problem. He began by submitting to the strange being’s grip, letting himself go limp and be pulled back to shore by his amazingly strong captor. Newt had prepared himself enough for his dive with charms and potions that he would have been able to make it back to shore on his own (he did have some sense of self-preservation, whatever Tina might say), but it would still have been exhausting. At the very least, he thought with a kind of manic delight, he could enjoy the free ride.

Once they got to the shallows his captor stood up and effortlessly plucked Newt out of the water and into a bridal-style hold. He couldn’t help a startled yelp at the sudden rush of movement, but he forced himself to relax and not put up any resistance. It wasn’t a particularly constrictive hold, he noticed with confusion, his captor wasn’t restraining his arms at all and he could easily wriggle away if he wanted to. Perhaps the creature was simply confident that he could recapture his prisoner if that happened: with the speed and strength that he had displayed so far, that confidence would be well-placed. Hearing Newt’s cry, the creature frowned, made some shushing noises and murmured something vaguely apologetic-sounding in his language. Well, Newt thought, if I’m to be kidnapped, at least it’s by someone well-mannered enough to apologise for it. He didn’t get time to ponder that further, because his captor tightened his hold a little and took off running. Even in his admittedly precarious situation, Newt was growing more and more impressed. This slight being didn’t seem strained at all even as he sprinted through the breakers and then across sandy terrain whilst carrying a grown man, and hardly jolting him at that. Newt was shivering a little, but his charms had done their job and he was in no real danger from it. (He knew how to identify the onset of hypothermia. Yeti research in Tibet, a series of unfortunate events and then a miraculous rescue by a wizarding hermit meant that he knew all too well what it felt like and had no desire to repeat the experience. But that’s another story.) His wet shirt and trousers clung uncomfortably to his skin though, and he was desperate to cast a drying charm, but drawing his wand would most certainly be perceived as aggression, so that was out.

They darted behind an outcropping of rock into a very well-concealed sheltered space, and Newt found himself being set down with surprising gentleness to sit with his back against the rock wall. His captor picked up an armful of heavy material, which Newt had thought was probably inevitable, and in an attempt to demonstrate his compliance he held his wrists out together in front of him. His captor crouched, material in one hand, and as Newt was doing his best to keep his eyes downcast and unchallenging, he missed just how horrified his captor looked when he saw what Newt was doing. Two gnarled, long-fingered hands held awkwardly flat against each other came between his own and used their backs to return his arms firmly but gently to his sides. As they did so, Newt sucked in a breath, and completely forgetting himself for a moment, caught the retreating right wrist and turned the hand palm up to study it.

They were without a doubt the worst burn scars he’d ever seen. The entire hand from palm to fingertips was one huge blistered mass, and with that many layers of callous there shouldn’t even be bloodflow to the upper dermis, and yet the surface was inflamed and irritated in several places. It was a miracle the creature could even bend his fingers at all, and Newt didn’t want to think about how much grasping his arm earlier must have hurt. They were certainly not caused by ordinary flames and bore all the hallmarks of curse damage, with grey and black veins snaking through the wounded flesh and certain patches which looked almost like crumbling ash.

He absorbed all this in a single glance, because the creature snatched his hand away immediately and Newt suddenly remembered the position he was in and how grabbing his captor’s hand might be misconstrued as an act of aggression. He lifted his hands and bowed his head, hoping to make up for it, and even though he held out little hope of the creature speaking a human language he tried to explain himself, basically in Norwegian and then with more complexity in English, in the hope that his apologetic and concerned tone would do most of the work.

“Sorry, my friend, that was terribly rude of me. I was just worried about you, that’s all. What in Merlin’s name happened to you? I might be able to help, if you’ll let me. I didn’t mean to invade your territory, that was entirely accidental and I’m sorry for that, too. Would you let me heal you to make up for it?”

He risked a glance up and saw that his new friend was holding both hands close to his chest, a look of deep sadness, resignation and shame on his gaunt features. He shook his head and said something in his language, which sounded like an apology again, only this time with a far more melancholy tone than the first.

They didn’t have any linguistic common ground then, unsurprisingly- although Newt had already resolved to learn that gorgeous otherworldly language at the earliest opportunity. His captor was looking so mournful that Newt gave him a small reassuring smile, making sure not to show any teeth, and said,

“Don’t worry about the language. I’m sure we’ll muddle it out together somehow.”

His captor gave him a very tiny, very tentative smile back, then his gaze fell on the discarded mantle, he looped it over one wrist, then guided Newt to lean forward with the heel of his other hand. Newt sighed and moved his hands behind him, thinking the increased restraint should serve him right for being grabby when the trust wasn’t there yet. But the expected bond around his wrists didn’t come, and instead the heavy cloak was wrapped around him comfortingly. He blinked in surprise and had barely processed this change in circumstances before the back of the right hand was gently investigating his face and the fingertips of the left were at his neck taking a pulse. And then it clicked.

Newt burst out laughing.

His captor, no, his would-be rescuer, looked positively alarmed by this and started frantically checking for fever again, so Newt quickly calmed himself and tried to make his smile grateful and reassuring rather than manically delighted.

“Thank you, thank you so much, but really, I’m fine,” he explained somewhat redundantly. “Wizards have charms and things that help us survive conditions like that, you see, though if I was muggle you would quite probably have saved my life.”

His heroically-intentioned friend regarded at him with confusion, looked at his left hand as though it were a malfunctioning tool (it had similar burns to the right, Newt noted, but less severe), shook it out and took Newt’s pulse again. Newt let him do it, aware that demonstrating his good health would be easier than trying to explain it. The creature pulled away, a puzzled frown deepening on the harsh lines of his face.

“I really am perfectly alright,” Newt said in the gentlest tone he could manage, nodding and smiling a little to emphasise his point. Then, inspiration striking, he inclined his head in an obvious bow, hoping that the gesture was universal enough to make sense, and said emphatically,

“Thank you, friend.”

His rescuer’s expression cleared a little, although the furrow between his brows and the slight shake of his head testified to his continued confusion about why Newt wasn’t dying of hypothermia. He patted Newt’s shoulder lightly with the back of his hand and then turned around to extract some firewood from a cleverly concealed cache in the rock. While he was occupied in building up the twigs, Newt slipped out his wand and wordlessly cast a drying and a warming charm on himself, exhaling in relief as his mild shivering finally stopped. The creature began to clumsily grapple with a flint, which must have been agony on his hands. Newt decided it was time to clear some things up. He rose and the creature turned to him in alarm, exclaiming in his language when he saw that Newt’s clothes had miraculously dried.

“Hey, don’t be scared, it’s alright,” he murmured, crouching down by the unlit fire. “I just want to help.” He pointed towards himself and clearly enunciated “wizard.” Then with a muttered incendio, he lit the fire with his wand. He turned to his new friend, expecting awe, agitation, maybe even a little fear.

He was not prepared for the terrible cry of despair when the creature prostrated himself at Newt’s feet.


Maglor couldn’t believe how horrifyingly badly he had misread the situation.

His instinctive reaction had been closer than he’d dared dream and more terrible than his worst nightmare. Because it seemed that someone had, in fact, come back from Valinor for him. He’d only been wrong about who.

He had wondered, sometimes, in his years of solitude, whether the Valar were still watching him. Sometimes he thought that after his theft and subsequent rejection of the Silmaril they could no longer bear to look upon him, and Vaïre had left his thread in the tapestry of fate hanging, incomplete. It often felt like that, like he was eternally doomed to this limbo, and he thought it fitting, when he had been the instrument that cut so many other threads short. At other times he thought that they were watching him carefully- he was ever in Ulmo’s gaze, after all- and that at the slightest sign of complacency or pride or greed from him, they would decide that he could no longer be responsible for his own penance and cast him out into the Void with the thrice-cursed murderer of his father.

And now one of the Maiar stood before him in the guise of a hapless human, and the latter had been proven true. They had decided that he had repented at the scene of his crimes long enough and now the yawning abyss of the Void awaited him. And he had sealed his fate with those stupid heroics, towing one of the most powerful beings to walk Middle Earth behind him like a water-shy child. He had completed his catalogue of sins with one last spectacular blasphemy.

He had dared to believe that he could do something good.

The Maia was speaking in that unfamiliar tongue, but that was understandable: the will of the Valar, and not his comprehension of it, was the important thing. He must only demonstrate that he had learned the consequences of his rebellion. He swallowed around the lump in his throat and managed to choke out,

“I submit myself to the judgement of the Valar,” he felt the tears start, “five ages too late.”

It wouldn’t spare him the Void, but at least they would know that he had not resisted them all the way. He had come to his senses, in the end. Perhaps they would remember that.

He waited, the rocky ground cutting into his damaged palms like a preliminary sentence to remind him of his crimes. Terror bled into every part of his being, cold sinking into his bones until he feared that his punishment may be to become a statue, lying prone in penitence, a warning to any who might stumble upon his frozen body. He longed to call out for someone, anyone, to help him, but when even he himself acknowledged that this was a just punishment, there was nothing that could be done. So he stayed silent. Waiting.

Hands were sliding under his shoulders, and this was it, it was time, and he gathered the remaining scraps of his courage into a tight knot at his heart. The hands were gentler than he expected and they were encouraging him back up into a seated position. He found himself staring at the freckled face of the human form this Maia had chosen, briefly wondering why they hadn’t gone for something more imposing. Only briefly, because he knew the answer: loneliness and regret and guilt had already broken him in the places where a show of force never could. But it was strange: the Maia looked concerned, worried. Why? He wasn’t resisting. He would go willingly. What was there to be concerned about? The Maia reached across to him, still talking in a low, soothing hum, and wiped away his tears with a thumb.

What?!?

The situation was rapidly spiralling beyond Maglor’s understanding. Why wipe the tears of the sinner you’re about to send into the Void as punishment? There was no sense in it. Maglor decided to speak his mind: it was probably his last chance and disrespect was hardly the worst of his offences.

“Please, O Blessed Agent of the Valar, if you are to condemn me, I am ready.”

The Maia’s face creased in what looked like genuine confusion. That was odd. Not allowing Maglor to hear another speak his mother tongue before he was condemned, that made sense, but pretending not to understand it? He could just deny Maglor’s request, he had the power to do that. Something wasn’t right, and Maglor finally got a handle on his panic, took a few deep breaths and started to process logically. When he had met disguised Maiar before, they had never seemed quite ordinary. There was always the sense that there was more to them than met the eye, even if they resembled a young elleth or an old human. With this one though, Maglor hadn’t felt that at all, and had only started to suspect he wasn’t what he seemed when he witnessed his unusual resilience to the icy waters and his speaking of a word of power. Even now, studying his face carefully, Maglor would not have believed this human could command the elements had he not seen it with his own eyes. The Maia (maybe?) seemed to sense his scrutiny and sat back on his heels, allowing Maglor’s gaze to rake over him. That didn’t seem compatible with the behaviour of a Valar-sent executioner either. Then Maglor remembered the word the stranger had spoken before lighting the fire; he had glossed over it earlier in his panic.

“Wi-ssart,” he said slowly, the syllables unfamiliar on his tongue. The Maia (more and more doubtful) nodded enthusiastically and indicated himself.

“Wizard,” he agreed cheerfully.

“Wissard- Maia?” he asked, his heart pounding.

“Mayer?” the probably not-Maia responded, mispronouncing the word and making the question mark audible. Maglor studied him for a few more moments before concluding that there was no way even an all-powerful being from the dawn of time could feign complete puzzlement and make it look that convincing. He exhaled heavily in relief, shaking his head, before applying himself to the most pertinent question raised by that conclusion. The latter being, ‘who, in the name of all the stars in Lady Elbereth’s firmament, gave the powers of the Maiar to humans and thought that was a good idea?’

It only made sense that there had been some developments during Maglor’s extended seclusion from society. But this was beyond anything he could have imagined. He had a vague idea of Middle Earth’s history until the sailing of the elves, because of Círdan’s uncanny ability to know when a shadowy figure was hiding in the dunes near the Grey Havens and would appreciate a monologue detailing the most important happenings of the last few centuries. There had even been some very pointed hints the last time Maglor had heard one of those, at the end of the Fourth Age, about how Círdan was sailing and everybody from the Old World was leaving the humans to make of Middle Earth what they would. It had been strongly suggested that even those with the most tainted pasts should sail and be healed, but Círdan was too forgiving in nature. There would be no healing for a Kinslayer.

He had taken the part about not bothering the humans to heart though, and thus for the entire Fifth Age until now, he had fled from the sound of any voice but his own, raised in lament. Humans were gradually taking over more and more of the remaining untamed spaces on the coast, so it was getting more difficult, but Maglor was good at hiding: he’d had a lot of practice.

Círdan had never said anything about humans learning elemental magic, hence Maglor’s assumption that his ‘wissard’, if that’s what they’re calling it now, must be a Maia. Now it seemed that Maglor had unintentionally got himself involved in something far bigger than himself and his guilt. Elbereth only knew what he was up to in a perilous sea in the coldest part of the year, but it was now becoming clear that the human mage (what a strange concept) had not been seeking Maglor out at all. And then Maglor just had to interfere and try to be the knight in shining armour, ‘rescuing’ him when he was more than powerful enough on his own. How foolish of him. Long ago, Maglor’s choices had cast him decisively as the villain; to dream of fitting into another role now was absurd.

The wizard had been kind, playing along and indulging Maglor in his rescue efforts; actually no, he had clearly believed he was being kidnapped, initially, another clue that he wasn’t a Maia which would have been obvious had Maglor only been thinking rationally. He hadn’t resisted at all, though, and had fretted over the atrocious state of Maglor’s hands despite believing himself his prisoner. Even now that expression of genuine concern was etched all too clearly across his face. It pierced Maglor’s heart.

The last person who had looked at him like that was Maedhros.

It left him in a quandary about what to do. He clearly couldn’t accept the compassionate attentions this wizard wanted to bestow on him, but the language barrier left him incapable of explaining why. It felt rude to simply abandon him (it wouldn’t be the first time, his conscience pointed out, sending his thoughts in the uncomfortable direction of Elrond and Elros), but then again the wizard was clearly unharmed by his little jaunt in the ocean, and if he left now Maglor could just become a strange story for him to regale his family with. It would be better for all concerned that way.

With a start, he realised that the wizard had been trying to get his attention and was tapping him worriedly on the upper arm. He turned back to him and bowed his head in apology. The wizard smiled and indicated himself.

“Newt,” he said clearly, then pointed to Maglor, raising his eyebrows in inquiry. He was inviting Maglor in, giving him a glimpse of something beautiful, something he had relinquished all right to when he had sworn the oath and followed what it dictated: a chance to interact with another person free from the shadow of his deeds. He could not accept that, even though there was a tiny traitorous part of him that yearned to do so more than anything else in the world. His throat tight, he slowly shook his head, rose to his feet, skirted the fire and ran, trying and failing to close his ears to the calls of this ‘Newt’, which he knew despite not understanding the language were urging him to wait. The sorcerer could try to follow: perhaps he could command a palantír, who knew what else the Secondborn had turned their hand to? Or perhaps he could conjure spirits to track Maglor down. Nevertheless, he would try his hardest to successfully evade him. If he couldn’t be found easily, Newt would soon give up. Maglor knew how to disappear until all that remained of him was a legend with no ending.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Chapter Text

Newt nursed a beer in the corner of the village pub, hoping that his attempts to remain inconspicuous weren’t conspicuous in themselves.

Tina had always been much better at this bit than he had. She could casually stroll into a bar knowing she’d arrested half the clientele and make herself completely at home, chatting about nothing whilst observing everything. Newt was fairly sure that his own attempts to blend in made him even more noticeable than when he wasn’t trying. He sighed. He missed Tina. It had been almost a decade since he’d attempted to infiltrate a smuggling ring alone, and he had grown used to having his wife there as a friend, a partner-in-crime, and an excellent bodyguard when things got messy. But she had been called away to do some undercover work on a high-profile case, and she was expected to be away for at least a fortnight. She’d throw a fit when she found out Newt had decided to deal with this one on his own, but he couldn’t afford to wait lest the smugglers moved or worse, the Ministry got there first. Besides, they’d both been so busy with their respective jobs that they hadn’t travelled properly in months, and Newt was getting a serious case of itchy feet. He’d just have to make it up to her when he got back. Nevertheless, he felt a little lost without her and he yearned for her listening ear and her brilliant mind to help him untangle the threads of the strange situation he’d landed himself in. The events of the morning had rattled him more than he’d like to admit.

He had been left standing by the merrily crackling fire, wrapped in his strange rescuer’s cloak, calling fruitlessly for him to wait. His reaction to magic had been terrifying to witness: Newt guessed that perhaps he had been mistaken for some sort of vengeful deity, maybe those ‘Mayer.’ It was strange: most magical part-humans had at least some understanding of the existence of wizards, but it was as if the creature had never seen one before in his life. Newt could guess the creature’s thought process up to that point, but after that it all became one big confusing mess. When Newt had demonstrated his ignorance of the ‘Mayer,’ he thought that the panic was over and he had successfully communicated that he wasn’t some sort of god to be feared. But then, why had he run? Just before he fled, he’d worn the strangest expression: a sort of wistful yearning combined with a terrible resignation. Newt didn’t understand what he’d done to provoke such a response: all he’d offered was his name.

He had seriously debated attempting to track his enigmatic discovery, but eventually decided against it. Although the wounds on the creature’s hands were horrific, they looked like old wounds rather than recently inflicted ones, so treating them could wait if necessary. Newt was a little concerned about what would happen if the smugglers got wind of him, but with his strength and speed he should be able to escape. And one of the most important rules Newt had learned through dealing with his creatures, and occasionally with humans, was that sometimes you have to let them hide. There were spaces in all his creatures’ habitats that he made sure not to enter whilst the creature was inside, save in the direst emergency; respecting their need for their own private spaces helped to solidify their trust in him. Given that Newt’s newest find already seemed wary of his magic, pursuit would probably give the wrong impression. A search of the rock face revealed more firewood, some folded clothing and few basic tools cleverly hidden in the fissures, so presumably their owner would have to come back at some point. Newt would take a step back and treat it more like an observation: he would return to this beach at the next opportunity and seat himself a good distance away, then watch and wait. He kept the cloak, intending to use it as a peace offering – he could place it a few yards away from him and hope that the creature would find the courage to approach him and get it back.

All that aside, he needed to apply himself to the problem of the smugglers and not let his confusion and hurt on his new friend’s behalf get the better of him. He idly sketched another doodle of the creature’s face while he ran through what he knew about the smugglers and their potential plans, which was, admittedly, not a lot. Several hints had led him to believe that there were multiple members hiding in the village, and that they were communicating by objects enchanted with a Protean Charm. The trouble was, he’d identified six wizards and a Protean Charm could be applied to literally any object, though unremarkable ones were usually chosen to help avoid detection. Five of the wizards were currently in the pub, and he inspected each of them in turn, trying to channel Tina’s cool and calm demeanour and make his glances appear nonchalant and random.

Two of them were at a corner table, on their second round of drinks and animatedly conversing in Norwegian- the general hubbub of the environment made it impossible to hear their words clearly. One was relaxing, alone, reading a newspaper. One was sitting at a large table surrounded by muggle fishermen, apparently completely at home in their company, gesticulating as wildly as the rest of them as they shared anecdotes. The last was leaning on one elbow at the bar, chatting in a low voice to the barman: the topic was making him scowl and scrub his worksurface harder than he needed to. The latter circumstance was the most suspicious, so Newt meandered over and caught the tail end of something about big business and the future of village pubs; disappointingly it seemed that the wizard was just absent-mindedly agreeing with the ranting barman and allowing him to work himself up. Newt bought another drink to justify his movements and was beginning to despair of ever moving forward in his investigation when he noticed the man check an ornate silver pocket watch before slipping it back into his waistcoat.

Newt’s first thought on seeing it was that he wanted one. It was the kind of impractical thing he didn’t really need- practically an invitation for Niffler trouble, too- but it would go marvellously well with his usual waistcoat-and-bow-tie look. He could wear it to book signings and then he would have something to fiddle with when the pressure of people’s expectations made him nervous. However, his internal resolutions of getting himself a pocket watch were interrupted by the far more important observation that the man made a slightly odd hand movement around it before flipping it open: almost as if checking the temperature. Newt began to suspect that he’d found his Protean object. The man narrowed his eyes when he saw him looking.

“Good watch,” Newt commented rather lamely, and the man grunted something that might have been “thank you,” though his expression was stony, before turning back to resume his conversation with the barman. Newt returned to his spot even more convinced that that was it- the man had been far too defensive about a simple compliment on his pocket watch. The next step was to work out if anyone else had one. He sat back and sipped his beer contemplatively, letting his gaze roam around the room, watching for a flash of silver on any of his other suspects. He was beginning to think that maybe the other smugglers weren’t there when the man at the table with the fishermen stood up and raised his tankard, and his fellows toasted him and laughed as he brought his tale to a triumphant conclusion. But far more interestingly for Newt’s purposes, there was a silver chain extending from one of his belt loops into his trouser pocket.

Two in his sights, and Newt felt the thrill of the chase wake him up and put him on hyper alert. He considered his next options and realised that the most effective plan was going to require all of his courage. But, the welfare of magical creatures was at stake, so he made the necessary preparations, took a sizeable swig of beer, approached the table of rowdy fisherman and said in his heavily accented Norwegian,

“Please can I join you?”

Their banter stopped immediately as if someone had cast a silencing spell, and the eight men at the table all turned to stare at Newt, who dropped his gaze and squirmed uncomfortably, knowing he was being judged and found wanting, and he had just committed something of a faux pas in attempting to muscle in on this close-knit community. Ironically, it was actually the smuggler who took pity on him, glancing at his fellows before pulling up a spare chair and grinning in a way that made Newt feel a little like prey.

“Yes, yes, Mr English, come welcome!” he said in English, patting the chair next to him. Despite this being exactly the outcome Newt needed, he still felt a little as though he were walking to his execution (and he knew what that felt like) as he gingerly sat down. He also didn’t miss the sour look the man at the bar sent his suspected colleague, providing yet more evidence that they were the men Newt was after.

“We’re sharing stories of our best catches,” he said in Norwegian, and then in English, “Fish! Big fish,” sizing with his hands as he did so.

“Yes, yes, I understand,” Newt said in Norwegian, and then cringed as the collective eyes of the table turned to him again, obviously taking that as his consent to tell a story and thus cement his inclusion in the group.

I’ve ridden a kelpie, does that count? he thought somewhat desperately, and marshalling his wits he managed to recount a tussle with a large squid (they didn’t need to know exactly how big: it was the Hogwarts Giant Squid) in slow but passable Norwegian. The men’s smirks were probably more to do with his linguistic errors than the humour in the story, but as he rather awkwardly tailed off, one of the others picked up the thread and he slumped back in his seat in relief. Seeing this, the smuggler, a large, open-faced, sandy-haired man, chuckled and clapped his shoulder, making him wince a little even as he smiled nervously back. It always amazed him whenever he encountered smugglers outside of busts, that people capable of such cruelty to other beings could appear so friendly to fellow humans. It remained one of the things he’d never understand about his own species. He was relieved that he was permitted to relax and stay quiet for the rest of the conversation, simply attempting to follow the others’ cues and laugh in appropriate places. Once he’d allowed enough time, he feigned accidentally knocking his tankard off the table – it didn’t take much acting, he was so jittery anyway – apologised and ducked down to pick it up. Extraordinarily for Newt’s plans, everything was working perfectly.

The chain was gone from his neighbour’s pocket, as were a few shoe buckles, and Helga the Niffler (released from his pocket earlier while they were preoccupied with Newt’s story) was scampering towards his now-empty tankard and the sparkly earring he’d hidden in there earlier for exactly this purpose. Just as she dived for her prize, he used the tankard to scoop her up and deposit her back in his magically extended pocket, buttoning it and keeping his hand there to prevent her getting out again. The one thing he’d missed (he relied too much on Tina’s reminders, he thought ruefully) was a silencing charm on his pocket. He surfaced and replaced his mug on the table to a chorus of irritated grunts and some very strange looks from his fellows.

“Sorry. Sore stomach,” he said, faking a wince and stroking his hand where it rested over his jacket pocket near his abdomen, which had the double purpose of soothing Helga and making it seem like he had a stomach ache. Fortunately the table seemed to accept that, there were a few jibes about how the Englishman couldn’t take a proper drink, and the conversation resumed.

It had gone off without a hitch. Newt still couldn’t quite believe it, and his fingers twitched for his wand, since surely the hexing must be about to start if things were going this well. He was just working out how to extract himself without causing suspicion when it happened. Helga let out a distressed squeal and once again the incredulous gazes of the assembled fishermen were on him.

“Stomach again. Sorry. Feel bad. Need to go,” he explained in garbled Norwegian, and he hurriedly headed outside to a mixture of concerned inquiries and jests about the puny British alcohol tolerance. Trying to confirm his story, he fairly staggered out of the pub and around the corner, finding a quiet spot and quickly extracting Helga, who thrust the pocket watch at Newt with much disgruntled chittering.

“Well, that’s a first. You’re actually giving me one of your shinies voluntarily,” he muttered, pocketing the warm watch and realising what had happened.

“I’m so sorry Helga,” he sighed guiltily. “I should have predicted this. Did it burn you?” He probed her pouch carefully but found no obvious injuries: the sudden heat as the Protean charm activated must have simply startled her, and now she wanted nothing more to do with the traitorous thing. He plucked out a coin as a reward, opened his case and threw it in, watching Helga scamper happily after it, her trauma forgotten.

“Thanks for your help,” he smiled as she went, then firmly closed the case and turned his attention to the pilfered pocket watch. He flipped it open and realised that he had somehow managed to time this theft exactly right. The engraving on the inside of the lid read:

NEW MERCHANDISE. COME AT ONCE.


Maglor ran for almost the entire day.

He probably could have stopped after an hour or so, but he knew that he needed to be as far away from Newt as was physically possible. Because then he wouldn’t have the chance to turn back, introduce himself, let him see the burn scars, soak up that look of worry all for him that, despite the painful memories, he desperately wanted to see again. It was as if he were outrunning temptation itself.

His knowledge of this entire coast, built up over the last millennia, had him taking detours through forests to avoid settlements, scrambling over boulders, darting through dunes, and periodically running through the sea so even the very light footsteps he left in the sand couldn’t be followed. Just as dusk was closing in, he finally made it to a cave he’d last used around a decade ago. He needed to move on, at any rate, he’d been in the same area for too long. The more he moved, the less chance that the humans would find him and interfere with his solitary penance. He would have to go back for his supplies, such as they were, but he should give Newt time to lose interest in him first. He could manage until then. Quickly checking for witnesses, he slipped into the narrow fissure of the cave entrance and followed the passage through to the cavernous expanse he knew lay beyond it. He stepped out into the space and froze.

There hadn’t been cages here a decade ago.

One side of the cavern was occupied by a long rectangular cage, containing three brown rodent-like creatures, essentially overgrown ferrets, which were letting out a steady stream of incomprehensible babble as they tussled and nipped at each other- their language resembled a mixture of the two languages Newt had spoken earlier, strangely enough. He should have been able to hear it from outside, but weirdly it had been completely silent until he crossed the threshold into the cavern. Smaller containers were piled on top of that one, though they seemed to contain nothing but tiny green dots. There were also tanks housing some creatures Maglor recognised from his excursions into the North Sea: slug-like things with a bulbous sack on one end, which he’d learnt from bitter experience could emit a horribly painful venom when provoked. Shelves had been constructed opposite all this, containing jars and boxes of miscellaneous items for which Maglor could only guess at the uses. One thing was certain; his safe hideout was no longer so, and he needed to do leave immediately. He swivelled on his heel to head out again, when he heard a loud crack from outside.

His breath caught in his chest. It was too loud for a branch snapping under someone’s foot, so it was probably just rockfall from the cliffs outside. But they looked stable when I came in, I checked, his brain supplied, inconveniently undermining that hypothesis. Just in case a person had caused the noise, Maglor pressed himself against the cave wall a few feet away from the entrance. Hopefully he could slip out behind whoever was coming in and they never need know he’d been there. His suspicions were proved horribly right when he heard breathing and footsteps approaching. He hardly dared blink. A woman dressed in navy robes that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the First Age strode in- and worryingly, she looked to be on alert. She had one of those sticks held out before her, like the one Newt had used earlier, and a light flared at its tip- had all humans gained Maia-like abilities then? Maglor realised with a sinking heart that she was checking the area, just as she began to turn in a wide circle. Changing his plan quickly as he anticipated being seen, he bolted for the entrance, hoping his speed would let him escape. He hoped in vain, however.

He heard a strange and ominously purpose-filled shout, felt his entire body go totally stiff, and fell, unable to control his descent. His forehead slammed into the rock wall as he went down, and everything went black.


On second thoughts, the timing of Newt’s Protean-charmed pocket watch theft wasn’t completely fortuitous. As the sandy-haired man rounded the corner, all joviality gone from his demeanour, and pure fury in its place, Newt realised what had happened. Since two of the smugglers had been in the pub when the message came through, the one at the bar must have left, prompting the other to check for a watch which wasn’t there and connect its disappearance to the odd Englishman who had randomly intruded on their storytelling session. In the few seconds before he found himself grasped by the collar and shoved against the wall, Newt saw a way of using the situation to his advantage. The watch had told him they had captured a new creature, but not where they were holding him. He might be able to use these circumstances to rectify that. It was daring, but that had never stopped him before. The man snarled a string of insults at him in Norwegian, the gist being that he was a filthy liar and a thief. Newt apologised in the same language, offering the watch back to him with trembling hands and doing his best to look penitent.

“What did you see?” he demanded urgently, his piercing blue eyes narrowed in distrust.

“Only a watch. Not more than watch. Good watch,” Newt babbled, cringing at how he sounded but hoping the man would believe him either ignorant or cowardly enough not to pursue the implications of the Protean-charmed object.

“Just an expensive watch you thought you’d take for yourself, eh?”

Newt nodded frantically.

“Regret it now?” he spat, slamming Newt into the wall again, meaning he had to blink the stars away from his vision before he nodded again and replied,

“For my wife, she likes the no-magic things. But sorry, very sorry, won’t try it again.”

“You better not. And you are one of ours then, I was wondering. Pathetic excuse for a wizard, reduced to petty thieving.”

That’s rich coming from a smuggler, Newt thought, but kept it to himself, simply mumbling out some more apologies. The smuggler hmphed as he let him down.

“I won’t get the aurors involved, but you never come near me again. Understand, English idiot?”

Of course you’re not going to get aurors involved, you’re a smuggler for Merlin’s sake. Newt felt like he was about to nod his head right off, but he accepted the terms with yet more apologies, on tenterhooks to see whether the crucial next step of his plan would work. The smuggler finally seemed satisfied with his responses and grunted at him,

“Go and find some other fool to rob, thief.”

Then he strode off with that peculiar gait that signalled impending apparition, and Newt beamed and clutched his suitcase tightly as the smuggler behaved exactly as he’d hoped he would. With a few skips and a huge leap, Newt landed on the man’s back just as he started apparating, and despite his yell he couldn’t push Newt off or stop the momentum of the apparition. Newt clung on for dear life and together they disappeared into the darkness.

Chapter Text

Maglor awoke to the uncomfortable sensation of someone pulling his ear tips back and forth as if trying to work out whether they were attached. He jolted to consciousness with the realisation that that was exactly what was happening, and that he was seated with his back against the cave wall, his hands and feet bound, whilst his captor investigated his features. He took a deep breath against the lingering dizziness – his head throbbed, but he’d taken far worse concussions in battle – and cautiously tested the strength of the bonds. Relieved, he realised he was strong enough to break them, but he was going to have to time it well so he could outrun his captor before she ensorcelled him again. And this time, he was going to have to watch those pointed sticks they carried and try to use his superior reflexes to determine if their long-range powers could be dodged like crossbow bolts.

Noticing he was awake, the woman began firing questions at him, but he shook his head and explained in Quenya that he did not understand her. She huffed and straightened her robes as she stood up, and then a sudden sound struck dread into Maglor’s heart. It was another loud crack, which must signal the arrival of one of her allies. A man sprinted in, exclaimed when he saw him and had a rapid-fire exchange with the woman before approaching Maglor and repeating her investigations himself. Maglor gritted his teeth and endured it, terrified by stirrings of the ancient anger he thought he had thoroughly quashed, sorely tempted to break his bonds then and there and throw the man against the cave wall. Never to cause another death, he reminded himself, not wanting to risk forgetting himself and going too far if he acted on his indignation. Besides, there was nothing these people could do to him that he didn’t deserve. Far better to escape without injuring them if at all possible, so he could avoid being a tool in whatever human power games they wanted him for without bloodshed.

His opportunity came when the man stepped back, satisfied that his ear tips were indeed genuine, and started conversing with the woman again. They kept glancing back at him, but apparently confident in the strength of their bonds, they gradually became more and more drawn into their discussion, which sounded like it was developing into an argument. Unsure of whether yet more of their friends were going to arrive, Maglor made his move.

In one fluid motion, he tore himself free and leapt to his feet, sprinting for all he was worth down the narrow tunnel. Spells pursued him through the air, jets of light burning their way past his face. He glanced over his shoulder, relieved that his battle instincts were still alive and allowing him to dodge the beams with speed. The exit was within his reach, and Maglor lunged, aiming for the opening and leaping to avoid a blue streak at the same time. To his horror, his momentum launched him straight into the path of a bright white curse. It flung him, helpless as a rag doll, and he slammed hard and painfully into the cave wall for the second time. A sickening crack rang out as the bone in his upper arm splintered. Fire raced up his arm, leaving him gasping for breath and his head spinning. Freedom was so close. Gritting his teeth, he rolled with the spell over the corner of the rock, over the threshold, and onto the beach.

Swaying with shock and pain, he gained his feet again and ran, when the nightmare yet again grew worse. There was another loud crack and looked over to see another man who had just appeared out of nowhere and to his horror, Newt, collapsed on the ground next to him. His two original captors emerged, yelling to the newcomer, who whirled around and sent a jet of red light Maglor’s way.

For the second time that day, he found himself in a situation completely beyond his understanding. Overwhelmed by the rush of the fight, which he hadn’t felt for millennia, and dreading what would happen if he ended up in the hands of those humans again, he let his instincts take over and fled.


It was a rough apparition: travelling as someone else’s unexpected side-along always was. It was a miracle neither of them got splinched, quite frankly, although Newt did fall off the man’s back and vomit as soon as they landed- not quite the entrance he was hoping to make, but at least he had made it to the smugglers’ hideout. He whipped out his wand as he scrambled up, expecting to have to duel his unwilling taxi and astonished he hadn’t been hexed yet. He froze in a crouch and took in the situation with one glance.

The magical humanoid he’d met earlier (and oh how he’d hoped that ‘New merchandise’ didn’t mean him) was in the process of making a break for it. Two other smugglers, the wizard from the bar and an unfamiliar witch, emerged from a fissure in the cliff wall, shouting “stop him”, to their newly-arrived colleague, who staggered forward, assuming that Newt had been incapacitated by the apparition, and sent a stunner at the creature, who dodged. Newt had seen enough. He Stunned the man he’d apparated with in the back and cast a shield charm as the other two cried out in anger, suddenly registering his presence, and attacked.

He feinted, clutching his arm as if wounded, concealing the subtle flick of the wrist which released his secret weapon. It always paid to have something up your sleeve when you were dealing with smuggling rings, after all. Especially when you were doing it without your wife and occasional bodyguard. The smugglers barely had time to smirk before a scaly blur of brilliant purple and green was homing in on them like a deadly, lightning-fast kite. The Swooping Evil knocked the wizard’s feet out from under him, emerging into a sharp climb which sent the witch sprawling backwards with a blow under her chin, then settled imposingly on the wizard’s chest. It was all over almost as quickly as it began. Newt could only just make out the retreating back of the magical humanoid.

“Hey! Wait! Please, I can help you!” he yelled desperately. He might have imagined it, but he thought that perhaps, just for a second, the figure stopped moving before it vanished into the distance.

“Bugger,” he swore, heart still going wild with adrenaline, torn between running off after him and stopping to think first. His decision was made for him by slurping sounds, reminding him that even if they were smugglers, he probably shouldn’t let his Swooping Evil eat their brains.

“Gregory, we’ve discussed this. Brains are off the menu,” he lectured sternly, as his sidekick reluctantly returned to his sleeve. “You did well though. Thank you. I’ll make sure to get you something nice once this is all sorted,” he added, earning himself a happy chirp before Greg rolled himself back into his cocoon.

Glancing into the distance and seeing no sign of the enigmatic creature, Newt realised that he’d be in for a night of tracking anyway, so he might as well make sure he did a proper clear up before he went. He Disarmed and bound the three smugglers, levitating them into the cave one by one- and if they accidentally bumped into the cave wall slightly more than necessary, well, it was much less than they’d seen fit to do to other living beings. Once he reached the inner cave, he took a moment to allow himself his rage and sorrow over the jarveys in their cramped cage who had obviously bitten and scratched each other in their agitation and confinement, the mokes so terrified they’d shrunk to almost invisibility, and the lobalugs forced to live in foul water in a dirty tank. Only a moment, though: years of dealing with similar situations had taught him to carefully set aside his emotions and focus on the practical ways he could help.

A short while later found the jarveys adding tunnels to the burrow system in the case, spewing profanity enthusiastically (Newt’s Norwegian vocabulary had considerably increased); the mokes, now measuring a few centimetres, cautiously peeking out from the undergrowth Newt had provided for them; and the lobalugs dreamily jetting through the crystal-clear water of their bubble. He hadn’t checked them over as thoroughly as he usually would, beyond healing obvious wounds and ensuring they were in no immediate danger- that would have to wait until later, as he had another injured creature to track down first. There was blood that looked almost human but slightly lighter, near the entrance to the cave, which provided a worrying explanation for the creature’s odd posture as he ran away. Newt already blamed himself for this entire situation, for not following the creature before he got captured, and resolved that he was not going to let someone frightened and hurting run off into danger again.

He took a few moments to investigate the rest of the cave in case he could find anything useful. It was quite a shock when he picked up a map from one of the shelves and realised exactly where on the coast they were: he had realised that his quarry was fast, but he hadn’t counted on his stamina. To get from where they had met earlier just north of the village to this far south, he must have run about fifty miles in one go. And now he was running again, with a suspected shoulder injury. What a day the poor guy’s had, Newt sympathised. Tries to do a good thing only to convince himself he’s insulted a vengeful god, spends the whole day running away from him then gets captured by more of these unscrupulous beings, gets injured whilst escaping and then gets chased by the first one again. All Newt could do was find him and do his best to regain his trust and prove that allowing him close would end the nightmare rather than extending it. He left the cave just as the smugglers were beginning to rouse- he’d have to alert the authorities to that situation, but the marvellous creature they’d tried to capture took priority. Let them spend the night tied up in their own prison, uncertain of their future; maybe that would give them some perspective on what they had put their victims through.

Night had well and truly fallen by the time Newt emerged onto the beach. On foot, he’d have no chance at catching up, but Newt had never been so grateful for Theseus’ multiple attempts to turn his little brother into a decent opponent at Quidditch. He Summoned his broom from inside his suitcase, attached the case to the back with a few decent sticking charms and some twine for good measure, mounted up and kicked off.

When he needed to be, Newt made a very good Chaser.


After laying two false trails, scaling a highly dangerous cliff path one-handed, disappearing into the forest and checking multiple times for sounds of pursuit, Maglor finally let himself collapse. The day’s events had tested even his elvish endurance; at his prime, they wouldn’t have, but elven healing relies heavily on the connection between hröa and fëa, body and soul, and the current state of Maglor’s soul was anything but conducive to healing and rejuvenation. The most pressing issue of the moment was the ugly open fracture of his upper right arm, and the numbness in his usually sore right hand that signified nerve damage. It would need to be set, but the position meant it would be impossible to carry out himself, as he’d done when he had broken his leg at some point during the Fourth Age. Losing the use of his right arm would be a death sentence: it was hard enough surviving on his own with his burned hands, and he only managed that situation by reminding himself that he deserved every agony that came with gripping something, since it was his over-reaching greed in pursuing the Silmarils that put him in this position in the first place. In a moment of utter despair, Maglor was tempted to just let himself die. He had resolved to endure the ages, living on in loneliness and repentance, but no-one could truly know the awful, bone-deep fatigue that came with eking out a solitary existence for millennia before they’d lived it. Had he known, he probably still would have chosen this path, but he was beginning to contemplate the prospect that at this point, with this new setback, he simply could not go on any longer. Mandos would be just- he would keep Maglor confined in his halls and unable to hurt anyone else, that was a given.

The events of his capture and escape were so bizarre that he was beginning to wonder if the Valar had decided to punish him with madness, and all this was simply a nightmarish hallucination. Thinking back, he had concluded that, impossible as it seemed, these magically overpowered humans must have invented a way to travel long distances and make it seem as though they had appeared out of nowhere. Newt’s appearance in particular had shaken him. He briefly considered the possibility that he was in league with the others and had told them to set up a trap for him but opined that this was unlikely. He always made sure to completely cover his tracks whenever he left a place, so there was no possible way that Newt could have known about his old hideout, and besides, the interior of the cave suggested a long-term operation was based there, and Newt had only met him today. Therefore, that suggested the disturbing possibility that Newt had fallen foul of these bandits for some reason and he was being taken prisoner; in Maglor’s one glimpse of him as he fled, he had not looked in good shape. Maglor thought he had heard Newt calling after him at one point, but unsure of whether he was imagining it, and if he wasn’t, whether it was a trap, he decided it was safest to flee.

Given that Newt was probably in danger, he seriously considered going back to try to help him. He had been very forgiving about the whole kidnap-and-rescue mess and seemed like a gentle soul; the other- wissards? was that the word?- were clearly part of some sort of thieving gang, and Maglor didn’t like to think of what they might do to someone opposing them. But then again, he was unsure of how much he could do, weaponless and injured as he was, and with only the most basic knowledge of exactly what powers these sorcerers had. He might fashion a slingshot and attempt to sneak up on them, but he didn’t trust himself not to get captured again and make the situation worse. And then there was the fact that his attempt at ‘rescuing’ Newt earlier hadn’t exactly been helpful.

In just one day, an entire existence stretched out thinly like butter spread over far, far too much bread had suddenly been interrupted by a barrage of things that didn’t make sense. He wished that he could simply forget about this situation entirely and return to a life alone on the shore with his guilt and his grief because although they made terrible companions, at least he understood them.

But it appeared that he wasn’t going to be allowed to do that. About a mile and a half away, the forest suddenly illuminated with some sort of non-natural, magical, golden light.


Two false trails with dead ends, a worryingly precarious cliff path (how on earth did someone with burned hands and a suspected shoulder injury get up there?), three warming charms against the Norwegian night air, and two circuitous searches through the treetops of the pine forest later, Newt finally gave in, descended and cast Appare Vestigium. He had been trying to avoid that, though it was a very handy tracking charm for analysing traces of magical residue, knowing that the signature golden light would alert his quarry to the pursuit (not to mention giving him yet another scare). However, remaining unseen himself would do no good unless he could find the object of his search. The tall and lithe golden outline of the escaped captive ran lightly along a barely existent path, and Newt gripped his broom firmly as he set off in pursuit, belatedly remembering to protect himself with an Impervius charm against the whipping branches and pine needles of this lower part of the forest. He kept casting Appare Vestigium at intervals as he went, occasionally having to double back when he lost the trail, but eventually he reached a tree where the slightest displacement of pine needles demonstrated that somebody had recently been sitting there. The tracking spell confirmed this, as well as that said ‘somebody’ had leapt to his feet and sprinted off. A couple of calculations confirmed that this was probably when he had seen the light from Newt’s first spell, and that even if he was running at his superhuman speed, he couldn’t have gone too far since. Grinning, Newt climbed steeply until he was skating over the treetops again. He cast a Supersensory Charm, resigning himself to the inevitable headache that came with using it twice in one day, and scanned the forest below for signs of movement, holding his lit wand between his teeth.

On the point of descending and starting the laborious tracking process again, Newt’s efforts were rewarded. A dark figure darted out of the way of his light where it streamed down into the forest, and even better, it was heading towards a clearing. On fire with the thrill of pursuit despite the temperature, Newt accelerated and dived down towards the clearing with all the speed he could safely muster (and a little extra which probably wasn’t safe at all). Landing clumsily but mercifully avoiding crashing, he swung himself down from his broom just as the creature darted into the clearing and froze on seeing him with an expression of utter horror.

Long habit had him dropping into an easy crouch, baring his neck and holding his hands up in submission.

“Hello there, so sorry I startled you, there’s no need to be frightened,” he said, low and soothing, and since explanations probably weren’t going to cut the muster in this improbable situation, he did the first thing he could think of to prove his trustworthiness. Very slowly, he let his broom drop to the ground next to him, untied his suitcase and rummaged around in it, aware of the creature’s widened eyes tracking his every move in the wandlight. Finding what he was looking for, he extended his hand and draped the item over his open palm.

“I think you left your cloak.”

Chapter Text

These ‘wissards’, apparently, in the newest revelation of an eye-opening day, could fly.

On brooms.

The hypothesis that he was catatonic on a beach somewhere, and this was all just a hallucination created by his broken mind, was growing more and more plausible with each new development. Although the concept of his brain combining a household cleaning device, which he hadn’t needed in millennia, with a power reminiscent of the terrifying Thuringwethil evaded any kind of psychological explanation; it wasn’t like he had a shortage of trauma he could have drawn on, after all. He was also, rather worryingly, not waking up.

The unfamiliar sound had driven him wild until he worked out what it was: a kind a whooshing, like the wind but with more of an edge to it; it gave him the very uncomfortable sensation of being followed but unaware of what exactly was pursuing him. Then he had seen a light in the sky too close to be a star, glimpsed a floating figure silhouetted against it as he ducked away, and witnessed Newt descending from the sky at a stomach-churning angle atop the most incongruous object imaginable. Never in all his solitary wanderings had he found himself feeling completely and utterly out of his depth. At least he could set his mind at rest about one thing: Newt had somehow escaped and was safe from the other sorcerers.

Whether or not he was sane was another matter.

Was he seriously suggesting that, after a long day of doing whatever these magical humans did in the North Sea, being captured/rescued by an unfamiliar being, then confronting bandits, his first thought was to track down said being just to return a cloak?

No, that couldn’t be it – there had to be something more to this, some game he was playing, something he wanted: but what? What could Maglor possibly give him? Once again, he returned to the possibility that he had misread the situation earlier and Newt was in league with the bandits- perhaps they’d sent him after Maglor to lure him back with kindness. It could be the case, but like his earlier assumption that Newt was Maia, something about it didn’t quite fit with his observations. He studied Newt for a moment. He was entirely still, one hand proffering the cloak and the other to the side and clearly visible. He wasn’t making a single attempt to advance on Maglor, simply waiting for him to close the distance. He could run, if he wanted, right now, and get a decent head start; although that golden light must be some sort of enchantment enhancing the human’s tracking abilities, so there was nothing to stop him simply finding Maglor again if he wanted to. The stalemate extended over a long, tense moment as they regarded each other.

Eventually, the cold decided it for him. It was seriously bad news if an Elf felt changes in temperature: Maglor must have lost more blood than he first thought. The cloak suddenly became sorely tempting, and he was so tired of running away: fatigued both from the day and the five ages which preceded it. Perhaps Newt would leave him in peace if Maglor gave him what he wanted now. Attempting not to show fear now that he had made his decision, he strode over to the crouching figure, picked up the cloak with the back of his hand and shrugged it onto his left shoulder, then took a step back as he watched for what Newt would do next.

The man glanced up very briefly and his eyes immediately flew to Maglor’s right arm. He pointed to it, then to himself, then rubbed his own arm and mimed winding bandages around it, turning his expression from a theatrical grimace to a relaxed smile. Maglor’s eyes widened in understanding. He was a healer, then – now that explanation fit much better with what Maglor had already seen of him. Perhaps he had simply noticed Maglor’s injury as he ran away earlier and wanted to treat it. Maglor’s mind was boggled at the thought, but he reminded himself that Newt seemed a decent man, and he couldn’t possibly know what kind of monster he was offering to help. His insides twisted uncomfortably at the idea that Newt had mistaken him for a mistreated innocent. Surely it would be wrong to take advantage of that.

But then again, Maglor had known healers, encountered them regularly after battles, and if human healers were anything like elvish ones, then they could be extremely insistent when they decided that your health was their responsibility. He had no way of communicating that he deserved every agony that came his way, and besides, if he got treatment for his arm now, he may just be able to carry on with his penance as he originally intended. Maybe that would make up for exploiting the goodwill of someone who would never come near him if he knew the truth. He nodded as he made up his mind, sat down cross-legged and pulled off the blood-soaked strip of his shirt which he had hastily applied to his injury earlier, mainly for the purpose of avoiding a blood trail.

