Summary: A tale about the beginning of the friendship between Eärendil and Eönwë. Darkness stronger than the mere absence of light lurks somewhere still, and it hungers for light...
Disclaimer: The characters and places belong to Professor Tolkien.
Beta reader: Cairistiona
The Sea was restless, whipping the sharp rocks with a salty breeze. The man sitting on the shore didn't seem to mind it.
The roar of the Sea drowned out the quiet steps on the beach. "Eärendil..."
The Mariner turned sharply, with his hand ready on the hilt of his sword – even here, in Valinor, as the visitor sadly noticed. The Mariner's other hand was in a sling.
"Oh..." Eärendil let go of the sword quickly when he recognized the visitor. "Lord Eönwë," he bowed hastily.
The Maia sighed to himself, but decided to omit the issue of the title for now.
"You have been hunting again..." he stated quietly.
"Yes, my Lord. Those harpies will not trouble Lady Varda's stars anymore."
"They could have killed you, Eärendil," Eönwë said, looking at the Mariner intently.
Eärendil averted his eyes. "It had to be done," he said defensively.
Eönwë nodded. "That's true. But you didn't have to attack them alone..."
"I became separated from Tilion."
"You could have waited for him. You..." the Maia paused, and with surprise Eärendil noticed the faint hurt in his voice. "...you could have called me..."
"I... didn't want to trouble you, my Lord."
Eönwë sighed sadly, and for a long while he just stood and looked at the man before him wordlessly. Then he nodded slowly, and with the next breeze of the salty wind, he was gone. A silhouette of a hawk crossed the sky in the distance, shading the setting sun for a moment. Eärendil watched it silently, and then he began to walk to his ship, preparing for the night's journey.
The hawk circled the sky long after a dazzling light left the shores of Valinor and ascended into the paths of stars. The air was cool as it stroked his feathers, his wings barely moving as he cut through it in elegant circles. Higher and higher, until the land reminded him of an ornate map drawn by the hand of Ilúvatar, and the air was freezing and thin. Hoar-frost formed on his feathers, and his breath formed small clouds of mist – every intake of it as sharp as knife. Finally, when he felt he could not fly any higher, he let go of the physical form, and soared freely on the streams of the spirit, where there was no cold, just calm...
He enjoyed the freedom of the wind, and the emptiness of the sky, high among the stars. It did not last long, though. The fire of his own spirit brought discord into the calm darkness. He was restless, and he did not know why. After he returned from the war in Middle-earth, it had been so wonderful to shed the physical form he had been stuck in for so long, like tainted clothes, and roam free in the unblemished lands of Valinor.
But soon he realized he missed something, something that was gone with that body. He knew it would never be the same as before.
Struck with a sudden idea, he took that form again – a tall warrior in bright armour, his hair flowing free like molten gold – just like the eyes of the hawk that dared to fly so high. The first feeling was cold – so cold it burnt... he could not breathe...
And then he began to fall. His hair whipped his face. The speed made his eyes water. Faster and faster! He felt the speed, and in the same time, he felt he was unmoving, weightless while the land below neared. Faster... faster... and what awaits there? Pain, or even death? Can an Ainu die? For one dangerous moment, he was curious. He was falling head first, like a majestic bird of prey descending upon its game.
And he laughed.
The sharp rocks neared with vertiginous speed. Every crack, every small pebble was visible... And he laughed.
The bottom. The end of the fall. But instead of a crash, a majestic hawk ascended from the ground in a graceful curve, stroking the rocks with his feathers.
And in that moment, Eönwë suddenly understood Eärendil.