A/N: And we're back. Sorry about the cliffy. Still own nothing. Notes at the end.
All about him was fire. Fire and a burning power.
The Ring slipped onto his finger easily, as if it had been made for him. He opened his eyes and for the first time it was like he could see with the true sight. Unlike lesser beings he did not turn invisible for he had the power to command the Ring to his bidding and he felt its power run like a bright fire through his veins. His power was ascendant and the evils of the world would shy and cower at his coming. He looked now at the world with new eyes.
He saw the weakness of Frodo Baggins and the seed of Sauron that had been planted within his mind. He saw the lingering darkness in his shoulder where the Ringwraiths, now surely servants to Harry's own will, had caused him injury.
Then he saw Samwise Gamgee the Hobbit who had tried to stop the waxing of his power. He saw a simple and misguided mind in need of moulding. He saw loyalty to Frodo and an absolute unwavering dedication to the quest given to him by Gandalf.
He also noted the the final remains of a creature, stick thin and gaunt thrown into the fires of Mount Doom by Frodo in a struggle unknown. Yet even in death his essence still clung to the world thanks to the power of the One Ring.
He then cast his eye further afield, across all Middle-earth to watch the goings on within his new protectorate, his domain.
In Nurn armies of slaves toiled under unforgiving skies. The whips of their masters cracked over their heads as they worked the noisome fields of Mordor. Thousands of men and women held under the dominion of Sauron who could now be freed thanks to his new power and fortitude. Soon he would aid them as he had so many others and they would welcome him as saviour.
In Harad he saw the unrest. The great armies had marched north and the populace now chafed under the rule of their cruel Kings and Lords. He would come down upon them and dispense justice unto the wicked. The poor and the downtrodden would see him come in fire and in glory and they would know to whom they owed everything.
In the East he saw a rebellion in whole. The slave armies of the Easterlings had marched to battle and now Wizards, servants of Manwë and clad in raiment of blue led those who remained in open revolt against their overlords. They would not stand a chance if Sauron were to win his battle at the gates of Mordor. Harry would ensure that Sauron did not win.
There, upon the borders of Mordor an army of Men stood besieged by tens of thousands of Orcs, Men and foul things. More died by the second as they were pushed further and further up the hills upon which they made their final futile stand. Atop one of the hills stood Aragorn, the King of Gondor returned and his white banner fluttered defiantly in the wind. Harry knew that he would fall if no intervention came. Though the Nazgûl fled and the Eagles decimated their attackers there was no hope of victory without further aid. He looked further afield.
There, before a great dark fortress another battle was being fought. This one was between Elves and Orcs and the power of Galadriel caused the Orcs to retreat from her. The armies of Lothlórien besieged Dol Guldur and many fell to the poisoned arrows of the Orcs coming from that great mountain fastness. With all the Nazgûl gone to the war in the south there was no power that could stand before the Lady of the Golden Wood.
He knew Dol Guldur would fall and Galadriel's power would cast down those cursed walls once and for all when the elves had their victory. Yet Harry did not have to wait. The power of Sauron held the walls of Dol Guldur aloft and so Harry pulled his strength from them. Down they tumbled in uttermost destruction as the power of Sauron was rent from the stones. Elves by the dozen cried out and were crushed beneath the falling rocks yet Harry paid them no heed. A small price to pay for the destruction of that fell place. His eye once wandered once again.
Further north again was another battle, this one before a great lonely mountain to the east of Mirkwood. There Dwarves and Men fought together against the armies of Easterlings of the North. Thousands of men lay slain upon the spear tips of the Easterlings and the Dwarves joined the battle without hope for their numbers were too few. In the middle of the battle King Brand lay dead and over his ruined body stood a lone Dwarf who bore a passing resemblance to Gimli. "Khazâd! Khazâd!" cried King Dáin Ironfoot of Erebor as his foes pressed in about him. The old Dwarf fought with his axes in hand and great strength did he display despite his advanced years but it would not avail him.
Harry knew that Dáin would die there upon the field, that Dale would be taken and Erebor would be put to siege by the host of Easterlings.
It seemed all the world was consumed in war and in all places battles waged. The few remaining Dúnedain of the north battled with the Elves of Lindon against the much weakened forces from Gundabad. And far in the west a small quiet land was being slowly consumed by the fires of industry. Its small, good natured people painstakingly crushed and warped by the will of a Wizard from afar.
