Once we believed that all hurts could be cured in the blessed lands, but we stopped believing when Miriel passed, long ere the sun and the moon had risen, long before our fall. It had been centuries since we had returned from the eastern lands, centuries upon Tol Eressëa and the shores of Valinor itself, and still he lay there unmoving.
What had I done that night before we left the hidden valley? What harm had I brought upon him whom I loved that my very touch to his lips brought insanity? I did not know.
I had seen him wane, those dark eyes haunted for years, and finally I went to him and opened my heart, believing the deepest hurt he could cause to be denial. I can still feel those warm lips against mine, touching for the sweetest of kisses before he broke away, screaming as if his soul was on fire. In horror I watched as his hands came up to his face and not until his nails breached skin and drew blood did I realise that he was trying to claw out his own eyes, those deep pools of shadow that had pulled me down for centuries.
I tore myself out of my shocked stupor, throwing myself at him and forcing his hands down as I cried for help. His strength surprised me; he was slighter then me and yet in his madness I had to fight him with all my strength, as I had not fought since I met the Balrog upon Cirith Thoronath. It took long before we managed to sedate him and even then the dose was high enough that Elrond feared his death, but he lived. We kept him sedated for days as we set out to the Havens, going home at last. He broke free from us at the barrow-downs and we feared losing him in the mist but he was found in time and once again sedated. The next time he broke away was on the ships and only in the last instance did I manage to grab him before he flung himself down into the waves.
After that he no longer moved, no longer ate nor drank and his screams silenced. Nothing we could do brought him peace and the Valar stood as helpless as us. He rested in Irmo’s gardens now, and day after day I went there as the Fourth Age in Arda drew to its close, day after day to see him stare motionless as the sky. Guilt ate me, haunted me, for it was my fault, my blame. How long had I gone there? In honesty I had long lost count.
What was it that finally broke his silence? Was it my continued pleas for forgiveness, constant words of love, or was it something that Elrond or the Valar said to him? I do not think I will ever know the truth but I know that one day I arrived to the harsh screams that still haunted my dreams. As I drew closer I saw a fire in the dark eyes that I had not seen before, a strength and a madness that shook me to the very core of my being. Somehow those eyes were familiar in their insanity.
I spoke mildly to him, as all other days, with words of adoration and he laughed, loudly; bitterly he laughed at me as he flung my death into my face. Disbelieving, I stared at him, unable to grasp the words that he shouted at me. I shook my head, denying his words, trying to soothe him as I assured him that he was as much of the Quendi as me and yet…that strange dusky skin, the heat of his being…he was not like us, and in my heart I knew his difference, but not this. I raised me eyes and met his; for the first time in millennia our gazes locked, black and blue, and in them I saw the truth.
In horrified silence I stared at him before I backed away, I was not even aware that I had moved until I felt the rough bark of a tree against my back. He lunged at me then, flying towards me and being brought up short by chains that I had not seen before now. How many others had known the truth of his being if he was chained? Here in the peaceful lands he was chained like a rabid dog….
I turned and fled, nausea welling up inside me as I fought my own memories of falling, burning, breaking. Someone called for me but I did not listen as I ran, as far as my legs would take me. I fled before falling to the ground, crying for myself, for him, for the cruelty of life. How could this be, how could the one I had thought myself to love be the same one who had taken my life when Gondolin fell? How could a thing of such beauty be a creature of evil, servant of him whom we feared over all else?
Ancient hatred I had thought buried welled up in me again as I remembered the fall of my city, her white walls red with fire and blood, the screams of panic and pain as the Balrogs came. I remembered other times, Nirnaeth Arnoediad and the death of Fingon; had he been there, I wondered? Had he been there when Fingon the Valiant was slain, stood beside Gothmog as Ecthelion of the Fountain fell, and lifted his foul weapons against countless others that I had counted friends?
I wrapped my hands around the hilt of my blade, knuckles whitening as my grip strengthened. Were we never allowed peace, never rest from the filth of Morgoth, not even here on the sacred shores? Even as I stood, my blade in hand, other memories came to me. I saw midnight eyes stare in wonder at Elrond and Celebrían, gaze in soft curiosity at the laughing children. Once I had wondered about him in those times, wondered that he had never seen love, had no memories of playing as a child and now, now it all came clear. The sword fell from my hand. I could not, not even knowing who he was, I could not kill him.
I felt lost. Never before had I felt so at loss for what to do or what to feel. Did I still hate? I did, hate so long nourished lingers. Did I pity him? To my surprise I did, a being cast out into a world that he did not understand or share. What strange circumstance had caused him to come to us, to live like one of us, for so long? I wondered what it had been like, always watching from the outside, never fitting in. Had it hurt? Had he mourned for things he did not have? Slowly my feet started moving again, hesitantly retracing their steps as the stars of Varda laughed above me. What was I to do next? I did not know.
He had silenced again when I reached him. His back was leaning against one of the trees in the garden, his strange ashen skin glimmering under the light of the moon as he stared at the sky. When he became aware of my presence he raised his head and looked at me with those dull, black eyes and I was shaken by the pain and grief that haunted those dark depths. A shadow he was in truth, the flame of his being lost somehow in centuries past. Had the failing of his fire brought another change, a change of being? Soundlessly we watched each other, shadow and flame, in the still of night.