Rain fell in a light mist around him, wetting his hair enough to make it stick to the sides of his face. He pulled the thick cloak closer around him, more from unease than cold, and watched with guarded eyes as the other approached him through the haze.
Hair near in color to his own was pulled back into a tight, neat braid that fell to waist length, and a deep blue cloak covered a tall form a good two heads taller than his own. The newcomer stopped a few feet in front of him, long moments of silence stretching between them as they studied each other.
Even in this landscape were the haze of memory and emotion was dominant rather than reality, the god was in perfect control. It seemed as if the rain parted and changed direction, falling around him rather than on him. His voice, while soft, seem to drown out any other sound, commanding one's attention.
“You are much like her, you know,” the god murmured finally, his face showing no expression. “Without the obvious alterations, of course.”
He averted his eyes, remaining silent.
“You are just as powerful, too. I have been keeping an eye on you for some time. I must admit, that even on our scale, you hold enormous potential. Somewhat like your ancestors and the great Elves of old. You could—”
“Does this meeting have a point, or may I please return to my thoughts?” he interrupted, irritation lacing his words. “Unlike the Valar, I have no time for idle chatter.”
The god's eyes held no anger, not even surprise at his disrespect. He felt a slight jab of disappointment. He wanted the god to hate him, to lash out, to strike him down where he stood. He wanted punishment for his crimes and was once again being denied.
“You are a confusing tangle of emotions,” the god spoke once more, head slightly tilted to the side as he studied him. “You have pain, anger, self-loathing, despair—a grief so incredibly profound. Tell me, how is it that you can feel such emotions after such a victory?”
He stared hard at the other, amazed at the god's total unfeeling for the lives that had just been lost.
“You, for all your renowned wisdom, are a great fool,” he finally spat in disgust. “We have won, but at what price? Too many have died, too many in a war that never should have started, a war that you should have finished long ago.”
Still there was no anger. “You know that that was not possible. It was not our place.”
“Well, it wasn't mine either! I did not create this world, I did not loose a demon to ravage the land!” He was practically shouting, now, taking an infuriated step toward the other. “And I certainly did not want to lead thousands upon thousands of men to die for a world that had only shown them pain!”
“But you did,” the god said quietly, a deep sadness radiating from him, and the elf turned away.
“Because I had to!” he growled, throwing his arms up in exasperation. “No one else was fit, not one else would. I made mistakes, so many mistakes.” He looked once more at the god, eyes filled with anguish. “The price of every mistake that I made was the lives of the very men I was trying to protect.”
“Come, now, do not be so hard on yourself. Do you think you are the only one that has suffered from such thoughts? Every general or king of a good heart that has lost even one man feels that he is to blame. They have to choose for themselves, though, how they will handle such grief. A smart man realizes that he cannot save every single soldier. You are a smart man, beloved by many. You have the rest your life to rebuild this land and people to share that time with. Do not grieve any longer.”
“Everyone that I have loved has died!” The words were ripped from his very soul and accompanied by all of the despair and agony that he had suffered. The god's eyes widened almost imperceptibly in surprise, and he stepped forward to gently catch the swaying elf by the shoulders.
He struggled a moment, but the god was firm, so he instead collapsed against the god's chest. His hands clutched desperately at the soft tunic beneath the cloak, and he buried his face, burning with shame and wet with tears, in the Vala's chest
“Dear child,” the god murmured gently, fondly stroking the broken elf's head. “It was not just I who watched. We have all seen your pain. We have also seen the strength you have because of its weight.” He paused a moment, looking slightly lost as the elf's grip on his tunic tightened. “Forgive me. I know I am rather blind when it comes to the emotions of others. My wife handles matters of the heart far better than I can. But this grief you feel—the emptiness—I can relate. I, too, have lost loyal followers and loved ones.”
The god gently released the elf, now composed, and stepped back. Another moment of silence fell upon them as the elf studied the great trees, hazy in the rain, that surrounded them. His eyes met the god's, studying him with the same thoughtfulness.
