White Fire, Black Ice



He did not board any of the elven boats that would have carried him over the grey seas and to the West. Before they departed, he gave the elves Narya, the third great Ring, which he had kept for many years, and he stood with Sam and Merry and Pippin to watch the ships bear away Elrond, Galadriel and Frodo, and a great sadness crept into his heart.

Yet, he knew he had chosen rightly. Wonderful things and even more wonderful knowledge lay in the West, but he knew in his wisdom, that if he went west to learn all the knowledge, he would never be able to return to Middle Earth and apply it. So he had shaken his head when Elrond had asked him to leave with him and he had made the three hobbits who knew of his existence swear to never reveal his continued existence in Middle Earth. For the Third Age had come to an end, and the Fourth Age was destined to be without the influence of wizards and elves, and to be fully in the hands of men instead.

Mithrandir, however, knew that in a much later age, there would be wizards again, so much he had glimpsed during his battle with the Balrog which had carried him through many ages and yet had only lasted a few weeks. The one short glance had sufficed to make up his mind. He would wait till the time arrived when wizards once again lived in great numbers on this world.

So, at his request, Samwise Gamgee wrote of Gandalf's parting with Frodo over the seas and to the West, while the wizard himself rode straight east to the Misty Mountains, to the entrance to Moira. He knew now of the foul beast lying in the depths of the water before it, but it did not matter to him. He got off his steed and gave it a grave farewell, then along the borders of the water he went and to the gate the dwarves had wrought many years ago.

(A/N: In the book version, the beast doesn't destroy the entrance, but slams the door shut behind the Fellowship.)

'Mellon' he said, quietly, and the gate opened to let him in. Stepping inside, he muttered the spell that woke the light of his staff and walked along the dark passages to the great throne room of the dwarves. There he sat himself on the throne and waited. He waited, till all memory of Moira had dissolved to nothingness and the elves and he had turned into mere spectres of remembrances.

He waited, while the wind and water carried away the Misty Mountains and the glaciers had ground the stone to sand. He waited, while he and Moira slowly sank into the depths of the earth and the mountains above him crumbled till they were no more than hills. He waited, feeling the seasons go past like so many seconds, and the world above changed so completely that it no longer could bear its old name. It was now no longer Middle Earth, it was Earth, and on its surface their lived humans, for the most part.

There were only very few trolls left, and witches and wizards, who lived in a secret world of their own that existed within the world of men. In place of staffs they now had wands to focus their energy, and with them they had enlarged the small lake in which the Guardian of Moria had lived in all the previous millennia, and had scourged it from evil, till the Guardian forgot the darkness and now, without evil goading him, the squid did what was in its nature: Eat fish and sleep. It even tolerated the mermen and -women who had joined it to live in the lake permanently.

On the small hill which had once been the mountain Caradhras, but which had been gnawed mercilessly by the tooth of time and now was just a small rise of land, there now stood a many-turreted castle, the great wizarding school of Great Britain, called the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The magic of Hogwarts seeped slowly downwards, through layers of stone born an eternity ago. The age old earth absorbed the young magic slowly, but time worked for the magic, and every year it delved an inch further, till it had crept through the ceiling of a great hall wrought by dwarves uncountable years ago. In soft tendrils, like invisible filaments of the lightest cobweb, they wafted through the stale air till they reached the wizard, to tingle him out of his eons-old sleep.

Mithrandir had become like the stone around him in his long, long sleep. His beard and hair had grown till it reached to the farthest corners of the dwarven hall and his skin had turned grey and cold in the dark beneath the earth. His nails on toes and fingers had grown, too, curling themselves like nets around his hands, protecting them, and his moulded robes would fall to tiny bits as soon as he moved.