"And it is told of Maglor that he could not endure the pain with which the Silmaril tormented him; and he cast it at last into the Sea, and thereafter he wandered ever upon the shores, singing in pain and regret beside the waves. For Maglor was mighty among the singers of old." The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Maglor's eyes scanned the crowd in front of him. The promoter had said he expected at least eighty thousand in attendance tonight.
Maglor had not seen so many gathered in front of him since the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Light had glinted off helms and spearheads then, not from camera flashes and glowing smartphones.
This was a gathering of peace. A gathering to enjoy music, not a preparation for battle. He raised his eyes to look at Varda's stars. As always his eyes were drawn to the Star of Earendil, Gil-Estel, shining in the sky above him.
In the ages since that star first appeared Maglor had despaired of ever finding peace himself. But it seemed the Valar had finally taken pity on him and allowed him this gift. The gift of this life--full of the music he held so dear and the chance to bring joy to multitudes rather than death and a blind obsession with a long ago oath.
Maglor shook his head. Enough. Focus on now, he told himself. He smiled at the audience in front of him, adjusted his guitar strap one last time, moved his fingers to the strings of his bass guitar and began to play.
He did not know how many years he had wandered the shores of the sea. The land changed. Cities and villages came and went, grew and then were abandoned. The cave he sheltered in for centuries was now far beneath the ocean. In time he grew less solitary and made his way to the villages and towns, making a living through his music.
His travels took him far from the lands he knew. He never wanted to stay in one place for too long. He had learned long ago that only the Edain, the second born, had survived the changing of the world. His agelessness was unique now. The Quendi, even the Avari, had long since faded away.
Though he grieved for all that had gone before he did not fade as he expected. He remained the same, perhaps still cursed by the Valar, denied the release that fading would give him. He could not stay in one place for too long. His ever-youthful features would bring suspicion and fear.
So he wandered along the coast at first, moving slowly south through centuries of travel. He had stayed in Hellas, Greece as it was known now, for many years. Traveling poets and singers were appreciated there. It was hard to believe the stories he had created with his friend Homer had survived to this day.
The Greeks had understood the melancholy in him. He had woven the heartache and tragedy of his family into Homer's fireside epics and later, with Aeschylus, into the stories of other oaths that destroyed other families.
He had followed his stories to Rome--to Virgil, his friend during his time there. The stories of Odysseus and Aeneas were those of wanderers and Maglor put much of himself into those tales.
He was well suited to the role of the wandering troubadour. He accompanied Chretien de Troyes on his travels. So many nights spent debating the honor of Arthur, the betrayal by Lancelot, creating stories of valiant men who fought for more than jewels and forsaken oaths.
Maglor had loved the stories of Arthur. Stories of what might have been but marred again by pride and treachery.
Music, as always, was his first love but as the centuries passed by Maglor found himself drawn to poetry and art. Florence during the Renaissance had been remarkable. Maglor worked in Leonardo Da Vinci's studio, spending hours going over ideas with the Master. Few knew how accomplished a musician Leonardo was. Maglor counted him as one of his dearest friends and the most creative person he had met in all the ages of his wandering.
Mozart had brought Maglor to tears many times. He had not heard music like that since Daeron in the lost days of Doriath. Mozart became so ill during the time he was writing his commissioned Requiem that Maglor stayed with him, transcribing the notes Wolfgang called out to him, infusing his own melodies when his friend lagged. The piece spoke to him of loss. Such vast loss. In his mind it was a Requiem worthy of the house of Fëanor. Centuries later he could not hear it and maintain his composure.
He continued to drift through Europe. Despite the risks of staying in one place too long, he found it suited him best.
He did not go to America until late, not until his friend Maurice Ravel had died. It was a wise move at the time, as it allowed him to be far from the devastation of the second World War. The first World War has sparked far too many agonizing memories for him.
But the United States was too new. It was exciting, exhilarating even, but he missed the familiar landscapes that had been his home for so long.