Newt beamed and said something that Maglor vaguely recognised from their encounter earlier. He guessed it to be an expression of thanks, and he justified memorising it with the rationale that thanking Newt in his own language was the least he could do – it wasn’t as if he could imagine using it again after this night. Newt picked up his miniature staff and flicked it so that the ball of light at its tip floated up above them like a personal star; Maglor was beginning to think that the powers of these ‘wissards’ were closer to those of the Valar themselves, than those of the Maiar at this point. Newt kneeled at his shoulder and inhaled sharply when he saw the damage. Then, very slowly, he pointed the stick at his own arm and muttered an incantation, which summoned up a three-dimensional model made of shimmering green light, depicting the internal structure of bone and muscle and nerve. It was utterly mesmerising and made Maglor instantly revise his assumption that however much they developed, humans would never be able to reach the high standards of the elven healers of old. It seemed that they’d surpassed them. The model dissolved into a puff of smoke and Newt gestured to Maglor’s injured arm, seeking permission. He gave it with a nod, and watched, entranced, as the jagged multiple fractures appeared in blue outline in the night sky. With a series of complicated movements, Newt guided the bone fragments in the image back into their proper place, then undid it and repeated the process. He was practising, Maglor realised with awe, practising on the model so he could be sure to get it right with flesh and bone. For the first time in many, many years, he remembered healer friends he’d had in his youth in Valinor who would have given anything to learn a technique like that. He’d been a decent enough healer himself, before he was a warrior. He didn’t often think about that, these days.

Having banished his practice tool, Newt placed a steadying hand on Maglor’s left shoulder, rubbing twice before tightening his grip, as if in apology for what was to come. Maglor had come out of enough battlefields to know what to anticipate and how to prepare for it in situations like this, so he took a deep breath and did his best to relax his muscles. It wasn’t a hard task: he’d survived the combined onslaught of physical, mental and emotional pain as the Silmaril blazed through his soul and his skin. Setting a broken bone wouldn’t faze him after that.

The expected peak of white-hot agony came, and he gave a sharp cry, but it subsided sooner than he thought he it would. Each of Newt’s incantations flowed seamlessly into the next, and as he recovered from the shock, Maglor looked on, fascinated, as his skin knitted itself together before his eyes, the blood on his skin siphoned itself away, and then splints and bandages materialised, securely immobilising his arm. That last happening confirmed it: in a bizarre turn of events, humans were now more powerful than the Maiar. The Maiar could bend the world around them to their will: only the Valar could create, and that through the will of Ilúvatar. But now it seemed that Ilúvatar had willed that humans share this ability, and Maglor was overwhelmed by the possibilities afforded by such a gift. If Newt was any indication, at least some of them were using it well. He realised abruptly that he was staring open-mouthed, and that Newt was now kneeling directly in front of him, wearing that beautiful and heart-breaking concerned expression, trying to catch his gaze. With a jerk of the head as if to clear it, he smiled and decided that now was the best time to try his new phrase, in order to reassure his healer.

“Sonkyur,” he ventured clumsily, bowing his head as he remembered Newt doing earlier. After an initial moment of confusion, his meaning must have filtered through since Newt’s entire face lit up and he gently patted Maglor’s left shoulder again in response. He sat back on his heels and studied Maglor appraisingly, then removed his yellow-and-grey scarf and folded it into a sling, gently sliding the splinted arm to rest in it and then tying it at the back of his neck. Why he would do that when presumably he could simply conjure a length of plain cloth was a mystery to Maglor, but the feeling of the soft wool from the donated scarf against his skin warmed his insides in a long-forgotten way, almost enough to combat the chill weather. Oblivious to this, Newt drew Maglor’s cloak more snugly around him over the makeshift sling, then paused, frowned, placed a hand under Maglor’s chin and tilted his head towards the hovering light. He’d spotted the head injury then, and Maglor decided he was going to pick his battles with this persistent healer who seemed intent on helping him. The head injury he didn’t mind having tended, though he would have simply left it were he on his own. His hands, however, were a different story entirely. His cursed Oath, the silent wrath of the Silmaril’s light rebelling against his own mutilated soul’s attempt to possess it, the destruction of his family and kin, were all written across his hands in angry scars. Such wounds, such reminders, he would not allow to be healed.

The feeling of the swelling on his forehead shrinking under Newt’s magic was a rather strange sensation, although it barely even ranked on the scale of strange things that had happened this day. He looked straight ahead as Newt called yet another light into being and used it to examine his eyes; funny how methods for checking for concussion had been essentially the same for five entire ages, when so much else had undergone such drastic change. The initial examination didn’t get far though. Newt recoiled with a gasp the moment his eyes met Maglor’s. This was not surprising: it was well known that ancient elves, whilst retaining their bodily strength, showed the burdens of their history only in their eyes. Maglor understood very well how painful a single glance at his must be.


Newt had learnt long ago to trust his instinctive assessments of magical creatures, even if he was unsure of why he had come to a certain conclusion. He knew when to snatch his fingers away from teeth that would snap a second later, when a firm tone and stance would calm a creature and when it would make her roar, whether a creature’s agitation stemmed from thirst or irritation or fear. Usually, though, if he thought about it in detail later on, he could break down the myriad tells and tiny movements which his brain had subconsciously processed and work out how he knew what he knew.

The instant he looked into the creature’s eyes, Newt knew that he would never be able to explain how that single glance communicated so much, not if he analysed the structure of the eyes and their miniscule movements for weeks on end. But he knew to trust his intuition: and what it was telling him was deeply disturbing.

This person was old. There was something about the fathomless depths of those eyes that made him feel as though he were falling backwards through the centuries. And those centuries had not been kind: that solemn gaze belonged to someone who had suffered, someone who carried an enormous burden of regret, someone who was terribly, heart-breakingly lonely. Whatever else he made of that, Newt knew one thing: healing his new friend would take far more than setting a broken bone and healing a head wound.

Doing those things would, however, make a good start, so he gathered himself after the emotional blindsiding and returned to his investigations. He could see no signs of lingering concussion, though he would have expected some with a goose egg that size, but that piece of evidence fit with the general resilience which appeared to be endemic to this species. His patient had been very co-operative so far, after he had chosen to approach Newt. That ended the moment he reached for the left hand to start studying the burns. Assertively shaking his head, he moved the hand out of Newt’s reach and practically glowered at him.

“Sorry, I’m sure they must be very sensitive,” he sympathised, then cast one of his curse damage diagnosis spells on his own hand, wiggling his fingers and smiling to demonstrate its benignity. “But look at this. See? It doesn’t hurt, nothing to be worried about. I won’t even have to touch the burns at all.”

Another shake of the head, and in a surprisingly childish move he hid the contested appendage behind his back. This behaviour was inconsistent with the extremely high pain tolerance Newt had already observed, and he didn’t look at all anxious; more mutinous, if anything. It was almost as if…

“But they must be so painful for you, don’t you want them to be healed?” he asked, and whether or not he understood that, the creature gave another firm headshake.

“Alright, then, have it your way,” he capitulated with a sigh, sitting back on his heels. He knew when to respectfully retreat, and though it pained him to leave such horrific injuries untreated, his patient clearly had some reason other than nervousness for refusing treatment and he had to allow him that. He conceded the battle, but he had no intention of letting it go in the long run. And there was going to be a long run, Newt would make certain of that: whatever else was going on, this person deserved someone to understand him, pay attention to him, and help him face whatever terrible inner demons he was battling. He needed a friend. And Newt was more than happy to provide one.

“Now, it’s getting late, you’re injured and it’s very cold. You can stay with me tonight, if you like,” Newt began, pulling over the suitcase, about to carry out the delicate procedure of coaxing him in; resilient he may be, but Newt wanted to keep an eye on his friend after the day’s trauma. He could return him to his home and his people as soon as possible- once he’d worked out where they were, of course. As he did so, however, the creature startled and leapt to his feet, wide-eyed with an expression of mounting panic.


This time, Maglor knew what the sound was. That miniscule adjustment in the sound of the wind, that slight whisper of air whipping past an object advancing at high speed through the sky. Knowing that there were more broomstick riders approaching, however, did not make the question of what to do about it any easier.

Newt was making concerned inquiries, his tone gentle and his body language submissive; the broomsticks were still beyond his range of hearing so he was evidently trying to work out the cause of Maglor’s alarm. The situation was delicate: if, after all, Newt was in league with the bandits then revealing that he’d heard them approaching would throw away any marginal advantage that might help him escape. On the other hand, if Newt had escaped from their captivity as well, then it would be prudent to communicate to his only ally that they were threatened by pursuers. Essentially, he had a big and complicated question to answer and very little time to answer it in.

Did he trust this ‘Newt’?

Newt was incredibly powerful. He wielded one of those sticks which could throw and restrain with invisible forces, and yet all he’d seen him do so far was dry his clothes, start a modest fire, and heal some injuries. Perhaps he was just the kind face employed to entrap the victims of these thieves, but Maglor had spent enough time navigating the toxic world of First Age politics to be able to spot an ulterior motive when there was one. It wasn’t just the healing but the way he’d done it: the attempts to communicate what he was about to do despite the language barrier, the willingness to respect Maglor’s ‘no’ when it came to his hands, turning his scarf into a sling. There was a sort of genuineness to this human, a sort of purity; not like the harsh, unattainable purity of the Silmaril which burned when touched, but a gentle purity of intent that suggested that his tenderness went all the way to his heart. Maglor realised that his millennia-old choice to seclude himself from society was no longer in his control. Like it or not, trusting Newt was a better option than the mysterious anonymous sorcerers he could faintly hear on the wind.

Decision made, he locked eyes with Newt, ignoring the man’s flinch at his intense gaze, then tugged on his ear, pointed to Newt’s broomstick and then to the sky, north-east to where the sounds were originating from.

Finally understanding Maglor’s alarm, Newt cursed in his language and then positioned himself between Maglor and the north-east, his stick raised to the sky and his other arm spread wide in a shielding gesture. In battle, such a position would have been supremely ineffective given that Maglor was at least a foot and half taller, but Newt’s meaning was crystal clear: I will protect you from them. He twisted to look over his shoulder at Maglor, eyebrows raised questioningly as if to check he’d understood. Maglor nodded, Newt nodded back, and then turned to steer him back towards where he’d left his bag: a strange contraption halfway between an expanded satchel with stiff sides and a compact trunk with handles. Perhaps Newt had something useful in there? Weapons, maybe? That would be a difficult call to make, if Maglor had to choose whether to use violence to defend himself and Newt. The dread he felt about that prospect, though, was nothing to the utter shock when he peered into the trunk and saw that it was…bigger on the inside?

He yelped and jumped back, he couldn’t help it, narrowing his eyes at the utterly ridiculous thing which he was struggling to wrap his mind around. He would have thought it was a trapdoor but he had literally seen it descend from the sky and be moved around several times, so he had to believe what his eyes were telling him, as nonsensical as it sounded: there was a field inside a trunk.

Newt was talking to him earnestly now, crouched down at the opening of the luggage, gesturing to Maglor and then to the trunk, indicating that he needed to get inside. When Maglor stayed there, frozen in not exactly panic but sheer surprise, Newt bent over and dangled his entire torso into the case, righting himself with a grin as if to prove he was unharmed, and extending his hands to show the dirt and grass on his palms from the fields within.

The whistling on the wind grew louder and Newt’s head whipped round to the north-east: now that he could hear it too, they really had very little time. All the arguments for and against getting in the case raged, stormlike, in Maglor’s mind: it would be cowardly to leave Newt to fight the thieves alone; he’s managed without my help twice already, I’d only be a liability; if I’m wrong and he is with the thieves then I’m condemning myself to their captivity; if I’m right and he’s not with the thieves, then what in Arda am I getting myself into?

But his warrior instincts were still there, so it only took him a few seconds to make a decision that he didn’t know would be a turning point in his long and convoluted existence. The man who appeared to be his closest ally was offering him sanctuary from unknown elements, who might attempt to weaponise him again, so there was really only one viable option, however terrifying it might seem.

He took a deep breath and a step into the unknown, collapsing onto his knees in the middle of an enchanted grassy field as the lid thunked shut behind him.


Heart hammering wildly, Newt slammed the lid of the case down and set it to ‘Muggle worthy.’ It wouldn’t help against most wizards, but it made him feel safer anyway. That had been far more rushed than he had hoped: he had wanted to slowly introduce the concept of the case and go in with him for the first time to ease the transition, but with the threat of discovery by escaped smugglers, passing wizards or worst of all, the Ministry, there had just been no time. Had his charge hesitated any longer, Newt would have had to simply close the case over him and ask forgiveness later- he was very glad that hadn’t been necessary.

He squinted up to the sky, seeing a group of five figures flying in formation and groaning as he began to suspect who they were. They accelerated towards his hovering bubble of conjured light and one of them let out a commanding shout in Norwegian. Inferring its meaning, Newt stepped into the pool of light and raised his hands in submission. They landed and dismounted sleekly, and a man strode forward, wand drawn. Seeing Newt, he exclaimed in English,

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, not you again!”

Chapter Text

Well, at least that confirmed it. His mind had finally cracked and he was in the middle of a bizarre hallucination.

He wasn’t complaining, though. It had been mad and confusing and nothing made sense but it could have been so much worse. He could have imagined himself enduring the torments of captivity in Angband and on Thangorodrim (what Maedhros must have suffered, all that time, and I just left him there, we were supposed to be brothers, he was the one who should have been in charge, he would have come for me); or back in the middle of a battle (fighting my way through because it’s the only thing left to do, faces contorting in pain and anguish as my sword crunches through their armour, so much anger rage wrath, uncontrollable, I no longer know myself); or endlessly trapped in the moment when the last Silmaril flew from his hand (all of that, everything we did for the Oath and it’s over and gone, everything, everything is lost, I am oathbreaker and kinslayer and nothing is left but despair).

His mind could have fixated on those moments or any number of other traumas, but instead it had created a weirdly complex scenario with overpowered humans, thieving gangs, and a strange man with tawny-reddish hair who offered him healing and protection. Perhaps it was about wish fulfilment. That seemed most likely: it was the loneliness that had broken him, in the end, and he had dreamed himself up a brother to care for him like Maedhros once had. Even the hair colour hinted at it. It was silly and naïve of him, but he wondered, very guiltily, whether it would be so wrong of him to luxuriate in the fantasy for as long as he could. Deciding that yes, it absolutely would, he attempted to gather his scattered wits and wake up.

He visualised the beach where he’d been before he saw the mop of red hair in the sea which tore his world apart, tried to imagine himself rising from reverie there, to feel the sand under his fingers and hear the excruciating shrieks of the gulls, excruciating because he knew they should awaken something within him but instead there was only emptiness. It didn’t work. He didn’t wake up. He stubbornly remained where he was, surrounded by the earthy smell of the meadow and the feeling of blades of grass tickling the soles of his feet. He tried again, slipping into a meditative trance and conjuring the images of his seaside home in his mind, trying to pull himself up to consciousness. Again, he failed – it felt like he was conscious already. It was bizarre: he felt incredibly lucid for someone trapped in a hallucination, not at all like how Maedhros had described his intrusive recurring memories after Maglor had nagged his older brother into talking about them.

So, he couldn’t wake himself up. Might as well try to navigate this random dreamworld he’d created as best he could, then. He rose, balance slightly off as he adjusted to having his right arm immobilised, and properly took in his surroundings for the first time.

The first thing he noticed were the stars.

“Varda,” he murmured in awe, for once not immediately ashamed to hear the Starkindler’s name on his impure lips, but simply overwhelmed by the fact that he was inside a trunk with the lid firmly shut and he could still see the stars.

It felt hopeful, in an odd sort of way. The sea had become a tangled mess of painful emotions for him: it was the siren that should call him home but did so no longer, the vast expanse that cut him off from his ostracised kin, the eternal, immutable force that had swallowed the Silmaril he could not bear to hold. But the stars…even through everything, even though the skies had changed, even though he had relinquished almost everything else that made him elvish, there was still something in him which delighted in the stars. It settled him, sometimes, to sit atop a cliff and look out to the heavens and console himself that whatever happened, the beauty created by Lady Varda endured. That a sky identical to the one outside existed inside this trunk was astounding, and he stood there, statuesque in his awe, amazed that the ellon who had waited four ages for the Everlasting Darkness of his broken oath to descend upon him had been allowed this incredible glimpse of light.

He drunk in the glorious beauty of the sky for quite a while, before he started to muse that a sight like that was probably beyond even what his broken mind could dream up as wish-fulfilment: the very idea that the stars would follow him into an enclosed space like this– well, he didn’t have the hope left in him to make that up. But the alternative, that it was all real, that the Valar had allowed him this, was equally unbelievable. Still, there was no escaping the fact, impossible whichever way he spun it, that he was standing inside a very small, trunk-like container, which was nevertheless big enough to contain an entire starscape in its confines.

How big even is this place? he wondered as he observed that the field gave out onto numerous different environments: an overgrown woodland to one side, rolling steppes at the back, and a savannah. Closer to him, a wooden terrace extended from the back of a twisted, ramshackle hut. And it was all inside a trunk. Truly, he had seriously underestimated humans.

It had been so long since he’d heard anything but the lapping of waves and shrieking of seagulls that he couldn’t identify many of the noises around him. Chittering, lowing, chuffing, the odd growl: he had no idea what was making them, but he was evidently not alone. It made Maglor slightly uneasy, wondering why Newt would be carting around a menagerie like this and whether, due to his unfamiliar nature, he was intended to be kept as part of it. He was not entirely sure how the animals would respond to him. A very long time ago, he had had that easy elvish way with beasts, and would sometimes train his voice by sitting in the forest and imitating birdcalls for hours on end, with the birds generously creating more and more complex melodies for him to work with. Something had fundamentally changed since the Kinslayings, however: perhaps he had lost his confidence, perhaps  his elven talents had sailed away from him with the rest of his kin, perhaps the animals could sense the taint on his fëa and quite sensibly avoided him. Whatever the reasons, he could no longer approach animals like he used to – the few attempts he had made to heal injured seabirds had usually resulted in him getting scratched and bitten for his troubles as the panicking creature tried to escape.

As if summoned by his train of thought, Maglor was suddenly confronted with the strangest creature he’d ever seen. He had no idea where it had come from: it had appeared as if out of thin air and was standing silhouetted in silver against the dark backdrop of the forest. It resembled the drawings of apes he’d seen long ago in books which discussed the Eastern reaches of Middle Earth, but he was quite sure he’d never seen this combination of features in a study before. It stood on its hind legs, about knee-height to Maglor, and surveyed him with warm amber eyes. It really was a thing of beauty, the starlight dancing in its rich, pale silver pelt, and giving it the air of an ethereal spirit.

The ape-thing stared at Maglor. Maglor stared at the ape.

 “Go on, then, shoo,” he told it irritably. “I know you’re going to scamper off and tell all your friends about the horrible predator your keeper just let in. Get on with it.”

The ape made an odd clicking sound, almost as though it was tutting, dropped to all fours and then against all expectations, ran towards Maglor.

“Hold a moment, this isn’t how this goes, what? No, what are you- are you trying to hug me? No, I do not give cuddles, whatever gave you that ghastly impression? Would you leave off? Stop looking at me like that!”

The ape just smiled at him indulgently, as if watching a toddler attempting to look fierce. It batted away his shooing hand with its wrinkled one and then clambered into his lap, settling itself on the left side of his chest where it wouldn’t get caught up in his sling. It slung its wiry arms around his neck, impatiently brushing aside his tangled hair, and sent him a look that spoke very clearly:

Move me. Go on. You can try. But you won’t win. This spot is mine now. So are you.

“Oh, very well, if you must,” he yielded, resting his left hand on the animal’s back, finding its warmth surprisingly soothing on the aching flesh.

“What are you?” he wondered aloud. “You’re certainly a strange beast if I ever saw one. Funny, you remind me a little of Círdan, all that white hair and that aura of knowing something no-one else does. What is it that you know, hmm?”

The ape fixed him with a steady gaze. Without warning, its eyes flashed blue and Maglor let out a startled yell. Unperturbed, ‘little Círdan’, as Maglor had mentally termed him, cocked his head to one side and studied Maglor thoughtfully. He gave Maglor two very deliberate pats on the head and then snuggled closer and hid his face in the crook of Maglor’s neck.

“Ah, thank you?” Maglor ventured, utterly bemused.

The imagination of the greatest poet of the Noldor had surpassed itself with this one.


“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, not you again!”

“Ah. Auror Baylard. Yes, um. Hi. Fancy seeing you here!”

“How many times, Newton Scamander! It is incredibly unprofessional and downright rude for a ministry official to interfere with the work of another department without proper authentication!”

“I’m aware of that, yes, but you see with the legislation coming in soon I will be automatically authorised to take part in these sorts of investigations so it’s sort of- nearly legal?”

Baylard pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Nearly legal. Nearly legal. There is a world of difference between nearly legal and actually legal which you seem obstinately determined to ignore!”

“Ah. Well. Given that I’m not supposed to be interfering, I suppose you don’t want to know the location of the cave where three smugglers are currently tied up awaiting arrest?”

Baylard glared at him.

“You are honestly going to be the death of me one day. Since you’ve got yourself involved- against your brother’s specific instructions, I might add- you’ll need to tell us everything.”

Newt handed over the map he’d taken from the cave earlier, pointing out the location, then explained, “They had three jarveys, four mokes and six lobalugs, kept in appalling conditions for at least a week in those cages, thought I’ll need to check them over more thoroughly to establish that for certain-”

“Wait, wait, wait. Had?”

“Well, er, yes.” Newt held up his case with a smile and a little shrug.

“They’re supposed to go to Evidence, you know that, Scamander! Three to five days and then they’re handed over to you for rehabilitation, that was the compromise we agreed.”

“Three more days in a cage is three too many. And the Aurors in Evidence always end up calling me to assess them anyway, so it’s easier for everyone if I just do it in my case and give you my report. Full reports on all of them, you have my word.”

“Do you have any idea how much extra paperwork and smoothing over this is going to cause?”

“I do also consult for the Ministry, so yes, I do have an idea of how much parchment the place can churn through. And I’ll be terribly grateful, of course…”

“Hold on, I haven’t agreed to your ridiculous plan yet! I could confiscate that case right now and take those creatures back where they belong.”

“You could, I suppose, yes. But I have an international licence for this case, which you very well know, and those creatures belong right where they are. If you want to move them, go ahead, but don’t expect me to help. And you’re dealing with the burns when the lobalugs spit venom on you for taking them away from the first clean water they’ve had in far too long.”

Baylard sighed a very exasperated sigh, and Newt had to stop himself from grinning in triumph at the realisation that he’d won.

“You don’t need to threaten us, Scamander. The Ministry’s given up trying to contain you and you know it, so even if I tried to follow it up it wouldn’t get anywhere. Just please tell me the prisoners are in a fit state for interrogation.”

“Ah. That. Well, one of them at least is…”

“Scamander…”

“He was just Stunned, but I may have been a little late in calling Greg off the other two.”

“I don’t think I want to know what Greg is.”

There was a very awkward silence in which Baylard stared expectantly at Newt, who squirmed a little uncomfortably, as if unsure what was being asked of him. Baylard cracked first.

“Tell me what Greg is,” he groaned in utter resignation.

“Swooping Evil. There might be a few teensy memory problems, I got him off before they could be properly harmed, but…”

“But you might just have jeopardized our chances of a conviction. I know the Ministry gives you a lot of loose rein, but even if you’re capturing criminals, your methods are highly dubious! Plus we’re on foreign soil so everything has to go through the Norwegian Ministry too. Smugglers or not, they might not be too happy about their citizens being assaulted.”

“I really am sorry for causing so much trouble,” Newt said contritely, “but you see, I worked it out and I couldn’t just leave them there.”

“You’re Newt Scamander, so of course you couldn’t leave it to the professionals and just had to barge in first. How were they doing it, anyway?”

“Pocket watches. The Protean Charm was on the pocket watches. Unusual choice for a Protean item, I only noticed by chance because one of them touched it like he was checking the temperature. Proteans are cheaper and less conspicuous, usually, but actually that made it harder to spot because it was unexpected. Hiding in plain sight.”

“Utterly brilliant,” Baylard conceded bitterly. “You know, Scamander, you have quite a gift. There aren’t many people in the world who have me constantly debating whether I want to hire them or throttle them. Hang on. Does Tina know you’re out here? She’s away this week, isn’t she?”

“Well, yes, she is away. And er, no, not exactly.”

“Ohhoho, you are going to get quite the lecture when she gets back.”

“I imagine I am, yes.”

Baylard snorted. “That’s some consolation, anyway, I’ll think about that when I’m shifting the paperwork landslide all this is going to cause.”

“I-er-hope you enjoy that. Now, if that’s everything…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you can’t just disappear on us like that in the middle of this mess!”

“Well, you have the location of the cave and my summary of the creatures they abused, I’ll have the full report to you by next Monday. What else is there to do?”

Baylard looked up from the map, eyes narrowed. “Explain why you’re merrily dashing about setting off our broomstick surveillance left right and centre in the middle of this forest when the smugglers you just assaulted are ten miles down the coast.”

So that was how the Aurors, Baylard from the UK plus four Norwegians, had found them. Newt smiled, trying not to look nervous.

“Well, I was concerned they might have been careless and let some non-native species loose, so I’m doing a sweep of the surrounding area to check. I haven’t found anything yet though, but I should really get on with looking.”

“Conscientious of you,” Baylard remarked dryly, still suspicious. “You’re not hiding anything, are you?”

“You know me! Nothing to hide. I’m a Ministry man now, you know that,” Newt smiled, forcibly relaxing his grip on his case, knowing that the Auror would notice his tension if he didn’t. “Now if we’re quite finished, I need to circle back and check the area south of the cave, so if you’ll excuse me…”

He mounted his broomstick and prepared to take off, itching to be free of this situation.

“Scamander? Anything new in your case besides the ones you just rescued?”

He attempted to look like he was considering it, for a few moments.

“No, Auror Baylard, nothing you need to worry about. See you back in Blighty!”

With that, he kicked off that ground, leaving his frustrated Auror colleague to shout, “SCAMANDER!” fruitlessly after him and then attempt to explain the situation to his very confused Norwegian counterparts.


As Newt flew, apparated and then walked his way back to the guest house where he was staying, it started to sink in just how complicated dealing with his newest rescue was going to be.

He was an old hat at working with little-to-no information, given how under-researched magizoology was until he came along. He’d even discovered five completely new species before, including the Porpentina Fire Salamander, named for his wife and possibly the most unique Valentine’s gift ever given. (Simply the newest version of Fantastic Beasts: The Scholarly Edition, with ‘her’ entry marked with a rare woven bookmark he’d found in Japan; Tina had been absolutely thrilled.) Usually when working in these circumstances, he’d use deduction: often families of creatures shared characteristics, so he could infer what kind of food and medicines would be appropriate for one species based on his knowledge of the others.

 Magical humanoids, however, were another kettle of fish entirely. Despite similarities in shape, internal physiognomy varied wildly between the different kinds, meaning that they had different dietary requirements, were susceptible to different diseases, and different substances were toxic to them: garlic for vampires, silver and its derivatives for werewolves, not to mention the lengthy list of allergens which Veela had to avoid. That meant that potions were completely out, at least until Newt had run a test to be sure that he wouldn’t accidentally poison his patient. Frustratingly, that excluded pain relief: Newt had done as much as he could with spells, but the broken arm must still be hurting him horribly, not to mention his hands. And Newt hated nothing more than being confronted with pain he couldn’t ease.

Furthermore, interacting with this creature was likely to require something different of Newt than he was used to providing. The humanoids and part-humans he’d worked with before had all spoken a mutual language; and while he could intuit entire lectures from his creatures’ squeaks and chitters, working with someone used to communicating verbally but hindered by a language barrier was an unusual circumstance for him. For now, anyway, the most important thing would be to get him settled in the case and ensure there had been no adverse effects from the injury. Though even that posed its challenges: how was he to know what temperature these creatures should be, when werewolves generally ran high, vampires low, and Veela fluctuated according to their mood? They were evidently strong, but had today’s performance pushed his new friend right to his limit or just been run-of-the-mill for his species? There was so much he didn’t know, so much to discover, and though he was worried for his new rescue – despite his philosophy – he couldn’t deny that he was a little excited too.

Once safely back in his accommodation, with the bedroom door repelling muggles and securely warded, he knocked on the lid of his case to announce himself before heading out to the field where his case helpfully placed new arrivals before a habitat had been assigned to them. He was greeted by a heart-warming sight: Dougal, visible, slung around the new creature’s neck and gently patting him on the back.

“Hello there! I see you’ve met Dougal,” he announced himself cheerily as he made his way over. The creature looked up, brow furrowed in confusion as he glanced between the sky and the shed as if trying to work out where Newt had come from.

“Oh yes, there are several ways in,” he explained, indicating the different entrances, “It’s a little confusing but it works for me and the family. As he approached, he noticed the creature’s eyes flicking past him as if searching for someone else, then looking up to the sky as if waiting for someone to descend. Ah. He hadn’t explained what had happened with the broomstick riders. This was going to be a challenge for his miming.

“No-one else here. Just me,” he stated succinctly, first looking around as though searching for someone then shaking his head, and secondly pointing to himself. Inspiration striking, he took up the ‘protection’ mime he’d improvised earlier, which looked a lot more effective with him standing and his friend sitting behind him.

“I protect you. You’re safe,” he explained, not knowing how to enact ‘safe’ but simply smiling and gesturing around himself in the hope that it would get the message across.

“Sonkyur. Sankyar?” his charge replied, making a very impressive attempt at the word considering he’d only heard it twice.

“Thank you,” Newt confirmed for him, enunciating clearly in response to his friend’s inquisitive glance. The creature repeated it back several times, making miniscule adjustments to the sound until he could say it with only a very slight unidentifiable foreign twang. Newt was seriously impressed.

“That’s amazing! You’re quite the linguist!” At the confused look he got in return, Newt simplified it.

“Good,” he said with a wide smile. To his surprise, the creature shook his head vigorously, pointing to himself, clearly denying that he was ‘good.’

“Oh yes you are!” he said, nodding, before realising that they could be here for quite some time, just nodding and shaking their heads at each other. He chuckled ruefully. “You’re also cold, I reckon. I don’t know anything about your sleeping habits – well I don’t know anything about you at all, really – but I think it’s best to put you inside to get some rest in the warm tonight. Come on.”

Realising that none of this had been processed, he stood and beckoned. “Come.”

Seeing his uncertain look at Dougal, Newt chuckled again. “Dougal can come too. Looks like he’s adopted you, he has a tendency to do that. Gets that from his mummy.” Yet another puzzled expression informed Newt that he would have to clamp down on his rambling instincts if he wanted to be understood. He pointed to the demiguise. “Dougal,” he explained.

“Dorgal. Duggle? Dougal.” His new friend repeated, testing the pronunciation again until he got close. Dougal lifted his head from where it was nestled against the creature’s neck and gave a serene smile.

“Thank you, Dougal,” he murmured, almost too softly for Newt to hear, but the demiguise nestled closer into him and rubbed his furry head against his collarbone in response. Newt felt the familiar and joyous warmth of seeing two creatures help each other, and his respect for his newest rescue skyrocketed. It was confirmed: this creature was part of his family now, however long he ended up staying.

He rose then, Dougal clinging to him like a limpet, Newt’s hand hovering at the small of his back in case he needed support, and together they walked across the field, down some steps onto the wooden terrace, and into the shed. He paused at the desk, looking wistfully and almost nostalgically at the pile of half-corrected papers littering it.

“You’re interested in my notes? I can read them to you later if you like. For now though, bed,” Newt instructed, guiding him through into a side room and pointing at said object.

He immediately went to sit down on the edge of it, so at least he recognised its purpose; Newt had wondered if his people preferred to sleep in outdoor hammocks or nest arrangements or something similar. However, the bed was far too short for the creature’s impossibly long legs so he lengthened it with magic, noting with pleasure that though still apparently awed by his magic, the creature was no longer afraid of it, simply watching in wide-eyed amazement as Newt worked. Water was next, and he drank thirstily, draining the glass twice before Newt left it filled on the bedside table in case he wanted more. He scrambled back into the corner of the bed when Newt bent over to check his right hand, however, glaring with a slightly betrayed look in his eyes.

“Alright, sorry, not touching the burns, I promise,” Newt assured him, “Just wanted to check the circulation to make sure the splinting spell isn’t hurting you.”

Now there was a difficult one to convey in mime: did his people even have the concept of circulation? He ended up trailing his left hand from the shoulder to fingertips of his right arm, intermittently opening his hand to convey a pumping action. Miraculously, this seemed to work and he edged forward again warily, but allowed Newt to compare the circulation in his right hand to his left, even obligingly wiggling his fingers when Newt indicated that he should do so. And if Newt managed to get in a quick visual exam of the burns too, well; his friend couldn’t blame him for looking. They were precisely as horrific as Newt’s first glance had suggested, and he was unsure how much he would be able to do for them even if his patient consented. Sensing a suspicious pair of eyes watching his every move, he reluctantly transferred his attentions to the upper arm, sliding a finger under the straps and double checking that they weren’t digging in. Satisfied that the splint was working as it should, he encouraged his friend to lie down, Dougal and all. He rescued his scarf from sling duty and replaced it with a pillow, resized to fit snugly and supportively under the broken arm. He reached for the folded blankets at the foot of the bed but froze and gasped when he saw the soles of Maglor’s feet.

“What in the name of Parcelsus have you been doing to your feet? Have you got a vendetta against shoes or something?”

Not expecting a response, he summoned some clean rags, bandages, and a bowl which he filled with warm water from his wand. The feet weren’t anywhere near as bad as the hands, but despite their callouses from long exposure they were still fairly badly scraped up and bruised, albeit less than a human’s if they had been running around barefoot over sandy and pebbly beaches, climbing cliff paths, and scrambling through forests.

“You’re a mystery, you are, you know,” he commented conversationally as he picked up the right foot and dabbed at one of the grazes, “if your people don’t normally wear shoes I’d imagine that your feet would have adapted to being without them, tougher soles and all that. But this is like you should be wearing shoes but you couldn’t be bothered. I don’t think you’ve been looking after yourself all that well all round, have you?”

He fixed his thoughtful gaze on his charge, who quite impressively did not show any signs of discomfort but simply stared back with one defiant eyebrow raised. Newt shook his head and cast Episkey multiple times over the wounded foot, then secured gauze over the more serious, lingering lacerations. He repeated the process on the left.

“Well, you won’t get away with that here,” he cautioned. “I’m going to take care of you now, and tomorrow if you show me where your people are, I’ll make sure to get you back to your friends so there’s someone you trust looking out for you. You’ll probably think I’m interfering but I’m afraid that you do rather look like you need it, my friend. I wonder how you ended up on your own in the first place, hmm? Maybe if your people agree to teach me your language, you’ll tell me one day.”

Sighing, he rose, all the numerous checks he needed to do on the mokes, lobalugs and jarveys reminding him of how long it would be before he could sleep. Not that he resented it, but it had been a rather tiring day all round, even by his standards. He tucked his charge in with the thickest and softest blankets he owned, pausing to give Dougal an affectionate scratch on the scruff of the neck. He placed a bell on the bedside table, charmed to link to one on his belt which would only ring if its partner also did. He demonstrated this, and the creature nodded along, looking at least like he understood.

“Get some rest,” he instructed kindly. He might feel more comfortable without a stranger watching him try to sleep, Newt thought, so he made to leave. Therefore, he was very surprised, as he turned to go, to hear his own name in that gorgeous, lilting voice, pronounced perfectly. He’d only offered it once and the creature had become distressed and fled straight after, so he wasn’t sure if it had registered.

“Newt,” the creature called from behind him, so he whirled round on his heel and tried to look approachable.

“Yes? What is it? Can I get you anything?”

He looked hesitant now, with a vulnerability Newt hadn’t yet seen in him. He’d been either determined and in control, absolutely despairing, or wary and calculating before. Despite Newt’s conviction that he was at least centuries old, the shy hesitancy that came over him at that moment made him look, just fleetingly, impossibly young. He reached over Dougal with his left hand and indicated himself.

“Maglor,” he whispered, and Newt’s face lit up with a brilliant smile as he realised what an effort of trust that had been.

“Maglor,” he repeated, reaching out to gently brush his wild dark hair away from his face.

“Welcome to the family, Maglor.”


Even four ages of solitude couldn’t crush the wordsmith out of the Noldor’s greatest poet.

Getting involved enough to learn the language was an extremely bad idea. Maglor knew that. Already, with the few words he had identified – Newt, Dougal, thank you, come, bed, water, protect, safe, good – he felt something long-dormant inside him shifting in its slumber. For the first time since he’d listened to Círdan recount the tale of a Fellowship of Nine, who had defied the odds and succeeded where his family had failed, he was beginning to feel interested in something outside his grief. After the fall of Sauron, and the assurance of the safety of Middle Earth, he had retreated into strictly focusing on the horror of what he had done and its consequences, nothing else. And yet, hearing a new language, his word-obsessed brain wouldn’t stop listening for patterns, searching for meaning, carefully hoarding the snippets of information he picked up. Moreover, if he was going to attempt to speak it, he was going to keep repeating it until the pronunciation was near to flawless. He couldn’t possibly do otherwise. Strange how even after coming through the wringer of war and death, he still had it in him to hate mispronunciation.

It would certainly be helpful to be able to communicate to Newt that he’d been an incredible ally, but Maglor couldn’t possibly stay with him, so he didn’t feel guilty for his linguistic endeavours on that front. However, he was highly suspicious of himself. Once he had begun to learn something, he would obsess over it until he attained mastery – it was simply the way he was. And with his burgeoning interest in Newt’s language, he sensed that he might be tempted to stay in his care for far longer than was right and proper, not because he deserved it, but just out of sheer curiosity. He couldn’t let that happen.

Nevertheless, as he lay there begrudgingly letting Newt tend his feet (he’d given up on shoes at the start of the Fifth Age: it was too difficult to get hold of the materials without Círdan, and he almost welcomed a new sort of pain that didn’t come from his hands), he knew that he had to give something in return for all the care Newt had invested in him. The trouble was, he had nothing to give. He didn’t have anything that Newt would possibly want.

It was when Newt was tucking him in that he remembered. Newt had actually asked something of him, the first time they’d met, which Maglor hadn’t given. He’d chosen to run away and deny the request instead. Now, after everything, it was the least he could do to grant it. He didn’t quite pluck up the courage until Newt was almost out of the room though; the man changed course immediately when called, attentive to a fault. Maglor hesitated a little, though he wasn’t backing out now: it felt as if he were about to commit to something, but he wasn’t quite sure what.

 “Maglor,” he managed, tapping his own chest, hoping and simultaneously not hoping that his story was remembered in myth, and that realising who he was, Newt would do the only sensible thing and cast him out. Newt’s reaction immediately dispelled that – fear? hope? – though: he tenderly reached down to caress Maglor’s hair and pronounced a sort of greeting as he did so. He seemed delighted, and even though he’d never have taken such a step under normal circumstances, Maglor was glad that something he did brought the man joy.

He probably didn’t need to worry about all that, given that this was presumably a hallucination anyway. Perhaps if he took his reverie in the hallucination, he’d wake up in reality, he theorised as he drifted off, Dougal’s warm body pressing down soothingly on his torso. It was kind of the Valar really, to give him this type of madness, where he fantasised about the things he couldn’t have, rather than relived his trauma. This way, when he woke up back on his empty, lonely beach, he would know that once, even if it was just once and only in hallucination, he’d been allowed to imagine that someone cared.

Chapter Text

It was getting a palmful of lobalug venom, after reacting a fraction too slowly to the creature’s warning signs, which suggested to Newt that perhaps he should have listened to his inner voice telling him that he wasn’t superhuman and should really, really call it a day and go to bed. (That voice always sounded an awful lot like Tina, which tended to please her immensely.) But he simply had to check that there was no scale rot starting out on the mokes, it was so much easier to treat if caught early, and by painstakingly applying the antifungal potion to the small spots he’d discovered on two of their tails, he knew he’d saved them a lot of suffering. And really, wasn’t that more important than sleep? And then, well, no time like the present to get some venom samples from the lobalugs to analyse for diseases; they were likely to be riddled with them given the stagnant water they’d been kept in. He should have learnt by now that when he was tired, he made mistakes, but he’d never quite broken the habit of pushing himself past his limits and he didn’t think he ever would. Nevertheless, bone-tired, gulping down some disgusting antivenom and with his stinging injured hand plunged into a bowl of murtlap essence, even he could accept that perhaps sampling the rest of the lobalugs and flea-combing the jarveys could wait until morning.

And then, of course, there was Maglor. Maglor. Despite everything, Newt grinned to himself with the sheer wonder of being entrusted with his name. He suspected he’d made a faux pas on their first encounter: maybe names were not revealed easily in his culture, and Newt had needed to prove himself worthy of that knowledge. Or there could have been a completely different reason. There was a peculiar exhilaration that came with researching a new species: treading uncharted waters, hypotheses changing like the tides as new information surfaced, starting with tiny unconnected facts which soon began to fit together in a beautiful mosaic of knowledge. Newt couldn’t wait to discover the full, glorious picture of these- whatever the heck they were.

Sighing, he stood and slathered his hand in a salve, bandaging it carefully and hoping that it sorted itself out by morning; working with creatures one-handed was such a bother. One last check to make sure Maglor was sleeping soundly, then he could catch a few hours’ kip before the morning feed and everything started all over again. He slipped into the side room and froze on the threshold, a gasp of pure horror escaping his lips.

Maglor was so still. He didn’t even look like he was breathing. His eyes were open, glassy, staring unseeing at the ceiling. Somehow, Newt had managed to kill him: there was something toxic to him in the case and he’d breathed in the fumes, he’d reacted badly to the healing magic, Newt had missed an injury, he’d chilled or overheated. However it had happened, Newt had killed him.

“No!” he moaned brokenly, rushing across the room only to leap back in fright when the corpse abruptly startled upright, dislodging Dougal, and stared at him with panicked eyes. Seeing Newt’s fear dismayed him, and he curled in on himself, looking absolutely crushed. There was silence for a few seconds save Dougal’s indignant chattering, directed at them both. It took a few moments for Newt’s fatigued brain to process what had happened, but once he managed it, he slapped his uninjured palm to his forehead and groaned,

“I’m an idiot. I am an absolute blithering idiot. Call myself a magizoologist, honestly. Maglor? Maglor, I’m so sorry for waking you. I didn’t realise you slept with your eyes open, that’s all. Sorry if I gave you a fright.”

He perched himself on the side of the bed and reached out a hand to the curled-up ball of Maglor, causing him to flinch, peek out nervously, then lift his head fully, brow furrowed in confusion when he saw Newt’s apologetic and no longer fearful expression.

“There we are, that’s it, nothing to worry about, it was my fault. It’s not that uncommon to sleep with eyes open, kelpies, doxies and runespoors all do it, so I should have known that was all it was. I just wasn’t thinking straight because I’m tired and you look very much like a human, you see, so I assumed the worst.”

Dougal gave him a playful shove and he laughed, in relief as much as anything else. “Yes, Dougal, Mummy’s silly sometimes, I know.”

Just then Maglor’s expression cleared as he too worked out what had happened. He pointed to his eyes with his left hand and blinked slowly and deliberately, a small smile playing around his lips.

“Eyes,” Newt agreed, pointing to his, then demonstrating “closed,” and “open” as his charge echoed the words after him. As much as he wished he hadn’t startled Maglor, he saw a way to use this discussion to find out what he should be calling his species.

“Newt, sleeps eyes closed,” he began, illustrating with actions. “Newt is a human. Maglor, sleeps eyes open. Maglor is a…?”

Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea, he realised, as Maglor looked away with sudden anguish clouding his features. He steeled himself quickly though, and looked back at Newt solemnly, indicating himself.

“Maglor issa Elda.”

“Elda,” Newt breathed. It seemed so right, so descriptive of the ancient wisdom with which Maglor practically resonated. He had to stop himself grinning like a lunatic. The world’s only known Elda was currently residing in his suitcase, and he was being given the privilege to learn about them.

But all your questions can wait until tomorrow, his conscience/Tina insisted in his head. The guy is injured and you just scared him out of his mind. Let him get some sleep, for Merlin’s sake.

“Thank you,” Newt told him seriously, itching to know why Maglor shook his head with such a mournful expression when he said that, but reining in his questions. “Sorry I startled you. Are you alright? Your arm?”

Maglor wiggled the fingers of his right hand in response and nodded, with a sad sort of smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

“Alright, good. Now back to sleep, I think. For both of us.”

Catching his gist, Maglor settled back down and Dougal snuggled back into his chosen cuddling spot, nudging the tangled hair away before he did so. Newt smiled softly at the two of them and whispered “sleep well” before heading back out of the case and into his guest room.

Barely pausing to kick off his shoes and slip out of his waistcoat, he collapsed onto the bed face first and fell asleep before his head hit the pillow.


Notwithstanding the rude awakening and the brief moment of crushing despair before Maglor deduced that Newt’s fear related to the strange appearance of elven sleep, and not him specifically, the reverie he found that night was the longest and most peaceful he’d had in several ages. Perhaps it was just because the stress of the day had exhausted him, but his dreams simply took him on a gentle meander through the wild country around Maglor’s Gap that he used to love so much, rather than their usual dark paths. Sunlight was streaming through the window when he came around, blinking with the strangeness of waking up inside in a bed rather than on the sand in the lee of a boulder. If this was indeed a hallucination, it was a remarkably persistent one; although he had to admit that though the alternative was even more ridiculous, he might have been mistaken about that.

There was a sling of soft cloth folded for him on the bedside table, and he resigned himself to wearing it, suspecting it would be put on for him if he didn’t, even though there was only a dull ache remaining from the injury. Dougal was no longer there, and he was surprised by how much he already missed the creature’s companionship. That was a dangerous sign. He resolved that he would thank Newt and get out from under his feet that very day before he could do anything stupid like get attached. Determined, he pushed the blankets off, pleased to note that his usual indifference to temperature had returned, and set off in search of Newt.

He found him at the table on the terrace, which was groaning with a huge selection of different foodstuffs and some things that didn’t look edible at all. Newt jumped when he looked up and saw him- ah, it had been so long since he’d had to think about deliberately making noise as he moved so as not to inadvertently creep up on humans- but after a moment of surprise he greeted Maglor by name with a bright smile. Momentarily taken aback by the sheer miracle of someone actually being happy to see him, he quickly gathered himself and returned the greeting.

“Food,” Newt explained, indicating the laden table, and there was absolutely no need for Maglor to carefully file away that word but he did. Newt then beckoned Maglor over, made a sweeping gesture across the whole thing then gave a little embarrassed shrug, saying something slightly apologetic-sounding. Maglor frowned in confusion. There was enough for the High King’s table there, surely it couldn’t all be for him; admittedly he did appear somewhat wraithlike but even if Newt was trying to feed him up, he must realise that he couldn’t possibly eat all of that at once. Moreover, some of it was positively revolting: there was even a bowl of little wriggling grubs that were still alive, plates of bloody raw meat and a dish of fish scales amongst the more conventional bread, fruit and cooked fish and meat.

“Choose,” Newt instructed, picking up two dishes and glancing between them as if comparing them. He apologised and shrugged again, and finally Maglor worked it out. After the confusion last night, Newt was making no assumptions about his nature, so he’d laid out an extensive selection for Maglor to pick from. Thanking Newt and trying not to be offended by the implication that he might eat grubs, Maglor picked up some bread and cheese, feeling positively decadent: he’d been living off roots, edible seaweed and the occasional fish, mostly, so this was a rare indulgence. Newt sat opposite him in companionable silence as he ate, scribbling in a little notebook. He gestured to the table again once he’d finished, inviting him to take more, but Maglor shook his head. He’d already practically feasted. Newt frowned and cajoled him a little, but he stubbornly refused. The sooner he could get out of this, the better.

Finally accepting his refusal to eat any more, Newt slid a hand under his elbow and led him inside to the desk, then unrolled a piece of parchment in front of him and secured it with a paperweight. Maglor couldn’t hold back a gasp. Right in the centre of the parchment, there was a figure which was unmistakeably him: but not how he imagined himself. In his imagination, he was grey. A hair away from fading, gaunt and full of sharp angles, marred by the disfigurement of his hands. In the drawing, hints of colour transformed him: bluish tints in his hair that gave the neglected black mass character, a silvery sheen to his skin that made him look spritely rather than barely-there, even the muted browns of his roughly-made tunic and leggings appearing natural rather than drab. The hands were certainly his, curved in on themselves, but they didn’t draw the eye like he imagined they must. The drawing made him look wild and alive in a way he never thought to see himself again.

