Beren padded softly along the corridors of Angband, Lúthien upon his back, bound for the throne room of Morgoth. He had not wanted to bring her here, for the throne of Morgoth was not the place for an Elf-maiden, but Huan had spoken truly when he said she could not be persuaded to turn aside.
In his mind he went over what they had planned before they had changed into their current seemings—his form had been changed to that of Draugluin, while she had changed her form to that of Thuringwethil. He remembered the objection she had raised to the first part of the plan he had proposed, that they go together before Morgoth's throne.
"And if Morgoth should take your seeming from you, and not mine? Then what shall we do?"
He had shaken his head. "He will be looking at you far more carefully, Lúthien, for Thuringwethil bears Sauron's tidings to his master. Draugluin is Sauron's wolf—yes, perhaps the father of all the werewolves, but it is likely Morgoth will consider me of little account. Trust me, I know his kind better than you do."
"And when he discovers that I am not Thuringwethil? Will he not then simply consign us to the deepest pit of Angband?"
He had smiled grimly at that. "I have had dealings with his creatures since I was young, and their mind is similar to that of their master. Remember that when I first laid eyes upon you, I searched for you through autumn and winter, until I saw you singing spring to life. When Morgoth sees you, he will think of little else, for you are of a kind little-known to him, old as the trees and beautiful as the stars yet pure as a newborn, and he will desire to despoil you. However, I also know that he likes to play with his captives before he uses them, if Sauron is any indication. No harm will befall you."
Lúthien had nodded then, but had then asked a question that Beren had not given much thought to.
"How shall I distract him, so that he may not notice what I am doing with my song?"
Beren had not taken long to ponder that question.
"You could dance."
Lúthien had nodded, and then asked a question he had given no thought to. "How should I dance, then?"
They had sat in silence for a little while, pondering the matter. Beren's first idea, that she dance as she did when he first came upon her, he had rejected, for what would keep his mind would not keep Morgoth's. His next idea he had thought upon briefly before realising that inflaming Morgoth's passions would not be a good plan.
He had still been thinking when Lúthien had touched him on the shoulder. "I believe I have it, Beren," she had said.
"What will you dance?"
She had furrowed her brows. "It is…difficult to describe. It is rather like…"
He must have looked alarmed for she smiled softly at him as she spoke.
"No, it is not that, for that is a dance I will only do for you and with you. And, if what you say of Morgoth is true, that would not be an excellent idea. No, this is something very different. Let me say, simply, that I will be dancing time."
"Trust me," she had replied, and he had nodded. They had taken on their skins and the seemings derived from them directly afterward, and had come to Angband. They had not anticipated Carcharoth, who had been more fearsome than Beren had heard Draugluin had been, but Lúthien had shown some power that lay within her, and the wolf had fallen before her.
But now they had come to the entrance to Morgoth's throne room, his nethermost hall, and Beren gazed for a brief moment, frightened and awestruck by what was before him, as Lúthien slid off his back and took to the floor.
For the doors of Morgoth's throne room were black as the rest of Angband, of height and broadness sufficient to admit two Balrogs abreast, and thick as another fortress's wall, and each was opened and shut by a hundred Orcs. Carved upon them were tales of horror, of sacking cities, of murdering kin, of betrayal and faithlessness. Beren nearly quailed before the sight, but did not, for he knew that Draugluin would not even flinch upon seeing these.
As the Orcs pulled back the doors, Beren saw what few Elves or Men had ever seen, and none had yet returned to tell the tale of it. As terrifying as the door had been, the hall was far worse.
The throne of Morgoth was black as the Void, but blacker still was he who sat in it, and it sat upon a dais of bones and detritus. The only illumination was torches, which would not have been sufficient to light the hall were it not for the light from their flames glinting off the weapons of those of his minions who were accounted worthy to be in his presence, Balrogs and dragons and wolves, in the main, with a very few of the highest-ranked Orcs, all of which were twisted and misshapen, with the weapons and armor of those who had either even more so.
