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History Lessons  by Nilmandra

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and places belong to the esteemed J.R.R. Tolkien and Tolkien Enterprises and/or New Line Cinema. I borrow them carefully and gently, and promise to return them intact and unharmed at the end of the story. Lord Elrond assures me I will make no money on this endeavor whatsoever and I believe him

This story is set during the time covered in the Silmarillion. You do not need to have read the Silmarillion to enjoy the story. The wonderfully engaging storyteller, Lord Glorfindel, will tell you everything you need to know. This story is book-canon based. If I have made any errors, please do let me know. Where canon was silent or contradictory, I used that which fit my purposes (ie - what Glorfindel told me). I receive no greater pleasure than to receive feedback from my readers. Please enjoy and leave a review, a comment, encouragement or whatever is on your mind. Blessings to you all!

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter.

History Lessons

Chapter 1: A boring history lesson

TA 142

Elrond stood in the shadows of the hall outside the door of the classroom where his sons were taught. He leaned causally against the doorframe, arms folded across his chest, as he listened to the tutor teach his sons about the history of Arda. The twins were obviously unimpressed by the lesson, yet trying very hard to appear attentive and learn the facts and dates being presented to them.

"When did the first age of Arda begin?" Istuion addressed the question to Elrohir.

"When the Noldor left Aman and came to Arda," Elrohir answered.

"Elladan, why did the Noldor leave Aman?" Istuion turned to the dark head that was nearly resting on top of the table.

"Because they wanted their own kingdoms and lands," Elladan sighed.

"Name two great strongholds of the elves in the First Age."

"Doriath," Elrohir answered first.

"Gondolin," Elladan chimed in quickly. "Did you know that Glorfindel is from Gondolin? He fought the balrog on the pass……"

"Yes, I am aware of that, but it is not really relevant to this lesson," Istuion interrupted the child. "Please only answer the questions I pose to you."

"Yes Istuion," Elladan replied, subdued.

Elrond listened for a few minutes more, noting the stolen glances of his sons out the large window at the east end of the room. The sun was shining brightly after a night of rain, birds could be heard chirping in the trees outside the house, and the sounds of other elflings playing outside drifted into their lesson, drawing their attention away from that which they were supposed to be learning. Elrond cleared his throat to make his presence known, and glided into the room.

"Ada!" Elladan and Elrohir cried simultaneously. Both started to rise, then stopped and looked at Istuion. He nodded and they rose, moving quickly to their father.

"Are you hungry for lunch, nín-ions?" he smiled at bright faces as small arms wrapped around his waist from both sides.

"Yes, Ada!" Elrond knew their excitement had as much to do with the growling in their bellies as it did with the ending of the lesson.

"Glorfindel is home and will be joining us," Elrond shared the good news.

Small bodies deserted him amidst cries of joy as the elflings raced to the dining hall. Elrond turned to Istuion. "This will end their lessons for today. Elladan and Elrohir will be occupied this afternoon with Glorfindel's return."

Istuion frowned but did not argue with the Lord of Imladris. His lesson plans were carefully planned and he had much he wished to accomplish. He bowed slightly as Elrond left the room, then sighed. He would need to adjust his coverage of the first age again.

* * *

"Glorfindel! Glorfindel!" Elrond could hear the excited shouts of his sons as they greeted the seneschal of Imladris. He entered the dining hall to see his sons wrapped around the mighty elf lord as he knelt before them, accepting their hugs and greetings.

Glorfindel was dressed in a twilight blue tunic and leggings, edged with tiny embroidered yellow flowers. His golden hair was braided in a style that was adopted by his House ages before. The flowers and the braid style were all that Glorfindel wore to reflect his heritage. He had sworn his allegiance to the High King Gil-Galad upon his return to Middle-Earth and then to Elrond and the refuge of Imladris. A beloved member of Elrond's house, Glorfindel was a favorite of the twins.

"Did you see Cirdan? What is the sea like? Did you see any big fish?" Glorfindel was peppered with questions.

"Elladan, Elrohir, please wash your faces and hands and then take your places at the table," Elrond gently extricated his sons and sent them to the washroom.

"They have grown, Elrond," Glorfindel commented as he rose to his full height. "I think it is time to begin teaching them to use the sword."

Elrond smiled. "Are you volunteering to instruct them?"

"If you so wish," Glorfindel clapped him on the back. "I will see that training swords are crafted for them."

"They will be very excited," Elrond replied. "I only wish they could be so enthralled with their studies."

"The children of Master Elrond, the Lore-master of the elves, do not like their studies?" Glorfindel asked, surprised.

"Their history lessons are not what they might hope for," Elrond admitted.

"Are the lessons what their father might hope for?" Glorfindel inquired.

"No, their father would be equally subdued by the memorization of names and dates," Elrond laughed. "I must speak to Istuion about teaching them more than the memorization of facts. They are young but capable of understanding the reasons for events that occurred and application of that knowledge today."

"Perhaps you should teach them yourself," Glorfindel suggested.

Elrond pondered that idea silently. Before he could respond the twins returned with their normal vigor, sitting at the table with scrubbed faces and hands, waiting for the adults to join them.

"Perhaps," Elrond replied thoughtfully. "Perhaps the mighty Captain and Balrog Slayer of Gondolin might teach them as well."

"Only if I can teach them my way," Glorfindel accepted the challenge.

One brow arched, Elrond eyed the laughing warrior. "What is your 'way', pray tell?"

"You will have to watch, my friend." Glorfindel's eyes twinkled as he sat down between the twins. "Cirdan sends his greetings to you two. He wants to know when you plan to visit him, that he might tell you stories of your father?"

"Stories about Ada?" Elladan grinned. "Did Ada ever get into mischief? Did he ever…."

Elrond watched as Glorfindel began to tell a story he had learned from Gil-Galad about mischief that Elrond had once gotten into while living on Balar. His attention partially on the three conspirators, he saw Celebrían appear in the hall and moved to escort her. "Meleth-nín," Elrond kissed her hand. "I am glad you could join us for lunch this day."

"I am glad also," Celebrían replied. "Planning for the spring planting is on schedule. I am well pleased with the help Erestor has provided to me. Glorfindel!" Celebrían's eyes fell upon the golden-haired elf sitting with her sons and she walked to him, pleased when he rose and bowed to her, kissing her hand and accepting a return kiss to the cheek.

"Nana! Glorfindel is telling us a story about Ada!" Elrohir exclaimed as Elrond seated Celebrían, who was quickly drawn into the story; and Glorfindel held their attention as he regaled them with the tale he had recently heard from Cirdan.

Elrond was silent, allowing Glorfindel to tell Cirdan's version of the story which lasted through lunch. He listened as Glorfindel wove into the story the names and descriptions of the Havens of the Falas, the ships of Cirdan and Gil-Galad's role in the mischief. Glorfindel finished the story as the twins finished eating.

"I wish we lived in the First Age," Elladan nudged Elrohir. "It was so exciting then."

"If they might be excused, I need the presence of the twins for an important errand," Glorfindel addressed Elrond as he rose.

"You may be excused," Elrond answered the eager expectation in the eyes of his children. He turned to Glorfindel. "I will join you later."

Glorfindel smiled. "Leave the robes."

With a twin tugging on either hand, Glorfindel left the house and headed to the armory where, unbeknownst to the twins, they were about to be fitted with their first training swords.

"What is happening this afternoon?" Celebrían inquired.

"Glorfindel plans to begin their weapons training," Elrond replied. "He has also accepted a challenge to help teach them their lessons. I plan to watch this afternoon, but I plan to be involved in their education in both of these areas."

Celebrían kissed him and rose. "My Adar took responsibility for my education. It is a highlight of my childhood. I am pleased you wish to do this for our sons as well."

Celebrían watched as a brief shadow crossed Elrond's face. He quickly masked it, his face becoming impassive almost immediately. Her mind touched his, though, and she could feel the wall that he had erected to protect himself from intrusion into this private part of his life. His pain tugged at her heart, and she felt an overwhelming sorrow at the many losses and turmoil of his early years. She moved to stand behind him, gently kneading his shoulders and massaging his upper arms. The tension that had flitted through him gradually eased and she felt him relax both mind and body.

Elrond reached both hands up, twining them with Celebrían's and pulling her down to him. He lightly kissed the inside of each of her wrists, feeling her warm breath against his ear, then her lips. He felt the delicate kisses, the light flicking of her tongue against the tip of his ear and his breath drew in sharply. He twisted in his chair, and pulled her into his lap. Her arms wrapped loosely around his neck, she gazed into his eyes and raised her head to press her lips to his, sucking lightly on his lower lip. He returned the kiss gently, probing delicately into her mouth and tasting the sweet wine they had enjoyed with their meal.

"I love you, Elrond Peredhil," she whispered as she embraced him.

"I love you too, Celebrían," Elrond replied, his voice husky. "Thank you."

Celebrían replied by deepening the kiss. "Hervenn, adar, melethron, Hîr," she kissed him gently, once for each word. "I must return to Erestor."

Elrond set her on her feet and watched with admiration as she glided from the room, the soft swish of her skirts the only noise as the silk moved with the sway of her hips. The door closed softly behind her, and he stared at it for a moment. A smile crossed his face briefly. She always knew what he needed, knew when his insecurities plagued his mind. She would remind him of all that he had been blessed with - wife, children, friends, the protected refuge in which they lived - and it was enough to overcome the losses that had occurred throughout his life.

Those who raised him had loved him, but he had not had mother or father, home or security in those early years. He wished to provide those things to his children; he wished to teach them all he knew, all they might want to know. Glorfindel was right. He would entrust some things to their tutors; but they could have no better teachers than their own father or beloved friend. He would teach them his way as well.

* * *

Elrond shed his outer robes, as suggested, and walked to the grassy field where Glorfindel was sitting with elflings gazing at him attentively. Elladan and Elrohir each held a small training sword in their laps, with cloths and vials of oil within easy reach. They were oiling the blades, mimicking Glorfindel's movements as closely as possible. Elrond sat down on the slope of the slight hill, Glorfindel aware of his presence but his sons' backs to him. He listened as Glorfindel described to the twins how to care for their blades, as well as why it was so important to provide that care. They finished and Glorfindel sheathed his sword, followed promptly by the children.

"What are you studying with Istuion?" Glorfindel asked.

Elladan sighed audibly. "The First Age."

"You do not sound very happy about it," Glorfindel replied, one eyebrow raised as he gazed at the more dramatic of the two elves. "At lunch you said that the First Age was exciting and you wished you lived then."

"YOUR First Age is exciting. Istuion's is not," Elrohir explained.

"Really? You both do know that we are talking about the same First Age?"

Elladan laughed. "Of course."

"Your father was born in the First Age," Glorfindel informed them.

"Our Ada?" Elrohir looked incredulous.

"Your father and his twin brother," Glorfindel continued.

"Ada has a twin, just like us?"

"It runs in your family. Your grandmother, Elwing, had twin brothers too."

Elladan stood up and moved to stand at eye level, right in front of Glorfindel. "We have a grandmother named Elwing?"

Glorfindel laughed and pulled the elfling into his lap. "Yes, the mother of your Ada was named Elwing. Your father did not know her very well though."

"How can someone not know their Nana?" Elrohir crawled closer to Glorfindel too, confused.

"The First Age was very exciting, but it was also very tragic Elrohir," Glorfindel replied. "Many elves died or left Middle-Earth during that time. Almost everyone who stayed lost someone they loved. Your father lost his grandparents and his parents when he was just a tiny elfling."

Elrohir's eyes filled with tears. "Ada didn't have an ada or a nana? Who took care of him? Who tucked him into bed at night? Who did he go to when he was scared of thunder?"

Glorfindel's eyes met Elrond's as he stroked Elrohir's hair and soothed him. He wished he could provide comfort to Elrond, for he felt the remnants of pain deep in his friend's soul.

"Your Ada had other people who loved him and took care of him, and he had his brother when he was little too. They were as close as you two are now. Your Ada is a very special elf; did you know that?"

Two little heads nodded. Of course their Ada was special. He was their Ada after all.

"Would you like to hear the story of when your Ada was little?"

"Yes!" two young voices answered him together.

"Why don't we go inside to my study and I will tell you there, where it is nice and warm?" Glorfindel suggested. The afternoon sun was dipping below the treetops and the temperature had dropped as shade spread over the field.

Glorfindel stood and led the twins to the armory, where they put their swords and equipment away. As they came out of the stone building, they saw their Ada.

"Ada! Glorfindel is going to tell us a story of when you were little! Do you want to come hear it?" the twins called, two voices forming the sentences although only one spoke at a time. They were very good at completing each other's thoughts.

"I would like very much to hear it," Elrond answered, amused. He glanced at Glorfindel who grinned back at him. "After all, Glorfindel was not there for all of my youth."

"True," Glorfindel admitted. "However, I have very good sources of information."

The four settled into Glorfindel's study with drinks and the elflings sat next to Glorfindel as he began his story.

* * * * *

Hervenn ---------------- husband
Adar -------------------- father

For all of you who know your Silmarillion well, please bear with me! Elladan and Elrohir do not, and thus Glorfindel has some work to do!

Chapter 2: The Silmarillion for Elflings

Glorfindel drew Elladan and Elrohir close as he spread a map out across his knees. He looked at one, then the other and drew in a deep breath.

"Maybe you are not old enough for this story yet."


"There is much you need to know to understand what was happening then," Glorfindel protested. "I do not know that you can remember all of this!"


"Are you sure? There are many names of men, elves, and places to keep track of," Glorfindel warned them.

"We can remember lots of things!" Elrohir tugged on the sleeve of Glorfindel's tunic. "Please Glorfindel?"

Glorfindel paused and studied them for a moment. "Well, we can try," he relented. "You must promise to stop me and ask questions if I tell you too much and you don't remember what something means. Later you will need to study this map with me. It is best to see the geography of the land we are talking about."

"Yes Glorfindel, we promise!" each elfling promised for himself and his twin.

"Now, where should we begin? Glorfindel mused, looking at first one elfling, then the other. "Well, I suppose there is no better place to begin than. . . the beginning. You are mighty small pen-neth. Perhaps the beginning is too far back?"

"No Glorfindel! We can start at the beginning. We have very good minds," Elrohir answered.

Glorfindel smiled. "In the beginning Eru, the One, who we call Ilúvatar sang into existence spirit beings, each one a representation of his thought. Do you know what these spirit beings were called?"

"The Valar!" Elrohir answered.

"Some of the Valar took on bodily forms and with the thoughts that had created them, they created Arda. There are seven Kings of the Valar and seven Queens. But there was one, one who was as mighty as Manwë and most in the thought of Ilúvatar…"

The elflings looked at him expectantly.  "His name was Melkor, but no elf uses that name today. You have learned of him by another name."

"Morgoth!" Elladan exclaimed. "It was Morgoth and he was bad!"

"It was Morgoth," Glorfindel replied. His paused, then lowering his voice continued, "Do you know why Morgoth was bad?"

Two small heads shook as they drew closer to Glorfindel.

"He was jealous. Even though Morgoth, then called Melkor, was one of the most powerful of the Valar, he was jealous of the other Valar and that which they created. He turned to destroying the good things they made instead of adding his own good things to Arda."

Elladan looked at Elrohir and felt his face flush. He leaned across Glorfindel's knees and beckoned his twin to draw near. "I am sorry I scribbled on your drawing," he whispered.

Elrohir patted his hand. "And I am sorry I ruined your carving," he whispered back.

Elladan's eyes narrowed. "You did that?"

Glorfindel suppressed a chuckle and gently separated the elflings, continuing the story. "There are others who are like the Valar, who act as their helpers and servants, called the Maiar. Some of them thought Melkor was great and they wanted to serve him, to be like him. Do you know who some of the servants of Melkor are?"

"Sauron," Elladan breathed.

"Yes, Sauron is one. But there were others."

Elrohir thought for a moment. "The balrog? The balrog you fought?"

"There were many balrogs," Glorfindel answered. "The balrogs were servants of Melkor too. So were Ungoliant, the giant spider, and the vampire Thuringwethil."

Elladan's eyes widened and Elrohir shuddered as Glorfindel whispered those fearsome names. "Melkor and his servants rose up against the Valar and fought over Arda long before elves or men awakened. Melkor destroyed Middle-Earth. The great lamps that provided light to Arda were broken, the lands split and the seas rose up in tumult. The dwellings of the Valar were destroyed so they moved to the westernmost land which was called . . . ."

"Aman!" Elrohir interrupted.

Glorfindel smiled and tousled the elfling's hair. "Yes Aman. The Valar built their mansions in Valinor, and Yavanna sang the two trees into being. The light of the trees was glorious and the Valar turned all their attention to making Valinor beautiful. Who else did Ilúvatar create? "

"He created the elves," Elrohir's eyes were wide with excitement.

"The elves are called the Firstborn of the Children of Ilúvatar. Sometime after the Valar moved to Aman the firstborn awoke in Middle-Earth. They woke under the stars that Varda, Elbereth the star kindler we call her, had created, and they loved the twilight. But there was evil still in Middle-Earth, and it was Melkor who first knew that the elves had awakened. Do you think Melkor liked the elves?"

"No," Elladan whispered. "I think he tried to hurt them."

"You are right, Elladan. Melkor and his evil creatures captured some of the elves. The elves spoke of the Hunter that would come and take them if they ever went too far, alone, from the safety of their group."

"The Valar should help them," Elrohir protested.

"The Valar thought they should too," Glorfindel answered. "They went to war against Melkor in the Battle of the Powers, finally capturing him and imprisoning him in the Fastness of Mandos. But even with Melkor gone, there was still much evil in the dark places of the earth. So the Valar went to the elves and asked them to come live in Aman. Many of the elves decided to go. Do you know what this is called?

"The Great Journey!" Elrohir jumped up. "We learned that."

"Some elves were unwilling to go. . ."

"The Avari!"

"Right," Glorfindel laughed as both elflings were now standing before him. "The Avari were the ones unwilling to make the journey. Do you know what kind of elves did make the journey? One is the Vanyar."

"Noldor!" Elrohir shouted.

"Teleri!" Elladan was close behind.

"My, you do know lots," Glorfindel complimented them. "Do you remember if all of these elves completed the journey?"

"Some did not," Elrohir answered, his little foot tapping as he tried to remember which ones had not completed the journey.

"Some of the Teleri did not go, and this is important for our story. They fell away and settled here in Beleriand," Glorfindel pointed at the map. "These elves that fell away and the Avari are known as the Moriquendi."

"Why did they fall away?" Elladan asked.

"Because there was much to see in Middle-Earth and they loved it there. In the case of one of the elf Kings, Elwë, it was because he met the Maia Melian and fell in love with her. They settled with many of King Elwë's people here at Doriath in Beleriand. Do you know where Beleriand was located?"

Heads shook again, and Glorfindel directed them to the map in his lap. "Beleriand is this land located west of the Blue Mountains. All that is left of it today is this little piece of land we call Lindon. You can see how big this used to be. All of the elves of Beleriand considered Elwë, now called Thingol, their King."

The twins studied the map of Beleriand, noting the lines Glorfindel drew to show them where the new shores of the sea were located and watching as he pointed out landmarks as he spoke of them.

"Now, what elves came to Middle-Earth at the beginning of the First Age?"

"The Noldor!" Elladan cried. "We just learned that today!"

"You are correct, Elladan," Glorfindel answered as he ruffled the elfling's hair. "Do you know why the Noldor came to Middle-Earth?"

"Not exactly," Elladan admitted.

"Finwë was the King of the Noldor in Aman," Glorfindel continued.

"We are related to King Finwë," Elrohir offered.

"Yes, you are," Glorfindel smiled. "Finwë had a son named Fëanor. Fëanor was very talented at making things, and he made three great jewels. These jewels held the light of the trees in Valinor. Do you know what these living Jewels were called?"

Both elflings shook their heads.

"They were the Silmarils. They were beautiful and strong - unable to be damaged or destroyed. Held within the Silmarils was the fate of Arda, earth, sea and air."

"Oh," Elladan and Elrohir were both open mouthed.

"Now Melkor served his time, three ages, in the fastness of Mandos before Manwë released him. Melkor returned to live among the elves and the Valar in Aman, and he pretended to be helpful and good. But he was still evil, and he really was looking for a way to harm the elves and the Valar. He wanted the Silmarils. So he began looking for ways to deceive and create unrest among the elves, especially the Noldor.

"Now Fëanor was very possessive of the Silmarils and did not want anyone looking at them or touching them. Melkor told him that the Valar desired the jewels. So Fëanor took his seven sons and moved from the city of Valmar where they had long dwelled and they formed a new stronghold called Formenos where Fëanor thought he could better protect his treasure.

"Now there was a great feast in Valmar that all the Valar and elves attended. While everyone was at the feast, Melkor and Ungoliant destroyed the two trees of Valinor. The only way the light could be restored would be to take that light back from the Silmarils. While Fëanor was struggling over whether he would give up his Silmarils, Melkor and Ungoliant went to Formenos and cast down the walls, killing King Finwë, the father of Fëanor. This was the first murder.

"Ungoliant took the treasures of Fëanor and Melkor stole the Silmarils. Melkor and Ungoliant returned to Angband, his former stronghold in Middle-Earth. There they fought over the Silmarils, with Melkor finally winning when his Balrogs awoke and helped him defeat Ungoliant. Melkor set himself up as King of the World and set the Silmarils upon his crown.

"Fëanor, in his grief at the death of his father and the loss of the Silmarils, incited the Noldor elves to revolt against the Valar. Fëanor and his sons, and some others swore an oath to seek the Silmarils at any cost from any who withheld one of the jewels from them. Fëanor is who gave Melkor the name Morgoth, and that is the name all elves now use.

"Then the Noldor marched to the sea where the Teleri elves kept their ships. They would not aid the Noldor. Do you know what Fëanor did then?" Glorfindel held the rapt attention of the elflings. Two heads shook slowly.

"Fëanor and his sons fought the Teleri and killed them. This was the first kin-slaying, the first time elves killed elves. The Noldor who killed the Teleri stole their ships and sailed to Beleriand. Because of this, the Valar exiled Fëanor and all the Noldor that decided to follow him from Valinor. They were told if they left, they could not come back. Many of the Noldor who had not sworn oaths or killed could not bear to be parted from their kin, and so followed them on foot over the great ice bridge to the north. It was a long and terrible journey."

Elrohir snuggled close to Glorfindel, twisting his fingers in the elf-Lord's tunic. "Glorfindel?"

"Yes, Elrohir?"

"Did you come with the Noldor?"

"Yes, Elrohir."


"Yes, Elrohir?"

"Did you swear an oath?"

"No, Elrohir. Nor did I kill anyone. I did follow, though, as did your grandmother Galadriel."

The elflings were silent as they pondered this information.

"Glorfindel, does this mean you cannot ever sail west?" Elladan asked softly.

"No, Elladan. Manwë lifted the exile at the end of the First Age - we can all sail west."

The twins smiled, clearly relieved.

"When did you move to Gondolin?" Elrohir asked, wanting the story to continue.

"The Noldor princes set up various kingdoms and lands in Beleriand. Turgon, the middle son of Fingolfin who was the second son of King Finwë, built the stronghold of Gondolin. I lived there because I was related through the line of Fingolfin's mother Indis, a Vanyar elf."

"Glorfindel, that was some story," Elrohir looked upon their friend with awe.

"We have not even started the story, Elrohir!" Glorfindel's glorious laugh filled the room. "Now you know who the main people of the first age are and why they are part of the first age. Tomorrow we will learn about the coming of men and then in another 400 years your Ada will be born!"

Elladan and Elrohir stared at each other in shock. "Four hundred years until Ada is born?" Elladan mouthed to Elrohir.

"Glorfindel, will you tell us just a little bit more?" Elrohir pleaded.

Glorfindel sipped his water and glanced at Elrond, who had remained silent throughout. Elrond rose gracefully and stepped outside the room for a moment, then returned to his seat.

"Dinner will be served here," Elrond announced.

Two shining eager faces turned to Glorfindel, who rolled his eyes and sighed. "Well, I guess I must continue if you are so insatiable in your thirst for knowledge. This next part will require that we draw some genealogy trees."

Both elflings looked at him blankly. Glorfindel smiled. "That is where we learn how everyone is related."

He gathered some parchment and ink, placing both in front of Elrohir.

"Now, men first appeared in FA 305. There were three main houses of the Edain or the second born. You are direct descendents from the house of Bëor and the house of Hador. You are very special in the genealogy of Middle Earth - you are descendents from the high Kings Finwë of the Noldor, Ingwë of the Vanyar, and Olwë and Elwë of the Teleri; the men Bëor and Hador, and the Maia Melian. There is no one else like you in all of Middle-Earth."

Elladan and Elrohir gaped at Glorfindel. He smiled at them and picked up the ink quill. "Ready?"

"Finwë was your four times great grandfather on your father's side and your mother's side;

"Ingwë is your great-great-great-grandmother's father; also on your father's side.

"Olwë is your four times great grandfather on your mother's side;

"Elwë and Melian are your fives-times great grandparents on your father's side;

"Barahir of the House of Bëor is your six-times great grandfather on your father's side;

"Hador is your four times great grandfather on your father's side;

"There have been two elf-edain marriages in history - Lúthien and Beren, and Idril and Tuor. They are your great great grandparents and great grandparents, respectively.

"You have Noldor, Vanyar, and Teleri blood.

"Your grandfather on your father's side, Eärendil, is the morning and evening star."

Glorfindel finished the diagram with a flourish and grinned at the stunned looks on the younglings' faces. They stared at the paper for a few moments, small fingers tracing the trees and counting the generations. Elrohir turned to his father.

"Ada, why did you not tell us how confusing we are?"

Elrond tried to suppress a laugh, but it was no use. "I am sorry, Elrohir. It never seemed so confusing until Glorfindel explained it."

Glorfindel threw a wadded up sheet of parchment expertly at Elrond, bouncing the paper off his forehead. Elrond merely laughed harder.

"Finish your dinners, nín-ions," Elrond finally managed to say, "then I will help you with your baths and tuck you in bed."

Elrohir and Elladan looked at each other, then their father, then Glorfindel. Then they laughed too.

"Glorfindel, we cannot wait until tomorrow." Glorfindel was the recipient of enthusiastic hugs. "We are so glad you are home."

* * * * *

nín-ions -----------my sons
pen-neth----------young ones

A/N: Glorfindel of Rivendell is Glorfindel of Gondolin in this story. After reading all I could on him, I have given him a back-history of being part-Vanya and of having crossed on the grinding ice with those who followed the Noldor. These are conclusions I have drawn, but are not facts.

Also, regarding Dior's twins in the last chapter: In the Silmarillion we know only that Dior and Nimloth had two sons. The HoME series makes reference to them in Volumes 4, 5, 11, and 12. The first of those I read was Vol 11 (looking for any speculation as to Elrond's date of birth) and there are three references to them being twins born in the year I 500 and one indicating they were not. I do not know if any one volume of HoME is more 'right' than another. For this purpose, the sons of Dior and Nimloth are twins.

Melkor's name is used for educational purposes only. In conversation he would only be called Morgoth, as stated in the Silmarillion.

Lessons continue…..with a little review to help us all. Glorfindel is a very good teacher that way. Elladan gets the point of the genealogy trees - and I'll think you'll find that you did too….

Special thanks to Daw the Minstrel for beta reading this chapter (and the last one).

Chapter 3: The Silmarillion for Elflings Part II

Elladan and Elrohir squirmed and watched the time, finally dashing in delight from the room when their father appeared to take them to lunch. Istuion flopped ungracefully into a chair and buried his face in his arms. His first tutoring assignment, to the progeny of the Lord of Imladris no less, and he could not make the children learn. Speaking to their father was not an option for him either, as he was encouraging them to spend time listening to Lord Glorfindel tell stories. Stories. He had studied the history books available to him in the great library of Imladris, carefully planned the timelines and lessons they would learn and they were off listening to stories instead. He sighed and stood and went again to re-arrange his lesson plan.

Elrond watched Istuion for a few moments after the twins left the room. He had chosen Istuion for his youth and the initiative he had shown in teaching himself many subjects. The young elf had lost father and grandfather at Dagorlad, he himself being too young to fight. Elrond smiled to himself. Perhaps he would invite Istuion to join Glorfindel and the twins for the story.

* * *

Elrond arrived to find the twins breathless and still sweating after their first sword lesson. Glorfindel had sent them to wash and clean up upon entering the house, and now was inventorying bruises and sore muscles.

"It does not hurt," Elrohir insisted as Glorfindel carefully inspected the darkened spot on his upper arm.

Glorfindel smiled as he squeezed gently and saw tears form in the elfling's eyes.

"I did not mean to hit him so hard," Elladan said quietly, hovering near his brother.

"I know you did not mean to," Glorfindel agreed, "but do you now understand why I told you not to swing the sword at anyone yet?"

"Yes, Glorfindel. We are not ready for that yet," Elladan said contritely.

"You must start at the beginning and learn how to hold the sword and how to stand properly before you learn to swing. When you do first learn to swing, it will not be at your brother either," Glorfindel admonished him gently.

Elrond watched the scene from the door, then left to obtain cool glasses of lemonade for his little warriors. He carefully mixed a slight painkiller into one glass and returned to the study.

"Ada!" Elrohir blinked back tears and ran to his father. "We had our first sword lesson today!"

Elrond set the tray down, and scooped the elfling up in his arms. Elrohir did not realize it when his father examined his bruised arm and shoulder, or when he imparted some of his own healing energy into the child. Elrohir only knew that he felt better after being hugged by Ada.

"I have heard that your new swords will be ready within the week," Elrond said as he sat down with Elrohir in his lap and patted the seat next to him for Elladan to join them.

"Yes, Ada." Elladan wrapped his arms around his Ada's middle and snuggled next to him. "Ada?"

"Yes, Elladan?"

"I hit Elrohir with my training sword."

"Did you hurt him?" Elrond asked.

"Yes, Ada. He has a big bruise and it hurts."

"Did you tell him you were sorry?"

"Yes, Ada, and he forgave me," Elladan buried his face in his father's robe.

"That is good," Elrond replied, cuddling Elladan close. He paused for a moment, then asked, "Did you disobey Glorfindel?"

"Yes, Ada," Elladan sniffed, the sound muffled in the heavy robe.

"Did you tell him you were sorry too?"

Elladan's tear-stained face looked up from the robe. "No, Ada." Elrond gave him a little nudge and Elladan rose and walked to Glorfindel with his head bowed. "Glorfindel?"

"Yes, Elladan?"

"I am sorry I disobeyed you," Elladan said with his head down. "I promise I will not do it ever again."

Glorfindel stifled a chuckle. "Is that a promise you can keep?" he asked the headstrong elfling.

Elladan thought for a moment, his head still bowed as he fingered the hemmed edge of his tunic. "I promise to try to never disobey you again."

Glorfindel tipped the elfling's chin up with a finger. "I forgive you too, and I will hold you to your promise to try," Glorfindel replied.

Elrond passed out glasses of lemonade, pleased when Elrohir drained his glass without noticing any odd taste. Glorfindel yawned as he took the offered beverage.

"I guess we are done for the day then," he said, eyeing the elflings.

"Glorfindel!" Elrohir exclaimed. "You promised!"

"Oh my, so I did." The elf-Lord rubbed his nose. "I guess I cannot have elflings being held to their promises," Glorfindel said, watching Elladan grin, "if I am not held to mine. Let us begin by seeing how much you remember from yesterday. I am going to drill you pretty fast. Call out your answers if you know them. Who created Arda?"


"Who did Ilúvatar create first?"

"The Valar!"

"Who was the mightiest of the Valar?"


"Was Melkor good or evil?"


"Who fought Melkor and chained him up in Mandos?"

"Manwë and the other Valar!"

"Who did the Valar ask to make the Great Journey west?"

"The elves!"

"Which elves went?"

"The Noldor," Elladan said first.

"The Vanyar!" Elrohir put in second.

"And some of the Teleri!" Elladan finished.

"What is the name of the elves who were unwilling to make the Great Journey?"


"What is the name for elves who have never seen the light of the trees of Aman?"


"Who was the first King of the Noldor?"


"Who was Finwë's oldest son?"


"What did Fëanor make that Melkor coveted?"


"What did Fëanor call Melkor after he stole the Silmarils?"


"What did Fëanor swear when he heard that Morgoth had taken the Silmarils to Middle-Earth?"

"An oath!"

"What happened when the Noldor went to the Teleri and asked for their ships to travel to Middle-Earth?"

'The Teleri refused," Elrohir said more solemnly and Elladan finished, "so the Noldor fought and killed some of them. The first Kin-slaying."

"What did the Valar do?"

"Exiled Fëanor and all the Noldor who followed them."

"Where did the Noldor go?"


"Who was already in Beleriand?"

"King Thingol and Queen Melian at Doriath!"

"What do we call the time after the Noldor arrived?"

"The First Age!"

"What is a great hidden city that was built by the Noldor in Beleriand?"

"Gondolin! Where you lived, Glorfindel!" Elrohir reminded him.

"Who came to Beleriand for the first time in the year I 305?"


"Now for the toughest question: to whom are you two related?"

Elladan and Elrohir exchanged glances. Elrohir was already mouthing words and counting on his fingers.

"Everyone!" Elladan broke in.

Glorfindel and Elrond laughed aloud. Istuion had slipped into the room quietly at Elrond's bidding. He smiled and sat back in his chair, amazed at how much the elflings remembered.

"Then I think we can begin the story," Glorfindel said dramatically.

King Thingol and Queen Melian lived in the kingdom of Doriath. Born to them was Lúthien, the most beautiful elf-maiden who has ever lived. Lúthien was dancing in the wood one day, and Beren, a man from the House of Bëor, saw her and fell in love with her. Their love story was tragic, but Beren eventually won the right to marry Lúthien when he retrieved one of the Silmarils from Morgoth. They had a son, Dior, who became the heir of Thingol. Dior fell in love with Nimloth, who was also from Doriath, they married and in the year I 503 their daughter Elwing was born.

King Turgon of Gondolin had a daughter named Idril. She married the man Tuor, who was from the houses of Hador and Bëor. A son named Eärendil was born to them in I 503. Both Eärendil and Elwing were half-elven.

Tragedy befell Doriath when the dwarves attacked, killing King Thingol and taking the Silmaril that Beren had recovered. Queen Melian returned to the gardens of Lorien in Aman, and she has not been seen ever again in Middle-Earth. Before she left she sent word to Lúthien and Beren, and their son Dior and his wife Nimloth, of what had occurred. Beren and Dior returned and fought the dwarves, killing them and recovering the Silmaril. Beren and Lúthien held the Silmaril until their death; it was then sent to Dior in Doriath.

The sons of Fëanor heard of Dior's possession of the Silmaril, and they remembered their oath when they left Aman: that they would pursue whoever withheld a Silmaril from them. Fëanor was dead, but his sons organized an attack on Doriath in I 505. This is the second kin-slaying. Three of Fëanor's sons were killed, but so were Dior and Nimloth. They had two sons, Eluréd and Elurín, who were reported to have been left to starve in the forest. Maedhros, one of Fëanor's sons, repented of this action and tried to find them, but to no avail. Some of the people of Doriath did escape, taking young Elwing and the Silmaril with them. They escaped down the River Sirion and settled near the mouths of the Sirion.

In I 510, when Eärendil was just seven years old, Morgoth attacked Gondolin. For almost four hundred years the city had been hidden in the encircling mountains, and Morgoth was unable to locate it. Sadly enough it was Maeglin, King Turgon's nephew, that betrayed them to Morgoth. When the city was sacked, Idril and Tuor, with Eärendil and some of their people, escaped out a secret but dangerous exit. While escaping they were attacked by orcs and balrogs.

"Is that when you fought the Balrog, Glorfindel?" Elladan jumped up.

"That is where I fought the Balrog," Glorfindel confirmed.

"You saved their lives," Elrohir said in wonder.

"Actually, I did not," Glorfindel corrected the child gently. "I fought the Balrog and it died, but if the great Eagles had not come and destroyed the orcs, those fleeing would still have been caught or killed."

"You fought the Balrog for no reason?" Elladan was crushed.

"No, Elladan. The Balrog would have killed them if I had not fought it. I think the Eagles found us by seeing the flaming whip of the Balrog as we fought. If we had not fought, the whip might not have been raised and the eagles might not have come in time."

"What did you do after you beat the Balrog? Did you go back and fight more or did you escape too?" Elrohir asked.

"I did not exactly beat the Balrog, Elrohir. It died, but so did I. The great Eagle Thorondor carried my body away and buried it. My spirit went to the Halls of Mandos."

Elrohir sat up straight in his father's lap where he had been comfortably held. Elladan had been sitting next to Glorfindel. He now stood. Both children stared at Glorfindel openmouthed.

"But how. . . . ."

"When did . . . ."

"All elves that die go to the Halls of Mandos. Namo and Manwë determine how long you must stay there. I was released for the purpose of returning to Middle-Earth. Elves who are released and given new bodies normally stay in Aman," Glorfindel explained simply.

"I am glad you came back to Middle-Earth," Elladan said resolutely, arms crossed on his chest.

"Did you have to come back here?" Elrohir asked.

"No, tithen-min," Glorfindel replied. "I was asked if I wished to return, and I did. Now, let us continue the story."

Elladan sat back down next to Glorfindel and Elrohir relaxed back into father's arms, wincing a little as his arm touched his father's shoulder. Elrond shifted him so he was cuddled on his side, his sore arm out.

Tuor, Idril, Eärendil and their people escaped down the River Sirion, settling near the mouths of the Sirion with the remnant of people who had come from Doriath.

With Turgon dead, Ereinion Gil-Galad was named High King of the Noldor elves. He was born in I 445. When he was only ten years old, his father Fingon sent him to live with Cirdan the Shipwright. His grandfather Fingolfin died that same year at Dagor Bragollach, the Siege of Angband. His father, Fingon, died sixteen years later at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (Unnumbered Tears) where he was a slain by a Balrog.

Gil-Galad was very young when Gondolin and Doriath fell. He was just into his majority when he was named High King. He sailed with Cirdan, who had raised him, and Cirdan eventually moved some of his people to Sirion to join with the survivors of Doriath and Gondolin.

Eärendil's parents, Tuor and Idril, built a ship and sailed west. Eärendil was Lord of his people at Sirion, and he married Elwing of fallen Doriath. In I 532 your father and his twin brother Elros were born.

Ulmo, the Valar who rules the Sea, went to Valinor at this time and spoke with the Valar, pleading with them to come to the aid of the elves against the wrath of Morgoth. But Manwë was not moved by his pleas, and no aid was sent. The tale is told that until one came to speak on behalf of elves and men, seeking pardon for their misdeeds and pity for their suffering, the Valar would not aid Middle-Earth.

It was Eärendil who took up this task, building with Cirdan's aid Vingilot, a beautiful white ship, and setting sail in search of his parents, in search of Valinor. Many and long were his voyages, and yet he found them not. In Sirion Elwing sat in sorrow, for she was not with him.

Glorfindel stopped and looked at the expectant faces watching him. Elrond seemed lost in thought, his mind traveling back to his earliest memories. Elrohir's eyes were beginning to droop and he snuggled closer to his Adar. Elladan tugged on his tunic.

"Did Ada's ada take him on the ship?"

Glorfindel stretched his long legs and leaned back against the leather couch. "No, Elladan. Your Ada and Uncle Elros were just babies when Eärendil set sail."

"But Ada was excited to see his ada when he came home," Elladan stated.