“Maglor,” Newt explained, rather unnecessarily, indicating the image. Then he pointed to the other reason the parchment had taken Maglor’s breath away: the multiple line drawings, figures with distinctly pointed ears, which surrounded the rendering of Maglor, not quite as detailed but still clearly recognisable as the kin he had forsaken. Newt was showing him a vision of himself, fierce and strong-willed and back with his people, and Maglor wondered that his host couldn’t hear his heart stuttering in his chest at the impossible sight.

“Eldas,” Newt continued, indicating the anonymous elves that he’d drawn surrounding Maglor.

And because pedantry springs eternal in the poet’s breast, apparently, Maglor automatically corrected,

“Eldar.”

“Eldar,” Newt conceded, smiling, dipping his head graciously in acknowledgement. Then he flipped open a book from a pile on the desk to a map of a country; studying the coastline, Maglor realised that it matched with his mental image of the beaches he’d been wandering. Newt gestured over the map.

“Eldar, where?” he asked.

Suddenly, Newt’s intentions resolved into crystal clarity and Maglor had to stifle a sob. Newt was trying to do right by the strange wanderer he’d rescued. Trying to take him home.

And Maglor had to find a way to tell him it was impossible.

He shook his head, biting back the tears and fighting to stay composed. He suspected that an emotional breakdown was not going to give Newt the impression that he could cope on his own. Of course the ridiculous human noticed, though, and rubbed his arm in consolation, murmuring reassurance. He flipped to another page in the book of maps, showing a different-shaped land mass. It didn’t match any of Maglor’s impressions of the larger view of Middle Earth, but then there had been a huge earthquake just after the last elves sailed, so perhaps the world changed shape when the Straight Road and the last path to Valinor were lost forever. Maglor shook his head again and tapped the table just outside the book, trying to convey that his people were off the map forever. Newt pursed his lips at this, thinking, then found another map, showing what looked like very large islands in the sea. He pointed out a small promontory on one of them, saying, “Newt and Maglor. Here.” Leaning in, he could identify the coastline he knew and nodded, realising that this map was from a very different perspective and marvelling that apparently this was what the world looked like now.

“Where are the Eldar?” Newt asked again, and Maglor ached with the frustration of not being able to explain that his people’s home was closed to him forever. A quill caught his eye, and inspiration seized him so he took it up. Excited by his initiative, Newt opened an inkpot for him, and Maglor steeled himself to do what was necessary.

Part of him protested the destruction of Newt’s beautiful artwork (in another age, I would have shown that to Celebrimbor, he mused, he would have liked it). But it was the only way he could think of to communicate his forsakenness and the impossibility of Newt ever carrying out his well-meaning intentions. The picture was a glorious dream, anyway, him standing amongst his kin again. Hopeful dreams like that couldn’t last.

Clamping firmly down on the threatening tears, he carefully crossed out every anonymous elf in the image with a thick black line, leaving the drawing of himself just like the real thing: completely and utterly alone.


“Oh. Oh. Oh no.”

As those awful black lines moved inexorably through his sketches, understanding slowly crept into Newt’s mind, and the truth was so terrible that he almost wished it hadn’t.

“You’re…you’re the last one, aren’t you?”

It explained everything. Why he was living alone on a beach, why no-one had heard of the species before, the general air of neglect, that excruciating sadness in his eyes, the burned hands and the abject misery that came over him when Newt had mentioned his people.

There had been some terrible incident with an immensely powerful magical object, that much was clear. It seemed that it had killed all the Eldar and injured Maglor, who was the lone survivor of his race and had been hiding ever since. Newt felt tears spring to his own eyes as Maglor laid aside the quill and thrust the parchment towards him with a shaking hand.

“I am so, so sorry,” he breathed, devastated for the Eldar, devastated for Maglor, devastated for the world that was deprived of the presence of this beautiful community, probably just because some rogue Dark wizard had abandoned a cursed object uncaring what it would unleash. “Oh, Maglor, I’m sorry that happened to your people.” He reached out to comfort him but he flinched away, the tears he had been valiantly fighting back spilling over at the touch.

“It’s alright to cry,” he reassured him, assuming that his jumpiness was due to embarrassment. “Perhaps you should sit down, look, here.” He pulled over a crate and guided him down to sit on it, attempting to leave a consoling hand on his shoulder but being quickly shrugged off. He understood what it was like to be so upset that even comforting touches felt invasive and wrong, so he didn’t persist, simply handed Maglor a handkerchief, grabbed one for himself, sat down beside him and let his own tears flow freely, crying right there with him for the tragedy of the Eldar.

Maglor exclaimed in surprise, making him look up and scan the room, smiling through his tears when he saw what had caused it. Two glossy-skinned red apples were floating across the room towards them.

“That’s a very kind thought, Dougal. I think Maglor would appreciate seeing you, though.”

Predictably, Maglor nearly jumped out of his skin when Dougal materialised- not much chance of seeing a demiguise in Norway, and Dougal hadn’t been invisible in front of him yet- but at least it was a distraction from his sorrows.

“Dougal’s trying to make us feel better,” Newt explained, plucking an apple from one of his extended hands. “Apples are his favourite food, you see, so he always brings me one when I’m upset.”

Newt was unsure how much of this Maglor understood, but at any rate he followed Newt’s lead and thanked Dougal quietly in English as he took the other apple and bit into it. Dougal scrambled up into his lap, heedless of Maglor’s attempts to divert him, and settled himself contentedly against his chest. Giving up, Maglor sighed and let him nestle there. They both calmed significantly as they munched on the apples, and Dougal looked decidedly pleased with himself.

“Well, that’s one thing settled, at least,” Newt announced decisively at last, earning himself a curious look.

“You’re staying here so we can look after you. It won’t do to have you on your own again.” He bit his lip, trying to work out how to communicate this, and eventually managed to convey the idea of ‘here’ by pointing emphatically at the ground then gesturing to their surroundings. Rather than the relief he was expecting, though, this just made Maglor more distressed, and he shook his head emphatically.

“Maglor,” he shook his head, “here.” “Maglor,” he shook his head again, “goot.”

“Maglor is very good,” Newt countered, old adaptive speech patterns from his days working with house-elves re-asserting themselves. But how to convince his charge of his own goodness? Newt was beginning to suspect that he was suffering from some sort of survivors’ guilt from the incident that killed his people, and mistakenly believed he didn’t deserve to be cared for. He returned to the image he’d drawn earlier, pointing to the solitary figure amid the forest of black lines.

“Alone,” he said, the already-familiar soft voice echoing the word after him. Maglor nodded sagely.

“Maglor is alone. Isa goot,” he said, and Newt barely had the chance to marvel at the linguistic dexterity of this mind already creating sentences in a language he’d first heard less than twenty-four hours ago, too busy being saddened by how horribly inaccurate that statement was, and what it said about Maglor’s mental state.

“Alone is not good,” Newt argued fervently, shaking his head. “Alone is bad.” He thought about how he felt when he looked into Maglor’s eyes, the impression of ages upon ages of sorrows layered there.

“I think you’ve been alone for far too long,” he said softly. “Too much alone,” he clarified when Maglor’s brow creased in confusion at that, spreading his hands wide to give an impression of quantity.

“Not! Maglor is not goot! Maglor not here!” he cried, clearly upset by the idea of remaining in the suitcase. It was tricky situation; usually with something as close to human as Maglor Newt would respect their capacity to decide whether they wanted his help or not, but he could tell that Maglor’s reluctance seemed to stem from a fundamental misjudgement of his own worth rather than a rational choice. And he knew that it would be an utter tragedy if he had to leave the last of the Eldar as he had found him: a lonely wraith on a beach singing beautiful laments heard only by the waves and the wind.

“Alright, alright,” he soothed, deciding not to gesture for a moment in favour of calming Maglor with his voice. Maglor flinched away as Newt crouched in front of him and reached up to cradle his face with one hand, but Newt left his hand there and as if drawn by magnetism, Maglor leant back into the touch and a shiver visibly ran through his body. Well, yes. Centuries of solitude probably would leave one rather touch-starved. Maglor’s eyes widened in panic at his own reaction but Newt intervened before he could get worked up about it.

“Hush, now, it’s quite alright,” he whispered, moving his thumb in tiny circles on Maglor’s hollow cheek, noting that he went still as a statue as he did so. “Here you are, just relax, we’ll work all this out. We’ll work out why you’re being so terribly hard on yourself and why you think you should be alone. I don’t think anyone deserves to be alone, you see. And that includes you. Especially with how much you’re obviously hurting. There’s a great big family here waiting for you, and I think you’d fit in splendidly. Dougal already loves you, and he’s a fantastic judge of character. You could belong here, if you want to.  Maybe you just need some time to see that, hmmm?”

Maglor had relaxed into his touch, still trembling a little, but Newt had even more trouble than usual holding his gaze. There was something in it that was so desolate, so lost, that it terrified Newt even whilst making him determined to help this wanderer find his way again. Maglor echoed his ‘hmmm’ noise, making it sound confused, begging Newt with his eyes just to say something that made sense. Newt suspected he still wouldn’t be able to accept a simple ‘stay in the suitcase’, though, so he came up with a plan.

“Alright, then, here’s what we’ll do,” he declared assertively.

“Your arm,” he began, pointing to the limb, “it’s hurt,” he winced. “Stay here until it’s better,” he suggested, pretending to hold his arm in a sling and then gradually regain the movement in it. He’d have an alternative career in mime after a few more days with Maglor, he thought wryly. Maglor, stubborn rogue that he was already proving himself, pointed to his arm and moved to start unbuckling the straps on the splints.

“Itsabetta,” he announced. Newt intercepted his hand and gently moved it back to rest on Dougal.

“No,” he chided. “Not better. Three days.” He showed the number on his fingers and then made the sun (his right hand) rise and set above the horizon (his left forearm) to illustrate ‘day.’ Maglor regarded him suspiciously.

“Sree dayes,” he repeated, unsure.

“Three days,” Newt confirmed. “Stay three days, then choose.”

Maglor’s eyes widened, clearly recognising the word from earlier. “Coose,” he echoed, frowning as he struggled to replicate the ‘ch’ sound. “Maglor c-choose?” he sought confirmation.

“Yes, three days, then I’ll let you choose. Stay or go.” Newt affirmed, knowing that that was going to be a hard promise to keep if he did choose to go, but also knowing that he might have to accept that this was one wild soul who needed to be free. That happened, sometimes, and one of the hardest parts of Newt’s profession was knowing when to let go. He was hoping, however, that three days with his suitcase family would remind Maglor of what he was missing and help prove to him that he deserved all the care they lavished on him. At the very least, he could coax him into eating a few good meals before he went.

Maglor considered this for a few excruciating moments, then with a deep frown of contemplation he inclined his head.

“Yes. Maglor setay sr-three dayes. Maglor go.”

He was certainly stubborn, Newt had to give him that. It sounded like he’d already decided that for whatever reason, he had to return to his solitary life, but Newt was determined to prove him wrong.

Three days to show someone as much love and care as he and the suitcase family could possibly give?

That was Newt Scamander’s kind of challenge.

Chapter Text

This was about tactics.

That was the only way he could justify this to himself.

A tactical compromise, yes, that was what it was. Maglor had made many of those in his time. He established quickly that he was at a very unfair disadvantage, since he was arguing in a language he barely spoke, plus he could already tell that Newt had reserves of both stubbornness and impulsivity worthy of a Fëanorion. Reasoning that he hadn’t been given much of a choice in the matter, he reluctantly delayed his planned departure and gave in, with the dubious consolation that taking an offer of three days’ respite from self-sufficiency was certainly not the worst thing he’d ever done.

He could use the improbable situation to his advantage. It was getting harder and harder to avoid humans, and would probably continue to do so. If he at least spoke a few words of this language, he could work out how to warn them away when they got too close. Not to mention, Newt could teach him about these new powers humans possessed and, more importantly, how to avoid them. It was really just a strategy to enable him to extend his endless penitential pilgrimage for centuries to come. He wasn’t supposed to be enjoying it.

Newt, however, was making that last condition rather difficult.

As soon as he’d agreed to the arrangement, Newt sprang to his feet and led Maglor out on a tour of his glorious and bizarre personal world. Before he knew it, Maglor was being introduced to all of the strange creatures that had been making those mysterious noises last night.

Hence, his introductory English vocabulary was rather unusual: occamy, bowtruckle, moke, lobalug, jarvey, demiguise and thestral being among his first words in the language. They would be next to useless in informing other humans to stay away from him, but he couldn’t very well police which words he remembered. His inner scholar had been well and truly woken up by the masses of new information surrounding him, and he hoarded the knowledge away on instinct before he even realized he was doing it.

The first few creatures he met reacted to him more predictably than Dougal had, shying away nervously or becoming defensive as he approached. But all it took was a few words from Newt, chiding or calming, and they would lose all that good sense and come over to investigate him. Dougal’s presence seemed to help with that: he accompanied them on the tour, loping along easily at Maglor’s side like a familiar. Ironic, really, given how many times Maglor had complained about Celegorm’s faithful sidekick Huan, albeit often in jest. His brother would probably find it hilarious if he knew, and Maglor found himself almost smiling at that thought. Almost.

And the creatures…First Age Middle Earth had seen some strange things, but the inhabitants of Newt’s case could certainly rival them.

The occamy, with its mesmerising shimmering scales and air of clear contentedness, lazily curled up in the hollowed-out bole of a tree, as if the Valar had reclaimed the twisted nature of Morgoth’s dragons and remade them, without any warped anger and destructive impulses.

The mokes, lobalugs and jarveys, which he recognised from his brief imprisonment the previous night, and only made him wonder more about exactly what his mysterious protector did, as he realised that he wasn’t the only creature Newt had rescued last night.

The bowtruckle, which drew a laugh from Maglor for the first time in four entire ages. There is simply no other way to respond when, excited and stunned at the revelation that not all the trees have gone silent, one attempts to address a baby Ent in an adapted form of Entish and it interrupts with a rude noise, twiggy arms on its hips. Newt’s voice took on a scolding tone after that, and the bowtruckle responded with an affronted medley of squeaks and chitters, gesticulating wildly with its leaves. Newt settled the argument with a firm and decisive final point, and the bowtruckle poked him in the ear before scurrying to hide itself in Newt’s waistcoat pocket. Maglor laughed in surprise as much as anything; note to self for future reference: in these times, just because it’s a living tree person, that doesn’t mean it’s an Ent. The Ents Maglor had known would have considered Pickett the bowtruckle far too hasty.

And then there was the thestral. Had he seen it in another time, he might have assumed it to be one of Morgoth’s twisted creations due to its appearance, but experience had taught him that fair-seeming things were not always necessarily so. Unlike the other creatures, the thestral did not retreat from him. It simply stood there, regarding him quietly from where it grazed across the field. One of its wings was encased in a splint like his own; the similarity prompted a strange sort of fellow feeling. Monstrous in their different ways, they were both injured beings whom Newt had brought to his sanctuary to be healed. It trotted over to them when Newt clicked his tongue softly, but bizarrely enough it ignored its caregiver entirely and bent its proud head before Maglor instead. Instinctively, he reached out to stroke the chilled smoothness of its skull-like face, surprised to find that the contact didn’t cause the pain in his hand to flare up as badly it usually did. The thestral whickered softly and pressed its head into his hand, and Maglor was so entranced by its haunting, stripped-back kind of elegance that he barely noticed Newt working over the injured wing, and the thestral too seemed oblivious to it. The more he looked at it, the more he thought it beautiful in its own way. The thestral’s beauty was a beauty of scarcity and exposure, as if something had eroded all its protective layers and left it raw, its power and vulnerability both on display in the harsh yet striking lines of its body.

Perhaps there was more than one reason that Maglor felt such an affinity with this creature.

 The moment ended when Newt finished whatever he’d been doing to the wing and returned to Maglor’s side. The thestral pulled back, nodded gravely to Maglor, nuzzled gently into Newt’s hair and then trotted away.

“Thank you,” Newt said to Maglor with a pleased little grin, then beckoned him off to the next habitat before he’d quite had chance to process the flood of warmth that came from the realisation that he’d finally managed to do something for Newt that was actually helpful. Dougal nudged his leg to get him going again, and he shook himself free of his shock and followed Newt through the thestral’s paddock and into a sun-dappled glade.

He looked around curiously, but there was no sign of the inhabitant anywhere. Newt produced a vial of rich amber liquid from the basket he was carrying and proceeded to fill some camouflaged feeders which were hidden amongst the greenery. Retreating, he ushered Maglor over to a fallen log and they both sat down. Then, Newt closed his eyes and trilled.

Throughout the tour of the case, Maglor had been fascinated by the things that Newt could do with his voice. Bellowing summoning calls, soft calming chitters, conversational little squeaks mixed in with his words – he had evidently made a study of the way these creatures communicated and attempted to imitate them, not unlike Maglor’s early attempts to use the sounds of natural fauna to inspire his music. And that delicate trilling call he just made: there was a bird in Valinor that sounded very similar, and sitting in a forest and hearing that sound, Maglor’s vocal cords were in action before he had chance to think it through. He echoed the birdcall.

And the sound of an unfamiliar caller had probably scared whatever bird they were waiting for off, he really should have stopped to consider, he’d just got too comfortable and made a mistake: but Newt was looking at him with an astonished and delighted smile, motioning with his hand and repeating a word that sounded like again. Watching for Newt’s reaction to check he hadn’t misinterpreted, he made the call a second time, and Newt’s expression confirmed that he wanted exactly that, so he continued. A faint whirring caught his attention and soon little golden balls of feathers were whizzing around, answering his calls in between sipping from the feeders. They were golden snidgets, Newt explained, and then a slightly frightening expression of mischief stole over his features and he had Maglor extend his left arm, palm down, then scattered some tiny seed over his forearm. Maglor raised his eyebrows incredulously. The snidgets seemed to be tolerating his presence, probably due to his vocal talents, but to assume that they’d dare to come near to him seemed a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, he resumed his calls when prompted, listening carefully to the tiny variations in the snidgets’ vocalisations and adjusting his own accordingly. In response, the tiny golden blurs ventured nearer and nearer to him as they zipped across the clearing, until at last one of them hovered in front of his face, its head cocked inquisitively as it sounded him out. He chirped at it very quietly, it trilled back, and then, deeming him safe, it snatched up a seed from his arm and zoomed across the clearing. Soon the others were following its lead, and Maglor did his best to hold still against the ticklish sensations of the snidgets’ feathers as they brushed his arm. The seed disappeared very quickly, and most of the birds left as soon as it did, a few of them circling him before they went. The last one, however, settled herself on his wrist, cheeping contentedly as he echoed her. He glanced over to Newt, who was beaming like the cat who’d got all the cream, and Dougal, who was lazing in a patch of sunlight, looking extremely satisfied.

And a little astonished at himself, he couldn’t help smiling back.


Newt never tired of watching people he cared about discover his case, despite the thrill of nerves that always accompanied it. It was an act of trust for him, like he was baring his soul, and even now, despite many successes, there was always a tiny part of him that prepared itself for rejection. He had no idea how much contact Maglor’s people had had with magical creatures, or what their beliefs about them were, and he was unsure whether his newest rescue would be amazed, terrified or angered by his new environs. But Maglor surprised him yet again: he needn’t have worried at all.

Maglor had been nervous, initially, holding back from the creatures as if unsure of his right to be there, and sensing his unease they in turn, were skittish before Newt calmed them. Katarina the thestral, though, had bucked this trend entirely, gazing at Maglor as if in a profound sort of understanding. It was unsurprising that Maglor could see her, given Newt’s theory about the catastrophe that had befallen his people, but still it made him ache to see such a clear demonstration of his grief. Katarina was intrigued by Maglor, to the point of barely twitching while Newt checked over her splinted wing: she’d tried to shrug him off irritably on previous checks, and Newt was pleasantly surprised by how easy having a distracted thestral made the task.

He could make neither head nor tail of Maglor’s interaction with Pickett, however. He’d seemed delighted to see the bowtruckle and addressed him with some undulating groans which had provoked Pickett into an outraged rant. From what he could glean from the irritated chittering, Pickett had taken offence at being mistaken for a ‘boring old senile piece of deadwood.’ Whether or not he had understood this, it made Maglor laugh, and even the few seconds of that sound like clear chiming bells made Newt determined to make sure that he heard it again. He’d taken Pickett to task for rudeness, of course, even whilst reassuring him that just because Maglor was human-sized and human-shaped, he could never replace Pickett in Newt’s affections. Decades of regarding Newt as his home tree hadn’t so much resolved Pickett’s attachment issues as transformed him into the world’s biggest twig-sized drama queen.

Newt had to admit it: he was just a tiny bit jealous of Maglor’s snidget calls. Years of research and carefully training his voice to echo them, and in a few minutes Maglor had surpassed his best efforts, adjusting his vocalisations until they were indistinguishable from the real ones. Attempting to get them to eat off his forearms was a long shot – it had taken Newt months with these particular birds to develop enough trust for that, but the accuracy of Maglor’s mimicry had evidently convinced them that he was safe, and any slight jealousy Newt felt was dwarfed by full-blown admiration when one of them chose to stay resting on his wrist rather than taking off once the food incentive was gone. One morning in the case and Maglor had connected with the both solemn thestral and the energetic snidgets, and Newt could already see that he belonged. He just hoped that Maglor could see that too.

He still had work to do with his other rescues from the previous night, so once the last snidget finally gave Maglor an affectionate nip with its beak then flew away, Newt left the Elda on the terrace outside the hut, with a full table of food, water, and some awkward gesturing to indicate that he could make himself at home. Happy that Maglor was settled, he spent the next hour cursing like a sailor in order to earn enough respect from the jarveys to be allowed to comb their fur and check them over. (Tina had found this process hilarious the first time she witnessed it: apparently she didn’t think Newt had it in him to utter anything stronger than his habitual ‘bugger’, let alone contend with a jarvey’s love of profanity. He still wasn’t sure whether he was flattered or offended by that.) He continued by extracting and testing the rest of the necessary samples from the lobalugs, then setting a potion to brew to treat their incipient sac-blight. With the correct treatment, they would all be ready to be released in a few days’ time: Newt just hoped that they would be the only creatures he’d be letting go.

He returned to the terrace and grinned at the sight that greeted him. Maglor was sitting on one of the benches, his regal features bearing an incredibly put-upon expression. The cause of this was perched on his shoulders, working clever fingers through the tangled mass of his hair, and chattering non-stop in what Newt recognised as a lecture on proper care of one’s fur; it had been directed at him enough times to know it well.

“You’ve got your work cut out there, Dougal,” he remarked as he made his way over to the unlikely pair, and judging by Maglor’s scowl, he had inferred Newt’s meaning.

“Though I’m one to talk, I know” he added with a rueful smile and a gesture towards his own unruly mop, even more ruffled than usual from chasing a particularly mischievous jarvey. The tone of Dougal’s complaints changed as he directed his stream of chatter at Newt, indicating the tangles in the impressive black waves with a few whines of frustration.

“You’re doing a sterling job there, but I reckon a comb might help,” Newt concluded, then went to dig one out that he was pretty sure had only been used for human hair, but spelled it clean anyway, just in case. Maglor snatched up the comb as soon as he saw it with a murmured thanks, waited for Dougal to jump down onto his lap, then started dragging it through the tangled locks, gripping it in his left hand in a manner that looked anything but comfortable.

“Here, let me,” Newt murmured, instinctively going to help. He plucked the comb from the gnarled fingers and took over but stopped on seeing that every single muscle in Maglor’s body seemed to clench the moment Newt touched his hair.

“Alright?” he asked, leaning round so he could see Maglor’s face. He looked as if he’d just seen a ghost.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you”

Maglor simply stared for a moment, blinked, shook his head as if to clear it and then blew out a long exhale.

“Olarort,” he attempted, screwing his face up in distaste as he realised he’d mispronounced it.

“Alright,” Newt corrected him gently, still a little concerned about what just happened.

“Ala-right,” Maglor said carefully, then gestured to his hair again. “Alright.”

Taking that as permission, Newt resumed where he’d left off, noticing immediately that as well as being tangled, the hair was full of crusted sea salt and the odd pine needle.

“I bet you’ll feel heaps better for having it washed,” he decided, patting Maglor’s shoulder in a signal to stay put while he headed off to grab what he needed, pondering what could be so significant about a simple touch to the hair.


He doesn’t know what it means. He doesn’t know what it means. He doesn’t know what it means.

Maglor repeated it over and over again like a mantra, clinging to it desperately, since it seemed to be the only way that he could deal with the feeling of Newt’s hands in his hair without either taking off and hiding or breaking down into sobs.

It had been amusing when ‘little Círdan’ had taken it upon himself to see to Maglor’s grooming, clearly following his instincts to deal with his friend’s matted hair. However, once Newt got involved, he had unwittingly crossed an unspoken line and Maglor didn’t know how to convince his emotions that it meant nothing.

Hair, for the Eldar, was highly symbolic. Entire stories could be written in the intricate weaving of elven tresses, and the neglected state of Maglor’s proclaimed his state of exile and penance as effectively as if he had worn it on a sign around his neck. One did not simply casually touch another elf’s hair: to do so, you had to be either close family, a lover, or a friend trusted enough to be called a brother-of-the-heart. To take care of another’s hair was to cement that trust and love, to declare a bond at the level of the fëa. But this time, of course, it could not mean anything, since Newt was blithely unaware of just how many elven conventions he was barrelling through with what he was doing. The relationship here, if anything, was that of a keeper tending to a stray he’d rescued, nothing more. Yet the dissonance between knowing this and what Maglor’s instincts were telling him was extremely disconcerting, and he still didn’t know whether he wanted to disappear from the situation entirely or beg Newt never to stop.

He’d told Newt to go ahead because he thought he could handle it, and because he had no idea how to explain why such an interaction simply couldn’t happen. The man would have probably concluded he was hiding a head wound or something and insisted on checking anyway. Besides, he didn’t really have much hope of taming it with his right arm still splinted, and it was irritating him that he hadn’t had the chance to wash out the sea salt in some freshwater after his attempted rescue mission yesterday.

The only problem was getting the outrageous little part of him that wished Newt really was declaring himself a brother-of-the-heart to shut up. And then throw itself into the Void, preferably. That part of him was not helping. One bit.

The feeling of Newt’s hands oh-so-gently teasing out the snarls, working warm water through his hair and combing out the debris, resurrected an entire landslide of memories that brought a different kind of pain than those of violence and death he’d spent centuries obsessing over. So many memories of his brothers, before battles and council meetings, training sessions and embassies, their hands working each other’s hair, braiding their bond stronger with each challenge they faced together. His current one-handed state brought back one memory particularly vividly.

Maedhros never cried when it might have been expected. He recovered from Thangorodrim in his own unique way. He gasped, cursed and yelled his way through the painful healing of his wrenched shoulder, sat there shaking with a terrible expression on his face after nightmares and flashbacks, curled up and went silent for days after finding that his brothers never once mounted a rescue mission, and then suddenly started commanding them again like he’d never been away.

But that wasn’t to say he never cried. It was the little things that really moved him to sob out his grief. The day when that burnished copper hair they had shorn out of necessity finally grew back long enough to braid, Maglor put in the warrior braids for him, taking his time over the short lengths, wanting to linger in this moment of triumph as long as possible. He impulsively added a new pattern to the edge of the braid and saw Maedhros raise his eyebrows in the mirror.

“Victor of a hard battle?” he asked sceptically. “Hardly appropriate, don’t you think?”

“You are,” Maglor asserted quietly. “The battle began after you were captured. And you won.”

“I won? How did you reach that conclusion?”

“You’re here, I’m braiding your hair and you’re arguing with me. That’s victory to me.”

“You have some strange definitions for a someone who’s supposed to be so good with words.”

“’Supposed to be!’ I’m offended, brother. I am good with words and I don’t get definitions wrong. So wear those victory braids with pride and if anyone dares contradict your right to them, we will be having…words.”

“Do you also have a flexible definition of ‘words’, o minstrel mine?"

Maglor smiled devilishly as he drew back, indicating that he’d finished.

“Indeed I do.”

“Good. So do I. And I am quite capable of having my own ‘words’ with my detractors, if it comes to that, though I appreciate your offer.”

A moment, in which the words ‘an offer that gives too little, too late,’ were acknowledged in Maedhros’ brief glance away from the mirror and Maglor’s grimace of guilt. Neither brother spoke them, though. Pushing aside the awkward moment, Maedhros used his left hand to propel himself to his feet. He stepped forward as if to take Maglor’s place, made a miniscule motion with his left hand and his stump, and in that moment his face fell. Maglor saw the movement and he knew what it was about.

“You don’t have to,” he reassured his brother, shaking his unbound tresses behind him. “I’ll ask Celegorm later.”

“That’s as well, because I can’t,” Maedhros spat bitterly, sinking down next to Maglor on the bed, clutching his stump in a death grip and turning his face away. Maglor placed a hand on top of Maedhros’, hoping to get him to loosen his grip, and had to school his features to hide his shock when Maedhros turned back to him with tears coursing down his face.

“It’s alright, Maedhros, of course I don’t expect you to, it doesn’t matter,” Maglor tried to reassure him.

“It’s not alright, don’t you get it, Káno? Look at me! How am I supposed to protect you, all of you, if I can’t even braid your hair?”

“We’ll protect each other, like we always have, it’s not all on you,” Maglor placated him, prying his grasping hand away from the still-sensitive stump.

“So this is how it’s going to be, then. Me, weighing you all down, taking your care and attention and not giving anything back because they reduced me to this!”

Finally, Maglor understood exactly what was distressing his brother. It wasn’t merely the loss of his abilities, but more so the fact that he couldn’t reciprocate his brothers’ attentions; he worried that the loss of this outward sign of their connection was symptomatic of a deeper fracture in their fraternal bond. Maglor knew what he had to do. He slid down onto the cushion Maedhros had just vacated and guided his left hand to his hair.

“Braid my hair, then.”

“What part of I can’t do you not understand?”

“I understand perfectly. Wordsmith, remember. I just disagree. I’ll help. Give me the strands to hold when you’re not working them and we’ll do it together. We’ll manage a standard double braid like that, I reckon.”

“You’re not a commoner.”

“No, but I don’t care about announcing myself a great poet. Everyone already knows that. I care about declaring that I’m your brother and nothing will ever change that.”

“It’ll be messy.”

“So’s Middle Earth, these days. I’ll fit right in.”

That finally surprised a laugh out of Maedhros, and he wiped away his tears before moving into position and picking up the comb. Several attempts and a few awkward hand collisions later and they’d managed a passable double braid. He would never have dreamed of going out like that back in Valinor, but here, after everything, he preferred it to the richest coronet he’d ever worn.

Maedhros got better at one-handed braiding, and Maglor got better at assisting. Later, when it was just the two of them, he’d still braid Maglor’s hair and the easy familiarity of it was a comfort when everything else was falling apart. Maglor had once come across Elros braiding Elrond’s hair, sitting on his right hand and using only his left, while Elrond helped. When he asked them what they were doing, Elros had replied, “it’s what brothers do, isn’t it? It means we love each other.”

“Yes, it does,” he’d told them, wondering just how these boys always knew exactly where to find a long-dormant spark in a Kinslayer’s frozen spirit and how to bring it back to life.

“Maglor? Maglor?”

He came back to himself with a jolt, realising that Newt had just finished combing out his damp hair. Lost in the memory, his hand had strayed to his scalp and he’d picked up a lock, ready for his brother to braid. Newt was leaning round again, trying to work out what he was doing by the looks of it. He shrugged and dropped his hand, averting his gaze. He heard Newt’s sudden ‘ah’ of understanding, then he was suddenly hit by a powerful gust of warm air, which dried his hair instantly, making it ruffle around his face. Newt gathered the strands into three sections, his calloused fingertips ghosting over Maglor’s cheeks as he did so, then plaited the hair in one simple braid down his back and tied it off. Exhausted by the effort of keeping his emotions in check, Maglor had to work hard not to break into hysterical laughter at that.

After all, Newt had no way of knowing he’d just given his millennia-old Kinslayer a child’s braid.

 

Chapter Text

Newt’s journal

16th Jan. 1949

Observations on the habits of Maglor the Elda, day two:

 

M didn’t sleep last night- showed him to the bedroom but he refused. Stated that “Eldar not much sleep” when questioned. Not sure if I believe him. Fits with general resilience of species but M often negligent of own needs.

Peeked out and checked on him at 2am. He was out in the field, cross-legged, gazing at the stars. Appeared content, like when with Katarina (thestral)- stars seem to bring him comfort. Symbolic in Eldar culture perhaps? Heard me coming, of course, and stared right through me. Sensation difficult to describe but it was profound. Felt his age and otherness very deeply, like he was somewhere far removed in his mind. He turned back to the stars after that, without commenting. Didn’t stay. Felt intrusive.

 

  Linguistic capacity continues to amaze. Hasn’t forgotten one single word. Already forming sentences and grasping basic grammar. Fascinated by the written word, looks almost nostalgically at my notes. I taught him the alphabet today- took him a while to produce ‘j’ but otherwise picked it up with usual flair. Reading basic phrases by the end of the session. Engaged and invested in what we were doing, a little less haunted, just for a time. Heartening to observe.

 

  Very strange response to Helga. Difficult to parse. All typical initially, until I illustrated Niffler penchant for stealing gold and silver. Thought it might amuse him; was the opposite. He paled, looked on the point of retching, facial expression absolutely repulsed. He knelt, picked up Helga as I’d taught him and lectured passionately in his language. Tried to quiz him on it once H had scarpered back to her nest but M just shook his head and didn’t explain. Maybe his people live communally and despise greed? Or perhaps the curse that destroyed his people was carried by a shiny object? Confusing encounter for all concerned. H not overly affected. Still an incorrigible little thief.

 

No progress on hands, either in permission to examine or research on what I’ve already seen. Never seen curse damage with that profile before and nothing in my reference collection refers to it. Ask Thees maybe?? Somehow without suggesting that I’m illegally harbouring an undocumented magical humanoid in my case??? Get thinking on cover story. Burns clearly cause M a lot of pain- can only guess that some sort of spellwork keeps the upper tissues alive though ordinarily they’d have died. M avoids contact with palms when making instinctive movement but seems to seek it out when acting deliberately. Confirms suspicion that he welcomes the pain- survivor’s guilt? Unsure how to address that, barely manage my own on some days and it's near impossible until we learn to communicate better. Very out of my depth. 

 

Magical scans indicate that broken arm is almost healed. Have changed splint to lighter brace to allow for increased shoulder movement before it comes off tomorrow. Thought he looked tense when I took off splint and almost relieved when I replaced it, like he was worried he’d have to leave. Might be nothing. My wishful thinking, probably.

 

Haven’t heard him sing again yet- shame. Want to let him know that he can, but will probably have to demonstrate in order to teach him the word. Don’t want to scare him off with my tone-deaf caterwauling. Alright, maybe I’m just embarrassed. Planning to attempt it tonight anyway, so I’ll just have to do my best.

 

Continued on a page torn out of the journal

Known him three days and already desperate for M to stay here. Not just because he’s an enigma and I want to discover everything about him and his vanished people-even if that’s part of it. Mainly because of the moments when Dougal sits on his shoulder, or he has one of his odd staring matches with Katarina, or obsessively repeats a word with infinite tiny variations until he’s saying it as though he was born in Kent. Those are the flashes, when it feels like he’s coming alive, and suddenly this burdened soul doesn’t seem so alone. Not like I could ever understand what he went through, but I think I see my younger self in him- lost in a confusing world and unsure where he fits. I found a home and a family in this case and I’m positive that so can he. He’s holding back, though. Want to know why.

I won’t be a jailer, though. Am concerned about him running into more unscrupulous types who might try to exploit him but I can’t force him to accept my protection if he doesn’t want it. He’s not an injured nundu, no matter how much I want to shield him from the world. Will do my best to convince him to stay but if I have to, I’ll let him go. Already know that I’ll miss him terribly if I do.

 


 

Maglor was used to the days passing him by unmarked and unmourned, winking in and out of existence inconsequentially like fireflies vanishing into the dark. Longing for one day never to end, for time to slow down just for once, was a new experience. He wasn’t sure he liked it.

 

Leaving was going to be hard. There was a whole new language to learn, a whole new writing system, and that fascinated him- he’d always secretly believed that tengwar was the greatest of his father’s inventions, even when thoughts of the Silmarils were consuming everything. He was barely getting started, and for once he bitterly resented accelerated elven healing. To his shame, he had almost panicked when Newt made the splint disappear with a flick of his wand. If he was healed then he’d have to leave, there was no reason for him to stay. But the appearance of a more flexible style of brace reassured him that just for one more day, he could carry on pretending that he wasn’t an outcast who’d earned his fate but simply a wanderer being welcomed into shelter. He could keep living in this strange bubble of stolen time just a little longer.

 

The only unpleasant thing that had happened was when his metaphor-sensitive brain transformed an innocent rodent with a duck-like bill and a few coins into a grotesque version of his life in the First Age. ‘Helga’ the ‘Niffler’ was just following her instincts, of course, but it was disconcerting how she’d ignore everything else if there was a shiny at stake, pulling so hard on the end of a necklace caught behind a jar that she propelled herself backwards across the room and landed on her rump when it came free. Newt looked fondly amused at her antics. But all Maglor could think was: was this what we were reduced to? Following the brightest trinket, blindly propelled by something beyond our control, heedless of whatever peril we were walking into because all we could see were those gems? The repulsion he felt was not directed at Helga, but at himself. Impulsively, he picked up the squirming little creature and told her firmly in Quenya:

 

“Do you spend your entire life running around trying to collect those trinkets? What’s the point? You won’t hold them all, in the end. They’ll bring you nothing but ruin. These coins are harmless, yes, but where will you stop? When will you decide it’s not worth the risk? What if you pursue something so blindly that you run from your keeper and you don’t see the danger before it’s too late? Fight the urge to chase the things that shine, little one. Learn from someone who’s been burned.”

 

The Niffler, predictably, didn’t answer.

 

Maglor sighed and let her free. Newt made anxious enquiries, trying to work out what all that had been about, but Maglor was both too embarrassed and linguistically constrained to explain that he’d just unloaded his regrets about losing everything for the sake of some gems onto a rodent who couldn’t understand him. He simply shook his head until Newt got the message to leave the subject well alone.

 

Despite Maglor’s fervent wishes, time did not slow down and the enchanted sky of Newt’s trunk shifted into a star-studded night. Newt did not attempt to convince him to sleep this time, but instead led him to an enclosure he was curious about, not having seen the creatures who lived there. When he’d pointed to it with a quizzical expression, Newt had explained that they were ‘mooncalves’, and they sleep in the day. Perhaps he was about to be introduced. They seated themselves on a mossy boulder and Newt cleared his throat a couple of times. He put a hand to his mouth and extended it outwards, then introduced a new word: “sing”. Blushing slightly, he started singing. It really wasn’t bad, as human voices go, though the melody was very different to the elven music Maglor was used to; he’d heard a lot worse in Men’s army camps. He nodded to show he’d understood, and Newt cut off, looking gratefully relieved.

 

“You can sing, if you want,” he said slowly, giving an awkward little shrug to convey that it was Maglor’s choice. Newt used the word ‘want’ a lot. Maglor had grown so used to denying himself that he found it vaguely unsettling.

 

It was true that he hadn’t sung for a few days. His singing was an integral part of his penance, and he had dealt with this strange oasis of care in the desert of his isolation by putting his familiar routines temporarily to one side. But perhaps if Newt wanted to hear him sing, it would be a small way of repaying him for his kindness. The only question was what song. The liveliness and warmth that reigned in Newt’s case seemed unsuited to the sombre laments that made up most of his repertoire now. He looked up at the gleaming stars and one of the first songs he’d learned on arriving in Middle-Earth came to him. He wasn’t sure if it made him a hypocrite to sing it now, he didn’t know if he really believed the words, or even if he had the right to perform it after everything. Despite all that, somehow it felt right, so he gazed up at the sparkling sky and let the uplifting melody of the Hymn to Elbereth spring forth from his lips for the first time since the War of Wrath.

 

He was so fixated on the stars that he didn’t notice them at first. But a flash of movement caught his eye, and he watched a herd of lamb-sized fluffy creatures with long necks and enormous eyes emerging from the cave on the hillside. He almost paused, but Newt motioned him to continue, so he sang on and watched in wonder as the mooncalves arranged themselves into concentric circles around the boulder and began to dance. For such cute, quirky little creatures, they seemed strangely elegant when they danced, tracing complicated patterns with their four hooves and swapping between the circles guided by some unvoiced instinct. Ancient music resonating through the air, there was some magic in that moment on the hillside that Maglor could not name. It was neither the directed power of Newt’s sorcery, nor the complicated enchantments of the Maiar that he had once known, but rather their melding together into something new and all its own. So Maglor sang out his ode to the goddess he’d forsaken, as mooncalves danced in perfect time to the long-unsung melody underneath a canopy of illusory stars. And astounded at his own hubris for even entertaining the thought, Maglor couldn’t help but fancy that perhaps Lady Elbereth looked down and smiled.

 


 

 

“All better! You heal fast!” Newt pronounced with a grin after they had removed the splint and he had taken Maglor through some arm movements to check the healing.

 

It felt better than it had before the break, actually, but still Maglor’s face fell. It was the afternoon of the third day, his arm was healed, and his respite had ended. He had allowed himself to relax far too much and it was going to make returning to his solitary life all the harder. Seeing his expression, Newt jumped at the chance to drive home the point he’d been hinting at all day.

 

“You can stay. Please stay,” he said earnestly, clasping his hands in the begging pose he’d been using to illustrate ‘please.’

 

“No. You are not safe. Mag- I cannot stay.”

 

“Are you in danger?” Newt asked. Maglor hadn’t heard that word before so he cocked his head inquisitively and Newt ummmed and ahhed before miming a fight, with one person throwing punches and another cowering.

 

“Danger. Bad. Not safe.”

 

Maglor nodded, fitting the new word into what he already knew. It might be his last chance, after all. Newt reiterated his former question.

 

“You. Alone. Are you not safe? In danger? Bad things hurt you? Bad people?”

 

That clarified it. Newt was wondering if perhaps he was hunted, if he had enemies and he was worried about endangering Newt by bringing them upon him. Maglor tried to address this concern.

 

“No. Safe alone. I am bad thing. I am danger.”

 

Newt’s face creased into a concerned frown. He was probably going to be angry at Maglor for not communicating that beforehand. But Newt, as usual, subverted Maglor’s expectations.

 

“You are a good thing, Maglor, a very good thing.” He sighed and pushed a frustrated hand back through his messy hair when Maglor shook his head in denial.

 

“Why are you bad?” he asked.

 

Well, there was a list as long as his arm and probably longer to answer that one. But to communicate it in this situation was a little complicated.

 

“I…hurt Eldar. I maype hurt you.”

 

Newt nodded slowly. “Do you want to hurt me?”

 

Maglor refuted that violently. “No! I go. I not hurt you!”

 

Newt answered him with a sincere tone and vulnerable expression, but in his desire to make his point he went a little too fast and Maglor had trouble distinguishing the words. Seeing this, Newt simplified it.

 

“You do not want to hurt me. You will not hurt me. You can stay. I want you to stay.”

 

And oh how tempting it was just to acquiesce and give in to that imploring expression. But though he couldn’t make Newt understand the real reasons behind his need for solitude, he could rely on him to keep his word.

 

“I want go,” he announced with as much as conviction as he could muster.

 

“I want to go,” Newt corrected gently with a sad little smile. “Really? You mean that?”

 

Maglor nodded, and Newt held up his hands in concession.

 

“Alright. It’s your choice. I’ll be back for you when we’re there.”

 

He gave Maglor a pat on the shoulder and headed out of the ladder and out into the world. As soon as he disappeared from view, Dougal appeared and chittered madly. He was evidently unimpressed by the interaction that had just taken place.

 

“Don’t take that tone with me,” Maglor sniped. “I know he doesn’t like it but it’s for his own good.”

 

This did not appease the demiguise in the slightest. Dougal wrapped himself around Maglor’s legs and vanished, leaving the Elda with a very odd sensation of invisible weight pressing on his legs.

 

“You can’t keep me here, you know,” he cautioned. “Newt respects my choices so you’ll have to let me go.”

 

The demiguise flashed visible for just a second, long enough for Maglor to read the expression on his furry face:

Make me.

 

Sighing, Maglor resigned himself to having a demiguise attached to him until Newt came back and cajoled him off. A short while later, he saw the bubble containing the lobalugs gently levitate its way from the aquatic area up into a small square opening that had appeared in the sky. They floated up and away and into freedom.

 

He would be following them soon. He tried to feel pleased about that.

 


 

Newt had to bite his lip as he watched Maglor emerge from the case, though whether to swallow back tears or laughter he wasn’t sure. He’d activated the ramp down into the case which he usually used for larger animals, to spare Maglor’s hands, and as the Elda fought his way up it he had to contend with a screeching demiguise plastered to his left leg. He didn’t see why Maglor was worried about hurting anyone: though he was noticeably annoyed, he was being very careful with Dougal, attempting to gently pry him off and not even shaking his leg, though he must have been tempted. Maybe his worry was about the curse damage, perhaps he thought it was contagious. That was theoretically possible but highly unlikely- even if it was the case, Newt was sure there was a cure to be found. For all the Dark magic in the world, there was Light magic working to fight it. After everything they’d witnessed in the fight against Grindelwald, he had to believe that.

 

Eventually Newt took mercy on Maglor.

 

“Dougal, come on, let him go.”

 

The demiguise turned a wounded and betrayed expression on Newt.

 

“I know, I want him to stay too, but we can’t make him if he doesn’t want to, come here, there’s a good lad.”

 

Dougal was finally coaxed off Maglor’s leg and into Newt’s arms, Maglor escaped up to the beach and Newt set down a whining Dougal before grabbing a cloth-wrapped parcel, darting out of the case himself and slamming it shut. Newt and Maglor found themselves facing each other in front of the rocky overhang where Maglor had first taken Newt four days and forever ago.

 

“For you,” Newt said, offering his package to Maglor, who opened it to find food, the new tunics and leggings Newt had transfigured for him, some clean bandages and a comb. Newt’s heart clenched at the sheer surprise on Maglor’s face, and he wondered absently how long it had been since Maglor had last received a gift. Predictably, he tried to offer it back but Newt stood firm. If he was letting Maglor go, it would be with as much help as he could possibly provide.

 

“No,” he said assertively, pushing the parcel back into the crook of Maglor’s arm. “Take it. It’s yours.”

 

The tone did its job and Maglor evidently accepted that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer, so he held onto it, eyes shining with undisguised gratitude.

 

“I will protect you,” Newt continued, then walked around Maglor’s base in a wide arc casting every protective enchantment he knew.

 

“You are safe here for ten days,” he informed him.

 

There was an awkward silence filled with everything Newt wanted to say: please reconsider, there’s so much more we could do together, I could help you, I like having you in the case, I think you want to stay but there’s something stopping you, something that’s broken your trust in yourself and I wish I could show you how wrong you are.

 

But he was a man of his word. He’d said that Maglor could choose after three days, this was Maglor’s decision and he had to honour that. He had done all he could, everything that Maglor had allowed him to do, and now he was simply respecting his friend’s right to self-determination.

 

So why did it feel like he was making a huge mistake?

 

There was quiet, just the seagulls’ shrieking shattering the calm air of the otherwise deserted beach. It occurred to Newt that neither of them knew the right word for this situation in the other’s language.

 

“Goodbye,” he said with a wave and a very forced smile, telling himself that he’d cry in a mooncalf cuddle pile later but for now he had to keep it together.

 

“Goodapie,” Maglor echoed and Newt’s lip quirked. ‘B’ often sounded as ‘p’ the first time Maglor encountered a new word, and Newt ached at the realisation that he was hearing that little detail for the last time. He offered the correction in response to Maglor’s concentrated frown.

 

Bye. Goodbye.”

 

Maglor nodded, his lips moving soundlessly as he practised. “Goodbye,” he said finally, “thank you.”

 

He bowed solemnly, turned around and walked away.

 

Chapter Text

One more step. One more step. One more step.

 

Maglor repeated it obsessively as he strode away from the glimpse of contentment he’d experienced and back towards his familiar solitary existence. He’d known this moment would come from the minute he entered Newt’s trunk, but he hadn’t anticipated quite how hard it would be to walk away from the home and family he had been so warmly welcomed into. He hadn’t prepared for Newt looking on the brink of tears, to start off with. This was for the creature-keeper’s own good though, and for the good of all his beings; he might be a rescuer, but if he knew the true nature of the Kinslayer he had sheltered, even he would have to admit that some kinds of monster were past saving.

