Sorry, this is what happens when you don't load the right chapter. Anyway, real last chapter now.
Mairon slept for about four hours, then found himself wide awake. His extreme exhaustion was the only reason he had been able to sleep earlier, despite all that had happened, and now he found himself thinking too much to try and fall asleep again. Sighing, and deciding he didn't want to stay in this room, he slipped out of his bed, and grabbed his pants. After putting them on, he grabbed the top blanket off his bed to make up for his lack of a shirt. Wrapping it around himself, he silently slipped out of his room, and found a set of stairs leading to the roof.
The staircase led to a flat area of the roof that was obviously designed for stargazing. There were a few chairs, and a half-wall that wrapped around the space. Mairon leaned his forearms on the wall, looking west. He stared at the horizon line, watching the way the waves and the stars met and mirrored each other, thinking about all that had happened that day.
He was still confused as to his place now. Forgiven and granted a second chance he might be, but he had no idea what to do with it, or what the Valar were expecting from him. He didn't even know what he wanted anymore. For too long his only goals had been to avoid becoming one of Morgoth's projects by being as indispensable as possible. He knew instinctively that it would be too awkward to serve Aulë as he used to, and in all truthfulness, he didn't want to. Still, he was a Maia, and service was in his nature. He wanted to serve, but he didn't know who, or how.
He didn't realize he'd let the blanket slip off his shoulders and down his back, until almost inaudible footsteps sounded behind him, and gentle hands pulled the blanket back up onto his shoulders. Mairon suddenly noticed how cold he had gotten. He glanced up, briefly meeting Námo's serene grey eyes before returning his gaze to the horizon.
"I couldn't sleep," he said by way of explanation.
"There are worse habits than stargazing on sleepless nights," Námo said mildly.
"I needed to think," Mairon admitted. "I'm still…confused."
"About what?" Námo asked. Mairon held his breath, then blew it out explosively.
"Everything," he said wryly. "What I want, what I'm going to do, what you all are expecting of me…" He trailed off, pulling the blanket closer around himself. Námo studied him for a moment, then gently pulled him in the direction of one of the chairs. Námo sat and pulled Mairon into his arms, arranging the blanket so it covered the Maia's bare feet. Mairon dropped his head, his fragile hold on his emotions threatened by that simple gesture.
"To answer your last question," Námo said. "We are going to help you heal. What you do after that is up to you."
"What do you mean?" Mairon asked.
"Your life since you decided to follow Melkor has been characterized by a lack of control over your destiny," Námo explained. "We are going to give that back. What you make of yourself now is up to you; we are not going to force you into anything."
"But I don't even know what I want," Mairon said forlornly. Námo chuckled.
"We are not expecting a decision immediately," he assured the Maia. "You have time to decide." Strangely comforted by that, Mairon relaxed, leaning back against Námo and tilting his head to watch the stars.
"Morgoth always hated the stars," Mairon said suddenly. "I didn't think about them much, but when I did, they always seemed cold and distant–uncaring of anything that happened below them."
"Most thought we were the same," Námo replied. "But everything has worked out the way it was supposed to."
"You knew everything would work out this way?" Mairon asked.
"No," Námo replied. "But I do know that Ilúvatar will allow no one to flout His will. Everything has a part in His greater design." Thoughtful, Mairon returned his gaze to the stars, watching them until he drifted off to sleep.
The sun had long since risen when he awoke in his bed. He decided that falling asleep in someone's arms and waking up in his bed was getting rather old, and that he wouldn't do so anymore. Almost as soon as he thought that, he decided he probably shouldn't resolve not to do things that were almost inevitable.
He got out of bed, noticing the pile of clothing nearby. They was simple, just a tunic and breeches, but they fit perfectly. He didn't know if they had been made by Vairë or one of her Maiar, but he was extremely grateful for them.
He glanced incuriously out the window of his new room, and suddenly froze, his eyes locked on a figure sitting on the sand. It was Olórin. Mairon bit his lip as he remembered his brother's expression the last time he'd seen him, full of betrayal and heartbreak.
Hesitantly, he slipped out of the house and down to the beach, sitting inelegantly a few feet away from his brother, legs loosely crossed, hands limp and useless in his lap, shoulders slumped.
