Soft warmth filled the dark of Aulë's forges, fiery flames casting orange light on the walls. Thousands of hammers striking the gold and precious metals, crafting them into desired shapes and forms, filled the halls with steady sound. As the Smith entered the forges, he saw an unexpected sight.
A small figure sat in the corner of the room, his arms firmly, protectively hugging his knees. Fiery red hair draped like a curtain, hiding his face, which was buried in the Maia's knees. He was trembling, sobs wrenching his body. The Vala lowered himself and carefully approached his little Maia.
"Mairon, my fiery one. What is wrong?" The concern in his metallic eyes was genuine, his gaze resting on the Maia. The Maia's head popped out and a pair of golden eyes, lit by dancing flames, locked gazes with his Lord's.
"It's ruined. I ruined it!" Mairon's eyes shimmered in the light of the forges and the Craftsman of Valar realized that the little Maia was crying. Sadness and pain dimmed the fire in his eyes. "The project you gave me to work on… I destroyed it. It was an accident, the metal cooled too quickly, and instead of hardening the medallion, it only caused it to crack. I was reckless; before I could save it… I saw it, broken and, and…" The Maia opened his palm to reveal golden pieces, shatters of what could have been a fine medallion. Golden ash stuck to his skin, larger pieces resting on the hand. One piece had pierced his palm, and a drop of crimson blood tainted his skin like a drop of ink on a white parchment.
"I… I can't do it. I tried to make it perfect. It's not perfect enough. It's not good enough. I tried for you… but I'm not good enough." Mairon's voice broke, tears freely running down his checks now.
"Mairon. Don't be so hard on yourself." Aulë gently drew the Maia closer, until the red head disappeared in the Vala's robes. The Smith slowly, carefully stroked his hair, soothing the trembling Maia. "There are times when you will fail the task. You can't be perfect all the time, my little one. No one can be, except our Atar. I don't wish for you to be saddened by this. We make mistakes to learn from them. I'm sure you will know for the next time what you did wrong and be careful."
Mairon gingerly nodded, his eyes still closed. "But… I've failed. I've failed me, I've failed you." Sadness lit his golden eyes. It was heartbreaking to hear such despair in his voice.
Aulë pulled him into a soft embrace and gently said. "You didn't fail me, my Fiery One. You never will. I will love and respect you regardless of your imperfections. There will always be a place in my heart for you. You, Yavanna, and all other Maiar - you are my family. And remember - I will always be proud of you, Admirable."
Mairon nuzzled against his Lord, the trust and love of the Vala who cared for him washing his worries and the dark clouds that were covering his brooding mind away. The fiery Maia breathed deeply, relaxing in the safe embrace of his Lord. He was worthy after all.
Aulë continued gently stroking the Maia's hair, calming him. He was a hard-working apprentice, his brilliant mind always buzzing with countless ideas and plans. Always striving for perfection, craving for excellence. He never stopped until he was satisfied with the result, but when he did, a smile would always play on his beaming face. Creativity and eagerness to craft, to create with passion and devotion, made him not just a smith, but an artist, and his trinkets delicate works of art.
"You are a great smith," Aulë said to Mairon as the Maia fell to sleep, a smile of pure, golden happiness playing on his lips.
Author's Note: Reviews are as always tremendously welcome! Hannon le, mellyn!