He relocated to London in the early 1960's, working in the music industry as a sessions musician. He was versatile on guitar, piano and drums but focused primarily on guitar work. It would not do to raise too many questions about what a prodigy he was at such varied instruments.
By 1966 he was firmly ensconced in the London studio scene. He was versatile enough that he had steady work for multiple studios, but he found himself more frequently at Abbey Road Studios.
He had developed a friendship with Geoff Emerick, a studio engineer at Abbey Road, and joined him as an observer for recording sessions from time to time. There were musicians through the ages that had touched and fascinated Maglor. Vivaldi. Bach. Mozart, of course. Chopin. Verdi. His friend Ravel.
This was different. The energy, enthusiasm and outright creativity of these boys was mesmerizing. Maglor loved to watch them bounce ideas and riffs off each other, bantering into the night. A part of him envied their closeness. It made him miss his brothers so much that he sometimes had to excuse himself to Geoff and head home instead.
He was surprised on a blustery November day to be called in to Abbey Road Studios, ostensibly for a gig on bass for a session, but instead he was ushered into George Martin's private office.
He found a very pale George Martin, a dazed Geoff Emerick and a distraught appearing third man who was introduced to him as Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager.
"Finn, thank you for coming in on such short notice," George said, shaking his hand and motioning for him to sit. Maglor had been using the name Finn McLaurie professionally. It was easy to remember and close enough to his father name Kanafinwë and his mother name Macalaurë that he felt comfortable with it. Shortening those names to Finn McLaurie had worked well for him.
Maglor looked from George to Geoff. Brian was pacing.
"Finn, we've call you here for a bass gig, but it isn't exactly a typical session job," Geoff said.
"Not a session gig?" Maglor repeated. "I'm not sure I know what you mean, Geoff."
George moved to stand in front of Maglor, leaning back on his desk and pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers absently. "Finn," George took over, "We have a big problem and we need your help." He paused and frowned, glancing briefly at the still-pacing Brian. He looked back at Maglor.
"Finn. Paul McCartney was killed in a car accident yesterday," George finally said, running his hand through his hair.
"Paul," Maglor said. "You're saying Paul is dead?" He couldn't quite believe that bright, funny young man with the lovely voice was gone. "I don't . . . I don't know what to say George. I'm absolutely gutted to hear it." He looked from George to Geoff again. "I'm so sorry to hear this but I'm not sure what this has to do with me. Surely they aren't going to be recording anything so soon after. . . after this," he finished awkwardly.
"Great heavens, no!" George said emphatically. "The lads are beside themselves." He looked at Brian again. Brian stopped his pacing at the pause in the conversation.
"I can't do it, George. It needs to be said but I can't do it," Brian said to George.
"Brian, you asked us to help you," George retorted. "This is me helping you. Now talk to Finn and let's get it bloody well over with."
Finn looked at Brian. He was pale, sweating and looked as if the world was coming to an end. Perhaps to him it had, Maglor thought. There was magic in that foursome. They fed off each other's energy and creativity. This was a blow from which they would likely never recover.
Brian stared at Maglor. It began to make him uncomfortable in its intensity, which was unusual, as he had faced far more intimidating people than Brian in his past.
Finally Brian broke the silence. "You look like him, see. You play, you play as well as anyone I've been told, better than the lads even. You could make it work. Your know the lads, you know the music."
"I don't think I follow you," Maglor interrupted, hoping Brian wasn't suggesting what he thought he might be.
George broke in. "Finn, you are our most versatile session musician. You play bass and lead better than the lads and you have a voice that could land you as a lead singer in any band today."
Maglor shook his head, as if to clear it. "What exactly are you asking me to do, George?"
George eyed Geoff and Brian, before locking his eyes with Maglor's again.
"We need you to be Paul, Finn," he said simply.
"Be Paul?" Maglor repeated. "I don't understand what you mean."
"Be Paul. Play the bass, sing with the band, get the haircut, live the life," George explained. His look hardened. "I don't think the three of them can do this alone. If the public finds out it's over for them." He paused again. "We need to bring you in as Paul. The look, the voice, the whole package. And we need to do it now."