 

Something tickled on his arm. Without breaking his stride, he lifted the back of a hand to brush it off, but the tickle moved. Frowning, he looked down and groaned when he realised what had happened. Newt’s creatures, for some reason known only to themselves, appeared to be conspiring to prevent him leaving. He turned around.

 

“Newt!” he called, and look of relief and joy on Newt’s face surely couldn’t just have been because he thought Maglor had changed his mind, could it?

 

“Pickett,” he explained, making his way back over to Newt and lifting his hand to display the tiny miniature Ent clinging to his wrist with surprising ferocity for something so small.

 

“Ah, sorry,” Newt said when he realised, and yet another charge was added to Maglor’s already impressive burden of guilt when Newt’s expression changed to one of crushed disappointment. What did he have to do to stop exploiting and hurting this man? The sooner he could leave, the better.

 

Pickett disagreed. It was quite the performance, with a lot of coaxing from Newt, and eventually three woodlice as a bribe, before the bowtruckle was pried from Maglor’s wrist and deposited back in his pocket. Maglor was gathering his already strained resolve to finally leave and set the world back to rights when Newt gently caught his wrist, just as he had that first day when he still thought himself Maglor’s prisoner but was already worrying about his burns.

 

“You don’t have to go.”

 

Maglor froze.

 

It didn’t matter that he was still getting the hang of contractions and the ‘have to’ form, he knew exactly what Newt had said, because four ages ago and in another language, he’d heard those words before. The tone, the expression, the context of parting; he recognised it all, and as he stared in shock at Newt’s anxious features, suddenly the eyes boring into his were not light green but instead a piercing grey…

 

“You don’t have to go.”

Elrond’s fingers encircled his wrist as he began to turn away and the words ensnared him almost tightly enough to hold him back from the siren call of the Oath. He wished they could have done.

“I don’t have a choice, Elrond. I’m sorry.”

“Then take us with you!” Elros demanded, kicking a helmet across the floor as he joined the argument. “You’re our family far more than some old shipbuilding cousin we barely know.”

“Please, Elros, give Círdan a chance. He will make a good guardian. We should have done this from the very start. He’ll be able to look after you far better than we ever did.”

“Are you saying that you regret taking us in?”

“No, of course not, you’ve brought so much joy into our lives, both of you. All I’m saying is that we certainly didn’t deserve that and you deserved much better.”

“Well, that’s orc-shit.”

“Language, Elros.”

“Well apparently you aren’t our guardian anymore so you don’t get to tell me ‘language.’ When are you going to understand that we don’t want Círdan? We want you and Maedhros.”

“I’ve no idea why.”

“No, you don’t get to do this. You cannot do what you did for us and then just walk away. You put up with months of resentment and escape attempts with the forbearance the world doesn’t think you have. You respected us enough to tell us honestly what you did and then waited for us to reach out when we were ready to give you another chance. You taught us the sword and when not to use it because you wanted us to learn from your mistakes, you braided our hair and held us when we cried and treated us like your own. You seriously think you’re allowed to do all that and then just expect us not to love you?”

 “It was…unfair of us. We should never have put you in that position.”

“Well, you did, so now you deal with it. You deal with the fact that we love and respect you now and we want you to stay.”

“You deserve better than a pair of battle-weary Kinslayers. You shouldn’t have to see what happens when the Oath takes over.”

“Like we’ve not seen battle before! We’re not innocent children. We never were.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“Not just yours.”

“We as good as killed your mother!”

“OUR MOTHER CHOSE TO JUMP!”

The shout echoed, leaving a terrible silence behind it. Elros took a few heaving breaths, and his voice cracked as he continued, quietly but fervently.

“You can’t leave us too.”

They faced off, both glassy-eyed with frustrated tears. Elrond, pale-faced, watched with a terrible resignation growing in his expression.

 “I’m sorry, Elros, Elrond. I’m so, so sorry. You never asked for any of this.”

“Yeah, well, we’re part of it now. And we want to see it through to the end. Right, Elrond?”

He turned to catch his brother’s expression, his face falling as he did so.

“Elrond?”

Elrond’s fingers had remained wrapped around Maglor’s wrist for the entire conversation, tethering him for a few more minutes to the boys he wished he wasn’t leaving behind. Gently, but with a sickening finality, Elrond released his grip.

“You’re going to go,” he murmured. It wasn’t a question. And somehow that terrible, insightful statement pierced Maglor’s soul far deeper than any of Elros’ angry diatribes had. “You’re going to go, and we can’t do anything to stop you. The Oath has a greater hold on you than we do.”

Maglor wished with every fibre of his being that he could deny it. But he wouldn’t lie to them, so he averted his gaze. Elrond had always been highly perceptive, able to pinpoint the truths that others studiously avoided.

“You said you cared about us!” Elros was outraged. “Isn’t that enough?”

Yes, he wanted to shout, yes, this is how the story goes, the two noble orphans melt the Kinslayers’ hearts, redeem them and reverse their path to ruin. The constrictive coils of the Oath, and his loyalty to his brother, tightened around his throat and choked the words before he could voice them.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered at last.

“Then don’t bloody go!” Elros snapped.

“If there were any other way…I can’t. One day you’ll look back and understand. Just, whatever happens next, don’t let it stop you, you hear me? You can learn a lot from Círdan, take advantage of that and go and live your lives untarnished by our mistakes. I know you’ll be magnificent, both of you. And…I’m sorry.”

He walked away with Elros’ exclamations of rage following him, and perhaps still more painful, Elrond’s devastated silence.

“You don’t have to go.”

Elrond’s words resonated down the centuries until they echoed around Newt’s, and the sheer onslaught of emotion on hearing them again crashed into Maglor so overwhelmingly that he felt like he was drowning in it.

The last time he heard those words, he’d ignored their pull and left. What followed had stripped him of every last thing that was his to hold onto. He’d lost his adopted sons in sending them away to be tutored by Círdan, lost his older brother when Maedhros jumped into the flames, lost his last chance at redemption by stealing from the Valar, lost the purpose that had consumed him for most of his adult life when the Silmaril burned out of his hands.

The last time he heard those words, walking away had been utterly excruciating. He knew full well the damage he was doing to those twins, just the next in a procession of parental figures who, despite their love for the boys or perhaps because of it, were compelled to choose the Silmarils over them. Nothing less than the vice-like, inexorable grip of the Oath, combined with an inability to let Maedhros attempt an audacious theft from the Valar alone, could have forced him out of that door.

The last time he heard those words, no matter what he told himself about doing what was best for the boys, he knew that he was causing far more harm than good by letting the Oath make his choices for him, too wearied to fight it any longer.

Knowing all this and hearing that same plea from Newt’s lips, Maglor was finally forced to accept something he’d been steadfastly refusing to acknowledge: that Newt truly would be hurt if he left. He had generously opened his world and his life to Maglor, had made it clear that he considered Maglor a friend and would worry over his fate. That impossible man would take a refusal of his offered sanctuary as a personal rejection. That was why Newt’s obvious disappointment at his leaving was so difficult to bear- because it reminded him of Elrond, that thoughtful young ellon who, like Newt, would surely have turned his sadness inward and blamed himself because he failed to make Maglor stay.

The situation remained unchanged. Staying with Newt was still the opposite of the life he’d committed himself to after the last Silmaril vanished, it was still exploitation of someone who couldn’t know just how deep Maglor’s monstrosity ran.

But hearing those words now, the shadows of his almost-sons hovering behind Newt with that terrible desperation in their eyes, Maglor knew one thing for certain.

No matter what he’d decided all those years ago, however much he wanted to, he could not walk away from that plea again.


“You don’t have to go.”

Newt didn’t really know what made him say it. He wasn’t even sure if Maglor would understand. It was impulsive, a last-ditch protest against whatever horrible fatalistic reasoning was making him turn away from the home which he so clearly yearned to accept.

The words had a far more dramatic effect than Newt could have anticipated. What scant colour there was drained from Maglor’s face and he stared at Newt’s fingers on his wrist as though he’d seen a ghost. Newt quickly released him, inwardly berating himself for triggering a traumatic memory and not just allowing Maglor the freedom he was insisting on. When Maglor looked up, he still looked haunted, staring over Newt’s right shoulder so intensely that Newt glanced over to check if there was someone behind him. There was no-one there. Finally, Maglor’s eyes fixed on Newt again, and though he tried his best, he couldn’t manage the eye contact for more than a second; there was so much conflict in that troubled gaze that Newt didn’t know where he would even start to try to help.

The awkward silence shattered. Maglor produced a soul-rending cry of pure distress, his knees folding under him and his hands twisting into painful fists clutching at his hair. You’ve really done it now, Scamander, Newt scolded himself as he tried to do some damage control.

“Oh! Oh dear, I’m so sorry, I really didn’t mean to make you feel trapped. You can go if you want, of course, I won’t stop you.”

None of it was filtering through, and Newt’s words were barely even audible over the explosive, angry sobs which were convulsing their way through Maglor’s huddled form. Newt changed tack.

“Alright, easy, it will all be alright,” he murmured soothingly, kneeling himself and tentatively reaching out to rest a hand on Maglor’s shoulder. He didn’t know if he’d set this off by touching Maglor’s wrist earlier, so he was a little wary, concerned about making things worse, but when he saw the Elda instinctively lean into the touch like a plant long starved of sunlight, he had no qualms about pulling his friend into a very long-overdue hug. Maglor collapsed against him, shaking like a leaf, and allowed Newt to gently guide his hands to clutch Newt’s shoulders rather than his own hair.

“You’re alright there, I’ve got you” Newt encouraged him, barely believing what was happening as the stoic, otherworldly person he thought he knew gave way to this tormented being sobbing as though his world was falling apart around him. “Just hold onto me and let it out, that’s it, shh, there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll handle this together, you’ll see.”

How they would do that Newt was unsure, but he knew that he would do everything in his power to right this, especially if his words had helped cause this distress in the first place. He continued to spout gentle reassurances that Maglor probably wasn’t concentrating on deciphering, until his sobs gradually abated to a quiet weeping more akin to the only other time Newt had seen him cry, when he had grieved for his fallen kin. He kept murmuring softly, feeling Maglor tremble as he ran a hand up and down the braid running down his back, surprised at first that he was being allowed to do it. When he thought about it though, it made sense: Maglor normally flinched away from the initial overtures of comfort, but once he had accepted it he could no longer deny his need to be cared for in that way, and drunk it in as though parched for the slightest touch. At long last, once his tears had abated and Newt’s shoulder was thoroughly soaked, he pulled away, looking studiously at the sand, unmistakeably embarrassed. Newt couldn’t let that kind of attitude pass, so he nudged Maglor’s face upwards with a finger under his chin and looked straight at him despite the discomfort it caused him.

“It’s alright,” he told him firmly, and raised his eyebrows expectantly until Maglor gave a reluctant nod. “Nothing to be ashamed of. Now, what was that about?”

Maglor frowned for a few moments while he marshalled his still-limited vocabulary to explain what was wrong.

“I cannot stay. I cannot go. Stay, go, I hurt you,” he summarised succinctly, the simplicity of his English making the statement all the more brutal in its implications. Newt was momentarily overwhelmed by the fact that apparently that entire meltdown was not about Maglor but his fear of hurting the magizoologist himself. Surely that should be proof that he meant no harm, but such things were often only visible from the outside of a situation.

Don’t clam up, Newt told himself under his breath, rubbing his thumb against his sweaty palms, keep it together. This conversation was on a knife’s edge, he could feel it; what Newt said next would either scare Maglor back into hiding or help him find a new life and a way to move on from whatever traumatic events coloured his past.

“Alright,” he began, nodding to show he was taking Maglor’s concerns seriously. “If you stay, how will you hurt me?” he asked.

Another few moments as Maglor’s brow furrowed in concentration.

“I hurt,” he said, then started making expansive motions with his hands.

Dreading being right, Newt decoded that, mirroring the motion and asking, “you hurt everyone?” Maglor nodded emphatically.

Rebuilding someone’s self-esteem very rarely fell under a magizoologist’s job description, let alone someone who was trying to communicate in an unfamiliar language and was the sole survivor of their species. Newt, nevertheless, was all that Maglor had, so he had to deliver somehow. Thinking quickly, he came up with a plan; he’d always been better at communicating via actions than words anyway. He smiled at Maglor and opened his case, unleashing a silver blur which sped out towards the Elda and materialised into a demiguise clinging possessively around his neck. Newt then opened his palm next to his waistcoat pocket, and for once without any unnecessary drama, Pickett eagerly clambered out and accepted the ride on Newt’s hand over to an increasingly bewildered Maglor and latched onto his upper arm. Newt had only initially intended to include those two in his demonstration, but as the case was opened for Dougal, of course Helga came out to investigate too. She gambolled around in the sand for a while, seemingly oblivious to the tense emotional drama playing out around her, drawing the eyes of the assembled magizoologist, Elda, demiguise, and bowtruckle. Then she made her way over to Maglor, paused in front of him, inspected him for a few moments, then extracted a necklace from her pouch and placed it before him in offering.

Newt gaped.

Helga had rejected treasures before for various reasons: the Protean pocket watch frightened her, tarnished coins didn’t meet her exacting standards, any objects owned by Dark wizards were too tainted for her magical senses. But Newt had never seen Helga, no, any niffler at all, give up a beloved shiny like that necklace motivated by what could only be described as pure altruism. He didn’t know what had passed between Maglor and the niffler the day before, he had dismissed it, but could it be that Maglor had attempted to convince Helga to change her ways and she’d listened?

Newt realised his mouth was hanging open, so he shut it. Maglor murmured something in his language to Helga, his eyes once again a little teary, and she jumped into his lap and nestled there as if in affirmation. Newt felt as nonplussed as Maglor looked, but he attempted to continue with the plan as he’d conceived it before Helga stole the show.

“Dougal, Pickett, Helga,” he began, naming the creatures who were clustered around Maglor in a kind of eclectic support squad as a way of grounding them both. He took a deep breath.

“You don’t hurt Dougal. You don’t hurt Pickett. You don’t hurt Helga. Look at them.”

Maglor did, blinking as if he were seeing them all for the first time: Dougal slung like a baby around his neck, Pickett crawling on his shoulder, Helga curled up in his lap.

“So you do not hurt everyone. And you certainly don’t hurt me.”

Maglor was watching him cautiously. No outright argument, that was a good development. He continued.

 “You can stay, if you want to. You will not hurt us. I know. I’m sure. So please, if that’s what you’re worried about, it will be alright, I know it will, please just try?”

Maglor’s voice was hoarse for the first time Newt could remember hearing it as he replied, “You want I stay?”

Yes,” Newt answered emphatically. Perhaps it was problematic that Maglor seemed more concerned about Newt’s desires than his own, but if it meant he would stay in the case and recover a little more then Newt would take what he could get. Maglor nodded, his eyes closing and brow wrinkling as he thought it through. Then he opened his eyes, their gaze displaying more vulnerability than Newt had ever seen in them before. He seemed almost as surprised as Newt was as he voiced the words.

“I…stay.”

“Thank you,” Newt beamed, absolutely thrilled and slightly astounded that apparently, he’d been in a highly charged emotional situation and hadn’t messed it up too badly. He understood that somehow Helga’s intervention had saved the day for them, though he wasn’t quite sure exactly what had occurred. One thing he knew for certain, though.

Helga’s nest was going to be extra sparkly tonight.

 

Chapter Text

Maglor stared, dumbfounded, at the little furry black creature holding out a sparkling ruby pendant, allowing her to deposit it in his palm. “You’re giving me a jewel,” he murmured, holding back hysterical laughter at the sheer irony of that gesture. “You’re changing your ways,” he realised, “is this your way of telling me that I can too?”

This is ridiculous, he scolded himself, you’re reading far too much into this.

Nevertheless, he couldn’t take Helga’s determined scramble into his lap and contented snuggling there as anything other than a decisive yes.

Newt’s expression as he looked on would have been comic had the situation not been so serious. He was gaping open-mouthed, staring at the niffler as though she had just sprouted a second head. Clearly this was not normal behaviour then, and Helga had broken the habits of a lifetime in offering him the trinket. The other day, Maglor had been embarrassed from the moment he started lecturing her, knowing the futility of what he was doing but needing to express the uncomfortable parallel between his behaviour and hers. Perhaps, though, Helga was wiser than he’d first believed.

Newt pulled himself together. He pointed out Maglor’s trio of beastly hangers-on, and the fact that he was not harming them. The logic of it was undeniable. The very idea of harming Newt or any of his menagerie was abhorrent to Maglor, and that was why he had been so intent on leaving. But prompted to think differently by the niffler’s sudden behavioural adjustment, he suddenly realised that for the first time since he’d sworn the Oath, there was nothing that might compel him to hurt another being. Whether made void by his crimes, fulfilled when he retrieved the Silmaril, or broken when he rejected it, Maglor wasn’t sure, but he was certain that his wretched vow no longer held any power over him, now that the Silmarils had been scattered to their final resting places. Once the chains of the Oath had broken, he had exchanged them immediately for the chains of guilt.

Therefore, it felt like the entire world was turning on its head when he realised that for the first time in what felt like forever, perhaps he was at liberty to choose how he acted. Helga had ignored her hoarding instincts to give one of her treasures to a person wavering at an impossible crossroads; maybe he could ignore his now-instinctive impulse to hide himself and accept that as he really didn’t want to hurt any of the friends – yes, they were friends now – around him, perhaps that meant that he wouldn’t. Nothing now could make him; his conscience, so long silenced and smothered, was finally free.

Newt was pleading with him, all open sincerity and earnest passion and so-like-Elrond, confirming the impossible notion that he really did desire Maglor to stay. He had, after all, been a rather high-maintenance guest, he was fully aware of that, but Newt’s emphatic yes left no doubt as to his sincerity. He could stay, perhaps even help Newt care for his creatures, and attempt to make amends for all the suffering he’d caused. He could stop running away. At last confronting the prospect of ending his solitude, perhaps permanently, he allowed himself to believe that it might be…good.

“I…stay,” he declared, feeling like he’d made the right choice for once, and quietly revelling in Newt’s elated reaction.

He passed the next few minutes in a daze, stunned by complete revolution that Newt and his creatures had made of his worldview. He was vaguely aware of allowing Newt to fasten Helga’s necklace for him, and then walking together to the hollow in the cliff where he’d based himself for the last few years and picking up the few meagre tools he’d used to eke out his existence. He wouldn’t be needing them anymore, and he wasn’t particularly attached, but emptying out his hideout did give the whole thing an air of finality which gave him the sudden urge to bolt. He breathed deeply, trying to stem the instinctive desire to hide, and remember that the decision he was making now made sense. He just had to be brave enough to follow through with it. Newt opened the suitcase, watching him nervously, as through expecting him to run away again. Maglor was half-expecting the same. But Newt had kept his word in giving him the opportunity to choose to go; Maglor had, after painful deliberation, decided to stay. He would not disappoint Newt as he had Elrond and Elros. He would not be the cause of that horrible expression of broken desperation again.  He mustered a smile for Newt, feeling the muscles protest at the unusual motion, and stepped into the enchanted trunk and a new life.


“I’m so proud of you. All of you.”

Newt hugged his suitcase to himself where he sat on a boulder, taking a moment to gather himself enough to safely apparate after the emotional upheaval of the past few minutes. Once again, he found himself indebted to his creatures, who had intervened in a team effort to prevent both he and Maglor going through with something they would have both regretted. On the surface, he was their rescuer, but more often than not, Newt felt that it was his creatures who were saving him. So he murmured his praises to them while his whirling thoughts calmed down, and a slow grin spread across his face as it sunk in that, against all the odds, Maglor had chosen to stay.

There was so much he needed to do now, so much to work out. He’d have to find out what Eldar dwellings looked like and attempt to create one in the trunk, plan out some more systematic language teaching than the ad hoc miming he’d been using so far, and somehow work on getting past Maglor’s acute mistrust of himself – a task for which Newt felt himself woefully underqualified. But he grinned all the wider at the prospect, because now he’d have a chance to do all that, and Maglor would finally get at least some of the care he deserved. But before any of that, there was one thing to do which was an absolute must in this situation.

So Newt apparated back to his guest house, slid down into his case, and put the kettle on.

The other day, he’d used some of Maglor’s hair recovered from the comb to run a Toxicity Tester potion and had happily confirmed that along with most common herbs and potion ingredients, he was safe to indulge in a cup of tea. And Newt reckoned that they were both in dire need of a nice cuppa after what had just happened. Maglor watched him curiously from where he was perching on a crate, dutifully eating an apple, supervised by Dougal, with Helga snuffling happily around his ankles. Charmed by the scene, Newt wrapped a blanket around the Elda’s shoulders, even though it wasn’t particularly cold in his hut. Maglor raised an amused eyebrow, as if to say really?, but he accepted it anyway. Newt chuckled. Sometimes he just couldn’t help himself. He sank down onto his own perch and offered Maglor some tea, who sniffed it carefully before sipping. His eyes widened in surprise at the new taste and his brows creased as if he wasn’t sure what to make of it. He took another taste though, and Newt’s inner Brit cheered as Maglor smiled in surprise and pronounced it “good.”

“Very good,” Newt agreed, taking a long slurp of his own, for the next few minutes that was all that needed saying.

“Well,” Newt said, standing up once they’d both finished, breaking the companionable silence. “You’re going to need somewhere to live. Come on. Oh, and bring Helga.”

She settled herself in the crook of Maglor’s elbow with minimal grouching; Newt grabbed his trusty atlas from the bookshelf and off they went. As they headed towards the empty enclosure he’d cleared out in the hope of exactly this, he made a point of stopping at each enclosure and testing Maglor on the words for each kind of habitat, which he remembered flawlessly as usual, then illustrating the use of the word ‘lives’ in the hope that Maglor would understand what Newt was getting at. They delivered Helga back to her bling-covered den as part of the tour. He was slightly concerned about that, given Maglor’s previous reaction to her tendencies, but after the moment on the beach he seemed to have reached an understanding with the little thief, and simply shook his head in something like Newt’s own fond exasperation with the creature.

“Helga lives in a den,” Maglor suggested, anticipating Newt, now he’d spotted the pattern.

“Yes, exactly,” Newt confirmed as he led the way through to the large area curtained by blank canvas. “Now, where do you want to live?”

Maglor frowned.

“Here,” he said, gesturing around vaguely to make it clear that he meant the whole case rather than just this area. “I stay?”

“Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes,” Newt hurried to confirm. They definitely did not want to go through all of that again. But how was he to communicate that he wanted to create a space within the suitcase that could be entirely Maglor’s own, and he needed his input on what sort of thing he would like?

“This is yours,” he explained, marking out the boundaries of the curtained areas. “You choose something and I’ll make it for you.” A little illustration was always useful in these circumstances, so he brought out the atlas, a birthday present from Tina from several years back. It used similar magic to a pensieve and allowed its owner to embed their own mental images of the places they’d travelled into its pages. Newt had thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing as he filled it with his extensive memories, and occasionally imagined how nice it would be to tell the stories of his adventures with a little one on his knee, staring entranced at the floating images conjured by the book. He and Tina hadn’t had any luck on that front so far, though.

Now, he had a different purpose in mind for the book. He flicked to the page where he’d concentrated on recording the various habitations of magical creatures and peoples, aiming to inspire Maglor with some options of dwellings he could feasibly make with some creative transfiguration, hoping that he’d hit on something at least similar to how the Eldar lived. He had no idea how far Maglor had been displaced from his people’s original home to end up on that beach, so he opted to show him a wide range of places around the world. There must be so much that someone lost, being the sole survivor of their species, so much culture and tradition that fell away. Newt was determined to give Maglor something that could at the very least feel like home.

To begin, he double tapped the glowing point somewhere in the middle of the Sahara, and the expansive and homely tents of the Behrawi appeared, a nomadic tribe of mainly magical people who had once sheltered Newt whilst he was tracking a nundu. Naming everything as he went, he went on to show Maglor the elaborate Veela nests in the German Black Forest; the sturdy mountain chalets of the dragon handlers in the Peruvian Andes; the cluster of simple but attractive thatched huts which housed a small Japanese werewolf colony; the elegant bowers used by centaurs in southern France; and an English cottage, which he’d included for his fond memories of its amateur magizoologist inhabitant, who had given Newt several useful tip-offs over the years. His selection was limited to structures he was confident enough to build using his magic; anyway, he reasoned that it would have been harder for an entire species to just disappear from memory if they’d left more permanent buildings behind.

“What do you want?” he asked when he’d shown Maglor a range. “What do you like?”

Seeing that Maglor seemed a bit floored by this concept, Newt decided to approach the subject in a different manner.

“The Eldar, where did you live?”


Did. Past tense. Remember that. a weirdly detached part of Maglor’s brain observed. He thought he knew what Newt had been getting at, but still struggled to wrap his head around the idea that Newt could really transform this blank cube of white canvas into a house or a forest. He was also a little flummoxed by the idea of choosing an abode; he had stayed on the beach as a form of self-punishment, ensuring that he would be ever confronted with symbol of the lost Silmaril and his inaccessible home. The few places he’d stopped were chosen for secrecy and practicality purposes only, never comfort or luxury. Hence he found himself floundering a little when presented with the staggering range of options Newt had suggested, all of them far more indulgent than he truly needed. But then Newt changed the question.

He couldn’t see anything that resembled the fortified dwellings he’d resided in for most of the First Age among the available choices, except perhaps a glimpse of something behind the image of the bowers which sheltered some strange but majestic horse-human hybrids. He indicated that general area and Newt called up the image again.

“You lived in bowers?” he asked, and Maglor shook his head. Instead he pointed to the looming grey structure just visible through the trees atop a distant hill.

“You lived in castles?”

Newt sounded amazed this time. He licked his lips nervously. “Do you want a castle?”

Maglor shook his head again. He’d only been trying to answer his question accurately; he would never dream of demanding something so excessive from his already generous host. Newt looked enormously relieved.

“I can show you more if you want?” Newt offered. Something told him that Newt wasn’t going to accept it if he tried to insist that he’d wandered the shoreline for years, he would be perfectly happy to just drift through the locations already in the suitcase. Before he could be overwhelmed by yet more options, Maglor went with his instincts and picked one of the wooden houses from the Eastern side of the map. Something about its clean lines and gentle curves was pleasantly reminiscent of Valinorean architecture.

“Good choice,” Newt enthused, his hands fluttering in excitement. “Now, where do you want it?” He flipped open a different page in the atlas and his wand danced across different locations, calling up meadows, forest, stream, savannah, beach, mountains.

“You make mountains?” Maglor couldn’t help asking, incredulously, and despite himself, a little hopefully.

Newt grinned proudly. “I make mountains. Well, illusions really…stay here.”

He dashed off, caught up in the thrill of his new project, and quickly returned holding a jar of paint and with a trail of rocks bobbing along as they floated behind him. He arranged them along one side of the curtained area and set down the paint, glanced over his shoulder to check Maglor was watching, and began.

First, with a flick of his wand he levitated the paint out of the jar and onto the canvas walls, then with a couple of murmured incantations and complicated wand movements he caused it to twist and shimmer. It was originally a pale gold colour but as Newt worked, contrasts became apparent in it. Gold shifted to silver which faded into grey in some parts, whilst others cleared to a delicate eggshell blue. Maglor watched in awe, trying to remember that he was looking at an image and but unable to ignore the signals from his sharp eyes, which insisted that there was suddenly an entire mountain range where before there was only cloth. After tweaking the colours of the snow a little, Newt moved on to the rocks he’d brought with him, commanding them to grow until they became foothills blending into the image so seamlessly that he couldn’t tell where the real stone stopped and the canvas began. He crouched over the boulders, reaching into his pocket for something, but it looked no different when he stepped back.

“Floresco,” he incanted with a curving motion of his wand, and tiny little alpine plants sprung up from the seeds he’d scattered in every fissure and hollow, bursting into verdant leaves and showers of white blooms.

If Curufin had ever produced something like that, Maglor was certain they wouldn’t have heard the end of it for years. He would have turned round with a casual, appraising attitude to his creation, one eyebrow half-raised in a silent well?, trying to hide his satisfaction and fooling exactly nobody. The display he’d just witnessed was spectacular enough that he half-expected Newt to do something similar. But when he turned round, not pride but nervousness written all over his face, his hands twisting together in anxiety, he reminded Maglor instead of Elrond, lifting his head after performing his first composition on the harp for his foster father and hoping for his approval.

“Do you like it?” Newt asked, his words once again made more resonant by the echo of Elrond’s, so many millennia ago.

I need an intensifier in this language, Maglor decided, quickly sorting through the words he’d learnt so far to find one.

“I very like it,” he said sincerely, and the corners of Newt’s eyes crinkled up as he smiled delightedly.

“You like it a lot, do you?” he confirmed, offering a subtle correction, and blushing a little.

“Yes,” Maglor confirmed, mentally noting that ‘very’ was not used with verbs, “I like it a lot.”

He wanted to explain exactly why the backdrop Newt had created gave him so much joy. It was a little nonsensical, really, that his time defending Maglor’s Gap should be one of his happiest memories, given that he was holding a vulnerable territory in the middle of a brutal war which ended up being lost, but nevertheless, it was so. That was one of the few times in his life when he could both pursue the Silmarils and protect his kin without those goals conflicting, Maedhros had been returned to them and was recovering with his usual ferocious determination, the Noldor were as united as they were ever realistically going to be, and for a brief point in time it felt like together, they might stand against Morgoth and not yield. By the standards of Maglor’s life post-Valinor, that was practically bliss. As a commander, he was very hands-on, he felt that he could make better decisions that way, so he often rode out on patrols with his scouts. There was nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction and safety as the western arm of Ered Lindon grew larger in their view, embracing the lands of the Noldor as if Arda herself were protecting them from Morgoth’s cruelties. Seeing those mountains meant that a long patrol was coming to an end, and that Morgoth had not won today. But an explanation at that level was beyond his current linguistic capabilities, so he settled with saying:

“I like mountains. They protect, keep safe.”

Newt nodded, leaning in with interest as he did every time Maglor offered information about himself or his opinions.

“Good,” he said once it was clear that Maglor wasn’t going to elaborate, clapping his hands as he straightened and turned towards the remaining blank canvas on the other side.

“Let’s make some more.”


Newt was rather relieved. For a moment there he’d thought he was being asked to recreate a medieval French château; his transfiguration was good, but that was certainly beyond his skill set.

If the Eldar had lived in stone fortresses though, that did raise the question of what had happened to them all and why had nobody noticed them? Perhaps they were taken over by humans, their original designers forgotten- it wouldn’t be the first time that humans had appropriated the work of other magical races. Or perhaps the cataclysmic event that had killed the rest of them had destroyed their dwellings too. Newt shivered and decided not to continue that train of thought.

Castles might not be a part of his repertoire, but mountains; mountains he could do. Covering the rest of the canvas with more of the enchanted paint, he completed the vista with more craggy peaks extending in the other direction. He decided to leave the house to the next day and explained this to Maglor; he wanted to devote the entire morning to it, as that would take a lot more concentration. Habitats were one thing, but he wasn’t too fond of more technical construction magic. He’d built his own cabin inside his suitcase when he first set it up, with all the fervour of youth on a mission, and probably less attention to detail than he should have had. So it was twisted and a slightly odd shape and irredeemably cluttered; it was his, and he loved it. But with Maglor’s new home, he felt that he should at least attempt to follow a few principles of symmetry.

That evening they ate together on the terrace – having another person around was doing wonders for the regularity of Newt’s own meals – and then Maglor accompanied Newt on the evening feed. Maglor refused to let Newt carry everything himself, Newt refused to let Maglor even think of holding anything on his palms, so eventually they compromised and Maglor ended up with a few buckets of feed slung over his arms. Perhaps Newt was reading too much into it, but the creatures seemed to be more than usually affectionate to Maglor, as if they were aware of the earlier near miss and wanted to make it clear that they were grateful for his continued presence. He ended up wearing Laila the occamy coiled around his neck like a scarf for most of the evening; Maglor seemed bewildered by this, but not distressed, so Newt just let it pass, and it seemed that the Elda grew used to the comforting weight of his slightly bizarre new accessory.

Later, Newt drew a makeshift timeline in order to illustrate tenses, knowledge which Maglor hungrily absorbed. Using the newly elaborated future tense, he explained the plan for the next day: he would build Maglor’s house in the morning and Portkey back to England in the afternoon. Maglor had certainly kept him busy and distracted, but there was no denying the growing ache in Newt’s chest to see his wife again: she’d be home in a few days, and he wanted to make sure he was there when she got back. Given their respective jobs, they were used to spending time apart, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. It was even worse when she was undercover for long periods of time, since that meant that they couldn’t have any contact at all so as not blow her cover, and it was one of the most dangerous parts of an auror’s job. Logically, he knew that if anyone should be worried, it would be the criminals who dared to cross his wife, but he yearned to see her safe nevertheless.

Newt wasn’t quite sure how much Maglor took away from his ‘portkey’ mime (consisting of grabbing a random book and jumping between parts of the room he’d designated ‘Norway’ and ‘England’), but he’d at least made an attempt to explain their travel plans. It wouldn’t make much difference to Maglor, since he’d be in the suitcase the whole time, but Newt felt it was only fair to inform him that he was being taken to a different country. Maglor stubbornly resisted all Newt’s efforts to convince him to sleep, so eventually Newt had to be content leaving him to gaze at the artificial stars of the case as they rose over his newly created mountains, feeling once again that he was intruding on something beyond his ken.

In the guesthouse bed that night though, his mind buzzing with construction charms he hadn’t used for years as he planned out Maglor’s new home, Newt drifted off, warmed by the incredible privilege of Maglor’s hard-won trust, and growing steadily more convinced that together, they might just make this work.


On his first day as an official member of Newt’s suitcase family, Maglor was gifted with a house. Newt had banned him from watching the building of it, managing with some difficulty to convey that he was nervous about having an audience for this part, and teaching him the word ‘nervous’ in the process. He didn’t understand why Newt would be afraid of his judgement when Maglor had spent thousands of years in seaside caves, and would be grateful for any shelter at all, but nonetheless he spent the morning with Katarina, enjoying the profound quality of their shared silence. Newt was buzzing with energy when he came back, clothes rumpled and covered in wood shavings, his enthusiasm infectious as he led Maglor back to his new ‘habitat.’

It was utterly idyllic. Newt had done something to make the ground slope upwards, making it impossible to tell that the sheltering mountains were created by enchanted paint. He’d also added a stream meandering its way through the foothills and splashing melodiously over the boulders into a clear pool. The house itself had all the features that had appealed to Maglor in the image in the atlas, the clean lines of wooden beams contrasting attractively with the painted white of the walls, and the gently curving slopes of the overhanging thatch roof looking perfectly at home against the backdrop. True, the symmetry wasn’t completely perfect, and the roof was slightly wonky, but that didn’t annoy Maglor’s inner perfectionist nearly as much as it would have earlier in his life. Now, he believed that it added to the character of the place. Doesn’t quite fit the perfect mould, just like its inhabitant, he thought, it’s fitting. Its quirks also made it similar to Newt’s own cabin, and that pleased Maglor, although he wouldn’t have been able to say exactly why. Newt saw him pondering the roof and rushed into apologies and an explanation of that he wasn’t that good at this type of magic, but Maglor cut him off.

“It’s very good,” he said, relieved to be finally gaining some confidence with this grammar, “I like it a lot. I want to live here. Thank you.”

Newt beamed and led the way inside. The space was light and airy, with rugs and cushions covering the wooden floor, the bed and table moved there from the side room in Newt’s cabin, and a screen at the back concealing a basin and a water pump. Newt was rambling again, indicating empty spaces and outlining invisible furniture with his hands, promising to supply it as soon as possible. Intuitively sensing how to reassure him, Maglor sank down onto a cushion and made himself comfortable. It would be a perfect peaceful spot for singing or meditating.

“You look at home,” Newt said with a gentle smile when he noticed, finally ceasing his anxious chatter.

Maglor smiled back at him, inferring his meaning.

“Yes, I am.”

 

Chapter Text

“Master Newt!” a shrill voice cried as a Floo journey, a portkey and several apparitions later, Newt finally stepped through the familiar front door of his London home.

“Hilpy is being so glad that you is home! Hilpy is being worried that you is off adventuring when Mistress Tina is getting back, and Mistress Tina is doing scary eyes because Hilpy is letting you go off alone, sir!”

“Well, thank goodness that we’ve both been spared Mistress Tina’s scary eyes, I agree with you, they can be quite alarming.”

Those beautiful smouldering salamander eyes that still captivated him after all these years, like fire in dark water, could indeed flash quite dangerously when Tina was annoyed. He crouched to the level of the elderly house-elf and spoke seriously.

“You do know though, Hilpy, that when Tina does her scary eyes it’s only ever me that’s in trouble? She’d never be truly cross at you, and there’s never ever going to be a time when you need to punish yourself, yes?”

A few years ago, Newt and Tina had inherited Hilpy from Newt’s far more traditional parents, which meant that she was still attached to many of the old formalities; she had been so distressed when told to drop the ‘Master’ and ‘Mistress’ titles that they had quickly reassured her she could call them whatever she liked. Perhaps paradoxically considering this, she was unafraid to challenge Newt when it came to his wellbeing; having known him from his infancy and been something of a second mother to him, it was as though she still considered herself under orders to ‘look after little Newt and don’t let him tread mud into the carpets.’ Nevertheless, knowing how conscientious she was, Newt still had nightmares that one day he’d walk in on her punishing herself for a perceived error; his gut twisted in the knowledge that his parents, raised in a different era of wizarding society, would have instructed her to do exactly that. Hence, he was utterly delighted when she responded to his gentle reminder by rolling her eyes.

“Yes, Master Newt, Hilpy knows, no punishment with Master Newt and Mistress Tina, strange order though that is, Master Newt is telling Hilpy every week since she is here. Hilpy is not stupid, she remembers!”

Newt raised his hands in concession. “Sorry, Hilpy, didn’t mean to underestimate your intelligence, it’s just that I know things are very different for you here and I don’t like the thought of you hurting yourself, that’s all.”

“Master Newt was always a one for these fanciful ideas,” she observed fondly as she leaned forward and straightened his travel-ruffled bow tie.

“I suppose I was and still am,” he agreed cheerfully. “Thank you for putting up with me, Hilpy.”

They headed through to the living room and he informed Hilpy that he had brought a guest, nearly sending her into a frenzy for not having set up a room for master Maglor, until Newt managed to placate her with the information that he’d mainly be staying in the suitcase.

“Now the important thing is, it’s going to be a secret,” Newt explained. “Just you, me and Tina will know he’s here, maybe Jacob and Queenie a bit later on, but no-one else. He’s very…unique, you see, and the Ministry would blunder around trying to interrogate him, maybe lock him up, even, and we don’t want that. Is that alright with you?”

“Hilpy will not tell block-headed buffoons at the Ministry about Master Maglor. Hilpy is good at secrets!”

Newt chuckled at her phrasing. He really needed to stop ranting about his employers in front of Hilpy, she was picking up far too many of his bad habits.

“Thank you, that’s great, I knew I could trust you. Do you want to meet him?”

She nodded excitedly and Newt rapped out the knock he’d agreed with Maglor on his suitcase lid. Hilpy’s bulbous eyes nearly bugged out of her head when she saw the lithe form emerge gracefully from the case, and she bowed in the excessively formal manner Newt had been trying to convince her not to use.

“Master Maglor, sir! You is one of the old ones! Hilpy is thinking it is just old elf stories! Is you real, sir?”

Maglor looked as bewildered as Newt felt.

“Maglor, this is Hilpy, she’s a house-elf. Hilpy, this is Maglor, he’s an Elda. He’s still learning English so we might have to explain a few things. What did you mean about him being an ‘old one’? Do you know about his people?”

“It is house-elf foolishness, sir, not for masters. Hilpy was thinking it was nonsense but Master Maglor’s magic is older than hers, so it was true all along. Hilpy is sorry for her unbelief, sir!” she wailed, throwing herself at his feet. Newt could only shrug in response to Maglor’s panicked what do I do now? expression, so the Elda cautiously crouched to her level, still dwarfing her due to his impressive height.

“Hilpy is good. You be not sorry,” he tried to reassure her, looking to Newt for confirmation that he was on the right track, and getting a nervous smile and a hand motion to continue from the magizoologist.

“I…do not understand. Why is…Why are you sad? What is ‘old one?’”

Merlin, this was going to be confusing for poor Maglor, now that he had Hilpy’s non-standard grammar to contend with as well as Newt’s inexpert teaching. He really hadn’t thought this through.

“You don’t know, sir?” Hilpy asked, raising her head warily.

“I was alone. Much alone. I do not…know much. About now.”

“Hilpy does not understand how you are still here, sir?”

House-elf and Elda stared at each other in mutual puzzlement. Newt quickly resolved to separate them before they confused each other further and talk to them alone to investigate. He also knew that nothing soothed Hilpy’s frayed nerves like having a simple task to perform.

“Okay, Hilpy, why don’t you get the kettle on while I give Maglor the tour of the house? I’ll come and catch you in the kitchen?”

“Of course, sir!” Hilpy squeaked, evidently relieved, and snapped herself out of the room, making Maglor jump.

“Do you know what Hilpy is? Have you ever seen a house-elf before?” Newt asked, intensely curious about the interaction that had just taken place. Maglor confirmed that he hadn’t, looking thoughtful.

“Why she talks like knows me?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I’ll ask her and try to find out,” Newt reassured him. “Let me show you the house.”

Maglor found it all fascinating- understandably, he must have missed lots of interior design developments in his years of isolation. He was most perplexed by the electric light fittings- they were actually powered by magic but they had come with the house so Newt and Tina had kept them- and he was awestruck by the concept of pressing a button to illuminate a room. The sight of Newt’s unusually tidy study (Hilpy had clearly been in during Newt’s absence) livened him up significantly, and Newt watched with a fond smile as he inspected the impressive collection of reference tomes of the bookshelves and the neat stack of parchment on the desk.

Newt made it clear that Maglor was free to come and go between the house and the suitcase as he pleased, although he explained that he might be asked to hide in the case if there were other wizards around. He nodded in solemn understanding at that, and Newt left him to explore the living room whilst he headed to the kitchen to see if he could decipher what Hilpy’s strange reaction had been all about. She was significantly calmer when he found her, just as he’d hoped, so he started investigating.

 “What did you mean when you said that Maglor was an ‘old one’? I’ve never heard you talk about them before.”

“It is story, old story, about how the house-elves came to be, sir. Hilpy is thinking it is all much poppycock until today.” She shifted her feet, a little uncomfortable. “Old house-elf mothers tell it to their little ones. They is saying that before this world, there was another. Different rules, different magic, and the elves came from a land across the sea. Elves was not being bonded to humans then, they was powerful, and tall, and strong, like Maglor, and they was making themselves great cities just with gold and shining jewels.”

“Wait…you’re telling me that house-elves used to look like Maglor?

Magical creature evolution could take some strange turns, but Newt would never have theorised such a close relation between the diminutive, service-obsessed house-elves and the tall, physically powerful Eldar.

“Hilpy is only telling what they is saying, sir!”

“Sorry, Hilpy, I’ll shut up. Please continue.”

“The elves was powerful, but they was doing bad things. Terrible things! They was making things that sended people mad, and they was having too much power. Some of them was good, was trying to help poor humans, and there was big wars to fix the wrongs. Big, big wars, with elves setting dragons on each other, like in the first war with wizards only worse because dragons were the size of cities! At last, that teached them that elves must not keep on in human world, so they is doing three things. Some is sailing away back to their home, no-one can find it now. Some is vanishing, they is fading to spirit and then nothing. But the third, they is knowing that they damaged human world, and they is sorry, very sorry, sir! So they is becoming less. They is begging to atone, so they is becoming mortal, and small, and frail, and they is finding wizards with power and swearing to serve them so they can help the humans look after new world after the wars. They is being the very first house-elves, and they and their children and their children’s children is sworn to always serve because of the terrible things that happened before.”

House-elves had an entire mythology and story of their origins, Newt had worked with them for two years in his youth and he hadn’t ever thought to ask. It made him feel rather ashamed of himself and honoured that he was being trusted with this knowledge now.

“So you thought it was just a story, but now you think Maglor is one of those elves from before so it must be true?”

Hilpy nodded, her startling green eyes wide with sincerity.

“How do you know that he is one of them?”

“House-elves sense things, Master Newt, magical senses. Master Maglor has old, old, magic, older than house-elf magic, older than wizard magic. Who else could he be?”

Shivers began to creep over Newt’s skin as he processed what Hilpy was implying. Magical academics generally agreed that house-elf magic was the oldest known kind, and that house-elves were peculiarly attuned to the magical auras of others. If Hilpy said that Maglor was older than her people’s magic, then that meant…

“How long ago was it? The time of the old ones? Do you know?”

“Long ago, sir, beyond the memory of the great-grandmothers.”

House-elves can live for centuries.

“In years, do you think you could guess?”

“Thousands, at least sir, maybe more.”

Thousands. Newt had known Maglor was old, had guessed centuries, but multiple millennia – it was hard to even conceptualise what that length of time must feel like.

“So if he is one of the old ones, then why did he stay here as he was? He doesn’t know about house-elves, you see. He thinks that all his people died.”

“That is most strange, sir. Hilpy does not know.”

Newt thanked her, mind whirring, as she zipped off to the living room with the tea. House-elf senses could be uncannily precise at times, and were underestimated by many wizards, so he trusted Hilpy implicitly when she said that Maglor’s magic was older than hers. But as for all the rest of it, it was probably a complex weaving of history and fantasy, which Hilpy herself had initially thought just a story, and it was difficult to tease out the strands of truth. Dragons the size of cities, he knew that bit at least was false, it was preposterous: magical limits and simple aerodynamics prevented them from exceeding the size of a small village, and only the very largest Ironbellies would ever reach that size. Perhaps it was more representative of some expansive violent decimation. That would explain how so many could have vanished without a trace.

The question of the link between the Eldar and house-elves was trickier: he’d never heard of a magical race that could change the very nature of their being simply through force of will and a desire for penance, so perhaps that was a way to explain a sudden change in their species due to other factors. Another effect of the theorised magical object that had hurt Maglor’s hands, perhaps? It was like a jigsaw puzzle, and Newt felt that he was looking at the scattered pieces, not quite able to slot them together.

He walked away from that conversation with more questions than answers, wondering how on earth he was supposed to explain all this across a language barrier which he now suspected spanned millennia.


Maglor was highly perplexed by the diminutive being currently serving him tea from an elegant floral teaset, and it looked like she shared the sentiment, as she peered up at him with wide, curious eyes. He struggled with her speech a little, as it seemed to twist and reshape the grammar rules he thought he’d already absorbed. She was chattering nervously, repeating the phrases ‘old ones’ and ‘Master Newt is saying’ several times- he nodded along politely, though unsure exactly what he was confirming. He thanked her once she’d poured the tea though, and that delighted her, as she bowed and squeaked,

“You is being very welcome, sir!”

They were spared any more mutual incomprehension by Newt’s arrival, which he was hoping would clarify things a little. He glanced between them thoughtfully, worried his lip a little, and began.

“House-elves, like Hilpy, they have…stories, about you.”

“Setory,” Maglor murmured the new word, then corrected himself, “Story.” English had far more consonant clusters than was reasonable in Maglor’s opinion, and he had to clamp down on his instinct to add more vowels to make it flow more like the elvish languages. At first he had found it terribly unmusical, but increasingly he was hearing that it had a music of its own, a melody he was keen to learn.

Newt grabbed a book from a nearby shelf, leafing through it, to illustrate the meaning.

“Story, like in a book,” he explained, and the significance of Newt’s statement finally sunk in. Hilpy’s people told tales about him- so that meant she knew, and her initial reaction on seeing him must have been abject terror on realising that the killer of her childhood nightmare had turned up in her home, and despite all his best intentions he was still causing suffering…

“About me?” he repeated, horror-struck.

“Well, not you specifically, but the Eldar,” Newt corrected quickly, using hand gestures to emphasise his point, which alleviated Maglor’s panic. “They think they were like you, like the Eldar, and years ago they changed into house-elves.”

Hilpy was nodding emphatically. “There was old ones, then there was house-elves,” she chipped in.

Taking a moment to work through this, Maglor finally realised what was being implied, what Hilpy had meant when she said, ‘old ones.’ It was staggering. He’d assumed that if there was anyone else who hadn’t taken ship at the end of the Fourth Age, they would have faded; the duty of his penance prevented that from happening to him. But if this was to be believed, they had done something drastic, or something drastic had happened to them, and therefore Hilpy was some kind of…very distant relative? Earlier in his life, he might have been horrified at the mere suggestion that his people would relinquish their power and grace in order to serve humans; but now, he couldn’t help but notice how genuinely happy Hilpy seemed, how free from the burdens of history that his people were fated to carry. If he’d understood this correctly, and it really was true, then maybe those Eldar who became the house-elves had the right idea. And just maybe, he could take comfort in this remnant of his people who were not lost to him, after all.