"No, tithen-min, your Ada never got to see his ada again in Middle-Earth," Glorfindel said gently. He watched Elrond, but his friend's face was impassive. "Elwing had in her possession the Silmaril that Beren and Lúthien had recovered from Morgoth. Fëanor's sons had not recovered it when they attacked Doriath and killed Dior and Nimloth. Word came to Maedhros that the Silmaril was in Sirion."

"What did he do?" Elladan asked.

"Maedhros struggled mightily with the oath he had made, Elladan. But this is enough for today, pen-neth. Elrohir needs a nap and I dare say you are hungry," Glorfindel tousled Elladan's hair.

"I will go see what we are having to eat tonight!" Elladan jumped to his feet and raced out the door. Istuion bowed silently to the elf-Lords and followed the child.

"Not tired," Elrohir mumbled sleepily from his nest in his father's arms.

Elrohir's voice broke through Elrond's thoughts and he smiled down at the drowsy elfling. He ran his hand lightly over the deepening bruise on the child's upper arm and felt the heat given off by the damaged blood vessels as they worked to repair themselves. Elrohir drew away slightly from even that light touch. Elrond moved his hand to his son's forehead and closing his own eyes, imparted healing and strength to the elfling. Elrohir relaxed in his arms, and Elrond pushed him gently into sleep. He opened his eyes to see the golden-haired elf-Lord watching him thoughtfully.

"My apologies, Elrond. I did not realize how hard his brother hit him," Glorfindel said quietly.

"It is only a deep bruise," Elrond replied. "I think he will find the soreness interferes with holding a sword tomorrow, though."

"Tomorrow we will not be handling swords," Glorfindel replied, a twinkle in his eye.

Elrond raised an eyebrow. "You shall have two disappointed small elves to contend with."

Glorfindel merely smiled. "Tomorrow they shall learn how to follow orders."

Elrond smiled himself at that. Elrohir would not have a problem following orders; Elladan on the other hand. . . . Elrond shook his head, clearing away the memory that had just bubbled to the surface. Elros had been just as headstrong as Elladan showed signs of being. . .

Elrond stood and looked down at his son, sleeping peacefully in his arms. He kissed the top of the small dark head, and with a nod to Glorfindel he carried the precious bundle to his bed.

* * * * *

Tithen min------------little one
Pen-neth--------------young one

A/N: Dates of birth for Eärendil is taken from the Silmarillion; the dates of birth for Elwing, Elrond and Elros are taken from the range of dates listed in the HoME Volume 11. Regarding Glorfindel's return: nowhere is it stated when Glorfindel returned to ME or why. I have no idea if the flame from the Balrog attracted Thorondor to Cirith Thoronath where Glorfindel battled the Balrog as Tuor, Idril, Eärendil and the remnant of Gondolin escaped. But Glorfindel (cloned, v1.0, perfected) said it; who am I to argue with a mighty Elf-Lord?

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter.

Chapter 4: Orders and Oaths

Glorfindel arrayed his equipment on the lawn near the training shed. He had small brightly colored bags of beans and small painted wood stakes that he was lining up in various patterns and designs on the grounds. He heard the approach of elflings before he saw them.

"Glorfindel! What is this?" Elladan was already reaching for a bright blue bag.

"Do not touch!" Glorfindel called. A smile tugged on his lips as the child withdrew his hand as if burned.

"How come?"

"Because I said so."

Elladan and Elrohir stood silently in front of him, words having escaped them.

"Glorfindel?" Elrohir ventured.

"Yes, Elrohir?"

"Are we in trouble?"

"No, Elrohir," Glorfindel replied. "Today we are having a different kind of lesson." He sat down on the ground in front of the twins, motioning for them to sit too. "Being a warrior means more than knowing how to shoot an arrow or fight with a sword or ride a horse. One of the most important things a warrior must learn is how to follow orders. Do you know why it is important for even warriors as small as you to follow orders?"

Both children pondered the question; Elrohir answered first. "So that when you tell us to do something you know that we will do it?"

Glorfindel nodded, then looked at Elladan.

"So that when you tell us not to do something you know that we will not do it?" Elladan blushed as he answered.

"Yes," Glorfindel answered seriously. "Swords and bows and knives are necessary weapons. We use them to defend ourselves, and they may mean the difference between life and death for ourselves or for those we defend. It is very important that you follow orders when you are learning to wield them so that you do not get hurt, and so that you do not hurt others. Are you ready to learn to follow orders?"

"Yes, Glorfindel!" both children replied together.

Glorfindel stood and the elflings quickly followed him. He noted immediately their serious demeanor - backs straight, heads held high, expressions intense - as they fell in line behind him. He stopped at the beginning of the pattern and turned to face his small soldiers.

"Elrohir, may I see your arm?" Glorfindel asked.

Elrohir pulled up the sleeve of his tunic to reveal his black, blue and yellow upper arm. Glorfindel gently smoothed his hand over the skin, noting the flinch of pain. He raised the arm and rotated the shoulder slowly, noting the body language that bespoke of pain while the little warrior bit his lip.

"When warriors train we adjust their lessons to accommodate injuries, for we do not wish to worsen an existing injury," Glorfindel explained. "I am assessing what you can do and what you cannot."

"I can do everything Elladan can do!" Elrohir protested.

"You can do everything; however, it is not wise for you to do everything," Glorfindel explained. He caught the look shared between the twins - Elladan's eyes pleading again for forgiveness and Elrohir's showing his frustration at the topic being raised. Glorfindel smiled inwardly. A tough lesson learned - there are consequences for actions and those consequences sometimes exist after forgiveness is granted. Forgetting could not occur until the wound was healed.

"Stand here," Glorfindel ordered, ignoring the silent communication occurring between the younglings. "When I say 'start', you may follow the path set up with the wooden stakes. Elladan, you are to follow the red stakes and pick up all the green bags you see. Elrohir, you are to follow the blue stakes and pick up all the yellow bags. You must listen to me, for I may change the directions at any time."

Elladan grinned at Elrohir. "This will be fun."

"Start!" Glorfindel called and watched at the elflings ran forward. Elrohir began more cautiously than his brother, following the stakes and being sure to grab every yellow bag he could. Elladan moved faster, occasionally missing a green bag, but moving further ahead. "Elrohir, follow the green stakes now, and pick up red bags."

Elrohir switched immediately, while Elladan stopped and looked expectantly at Glorfindel. When Glorfindel said nothing, Elladan resumed his course. He was just approaching the edge of the clearing when Glorfindel called, "Elladan, follow the yellow stakes and pick up the blue bags now!"

Elladan hesitated for only a moment. There was one more red bag in the tall grass, and he wanted to get it. He reasoned that grabbing the one bag would not take that much time, and then he could switch colors. He ran into the tall grass. . . . and promptly sank into the marshy ground. His momentum carried his body forward, even as his feet mired in the muck. A squeal escaped him as he landed sprawled face first in the mud.

"Elladan!" Elrohir called. He started to run, then remembered his orders. He watched as Glorfindel calmly walked over and picked up the errant elfling by the back of his tunic and set him on his feet. Elrohir's lower lip quivered as he wanted to run comfort his brother, then Elladan turned to face him.

"El, you. . .you . . you are a mud monster!" Elrohir burst out laughing.

Elladan glared at his brother, then looked down at the front of himself. Very white teeth appeared in a grin on his blackened face. "I should go scare Nana! She said there were no such things as mud monsters!"

"Ahem," Glorfindel cleared his throat. "Master Mud Monster, why are you covered in mud?"

Elladan bowed his head slightly, hiding his smile. "Because I did not follow orders?"

"Correct," Glorfindel replied. "If you had stopped when I told you, you would have avoided the mud altogether." Glorfindel walked to the spot in the course where he had Elrohir change course. "Elrohir, come here."

Elrohir walked to Glorfindel, and squatted down close to the ground. "Glorfindel, these are the first snowdrops of the year!" Elrohir delicately traced his finger along a petal.

"Indeed they are. I am sure your Nana will be glad to hear it, too. What would have happened, Elrohir, if you had not followed orders?"

"I would have trampled the flowers," Elrohir said simply. He knew how much his Nana treasured the first snowdrops.

"Let us put away the bags and stakes, and then we will get you cleaned up, Elladan," Glorfindel tousled Elrohir's hair as he stood. "Normally we dunk the mud monsters in the pool, but I think it is a little cool for that today."

Elladan was already shivering. He warmed up with the motion of pulling up stakes and picking up bags and returning them to the armory, but was feeling most uncomfortable as the mud dried on him as they returned to the house. They had just reached the back porch when Erestor and Celebrían appeared.

"Nana, I am a mud monster!" Elladan called in glee as he started to run forward. Glorfindel caught him by the back of the tunic again.

"No mudding your mother!" Glorfindel laughed.

Celebrían eyed her little mud monster up and down, and then turned to Glorfindel. "What happened?"

"I fell in the mud!" Elladan answered.

Erestor caught the twinkle in Glorfindel's eye. "Ah, the famous learning to follow orders lesson, I presume?" When Glorfindel nodded, he continued, "Well, we are quite busy with planning, so we will leave it to you to clean him up and get him into clean clothes. Oh, and you should get that mud out of those clothes soon or it will never come out." Erestor deftly steered Celebrían off the porch and away from the mud. "I suggest you carry him so that he does not get mud on anything in the house!" he called over his shoulder.

"Erestor, we should help him," Celebrían admonished the advisor.

Erestor's eyes twinkled merrily. "Lord Glorfindel is famous for making messes; I think he can determine how to clean one up for a change."

"Nana wait! You have to come see the first snowdrops!" Elrohir ran after his Nana, taking her hand and pulling her most persuasively back to the training field. "I will be right back, Glorfindel!"

Elladan stood before Glorfindel, who grinned suddenly. He went inside the house, and grabbed Erestor's cloak from the hall. He held it around Elladan while the child stripped, and then he bundled the naked elfling into the cloak and carried him to the baths. If a little mud happened to get on the cloak. . . . .

"Glorfindel!" Elladan grinned at him conspiratorially. "Erestor will be mad!"

Glorfindel merely smiled and began to hum a merry tune.

* * *

A few brilliant smiles later and Glorfindel managed to avoid cleaning both clothes and baths as the house staff stepped in to complete the tasks. Elrohir rejoined them, and with an elfling on each side Glorfindel retired with them to his study. An additional brilliant smile and gracious thank-you brought them cool drinks and snacks.

"Tell me what you learned today," Glorfindel settled the elflings on either side of him on the comfortable couch.

"If you don't follow orders you get covered in mud," Elladan replied.

"Or you trample the flowers," Elrohir added.

"Mud and flowers are meant only to be examples of things that can happen when orders are not followed," Glorfindel explained. "Mud symbolizes any bad thing that might happen, any danger that we might get into that we could have avoided. Flowers symbolize the innocent and good things that might get hurt by us when we don't listen. There will be times when bad things happen and good things are hurt even when we DO follow orders, for we cannot prevent everything. But those that we can prevent, we should. A warrior is bound by honor to this."

Both elflings nodded, and Glorfindel hoped this time-honored lesson would be remembered.

"Are you ready to continue the story?"

"Yes, Glorfindel!" Elrohir cried. "You left off where Ada was born and his ada was off in a ship and his nana was sad because of it!"

"So I did," Glorfindel replied. "Now, do you remember that your grandmother Elwing still had one of the Sillmarilli?"

Both heads nodded.

"Fëanor and his sons had sworn an oath to recover the Sillmarilli from any who would keep the jewels from them. They killed Teleri elves for their ships that they might follow Morgoth to Middle-Earth to recover them. This was the….

". . . first kin-slaying," Elrohir finished triumphantly.

"Exactly. Now Fëanor was killed fighting Morgoth right after returning to Middle-Earth. But his sons were still bound to the oath they had taken, to recover the Sillmarilli at any cost. They attacked Doriath in the second kin-slaying. Three of Fëanor's seven sons died there. But they still had not recovered any of the Sillmarilli. Morgoth had two of them, and Elwing had the other.

"Maedhros was the oldest son of Fëanor, and he had led many battles against Morgoth. His guilt weighed heavy on him over what he had done at Doriath, and especially that he had abandoned your great-uncles, who were just small children, to die in the forest. So even after he knew that Elwing still had the Silmaril in Sirion, he did not act. But he was tormented by his oath. . . . ."

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

FA 534 Himring

Maedhros sat in silent contemplation, a scrap of parchment resting on the ground near his feet where it had fallen. He stared at the stars just peeking out through the growing darkness of night and his mind was drawn back to Valmar and life in Aman. In the distance he could hear his brother Maglor singing mournfully, and the words drew forth memory. A long list of his life's misdeeds scrolled before his mind's eye, all ascribable to an oath sworn in loyalty to his father, the consequences of which were not considered or weighed by reason. Swearing the oath had been a rash act that had borne bitter fruit. In their anger and self-righteousness they had battled and killed their Teleri kin at Alqualondë for their fine ships, then betrayed their own Noldor kin and left them to cross the grinding ice of the Helcaraxë on foot, where many had perished. They had killed kin again at Doriath; Dior and Nimloth falling and their young sons abandoned to starve. He had regretted that cruel act against children, attempted to right that wrong, but the Valar were right - all he touched was accursed.

For the lust of the Sillmarilli much blood had been spilled. Who would have thought that crafted gems could have led to such treachery and evil? The Sillmarilli had led to distrust between the Noldor and the Valar; the leave-taking of Aman; the return of Morgoth to Middle-Earth and the endangerment of those living in those lands. For lust of the Sillmarilli his grandfather was murdered; his father killed and most recently three of his brothers slain as they pursued recovery of one of the Sillmarilli from Doriath.

Morgoth. He still held two of the Sillmarilli in his stronghold of Angband. Maedros unconsciously rubbed the stump of his right arm. His memories of being cuffed by his right hand to the wall of the cliffs of Thangorodrim - the stronghold of Morgoth - were strong. Phantom pain plagued him, the pain commensurate with his memory. His cousin Fingon had risked much to rescue him; Fingon would have ended his life as he had pleaded if the Eagles had not intervened. The eagles had lifted Fingon to the cliff; where, unable to remove the cuff, Fingon had sliced off his hand to free him. In this act their houses, which were sundered in the treason at Helcaraxë, were reunited.

Yet the oath still stood.

Word had reached him that Elwing of Sirion yet held the Silmaril won by Beren. It had been brought out of Doriath with her, providing protection and prosperity for those elves living at the Havens of Sirion.

He had sent tidings of friendship to Sirion, friendship that should lead to the return of the jewel, based on the claims of the sons of Fëanor to the Silmaril.

The claim was denied.

He had foresworn his oath after the horrors of Doriath - he did not wish to fight anymore!

Yet the oath held him in torment. A promise made to his father; a promise sworn on the name of Iluvatar -sworn with Manwë and Varda as witnesses! How could he not fulfill the oath? He clenched the fist of his left hand. Honor and loyalty to his father still drove him; the oath still bound him. He had presented his case to the Sirion elves, plainly explained his right - the right of Fëanor - to the jewel!

His plea was rejected.

He picked up the parchment and reread Elwing's words. Their Lord was at sea; no decision could be made in his absence. He crumpled the missive in his hand, his head bowing to touch the paper. He was bound by his oath. He would reclaim the Silmaril. If Sirion fought, their blood would be on their own hands.

He would send one more message, try one last time.

He heard Maglor's voice fade as he finished the haunting verse of the Noldolantë, the lament of the Fall of the Noldor. Fall they might, and as Fëanor had sworn, their deeds would be sung in tales until the end of Arda. Aye, their deeds of great evil, for as Manwë had prophesied all they began, even as good, turned to evil.

Maedhros felt rather heard his brother's approach, and he leaned into the touch of his brother's hand as it brushed his hair back and lifted his face. Maglor smiled at him, and took the crumpled note from his hand. Seating himself next to his brother, Maglor straightened the paper and read Elwing's words for himself.

"She knows the oath we have sworn, knows the words that bind us. Why does she not give up the Silmaril and save herself and her people?" Maedhros asked softly.

Maglor was silent for a moment, then responded, "You mean to attack Sirion."

Maedhros slammed his hand on to his thigh. "For many years they have prospered and grown, and we have let them! We did not chase them to the sea. We have waited; we have offered friendship and laid forth our claim! She denies me with platitudes and excuses that their Lord Eärendil is not present. The Sindar have withheld from us what is rightfully ours for too long!"

There was silence after Maedhros' outburst, as even the night sounds had subsided in submission to his anger. Maedhros clenched his thigh with his left hand, stopping the trembling that appeared whenever this torment overcame him. "I will send one more missive. I will word it most strongly." Maedhros eyed his brother. "But it is time to gather our peoples and our brothers together, for we will act swiftly at the appointed time."

Maglor nodded, his heart heavy. He had little hope that the Silmaril would be surrendered peacefully, yet he too experienced the torment of the knowledge of their unfulfilled oath. And he wondered if ever he would find peace.

* * *

Elwing sat in the window seat of the nursery listening to the roar of the waves as they crashed upon the rocks below her. Tirion cast the light of the moon upon the water and stars twinkled in the sky, and she drew comfort that Eärendil gazed upon the same stars under the same moonlight. A soft sigh and the rustle of bedclothes brought a smile to her lips as she gazed upon the twin sleeping forms of her sons. Elros squirmed in his sleep, kicking the blanket from him and freeing small legs to stretch without restraint. He rolled to his stomach, tucking small legs underneath him. His thumb found its way to his mouth, and he sucked contentedly. Elrond lay peaceful, as always, his blanket tucked neatly around him and one tiny hand in contact with his brother.

"Your father will hardly recognize you," she murmured, pulling the light blanket back over Elros. "Even I am amazed at how much you have grown. It has been long since he has seen you." She paused, her eyes drifting again to the window and the sea. "I miss him so, little ones. I wish he were here to see you grow."

"Lady Elwing?"

Elwing turned to the vague form in the shadows. "Liriel?"

"My Lady, a messenger has arrived," Liriel spoke softly. "You are needed."

Elwing closed her eyes for a moment, drawing in a deep breath to calm herself. She leaned over the bed of her sons, kissing the soft hair of each precious head. "Please stay with them, Liriel. I will return as soon as I may."

Elwing spared one more glance out the window before gathering her shawl closer about her shoulders and leaving the sanctuary of the nursery. She hurried down the stone hallways to the main hall, nodding to the guard at the entrance before entering. A flurry of activity greeted her.

"Lady Elwing!" Eregdos called. "A messenger has arrived from Himring."

"Maedhros?" Elwing asked.

"Yes, My Lady. He is urging you to reconsider your position and his claim upon the Silmaril," Eregdos answered gravely. "This message is worded most strongly."

Elwing took the parchment in hand and read through it slowly, for as much was written between the lines as could be read in the bold strokes of the son of Fëanor. "The tone has changed again," Elwing said quietly. "He is on edge, more demanding than before." She was silent for a few moments, walking to the window and gazing again to the sea. Eärendil, I need you here, she thought, as she had so many times in the last months.

"Eregdos, I believe we need to answer this request, at least to buy us more time," she finally turned to her chief advisor. "I believe a message should be sent to Cirdan as well. I fear we may need him."

"Your thoughts are my own," Eregdos responded, his eyes resting on the slight form before him. He had protected her as a child. He had carried her from Doriath and stayed by her side as she grew. Her wisdom was sound, yet he feared treachery lurked closer than even she imagined. "I shall send word to Cirdan this eve. Do you wish to compose a letter to Maedhros yourself, Lady Elwing?"

Elwing studied him for a moment. "Let us compose this together. Our choice of words is most important."

"Your last note was worded well," Eregdos replied, his heart heavy. "However I am not sure you are corresponding with one of sane mind. Nonetheless, we will try again."

Elwing set herself to the task of drafting the response to Maedhros while Eregdos composed messages first to Cirdan, calling upon him to return to the Havens in their defense, and his own note, shorter, to Celeborn to inform him of this latest demand. They had fought Maedhros and his forces before, losing their homes and many of their people but not the Silmaril. Their prosperity in the combined remnants of Gondolin and Doriath was surely attributable to the Silmaril.

Messengers were sent a short time later, one to Himring and another to locate Cirdan. Eregdos sat alone with his thoughts and worries, for he knew the sons of Fëanor would not be put off for long. Both Elwing and Eärendil were so young - too young perhaps for the burden placed on them. Yet through them the remnants of Noldor and Sindar had united and the Havens were prospering. But they knew of the treachery of these Noldor only through stories and his heart warned him that tragedy would strike them yet again. This foreboding weighed heavy upon him that he would not be able to protect her much longer.

Elwing returned to her chambers, where she again took up watch upon the window-seat that overlooked the sea.

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

Glorfindel stopped as his eyes rested upon Elrond, who had slipped in midway through the story with Istuion in tow. He felt the confusion that he only rarely now sensed in his friend as Elrond relived his own memories of Maedhros and Maglor, and struggled to remember the loving face and hands of his mother. Glorfindel's observation was interrupted by small hands tugging at his tunic, and he turned to the wide eyes and small faces that waited expectantly for him.

"Glorfindel, did Maedhros and his brothers have to fulfill the oath?" Elladan asked, his brow knit in a way very reminiscent of his father.

"That depends on what you mean by 'have to'," Glorfindel forced his thoughts away from Elrond. "In their minds they had to, but those that could hold them to the oath were either gone - like their father Fëanor, whom they had sworn the oath with - or would not want them to hold to the oath - like Manwë, Varda and Ilúvatar. They may have felt they could not be released from their oath, but their minds were lacking wisdom and insight."

Elladan stared at Glorfindel doubtfully, and Elrohir appeared equally confused.

"Come here, ion-nín," Elrond beckoned to them. He drew them both on to his lap, then leaned back against the comfortable couch as he considered his words.

"Elrohir, here is a gold piece that I would like you to hold. It is very valuable, and has great meaning beyond even it's worth to purchase things," Elrond explained, placing the gold piece in Elrohir's hand. "Glorfindel desires the gold piece greatly."

Elrohir turned to Glorfindel and smiled.

"As a matter of fact, Glorfindel has sworn to retrieve that gold piece at any cost. He has sworn it to me that he will do this."

Glorfindel had dropped to the floor and with cat-like movements begun stalking towards the children. Elrohir squealed in delight while moving closer into his Ada's protective arms.

"Glorfindel wants that gold piece back, for though it is not his, he did once possess it."

Glorfindel was closer now, his long mane of golden hair falling about his face like the mane of a mighty feline, his eyes wide and low growls emanating from his throat. Elrohir and Elladan were now standing on the couch, clinging to Elrond, as the great elf-cat was nearly in paw-swiping distance of their legs.

"His every thought is bent on it."

Glorfindel raised his arms to the couch, and Elladan squealed and crawled over his ada and joined his brother.

"He has you in his grip. . ."

Glorfindel pounced, grabbing both elflings and wrestling them to the floor. Elrohir screamed and giggled as he clutched the gold piece tightly, trying to protect it while defending himself against tickling fingers. Elladan was tickling back with both hands, their giggles nearly drowning out their father's voice.

". . . and only two things can save you. You can give up the coin . . ."

Elrohir squealed again, holding the coin in his outstretched hand as far above his head as he could reach.

". . . but it has a great worth, a worth you do not yet understand - you just know you should not let him have it. . ."

Glorfindel had both elflings on their backs, one hand holding each tiny body down as he gently tickled them, and his teeth were in a tug-of-war with Elrohir's fingers for the coin.

"Ada, help!" Elladan called between breathless giggles.

"Help do what?" Elrond called back.

"You are bigger than us!" Elladan gasped. "You come fight Glorfindel!"

"I can not," Elrond replied. "I have sworn never to fight Glorfindel."

"Ada!" Elrohir squealed again.

"Yes, Elrohir?" Elrond smiled as he called back.

"Tell him to stop!" Elrohir yelled.

"Glorfindel, stop," Elrond nudged the elf-lord-cat.

Glorfindel settled enough to turn his head slightly to Elrond. "No."

"Glorfindel! Ada told you to stop!" Elladan was aghast through his laughter. "You are going to get in trouble."

"I swore an oath," Glorfindel growled around the coin in his teeth, "with your ada as witness. I hold to the oath." Glorfindel began to shake his head, shaking Elrohir's arm gently in the process, and his golden mane swept the elflings across their faces bringing forth new giggles.

"Ada," Elladan called, "release Glorfindel from his oath!"

"Glorfindel, I do not hold you to the oath. I never have," Elrond nudged the elf-Lord again.

Glorfindel stopped shaking his head and tickling the elflings, but did not release them.

"I do not have to do this?" he asked, one eyebrow raised at Elrond.

Elrond shook his head.

Glorfindel released the elflings and gracefully rolled over to lie on his back next to them. "Tis good, for I am tired!"

His rest was momentary at best, for two small bodies landed on top of him in quick succession and he found himself being tickled by four small hands. After a few moments of allowing the elflings to be victorious in their attack, he leapt to his feet with all the grace of a big cat and settled himself next to Elrond with a child on each knee.

It took several moments for the twins to regain their breath.

"Ada, why did Maedhros not ask to be released from his oath?" Elladan finally asked.

"He was unable to ask Iluvatar or Manwë directly; but more than that his heart was so unclean from his deeds that he would not have accepted their release; indeed, they had never held him to the oath at all. Maedhros and his brothers were blinded by their greed," Elrond explained. "They could not see the truth in their blindness."

Elladan and Elrohir were quiet for a few moments as they pondered their father's explanation. Elrohir picked up his father's hand and placed the gold coin on his palm, then pressed his father's fingers closed around it and patted them gently. Then he turned his attention back to Glorfindel.

"Glorfindel, can we do that again?" he asked brightly.

Both elflings felt the deep growl rumbling from the big cat before they heard it, and with squeals of delight they slid to the floor and ran for the door, shrieks of delight erupting from them as they heard a thud behind them and the big cat resumed the hunt.

Istuion watched them go with a solemn expression. Elrond stood and caught the young tutor's eye.

"Does Lord Glorfindel have any stories that help them learn numbers?" Istuion ventured.

* * * * *

Ion-nín--------------my son(s)

A/N: The Silmarillion does not say whether Celeborn was at the Havens of Sirion when they were attacked. There is a passage in the FotR indicating Galadriel may not have been, but that depends on how one interprets the mountains referred to in the passage. For this story, they are in Sirion.

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta-reading this chapter.....

Chapter 5: Lessons are applied

"I will drop it this time," Elrohir said excitedly.

"I will measure," Elladan responded.

The elflings quickly traded places, Elrohir standing on the chair and Elladan kneeling on the floor. Elrohir fished an acorn from his pocket, and dropped it through the ring Istuion had tied to the pole. Elladan scurried after it as it fell to the floor and rolled, using his string to measure how far it traveled. He carefully wrote down the distance on the parchment next to the word acorn and stood for a moment eyeing the numbers.

"I think I am winning," Elladan finally said.

Elrond stood silently in the doorway, glad again for the little entry into the room that allowed him to watch the room's occupants without being seen. Istuion was waiting patiently as Elrohir decided what object he wished to drop next, and Elladan was already scheming as to what his boon should be for winning. Elrond smiled, pleased.

"The marble will beat the acorn," Elrohir called.

"No, the acorn is lighter," Elladan disagreed. "It will move farther."

"The marble will roll better, even though it is heavier, because it is rounder," Elrohir argued.

Elrond stepped into the room. "Suilad, ion-nín," he greeted his children.

"Ada! Come see our expemerent!" Elladan ran to grasp his father's hand and draw him to the activity.

"Experiment," Istuion gently corrected him. "I think it is meal time, though. Are you not hungry?"

"Ada, please let us finish? I think the marble will roll farther!" Elrohir pleaded.

"Please, Ada? I have to show 'Ro the acorn will!" Elladan replied.

"You may finish, then come to the dining room," Elrond laughed. "You may tell me there whether the marble beat the acorn or not."

He nodded to Istuion and smiled, and Istuion returned the smile and nod before returning his attention to his pupils. Elrond made his way to the dining hall and his waiting wife. Celebrían was already present, as were Erestor and Glorfindel and many of the other residents of Imladris. He nodded and greeted a few of the Men who were visiting Imladris before moving to his place at the main table, bending over Celebrían's shoulder for a brief kiss before seating himself.

"Where are Elladan and Elrohir?" Celebrían asked, surprised to see him alone.

"They were not ready to leave their lessons," Elrond replied as he laid his napkin across his lap. He looked up at the surprised faces watching him. "They wanted to finish their experiment," he explained. When no one responded he allowed a smile to creep across his face. "They were having too much fun to stop. It seems Glorfindel's 'way' is rubbing off on others in Imladris."

"The twins were having fun with Istuion?" Erestor asked doubtfully.

"Yes," Elrond replied smugly. "I knew he was going to be a fine tutor. He just needed a little time to develop his teaching style."

Glorfindel grinned. "And his confidence. His mother said he spent all last evening preparing for this lesson. Today's success will breed future success. He has needed that; he came of age during a time when the majority of the adult male elves were away, and his own father and grandfather did not return from Dagorlad. He has much knowledge but little confidence in himself. His mother will be most pleased. "

Elrond tucked that little piece of information away in his mind and quietly listened to the conversations around him. He felt warm fingers grasp his under the table, and Celebrían smiled at him. He felt the touch of her mind to his, and as he allowed her into his heart fully, he felt her love nearly overwhelm him. She had been surprised when a tutor had been engaged for their sons. Her realization that he had employed the young elf because he wished to shepherd Istuion, aid him in becoming the scholar he had the potential to be, gave her a deeper respect and love for this peredhel she called husband.

* * *

"Glorfindel?" Elrohir was grinning as he tugged on the elf-lord's tunic.

"Yes, Elrohir?" Glorfindel turned to the elflings standing behind him. "You are grinning like a cat that has caught the mouse. What mischief are you up to?"

"We need you to help us with our lessons," Elrohir answered, the grin apparently permanently affixed to his face.

"We asked Istuion, but Ada said he needed Istuion's help now," Elladan explained, also smiling brightly.

Glorfindel studied the small faces for a moment. He decided to bite the hook they were dangling. "Very well, I will assist you. What are you learning?"

Elladan produced an old cloak from behind his back. "You have to put this on," Elladan took Glorfindel by the hand and starting pulling him towards the hill, "and come with us."

Glorfindel obediently followed the elflings to the top of the small hill that led to the training field. He put on the old cloak, watching with amusement as the twins each put on a cloak as well.

"Now you have to lie down like this," Elrohir laid himself down on the top of the hill. Glorfindel and Elladan did as directed. "When I say 'start' you have to roll down the hill!"

Glorfindel sat up and looked at the elfling. "I have to do what?" he asked suspiciously.

"It is part of our lesson, Glorfindel! We have to see if big things roll faster than little things," Elrohir explained.

"I am not a 'thing,'" Glorfindel answered, one eyebrow raised.

"You are the same as us just bigger." Elladan saw no flaw in that logic as he pushed the big elf back down on his back. He flopped down beyond Glorfindel and bundled his cloak around him.

"I have not rolled down a hill since I was an elfling!" Glorfindel protested.

"Then it has been way too long," Elrohir shook his head solemnly. The solemn look lasted only for a moment though. The grin reappeared. "Ready? Start!"

Glorfindel rolled his eyes and then closed them as he began to roll down the hill. He could hear the twins shrieking with delight and laughing as they began their own descent. His world spun, and he hit a few rocks, finally coming to rest at the bottom of the hill.

Plop! He had just finished moving when one small elfling landed on his chest. He reached up and rolled that body off himself just before --thwack! And the other one landed on his head.

Their bodies stopped long before their giggles. Elladan stood first and promptly fell back on Glorfindel's abdomen, as he was still dizzy. Elrohir crawled over and sprawled across Glorfindel next to his brother. Glorfindel cautiously opened one eye and waited for the world to stop spinning.

"Well?" he asked, tugging on the first dark braid his fingers came to.

"Well, what?" Elladan rolled over to look at the dizzy adult.

"Who was faster?"

"Well you, of course!" Elladan cried. "We already knew that. We proved it in our expemerent this morning."

Glorfindel shook the elflings off himself, eliciting new laughter, and carefully stood. He looked towards the Last Homely House - and sure enough Elrond, Erestor, Celebrian and Istuion all stood on the library balcony -which had a perfect view of the training field. He turned and looked down at the elflings, who were rolling on the ground laughing. With a sigh, he flopped back down on the ground and hugged the elflings who immediately crawled over to him, one on each side.

"Glorfindel?" Elladan smiled sweetly.

"Yes, Elladan?" Glorfindel stroked the dark hair absently.

"Are you are going to get us back for this?"

"Oh, yes, you can be assured of that. I think I will wait until you are old enough to truly make it worthwhile. After all, it is said that revenge is a dish best served cold," Glorfindel answered mildly, still cuddling the elflings. "Time. I will have much time to plan. . . ."

* * *

Glorfindel joined Elrond and Istuion in the study while the twins were still washing hands and faces, and getting much needed drinks of water.

"Peredhel, we are blessed with long life, are we not?" Glorfindel began without greeting as he walked in the room.

"Yes, Glorfindel, some see it as a blessing," Elrond replied, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth.

"Ada, what does it mean when someone says that revenge is a dish best served cold?" Elrohir asked as he entered the room and went immediately to sit by his father.

"Ah, I believe that means the person wishes to savor their long life," Elrond replied, "and spend much time in thought and planning for the future."

Glorfindel walked to the small couch upon which Istuion was seated and sat down next to the younger elf. He sat very close to said elf - shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee. Istuion scooted to the edge of the seat, but Glorfindel seemed to expand into the space that was vacated.

"Did the 'expemerents' proceed as expected this morning?" Glorfindel inquired pleasantly.

"Yes, my lord," Istuion nearly whispered.

"The pen-neth learned all they were supposed to?" he further inquired.

"Yes, they seemed to rather enjoy the lesson," Istuion whispered.

Glorfindel leaned close. "That is good. I am very glad to see them applying what they have learned. But be careful - they may appear harmless and adorable, but inside they are their father's sons." Istuion raised his eyes and met the gaze of the Balrog-slayer. Glorfindel smiled, and reached over and grasped Istuion's wrist in the warrior greeting. "Well done."

Istuion let out a long sigh of relief as Glorfindel stood and took his usual spot, the twins quickly climbing up on either side of him.

"Where did we leave off?" he asked.

"Maedhros was getting ready to attack!" Elladan's eyes grew big as he recalled the spot in the story.

"Grandmother Elwing was watching the sea," Elrohir remembered.

"So they were," Glorfindel replied, "and a messenger had been sent to Cirdan the Shipwright, requesting that he come back to Sirion immediately…

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

"How quickly can we gather our forces?" Maedhros asked quietly, breaking the early morning silence he shared with Maglor and breakfast. He turned from the window out of which he had been staring, and directed the intense gaze upon his brother.

Maglor paused to wipe his lips before meeting his brother's eyes. "There is rumor that Amrod and Amras hunt in the plains to the south. It would take us no longer than a fortnight." Maglor watched as Maedhros turned again to the window. He ever watched south, his mind consumed with the Silmaril held in Sirion.

"Make ready, Maglor. Send word to our brothers that we seek again to fulfill our oath."

"You do not mean to wait for an answer from Elwing? The messenger shall not return in this season."

"I believe our hope lies in surprise," Maedhros answered. "They will expect another missive; and in the delay it would take to carry such a missive they will believe they have purchased time. We shall not gift them with such reprieve. We will fall upon them unawares and take back that which is rightfully ours."

Maglor was silent as he pondered his brother's words. Perhaps there was merit in this tactic. Unprepared, Elwing might surrender the jewel and save her people from certain ruin. The element of surprise might be in their favor. He met his brother's eyes. "We shall make ready." But his eyes spoke only of sorrow.

* * *

Elwing could hear the young voices of her sons as she approached their nursery. Liriel sat with them, as she did each afternoon while Elwing took counsel with Eregdos. No tidings had reached them this day. The messenger had been sent to Maedhros, to his fortress, which lay over a hundred leagues to the north. Elwing was comforted by this distance, comforted that Cirdan and Gil-Galad would come before Maedhros could rise against them. Perhaps even Eärendil would return from his voyage.

"Mine!" Elros's squeal could be heard in the hallway.

Elwing watched from the corridor as the small tower of blocks fell to the ground and Elros jumped up and down, cheering. "Fall down! Blocks fall down!" He plopped back down on the floor immediately and began gathering the blocks around his brother. Elrond waited patiently until Elros had moved the blocks back within his reach, and then he began to stack the blocks into a tower.

Elros jumped to his feet and began to run around the room, circling it twice all the while chattering with himself, his brother, and Liriel - although neither of the latter could have slipped in a word of their own. Elros answered his own questions with amazing speed.

"Go!" Elrond called as he scooted back on the floor and away from his tower.

Elros charged the tower, kicking out the lower blocks and then falling to his knees in the midst of the rubble. Laughing, he rolled to his back, his head landing neatly in his brother's lap. Elrond patted his head. Elros was ready to have Elrond build another tower for him to destroy, but Elrond had tired of that game. He slipped from under his brother and got to his feet, then wandered to his bookshelf. He slid down against the low shelf, pulling out a picture book and quickly withdrawing into sketches of ships and elves in far away places.

"Nana!" Elros spied his mother in the doorway. "Come play!" He ran to her and buried his head in her skirts, hugging her leg as she walked into the playroom.

Elrond looked up from his book, and his face lit up with a smile. He jumped to his feet and raced across the short distance, flinging himself into Elwing's arms and burying his head in her shoulder. She settled herself to the floor, Elrond in her lap and Elros already pushing blocks to her.

"Have they slept this afternoon?" Elwing turned to Liriel who sat with her ever-present tapestry in her hands, deft fingers weaving colorful strands of thread into scenes depicting the fall of Doriath, their escape, and their settlement at the Havens of Sirion. She had worked on it for as long as Elwing could recollect, from her earliest memories as a child after Doriath fell. Liriel was working this day on the ships of Cirdan, the larger crafts in the bay off the Isle of Balar, and smaller boats hidden in the reeds along the coastline.

"No, Elros did not wish to rest until he had seen his nana," Liriel smiled indulgently at the small bundle of energy tugging at his mother's skirt.

Elwing drew Elros up into her lap next to Elrond. "Would you like me to read you a story before you rest?" Elrond nodded sleepily, while Elros pulled away from his mother and ran to the bookshelf. He picked up the book Elrond had been looking at and carried it back to his mother and brother.

"Elrond's book," he proclaimed, placing it in Elwing's hands as he settled back into her lap.

Elwing smiled and kissed the top of that small head. She rose gracefully, a child in each arm, and settled herself on the comfortable couch near the window. She opened the book, and began to weave for them the tale that accompanied the pictures, of how Cirdan sailed the seas, traveling the Havens and fighting Morgoth at each stop. She had read for only a few moments when she felt Elrond curl into her slightly as he drifted into sleep. Elros began to slip off her lap only a few minutes later, his thumb in his mouth.

"Did I suck my thumb?" Elwing asked Liriel.

Liriel laughed softly. "No, but Elurín did. Eluréd did as an infant, but Elurín continued, especially at night, until he was much older.

"I do not suppose it causes any harm." Elwing tugged gently on the small hand, pulling the thumb from Elros' mouth, but as soon as she let go, it settled back to its favored location.

"No, he only falls asleep that way. That short time is not harming him and seems to comfort him. If he continues there are some remedies that will help cure the habit," Liriel reassured her.