Maglor was stunned into complete silence. Be Paul. To impersonate him, they meant. How could they think they would pull this off? He looked at Geoff. Geoff met his gaze. "I told George I thought if anyone could do it, you could," Geoff said quietly.
"Geoff, I don't know what you mean. There is no way I could do this," Maglor said, his composure shaken for the first time in centuries.
"Are you married, Finn?" Brian asked suddenly.
"No," Maglor answered, confused at the shift in conversation.
"Children? Parents? Family?" Brian persisted.
"Well, actually, no. No family, they're all gone," Maglor said. "But I don't know how that's relevant. . ."
George cut him off. "Finn, it has everything to do with it. You have no attachments. You play the guitar, bass and piano brilliantly." He stopped and gave Maglor a sympathetic look. "Listen I know this is shocking on so many levels. But you would be doing a tremendous favor to a lot of people." George shook his head. "Paul was a catalyst, a source of energy and creativity for the band. Do I know if they can keep going without him? Can't say that I do. Do I think they want to keep going without him? I'm not sure of that either but I know they have more to bring to the world. As tragic as the loss of Paul is, the loss of their potential as a group is just as tragic."
Brian cut in. "There isn't much time. We've got to have this ready before anything can leak out."
Geoff put his hand on Maglor's shoulder. "I think you can do this, " he said quietly. "It's not just that you look remarkably like Paul--which you do--it's a chance for you to really use this talent of yours." He gave Maglor a small smile. "I can't figure out why a bloke with your talent is a sessions musician. Makes no sense to me. Never did."
Maglor looked around the room at the three men standing there. "I've never wanted the spotlight," Maglor protested. "I'm really not the crowd type, really if anything I'm quite the loner. Don't go out much, not a lot of friends. I just love making music."
"Which is why you are perfect," George said. "No one will know except a small, core group of people who can be trusted." He ran his fingers through his hair again. "You'll get to keep making music, Finn. More than ever."
Maglor's mind spun through the options ahead of him. Could he do this? Did he want to do this?
He realized that not only did he want to do this, he desperately wanted to do this. He had always kept a low profile; his immortality and agelessness made it awkward if he did not.
But he had wanted to be the one to make music for others, not always play the role of the mentor, muse, back up bloke. He hadn't wanted anything this much in a very long time. If he really thought about it, he was the right person. His circle of friends was so small. No family. He could easily learn their catalogue of songs. The real question was if the lads would take him on.
"I'll do it," he said slowly, hardly believing the words coming out of his mouth. "But I don't know if the others will be willing to do this."
Brian straightened up. "I'll take care of the lads. As long as you can sing and play bass with any skill, you'll be fine." He held out his hand for Maglor to shake. Maglor reached out his hand, scarcely believing he was actually crazy enough to agree to this.
The next few days were a whirlwind. His belongings were moved into Paul's London home. He got a haircut in the privacy of the house and wasn't allowed out at all, once he had moved into Paul's place.
Brian took care of the clothes he would need and drilled him in the intimate details he would need to know about Paul.
Geoff took him to the Abbey Road Studio late at night, when they could be alone there, to listen to the master tapes over and over again. He made him play and sing Paul's parts until he could match the tapes note for note.
The music was the easy part. Maglor didn't need much time to memorize their catalogue of music. It initially was a challenge to play left handed but even that came to him far easier than he expected. It made him think of Maedhros, whose sword mastery with his left hand eventually surpassed all the skill he ever had with his right.
The story Brian put out was that Paul was traveling and not in London. His car had been 'borrowed' by a friend while he was gone and that friend had been involved in an unfortunate accident.
The only stumbling blocks left were the remaining Beatles themselves and Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend. Brian had spoken to Paul's father and brother. They had agreed that Paul would have wanted the band to continue no matter what. They would mourn in private and allow rumors of an estrangement to grow, distancing themselves from 'Paul' to ease Maglor's transition.
Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, friends and companions from the Beatles earliest days had been brought into confidence early, to help Maglor with the backstory and to acquaint him with mannerisms and habits that were uniquely Paul's. It was clear to Maglor that this was a tight-knit, closed inner circle. That would only help keep up the illusion.