Beren and Lúthien walked down the lane of cleared space in the center of the hall, and Beren felt no little trepidation at this final part of the task they had undertaken. They had agreed on what Beren was to do, and he slipped away from Lúthien and went down the side of the aisle, in the shadows created by monsters standing in torchlight, carefully glancing upwards to see who Morgoth was laying his gaze upon. It was, not to Beren's surprise, Lúthien, whose magic still concealed the fact that she was an Elf-maiden wearing a bat-fell.
A moment after Beren came under the shadow of Morgoth's throne and turned to where he could see Lúthien while not turning his back upon Morgoth, Morgoth raised his hand, and Lúthien was stayed in her progress down the aisle, and the magic she had used to conceal the truth of the matter was stripped from her. There was a great stirring in Morgoth's court, for never before had an Elf-maiden come here, and here was one of a surpassing beauty, which could be seen even through another's skin. Beren did not much like the tone of what was being whispered among Morgoth's servants, for lewd and lascivious it was.
The whispering was stilled, however, when Morgoth spoke. "Who is this, who dares to come before my throne, uninvited and disguised?"
"Lúthien, daughter of Thingol and Melian, my lord," she replied, crisp as an autumn morning and clear as a cloudless sky, standing straight before the Dark Lord.
"Why has the daughter of the King of Doriath come before me, in the skin of my greatest servant's messenger?" he asked as he leaned forward to rest his chin on his fist, in a voice low enough that Beren felt the floor shake through his paws.
"I have come, my lord" she replied, "to sing for you, and perhaps dance a little, as a minstrel might, and I feared I might not gain what I seek if were not able to plead before your person, and that I would not be able to do so were I to appear as I am."
"When was it," he asked as he leaned back with a low laugh and placed his arms on the sides of his throne, "that the daughters of kings began to act as entertainers?"
"When they perceived," she replied, "that you would find their realm on some fatal day, and take it for your own. I do not desire to be caught in that ruin."
"Very well then, Lúthien," Morgoth replied. "Show us your skill."
Lúthien slipped out of the bat-fell, and though her raiment covered her well from neck to ankle, it could not conceal her soft dark hair, her eyes the color of evening, or her ancient innocence, all the stronger from its trials. It also could not fully conceal the shape of her body, for if it did so she could not fulfill her purpose, and the muttering that had been present when she was first seen returned, this time with far darker undertones, and when Beren stole a glance at Morgoth, he saw a lust burning fiercer than a smithy's fire in Morgoth's eyes, and was most gladdened by the fact that Lúthien was not purposing to add more fuel to the fire.
Beren was relieved that he had read Morgoth aright, but now he feared, not for himself so much as for Lúthien, and resolved that if Morgoth tried to fulfill his plan, he would not able to reach her while Beren breathed. He then realised that she was not wearing her cloak, and wondered where it had gone. But that thought fled his mind as he, along with all others in the hall, watched as Lúthien smiled softly and stepped lightly away from the bat-fell. And she began to dance.
At first she was slow, as if she feared that she would lose her footing, for, Beren knew, she was accustomed to dancing on green grass, not blackened stone. There was some laughter heard among the ranks of Morgoth's servants, but Morgoth himself remained silent. Then she looked at Beren, and seemed to find her footing.
And then she began to dance more rapidly and to sing. All movement stopped and all voices were stilled among her watchers, as they gazed upon her as she unfolded time for them. Ilúvatar began time as he created the Ainur, and he taught them their song, and Morgoth corrupted it, though he was Melkor then, and Ilúvatar countered as Lúthien wove their competing themes together in her voice. Ilúvatar arose, and showed them what had been made, and how fair it was, despite Melkor's attempts to bring his plans to naught. And as she danced, they saw the creation of the Elves and Men, and the unsought making of the Dwarves, and the first growing things came into the world, and Melkor became Morgoth. Even as Beren saw this, he also felt what was happening as she danced and sang, the soft power wending its way like vines along the forest floor, extending outward to touch all within the fortress of Angband—all but him, for he recognised it for what it was. And as she wheeled and whirled and capered, in a dance that no others had done before or have done since, Beren saw in her dance the truth of the matter—that Morgoth had done nothing that Ilúvatar had not foreseen, and that all things were happening to fulfill Ilúvatar's design for the world that had been sung into existence.