Elwing lifted them both gently and laid them in their cradle. Elros immediately stretched out full length, then curled up and rolled over, moving until he was comfortable. Elrond lay peacefully until Elros ceased squirming; then one small hand searched the sheet next to him. Finally finding his twin, Elrond wormed his way closer and cuddled up within reach, small bodies just touching.

"It is a joy to watch them sleep," Elwing murmured, her arms resting on the side of the cradle.

Her joy was abruptly ended as Eregdos entered the room. "Elwing, you must come!" The urgency in his voice was unmistakable, despite the low tone he used to avoid waking the children. "Liriel, stay here. I will send word to you in a few moments."

Elwing was already on her feet, wrapping her shawl about her shoulders, and hastening after Eregdos. "What is it?" she asked as soon as they were clear of the room.

"Maedhros," Eregdos answered shortly, his hand on her elbow as he guided her down the stone passageway.

"He cannot have received our letter and responded so quickly!"

"No, he could not have," Eregdos agreed. "He either did not send his last letter from Himring or he did not wait for our reply before coming here."

"He is here?" Elwing cried.

"Yes," Eregdos answered abruptly. "The eastern patrol sent out scouts this morning, as they normally do. Maedhros approaches with his banner displayed for all to see. The scout reported to the eastern captain, who sent messengers here as swiftly as they might arrive."

"How long until Cirdan arrives?"

"I do not know," Eregdos stopped in the hall and met her gaze solidly. "Our messenger has not yet returned. We do not know if Cirdan has received our request for assistance. We cannot count on aid from the sea."

Elwing felt despair sweep over her. "Can we defend against them? What says Celeborn?"

"Celeborn is arranging our defenses. We are awaiting an estimate of the approaching force before we will know if we can defend against them."

Elwing grasped the Silmaril, which she had begun wearing close that she might flee with it, if necessary.

"We cannot let them have it," she said quietly. "Eärendil was emphatic, Eregdos."

"I know, Elwing," Eregdos answered, his head bowed. "Tuor and Eärendil believe that the Silmaril is important; they have held it in the hopes of learning how so, and why, should they reach the home of the Valar."

"Perhaps we can hold them off until reinforcements arrive," Elwing allowed Eregdos to continue to lead her to the Great Hall. Her heart told her otherwise.

* * *

Mere minutes had passed when a horn sounded from the western border of the city. Eregdos, Elwing and the others flew to the western window of the hall. The sound of hooves beating upon the rock was heard next, and then another messenger appeared in the hall, out of breath and fear in his eyes.

"We are under attack from the north-west!" The soldier quickly related details of the advancing force.

As the advisors and captains gathered to hear his words, Eregdos drew Elwing aside. "Do you have the Silmaril?" When she nodded, he continued. "You must prepare to flee. We are surrounded on land, so you must go by sea. Take Liriel and your sons and prepare for a sea journey."

Elwing nodded and hurried back to her chambers. Liriel was waiting in the door.

"Liriel, pack some clothing and small toys for the children. Prepare yourself as well. We must flee by sea," Elwing told her hastily. "We are under attack."

The noise of battle quickly drew near as Maedhros' forces quickly overran the defenses at the city wall, and pushed forward through the streets to the Great Hall. Maedhros' strategy was focused on the Silmaril, and he knew it resided in Elwing's possession. He led his men through the Havens, cutting down those who dared resist him. The streets ran red with the blood of elves, and the cries of the injured and dying sounded in all their ears. A tumult arose behind him, and Maedhros turned to see his own warriors fighting amongst themselves. He rode between them.

"These are of the Noldor!" cried one warrior.

"It matters not!" answered another. "They stand in our way. They shall be cut down as any of the rest!"

"Your own cousin is here! Lady Galadriel has also been seen!"

A host of the elves stopped at this, and Maedhros found himself facing treason. "We will not kill our own kin," the foremost to Maedhros cried.

Maedhros raised his sword. "Then you shall die with them!" He brought the sword down upon the man's shoulder where his armor was weakest and watched dispassionately as the head nearly split from the body.

Spurred on by his action, those loyal to Maedhros now swarmed forward to cut down those of their own forces who opposed them. In that moment, brother killed brother and father killed son; a travesty from which few would recover.

His sword raised high in the air, Maglor rode in from the flanking forces. "Amrod and Amras have breached the western wall! The city is falling!" The oldest sons of Fëanor raced forward together toward where the object of their desire lay.

Inside the Great Hall, Eregdos led Elwing and Liriel, each holding one of the children, out a side door, and they ran for the shore.

"Our people are being slaughtered." Elwing stated it more as a fact than a question.

All three were suddenly drawn to look back by the sound of thundering hoof beats across the stone walkway above them at the entrance to the Hall.

"Maedhros!" Elwing recognized the elf with only one hand.

Maedhros and Maglor saw the figures fleeing across the rocks below them. "Elwing!" Maedhros cried. "Surrender!"

Elwing thrust Elros into Liriel's right arm as Liriel shifted Elrond completely into her left. "Go on to the beach! I will lead them away from you!"

Maedhros and Maglor ran down the stairs in pursuit.

Eregdos stopped and drew his sword, and turned to face them. Another had joined them, an elf with red hair. Amras. The elf's eyes were ablaze with anger, and he surged ahead of his older brothers. Eregdos deftly sidestepped the elf, and swinging his sword in a full arc, he slew the youngest son of Fëanor. In the next moment, he joined him in death as Maglor's blade cut him through. He had had no opportunity to put on his mail or armor; his only concern had been to see Elwing, the children, and the Silmaril safely away. He felt little pain as his life's blood spilled upon the rocks. His dying glimpse was of Elwing running to the high cliff and away from the path to the shore.

Elwing turned and saw Eregdos fall. She screamed her grief to the wind to see this one who had been her advisor - a friend who had been by her side since Doriath fell - cut down by the sword. Maglor and Maedhros continued to race towards her. She climbed until she could climb no further. There was nothing but the sea, nowhere to go but the sea. They would kill her if they reached her. She looked back once more, but could no longer see Liriel or her sons.

"Then the sea shall have us!" she cried to the wind. She dropped the pack she had been carrying and ran for the edge of the high cliff, flinging herself into the foam below.

"No!" Maedhros screamed as he saw Elwing fall. He continued his ascent to the edge of the cliff in time to see a great force rise from the sea. A swirling mist of water and foam appeared to catch and lift Elwing's body. Suddenly a white bird appeared, gliding gently out of the spray, the Silmaril bound to its breast. Maedhros heard the twang of a bow behind him, and saw the arrow fly, but it was knocked askew by a tendril of water that rose from the depths of the tumultuous sea below them.

Maglor and Maedhros stood at the edge of the cliff and watched as the white bird soared into the distance, taking with it the only Silmaril that had ever been within their reach in Middle-Earth.

"It is the work of Ulmo," Maglor said softly, awe in his voice.

"Amras is dead." Maedhros had turned back to the Havens, and saw the fallen bodies of his youngest brother and the elf who had opposed him.

"As is Amrod," Maglor replied. "We are all that remain of the Sons of Fëanor. For the Simarilli our father died and now five of our brothers. Yet not one have we recovered." Maglor had dropped to his knees on the stones as the waves broke on the rocks behind him, and he keened his loss, the song mixed with strands of the Noldolantë.

"I hear children," Maedhros interrupted his brother's grieving. "Elwing's children must yet live. Come!"

Maedhros began to run toward the path that led to the shore. Maglor felt fear and pity stir in his heart. He rose to his feet and sprinted to catch up to his brother. They came upon the she-elf and children not far down the path. In the reeds lay Liriel, blood seeping from an arrow wound to her shoulder. Next to her were the sons of Elwing. One of the two was attempting to stop the bleeding with his small fingers, and her blood covered his hands and face and clothing. The other stood next to her. Both were sobbing.

"Do not harm them!" Maglor called in anguish as Maedhros reached for the standing child. He reached the other child a moment later.

Maedhros had picked up Elros and was holding the child in his large hand. Elros sobbed and swung at him, and he drew the child to his chest, restraining the kicking feet and swinging arms.

Maglor gently pulled Elrond away from the injured elf and saw her eyes flutter open. "Please do not hurt them," she whispered.

"I will not, my Lady," Maglor replied gently. "What are their names?"

"You have Elrond," Liriel managed. "The other is Elros. Please, take them to the shore. Their kin will care for them."

"They come with us," Maedhros commanded. He kicked the pack that had fallen next to Liriel. "Bring this."

Maglor swung the pack over his shoulder and picked up the child called Elrond. The child did not fight him, but as they walked away he turned to look back over Maglor's shoulder to the nanny he had loved, his small hands reaching out to her. Liriel watched with tears streaming down her face as Elwing's sons were carried away.

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

"Ada?" Elrond was brought back to the present by Elrohir tugging at his sleeve. He looked down at his son and saw tears streaming down the elfling's face. He lifted the child into his lap, and then picked up Elladan who had joined them. They both hugged him tight about the neck.

"Ada, were you scared?" Elrohir spoke the muffled words into Elrond's ear.

Elrond's eyes were dark with memory. "I do not remember much of that day, for I was very small - much younger than even you," he answered. "I remember my nana reading to me. I remember Maglor carrying me away, and Lady Liriel crying."

"Did Lady Liriel die, Ada?" Elladan asked.

Glorfindel had moved to sit next to Elrond and the twins. "No," he answered for Elrond. "Lady Liriel was found and treated for her wounds, and when Cirdan did arrive they moved her to Balar."

"Did you ever see your nana again, Ada? After she became a bird?" Elladan asked.

"No, Elladan," Elrond answered, his eyes closing. He stroked the child's back gently. "The fate of my nana and ada was decided by the Valar. Part of that fate was that they could not return to Middle-Earth."

"So you had to stay with Maedhros and Maglor?" Elrohir was indignant. "They were bad!"

"What they did was wrong," Elrond finally responded. "But not everything they did was bad." He drew back from the twins so he could see both their faces. "Maglor grew to love us - my brother and me. I will tell you more about them tomorrow."

Elrohir and Elladan were content with that response, and they cuddled up with heads under their Ada's chin once again. There was silence in the room for a few moments.


"Yes, Elladan?" Glorfindel smiled at the elfling.

"Some of Maedhros' warriors did not follow orders."

"No, they did not," Glorfindel replied. He pondered his words carefully. "While you are young, you may trust that any order given to you by your ada, or myself, or Erestor or any of the others here in Imladris is a good order and you should obey it. When you get older, we will teach you about giving orders - and how it is the responsibility of the one giving the order to know if the order is good or bad. Maedhros gave a bad order - an order to kill elves. Some of his warriors did disobey him. They did the right thing."

"They still died," replied Elladan softly.

"Yes, they did," Glorfindel answered.

* * *

Elrond awoke that night to the soft patter of small feet on the hard wood floors of his chamber. He could feel Celebrían stir at his side as she also sensed the presence of others in the room. He held out his arms to his sons, and they ran the last few feet into their Ada's embrace.

"Are you scared? Did you have a bad dream?" Elrond whispered to them.

"No, Ada," Elladan answered.

"Are you unable to sleep?" Elrond asked next.

The twins were silent, and Elrond moved back a bit from the edge of the bed and lifted them to lie next to him. They cuddled up close, Elrohir in the crook of his arm and Elladan across his chest. He thought they had fallen asleep when a small voice finally spoke.

"Ada, will you or Nana ever leave us?"

Elrond heard Celebrían's breath catch, and he knew she was awake and listening.

"It would be wrong of me to say that we will never, ever leave, because none of us know what the future holds. But your Nana and I do not intend to ever leave you."

There was more silence as elflings digested this information. The next question left Elrond struck through as with a sharp knife, the pain slicing to his very core.

"Ada, if you had to choose between giving up a great jewel or staying with us, which would you choose?"

* * * * *
Ada - - - - Dad/Father
Nana - - - Mom/Mother
Pen-neth- - young ones
ion-nin------my son

Authors Notes:

For those familiar with the Tale of Years (HOME The War of the Jewels), I will be using the timelines laid out in it for the course of events at the end of the first age.

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter, and to Marnie for helping me sort out the significance of the Silmarilli.

Chapter 6: Ada Holds Forth

Elrond felt Elladan pull away from him slightly and realized he was holding the child too tightly. He loosened his grasp on both of his sons and felt them relax once more against him. He felt Celebrían's hand slip around his elbow, and her cheek press against his shoulder. Her warm breath against his skin soothed him, and in his mind she spoke, encouraging him to help the children understand about their grandmother's choice.

A stream of thoughts ran through Elrond's mind: his own childhood questions of why his mother had not saved her people by giving up the Silmaril, the feelings of abandonment he and his brother experienced, and the sudden growing weight of Vilya upon his mind. Vilya was untainted and powerful. In Sauron's hands it could enslave his people. Hidden it was safe. Wielded without interference from the One Ring, it could protect and aid those who lived within this refuge. Would it ever come between him and his children? Would he ever be in a situation of having to choose to protect it over his family?

Might he ever find himself in the same situation as his mother? In his mind he thought not; in his heart he hoped not. The Silmaril and Vilya were similar in some ways, but different in others. Yet the promise he had made to be the keeper of Vilya weighed heavily upon him. The One Ring had fallen out of existence, hopefully forever. Should the One Ring ever be found, what price would the bearing of Vilya cost him?

The tickling sensation of small fingers tracing the design of the embroidery upon his night tunic drew him back to the present. Elladan lay snuggled yet upon his chest, his fingers idly skimming the raised threads beneath him, and Elrohir rested in the crook of his arm, both waiting silently and patiently for their father to answer the question.

"Before I answer that question, I need to take you forward in time from where Glorfindel left off in his story," he finally began, shifting Elladan slightly for comfort, "for the significance of what my mother had done was not known for many years into the future. As a child, I too had a great many questions about what my mother had done and why. Although I was very young when she left, I did know for certain that my mother loved my brother and me and did not wish to be parted from us. I will tell you, ion-nín, ere we continue, your Nana and I love you, and we will do our best to never be parted from you either.

"But the choice my mother made to save the Silmaril was larger than us. The Silmarilli were more than just pretty jewels. Fëanor only made the shells of the Silmarilli. It was what he captured inside those shells that made them precious. For remember, the light of the Silmarilli was from the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. Yavanna had sang them into existence and of all she made, these were the greatest. Our sun and moon are from the last fruit and flower of those trees; from this we must try to imagine how wonderful and glorious the light of the trees must have been when full of blooms and fruit."

"Did you ever see the Two Trees, Ada?" asked Elrohir with a yawn.

"No, neither your Nana or I have been to Aman. Glorfindel has, and your Grandmother Galadriel. You should ask them to describe the light of the trees," Elrond answered. He noticed sleepy eyes in the dim light of the moon and had caught the yawn as well. "Shall we continue tomorrow?"

"No, Ada," answered Elladan. "I will have better dreams if you finish this part."

Elrond laughed and felt the silent shake of Celebrían beside him. "The Silmarilli were beautiful, and Fëanor did make them, but he did not make their inner fire. He trapped the light of the two trees inside the jewels he had made. And the Silmarilli were beautiful, and all who saw them were filled with wonder and delight. Varda hallowed the jewels so that nothing unclean or of evil will could touch them. If they did, they became scorched and withered. Mandos also made a prediction then about the Silmarilli - he foretold that the fates of Arda - the earth, air and sea - were locked within them. This is important to remember when you hear the tales of the First Age, so you might understand the value of the Silmarilli.

"The Two Trees were beautiful and hallowed by the Valar and Elves. When Morgoth and Ungoliant destroyed the two trees, a great darkness fell upon Aman. It is said that the darkness was more than lack of light, that the darkness was an entity all its own. The darkness caused fear and terror, entering the heart and mind, and strangling the will. Now the only place that the glorious light of the Two Trees could be seen was in the Silmarilli.

"The Valar and the Elves gathered, and Yavanna spoke, saying that with the light of the Silmarilli she could recall life to the trees. Bringing the Two Trees back to life would heal the hurts and banish the darkness, and even confound the malice of Morgoth. But Fëanor would not give over the Silmarilli."

"Ada, Fëanor made the Silmarilli, but not the light. The light was not his; it belonged to the Valar. Why did they not take it back?" Elrohir asked, confused.

"The Valar would not make Fëanor do anything. It had to be of his free will. Remember that as well, for a similar circumstance will occur at the end of the First Age," Elrond replied.

"Then Morgoth stole the Silmarilli," Elladan remembered.

"Yes, and he brought them to Middle-Earth. Beren and Lúthien recovered one, and that is the one that my mother had in her possession in Sirion. Morgoth held the other two. Do you know who Ulmo is?" Elrond asked them.

"He is the Vala of the sea," Elladan replied. "He is the one who caught your mother and made her into a bird. Glorfindel told us this in the story today, do you not remember, Ada?"

Celebrían's shaking with mirth did not help Elrond continue his story. "Yes, I remember. I wanted to make sure you did, too. Why do you suppose Ulmo did that?"

"Ada, I do not know. Glorfindel did not tell us that part," Elrohir answered, partially rising to see his ada's face.

"I am sure he was coming to that part," Elrond reassured him. "Ulmo traveled the great waters of Arda, coming up the rivers and into the lakes then going back to the sea. He knew all that was happening in Middle-Earth; he knew how evil and terrible life had become. He knew that Nargothrond, the caves where Finrod's people lived, had fallen; he knew Gondolin was sacked, and Doriath too. He knew that Cirdan had been assailed in the Falas. He knew that many elves and men had died at the hands of Morgoth and the kinslayers. Morgoth was growing stronger, and Ulmo knew the time would come when he would strike again, killing or enslaving all the men, elves and dwarves of Middle-Earth. Ulmo went on behalf of those of Middle-Earth and pleaded with the Valar to have pity and come to our aid."

"Did they come?" Elladan interrupted.

"No, Elladan, Manwë refused. He told Ulmo that one must come in person who could speak on behalf of men and elves. That person could plead for pardon, and for pity, and that only this might move the Valar to act," Elrond explained.

"But, Ada, who could speak for men and elves?" Elrohir asked.

"There were only two yet alive who could do such a thing," Elrond answered softly. "My father, Eärendil, or my mother, Elwing."

"Ada, why them?" Elladan asked.

"Because their fathers were of Men and their mothers of Elves," Elrohir said, sitting up and turning to face his father. "They were of mixed kind. They were of elves and men."

"Yes, Elrohir, you are right. And Elros and I are of mixed kind, and so are you and Elladan. This is why we are called Peredhel, or half-elven," Elrond explained, pleased Elrohir had deduced this himself. "Ulmo awoke the sea-longing in my father's heart, and with Cirdan's help Eärendil built a ship and went to sea, ever seeking a way to the undying lands, that he might come before the Valar and plead for pardon on behalf of men and elves."

"So that is why your ada was gone and your nana was sad," Elladan sighed.

"My mother missed my father very much. She had two children to care for, and their people to see to, and the Silmaril was in her care."

"Ada, the Silmaril was of great value, and Mandos said the fate of Arda was bound within it. Is that why Elwing did not give it up?" Elladan asked.

"My mother and father knew that the Silmaril was of great value, and they knew the words that Mandos had foretold about them. They did not know what would happen if the Silmaril were to be returned to the sons of Fëanor," Elrond answered, shifting slightly as Elrohir cuddled back into the crook of his arm. "The elves of Sirion believed that the Silmaril was protecting them and had caused them to prosper. Not all believed that, for if that were true, why did Doriath fall when it had the Silmaril? But they had some feeling or thought that they should not give it up, and when Maedhros asked for it, they did not surrender it. Maedhros and his forces attacked at a time when my father was at sea, and Cirdan and Gil-Galad as well. If they had been there, perhaps they might have repelled the attackers."

"Did Eärendil ever find his way to the undying lands?" Elladan asked, his voice betraying how tired he had become.

"Not on any of his early voyages. But this is the important part of the story; this is what we found out much later," Elrond replied, stroking the dark head that was nearly drifting into sleep. "Ulmo made Elwing into a bird and she flew across the waves with the Silmaril bound to her breast. She landed on a ship. Can you guess which ship she landed on?"

"Eärendil's?" Elrohir yawned again.

"Yes, she woke the next morning as herself again, in the arms of her husband. And then they had to make a terrible decision - to continue trying to find the undying lands and plead for help - or return to the ruins of the Havens of Sirion, and try to help their people and perhaps find their sons."

"They returned for you, right, Ada? Elladan mumbled.

"No, Elladan," Elrond whispered. "They continued their voyage, seeking the way to the undying lands."

The room was silent, even Celebrían's soft breaths were caught and held. Elrond finally sighed. "This was very hard for Elros and me to understand as we grew older. It wasn't until after the last battle of the First Age that we could begin to understand that if a way had not been found to the undying lands, and the Valar beseeched, and help obtained, all the people of Middle-Earth would have been killed or enslaved. Our parents made the right choice to continue, even though that choice hurt us, and we missed them very much."

"Did they find a way?" Elrohir asked, a sob in his voice.

"Yes, Elrohir, they did. After all of the previous attempts had ended in failure, this one succeeded, for the light of the Silmaril guided them to Aman. Eärendil stood before Manwë and pleaded the case of men and elves, and the Valar came and captured Morgoth and killed his evil creations," Elrond squeezed Elrohir gently as he spoke.

"Is this why your father is now the evening star?" Elladan asked, recalling what Glorfindel had drawn in their family tree.

"Partly," Elrond answered. "No mortal was allowed in Aman, and yet my father risked whatever doom might be placed on him for going there, to save the people of Middle-Earth. Neither he nor Elwing were allowed to return to Middle-Earth. Eärendil the Mariner sails his ship into the sky each night, with the Silmaril bound to his brow. We see the light of the Silmaril as a star in the evening and morning. A white tower was built for Elwing, and there she waits each morning for him to return to her."

"Can we see the star, Ada?" Elrohir asked.

Elrond rose, and with a child on each hip, he walked to the balcony of the room. Celebrían followed, wrapping a blanket around each child, and they stood together on the balcony.

"There, that bright star, do you see it?" Elrond pointed to a bright white light in the sky. "That is Eärendil the Mariner, your grandfather."

As they watched the star twinkled.

"Ada, he knows we are here!" Elladan whispered excitedly. He raised his arm and waved at the star, Elrohir joining him.

"Now I think it is time that all young elves were in bed sleeping." Elrond turned and carried them back inside. He had walked to the door, to take them to their room, when Elrohir spoke. "Ada, I know we are too big for this, but can we sleep with you and Nana tonight? Just this one time?"

Elrond looked to Celebrían, who smiled her answer. She returned to bed and patted the spot next to her. Elrond set their sons in between them, and watched as they snuggled under the covers, Elrohir curling between his mother and brother. He lay down himself and felt Elladan snuggle into his side. Soon the deep, slow breaths of sleep were all that was heard in the room. Cuddled with his family on the bed, Elrond looked out the window and caught a glimpse of the star of Eärendil.

~Father, I hope never to have to make a choice such as you and mother did.~

The star twinkled twice before disappearing beyond the night sky.

* * *

"Glorfindel." Erestor sat down next to the seneschal at the breakfast table.

"Good morning, Erestor," Glorfindel smiled as the advisor scowled at him. "You are having a bad morning?"

"Interesting you should ask that, Glorfindel. I decided to take a walk this fine spring morning, and there was just enough chill in the air that I decided to wear my cloak. Can you guess what was on my cloak?" Erestor glared at the brightly smiling elf.

"I can only imagine," Glorfindel replied amiably. "Did you spill on it?"

"Mud, Glorfindel, mud. Mud of the variety a certain elfling was covered in several days ago," Erestor growled.

"Why, Erestor, did you fall into the mud too?" Glorfindel appeared surprised.

Erestor sighed and covered his face with his hands. He turned and faced the nonchalant elf. "I shall be redressed this folly, mellon-nín."

Glorfindel smiled gleefully. "I shall await any such attempt with pleasure."

Elrond entered the dining hall then, stopping first for a few words with Istuion before joining his scowling advisor and grinning seneschal.

"Where are the twins this morning?" Erestor asked, surprised to not see them already.

"They had a late night last night and will be sleeping in this morning. Celebrían too - she will join you later this morning," Elrond answered pleasantly.

Glorfindel frowned. "Is all well, Elrond?"

Elrond clapped the elf-lord on the back. "Yes, all is well, mellon-nín," he laughed. "Although I am in need of a partner to spar with. Are you available?"

"I am finished here; I will go prepare our equipment," Glorfindel replied as he rose immediately to his feet, eyes sparkling. It had been long since Elrond had wished to take up his sword, even in practice.

"Allow me a light repast, and I shall join you in a few minutes," Elrond answered, laughing at his friend's eagerness. Perhaps it had been a long time.

* * *

Celebrían sat on the balcony, a cup of tea in hand, watching as her husband and Glorfindel, dressed as if for battle, met on the training field. They faced each other, one as dark as night and the other as golden as day, and began a dance that they had perfected over the centuries. The clang of the swords could be heard faintly even at the house, and the dance and grace of their movements were a sight to behold. They sparred and parried, thrust and blocked, feet dancing lightly in the morning dew.

A stirring behind her broke Celebrían's concentration on the swordplay, and she turned to see Elladan rise in the bed, confused initially as to where he was.

"Good morning, Elladan," she called softly.

He turned to her and shook the cobwebs from his head as he remembered why he was in his parent's bed. His face lit up with joy when he took in the sight on the training field far beyond them.

"Nana, is that Ada with Glorfindel?" he asked excitedly.

"Yes, they are exciting to watch, are they not?" Celebrían answered, drawing her son to her for a hug.

"Elrohir!" Elladan broke free and ran to the bed, shaking his brother. "You have to come see Ada and Glorfindel fight!"

Elladan dragged Elrohir from bed to the balcony, and both watched in fascination as their father and teacher sparred on the field.

"Nana, may we go down to the field to watch them?" Elladan pleaded, tugging on his mother's sleeve.

"Dress and wash your faces first, and I will join you there in a few minutes with breakfast," Celebrían answered, willing to indulge them this morning. "And I will brush your hair." She tugged on tousled braids, but the braids were quickly wrenched from her hand as the pair flew from the room.

After a stop in the kitchens to fill a picnic basket, Celebrían took a blanket, the basket and a brush and joined her sons on the practice field. They managed to eat while she took care of their hair, never taking their eyes from the big elves on the training field.

A final clang of blades as their swords met in the air above their heads, and Elrond and Glorfindel mutually lowered the blades and bowed.

"I think I should do this more often," Elrond laughed, slightly winded by the hour's match.

"Aye, you should," Glorfindel agreed with a warm smile. "But you have lost none of your skill." He paused for a moment. "You seem at peace today."

Elrond looked at Glorfindel questioningly. "How so?"

"I know not why, only that your spirit seems at peace this morning."

Elrond glanced at the sky, and then at his wife and children sitting a short way up the hill. Elladan and Elrohir began to run forward as soon as their father's eyes met theirs.

"I think I understand my parents at long last."

"Ada, we watched your match with Glorfindel!" the voice of the twins interrupted before Glorfindel could respond. "Will you practice with us?"

"I will join you this afternoon in your training time with Glorfindel," Elrond answered, affectionately tousling the hair their mother had just smoothed. "But now you must meet Istuion for lessons. I understand he has new experiments for today."

With a whoop, the twins ran for the house.

"You, meleth-nín, need a bath," Celebrían wrinkled her nose as she drew her husband's head down to kiss him. "I will pick up the remains of breakfast and then come scrub your back," she whispered in his ear.

The amused yet passionate glint that appeared in Elrond's eyes bespoke of other morning activities to be had, and he quickly left her.

Celebrían turned to a very amused Glorfindel. "Well?" she inquired.

"What his mind has understood for an age has reached his heart," Glorfindel replied softly, "but there is still more he must accept to be at peace."

"What he would not do for himself, or even for me, he will do for the children," Celebrían replied. "Thank you again, mellon-nín, for being willing to push him."

"He begins to let go of the hurt instead of denying that it exists, and this path he is willing to travel that he might provide the kind of home to his sons that he did not have." Glorfindel paused. "I think we will pass on today's story, for he is content, and I do not wish to spoil his peace by having him revive memories of his time with Maglor and Maedhros." He cocked an eyebrow at her and gave her a knowing grin. "Perhaps this day of peace should be enjoyed loving his wife?"

Celebrían blushed and swatted Glorfindel on the arm, before stretching up on to her toes to place a chaste kiss on his cheek. With mirth in her eyes she quickly gathered up the blanket and basket and returned to the house.

Glorfindel picked up the swords and turned to the armory. He stopped for a moment, facing west. Closing his eyes, he bowed slightly. His mind turned to his King and to memories of Gondolin, then to Valinor and his meeting with Manwë and Mandos, with Eärendil present, where he had promised anew to protect the line of his King and to aid them in the fight against the coming darkness.

He then entered the armory and began preparations for the warrior class he would lead next.

* * * * *

Ada/Adar - - - - - -Dad/Father
Nana/Naneth - - -- Mom/Mother
Ion-nín - - - -- - -- -my son
Mellon-nín - - - - - my friend
meleth-nín - - -- - - my love

A/N: Again, why and when Glorfindel was returned to Middle-Earth is not known. I like the idea that it was to protect the line of his King.Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter.

Note: Arien is the Maia that guides the vessel of the sun, Anor, on its daily journey. Tilion steers the island of the moon, Ithil.

Chapter 7: Swords and the flight from Sirion

Glorfindel awoke just as Arien began her ascent and dressed quickly. He took careful note of his tidy quarters, and when he left, he closed the door carefully, marking the latch with a small amount of soft wax. He knew the house staff would not enter his room until later that morning.

Many of the warriors who served Imladris were already present on the practice field, and Glorfindel warmed up with them before joining them for a conditioning run that led along the terrace path, following the Bruinen to the Stone Seat, and finally wound its way up the steep cliffs that hemmed in the valley in which Imladris was located. Reaching the top of the cliff, Glorfindel paused to survey the breathtaking view that never ceased to awe him. Directly below him, still in the shade of the trees and hills, Imladris lay quiet, wisps of smoke rising from her chimneys. Dew hung heavy on the grass and trees below, glistening as the rays of the sun chased away the misty fog that hovered just above the ground. Anor was a cheery ball of yellow, and from his position atop the cliff he appeared to be standing on an even plane with the flaming orb. Sometimes he imagined that, if he looked close, he would see Arien appear from the fire.

For those who were watching from below, the golden-haired warrior radiated the sun's light as her beams caught him on the edge of the cliff, while the entire valley below him lay still in shadow. An imposing figure in person, here he loomed larger than life.

After a few moments' pause, Glorfindel joined the other warriors as they began their descent. The path was well traveled, but steep, and the fine balance and light feet of the elves served them well as they descended without mishap. Indeed, they were used to this run, and there were some who bragged they could complete it with their eyes closed. Reaching the bottom of the cliff, the warriors followed the path through the trees, finally arriving back at the training fields.

Glorfindel required this run of all novices and new warriors, but he went nearly every morning himself, as did many of the older warriors. Many an elfling who dreamed of being a defender of Imladris watched the warriors make their daily trek, imagining their own bodies disciplined and strong, and able to withstand the rigors of training and battle.

The warriors finished their exercises, some moving to the archery fields, others to the sword-masters. A light breakfast would be served at the barracks that housed the warriors in training. Glorfindel partook of the baths with his warriors, the warm pools and cool rinses soothing well used muscles. For breakfast, though, he would join Elrond's family in the house.

He finished his bath, and wrapped in a robe, he returned to the house, entering through the back door, and climbing the back stairs to his room. He carefully checked the hall before entering, ensuring no one else was present. At his door he examined the wax on the latch. He grinned, for it had indeed been disturbed. He removed his evidence carefully and entered the room slowly.

The room appeared undisturbed, but this did not concern Glorfindel. It was clear Erestor had been here, and the elf was only so creative. He had yet to be bested by the advisor and did not plan on today being the first occasion.

He entered his chamber and let his eyes slowly roam about the interior. Nothing appeared out of place. He stepped into the bathing alcove, quickly surveying the soaps and roots used for bathing the skin and hair. He opened the small jar that held the concoction used on the hair and immediately noted the slight difference in its fragrance. A grin slowly spread over his face. That which had been added to this vial had once been added by accident to a whole lot, and the few golden and silver haired elves residing in Imladris had sported green tinged locks for a day or so. Fortunately this had not included Lady Celebrían. Glorfindel had been on patrol when this occurred, thus sparing him as well. The mistake was easy to make, for the roots looked much alike.

Glorfindel smiled. This particular root had little effect on dark manes, but he was aware of one that tended to streak midnight tresses slightly. . . orange. It had medicinal properties and thus was kept in some abundance in Elrond's own stores. A little trip to the herb closet was added to his personal agenda for the day.

* * *

Elrond awoke feeling more refreshed and relaxed than he had in many a week. Celebrían was curled warmly against and on top of him, her head nestled into his shoulder, silver hair the only covering over the unmarred bare skin that wrapped around him, her legs tangled with his. They had latched the door from the inside, ensuring no small intruders would interrupt their evening, or morning, and Erestor had promised to see their sons properly awakened, dressed, fed and delivered to Istuion.

Tucking strands of silver hair behind her ear, he delicately traced its leaf-shaped outline, smiling as she shuddered ever so slightly in her sleep. He let his finger continue, barely touching the skin, down her cheek to her mouth, then following her neck to the collar bone and lightly tracing down her arm to her fingertips. Lifting her hand, he brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them gently.

"Elrond Peredhil, you remain in my bed when the dawn has already come?" Celebrían murmured sleepily as she twisted slightly to catch his lips with her own.

"Aye, my lady. Do you wish me to be about my tasks so soon?" Elrond smiled as his wife twisted further, until she was lying nearly atop him

"Nay, my lord," she whispered. "Your first tasks of the day are assigned to this chamber."

Elrond deftly rolled them both until she was on her back and he braced over her. "I fear I have been remiss in my duties of late. May I redeem myself at this late hour?"

Celebrían wrapped her arms about his neck and pulled his head down to her own. "It may take some time, for you have been negligent," she spoke between kisses.

"Then we had best begin," he answered, and he deepened the kiss, ending the need for further words.

* * *

"Let us go show Nana!" Elladan called to his brother. Carefully cupping the tiny kitten in his hands, he turned towards the hall that led to his parents' room.

Erestor caught the elfling in two steps and turned him back into the kitchens. "I think that kitten should stay with his naneth for a while longer," he directed the elfling back to the wooden box in the corner of the kitchen. "The mother-cat does not mind you holding her babies, but she would not like you running off with them."

Elrohir still knelt by the box, one finger gently petting one kitten after another. Elladan placed his kitten back in the box.

"Where are Ada and Nana?" asked Elladan impatiently.

"They are busy this morning and will not be joining us for breakfast," answered Erestor. "Come, you need to eat so you may arrive at your lessons on time."

Elladan and Elrohir reluctantly left the kittens and started for the dining hall. They exchanged a glance, grins spreading across both their faces. They broke into a run at the same instant, bypassing the dining room and heading back toward their rooms.

"Elladan! Elrohir! Come back here!" Erestor scrambled after them.

"We are just going to say good morning to Nana!" Elrohir called back over his shoulder.

The twins had just rounded the corner, giggling and unmindful of what lay ahead of them as they were watching over their shoulders to what chased them, when they were caught in the grasp of powerful hands, lifted from their feet, and then neatly tucked under strong arms.

"Glorfindel!" they cried in unison.

Glorfindel looked down at one and then the other. "Yes?" he responded.

Elladan giggled. "We are going to see Nana!"

"We are running from Erestor!" Elrohir laughed, honest even in his misdeeds.

"Both worthy endeavors," Glorfindel replied, eyes twinkling. "However, your nana is not available to see you at the moment and you two are late for breakfast."

Erestor breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of Glorfindel with an elfling under each arm, but couldn't help the drift of his eyes to inspect the warrior's golden mane. He was not surprised at the lack of results, for he knew that some mornings the seneschal bathed at the warrior's barracks. He could wait for another day.

Taking Elrohir in hand, Erestor led them in for breakfast and afterwards escorted both children into Istuion's care. The cries of delight as the twins beheld the experiment for the day, a grooved board propped on a chair with a complete loop at the bottom, on which a four-wheeled cart was set to plunge, ensured they would not be tempted to bother any adults except Istuion for a while.

Erestor turned his attention to his day with a sigh of relief that he was no longer responsible for the twins, refusing to admit to himself that it had really only been for two hours that he had had to watch over them. Each minute surely counted for ten.

* * *

Angren laid the two swords in their sheaths on the table, the scabbards of oiled leather carved and dyed in an intricate design with the Star of Eärendil obvious near the top of the sheath. Glorfindel and Elrond each picked up one, carefully inspecting the workmanship of the sheath before withdrawing the small sword.

Elrond held the sword upright, feeling its precise balance and noting the carving and words of protection etched into the blade near the handle. He swung the blade quickly, listening to the swish as it cut the air. He placed it carefully back into its sheath and exchanged it for the one Glorfindel held. He performed the same maneuvers and inspection on the second blade, finally laying it down on the table again.

"They are beautifully crafted, Angren," Elrond praised the ironsmith. "They will serve my sons well."

Angren beamed at the words of praise spoken by his lord. "Thank you, my Lord." He turned to the children, both waiting as patiently as they could to see their swords. "Care for them well, little masters, and return them to me should they sustain injury."

"Yes, Master Angren," Elladan and Elrohir replied in unison, but their eyes were on the scabbards.

Glorfindel tucked both swords under his arm, and they departed the smith's forge. Glorfindel smiled as the twins ran for the training field, their excitement palpable. They reached the field first and waited with breathless anticipation until their father and Glorfindel finally arrived. Elrond took the swords from Glorfindel and knelt down before his sons. He looked at them solemnly, but his eyes were dark with love as well.

"Elladan and Elrohir, receiving your first sword is an occasion of both great excitement and great responsibility. Are you prepared to accept the responsibility that comes with bearing such a weapon?" Elrond asked them.

"Yes, Ada," Elladan and Elrohir spoke as one, their eyes still shining but their demeanor and words reflecting their father's seriousness.

"With these swords you will learn to defend yourselves and our people," said Elrond slowly, letting the impact of each word sink into willing vessels. "You must care for your sword properly, so that it will always be in the finest condition to serve you. You must be disciplined in your use of this sword, so that you never hurt anyone due to carelessness or misplaced anger. You must be responsible to learn all that we have to teach you and to use your skill wisely. Do you agree to all of these things?"

"Yes, Ada," Elladan answered first when his father met his eyes.

"Yes, Ada," Elrohir answered in turn.

Elrond motioned for them to sit and then presented Elladan's sword to him.

"May this sword serve you well, Elladan, and may the Valar guide your hand and protect you when you bear it."

Elladan nodded, speechless.

Elrond presented Elrohir's sword to him. "May this sword serve you well, Elrohir, and may the Valar guide your hand and protect you when you bear it."

Elrohir took the sword and met his father's gaze. "Thank you, Ada."

The elflings carefully fingered the scabbards, tracing the designs in the leather, then withdrew the swords and inspected the metal. Elrond demonstrated the sharpness of the blade by easily cutting a twig in half.

"These will serve you well for several years, until you are much bigger. We will practice with these once you have mastered the movements with your wooden training swords," explained Elrond.

"Ada, may we keep these in our room, instead of the armory?" Elrohir asked with wide eyes, enthralled with this gift.