Brian decided the Abbey Road Studio itself was the best location for John, George and Ringo to meet Maglor.
Maglor paced in Geoff's office as they waited for the surviving Beatles to show up. His eyes felt dry. Geoff had found a company in Germany that made contact lenses and Maglor was wearing them for the first time tonight. Tinted dark brown to match Paul's eye color, they made the transformation complete. He found them irritating but obviously a necessary part of the process.
"Finn." Geoff finally spoke to him. "You've got to settle down."
Maglor ran his hands through his hair, but agreed to sit in the chair Geoff motioned him towards.
"I just don't know about this, Geoff."
"Nothing to do now. You've met the lads before, when you would come sit in the studio with me." Geoff said.
"This is completely different, Geoff and you know it." Maglor responded.
"Just see how it goes. You know the music. You all understand the music." Geoff reassured him.
A knock on the door interrupted them and George Martin came into the office. "They're here. This is it, Finn. Let's make it work. You can do this." George patted Maglor on the shoulder as he walked out the door with him towards Studio 4. "I told the lads they shouldn't think about anything but the music. You're going to run through the song they were working on for the album." George paused and looked at him. "Just play. Like you've been playing for me and Geoff."
George stopped in front of the Studio 4 door. "You've met the lads before. Think of this as another session gig. It'll be all right." He opened the door and they went in.
John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were already there, instruments in hand, Ringo seated behind his drum kit, tapping away at the snare.
They all stopped to watch Maglor come in. George Harrison sucked in his breath sharply. John stared at Maglor. Ringo, after a first wide-eyed look, put his hand over his eyes and rubbed his temples.
Maglor walked over to the bass and picked it up. Think of this as a session gig. Like any of the hundreds of session gigs you've done, he told himself. Breathe. He checked that the bass in his hand was in tune, keeping his eyes on the instrument. When he had finally fiddled around as long as he could, he lifted his eyes to look at the Beatles.
John broke the silence. "What do we call you, mate?" he asked, frowning. "I can't call you Finn and I can't call you Paul. What do I call you?" he repeated.
Maglor knew George Martin and Geoff had so much on their minds that they had forgotten this most basic thing. The lads were not going to be able to call him Paul.
But Maglor had anticipated this. He knew it was important how he handled this first hurdle. "I'd never expect you to call me Paul," he answered softly, looking at each of the Beatles in turn. "And I know I can't be Finn anymore." He looked down for a moment, then back up at John. "My last name is McLaurie," he finally said. "My brothers used to call me Macca. Would that work?"
"Macca?" John questioned.
Maglor nodded. "Macca. It won't raise any questions because it could be short for McCartney too."
"Macca." George Harrison repeated the name. "I could do that," he said.
"Where are your brothers now?" asked Ringo.
Maglor looked at Ringo, his face falling into a brief grimace.. "They're gone," he said. "They died long ago."
"I'm sorry," Ringo said, concern showing on his face.
"Thank you," Maglor said. "It would be nice to hear their name for me again."
The four of them regarded each other in silence. John finally strummed a chord and asked "Are you ready to play then, Macca?"
"I am," Maglor replied.
"All right, mate. 'Strawberry Fields'--you've got it?" John said.
"Got it." Maglor answered.
It was near 2 am when Geoff finally drove him home. They had run through John's rough version of 'Strawberry Fields'. No recording tonight. They had played some older songs at the end, just to work on their rapport, and then George Martin had ended the session.
As he sat in front of Paul's fireplace, in Paul's house, sipping Paul's wine, Maglor reached out with his mind to send a silent greeting to him and a heartfelt thanks. He did not know where Men went when they left the circles of the world but he hoped Paul, wherever he was, knew how grateful Maglor was for this chance. He raised his glass to the singer and then sipped again.
He had expected Jane Asher would be a challenge but he hadn't realized exactly what his biggest stumbling block was going to be.