All this Harry saw and he knew he now had the power to change it. He could save lives and homes and all would know the depth of his aid. He could aid them in their war, cast down the evildoers and their supporters. He could place in charge those whom he deemed trustworthy and then he could take his reward.
He could do all that and return finally to his home. He knew there was only one option.
Power flowed through him and he raised his hands. The fires of Orodruin rose at his call and now not only his thoughts were aflame for the mountain rose to his wrath. He brought his hands together with such power that a great shock wave rolled from them, near knocking both Hobbits into the merciless lava that roiled below.
It spread across Mordor and at Morannon the ground shook at his power brought forth. All the lands of Mordor say beneath the power of Sauron, the power Harry now commanded, and could be turned to his will. The earth tore and cracked at his command and the Orcs were taken with a great panic. All about them the ground collapsed into darkness and nothing and the great army of Sauron was cast to their doom amid rock and black blood.
Atop the hills before the gate the army of Men cried out in wonder and fear as Middle-earth was torn asunder by his will. But the destruction would not stop. The collapse continued far out beyond Morannon and towards the hills upon which the Men of the West stood in battle.
Standing at the peak of one of the hills he saw Gandalf became old and worn before his all seeing eye. Grief and despair passed across his features he spoke some words to Aragorn who stood beside him and the King became grim.
Gandalf began chanting in desperation and the collapse was stayed at the lower reaches of the hills though many men still were lost to the deeps. Harry felt a pang of horror that his power had gotten away from him yet greater still was his rage. Gandalf would stand against him, he would pit his own power against Harry's in fear of his own weakness.
Harry could see the mind of the wizard and was wroth. Gandalf thought that Harry had fallen to the Ring, that the Ring had taken his power and that Sauron could now command his will as his own yet Harry knew it was not true.
Harry had never encountered a will greater than his own and his pride told him he never would. He had defeated Voldemort, he could shrug off Imperius without difficulty and he could resist even that which could lure the great Albus Dumbledore into its clutches. The Ring, his Ring, his Precious Ring could not defeat him for nothing ever had before. Now that he possessed the ring he could be certain that none could ever assail him, not even the mighty Gandalf in his jealousy.
Harry saw his thoughts, he wanted the Ring for himself. His own weakness left him unable to claim it the first time but now he wished for it himself. He would be a threat to all the peace that Harry would bring and he needed to be ended. He once more brought forth his power but before he could crush the Wizard from existence something else caught his attention.
Udûn shook. Harry's power now was greater than any save one and He could now find him. Morgoth, the greatest of the Valar and the creator of all of worth within Arda would return in triumph and in flame. The pathetic Children of Ilúvatar would be subsumed by his will and Manwë would be cast from his seat at Ilmarin which should never have been his.
A flicker of excitement burned within him when he saw that. His own body so long prepared was to be Morgoth's anchor in the world.
But that was not what he wished. Harry did not wish to surrender to any Dark Lord. The Ring had deceived him, lured him to its power and promises and taken from him all that he was. He had not even felt it and even now fierce rage and burning hatred such as he had never known burned in his veins. Those feelings were not his.
At that moment the inferno about him rose again and his clothing was smoking and scorched for Sauron had come in full glory to proclaim his victory. Though long he had remained at his fortress of Barad-dûr he was not without power. Indeed now after many years his power had grown again to match that he had had when he cast down Gil-Galad of the Ñoldor and Elendil of Gondor at the end of the Second Age.
The Ring knew only one master and that was the one who forged it and laid his power and will within it. The One Ring of Sauron the great could not be stolen from him for in its making it housed a greater part of himself and there was only one who could proclaim power over Him.
For that was the true deceit of the Ring, no power did it grant its wearer beyond the meanest form of invisibility. It instead promised power and then took the mind. At the moment it was claimed it would claim its wearer in their entirety. Their will was lost and replaced by the will of Sauron who then wielded his and their power both through the vessel of their body and so he was triumphant.
Now, so close to the Ring and the final part of himself he was terrible to behold. Fire wreathed him and armour of blackest iron-clad his towering form from head to foot. Of Sauron himself no more than his eyes could be seen, twin dark infernos burning in the regal spiked helmet that adorned his head.