Elrond thought for a moment. "You may. But you are never to take it out of its sheath while in the house. Do you promise me this?"

"Yes, Ada," Elladan answered. "I do promise. I will never take it from its sheath in the house."

Elrond smiled inwardly. Elladan was impetuous and a bit hotheaded at times, and Elrond was pleased he understood the seriousness of this promise enough to repeat it and show his understanding.

"Yes, Ada," Elrohir answered, his sword clasped to his chest.

Glorfindel had stood aside and watched the ceremony with pride, both in Elrond and in the children. Now he stepped forward.

"Are you ready for your lessons?"

"Yes!" And the elflings were on their feet and in position in the blink of an eye. Glorfindel paired with Elladan and Elrond with Elrohir, and they resumed where they had left off the day before.

* * *

"Ada, you must continue the story today!" Elrohir was adamant. "You and Uncle Elros were taken by Maedhros and Maglor, and you promised to tell us about them."

Elrond smiled at the elflings watching him with eager faces. Glorfindel made room for Celebrían to sit beside him, and Istuion slipped into a corner. He had enjoyed hearing the stories as more than just a lesson on how to teach children. Elrond glanced only briefly at the adults in the room, and then returned his attention to his sons.

"Maedhros was angry that the Silmaril had slipped from his grasp again, whereas Maglor was in awe that the mighty Vala, Ulmo, had saved Elwing and the Silmaril. I think that if Maglor had been alone he might have just given us over to the elves of Sirion who had gathered near the shore, but Maedhros had other ideas….."

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Maglor could feel the weight of the child he carried shift, and glancing to the side he saw the child stretch out his arms to the she-elf they had just left to die in the reeds. He quickly caught up to his brother, who held the squirming and crying replica of the child he carried.

"Maedhros, what do you intend to do with them?" Maglor demanded.

"They come with us," answered Maedhros shortly. He continued with long strides up the hill to the road, ignoring the howls and kicks of the child in his arms, until he came upon part of his force. He mounted his horse quickly, using his knees to guide the animal as one arm was in use holding the child and the other in holding his sword.

"To me!" Maedhros shouted. "Ride west!"

Warriors scrambled to follow Maedhros, ceasing their fighting and redirecting their swords to the defense of his back. Maglor quickly mounted his horse as well and followed, several times looking back to the shores. The Sirion elves fell back, allowing the Noldor attackers to leave without interference until one spotted the child in Maedhros' arms.

"Those are the sons of Eärendil!" one Sirion elf cried as the forces of Maedhros rode by. He stepped forward in front of Maedhros' horse. "Leave the children here!"

Maedhros maneuvered his horse deftly to the side, and with one vicious swing of the sword, parted the elf's head from his body. Nudging his horse to a gallop, Maedhros swiftly led his forces to the northwest out the walls his younger brothers had breached before dying themselves.

Once clear of the Havens, Maedhros sheathed his sword and slowed his horse and Maglor drew up next to him. Maedhros still gripped the child tightly with his handless arm, and when he loosened his arm slightly to allow the child to slip down and sit before him he noted the bruising about the child's arm. Lifting the child's tunic he saw that the bruising extended across the abdomen. Elros had ceased squirming or fighting, and instead seemed rather limp.

In Maglor's arms, Elrond remained mute and clung to his captor, his eyes fixed on the Havens, the city shrinking in the distance as they drew away from it.

"This child is injured," Maedhros said, no remorse in his voice.

"You have nearly suffocated him." Maglor stopped his horse next to Maedhros and looked carefully at the child. "He cannot breathe if you press him into your tunic like that. Let me have him."

Maedhros relinquished the child without hesitation, but was surprised when Maglor did not give him the child he carried.

"Give him to me while you tend that one," he ordered.

"I don't need them both injured," replied Maglor, exasperation touched with defiance in his voice. He tugged Elrond down so the child was sitting before him, and then laid Elros in his twin's lap, both children supported in the crook of his arm. "Get me a light blanket."

A piece of torn fabric appeared from behind him, and he fashioned a bit of a sling to help hold the children to him. He opened his water skin and poured a few drops of water into the mouth of Elros, which seemed to revive him. The child tried to sit up and cried out in pain, his breaths coming out in short gasps. Maglor felt the child's abdomen gently, careful not to further injure the already bruised skin. Elrond held his brother's hand, his other arm wrapped around his brother's shoulders, holding him in place.

"Thank you for helping, Elrond," Maglor whispered. "Elros, I am sorry this hurts. I will try to lessen the pain."

Maglor turned to his brother and found him already walking his horse further ahead as he spoke to several of his men. "Maedhros!" he called. "His ribs are broken. I need to stop and bind them."

"Tonight," answered Maedhros shortly. "We will stop in a few hours, and you may tend him in the camp."

"I am stopping now to tend him. You may wait or I will catch up with you later," Maglor replied coldly.

Maedhros stopped and looked back at his brother. He had the two children before him on the horse, water skin in hand and one of the most intense looks on his face that Maedhros had ever seen. Maedhros gripped the reins tight, anger welling within him. His eyes narrowed and darkened. He rode back to Maglor.

"Do not defy my authority in front of my warriors," he hissed.

"Do not force me to do so by being cruel to these children," Maglor hissed back. He motioned to Elros. "His ribs are broken, and he is in pain. I am going to wrap them and try to find something to give him for the pain. He does not need to suffer so."

Maedhros looked at the two solemn and scared children. He was not moved by the innocence of children, particularly these that belonged to the woman who had removed the Silmaril from his grasp. Yet he did not desire to fight with his only remaining brother.

"Be swift," commanded Maedhros.

Maglor slid carefully from the horse, and motioned for one of the warriors to aid him. The warrior Hathel spread a blanket upon the ground, and Maglor laid the children upon it as gently as he could. Elrond still held Elros, and when Elros cried out from the change in position, tears slipped silently from Elrond's eyes.

Maglor sent Hathel in search of a healer or at least the supplies of a healer, while he gently pulled up the child's tunic. Using a sharp knife, he cut a strip of cloth from his own under-tunic and bound the child's ribs. Elros seemed to have discovered that moving and crying caused pain, and he ceased doing both. Hathel returned with a healer's supplies, and Maglor quickly mixed up a sleeping draught, guessing to use about one eighth of the amount used for an adult. Elros drank it without question.

"Would you like a drink of water?" Maglor held out his water skin to Elrond.

The child took it, but when he tried to lift it to his mouth, some of the water spilled and Maglor quickly grabbed the skin and held it for the child.

"What is his age?" Hathel asked. He had children, and when they were of this size they could certainly drink from a water skin.

Maglor was silent for a moment. "If he had only elven blood I would say he was conceived perhaps seven summers ago. But he is half-Edain and they grow faster. He is likely younger than he appears to us."

Elrond looked at the elf seriously, and then held up three fingers.

"You are three?" Maglor asked.

Elrond nodded.

"Do you talk yet?" Maglor asked.

Elrond nodded.

"Can you tell me your name?"

Elrond merely stared at him, then returned his attention to his brother, patting the small hand and stroking the dark hair.

Hathel shrugged. "Perhaps he will speak when he is less scared."

"Help me to get them back on the horse," Maglor instructed. He reached to pick up Elros, but Elrond would not let go of his brother. With a sigh he instead secured them together and then wrapped the cloth around himself, and allowed Hathel to help him on to his horse. Hathel tucked the blanket between the horse and the children, raising them to a height where Maglor could comfortably carry them, and then mounted his own horse.

Maedhros had been watching from a distance, and when he saw his brother back on his horse, he led the party westward again. They rode for several hours, finally making camp in the fleeting evening light.

Hathel again helped Maglor, aiding his dismount and spreading the blanket out near to where the fire would be built. He refilled the water skin from the nearby creek, and placed it near Maglor.

Hathel looked upon the children, one in an induced sleep and the other finally asleep from exhaustion. "What will we feed them?" he whispered to Maglor.

Maglor considered the dried provisions set before them, and then the children. "Heat some water, and we will try softening the meat," he finally said.

Hathel did as instructed, and when the meat was warm and soft, Maglor awakened Elrond.

"You need to eat, child," Maglor placed the small plate in Elrond's hands.

Elrond looked at the food, then set the plate down and curled back around his brother protectively.

"He will eat tomorrow," Hathel said confidently. "He is just tired and scared."

Maglor covered the twins with a blanket and ate his own dinner in silence.

* * *

The children were awake but had not moved when Maglor checked on them the next morning. He lifted Elros and the child whimpered. The child did not need to relieve himself, and Maglor tried to encourage him to drink more water. He would take no food and little water, and Maglor finally dosed him with another draught to take away the pain.

Elrond would not leave his brother willingly, and Maglor was unwilling to force the issue. He did relieve himself just beyond the edge of the blanket and took a few sips of water. He also would take no food, and as soon as left alone, he curled around his brother again. Maglor wrapped them in the cloth and secured them to himself, then allowed Hathel to assist him on to his horse and the children into position.

Maedhros had stayed far from Maglor in camp, and as the ride began he again took the lead. Maglor's ire was raised; why Maedhros wanted the children, and why they had headed west and not east yet remained a mystery to him. He would not accept his brother's sullenness much longer.

They rode the day in silence, taking only brief respites for the horses, and camped again. The children did not eat and lay as if they were just dolls, unmoving, without any sound. They both took sips of water when offered but did not ask. Maedhros avoided Maglor again, and Hathel, who had appointed himself aid to Maglor, grew more concerned for the young ones.

Maglor spread his bedroll next to the little ones again that night, and slept with them between his own body heat and that of the fire. The night air was chilly, and a light rain fell, soaking them. The elves were not bothered, but Maglor noticed the small figures shivering. He moved closer to the children, and drew them into his bedding, covering them with his outer tunic and placing his blanket over the one already covering them. He smiled gratefully when Hathel added his own blanket, and returned minutes later with another. It was some time before the bodies stopped trembling and teeth chattering, and the sons of Eärendil finally fell back asleep.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

There was silence as Elrond stopped his tale; then Elrohir climbed into his ada's lap and hugged him tight. Elladan joined him, and whispered, "Ada, I think Maglor was nice for making you warm again."

"Yes, he was nice for doing that," agreed Elrond. He kissed each dark head. "Now go wash your face and hands for dinner."

Elladan and Elrohir departed, Istuion following silently after them. Celebrían joined Elrond, seating herself in his lap. She kissed him and then rested her head on his shoulder.

"Oh, a message came while you were out on the training field!" She laughed with delight as she drew the parchment from the pocket in her gown. She opened it and handed it to her husband, re-reading it as he perused the contents.

"Your parents will arrive within the week," Elrond said for Glorfindel's sake. "Ah, and your father is bringing the bows."

"Can you tell how excited he is that you asked him to teach the bow to Elladan and Elrohir?" Celebrían asked.

"Your father is one of the best archers I have ever known," Elrond answered.

Celebrían beamed. Sliding off his lap, she kissed him again. "I must see to their rooms."

Elrond laughed as she gracefully exited the study, her excitement at seeing her parents again equally obvious. She enjoyed their visits to Imladris immensely.

* * *

Elrond quietly opened the door to the room the twins shared, checking on them as he did each night before retiring himself. Both elflings were sound asleep, peaceful in the moonlight that shone in from the balcony. With a smile he noted the sheathed swords the children had cuddled with after he had tucked them into bed. He carefully extricated the scabbard from Elladan's grasp, and then did the same with Elrohir, returning each sword to its rightful place in the chest at the end of each bed. He would need to add the rule that swords were not to be slept with either. He kissed them each again, then silently slipped from the room.

* * * * *

Chapter 8: Creative Elves and Music Therapy

Erestor listened to the fading sounds of music drifting from the Hall of Fire as he walked to his rooms. Visiting Dúnedain made for a ready audience and many of Imladris' finest singers and musicians had gathered spontaneously to entertain their guests and each other. It was a beautiful spring night, and many elves were sitting or wandering under the stars, singing to Elbereth and praising the beauty she had created. Music spilled from the Hall into the moonlight, and a beautiful harmony resulted from the mixing of voices within and outside the house. Erestor enjoyed such evenings, enjoyed hearing the news brought by those who sought rest and refuge at the Last Homely House East of the Sea. Now, though, he wished for solitude, and the view from his room was as glorious as any. The waterfalls provided their own harmony with the murmur of the trees and singing of the crickets, soothing the body and soul, and Erestor envisioned appreciating that peace in the luxury of a warm bath.

Reaching his room he neatly hung his outer robes and carefully folded his trousers and tunic, placing them in the wardrobe. He turned on the water taps, and gave silent thanks for the hot water works. He added his favorite oils, then slipped with a sigh into the warm water. He felt his muscles relax and he soaked for some minutes with his eyes closed. He appreciated what his other keen senses brought him more acutely at such times: the smell of sandalwood and lavender in the oils; the fragrance of the lilacs growing near to his window; the crickets chirping and the water flowing from the mountaintops into the Bruinen.

At such times he contemplated life in Arda and thought of loved ones who had sailed West. The peace of Valinor, an end to the weariness long life wrought in Middle-Earth, and reunion with loved ones filled his mind. He wondered when the desire to sail would come upon him, as it had upon so many others. He would not go until Elrond left; that much he knew with surety.

With a small smile he slid until he was under water, wetting his hair, then resurfaced. He reached for the small jar of hair tonic and removed the cap. One sniff alerted him to the attempted revenge of a certain golden-haired elf. A grin spread across his face. So Glorfindel had discovered his little gift. He was not surprised; he did not underestimate the one who had been to Mandos and been returned whole and healed, strong and full of purpose. But did the Elf really expect him to fall for his own misdeed?

Erestor cautiously emptied the container, careful to leave no residue behind. It took very little to turn dark hair orange. He momentarily considered placing the substance into the baths of others, but decided that thwarting Glorfindel silently was more enjoyable than drawing others into their games. He stepped, dripping, to the wall cabinet, and removed another container. He sniffed it carefully and once satisfied he would not rue its use, returned to the tub and finished his ablutions.

Once dried, he retired to his bed and lay where his view of the stars was greatest. Sparring with Glorfindel was amusing - but they both had become predictable, as evidenced by this latest round of frivolity. And so he drifted into elvish dreams, a slight hope on the fringe of his thought that perhaps Lórien, Master of Dreams, would plant an inspiring idea during the night.

* * *

Glorfindel watched with amusement as Erestor entered the dining hall. The advisor appeared quite. . . normal. Even amused.

"Good morning, Glorfindel," Erestor smiled his greeting.

"Greetings to you, Erestor," Glorfindel answered politely.

The two stared at each other, both with eyes twinkling. Erestor laughed first. He clapped Glorfindel on the back, his hand lingering upon a braid he caught up in his fingers. "Have I ever mentioned how lovely I find the golden strands of your hair, my friend?"

"No, you have been remiss." Glorfindel reached for a handful of Erestor's dark hair, and rubbed it gently between his fingers. "Have I mentioned how enchanting I find your midnight tresses?"

"Nay, you also have been remiss," answered Erestor pleasantly.

"I think we grow old," Glorfindel finally sighed. "Are we so predictable?"

"I am afraid so," admitted Erestor.

"Have you any remedy to cure this malady?" inquired Glorfindel.

"I have requested aid from Valinor; but alas, Lórien has not yet responded to my petition."

"I may try this approach as well; perhaps I will be received more kindly?"

"Because of your previous sojourn there?" scoffed Erestor. "I should think that such experience would clearly sway Lórien to favor me."

Glorfindel arched an eyebrow at Erestor. "So, the terms of engagement must be set. Whatever folly is undertaken must not have been accomplished previously by either party. Only original plans may be considered."

"Challenge accepted, with conditions," answered Erestor, with a wise and knowing expression. "No harm may befall other residents or visitors of Imladris, or the establishment itself. Also, no elflings may assist in the planning or execution of any endeavor."

Glorfindel clutched his tunic over his heart. "You wound me, my friend. You think I would ask for aid from the sons of Elrond?"

"Yes," Erestor answered without hesitation. "I think you might even involve them without their knowledge. You may not use them, with or without their permission."

Hand still covering his heart, Glorfindel bowed to Erestor, who returned the gesture.

* * *

"What ever are they doing?" Celebrían leaned to whisper in Elrond's ear.

"I know not," Elrond replied, a furrow in his brow. "In times of peace they can become quite…creative. They seek amusement." He turned to face Celebrían. "I will assign them additional tasks," he said resolutely.

Celebrían laughed aloud, the sound like silver bells ringing in perfect pitch. "My father may enjoy such amusement!"

Elrond sighed as he considered the ramifications if Lord Celeborn became embroiled in their skirmish, and then turned to the two in question. He glared at them, causing them both to smile with amusement. Their smiles did nothing to hide the gleam in their eyes.

* * *

"Istuion, what is a folly?" Elrohir looked up from his assignment, his mind clearly elsewhere.

Istuion looked at the child in surprise. That was certainly not a word he had seen in the lessons he had assigned to the elflings. "A folly is an act of foolishness," he replied. "Why do you ask?"

"Ada says Glorfindel and Erestor are foolish," Elrohir answered.

Istuion nearly choked on the water he was sipping. He coughed several times and cleared his throat. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind as he contemplated responding to Elrohir's statement or simply moving on to a new subject. The recent scene of Lord Glorfindel growling and crawling on the floor as he chased the twins from his study surfaced in his thoughts and he could not help himself. "That would seem an…interesting…thing to call Lord Glorfindel," he finally answered. "Are you sure that is what your father said?"

Elrohir nodded seriously. "He said Glorfindel and Erestor and their follies are about to start again. He is going to give them more work to do to keep them busy."

Istuion was trying very hard not to smile and finally had to duck his head under the desk to retrieve an imaginary dropped item to keep from doing so in front of the child. He resurfaced once he had regained control of himself. "Your adar is very wise," he managed. "I am sure he will keep Lord Glorfindel and Erestor quite busy and out of trouble. Now, are you done with your assignment?"

Elrohir shook his head and bent back over his work. He wondered what his father had meant by 'again'.

* * *

Elrond sat at the desk in his study and carefully studied the faces of the two elves before him. He had learned over time to read faces and had become adept at sensing the motivations of those who came before him. These two elves, however, were both his senior by many years and had much experience in both reading others and hiding their own thoughts. Their faces were impassive, but their eyes twinkled. He suspected they were laughing at his expense. He sighed audibly.

"Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel shall arrive within the week," he said in exasperation. "Do I at least have your word that they shall not be engaged or otherwise affected by whatever it is you two are planning?"

"We have no plans, Master Elrond," Glorfindel replied innocently.

"None," Erestor confirmed.

Elrond closed his eyes for a moment. Anytime Glorfindel called him 'Master' in private meant that the games were about to begin. "Glorfindel, surely there are warriors to be trained, novices who should be taken into the mountains for some experiential learning?"

"No, my Lord," Glorfindel answered. "The patrol and training schedules are set for the next two months."

"Erestor, the planning for the spring planting surely cannot be completed? Is there not work you would wish to oversee yourself?"

"No, my Lord," Erestor smiled charmingly. "With the aid of the lovely Lady Celebrían, we are ahead of schedule this year."

Elrond watched the pair, standing so casually in front of him, hands clasped behind their backs, and innocent looks gracing their faces. How he had longed for peace, how happy he was in the Last Homely House with his wife and children, and all those who made up his household. But these two, his closest advisors and friends - tended to get very creative and merry when not otherwise occupied. Such times had produced wonderfully creative inventions, beautiful ballads and tasty concoctions from the kitchen. Such times had also produced green hair, broken limbs and gastrointestinal discomfort. For the most part their intentions were good, even constructive. He finally smiled. "I am most glad that I can count on you both to help make the Lord and Lady comfortable and their stay enjoyable."

"Of course, Elrond," they replied in unison. With slight bows to him, they left the room.

Glorfindel and Erestor walked several paces down the corridor in silence, both with slight smiles.

"I wish we did have something planned," Glorfindel finally said.

"I wish we did too," Erestor answered. "Elrond surely seems to think we do. Of course, doing nothing when he expects something is actually doing something, for if nothing else, we shall aggravate him with the suspense."

"That actually made sense," Glorfindel replied, raising an eyebrow at the advisor. "Maybe I do need to take novices into the mountains."

Erestor laughed. "I think you are needed elsewhere, my friend." As he spoke, the twins appeared in the hallway and Glorfindel was willingly dragged off for the midday meal.

* * *

The midday meal had just been served when a messenger arrived. The guard caught Glorfindel's attention, and motioned for him to bring Elrond and come immediately. A man, one of the Dúnedain who lived in the North, stood in the front hall.

"Lord Elrond," the man greeted him immediately with a bow. "One of our men has been injured in a mud slide in the Misty Mountains. I have been sent ahead to request your aid, to ask if we might bring him here."

Glorfindel left the hall before Elrond could respond, calling softly to the guard outside the front porch of the house to arrange for a rescue group, with litter, to assemble immediately near the stables.

"Of course. Please, come inside and eat while you tell me more of what happened, that I might best prepare for his arrival," Elrond replied kindly, his eyes noting the weariness in the man's eyes and the dust and dirt that covered him. "Are you injured?"

"No, my Lord. Just tired and dirty from the rescue and the ride here," the man answered quietly. He allowed himself to be led to a table in the kitchen, where he was immediately served hot tea and a hearty stew. He quickly told Elrond all he knew of the injuries, which appeared severe, and then the Elf-Lord left him to prepare for the injured man's arrival.

The tired man was surprised when his dishes were whisked away, and another elf appeared to escort him to a room. A steaming tub of water was prepared for him, and clean clothing was folded on the bed. Hot water for tea was set on a small table, with a variety of herbs available from which he could choose.

The elf bowed to him. "Word will be sent when the rest of your party arrives. Please rest and be comfortable until then."

The man nodded his thanks and the elf slipped from the room. He glanced at the sweet smelling soaps and oils, their fragrance already soothing his mind. Such luxuries were not afforded to those who patrolled the north. He wondered if he were dreaming, for his weary mind could not comprehend this welcome; indeed he felt as if he were a near relative returned home from a long journey. He shook his head to clear it, then removed his travel stained clothing and slipped into the warm water.

* * *

Elrond cut the tattered cloth from the injured man's leg, exposing a severe break and the subsequent tissue damage. The skin was filthy from the dirt and rock that had buried the man in the fall. Glorfindel worked across from him, removing the rest of the man's clothing and beginning the work of cleansing him of the grime while Elrond assessed his injuries.

His color was poor, his skin clammy and cool to the touch. His pulse was thready and fast, and there was evidence of much blood loss before the man's companions had managed to tie off the flow from the wounded leg. The light touch of Elrond's hands discovered a broken wrist and fingers on the right hand, broken ribs, and damage to the lung on that same side. He examined the lacerations and cuts as Glorfindel uncovered them, determining which would require stitching and which would heal without such intervention. A deep gash on his scalp had bled much, and the man's hair was matted, his face crusted, as the blood dried there.

The room was busy with elves moving quietly about their tasks, bathing and rinsing wounds and applying healing creams. Gentle hands worked swiftly to aid him, and there were several who took up positions near uninjured parts of his body. They laid their hands upon him, and raised their voices in soft melody. The song wrought peace on all in the room, and gradually the man's color improved. Soon the man was clean and his hair washed, wounds were stitched and bandaged as needed, broken bones set and braced, ribs bound, and after several hours work, the broken leg repaired. That wound they would not close right away, but packed instead in healing herbs and wrapped in soft cloths.

Erestor had seen to the other men, who had been quickly escorted from the room with assurances that their friend was in the best of hands. The same surreal sense of wonder was upon each of them, none previous visitors to Imladris, as they were fed, offered baths and provided comfortable beds in which to rest. Garments were provided for them while their own clothing was cleaned and repaired, and invitations extended to come to the Hall of Fire that night, if they so wished. The leader of the group, young himself in years and experience, stopped Erestor in the hall as he returned to his room.

"I thank you, on behalf of my men, for the kind welcome your have given to each us, as well as for tending to Albast. Tales of the hospitality and kindness of this house are more than proved true with that which has been shown us. If I may be so bold as to ask, why is your Lord so generous?"

Erestor smiled. "Master Elrond would treat any guest or one who came in need to Rivendell with such care. Yet you of Westernesse are special to him. To know why, you must seek your own history, that of your first King of Númenor. He paused as the man looked upon him in dawning recognition. Erestor laughed. "Yes, I see you do know of the tale. Tar-Minyatur was brother to Master Elrond." He bowed to the man. "Good night, my friend."

* * *

It was well past the dinner hour when Elrond finished tending the injured man. He left draughts for pain and sleep should they be needed, with instructions to seek him should problems arise, and then left the soldier in the capable hands of those who would watch over him.

He entered his chambers and saw the bath prepared for him, robes folded neatly on a nearby chair, and a glass of wine on the ledge that held the soaps and oils for bathing. He could hear Celebrían's voice from the sitting room, rising and falling in story, and he knew she read to their sons. Stripping off his soiled clothing, he slipped into the water and allowed the warmth to envelop and soothe him. He sipped the wine and noted she had chosen his favorite red. His eyes closed, he drifted in reflections and mostly considered how much he loved his wife.

"Your skin begins to wrinkle, meleth-nín." A soft voice whispered in his ear. He opened his eyes to see Celebrían perched next to him, warm towels in hand. < my love >

"You will look like an old prune soon," she teased.

"I fell asleep," Elrond blinked. The water had cooled to room temperature and he was wrinkling.

"Yes, you did," Celebrían laughed. "Come." She held the towel open for him, and wrapped it around him as he stepped into it, rubbing him briskly as she did so. She held his robe open, allowing him to slip his arms in, and then belted it at his waist. She smoothed out the folds and adjusted the collar, then wrapped her arms around his neck and drew his head down for a kiss. She broke contact all too soon. "Elladan and Elrohir are waiting to say goodnight. They would like you to continue the story, but I have told them it might have to wait until tomorrow."

Elrond pulled her close again. "I love you, Celebrían."

She started to answer back, but he held his fingers to her lips. "I have to use words this night for that which you have already said with deeds." He crushed her to him for just a moment, his heart and soul exposed, and Celebrían felt the rush of energy that was his feä, his love surrounding her, encompassing her, lifting her - the intensity so seldom fully shared with her that when he drew away she was breathless. With a final caress of her cheek, he went in search of their children.

She stood still for a moment, feeling weak in her knees. She touched her cheek, the tingle still present where he had touched her. She wondered, as she often had since she had met this half-elf, what blood a mortal must possess that their spirit contained such fierceness and passion. He had explained once that a mortal did not bind in the way of elven-kind; they did not share what elves did in the binding of their spirits. Being of both kinds, he still had some of the ferocity of the Edain and the ability to share it as an Eldar. She sat down carefully on the chair and allowed her mind to perfectly remember that which she had just experienced, storing it away that she might recall it at will.

* * *

"Ada!" Elladan and Elrohir jumped to their feet and rushed to greet their father. Each taking a hand, they led him to the couch and climbed up on either side.

"Ada, did you see all the soldiers here?" Elladan asked.

"Ada, did you take care of the one who was hurt? Did you make him better?" Elrohir spoke in quick succession to his brother.

"I did see them, and I did tend the one who was injured. He will need to stay with us for some time while he recovers," Elrond answered, pulling Elrohir into his lap and drawing Elladan into the crook of his arm.

"Ada, they were in a rock slide," Elladan informed him.

"They were," confirmed Elrond. "Melting snow and spring rains make the mountain passes treacherous at this time of year. The soil becomes soft, and sometimes it releases and slides down the slope without warning."

"Can we meet the man who is hurt?" Elrohir asked.

"When he feels better, you may," Elrond answered. The twins settled in comfortably, and he heard a yawn from Elladan.

"Ada, tell us more about when your brother Elros was hurt," said Elladan, a yawn interrupting his thought, "and Maglor helped him," Elrohir finished.

"Maglor was becoming very worried about us, particularly about Elros, for he would neither eat nor drink," Elrond continued. He smiled as Celebrían joined them, extinguishing some of the lights. "We had been traveling for several days……"

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Maglor shifted the children against him, using his knees to adjust the blanket that helped prop them in place. Neither stirred, and he slipped one hand under the tunic of the injured child, Elros, who lay across his knees, and felt again the dimming of his spirit. The spark of the child's feä was fading slowly, a little more each day. The beat of the child's heart also slowed and grew faint. Elrond was slumped against him, his face pressed against Maglor's chest and his brother cradled in his lap. Maglor cupped the child's face with his large hand and turned the small face slightly. Dark circles under sunken eyes, the skin pale, and now his feä, too, had begun to fade. Maglor felt despair grow in him.

He reasoned he cared because they were kin, distant kin, but related nonetheless. He reasoned he cared because they were children, and did not the elves value their children? He reasoned he cared because to look upon them was to see Amras and Amrod - different in appearance, certainly, but they evoked in him the same emotion he had experienced the day his father had laid twin baby brothers, youngest of the sons of Fëanor, into his arms. Perhaps he cared simply because they gave him reason to care, to be responsible for the care of a helpless being.

Yet he knew they would die, and he did not know how to stop the fading that would claim their lives.

He heard the call to halt, and looking to the head of the line he saw Maedhros dismount and begin to organize the camp. The sun was yet high, and Maglor had hope this place might be a more permanent camp. Maglor continued to ride forward, the others in the line parting and allowing passage, until he drew near to the site. Hathel was at his back, and the warrior quickly jumped to the ground and relieved Maglor of his twin burdens.

"We will make camp here," Maedhros announced. He paused for a moment, noting the tension in his brother's frame. "How do Eärendil's sons fare?"

Maglor sighed wearily. "They fade, Maedhros. They will not last much longer."

Maedhros did not answer, but approached the bundle Hathel had just laid upon a blanket and knelt down beside the children. He gently uncovered them, pulling the blanket back that he might see them for himself. As his brother had done before him, he touched them softly and felt the fading of their spirits. The pity he had denied he felt for them for days surfaced in his heart again, and he felt troubled.

"Is there nothing that can be done?" he asked softly.

Maglor remained mute. He did not know how to stop such a process. Of those in this party who had children, none knew of a situation where younglings of this tender age were deprived of family. None knew of even a similar situation. And none knew how to revive a fading spirit.

"I will have water sent, and fresh food. Perhaps that will entice them," Maedhros answered his own question.

"Why did we take them? What purpose did you have for them?" Maglor hissed.

Maedhros grimaced. "I had hope that if Elwing returned with the Silmaril, we would have something she would desire for a trade, that she would give it up in exchange for her sons."

"We saw Ulmo rescue her! Why would he allow her to return?" Maglor demanded.

"You do not know that he would not," Maedhros replied sternly.

Maglor slumped. Maedhros was right. He remained ever true to their father, ever faithful to the oath. He saw an opportunity, a potential bargaining token and he took it. His decisions were not clouded by pity.

Maglor stroked the dark heads. "Hostages are of little use if they are dead. All these two will become is more blood on our hands."

"The blood of two more will not change our fate!" Maedhros snapped. He stood, and turned away for a moment to regain his composure. "Do what you can for them."

* * *

The camp was made in the Birchwoods of Nimbrethil, near the Cape of Balar. From here they would know of the voyages of ships from the Isle of Balar or the remnants of the Havens of Sirion. Perhaps from here, should Elwing return, they would know of her coming.

Maglor spread blankets out in the shade of the trees, near to the main camp but set apart enough that all would not witness the passing of the half-elven children. Hathel tossed his bedroll next to Maglor's, and Maglor appreciated the gesture of the warrior to watch over them with him. The children barely stirred as he laid them out, close to each other, for they seemed to become distressed if not in physical contact.

As promised, Maedhros had water and food sent other, including a broth, which Maglor painstakingly squeezed from a cloth into tiny mouths. Elrond awakened, but remained unresponsive, swallowing only when Maglor stroked his throat, opening his mouth only reflexively at a soft touch to his cheek. Elros did not even open his eyes.

"They will not survive," Hathel said softly.

"No, they will not," Maglor replied. He finished feeding them, and laid down beside them. Elrond had rolled to his side, wrapping himself protectively against his brother, the action unconscious, even in sleep. Maglor stroked the child's back, his hand on bare skin that the child might feel the warmth of his touch. He began to sing, softly at first, his voice then carrying across the camp, and all who heard him stopped and listened. He mourned the fading of young life, and sang of the desire to restore it; the strains of the Noldolantë woven into the melody, for the sorrow of the kinslaying was repeated at Sirion.

Hathel watched as the power and majesty of Maglor's song seemed to impart a glow from his hand to the child. As he continued to sing, the child stirred and cuddled himself snugly between Maglor and his brother. Hathel wondered if Maglor were aware, if he sensed a quickening in the children, when he saw Maglor cover Elros's chest with his other hand.

Maglor sang into the night, the strains imparting comfort to all who listened, and when he finally slept, the children were snug against him, in skin contact with him and each other, and their spirits held steady.

Maedhros sat near the campfire, listening and watching. When Maglor finally slept, he crept near and kneeled beside them. He touched each one, feeling the strengthened feä of each of the children and the power that still emanated from his own brother. He could feel that this had drained Maglor some, tired him, and resting his own good hand on his brother's forehead he concentrated on giving what he could of himself to replenish his brother.

"Is this a healing power?" Hathel asked softly, in awe, as Maedhros stood.

"I do not know. It is the power of the minstrel, perhaps, connecting to the music of the soul," Maedhros answered before walking slowly away.

He was drawn by the song of the sea, and the light of the moon shining upon the water. Maedhros crossed the distance to the cliffs and sat himself in a cleft in the rocks, and allowed Ithil and the sea to replenish him.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond ended his story and began to sing softly, a lullaby, and in just moments both of his sons were fast asleep. Celebrían gently plucked Elladan from his side, and Elrond stood with Elrohir in his arms. They carried them to their room and laid them in their beds. Elrond stroked Elladan's back, resting his hand for a moment and closing his eyes in deep concentration. Celebrían watched as a slight glow transferred from father to son. Elrond moved to Elrohir and did the same; then taking Celebrían by the hand he led her back to their room.

They undressed in silence and slipped into the cool comfort of the sheets. Celebrían settled herself into Elrond's embrace, and laying her arms across his, she closed her eyes and concentrated deeply. Elrond felt her presence, felt her touch the fringes of his mind.

"Celebrían, meleth-nín, what are you doing?" he whispered.

"Trying to replenish you," she murmured softly.

Elrond rolled to his side, pulling her close to him. He gazed into eyes that held deep love, and then kissed her gently. "You replenish me with your love, and you give much in your mother-bond to Elladan and Elrohir. You give me much, hervess-nín, and I will not take more unless I need it."

"You would tell me if you needed more, if I did not somehow already know?" Celebrían asked as she traced the structures of his face with a delicate fingertip.

"Yes," Elrond replied as he caught her finger in his mouth and nibbled on its tip. He held her face in his hands and kissed her.

Celebrían felt a wonderful peace settle over her at the touch of her husband and she drifted asleep secure in his arms. Elrond smiled.

* * * * *

Authors notes: All ideas about the binding of the spirits, between spouses, and parents and children is based on Tolkien's writings in Morgoth's Ring (HoME v.10). The healing touch idea flows from that and is based on both what I have read in HoME and fanon.

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta-reading this chapter.

Chapter 9: Grandparents and Elflings

Elladan watched surreptitiously as Istuion bent back over the book he was reading. As soon as he seemed engrossed in the material, Elladan let his glance shift back out the window. He cautiously slid his chair back and waited for a moment, and when Istuion did not move, he got lightly to his feet and tiptoed to the window. Nothing. A small sigh escaped him.

"Elladan, back to your seat. How many times must I remind you today to pay attention to your lessons?" Istuion chided. He watched the elfling move dejectedly back to his seat and slump into his chair. A slight pity stirred in the tutor. "Your father has promised that as soon as word is received from the guards, he will come for you himself. You do not need to keep watch."

Elladan picked up his quill and began writing, but soon his head was lying on his outstretched arm, and his writing was slanting at odd angles as a result. Istuion rose and walked to stand behind Elladan, looking over the child's shoulder at his work. He sighed and picked up the parchment. He crumpled the paper and set a new sheet before the child.

"This lesson was to work on your penmanship, Elladan. I want a whole sheet of clean strokes that can be read without having to turn the page sideways," Istuion instructed.

Tears began to slip slowly from the elfling's eyes and he had to take a deep breath to catch the sob that was trying to escape him. He picked up the quill again and began to write, this time sitting up straight and keeping his quill at the proper angle. He had completed a few lines, the tears still wetting his eyes, when a drop fell on to the still-wet ink. The ink smeared, and when small fingers tried to brush the smear away, it was spread all the way to the edge of the paper. Elladan burst into tears.

* * *

Celebrían was walking to her small study located near to the room where her sons were taught, when she heard Istuion instructing Elladan to start his work over. She slipped quietly into the small alcove at the door, and witnessed her son's frustration. She saw the tears fall and the ink smear, and then watched her little son burst into tears. She knew she shouldn't interfere, but she was as excited about today as any elfling and could not bear to see her child suffer when he was merely anticipating a much desired arrival.

She glided into the room, nodding at Istuion apologetically, before kneeling next to her son. She touched his shoulder, and he looked up with tear filled eyes.

"Nana, I messed it up again!" he sobbed. He flung his arms around her neck and buried his face into her shoulder, his own small shoulders shaking as he cried.

Celebrían bit back a smile and rose, picking him up and then seating herself in his chair. She picked up the parchment and perused it, one eye on Elladan. He quieted and looked at the paper.

"Yes, it looks like the paper became wet and the ink smeared," she agreed, smiling inside when Elladan wiped his eyes and nodded his agreement. "What do you think we should do with it?"

Elladan took the paper from her hand and looked at it carefully. "I think we should throw it away," he answered in a small voice. "It is no good anymore."

"Why were you crying over your lesson?" Celebrían asked him gently.

"I was not crying over this," Elladan corrected her. He glanced to the window and then at his mother's face. "I want to be outside with Elrohir, waiting for Daeradar and Daernaneth."

"I would wish that too. Why are you inside and Elrohir is outside?" she questioned.

Elladan hung his head. "Because Elrohir finished his lesson and I did not." He leaned against his mother again, tucking his head under her chin for a moment. Then he seemed to deepen his resolve, sat back upright, and turned to face the table. He took another sheet of parchment from the pile and placed it before himself, then dipped his quill in the ink and bent over his work.

Celebrían watched as another tear rolled down his cheek. Biting her lip to hold back her smile, she looked at Istuion. He shrugged and smiled. She took the pen from Elladan's hand.

"I think you are going to smear the ink again, with those tears." She tenderly wiped the tears away. "I think perhaps we can work out a special arrangement, just for today. You must complete this assignment, but you may do it this evening or tomorrow."

Elladan looked from his mother to his teacher in surprise. "Then I may go outside now, with Elrohir?" he asked incredulously. When his mother nodded, a huge smile lit his face and he hugged her tightly before bolting out the door.

"El, I am coming!" They heard his shout as he skidded down the hall and out the front door.

Celebrían turned and smiled at Istuion. "Thank you. He is just excited, for my parents are expected any time now. I will see that he completes his task before they next come for lessons"

Istuion blushed and melted under the smile she bestowed upon him. "My Lady," was all he could whisper.