Jane had been brought into the inner circle, knowing Paul as intimately as she did. There was no chance Maglor would be able to fool her. Brian had discussed keeping a facade of their relationship for a period of time before ending it, to keep rumors at a minimum. He wanted Maglor comfortably settled into the role and the new album successfully released.
Jane and Maglor were both reluctant to keep up the sham of a relationship but the reason made sense. It would reinforce that all was well with Paul and quell any suspicions.
Brian was the one who suggested starting some rumors of infidelity on Paul's part, as well as some whispers of drug use. He had always previously tried to downplay these sorts of activities on the lads part, but letting some of those unsavory tidbits surface now would take some scrutiny off Maglor himself and also explain some minor inconsistencies in his behaviour. The supposed effect of drugs and the eventual orchestrated break-up with Jane would be valid excuses for unusual behaviour or appearance on Paul's part.
Jane was brilliant, Maglor had to admit. A trained and skilled actress, she played the girlfriend role with a complete stranger perfectly. He knew it was taking a toll on her as the months went by. He genuinely liked her as a person and he could see how heartbroken she was about Paul. She mourned inside but she wanted his legacy to live on. As she said to Maglor, the first day they went out together in public, this was the hardest role she was ever going to play.
The problem he had with Jane was unexpected. It was her hair. He had never met her before Paul's death. He had seen a few black and white photos in the paper, photos of Jane with Paul. He had never seen any of her acting work.
When he met her for the first time he could barely speak to her. He had run into redheads before in his long life but he always seemed to be able to avoid interacting with them. But with Jane that was impossible--he had to hold her close, stroke her hair, gaze at her adoringly.
Her hair was exactly like Maedhros' hair. The color, the texture,the thickness of it. Each time he saw her from behind, or out of the corner of his eye, he caught his breath. It hurt to see her hair. He hadn't realized quite how much he still missed Maedhros, even after all these ages.
It was a relief to both Maglor and Jane when they could finally end their relationship publicly and be apart. Much as they had grown to like and respect each other, the charade had taken an emotional toll on both of them. Maglor had finally convinced Brian and George Martin to let them end it. Once he and Jane had broken off their relationship Maglor was able to wholeheartedly immerse himself in the music.
The new album was such a departure from the Beatles previous work. It had evolved from their first uncomfortable Abbey Road sessions. Maglor had tentatively suggested the idea of an alter ego group--the fictional Sgt. Pepper band--to allow them to experiment more freely with the music and with their own interactions. George Martin agreed it would also let the band come to terms with Paul's loss better if they were acting as something other than the Beatles--it would give them an escape from what they had been--to transition to what they were becoming with Maglor.
Maglor could see the strain on John, George and Ringo. The late night sessions at Abbey Road were boundless in their creativity but the lads also were easily distracted and lost focus. Maglor's years as a sessions musician, not to mention the ages creating music before, had given him a very disciplined approach. He slowly found that he was the catalyst to get them to proceed with the sessions, return their focus, lead them back to creating. He was reminded so strongly of his younger brothers.
His parents had been so devoted to their crafts--his father gifted beyond measure and obsessed with the pursuit of perfecting more and more complex creations, his mother often losing track of time and the world around her when sculpting. The result had been that Maedhros, with Maglor assisting more and more as their family grew again and again, had taken over the day to day running of the household and caring for their brothers.
It had been a very long time since he had been in that role but it was one he was falling into with the Beatles now. Sgt. Pepper had been an unprecedented success, in more ways than any of them had expected. But it had taken longer to record than any previous album of theirs. Since the band had decided before Paul's death that their touring days were over, there was no pressure as far as scheduling. With no looming tour dates, the Beatles vacationed at will and recorded when they felt like it.
With the resounding success of Sgt. Pepper and the new-found respect it garnered from critics, Maglor was eager to follow that creativity with more. The death of Brian Epstein dealt another blow to the band, still recovering from Paul's untimely demise. Maglor could see that this event, following so closely, could spell the end of the Beatles. Even though he was not as intimately invested in the Beatles phenomenon as John, Ringo and George were, he was devastated at the thought that he might lose the most creative colleagues and interactions he had developed in ages.
