I am terribly sorry for the long wait again, but here is the last chapter of the story. Again, I strongly advise paying attention to punctuations and formatting because here that probably is the only help you've got if you want to figure out who talks.
(I't might be helpful to re-read an earlier chapter...)


Strength

Inhale; a double edged sword, a saw down his throat, icicles thrust though his eyes, poisoned, burning blood cursing through his veins.

Exhale; claws at his lungs, daggers in his heart, embers on his eyelids.

Silence, stillness.
The effort to breathe again would have been no less then what he would have needed to defeat the Darkness, or to bring back his father from Mandos.
(Would he want that? Should he?)

He refused to breathe, and that gave him the illusion of power.
He was underwater with silence all around, a numbing, overwhelming silence. He felt the urge to break it, but that would have meant another breath, and he had not the courage to venture there.
So stillness remained.

'Maitimo!'
"Mock me all you like" he thought, but these thoughts were not coherent.
Fire burned somewhere, he felt the heat on his skin, the warm breath of it on his face. It almost felt like someone alive, it almost felt like being alive.

'Nelyo, Nelyafinwe!'
He refused to be brought back to life, he refused to listen, to resurface, he refused the call of hope, he refused to take that breath. He would have prayed for death, but he had no one to pray to: his father had ever been deaf to plea, and the Valar he had defied, he knew, would not listen to him now.

'Nelyo!'
He would fight that breath, and he would die. He was strong enough to at least die, was he not?
'Nelyo, wake up!'

Inhale; liquid fire on his tongue, lashes on his bare skin, hot blood in his eyes.

No, he was not strong enough to die. But he refused to meet the Voice that called him back to life. "Taunt me all you want" he would have liked to think, but he had not the mind to think with such clarity.

'Open your eyes, you dimwit!'

Exhale; searing pain through his breast, knifes in his side, flames in his heart.

Hope was impossible to defeat, it seemed. And against all odds, against better judgement (not that he had a sane mind to judge with), he opened his eyes.

Inhale; an illusion, but such a beautiful one! Beautiful, perfect Findekáno, braided locks, valiant eyes.

(There was also an eagle in this illusion and that bothered him slightly. Why? What need for the eagle?)
Fitting it seemed, to dream of him over the brink of nothing. Findekáno was everything, after all. Everything he was not.
He smiled (or he wanted to smile, he never knew if his lips obeyed) for his sake, because this vision of his sworn brother seemed distraught.
"Be at peace, brother, be calm!" he would have said this, but he had not the heart to speak, lest he disturbed this image of beauty.

'Wake up, you thick-headed spawn of Fëanaro! I fought myself through the lands of Morgoth, and nothing could stop me so far...How gloriously fitting that your obstinacy would stand in my way now!'

Curious were the words, and though he did not fully understand them, he sensed his cousin's unease, and he briefly wondered why his mind could not conjure a kinder, calmer Findekáno. But perhaps this realm of shadows was a torture to be in, even for dreams and ghosts.
If so, he did not want him here. No, he wanted him out of here, far away from here, as soon as possible. Sadness and fear burned him then, and he thought he would cease to be even Nelyo if Findekáno were to leave him now.
(Because he ceased to be Maitimo a long, long time ago. When the grass yet felt soft against his feet, and the awakening stars could still fill his heart with hope and courage, when the shores of this earth seemed like a promise-land, when the chance of defeating the Darkness forever seemed great, when his battle-fury seemed impossible to stand against, when his glory seemed absolute and he burned yet, like only the first-born of Feanor could... But then all turned to dark ice, and he was Maitimo no more...)

'I can not open this cursed shackle!'
Findekáno's vision was desperate now, and Maedhros had decided, and from a hidden part of his soul that was still fueled by the unbreakable oath he took, he spoke:

'Kill me, and leave! I beg you, if ghosts and visions have the power to end life, then send me to Mandos, and stop my suffering before you leave me!'

'You can not die!' was the answer, and fear shook him then, cold-cold fear, because if Findekáno would not kill him, no one would. Eternity here; lost, lonely, alone, afraid, abandoned, left with nothing... He was nothing.

'You can not die, Nelyo!'

Exhale...


So this is officially the last chapter of the story. Many thanks to all of you who'd reviewed, favorited or followed the story! (And I'd still love to hear what you thought about this, especially since (as usual) I am not quite satisfied with it.)