* * *

The sun was midway through its day's journey when word first came that the party of Celeborn and Galadriel approached. Celebrían watched her sons waiting as patiently as they could, trying to occupy the time and will the minutes by faster. At one point they sat together on the swing, legs dangling, as they appeared to discuss matters of great importance. Moments later Elladan lay on his back under the swing, while Elrohir lay face down on the slatted seat. She could hear their giggles but did not understand the game. Her breath caught the next time she glanced out at them, as they carefully balanced themselves upright on the flat rail of the fence that encircled the porch and then walked carefully to the end before jumping the three feet or so to the wood flooring. The twins had just climbed up for a second go when she heard them shout. She saw the guard appear up the path from the bridge and watch as both elflings jumped off the side of the fence and into the grass. For that she leapt to her feet as well and ran from her chair in the study to the front porch. She flew down the porch stairs and turned to the side, into the grass, where she saw them both lying on the ground.

"Elladan! Elrohir!" She ran to them, noting the way they were sprawled face down on the ground, the way their small bodies shook. Kneeling quickly beside them, she touched Elrohir's shoulder. He turned his fact towards her, and she saw the tears in his eyes, the redness of his face…..and the smile? "Elrohir, are you hurt?"

A squeal came from the elfling next to him, and Elladan rolled over, giggles erupting from him. Elrohir continued to laugh as tears poured from his eyes.

"Nana," he gasped, "my side hurts from laughing so hard!"

Celebrían drew in a deep breath and sat down on the grass next to them. Elrohir crawled over to her and collapsed on her in giggles, finally resting his head in her lap. Elladan rolled across the grass, bumping into Elrohir and resting his head on his brother's legs. It took the elflings several minutes to regain their breath. Elladan sat suddenly upright.

"Nana! Daerada and Daernaneth will be here soon! The guard just arrived," he announced.

Celebrían calmly stroked Elrohir's hair. "Yes, pen-breg nín, I saw him arrive too. Were you so excited that you jumped off the fence?"

"No, Nana," Elrohir giggled. "We were fighting orcs. Sometimes you have to jump great distances to get them."

"We are going to ask Daerada to show us how to jump from trees in battle," Elladan added.

Celebrían turned and looked up at the porch rail and then back again at her sons. She shuddered slightly, and then asked, "Have you ever jumped from there before?"

Elladan and Elrohir exchanged glances. Elladan began to answer, but Elrohir was already turning red and refusing to meet his mother's eyes. Elladan began to twist the edge of his tunic, a sure sign he was contemplating how best to answer such an inquiry.

"Yes, Nana," Elrohir finally answered.

Elladan jumped in quickly. "Nana, we have been watching the warriors train and so we know how to roll when you land so you don't get hurt. We even practiced from lower walls first," he explained.

"Has your Ada or Glorfindel or Erestor told you that you could jump from the porch rail?" Celebrían pursued her line of questioning.

"No, Nana," Elladan answered truthfully.

Celebrían noted Elrohir still squirming uncomfortably. "Have you been told any places you cannot jump from?"

"Ada said we cannot jump from the wall down by the bridge," Elrohir answered.

"And Glorfindel says we cannot jump from the rocks on the training field," Elladan chimed in.

"Erestor says we cannot jump from the stairs into the hall," Elrohir finished.

At that moment the first of the horses appeared, and all further discussions of where elflings were allowed to jump from and where they were not was forgotten. The warriors of Imladris who had met and relieved those from Mithlond turned away to the stables, until finally Celeborn and Galadriel were there, stopping their horses with imperceptible movements and then dismounting.

Elrond, Erestor and Glorfindel had appeared, as well as many others of Imladris. Bags and cases were already being unloaded and carried to the rooms assigned by the Lady of Imladris.

"Adar!" Celebrían waited for Celeborn to dismount and hand his reigns to one of the stable elves, and then she was in his arms. "Did you have a good journey?" she whispered as she kissed him on each cheek.

Celeborn took the hands of his daughter in his own and kissed each one, then her forehead. "It was a fine journey, my daughter, but today is the finest day of all, for you are here."

As Celebrían turned to greet her mother, Celeborn eyed the dark haired elflings who were waiting rather impatiently behind their mother, their father having a firm hold on each small elf, gently restraining them and allowing their mother to greet her parents first. He looked down at them, unsmiling at first, but with a twinkle in his eye, glancing from one to the other. He finally held out his arms, and Elrond released the two small balls of energy.

"Daerada! Daerada!"

Celeborn caught them up, one in each arm, and was hugged tightly around his neck by each child. "I almost did not recognize the two of you," he spoke softly. "I was expecting small children, and here I have rather grown-up elflings instead."

Elladan and Elrohir beamed with pride. "Daerada, we have so much to tell you," Elrohir hugged his grandfather again.

Elrond stepped forward and clasped the part of Celeborn's arm that was not holding one of his sons. "Welcome, Celeborn. I am pleased you are here."

"We are pleased to be here, my son," Celeborn answered in his soft, yet commanding voice.

Celebrían watched her mother for a moment as she turned her horse over to the stable hand. Her mother was tall and beautiful, her very carriage so powerful, that whenever Celebrían saw her now after an absence of any length, she felt awed by her presence. Yet when her mother's eyes turned to her, she was again a daughter, a much loved daughter.

"Celebrían," Galadriel glided the last few feet to her daughter. She took Celebrían's hands in her own, and held her at arm's length, gazing upon the one she had given birth to so many years before, then drew her near, gently kissing her on each cheek and smoothing back her hair.

"Naneth, I am glad you are here," Celebrían replied, gently embracing her. "Your grandsons have been eagerly awaiting your arrival too."

Galadriel turned to Celeborn, who still held their grandsons.

"Daernaneth," Elrohir bowed his head to his grandmother, and when she reached her hand to him, he took it gently in his and kissed it as a well-bred little elf ought.

Galadriel laughed, a sound so beautiful and rare that everyone turned to look. She kissed his cheek and then turning to Elladan, who copied his brother's manners perfectly, and did the same.

Celebrían beamed as her sons behaved impeccably, and then her husband bowed before Galadriel, and taking her by the arm escorted her to the porch, where many others waited to greet them. Celebrían hooked her own arm through her father's, as he set the twins down, and followed.

Elladan and Elrohir were watching as the horses were unloaded of their packages and bags and taken away to be cared for, when they saw two small horses being led away. They were dappled gray, so small that they could walk beneath one of the large elven horses.

"Ada, look!" Their cries caught the attention of all the adults. "It's a tiny horse!"

Elrond and Celebrían turned to see what their sons were pointing at and caught sight of the ponies being led to the stables.

"Nana, did you see them?" Elrohir cried excitedly. "Daerada, where did you get the tiny horses from?"

The twins ran back to their grandparents and parents, their faces alight with excitement. It was their grandmother who spoke.

"We brought them from Mithlond," Galadriel explained. "They are beautiful, are they not?"

"Yes, Daernaneth," Elladan agreed. "May we see them later, please?"

"I think that can be arranged." Galadriel smiled, one hand on each small head.

* * *

"Naneth, where did you find the ponies?" Celebrían questioned her mother after her sons had left the table.

Galadriel smiled. "Cirdan knew of them. Men east of Mithlond raise them, and allow their children to ride them. Human children grow so fast that they are on to horses soon enough. With the small stature of the ponies, Elladan and Elrohir will also be able to take on the responsibility of caring for them. They should serve them well for a number of years."

"If their reaction to them today is any indication of what we shall see when you give the ponies to them, I think we can say it will be one of the finest gifts they have been given," Elrond added. "Thank you."

Galadriel nodded at him, her eyes speaking as much as her words. "It is the role of the Daernaneth's and Daeradar's to both spoil the grandchildren and aid the parents in raising them. There appears to be little need for the latter; therefore we shall enjoy focusing on the former."

Elrond felt Celebrían's hand slip into his under the table, and squeeze his fingers tightly. He felt her mind brush against his, and her joy she at hearing her parents express confidence in how they were raising their children. He stroked her palm with his fingertip and smiled at her in return.

* * *

"Ada, will you continue the story tonight?" Elrohir tugged on the sleeve of his father's robe.

Elrond looked down at hopeful faces and smiled. The adults had stayed at the dining table long after the meal was finished, catching up on news from Mithlond. The twins had quietly listened to all that was said, but the conversation was above their head and they finally asked to be excused. Celebrían had reminded Elladan of his penmanship lesson, and with a barely hidden scowl he had gone to his room to complete the task; Elrohir accompanied him for moral support. They had spent their evening out of sight and mind of the adults, and Elrond had been surprised by the quiet tug on his sleeve.

"Yes, Elrohir, we will continue," he answered. "Say goodnight to your mother and grandparents, then I will help you with your baths and we will continue the story."

"Good night, Nana." Elladan and Elrohir chimed at the break in conversation.

Celebrían hugged her elflings. "I will come tuck you in later," she murmured, kissing each small head.

After quick goodnights to their grandparents, Glorfindel and Erestor, Elrond led the children back to their room. He smiled as he listened to them chatter in their bath about the small horses, and found himself anticipating seeing their reactions when their grandmother informed them the ponies were for them.

"Ada, you and Elros were getting better when we left off," Elladan reminded him. "Maglor helped you by singing."

"I do remember," Elrond laughed. He helped them get into night tunics and then settled them on the bed, sitting behind them to comb out the tangles from their wet hair. "Even Maedhros was glad that we seemed to improve. . . . "

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Maedhros did not sleep that night, but sat on the cliff, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocky point. He watched the sunrise that morning, his eyes taking in the beauty of that golden light, yet in his heart he knew it to be only pale reflection of the light of the tree from which it was taken. The light of the trees that was captured in the Silmaril. The Silmaril that was again out of his reach.

He stood and stretched, then walked back to camp. Other elves were moving about, preparing for the day and many were already preparing to make this into a more permanent camp. Here they would pitch their tents and set up boundaries and assign patrols - some to guard the camp, but some also to watch the sea.

He quietly approached the spot under a small grove of trees where Maglor and the sons of Eärendil still slept, curled together for warmth and healing. Hathel was awake, leaning against a tree, knife in hand. Next to him was a small assortment of carved animals. Maedhros knelt down next to the children, gently placing his hand on the forehead of the uninjured child and then on the chest of the other. He could feel the energy of their feä, strong yet this morning.

He moved to sit next to his brother, tenderly stroking the dark hair that spread out across his shoulders. Maglor shifted to his back and stretched. His eyes focused and he blinked, surprised to see his brother sitting next to him, watching him with an unreadable expression. Fear seized him, and he quickly sat up and turned to the sleeping children. He ran his hands over them, felt their chests rising and falling with each breath, felt their feä burning strong. He breathed a sigh of relief.

"They have not faded."

"No," Maedhros answered abruptly.

Maglor eyed his brother suspiciously. "Are you pleased by this, or did you wish for them a different fate this night?"

"I do not wish for their deaths," Maedhros answered, watching his sibling with the same impassive look as he had had when Maglor first awakened. He reached out his hand, and again touched his brother's hair, rubbing the strands gently between his fingers. He pushed the lock of hair behind Maglor's ear and stood. "We will be setting up camp here. Hathel may stay and assist you with them."

Maglor watched his brother leave, a curious expression on his face. He turned to Hathel, who merely shrugged. Their attention was diverted to the children, as Elrond stretched and yawned, then sat up, sleepily rubbing his eyes. He looked around the camp, one hand on his brother's arm, finally resting his eyes on Maglor.

"Good morning, Elrond," Maglor said gently. "Are you hungry, little one?"

The child stared at him for a few moments, but did not flinch or draw away when Maglor moved closer to him and then tipped up his chin with his finger. "I think Elros might be hungry. If you were to eat, I think he would eat too."

Elrond regarded his brother for a moment, then gently shook him. Elros opened his eyes, taking in his surroundings, confusion on his face. "Nana?" he asked.

Elrond shook his head, and Elros sat up, a small gasp as the remnant of his injury caused him some pain. He moved next to Elrond and looked around, finally looking at the big elf next to his brother.

"Hungry," Elros demanded.

Maglor laughed. "I am sure you are, Elros. Hathel is preparing you some breakfast. Would you like some water to drink?"

Elros nodded, so Maglor held the water skin for him and the child drank in thirstily. Once he had had his fill, he got to his feet and began to look around him. He spied the little pile of animals that Hathel had carved, as well as some blocks of wood yet untouched, and with a small cry of delight, plopped himself on the ground next to them.

Malgor watched in fascination as Elros began to play. He was clearly weak, his color still poor, but there was a spark in his eyes that had not been there before. While he was playing, Hathel brought bowls of breakfast grains, and Elros immediately sat next to this strange elf and began to eat what Hathel fed him. After a few mouthfuls, he took the spoon and began to feed himself from the bowl that Hathel still held for him.

Elrond stayed seated, his eyes on his brother, watching him play and then eat. He made not a sound, and did not respond to any queries Maglor made of him. He sipped water when Maglor held it to his lips but did not try to hold the container. When Maglor held the spoon of food to his mouth, he accepted it, but did not take the spoon or indicate he wanted more. When he decided he had had enough, he just refused to open his mouth.

Hathel heated water, and they stripped the children of the clothing they had been wearing since the day of the attack. Maglor bathed Elrond and changed him into fresh clothing from his pack. In with the clothing, he saw a picture book. He pulled it out and held it up that the children might see it.

"Elrond book," Elros said as he continued to play with the blocks that Hathel carved.

Elrond's eyes lit up at the sight of the book. He did not rise to reach it, nor say any words, but when Maglor placed it in his hands he clung to it, hugging it to his chest while rocking slowly back and forth.

Hathel had bathed Elros and changed him, setting his clothing aside to be cleaned. Elrond's clothes they added to the fire, for they were stained with the blood of the she-elf they found him with. Elrond watched without comment as his clothing burned.

Elros watched with great interest as the camp was arranged. He began to follow Hathel around, exploring the tents as they were set up and watching as trees were felled and cut into pieces that could be used to fence in the main camp. His chatter soon was recognizable all over the camp, asking what everything was and when possible, kicking over piles of wood shavings. Hathel collected good sized wood chips and began to carve them into blocks and other shapes for the toddler.

Elrond merely watched, silent and impassive. He followed his brother's every move with his eyes, and when out of sight, his ears. He became agitated once when he could neither see nor hear his brother, but made no attempt to move from the blanket.

Hathel finally brought the tired child back to his bedroll, and Elros lay down to nap with a carved horse in his hand. Elrond cuddled next to him, his hand over his brother's, and they both slept.

Maglor sat next to them, brooding.

"Why does that one not speak or move about?" Hathel finally asked.

"I know not," Maglor answered shortly. "The other was injured, yet seems more a normal child now than this one." He laid his hand on Elrond and his eyes widened slightly. He shifted his hand to Elros.

"The spirit of Elros is strong and confident; it rushes mightily and consumes the energy feeding it. The spirit of Elrond is again weakening. I feel it fading," Maglor said, distress in his voice and his face.

"Sing to him," Hathel replied.

Maglor glanced at the elf, who again shrugged. Maglor lay down, curling himself around Elrond so the child was spooned into him. He cuddled the child and began to sing in a low voice. Again, as the melody flowed, rising and falling in crescendo, all nearby felt the call of the minstrel and were soothed.

Under his hand, Elrond strengthened.

* * *

"Hathel, can you not keep that child from underfoot?" Maedhros demanded as he stepped over Elros once again as the child darted in between the tents.

"Yes, my Lord," Hathel answered hurriedly as he followed the wayward child to the back of the tents.

Maedhros sighed in exasperation as the tent flap opened and a small head peeked out at him.

"Elros, come here," he commanded.

The small figure darted back inside the tent.

Maedhros stalked over to the tent of his brother and found him sitting with his harp in hand, Elrond in his lap, his hands guiding the child's over the strings.

"Maglor! Can you not control.." he began.

"Maedhros," Maglor stopped him. He motioned to Elrond. "He is only now becoming less afraid of you. Do not raise your voice."

"Please get the other one away from my tent. He is underfoot."

Elrond slipped from Maglor's lap and walked past Maedhros to the tents. Maedhros raised an eyebrow at the child but followed him nonetheless. Elrond slipped into Maedhros' tent, and found his brother playing with Maedhros' sheathed sword.

"Elros, come," Elrond whispered, taking Elros by the hand.

Elros laughed as he put the sword down but took the proffered hand and followed his twin. They walked past Maedhros, who glared at Elros. The child laughed again.

Maglor too had followed the child, and he grinned at his brother. "He is not afraid of you."

Maedhros turned his glare on to his own brother. "He will be soon, if you do not control him."

"I have told you: camp is no place for children," Maglor replied. "We have been here for weeks - why do we not take them back to Himring?"

"I have told you: I need them close. If Elwing or Eärendil do return, they do me no good in Himring," Maedhros explained, frustration in his voice.

Having exchanged their now familiar arguments, Maglor returned to his tent. He found Elrond sitting in front of the flap, piling the blocks into towers. He finished and moved back just as Elros ran from the trees and demolished the blocks by sliding into the structure feet first. He gained his feet while giggling and then raced back to the trees, where he waited for Elrond again to build him a tower to destroy.

Elros slept as hard as he played, and when night fell he was easy to bundle into his bed for sleep. Maglor would take out his harp and play while he sang, and Elrond would finally drift into sleep cuddled up to his brother as he listened to the song.

Thus the months passed, until the day Maedhros called for Maglor.

"A messenger has arrived form Balar," he said calmly. "They seek the sons of Eärendil."

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"Who came to rescue you, Ada?" Elladan sat up in surprise.

"I did," a voice answered from the doorway.

Elladan and Elrohir turned in surprise at the sound of their grandfather's voice.

"Daerada?" Elrohir asked. "You came to rescue Ada?"

"We sent word to the camp, seeking the fate of your father and Elros. We did not know if they yet lived and yet feared attacking the camp, for we did not know if Maedhros would hurt them, if they were indeed alive," Celeborn explained. He entered the room, and sat on the bed as Elladan and Elrohir crawled over to him.

"The king of the Noldor elves, Gil-Galad, and Cirdan the Shipwright of Balar, along with those of us who survived the sack of Sirion, had been searching for your father and uncle since we learned from Lady Liriel that they were taken by the sons of Fëanor."

"Why did you wait so long? It had been months," Elladan asked.

Celeborn sighed, his face impassive. "Many were dead and injured, and those who lived had to be moved to the Isle of Balar, where they could be protected and healed. Lady Liriel nearly died, and it took some days for her story to be told. As soon as the tale was told, scouts were sent as far north as Himring seeking word of their fate. Maedhros had not gone where we expected him to go - he had gone east and set up camp, instead of north to his home. Cirdan's mariners spotted guards on the cape, and that is what eventually led us there," he explained.

"Your grandfather was gravely injured at Sirion," Elrond interrupted, "as were many others. Elros and I were only two of many in need. They came as soon as they could."

"Your father and uncle were the grandsons of my niece, Nimloth. I would not abandon them by choice," Celeborn answered gravely.

Elrond glanced up sharply at these words. He had never considered before what Celeborn might have felt upon learning that children of his own kin, whose mother he had helped escape from Doriath at a similar age, were taken by the sons of Fëanor. Looking upon the one he mostly thought of now as his father-in-law, he instead saw his own blood kin and the pain that losing them had caused him.

Elrohir snuggled up to his grandfather. "Daerada, will you tell us part of the story? Will you tell us about coming to rescue Ada?"

Celeborn smiled tenderly at the elfling in his arms. "I shall, if you so wish, but not this night."

"Come, it is bedtime," Elrond stood and pulled the covers back. He settled Elladan into his bed, while Celeborn did the same with Elrohir.

"Good night, Ada; good night, Daerada," sleepy voices chimed together.

Celeborn moved to the door but stood and watched as Elrond spent a few moments with each child, stroking their backs and heads as he whispered to them, until both were asleep.

Elrond shut the door behind him, and walked with his father-in-law and great -great uncle back to join their wives. Celeborn slipped an arm about Elrond's shoulders and squeezed gently. If anyone had looked into his eyes at that moment, they would have seen the flash of paternal pride that shone there.

* * * * *

pen-breg nín ----------------my wild ones
Daernaneth/daernana -----grandmother/grandma

Author's Notes: For Celeborn's history, I am using the scenario where he is a nephew of Thingol and uncle to Nimloth. The Silmarillion does not state which elves escaped Doriath with Elwing and the Silmaril, or whether Celeborn was in Sirion when it was sacked, nor does it tell if any kind of search was done for Elros and Elrond, how long they stayed in Maglor's care or what role other elves might have played in their early life.

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta-reading this chapter; and to Jaded Scorpio for the information on ponies.

Chapter 10: Daerada holds forth

Cries of delight broke the calm of the morning as Elladan and Elrohir raced out the front door to the porch, jumped from the porch to the ground, and then ran for the stables.

Celebrían was just beginning to call them when she felt her mother take her arm. "Let them go. They will wear off some of that energy by the time we reach the barn," Galadriel advised.

"Yesterday they jumped from the top of the porch rail to the ground. When I asked them why, I was told it was necessary to jump that far to get orcs sometimes," Celebrían explained.

"Well, of course it is," Galadriel agreed. "Jumping out of trees is an integral part of warrior training. I recall a certain young elleth who insisted on jumping from trees, out of windows, off the bed. . ."

"Naneth, I fail to recall any such events," Celebrían argued. "Adar always said I was the perfect child, therefore I must have been."

Celeborn, walking on the other side of his wife, remained wisely silent.

"Nana, hurry!" Elrohir stuck his head out from the barn. "You have to see them!"

They entered the barn, the darkness cut by the rays of sun streaming in through the eastern walls. The twins were hanging over the lower rung of the gate to the stall where the ponies stood quietly; above them, Glorfindel sat perched on the stall wall.

"Daernaneth, may we give them the apples?" Elladan asked, the small wrinkled apple in his hand obtained from the remnants of the cellar stores. He had begged it from the cook who never could say no to big elfling eyes.

Galadriel nodded, and each child slipped the apples through the gate, the ponies taking them docilely.

Celeborn leaned against the edge of the stall wall, giving it a hard shove and smiling innocently when Glorfindel had to check his balance with a hand to the gate. The golden haired elf braced his position before looking down at the head of the Sindar elf. In his hand he held several pieces of straw that he carefully pulled into tiny pieces, then let sprinkle down into the silver hair below him. Celeborn felt the pieces settle into his hair, and with one swipe brushed them to the ground, never looking upward or giving any satisfaction to the one sitting above him.

Galadriel's eyes met Elrond's and she nodded for him to open the gate. He did so, to the delight of his sons, and Galadriel led the ponies from their stall. She put the reins of the first pony into Elladan's hands and the other into Elrohir's, and motioned for them to lead the animals out into the open air.

"Daerada, look! He is small like us! I can touch his head!" Elladan was dancing around the pony. The pony regarded him with amusement, finally butting the small hand away from his head and snuffling his nose into the chest of the elfling.

"It tickles!" Elladan giggled, both hands coming up to touch the pony on the nose. He gently brushed the velvety hair between the pony's eyes. Warm brown eyes met his, and the pony whinnied.

Elrohir had made it to the yard, the pony he led following each step he took. He felt a tug on his hair, and he turned his head cautiously to the side to find the pony with one braid between his lips. He tugged on his braid and the pony let go, and then lowered his head, butting the elfling in the lower back, nearly knocking him to the ground. Elrohir ran a few steps, a look of near panic on his face when he heard the hooves of the pony following closely on his heels. He whirled around and faced the pony with his hands on his hips and a stern look on his face.

"Pony, you stop that," he commanded, his demeanor a perfect mimic of his father.

The pony stopped and made a low sound, stomping one leg in the dirt of the corral, then tossing his head to the side.

"What do you want?" Elrohir questioned the pony. He stepped closer, the sad eyes playing upon his soft heart. He put his hand on the pony's nose and began to stroke it gently. He ran his fingers through the dark mane of the beast and the pony nudged his stomach, snuffling warm breath through his tunic. He finally wrapped his arms about the neck of the pony and hugged it.

"You were sad. I think you just needed to be hugged. My nana says everyone needs to be hugged, pony. You would like my nana and my ada," Elrohir continued to talk softly to the pony. "Do you have a family? Do you have a nana somewhere?"

Elrohir led the pony to where his parents and grandparents stood watching.

"Daernaneth, this pony is sad," announced Elrohir as he leaned into the pony, one hand patting the animal's chest.

"Is that pony sad, Elladan?" Galadriel asked the other elfling.

"No," Elladan giggled as the pony continued to snuffle him, this time in the back of the neck. "He just needed someone to play with."

Galadriel appeared to ponder these concerns deeply, her hands clasped behind her back. She bent over the ponies and looked into their eyes, seemingly communicating with them. She stood back and looked down upon her grandsons, who were watching her carefully.

"I see only one possible solution to this problem," she finally said. "I think I must give the ponies to you."

"Daernaneth!" Both elflings wrapped their arms about her as she knelt down by them. "Thank you, Daernana! We will take good care of them. Ada will help us and Glorfindel will help us…"

Galadriel smiled. "These gifts come with responsibility. I expect that you will provide most of their care."

"Yes, Daernana, we will," both elflings promised.

Galadriel picked them up in turn and sat them on their ponies. Both had ridden horses before, but never on an animal the right size for them. They walked them around the yard, warming them up, then allowed the ponies to canter about the corral.

"Ada, can we take a trip with our ponies?" Elladan called out suddenly.

"And sleep under the stars by a campfire?" Elrohir added.

"But only pretend to fight orcs," amended Elladan.

Elrond laughed as he strode into the corral, both sons stopping near him. "I will discuss that with your naneth. First, though, I think these ponies need names."

Elladan leaned forward over the pony, hugging its neck. "He shall be called Thinde."

"And mine shall be Mithren," decided Elrohir.

Elrond laughed at their choices, for both names meant the same thing: grey. While he stayed to supervise their riding, Glorfindel went to find the stablemaster to make arrangements for the ponies to stay and for the twins to be allowed to come care for them.

"We could take them on a small trip," said Celeborn as he leaned against the corral fence next to Elrond. "We would not need to go far. "

Elrond smiled. "They would like that very much. You are sure you do not mind going so soon after arriving?"

"I do not mind sleeping under the stars," he replied. Glorfindel approached them from the barn. "I suppose we must bring Glorfindel?"

"Someone must protect you," answered Glorfindel amiably. He turned to Elrond. "Where are we going?"

Elrond laughed. Celeborn and Glorfindel had amicably sniped at each other for the whole length of time that Elrond had known them both. He had no idea what was between them, if anything. They were gold and silver, both ageless and wise. Glorfindel served and protected those whom Celeborn held most dear, which gave them common purpose. Common purpose, however, had not caused them to cease annoying each other.

"We are taking the twins on a small journey with their ponies," Elrond answered, smiling anew at the light that shone in Glorfindel's face at this news. "We shall stay overnight, for they wish to sleep under the stars near a campfire."

Glorfindel nodded and disappeared.

"Where did he go? And why does he do that?" Celeborn asked in exasperation.

"He will plan and map the journey, obtain provisions, pack the bags and ensure the patrols secure the area before we arrive," Elrond answered, one eyebrow raised as he studied the elf next to him.

"Pretentious Vanyar elf," Celeborn muttered under his breath.

Elrond threw back his head and laughed, the sound so rare that his children and all the elves near the stables turned to the source of the sound. He clapped Celeborn on the back, ignoring the grimace from the stately elf for the humor at his expense.

"Ada, what are you laughing at? Are you laughing at Daerada?" Elladan and Elrohir trotted over on their ponies.

"I am laughing at something your Daerada said," Elrond clarified. "Come, I will show you how to brush down your ponies and then you can feed them and muck out their stalls."

* * *

Glorfindel was finishing packing provisions when he heard elfling feet pad lightly into the room. He smiled as the twins approached him.

"Glorfindel, will there be orcs?" Elladan asked without preamble.

"No, Elladan. Those who guard Imladris keep the orcs far away," Glorfindel reassured him.

"Will there be wild animals?" Elrohir asked.

"There might be," Glorfindel replied. "But I do not think we will see any dangerous animals." He smiled at the crestfallen look this news brought. No orcs brought relief; no wild animals brought sadness. "Although I did once see a bear in the area where we will be camping," he added after a moment.

Elrohir perked up at this. "Ada says we can bring our swords, so we can fight it if it comes too close."

"What are you packing?" Elladan was peering in the packs.

"Food, a change of clothing, first aid supplies, and blankets," Glorfindel checked off his list.

Elrohir looked at him sheepishly. "Can we bring some…well, things that are just for us?"

Glorfindel smiled and tugged on the black braid the elfling was chewing on. He had tucked in these two enough times to know that certain nighttime companions were still brought out on dark nights and safely returned to their hiding places by daylight. "Yes, there is room for some special items."

"Glorfindel, is Erestor coming with us?" Elladan asked.

Glorfindel smirked. "No, Erestor will be staying at the house."

"So then you can't be foolish with each other?" Elrohir inquired innocently.

Glorfindel picked Elrohir up and sat him on the table next to the packs. "Who says we are foolish?" he asked, eyeing the little elfling while suppressing the smile that tugged on his lips.

"Um…no one….I guess," Elrohir refused to meet Glorfindel's eyes and tried instead to slip off the table. He had forgotten that he heard that information accidentally.

Glorfindel poked him softly in the belly and Elrohir laughed. Long fingers danced up the elfling's side, under his arms and down his back; Elrohir giggled as he tried to escape the questing fingers. "Hmmm…..who did you say said that?" Glorfindel tickled under the elfling's chin as he lifted the face to his own.

"Ada did! Ada did!" Elrohir giggled, giving in easily as he twisted and squirmed. "He said you were up to follies."

Glorfindel grinned as he shooed the elflings out the door, final tickles sending them off with squeals and giggles. Driving Elrond mad with worry over what he and Erestor might do was more amusing than actually doing something.

* * *

The ponies and horses were ready, bags slung over their sides, as the sun rose the next morning. Glorfindel was reviewing their plans with the head guard at Imladris and Erestor, on the off chance that someone might need to reach them. The patrols would also know of their location and surreptitiously avoid the area while safely guarding it.

Celeborn and Elrond were dressed for riding in comfortable tunics and trousers, swords at their hips and bows slung over their backs with quivers of arrows. While they were not leaving the boundaries of Imladris, they still would be fully prepared for any enemies that might appear.

"Ada, can we wear our swords?" Elladan eyed his father's sword, his eyes shining in anticipation.

"No, Elladan, it is attached to your pack," Elrond answered as he smoothed back black hair behind a small ear, easing the disappointment on his son's face. "Let us say goodbye to your nana and daernaneth."

Elladan and Elrohir ran to stand before Celebrían and Galadriel, barely holding still for goodbye hugs and then they were racing back to mount their ponies. Glorfindel swung them up and settled them, and it was he who led them away from the Last Homely House. They followed the path across the tributary of the Bruinen and then headed north into the low hills to a favorite location of Glorfindel - a glade next to a stream, a waterfall just north of the clearing, and shallow caves for protection in the western edge of the hills. Here the youngest of novices had been trained in everything from survival in the wild to weapons use with simulated orc attacks from the caves. It was a safe location in that it was within the borders patrolled by Imladris' guards, an easy day's ride from the house, and yet it was wild.

* * *

"Daro!" Glorfindel called from his position at the head of the group.

Elrond immediately stopped, reaching for the reins of Elladan's pony at the same time. Behind them, Celeborn did the same, halting Elrohir's pony with his own horse.

"Ada, why is Glorfindel stopping us?" Elladan asked, craning his neck to see where the elf had gone.

"Glorfindel is checking to ensure that the passes are all open," Elrond explained. "Remember the rangers? They were trapped in a rock slide in a mountain pass on the other side of the mountains." Elrond smiled to see Elladan's face light up at the thought of danger. "A rockslide is not very likely in these hills, but Glorfindel is very cautious."

A whistle was heard, indicating that the way was clear, and Elrond nudged his horse forward. "Elladan, stay by me," he commanded as Elladan had the pony trotting ahead.

Elladan grinned impishly, but immediately slowed until his father was again at his side.

They broke for lunch several hours later, near a small stream in the hills, resting the horses and the elflings. Both children had dismounted carefully, and were walking slowly. The walked for a bit, oblivious to the amused looks of the adults, then settled themselves on the ground, legs straight out in front of them, as they leaned against some large rocks. Elrond brought their food to them, and then sat down on the rock that Elrohir was leaning against.

"Ada?" Elrohir said softly, tilting his head back so he could see his father. "I am sore."

"I thought you might be," Elrond replied. "You are not used to riding for this long. Finish eating, then we will do some stretches and you can run around some. That will help."

Elrohir smiled, his confidence unshaken. Ada did know everything.

Celeborn and Glorfindel sat upon the rocks and watched in amusement as Elrond led the elflings in stretching their legs and backs. They mimicked his every movement, lying on their backs and stretching their legs high in the air, then standing and bending to touch their toes, and finally running up and down the path several times. The elflings then began to chase each other in a circle in some game only they understood.

"Ada, you have to run too!" Elladan grabbed his father by the hand and soon both father and sons were running in circles, finally collapsing on the ground, dizzy and in giggles.

"Ada, I am not sore anymore!" Elrohir announced.

"But now I am dizzy," giggled Elladan.

Elrond lay on his back, his sons sprawled half on top of him, half on the ground, listening as their breathing slowed and they relaxed. Elrond finally sat up, elflings tumbling to the side.

"Shall we continue our ride?"

"Yes, Ada!" Elladan leapt to his feet and ran to the pony. Glorfindel swung him back up on to the animal while Celeborn helped Elrohir remount, then Glorfindel led them forward again for the remainder of their journey.

* * *

"Is this going to be our camp?" Elrohir cried in wonder.

"This is wonderful!" Elladan added.

They both dismounted in the grassy glade, and quickly rushed to the stream. Looking north they could see the mist rising from the waterfall and hear the roar as it crashed to the rocks below.

"Elladan, Elrohir, you must care for Thinde and Mithren before you start exploring!" Elrond called them back.

The twins quickly ran back, freeing the ponies of their reins and packs, and then began brushing them down. Both animals whinnied in delight and nuzzled their small elflings, grateful for the attention. The twins then let the ponies go free, and both animals made for the stream to drink their fill.

"Now, Ada? Now can we go exploring?"

"I have something you might wish to see first," Celeborn said quietly. He had one arm behind his back, and the twins rushed to him.

"What do you have, Daerada?" Elladan asked, trying to see around his grandfather to what he was holding.

Elrohir was slightly more patient; at least he did not try to see what his grandfather was withholding from them. "Daerada, what did you bring?"

Celeborn produced two small bows and quivers, his own face lighting up in a smile at the delighted reactions from his grandsons. He was hit a moment later when small arms wrapped about his legs and he knelt down to let them hug him.

"Thank you, Daerada!" they chorused. "Will you teach us to shoot? Ada says you are one of the best archers ever!"

Celeborn glanced at Elrond after that comment, and saw eyes deep with emotion and paternal pride watching the elflings at his side. Elrond met Celeborn's glance, and though words were not spoken, Celeborn was touched that one he thought of as a son would speak highly of him to his grandsons.

"Yes, we will teach you to shoot," he answered kindly. Celeborn stood and was eyeing the surrounding area to determine the best spot for archery practice, when he saw Glorfindel already setting up targets and markers.

"Does he anticipate everything?" Celeborn asked Elrond.

Elrond laughed. "Just about. He brings all the young elves here for training. He stores a number of training items in the caves."

Celeborn had his own bow in hand, and an arrow nocked. He looked at his grandsons and Elrond for a moment, then called, "Glorfindel, do not move."

Glorfindel froze, knowing what Celeborn was going to do, and found himself looking at the dead center of the target he had been placing. The first arrow hit directly above his head, followed in quick succession by hits outlining his head. He heard the intake of breaths of the twins when the first one hit, and knew it was safe to move again when he heard the commotion behind him.

"Daerada, you are very good!" Elladan cried.

"Ada, did you see what Daerada did? Are you very mad at him?" Elrohir questioned.

Glorfindel retrieved the arrows from the target before rejoining the others. Elrohir flew at him, and he caught the elfling in his arms. Elrohir ran his hands along Glorfindel's head and face, his eyes still wide in fear and awe. "Glorfindel, were you scared?"

Glorfindel grinned. "No, elfling. Your grandfather is one of the best archers ever," he repeated the elfling's own words. He walked to where Celeborn stood, calmly dumping the arrows back into the quiver. Their eyes met and Glorfindel read many things in the Sindar elf's expression: trust, respect and challenge. He set Elrohir down, and helped him put on the straps that would hold the quiver in place on his back. "There, now you are ready."

Elrohir picked up the bow he had dropped when he had rushed to ensure his friend was uninjured. Elladan was ready as well, his eyesight enough to determine that Glorfindel was unharmed and his greater desire to someday shoot as well as his daerada prompting him to stand at attention.

Celeborn herded the elflings to the target, with one last glance at Glorfindel. He grinned when Glorfindel winked at him. He also caught the raised eyebrows of Elrond and felt a tiny glimmer of regret.

"You have to be an expert archer and more than 10000 years old to try that," Celeborn explained to the elflings. He grinned as Elrond rolled his eyes. He had enjoyed 'pinning' Glorfindel; even if it meant he might get the 'impressionable elflings' lecture from the elflings' father. He nearly laughed aloud. Better from Elrond than Celebrían.

Elrond and Glorfindel set up the camp while Celeborn worked with the elflings. They heard the twins cheering each other on when they hit the target and groans and giggles when they apparently shot astray. Elrond found a spot in the sun and lay down, closing his eyes and allowing his ears to enjoy the sounds of the glade. The roar of the water in the distance and the cacophony of the calls and squabbles of the birds mixed pleasantly with the voices of his sons. The voices of his elflings ceased; their absence mixed with the light footfalls of small elves warning him that he was about to be pounced upon. He tensed his muscles slightly in anticipation, but allowed them this victory.

"Ada!" The shout in his ear occurred at the same moment that two small bodies landed on him. He immediately pulled them close, and they quickly gave way to affection in lieu of conquering him.

"Ada, I hit the target three times!" Elrohir said proudly.

"And I hit it four times!" Elladan added.

"Daerada says we will be as good as him someday," Elrohir announced.

"But now we are hot! May we go to the stream, Ada?"

"There is a nice pool for swimming just beyond those trees," Glorfindel reminded Elrond.

At the nod from their father, the twins took off in the direction Glorfindel pointed, the adults not far behind them.

"This water is cold!" declared Elladan as he waded in barefoot.

Glorfindel jumped across a few rocks and, kneeling down, felt the water. "This spot is not so cold." He motioned the elflings over to the small pool. "This is shallow water, and it collects the warmth of the sun well."

The twins knelt down to feel the water for themselves, smiling at the warmth. Glorfindel helped them get their tunics off and they stripped the rest of the way, leaving their clothing on the rocks and wading into the warmer water. He tossed them a piece of soaproot. "Wash yourselves well," he admonished them.

Glorfindel waited until Elrond was near, towels and clean clothing in hand, before heading back across the rocks. He saw Celeborn perched on a rock above the deeper cold water, and without hesitation he launched himself at the unsuspecting elf.

They landed in the cold water, surfacing together and shaking the cold water and hair from their faces. Glorfindel's merry blue eyes met Celeborn's and they both grinned.

"I thought you might need to cool off," Glorfindel explained smugly.

Celeborn pushed the elf back under the water before swimming to the shore. He stripped off his sodden clothing, grabbed soaproot from his pack, and then dove back into the cold water. He swam underwater to where he saw Glorfindel, and then grabbed the cloth of Glorfindel's trousers and yanked, pulling them off the elf as well as pulling the elf under the water. Celeborn tossed the clothing on to the rocks, and when Glorfindel surfaced, sans tunic as well, he handed him some of the soaproot.