"So at last you come," he spoke, his terrible voice shaking the very foundations of Orodruin with his words. "Drawn to my power like a fly to the fire."
The will and power of Sauron was so great that Harry was struck still and unable to fight his blinding influence. In his mind the smallest voice yet fought but it was dwarfed by the will of Sauron ascendant. Imperius Curse was as to nothing before the power of one who had crafted Arda from the firmament and warred for the control of it since before the birth of Men.
"Brought to this world, beacon and vanguard for the King of the World returned," his voice boomed through the cavern. "Touched by Him as you passed the Walls and purpose granted."
Still Harry could not fight for most of him did not wish to. In his mind he screamed as he felt his self subsumed almost entirely by the unyielding will of Sauron. For Sauron was born before the creation of Arda and greater than any mortal Man.
"Your purpose is come to fruition," said Sauron in terrible elation and Harry felt his words in his bones. "Call now to my Master and yours. Break the Walls of Night and call back the first and greatest to his awaiting Empire."
The voice of discord was almost completely gone, mere seconds after Sauron came upon him. Harry's will was blasted away in the fires of ageless malice. He wanted nothing but to fulfill his purpose upon Arda. To give meaning to the loss of his friends in his old world he would do this. If he did not his years alone would surely be for nought.
Harry could now see why he was here. Alone of all Men in all the worlds he had died a true death and yet been returned from the Halls of Mandos to his mortal body. He had traversed the Walls of Night when he had gone to Voldemort that night in the Forbidden Forest and then had been given the chance to return. None had ever before seen that journey that were within the grasp of Sauron. The Gift of Men took them ever beyond his grasp upon death and of all of them only Harry had been returned to his mortal form from the Halls of the Dead. His passage had marked him, the only one who had been in both the Void and within Arda. A bridge between worlds.
Touched by uttermost darkness from earliest life he bore a fragment of Morgoth with him wherever he went. All darkness, discord and evil came into being when Morgoth sang against the Ainur in the Music that created all. So Harry bore a small fragment of the Dark King back to Arda when he was summoned forth. That fragment was the anchor used by Sauron to pull Harry hither and it would be the anchor used by Morgoth to return to his creation.
The voice failed within him and he could fight Sauron's will no more. Had he not put on the Ring perhaps he could yet have resisted but now his will was subsumed almost in entirety by the far greater will of the Lord of Barad-dûr.
He raised his hands once more and prepared to once more complete that for which he had long been groomed but his concentration was broken. Sauron let loose a cry heard across all of Eä.
Before Morannon where Gandalf still contested the destruction of Sauron with the shouted words of the Valar he heard the cry and for a moment the power he fought waned. He cried to Aragorn to call a full retreat while they yet had time to escape.
At the ruin of Dol Guldur the Lady of Lothlórien heard the cry and felt hope and dread in equal measure. The pain of Sauron carried far and his agony brought her to her knees. For a moment she could see the events that unfolded, the dark clouds of shadow no longer clouding her sight and he cried out in fear. All about the Elves cowered at the sound for even the youngest of them knew that now was the hour of Doom. The moment at which Arda would either fall or stand triumphant.
The cry came too late for Dáin, son of Náin, King under the Mountain. Moments before it rolled across the battlefield he was impaled upon the many vicious spears of the Easterlings assailing him. His battle was long, his life was run and as he closed his eyes for the final time the pain of Sauron was the last thing he heard before he went to the halls of his ancestors.
Far across the western sea in the Halls of Mandos dark eyes, solemn and terrible turned eastward in expectation. No other emotion stained his impassive face but beside him Vairë, the Weaver of Time wore a sad smile.
Harry saw a sword impaled through the great armour of Sauron. There stood Éowyn her sword still in hand, her face bloodied and pale and her hair tousled but no less fair for all that. Fire sang about her and it seemed her head was alight for it shone the reflected light of flames and was red as blood. Sauron turned as he gave a terrible shout and she was thrown from him as her sword melted and warped in her hand, even Harry's strongest charms come to almost nothing in the face of the greatest of the fallen Maia.
"You would strike me!" came Sauron's dreadful voice, trickling with rage. From his torso liquid fire dripped from the wound inflicted against him. "You, a mere woman of meanest stock would stand before the final victory of Sauron and defy me?"