“Is it… real?” he asked, astounded.

Hilpy and Newt shared a long, uncertain look.

“Maybe. We don’t know,” Newt said diplomatically. “But maybe when you’ve learned more English, if you talk to Hilpy about the Eldar, you can work it out.”

“Hilpy is wanting to know all about the old ones, if you is wanting to tell it, sir!” she chirped enthusiastically.

Fascinated by this new possibility and intrigued by Hilpy’s insights into the history he had isolated himself from, Maglor welcomed this prospect. Once a bard, always a bard: there was nothing more exciting than an enthusiastic listener, and if Hilpy wanted to know the stories he had remembered in secret for the past four ages, the good along with the bad, then he would oblige and share them.

“Yes,” he said, smiling at his new friend and possibly long-lost cousin, “I will try.”


Two days later

This time, Tina would be firm. This time, she was going to tell Newt exactly what she thought about his running off to a smuggling bust with no backup without telling her. This time, she was going to stay angry long enough to actually make a difference. No matter how crestfallen he looked, she was not going to fall for it. Nope. She was prepared.

She slipped into the front door and he bounded into the hallway like an excited puppy, opening his arms to his wife.

“Tina! I missed you!”

She didn’t respond to his invitation, instead turning to hang her coat up and crossing her arms, which was very unusual for her, since she would normally jump to reciprocate any physical displays of affection Newt initiated.

“Really? I’m surprised you had time.”

“Tina…?”

“You amused yourself perfectly well gallivanting off busting smuggling rings in Norway, so I hear.”

“Ah.”

“Yes, ah. Baylard cornered me before I left the department. You created something of a paperwork mountain for him, apparently.”

Newt mumbled something that sounded suspiciously like traitor. Tina raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t go blaming Baylard for this, mister, I know for a fact that you turned up uninvited.”

“We always turn up uninvited!”

“Yes, exactly. We. I wasn’t there to protect you! What if something had happened to you? What if I’d come back from two weeks undercover to find that you weren’t here because you were hurt or worse?” Tina’s voice cracked on the last word, and just like that her intimidating persona shattered, because she’d shown Newt where she was hurting, and he always managed to end up comforting her when she did that. It was really very inconvenient of him to insist on doing that when she was trying to be angry.

“Tina,” and there it was, that soft consoling voice, like he was talking down an agitated occamy, and she knew she’d lost. “I really am sorry I worried you. I didn’t mean to. And you know we would have gone together if we could. It’s just that there wasn’t any time and creatures were in danger…”

“So were you!”

“Yes, but I was fine. I am fine. I took Greg with me. And I can protect myself when I need to.”

“I know you can, but that’s not the point! You shouldn’t have to protect yourself! That’s my job!”

“And I couldn’t ask for a better protector. And you were protecting me, on my last trip, even though you weren’t there.”

“How exactly?” Tina inquired, suspecting that Newt was about to say something unutterably sweet, with those big innocent eyes of his, and that the anger she was valiantly trying to hold onto would melt away before it.

“Because I knew I had you to come home to. I had to make it safely back to you.”

Tina understood, now, why demiguises ended up being poached despite their clairvoyance. Despite knowing what was coming, it still defeated her. The sheer fluttery warmth of knowing that Newt was being completely honest when he said that, not just trying to wriggle out of a lecture but genuinely wanting to reassure her, was enough to make her anger dissipate. He took her hands, tentatively, and already she felt terribly guilty for putting that hesitation there.

“I will always come home to you, Tina. However far I travel. Can you trust that?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “It was just horrible, hearing about it secondhand, and reading about it, and thinking of you going into that situation on your own…”

“I know, and I’m sorry I put you through that. I would have asked you if I could have. Can you forgive me?”

“Oh, alright, then. Since you ask so nicely.” Her grumpiness was feigned, and they both knew it. The beginnings of a smile fluttered around Newt’s lips.

“Can I have a hug, then? I really did miss you.”

“Well, when you put it like that…” Tina gave in and hugged him, whispering in his ear,

“I missed you too, so much.”

They stayed there, wrapped in each other’s embrace, delighting in rediscovering how perfectly they fit together after circumstances so rudely separated them.

Next time, Tina would stay cross long enough to convince her mad husband to promise to be more sensible. She would.

Who was she kidding?

No, she wouldn’t. The beginning of their relationship, with her first arresting him and then becoming his partner-in-crime, had set the tone for the ensuing years. She would start off angry, attempting to talk some sense into him and then without quite knowing how she would end up halfway across the world sneaking up on a dragon and loving it despite herself.

Ah well. There were worse problems in the world than being married to someone it was impossible to stay angry with. She’d just have to try to arrange things so she could make sure that she was there as backup next time. Gregory the Swooping Evil was all very well, but Tina Scamander defending her husband took ‘ferocious’ to a completely new level.


 “How did the case go?” Newt asked once Tina had snuggled herself into their settee, supplied with some strong coffee and a bar of chocolate.

“Difficult to crack, exhausting, but I did it. Enough evidence to convict a prominent member of the Wizengamot. There’ll be a scandal in the Prophet tomorrow.”

“My wife, at the centre of another scandal,” Newt teased, the pride unmistakeable in his expression. Tina, impressively, kept a straight face, though her eyes sparkled.

“Flattery will get you nowhere.” She sipped her coffee primly. “So, adopt anyone on that trip to Norway you definitely shouldn’t have done without me?”

“Yes, actually,” Newt began with the smaller news. “I’ve rehomed most of their captives, there are still three jarveys to go up to the reserve in Yorkshire though.”

“Oh, please can I watch you when you catch them, that’s just the sort of thing I need after a case like this.”

“I still don’t see what’s so surprising about the fact that I know swearwords stronger than ‘bugger’, but if it makes you happy, anything. But that’s not the biggest news.”

“Well, go on then.”

“I’ve got one new friend staying permanently, and he really is one of a kind. An entirely new species.”

Mercy Lewis!”

“…Tina, don’t make that face. He’s a sweetheart, it’s fine.”

“I’ve heard that before, and I repeat, Mercy Lewis, holy hell and Merlin’s beard. Please tell me you’ve checked for hidden fire glands this time. Everywhere.”

“Well…not exactly, but if he’s got fire glands he’s hiding them well. Anyway, the mutation that led to the Samoan Double-Ended Fire Lobster was extremely rare, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see that again.”

“You’re not exactly reassuring me here. You said they were sweethearts as well before they started levitating on clouds of fire and nearly burnt off our feet!”

“You’re never going to let me forget that one, are you? Anyway, this is different. He’s a Being, a magical humanoid.”

Tina’s expression instantly changed to one of pained concern.

“You don’t need to lie to me, Newt.”

“What? I’m not lying, I would never…”

“No, you wouldn’t, but you would evade. And you are evading. Maybe he’s got some kind of features you’ve never seen before, you’re classing him as his own sub-species: but if you’re honest, if you’re honest with yourself, he’s a werewolf, isn’t he?”

“Tina, this isn’t about the Registry. I keep telling you, I’ve dealt with that.”

“No, you haven’t. And it’s okay that you haven’t. You have a right to your anger, and though it wasn’t your fault your guilt is understandable too. But you won’t talk about it, you put it off every time I ask, and you throw yourself into doing everything possible for every werewolf you can find with no thought to how much it takes out of you-”

“It’s only fair that I help them, seeing that I’ve caused them so much suffering-”

“There it is! I know you think I’m nagging about this, but it’s not that I have a problem with you helping werewolves. I’m just worried about you, that’s all. You can’t keep carrying this guilt around, letting it drive you until you’re burned out, or it’s going to destroy you. And I won’t let that happen!”

This wasn’t the first time they’d had this conversation. Tina was, as usual, annoyingly correct. Newt had written the legislation creating the Werewolf Registry of 1947 to deal with the rogue Grindelwald loyalist werewolves left behind after the war, but his assigned team had been fractious and prejudiced. He’d compromised on many issues, but at the end of an incredibly stressful few months, he had produced a fair law that allowed the government reasonable monitoring of the werewolf population in an emergency situation whilst allowing peaceful werewolves as much privacy and dignity as possible.

It was after that that things had gone south. He’d assumed that, since he’d been the person to propose the law, he would, naturally, go on to head the task force charged with implementing it. However, the Ministry had insisted on interviewing for the position, and then selected Newt’s main rival in the original team instead of him. Incredibly intolerant towards the entire lycanthrope community after losing his sister in a werewolf attack, Delius Ferlow had originally advocated, among other things, for a clause allowing the Ministry to arrest any werewolf on essentially no grounds whatsoever. Newt had managed to prevent its inclusion in the final draft, but over the following two years he could do nothing but watch in horror as all the loopholes in the law he’d worked so hard on were exploited in order to make life a living hell for people who didn’t deserve it.

He’d attempted to make it right as far as possible. All the werewolves who knew him and Tina personally were aware of the situation and were far more forgiving than Newt felt he deserved. But it was hard for him to locate other struggling werewolves in order to offer his help, given that they had no interest in revealing themselves to the man who’d written the persecutory law. His most recent project revolved around providing a secret, warded forest for a few friends to transform in safety. Each morning after, as he cared for their wounds, felt like a drop in the ocean of his penance.

The guilt was like a horrible lead mass in his gut, weighing him down, and he hated speaking of it, acknowledging it, trying to face it. He’d rather be doing, trying to rectify his wrongs, even though he knew deep down it would never be enough. So every attempt Tina had made to get him to open up had been diverted, procrastinated, or refused, and this time would have been no different, except…

Except for the past few days, Newt had felt like he was talking to a brick wall, attempting to get Maglor to understand that whatever horrors lurked in his past, he was absolutely worthy of care and rest and affection and everything else. For the first time, he saw things from Tina’s perspective, and realised how frustrating it must have been for her to try to get through to him. You can’t keep carrying this guilt around…or it’s going to destroy you. She’d made similar statements before, but only now did Newt truly understand how painful caring for someone with a guilt-ravaged soul could be. And he realised that even if he didn’t believe what he’d done to an already marginalised community could be forgiven, he couldn’t inflict that on his wife. He licked his lips nervously and replied,

“You’re right, Tina.” He ignored her look of shock and continued. “You’ve been trying to help me and I’ve been a stubborn idiot. I really don’t want to talk about it, because you’ll try to convince me to justify it and I don’t think I deserve that, but this time, I promise to be honest when we discuss it. You’re right. I can’t carry this for ever.”

“You actually mean it this time, don’t you?” Tina observed in amazement. Newt nodded.

“What changed?” she asked.

“Maglor,” Newt answered. “Our newest guest. And actually, for once, I wasn’t evading and he’s not anything like a werewolf. He’s an Elda, he tells me, and he’s the last of his kind. There was some kind of catastrophe that killed his people, he was involved somehow, not deliberately I believe, and he’s got this notion that he has to punish himself because of it. So I suppose what I’m saying is, I know how you feel now. And he’s shown me that no-one can let their guilt be their master forever- or at least, that it’s unwise to attempt it.”

Tina took a few moments to process this before saying, deadly seriously,

“Where is this ‘Maglor’? I think I want to hug him.”

Newt chuckled.

“In the suitcase, I’ve built him his own place there, and you can try, but it took me a while before he let me do that, and I’ve only managed it once. Perhaps you’ll have more luck with him though, you’re always so amazing with trauma survivors, I think your skills might be more useful than mine here. I know you’ve just come off a job though, I don’t mind if you want to rest first.”

Tina raised one eyebrow, hefting herself into a more upright position on the settee. “Do you even know me at all, dear husband? Tell me everything. “

Chapter Text

The onward march of time, once again, felt strange to Maglor as he settled into his new life in Newt’s case. Centuries had faded unregistered in his memory, yet the past week had been more eventful than all of them put together. Time had transformed from a sticky syrup of slowly eroding cliffs and the gradual growth of forests, to a fast-flowing stream of new experiences. He wondered if this was how all humans felt time pass, and how in Middle-Earth they coped with its startling intensity.

On that particular morning, Newt was a whirlwind of activity, even more so than usual. The mess that had accumulated around the house was neatly cleared away, the overflowing papers on the desk in his cabin gathered into a tidy pile, and he stopped several times in front of the mirror in the living room, straightened his bow tie and attempted to tame his hair, which consistently sprung back up, no matter how much he tried to flatten it.

This was all explained when Newt showed Maglor the strangest picture he’d ever seen. Familiarity with the illustrated books in the study meant he wasn’t too startled when the figures moved, but he couldn’t get over the accuracy of it, how all the details seemed to be transposed exactly from real life, apart from being all in black and white. It showed Newt holding hands with a dark-eyed woman with a short brown hair, both covered in the blossoms which swirled gently down from the trees surrounding them. Their clothes were more elaborate than anything he’d seen so far: the woman looking stunning in a newfangled white garment of leggings joined to a shoulder-less top piece; Newt in a tailored jacket with a golden flower on the lapel; and even Pickett on Newt’s shoulder proudly wearing a black ribbon tied in imitation of a bow tie.

“My wife, Tina,” Newt explained, indicating the woman. “She’s coming home today.”

The couple in the picture ran forwards together, both laughing and looking at each other far more than at where they were going, until they stumbled into each other, the woman let herself fall against Newt and he embraced her. He looked between picture-Newt and real Newt. Both were wearing exactly the same expression, softened at the edges, full of love, affection and delight. The image and Newt’s response to it prompted him to recall the time when he’d worn that expression himself, in another spring forest glade in a world now lost to him...

The festival of Yavanna was simultaneously the best to play at and the worst.

The best, because the woodland theme was so rich and full of potential – Makalaurë had produced some of his best work using natural world as inspiration – and because it offered the opportunity to play outdoors in a stunningly beautiful forest hall.

The worst, because despite the idyllic setting, the acoustic was tough to work with, not to mention having to adjust every time the wind changed. Winding the obligatory decorative vines around his harp so they didn’t interfere with the strings was a long and fiddly task, and the gorgeous falling petals, so adored by the celebrating elves, were determined to get stuck in his harp-strings. He always seemed to end up fending them off during his most complicated passages, and there was simply no way to do that whilst maintaining any dignity whatsoever.

Nevertheless, he always played the festival. It was an honour to be invited, and it was one of those things he secretly enjoyed moaning about. Usually in his public appearances, if not transported by the music, he was glancing across the merrymakers, jealously hoarding all those moments when an elf in conversation with his father would gesture towards him, and Fëanor’s satisfied little nod and smile would fill him with the heady elation of having made his father proud.

This year, however, it was different. Because when he glanced across the crowd, his eyes might flicker to his father, but like a compass finding its true North, they always returned to her.

The glade was filled with elves, bonded couples swaying slowly in each other’s arms, circles of friends pulling each other round with glee, but she, she danced alone. Eyes closed to the visual splendour around her, she leapt and twirled and twisted, moving fluidly through her figures like molten silver as the blossoms caught in her garlanded hair. Timing impeccable, each movement was a thing of utter precision, though she made it look effortless. She traced the rise and fall of each cadence with her body, the play of the different musical themes delineated in each neatly placed foot or snap of the wrist. For Makalaurë, it was like watching everything he loved about music made visible, and he was mesmerised.

She opened eyes, a lighter, clearer grey than his own, shining silver in Telperion’s light, and saw him looking. He wondered if he’d intruded and offended her, and nodded to her in deference, but the nod and smile she sent him, genuine and open and all the way to her eyes, set his mind at ease. She whirled away and continued to dance as she had before, impervious to all but the music, uncaring of her audience yet knowing he was watching. This dance was all her own, and that just made it all the more astonishing that she had tacitly permitted him to witness it.

His hands had been moving without his conscious thought, so the flurry of complicated rhythmic runs in the next passage took him a little by surprise, entranced as he was by the lone dancer. He tore his eyes away from her and back to his harp, knowing he needed to concentrate for this section, but he was too late to stop his finger slipping in his inattention and striking the wrong string. Everything heightened in a moment of pure adrenalin, he took control just in time and recovered it smoothly into a flashy section of improvisation, even managing to bat away a few stray petals in the process. He exhaled slowly as he safely transitioned back into the music he’d originally planned. His recovery had been quick enough that those who didn’t know the composition wouldn’t notice, as the applause for his showy improvisation attested. Having navigated himself back into calmer waters, and a simpler section he could repeat, he risked a glance up. His father was glaring daggers at him, but for the first time in his life, seeing that expression didn’t cause the soul-deep fear of disappointing his father to consume his entire world.

Because he looked immediately back to her, and she was laughing.

At him.

None but his family had heard the composition. He had no idea how she’d noticed, but her expression made it clear that she knew exactly what had happened.

And she loved it.

She threw her head back, chestnut curls cascading down her back, and laughed. Not a giggle, not a politely moderated titter like some of the more reserved maidens would sometimes use, but a full-bodied, unashamed, unapologetic laugh, and dear Varda, he could compose an entire symphony based on those few joyous notes alone. There was no malice in it, just amusement and mischievous delight that invited him to join her in the merriment at his own expense. He couldn’t deny that invitation, so he allowed his smile to grow wider despite his embarrassment, realising that it was, after all, quite funny.

The rest of that night’s festivities tested his self-control like never before. He limited his glances out over the crowd, trying to concentrate on the music, let it lift him and suffuse his entire being so that nothing existed but song. This, though, deepened their unspoken bond: he’d blink himself back into the physical reality surrounding him after taking himself and his listeners on a rapturous journey through his imagination, then he’d catch her eye and realise she was going through something similar, bringing herself back from the dreams she’d found through her dance. They both knew, in those fleeting glances, the extraordinary kinship two people can find in acknowledging the power of something much larger than themselves.

He finished on an old favourite, the first he’d ever played at this festival, and hearing the assembled voices raised in praise to Yavanna along with his own made his heart soar. But for the first time, the swarms of elves coming to congratulate him afterwards, many mentioning the complexity of the section he’d improvised, frustrated him rather than flattered him. He politely thanked them, craning over their heads as he tried to catch a flash of chestnut curl or moss-green dress. Finally, the crowds cleared and he was crushed.

She was gone.

He tried to pull himself together. She would be at another festival, he could find her then and attempt to tell her- what? That he thought they might be soulmates? That he’d never met anyone else among the Noldor who understood music as she did? That he thought her talent was sublime and he wanted to sit at her feet and listen to her talk about her art? That would be a recipe for scaring her off, true though it all undoubtedly was. His brothers and father were suspiciously absent. He’d expected to be getting the ‘sons-of-Fëanor-do-not-play-wrong-notes-in-public’ speech by now. Sighing, he began to pack up his harp, reflecting mournfully that at least he could use this experience to compose some angst-ridden ballads about heartbreak.

“I distracted you,” a female voice declared behind him. She sounded rather pleased about it.

He whirled around and there she was, standing tall and proud, flushed with excitement, hair askew and covered in blossoms. For a terrifying moment, he opened his mouth and the words wouldn’t come. Come on, he willed himself silently, the heroes of the Great Journey romances would always know what to say. You didn’t learn them all just to falter now.

In hindsight, thinking of all the old songs from the first generation of elvendom might not have been the best idea. Because before he could think twice or filter it, he was saying,

“Indeed you did, fair maiden, and I would fain be distracted again.”

Of the pretentious, archaic things he could have said! Bad enough that his brothers occasionally teased that he spent so much time with old songs, he started to sound like one, but this was so much worse, she’d run to the other end of Valinor now-

“That is well, fair minstrel,” she replied, eyes sparkling as she placed her hand atop his where it rested on his harp, “for I would fain draw your gaze anew.”

“My gaze is captured by your dance,” he enthused, emboldened by this, and more than anything by her eyes, telling him that this linguistic game delighted her as much as it did him, “for it is exquisite. The others, they use the music, as of course they may, but you do not. You find the spark of the music, the part of it that lives, and let it move you.” He swallowed. So much for toning down the intensity, he’d already missed that boat by a long way. “It is the most beautiful thing I have ever been blessed enough to see.”

“I do not always dance thus,” she admitted, reaching for his other hand. “I find that I may only dance as my heart yearns to when plays a minstrel, who seeks not to master the music, but to find its spark, the part of it that lives, and set it free. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever been blessed enough to hear.”

“You are too kind, fair lady. I am but a student in the art and have much yet to learn.”

“As am I. Much lies ahead of me, undiscovered. I would have a partner for the way of my apprenticeship in this craft.”

“And I would walk it with you, if you desired it, though, that you might seems but a fair dream.”

“Then awake, fair minstrel, for I desire it with all my heart.”

Hands pressed together, the harp between them, they gazed at each other in breathless wonder.

“There is a great obstacle before us though, however,” she said seriously, and only the mischief in her expression stopped Makalaurë’s insides from freezing up completely. “I may only lose myself in my craft when you are wholly focused on yours. So together we must vanquish your great foe: distraction.”

“It will be a hard task,” he agreed, voice grave although he was barely keeping his joy contained. “As with all such things it will require practice and patience.”

“I shall fight the foe alongside you,” she replied, laughing a little now, “and I will even find it in my heart to forgive you a few defeats.”

“You are too merciful, my lady,” he laughed, and seized with the spirit of all the romantic heroes he’d long admired, kissed the back of her hand.

“And they told me not to expect to find love like in the old tales,” she teased.

“Then they were wrong. I think sometimes that the tales hold the deepest truth of all.”

“So I too have often thought, and desire greatly to talk of it further. For now, I must away, but two days hence, by yonder oak?”

“I shall think of you every moment until then, my lady.”

She grinned, kissed his hand in a playful imitation of his own gesture and set off, when an urgent thought made itself known through the dazzled wonder in Makalaurë’s mind.

“Wait! I do not even know your name!”

She turned back to him.

“I know yours, Makalaurë, whose voice carves gold. I am Tyelpëquermë, whose movements spin silver.”

She gave a flamboyant twirl as if to prove her name, and ran off into the forest, leaving a stunned Makalaurë with about ten different love themes already begging for composition in his mind. He sat there quietly, revelling in the moment, until a familiar pair of strong arms slipped around him from behind and a deeply amused voice husky with faux-seduction murmured, “I would fain be distracted again.”

He shrugged back violently.

“Nelyo, get off me! Why are you…were you spying on me? That was a private moment!”

“Ai, little brother, such an incorrigible optimist. Six siblings and you still believe in privacy. I gave up after Carnistir, I think.”

“That doesn’t give you the right to watch something like that!”

“Well, perhaps not, but it would have been considerably less private had our dear Atto decided to come and give you his views on that charming little improvisation, or more precisely, the need for it.”

Seeing Makalaurë’s blank look, he sighed.

“Turco saw what was going on – I wasn’t paying attention until you changed the music. Findë liked it, by the way – and recruited me and Ammë. He and Ammë are currently running interference, and I was on lookout in case it didn’t work. And,” he shrugged, “couldn’t help overhearing.”

“Ah. Completely unavoidable, was it?”

“Entirely, I’m afraid,” Nelyafinwë smirked.

“Hmmm. I might even be inclined to thank you if it weren’t for the unrepentant eavesdropping. Where were you hiding? I can’t believe I didn’t notice you!”

“That’s alright, I understand perfectly. You were a little…distracted.” His grin was intolerably smug.

Makalaurë groaned and hid his face in his hands.

“I must say, though, that line would have been an absolute scorcher two generations ago.” He pretended to swoon dramatically. “You would have had them queuing up!”

“Oh, shut up, she liked it, didn’t she?”

The last question came out more vulnerable than he intended it to, as he ran over the conversation in his head, trying to work out if it really had gone as unexpectedly brilliantly as he thought it had.

“Are we talking about the same conversation here? Of course she liked it! You’ve finally found someone as nutty about old songs as you are, little brother, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

He smiled hesitantly as Nelyo grasped his shoulder, before his elder brother broke the fleeting moment of serious affirmation, saying,

“Better get cracking on those courting songs then, I quite fancy myself an uncle!”

 

The memory receded, Newt was smiling at him, and he realised that the fondness on Newt’s face must have been mirrored in his own as he remembered.

“Were you married? Did you have a wife? Or a partner? Partners?” Newt asked, and that past tense brought the ending crashing back.

 

After Alqualondë, a road, the two of them, surrounded by raised voices and confusion as the pivotal decisions were made in the hearts of the assembled throng.

“Tyelpë, you must understand, it was never meant to be like this. It went too far, and it was appalling, but we can make it right, we don’t need the Valar to do it for us. We can learn, and grow, and forge a new world that can truly be ours in the lands to the East. We must only be brave enough to take the journey, and I know you are…”

“Don’t you dare speak to me of bravery!” she hissed. “You speak of courage as though it is simply taking what you want, uncaring of who you hurt. But the elf who is truly wise will see when a great wrong has been committed, and she who is truly brave will go back, admit her error and submit herself to judgement. The elf I bonded with understood that. But I don’t think you’re him anymore.”

“What do you mean, meldonya? It’s just me, it’s still me…” Her words left him floundering.

“It’s not, and you’re a fool if you think otherwise. There’s something dark in you now, something dead. I don’t know who you are, but you’re not the elf I bonded with. You killed fifteen people today, fifteen! And one of them was my husband. I will go no further with you!”

Tears streaming silently down her face, she slipped the ring that signified their bond, woven silver and gold, from her index finger and placed it deliberately on the ground, before turning back and running to join Finarfin’s host on their saddened and disillusioned return to Valinor.

He didn’t shout after her or attempt to argue, partly because he knew her well enough to know that her decision had been made, and it was irrevocable. And partly, because somewhere behind the mental walls he’d built to shield himself from what he’d done, he knew she was right.

And thus, a bond that began with music was broken in silence.

Swallowing back the painful emotions as he watched picture-Newt and Tina laugh amidst the falling blossoms, Maglor answered Newt’s question.

“Yes,” he said, and then, emphasising the past tense, “I did.”


Even by the standard of their lives, the story was fantastical.

The sole survivor of an ancient species with superhuman strength, potentially the ancestor of house-elves, wounded in the catastrophe that destroyed them and living in solitary self-punishment for thousands of years until a run-in with smugglers forced him to accept her husband’s help. Tina had come across many people in terrible situations in her role as an auror, and though it was always hard, her blend of sensible practicality and honest compassion allowed her to support them through it. She had no precedents for a situation like this, though. Hence, she was a little nervous as she entered the case; although, that didn’t last for long.

As she stepped off the ladder, an excited whirlwind of silvery fur barrelled into her chest and she had to step back a little to steady herself.

Gently, Dougal,” Newt chided him, though clearly amused.

“Oh, he’s alright,” Tina laughed, running her fingers through his fur even as his clever fingers worked through her bob. “Yes, Dougal, I know, I missed you too.”

She had, she’d missed all of them, and she hadn’t realised how much. She inhaled deeply, feeling the tension pour off her in waves as the intoxicating blend of grassy and earthy scents of the case filled her lungs. She beamed at her husband.

“It’s good to be home.”

He drew her and the demiguise into a slightly awkward side hug, and she relaxed further.

“It really is home now you’re back. Ready to meet our new friend?”

Back in the case with Newt where she felt at peace, she was. She grinned at him.

“Lead the way.”

She heard him before she saw him and instantly understood Newt’s multiple frustrated attempts to describe exactly what his singing sounded like. She hadn’t imagined before hearing it how something so beautiful could be so painful at the same time. She squeezed her husband’s hand.

Newt,” she said, tearing up slightly, amazed that a few seconds of music in an unfamiliar language could have such a profound effect on her.

“I know,” he confirmed, squeezing her hand back. “He was singing something like this when I first heard him, but he only did more uplifting things during the first few days with me. The fact that he’s comfortable enough here to sing like this again is a good sign, I suppose, but…”

He trailed off, and suddenly Tina knew exactly what the music reminded her of.

“It’s like when we liberated Nurmengard. Remember that awful look in the eyes of the prisoners? That feeling of a hurt so deep you’ll never be able to understand it? It’s like that, only hearing it.”

“Yes, it’s exactly like that,” Newt murmured, sounding troubled. “Do you think we’ll be able to help him?”

“Those survivors found healing and recovery,” Tina reminded him, with more confidence than she felt. “I’m sure that he can too.”

The song found its resolution and faded on the wind as they made their way into a mountainous space where a bark path led up to a pretty thatched hut with ivory-coloured walls and dark cherry wood eaves.

“That’s lovely. Reminds me a lot of the ōkami dwellings we saw in Japan in ’35.”

“Yes, I showed Maglor the atlas and he chose it. Roof’s a bit wonky though, my construction magic’s always been a bit weak.”

“Well, I think it’s beautiful,” Tina told him decisively, and was about to tell him off for talking himself down, when a figure emerged from the eggshell-blue front door and approached them.

The first thing she noticed was the grace of his movements. If he were human, she would have explained it by assuming he was a dancer, such was the lightness of his gait. He was extremely tall, and she had to crane her neck to meet his gaze as he got closer, finding herself overwhelmed by the impression of age and ancient pain in those dark grey eyes, despite being prepared for it by Newt’s warnings. She was even more amazed when he bowed to her, one curiously claw-like hand touching his heart and extending elegantly outwards, but she collected herself enough to mirror the gesture. It felt strangely courtly, like she’d gone back in time a few centuries; unsurprising if Newt’s theories about his age were correct.

“Hello, Maglor, I am Newt’s wife, Tina,” she introduced herself, speaking at a fairly slow pace since she couldn’t quite believe Newt’s enthusiastic praises of how far his English had come in a week.

“Hello, Tina. It is good to meet you.” Tina’s eyebrows nearly shot all the way up into her hair. His speaking voice was fluent, as easy on the ear as his music, and his accent was melodic, a little singsong, with a slight twang reminiscent of Italian but nevertheless easily comprehensible.

“It’s good to meet you too. Thank you for helping my husband,” she said sincerely; if Newt was going to dive in the North Sea in the middle of winter, she was glad that at least someone had been looking out for him. He’d tried to gloss over that part of the story, but she was a trained interrogator and he hadn’t got very far with that. She supposed that was one of the drawbacks of marrying an auror, but Newt always took it in good humour when a few well-selected questions had him reluctantly confessing to his more exuberant antics. More often than not he was a mixture of amused and embarrassed at his own flimsy defences and impressed with his wife’s competence. Perhaps it was because he trusted she understood his need to court danger and run wild from time to time, and that she’d never attempt to cage him. She wasn’t really too concerned about the North Sea, although it exasperated her. It was when things escalated to taking on an unknown number of smugglers alone that she hoped he’d listen to her pleas to be a little more cautious.

A fine crease appeared between Maglor’s brows and Tina wondered whether she’d gone too fast, but his next question revealed that the language wasn’t the source of the confusion.

“When did I help Newt?” he asked, looking between them, perplexed.

“When you met,” Tina elaborated. “You swam out to pull him from the sea. That was brave of you.” She was aware of her husband doing a slightly ridiculous ‘swimming’ mime next to her to make things clearer; evidently he hadn’t introduced that word yet. The confusion in Maglor’s expression cleared, but he still looked troubled.

“He did not need me,” Maglor dismissed his actions.

“Oh, I don’t think that’s true at all,” she countered. “Newt doesn’t always like being alone. He does a lot better when he has a friend with him. You made my husband very happy. Thank you.”

It was clear that Maglor had absolutely no idea what to do with her gratitude and he looked like he wanted to argue, but Newt, possibly predicting that this could go on for some time, stepped in with an amused gleam in his eye and instructed Maglor,

“Now you say, ‘you’re welcome.’”

“You’re welcome, Tina,” he conceded. “Newt made me happy also.”

“That’s good to hear,” she said warmly, and moved on quickly, since she could see that her husband hadn’t been kidding about Maglor’s self-esteem and the subject matter was making him uncomfortable. “Have you met the creatures?”

“Yes. They are very…friend-like?”

“Nearly there. Friendly,” Newt chipped in and corrected him; Tina was just impressed at the creativity with which he was deploying his new vocabulary.

“Yes, they are friendly. Dougal is very friendly, and Katarina.”

“Katarina?” Tina mouthed at her husband – she didn’t know they had a creature with that name.

“Oh, yes, Katarina’s the thestral I picked up from Hogwarts after you left on your mission, the one with the wing injury. Actually,” he mused, then turned to Maglor, “Tina does not know Katarina yet. She had to go and work the day when Katarina came here. Do you want to introduce her?”

“If you want,” Maglor said doubtfully as he looked to Tina, as though he couldn’t believe she’d really enjoy that. She smiled encouragingly.

“I’d like that very much,” she assured him.

 He thanked her and led her out towards the paddock where Newt hosted any injured thestrals and hippogriffs transferred into his care by the various herds around Britain. She couldn’t help but notice how confident and at home Maglor seemed as he walked lightly through the case. She was certain he’d get unsettled again if she pointed it out, so she didn’t, choosing instead to appreciate how much work Newt had probably already put into bringing him out of his shell. Once at the paddock, Maglor clicked his tongue softly, making Tina jump by how uncannily exact an imitation it was of her husband’s own thestral call. He frowned in concern at that, and she smiled to show nothing was amiss.

“You sound a lot like my husband,” she explained.

“I learn,” he answered her earnestly.

“I can see that,” she murmured, as she watched the haunting form of the thestral emerge from the shade of the trees at the far end of the paddock and canter towards them. Since meeting Newt, she had learned to see the beauty in these creatures most wizards avoided due to their association with death, although they still gave her the shivers. The thestral was beautiful in the same way Maglor’s song was beautiful, she realised, graceful and elegant yet accompanied by a sense of a sadness so profound you wouldn’t dare even attempt to plumb its depths. Perhaps that was why these two had formed such a close bond. Katarina whinnied as she saw a new person and pranced a few steps to the side, and Tina turned her head to one side, showing her deference in thestral body language.

“This is Tina. She is Newt’s wife. She is a friend, she will not hurt you,” Maglor reassured her, and Tina was immediately rewarded by the ticklish feeling of a huff of cold thestral breath being blown across her neck.

“Hello, Katarina,” she greeted her quietly, and stroked her nose a couple of times. She could see that her husband had already done some work with her, as only a few light supports remained in place on her right wing. “I’m sorry you hurt your wing. Newt will have you flying again soon, you’ll see.”

Katarina butted against her hand affectionately and then sidled over to Maglor, who ran his gnarled hands over the gleaming expanse of her neck. She left out a low chuff of contentment before going quiet and stilling under Maglor’s caresses.

“She likes you,” Tina observed in a low voice, not wanting to spoil the moment.

“I like her,” Maglor agreed, “I think maybe she… she understands.”

Tina didn’t need to ask what it was that Katarina understood. She thought she could guess, and she didn’t want to pry before Maglor was ready to share it.

She didn’t know how long she watched them communing silently, as time seemed to become irrelevant in that moment. Eventually, however, Newt came and recruited them both for the evening feed, and they fell into an easy rhythm between the three of them, as though they had been doing it for years. Tina was particularly delighted to see Laila, the occamy she couldn’t help but consider hers after rescuing her in New York all those years ago. When the rest of the occamy clutch had been safely released into the wild, Laila had stubbornly refused to leave and had been a permanent resident in the suitcase ever since. For her part, Laila particularly seemed to enjoy slithering up onto Maglor’s shoulders and dropping down from there onto Tina’s head until she was wearing her like a crown, much to the amusement of everyone involved.

By the end of the evening, Tina was every bit as determined as Newt to help Maglor recover from whatever terrible scars he still carried from his past. Back at Maglor’s hut, she announced,

“It’s been great to meet you, Maglor. Now, though, I’m going to make this one some cocoa and we’re going to have a long-overdue chat about the Werewolf Registry.”

This clearly meant nothing to Maglor, but the effect on Newt was immediate: he shuffled his feet and his gaze fell to the floor. She squeezed his hand in reassurance that this conversation wasn’t going to be as terrible as he feared.

They bade each other goodnight, and Maglor perched on a boulder to contemplate the sky. Silhouetted against the stars, he looked for all the world like a statue which had stood there for long centuries past, a relic of another age.

As they made their way out of the case, Newt broke the thoughtful silence which had descended upon them after witnessing that.

“I sort of hoped you’d forget about that conversation,” he confessed, a little embarrassed. She pecked him on the cheek before replying,

“You married an auror, dear. Not a chance!”

Chapter Text

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

Apologies for not having written for a while, I have been very remiss with my correspondence lately. You’re of course aware that the Werewolf Task Force has been causing lots of upset in recent months. Better late than never, though, so please allow me to thank you for all your stalwart support during that awful Registry fiasco. I’m aware that my stance is an unpopular one, and since you’re being tipped for Minister, it means all the more that you risked votes by backing me. I’m only sorry that I let you and the lycanthrope community down and didn’t get that position. At least it’s been proven now that whilst I can offer my professional opinion to the Ministry, and deal with anything involving dragons, I shouldn’t be let anywhere near the writing of legislation. My boggart changed during the war, as many people’s did, but I’d wager that if I met one again now, after that experience, it would be the same awful desk I faced when I was fifteen. I feared it then because I thought it would be my prison; I fear it now because it reminds me how I created one.

Anyway, enough of my moping, how are you getting along with Fawkes? He is a majestic creature indeed, is he not? I hope my belief that you would get on well has proven true. And how is young Kettleburn getting along in his new professorship? He seemed a very enthusiastic fellow when I met him, and with a real passion for the subject, if perhaps a little too eager to rush into things without thinking first. (Pots and kettles, I know!) He seems to me just the type of person to enthuse the next generation of magizoologists.

I was hoping to ask a teensy favour of you, if you don’t mind? Katarina is getting along nicely, her wing has healed up and she’ll be flying again very soon. She has settled into the suitcase well and formed strong bonds with some of my other rescues. I was wondering if I might keep her a little longer before returning her to the Hogwarts herd? It seems a shame to uproot her so quickly when she has formed a mutually beneficial friendship with another of my current residents.

On an entirely unrelated note, have you come across any references to an extinct magical people known as the Eldar in your research? They were mentioned to me by an acquaintance the other day, but he wasn’t particularly forthcoming once he’d dropped the name, and I’ve been unable to find any other writing on who they were. If you know of any sources of information on that people and their fate, I would be grateful if you could direct me to them. Simply for curiosity’s sake, you know.

Yours faithfully,

Newt Scamander

 

Newt, my dear boy,

One of your most laudable qualities is that deceit does not come naturally to you in the slightest, even on paper, and hence I found your last letter most intriguing. Perhaps you have forgotten that I had the pleasure of teaching you over several years, and whilst I agree that your curiosity is a powerful force, it tends to be directed towards creatures and people who currently exist and could benefit from your knowledge, however rare or misunderstood. I pride myself on my imagination, but Newt Scamander suddenly developing an interest in a completely dead people? That stretches even my capabilities. Your general disinterest in History of Magic was no secret, you know. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that perhaps these ‘Eldar’ are not quite as extinct as you claim they are? My own curiosity is piqued by the identity of your new acquaintance. He sounds like a most fascinating being.

Do not be alarmed, my dear boy. I appreciate that perhaps the situation is complex, but rest assured that you can count on my discretion. If you believe that your current realm of study is best kept concealed from the public eye, and particularly the Ministry, I am willing to trust your judgement in this matter. Regrettably, I do not recall having read of the Eldar in any of my studies, which is not necessarily to say that I have not. I shall trawl the Hogwarts libraries and see what I can find to assist you. You need not worry about my activities raising questions; it is rather useful to have an entire school so accustomed to one’s eccentricities that, in general, they deem it better not to ask.

By all means, keep Katarina for a while longer. Might I guess that her new friend is of the Eldar persuasion? Just a thought, correct me if I am mistaken. I shall inform Professor Kettleburn of her continued absence, although it would be useful to have her returned to the herd before the Easter break, if possible. Professor Kettleburn, by the by, is doing splendidly, and makes full use of his already impressive collection of scars to intimidate and inspire his students in equal measure. Class sizes for Care of Magical Creatures are increasing year on year, helped by his tutelage and a fascinating textbook. You should be proud, my boy.

On that note, you should also be proud of the fact that werewolf attacks have dropped by thirty percent in the last two years and the entirety of Grindelwald’s loyalist attack squad have been apprehended. Werewolf-on-werewolf violence and its associated collateral has also significantly decreased, due in large part to that legislation you are so determined to be ashamed of. I agree that the Ministry has taken its usual short-sighted, blundering approach to its continued application, and I am aware that that is not what you wanted. However, you stepped up in a difficult situation and did what had to be done, without hatred or prejudice, only a desire to protect. It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes there are no easy choices, and in order to do the most good we must commit to the course we believe in our hearts to be right. You are one of the most forgiving people I know, Newt. Extend some of that to yourself.

Fawkes is a true blessing and has already become a close companion. He regenerated himself into a much larger form after his last combustion, so if I understand correctly he is now into the adolescent phase of his development. Might I expect teenage temper tantrums in the near future? It would be useful to have some warning if so. On the whole, however, he has proven himself an extraordinarily sensitive bird, singing to soothe students who come to me upset, and giving me the odd nip when he quite correctly judges that I am being uncommonly grouchy: even for an aging professor who is entitled to be so. I am extremely grateful to you for entrusting him into my care.

In the hope to see you very soon, and dare I ask, perhaps also your new acquaintance?

Yours cheerfully,

Albus Dumbledore

However does he do it? Newt wondered, shaking his head as he put the letter down on his desk. Bad enough that those kindly eyes could stare right through you as you squirmed – did he insist on taking apart your innermost thoughts remotely as well? Apparently so, and maybe it was for the best. Dumbledore’s wisdom could prove helpful moving forwards; he was probably the only person around who might have an idea about the nature of Maglor’s curse damage and how to treat it. That course of action would depend on the Elda’s consent, though, which he’d refused at every juncture so far. Leaving this for future consideration, Newt started penning a reply. He didn’t get very far before he was distracted by a thumping from inside the case, strategically placed under his desk.

It spoke volumes about the attention Newt paid to his creatures that he could interpret almost any sound they made, even if it wasn’t a vocalisation as such – a stamping hoof, burrowing claws, or the rhythmic thud of a demiguise fist. For instance, he could distinguish Dougal’s I’m feeling cooped up and I want some attention rattle of the suitcase trapdoor, from his exasperated Helga’s stolen all the lids to your potion jars again tapping.

The noise being made now was his someone is hurt or ill and we really need you warning knock. Abandoning his unfinished letter in a heartbeat, Newt darted down into his case.


As Maglor felt himself sinking into the mire of the memory, a distant, detached part of his mind observed that it had been a comparatively long time since this had last happened; living in Newt’s suitcase wasn’t particularly conducive to dwelling on the horrors of the past. But he had attempted to get back into the rhythm of his repentance, at least in part, and today for the first time since he’d met Newt, his reflections on Alqualondë were becoming so intense that his mind was slipping into that space where the present faded out and the memory overwhelmed him.

Elves usually had a greater level of mental control than humans, able to direct their reveries rather than leaving their thoughts at the mercy of whatever dreams may come to them. Maglor didn’t always avail himself of this control, though. Sometimes, when the memories, preserved in all their terrible elvish perfection, were at their most intense, he would let them take over his whole consciousness, lose himself in the horror again to make sure that he would never neglect a single detail of what he had done. It was terrifying, and he was always shaken when his focus returned, but he had survived every event he remembered. He owed his most complete penance to those who didn’t.

Newt wouldn’t like you doing this, that same detached part of his mind warned.

Newt wasn’t there. Newt doesn’t know what you did, a louder, darker voice overruled it. He bowed his head and let go of the peaceful tranquillity of his mountainous space, letting the birds be drowned out by the distant clashing of new-forged swords, the groans of the dying and the wailing of the bereaved…

He spun around in a graceful arc, sword extended. No enemies came to challenge him. Nelyafinwë was helping the Ambarussa clear the way to the final ship, but apart from that, the battle was over.

They’d won. They’d won the ships, their mission was before them, this was the first step towards reclaiming the Silmarils and victory against Morgoth.

But Makalaurë felt like he’d lost everything.

Fourteen elves had died by his sword. Elves who had danced to his music, once, elves whom he would have greeted courteously had they crossed each other in a banquet hall.

But they had not crossed each other in a banquet hall. They had clashed in the heat of the first pitched battle to mar Valinorean soil, and he had massacred them.

In the battle itself, he hadn’t stopped. He had been furious, fuelled with determined loyalty to his father and the raw energy of the newly sworn Oath. The slices and parries had flowed from his sword with all the finesse of Fëanor’s training, dancing through the breaking bones and spraying blood with a lethal grace. He’d become something different, someone he didn’t recognise, and that frightened him.

Now, with devastating abruptness, everything that had been obscured by the red haze of battle resolved into crystal clarity.

The faces twisting in agony as his sword sliced through them; the expressions of hurt and betrayal as elves he recognised begged him to stop; the hopelessness and grim determination of the last to fall, fighting to the end in honour of the cause their kin died for, though the despair in their eyes showed that they knew the inevitable outcome.

One of the Teleri musicians running up behind him, shouting, “Makalaurë, please! This isn’t you!” Makalaurë had swung around and swiftly silenced him.

An apprentice throwing herself in front of her shipbuilding master with only a piece of broken bow as a weapon. He had knocked it aside like a toy before killing them both when they refused to yield their ships.

“What have I done?” he breathed, the sounds he’d filtered out becoming all of a sudden too loud, too much, too awful. “What have I done?”

He stared down at his hands, covered in the blood of fourteen murdered elves. Fourteen elves who were simply defending what they created. Why was the Fëanorion right to do that greater than theirs? And why was it only now he had committed something so irrevocable that he began to doubt his unquestioning adherence to his father’s ideals?

The stench of blood sickened him and his stomach roiled. It was beginning to crust on his skin and suddenly nothing was more important than the need to get it off, get it clean, make it stop. He staggered across the docks and plunged his hands into the sea. A red cloud billowed up around them and he dragged them through the water, trying to pull them away from it, but the crimson trail clung to them, unshakeable. He brought them out of the water and inspected them. Blood had invaded every tiny crevice and curve of his hands. It was all over them, under his nails, stuck in the creases of his knuckles and the lines of his palm. All around him, the waters of Alqualondë were turning red. He scrubbed at his hands furiously, desperately, abrading the skin so that his own blood mingled with his victims’, but the stains wouldn’t leave, no matter how hard he tried to shift them.

It was then that he realised the enormity of what he’d done.

This blood was going to stain his hands until the end of time.

An entire ocean could pour over them, and still it would not be enough.

Someone was shaking his shoulder.

“Kanafinwë, what is this? We need you!” his father, stressed and irritable, pulling him to his feet, guiding him back to the carnage. His voice softened a little as he saw his son’s distress; well, as much as his father’s voice ever did. “Come. There is much to be done.”

But no. It wasn’t his father, and this wasn’t that memory. It was a different voice.

“Maglor! What are you doing to yourself? STOP!”

Newt hastily pulled him back from the pool outside his hut, where he’d been kneeling, his body lost with his mind in the memory, scrubbing his wounded hands hard enough to tear open the blistered and inflamed skin.

“What happened?” Newt sounded aghast as he inspected Maglor’s hands, the Elda for once too shaken to protest. He didn’t answer. He thought if he opened his mouth he might throw up. Intellectually, he knew where and when he was, but he could still smell the nightmarish combination of sea salt, blood, and gore that marked the First Kinslaying, and the howls of pain echoed in his ears. Normally in one of these episodes, he would be yanked back to the present by the anchoring pull of his self-inflicted injuries, but it hadn’t gone as far as usual this time and he was disorientated, not yet completely released from the memory’s claws. Numb, he allowed himself to be shepherded into Newt’s cabin and seated, focusing on breathing through his nose so the stench, which he knew didn’t exist, wouldn’t catch on the back of his throat.

“Why did you do that?” Newt asked as he carefully dabbed a sweet-smelling solution over Maglor’s hands.

He owed Newt an explanation. He tried to focus.

“They are dirty. I want to wash them.”

“Why so harshly?” He paused when Maglor tilted his head slightly at the unfamiliar word. Newt paused to illustrate the contrast between ‘gently’ and ‘harshly’ with some hand movements. “Why did you hurt yourself?”

Maglor sighed. Alone, this had made so much twisted sense, but now all the explanations he composed in his head sounded ridiculous.

“Before, they were dirty. Now, I know is different, but I see before. I wash, but they are not clean.”

He noticed a red stain blooming on one of Newt’s discarded cloths.

“What is that?”

“Blood. That’s called blood.”

“I look my hands, I see blood from before, much blood. Have to wash.”

Saying it made it horrifyingly, instantaneously real again, and the wounds on his hands disappeared under a thick, viscous layer of blood that wasn’t his own and the desperate desire to get it off get it off get it off had him clawing at his skin again, but his fingers just slipped through the sticky coating on his hands and it kept flowing and it would never go away…

“No, absolutely not. Maglor, stop that right now!”