They bathed in silence, listening to the voices upstream as Elrond and the twins splashed in the warmer water of the shallow pool. Celeborn left the water first, drying off and dressing in fresh clothing. He hung up all the wet clothing in the lower tree branches, and then returned to the camp. Once there he found Glorfindel's pack and returned, tossing it on to a nearby rock, before returning to the perch he had been sitting on prior to being pushed in the water.

The sun was setting when Glorfindel finally got out of the water. He stood in the fading sunlight, enjoying the remnants of Arien's warmth. He opened his bag in search of a towel and dry clothing.

He stood in silence at what fell out of his pack.

Celeborn saw Glorfindel's consternation and noting that the elf was still dripping and naked, slid down from the rock and joined him. He burst into laughter and knelt down in front of the pack.

"Glorfindel, I never knew you had such…..interesting…taste in clothing," Celeborn laughed heartily as he pulled out she-elf lacy undergarments and a rather fetching gown of silver. "These do look a little small for you, although you could try them on and see." He glanced at the fuming elf. "No? Well, let us see what other lovely things you have packed." He pulled out a small vial of fragrance and unscrewed the lid. "Such a seductive scent… . .I have not noticed you wearing this before. Is it new?" he mocked. He drew out pink hair ribbons. "These will look quite enchanting with your golden hair."

Elrond had joined them, shooing the children back to the camp as soon as he saw the lacy undergarments being held up by Celeborn. He pulled a towel from his own pack and tossed it at the irate elf-lord. Glancing into the tree branches he saw the drying clothing. He dug into the pack himself, noting that all of the clothing was feminine.

He grinned. "Erestor?"

Glorfindel frowned, confused. "I packed all the bags myself. He was never near them - I made sure of it," he answered, speaking more to himself than Elrond. He turned his glare upon Celeborn, but the absolute glee in that one's face bespoke only of enjoying the situation, not having caused it.

Elrond dug around in his pack, finally pulling forth a tunic. He tossed it at Glorfindel. "Here - I have an extra tunic."

Celeborn howled with laughter as he beheld the elf wearing the tunic, a towel about his waist, and his boots. "My own clothing is wet because someone pushed me into the stream, so I have nothing extra to share with you, but I am sure you can wear your cloak until your clothing dries!"

Glorfindel stalked back to camp, ignoring the laughter that followed him. He was caught up in planning his own revenge while retracing every movement of the packs to determine when Erestor had bested him.

* * *

Dinner had been cooked and eaten, and the bedrolls laid out near the fire. Elladan and Elrohir had crawled in without question as the air grew chilly, and they lay watching the stars as they began to appear in the night sky.

"Look, El, there is Daeradar," Elrohir pointed into the sky as the star of Eärendil.

Elladan rolled to look at their other daerada. "We have both grandfathers with us tonight. Daerada, are you going to continue Ada's story?"

Celeborn looked up at the stars for a moment, and then at the twins. "Oh, you mean me." He smiled as they giggled. "Yes, I will continue your Ada's story." He settled himself more comfortably on the ground. "Círdan and Gil-Galad sailed into Sirion just after it fell…"

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Círdan stood at the prow of his ship as they sailed into Havens of Sirion, watching as plumes of smoke rose from the shores. There were no sounds of battle. Ereinion jumped nimbly over piles of rope, coming to stand at his side.

"We are too late," said Ereinion.

Círdan shaded his eyes against the morning sun. "The attack must have been recent. Fires still burn. Look - ships are still docked. It looks as if they did not get any ships out."

"Which must mean they were surprised," Ereinion surmised. "Look at the eastern end - those ships have all burned. Those at the main port are from Balar."

As the ships pulled into their moorings, elves began flocking to the docks to greet them. Their faces were sad, the grief deeply etched, and the pain in their eyes visible. Círdan descended, his eyes seeking the shipyard master. The elf appeared; he was walking with a crutch and one arm bandaged against his side.

"Cairsan," Círdan greeted the elf. "What has befallen Sirion?"

The elf let forth a low keening wail and tears formed again at the horror. "Maedhros surprised us - we had no warning. There was no time to prepare, no time to defend ourselves. So many dead…most are dead, Círdan."

"When? What of Elwing? What of the Silmaril?" Círdan questioned.

"Two days ago they attacked. Elwing is gone. Witnesses from the shore say she cast herself from the cliff there." Cairsan pointed at the cliff just north of the harbor. "She was wearing the Silmaril."

Cirdan grimaced, his thoughts drifting to Eärendil. "Has her body been recovered?"

"No, Cirdan. Here the tale grows strange. 'Tis said she changed into a bird and flew away, out of reach of those who wished to harm her," Cairsan's voice faded as he finished.

Círdan and Ereinion exchanged glances, unsure of what to make of this news. "Eärendil has not returned?" Ereinion asked.

"No, we have not seen Lord Eärendil in many months," Cairsan answered. He turned his eyes to the weathered, bearded face before him. "Messengers were sent to you, but Maedhros struck early - before the message could have reached you."

"I am sorry, my friend," Círdan grasped the elf's good hand. "I must learn the state of the city - who is dead, who is wounded. Where is Eregdos?"

"Eregdos died defending Elwing," Cairsan answered softly. "Lord Celeborn lies gravely injured. Our forces were decimated. Few remain who can fight."

Círdan turned to Ereinion. "Send word to Balar that all the living of Sirion who so choose will be moved there. Make the necessary preparations for shelter, food and care. I will see what I might learn in the city." He turned again to Cairsan. "Where is Lord Celeborn?"

Cairsan turned and began the walk up the hill into the town. "All the injured are in the Great Hall. Lord Celeborn is in Eregdos' old office." With that he slowed and waved Círdan on ahead.

Círdan walked the short distance up from the shore to the Great Hall, taking in the scenes of carnage all about him. Memories of the destruction at the Havens of the Falas entered his thoughts - the fires, the dead in the streets, the lament of the living and the dread of knowing that once again a much smaller number of them would need to regroup and face an uncertain future. As he continued up the road to the Great Hall he watched as elves removed the dead. He saw many of his own people come from Balar to render aid. They greeted him with weary voices and grief-stricken eyes.

He entered the dim light of the Hall, the sound of a minstrel strumming a harp to soothe the injured and the dying. Healers moved quietly from pallet to pallet, giving aid where they could; merely sitting with those who would soon depart for Mandos' Halls, in the hopes of easing their passing. Círdan continued on, weaving through the pallets, occasionally slowing to grasp a hand or touch a head of one he knew. He reached the office of Eregdos and entered to find the Lady Galadriel tending to her husband.

She looked up at him as he entered, grief and pain visible in her eyes - but also a flash of fire and anger. Círdan knelt across from her, grasping one of Celeborn's hands in his own; his other hand touching the forehead as he smoothed back silver hair. He sensed the damage to the body, the weakened feä. Celeborn's eyes were closed and he was in deep sleep.

"How does he fare?" inquired Círdan softly.

Galadriel pulled back the light blanket covering her husband, allowing Círdan to see the wounds upon his torso. A long gash ran diagonally along the abdomen, the wound deep. Círdan could feel the stitches deep within the tissue that had been required to close the wound. He slowly moved his hands across the injured body, noting the break to the forearm and the penetrating wounds to the shoulder and thigh.

"He will recover," stated the Shipwright calmly. He laid his palm along Galadriel's cheek "And you, Lady, do you recover as well?"

Galadriel's eyes flashed fire. "I am uninjured."

"That is not what I asked," Círdan replied gently yet sternly.

Galadriel focused on Celeborn for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "I am recovered. I recovered at Alqualondë and at Doriath; I am recovered here. My kin slay my kin for a precious jewel - a hallowed jewel - but one that not even the Valar would risk one life for. Yet even from this we shall recover."

She sat back, resting against the wall. "I know he will recover. For two days I doubted. For two days I have thought he should see Valinor without me, ere I too was slain."

"Sirion is destroyed and her people leaderless." Círdan continued after a moment. "Gil-Galad readies Balar to receive any of her people who wish to come. Will you aid me in sending word of this to the remnant of the city that survives?"

Galadriel rose with Círdan and faced him. "Aye, Círdan. Let us start with Celeborn and these other injured. Make the ship ready, and I shall have them prepared."

Círdan smiled and grasped her hand. A Galadriel giving orders was a useful Galadriel. "It shall be done."

* * *

"Lord Gil-Galad, there is an injured she-elf asking to speak with you," the young healer bowed before her king as she spoke. "She is quite restless, my Lord, and says her request is urgent."

Gil-Galad smiled at the healer. "Take me to her."

The healer threaded her way through the pallets of the recovering injured, all moved to Balar in the last few days from Sirion. Those who had been thought unlikely to recover had already passed to the Halls of Mandos, and now only those expected to live remained. She led Gil-Galad to a pallet in the corner where a she-elf sat propped against pillows. The injured elf took his hand in relief and bowed her head.

"My Lord, thank you for coming," she said gratefully. "I am Liriel, nurse to Elrond and Elros, the sons of Lady Elwing. Please, have you any word on the children? Did Maedhros harm them?"

Gil-Galad sat down beside her, a frown on his face. "Lady Liriel, in the confusion I have not heard of the fate of the children. Tell me what you know, that I might further what information you already have."

Liriel's eyes filled with tears. "Maedhros and Maglor were chasing Elwing. Eregdos fell defending her, but she gave both children to me and told me to the head for the shore, that she would lead them away from us. I heard Maedhros say she cast herself into the sea; then they were upon me. I had been shot, and I fell with the children into the reeds near the shore." She paused as the memory returned to her. "I begged them not to hurt the little ones, to take them to the shore where Elwing's people would care for them. But Maedhros said they were taking them. It is the last I saw of them. No one here knows their fate."

Gil-Galad comforted the she-elf, his thoughts racing. He and Círdan had assumed the children dead. He wondered for what purpose Maedhros would wish to keep them. "I will speak to Círdan and learn what we can. Take comfort if you can, and hope that they are well. If possible, we will find them or learn of their fate."

"Gil-Galad, Celeborn has awakened," the same healer took the young king in hand and led him to the room where Celeborn was being treated.

There he found Círdan and Galadriel sitting with Celeborn, who was asking his own questions and gaining as much news of the last few days as he could process.

"Have all come to Balar?" Celeborn asked.

"Yes, all are here and being settled," answered Círdan.

Círdan filled in all the gaps in Celeborn's memory since his own arrival at Sirion, then listened as Celeborn told him of the events leading up to that day.

"It was barely a fortnight from the sending of the last letter that Maedhros attacked. He could not have sent the missive from Himring, regardless of what was written on the parchment. They came in quietly at night and rushed Sirion from both sides the next day. Even had we been prepared, we could not have bested them. We were sorely outnumbered and we had our families to protect as well." Celeborn stopped and surveyed the faces watching him. "What is the fate of Elwing and the Silmaril? Did Maedhros recover the jewel?"

"No, he did not," Galadriel answered. "Elwing cast herself and the Silmaril into the waters off the high cliff. Those who witnessed the act claimed she was made into the likeness of a bird and flew off over the sea, the Silmaril at her breast."

"Ulmo could well do such a thing," added Círdan evenly. "He has pleaded on our behalf to Manwë and perhaps has a plan for Elwing and the jewel."

"The nurse to Lady Elwing's children is in the ward," added Gil-Galad. "She has told me the children were taken by Maedhros and Maglor."

"Then we must go after them." Celeborn tried to rise, but Círdan easily pushed him back down.

"Maedhros does nothing without a purpose," said Círdan thoughtfully. "We will send searchers to inquire after them, but we must consider for what purpose the sons of Fëanor keep the sons of Eärendil. It is not out of pity."

"Ereinion, will you arrange for searchers to follow the trail left by Maedhros?" Círdan asked. "They may have returned to Himring."

"Aye, Círdan," answered the young High King of the Noldor, already on his feet and heading out the door.

Círdan watched the young elf go with an amused paternal glance. "He will be a great king one day."

* * *

"Círdan, the Alphiel docked a month ago with strange tidings," said Gil-Galad as he stood in the door to the shipwright's office. "They reported a lookout in the tall beech on the point of Cape Balar. I sent scouts to the area, and they have reported there is an encampment inland." He paused. "One slipped close enough to see the banner of Maedhros of the house of Finwë."

Círdan took in the news with careful consideration, but could not help asking after the stealthy elf who garnered this information. "The scout is one of the green elves?"

Gil-Galad smiled. "None other could come so close without detection."

"Perhaps it is time we paid a visit to Maedhros," decided Círdan.

"I would be glad to do so," a quiet but powerful voice spoke from over Ereinion's shoulder. Celeborn stepped into Cirdan's office.

Círdan and Gil-Galad exchanged glances. "As kin, it is your right," Círdan answered. "I suggest you take the green elf. He blends into the trees and may be able to see further while you converse with the kin-slayers." The contempt in Círdan's voice at his reference to the sons of Fëanor was unmistakable.

"I shall leave on the morrow," Celeborn replied.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"And that is how I came to be at the camp where your Ada and Uncle Elros were being kept," finished Celeborn. He smiled at the sleepy elflings cradled in each arm. They had moved to hug him when he was injured in the story, and he was touched by their sincerity and tender innocence.

They were drifting into elven dreams as Elrond took one elfling and tucked him into his bedroll and Celeborn tucked the other twin in close by. It was Glorfindel who placed their special nighttime companions in their arms, and covered them with blankets.

"I will take first watch," Celeborn said as he resumed his seat on the rock, nodding that he would wake Glorfindel at the appropriate time.

Elrond settled himself in next to his sons, and Glorfindel, now in dry clothing, slid into his bedroll. He dug into the blankets and pulled out that which his foot had just kicked. He grimaced at the furry pink slippers as he muttered "How does one get fur that color?" while Elrond and Celeborn suppressed their chuckles. Glorfindel glared at them, launching the furry projectiles at each of their heads while silently cursing Erestor.

* * *

"Erestor, I am sure that the smell of moldy corn flour does wear off in time," Celebrían argued with her husband's advisor as he moved to sit in the window. She found herself grimacing at the smell, nonetheless.

"He was the only one who knew I planned on going through that cellar and assessing what damage was done by the spring rains that seeped in," Erestor ranted. "That he did this and left is the only surprise. Of course, I may still smell by tomorrow night when they return and he can enjoy himself then."

"Naneth says a little vinegar in the bath water will lessen the odor," Celebrían said helpfully.

Erestor snorted. "I am retiring for the evening. Please excuse me, Lady Celebrían." With that, the irate elf stalked off to bed.

Celebrían giggled.

* * * * *

Elleth-------------------------elf maiden

Author's Notes: Círdan and Ereinion Gil-Galad moved the survivors of the Falas to the Isle of Balar after the Fifth Battle - the 'Nirnaeth Arnoediad' or the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, after the Falas were destroyed by Morgoth in I 471. The Isle of Balar is just off the coast of Sirion.

A little history on Ereinion Gil-Galad: He was born in I 445. Ereinion was fostered to Círdan at the age of 10 years, during the Dagor Bragollach, where his grandfather, Fingolfin died. His father, Fingon, died in I 471 during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. When Gondolin fell in I 510 and King Turgon died, Gil-Galad was named High King of the Noldor. He would be a very young king - only 65 years old - and since an elf didn't reach adulthood until about age 50, you can sense how young he was. At the time of this story Gil-Galad would be in his late 80's or early 90's - still very young for an elf.

Chapter 11: Rescuing elflings

Elrond awakened at dawn, Elladan curled against him and Elrohir spooned with his twin. The morning air was cool, and Elrond spread his own blanket over his sons as he rose. On the other side of the dying fire, Celeborn still wandered in elven dreams. Glorfindel sat atop the fallen tree that bordered their small camp, his face turned to the golden sun as it broke the horizon.

"You did not wake me for my watch," Elrond chastised the smiling elf.

"You were occupied keeping elflings warm," Glorfindel replied, a twinkle in his eye. "Besides, Celeborn star-watched far longer than he needed to."

Elrond smiled as he walked to the stream for his morning ablutions, laughing inwardly at the two elves. Far be it from Glorfindel to allow Celeborn to take a longer watch than he! That they might have planned the watches to allow him to sleep through the night did not occur to him.

When he returned to camp he found Glorfindel building up the fire and Celeborn preparing breakfast. The horses and ponies had grazed and spent the night in the meadow, but now Elladan's pony, Thinde, sauntered towards the camp. The three elves watched in amusement as the pony ambled his way around the fallen log and to the sleeping elflings. Lowering his head into the nest of the small elves, the pony whinnied and snuffled his nose into their blankets and bellies.

The twins woke with a start, shouts and squeals accompanying their quick movements to get away from their attacker. Elladan finally caught the pony's nose between his hands.

"Thinde! That was not nice!" he scolded.

Elrohir was somewhat more direct. "You are a bad pony!" he shook his finger at the pony, then turned to his brother. "Your pony is not well behaved!"

Thinde snorted and snuffled Elladan again, earning his complete forgiveness as evidenced by the arms that wrapped around his neck and hugged him.

"Oh, he just wants to play," Elladan explained with a grin.

Elrohir stood, shaking off the blankets, and turning to the three laughing adults. He did his best 'annoyed' look, perfected from mimicking Erestor, and then turned his back on them and stalked off to the stream. Mithren had followed Thinde from the field and now shadowed her elfling's footsteps. Elrohir swung around to scold his pony, but one look into the sad brown eyes changed his mind.

"Oh, Mithren. At least you do not wake me by slobbering all over me." Elrohir reached up to pet the pony's nose and was met instead by a slobbering nose lowering and butting against his belly. The pony snuffled against him, pushing him back slightly. "Pony!" Elrohir scolded as Mithren stomped his foot and tossed his head. He gave in with a sigh and hugged the pony, petting his nose and combing the shaggy mane with his fingers.

When the ponies were satisfied with the attention received, they trotted back to the horses and resumed their important morning routine of grazing and rolling on their backs in the wet morning grass. Elladan joined his brother as they watched the ponies frolic and together they walked to the stream to wash their faces and hands.

"Breakfast smells good!" Elladan called as he raced back to the fire. He landed soundlessly next to this father and with a smile of thanks accepted his plate of food.

Elrohir walked back slowly, calling back to the birds as they sang and twittered amongst themselves. He approached the fire and smells with an appreciative sniff of the air, then leaned against his father for a quick hug before taking a plate from Glorfindel.

"Elrohir, do you still like your pony this morning?" Celeborn asked mischievously.

"Daerada, he is incorrigible," Elrohir answered with an exasperated shake of his head.

Elrond choked, Glorfindel howled and Celeborn grinned, as they all refrained from making any comparisons to the elfling's observation.

* * *

"Glorfindel, would you help set up more targets?" Celeborn called.

Glorfindel stopped strumming on his small harp and glanced up at the silver haired elf. "No," he answered with a grin, the sounds of music filling the meadow again as his long fingers resumed their dance over the instrument's strings.

A feral grin crossed Celeborn's face. "Are you afraid?"

Glorfindel smiled, refusing to be baited. "No."

"Daerada, watch!" Celeborn turned to watch Elrohir loose an arrow and hit the outer edge of the target. He watched as the small elf raised the bow in the air in triumph.

"Good hit, Elrohir!" Celeborn congratulated him. He turned again to Glorfindel, but the elf shook his head. He started to say more, but another call from his grandson caught his attention.

The twins were tired and rubbing sore arms after their archery lesson. They drank all the water in their water skins, and plopped down in the grass by Glorfindel. They lay quiet for some time, watching the butterflies and bumblebees and listening to the murmur of the wind in the trees.

"Glorfindel, can the wood elves really talk to the trees?" Elrohir asked.

"They can, but not with words such as you and I use to speak," Glorfindel answered.

"What do they say?"

"They warn of danger and tell of good tidings," replied Glorfindel. "When the wood-elves walk in the trees, the trees move their branches to help give them the best passage."

There was silence again as the elflings pondered this information. Glorfindel resumed softly playing the harp.

"Glorfindel, where is Ada?"

"He followed the stream down a short ways in search of a healing herb that he was hoping to find," explained Glorfindel.

"Glorfindel, where were you when Círdan and Gil-Galad and Daerada were searching for Ada and Uncle Elros?" Elladan asked.

Glorfindel stopped playing momentarily as his mind drifted. The memories of that time remained unclear, as if he were seeing through a cloudy glass or listening through heavy curtains that muffled sound.

"I was in the Halls of Mandos," he finally answered.

He felt small fingers grasping at his leggings, and looking down he saw Elrohir had scooted closer, pillowing his head on Glorfindel's thigh.

"Did you meet Manwë?" Elrohir questioned.

"Yes, and Námo and Varda and Estë, and other Vala and Maia too."

"Why did Manwë send you back to Middle-Earth, Glorfindel?" Elrohir asked.

Glorfindel smiled down at the curious faces watching him. Intent on the children, he had not noticed that Celeborn sat nearby. The Sindar's face was impassive. Glorfindel returned his attention to the children and the harp.

"I had some important unfinished work left to do," Glorfindel replied gently. "Are you ready for your sword lessons?" he blithely changed the subject.

The lack of movement at his legs indicated not. Glorfindel turned to Celeborn. "Lazy elflings. Shall we show them a proper match?"

The feral gleam returned to Celeborn's eye at the suggestion, his enthusiasm matched only by the cheers from his grandsons.

The two elf-lords stretched and prepared before facing each other in the open field. Each had his sword drawn, raised in front of his face. At Celeborn's nod they began with a mighty clash of steel.

The twins watched in awe as the two elf-lords sparred. The sun reflected off their blades as glints of white light, and their gold and silver heads shone under Arien's rays. They danced through the meadow, their light feet and agility allowing for spectacular spins and jumps. The twins both caught their breath when their grandfather leapt into a tree, then somersaulted out, landing behind Glorfindel, who still managed to spin and block the thrust. Glorfindel then began an aggressive offensive attack, causing Celeborn to focus solely on his defense. He parried blow after blow, the sweat beginning to break out upon his brow, as Glorfindel forced him further into the meadow.

"When are they going to stop?" Elrohir asked Elladan.

Elladan shrugged. "When one of them wins."

"We might be here all day!" exclaimed Elrohir.

Elladan frowned. "Then we might never get our turn."

"How do we make them stop?" Elrohir wondered. "Ada told us never to interrupt warriors when they are fighting because they can get hurt if they are distracted."

The elflings fell silent as they pondered the problem. Glorfindel and Celeborn continued to fight, their chests rising more noticeably with each breath and sweat becoming obvious on them both. A voice spoke behind them.

"How long have they been sparring?"

"Ada!" Elladan and Elrohir cried together. The jumped to their feet and threw their arms about his legs.

"They have been….."Elladan began

"….fighting for a long time," Elrohir continued, "and we don't know how …."

"…to make them stop!" Elladan finished.

Elrond left his sons where they had been watching and moved closer to the two combatants. He watched them battle, and it became quickly obvious that they did not intend to stop until one of them dropped. To Elrond's trained eye, Glorfindel was winning. He grimaced, for he did not wish to be around Celeborn should that happen. He drew in a deep breath and in his most commanding voice called, "DARO!"

The swords clanged a last time as they met in mid-air. The two elves stood frozen, each staring at the other, their swords remaining high and between them. Long moments passed until finally Elrond walked between them, and gripping each elf by the sword arm he lowered their blades.

Glorfindel's blue eyes danced merrily, while Celeborn's gleamed with passion.

"Daerada! Glorfindel! That was incredible!" The voices of the twins broke the silence and the tension, and soon the elflings were fingering the heavy swords, asking questions and begging to be taught the moves they had seen.

Elrond wisely decided it was time for the elflings to eat and the elf-lords to cool off. "Sword lessons after lunch. Elladan, Elrohir, please go fill all the water skins." He waited until the children had run to the stream before turning back to Glorfindel and Celeborn. To his surprise, they were walking back to the campsite together, shoulder to shoulder, and he was sure he heard laughter. His brow furrowed in confusion as he watched them. He finally shrugged and followed them.

* * *

The afternoon sun was quite warm and the campsite was quiet as the elves lay in the dappled shade of the trees. Glorfindel still absently strummed his harp, the notes blending in seamlessly with the buzz of insects and the chattering of the birds. Celeborn appeared to doze, while Elrond sorted through the herbs he had found, packaging them in separate small containers and labeling them appropriately.

The elflings lay on their backs, watching the fluffy clouds drift across the otherwise clear, blue sky.

"That one is a house."

"No, that is the barn, silly."

"There is a horse. I think it is your pony."

"Why is it not your pony?"

"My pony has more gray than that."

Elrond listened to their low chatter, whispers really, sometimes not even differentiating which of his sons was speaking. They tended to complete each other's sentences so often that even he and Celebrían lost track of which one was speaking at times.

"Daerada, will you continue your story?" Elladan's voice rose above the whisper he had been using to communicate with his twin.

Celeborn's eyes focused and Elrond knew that that the elf had indeed been sleeping. He smiled as he ducked his head. He knew that Celeborn would never admit that he was tired after his match with Glorfindel. Glorfindel had incredible stamina, something he had said developed after his time in Mandos' Halls. Even now he did not appear particularly tired.

Celeborn rose and moved to recline between the elflings, resting against their packs, which he piled behind him. The twins cuddled up on either side of him, using his legs for pillows as they situated themselves so they could see his face.

"Now where was I?" he mused.

"You were at the camp of Maedhros to rescue Ada!" Elrohir reminded him.

"So I was," Celeborn answered. "I did take the green elf, as Círdan suggested……"

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"Lord Celeborn," the green elf whispered into his ear. "Children reside in this camp."

Celeborn nearly started in surprise. Calendîn truly was the most stealthy elf he had ever met. He had neither seen nor heard the elf approach him. "Have you seen them?" he whispered back.

"No, my Lord," Calendîn answered. When Celeborn arched an eyebrow at him in the brief silence that followed, he continued. "I have heard the sound of young voices. I also obtained this." A small, carved animal appeared in Calendîn's hand.

Celeborn took the wooden horse, turning it over and inspecting the workmanship. It was rough work at best, carved by a dagger or small knife. Whoever had crafted the toy had done so without proper tools. He handed it back to Calendîn and watched as the elf disappeared into the trees. He knew the green elf would return when he had more news to report.

Celeborn returned to the small contingent of elves he had led to the encampment of Maedhros and Maglor. Narthan, a young Noldor elf who had survived the fall of Gondolin and been a friend to Eärendil, was preparing himself to deliver a message to the sons of Fëanor. He was simply dressed and unarmed, carrying only a small flag of the house of his King, Gil-Galad. He approached Celeborn with a slight bow.

"Lord Celeborn, with your leave. I shall return as soon as I may," Narthan stated.

Celeborn nodded for the young elf to go and seated himself again with the scouts who had mapped the camp with the limited information provided thus far by the green elf.
He had requested a meeting with Maedhros, clearly stating that he was seeking the sons of Eärendil. That Maedhros and Maglor had kept the children alive for the many months since Sirion's fall seemed to bode well that they would not slay them now. He had but to wait for Narthan's return to know what answer Maedhros would give.

* * *

"What is your intent?" Maglor questioned.

Maedhros paced the length of his tent. "The sons of Eärendil may still be of value to us. I shall not release them."

"Will Celeborn attack if you refuse?" asked Maglor.

"His blood and the blood of his people will be on his hands, should he attempt such folly," Maedhros answered coldly. "They may produce the Silmaril; for this I will barter the children of their Lord."

"And if they do not have the Silmaril to barter?"

"Then the children shall await one who does," Maedhros answered without remorse.

"Will you meet with Celeborn?"

"Yes. On the morrow, on the cape. Keep the children within the security of the camp, muindor. The Sindar's spies are sure to be watching," Maedhros said grimly.

* * *

Celeborn arrived with Narthan to find Maedhros present with one guard, as agreed. Each knew that the other had warriors at the ready; Sindarin archers sat high in the trees with arrows nocked in their bows, while those loyal to the sons of Fëanor remained just out of sight with their swords ready.

"Celeborn," Maedhros acknowledged the Sindar elf.

"Maedhros," Celeborn's face was expressionless.

"Do you come bearing the Silmaril?" Maedhros struck to the heart of the matter.

Celeborn's eyes narrowed. "You know better than I the fate of the Silmaril."

"It is the only token of value to this parley," Maedhros informed the elf imperiously.

"The Silmaril is not in our keep. I am here, as stated in the message, to obtain the safe return of the sons of Eärendil," Celeborn's steady voice was belied by the steely glint in his eye.

"The only token acceptable in barter for the sons of Eärendil is the Silmaril that their parents withheld from us," Maedhros' tone remained cold and hard.

"Then you admit you have the sons of Eärendil," Celeborn pushed.

"I have no need to admit or deny any charge from you," Maedhros replied. "Their fate rests on the return of what is rightfully ours."

"The Silmaril is not ours to return," Celeborn took a step towards Maedhros, his fist clenched at his side. "You witnessed Elwing's choice. The Silmaril resides in the sea or beyond the reach of us all." The two elves stood now within inches of each other. " I cannot make appear what is no longer present."

"Then you forfeit their lives," replied Maedhros cruelly.

Celeborn raised his arm, only to have it caught in the strong grip of Maedhros' left hand. He considered pressing the advantage he had over the one-armed elf, but restraint prevailed and he lowered his arm.

"Return to me when you have what I seek," Maedhros spat as he thrust Celeborn's arm the rest of the way down, releasing it. He turned on his heel and strode away from the cape towards the encampment.

Celeborn breathed in and out several times, deep cleansing breaths as he unclenched his fists and stretched out his fingers. He watched with malice until Maedhros had stridden out of sight.

"Come, Narthan," Celeborn ordered. "We are not finished here yet." The two elves were quickly surrounded by archers dropping from the trees, and they returned to their own camp.

* * *

"Elros!" Hathel called as the small child dodged behind a tree. "Come and sit."

Elros popped his head out from around the tree, a grin appearing as he watched Hathel walk towards him. His eyes lit up with glee and he turned to flee again, only to run smack into muscular legs. He stumbled, but quickly caught himself. The laugh on his lips disappeared as he looked up and realized who stood before him. The child turned to run towards Hathel but was tripped by the boot that rose to impede him. A look of terror crossed his face when a handless arm slid beneath his belly as he sprawled in the dirt and scooped him off the ground. A sharp slap to his bottom brought tears to his eyes, but he did not cry out.

"Do as you are told, peredhel, or I will not stop at one next time," Maedhros hissed into the elfling's ear. He released the child, dropping him the last foot to the ground and watched as the child scrambled to his feet and flung himself at Hathel, who caught him up.

Elros grabbed Hathel's tunic, winding his little fists into the fabric, as he buried his face into the elf's neck and hair. Silent sobs shook his small frame. Hathel turned from Maedhros without a word and took the child back to Maglor.

Maglor sat in front of the tent, the evening meal prepared and waiting only for small elves to be rounded up. Hathel loosed Elros' hands from his tunic and gently dumped the child into Maglor's lap, and then he turned to find the other wayward elfling before Maedhros did.

He did not have to go far. Elrond had planted himself in the path between where his brother was being consoled by Maglor, and Maedhros. His arms were crossed over his chest and he glared at Maedhros in defiance.

"Go sit and eat," Maedhros ordered.

Elrond did not move.

Maedhros scowled and moved forward menacingly. Elrond gave a cry of anger and flung himself at the legs of the elf who had hurt his brother. His small fists beat at hard thighs and Maedhros might have found the incident amusing if not for the anger he still held after meeting with Celeborn. He reached down and grabbed the elfling by the hair and back of the tunic with one hand, lifting him to eye level.

Elrond's shriek of pain at having his hair harshly pulled caught the attention of every nearby elf. Maglor had already thrust Elros back into Hathel's capable hands, and was nearly to his brother when Maedhros lifted Elrond from the ground. He was not in time to stop Maedhros from dropping the screaming elfling over his arm and delivering three solid hits to the child. The first caught the child along the upper legs and buttocks; the second landed on his upper back as he slid down the arm he was flung over; and the third was delivered to the ears and head. Maglor caught the child before he hit the ground.

"Maedhros, stop!" Maglor hissed loudly as he turned slightly to put his own body between his brother and Elrond and pulled the screaming child close to his chest. Maedhros' booted foot caught him in the back of the leg, but he managed to retain his balance and lightly stepped out of his brother's reach.

Maglor watched Maedhros react as if fog was lifted from his eyes and he realized he was raising his hand to strike his own brother. Maglor had lifted one arm defensively as his brother charged at him, disbelief in his face, while he used his body and other arm to protect the child. Maedhros quickly stepped back, his hand falling to his side and an expression of disbelief crossing his own face, a match to his younger brother's.

Maglor glared at him and turned away, lowering himself to the ground and pulling the screaming child from his body that he might inspect the injuries inflicted on him. Elrond held one hand to his head, covering his ear, which was bright red. A few drops of blood seeped from his scalp where his hair had been nearly torn from his head. Pulling up the child's tunic he saw bruises already appearing on his upper back and across his buttocks. Maglor began to croon to the child, again releasing some of his own healing power through the threads of the song he created and wove into the child's own song. He continued to feel the wounds, but he sensed no broken bones or serious injuries. Elrond continued to cry for some time, Malgor holding and singing to him until he calmed.

Maglor continued to sit, holding the little elf against his chest until he cried himself into an exhausted sleep. He rose and returned to his tent, where Hathel held a sleeping Elros, his tearstained face indicating he also had cried himself to sleep.

"Is he injured?" Hathel asked warily.

"Bruised and scared, but no serious damage," Maglor replied as he laid a hand on Elros' back, lending again his own healing energy to the traumatized elfling. He laid Elrond in his bed, then taking Elros from Hathel, tucked him in next to his twin. The two immediately curled about each other, but this time it was Elros who took the supportive position, pulling Elrond in against his chest and patting him on the arm. "Stay with them; I do not want them to wake alone. I am going to speak to Maedhros."

"I am here," Maedhros answered from the tent's opening.

Maglor nearly pushed his brother outside, and then herded him away from the tent. He led him into the trees, away from listening ears.

"Touch them again…." Maglor began angrily, but he was interrupted.

"I am sorry, muindor," Maedhros apologized, grief evident in his voice. "Is Elrond badly hurt?"

"Nay," Maglor sighed, feeling his anger depart. "He is bruised and scared, but he will heal." He paused and looked his brother in the eyes. He could see the hurt and grief over the acts he had just committed. "How could you do that, Maedhros? They are not the enemy. How could you strike children?"

Maedhros could no longer meet his brother's eyes, and he turned away. "I met with Celeborn."

"What did he say?"

"He wants the children returned to him. I told him the only way such a trade would occur is if they returned to us the Silmaril," Maedhros answered. "They claim not to have it; that it resides with Elwing in the sea or beyond the reach of Middle-Earth."

"We saw her fly, muindor," Maglor reminded him.

"And we wait for her return," Maedhros' voice grew harsh again. "Until then we hold the only things of value that she might exchange for the Silmaril."

"Or what, Maedhros? For how long do we keep them? What if she does not return?" Maglor asked angrily.

Maedhros did not answer immediately, and Maglor grasped his arm. "What did you tell Celeborn?"

"That their lives are then forfeit," Maedhros answered hoarsely.

A terrible fury rose in Maglor's eyes and he backed his brother into a tree, one hand still holding his arm, the arm pressing against Maedhros' chest. "You will not harm them again, Maedhros." Maglor commanded, incensed. "Their blood will not be on our hands."

Maedhros' eyes flashed briefly, but he quickly relaxed and nodded. Never before had his brother been so angry with him or physically restrained him in such a manner. Maglor released his hold and without another word turned and walked away.

Maedhros slid down the tree, sitting at its base. He listened as Maglor's voice rose in song, the volume faint but the melody unmistakable. It was strains of the Noldolantë mixed again with verses of strength and healing, as Maglor again strengthened small souls.

* * *

Calendîn listened carefully to the conversation, then moved silently through the beech trees until the song of the minstrel faded from his hearing.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Celeborn finished as tears streamed down the faces of both of his grandsons. He had not meant to make them cry, but the story was what it was. He could not change that because their Ada was the elfling in the tale. He glanced up to meet Elrond's eyes, and noted the strange expression on his face.

"I did not know you knew what happened," Elrond said softly, his eyes fixed on Celeborn even as his sons wrapped their arms around him.

Celeborn smiled. "Green elves."

"Calendîn never told me," Elrond answered. He hugged his sons and stroked their backs and hair, and was surprised to feel small hands patting his back and stroking his hair. He looked down at the dark heads and realized they meant to comfort him.

"Thank you, Elladan and Elrohir," he murmured softly. "That was the only time Maedhros did that," he reassured them. He met Celeborn's eyes again, and Celeborn nodded.

"Now, shall we swim first or have sword lessons first?" Elrond asked them.

"Swim first!" Elladan cried. He jumped to his feet, his brother close on his heels, and they ran for the pool.

Celeborn rose as well and reached a hand down to Elrond. Elrond took the proffered help, letting Celeborn pull him to his feet and surprisingly, into an embrace. Celeborn held him close for a moment, seemingly remembering a small elfling, and then they turned and followed the twins to the pool.

Glorfindel had been lightly strumming the harp throughout the story. He tucked it carefully into his pack and then followed Elrond and Celeborn. A pleased smile spread across his face as he noted that Celeborn kept a fatherly arm across Elrond's shoulders.

* * *

"Ada, can we go to the waterfall?" Elladan called.

"Aye, Elladan, but wait for us," Elrond called back.

The adults had reached the waterfall and the pool at its base as the elflings began their climb up the rocks to where the stream poured through hollowed channels, cascading to the pool below. The rocks at the base and sides had been worn smooth over the years, and provided an easy climb to the top.

Elladan and Elrohir had stripped off their tunics, but left on their leggings and soft shoes, just in case they decided they would attempt to slide down the smoothed rock on a small stream of water to the side of the main waterfall.

"Ada, the water is really cold up here!" Elrohir called down. "There are some pretty stones. Look at this blue one!"

Elrond nodded and watched as the two picked their way across the rocks, stopping every so often to pick up another stone that caught their fancy.

"Ada, there is a hole in the rocks!" Elladan yelled.

Glorfindel started at this; he knew the rocks and the waterfall, indeed this whole area, as well as he knew the familiar halls of Imladris. He was on his feet and walking to the rocks even as Elrond called to Elladan to stay away from the spot.

"Ada, the rocks are all loose here!" Elrohir called, panic in his voice.

Glorfindel, Celeborn and Elrond were all racing for the waterfall and climbing the rocks when the elflings disappeared from sight with screams of fright.

Glorfindel reached the area first and, to his amazement, found the rocks had broken loose and water poured into the darkness below. He saw fingers hanging on to the edge of the rock and moved carefully so as to not dislodge any loose stones into the hole. He laid out flat on his stomach and felt strong hands gripping his feet. He inched forward until he could finally see the small hand. Just as he reached for it, the rock gave loose and they heard Elrohir scream as he plunged into the darkness of the hole.

"Elrohir!" Elrond screamed. He crawled to the edge of the hole and began to lower himself in by the arms, loose stones giving way as he did so. "Elladan!" he yelled. He heard no clear answer, but he did hear something. "I can hear them!"

He began to lower himself into the hole, Glorfindel holding his legs as he delved further in. There were roots of the tall trees hanging down, and he grabbed one. He felt it hold and called, "Let go."