She lay there upon the ground but kept her sword in hand and did not balk. "Defy you I will!" she cried. "For I am of the house of Eorl and do not bow before the darkness."
"The House of Eorl," said Sauron, his voice mocking and cruel. "An ignoble house from the lowliest race of Men. Never known the touch of the Endless, you are beneath my sight."
She looked to Harry and Sauron saw her gaze. "You would hope for the aid of another?" he said. "One who has no use for you any more. You are as far beneath his gaze as you are mine. Not even worth ending you for you are less than an insect before my power."
"I would fight you still!" she declared, still strong in the face of Sauron's endless might. She pushed herself once more to her feet, her twisted blade pointed at the Dark Lord in defiance.
Sauron moved closer to her and said, "There is no fight. Only Death. None, not even your vaunted Wizard can contend my will. Your death will not be easy."
"So be it." said Éowyn quietly. She lunged forward and struck at the Dark Lord with her ruined blade but he blocked it negligently with his forearm. He was faster than any Man and though she had inflicted upon him a wound the body of a Maiar could not be stopped by such mortal hurts. The thick black armour covering his body was impervious to mortal metal now that the charms had been stripped from her sword and it bounced from him without damage.
Her arm was jarred by the force of the impact but she spun with the momentum and launched another attack which was blocked again without effort from the Dark Lord.
She looked again to Harry and he stared back impassively. His face was set in boredom as if her life or death was less than nothing to him but it was the eyes that gave her hope. The eyes that she had come to love were now alight with fire but not yet utterly lost in fury. Within them was the barest glimmer, the faintest hint of more beneath the surface.
For seeing Éowyn in battle against the Dark Lord had renewed his struggle and now his mind was a battleground. With Sauron's attention directed towards the Lady of Rohan Harry's mind fought back with all it had. He fought it as he had fought the possession of Voldemort long years ago and focussed on his feelings of love for Éowyn.
It availed him little. For the Dark Lord did not fear or hate love, it did not pain him as it did Voldemort. It was as nothing to him and had no meaning before the Dark eternity of his existence. The Dark Lord loved only one thing, himself, and so he thought that love beyond the self was the uttermost weakness.
"That is how you would seek to fight me!" he cried and sadistic mirth echoed through the chamber. "With love? The most fickle and weak of all the forces in the universe is how you would hope to defy the all encompassing shadow?"
Éowyn did not respond but struck out at him again. This time he lashed out and once again she was thrown back for to the ground and her sword clattered at her side.
All around fires roared at Sauron's command and Orodruin raged with his will. This mere woman, Éowyn of Rohan had struck him a blow beyond any save Elendil himself and he would see her ended for her hubris.
Then at last Harry spoke. "Come with me," he said through gritted teeth. "We can leave this world, be safe in my own."
So great was his concern that he broke some of Sauron's control yet he still was not fully himself. Éowyn knew it for she met his gaze and her eyes softened even at the Dark Lord walked towards her to end her life.
"Here is your world, Harry," she said softly yet still he heard her. "Here are your people. Come back to me, Harry. Do not leave me here alone."
Again the will of Sauron fell upon him and his face became drawn in rage. "You think you know my mind?" he spat. "I have been shorn from my home and you would deny me the right to return?"
Tears came to her eyes and she said, "This could be your home if you would but let it, more home than ever you found in the world of your birth."
As she spoke the Lieutenant of Morgoth stalked towards her and his burning blood left a trail of flames in his wake. The dread flickering light they gave off joined the malevolent orange glow of Orodruin's lake of fire and it seemed the entire world was to be set to flame. She raised no more defence when he reached her for her eyes were still locked upon those of Harry and she watched in hope as the battle was waged within. Sauron's black hand, with four fingers only, closed around her slim and pale neck. The black iron of his gauntlet contrasted with her fair skin like ash upon snow and He raised her from the ground effortlessly.
She cried out in pain but her eyes did not leave Harry and then Harry saw through her eyes what he was to become. About him flickered sickly green flames and his clothes burned at their touch. His skin was blackened and his eyes burned with malevolent ire. Akin he looked to Sauron, yet lesser in all things. He recoiled in horror from her mind in that moment and his will again succeeded in pushing back the influence of Sauron.
