87. Paradise Regained
"Now come the days of the King!"
There was cheering and shouting and much clapping. Some of the guards banged their spears against their shields. All in all, it was a din.
"Elessar," Khamul muttered. She was in the back of the massive crowd. It was as if all Gondor had come to see Aragorn son of Arathorn crowned Elessar Telcontar, King of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor.
And not just Gondor either. There were plenty of Rohirrim, the survivors of the Pelennor Fields. And an elf here and there. Khamul had looked for Arwen but seen nothing. Perhaps the faithless wench had gone to the Havens and passed in fear from Middle-Earth, wanting immortality more than the love of the most valiant man in all the world.
The words of Gandalf were muted in the rear of the crowd, but Khamul had an idea of what he was saying. Sauron is defeated, peace shall reign, et cetera, et cetera.
There was a tremendous applause that started at the front of the crowd and spread to the back. Khamul clapped as well just because it would look strange if she didn't. And then the crowd started to break up.
Where Khamul was going to go, she didn't know. Somewhere. Somewhere far away, somewhere where she could die in peace, untroubled by the changing world.
Khamul stopped in her tracks. Her temper had not dulled in the slightest since the Ring was destroyed.
"What?" she snarled, spinning around as a woman dressed in white hurried over, followed closely by a nervous-looking man.
"You're a Haradrim," the woman said. She had a proud, aggressive look about her. Khamul liked her, or would have if she wasn't being proud and aggressive with Khamul.
"There's a man in the Houses of Healing who's looking for a Haradrim woman."
"You can tell him he can go to Harad. They've got lots of them there."
"He seemed to think you'd show up."
"And what makes you think it's me he's after?" Khamul asked. "Tell him to make do with the women of Gondor."
The woman sighed and rolled her eyes. "He wants to tell her something," she said. "He's mostly well, though he's got some bad scars."
"I don't care." Khamul turned to go.
"I suppose she might be his wife."
Khamul snorted. "Gondorians don't wed Haradrim."
"He had a nice ring. For a while."
Khamul turned around slowly. "For a while?" No, she told herself. Things get stolen all the time.
The woman nodded. "For a while. It was stolen."
"A while ago."
"And where are the Houses of Healing?"
"I can lead you there."
"I don't want you to lead me there. I want you to tell me where they are."
The woman gave her instructions and Khamul pushed through the crowd, running, almost sprinting, toward the Houses.
"Please, madam!" a tall, flustered man protested as Khamul burst in. "This is a place of rest and quiet!"
"I want to talk to someone," Khamul said.
"I do not believe that your kind has anything to say to anyone here. Perhaps you should check the ashes of your dead. They still litter the Pelennor."
"I'm going to ignore that," Khamul said, "because I'm feeling very nice right now. It's probably not going to last. Now, there is a man here with some scars."
"Everyone here has scars."
"He's also tall," Khamul said, clearing her throat to avoid sounding like she was choking up. "And thin. And pale. Very pale. He looks Gondorian but you'd be hardpressed to guess where he's from."
The man's eyes narrowed. "Perhaps we have someone like that here," he said.
There was something in Khamul's tone that told the man that resistance was futile and would lead to him getting his head bashed in. "The gardens. Down this hallway. Take the third door on your left."
Khamul nodded and ran down the hallway, not even seeing the other people. Everything was a blur. She threw the door to the garden open and ran out into the thick greenery. There were huge bushes and colorful flowers. Even a few trees. It was like a forest.
Khamul wandered through the garden, not calling out. She had too much pride for that, and she also wasn't sure that…that it really was who she thought it was.
She emerged from a thick grove of trees and bushes into a grassy clearing. There was a pond nearby, next to which was a bench. It reminded her strongly of the garden in the palace at Armenelos. So it was no surprise that…that…
"Morion," Khamul whispered, her voice like that of a ghost. A wraith.
The former Witch-King of Angmar sat on the bench, watching the water. He was thinner and paler than he had been before, but there was a faint color in his cheeks that had not been there for many long years. Of course, that might just've been from the spidery scars that covered his face. They looked red and inflamed now, but one day they would turn white and fade away into his skin. They would always be there though. Never completely gone.
It was impossible. Just impossible. Morion was dead. Morgoth had taken over his body and then died. There was no way Morion could be here. Except…perhaps when Morgoth had died he had released Morion from whatever nightmare he had been imprisoned in.
"Morion?" Khamul said, regaining her voice.
Morion looked up. He smiled, but then the smile disappeared. "I'm afraid it hurts to laugh," he said. "And smile. Unfortunately."
"So it would appear."
"The rings are gone."
"With the destruction of the One all the rings of power have lost their strength. When I heard of the victory of the West, I thought that perhaps all the ringbearers had died, and that I alone was spared because I was already…dead."
"Most of them are. Ceure and Metima for sure. And Ringe and Aica. Oh, and Vorea." Khamul had found her friend's body next to a squadron of orcs. She had died fighting, and fighting the ancient enemy at that.
Morion nodded sadly, his eyes misting over slightly. Not for Ceure or Metima, nor even for Vorea, and certainly not for Aica. Despite their bitter parting, there was still a soft spot in his heart for Ringe.
"What of Ancalime?"
"Haven't the faintest idea in the world."
Morion nodded slowly. "She will make her way in this world," he said quietly.
No, she won't, Khamul thought. She's going to die, if she isn't dead already.
"That leaves Yanta. I don't expect we'll ever see her again if she's alive."
"So that leaves us, Khamul."
There was a long pause, a long moment of recollection as Morion struggled to remember where they had left off.
"Ah yes," he said quietly.
"I remember." He stood up.
"What?" Khamul growled as he walked over to her.
"I meant to do this a few hundred years ago."
Morion leaned toward Khamul and kissed her gently on the lips. The Haradrim's eyes widened alarmingly and she pulled away.
"What was that?" she gasped.
"You said you loved me," Morion said.
"And I love you! We're free from Sauron's curse now. The Dark Lord will never trouble us again."
Khamul nodded slowly. "Yeah," she said quietly. "You're right. You're right…" Sauron was gone, and Morion was back from the dead. Morion. So, there was a reason to live after all.
And then Khamul seized Morion and pulled him close, kissing him with all her strength while crushing him against her.
"You're back!" she said after a while.
"How could I ever stay away?" Morion said quietly. "I love you, Khamul. Until the day we depart to Mandos, and then, beyond."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.