Eönwë’s arrival was always too far from subtle for Mairon’s tastes, a cloud of light and brown feathers that slowly takes shape as it approaches, finally landing in front of them with a soft thud.
“Must you always be so theatrical?” Mairon raises a brow at them, but the shadow of a smile graces their full lips and Eönwë chuckles.
“There is hardly any fun in discretion, Mairon. I thought you of all beings would agree, yes?” Eönwë flickers Mairon’s ear, causing the multitude of golden earrings and chains adorning it to rattle, and Mairon themselves to gasp in outrage.
“Ha! I don’t wear these for the attention of others, unlike some of us.” Mairon’s voice is teasing, and this time they dodge Eönwë’s flicker with a laugh.
“I suppose you do not. That, you can get naturally.” They say, taking a lock of Mairon’s grey hair into their hand, tucking it behind their ear with gentle affection, then watching with a smile as Mairon throws their head back in laughter.
“Where, may I ask, did you learn smoothness? Surely from Ilmäre. I heard they go around capturing the hearts of one out of every three Maiar wherever they go.” They ask, intertwining their arms together and forcing Eönwë to accompany them as they walk.
“Maybe.” Eönwë admits, for yes, Ilmäre had been kind enough to help them work through some of their social limitations. “I do believe your company inspires this in me, however.”
“Ah, I am honoured then, to be the object of such admiration and the cause of such inspiration.” Mairon seems very pleased, and Eönwë snorts, but takes their hand into their own. “Or pray, are you only practicing on me in hopes of winning over the affections of fairer beings?”
“You must be fishing for compliments, since you know there are no beings fairer than you upon this land.” Eönwë stops and bows to Mairon, who only laughs even sweeter, the tips of their hair turning a gentle pinkish colour.
“Such a sweet talker, so out of the blue!” They exclaim, taking Eönwë’s arm into their own again. “I remember when you could barely speak to me at all! You have grown brazen, my friend.”
“Is it an unpleasant change?”
“It is remarkable, and most welcome. For you must know, I always rejoice in compliments, yours especially.” Mairon leans closer to them, breath upon their cheek, and Eönwë can’t help but fluster.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Eönwë bumps their nose against Mairon’s playfully. “If I knew all it took to win you over was beautiful words I would have done it much sooner.”
“Win me over? What makes you think you did such a thing?” There’s poorly hidden smile on Mairon’s pretty face, and Eönwë feels dizzy with their proximity.
Then, out of nowhere, the smile on Mairon’s lips blooms, and they lean in to leave a kiss on the corner of Eönwë’s mouth before sauntering away like nothing happened.
It takes Eönwë a while to recover, and even longer for the heat on their face to die down, and they run after Mairon when the realisation of what they were just told finally hits them. “Hey! What do you mean ‘ what makes you think you did such a thing ’?” They call out, watching Mairon's long grey hair flow as they run from them, their laughter echoing with the wind.
“Mairon.” Eönwë’s voice is stern, and their arrival would have come as a surprise to anyone with less keen senses.
Mairon turns to them, one of their brows raised high and only a small trace of warmth present in their expression. Their hair is messily braided away from their face and there is sweat on their brow.
“You should not have come here, Aulë is not fond of outsiders in the forges.” They say, but set aside their tools and turn to Eönwë nonetheless.
“I’m aware.” They pull Mairon by the arm, ignoring the curious looks others send their way as they walk past, and only stopping when they both standing outside, away from prying eyes and ears.
There’s a soft breeze, and the light of the House of Aulë is enough to illuminate Mairon perfectly, accentuating all the right angles of their face and giving it sharpness without making it seem harsh.
In any other circumstances, Eönwë would’ve been enchanted, hypnotised by their beauty – how the dark tanned of their skin seems to glow, how the light magenta of their eyes shone so much brighter.
But this was not the time anymore, and no matter how much Eönwë wanted to wrap themselves around Mairon and do nothing but breath them in until all passed, orders were orders.
And the orders they had were not to trust, and to unmask.
“I do have work to do, you know.” There was a light teasing on Mairon’s tone, and it was almost painful in its familiarity.
“Has the Disrupter visited you?” The question was sudden, and Eönwë could tell it threw Mairon off-guard, but they recomposed fast.
“The Dark Vala? No!” All the confusion in their expression seemed sincere, but it was always so hard to read Mairon, and Manwë’s words still echoed in Eönwë’s brain.
Spies Amongst Us
Trust Few, Trust No One
“Eönwë!” Mairon cried, a frown in place and a hand on Eönwë’s wrist to capture back their attention. “Why would they visit?”
“It seems there are spies among us.” The words are out before their mind recalls the warning to keep the information a secret, and Eönwë almost curses. “It seems they are trying, and at times succeeding, in recruiting some of us into their service.”
“And you think there is someone on the House of Aulë under their influence?” The frown is gone from Mairon’s face, and the look on their eyes hardened. Eönwë almost found it suspicious, before they realised the implication behind their own words.
“It makes sense. Aulë and Melkor shared a craft to some point, after all. It’s within reason that they would come for some of the Maiar under Aulë’s charge, and none of them are as skillful as you, Mairon.” And before they’re interrupted, Eönwë continues, “When- if they come, do not heed their words, come find me.”
“Of course.” Mairon answers, and for a fraction of a moment, Eönwë swears something resembling guilt crosses their face, but it’s gone before they even register it properly. “If you don’t need me anymore, I have a task to return to.”