He could see now what was before him, the death and cruelty that would be wrought by his hand. Éowyn was now moments from being crushed in the plated gauntlet of the Dark Lord. Upon the plains before the Morannon thousands of men fled Harry's own power and wrath. At Dol Guldur hundreds of Elves lay dead by his careless hand.
So too could he see his home, his friends of old and he saw they were happy. They had grieved for his loss a decade ago as he had theirs but in time those wounds healed and now they lived happily and in peace. He would still return to them had he the power yet he knew now he did not. It had never been in Sauron's power to give such gifts, his power was only to grasp and steal from others.
Harry was not saddened by that. Instead he was glad, for in his heart he knew he would not easily part with this world. He had at long last found a purpose in this place, simple though it may be. He could not give that up due to the impossible dream of a past long lost to nostalgia. His heart would reside for ever more in Middle Earth and he knew he would never leave it while Éowyn yet remained within.
Yet the power of the Ring was strong and he could not release it. So complete had its hold become that even as he fought to a victory within his mind his body and hand remained unable to strike out at its Master. It remained upon his finger and he could not command his body to remove it. Its hold was as if wrought from iron and even as he watched Éowyn brought to close to her end before him he could not find it in him to bring harm to Sauron or the Ring. He watched helplessly as Sauron towered over his love. His spiked gauntlets squeezed slowly, drawing ever deeper into her flesh and her blood began to flow. From Sauron's injured breast burning blood dripping from his own wound and upon the ground beneath them they burned and sizzled as they mingled.
Harry could see only one option. He fought with all his will and in victory he took a step back until he was atop the precipice over the Fires of Doom below. Éowyn made a strangled noise as she saw what he planned and Sauron dropped her and spun to face him. She clutched at her blackened throat and gasped for air but all the while her eyes were fixed upon Harry and begged him to stop. He saw in that moment that she would live, he had not failed her too. Her wounds were not so deep that she would die, he could rejoice in that knowledge at least.
It gave him strength to do what was needed.
He stepped backwards once more.
Sauron watched as Harry stepped backwards and his fear was palpable. The power of Sauron and the power of the Ring, one will set apart, weighed upon Harry with all their might. Still, he had the strength to step from the precipice to his certain Doom.
Sauron saw Harry fall from the edge and his will lashed out in terror. It came upon Harry in that moment and it was terrible in its power. Sauron knew Harry yet had the ability to save himself from the fires and so he commanded the plummeting Wizard to Apparate to safety. Sauron, who only loved himself could conceive of no reason any Man would choose to sacrifice themselves so completely when another option yet remained open.
Harry did not heed the command. Fixed within his mind was the image of that which he thought fairest in all the world and it was the image of Éowyn among the flower gardens of Minas Tirith as the bright light of the sun shone in her hair. There was no power within him that could act to destroy something so beautiful and so he ignored the command to save himself and smiled as he fell towards the fires of Orodruin. For a moment that image sustained him against the roaring hurricane of Sauron's will. A moment was enough and he hit the burning surface of the molten lake at the heart of the Mountain of Doom.
His body burned in the fires beyond even the forge of Aulë and he screamed in pain yet he felt no regret. His flesh melted from his bones and his bones were flashed to charcoal and his pain was beyond anything known but he was glad that he'd had the strength at the last. Finally the Ring of Sauron warped and melted upon the remains of his finger and in the uttermost heat of Orodruin the Dark Lord's power was undone. In that moment Harry finally knew relief and his soul did depart easily to the Halls of Waiting.
With such a great portion of his strength destroyed Sauron could no longer sustain his terrible form and fell to his knees as his black armour melted from his visage. Returned to the world was fair Mairon before the corruption of Morgoth and his evil deeds had made him monster. He clutched his head as he felt his power ripped apart with the Ring in the fires of Orodruin. For a moment it seemed he might sustain his form even in his greatest withering yet Éowyn, daughter of Éomund would not allow it. Her contorted and half melted sword swung through the air with a fell whistle issuing from its ruined blade. As Sauron kneeled among the fires of his greatest creation his head was severed from his shoulders and finally his form was lost to the world for evermore, never again to come upon any being of Arda in malice.
Sauron's still kneeling beheaded body shone with a bright and painful light and exploded outwards throwing all those about back. Éowyn was flung almost to the entrance of the Crack while Frodo's unconscious body would have been thrown from the walkway and into the rising fires of ruin had he not been caught by the ever vigilant Samwise Gamgee.
