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Disclaimer: The characters and places belong to Professor Tolkien.
Beta reader: Cairistiona
A/N: I apologize for the delay in the story caused by NaNoWriMo, and wish you all happy Holidays!
9. The hawk and the eagle
This day, the vessel of the moon did not land in its usual harbour. The brilliant shine of the silver flower danced on the waves in shimmering reflections, and illuminated a white tower on the end of a strand of diamond dust. From the brighter light, another one separated, smaller but no less bright. It headed to the tower while Tilion waited at his ship, knowing that he could not be of any help. He followed the sad procession with his gaze. Elwing walked first, clutching in her hand the Silmaril she managed to protect from the darkness that had been reaching for it. After her walked Eönwë, with Tilion's cloak still wrapped around his shoulders. Tilion doubted he even realized he still had it... at least he didn't have to persuade Eönwë to keep it for now. The herald of Manwë cared only for his friend in this moment. Like Elwing, he was carrying a precious burden in his arms.
Eärendil hadn't wakened during the entire journey. His breath was even and he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. If only he could sleep until everything is all right, Eönwë wished sadly. If he could wake and find Vingilot waiting for him in the harbour... If he could wake and see her waiting there... But the reality was like a dark weight pressing him down. Vingilot was destroyed, and Eärendil was blind. There will be no Star of Hope in the sky anymore... No sign to those in the Outer lands that the Valar had not forgotten them. And for Eärendil, no goal, no purpose... What will become of him, a blind bearer of light with no wings to bear it?
Eönwë sighed, and gently laid Eärendil on his bed. Lost in thought, he observed his face. So peaceful... How could he look so peaceful after all the horrors he had endured? The sweet oblivion of sleep... maybe his spirit was too exhausted to dream and relive the events. "Rest, my friend," Eönwë whispered. "Rest while you can..."
"You should rest too, my lord," a quiet voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked up. Elwing was still clutching the Silmaril, as if it represented everything that Eärendil was until now – hope, light. She didn't want to let go of that, Eönwë knew, but the decision was not hers. Her words reminded him of his weariness, however, and for once he admitted it.
"You are right, my lady... I just wish I could be here when he wakes," he sighed. But in that very moment he heard Manwë's voice in his mind, sounding very concerned. He bit his lip. "I must go. Please call me if he wakes. Send any bird and I will be here in a moment."
He touched Eärendil's hand lying on the sheets and then turned to leave, knowing that his friend was in good hands.
"My lord..." Elwing's voice stopped him, and he turned.
"I... thank you for my husband's life," she said quietly. He smiled gently, and left. As soon as the doors closed, he allowed his shoulders to slump. This weariness... was it the Singing that exhausted him so? Or the darkness that had sapped his strength? It was not his physical form that was weary, but the very core of his spirit that felt like it bore a heavy burden, mixed with grief...
He lifted his head immediately. "My lord," he bowed. "I... didn't expect you right here..."
"Where else should I be? I sensed you were in mortal danger, but there was a veil of darkness around you, and I couldn't sense where you were." Concern was clear in the Elder King's voice, and he frowned even more when he saw Eönwë's state. There were bloody bandages around his wrists. The wounds of an Ainu should heal quickly, but it seemed Eönwë had no strength left even for that. "What happened to you?" Manwë asked quietly.
Eönwë looked into Manwë's eyes, and for the first time since Vingilot returned empty, he let his grief show. He revealed to Manwë, in his thoughts, everything that happened, all his fears and worries for his friend...
"Ungweliantë..." Manwë's eyes darkened when he saw her death through Eönwë's eyes, and the battle of Eönwë's song against her poison. "Oh, my hawk..." he whispered, and took Eönwë into his embrace.
The Maia finally gave up to his weariness, and leaned on Manwë. "She is dead," he whispered brokenly. "Why can't it be a glorious victory?" Manwë said nothing, but Eönwë himself knew best that no victory is glorious. Every victory comes with a price. He wished he was the one bearing it, and not Eärendil... "What will be of Gil-Estel? Vingilot is destroyed, and he... he is blind... And I promised him that everything will be good again..."
"Shhh, my hawk," Manwë stroked his hair. "Tell me where Vingilot is, and I will see what can be done. Maybe she is not destroyed beyond repair... just like Eärendil's sight..."
Eönwë imagined the place and its location the best he could, and Manwë nodded. "I will send my eagles for her. But you need to rest."