“The Valar do not come merely to console the wounded and weary hearts of elves or men, especially one such as you. What do you want?”
It was the barest lifting of the lips, but it was a genuine smile nonetheless that graced the god's face. “Very well. I have come to settle your turmoil—not over your losses, but over yourself. I have come to answer the question that brought you here in the first place. You remember—think,” he urged at seeing the blank look on the elf's face.
He remembered, vaguely, dirt and blood and grime before he came to this place. A voice that called someone's—his?—name, an incredible absence of feeling that swept over his entire being followed by the fading of his vision. Soon, the voice and the noises of a war camp were gone, replaced by...a question?
“‘What purpose do I serve?’" murmured the god. “That is what you asked me. You said it many times, always the same. You cursed us, you cursed Middle-earth, but above all, you cursed yourself.”
The world reeled about him, and he forced himself to calm down before he fell. Yes, he remembered asking that. He remembered the hatred he had felt—but he had never imagined that the Valar would respond!
“So surprised. . .why?” Again the slightly tilted head as the god examined him in genuine confusion. “Do you not see that you are different?”
“I know I'm different!” the elf snapped, anger flaring as the god touched one of his sore spots directly. “I would think it obvious to others that I am not like them!”
“No, that's not what I meant. Not your physical body or blood, but the power you hold. That is why you are different.”
The elf felt a chill slowly wrap around his body at the god's words.
“You remember. I see it in your eyes—your hatred and loss fuel the flames, and beneath the fire there is more. You almost touched them, twice, but you have never quite held them in your hand.”
“I don't know what you're talking about,” the elf interrupted. “I have never—”
“Don't be a fool.” The words effectively silenced the elf, who could see the beginnings of irritation in the god's eyes. “You have felt the stirrings of power within yourself. Things such as this cannot be ignored, however hard one tries. You are afraid, though, and rightly so. For to open up to the other parts of yourself is to first allow the fire to consume you, and who knows what that will cause. I do know for certain that many will die as a result.” The god paused, waiting for a response.
The elf swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly dry, and breathing seemed to be a great effort. The rain was no longer a fine mist, but a downpour that soaked him thoroughly, and his heart pounded within him.
“You. . .you have not answered my question yet, my Lord,” he finally managed.
The god answered, though he knew that the question was merely used to divert his own questions. “Every child of Middle-earth has many options in life. None are born with just one purpose. They spend their whole lives trying to fulfill whatever one they happen to choose. They live, they influence, most make the world better than it was before they entered it. Everything that is done by the children of Eru and those of Aulė—however small—change the world. You ask me what your purpose is? Your purpose is to do as much as you can to make this world better for those you love and for those that follow after you.”
It was simple, but it made sense and seemed to show the way that the world had followed since the beginning of time. The god wasn't finished, though.
“Every child is looked over and blessed by the Maiar and their subordinates to give them certain advantages in their life. Some become minstrels, artists, farmers. Every child has its own natal skills, though. The Maiar merely heighten. It is up to Eru to bestow each child with its talents. Some. . .happen to be more remarkable than others. Why this is, even I do not know. Whether Eru guides or it is solely the consequences of the child that lead it into roles of glory or heroism, I can only begin to fathom.
“Why are some born with the ability to control magic while others cannot even see the faces of their parents or a sunset because of some ailment to the eyes? Why is it that you survive everything that has attempted, knowingly or otherwise, to do you harm while those around you perish?”
And just like that he had turned the conversation back to the real question. “Why is it that I sense far more power in you than I do in elves thousands of years older than you? Elves that have seen the light of the trees, who have lived among the great Kings? Is it because her blood flows in your veins? If anything, you should be less powerful. You perplex me, young one.”
“And again, I ask—what do you want? Though I have learned much, your coming here must have some other purpose. What do you want with me?”
The god was silent, turning his eyes heavenward and closing them in thought. After what seemed to the elf to be an unbearable amount of time, the Vala turned his attention back to him.
