Those who returned from the War of Wrath came back different. Even the Maiar, who had faced war before, had been subtly affected.

So it was with concern that Manwë watched his herald grow quieter and quieter after his return to Valinor. Eönwë wasn't as outgoing as he had been when he was younger, as the years and the losses took their toll, but neither was he usually this solemn. Something was troubling the Maia.

Seeking him out, Manwë found his Maia sitting on the rail of the highest balcony in Ilmarin, feet drawn up. It was a very good thing Eönwë was as comfortable in the form of a hawk as he was in form he wore now, Manwë thought with fleeting amusement, as he took in his herald's precarious perch. Eönwë didn't turn around as Manwë approached and put a hand on his shoulder.

"What has been troubling you these last few weeks?" Manwë asked gently. Eönwë didn't answer immediately; instead, he dropped his head and closed his eyes.

"I couldn't save him," he finally answered in a whisper. Manwë sighed. He had worried about the strain it would place on his herald to face his once inseparable friend across the field of battle, in identical positions–as the second-in-command of their respective lords. What he had not expected was for Sauron to surrender and then flee, raising Eönwë's hopes and then dashing them.

"I keep thinking that there is something more I should have done…something I could have told him to make him come back…that I should have not let him out of my sight to ensure he couldn't escape…" Eönwë continued in a tormented voice.

"No, child, you could not deny him his free will in this," Manwë told his herald, firmly, but compassionately.

"It was a decision made of fear," Eönwë whispered. "He was terrified. I could see it in his eyes." He laughed then, a mirthless sound that was on the edge of tears. "And he took with him my last chance to save something rather than destroy it…" He trailed off, eyes seeking the horizon.

"I saved nothing," the Maia said dejectedly. "For over forty sun-rounds I did nothing but destroy. We won…but everything was devastated in the process. Even the very land!" He slammed his fist down on the railing, then buried his head in his drawn-up knees as the tears he could no longer stop spilled.

Manwë pulled Eönwë into his arms, stroking the bright hair as the Maia wept for everything that had been lost.

"I'm so very proud of you," Manwë said when Eönwë's tears began to slow. "Would it help if you had a task where you would teach and instruct?" Eönwë raised a hand and wiped his wet cheeks.

"What do you have in mind?" he asked.

"You know how we are granting the Edain their own land?" Manwë asked. Eönwë nodded.

"Well, they are lacking a bit in the skills they will need to settle it," Manwë continued. "Between you and me, they're frankly clueless." Eönwë snickered a bit at that. Manwë smiled, encouraged.

"Would you be willing to return and teach them what they will need to know?" Manwë asked seriously. Eönwë considered it for a moment, then nodded firmly.

"It will do me good to be among a people who are busy creating a new life for themselves," he said, determined.

"Good," Manwë said, tightening his embrace for an instant before releasing the Maia. Eönwë clambered down and stood before his lord.

"When do you want me to go?" he asked, a light that had been missing in his eyes rekindled. Manwë smiled to see it.

"Whenever you're ready," he replied.

The idea of Eönwë being a hawk is a nod to Mirach and her wonderful stories. They've definitely affected how I see the Herald.