Maglor woke up screaming.

It wasn't exactly uncommon, though Daeron didn't like to think what he was dreaming, but tonight it was clear enough. "Maitimo!" He cried, and woke reaching out a hand desperately as though he could catch something already fallen.

Daeron felt a pang and caught the hand, ignoring the burn scars he had long since grown accustomed to. While they were strange company – at least, perhaps – at this point they were all they had left, and Daeron felt a certain compassion for Maglor as he'd found him, half mad and barely alive.

Who knew why? Perhaps it was the unspeakable grief in his eyes. Daeron understood it, he thought, more than anyone else ever could.

"Maglor," he said, urgently, but his friend (could he call him that?) was already awake and panting. "Be easy. Only a dream."

He knew as soon as Maglor looked at him that there was no point in saying anything, though, or at least not much. He had that expression like he was looking through Daeron at someone else, and Daeron knew that expression well enough to know that the conversation Maglor was hearing wasn't one Daeron could enter.

Once, a little while after they'd first met, Daeron asked Maglor why he stayed alive. Maglor shrugged, staring into the small fire they'd built for the bare warmth it offered. "Dying would be too easy," he said, and after a pause, added, "To spite them."


Maglor almost smiled, that hollow, ghostly smile that almost made Daeron shiver and wonder if maybe his friend (sort of) was all there, or maybe missing his lungs or something else equally vital. "My brothers. The dead ones in my head."

That was one of his saner days, when he knew they weren't really there. When they were, there was no point trying to talk to him.

"Silence! Be silent!" Maglor's voice cracked and Daeron gave up on trying to be reasonable and calm, pulled his pack to him and removed his small flute, began to play.

It was a while, but when Maglor's voice joined him, he knew his friend (?) was back and let the notes trail away.

"Thank you," he said, a little roughly. Daeron waved it away. "The least I can do." They were quiet, neither speaking. It was something they understood about each other, that sometimes there wasn't anything to say. And sometimes they were both here just because it was somewhere to be that wasn't alone. Outcasts run together.

It was a while, therefore, before Daeron noticed that Maglor was crying. But he did, eventually. And moved, putting his arms around the taller Elf's chest and holding him close, pulling him so they could lie curled together a little way away from the fire, looking up at the sky.

Daeron didn't have to ask where Maglor was looking, but he didn't pull away either, bodies fitting together right where they were. "It's not your fault," Daeron heard himself say, the stupidest platitude he'd ever uttered, but Maglor laughed, suddenly, and he followed suit, and if it was a hollow gasping strange and bitter laugh, it couldn't matter to either of them.