Determined not to let them lose the momentum they had or to let them drift at this crucial time, Maglor came up with the idea of filming a movie and creating an album to go along with it. They would create the script and film as they went--allowing for a free-flow of ideas and improvisation. The others were much less enthusiastic about the endeavor but with nothing else to fill their time they reluctantly agreed to it.
The film was not what anyone would call a success but the music recorded for the album reached new heights of creativity and lyricism.
Their meditation retreat to India, spearheaded by George, provided the Beatles a break from the studio and their familiar surroundings. Maglor found that the tensions apparent in the studio before seemed to dissipate in India. George was writing more songs and for the first time John was voluntarily spending more time with Maglor creating music. They returned to London with material for another album.
But their return to the studio was not as pleasant. Maglor was again reminded of his brothers. The years when Maedhros had been imprisoned in Angband had put a strain on his relationship with his remaining brothers. Their discord was constant. Even when Maedhros had returned to them their animosity and constant friction with each other had strained them all.
The days spent recording reminded Maglor of those times. Geoff Emerick quit. Ringo left. He and John sparred over the smallest details and George was either distant or affronted. It grated on Maglor. The music deserved better than this. He grew frustrated when Ringo left and performed the drum parts himself. He cajoled, threatened and coerced them into finally completing the album but he was resigning himself to the fact that this period of his life was likely coming to an end.
But then he met someone. He had met many women in his ages in Ea. He had not bonded with anyone. His bond with Alariel held him back. But with time the sensation of that bond had faded until he could not feel it anymore. He had not thought about it in centuries but when he met Linda the idea of finally settling down with one person drew him.
His immortality gave him pause. How could he commit when he himself would remain unchanged and live on--longer than her, longer likely than any descendants, should he finally have children.
But the idea still drew him. The Beatles were falling apart, drifting from each other even as the music became more powerful and more transcendent in the band's demise. Linda touched a part of him he had long thought lost. He felt whole with her. The emptiness that had haunted him for so long faded away when he was with her.
So he married her. Found a farm, far in the country. It reminded him of Formenos. A life they could live on their terms, away from the complexities and misery of the breakup of the band.
They had children. He could not remember ever being this content. Even in the long ago years in Tirion, when he had thought he had happiness, there had been the weight of the house of Fëanor on his shoulders. What was expected of a son of Fëanor. His father's legacy had been a heavy burden. Here, he was free.
The music stayed with him. He may have left the Beatles behind but he continued producing music, becoming more prolific than all his years in Aman. He never tired of performing in front of a crowd.
He decided that this would be his last lifetime in Ea. He had found the bliss he had thought was forever lost to him. He would never find such love and fulfilment, even if he wandered again for hundreds of years. He didn't want to wander anymore. He would continue, as long as it was realistic and feasible to maintain the façade of Paul McCartney, Macca to the whole world now. But when the time came, when the numbers of Paul's years made it unreasonable to continue, he would bid his children goodbye and will himself to fade and be done. It was enough. It was a good life, after so many years. He was prepared to go to the Halls of Mandos. He had much to atone for but it was time to lay it all to rest, to reach the final end of the House of Fëanor. Be it everlasting dark or Mandos' Halls for eternity, he was prepared for it now. He had memories of joy that could sustain him in the Void.
He looked out at the crowd and smiled. This had been one of his better shows. He looked up at the stars one more time, then moved to the piano to play his last song--the one they would all sing with him. As the crowd sang the refrain back to him time and time again he decided this would be the last time. It had been a good life.
Author notes: I am nearly as devoted to the Beatles as I am to Tolkien. Maglor wandering made me wonder what he would do in our modern times. The energetic, ever youthful Paul McCartney provided a template. The rumors that Paul had died and had been replaced by a lookalike were rampant in the late 1960's. This provided my framework. Hope you like this AU idea! N.B. All the named characters are actual Beatle associates, including Jane Asher and her famous red hair. The timeframe and album details are based on accounts of the Beatles atv this time as well.
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