The sheer surprise of hearing so much authority in that usually mild voice made him cease his frantic scrabbling motions, which allowed Newt to get a hand around each of his wrists and pull them apart. He could have freed himself instantly if he wished to, but something about Newt’s sudden commanding demeanour made it feel as though that wasn’t even an option. His frown deepened as he watched blood drip from his mangled fingers, staining Newt’s floorboards.

“No, none of that now. Leave your hands alone and look at me.”

He did, surprised that for once, Newt was actually trying to look him directly in the eye. His voice got gentler.

“What you see isn’t real. You’re having a flashback.”

“Flash…back?”

“Yes, a flashback. Errr, a bad thing happened in the past, before. You see it again now, but it’s not real. Not now.”

A flashback. There wasn’t even a word in Quenya to describe that experience, they were rarely spoken of among his people, and Maglor realised now how much that had added to his unease about them; it was a terrible thing for a wordsmith to be confronted with a nameless terror. Simply naming it shattered its paralysing grip and Maglor murmured the word, feeling a thrill of empowerment.

“Yes, that’s right. You’re not there anymore. So we’re going to think about now to help you stop seeing it. Where are we now? Talk to me.”

“Your cabin. The suitcase. London.”

“Yes, absolutely. What can you see?”

They’d spent an evening in Norway just naming everything in Newt’s cabin. He could do this.

“Shelves. Herbs. Quills. Workbench. Parchment.” He eyed the disorganised pile of field notes awaiting their write-up on Newt’s desk and remembered a word he’d learnt from Hilpy’s ramblings. “Mess.”

Newt chuckled. “Very true. I need to sort that. What else can you see?”

He cast his eyes around a little more.

“Windows. Ladder. Crates.” A silvery shape materialised on one of the rungs and a warm pair of amber demiguise eyes blinked worriedly at him. His lips curled into a tiny smile despite himself. “Dougal.”

“Yes, he’s been here all along, he came to get me. He was worried about you.”

“Sorry,” he winced. And still, you disturb the peace wherever you go, can’t stop causing pain…

“Don’t be, it’s not your fault. He cares about you, that’s all.”

That sounded…strange, it wasn’t how he was used to thinking. He caught sight of his bloodied hand, dripping heavy globules of blood to pool on the wooden flooring, and shivered.

“There is blood on the floor.”

“Is there? What, that tiny spot?…oh, you’re still…alright, let’s not look at that. Ummm…” Newt’s nerves were showing a little now, but he was clearly doing his best to keep it together. “What about the herbs? Did I tell you their names?”

Newt hadn’t, but Maglor recognised some of them. He canted his head towards a bunch with small white flowers.

“For when too hot?” he suggested.

“Yes, that’s right, by ‘too hot’ you mean a fever, that’s feverfew. Next to that with the small leaves is dittany…”

Newt had evidently got the measure of him now, since he’d correctly guessed that a list of tempting new words was exactly the thing to pull him out of his downward mental spiral. He kept his eyes fixed on the hanging bunches of herbs above the workstation, grounding himself with Newt’s monologue on the different types of herbs and their uses, resolutely not looking down at his hands and ignoring the phantom sensation of Teleri blood trickling over them. By the time that Newt had named all of the herbs and potion ingredients above his workbench, Maglor had forgotten why they were there in the first place.

“Tell them back to me,” Newt instructed.

“Ashwinder eggs, for burns,” he began to recite, going to look down when he felt Newt slowly moving one of his hands but snapping his gaze back up when he was interrupted.

“Hey, Maglor, don’t look at that. Eyes up, alright? I’ll clean your hands for you, so you don’t have to. Just focus on naming the ingredients. What are they?”

He pointed to a jar of wrinkled stones, and gaze lifted once again, Maglor picked up where he’d left off.

“Bezoars, for poisoning. Lacewings, for Polyjuice, the face-changer…”

He continued in this vein, aware of Newt working on his hands but avoiding looking down at them; Newt had quite correctly surmised that the sight of the blood from his recently opened wounds might trigger his flashback again. The slight stinging sensation from the potion Newt was using helped to anchor him in the present time: this time, the blood on his hands was his and only his, it was his pain and not another’s, and that thought brought him a warped sort of relief. Having the new vocabulary to concentrate on helped the most, though, and as he concluded he realised his hands had been released and set down gently in his lap; he hadn’t even noticed when that happened.

“Word-perfect, as always,” Newt praised. “Are you ready to look at them?”

He glanced down at where his hands rested in his lap. There were some recently closed scratches zigzagging over the older damage, but all traces of fresh blood had been carefully removed. Beneath them, the floorboards were almost mockingly spotless. A sigh of relief escaped him as it sunk in that it was over and his mind – what was left of it – was his own again.

“Are you with me now?” Newt asked.

“I was here. I did not go.” Maglor frowned, confused.

“No, I mean in your mind,” he explained, tapping the side of his head. “You know it’s now? You know you’re not there anymore?”

“Yes, sorry,” he replied, acutely aware of how broken he had to be if he couldn’t even keep his wayward mind in the right age.

“You have no reason to be. Never be sorry for having a flashback, it’s not your fault.” Newt chewed his lip, considering. “Has that…happened before?”

Maglor nodded.

Newt’s voice got quieter, gentler still. “Have you hurt yourself before?”

He nodded again, ducking his head and averting his eyes. He couldn’t work out why he was feeling so ashamed about this. During his years of solitude, it had felt cathartic, as though he were giving his entire self to the work of memory and remorse, and his suffering was somehow restoring the balance of justice in the world. But in the soft mid-morning light of Newt’s case, away from the perpetual crashing of the waves, his perspective was changing, and the actions that had made so much sense before seemed warped and twisted now.

“Maglor,” Newt breathed, and that single word was filled with so much emotion, love and worry and concern and a desire to just make things right. Maedhros used to say his name like that, trying to coax him out of his rooms when he’d been holed up with his harp for days after something had shaken him.

“Can I hug you?” Newt asked, wringing his hands nervously and tears gathering in his eyes. Maglor couldn’t say no to that look, and he didn’t want to, so he nodded, not trusting his voice. Newt embraced him fiercely, holding him close with steady arms, and it was only when those soothing touches stilled him that Maglor realised he’d been trembling. He felt a warm weight land on his back and realised that Dougal had joined the hug, enclosing him from the other side. There was something so reassuring about the feel of demiguise fur tickling the back of his neck.

“Will you do something for me?” Newt asked, voice strained. “If you feel a flashback coming, if you want to hurt yourself, I want you to call me, alright? I’ll sort you out a bell, magic so I can always hear it. Will you let me help you, Maglor? Please?”

Maglor nodded against Newt’s shoulder, resolving to do as he asked. It was going to be tough, diverting his thought patterns from the familiar labyrinths they’d been stuck in for millennia, but this interaction had made one thing crystal clear: when Maglor hurt himself, he hurt Newt too. And that was simply unconscionable. Perhaps the reason isolation had hit him so hard was that he was so used to living for his brothers, he didn’t know where to direct his energies without them, and so he’d channelled all he had into his self-loathing and guilt.

But in some of the most important ways, he had a brother to live for now. And he was determined not to let him down.

Chapter Text

Alphabet

On his second day in the suitcase, Newt had taught Maglor the alphabet. Once he had decided to stay, the latter was surprised at his own excitement when he realised that now he would get the chance to master this language and writing system properly. Newt discovered him sitting outside Laila’s enclosure one morning, writing out an alphabetical list of English words in the sand with a forefinger, trying to work out the transcriptions of those he’d heard but not seen written. He would still be able to hold a quill if he had to, but it would be awkward with his damaged fingers and this way didn’t involve demanding supplies.

Newt seemed impressed with his work, praising it, but corrected the spelling on lots of the words. Maglor was sure he’d followed the phonological rules in his transcriptions, but apparently this language had far more complexity than he’d first thought. Newt couldn’t answer his insistent inquiries as to ‘why’ certain sounds could be written in so many different ways, instead giving an apologetic shrug and saying ‘that’s English’, as if that explained everything. Either there was some sort of hidden code that he kept missing, or this infuriating language broke its own laws more than it followed them.

Whatever the issue was, though, the Noldor’s greatest poet was certainly not going to be defeated by this mere ‘English.’

Later that day, a flat expanse of sand appeared next to the pool outside Maglor’s hut, along with a few long sticks, rounded and polished so as to cause the least possible discomfort to his hands. He took a moment to be amazed all over again at Newt’s thoughtfulness, then picked one up and got to work.

Before

Maglor instantly saw the utility in the word ‘before’ when Newt introduced it in his lesson on tenses. He attempted to use it in an explanation of his past to Newt on more than one occasion over those first few days. It seemed only fair that Newt should know exactly what kind of a person he’d chosen to shelter. But each time he’d tried to start a conversation on that topic – usually opening with something along the lines of “Before, I did bad things. Hurted the Eldar,” – Newt would tell him to wait. He would listen later, he elaborated, but he didn’t want to understand it wrong, so he wanted Maglor to get better at this language before he told his story. As if he needed another incentive, that only made his desire to learn this ‘English’ all the stronger, so he could get the painful revelation over with as soon as possible.  But privately, deep in his mind, he was relieved by the excuse of his poor English, so that he might have just a little longer in this gentle and welcoming place.

Curse

Tina, as a responsible auror, was very concerned by the injuries to Maglor’s hands. She seemed to suspect some sort of foul play –how ironic it was that she assumed he was the victim – and questioned him on it. He tried to set her mind at rest.

“Was it a wizard? With a wand?” she asked, showing him hers.

“No. It was not a wizard. It was…” He was hazy on units of time in human culture in general, let alone in English. “Much before,” he settled on, wincing at his own clumsy phrasing.

“A long time ago?” Tina asked, grabbing the dog-eared timeline from the mess of papers on Newt’s desk and pointing repeatedly in the ‘before’ direction.

“Yes. It was a long time ago. You do not need to…” he gestured vaguely. Where was the word ‘intervene’ when you needed it?

“I know, but I want to help,” she insisted, an edge appearing in her gaze that reminded Maglor a little of Galadriel when she had set her mind on something. It was, in all honesty, slightly terrifying.

“Was it an object? A thing? Something you touched?” she continued, picking up bits of random paraphernalia from Newt’s study to illustrate her point. Resigning himself to not getting any peace until he’d settled this, he tried to explain.

“Yes. It was the Silmaril. It was a…” he moved his hand to the pendant around his neck to demonstrate.

“A necklace?” she asked, sliding a finger under the striking silver chain she wore around her own neck.

“No,” he moved his fingers to isolate the ruby and present it.

“A gemstone?”

“Yes. A gemstone. I wanted it too much, I touched it, I was too bad, it hurt my hands.”

There. Crude, perhaps, but an apt enough summary of what happened. Hopefully now they could lay the subject to rest. Tina, however, looked pained.

“Maglor, I don’t think you understand. It sounds like this Silmaril was cursed by a wizard. That’s why it hurt you. Not because you were bad.”

“Cursed?”

Tina pursed her lips, then cast a spell to levitate a book down from a high shelf.

“That’s a spell. A good spell. It’s helpful. A curse is a bad spell. Meant to hurt. I think a bad wizard cursed the Silmaril, and it hurt you.”

“No. No bad wizard. I know this,” he insisted as he saw the disbelief in her expression. “The Silmaril was good. Like sun, stars, moon. Eldar touched it, not hurt. The Silmaril was not cursed.”

Impressively, she maintained eye contact throughout his explanation. He hoped she would register the deep understanding in his gaze and realise that he was not misinterpreting the situation as she’d initially assumed.

“The Silmaril was not a curse,” he repeated, driving home his point. “The curse was me.”

Deserve

About as often as Maglor attempted to explain his history, Newt attempted to examine and treat his maimed hands, and met with a similar lack of success. Maglor refused to let him waste his time trying to heal unhealable wounds that were an entirely just punishment for his crimes.

“The hands hurt because I did bad things. It is good they hurt,” he managed to communicate on one such occasion, hoping that Newt would cease his efforts if he understood the reasons behind his refusal.

“You think you deserve to hurt?” Newt had asked, looking stricken.

“Deserve,” he said, testing the new word, “means you do bad, get bad, do good, get good?”

“Yes, that’s what ‘deserve’ means,” Newt confirmed, pale-faced. Maglor regarded his hands.

“I deserve this,” he announced.

“No, you don’t,” Newt argued. “Nothing you could do is so bad as to deserve that. Nothing.”

Maglor flicked his eyes to Newt’s and attempted to hold his gaze, but the latter, troubled by the intensity of Maglor’s stare, looked away.

“You don’t know what I did,” Maglor told him, his voice taking on a hint of the darkness that once made him the nightmare Sindar storytellers warned their elflings about. He’d flipped the onus of conversation back to Newt now, leaving him without an argument unless he asked for a tale he didn’t think Maglor was ready to tell yet.

Newt couldn’t find anything to say to that.

Encyclopaedia

Tina enthusiastically joined her husband in his teaching efforts, and one day presented Maglor with a huge illustrated book. He leafed through it, seeing that it was a catalogue of some sort, like a bestiary or a herbarium, but with a seemingly random list of items all mixed together. It was an encyclopaedia, Tina explained, and she’d bought it to help him with his English. Like it was the most natural thing in the world, she sat down next to him, and opened the book near the beginning to a page entitled ‘auror’, illustrated with a wizard casting a shielding spell around a group of others.

“Like me,” she grinned, and started reading to him, following along the lines with her finger. He revelled in the satisfaction of linking the signs to the sounds and listening carefully to the rhythms of each sentence. He’d reached a good standard of pronunciation with individual words now, but the stress patterns were very different from the musical cadences of Sindarin or Quenya: they were far more flexible than he was used to. So he listened closely as he learned more about the wizards whose job it was to protect their fellows, trying desperately to keep his mind on the linguistic features and not on the bittersweet thought that Tina and her colleagues were everything the Fëanorions could have been, had they used their fighting prowess against Morgoth instead of their own kin.

Fantastic

They made it through the entirety of Fantastic Beasts: For Budding Magizoologists with impressive speed, before moving on to the more complex version. Newt looked hurt when Maglor shuddered on seeing the magically animated illustrations for both ‘Acromantula’ and ‘Dragons’, and explained that they could be gentle and friendly; they just needed to be understood. Maglor tried to put aside his prejudices and remind himself of how Newt’s creatures had already surprised him, he really did, but privately he knew he would only believe that any spawn of Ungoliant or Glaurung could be tamed when he saw it with his own eyes.

It was only when they had finished the book and started putting it away that Maglor noticed the name of the author.

“Newt Saca- no, Scamander,” he read, then looked to Newt. “This is you?”

“Yes,” he said, looking vaguely embarrassed about it. “I wanted to tell people how fantastic magical creatures are.”

“Fantastic, that means very good, yes?”

“Yes, it does, and also a bit different, out of the ordinary, unusual. I suppose I’ve always been a bit fantastic myself, in that way.”

“In the good way too,” Maglor added, his respect for the magizoologist only growing as he discovered that Newt, in his own way, was a storyteller too.

Generous

It was when Newt brought in an intricately carved chair for Maglor’s home, then resized it to suit his height, that the latter found himself frustratingly short of adjectives. Newt didn’t even have chairs in his own cabin, only a single stool by his desk and assorted crates he used to perch on. Possibly this was because when he didn’t have company, the man just didn’t stop, but still he was expending far more energy furnishing Maglor’s home than it looked like he’d ever spent on his cabin, and there was something just plain wrong about that.

“You give too much,” Maglor informed him levelly. “What’s the word for ‘give too much’?”

“The word is ‘generous’,” Newt replied easily, “but I’m not, not really. I gave you something you needed. That’s common decency. ‘Generous’ is when you do more than that.”

Maglor considered this for a few moments.

“You are generous,” he declared.

Nothing Newt could say would convince him to change his view.

Honey

Once he’d settled comfortably into life with the Scamanders, he was introduced to Tina’s little sister, Queenie. It seemed that not all the old arts had died out, for she was able to speak with her mind – legilimency, it was called – although how similar it was to the osanwe he once knew remained to be seen.

Tina escorted the woman with a halo of bright golden curls into the living room where he waited with Newt. She gave a small gasp on seeing him, and stumbled a little, grabbing her sister’s arm for support with one hand and pressing the other against her head. Ignoring Tina’s anxious questions, she steadied herself and strode over to Maglor, reaching up a hand to cradle his face. He froze, unsure of what was going on.

“Oh honey,” she breathed, “what happened?”

He could feel her mind, a light, gentle presence observing his, not intruding, and he reached out to it with all his questions and explanations, things about his past that his hosts needed to know, but Queenie screwed up her eyes and shook her head.

“You’re thinkin’ in your language, honey, and it’s real pretty, real sad too, but I can’t understand it. I’m just gettin’ feelin’s, not thoughts. And whatever it is you’re carryin’, you gotta let it go.”

He had so many questions for her, but her accent was more pronounced than Tina’s and it was taking him a while to sort through it. But there was one thing in particular that was perplexing him.

“I do not understand. Why do you call me like food?”

Insomniac

Maglor didn’t have a particularly extensive knowledge of human habits, but he was fairly certain that they were supposed to sleep for most of the night. The Eldar didn’t need as much and could get by on letting their minds drift even whilst they were on the move, but it still nourished the fëa to dedicate time to complete rest every now and then.

Neither Maglor nor Newt seemed particularly inclined to follow the pattern of their species in this matter. Maglor finally brought it up in the early hours of one morning when he found Newt still up, observing the mooncalves.

“Why do you not sleep?”

Newt smiled wryly and flipped the question back to him “Why don’t you?”

“I do not need it. Not much. Humans do, yes?”

“Well, yes, in general. I’m a bit of an insomniac, though.”

“Insomniac?”

“Can’t sleep at night,” Newt explained. “Too many interesting things I might miss! Like now, Cassie and Lyra are teaching Cygnus how to dance.” He pointed to the trio of mooncalves, the little one frolicking around in imitation of his two aunts, who were nudging him in the right direction and correcting his balance as he stumbled. They watched the mooncalves fondly until the lesson was finished, Newt making rapid sketches and jotting down notes. The little family returned to their cave; Cygnus, tired out, had wheedled a ride out of his aunt Lyra and was given a lift on her back. Once they’d gone, Newt shot a few furtive glances at Maglor, like he was weighing something up.

“And since the war, I have nightmares too. Like flashbacks, but asleep,” he confessed a little hesitantly, at last. “Now your turn. You don’t sleep as much as you should, I’m sure of it.”

Newt was right, but Maglor wasn’t really sure how to explain it. The way that most elves rested was by escaping to a pleasant place in their minds, but his was like a gloomy forest overgrown with brambles. It was very rare that he could find a way through the violence and death and heartbreak to a place where he could let his guard down. He also thought of the Doom of Mandos, the specific phrase which he knew must apply exclusively to him, the only one of his kin not to meet an end in violence or flame, fated instead to wander restless for eternity, finding no peace.

“Nightmares, also. And I like the stars,” he said at last, and Newt gave him a nod which suggested that he was aware of the unplumbed depth behind those words.

In their strange, silent camaraderie, together they waited out the night.

 ‘Jarvey words’

The jarveys had been rescued the same night as Maglor and he was still bewildered by their vocalisation. It sounded like English, but there wasn’t any pattern to it, they didn’t observe the grammar, and he’d never heard Newt say any of the words they used. It was most odd.

Hearing a commotion from their enclosure, he strolled over from where he’d been sitting with Katarina to watch Newt herding them into a spacious pen with a ramp, presumably so they could be released easily from the suitcase. When one of them tried to dart away from him, he blocked it with his body and scolded it, using some of the ‘jarvey words,’ as he’d mentally termed them. Tina, looking on, giggled at this. The jarvey scuttled backwards, evidently impressed, and Newt was finally able to cajole it into the pen with its fellows. Neither partner had noticed Maglor there, as he’d forgotten to deliberately make noise again, and then he hadn’t wanted to distract Newt from his work. Once it was finished, though, he decided that he wanted to clear this up once and for all, so he made himself known and asked,

“What is Merlin’s blasted balls, you bloody bastard?”

It was several long moments before Newt and Tina stopped laughing long enough to explain.

Kindling

The Scamanders grew all kinds of magical and non-magical plants and potions ingredients in their back garden, which like Newt’s case, was really rather bigger than it should be. Maglor enjoyed it as a change of scenery sometimes, sitting out and reading or meditating among the gently swaying fronds of the shrubs.  One morning he found Hilpy out there, gathering tiny bits of twig and moss. She responded to his inquiry about what she was doing with a cheerful, “Collecting kindling for master Newt’s new fire crab eggs, master Maglor!”

He recalled the descriptions of fire crabs from his reading with Newt, so pieced together the purpose of the wood and the definition of ‘kindling.’ He picked up a small piece of twig himself.

“Kindling, to make fire, yes?”

“Yes, master Maglor, that is right!”

“I understand. Does not Newt use his magic for this?”

Hilpy fiddled with the hem of her tea towel. “He can, he is not asking Hilpy to do this, but master Newt is a very strange master! He is not giving Hilpy many jobs so she is having to think of how to be useful all the time.”

“Can not you rest?”

She looked genuinely puzzled.

“But why, sir? Hilpy likes to serve, she likes to be needed.”

Looking at the sincere, busy little figure, Maglor thought he understood that.

“Can I help?” Before she could start insisting that it wasn’t proper, he tried to explain. “If your people were mine, before, and you serve wizards, then can not I help also? And I… like to be needed, too.”

She looked at him intently before acquiescing. “If that is your wish, master Maglor.”

“It is,” he replied gravely, getting down on his knees and applying himself to the familiar task. He knew already that he’d get a lecture from Newt on the work being too harsh on his hands, but decided it was worth it for the kindling camaraderie between him and his house-elf friend, perhaps the only other person in the household who could really relate to his longing to give something back.

Law

“Wizarding Law in Britain,” Maglor read, picking up the hefty tome from the bookshelf. He was absorbing knowledge with the thirst of dry land long parched of rain and availed himself of the books in the study at every possible juncture. Tina, watching him explore, pulled a face at his choice, though.

“Just when I thought I’d got away from work,” she grumbled, but stayed Maglor’s hand as he moved to put it back.

“No, it’s alright, I was joking, I love my job really. What did you want to know?”

“What is ‘law’?” he asked first, thumbing through the well-read and annotated volume.

“People will give you lots of different answers on that,” she said slowly, “but I think it’s about protection. It’s a set of rules people agree to live by to make sure everyone is safe. There are laws about cursed objects, for example, to stop wizards leaving them where they could hurt people.” (Tina still hadn’t completely given up on her hypothesis that the Silmaril was cursed.)

“What if people do not do the law?”

“That’s where we aurors come in. We find the people who break the law, and stop people getting hurt. At least, in theory.” Her face clouded a little with some dark memory. “It’s not perfect, but we try. Do you want to know more?”

Maglor nodded, listening in fascination as she explained the legal process of arrest, trial, verdict and sentence, using examples from the book and her own experience to help.

Though he didn’t say it aloud, he wondered what the Wizengamot would make of him.

Muggle

The introduction of Jacob cleared up a lot of things regarding humans and their new abilities. Though she couldn’t read his specific thoughts, Queenie was adept at picking up on his emotions, and noted the confusion when her husband, a short, portly man named Jacob, laughingly declared himself ‘as Muggle as they come.’

“Muggle means no magic, honey, we call 'em no-majs in the States,” she explained. “And most of ‘em don’t know that witches and wizards exist. That’s why I had to fight so hard to be with my Jacob, ‘cause where we come from we’re not allowed to even talk to muggles, not really. I messed it all up real good quite a few times tryna’ make things work for us, but Jacob’s an angel and forgave me more than he shoulda, so we got there in the end.”

“And I sure am glad about that,” Jacob murmured, pulling his wife in to his side and giving her a peck on the cheek, “and she didn’t take much forgivin’. Made some mistakes, sure, but my girl’s got a heart of gold and she came through when it counted.”

Queenie could sense Maglor’s mind reeling from what he’d just heard, affected by something far more than the story of how she’d met her husband, but she didn’t immediately ask him. But later, her mind full of concern, honey-sweet compassion and a profound sort of understanding as it pressed against his, she stood beside him in silent solidarity while his hands trembled around the dictionary.

His eyes were glued with a desperate gaze to the entry for 'forgive.'

 

Chapter Text

Newspaper

One thing about modernity which Maglor heartily approved of was the availability of the written word. Compared with the world he had known, writing was everywhere. He supposed that magic must make copying easier and enable the scribes to achieve the incredible regularity of the fonts in the books, but still the sheer number of texts in the Scamanders’ possession indicated that they must be fabulously wealthy, maybe even descended from royalty. Even knowing this, he couldn’t hold back a gasp when Tina started casually tearing up a printed page and throwing the scraps into the fireplace. Newt startled in his armchair.

“Are you alright?” he asked urgently.

“Fine, but why do you burn that? It takes much work, much money.” He made an aborted grabbing motion towards the rest of the papers, as if to protect them from Tina’s destruction.

“This?” Tina confirmed, holding up the paper. “It’s just an old newspaper, we get a new one every week, it’s not expensive, don’t worry.”

“They write the news every week? How is that not expensive? Because of magic?”

Then it clicked that Maglor had come from a society that heavily relied on oral knowledge, in which manuscripts were painstakingly copied by scribes and were hence highly prized objects. Newt and Tina proceeded to explain the printing process, and how it was made even easier by magic, enabling the production of books and newspapers at low prices.

“Hang on, we’ve got a decent book collection: you must have thought we were filthy rich- er, had lots of money.”

“Are you not?”

Newt and Tina looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“We both have good jobs, and my books bring in a good amount, so we get along nicely, but no. Sorry to disappoint!”

Owl

The habit of having owls deliver post was rather difficult to get used to; the first time Maglor shared breakfast with the Scamanders he was startled by a harsh tapping at the window, and his confusion only increased when, completely unperturbed, Newt got up to open it for a rotund barn owl which clutched a letter in its claws. He fed it a few pellets and sent it back out. The owl cooed and blinked a few times on the windowsill, and Newt shook his head in exasperation.

“You know that doesn’t work here, Oswald, you’re not getting another one, that’s plenty to get you back home. Oh, stop looking at me like that, I know the Kowalskis spoil you rotten so it’s no use pretending you’re starved, those eyes don’t work on me.”

The owl hooted indignantly and flew away, and Newt returned to the table, letters in hand.

“That owl has Jacob wrapped around his little claw, it’s ridiculous,” he grumbled good-naturedly.

“Aw, cut him some slack. He’s just excited about having one, makes him feel like a proper wizard, he says,” Tina pointed out.

“I know, but it’s really not healthy him finishing off Jacob’s pastry scraps all the time, he could end up with all sorts of health issues…”

“Ah,” Maglor cut in, attempting to find something more dignified to say than, “what?” and failing miserably.

“Oh yes, wizards train owls to deliver letters, probably should have mentioned that,” Newt informed him cheerfully.

Piano

Maglor had identified the large wooden box with black and white buttons in the lounge as a ‘piano’ using his encyclopaedia, but his curiosity about how it sounded was only satisfied when he followed some intriguing music one weekend to find Tina deftly manipulating the instrument. The tune used unfamiliar chords and intervals, but soon enough he found himself enjoying it. He didn’t even realise he was humming a harmony until she startled and looked round at him, but kept playing and told him to carry on when he apologised. She brought her piece to a close with a lovely succession of descending scales, reminding Maglor with a pang of the freedom he used to feel when he played similar sequences on his harp.

“I did not know you did piano,” he remarked after she had finished.

“I play, yes, but I’m not very good,” she replied, “I only started a few years ago.”

“That’s amazing,” Maglor said sincerely. Time in Valinor passed differently, but if he were to equate it, he was probably still learning his scales at the same point in his musical education.

“Flatterer,” she scolded him teasingly, “it’s just a hobby, really- something I do for fun. I felt a bit sort of… lost, after Grindelwald fell., I didn’t really know what to do with myself, and so we decided that I needed a project, something I did just for me. I always wanted to learn to play piano when I was a little girl, but I never had the money until now. Newt bought me the piano and some lessons for our anniversary, and here we are.”

“You are very good. You learned fast,” he insisted.

“That’s high praise, coming from you,” she smiled. And because she was used to him by now, she said, “anything else you want to know?”

“Is it magic?” he asked.

“No, actually, you can get enchanted ones, but I wanted to learn how to do it all myself first. Look,” she lifted the lid and showed him the strings concealed inside, then how a tiny hammer would strike the string when she pressed a key. Forgetting all about his hands in a moment of distraction, he reached out to stroke his fingers over them, revelling in the joy of producing sound for a few precious seconds before the agony in his blistered fingers forced him to snatch them back.

“Careful!” Tina warned him, alarmed. Noting his crestfallen expression, she guessed what had prompted his desire to touch the instrument. “I know you sing, but did you play something?”

And as he looked at the beautiful instrument before him, oh how keenly did he feel the loss of a part of himself that was almost like another limb. The instrument itself had gone to Elrond, which he was glad of, but it still grieved him that one of his most precious modes of expression had been stripped away. For him, maiming his hands couldn’t have been a more fitting punishment.

“I played the harp,” he said quietly, and he would be eternally grateful to Tina for her sensitivity in not pressing him further on that, or on his hand injury. Instead she nodded in acknowledgement, sat down before the piano, and asked him if he would sing for her again.

He did, allowing the challenge of the new style of music to distract him, and thanked whichever Valar were listening for their mercy in leaving him his voice.

Quest

“Ah, good old Beedle the Bard! My brother and I were brought up on those tales,” Newt remarked cheerily on seeing the book in Maglor’s hands, “which one are you reading?”

“The Fountain of Fair Fortune. I just finished it.”

“Ah yes, I know it’s not supposed to be the point of the story, but I never forgave Sir Luckless for attacking the blind worm. I mean, honestly, taking a sword to a magical creature simply because it’s in your way? That’s just plain rude.”

Maglor kept his face expressionless, but inwardly he shivered at the reminder of the pressing need to tell his own story, and the inevitability of this fantasy of family and home crumbling around him. If this was Newt’s censure of a fictional knight who unsuccessfully attempted to harm a living creature which blocked his path, how much then would he abhor a real killer so devoted to his purpose that he massacred his own kin when they stood in his way?

But, like a coward, he decided that he wasn’t yet ready for that conversation and picked up on something else Newt had said. He thought with a pang of discussing the same subject with Tyelpë, as young elves spurring each other on in their passion, fired up in the belief that together, they would discover all the hidden mysteries of the arts.  No-one knew then how fraught the debate over a creator’s right to control his creation was going to become. He concentrated on shaping his thoughts into English.

“Yes. I am often thinking… that there is no ‘supposed’ in stories. For you, it is about the worm. That is your ‘Fountain of Fair Fortune.’ A story is alive, one cannot cage it. It is Beedle’s no more.”

“Oh, I like that,” Newt grinned, delighted, “’Supposed’ has never worked out well for me anyway. Go on then, what’s your ‘Fountain of Fair Fortune’ about?”

He thought of the three witches in the story, how deeply he empathised with their desperation for the one thing they needed to end their suffering. He thought also of his admiration for their mutual support, and their wisdom in knowing when they had found their answers in unexpected places. He could imagine all too well what might have happened if they had all insisted on bathing in the fountain no matter what the cost.

“For me, it’s about quests,” he said, “and knowing when it is time to let them go.”

Resilient

“Come on inside, it’s freezing out here! You’ll catch your death!”

Maglor hadn’t really noticed the cold, nor how much time had passed as he wandered the garden, mesmerised by the falling snowflakes; he’d weathered his fair share of snowstorms during his exile, but knowing that he had shelter to return to when he wished transformed the experience completely. He ducked back inside nonetheless, trying to process Newt’s last phrase.

“’Death’- that is from ‘die’?”

“Er, yes,” Newt replied a little uncomfortably.

“Then how is death catched?” Seeing Newt begin to correct him, he held up a hand. “Wait, let me. So ‘catch’ is not like ‘fetch’- is it like ‘teach’? So, ‘caught’? How is death caught?”

“Yes, that’s right, very impressive,” Newt praised him. “And ‘catch your death’ is an expression. It means to get too cold and then get ill or sick.” He paused a moment. “Can you get sick? Is it possible?”

“No, the Eldar die when we are too hurt, only.” He wasn’t quite sure how to explain fading, so decided to leave it; if he attempted to simplify it by suggesting that being ‘too sad’ was fatal for an elf, Newt would probably panic that he was dying at his every frown.

 “I see. You are a very resilient people, I must say.”

“Resilient?” Maglor inquired, unsure what Newt was getting at.

“Resilient,” Newt echoed musingly. “I’m not sure how to explain that one. Oh, hang on, I have an idea. Accio Slinky!

A coiled metal spring covered in glitter and tiny gems sailed into Newt’s outstretched hand.

“This is Helga’s, for when she’s good, she likes to chase it down the stairs,” he explained. Maglor nodded, unsure of how this related to the word they were discussing. Newt pressed the contraption down and they both watched as it sprang back up vigorously.

“I push it down, it comes back up. It’s resilient,” Newt elaborated. “So for people, that means something bad happens, you’re hurt for example, you recover and come back up stronger.”

Maglor hummed in agreement, fitting in the new word with his rapidly expanding vocabulary and enjoying the sensation of the slinky springing back up against the back of his hand.

“So I think the Eldar in general must be a resilient species, but you in particular seem like a resilient fellow to me,” Newt went on.

Maglor considered this. It was an uncomfortably positive adjective to apply to himself, but then he thought of everything he’d lived through, all the catastrophes he’d both helped to cause and endured, and realised that against all the odds, he was still here.

Anyway, not putting up an argument was worth it for the smile that crept across Newt’s face when Maglor replied,

“Yes. I suppose I am.”

Shy

Pickett’s irritated reaction had discouraged Maglor from trying out the hybrid form of Quenya-Entish with the other bowtruckles, but eventually he decided to experiment and see how they reacted. None of the others responded quite so dramatically as Pickett. For the most part, they paused to listen, tilting their heads inquisitively, then concluded that the strange sounds were irrelevant and carried on slowly picking their way across the bark. He was about to give it up as a lost cause when he noticed a tiny green face peeking out warily from behind a leaf before hiding again.

“Who is that?” he asked Newt, who was observing.

“That’s Marlowe. He’s interested, I think, aren’t you Marlowe? Don’t worry, he’s alright, just hiding because he’s a bit shy. Ah, that means nervous around new people.”

The bowtruckle had ducked for cover on hearing his name, but there was a flash of a beady little eye around the edge of the leaf and the tiniest, timid little squeaking noise.

“He wants you to carry on,” Newt translated, looking mildly surprised and rather pleased.

So Maglor did. He recited the best short lyric he knew in Quenya-Entish, which nevertheless lasted the rest of the day, a reflection on an oak which had grown strong and tall despite lightning damage, incorporating its scars into its beauty. The other bowtruckles accepted the deep almost-song as part of the background noise, working on peaceably. Marlowe hid for at least the first hour, and Maglor could only tell he was still there by the quivering of his sheltering leaf.

But by the time Maglor concluded the final stanza, about the love and respect all the creatures of the forest held for the damaged oak, Marlowe had emerged into full view, listening with rapt fascination and a smile lighting up his tiny scarred face.

Tall

Hilpy usually tried to perform most of her tasks away from Newt and Tina, a relic of her traditional training of being told not to get in the way, which her new family’s repeated reassurances hadn’t yet eroded. She seemed to relate to Maglor’s desire to contribute, though, and their suspected shared ancestry allowed her curiosity to overpower her shyness; this enabled her to be slightly less skittish around him, especially once he had assured her that he really did enjoy her company. Hence she did not vanish immediately as he found her in one of the guest rooms, clicking her fingers and tutting furiously.

“Hilpy is cleaning the skirtings,” she elaborated when he asked her, “Master Newt is raising baby talky-spiders last month and they is leaving cobwebs everywhere.

He suppressed a shudder. They’re nothing compared to Ungoliant, he reminded himself. But it was her shadow that still made him a little leery of them. “Are they still here?” he asked, trying to sound casual and failing abysmally. He hadn’t seen any, but it would be so like Newt to have an Acromantula nest stashed away somewhere.

“No, they is all going to safe colonies. Master Maglor is not to be worrying!”

“I wasn’t worried,” he said quickly, with a little sigh of relief nonetheless. Hilpy resumed her tutting and muttering.

“Can I help?” he offered, knowing that the little elf was far too like him to actually ask for it.

“Hilpy is trying to use her magic to clean them, but she is not tall enough to see so not knowing if it is working!”

Tall… that was always his brother’s epithet but, compared to Hilpy, it most certainly described him. And that might just be the answer to their current situation. He crouched and gestured to his back, throwing in a gallant “my lady,” since he rather liked the older patterns of speech from the fiction he’d moved on to reading, and he predicted correctly that it would make Hilpy giggle.

“Are you sure…Maglor?” It was the first time she’d dropped the ‘master’ from his title, and he felt a sudden rush of triumph on realising that his ridiculous gesture had convinced her that he really was just her friend.

“Absolutely,” he confirmed, and on feeling the small body clambering onto his shoulders, he did his best to repress an unexpected surge of emotion as he remembered the last time he’d felt that sensation: plunging through the forest in a race against Maedhros, a laughing twin on each of their shoulders. He cleared his head quickly though and allowed Hilpy to direct him to the corner behind the bookcase which had been particularly annoying her.

So it was that Tina arrived home from work to the bizarre sight of Hilpy atop Maglor’s shoulders, directing him around the house- “left a bit, please, no, no, that is too far, right an inch, yes, there, thank you, Maglor”- and then snapping away the last few remnants of cobweb from the corners of the room. Concluding that they both looked perfectly content, she waved hello to them and decided to leave them to it.

Umbrella

From time to time, Newt worked on a mysterious project in the shed; it was the one place in the property Maglor had been forbidden from entering, albeit with profuse apologies. He was achingly curious about what went on in there, but his inquiries were always met with an evasive, “It’s a bit complicated, I’ll explain later.” He was working in there one afternoon when the heavens opened and soaked everything in freezing February rain. Maglor, meditating outside, simply drew his cloak over his head and remained where he was, pondering the mystery of the world renewing itself from Yavanna’s tears, sorrow being transformed into life.

A few hours later, Newt emerged and carefully locked the shed behind him, with both a physical key and spellwork. He hurried over to Maglor as soon as he saw him there, a pearlescent shape hovering above him, deflecting the rain from his head.

“Good grief, how long have you been out here? Come on under.”

“Not long,” he replied nonchalantly. By his standards, he really hadn’t. He moved as Newt directed, having to crouch to get his tall frame under the translucent curve which stopped the rain.

“Ah, sorry, let me fix that,” Newt said, flicking his wand and causing the magical barrier to float higher, enabling him to stand straight again. He tapped its surface, causing it to shimmer, trying to ignore the way Newt’s expression softened into fondness at his childlike curiosity.

“It’s an umbrella,” Newt informed him before he could ask. “Useful little spell, this one, don’t you think?”

Veteran

Newt knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn’t care. After the dark times his brother had been through after the war, to receive a letter like the one he’d just read, so full of hope and his old humour, along with a photograph too, lifted his spirits like nothing else could. Maglor, sitting across the breakfast table, quirked an eyebrow in what Newt had mentally termed his ‘I’m curious but I don’t want to pry’ expression. Practically bouncing with joy at his news though, Newt was very happy to oblige.

“It’s a letter from my older brother, Theseus. He’s at a veterans’ event with his charity in America this week. Here they all are, look.”

He slid the photograph across the table. In it, Percival reached up in his wheelchair to clink his champagne glass against the one held in Theseus’ left hand, the two of them at the centre of a motley crowd of witches and wizards bearing an impressive array of scars, missing limbs and prostheses. Maglor studied it carefully, going a little pale.

“Veterans?” he asked, and Newt belatedly remembered that Maglor had most likely lived through a war himself and might find the picture distressing.

“Yes, you remember there was the war against Grindelwald? My brother Theseus and his friend Percival run a charity for veterans, people who fought and were hurt in the war.”

Maglor’s eyes flicked between Newt and the picture and then he pointed out Theseus.

“That’s your brother?” he asked in a tone of disbelief.

“Yes, that’s Theseus,” he replied a little frostily, apprehensive about what Maglor would say next. Given the compassion he’d already displayed, he’d expected Maglor to show at least some understanding about his brother’s disability.

But Maglor’s eyes kept flicking from Theseus’ face to the point in the picture where his right arm ended at the elbow.

Newt prepared himself for pity, disgust, horrified fascination or dismissal, all reactions Theseus had encountered from people too prejudiced to see past his missing right forearm. But he could never have predicted what Maglor said next.

“My older brother also lost his right hand in a war,” he said in a pained whisper and suddenly his fixation with Theseus’ injury made a terrible sort of sense.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Newt said. He had so many questions about what had happened in whatever brutal war Maglor and his brother had lived through, how long his brother had lived with his injury, whether it had happened in the same incident that scarred Maglor’s hands. But he knew from experience how much he hated when people met Theseus for the first time and acted like his disability was the most interesting thing about him. Maglor’s brother was a person, after all, with an entire history far larger than the number of his limbs. So instead of asking any of those insistent questions, Newt said, “what was his name?”

Maglor’s eyes flicked to his in surprise, and he nodded to Newt in gratitude and understanding.

“His name was Maedhros, and he was incredible,” he said with fierce pride, and swallowed heavily as he struggled to maintain his composure. He managed it, looked down at the photograph again, at Theseus’ face this time, Newt was delighted to note. He smiled weakly at Newt and returned the favour.

“Tell me about Theseus.”

Wait

“I am ready to tell you my past,” Maglor announced as he entered Newt’s study.

Newt’s forehead crinkled into a frown as he observed Maglor’s shallow breathing and frenetically clenching hands.

“Are you now? Forgive me, but you don’t look all that ready to me.”

Maglor shifted his feet slightly, discomforted, and Newt felt absurdly like a headmaster with a chastised schoolboy before him. Albeit a millennia-old, seven-foot tall schoolboy with superhuman strength.

“I am selfish. It is nothing.”

“It’s clearly not nothing,” Newt replied, standing from behind his desk and coming round to perch on it in an attempt to make the encounter feel more casual. “Breathe, Maglor, it’s alright, no need to force yourself into anything. That’s better. Can you explain why you wanted to tell me?”

“You must know. It is important. I did things, terrible things, and you have been very generous. You deserve to know what I am.”

“This isn’t about me,” Newt insisted quietly. “This is your story and yours alone. If you feel that you want to talk about what happened, then I’ll listen, but you shouldn’t do this because of debt. You don’t owe me anything, understand? And besides, I know all I need to know about you already. There’s no rush.”

“You don’t know about me, you don’t know what I did…”

“I know everything I need to know,” Newt repeated, “I know you’re gentle and kind and respect my creatures more than most wizards would. You’ve spent hours talking to Marlowe in that old- Ent-language, you call it?- and got him interested in the old trees; he’s always been the most withdrawn of my bowtruckles, you know, and since you’ve been here he’s got so much braver. You were there watching Katarina as she flew for the first time since her injury and your joy made it so clear that how much you care. You’re generous and you always want to help me in the case, even though carrying things must hurt your hands. You’re stubborn enough to keep my mother-henning in check, you’re very intelligent and you’ve taken to English like a hippogriff to the air.”

Newt paused when he saw that Maglor was looking a little overwhelmed by this and continued in a softer tone.

“If that’s all I ever learn about you, that will be enough. Those are the important things. Don’t tell me your past just because you think you have to, especially if it’s hard to talk about. Like I said, I will listen, but only when I’m sure you really want to tell me, for your own sake. I don’t think you do, today.”

“I…should want to tell you,” Maglor said bitterly, clearly frustrated at himself.

“You should feel whatever you’re feeling. If you don’t want to, if you physically can’t, then that’s fine. There’s no problem. Let’s wait a little longer. Besides, if it’s a hard story to tell, you don’t want to have to think about the words all the time. Your English is incredible, but maybe give yourself more time to get really confident before you talk about something traumatic?”

Maglor nodded slowly.

“Alright. I will learn more English and get confident, then I will tell you. Thank you, Newt.”

He had turned on his heel and left the study before Newt could try to reiterate the main point he’d tried to convey in that conversation; it had got lost, somehow, and this time Newt couldn’t blame translation.

eXaltation

Maglor could have happily lived out the rest of his life just in Newt’s case, but the magizoologist decided it would be good for him to get out a bit. So he started accompanying Newt on low-stakes investigations in deserted places where they were unlikely to meet anyone asking awkward questions; and if they did, Newt’s quick and subtle Confundus charm had got him out of several tight spots in the past.

Thus they found themselves lying on their stomachs on the edge of some abandoned farmland in County Clare, investigating a sighting of a Morrigan’s Raven, an Irish species of magical bird, famed for its intelligence and beauty. The sky was pinkening prettily as the sun began to emerge through a cluster of distant trees, casting a soft light on the early morning mist as it insinuated itself through the long grass. The morning itself seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for something.

A faint chirruping began in the distance, then extended into a long chain of trills and complex melodies.

“This isn’t something magical, is it?” Maglor whispered, imitating the birdsong for Newt’s analysis since it was out of his range of hearing. It didn’t sound like any ravens he’d ever known, but with magical creatures you could never tell.

“No,” Newt concluded, “It’s a skylark. Not a magic bird, but almost, I’ve always thought. My pet theory is that at some point they bred with snidgets.”

A brown speck appeared on the periphery of Maglor’s vision, and the song grew clearer and more complex. No sooner had he pointed it out to Newt, who squinted through his binoculars at it, than another bird appeared in the sky, closer to them, and took up the call. It seemed he was trying to outdo the first singer, jumping between pitches with astonishing dexterity and creating ever more complicated sequences.

The songs merged, creating a stunning counterpoint, the melodies competing yet enhancing each other. Soon, a third picked up the song too, and then another, and another still. Little by little the chirps and chitters and clear chiming calls linked into each other like a silver chain, their songs filling the air as though they were summoning the sun itself from its slumber with their irrepressible joy. As they poured out the music of their souls over the rolling landscape, Maglor knew that despite all his years of practice, in these unassuming minstrels of the field he had met his match. Then, as quickly as they had come, one by one they vanished, until at last one sole lark circled higher and higher until he disappeared from view, leaving the silver threads of their song rippling through the silence.

“Exaltation,” Maglor murmured at last.

“Pardon?”

“We saw an exaltation of larks.”

Since Newt continued to look confused, Maglor faltered a little.

“That is right, isn’t it? That book Tina got me last week has a list of common nouns in it. They’re delightful. It said that the word for a group of larks is an exaltation.”

“Is it really? I never knew that. I’m sure it’s right, though. You’re teaching me, now. Exaltation. That fits rather well. No other word really comes close.”

“Yes, it feels exactly right,” he agreed, and they both quieted, lost in their reflections, souls still flying on the wings of an exaltation of larks.

Years

“So there’s twelve months in a year, ten years in a decade, a hundred years in a century,” Newt explained, concluding his exposition of the human reckoning of time; a useful refresher for Maglor, who hadn’t needed it since negotiating with Men in the First Age.

“For example, I am fifty-one years old, fifty-two later this month, which is February.” He licked his lips nervously before asking the next question. “How old are you?”

His brows furrowed as he tried to work it out. He really hadn’t been paying attention to the passing yéni, but he could probably manage a rough guess. The conversions between numbering systems weren’t helping either, he was as able with numbers as the next elf, but not particularly fond of complicated mathematics unless it had to do with musical time signatures. Curufin was always the best at this kind of thing, he could perform wizardry on an abacus that made him seem almost Maiar, and he would be utterly livid to watch his brother fumble with these sums. And that was before you even mentioned Fëanor…

Newt misinterpreted his frown.

“Sorry, that’s a bit personal, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“No, it’s fine, I am attempting to calculate…we numbered with yéni, 144 years each, and I did not note them well for a long time.”

“Just to clarify,” Newt said slowly, going a bit pale, “you measure time in blocks of 144 years and you lost count?”

“Yes,” Maglor confirmed, the numbers finally clicking into place in his head “but I can estimate. I am fairly sure that I lived over ninety yéni, but I do not think I have yet reached one hundred and twenty…therefore I am between twelve thousand and seventeen thousand years old.”

That didn’t really mean much to him, given that he’d always known that he’d exist in some form until the breaking of the world, but he probably should have considered the effect of that on a human not used to dealing with Eldarin longevity. He’d learnt by now that Newt sometimes came out with particularly mild comments to mask internal screaming, and his reaction to this shock was no exception.

“Ah,” he said weakly after opening and closing his mouth a few times like a landed fish, “you certainly are looking remarkably well for your age.”

Zing

While Newt and Tina saw to most of Maglor’s education about the modern wizarding world, Jacob appointed himself head of culinary education, bringing him a box stuffed to bursting with pastries from his bakery.