Before Eönwë could say anything, a giant eagle had taken the Elder King's place, cradling him gently in his huge talons. The eagle spread his majestic wings and took off. It seemed just a short while before he landed in the halls of Ilmarin. Eönwë was already half-asleep, but he felt warm hands carrying him instead of talons. He opened his eyes, and wanted to protest, but one look from Manwë silenced him. The worry in his eyes matched his own for Eärendil, and Eönwë realized just how concerned the Elder King was when he sensed the darkness enveloping him. He relaxed, and let himself be carried to his bed.
But he could not rest... Too many memories of the last day, and worries for the days ahead were on his mind. "What if Eärendil wakes while I'm not with him?" he protested.
"Elwing is at his side," Manwë said soothingly. "And he will sleep long, I think. His strength is almost spent." As is yours, he thought to himself. "When he wakes, he will need a friend who is not dropping with weariness," he smiled gently.
Eönwë sighed, but the worries from his mind would not lift.
Manwë touched his temple gently. "Sleep," he whispered. "Forget your worries for a while..." And such was the might of the Elder King that Eönwë's eyes closed immediately, and he fell deep into the soothing waves of a deep, dreamless sleep.
"Sleep, my son..." Manwë whispered with a sad smile, and then left to call all his eagles to Ilmarin.
Soon the sound of many mighty wings rustled in the air above the Timeless halls, and a squadron of great eagles took off, led by the greatest of them with a crown of feathers on his head.
It was already getting dark when they returned. But no Star of Hope would rise in the sky today. The light of the Silmaril remained in the white tower, shining like a flicker of hope where it was most needed. The silhouettes of the eagles were dark against the sky, carrying pieces of white wood and silver metal in their talons. Manwë, for he it was in the form of the greatest eagle, carried the scratched figure of the swan, carefully cleaned of cobwebs. They landed in the grove near Elwing's tower, and put their burdens down in a clearing among the white trees. The trees whispered sadly in the wind, singing a lament about broken wings. The eagles took off, stroking their leaves with soft feathers. Only one of them remained, and in the next moment Manwë stood in the middle of the clearing, and called in his mind.
The air shimmered, and danced with little stars. The stars formed a figure... Varda Elentári stood there, looking with tears in her eyes at the remains of the proud ships.
"How is Eönwë?" her spouse asked when she appeared fully.
"Still sleeping," she answered. "As is Eärendil." It seemed she was keeping watch over them in Manwë's absence.
The Elder King nodded. "Let's see what we can do with the ship," he sighed.
In a flash of gentle green light, like the sun shining through the leaves, Yavanna appeared, followed by Aulë her spouse in the reflections of many-faceted gems and crystals.
That night, the Powers worked, and the small clearing shimmered with thousands of points of light. By hands just as by Song, they mended the pieces of the old wood to the new planks taken from the fallen trees in the grove. Many had fallen the night when Ungoliant's claws tore the wings of the ship... By hands and by Song Aulë shaped the pieces of glass and mithril to connect with the wood. By hands and by Song Varda wove the wings from dust of stars and the feathers of swans from Alqualondë.
Then, for a moment, everything silenced. A ship stood in the middle of the clearing, the proud prow looking at the trees with the eyes of a swan. But was it Vingilot? Manwë put his hand on the helm and closed his eyes. He heard a faint song in the wood. About hope, about stars and flying... He smiled. Yes, it was Vingilot. Most of the wood has been replaced, but the spirit of the ship remained the same, and the trees in the grove echoed her song. Then Varda lifted her hand in blessing, and the wings of the ship spread in all their pristine length. Up she flew, over the treetops, and landed into the rocking waves of the Sea, in her harbour.
She waited. She wanted to fly, to spread her wings and fly across the sky bearing the light of hope. But there was no light to bear. There was no hand to guide her. She missed Eärendil... For a moment it seemed as if a hand from the seawater gently stroked the wings of the ship. Ulmo was there, although he hid his presence from those in the tower. He also missed his favourite Mariner...
In the court of Gil-Galad, Elrond looked at the sky. He was looking for something, trying to find a star that did not appear on the sky tonight. In Númenor, Elros had the same worried expression on his face when he looked to the stars, wondering what could make their father to abandon his nightly journey. A bad omen, the people of Middle-earth thought, when Gil-Estel didn't appear in the sky. The Valar are angry with us... they have turned their face away from us...
But Eärendil knew nothing of it, lost in deep sleep that allowed the wounds of his body to heal. What of the wounds of his soul, no one could tell...
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