"No, Elrond!" Glorfindel peered over the side. "I have rope. Let me get it and then we will go down and get them.

"Ada!" a small cry sounded from the depths of the hole. "Ada, help me!"

Elrond's pace quickened as he called to his sons. He continued to lower himself, and Glorfindel edged closer, feeling Celeborn grab his feet.

"Can you see them?" Celeborn shouted.

"No," Elrond called back. "This root will hold. Let me go!" He twisted and kicked at Glorfindel until Glorfindel felt him begin to slip through his fingers. He grabbed one last time at the boot, and felt it release from the one wearing it. Celeborn pulled him back with the boot in hand. They both stared at it in shock.

"Elrond!" Glorfindel shouted. He could not see anything in the blackness and there was no answer to his call. His mind raced as he recalled the layout of the caves in the cliffs around them. Jumping to his feet, he leapt nimbly down the rocks with Celeborn close behind.

Glorfindel raced to the cave where he kept supplies, quickly finding blankets, torches, rope and a pack with first aid supplies. The nearest cave to the waterfall was beyond it to the west, and into the north wall of the rocks behind it. Glorfindel shoved some of the equipment into Celeborn's arms and they raced back past the waterfall.

"There is a pool in the cave. Its source has long been thought to be a spring, but perhaps the stream has really fed it from an underground passage," Glorfindel quickly explained as they ran. "The passage is low - if the hole they fell into is connected to this pool, we will have to swim underwater to get them out."

They entered the darkness of the cave, Glorfindel stopping and lighting a torch for Celeborn and then one for himself. They both caught their breath at what they saw in the sudden light: piles of rock and dirt that had caved in from above.

"The roar of the water has never been heard so loudly in here before," Glorfindel said as he quickly inspected the edges of the cave in. He felt the loose dirt and rock of the wall. "This could all cave in."

The two elf lords exchanged glances. "Dig or go back up with rope and see if we can pull them out?" Glorfindel finally asked.

Celeborn shook his head. "Dig. That edge will never hold us pulling them up and we have no time to stabilize it."

Glorfindel nodded and they both lodged their torches into cracks in the cave wall, and began the arduous job of digging and moving out rock. They worked frantically, rolling the larger rocks out of the way and using their hands to pull the smaller ones to the side.

"There is the pool," Glorfindel said as he felt the water lapping at his fingers.

Celeborn reached over the water and felt the cave wall on the other side

"How deep is it here?"

"I do not know," Glorfindel admitted. "We have never explored the pool."

Celeborn lowered himself into the water and found he could not touch the bottom with his head above water. He felt under the cave wall edge, but felt rock the whole length of his arm. He looked solemnly at Glorfindel. "I will see how far I can make it."

Glorfindel nodded as he quickly wound rope around Celeborn's chest and knotted it. He attached the other end to a large rock. "When you make it to air again, tug on the rope and I will follow. If you cannot make it to air, tug twice and I will help pull you back as swiftly as I can."

Celeborn nodded, then took several deep breaths, holding the last one as he plunged under the water. Glorfindel fed the rope in for what seemed an eternity, counting the seconds. The adults could hold their breath for extended periods of time; the elflings could not. Just when he had determined that Celeborn would have to be pulled back, he felt a single strong tug on the line. Celeborn had made it to air.

Glorfindel slipped into the water and drawing in several deep breaths, held his breath and plunged below the surface. He followed the rope with one hand and felt Celeborn keeping it taut. Suddenly he felt a hand grip his and pull him up sharply into the air.

He drew in a deep breath as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. There was light filtering in from somewhere, and he could see the large open space above his head. He finally focused on Celeborn, who had one hand resting on a small outcropping of rock while he held Glorfindel with the other.

"This is deeper than I thought," Glorfindel began to tread water on his own now that he had air in his lungs again. "Colder, too. Are they here?"

Celeborn released him and called, "Elrond!" He turned to Glorfindel. "No answer yet - I have tried several times. How much more rope is there?"

"Another few lengths is all - it will take us only a short ways further," Glorfindel answered.

Celeborn took out his knife and pinned the rope into the softer dirt and shale above the water line. The two began to swim in the freezing water, following the light as it grew brighter. They seemed to be following an arc of sorts and as they rounded a passage that forced them down in water up to their noses, they entered another large chamber with a dripping hole at the top.

"Elrond!" Celeborn called again.

"Here," Elrond answered weakly from the side of the cave. Both swam to the sound, to see Elrond treading water with all his strength while holding as much of his sons out of the water as possible. They were perched one on each shoulder, blue with cold, and nearly unconscious.

"Be careful of Elladan's right arm - it is broken," Elrond instructed as Celeborn pulled the stiff elfling from him. "Elrohir hit his head and I think his ankle is broken," he said weakly to Glorfindel.

"Elrond!" Celeborn reached with one arm to shake him. He had watched as Elrond had begun to slip into the water now that he knew his sons were safe. Elrond kicked once and opened his eyes. Glorfindel took Elladan as Celeborn pulled Elrond to him.

Glorfindel turned onto his back, pulling the elflings on top of him, their heads in the crook of his elbows and supported above water, and he began to kick as powerfully as he could back to the previous chamber. He nearly scraped the elflings foreheads as he kicked through the chamber, but finally made it through. He continued kicking through to where the rope hung, hearing Celeborn behind him, but knowing even if he did not he would have to go on alone.

The twins were silent and cold, but they still breathed and he could feel the weak beats of their hearts. He reached the rope and waited for Celeborn. "I will take Elladan first and then come back." Celeborn nodded, and pulled Elrohir into his left arm, resting his elbow on the sharp ledge that was his only support in the deep water as he held up Elrond with his other arm.

Glorfindel took in as much air as he could; then he pulled Elladan close against him, holding him with his arm and using his hand to cover Elladan's mouth and nose. He grasped the rope with the other hand and kicked as hard as he could. Twice he blew breath into Elladan and finally they surfaced in the cave. He pulled Elladan out and covered him with a blanket, then plunged back into the water and swam back to Celeborn. He glanced at the silver haired elf and noticed he was shaking. Glorfindel had the advantage of not having stopped moving since he entered the water.

"Will you make it?" Glorfindel asked. Celeborn nodded and thrust Elrond and Elrohir into Glorfindel's arms. He kicked and moved his arms vigorously for a few moments, then taking Elrohir he drew in a deep breath and, covering the elfling's mouth and nose with his hand, he swam into the passage.

Glorfindel waited until Celeborn had a good head start and then he shook Elrond.

"Elrond!" He slapped the elf lightly across the cheeks to rouse him. He smiled when Elrond opened his eyes finally. "The twins are through. It is your turn. Take a deep breath when I tell you and then hold it. I will give you air if you need it - just pull on my sleeve." Glorfindel took hold of the rope. "Ready? Now!" He saw Elrond take in a small breath, and he clamped his hand over the elf's mouth and nose and dove under the water. He was midway through when he felt Elrond go limp. He bumped into another body as he reached the end. He felt arms pulling Elrond up, and then he surfaced.

Elrohir lay at the side of the pool, and Celeborn hung over the edge. Once Celeborn had Elrond in hand and was assured he was again breathing, Glorfindel climbed from the pool. He lifted Elrohir and laid him next to his brother, covering him with the same blanket. He then dragged Elrond from the pool, and finally helped Celeborn from the water.

"Silver hair and blue lips make for an interesting combination," Glorfindel noted.

"Aye, and I have never seen an elf with lips to match his eyes, either," Celeborn retorted.

"Let us get them into the warm sun," Glorfindel attempted to pick Elrond up, but could not do it. Celeborn joined him and together they dragged Elrond out into the sunlight, then covered him with a blanket. They each picked up an elfling and laid them on either side of their father, then collapsed together in the bright afternoon sun.

They lay there for some minutes, shivering. Glorfindel finally rose and stumbled to the cave to bring out the torches, first aid pack and the rest of the blankets. He tossed the blankets to Celeborn and began to strip. "Get out of the wet clothes, then get them undressed too."

Glorfindel wrapped himself in a blanket and then began to collect wood that could be used for a fire. A dead tree nearby provided plenty of wood, and with some effort Glorfindel collected an armful and staggered back to the others. He arranged the wood and tossed the torches on top, thanking the Valar when the dead wood easily caught fire.

Celeborn had finished undressing both elflings and wrapped them both in blankets. He gently laid them as close to the fire as he could without singeing their hair.

"Have your knife?" Celeborn asked Glorfindel wearily.

Glorfindel crawled over with the blade, and seeing Celeborn's intentions, began to help. They were both too tired to lift him, so they cut Elrond's soaked clothing from him, rolled him in a blanket and then dragged him to the fire. Glorfindel lay down behind the twins, pulling them close. Celeborn did the same for Elrond, sharing what body heat he had.

Celeborn felt Elrond stir against him, and begin to struggle against the restraint of the blankets. "Elrond, the twins are safe. You are safe," he murmured softly. Elrond opened his eyes and stared dumbly at his father-in-law.


Celeborn gently turned his head and pointed to where Glorfindel was warming the twins and assessing their injuries. He was already splinting Elladan's broken arm. "They are alive."

"Elrohir hit his head. Has he woken up yet?"

Celeborn shook his head. "Not yet." He looked at Glorfindel who carefully checked both of the elfling's eyes and then nodded at him. "But his eyes are fine, responsive to light. He will wake up soon," he reassured him. He felt Elrond relax against him again and fervently but silently called upon Elbereth for it to be so.

* * * * *


Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter

Chapter 12: Coming Home

Glorfindel felt himself dozing off in the heat of the sun, blankets, and fire and forced himself to wakefulness. Across the fire, he could see Celeborn struggling to stay awake as well.

"How does Elrond fare?" Glorfindel asked.

Celeborn jumped slightly, his eyes focusing as he also regained wakefulness. He stroked the forehead and dark hair of the elf in his arms, felt that his skin had warmed, and then placed a hand over Elrond's chest and felt that his life force beat strong. Elrond stirred at his touch.

"He improves," Celeborn finally said. "He should wake soon. How are my grandsons?"

"Cold still, but Elladan looks better," Glorfindel reported. He too found that he kept touching the ones in his care, as if he were afraid they might disappear at any moment. "He stirs, but Elrohir remains unmoving."

Celeborn nodded. He recognized the need to keep talking, that they might stay alert. "Have you ever been so cold?"

Glorfindel smiled grimly. "Not since we crossed the grinding ice of the Helcaraxë. The water in that cave was nearly freezing. I am sure I felt ice."

Celeborn was silent for a moment as he continued to stroke Elrond's hair. "If he had not gone down the hole after them they would be dead," he finally said softly.

Glorfindel regarded Celeborn thoughtfully, seeing the look of great tenderness with which he beheld Elrond.

"I wish to be angry at him for placing himself into such danger, yet I cannot when I consider that his rashness saved Elladan's and Elrohir's lives," Celeborn continued.

Elrond stirred at that moment, his eyes blinking open and focusing on Celeborn, and he again struggled at the confines of the blanket. Celeborn sat up, pulling Elrond upright with him and letting the elf lean against him. Elrond's face changed to concern instantly as he saw his sons. He tried to stand, but his exhausted muscles declined to cooperate and he sank back against his father-in-law.

"I think you need a little longer to recover, Peredhil," Celeborn said as he saw the look of weariness cross the elf's face.

Glorfindel recognized the stubborn set to Elrond's jaw and saw determination flicker in his eyes. He stood and picked up Elladan, carrying him the short distance and placing him in Elrond's lap.

Elrond immediately began to examine the elfling, his hands lightly skimming his son's face, then pushing the blanket aside to run across his chest, abdomen, legs and arms, focusing on the splint that bound his right wrist. He finished by placing his own hand over the child's heart, and Glorfindel intervened when he saw Elrond begin to enter the healing trance. He placed Elrohir in Celeborn's other arm, and then quickly slipped his hand between Elladan and Elrond's hand.

"No, Elrond, you have no healing energy to give," Glorfindel said gently but firmly. He slid to the ground and supported Elrond from behind as Celeborn turned his attention to Elrohir.

Fortunately, Elladan chose that moment to open his own eyes and the first thing he saw was his ada. Elladan's unsplinted hand tangled in the blanket wrapped around his father, and he clung tightly to him as tears streamed down his face.

"You were so brave, Elladan," Elrond said as he hugged his son close. "I am so proud of you."

Elladan sniffed a few times and drew in a deep breath, gaining control over his quivering lower lip, and then he brushed the tears away from his eyes. "What of Elrohir, Ada?" he asked in a trembling voice.

Celeborn held Elrohir, his silver hair falling as a curtain between the elfling and his brother and father. As Glorfindel had done before him, he touched the elfling's feä and strengthened it, giving as much of himself as he could to heal the hurts and draw the little one close.

"Elrohir!" Celeborn called softly. "Elrohir!"

The elfling did not move, though, even at his grandfather's call, and Elladan whimpered.

"Ada, make Elrohir wake up," he pleaded.

Despite his calm demeanor, Glorfindel and Celeborn could both see the growing trepidation in Elrond's eyes, and Glorfindel gently extracted Elladan from his father's lap. Celeborn laid Elrohir in his place, and all watched as Elrond began his examination. He finally laid his hand across the elfling's chest and from within found strength to send to his son. Celeborn and Glorfindel aided him, one hand each on him and the other on Elrohir. Elladan did not fully understand what was happening, but he cuddled up to his brother and held his hand.

Their song rose in the meadow, filling the air around them and drifting to the caves and the stream. Harmony complemented their melody, rising in crescendo and falling again, as their song blended with that of Arda's. Finally, the little elfling stirred.

"Elrohir?" Elrond called gently. His hand cupped his son's face, his thumb stroking the soft cheek, which was finally turning pink again in the sunshine. Elrohir moved only slightly, leaning into his father's hand. Elrond gently touched the corner of the elfling's mouth, and smiled when the small mouth opened and the pink tongue licked the dry lips. He drew his hand away and the child leaned into where it had been, seeking the comfort it had offered. "Elrohir, open your eyes," he called again.

Slowly the eyes opened, the pupils constricting in the light and finally focusing on the face of the one calling to him. "Ada?" he croaked.

"Elrohir, ion-nín," Elrond gathered Elrohir close as tears streamed down his own face. "Do you know where you are, Elrohir?"

Elrohir turned his head slightly, wincing as the sun hit his face directly. Glorfindel moved to block the light, and Elladan lifted his brother's hand in his own.

"El, are you hurt?" Elrohir's voice was hoarse but full of concern at seeing the splint on Elladan's arm.

"Yes, and so are you," Elladan answered. "Do you remember what happened, 'Ro?"

Elrohir closed his eyes for a moment and appeared to be drifting off. Elrond stroked his cheek again and Elrohir opened his eyes. "We fell in the waterfall," he mumbled.

"Do you hurt, Elrohir?" Elrond prompted him gently.

"Head hurts, Ada," Elrohir whispered. His eyes were already drifting closed again. ". . .sleep . . . Ada. . . "

Convinced that Elrohir did not suffer from a serious head injury, Elrond placed his hand over his son's eyes and pushed him into a deep healing sleep. He then pulled the small body to his chest and gently rocked him. Elladan crawled to Elrond's knee and laid his head on father's leg. Elrond stroked the elfling's hair as tears of relief slid down his cheeks.

Glorfindel met Celeborn's eyes, and in a glance much was said. They needed to return to Imladris where the elflings could be properly treated and recover in their own beds.

Glorfindel wrapped the blanket about his chest and walked a short distance from the small group. He let forth a series of whistles and chirps and then waited. Moments later there was a response. Satisfied, he returned to the others.

"How long?" Celeborn asked.

"Perhaps an hour, maybe a little longer," Glorfindel replied. "And you?"

Celeborn smiled at the other elf, mirth in his eyes. "She sent aid while we were still atop the waterfall."

The ponies had ambled over the meadow to them, and Mithren pushed himself past Celeborn with a snort. The pony ducked his head and sniffed at Elrohir, blowing warm breath upon the back of the elfling's neck. He nuzzled him very gently, then did the same to Elrond before walking away.

Thinde walked to Elladan next, Celeborn gladly moving out of the way before needing to be nudged again. Thinde sniffed the splint on Elladan's arm, then nuzzled his head into the elfling's belly. He snuffled lightly, making Elladan giggle, and then he too strolled away.

Elladan quickly fell back into sleep, and Glorfindel built up the fire as both elflings still felt cool to the touch.

"We need to get them back to Imladris," said Elrond as he came out of his dozing state, glancing about him as if trying to determine the best way to do this.

"Help will be here soon," Celeborn replied, smiling when Elrond looked at him in surprise. "The northern patrol should arrive within the hour, and guards set out from Imladris well over an hour ago. We should all be in better shape to move by the time they arrive."

Elrond covered his eyes with his hand, pinching the bridge of his nose and breathing in deeply. He exhaled and looked down again at his sons. "I nearly lost them," he said quietly. He was silent for a moment, and Celeborn reached over and grasped his shoulder, squeezing gently. "Elladan saved Elrohir's life."

Glorfindel had been watching the horizon but came to sit next to Elrond. He and Celeborn waited expectantly for Elrond to tell the story.

"When I swung into the hole it was dark, and I could not see what was below me. I did not want to just let go, for fear of landing on one of them. So I swung to another branch, and when I was out of the light I could just make out a small figure below. It was then I realized they were in water. I called to Elladan again and he could barely speak, so I dropped into the water. The shock of the cold nearly took my breath away. I swam to them, and realized that Elladan was holding Elrohir's face out of the water. Elladan had broken his arm when he fell, and despite the pain he was holding his brother and kicking so hard to keep them both afloat," Elrond's voice broke and he stopped to breathe in deeply and gather his thoughts. "There was nothing to hold on to, so I pulled Elrohir into my arms and had Elladan wrap his arms about my neck. Elrohir was already turning blue, and Elladan's teeth were chattering, so I lifted them both on to my shoulders. Elladan held his brother up there, the cold numbing the pain in his arm, I guess," Elrond's voice faded. He glanced up at the two watching him with kind eyes. "I knew you would come, but I did not think we would be alive when you found us."

Elrond bowed his head over his sons as they lay sleeping in his lap. He spoke again, his voice hoarse with emotion, "I did not want them to die alone, and I would not want to live if they had not. After I had thought that through, I tried to sense Celebrían's presence, to tell her I would go with them and that I would miss her. . ."

Celeborn stroked the dark head, emotion preventing him from speaking for a moment. "She would have come after you, ion-nín. She would not stay in Middle-Earth if the three of you were beyond it." He gently pushed Elrond to the ground, settling the twins carefully in his arms. "Rest until the patrol comes."

Glorfindel studied the elf in front of him. Celeborn had nearly lost his grandsons, son and daughter this day, for Glorfindel knew too that Celebrían would have given up her life to follow Elrond and her sons to the Halls of Mandos. He looked tenderly upon the dark hair of the three lying together in the grass, their faces obscured by the blankets.

Glorfindel turned his face into the western sun and his spirit bowed low. He had nearly failed at the task that had been set before him; he had failed them by letting the twins climb the rocks before he had inspected them. He recalled the face of Manwë as the Vala had laid before him his task of protecting the line of his king, a lineage that had nearly ended this day. The Valar had trusted him and he had nearly been proved unworthy.

"Stop that!" Celeborn said flatly.

Glorfindel looked into the angry eyes of the silver-haired elf in surprise and bowed his head.

"Stop that too," Celeborn demanded. Inwardly he smiled at the confused expression on the seneschal's face as he met the elf's glare. "You think you have failed them and are unworthy of the trust the Valar placed in you. I will tell you we are all guilty and yet none are guilty. The waterfall was fine the day before. I know because I was up there in the night and you the evening prior. You can dodge their every step and protect their every breath, Vanyar, but they are three and you are one and you cannot be three places at once."

Glorfindel glared back at the Sindar elf for a moment but quickly felt his resistance fade. He slumped slightly and Celeborn laughed. "I hope they have more children just so I can see you race about exhausting yourself."

Glorfindel chuckled. "I hope they wait a few years."

The two settled back to rest and recover their strength.

* * *

It was nearly an hour later when the first of the warriors appeared.

"They come as expected," Glorfindel murmured as he gazed northward. He stood and began walking towards them, clad only in the blanket wrapped about him and held to his chest.

"Suilad, Glorfindel," said Athranen, leader of the northern patrol, as he dismounted.

"Mae Govannen, Athranen," Glorfindel replied. "Your timing could not be better."

"So it appears," Athranen eyed his captain's attire with a raised brow. "Do the others fare better or worse than yourself?"

"The twins are injured," answered Glorfindel seriously. "Elrond recovers and Celeborn is well. Galadriel has sent aid from Imladris, but they are at least a half day away."

Athranen's eyes widened in surprise. "How seriously?" he asked, concern on his face.

"They shall recover," Glorfindel reassured him as he recalled that Athranen had a son just a few years older than the twins. "Elladan's arm is broken. Elrohir has a broken ankle and suffered a hard blow to the head. He was knocked unconscious in the fall. The rocks above the waterfall caved in and they fell into a deep pool beneath it. The cave to the north of the waterfall connects to the cavern through an underwater passage."

Athranen's eyes continued to grow wider as Glorfindel related the tale. "We have taken novices here for several centuries and all have climbed those rocks," he protested.

"Aye, Athranen, and today while Elrond's sons played on them they caved in," Glorfindel reiterated.

Athranen shook his head slowly but came around to the present problem quickly. "Do we need litters?"

Glorfindel shook his head. "No, I thought we might at first, but I think we can safely carry them if someone is available to guide the horses through any rough terrain." He gazed ahead at the small party. "Elrond would like them home as soon as possible."

They were close enough now to see Elrond holding both of his sons. "I think the greater problem may be that he cannot hold them both on his horse."

"He will not hold either of them," Glorfindel answered flatly. "He held them on his shoulders, as he furiously tread water in freezing conditions, for more than an hour. He is exhausted."

"I am glad you shall be the one to tell him," Athranen murmured.

"Our campsite is in the clearing by the targets," Glorfindel directed the guards who had followed them. "Bring up all the packs. If any of you have garments to spare, Elrond and I both need clothing."

The elves dispersed silently, some bringing up the packs, some calling the horses and ponies, and others returning the campsite to order. Targets and archery items were returned to storage in the caves and two of the elves moved small boulders to block the climb up the waterfall. They would return later to decide how to protect the site permanently.

Glorfindel watched as Elrond and Celeborn dressed the sleeping elflings and then re-wrapped them in dry blankets provided by the guards. He noted Athranen hovering near them, assisting without direction, and he supposed that as a parent the elf saw his own child and empathized, as he knew it could have been his own son in the situation.

"Lord Glorfindel?"

Glorfindel turned to see one of Imladris' youngest warriors standing before him. When he nodded the young elf continued, "There is none here so tall as you, but Garthon is closest and he has spare tunic and trousers."

"Thank you, Meldon, they will do," Glorfindel replied kindly as he took the proffered garments. The young elf left with a smile on his face; despite the fact that Glorfindel had helped train him, he was still in awe of the Balrog-slayer. Glorfindel dressed in trousers that did not reach his ankles and a tunic whose sleeves came no where near his wrists. Despite his other concerns, he managed to spare a growl at Erestor.

Elrond and Celeborn mounted their horses, and Glorfindel handed Elladan to Celeborn. Glorfindel then picked up Elrohir and placed him in Athranen's arms, mounted his own horse and then took elfling from the guard. Elrond appeared about to protest as he drew up near Glorfindel.

"Your hands shake, Elrond. You are pouring yourself out as fast as you are replenished," Glorfindel quietly chastised. "I will take him the first part of the journey at least."

Glorfindel held Elrohir cradled to his chest, his horse needing no guidance on these paths. He sang softly to the child and smiled when he heard Celeborn singing to Elladan. At several junctures in the song the warriors of the northern patrol joined in, adding their harmony and making the music swell to the peaks of the hills. He also noted that Athranen had taken a position beside Elrond and several times guided the horse when the elf-Lord drifted asleep.

The Imladris guards met them just before they reached the half-way point of the journey. Athranen promised Glorfindel a thorough exploration of the caves and either a shoring up of the unstable rocks or complete blockage of the path, and the warriors departed to finish their time on the northern border while the rest of the travelers took a short break.

"Celebrían did not come?" Glorfindel asked as he drew his horse up to where Celeborn was finishing repeating a shortened version of their story.

"Lady Galadriel would not allow her to do so," Erestor replied.

The two elves stared at each other; Erestor eyeing the too-small clothing while Glorfindel sniffed the air, finally leaning closer to Erestor.

"What did you bathe in? Mildew?" he asked, his nose wrinkled in disgust.

"You would know," retorted Erestor. "Forget to bring your own clothing?"

"You would know," Glorfindel repeated.

They continued to glare at each other for a moment but were distracted by a small yawn from Elrohir.

Glorfindel's face softened immediately and he tenderly stroked the small cheek, eliciting a slight lip smacking, a natural response from a sleeping child.

"Is he awake?" Erestor asked softly, reaching to stroke the dark hair that hung over Glorfindel's arm.

"Elrond has put them both into healing sleeps. They shouldn't wake until we are back in Imladris," Glorfindel replied. "They were both in pain; better that any accidental jostling does not cause them more discomfort."

Erestor looked at Glorfindel. "Seriously, what happened to your clothing?"

Glorfindel studied the elf for a moment, sensing no deceit in him. "You did not replace my spare garments with….. other items?"

Erestor shook his head. He fingered his hair, grimacing at the smell. "You are not responsible for this?"

Glorfindel shook his head. They both turned to look at Elrond, who was sitting straight upon his horse, but clearly walking the path of elven dreams.

"Do you think it was him?" Erestor finally asked.

Glorfindel shrugged and grinned. "After all this has passed, we shall find out."

Erestor took charge of Elrond and they finished the rest of the journey home without incident.

* * *

They reached Imladris in the light of Ithil, with stars twinkling overhead. Lanterns were lit all about The Last Homely House and many elves of Elrond's house were gathered about the lawn and front porch to meet them.

Celebrían flew down the stairs and into the yard as soon as the first horse appeared. She swiftly discerned who held her sons, and as Glorfindel and Celeborn dismounted she moved quickly from one to the other, touching each child to confirm for herself that they lived and were not seriously injured.

"Why do they not wake?" she asked, desperation in her voice, as she stroked Elrohir's hair.

She felt Elrond behind her, his arms encircling her waist and his head nuzzling against her neck.

"I have put them into a healing sleep. They will wake soon," he explained tiredly. "Elladan has a broken wrist, and Elrohir a broken ankle and nasty bump on the head. They both were awake earlier and talking. They will recover," he reassured her.

Celebrían turned in his arms and buried her head against his chest, her arms wrapping tightly about him. "And you, meleth-nín, are you injured?" she asked as tears began to stream down her face.

"Nay, Celebrían, I am merely tired," he whispered into her ear as he held her close.

Celebrían pulled away slightly, wiping away the tears that still wet her cheeks, and then ran her hands along her husband's face. She saw a great weariness in his eyes, and as she tried to touch his mind she felt a weak barricade erected against her. She pushed gently and the barrier fell, and the remnants of the fear that had nearly overwhelmed him earlier that day flowed through her. She braced herself against the mild onslaught and allowed herself to see the depth of emotion that Elrond had experienced. She felt his guilt that the accident had happened and how he had prepared himself to face her anger or disappointment with him for failing their children so. She dared to probe a little further and felt the now controlled emotions he had wrestled with as he thought their sons would die and his decision to follow them. She felt the sorrow he had felt when he had reached out to her and she was not there. Her own emotions bubbled within her as she realized he had wished to tell he was sorry for leaving her and that he loved her.

Celebrían gently disengaged herself from her husband's spirit and pulled his body tight against her again. "Come, all three of you need to be put into warm beds."

As she looked around, she realized the horses and ponies had been led away and Glorfindel and her father were already entering the house with their precious bundles still cradled in their arms. She pulled gently on Elrond's arm and led him into the house and to their chambers.

Her mother was already present, helping Celeborn and Glorfindel to undress her grandsons and garb them in comfortable night tunics. She held each child for a moment; her eyes closed as she concentrated deeply, then placed the elflings into the big bed. Celebrían helped Elrond dress in his nightclothes and held the covers back as he crawled into the bed next to his sons. Celebrían watched as Galadriel sat down next to him on the bed. She spoke no words, but yet seemed to be communicating with Elrond. He looked away, and Galadriel placed a hand on his cheek and turned his head back to her. She ran her hand lightly across his eyes and forehead and his eyes shuttered as he relaxed into a deep sleep.

Galadriel stood and approached Celebrían. "They will not wake until morning."

"Mother, why could Elrond not reach me earlier? Was the distance too great?" Celebrían asked thoughtfully.

Galadriel was silent for a moment. She appeared to be deciding what to say when Celeborn spoke. "Tell her the truth."

Galadriel's eyes flashed at Celeborn for an instant, but he did not flinch. She turned back to her daughter, taking Celebrían's hand in her own. "He could not reach you because I blocked him."

Celebrían pulled back, aghast. "Why would you do that?"

"I knew how close your father and Glorfindel were to reaching them. I did not want Elrond to give up. If all he waited for was your touch, your permission, then he might have gone," she explained, as she looked her daughter in the eyes. She bowed her head slightly. "I also did not want you to know how dire their circumstances were."

Celebrían felt the wall at her back, and she leaned against it for a moment as she considered her mother's words. She never took her eyes from Galadriel's face, and the eyes that met hers held love but no repentance. "I wish to be alone with my husband and sons," she finally said neutrally.

Galadriel nodded and moving forward squeezed Celebrían's hand before leaving the room. Glorfindel had slipped out quietly when the discussion started, and now Celeborn stopped before his daughter.

Celebrían looked at her father and thought she had never seen him so weary. With a small cry she took a step forward and gently wrapped her arms about him, tucking her head under his chin. In her father's arms she had always felt safe and this time was no exception. She did not hold him long, though, as she felt the stiffness in his muscles and in the way he held himself. "Go and sleep, Adar," she whispered. "I love you. Thank you."

She felt him squeeze her shoulders tightly one last time, and with a kiss to her forehead he silently left the room.

Celebrían moved to sit on her side of the bed. She slid under the covers and propped herself on her elbow. Her free hand stroked the hair and faces and limbs of her sons and her husband. Their faces were now peaceful and their bodies relaxed. She would hear from them each tomorrow about their adventure and near tragedy.

She thought of her mother's words as her hand lingered on Elrond's hair. She rubbed the silky strands between her fingertips and thought of how close she had come to losing him. Her mother's gift of foresight, her ability to see things the rest of them could not, was both a blessing and a curse. She was angry that her mother had interfered with the bond she held with her husband, for not even the Valar dared to interfere with a bond so sacred. Yet what if her mother was right? Might she have actually helped save them by not allowing Elrond release? Celebrían decided that while the first of her mother's motivations might have merit, the second did not. Her mother did not have the right to interfere in such a way merely to protect her daughter from pain.

Yet her mother had not done this merely to protect her daughter. Celebrían understood only a very little of the power that Galadriel held, yet she believed in her mother enough to doubt she would grossly misuse it. Nor had her mother protected her from pain throughout her life. At least not all pain, Celebrían ruefully reminded herself. How many incidents would she never know about?

A little voice inside Celebrían reminded her of the love her mother held for her. Galadriel would not regret or repent of the action taken, for she would see no purpose in doing so when the outcome was favorable. Celebrían felt her anger slip away and she forgave her mother this trespass, for not to do so would lead to a rift between them. There was no changing Galadriel. She either had to love her as she was or allow a chasm to grow between them. For the sake of her sons, her husband, her father, and even herself, she would not cause such a thing.

She smiled at Elrond as he lay sleeping. She wondered what communication had passed between him and her mother. Had he given his permission to be pushed into a healing sleep? She doubted it, yet she was grateful. He needed the rest and would not have taken it willingly. Celebrían also knew that Galadriel likely imparted a great deal of healing and strength into him when she had induced the sleep. She wondered how Elrond would see Galadriel's interference? Would he, like his wife, be angry but let it go? Or would he see Galadriel's position at once and express no personal feeling - only admit to the necessity of the action? She rather envied his ability to separate his feelings and emotions from such acts. Celebrían sighed softly. If she were honest with herself, she would admit that she knew Elrond was as guilty as her mother in protecting her from knowledge and acts of evil. She was born of powerful people and married another. Elrond once told her she was wise and powerful in her own way and she supposed that was true, although, she sometimes considered her true wisdom was that she knew far more than any of them thought and kept it to herself.

She rose from the bed and left their chambers. Her mother was leaving her chamber at the same time.

"Is Adar resting?" Celebrían asked as she fell into step beside her mother, linking her arm with Galadriel's.

Galadriel's eyes twinkled. "He also shall not wake until morning."

Celebrían laughed softly. "May I guess that he was given little choice in the matter?"

"None," Galadriel agreed. "He has already forgiven me, for he knows I am right in this."

Celebrían leaned her head against her mother's shoulder briefly. "You usually are," she answered dryly.

Galadriel wrapped her arm about her daughter's shoulders as they continued down the hall.

"I must thank Glorfindel, too," Celebrían said after a moment.

Galadriel smiled wickedly. "I shall come with you."

* * * * *

Mae Govannen----well met
Meleth-nín---------my love
Ion-nín-------------my son

Note: Ereinion is Gil-Galad's other name. The Isle of Balar is the home of Círdan and Gil-Galad and is an island off the coast of the sacked city, the Havens of Sirion.

Special thanks to Daw the Minstrel for beta reading this chapter.

Chapter 13: A New Star Rises

Elrond woke feeling strangely refreshed. His eyes focused on the ceiling of his chamber and in that moment a rush of memory returned to him. He quickly turned his head to Celebrían's side of the bed and a look of tenderness crossed his face. He cautiously turned on to his side to better view the other occupants of the bed.

Celebrían lay on her side facing him, her silver hair hanging loose across her shoulders and down her back. In her left arm she held Elrohir, their faces nearly touching. Her eyes were open but unfocused, and he knew she lightly slept. Elladan lay on his back, his splinted arm resting across his belly next to his mother's right hand. Both children slept deeply, their eyes shuttered and their bodies relaxed and unmoving.

He reached out and gently touched each face in turn. Elladan nuzzled the hand that tenderly stroked his cheek. Elrohir leaned into his hand and seemed wroth to have it removed, a little mewling noise escaping him as Elrond withdrew from him. Long fingers then tucked a stray strand of silver hair behind a delicate ear, and Celebrían's eyes immediately came into focus and she smiled. They leaned carefully over their sons and kissed, a gentle touch that reached beyond the physical senses to their very being.

"Have you kept watch, meleth-nín, this entire night?" Elrond asked softly.

"I know the number of breaths you each breathed and every slight movement you each made," Celebrían replied, her words tender but the look in her eyes even more so.

Elladan stirred and stretched, then rolled slightly to the warm body next to his, snuggling with his brother. Elrohir yawned and moved his free arm to rest on his brother. They opened their eyes at the same time. They greeted each other with slight grins, confusion then crossing their faces when they realized they did not know where they were.

"Elrohir, Elladan," Celebrían greeted them, her soothing hand brushing hair back from their mouths and eyes.

"Nana!" Elladan cried as he sat up abruptly. He flung his arms about his mother's neck as she reached for him.

Elrohir's greeting was interrupted by a slight cry of pain that escaped him as he tried to sit up. One hand flew to his head and he sank back against the pillow, closing his eyes.

Elrond quickly moved to his son, his hand covering the small one that pressed against the bump on the head. The pain eased and Elrohir opened his eyes, now tear-filled. "Ada, my head hurts," Elrohir said, trying not to whimper or cry.

He turned his face slightly to see his mother and brother. Joy momentarily lit his face. "Nana!" he cried softly, and then tears really did start.

Celebrían smiled and kissed his forehead, her hand cupping his small face. "Oh, Elrohir, I am so glad you are awake," her voice was calming and soothing. "I was sad last night when I couldn't talk to you, but I know it was better for you to sleep."

Elrohir's tears stopped in response to the love in his mother's voice and he smiled instead.

Celebrían drew back the covers and gently touched his splinted ankle. "You have a broken ankle, too, tithen-el nín. Does it hurt?"

Elrohir seemed surprised by this news. He moved his leg slightly, testing it. "Only a little, Nana," he answered. "El hurt his arm," he informed her.

Celebrían turned her attention to Elladan's splinted arm, running her hand gently over it. "I see that. How is your arm, Elladan? Does it hurt?"

"Not really, Nana," Elladan replied, his good arm slipping through his mother's as he again attached himself to her side.

"I know you have not eaten since the mid-day meal yesterday," Celebrían said with a shake of her head. "You must be very hungry. Would you like some breakfast?" They both nodded. "Well, let me ask the cooks to make your favorites. There are even fresh strawberries. We will have breakfast here in our room and then I will help you both get dressed. After that I think your daernaneth and I need to hear your story. I understand I have two very brave sons."

Elrond sat leaning against the headboard of the bed, watching as Celebrían mothered their sons, lavishing attention and care upon them, and he smiled as the twins perked up and their pain faded. Their faces glowed at her last words and she kissed them both again before leaving the bed, putting on her dressing robe and disappearing into the hallway to make arrangements for breakfast. Elladan crawled to his father's lap, but Elrond held a light restraining hand upon Elrohir's shoulder when he moved to follow.

"Carefully, Elrohir. Don't move your head too fast," he cautioned. He supported the child's head and helped him to sit, then pulled the elfling to sit in his lap, his cheek resting against Elrond's chest.

"What happened, Ada?" Elrohir finally asked.

"What do you remember, Elrohir?" Elrond prompted him.

"I remember the rocks were loose," Elrohir replied slowly. "Then Elladan fell. I started to fall too, but my foot got caught. I tried to pull myself up and then I don't remember anything." He looked at Elladan. "Do you remember what happened?"

Elladan nodded. "I fell through the rocks and they broke my arm. I heard it snap. Then I fell into the cold water. Then you fell in too, but you did not move or speak or anything. I swam to you and turned your face out of the water and held you up until Ada came."

Elrohir's eyes had widened as Elladan spoke. "You saved my life," he said incredulously. He tugged on Elrond's night tunic. "Ada, El saved my life!"

Elrond smiled as the twins looked at each other in wonder. "Elladan was very brave and he is a hero," he said simply. Elrohir gripped Elladan's uninjured hand in his own and did not let go until breakfast arrived.

* * *

Elladan walked and Elrond carried Elrohir to his study after the twins had been fed and dressed. They met numerous elves in the corridor, many more so than normal, and each one greeted the elflings and Elrond with merry words and often with a small gift. Many words of praise were offered to all three of them, citing their bravery and courage; and much ado was made over the elflings' injuries, with many a healing touch given unobtrusively by those with that gift.

Elrond closed the door behind them and set Elrohir on the comfortable couch, propping his broken ankle up on pillows. Elladan set his small handful of treasures in his brother's lap and climbed up to sit next to him.

"Look, Ada! A flower and a shiny stone and a carved cat and a little glass ball - look at how the light hits it! - and a whistle," Elladan's voice trailed off and he arched an eyebrow at his father, little knowing how much he resembled his Ada at that moment. "Ada, why did everyone give us things?"

Elrond smiled at his sons as they both looked at him curiously. "Many people give small gifts as a way of saying that they are sorry you are injured and they are glad you will recover," he explained.