“Queenie said you could do with a bit of cheerin’ up,” Jacob informed him jovially. “And there ain’t nothin’ better for that than my pąckzi.”

“They look like nifflers,” Maglor observed, fascinated by the intricacy of the creation set before him.

“A bit of inspiration from Newt’s suitcase, added to my gran’s trusty recipes, and it’s pure magic,” Jacob agreed. “Go on, give it a try!”

He bit into it, taking time to savour the explosion of new flavours in his mouth. There was not only sweetness but also something warm and spicy delicately balanced with something light and tangy.

“Delicious,” he announced, delighted to see the way Jacob’s entire face lit up at his praise, “what’s that slightly sharp flavour? The balance is exquisite.”

“That’s a great palette you got there, buddy! That’d be the orange zest. Key to proper pąckzi, gives it that little bit of zing.”

“Zing,” Maglor repeated, enjoying feel of the word. “That describes these rather well.”

He didn’t even protest as Jacob served him another, and both Jacob and Maglor came away from some quality pastry time with a little more zing themselves.

& a story

“So this notation makes no distinction between A sharp and B flat?”

“Yes, the difference only really matters in music theory, so for my purposes they’re the same. And on a piano, it’s the same key, it’s this one…”

Newt knew he was something of a spare part in this scenario, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. Over the past years, he had loved watching Tina finally invest in something for herself and fulfil a long-neglected desire after devoting so much of her life to protecting others, and he couldn’t get enough of watching her play and talk about her music. Maglor, too, was full of life as he discussed musical notation systems, comparing the modern one to his people’s, which had left a lot more room for the individual musician’s interpretation, apparently. Half the time Newt didn’t have the foggiest what they were on about, but they were both happy, so he was content just to let the warm tones of their animated discussion wash over him. As he did so, an idea occurred to him: a potential way in to breaking the stalemate they’d reached over the matter of Maglor’s injury.

He continued to mull it over, trying to find the right moment to bring it up, but he didn’t find the opportunity until the next day. Maglor had been a little restless that morning, and when Newt noticed him looking wistfully over at the piano, he seized his chance.

“Tina could teach you piano, you know,” he suggested. “I’m sure she’d love to. If you’d just let me look at your hands…”

“No, I’m sorry, Newt, but no,” he said firmly, any semblance of ease evaporating in an instant, getting up again and pacing to the other end of the room.

“Well, it’s your choice, of course.  But if it’s because you don’t think it can get better, then why not try? It might not work, but I’ve treated severe curse damage before, I’ll be very careful, and I hate to see you suffering when there’s a possibility that one of my potions might help, at least a bit…”

He sighed deeply, and though his back was turned Newt could see him curl in on himself as he exhaled.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” he said in a terribly small voice.

“What? What is it that you can’t do anymore?” Newt asked gently, inwardly berating himself for bringing this up again and spoiling the mood.

“Carry on pretending that I’m someone you can fix!” he burst out, frustrated.

“Just so you know, that’s not how I see it,” Newt said softly as he rose and crossed the room to stand a respectful pace behind his friend. “I don’t need to fix you, because you’re not broken.”

Maglor turned his head over his shoulder to send Newt a look of utter incredulity. Newt shrugged.

“It’s true. You’re working through some things, of course you are, but then again, so am I. Doesn’t mean either of us are broken. You’re clearly a wonderful person who’s lived through some terrible things…”

“You don’t know who I am!”

“Of course I know who you are, we’ve been through this…”

“You don’t know who I am until you know what I did. Please, Newt, let me tell you and you can see if you’re still saying all that after you’ve heard it. Please.”

Newt was about to gently but firmly reject the idea on the grounds that Maglor wasn’t in the best state of mind to relive his traumatic past, but something in the desperation in that final plea gave him pause. If Maglor felt that insecure about Newt not knowing his history, perhaps it was best just to tackle that hurdle so he could move on. And maybe an outside perspective would help him to shed some of his irrational guilt; whatever he mistakes he had made, Newt was certain that such a gentle soul wouldn’t have done anything intentionally malicious.

“I’ll consider it,” he said cautiously, “But first, you need to breathe. Nice and slowly there, that’s better.”

Maglor managed to steady his breathing somewhat. “Will you hear me?” he asked, and Newt shivered at the depth of the fear in his expression. The problem was, he didn’t know if Maglor was afraid of him saying no or saying yes. Perhaps both.

“That’s entirely up to you. I think it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t want to talk about it, but if it would help you to let it out, then you’re very welcome to tell me.”

“I need you to know,” he insisted, and Newt held up his hands in concession.

“Alright, this is clearly important to you, so I’ll listen. We should make sure to do this somewhere you feel safe, though.”

“The case, if you don’t mind.”

“Then the case it is.”

The walk down to Maglor’s space was calming for them both, the tension between them vanished now a decision had been made. They seated themselves on a grassy verge on one of the foothills leading up into the mountains, and Newt gave Maglor some space to gather his thoughts.

 “It’s strange,” he said at last, “I was counted among my people’s greatest storytellers, but when it comes to my own, I scarcely know where to begin.”

“Start with something easy, something light,” Newt suggested.

Maglor nodded, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he began:

“You would have adored Huan. He was my brother Celegorm’s companion, this great enormous hound…”

Chapter Text

Maglor had dissociated from the story he was telling somewhere around the second massacre he described. Newt wasn’t sure whether it was better that way.

The Elda had sobbed his way through his account of the first one, and though he tried to provide what comfort he could, Newt felt completely lost: what words of consolation were there for someone confessing to the murder of innocents?

That had been awful, but the blank, dead look that crept into his eyes later in the story was almost worse.

As he recounted the battle between the Valinorean army and Morgoth’s forces, Newt hoped to Merlin that it was nearly over. He appreciated that perhaps Maglor needed to get all this out in one go, but he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take – and he wasn’t the one who’d lived it. Maglor’s velvet-toned voice continued, strangely at odds with his subject matter, and Newt’s breath caught in his throat as he predicted where this story was going; but surely they couldn’t be so monumentally ridiculous as to steal from the very deities they’d sworn by, could they?

“At that point, I had given up,” Maglor recalled. “I just wanted to lay the whole thing to rest, go back to Valinor with Elrond and Elros, be a family as much as we still could be, live with the relentless itch of the Oath and hope that one day Manwë would forgive us and return the jewels so we might be satisfied. And if that meant breaking the Oath and the Everlasting Darkness, then it couldn’t be worse than what we’d already become.”

He smiled a bitter, twisted smile. “But Maedhros always was more like my father. Could never leave a job unfinished. And you would think that after all that, I would have learned my lesson, but I didn’t. All of that, and still I never learned to say no to my family. Maedhros was going in, and I couldn’t let him go alone. And perhaps I thought that if we did this, it might all be over.”

“So we did it. We left Elrond and Elros in Círdan’s care and stole the Silmarils. And four more of my kin fell by my hand in their defence. The last people I killed. Solely because they had the bad luck of being appointed to that shift on the guard roster.”

This finally seemed to pierce the emotional disconnection, and Maglor bowed his head and grimaced as though in physical pain.

“At one point we were surrounded, but they let us run. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I think Ëonwë knew what was going to happen, and that it would be a far more just punishment than death by the sword. We got away from the camp, opened the case and there they were. The Silmarils, finally ours again after so long. Maedhros and I agreed that we would take them together, one each, honouring our father and our brothers in that gesture. We reached out to hold them, and just for a moment I let myself believe that the strife would finally end. But I touched the Silmaril and it… it…”

For the first time since the describing the massacre of the shipbuilders, Maglor broke the flow of his narrative, seemingly struggling to find words big enough to describe what happened next. In the end, he opted to simply illustrate it.

“It did this,” he whispered, holding out his mutilated palms. Newt gasped, everything falling into place: the awful injury and Maglor’s own attitudes to it finally making a terrible sort of sense.

“It marked my hands, but I felt it in my soul,” he went on at last. “The Silmarils were forged from light, pure light, created by Yavanna herself. Why did we ever dare to presume to hold them? Through all we did for the Oath, we hadn’t escaped the Everlasting Darkness. We’d practically invited it in, and our shadowed souls were so tormented by that light that we couldn’t stand it.”

“I think I survived because deep down, I knew. I knew from the moment I lowered my sword after that first slaughter that we had tainted ourselves irrevocably, so badly that not even the Silmarils could remove that stain, and our father was deluded to neglect the consequences. I carried on because I had to protect my brothers, because I lied to myself, pretended with the rest of them that once we had the Silmarils we could stop, perhaps because I knew I had already fallen and there was no way back. But in my heart of hearts, I lost my faith in Fëanor at Alqualondë.”

“Maedhros didn’t. He believed in our father all those years; I think one big reason he didn’t break in captivity in Angband was because he knew that Atto wouldn’t want him to. He challenged our father, yes, he was braver than all of us at Losgar, but only about how we carried out our mission, not the fundamentals of it. He inherited the philosophy that ownership of the Silmarils would solve everything, set everything to rights, and he believed it in his very core because, for him, Fëanor’s word held a greater weight than Manwë’s.”

“I lost my purpose, my last hope, my final chance of redemption the night the Silmarils burned us. But that night, Maedhros lost his faith as well. Morgoth couldn’t crush that indomitable spirit; the failure of our father’s hopes did.”

“Everything is hazy after that, there was so much pain, and I think we were screaming. They might have heard it back at the camp and rejoiced in the sound as they grieved their fallen. I hope they did. They deserved at least that small retribution. We ran, we didn’t speak to each other, but I realised where Maedhros was going and what he was going to do and I…I didn’t stop him. After all those years, everything I did to protect my brothers, all the grief when they died one by one and I couldn’t save them. I probably couldn’t have saved Maedhros from himself, but I had a chance to try. I didn’t take it. I followed him so that he would know he wasn’t alone, and I watched him walk to the edge of a fiery chasm, look over his shoulder at me, shout ‘I’m sorry, Káno,’ clutch the Silmaril to his breast and leap.”

“I am so, so sorry,” Newt stuttered out, his voice choked. If that had been Theseus… it had been a very real worry a few years back, as Newt’s older brother sunk into a deep depression when he had to give up his field work as an auror after Rosier’s curse ripped off his wand hand. With the support of his friends and family, he had recovered and was now doing well, working for the Ministry in an advisory capacity and running a charity supporting other veteran aurors. But Newt would never forget what it had been like to live with the bone-deep fear that Theseus would try to take his own life. The devastation of watching that happen, and the state of mind required to just let it – it was almost too awful to contemplate. Maglor raised his head, and Newt could have sworn that for a moment, he saw a glimpse of reflected firelight in the depths of Maglor’s dark, haunted eyes.

“So am I,” Maglor continued, an awful hollowness in his voice, “But I think it was kinder that way. Because from the moment he touched the Silmaril, my brother was already dead.”

“I very nearly followed him. Perhaps I should have done. But as I stood on the brink of that chasm, the loneliness hit me for the first time and I realised that I was the last one, the last witness of everything we’d done. And I thought of all those we had murdered, and how much they deserved. They deserved to live, but we took that away from them. They deserved to be remembered for all time, they deserved my repentance. I couldn’t give them back their lives, but I could give them that.”

“Mandos, by all accounts, is not a pleasant place, but it is where the broken souls of the dead go to be remade. Maedhros deserved that, he deserves a chance to heal and simply be Maedhros, not just the first son of Fëanor he always tried so hard to be. But me…I felt the wrongness of what we did, somewhere deep within me, and still I did nothing to stop it because I was a coward. And for that if nothing else, I deserve to stay broken.”

“So I turned away from the edge and ran to the shore, the Silmaril burning in my hands all the while, and I cast it into the depths where its beauty could never again cause strife. I renounced violence and cast my sword in after it, and for the next four ages I hid myself away, to ensure that I would not endanger anyone else, singing laments for those I and my family murdered, and living out my repentance the only way I knew how. Over the course of the Third and Fourth Age, nearly all my people left these shores to return to Valinor. I overheard that from Círdan, he used to ramble about all sorts of things when he walked the beaches; I think somehow, he suspected I was listening. I don’t know what happened to the others who stayed, I imagine they faded. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Perhaps because I still had a task to do, my repentance anchored me here.”

“Círdan and the rest of the elves left and the Fourth Age came to an end. I continued my penance into the Fifth, the current age, and avoided crossing paths with humans. I’d never seen anyone else in the part of the coast where I first met you. I thought you would chill and drown for sure, so I swum out to rescue you. Then you used magic and I thought you were a Maia, sent by the Valar to condemn me to the Void because I had not yet been punished enough for my crimes. You made it clear that you weren’t, but also that you had no need of my help, so I thought it best to flee so you wouldn’t get mixed up with me and the burden of my history.”

He shook his head ruefully. “Evidently, that intention failed. And you know the rest.”

He bowed his head and was silent, and it took Newt a few moments to realise that the tale was over and he was expected to respond.

He had no idea what to say. What could be said in response to what he’d just heard? He was torn between the desire to hug Maglor close and to run from him. Different versions of the person he thought he knew danced through his thoughts, elusive and impossible to grasp.

He slaughtered refugees.

He lost his entire family in horrific ways.

He left a woman with no option but to leave her children and jump off a cliff.

Then cared for those children himself and even now speaks of them with the pride of a father.

He killed defenceless craftspeople to get what he wanted.

He sings to the mooncalves every other night.

He knowingly swore an Oath that would oblige him to kill.

He’s regretted it for- what did he say?- four ages. A very long time, anyway.

But…refugees…

Newt pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, trying to silence his chaotic thoughts for just a moment. When he emerged, Maglor was watching his reaction, looking absolutely crushed, but unsurprised.

“Thank you for telling me all that,” he managed at last. “It can’t have been easy, and you didn’t have to.”

“I did. You deserved to know.”

“It was honourable of you, all the same, and I do respect that. I…ah…” he floundered, and then admitted defeat.

“Maglor, I’m really sorry, but would you mind awfully I took a moment to myself just to let all this sink in? We’ll talk later, of course, but I expect you’d appreciate a bit of quiet too after all that, yes?”

“Of course, whatever you wish. I will submit myself to your judgement.”

Newt frowned. That was an ominous phrasing.

“No, I’m not intending on judging you, that’s not my place. Please just…don’t worry about anything. Worrying just means you suffer twice, remember? I’m sure we can handle this.”

“Yes, Newt.” The words sounded subdued, defeated, but Newt’s already strained emotional capacity didn’t stretch to investigating that on top of what he’d just heard.

“Alright, good- oh, and may I talk to Tina about this?”

“Yes, of course. She will need to know and I would rather not tell it twice, if it can be avoided.”

Merlin, no, I’m not going to force you to relive all that again. Thank you, though. And…I’m sorry. For, for everything you suffered, everything you, you lost.” He swallowed past the lump in his throat. “Anyway, just stay here and rest a bit, I’ll be back when I’ve cleared my head.”

“Yes, Newt.” This new submissive tendency was highly unsettling, on top of all the other unsettling things unearthed by this conversation, and suddenly Newt just needed to get away. He cleared his throat.

“Right, well, I’ll just, um...”

He wasn’t proud of it, but he couldn’t deal with anything else just then, so he fled.


Maglor stayed there for a while, still as though carved from stone, after Newt made his awkward exit. The memories he’d spoken of were clamouring loud enough to deafen him, calling him to lose himself in their eddies and swirls, but difficult as it was, he resisted. He needed to keep his faculties about him now, and he would have chance to surrender to the cruel master of his regret soon enough.

It had taken far too long for him to make this crucial step with Newt – linguistically, he was probably ready about a week and a half ago, at least to set things out clearly enough that there could be no confusion over what happened and his culpability. But he was so close to getting into the flow of this language, getting familiar with its rhythms and its nuances, that he had given himself one more day to polish his grammar, and then another to improve his translations of Quenya concepts, and then another to finesse his tenses, and so on until he had finally found the courage to end the selfishness and offer up his story. He had also been far too willing to obey the tiny voice urging him that if this tale was going to be the last one he told Newt, then he was going to tell it well.

Abruptly he rose and headed back into his hut. He extracted his bundle of survival tools from the back of a cupboard, where they had lain unused during his stay. If Newt decided to hand him over to the wizarding authorities, of course, he wouldn’t need them, but it was still possible that he might decide to release him back to his solitary exile. He would rather the latter, because if the Valar couldn’t punish him worse than he could punish himself, he doubted that the wizarding government could manage it. But then again, if they decided to try him before a court and forced him to recount his misdeeds again, to see the looks of horror and condemnation on their faces, perhaps that would be a start.

Absently, he wondered how long it would take Newt to decide what to do with him. It might take a while, if he needed to discuss it with Tina first. He had been far kinder than Maglor deserved, telling him to rest and delivering his well-rehearsed maxim about decreasing suffering by not worrying. Even when deliberating on a response to Maglor’s crimes, Newt was trying not to make his suffering excessive, and Maglor was amazed by the control he must have over his anger about what he had heard and how late he had been informed of it.

Tina would want him to be tried, he suspected. She was very like Galadriel in lots of ways, fiery and passionate and completely unstoppable when she had resolved to do something. She also had a strong sense of right and wrong; she would not let the deaths of innocents go unavenged, no matter how long ago it happened. She acknowledged the faults in the wizarding justice system, but worked within it, believing that it was the best way available of protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty, so she would probably want to use it to deal with him.

Newt, he wasn’t so sure about. He too had very strong morals, but having spent more time with Maglor, he had a greater understanding of his psyche. He would know, therefore, that to condemn Maglor to solitary exile again after allowing him just a glimpse of care, affection and family would be the worst possible sentence to give. And considering his crimes, the families ripped apart by the violence he wreaked on them, Newt might decide that that was only fair.

It was out of his hands, now, at any rate. He owed Newt and Tina so much, had abused their hospitality so badly, masquerading as someone who deserved their love. The least he could do was abide by whatever they decided about his future. After some hesitation, he packed up his spare tunics and leggings- he felt awful about keeping any of the gifts that had been showered on him, but he couldn’t see that Newt would find a use for them now they had been soiled with a murderer’s taint. Preparing himself for the sanctuary he’d found to crumble around him, Maglor gathered his belongings and waited.


Newt paced.

He’d usually walk through the comforting environs of his case during times of moral confusion, but when he tried it this time, each habitat he passed presented him with images of Maglor bonding with its inhabitant with his characteristic quiet gentleness and solemn respect. And following Maglor’s confession, those memories brought up more conflicting emotions than he knew what to do with, so he escaped up to his living room, and he paced.

He was no stranger to housing killers in his suitcase. He would face the outrage of the world for the sake of the various nundus, dragons, tebos and runespoors he had helped over the years, would defend them with his own life if necessary. But in all their situations, they had killed because of instinct, because they were scared or threatened or starving and had no option to behave otherwise. A little understanding and good provision, and the monstrous killers The Daily Prophet sensationalised would transform into the contented, loyal friends they always could have been if they were treated well from the start.

But to kill others in such a calculated, deliberate way, to lead followers into doing the same, simply for the sake of an object, no matter how precious or significant – such an action was almost completely beyond Newt’s comprehension. He couldn’t understand how anyone could go through with it, much less the gentle being who approached his creatures with such respect and obvious affection.

Perhaps it’s not so different from when creatures kill, he thought desperately, searching for any possible way to exonerate his friend. At points, Maglor had hinted that the Oath was a bit like a compulsion, like something driving him to extreme violence despite his resistance to it. Initially, Newt had thought it equivalent to an Unbreakable Vow, which was serious enough. But perhaps in this old world where magic was so different, it wasn’t simply a threat of death (or whatever the ‘Everlasting Darkness’ was), but more of an insidious controlling force, closer to the Imperius, perhaps. He hoped that was the case, that Maglor’s actions weren’t entirely his own, but even then there was still a sticking point.

Maglor chose to swear it. He had recited the Oath to Newt in its entirety, and it was clearly something that obliged him to commit violence in its name. How could someone so intelligent, so sensitive, have knowingly committed himself to that?

He couldn’t have anticipated what would happen, Newt reasoned with himself. This ‘Valinor’ place sounded like literal Paradise; growing up there before Morgoth’s attack, he couldn’t have experienced anything like the violence he later became embroiled in. And at the time he had expected to be fighting this Morgoth fellow, whose actions made Grindelwald himself look tame, not his fellow Eldar.

But…refugees. This refrain kept coming back to him, no matter how he tried to argue it or remind himself that his own soul was far from spotless. He knew that Sirion was different, it had been an established settlement by the time of the Fëanorion attack, but he couldn’t help but imagine the groups of haunted, terrified but phenomenally brave people he’d helped to smuggle into England during the war. Even if it was years down the line, the thought of them enduring yet more violence was abhorrent.

But you can see how much he regrets it, the rational part of his brain that was not still reeling from the horror of it all observed. That he was practically consumed by his own guilt had been evident from their earliest interactions, and Newt had been so, so sure that it was unjustified. Why? he wondered, why didn’t I take him at his word when he said he hurt his people? Why did I believe he’d just made a well-meaning mistake which had terrible consequences?

It was because of Maglor’s character, Newt realised. So many of his estimations of others rested on how they interacted with his beasts, and Maglor had proven himself sensitive, respectful and appreciative of Newt’s treasured family. He was so eager to help, so reluctant to demand anything for himself, so careful to avoid doing anything that could cause harm to another. He was a completely different person from the ruthless killer intent on reclaiming the Silmaril at any cost described in his tale.

A completely different person. That was it. The horrors he had participated in and lived through had shaped him, shaken him and reformed him. It was impossible not to acknowledge the sincerity of his repentance, which had lasted…how long? Newt had been so overwhelmed by the time Maglor neared the end of his tale that he’d almost missed him skimming over the four ages between his last act of violence and meeting Newt. Maglor had said that the last Eldar left at the end of the Fourth Age, and that was thousands of years ago if Hilpy was to be believed. Thousands of years had passed, and the Fifth Age hadn’t even ended yet. Newt shivered as he contemplated what that implied about how long Maglor had spent alone.

And by Merlin, had he suffered. The violent deaths of his entire family, the disintegration of his life’s purpose when the Silmaril caused those excruciating wounds, self-imposed solitary exile with no companion but his guilt. Newt wouldn’t wish that on Grindelwald, and he’d had some very uncharacteristic violent urges towards that particular wizard. And what gave Newt the right to moral outrage over refugees who’d died four ages ago, when there were some in his own time he’d failed to save? Perhaps his frustration at himself for those failures was bleeding into his difficulty in overcoming the absolute repulsion he felt for Maglor’s actions in that scenario; and those actions were awful enough on their own.

Whatever he had done, he had paid for it a hundred times over, that much was crystal clear. Over the course of his solitude, the healthy sapling of his justified guilt had grown into a constrictive weed that made him unable to trust himself and convinced him that he was a danger to others, even though he’d been so committed to his rejection of violence that he had removed himself from society for literal millennia.

He needed help, help to change his thought patterns and channel his guilt into something more productive, and the poor fellow had ended up with only Newt as a mentor. Newt had learnt a lot since New York in 1926, but he freely admitted that he was still much better at interacting with creatures than he was with people. And Tina could testify that after the Registry, he certainly hadn’t been a poster boy for healthy guilt management, although since meeting Maglor he’d started to talk about it, at least.

Newt felt terrible for just abandoning Maglor after he’d bared his soul like that, but he was nervous that as his emotions swung wildly between horror and pity, shock and compassion, he might have blurted something out that he’d later regret. The words how could you? had been on the tip of his tongue at several points during the narrative, and now he’d given it some more thought, he was very glad he’d swallowed them back. A little longer allowing his emotions to settle, perhaps discussing it with Tina, and he’d go back and see about talking it through.

If only he could work out what he needed to say.

Chapter Text

Tina and Newt had both improved their conversational skills since that impossibly awkward first dinner. Really, they had. They exchanged praise and encouragement whenever they noticed their partner succeed at casual conversation during the stuffy Ministry events they were both obliged to attend far too often for their liking. They didn’t actually have a small talk star chart, but they joked about it between themselves so much that they might as well have done. Despite their best efforts, though, the running gag in both their departments went that Newt and Tina had achieved perfect marital bliss: they were both so evasive of casual conversation that they had completely bypassed the need to talk to each other.

On some days, that joke was far closer to reality than those who made it might suspect. Because on some days, words simply got in the way.

The afternoon when Tina visited one her Aurors in hospital who had sustained a life-changing injury during a raid she led. The morning when Newt emerged from the case after a fighting all night to get a malnourished rescued Re’em through labour, saving the mother only to listen to her keen in anguish over her stillborn calf. The evening when Tina got home after interrogating an entirely unrepentant Dark wizard who had laughed in her face when she confronted him with the suffering his actions had caused. The day when Newt lost his appeal to be moved back into the Werewolf department and knew that he had been shunted out so the legislation he wrote as a compromise measure in a desperate situation would be twisted into an instrument of ongoing prejudice.

At these times, at least at first, they didn’t speak a word.

All it took was a shared glance. Sometimes less than that. Their respective professions meant that they were both observant readers of body language, and after fifteen years of marriage, each knew the other like a much-cherished favourite book. The specifics of what happened, the whys and wherefores, the potential solutions if there were any, could be talked through later. In the moments where one of them felt like they were losing their balance, falling apart, they would look to the other, and the please, I need you to hold me together right now never needed to be said. The answering I will always be there to steady you never needed to be said either.

So it was that when Tina got home to find her husband hunched over, his hands flat on the windowsill as he stared out across the street, tension and sheer unsettledness written into every inch of his strained limbs, she knew what to do.

They needed different things, at those times. Most often, Tina needed to throw things. Newt would quickly and discreetly get out of the way, but she knew by now that he was always listening. Positioned outside whichever room she’d unleashed her anger on this time, so that at the very moment when the crashing stopped and the sobs began, he could be there in an instant to hold her through it, uncomplaining when she clutched him hard enough to bruise or yelled out her frustrated rage loud enough to deafen him, whispering a beautiful litany of “I’m right here. I’ve got you, Tina,” when she collapsed against him, utterly spent.

Newt was different. Sometimes he really did need to be alone, and when that happened, Tina respected that and waited in the kitchen, tea making supplies, something sweet, and his old Hufflepuff scarf at the ready, so that the moment he reappeared she could use those simple comforts as stepping stones to bring her husband back from wherever his dark thoughts had dragged him. But at other times, like on that particular day, being alone was the last thing he needed.

Tina crossed the room to stand behind him, the fact that he didn’t acknowledge her another indication of his upset. She trailed her fingertips lightly down his back, and he finally turned to look at her over his shoulder, with a look of deep hurt in his expression that she wished she didn’t recognise on her husband’s face. The only positive was that she recognised now what he was asking for and was more than happy to provide it for him. The faintest hint of a sad smile on her lips- I’m sorry. I’ll help you through it; she took his hand and he sighed as followed her over to the sofa- I’m sorry you’re having to deal with me like this. Thank you. Tina got him seated on the settee then knelt to unlace his shoes, he automatically leaned over to help but Tina reached out an arm to stay him- you just relax. Let me. He flopped back into the cushions with a little huff and ran his hands through his hair- Alright. You win. Thank you. She tenderly slipped off his shoes and then lifted his legs so he was sitting sideways, before kicking off her own shoes and clambering onto the sofa and curling up into his lap. Capturing one of his fidgeting hands, she brought it to her hair as she nestled her head into the crook of his neck, and as if of its own accord the hand began to softly caress her hair. She smiled in satisfaction as his other arm bracketed her against him and she could practically feel his tension melting away with each stroke of his hand on her head.

There were times when what Newt needed more than anything else was simply to hold someone.

Tina thought that it was an amazing privilege that she could be that someone for him. And not that she was competitive, but she knew that not even a cuddle with Dougal could make Newt relax quite like she could. The grey sky outside darkened further into black as they sat together, blanketed by the comforting silence of their wordless language, Newt’s hand straying from her hair to rub the day’s soreness from her neck, Tina snuggling closer to him in appreciation. When something had happened to shake him and throw him off balance, Newt would sometimes deal with it by focusing on caring for someone else. That was just one of the astounding things Tina loved about the man she married.

It was fully dusk outside when Newt let out a mighty sigh, both his hands resting on Tina’s shoulders, pressed his lips to the crown of Tina’s head and fervently whispered, “thank you.” Tina shifted a little so she could draw her head back and look up at him, drinking in the calmer expression that she much preferred to see on Newt’s features. She landed a cheeky kiss on the tip of his nose.

“Anytime,” she told him with a smile. He looked down at her as if she were some rare and beautiful butterfly which had just honoured him by landing on his palm.

“What on earth did I do to deserve you, Tina?” he breathed, leaning in to kiss her forehead. He meant it rhetorically, but that was practically an invitation, so Tina replied,

“Hmmm, let me think. Saving me from certain death was a good start!”

This aspect of their origin story wasn’t often mentioned between them. Quite apart from the terrifying memories of that event, Newt was notoriously bad at dealing with gratitude; most of the people he helped couldn’t thank him verbally, so whenever someone did, he always got a little flustered, like he didn’t know what to do with it. However, Tina knew that when Newt was upset, often he became frustrated at his own helplessness, so she made a point of reminding him of his greatest successes at those times. He smiled with gentle humour, and Tina allowed herself a little moment of inner celebration over the return of that smile.

“If that’s all there is to it, then technically you should be married to Pickett or Greg.”

“Oh Mercy Lewis, can you imagine the drama of marrying Pickett?”

“Hey, I’m sure that Pickett would make a wonderful husband,” he defended his bowtruckle friend, before conceding, “and Merlin, there would be an absurd amount of drama.”

“Guess I should count myself lucky that I’ve just got a mad magizoologist with the self-preservation instincts of a disoriented lemming to deal with instead, then,” she replied, a teasing smile softening her words. A particularly frustrated Tina had flung that accusation at Newt during one of their arguments about his recklessness, and it said a lot about their dynamic that it had since become a running joke. Newt responded, as he had during the initial argument (effectively ending it: Tina couldn’t stay angry when Newt was being so, well, himself) and every time since,

“It’s good that the whole lemming thing isn’t actually true then.”

“Hmmm. Then I’m very lucky indeed. And much as I do love Pickett, I think I might just love you a little bit more. And there’s so much more to that than you saving my life.”

“Tina, I,” Newt began, and Tina decided she wanted to spare them both the inevitable stammering attempt to thank her, so she kissed him instead and Newt returned it gratefully.

They sat in silence for a little longer after that, the mood lightened significantly. Tina simply waited, knowing that now the air had been cleared a little, Newt would divulge whatever had upset him in his own time. She felt him wriggle under her, then drew back so they could rearrange themselves in order to converse at a more comfortable angle. Once they were settled, Newt spoke up.

“Do you believe in redemption, Tina?”

“Fervently,” she replied without hesitation, “and I believe that sometimes those who work the hardest for redemption are those who’ve already earned it; or perhaps those who never needed it in the first place.”

“I think you might be right,” Newt said slowly, “but how do you know when you’ve done enough? How do you convince someone that they can move on from their guilt?”

That Newt was asking about this sent fiery sparks of hope into Tina’s heart; before now, he had refused to even entertain the idea of moving on from his guilt about his werewolf law.

“If I knew how to do that,” she replied a little ruefully, “then you wouldn’t still hunch over every time someone says the word ‘Registry.’”

“I don’t-” Tina reached up to massage Newt’s suddenly clenched shoulders, and he huffed. “Point taken.”

“But I think,” she pressed on, “that sometimes you need someone outside of the situation to let you know when enough is enough. And you need to trust that person to tell you when you’re not seeing things clearly, because guilt makes you feel like you’re lost in the dark, and it stops you from seeing your own light.”

“And when you’re the person outside the situation,” Newt replied, processing this, “if you’re with someone who believes that because of what they’ve done, their light is extinguished, how do you show them that it can be rekindled?”

Tina’s heart was pounding. This was as close as she’d gotten to being allowed to convince Newt of his own worth. Her heart ached at the implication that he believed his own light was extinguished. And just trust her husband to keep this conversation safely in the realm of the hypothetical rather than asking outright if she thought he could be forgiven. She’d told him that plainly many times, but this was the first moment when she felt like maybe he might believe her.

“You acknowledge their feelings,” she began, desperate not to mess this up, “you let them know that their guilt is their response to a horrible situation, and they don’t need to hide it. You tell them that they’re guilty because they care, Mercy Lewis, they care so much about everyone and everything that sometimes you wonder how they live with all that compassion inside them.”

She took his face in her hands, capturing his flickering, avoidant gaze for a few seconds, trying to ensure that even though she was talking in the third person, he could not doubt that her subject was him.

“You tell them that you see how much they’re hurting, and it kills you every time. You recall to them every little thing they’ve done as they strive to redeem themselves, all the people they’ve helped, all the work they’ve put in, all the ingenious ideas they’ve had as they try to make things better, and you try to show them exactly how amazing that is. And then, most importantly, you let them know that they can still care without taking all that pain on themselves. You tell them that not suffering is not a crime. You try to convince them that their anger should not be directed at themselves, but at the cruel and brutal systems that used them like a chess piece when they were trying so hard to do what they believed was right. You tell them that they are worthy, and brave, that you love them, and that they deserve to let go of their guilt and live.”

She drew back, trying to blink away the gathering tears.

“And then maybe, if you’re patient, and very lucky, they believe you,” she whispered.

Tina,” Newt choked, wrapping his arms around her again, his own tears soaking into her hair as his shoulders shook. She hoped that this was truly it, that he was finally allowing himself to let out his guilt and his grief; he’d cried over the Registry before, but mainly in frustrated self-directed anger. This, though, felt very different.

His sobs subsided after a long while, and he kissed her on the forehead.

“Later, I want to take my time in telling you how incredibly wise and courageous and wonderful you are, and I was going to say how little I deserve you, but I think you’ll probably punch me if I say that, and your punches hurt, so I won’t.”

“Damn right,” she confirmed, trying to look fierce and not sniffle.

“But there’s something I need to do first,” he continued, disentangling himself. “I’ll explain everything later, there’s just something in the case that needs my urgent attention. But thank you, Tina, thank you for everything. You are truly brilliant.”

“Newt, have I missed something here? What’s going on?”

“Tell you later, Tina, and thank you!”

Brow furrowed in confusion as she watched him dash off to his waiting suitcase, Tina got the feeling that there had been a lot more to that conversation than she first realised.

Later, Newt was going to have a lot of explaining to do.


Newt breathed a sigh of relief as he approached Maglor’s hut to find him sitting outside with Dougal snuggled up to his chest. Good old Dougal, being there for Maglor when Newt couldn’t. His relief turned to consternation, however, when Maglor started attempting to chivvy Dougal away, and looked up at Newt apologetically when he failed.

“I’m sorry, I know you probably don’t want him around me anymore, but he came over and I couldn’t convince him to leave…”

“And I wouldn’t want you to, of course I’d never dream of trying to stop you interacting with any of my creatures. Besides, Dougal is his own demiguise. If he’s decided he’s going to cuddle you, I don’t think I get a say in the matter.”

Dougal settled closer to Maglor as if in agreement.

“That’s generous of you. You’ve been so kind through all of this, Newt. I wanted to let you know that if you’re taking me to Ministry, you won’t need to restrain me. I’ll go willingly.”

“What? No! We are not letting the Ministry hear a single whisper about you, they’d make your life hell!”

“Wouldn’t that be the point?” Maglor was entirely serious. Newt ran a hand through his hair in frustration.

“I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” he explained. “I’m sorry I ran off earlier, I think it gave the wrong impression. I am no judge and have no desire to be one, and I have no right to- to hand out a sentence to you, or whatever you think I’m going to do. I’m not going to punish you, I could never do that.” His voice took on a quiet, rueful tone. “Besides, it seems like you’ve been doing a very thorough job of that yourself.”

“Thank you,” Maglor nodded and stood, picking up an ominous cloth bundle that Newt hadn’t noticed before, frowning down at Dougal who still clung to him. “Your trust means a lot to me, that you believe me when I say that I have renounced all violence, and I cannot thank you enough for all you have done, although you must regret it now you know exactly who you harboured. I will prove that you trusted rightly, I will disappear and you will never have to hear of me again…”

“Whoa, slow down there! What do you think is happening here?”

“I’m leaving you in peace, of course.”

“No. No, you’re not. We’ve been through this before, remember, and as I recall it was rather excruciating. Let’s not do that again, hmmm?”

“But that was before you knew.”

“Now I know a lot more information about the person you were. The person you are now, on the other hand, and my opinions of him, haven’t changed. It took me a while to separate that out in my head, and I’m sorry it took me so long. But I’m absolutely certain of it now. You are welcome to stay however long you want, and I will help you in whatever way I can.”

But Maglor was shaking his head.

“No, no, that can’t be right, why would you say that?” he murmured, almost to himself, frowning at Newt like he was a particularly challenging linguistic puzzle. “I know how to read people, I saw how you reacted to my tale, and you were quite rightly horrified.”

“Yes, I was,” Newt replied frankly, “but you’re not the only one who can read people, and you know what? So were you. And that’s what told me you’ve really changed.”

“But I killed innocents, and that sort of stain can never be undone. I’m a monster, don’t you understand? My own people, my kin, refugees who fled Morgoth, who fled from us, only to be impaled on our swords in the end…”

“I’m not denying that,” Newt said in a low voice, “I understand that the things you did were terrible. But just because you did monstrous things in the past, that doesn’t make you a monster now. And even if it did…”

Newt steeled himself and held eye-contact, though the sheer anguish and conflict in those storm-grey depths made him long to drop his gaze.

“Even if it did, I’ve never run from a monster in my life, and I’m certainly not starting now.”

The cloth package tumbled out of Maglor’s hands and spilled open on the ground.

“You mean it,” he breathed. “Ai, sweet Eru Ilúvatar, you mean it. You know, and you understand all the awful things I did, and you still- you still…”

Though this was breaking Newt’s heart, he did his best to lighten the atmosphere, hoping to show Maglor that nothing had changed.

“Well, I’ve never seen anyone this excited before about spending more time with me. Normally I only get that reaction when I announce I’m leavi- Oof!”

Though Maglor was holding himself back from using his full strength in consideration of human fragility, being unexpectedly collapsed upon in an attack hug by one of the Eldar (and attached demiguise) was really quite something. Newt usually preferred his hugs with a little more warning, but he managed to overcome his instinct to stiffen up, and instead reciprocated as enthusiastically as he could, stunned by the thought that this was the first hug that Maglor had initiated in thousands of years, and he’d chosen him of all people as the recipient.

Hantanyel feanyallo,” Maglor murmured against Newt’s hair, “hantanyel feanyallo.”

“What does that mean?” Newt asked, without pulling back from the embrace.

“My heart, my soul, my…the immortal essence of my very being thanks you.” He huffed out one of those tiny laughs which hover precariously on the edge of tears. “Fëa is hard to translate.”

“Wow,” Newt breathed, feeling a little overwhelmed by that. “Errr…you’re very welcome?”

They pulled apart and Maglor stared at Newt with something akin to the awed expression he’d worn when he thought Newt was one of his deities.

“I know now that you are truly not rejecting me, and you have my deepest gratitude, but…why? When you worked so hard to defend the innocent in your war, and I did exactly the opposite in mine.”

Newt chewed his lip. So much went into that decision that he was unsure of how to phrase it. Eventually he settled on a response.

“In the war and the years after, there was a lot of rejection, bitterness, going around, and it always made things worse, not better. People I know and love made some terrible, harmful decisions in desperate situations during that time, myself included. And I suppose…well, I suppose I need to believe in redemption. For all our sakes.”

“I see that, but surely what we did was so much worse…”

“Well, maybe, but perhaps you’d be surprised. Unfortunately, my people are just as adept as yours at treating each other cruelly. And I saw some truly evil things during those years, enough to know real evil when I see it. I’m convinced that whatever you were before, you’re not evil now, and there is so much kindness within you which you just need an opportunity to express. You deserve a chance to let it flourish.”

Maglor shook his head in wonder. “I don’t know how you can see anything but the atrocities I committed when you look at me. But I am going to try my utmost to become the person you see in me and hope to one day be worthy of your faith.”

“I don’t think ‘becoming’ is the word I’d use. You already are that person. Someone very wise just told me that when guilt blinds you, you might just need a friend to help you see your own light.”

A pause, for a few moments, as they both considered that.

“The Silmaril burned me because it was divine light and my soul was darkened by my evil. I thought that proved that whatever light I once carried was gone forever.  The light of the Two Trees used to shine from my eyes, and since the Silmaril’s rejection, even that light has left me. But do you think…are you saying that perhaps that light could be rekindled?”

Newt reached out a hand to rest on Maglor’s shoulder, a gentle but determined gesture of solidarity.

“Why don’t we try together, and find out?”

Chapter Text

“So you weren’t actually asking for yourself earlier?” Tina couldn’t hide the disappointment in her voice. She’d really thought that for once, Newt had overcome his aversion for the subject of his guilt and had tried to initiate a discussion about it.

“No,” he answered, looking pained and vaguely guilty, which was just all kinds of ironic. “That wasn’t why I was asking, but that was how you answered, and you left me in no doubt about that. And you saw how much it moved me. All those beautiful things you said…for myself, I don’t know if I could believe it, but for you, I promise that I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask.” She wove her fingers through his and smiled, thinking back to their conversation earlier and realising something. “So when you talked about someone who believes their light has been extinguished, you weren’t talking about yourself? That’s how Maglor feels about himself?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Newt grimaced. “As for me- well, I don’t think about it often, but I might describe it as dimmed, a bit, perhaps, but still kicking. You know your husband is a stubborn old fool, it’ll take more than some Ministry nonsense to snuff me out.”

“And I’m very glad about that,” she replied, squeezing his hand. “And though it’s horrible that Maglor feels that way, I am relieved that that bit wasn’t about you. What did he do, anyway, to make him feel so awful about himself?”

Newt told her.

She didn’t believe it, at first. Like Newt, she’d thought that Hilpy’s story of house-elf origins probably held a kernel of truth within an embellished mythology, so it took her a while to wrap her mind around the idea that the world was once so different, and all record of that time had fallen away from memory.

That, however, was easier to believe than the gentle being they’d opened their home and hearts to viciously murdering his own kin.

“Are you sure it’s all true?” she ventured hesitantly, clutching at straws to try to find a way of denying it. “Is it that he’s traumatised in some other way and this is some sort of defence mechanism to try to push us away, perhaps?”

“I saw his eyes when he was telling me, Tina,” Newt said hoarsely, staring into the crackling fire, “I don’t have a single doubt. He lived all that. Every single moment of it.”

Tina exhaled sharply, the tone of that reply putting any doubts of that nature immediately to rest. She rose abruptly and strode to the window.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” she muttered as she paced, turning to Newt with a plea in her eyes, “Our Maglor wouldn’t do that.”

 “Our Maglor wouldn’t, no,” he agreed. “Our Maglor is caring, gentle, and wouldn’t hurt a fly: quite literally, he nearly stepped on a billywig last week and then hid in his hut for two days because he was so scared of accidentally hurting someone. Our Maglor is the person who’s spent thousands of years repenting of and regretting what he did. He’s clearly changed beyond recognition from the person he was before.”

“I know what you mean, but can you really separate it out like that? I wish I could pretend it was another person, someone we don’t know, but if he admits responsibility, then that means it was him, doing all those things and…actually, why did he tell us? Why would he admit to something like that?”

“Because we deserved to know. His words. He felt like he was deceiving us if he didn’t.”

Tina exhaled slowly and sank down into an armchair, her head in her hands.

“I know it’s a lot to sort through in your mind, and I’ve had the whole afternoon to think it over. But Tina, everything you said earlier, about redemption, about learning to see your own light again…”

“I was talking about you and the Registry, not- not murdering refugees!”

“But the principle is the same, isn’t it? Of course I know what he did was awful, and that part was the worst of the lot, but you know what he’s like now, you see how the guilt is draining him. I think he just needs us to show him that he’s been punished enough, and he can live again, if he lets himself.”

“I know how much you want to help him. I do too. It’s clear that he is truly repentant but perhaps we oughtta be careful.”

Seeing a protest forming on her husband’s lips, Tina anticipated it. “No, just listen to me a moment. Do you think it’s possible that he might still hurt someone? I know he wouldn’t intentionally, but what if one day he just…snaps, loses control? Think about it: living such a violent life, then literal millennia with no human contact and only this huge burden of grief and guilt and loss. That kind of experience could affect someone so badly, so deeply, maybe make them unstable…”

“It could. I don’t deny that. But I don’t think it has, with him. He’s lived with us just over a month now, from what you’ve seen of him so far, do you honestly think he’s going to ‘snap’? Because I don’t. That experience of isolation, it clearly hasn’t made him angry at the world, or bitter about what he suffered. I think- well, all that loneliness and regret- I think it just made him kind.”

Tina gave a heavy sigh. The trained, pragmatic auror side of her mind was busy assessing the situation, trying to predict potential dangers, worrying about what these new revelations about their guest might mean for them. But her heart acknowledged the truth of Newt’s words, and as frightening as it would be to listen to it, she had never lacked the bravery to let her heart take the reins. Newt saw that she was close and pressed on.

“Come on, you’ve spent time with him too, I know you see it.”

“I do. And all this is going to take a while to sink in, so I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m doubting you, or him, but he is going to need a lot of help and you’re the closest friend he’s got. Are you emotionally ready for that? Especially with…the last few years…”

“Well, I’ll have to be, I suppose.”

“That’s not an answer, Newt!”

“I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about Thee anymore, not really anyway. He’s been lecturing me so much recently that’s it’s actually starting to get annoying again, rather than just encouraging because he’s acting like his old self,” he grumbled good-naturedly, “and if that’s not a good sign I don’t know what is. And as for the Registry…well, maybe we can help each other. He’s got his sins and I’ve got mine. Yes, I know it’s a very different thing, but we both hurt people, directly or indirectly, and perhaps we’ll help each other learn to live with that and find whatever redemption we can.”

Tina scowled. “I’m highly uncomfortable with you comparing yourself to a murderer.”

“You know, when it’s this murderer, I’m not. He’s got so much to give, he just needs a chance to try again.”

“I just hope you know what you’re doing,” she muttered as she collapsed back in her chair. A slow grin spread across Newt’s face.

“So you’re with me?”

She rolled her eyes. “Was that ever even a question?”


If Newt hadn’t been conditioned by years of sleeping in the wild to be woken abruptly by unfamiliar sounds or risk getting eaten, he would have missed it.

He jolted into consciousness, positive that the innocuous-looking bell on his bedside table had just given a small clink.

It was the tiniest of sounds, a sound that really didn’t want to bother anyone or cause too much trouble, and if it was anyone else’s Newt might have thought the bell had been knocked accidentally.

However, since that bell’s partner belonged to Maglor, he suspected that that tiny clink was the equivalent of screaming for help at the top of his lungs.

Swiftly but stealthily, he attempted to extricate himself from where he was tangled up with Tina, and almost managed it without waking her, until his ankle caught on one of the blankets and yanked it off the bed. She gave an annoyed grunt and grabbed to retrieve it, blinking herself awake in the process.

“Wasgoinon?” she mumbled sleepily, as Newt gave up his attempts to get ready quietly and hared around the bedroom pulling on his shoes and an outer robe over his pyjamas.

“Emergency in the case, sorry, Tina.”

“Who is it? Need a hand?” she asked, instantly alert.

“Maglor, and no thanks, sure we’ll be fine. Might be because he’s had a hard day.”

“So have you,” she pointed out. “Take good care of him, and yourself, okay? And wake me if you need when you get back.”

“I will and thank you!” he called as he raced down the ladder and into his case.


Maglor was pacing when Newt hurried over. His tense shoulders slumped on seeing him.

“You came.” The tone was an odd mixture of resignation and relief.

“You rang, of course I came. What’s going on?”

Maglor scuffed the toe of his shoe through the dirt.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have disturbed you. I had decided to leave it, in the end, but I’m useless with these horrible misshapen hands and I knocked the bell when I was putting it down. I wasn’t sure if you still wanted me to call for this, since of course you know I deserve it now, but you hadn’t said not to either so I hesitated…”

 “Maglor,” Newt cut across him, gut clenching as he realised where this was going. “Are you feeling the urge to hurt yourself?”

“Yes. After what you heard today, can you give me a good reason why I shouldn’t?”

“Yes. Absolutely. Hurting yourself is not the way forward, and we can talk about that. And I think there’s a wise part of you that knows that as well, because whether you rang it intentionally or not, you did pick up that bell. And that was exactly the right thing to do, thank you. I’m so proud of you for doing that.”

“You’re…that doesn’t make any sense.”

“I hope it will, one day,” Newt told him, his emotional fatigue bringing his threatening tears closer to the surface, but his more pragmatic side clamping down on them, telling himself firmly that he needed to be a steady presence to help anchor Maglor right now. He sat down next to the pool outside Maglor’s hut, its gently rippling surface blurring the reflected starlight from the sky above. He patted the ground opposite him invitingly. “Come sit.”

