If you have not read the first book Dark Fascinations of Light, then I highly suggest you do because you will be completely confused if you don't. I will also explicitly state here that this is AU. Some of it sticks very close to canon, but other parts are very different, owing to the events from the previous book. So please, keep this warning in mind. I have no objections to people who have not read the previous book reading this one, but it will be confusing.
But otherwise, please enjoy this one, and I hope it will be as well-received as the last!
"Mom? I have a confession to make."
Mom looked at me for a moment as I sat there, elbows on my knees as I pressed my trembling fingers to my lips. Then she sat down next to me, and took my hands into hers.
"You know you can tell me anything, Celine," she answered softly. I took a deep breath.
"To be honest, it's hard to think of myself as a twenty-year old," I began slowly. "For one thing, I was in a coma for four years so they tell me, and I have no knowledge of anything that went on during that time. So, I still feel... Fifteen," I said, and she nodded, rubbing my knuckles slowly. "But another reason it's difficult is because I- I think of myself as being so, so much older."
Mom blinked, and a puzzled wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. "Why, dear? Is it because of the trauma?" she asked innocently, and I smiled faintly.
"No. But do you remember how much I love Tolkien's works?" I asked with a small smile, and she smiled wryly.
"I couldn't forget, not since that's how it all started," she answered in an attempt at levity. I pinned her with a stern look for a moment, and then saw her flinch in surprise and lowered my eyes.
"I'm sorry. I forget that my gaze can do that to mortals," I said out of habit, and her hands tightened.
"Mortals?" her voice was strained. I looked up.
"I know you'll think me perhaps totally crazy, but I have proof. There is a Middle Earth. And I've been there," I looked her straight in the eye. "For hundreds of years I was there. Look me in the eyes and tell me they don't look too old for any human," I said firmly, and my mother stared into my eyes. Then after a moment fear seemed to bleed into them and she looked down, taking a shuddering breath.
"You're right," she said softly. "But how?" she asked warily.
So I told her my story, though admittedly a very child-friendly version and omitting Ancalagon, drawing away from her and pacing the living room. Mom listened quietly, only occasionally interrupting in confusion at some comment I made, which I explained. When I finally got to the end, I picked a quiet Esgalnoron up and stroked the fur on the top of his head gently, kissing it.
~You did well.~
~Thank you, dear brother.~
When I looked at Mom, there were tears running down her cheeks. "I believe you," she whispered. "Oh honey, I believe you so much," she choked, burying her face into her hands and sobbing. Immediately, I rushed to her and set Esgalnoron down.
"Mom? Oh Mom, I didn't mean to make you distressed-" I exclaimed worriedly, but she shook her head and managed to dry her tears.
"No, no, Celine. The truth is, I haven't been completely honest with you either," she hitched as I handed her a tissue. "You see, I couldn't forgive myself for four years while you were unresponsive, and the reason I never pulled the plug on you as everyone advised me to was not only because it was so unethical, but also because I prayed to God so hard that you would wake up so I could make amends," she sniffled, and I sat down.
"Whatever it is, Mom, be assured that I will forgive you, as I can do no less. And I will not love you any less. I have seen far stranger things," I smiled wanly as she managed a watery laugh.
"Thank you. And now, I feel even more guilty, as if I had told you before this all happened, you might have been better prepared for your own adventure. There is a reason you were so interested in Tolkien's works, Celine, and a reason why I encouraged you in your seeming obsessive mania over it. It's because it is your true history, dear," she took my hands again and looked down at them. "Your father- he really did die in military service. I would never lie to you. But I did hide one thing from you. He was not from Earth. He was from Middle Earth. And I believed him because he showed me proof."
I sat stone still, my mind suddenly whirling frantically as certain puzzle pieces clicked into place. My lips went white. "What was his name? His real name?" I asked through cracked lips.
My mom squeezed my hands. "His name was Ciaran."
For a moment my brain shut down. Then the name bounced around in my head as I blinked stupidly. "Who?" I asked, only half-coherently.
"Ciaran. He was of the race of the Dúnedain he told me, descended from a king named Tar-Minyataur," she replied calmly, and my brain kicked back into gear.
"A Dúnedain," I breathed. "Which means..."
~Which means you're related to Aragorn, indirectly with Elrond, and also a descendant of Eärendil.~ Esgalnoron breathed, coming to the same conclusions as I did.
"Diluted blood," I gasped, leaping up and grabbing Esgalnoron, shaking him as he yapped. "Maiarin blood, Elven blood, and human blood. That explains everything!" I yelped. "Can't you see Esgalnoron? Every Maiar knows a kin when he sees one! That's why Ada was drawn to me, that's why I was able to travel between worlds, that's how I was able to tap into my Elven blood, that's how I was able to go to middle earth!" I said, dropping down as puzzle pieces began to come together. My mother listened quietly, her hands clasped tightly in her lap as I began to pace.
"It all makes sense," I breathed, shaking my head. "Oh master," I groaned. "I wish you were here to help me," I said helplessly, leaning back.
"Master?" my mother asked in strained confusion, and I sighed and held her hand.
"I'm sorry, mother," I said sadly, looking into her teary eyes. "I know it's hard for you to realize that I'm no longer your little child," I said softly, rubbing her hands gently to bring the blood back into them. "I never meant for this to happen," I said, and she bent her head.
"It's not myself I mourn for," she replied thickly.
"Don't be that way please," I replied, somewhat irked. "It's not like mourning it is going to help much. I may have gone through terror that will never leave me, but there were bright spots nonetheless," I said as calmly as I could, though terror still slicked through my veins.
"It's hard not to when I wake up at night to hear you screaming from nightmares and knowing that my presence will not be welcomed," she snapped back, and my own face went white.
"Only because there are things a mother should not know about her own child," I replied laboriously, standing up and going to get a box to tissues to press into her hands.
She pressed her hands to her mouth, futilely trying to hold back her sobs. "I'm sorry," she choked, and I sat down on the couch as Esgalnoron watched carefully from a corner of the sofa.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," I replied distantly, feeling my heart shatter for her sake. All those years had hardened me, but I could still feel pity for my mother's sake, for her loss. "My innocence was lost long ago, mom," I said, turning and grasping her shoulders gently to make her look at me. "Here on earth, I am your daughter, and I will always be, and I will treat you with due respect," I began emotionlessly, staring at her straight on to get my point hammered in firmly.
"But know this, please. I did what I had to to survive. I killed for necessity. I killed without regret, because all I ever killed was filth. I was broken down and reshaped into a weapon, an assassin, a murderer. But I have done nothing to be ashamed of. Don't you see? I cannot mourn myself any longer, because I have no remorse for the lives I have taken. They were all filth, on the side of evil. I have blood on my hands, and that will never change. Grieve for what you have lost, but know that I cannot join you," I finished as gently as I could, then moved away to give her space.
Her tears dried, and there was nothing left but agony etched into her face from my words. But I still saw the forgiveness in her face, and it comforted me. My mother understood. She trusted me.
Suddenly her eyes widened, and she turned to me as my head snapped to lock with hers as well. A scream left her lips as I lunged for her toppling form, and Esgalnoron was beside me in a flash, in human form. We locked eyes, and the world began to disappear as I was sucked into his endless, bottomless eyes. Endless color in a timeless gaze...
It is time, child. Come back to us. Come back to Me.
And then every thing faded away into comforting darkness.