“There will come a time, I am almost certain, when the flames of your hatred and pain will break free from whatever control you have subconsciously put them under. This will undoubtedly result in the deaths of many. We—the Valar—do not know if you can handle this power, or if afterward you will be able to control it.” He fixed the elf with a stare so intense that he felt that the god could see his very soul. “We need you to live. With or without this power, you are important for the preservation of this world. Do you think you can control the flames?”
The elf felt himself trembling, horror a distant chill creeping through him at the thought of destroying more lives—especially the lives of those he cared about. He feared whatever hid within him, and he knew that it held far more strength than he had previously witnessed. But did he have more than it?
It was not even worth considering.
“I will not put more lives in jeopardy,” he said firmly and without doubt. He thought that he saw a flicker of disappointment run across the god's face, but it was gone before he could be sure.
“Very well. I can seal your power, but not without consequence. You will not be able to use the power that for whatever reason Eru has chosen to give you.” He paused, looking uncertain. “Much consideration has gone into this, you must understand. It is not our place to throw away the gifts of Eru. However, we cannot seem to find any reason why you would need them after this war and what we have seen of your life to come and the role you play. The seal can be removed, but only upon our mutual agreement.” He made sure he had the elf's undivided attention before continuing. “However, removing your seal means also removing any right-of-passage you have to Valinor. A gift thrown away and then retrieved as one pleases—a thing such as this cannot go unpunished. Do you still wish this seal?”
The elf paled, horrified at the thought, but managed to nod grimly. “It would be selfish of me to risk anyone's life but my own.”
The Vala was silent a moment, expressionless. Then: “Let it be so.”
Without warning, the god stepped forward and, wrapping one arm around the elf's waist, jerked the elf against him. Alarmed, the elf tried to push himself out of the embrace but the god was far stronger than he. “Calm yourself,” the Vala commanded severely, and he reached up with his other hand, placing his index and middle fingers against the elf's forehead. He closed his eyes and said a single word from a very old language that even the elf didn't know.
With a startled cry, the elf arched his back, his hands gripping the god's cloak so tightly that it was hard to believe that the fabric didn't tear. A wave of pure power and warmth passed through his entire being, leaving him tingling and drained. His legs would no longer support him, and he would have fallen in the mud had it not been for the god's hold on him. Trembling and breathing hard, he tried very hard to keep his mind focused on the words the god was speaking.
“There, child,” he soothed gently. “You no longer have to fear what lies within yourself. You cannot unknowingly harm someone with it, and no one else may use it to harm you or others. You and your power belong to me. Only I can break this seal.” He brushed the elf's soaked hair out of his eyes and helped him stand. The god made sure he wouldn't fall over when he released him before taking a step back.
The elf raised a hand to his head, amazed at the difference. It was as if someone had removed a sound that constantly rang within his ears and wore on him, a sound that he hadn't even noticed. He felt lighter, freer—and it didn't feel as if there was something lurking in his mind, waiting to be released. He looked up at the god in amazement, eyes clearly shining with thanks and wonder.
The god studied him, head tilted to the side slightly. “You are very dear to us,” he murmured. “I fear, though, that there is still more pain ahead in your life. I wish only that we could protect you. I wish that we could protect you all.” A weary sadness, deep and incredibly old, filled his eyes. “If only there had been no pain in the earth. Perhaps I would not have had to come here like this.” He stopped, closed his eyes against the thought, and composed himself. Again, the barest lifting of the lips as he looked at the elf. “We will doubtless meet again. When, though, is always a question. For now, you need to awake. Your guardian is very distressed.”
Surprised, the elf stiffened, and the Vala disappeared, leaving him alone in a world that was quickly fading back to reality.
AU-ish, heavy angst, violence, death, m/m rape, torture. There are no consensual slash relationships, the warning is just to show the appearance of m/m rape withing the story.
Feel free to correct any mistakes with Tolkien lore or characters. I am still learning about the world and the people in it.
Feel free to correct any mistakes with Tolkien lore or characters. I am still learning about the world and the people in it.
Chapter End Notes:
Please review if you enjoyed or have any constructive criticism.