He looked carefully at Morgoth, and saw a different fire smoldering in his eyes than had been there before, and Beren was about to cry out when Lúthien whirled one last time, and leapt out of the aisle in the middle of the hall, and continued her song—and Beren noticed that all of Morgoth's court slumbered, and the torches were failing. Beren saw Morgoth turn his head this way and that, as if seeking for sight of Lúthien, that he might bring his power to bear on her, yet he did not move. Beren, however, could still see Lúthien as she began to dance her way through Morgoth's slumbering minions, in the shadows of Morgoth's hall.
Her dance and her song then changed. It was no longer a song of time, but something far lovelier than time, and more powerful than the turning of the world. It was love that she sang and danced, and while, at the beginning, Beren perceived that the love thus portrayed was the kind shared between the two of them, yet that quickly changed, to the love of parents for their children, and siblings for each other. But then she moved far beyond this, and as Beren felt the power building within the hall, and the beauty of the song became almost too much to bear, his fur stood on end, and he realised what was happening. It was the love of the creator for created that she was dancing and singing now—that of Feanor for the Silmarils, to start with, but that faded quickly, as she danced the love of Yavanna for the growing things of Arda, and Aule's love for his children, the Dwarves, and Ilúvatar's love for his children, Elves and Men, whom he alone had made, and Beren almost could not look upon Lúthien, so terrible was her dance and so powerful her song.
He chose to look upon Morgoth, and saw, to his surprise, that the Dark Lord had collapsed in his chair, and his head was bowed low, as if all Arda had been placed upon his shoulders, and Beren knew why. Morgoth had been shown things he had never experienced and would never truly understand, but that he could have experienced and understood had he not allowed his pride to have mastery, and he knew this now, knew that he would not triumph, and all his raging would avail him nothing, yet he could not let go of his desire to rule. Beren saw all this, and when he dared to look upon Lúthien again, he saw that she saw it as well, and Lúthien leapt to where she had dropped the bat-fell.
Then Beren saw where she had left her cloak, for ere she had touched the ground it was in her hands, and then the song went yet further, as she leapt towards Morgoth, holding the cloak behind her. She sang, now, of Ilúvatar's love for the Ainur, those he had first created, and when she cast her cloak from behind her to before Morgoth's eyes, sleep came upon Beren, and he knew nothing more until he felt her hand upon him.
When he had shrugged out of the wolf-hame, he looked in wonder upon Lúthien and asked her, quietly, "By what art or teacher did you learn such things? I had not even heard rumor of such wonders."
She smiled softly at him, and said, "My mother taught me much of such matters, for I am her only child."
Beren desired to ask her more, but he perceived that she was greatly wearied. "Do you need rest?"
She shook her head. "No, for I do not know how long this sleep will last. Do what we came here to do, and do it quickly."
He strode to where Morgoth lay in a heap upon the floor. At first, he considered taking the entire iron crown of Morgoth, that he might cut the Silmarils from it at his leisure, but a brief glance told him that its bulk was sufficient to prevent such a scheme's success. He then drew Angrist, and for a brief moment he hesitated, in fear that he would waken Morgoth, but then he took hold of Morgoth's crown, and cut the first Silmaril from it. He caught it in the hand that had held the crown, for fear the sound of its impact would wake the sleepers. It was warm to the touch, and he could see its glow through his hand, and he understood why Morgoth stole it, and why the sons of Feanor had sworn their oath, and had committed such fell deeds to fulfill it.
He decided, then, to prove to Thingol that he was indeed worthy of the King's daughter, and he placed the Silmaril in the wolf-hame, that he might cut the other two from the Dark Lord's crown, and do better than his oath to Thingol.
When he tried to cut the second, however, Angrist shattered, and a shard sliced Morgoth's cheek open, and he stirred, and all those within the hall stirred as well, as if in sympathy, and Beren abandoned this scheme, fearful that all should be for naught. He took Lúthien's hand in one hand, and the wolf-hame that bore the Silmaril in the other, and fled with her from the hall.
A/N: My thanks to Clodia for betaing this. Read her stuff. She's good.