Blasts of fire and shattered rock crashed around them as power rushed through all in a raging torrent Éowyn lay there uncaring for her despair at Harry's sacrifice was complete. She stared blankly into space, slumped upon her knees as she realised her loss.
Though Éowyn seemed content to accept death Samwise Gamgee was not. He had travelled across the face of Middle-earth with the ringbearer on his quest and he had no intention of failing his task now. He would not let Frodo die. He summoned what meagre strength he still had after his fight with Harry followed by being in such close proximity to the power of Sauron and managed to lift Frodo upon his back.
All about him Mount Doom was being undone and he staggered towards the entrance to the Crack and called for Éowyn to join him, though he did not know her name.
"Miss!" he called. "This whole place is going to go up, you must get to safety!"
Lost in uttermost misery she still responded. She considered for a moment throwing herself to the fires but knew Harry would not approve. Though he had said no words she had understood that what he did was for her and her alone of all people. He sacrificed himself to allow her more time with her family, the one thing he regretted most and so for now she followed.
The three survivors of the End of Sauron stumbled from the Mountain of Doom and into the sickly orange light of the lava flows issuing from across its face. From there it flowed on to the ancient lava plateau of Gorgoroth.
The group managed to reach a high spur of rock that would protrude above the coming flows. They then collapsed, Sam in relief and Éowyn in grief and both utterly spent in both mind and body. Lava flowed all about them and the heat was terrible, from above burning ash fell upon them yet they were too exhausted to avoid it. Overcome by their exertions, the heat and the foul air being cast upon them by the eruption they both succumbed to unconsciousness and lay still as all about them burned.
Minutes later the Orodruin became undone and sent fire and brimstone to rain over all of Sauron's realm and his Kingdom was at last reduced to ash.
A/N: So I felt a bit bad about the cliffhanger in the last chapter... Then I may have done another one. There is one more chapter (possibly two) that will wrap things up for the story. Unless the Harry-just-died ending is fine by you guys? I was kinda torn, the bittersweet ending has something to recommend it but I'm a bit of a sucker for wubbly-bubbly fuzzy endings.
This chapter is where I fear I may begin to lose some (more) of the folk without a more in depth knowledge of the legendarium. Because Harry has been partially taken by the Ring he now thinks in an even more archaic way than before, so the references are coming thick and fast. I know some people perhaps hoped I'd stretch it further and jump head first into a 'Morgoth returns' plot arc but I fear I'd simply lose Harry in the destruction. He'd be a fairly irrelevant detail while gods battled across the face of the world.
But ultimately, Sauron got pwnt, Éowyn totally got a moment of awesome and Harry did what he always does. Die to save other people. Win-win-win.
Nurn is part of Mordor but it doesn't look quite like the wastes of Gorgoroth seen in the film. Nurn is where the food for Sauron's army is grown. It's not green and pleasant but it at least has growing things.
The mention of Galadriel, Dáin (the guy who becomes King of Erebor at the end of The Hobbit) and Brand (Son of Bain, son of Bard. Bard being the bloke who killed Smaug) are all pretty much canon. Exact timings may not be quite right, it's pretty contrived that all the battles are happening at the same time but they certainly all happened within a few days of each-other so moving them to the same day isn't a major divergence.
A lot of people wondered what exactly everyone else was doing while Gondor was getting pummelled, well here you go. The war was everywhere, not just in Gondor and Rohan.
Sauron was 'killed' first time 'round by Gil-Galad and Elendil (who died in the process), Isildur came along a bit later and chopped the Ring off his hand as 'weregild' for his father. Not like in the movies.
Sauron was called Mairon when he first came into being. It would have been a bit of a bugger having the name 'the Abhorred' at the moment of birth. Mairon means 'the Admirable'. A bit of artistic license here as the Ring had nothing really to do with Sauron's terrible form (instead he 'died' when Númenor was sunk beneath the waves and from then on couldn't take on his fair form, that happened more than 1500 years after he made the Ring).
Mandos is the Doomsman of the Valar and the closest thing they have to Death. He's not really; Death is different within Tolkien's mythos but it's an OK comparison to make. Doomsman means something closer to 'arbiter and judge of your final fate'. Vairë is his wife and weaves the history of Arda into a tapestry that hangs in the Halls of Mandos.