"Olórin?" Mairon said tentatively. His brother didn't respond. Mairon glanced down at his hands. "If you hate me, I'll understand, but I wish you would just tell me," he said softly. For a moment, it didn't seem like Olórin would react, but then Mairon suddenly found himself pulled into a fierce embrace.
"I've missed you, little brother." Olórin said. "So much." Mairon untangled his arms to hug his brother back.
"I'm so sorry," he said, burying his head in Olórin's shoulder. "I wasn't thinking about anyone else, just me. I didn't even realize that I would be hurting so many others."
"You're back now," Olórin assured him. "That's all that matters to me."
"How can you say that?" Mairon cried. "That's what everyone is saying. But I…I…"
"Hush," Olórin said. "We say that because we love you. I say that because I have been praying every day since you left that somehow, someway, you would be able to find your way home." Mairon dropped his head, feeling extremely guilty.
"I'm not worth it," he whispered. "You shouldn't have had to suffer because of me."
"Mairon," Olórin said, fond exasperation in his voice. "You're my little brother. Nothing can change that. Of course I love you, and will always love you."
"But I've done so much evil; so many things that are unforgivable," Mairon said. Olórin was silent for a moment, pursing his lips.
"The Noldorin slaves," he said suddenly. "Were they ever forced to do things they didn't want to, things they would have considered wrong?"
"Yes," Mairon whispered, eyes growing dark as he remembered.
"And do you blame them for what they did?" Olórin continued. Mairon glanced up, shocked.
"No, they didn't have a choice," he said. "They were forced to." Olórin nodded.
"They were," he agreed. "But what you fail to realize, my beloved, brilliant, and yet utterly foolish little brother, is that you were just as much a slave as they were." He reached out and began to pull Mairon's tunic over his head. Mairon quickly caught his wrists.
"Olórin…" he said.
"I need to know," Olórin replied simply. Once his tunic was removed, Mairon refused to meet Olórin's eyes, until Olórin grabbed his chin and forced him to.
"This was not your fault," he said firmly. Mairon's eyes filled with tears.
"How is it not," he replied bitterly. "Even if I didn't deserve it for losing Tol Sirion, don't I deserve it for following Morgoth to begin with?"
"No, you do not," Olórin said unyieldingly. "Tell me, why did you decide to follow him? I know you never would have believed in what he was saying."
"He wanted me," Mairon said hollowly. "You remember what it was like, no one was safe. And what Melkor wanted he got…or destroyed."
"You followed him out of fear," Olórin stated.
"And pride," Mairon whispered. "I felt like under him my talents would be fully realized and used, that I deserved to be the chief Maia of a Vala…"
"And who told you that?" Olórin countered. "I know you were fully content with your place until Melkor began to pay attention to you. You took the only road you saw as possible. Which brings me back to my earlier point: this was not your fault. You were trapped and enslaved, just as surely as the Noldor who toiled sadly in Angband."
"Is that all I'm doomed to be, then?" Mairon asked hopelessly. "A broken and useless slave?" Olórin pulled him into another embrace.
"No, little brother, it is not," he whispered into Mairon's ear. "You have too many who care about you too much to let that happen."
"So what do I do?" Mairon asked.
"What do you want to do?" Olórin countered. Mairon was silent for a long time, then pulled back to look his brother in the face.
"I want to help," he said firmly, conviction beginning to grow in his eyes.
Weeks later found Mairon back on the roof, this time sitting on the wall. Quiet footsteps alerted him to the fact he had a visitor, and he glance up to see Námo walking towards him. Conversations with both Námo and Nienna had become an almost regular occurrence, and they usually left the Maia thinking for hours.
"I think I've decided what I want to do," he said, when Námo drew close to him.
"Oh?" Námo said.
"I know a lot about what life in Middle-earth is like," Mairon said, "and I know the Secondborn probably better than anyone in Valinor." He paused, looking slightly uncomfortable.
"I want to help those who have been hurt," he finally said. "Working in Lórien would be counterproductive; elves have long memories. But in a few generations, the Mortals won't remember me at all…"
"So you wish to serve in Mandos," Námo said. Mairon nodded, nervousness in his gaze. Námo smiled.
"I think you would do quite well there," he assured the Maia. Mairon smiled back, light beginning to return to his gaze.
"So," he said lightly. "When do I start?"
And that's the end! I hope you've enjoyed, and as always please review!