Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate.

A/N: Thanks to Jen for looking this over, and to my betas Dawn Felagund and LadyLunas.

A/N 2 (added August 16, 2013): I know that many people enjoy this story because of its more spiritual nature, and I hope you continue to do so. But the fic has a bit of an odd history, spirituality-wise. It was literally the last gasp of my Catholic faith; after I wrote it, I no longer had problems calling myself a deist. I'm saying this only because I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with the reviews that assume I am Christian (I often I have no idea how to respond parts of them), and so I'm choosing to head off the majority of them at the outset. Thank you for understanding.

The Well

Maglor sat in the scant shade provided by the well behind him. He had filled his waterskins, returning them and the rope he had used to lower them into the water to his worn and travel-stained pack, and now rested, back against the cool stones, waiting until the sun sank lower in the sky before continuing. Even for him, traveling in this hot and dry land in the middle of the day was hard and he preferred not to do it when possible.

The Noldo heard footsteps crunching in the dirt on the nearby road, drawing him out of his thoughts, and sighed, hoping the lone traveler would pass by as several others had, heading to a village up the road that he had chosen to avoid. Instead, the soft footsteps drew closer and stopped next to the Elf. Maglor didn't look up, but simply said in the local language some called Aramaic, "The well is tainted."

"But the cover is off. Did you take any?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

Maglor closed his eyes briefly, wishing he would have lied. How could he explain that he wouldn't become sick if he drank tainted water to slake his thirst? "I… I did not know."

With a gentle laugh, the man crouched next to the Elf and said, "You knew. But it does not matter, for the inability to become ill is the way I made you."

Maglor stiffened. The way-? He finally looked at the man, meeting his eyes. Yes, he was human. But his eyes… They belonged to no Elf or Man, no Vala or Maia. Only One could have eyes burning with the soft light of the Flame Imperishable.

Maglor whispered, "Ilúvatar."

The Kinslayer scrambled to his feet, fear and shame overwhelming him. He bowed and then, dodging around the stone well and leaving his pack, ran.

"Stop."

Unable to ignore the quiet command, Maglor slipped on a patch of gravel and landed sprawled in the dirt. Eru-as-Man slowly walked to and then stopped in front of him. Refusing to look up, the Elf stared at His sandals. A hand appeared in front of his face. Ilúvatar waited patiently, saying nothing. Maglor finally shifted, and, taking the hand, rose to his feet. Still, he didn't meet His eyes. Instead, he stared at his right hand in awe and fear, as the pain and scars disappeared.

"My Lord…"

"Look at me, my child."

For the second time, Maglor looked into the eyes of his creator. Instead of the condemnation he deserved, he saw love and forgiveness. To his surprise, he collapsed back into the dirt, weeping. Ilúvatar knelt next to the Elf and, ignoring the dust that covered the latter, pulled him into His arms, rocking slowly back and forth. When Maglor finished crying, he sat up and, this time, was able to calmly meet His eyes. Eru smiled and kissed his forehead.

"Go home, my child. Your exile has ended. All has been forgiven."

He kissed the Elf on the top of his head once more, helped the still-stunned Maglor to his feet, and walked back to the well. He touched the stone forming it, looking at the water pooling out of arm's reach, and returned to the road. He didn't look back at the Elf still standing there, but a gentle thought floated into Maglor's mind.

Go home. A boat is waiting.

But Maglor didn't move until Ilúvatar passed beyond his sight in the rocky hills. Only then did he retrieve his pack and head to the shore.