“Mairon-” Eönwë reaches for their arm as they move away, and Mairon stops, turning back to them with a look of casual interest that is far too perfect to be real. “say nothing of this to the others.”
“I won’t.” And they pull their arm away, walking back into the forges without a single look back.
Eönwë is standing alone outside their tent at edge of the camps when they feel a presence not felt in ages.
The arrival was subtle, a wisp rather than a bang, and it reminded Eönwë of lighter times. The cloud of ash that appears on the horizon is slow in its approach, and the more intently they look the more it reveals – the nearer it draws the better Eönwë sees the shapes it takes.
A murder of crows at times, a nest of vipers, a rout of wolves at others, a clutter of spiders even. But none of the forms look right , almost tangible, viscous-looking at times, but very much unreal at others, and even if Eönwë just won a battle, even if who’s coming can’t harm them or pose much of a threat at all, unease builds up under their skin.
By the time it gets close enough the shape has taken a new form, one that can walk, taking elegant steps towards them with the same otherworldly air about them as before. Ash still clouded their appearance from Eönwë, but a body could be seen amidst the cloud.
Only when the cloud of smoke was right in front of them did it dissipate enough for the being behind it to appear.
They were kneeling, their long grey hair concealing their face as they bowed to Eönwë. Their robes were not the colour of the enemy or even their own, but the kind they would wear in days of old, when peace was still the default state of the world and the Dark One was thought to be far away from this corner of the universe.
“What is the meaning of this?” Eönwë asks, and it takes much more effort than anticipated to keep their voice from breaking. Something bubbles underneath Eönwë’s skin, bu they refuse to acknowledge it.
“I have come,” Gorthaur’s voice is that of an old friend, a sound they hadn’t heard in too long. It echoes through Eönwë’s entire being, as mellow and sweet as it always was, and it drips of raw emotion – of sincerity. “to ask for pardon. And to beg for your forgiveness.”
“After all the evil you have done, all the pain you have caused in the name of the one you served,” Eönwë says, but the sternness on their voice doesn’t reach their spirit. Remembering the harm done by the one kneeling before them doesn’t cause anger or outrage, only grief and a profound sadness Eönwë has long dwelt in. “why do you expect me to believe you seek repentance?”
“The one I pledged myself to is gone.” Gorthaur says, and in their tone there is only sorrow. “I could feel the ties between us being severed as they were cast into the Void.” Eönwë shifts, uncomfortable, but doesn’t interrupt. “There is nothing for me here. I would like to return to the place I once called my home.”
“Rise, servant of Morgoth.” Gorthaur does as they’re told, lifting themselves off from the floor with grace, but their head remains bowed. “Mairon.” The name is out of Eönwë’s lips before they realise it, and it’s so sudden that even the one before them seems astounded.
They look up, and Eönwë’s entire core shakes.
Mairon is as they’ve always been, or so it seems. Their eyes shine the same pale blue they always did, their skin remains dark and unmarred and their lips are just as thick as Eönwë remembers as well. They’re as beautiful as they have always been, and it seems the ages have not dampened their effect on Eönwë.
Without thinking, Eönwë leans in, touching their foreheads together and they feel more than see as Mairon relaxes into them.
They’re warm to the touch, as they always were, and Eönwë feels the fire burning bright and hot inside them, even in its subdued state.
Like this, everything else feels distant and unreal – it doesn’t feel like the both of them just fought for different sides in a war, it doesn’t seem real that the one before Eönwë is the same being who committed multiple atrocities, unspeakable crimes in the service of another. Like this, if feels almost like nothing changed, like no one ever left.
It’s a long time before any of them talk, and Mairon’s voice is almost inaudible when they do speak, only barely louder than the sounds of the soft breeze that gently sweeps through their hair. “Will you heed my prayer?” They ask, and Eönwë opens the eyes they had not realised they had closed.
Mairon’s eyes are shut tight, and the hand they have on Eönwë’s arm seems to be struggling not to tighten its hold.
They know the answer in store for them, Eönwë knows they know, but even the most wicked of beings can still hurt, it seems.
“I cannot give you all you ask of me.” The words are difficult to say, more than even Eönwë predicted, and they feel the hand on their arm clutch the fabric of their sleeves. “I can and will forgive you, but I cannot absolve you from your crimes. All you have to do is come back with me-”
“As I am? To stand trial before the Valar? They’ll cast me into the Void without a second thought.” Mairon pulls away from them, fear and disgust in their voice and face. “They were lenient to Melkor before because Melkor was once one of them. They hold no such affection for me. I will be disposed of as soon as I set foot in their midst.”
“You underestimate the Valar.” Eönwë says, wrapping a hand around Mairon’s wrist before they walk away. “You came willingly, Manwë will know of this and take it into consideration. All you must do is stay and go back with us to stand trial.”
“And kneel before the Valar.” Mairon whispers, revolt poorly concealed in their voice.
“The choice is yours.” Eönwë whispers back, dropping their hold from Mairon’s wrist to their hand. “Come back.” There’s a to me that goes unsaid, but Eönwë is sure it does not go unheard.
They lift Mairon’s hand, gently pressing their lips to the back it.
“I will not hold you here against your will.” Eönwë continues, looking up only to find Mairon’s eyes pressed shut again. “The choice is yours, Mairon. As it has always been.”
With far more effort than it should have taken, Eönwë lets go of Mairon’s hand and turns around, going back into their tent with a new heaviness set deep in their being.
No one follows.