Maglor did, the entirety of his lithe frame taut with nervous energy. His hands skated across the stony ground, and Newt quickly captured them by the wrists before he could start scraping them more aggressively.

“I could pull free and do it anyway with barely any effort at all,” he muttered mutinously, glaring down at where Newt’s hands lightly encircled his forearms.

“You could, I’m sure,” Newt agreed. “But you won’t. I trust you.”

Maglor didn’t say anything for a few long moments after that, as the impact of those three words rippled between them, like a pebble disturbing the surface of water. He simply stared at Newt, stunned, unshed tears glistening in the starlight.

“You’re mad,” he breathed at last, but the way he said it made it sound like praise. “I tell you I’m a murderer, a war criminal by your laws, and the same night you tell me you trust me? You’re…I don’t even know what the word is…”

“Stark raving bonkers?” Newt suggested, with a wry grin.

Maglor smiled hesitantly back. “That sounds about right.”

“It’s been said before. Now, do you want to talk about why you feel that way?”

“Surely it’s obvious, isn’t it? I caused so much pain, I hurt so many people, I was part of something that brought down entire communities and tore families apart. And when I was alone, it evened out somehow, I had destroyed lives but there I was, exiled and miserable and destroying myself so I was paying my debts, in a way. But now, now you accept me and you promise me all these wonderful things, you give me a home and let me befriend your creatures and say that maybe I’m not irreparably damaged by the Dark, and I’m grateful, so incredibly grateful to you for that, it’s just that now it feels like I have to pay for it all somehow. I took their happiness – shouldn’t I pay for mine?”

As he spoke, voice gathering force and intensity, his hands jerked and flexed in Newt’s grip, his nails scrabbling to dig into the scar tissue covering his palms, though he didn’t pull away. Newt’s thumbs traced soothing patterns across his inner wrists.

“Alright, easy, take a deep breath now. In, and out, yes, just like that. Thank you for telling me all that. You want to hear what I think of it all?”

Maglor nodded, his fingers slowing in their frenzied movements.

“I’ve been there, in a similar mindset,” he began slowly. “Not with physical self-punishment, but mentally, emotionally. I’ll tell you more another time, but two years ago I was arrogant, and I did something dangerous that I thought I could control. I was wrong, and lots of people got hurt. When things went bad, I was devastated. I couldn’t move on. I felt guilty for every good thing that came my way, I couldn’t enjoy anything. Each moment I started to feel happy, I reminded myself that my actions had plunged so many into misery, and I would betray them even further if I so much as let myself smile. Sound familiar?”

It evidently did, as Maglor was regarding Newt with an expression of undisguised shock. “Very. But I can’t imagine you arrogant.”

I still can’t imagine you a killer, Newt thought but didn’t say. He supposed they had both made some mistaken assumptions about each other, not having shared much about their stories until today. Perhaps that was a good thing: that they had discovered one another free from any prejudices regarding what they had done. Nevertheless, Newt smiled sadly and explained it further, hoping to dismantle Maglor’s somewhat rose-tinted opinion of him.

“You didn’t know me two years ago. We’d just defeated Grindelwald, the Ministry were finally taking me seriously and they came to me practically begging me to take on this job, saying they needed me, and that no-one else could do it. It all went to my head and I blundered my way into making some very hurtful mistakes. I should have left well alone, but I can’t change it now, and though of course I care about everyone hurt by my incompetence, I’m no longer punishing myself over it. Well. Mostly. It’s a work in progress.”

 “What made you stop- or at least want to?”

“Tina. I drove her up the wall, those first few months. Insomnia worse than ever, writing letter after letter to the Ministry trying to find a way to take back what I’d done, long after it became obvious that it was impossible. And I closed myself off from everyone, wore my guilt like a shield, not wanting to spend time with anyone, because how could I when I’d betrayed my most fundamental principles, when I couldn’t be the moral hero they thought I was before? I didn’t even let Tina talk to me about it, because I thought she’d try to absolve me when I didn’t feel I deserved it. When I think about it now, the amount she put up with, I’m ashamed of putting her through that, really. I didn’t see that it wasn’t just me my guilt was hurting.”

Maglor nodded along with this, processing- his hands had gone still, Newt was pleased to note- and then his lip quirked as he said, “so I take it you listened to her in the end?”

“Yes. You’d think after knowing her twenty years, I would have worked out that it’s usually a good idea to listen to Tina, but I’m still a stubborn fool about it sometimes. But eventually she managed to get some important things through to me. Mainly that although it feels logical when you’re doing it, trying to repay the debt using your own suffering is never going to work. One, because you can’t quantify suffering, and two, because the way that most people’s minds work, it’s never going to be enough. It’s an equation you can’t solve, you can never satisfy that feeling that you need to hurt more, and that road just leads you to a very dark place.” Newt’s voice went quieter, graver. “I think you’ve walked it long enough to understand that.”

“I understand that all too well. But even if I can never atone as much as I feel I need to, surely I owe it to my victims to try?”

“Which brings me onto the next thing that Tina told me. If you insist on seeing it in terms of what you owe the people you hurt, which might not be the most helpful thing in the long run, you don’t owe them your suffering. It doesn’t reduce theirs, and it just introduces more suffering and sadness into the world, which no-one wants. You owe them your learning, your change in character, your attempts to work on whatever behaviours it was that led you to hurt them in the first place.” He gestured to himself. “And Merlin knows that I don’t always get it right, but that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve been more realistic about my abilities and turned down several roles that involve wizarding politics, just sticking to catching smugglers and rehabilitation, mostly. And I’ve done my best to help the community I hurt, although to some of them I’ll only ever be associated with persecution, so I have to respect when they refuse my help.”

“My thanks, for sharing that.” Maglor frowned, considering. “But all my victims were murdered or have sailed, so there’s no possible reconciliation, nothing I can do, no way to make it right…”

His hands made a jerky movement towards each other, but he stopped himself on the cusp of escaping from Newt’s grasp and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

“Well done on stopping yourself there, I know this is hard,” Newt praised him quietly, rubbing gentle circles on his arms. “And I wouldn’t say it’s about making it right, exactly. Mainly because those deaths…”

“Murders, call them what they were.”

“Murders, then, will always be wrong, just like the way I placed a vulnerable community at an incompetent and prejudiced government’s mercy will always be wrong. No matter how many friends in that community I help, that won’t change. But what I can change is what I do next. And you’re already doing that, Maglor, don’t you see it? You’re so careful not to hurt any of my creatures, you give your time selflessly to help them, like with Marlowe and Katarina. You even spend hours cuddling Dougal and letting him groom your hair.  And what about the first time we met? You swam out to save me because you thought I was drowning, even though it pulling me back hurt you, even though it interfered with your desire to hide. There’s so much you could do, so much you could give, if you stop punishing yourself and let your guilt inspire you to better things instead of oppress you.”

Maglor flexed his hands a few times as he listened, pushing the curved fingers straighter than they would comfortably go, but stilled as he considered Newt’s words.

“I see the logic there,” he admitted, “and of course I see that attempting to inflict pain on myself is futile, since it cannot undo any of the awful things I did. It simply seemed so natural before, like it was right, and even though everything you say makes sense, the urge is still there. It’s like an itch, a sort of pressure, and I feel like the only way to redress the balance is by causing new pain in those old wounds.” He gave a short, bitterly self-deprecating bark of laughter. “And they called the Eldar wise.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Newt soothed. “You were under incredible mental strain, and you developed a coping strategy. Not the healthiest one, mind, but it’s understandable. We just need to find you an alternative way of coping with it, that’s all.”

“You make it sound so simple.”

“Oh, I do know it’s not. Breaking habits is hard, especially if it’s had thousands of years to get ingrained, but I’m certain it’s possible. Right, then. What can we do to help you scratch that itch without hurting yourself?”

Maglor blinked a few times and frowned.

“I don’t know. I’ve never really tried to stop myself before.”

“Well, that means we’ve got a blank canvas. We’ll try some things out and see what works. How do you feel about making a potion with me? I’m a bit low on Calming Draught, so we’ll make some together, see if having a task to do eases it, and then if you’re still feeling uncomfortable once it’s made we can see if the potion itself helps you. Sound like a plan?”

“Alright, I’m willing to try that.” Maglor looked at him doubtfully. “You seem so positive about this.”

Because if I’m not positively planning and rushing around doing things, I think I might cry, and that’s no help to anyone, Newt thought but didn’t say, uncomfortably familiar with that mental state from the worst days of Theseus’ depression. He collected himself and said honestly,

“Well, you’re a very resilient fellow, as I’ve said before, and after everything else you’ve overcome, I have every faith that you’ll be able to tackle this too. Come on then, all my kit’s in the shed, we’ll do it there.”

He finally released Maglor’s wrists, pleased to note that he took a deep breath and shook out his hands, but didn’t attempt to cause any further damage to them. He did look a little overwhelmed, though, so Newt softened his tone a bit.

“I know it’s a lot to work through. But you’re not facing it alone anymore, alright?”

Maglor thanked him, his voice slightly choked, and Newt just nodded and gave him some quiet while they walked to his shed so that he could process it all.

Perhaps Tina had been right to worry about supporting Maglor taking its toll on Newt only a few years after the worst of Theseus’ illness; he was getting a slight sense of déjà vu. It felt like taking up a familiar mantle again: hoping on someone else’s behalf in a situation where they found it too difficult to hope themselves. But thinking of the joy of seeing Theseus gradually grow into himself again, stronger for the challenges he’d faced, made Newt if anything, more determined to help Maglor through this. Theseus had had Newt, their extended family, and several close friends he’d made over years as an auror who understood his experiences, and yet he still suffered terribly even with their support; Maglor had lost all six of his brothers and dealt with the grief and guilt alone for most of his life.

However long it took to show his new adopted brother that he deserved so much more than eternal isolation and self-torment, Newt knew that it would be more than worth it.

Chapter Text

In all the potential scenarios Maglor had envisioned for the night after he told Newt his story, he could never have predicted this. Reflecting on his guilt in a cell in Azkaban; wandering alone again and feeling the loneliness bite even more acutely; and in the extremely doubtful case that Newt allowed him to stay, mourning the loss of their friendship, since surely everything must change after a revelation like that. Yet, none of those things had happened. Instead, Newt was giving up his sleep, not only to tell Maglor that he shouldn’t hurt himself but also to provide a coping method when his mind failed to process the idea that he didn’t have to suffer anymore.

He didn’t get much of a chance to dwell on that, though, since Newt was giving him a fascinating running commentary on the ingredients and equipment he was setting up, some fond anecdotes of his potions classes at Hogwarts, and apparently whatever else was running through his mind. Funny how knowing it was an intentional distraction didn’t make it any less effective. After setting some chamomile and valerian to infuse in the cauldron, Newt presented Maglor with a long glass stirring rod.

“This should be alright if you hold it lightly between your fingers, since it’s pressure on your palms that really sets the pain off, isn’t it?”

Maglor flinched. “I didn’t think I’d complained about that, sorry…”

“You haven’t. In fact I think you’re one of the most stoic people I’ve ever met. You might even be worse than my brother for that, and that’s saying something.”

“Then how on earth do you know that?”

“Most of my patients can’t tell me where it hurts, you see, there are lots of nonverbal ways that people show pain. The tendons in your wrist clench slightly whenever your hands are hurting you more than usual. Is that stirring rod okay? Don’t worry if not, I’ll come up with something different.”

“No, it’s fine,” he replied, manipulating it experimentally and resisting the temptation to change his grip to a painful one. “And that’s amazing, by the way.”

“It’s nothing much, just things I’ve picked up here and there,” Newt shrugged off the praise, but the slightly reddening at the top of his ears testified that he was pleased by the compliment.

“Next thing to go in is star grass fronds,” Newt continued, showing him a handful of chopped turquoise leaves, and adding them to the pot. “Seven stirs clockwise now, if you would…”

Maglor found the work absorbing to start off with, happy to listen to Newt’s chatter around each step as they made it. But the swirling chaos of his thoughts hadn’t quite released him yet, surging up and whispering that he was proving himself a spineless, unfeeling coward for so easily accepting an escape from more pain. He thought back to the conversation earlier and tried to use those arguments to see them off, but the voices were persistent. Do you care so little for those whose lives you ripped apart? they hissed, do you dare to claim you deserve this good man’s time and care?

“Easy with the stirring rod there, you don’t need to grip it quite so hard,” Newt interrupted his thoughts, his warm and calloused hand gently correcting Maglor’s contorted grasp into a more comfortable one.

And the one thing he asks of you, you fail at. Pathetic…

He was perfectly aware of the contradiction in this, his thoughts one minute urging him to hurt himself and the next berating him for doing exactly that, but weirdly even knowing that didn’t make them go away.

“Sorry, I know it doesn’t look like it, but I really was trying not to, that time.”

“That’s perfectly alright,” Newt reassured him serenely, “we’re just experimenting at the moment.”

“And I made that one fail,” he muttered bitterly.

 “Nonsense,” Newt chided him. “Experiments never fail, they just produce data you weren’t expecting. So now we know that distraction will probably be effective if your urge to self-harm is associated with a flashback, but not if it’s on its own. All helpful stuff to know. Right, so I’ll add the powdered moonstone, if you could stir in a figure of eight twice, then that’s everything added and it’ll need a few minutes to cool down.”

They finished the potion, left it to cool and migrated to by an unspoken agreement to the steps of the shed where the stars were in view, listening to the sleepy noises of the creatures and the distant thud of mooncalf hooves.

“I suppose this means I have to take the potion, then,” Maglor said a little glumly; having to rely on the aid of a potion to make his thoughts behave felt a little like failure.

“I think it might be a good idea, if you’re still getting the intrusive thoughts,” Newt said carefully, “but you don’t have to do anything. It’s your mind, and it’s entirely up to you. But there’s no shame in needing it, if you’re worried about that.”

“So what exactly will it do? Will it…stop me thinking like that? Stop me feeling guilty?”

“Not as such. I don’t think there’s a potion in the world that could do that and from the way you asked that question, I’d wager that maybe you wouldn’t want it to?”

“No. I wouldn’t want it to change how I feel about my deeds or make me forget about them. It wouldn’t be right.”

 “Well, we’re not talking about anything so drastic here. It’ll just take the edge off those feelings of stress and urgency, make everything feel a bit less intense, that’s all. The idea is to make it easier for you to take control of your thoughts by slowing everything down a little so you have chance to process.”

“I think…I think I could try that.”

“Excellent. You’ll have to make your own mind up about the sensation, if you absolutely hate how it makes you feel then we’ll work out something different. Oh, and some people find it makes them a little drowsy. Actually, there’s a thought. When did you last sleep?”

Maglor fixed his gaze on a tree across the field on the other side of the case, knowing that Newt wasn’t going to be happy with his answer.

“Maglor, be honest, now.”

“I’ve taken a few moments here and there, but the last time I took more than an hour was about two weeks ago.”

It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried. Quite the contrary. Having friends around him was an encouragement to at least attempt to take better care of himself; on the beach, he routinely wandered until he was utterly exhausted and no longer able to resist the pull of his reveries, no matter how dark they were. But after millennia of solitude, engaging with Newt and Tina’s world had felt like waking up- and he’d hadn’t wanted to miss a moment of it. Buzzing with new words, new concepts and strategies for navigating the tortuous paths of English grammar, his mind was reluctant to quiet itself. The issues were compounded as his confession neared: all too aware that his new life was about to disintegrate, he became even more determined to seize every moment and hold it close to his heart, and any attempts to slip into his dreams quickly descended into worrying about how and when he was going to tell his story, and dreading the inevitable aftermath.

Now, Newt regarded him with one disapproving eyebrow raised.

“Two weeks. Hmmm. I know the Eldar need less, as you tell me frequently, but am I right in thinking that’s stretching it even for you?”

“Yes,” he admitted reluctantly.

“What are we aiming for then? What would be a good amount?”

“About half a night every three or four days, in normal circumstances.”

“Ah. Well in that case, it won’t solve everything, but some good sleep might make things look significantly better. And yes, I do know I’m a hypocrite, but Tina tells me off about this regularly, so I don’t get away with it either.” His voice softened. “Is it the nightmares keeping you up?”

“Something like that, yes. Just not reaching the right state of mind, most of the time.”

Elves usually dreamed by releasing their fëar to wander on fair paths sculpted by their imaginations; Maglor’s however, was trapped in a dense, shadowy forest, unable to find a way to a place of peace.

“That’s tricky. What can we do to help you with that? Oh, I know, music is soothing and you like it, we could get some music for you, bring the record player down for you or something…”

“Thank you, that’s a kind thought, but that’s never worked for me. I just end up analysing the patterns and then I’m more awake than before.”

 “Ah. I’m not all too sure what to suggest, to be honest. I’m really not the best person to advise you on this, I have enough trouble turning my own mind off most nights.”

Something about that phrasing sounded a bit strange to Maglor, so he investigated it to make sure he hadn’t misunderstood.

“That’s an interesting way of putting it. Is that how you think of sleep? Turning your mind off?”

“Yes, pretty much. Don’t you think of it like that?”

“I would say it’s more like allowing your mind to wander on a different path than turning it off. The mind is still active when it dreams, just in a different place.”

“You do have a point there. I was thinking about sleep when you’re not dreaming, though.”

Maglor turned to face Newt fully, astonishment written all over his features.

“Wait, that’s possible? Humans do that?”

“Yes. Don’t the Eldar?”

“No! That’s bizarre to me. If you’re not dreaming, what do you think about when you’re asleep?”

“I don’t know. Nothing, I suppose.”

 “Isn’t that unsettling? Whole periods of time you can’t remember?”

“I’ve never really thought about it like that, to be honest. It just kind of…happens. Well, if I’m lucky.”

In general, Maglor had considered himself fairly well-informed about the differences between humans and elves, but this was proving a significant gap in his knowledge. He’d always assumed that humans just did what elves did when they slept, except with their eyes closed. The idea of total unconsciousness unnerved him, yet humans faced it daily with no qualms, and that realisation only increased his respect for the Secondborn and their way of life.

“So we’re aiming for a state quite different from what I’m used to, then. Hmmmm…” Newt drummed his fingers on the step for a few minutes, lost in thought. “You described it as ‘wandering on a different path’- that makes it sound quite spatial, like you’re imagining yourself moving through a different place. Have I got that right?”

“That’s a fairly accurate way of describing it, yes.”

“Does it have to be somewhere you’ve actually been?”

“No, although we all had our different preferences. For example, Celegorm would always go to the same place, our father’s garden in Valinor, but I used to dream up all sorts of fantastical landscapes. My trouble is now that I struggle to get there, it’s like my imagination is drenched in blood, so all my visions are dark, and so many of the beautiful places I once knew were violently destroyed, so I start well enough, visualising the location but then it turns to flame and ash even if I try to keep the vision stable.”

Newt winced. “Sorry to hear that. So theoretically, could you go in your mind to someone else’s place? Could someone talk you into your- dream-paths, you call it?”

“Yes,” Maglor smiled, unexpectedly reminded of a flood of good memories. “I used to do that for my brothers when they were younger, when they refused to go to sleep for our parents. Amrod and Amras used to squabble over whether they wanted forests to climb in or plains to run across.” His memories, as they tended to do, turned to more bittersweet remembrances. “And for Maedhros, after Angband, a few times. Though he could fall asleep to music, so he usually asked for that instead.”

“It sounds like you looked after him well, that must have been a difficult time,” Newt replied, and continued before Maglor could point out that he really didn’t deserve praise for caring for the brother he never once attempted to rescue. “That’s given me an idea, though. Now I probably can’t do it as creatively as you would, since I’m a researcher rather than a poet, but I’ve been lucky enough to see some astounding places. And you wouldn’t have any negative associations with those places, so if I described somewhere I’ve been to you, could that get you onto those dream paths, do you think?”

“You…you would do that?”

“What, ramble on at you about my travels?” He chuckled. “I hardly need much encouragement for that, and it probably won’t be the first time I’ve bored someone to sleep going on about it. It will make a nice change to do it intentionally though! As long as it will be actually helpful and not irritating, then I’m more than happy to oblige.”

“I don’t know how anyone could be bored by your stories, they’re fascinating; and I think that’s exactly what I need, to focus on something detailed and beautiful which is outside of my experiences.”

“Kind of you to say so, though I’ve met lots of people who disagree. Do you want to give it a go tonight then?”

“If you don’t mind, that would be a great help.”

“Wonderful, let’s pick up your potion, it should be cool enough by now, then we can head back to yours.”

Newt strode off before Maglor had a chance to tell him that he was seriously underselling himself, and soon he found himself sitting on the side of his bed, staring dubiously at a tall glass full of the potion he could no longer ignore, which turned out, once cooled, to be a gently swirling sky-blue liquid. You’re giving in, the voices hissed, trying to run from the suffering you deserve. You’re despicable…

“Don’t let the colour put you off, as potions go it’s really not that bad,” Newt advised. “It’s quite sweet-tasting, with a hint of cherry.”

That was so far removed from the reason he was hesitating, but the casual way in which Newt was dealing with this moment made it easier for him to remember why he was doing this, ignore the voices, screw up his eyes and take a sip. The action felt slightly anticlimactic for something that he’d built up in his mind as such a momentous step.

“You’re right. Just like cherries,” he confirmed to Newt, attempting to respond to his casual tone. He took another swig and began to feel the blessed relief as the tempest in his mind abated somewhat and the hunched muscles in his shoulders unknotted of their own accord.

“See! I told you! Just make sure you avoid ever needing to take Blood Replenishing or Skelegro potions, they’re both absolutely vile.”

The conversation was helping him keep on drinking without overthinking it, so he said,

 “Blood Replenishing I understand the need for, but does Skelegro do what it sounds like it does?”

“Regrows bones that are missing for whatever reason, yes.”

“In what situation would you be missing an entire bone?”

“In my case, when an injured Re’em fell on me and caught my lower left leg underneath her; wasn’t her fault, poor girl, it was a wrong-place-wrong-time sort of situation. Anyhow it made such a mess of the bones that the healers ended up vanishing them all and starting again. Did a fantastic job, they put me back together good as new, you’d never tell to look at it now.”

Even through the pleasant haze descending on him as he drained the last of the glass, that was enough to make him shudder.

“I’m glad you recovered, that sounds horrific.”

“Not an experience I’d care to repeat, no. But some good lessons learned.”

“Such as?”

“Re’ems,” Newt said sagely, with the air of one imparting a pearl of great wisdom, “are always bigger than you think they are.”

He couldn’t help it. The laughter burst from him in a huge wave of releasing stress, and Newt chuckled along with him even as he plucked the empty glass from his hand and sent it whizzing back to the table.

“What? It’s sound life advice!” he protested, though his eyes twinkled with humour.

“I’ll be sure to remember that,” Maglor gasped, collapsing back against the headboard as the strange fit passed and left him drifting pleasantly, devoid of the nervous energy that had been plaguing him.

Newt gave him a few moments before asking, “How is that working for you? How are those itches?”

“Still there, but not as insistent as before, the potion is definitely helping.”

“Wonderful. Think you could sleep?”

To his surprise, it felt within the realm of possibility, even appealing, and he said as much.

“Alright then. Anything that would make you more comfortable before we start?” Newt asked.

How dare you even think of demanding anything more? a nagging voice protested, but unlike the frantic chorus that had been screaming his self-doubt earlier, this time it wasn’t quite as loud, an isolated thought that he was able to quell with the sure knowledge that Newt was trying to help him, and would prefer him to be honest about his needs and wants.

“I was wondering if we might take the bed outside? I tend to feel safer when I can see the stars.”

“Of course, whatever you need. Although is it actually being outside or just seeing the stars? Because if it’s the latter, I think I’ve got a fun way of doing that.”

“It’s the stars, mainly. We slept inside for security reasons for most of the First Age, but in Valinor, when we built in peace, our beds would always be on the balconies, so we could dream beneath the stars.”

“It sounds idyllic. I’d like to hear more about Valinor at some point, if talking about it isn’t too painful for you.”

“Not at all. I’ve spent the past four ages remembering the horrors of the First Age. I would be grateful for an excuse to reminisce about those happier times.”

“Consider me the excuse, then. But first…imitatio caelo!

Newt made a series of complicated figures with his wand. One minute, the wooden rafters were there; the next, the case’s artificial night sky stretched out above him.

“Imitate the heavens,” he translated, smiling, as he regarded the serene vista above him.

“Yes, exactly. What do you reckon? We can still move the bed if you’d prefer that.”

“It’s amazing,” he said honestly, muzzily aware that if not for the calm detachment the potion was helping him to cultivate, he would probably be weeping in gratitude.

“Oh good. There’s something similar on the roof of Hogwarts Great Hall, though that takes a lot more power and complex magic, of course. Now, is there anything else I’ve missed? Remember that my idea of sleep is probably quite different to yours, so don’t worry about asking for what you need.”

“No, thank you, all of this is perfect,” Maglor said, and meant it.

“Alright, shall we begin? I just need to talk about a place, yes? Any specific requests?”

“It might be best if you surprise me,” Maglor informed him. “That way there’s less chance of my mind connecting it to anything unpleasant.”

Newt thought this over for a minute, then a slow grin spread over his features.

“Have you ever been in a rainforest?”

Maglor confirmed that he hadn’t.

“Oh, we shall have to rectify that. I’ve been trying for ages to get the time free to go back to the Amazon, and now I’ve got another reason to make sure it happens. I spent a lot of time there in my early twenties when I was researching my book. It really is incredible, the boundaries between the magical and non-magical worlds break down so everything feels touched by magic. And I know just the spot I want to tell you about. May I?”

“Please do.” Maglor got himself settled back against the nest of cushions and gazed up at the comforting mantle of the starry sky, allowing the gentle cadence of Newt’s voice to coax him from wakefulness.

“There’s a place deep in the forest, which I only discovered with the help of a friendly horned serpent, it’s otherwise very hard to find. You need to do some creative climbing over low-hanging boughs and through a curtain of lianas to get there, as it’s surrounded by a thick circle of trees whose branches interlock as if they’re holding hands. But it’s so worth it, because once you’re through you find yourself in paradise. There’s a stream which runs over a staircase of rock to fall into a clear pool. You can hear it rushing over the rocks and falling into the water with this almighty crash and sending up a cloud of misty spray which is blissfully cool as it condenses on you in the heat. Because there’s a gap in the trees, a powerful beam of golden light breaks through the canopy and illuminates the water. Geologically it’s fascinating too, the rocks contain all sorts of minerals and pigments so as the water runs over them and the light catches it, the waterfall turns into a streak of shifting colours: bright greens and deep reds and rich purples. But the very best thing about it is, what with the clean water and the light and the rich soils, it’s practically an invitation for life in all its glorious forms. Orchids wrap around the branches of every tree, including the magical Moondew Orchid, with its silver and bronze petals that gleam as the light reflects from them. All sorts of other plants too, water lilies and star-flower climbers and passionflowers, in every colour imaginable, and the air is heavy with their perfumes. Over the burbling of the water, you’ll hear the squabbling of the giant Blue Crow breeding pair from their nest in one of the ancient trees which guard the place, the whirring of the Billywigs and hummingbirds and snidgets as they flit between the flowers, the distant calls of the shadow-cats as they slink between the trees. You might even find a horned serpent or two, sunning themselves on the rocks…”

Maglor was no longer listening.

His fëa had escaped on the wings of Newt’s words and his imagination.

It rested, entranced by the symphonic sounds of water and birdcalls and intoxicated by the scents of the flowers, nourishing itself in the dreamlike beauty of a secret pool in a rainforest on the other side of the world.

Chapter Text

Tina lay awake, uneasy.

She’d meant it when she agreed to Newt’s plan to help Maglor move on from his guilt. Nevertheless, she was troubled. She thought of the darkest moments of the war, all the hasty adaptations they had made to Newt’s suitcase in their desperate efforts to help. On one memorable occasion, it had transported thirty German and Austrian wizards from the Grindelwald Resistance plus about sixty of their muggle family members to safety in Britain. She’d alternated between guarding the suitcase with all the ferocity of her auror training and staying inside it with the refugees, reassuring them that in the unlikely event that the case was stolen and breached, she would stand with them against their persecutors. In that suitcase, she’d sat with a little girl too traumatised to speak after Grindelwald’s forces had attacked her family and seen the dawning wonder and relief in her eyes as her hand was guided to the soft fur of a mooncalf, the way sobs shuddered through her tiny form as she finally realised she was safe.

And yes, all of Maglor’s battles were thousands of years ago, yes the situation was hideously complex and she wasn’t sure if she completely understood it, but now Tina was finding it difficult to reconcile herself to the fact that the same suitcase now housed someone who might have left similarly traumatised children in the wake of his violence.

She didn’t really want to believe it. They’d worked out quite early on in their acquaintance that Maglor had lived through some sort of war and still carried the scars, but it was a huge shock to her, despite his repeated insistences that he was a ‘curse’ who had hurt his people, that he had left scars on others. She’d agreed with Newt that this was sure to be some sort of misplaced survivors’ guilt. His entire demeanour; his respect for all the creatures; the fact that when Newt had found him in the grasp of smugglers, he hadn’t used his impressive strength to harm them, even in self-defence, choosing to flee instead: all this suggested to her that here was someone committed to non-violence, someone they could trust.

This was proving a major test for Tina’s principles. She had been campaigning for years on both sides of the Atlantic for more humane treatment of criminals in the wizarding world, arguing passionately against both the death penalty in the US and the Dementor’s Kiss in the UK, and seriously questioning the continued existence of Azkaban. Sending frustrated, angry, and often struggling people to a place where they were stripped of their happy memories, which they might have used to start constructing a better worldview, had never made much sense to her. She believed that most criminals could be rehabilitated and reintegrated into wizarding society, given the right support. This was all very well in principle. She found, however, that everything felt a lot different when your husband was casually housing an ancient war criminal in his suitcase.

It was time to practise what she preached. If she believed that each individual had the power to change, to be better than what they were, then she had to acknowledge Maglor’s repentance in all its sincerity. She had to realise that the intelligent, stoic person she’d come to like, the friend who took an interest in her amateur piano despite his own far superior musical skills, the ally who was increasingly speaking up to support her whenever she tried to nag Newt into looking after himself, really existed. That person didn’t just vanish, now she knew about the bloodshed in his past. His existence was, if anything, all the more remarkable because of it. All that loneliness and regret, and it just made him kind.

She groaned, rolled over, and punched the pillow as Newt’s words from earlier echoed in her head. Her husband always knew exactly what to say to persuade her into doing something unconventional for the sake of compassion. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. But damn, it made things complicated.

She’d have to speak to Maglor herself, of course, reassure him of her continued welcome alongside Newt’s. She thought back to all the questions he’d asked about wizarding law and realised that rather than casual interest, he’d been trying to find out what awaited him. Apparently he thought they were going to send him to the Ministry to be judged. Based on some of the things she’d said, she could see why he’d think that, but the idea was completely ludicrous. Quite apart from the fact that Newt would never again trust the Ministry with a matter concerning magical part-humans or humanoid beings, Ministry employees in general ran about like scattered diricawls when confronted with a situation that there wasn’t a protocol for. She could only imagine what would go on if someone turned up confessing to millennia-old war crimes. Poor old Baylard would be tearing his hair out. But we can’t deal with that under Section 14B! She snorted at the mental image.

There was a click as Newt emerged from his case, shut it with the Niffler-proof locks, kicked off his shoes and collapsed heavily onto the bed. She raised a questioning eyebrow but he simply shook his head and drew her into a firm embrace.

“Crisis averted,” he mumbled, and, unusually for him, promptly fell asleep.


Years of adapting to creaturely feeding schedules meant Newt’s internal bodyclock invariably roused him at 5:30am precisely. Tina had got into the habit of getting up with him, either accompanying him on the morning feed or getting some work done for herself if it was a heavy week. She had discovered, however, that there was an art to coaxing him back to sleep before he properly woke up, so if he’d had a bad night she would sometimes try to keep him asleep and take over the rounds herself. He’d spent just over an hour in the middle of the night dealing with whatever Maglor had going on, so this morning certainly qualified as one where he deserved to sleep in. Tina placed a steadying hand on his shoulder just as he began to stir, and wordlessly cast a spell to delay the light filtering through the curtains.

“You can stay asleep, love, I’ll take care of everything,” she whispered.

“Should…creatures…Henry” he mumbled, not really awake yet.

“There’s no need, I’ll feed them, all you should do is sleep, and I know all about Henry, you briefed me at the weekend,” she told him. “Back to sleep, it’s not quite morning yet. I’ll do everything when it’s time.”

He let out an inarticulate mumble that might have been ‘thank you’ before rolling over and sinking back to sleep and Tina smiled to herself as her plan worked. She stayed there a little longer until she was sure he wasn’t going to wake up again, left a charmed note on the bedside table, and headed down into the case to take care of things. After doing most of the rounds, she stopped at the desk in the shed, reminded herself of the resolutions she’d made the previous night, and scratched out a note on a spare piece of parchment. Then she squared her shoulders and headed to Maglor’s space.

When Newt had first told her about his escapades in Norway, she had laughed along with him at the misunderstanding caused by Maglor’s practice of sleeping with his eyes open. But even though she had been forewarned, she still stopped short on the threshold of his hut. With his glazed eyes open, staring up unseeing, and his arms crossed over his chest, the resemblance to a corpse was quite unnerving. Tina found herself watching his chest just to be sure that it was indeed moving, albeit so slowly that it was hardly perceptible. He probably needed his rest just as much as Newt did after the heightened emotions of the previous day, so Tina shook herself free from her morbid fascination, left a plate of his favourite nuts and berries on a side table, charmed it to stay fresh for whenever he woke up, placed the note next to it, then crept out, relieved that she’d managed it all without waking him.

Satisfied with her morning’s work, Tina left both her slumbering boys to it and headed to the Ministry.


Newt woke in a panic. Seeing the light streaming past the curtains, his thoughts jumped to his creatures, and the guilt immediately washed over him as he realised, with a jolt, that he’d missed feeding time. Something tickled on his arm and it clicked that it wasn’t the light that had woken him, but a note which had folded itself into a butterfly and was nudging his arm. He opened it and sighed in relief.

Newt, DON’T PANIC!

 I fed the family, everyone’s fine. And yes, I remembered about Henry’s ear drops and he behaved himself very well. A little bribery made everything go very smoothly, but that said, you might want to go easy on the treats today; we don’t want a repeat of the last time he had too many and started climbing up the walls!

Maglor’s still asleep, I left him some breakfast. He does really take the phrase ‘sleeping like the dead’ to a whole new level, doesn’t he? Don’t worry though, he’s breathing, (I checked!) so probably just tired. Makes sense, yesterday wasn’t easy on him. Or you, for that matter.

So I thought you deserved a lie-in this morning, and I charmed this to wake you at 10:30. Your team meeting with the Dragon Restraint Bureau is at 11:30. (Yes, I know you forgot they moved it forward to this week. Thank me later.)

Have a good day, be patient with the idiots in the DRB, they generally mean well, even if, as you say, they can’t tell a Horntail from a Vipertooth. We can rant about it later, but if I can be civil to those pompous Wizengamot reps (wish me luck!), you can manage it with the DRB. I believe in us!

Love you,

Tina

“Love you too, Tina,” Newt said aloud, smiling in appreciation of his wife’s thoughtfulness and generosity. Then he mentally prepared himself for the day: check on the sleeping ex-Kinslayer in his suitcase, reinforce the warming charms for his hatchling Fire Crabs, then spend two hours explaining to some upstarts eager to make a name for themselves why the proposal to forcibly relocate a nesting female dragon was such a stupendously bad idea.

Honestly, Newt would take the company of dragons over the people supposed to deal with them any day.


Maglor awoke to the dusky colours of the evening sky, and the startling realisation that he’d slept almost an entire day. He’d had some serious catching up to do and now he could see that the sleep deprivation definitely hadn’t helped him to deal with the emotional turmoil of the previous day. But the past night, his imagination, set free by Newt’s description of the rainforest, had soared away on wings of its own, taking him through a dreamscape that was part Amazon, part Valinor, and part his pure invention. He had to admit, rising and feeling more clear-headed than he had in a long time, he’d needed it.

He found a plate of fresh raspberries, almonds and walnuts waiting for him on the table, along with a note. He opened it with a little trepidation and read.

Maglor,

I know Newt came down to you last night – I hope that whatever it was got resolved and you’re feeling better now.

I just wanted to reiterate what Newt’s already said: you are welcome here for as long as you want to stay with us, and we both want to help you find a way to be happy. I know you were worried about us, (and me in particular, I imagine) wanting you to be tried at the Ministry, and I want to confirm that will never be happening, so you can set your mind at rest about that. I do believe that in general, the wizarding justice system works to resolve conflict, but I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes the best result for everyone lies in a creative solution outside of the system. This is absolutely one of those cases. Rest assured, you are safe here.

I wanted to thank you for sharing your story, and for giving Newt permission to share it with me. We both respect your integrity and bravery in doing that. We never would have suspected anything of the sort if you hadn’t set it out so explicitly, and I think that confirms how much you’ve learnt from your experiences and how committed you are to your rejection of violence. I’ve seen my share of fake remorse as an Auror, and true repentance is hard to define, but whatever it is, you’ve got it, I have no doubts about that.

I have questions, of course I do, but nothing that will jeopardise your place here with us, no matter what the answers are. There are some things I want to understand so we can work out how best to help and protect you. They can wait until you’re ready, though, I imagine you’re quite worn out after yesterday.

Anyway, I’ll see you later when I’m back from work, and we can talk over anything that you want to then.

Your friend,

Tina

Maglor’s breath caught in his throat as he ran his eyes over the sign off. Your friend. He could hardly believe it. He didn’t know what he’d expected from her, but this certainly wasn’t it. In his efforts to learn about wizarding history he’d asked Tina about the Nurmengard trials that ended the war against Grindelwald; that was the conversation in which he’d learnt the term ‘war criminal’ and realised with a jolt of sickening despair that it applied to him. Had the timing been different, Maglor was certain that Tina would have been one of those who stood against him. He didn’t understand how she’d managed to overcome her revulsion for the things he’d done, but he was more than grateful that she had.

They would both be in from their work by now, so Maglor headed up the ladder, and caught the murmur of conversation as he pushed open the trapdoor and emerged.

“…agree that Dumbledore could help a lot, but we should be careful. The last thing he needs is to be pulled into one of Dumbledore’s Grand Plans…”

“True, but I do think he’s mellowing. Dumbledore, that is. He’s only sent me on one incomprehensible assignment in the last three years, and he actually explained it to me afterwards. That has to be some sort of record…”

They stopped talking abruptly as he climbed out into the study and Newt cleared his throat.

“Maglor! Good to see you up, I was just starting to get worried. How are you feeling?”

“Much improved, thanks to you. It’s been millennia since I slept that well, and I’m feeling much clearer now.” He turned to Tina, who nodded to him, meeting his gaze bravely, although she visibly swallowed. “You have questions.”

“I do,” she replied cautiously, “but it’s alright if you’re not in the mood for another discussion of your past right now.”

“Thank you,” he said fervently, trying to convey just how much her consideration meant to him, “but I’m ready. It’s your right to know. And I would rather…clear the air, if we may.”

Tina considered this carefully and then assented with an assertive nod. “Okay, let’s do that, then. Just know that I meant everything I said in my note, so you don’t have to worry about anything you say scaring us off, or whatever. We’re in this for the long haul, right, Newt?”

“Absolutely,” he agreed as Maglor took a seat and nodded, mentally bracing himself.

“This oath,” Tina began, “is it still active? For example, if you met a descendant of someone who was involved in withholding a Silmaril, would you be obligated to hurt them?”

Newt winced, probably realising that he really should have clarified that sooner, but Maglor shook his head.

“No. It’s gone. I don’t know exactly how, but it is. Please believe me, I would never have dreamed of accepting all that I have from you two if there were any chance that I could inflict violence again.”

Evidently hearing the desperate sincerity in his voice, Tina nodded, satisfied. “Well, that’s good to know. I don’t think this is likely but in case it does ever happen, would that still be true if a Silmaril were to reappear?”

“I think that is near impossible, there is a prophecy that the Silmarils will only be reunited when the world is remade. And perhaps I can’t know for sure, but even then I don’t believe the Oath would reawaken. I don’t know if it was fulfilled when Maedhros and I regained the last retrievable Silmarils, if it was voided when they rejected us, or if we broke it by casting them away. If it’s the latter, I don’t know why I wasn’t immediately consumed by the Everlasting Darkness. Perhaps it awaits me yet. But I do know that the Oath is not in my head anymore. It’s been somewhat dormant before, when Morgoth held the Silmarils and there was no possibility of a successful assault on Angband. This feels different. Before, it was always there, like a voice in my mind, never completely letting up in its whispers, a presence I could feel even when it slept. Now there’s just silence where it used to be. And regret.” He looked up to see that Newt and Tina had both gone pale, looking troubled.

“I’m very relieved that you’re free of it,” Tina confirmed, sounding it, and went on, “But you describe it as a presence in your mind. Were you being controlled by it, would you say? You speak like it had intent of its own- were you being forced into actions against your will?”

“No, I accept responsibility for what I did,” he said, voicing at last the argument he’d had with himself in a few rare daring moments during his exile, when he’d wondered if the Oath itself had some responsibility for the events it triggered. He’d always concluded that it didn’t, and it cheapened his repentance if he tried to excuse himself to any degree.

“I could have turned aside at any time if I’d been brave enough, if I’d wanted to enough. There was the threat of the Everlasting Dark, of course, but that would have been preferable to what we became. The whispers were alluring, I will admit that, like they were nudging my thoughts towards the Silmarils, but I wasn’t a puppet. I didn’t act against my will, my will was just weak, I could have and should have resisted it.”

“Perhaps, but the Everlasting Darkness doesn’t exactly sound like a picnic,” Newt observed, “not that it excuses murder, exactly, but most people would consider all sorts of things to save themselves from that.”

“Not that this ever will be in a court, but from a legal perspective that would probably be considered as duress,” Tina added, “and the way you describe it makes it sound like a weak form of the Imperius curse. I know it wasn’t fully controlling you, but that’s not the point. Even a very weakly cast Imperius can alter someone’s behaviour significantly, and even if they could have resisted that strength of spell, it’s still taken into account that they weren’t entirely themselves if they do something illegal under its influence.”

They were defending him to himself. Frowning, Maglor tried to keep up with this bizarre turn of events.

“People don’t just volunteer themselves for the Imperius, though,” he argued, “I appreciate your understanding, but I swore an oath to relentlessly pursue a gem regardless of the body count I left behind, and then did exactly that. I don’t think my culpability is really in question here.”

“Not that you were culpable to some degree, no, but I think it’s fair to consider exactly how much was your choices and how much was factors that were beyond your control,” Tina suggested. “And it sounds like your knowledge was limited when you committed yourself, you didn’t anticipate when you swore it exactly what it would lead you to do. I suppose you wouldn’t have sworn it had you known- would you?”

There was a plea in Tina’s eyes, and he could see her desperation for him to prove himself the person she thought he was. He was very glad that he could answer honestly.

“No,” he said seriously. “If I could go back- and I’ve lost count of how many times I wished it- I would do my utmost to stop the swearing of that oath. I would speak publicly against my father, I would use all the talents of rhetoric he taught me to persuade my brothers not to swear it, I would let him disown me, cast me away if that was what it took…”

“Would that have happened?” Newt asked, alarmed.

“If he forced you to swear it, that’s coercion, Maglor,” Tina cut in, urgently, “if that happened and then the Oath influenced your behaviour, I think maybe you’re far less culpable than you think you are.”

“No, it wasn’t…like that,” Maglor ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “He didn’t threaten us, or anything you’re thinking. He wasn’t that kind of a person, at least not to us. He didn’t forbid us from defying him. He didn’t need to. Standing with him before the hosts of the Noldor, after the world we knew had been turned upside down, hearing him promise that we could make things right, reclaim what was ours, like this burning beacon of light in the midst of the darkness that had fallen on our world, saying no to him was simply inconceivable.”

Newt and Tina exchanged dubious glances.

“It still doesn’t really sound like a free choice if he made you feel that ‘no’ wasn’t an option,” Tina suggested cautiously. Maglor sighed and tried to clarify what he meant.

“He did try to be a good father, I think, in his own way. My father was…complicated. Imagine someone full of irrepressible energy. Someone who can turn his hand to crafts others have devoted ages to perfecting and create a masterpiece that bests them all on his first try. Someone who overflows with wild surmises and impossible ideas, and someone who miraculously brings them all to life. Imagine being his second son, growing up watching him overcome every challenge he sets his mind to, and feeling acutely how far you fall short of everything he’s achieved. Now imagine hearing him tell a scared and disillusioned people a story of a brave new world in which they can stride forward beneath his sheltering protection and become something better. He swears, and it is great and terrible, world-changing, and his purpose seems almost divine. Then he turns to you, his eyes wild and gleaming in the torchlight and beckons, invites you to stand alongside him. Would you even consider refusing him whatever he asked? Perhaps you would. But I didn’t.”

He stood and paced to the window.

“I’m not trying to excuse myself, only to explain. No matter what the circumstances, I should have stopped to think before swearing such an uncompromising oath, consider exactly what manner of deeds it might constrain me to. I don’t really blame my father either, not anymore. I don’t know if the pressure we all felt came from him, or from ourselves, I don’t know what he would have done had we publicly defied him. Maedhros did get away with it at Losgar, so perhaps I overestimate what his wrath would have been. It’s just that whether he meant to or not, Fëanor made it very difficult not to give your everything to make him proud. I suppose I let that blind me, and by the time I opened my eyes, it was too late.”

Silence descended for a few long moments after that little speech.

“It sounds to me,” Tina said eventually, blinking back her tears, “like you made an ill-considered decision under immense pressure in exceptional circumstances, which led you into a cycle of violence which was difficult to escape. It’s abundantly clear that you regret it, and that you’re determined not to hurt anyone again. So all in all, I think you could probably stand to be a little easier on yourself, hey?”

“You…really think so?” Maglor murmured, taken aback. Newt was one thing, with his penchant for befriending those creatures most people despised, but Tina’s passion for justice and how deeply she felt for the victims of violence were hard to miss. That she urged one such as him to be kinder to himself was staggering.

“Truly,” she confirmed, “And if you wanted to put it in legal terms again, yes, you committed some awful violations, but you also suffered your fair share of the consequences, probably much more than that. You’ve more than served your time by now, you’ve clearly learned from your mistakes, and you deserve a second chance.”

“Hanantel feanyallo,” he said, bowing his head to her gravely.

“I thank you from my soul, from the deepest part of myself.” Newt’s voice wobbled a little as he translated, and Tina gave a sad little smile.

“You don’t need to thank me for seeing you as you are,” she said softly, then frowned. “There’s one more thing I don’t understand, though. If you knew all along that the Oath was gone and couldn’t make you kill again, why did you keep insisting you were dangerous?”

“That was partly Oath-induced paranoia, which has been somewhat difficult to shake,” he admitted, “but that was mostly about the curse I carry, from Mandos himself. ‘All that ye begin well shall turn to evil,’ he declared of our life henceforth, and since then it has never proven untrue. You see why I am afraid. I could not bear it if I brought the curse of my house upon you simply due to our association.”

“That sounds a bit more like a prophecy than a curse,” Newt mused, “And prophecies are always slippery things, you fall into them trying to avoid them, they don’t always mean what you think they mean. I’ve always thought it better to just live, and deal with what happens as it comes. Besides, if this Mandos fellow thinks he’s going to hurt you again, he’s going to have to get through me.”

“And me!” Tina chimed in. “Newt’s right. Eternally thwarting your every hope isn’t a fair punishment by anyone’s standard. Also, if the curse was linked to your Oath, and that’s no longer a problem, wouldn’t that mean the curse is invalidated too?”

“I really do hope so. But I can’t know for sure.”

“We’re willing to take the risk,” Tina declared assertively, “if it means you can recover and be happy again, it’s more than worth it.”

“It’s not,” Maglor contradicted her flatly. “You have been so kind, and more than anything I want to believe you, I want to stay. But you must know that by helping me you might endanger yourselves and expose yourselves to a powerful curse cast by an ancient god.”

“Oh good,” Newt said with a manic grin as Maglor stared at him in horror, “I was starting to get bored just doing routine dragon wrangling and the odd rescue here and there. A little bit of extra danger is just the thing to keep me on my toes.”

“And I’m this guy’s mission partner, bodyguard, legal rep, and also his wife. Do you really think I can’t handle danger?” Tina teased gently, before her voice became deadly serious. “And it’s worth it.”

Pinioned as he was by her Galadriel-esque stare, Maglor decided, very wisely, not to argue.