The twins were carefully looking over their treasures when the door opened, and Glorfindel and Erestor entered the room. Glorfindel's eyes reflected his relief as he saw the elflings and a smile lit his face. He greeted them warmly, picking up Elladan and sitting in his place, the child in his lap. The twins delighted to show him the gifts they had been given and soon Elrohir was turned so he leaned against the elf instead of the couch back.

Celebrían, Celeborn and Galadriel arrived last, completing the small circle that had come to hear the tale told in its entirety, for none had heard all parts of the story yet. Elrond watched in amusement as Glorfindel immediately stood, allowing Galadriel to sit in his place. Galadriel spoke no words at first to her grandsons, instead taking each small face in her hands, in turn, and gazing deeply into their eyes as she gently probed their hearts and minds. Neither child knew what she was doing, or why, but when she released them they both seemed refreshed and their eyes sparkled a little brighter.

Celeborn picked up Elrohir and sat next to his wife. He whispered in the child's ear and Elrohir smiled. Soon Elladan was also in his daerada's lap, and Celeborn seemed most content.

Elrond watched all the interactions between his sons and the circle of adults that were a part of their lives. His thoughts drifted to each in turn as he thought of the role they played in the lives of his sons, and how fortunate he was to have such people about him.

"Ada, can we tell Nana and Daernaneth what happened now?" Elladan asked, interrupting Elrond's thoughts.

Elrond moved to sit next to Celebrían. "Yes, and you may go first, Elladan."

Thus the story began, with Elladan and Elrohir telling what had happened as they played near the waterfall. Elrond told a rather abridged version of going in after them, not wishing for his elflings to know that he had thought they would all be in the Halls of Mandos that day. Celeborn and Glorfindel told of the rescue and finally Galadriel told of sending Erestor and others to aid them.

"So Elladan saved my life," Elrohir said solemnly from his spot in his daerada's lap. "Then Ada saved El and me, and then Glorfindel and Daerada saved El and Ada and me."

Celeborn's gaze upon his grandsons was both fierce and tender. "Sometimes it takes a team of elves to save two little ones."

Elladan perked up. "Like Ada and Uncle Elros?"

"Yes, just like your ada and Uncle Elros," Celeborn confirmed.

"Daerada, please continue the story?" Elrohir pleaded.

"Elrohir, Elladan, do you hurt? Shall we tend to those injuries first?" Celebrían asked.

Elladan and Elrohir grinned at each other, then turned to their mother. "Nana, our broken bones will not hurt nearly as much if we are occupied by Daerada's story," Elladan informed her.

Celeborn laughed aloud. "They are your sons, Celebrían. I can recall all the times you tried to manipulate me with similar words….."

Celebrían blushed. "Now, Ada, just start the story. No need to tell those tales."

Elrohir tugged on Celeborn's tunic. "You have to tell us a story about Naneth sometime, Daerada."

"Yes, I must," Celeborn agreed. "Where did we leave off?"

"Maedhros was mean to our Ada," Elladan's eyes flashed as he spoke. "Daerada, I hope you rescued Ada soon."

Celeborn's eyes grew distant as he remembered that time near Cape Balar. "We nearly attacked the camp upon hearing what Maedhros had done…."

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Celeborn relaxed under the beech trees as the stars made their nightly appearances. He leaned back against a log and allowed his eyes to drift to the night sky as he recalled life lived in starlight. The appearance of Anor and Ithil had been a surprise to the elves of Beleriand. Anor, the sun, had shed bright light upon the land and brought warmth and renewed growth to living things. Ithil, the moon, had been less predictable, sometimes fully appearing and then growing more distant until finally it would not appear at all. The elves had taken great joy in sitting out watching for its appearance, waiting to see what it would do next. They had discerned its pattern and learned to predict its wandering. Its light dimmed the brightness of the stars, however, and this many of the elves regretted.

With the coming of the Sun and the Moon had also come long sundered kin and the return of Melkor, whom all now called Morgoth. Despite their beauty, the very light of Ithil and Anor was tainted by their association with the return of Shadow and the jewels called Silmarils and fallen elves who were willing to slay even each other in their lust for them. Arda was marred and their peaceful life shattered by those who lusted for the hallowed jewels.

And yet the dark elves, as they were called by the exiles, did not regret the individuals they had come to know. The children Celeborn came to rescue were not only of his blood and his kin; they were the blood and kin of those exiles who crossed the grinding ice to come to this land. Blood and kin to elves who did not slay their own kin and who had themselves been harmed by the sons of Fëanor and their followers. In these children was the blood of many lines of Kings, as well as the bloodlines of men.

"I have seen the children," Calendîn said quietly.

Celeborn jumped slightly at the voice and sudden appearance of the green elf. He forced himself to relax and to remember that Calendîn's stealth was an asset, despite his personal intense dislike of being surprised by the elf.

"Tell me all you know," Celeborn ordered. He had learned to give an open-ended order to obtain the most information. The green-elves were also very literal. If one asked them a question, they would answer it. If one did not happen to ask the right question, the green-elf would not offer additional information.

"They are called Elros and Elrond," Calendîn began. He held his hand in the air at a certain height, "and stand this tall, with dark hair and grey eyes. One is noisy and playful and the other thoughtful and quiet. The elf Maedhros slapped the one called Elros on his bottom because the child played. The one called Elrond defied the elf and received for his courage three hits that bruised and injured him. The elf Maglor, brother to Maedhros, intervened and was kicked for his interference. Strong words there were between them and a command to not hurt the little ones again. The minstrel Maglor comforted and strengthened them. He will protect them."

Celeborn's eyes had narrowed dangerously. Maedhros hit the children? Bruised and injured them? He felt a restraining hand on his arm.

"The camp is well defended. The children are supervised by the elf Maglor and another, Hathel. While I may move about freely in the trees above their heads, unseen, I could not remain unnoticed if I did so with a crying child in my arms. In an attack, you risk their lives," Calendîn stated the facts.

* * *

Círdan tapped his finger thoughtfully upon the map before him. "Our success relies on an attack from their northern edge. The children would have to be in this location," he pointed to the area marked as Maglor's tent, "and their safety depends on Maglor letting them go and not killing them."

"Calendîn reports that there appears to be affection between the children and Maglor," Celeborn answered. "We do not believe he will harm them."

"Perhaps not," Círdan said pointedly. "But the others? And if Maedhros is near?"

"Nearly two years have passed since Sirion fell," Celeborn reminded them. "After my first meeting with him, he abused them and it took weeks for the children to recover from their fear. They still feared Maedhros, but at least they ate and slept again. Now he terrorizes them by his temper, even when not directed at them. Maglor restrains him, but his lust for the Silmaril drives him and pursues him until he has no rational thought. For how much longer shall we leave them to this?"

Círdan and Gil-Galad exchanged looks. What risk would they take to their people to rescue the sons of the Lord of Sirion? Would they instigate the slaying of kin?

"We shall not take action now, for I believe a time is coming when our course will become clear," Círdan finally answered.

* * *

Maglor looked upon the two small faces watching him intently. He finally smiled his acquiescence and laughed as Elros whooped for joy and Elrond smiled. It was such a little thing, and it would bring them pleasure.

"We will swim in the sea and watch the birds," Maglor agreed. Since the day Elros had first seen the sea several months ago he had pleaded to be taken there. Maglor did not know if the fascination was new, or if the child was simply remembering his earliest years when the sea had been outside his door and its music a constant voice in his nursery.

"There is a cove just west of the cape, with a sandy beach, mostly protected from watching eyes," Hathel reported.

"Prepare them, while I prepare Maedhros," Maglor said dryly.

* * *

Maglor found Maedhros standing near the edge of the trees. He joined him, leaning against a nearby tree.

"The Sindar have departed," Maedhros finally said. "Their camp and messengers have left; there are none left watching us."

Maglor nodded. "Their absence should ease tensions in our camp," he replied. "Hathel and I shall take the children to the cove today. They desire to be near the sea."

Maedhros turned to scowl at his brother. "They stay in the camp."

"You have said yourself that the Sindar have gone," Maglor defended his decision. "I will take guards. The cove is secluded; the mariners of Círdan will not spy us."

Maedhros began to speak but was silenced by a raised hand from his brother. "We leave in a few moments, muindor. I shall send word when we return."

Maglor turned without waiting for a reply and returned to his tent to find Elrond and Elros eagerly awaiting him. Hathel brought their horses near, and took Elros up with him. Maglor took Elrond, and with a small group of guards they left for the sea.

The journey was fairly short. Maglor laughed at the antics of Elros, chatting with the horse and pointing at sights along the way. Hathel was well occupied answering his many questions and keeping him from launching himself off the saddle that he might touch something of interest. Elrond remained quiet, but Maglor knew that sharp young mind missed little. His eyes darted about, taking in each new thing thirstily and Maglor regretted yet again that they had not books or other toys to stimulate his active mind.

Each kept a firm grip upon the small body before him as the horses gingerly picked their way down the steep rocks of the cliff. The call of the sea grew louder as they approached and both children grinned in anticipation. They finally reached the sand of the beach and dismounted, for the horses were to stay hidden. A small freshwater stream flowed through to the sea, and the horses immediately moved to drink of the water.

Elros squirmed down from Hathel's arms immediately and dug small fists into the warm sand, a look of delight on his face. He would have removed his shoes, but Hathel encouraged him with news of the water being not far ahead.

"Elros! Come, the water is just around the bend," Hathel called. He moved forward with long strides and grinned as the small child ran as fast as he could to catch up to him. They rounded the bend to see the water lapping at the shore, while further out to sea large waves crashed in white spray upon a reef.

"The sea!" Elros cried. He pulled his shoes off and ran to the water, squealing at the feel of the cool water licking his toes.

Elrond followed his twin and his face too lit up with a smile as he saw the water. He pulled his shoes off and ran to join his brother. Maglor and Hathel quickly removed their tunics and leggings, leaving them free to splash in just their loincloths. Joining hands, the twins ran into the water with shouts of laughter as a small wave knocked them over. Again and again they stood and tried to withstand the pressure of the waves, splashing each other between times, then falling into the water and paddling about when another small wave bowled them over.

Hathel finally retrieved them, before they could exhaust themselves, and set about helping them build a sand castle. He had brought the smallest buckets they had in camp, with a few cooking pots. He filled several with sand and made part of a wall.

"Let me do that!" Elros cried. "I will build a great castle with towers!" Elros took the bucket Hathel had been using and set about making the wall with large towers at the corners.

Elrond used the smallest of the cooking pots and formed buildings inside Elros' walls.

"This is where we live," Elrond said, pointing at the sand building nearest to the sea. "We sit here and watch the ships sail."

Elros had moved to squat next to his brother. He patted Elrond on the knee. "Your books are there."

Elrond nodded. "Nana read to us."

Maglor felt a pain in his heart as he overheard the children's words. Not since the first days of their flight had they spoken of their mother or their home, and yet the memories lived within them.

The afternoon sun was warm and the children were tiring when Hathel spread a blanket in the shade of the cliff. He carried them both to the mouth of the stream and rinsed the sand and salt water from them, and then carried them back, nearly asleep, and laid them upon the blanket where they quickly drifted off.

Elrond and Elros woke to the smell of cooking fish and the sound of Maglor singing in accompaniment to his harp. Elros rose with a yawn and moved to the fire, where Hathel was cooking. He kneeled next to the elf and looked with anticipation at dinner. Elrond sat on the blanket for a few moments, looking at the sea and then at the elves around him. The guards were already eating their dinner, each at his post. He sniffed the air appreciatively and rose, walking to the water's edge to see their sand castle and then back to where Maglor leaned against a piece of driftwood, strumming on his harp. Maglor drew the child into his lap, letting him cuddle against his chest. He did not begin playing immediately and felt small fingers pulls his hands back to the harp.

"Do you want me to play?" Maglor asked.

Elrond nodded.

"Why do you so seldom speak, little one?" Maglor knew his question would remain unanswered. The child had on occasion begun speaking to the adults, but each act of aggression by Maedhros, each flare of his temper cause this little one to withdraw further. He trusted Maglor and Hathel and would in a rare moment speak to them, but most words were reserved for his brother.

Maglor resumed strumming on the harp, smiling when small hands covered his own and followed along with the movements.

Soon dinner was ready and both children ate all that was placed before them and seconds as well.

"I think the sea air stimulates their appetites," Hathel laughed.

"The activity is good for them," Maglor agreed. "They cannot run and play like this in the camp."

They stayed to watch the sunset, the giant ball of fire finally falling into the sea, its bright light extinguished. The four sat on the beach, their equipment packed, waiting until the stars had come out and Ithil had risen before leaving.

"Elbereth made the stars," Maglor explained. "She named them. See, that is the wolf cub," he pointed out the constellations to them.

A star suddenly appeared, shining bright as it began its path across the night sky. It was so beautiful, so bright, that it dazzled all who saw it.

"A new star is born this night," Hathel said in awe.

Maglor stood, Elrond tumbling slightly into the sand. He began to walk towards the water, his eyes never leaving the star. "That is not an ordinary star….once one has seen the light of a Silmaril lit in all its glory….." Maglor's voice faded as he ran back to the children. "Come, we must return to camp at once."

* * *

As they returned to camp, Maglor saw Maedhros standing at the edge of the beech trees, his eyes fixed on the night sky, and he knew that his brother had seen the same thing. He helped Hathel carry the sleeping children to their tent and put them to bed, then returned to where Maedhros still stood, his fists clenched at his side, but his face impassive.

"You have seen the star," Maglor stated.

"It can only be one thing," Maedhros replied stoically.

"It is out of our reach, muindor," Maglor tentatively laid his hand upon Maedhros' tense shoulder. "We have no reason to stay; the Silmaril is out of our reach. You may return home, to Himring."

Maedhros sighed and his shoulder's slumped. "We have not the strength to fight Morgoth for the others. We have failed, tithen muindor, we have failed….," his voice trailed off.

"We have failed to regain the Silmarilli, but we have kept the oath," Maglor replied sadly, for he recognized the curse laid upon them and how all who had suffered and died had done so for naught. He paused for a moment, framing his next statement carefully. "The children can be returned to their kin."

Maedhros shrugged his brother's hand from his shoulder and stepped away from him. His eyes gleamed in the darkness, anger visible in their depths. He spat on the ground and then raised his eyes to the star. "They have our Silmaril. We have their sons. Why should we return them? They no longer have value if not for trade. Perhaps their lives should be forfeit," he said bitterly.

Maglor stood silent and still, his heart racing and fury pounding within him. While he doubted Maedhros would harm the children, for the guilt his brother had experienced over his abandonment of Elwing's brothers, uncles to these two little ones, had consumed him for years afterwards, Maglor felt rage that his brother would even consider repeating his terrible actions of the past against these children who had been in their care for nearly two years.

Maglor controlled his fury, modulating his voice into calmness before he spoke. "You shall not harm them, Maedhros. We have had this discussion. You could not live with such actions."

"Aye, cursed I am and you as well, and the blood of two more will not alter our fate, tithen muindor," Maedhros sneered.

Maglor held up his hands in a gesture of supplication. "I go to rest, Maedhros. Our course will seem clearer in the light of day."

Maedhros stood as if rooted on that spot until the star had completed its nightly journey and gone to its rest.

* * *

Círdan stood upon the high point of the cliffs on the western edge of the Isle of Balar. He had seen the star appear, and swiftly moved to the seclusion of the cliff to watch its passage. He listened to the sea, to the voice with which it spoke and treasured its truth in his heart. The ship had reached its destination, the plea had been heard, and the one who had made it now sailed the sky with a Silmaril bound to his brow. Círdan bowed slightly as he took his leave, a great spray of foam rising from the sea below him and then crashing back to the depths to disappear from sight in response.

* * *

Maglor entered the tent as Hathel was dressing the twins. "Pack their things and prepare our horses. Do not discuss our departure with anyone."

Hathel did as he was bid, his eyes questioning but his obedience assured. Maglor sat upon his cot, his mind already considering his options and what path they would take. He had returned to find Maedhros in a mood equally foul to the one the night before. He had left his brother without words, for he had already determined his course of action and would not draw attention to it. He found the guards from the previous day and informed them that he would be taking the children to the beach again. They had enjoyed their day and knew naught of their lord's fury, so they left to prepare immediately.

"Bring your own things, too, Hathel. I do not think we will return here," Maglor said softly.

Hathel quickly stowed his own belongings in his pack. He looked up once at Maglor and, after some hesitation, spoke. "I go with you regardless of our fate."

Maglor smiled grimly. "Let us hope we may accomplish that which I task us to do and yet live."

With their packs ready, they met the guards with their horses. To these Maglor had entrusted the knowledge they would be gone at least overnight, and they had packed accordingly. They left in the general direction of the cove, but once out of sight of the camp, Maglor changed their direction to southeast. They traveled hard for the first day, following the coastline, not stopping for more than short rests until dark. The twins were uncomplaining for the most part, Elros occupied by Hathel's stories and opportunities to hold the reins and Elrond because he just was. They both slept for several hours as well, and come night they were tired enough to go right to sleep after eating.

The guards followed Maglor without question, and he was sure they knew of his intentions. They prepared to leave at sunup the next morning, Hathel and Maglor each taking a still-sleeping twin before them on their horses. By noon of the second day, the remains of the walls of Sirion were in sight.

Maglor reined in his horse as he surveyed the horizon. One of the guards who had been scouting ahead was riding to them at a gallop.

"Maglor, there are elves under the banner of Maedhros approaching from behind. They shall reach us in a few hours," the elf spoke breathlessly.

Maglor was quiet for a few moments as he considered what choices lay before him. "Hathel, give Elros to me." He pulled a sealed scroll from his tunic pocket. "Ride to Sirion under white flag and give this to Celeborn, if he is there. It must be put into his hands or the hands of the one who leads their people now. Ensure them that its contents are critical. After that, my friend, ride to Himring if you cannot find us."

Hathel nodded, exchanging Elros for the scroll. With a quick nod, he was off.

Maglor led the guards north around the Havens of Sirion and bade them wait. "I will rejoin you shortly. You must be visible; ensure Maedhros sees you. Tell him we head for Himring."

The guards nodded, for in truth there was no lie in Maglor's words. This route did indeed lead them on the reverse of their course from Himring two years prior. Maglor departed swiftly, holding on to both children with one arm as he encouraged the horse to gallop south.

The River Sirion broke into multiple small tributaries and streams just north of the Havens of Sirion, each emptying into the Bay of Balar. Maglor chose the tributary nearest to the Havens, riding his horse as far as possible and then carrying the twins and their pack over the uneven terrain to the mouth of the river. From here he could just see the quays at the Havens and to his surprise he saw ships docked there.

"Oh, muindor, do not fight them," he muttered softly to himself. He searched the area quickly as the children played in the water, Elros laughing in delight at the minnows that nibbled on his toes. He found a cave far enough from the sea that the rising tide would not reach it, a small waterfall pouring over its entrance. It was easily reached on a path that led behind the waterfall.

"Elrond, Elros, come!" Maglor called. He laid their pack on the floor, placing blankets out for them to lie down. He heard the sounds of their laughter and delight, and to his own surprise it was Elrond who answered him.

"Maglor, come see the waterfall!"

Maglor turned around from his tasks and saw both children splashing happily as the water poured gently off the cliff above them. They were both soaked and quite content. He grinned at them reassuringly, and then, taking a long red streamer from his pocket, he leapt to the top of the rocks next to the cave and quickly climbed to the top edge of the cliff. He tied the streamer to the branch of a tree, ensuring it was easily visible from land or sea. He jumped to the ground and then leapt down the rocks to the cave.

Tears filled his eyes as he watched the two little half-elves playing in the water. He allowed himself just that moment's reprieve, the pleasure of seeing them happy.

"Elrond, Elros - I must leave you for a little while. Stay here until someone comes. Do not leave this area. Do you understand me, Elros?" Maglor grasped the child's chin and looked him in the eye.

"Yes, Maglor, we will not leave this area," Elros replied obediently.

"Be well, little ones," he hugged them both briefly, smoothing back dark hair and kissing them each on the forehead.

Then he was gone.

Maglor whistled for his horse as soon as he reached level ground. He leapt on to the horse's back and galloped back with all due haste to where he had left the guards. With a wave of his arm, he motioned for them to join him and they galloped to meet Maedhros and his men.

* * *
Círdan organized his elves to sail for Sirion at dawn. He had explained to Gil-Galad and Celeborn about the star and it's meaning, and both had grasped the greater significance as well as the potential for harm to befall the two little ones still held captive, now that they were of little value to their captors.

Upon landing Celeborn rode with a group to the northwest, while Círdan organized the remainder of the elves at the docks.

Hathel had reached Sirion from the coast and he was brought before King Gil-Galad under white flag. He bowed and held out the scroll to an elf, who brought it to the King and an old bearded elf, who Hathel knew could only be Círdan the Shipwright. Gil-Galad and Círdan read the contents, their eyes widening in surprise.

"What is your name?" Círdan demanded.

"I am Hathel, my Lord," Hathel answered politely.

"You have helped care for the sons of Eärendil, then?" Círdan's voice softened only slightly.

"For two years, my Lord," Hathel replied.

"When did you last see them?"

"I carried Elros in my arms until just a few hours ago, when I was directed to deliver this message to you," Hathel answered, his voice calm. "The children were well."

"Maglor has instructed that you be allowed to leave freely after delivering this missive, that your very life may be in danger if you rejoin your guard late," Círdan informed him.

"It is so," Hathel replied solidly.

While Círdan had been questioning Hathel, Gil-Galad had sent several elves down the quay from where their ship was docked, and one of them now called, "Círdan! Look!" The elf pointed at a red streamer blowing in the breeze near the mouths of the Sirion.

Círdan eyed Hathel carefully. "You had best go with due haste. Leave the city from the east, as we have sent our forces west. May the Valar reward you, if you have indeed done what this letter states."

Hathel bowed to the Lord of the Isle of Balar. "There is no hope of reward, my Lord, only an easing of past wrongs."

Círdan and Gil-Galad did not even wait until Hathel had departed before racing to the quay. "It will be faster by sea!" Círdan called.

The small boat was launched and the oars set quickly to water as the elves paddled with all strength to the site of the red banner. They had beached the small craft and leapt ashore when Gil-Galad raised his hand.

"I hear laughter," he smiled. "Children's laughter!"

They followed the sound to the cave, and there they found the twins, playing in the waterfall. One child was inside the cave and the other outside of it, and they were throwing a small ball back and forth through the falling water. The giggling stopped as the big elves drew near.

"Elrond? Elros?" Gil-Galad said gently, stopping a few feet back from them.

The child outside of the cave threw him the ball. "I am Elros."

Gil-Galad tossed him the ball back. "I am Gil-Galad."

Elros caught the ball and looked at the two elves cautiously. He threw the ball to Círdan. "You have long hair on your face."

Círdan laughed, the sound both gruff and delightful at the same time. "It is called a beard, pen-neth."

Círdan watched as the other small elf cautiously came forward, also eyeing his beard carefully. Círdan threw the ball to Elrond. "You must be Elrond."

Elrond caught the ball, even though he was not expecting it. He spoke softly, "You are Círdan the Shipwright."

Círdan and Gil-Galad looked at each other in surprise. "I had not seen him for months before Sirion fell," Círdan said, amazed. "How do you know my name, child?"

Elrond went to his bag and pulled out his much-treasured book, read to him many times by first his nana, then Hathel and Maglor. He walked cautiously to the big elves and when Círdan sat down on a rock, he allowed the big elf to pull him up into his lap. Elrond carefully opened the book and turned to the page he wanted. He pointed at the ship and the bearded elf standing on its prow. "Círdan," he informed them, turning slightly to touch the beard on the elf's face.

"I have a small ship just down the bank. Do you want to go for a ride in it?" Círdan asked, his eyes twinkling as both small faces lit up at the offer.

Gil-Galad held his arms out to Elros, who allowed the elf to pick him up, and Círdan stood with Elrond in his arms. He grabbed their pack and led the way to the ship. Both children were excited to ride in the boat, and after catching Elros twice by the back of his tunic before he fell overboard, Gil-Galad had to firmly sit the child down on the seat next to him and forbid him from moving until they reached land.

Elrond's eyes were fixed on Sirion. He tugged on Elros' arm and pointed at the remnants of the Great Hall. "That is from the book, Elros. That is where we lived; Nana said so."

Círdan shook his head. "This one has an amazing memory."

"This one is amazingly reckless," Gil-Galad grasped Elros' tunic firmly in his hand as the five year old now stood on the seat to gain a better view.

Círdan roared with laughter. "I recall another elfling who was older yet than this and caused me many a skipped heart beat with his recklessness!"

Gil-Galad laughed in return. "I was not this bad," he protested. At Círdan's howl he amended, "at least not the first day."

With joy he held on to the small one's tunic and answered every question either twin could ask about each sight they saw.

* * *

Celeborn led his forces northwest out of the broken wall of Sirion, the one breached by Amrod and Amras, the sons of Fëanor who lost their lives the day they attacked the Havens.

"It is Maedhros!" the scout called as he raced back. "He is armed for battle!"

Celeborn rode forward under a flag of parley with only Narthan at his side, stopping a short distance before Maedhros. Celeborn smiled grimly. "But where are the children?" he asked quietly

Narthan did not answer his question, but instead cocked his head east. "Another rider comes."

The rider galloped in under full speed, ignoring Celeborn and stopping before Maedhros. The rider dismounted and stood before him. "I have returned the children to their people, Maedhros. This battle is over. They serve no purpose to us."

Maedhros' eyes narrowed in fury. "You overstep your bounds, little brother."

Maglor did not cower before his sibling's wrath. "Perhaps so, Maedhros. Then the forfeit is mine to give. You may take my life in exchange for theirs. But only mine. Let there be no further blood spilled by elf killing elf." Maglor drew his sword from its sheath and, stepping forward, held it out to his brother.

Maedhros stared at the sword for a long moment, then turned his face to that of his brother. The intensity of his gaze slowly softened. All enmity left him and there was grief in his eyes. He shook his head, refusing the sword. He had only one brother left of six.

"No, my brother, your life is not mine to claim," Maedhros finally answered, his voice heavy with grief. "Nor were theirs." Reaching out, he clasped his brother's arm. "Let us go home."

They mounted again, and Maedhros led his men forward without a glance at those he had come to battle. Maglor turned on his mount to face Celeborn. Their eyes met and for a moment neither spoke. "Take care of them," Maglor finally said. He turned his horse about and raced to catch up to his brother.

* * *
The small boat was approaching shore when Círdan's voice interrupted the laughter of Gil-Galad playing with the children. "Celeborn returns."

They pulled into the quay, the small boat quickly tied off and the children set on the dock. They stood near to Círdan and Gil-Galad as cheers and laughter sounded around them. Celeborn rode on to the quay, and quickly leapt to the ground. He knelt before the peredhel children. "They are safe. Maglor kept his word." He clasped the hand of first one, then the other child.

"Celeborn?" Elrond said tentatively.

"Yes, Elrond, I am Celeborn. It has been long since I have seen you, child. I did not know if you would remember me," Celeborn answered gently

Elrond reached out and touched a strand of silver hair. Círdan laughed.

"Well, he remembers your hair, at least!"

Laughter sounded around them and Elrond scooted back to hide behind Círdan's leg. Gil-Galad swung Elros up in his arms, and Círdan extracted Elrond from his trouser leg and picked him up. The ship was already being loaded with the elves and horses that had come ashore only that morning, expecting battle.

"Let us take them home," Círdan said, snorting when Elrond stroked his beard. "I hope his fascination with this beard ends long before Ereinion's did," he complained.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Laughter filled the room at Celeborn's imitation of Círdan's gruff voice.

"Oh, Elrond, did you really stroke Círdan's beard?" Celebrían asked as she laughed.

"The beard was rather fascinating," Elrond admitted as everyone laughed again. "You must keep in mind that I did not remember Círdan, but recognized him from the picture in my book. I recognized the beard."

Elrohir twirled a strand of his daerada's hair in his fingers. "And you knew Daerada because of his hair," he giggled.

Elrond laughed too. "Well, his hair is rather noticeable."

"I am glad Maglor took you back to Sirion," Elladan said. "Maedhros was not nice."

"Maedhros was very….conflicted….by the oath he took," Elrond explained. "Maglor and Hathel took good care of us, though."

"I bet it was not like having your own ada and nana," Elrohir said soberly.

"No, it was not," agreed Elrond. "Elros and I grew up on the Isle of Balar with Gil-Galad and Círdan and your daerada and daernaneth. They took very good care of us."

"Ada, you are not going to stop the story, are you? We are learning too much about the first age to end now," Elladan explained.

Elrond's smile held much love as he looked at his own little elflings. "We will continue if you like," he answered. "Now, though, you must both have lunch and then take naps."

Elladan looked indignant and Elrohir shocked. "Ada, we are too old for naps!"

Glorfindel chuckled. "Hmm……no naps mean you can not stay up late in the Hall of Fire and listen to the special song the minstrels have made just for you."

"A song was made for us?" Elrohir asked, confused.

"A very special song," Celebrían added. "It tells of the deeds of two small elflings that were caught in a cave-in, how one helped the other, and how they were both saved in a dramatic rescue."

Elladan jumped off the couch. "Come on, 'Ro, this we have to hear! Let us go eat and sleep!"

* * * * *

meleth-nín----------------------my love
tithen-el nín--------------------my little star
tithen pen-----------------------little one
pen neth-------------------------young one

Authors notes:

The inspiration for this story comes from Letter 211 (The Letters of JRR Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter), where Tolkien writes: "Elrond and Elros, children of Eärendil (sea-lover) and Elwing (Elf-foam), were so called, because they were carried off by the sons of Fëanor, in the last act of the feud between the high elven houses of the Noldorin princes concerning the Silmarils; the Silmaril rescued from Morgoth by Beren and Lúthien, and given to King Thingol, Lúthien's father, had descended to Elwing, daughter of Dior son of Lúthien. The infants were not slain, but left like 'babes in the wood', in a cave with a fall of water over the entrance. There they were found: Elrond within the cave and Elros dabbling in the water." This comes from a letter on the meaning of 'el' and this rescue of the twins is not found in the Silmarillion or the Tale of Years (HoME Vol 11), which are both silent on the matter as to when or if the sons of Eärendil were rescued.

As to Círdan's knowledge of the star and the implied message that he was speaking to Ulmo, the Vala of the sea, I found this wonderful little tidbit in HoME Vol XII: '…As we now perceive, this was a foretelling of the ship which after apprenticeship to Círdan, and ever with his advice and help, Eärendil built, and in which at least he reached the shores of Valinor. From that night onwards Círdan received a foresight touching all matters of importance, beyond the measure of all other Elves upon Middle-Earth.' There are references in the Silmarillion that Círdan was in communication with Ulmo.Chapter 14: The Race of Men

Elrond sensed the presence of one of his sons in the room before the tug came on his arm and a small voice informed him, "Ada, Elrohir needs you." He came the rest of the way awake quickly and sat up. Elladan's face reflected sadness, and Elrond became immediately concerned.

"Does Elrohir need help getting to the bath chamber?" he asked, knowing the child was averse to using the chamber pot that had been set near his bed, but that this was unlikely to have caused Elladan to come find him.

Elladan shook his head. "He is in pain, Ada. I heard him crying."

Elrond slipped on a dressing robe and, taking Elladan's hand, he walked to the room the twins shared. He set Elladan on his bed, then lit the small lantern on the bedside table and sat down on the edge of Elrohir's bed.

The small face was tear stained and strands of hair were stuck about his mouth and eyes. Elrohir's arm lay over his eyes and Elrond heard a soft sob. The bedclothes were mussed beyond normal, evidence of his inability to get comfortable. Elrond placed his hand over the still large bump on the child's head and immediately felt the pain that still throbbed there. Elrohir moved his arm and his eyes opened as the pain in his head diminished beneath his father's touch, and Elrond felt his own heart ache at the anguish he saw in the child's expression. He gently brushed the hair from the child's face and caressed his cheek, wiping away the wetness that lingered there.

"Elrohir, does your foot hurt too?" asked Elrond as he pulled the covers back. He heard the sob catch in his son's throat as the child nodded. He examined the splint, noting that the ankle seemed more swollen than it had been before. Carefully removing the pins that held the wraps in place, he freed the ankle from the splint and heard Elrohir whimper in both pain and relief. Elrond looked up as a hand brushed his shoulder, and Celebrían smiled at him as she moved past him and knelt on the floor near the head of the bed.

"Nana!" Elrohir cried, and he wrapped both hands about her neck as she bent to kiss his forehead.

While Celebrían distracted Elrohir, Elrond laid both hands lightly over the injured ankle and closing his eyes, concentrated on the damaged bones and tissues. He kept his face impassive as he finished his examination and ran his hands up the small form, straightening his night tunic and allowing his touch to send comfort and strength to the fledgling spirit. His eyes met Celebrían's, and with a look of understanding she rose to aid him.

"Elrohir, I need to put a new splint on your leg. It will not hurt, but I need supplies from the infirmary," he explained. He gently lifted the child in his arms, and Celebrían placed a pillow between Elrond's arm and the wounded leg. Elrohir snuggled against his father's chest with complete trust and Elrond felt the small body relax.

Trailed by Celebrían and Elladan, they entered the infirmary quietly, as the man injured in the rockslide still resided in a small alcove off the main room. He was not yet well enough to be moved to a private chamber in the house and was tended at all hours by the healers of Imladris.

Elrond laid Elrohir on a comfortably padded examination table and waited until Celebrían had drawn a chair up next to it before moving to his apothecary. He carefully mixed a draught in a strength appropriate for a small elfling and sweetened it to hide the bitter taste.

"This will make you feel better, Elrohir," he said as he handed the cup to the child. He waited while Elrohir drank the contents, the grimace making it clear the child did not like the taste, sweetened or not, but Elrond knew that Elrohir would not protest. He thrived and blossomed under attention from his parents and tended towards compliance in most things, especially when compliance was rewarded by their favor.

Celebrían tenderly stroked his hair and held his hand until he was asleep. With a sigh, she stood and picked up the dozing Elladan from the cushion he'd snuggled into on the floor at her feet and moved to sit with him in a more comfortable chair.

The door opened again and Glorfindel entered. A slight look of dismay crossed his face at seeing Elrohir on the table.

"I saw the lights in the twins' room and here," he explained his presence. He ran a practiced hand over the elfling's injured leg. "This needs to be reset."

Elrond nodded. "I would appreciate your assistance. I was just about to send for you."

The two set to work, gently manipulating the bones back into alignment and healing the swollen and tender tissues around them. They casted the ankle this time, ensuring that the injury would now heal properly. Anor was rising as they finished and Elrond lifted the injured child and carried him to a soft bed in the small alcove next to the one where the man still slept. He propped the casted foot up on a pillow and then rested his hand upon Elrohir's face.

"He will sleep for some time yet," said Elrond to Glorfindel, who was cleaning up supplies. "This cast will be better for a child; for we all know he walks on the foot when we are not looking."

Glorfindel laughed. "It is hard for an elfling to understand that what doesn't hurt at the time will hurt in the future. Delayed consequences are more difficult to learn from."

"In this case, they are impossible for the parent to allow him to learn from them. I cannot bear to see my child in such pain," replied Elrond with a frown. "I should have thought to cast the ankle yesterday."

Glorfindel rolled his eyes and lightly smacked Elrond on the arm as he walked by. "If you want to discuss guilt, I am more than happy to do so, for I could establish arguments showing that mine is far greater than yours."

"I will drug you both into senseless sleep if you even consider continuing this discussion," Celebrían yawned as she approached, a sleeping Elladan in her arms.

Both elf lords had the good grace to blush under her reprimand, and Glorfindel quickly moved to take Elladan from her. He smiled as Elrond protected Elrohir's ankle on all sides with pillows, and then he laid the sleeping Elladan under the covers Elrond held back, next to his twin. The children immediately snuggled together.

"Whenever I see them thus, I am reminded of their first months of life in my womb and then in their cradle," Celebrían mused. "I could feel them within me, twisting and turning together, never apart, and in my ponderings I imagined them cuddled together in each other's arms. After their birth my imaginings were proved true, for do you recall how they nestled together in their cradle? How distressed they were to be taken from each other."

"I recalled how you nursed them together, one at each breast, so as not to separate them," Elrond grinned at the memory. "I would find all three of you sound asleep together, for they were always hungry and as I recall, they exhausted you."

Elrond had moved to stand behind her, one hand covering her belly and his other arm wrapped beneath her breasts. Celebrían laid her head back against his shoulder and sighed contentedly when he began kissing her ear.

"I want to feel new life within my womb and suckle a babe at my breast again," she murmured. "A daughter, perhaps? Will you give me a daughter, meleth-nín?"

"Yes, a daughter," Elrond agreed. "We shall take great delight in conceiving her. What say we practice for several decades while our sons grow, for then when we are ready we shall have our technique perfected?"

"You may wish to practice your technique in the privacy of your own chambers," an amused voice stilled the passions in them both and they quickly pulled apart. "The healers and apprentices begin to arrive," Glorfindel chirped merrily over their shoulders as he grinned and his eyes twinkled at their embarrassed smiles, for they had forgotten he was present.

* * *

Elladan awoke late in the morning. He yawned and stretched and stared at the unfamiliar ceiling for a moment. He felt movement next to him, and the events of the night returned to him as he turned to see Elrohir still deeply sleeping next to him. He crawled to the end of the bed and pushed the pillow aside to look at the hard cast now encircling his brother's foot and lower leg. He cautiously touched it, then knocked softly on it, a look of amazement on his face at the rather hollow sound it made. He looked at the smooth plaster and then at the painted plaster ceiling above him, and grinned in delight at the thought of decorating his brother's foot. He scooted back up the bed and touched Elrohir's face, but his twin did not react.

A slight moan from the main room caught his attention and he slid from the bed. He saw the man lying in his bed in the next alcove and he moved silently forward until he was next to the bed. He could just see a large hairy arm and up higher, a tousle of hair. He reached one finger up to touch the hair on the man's arm. The man made a noise and he jumped back.

"Water, please," he heard the man mumble.

Elladan pulled a stool up next to the bedside table and carefully poured the water into the glass. Then he slid the stool closer to the bed and climbed up on it, then gracefully reached for the glass. He gazed at the man's face and saw the many healing cuts and bruises that still covered the parts of his body that were visible.

The glass had a straw, so Elladan held the glass so that the straw touched the man's lips and he waited patiently while the man drank thirstily of the water.

"Thank you," the man whispered.

The grey eyes slowly opened and focused on him, and Elladan began to scoot away when the man spoke again.

"You are but a child," he said hoarsely. "You are hurt, too, I see. Did you break your arm?"

Elladan nodded and stared at the man. When the man did not speak again, he decided it was impolite not to answer. "My brother and I fell through the rocks above a waterfall," he finally said.

"Rocks fell on me too," the man said with a hint of a smile.

Elladan situated himself more comfortably. "I know," he replied. "We saw them bring you here. You were hurt very badly."

"Is your brother badly hurt?"

Elladan shook his head. "He is not hurt as badly as you, but he is hurt worse than me," he explained. "Ada had to fix his broken ankle last night."

"Did your ada help fix me too?" the man asked thoughtfully.

"Yes," Elladan replied proudly. "My ada is the best healer in all Middle-Earth."

"Then your ada must be Lord Elrond, whom I have heard many things about, but never spoken to. I must thank him." The man grimaced as he shifted slightly on the bed.

Elladan nodded at the man's statement. "He will return to see my brother soon, I am sure, and I will introduce you then."

"What is your name, child?"

"I am Elladan," Elladan answered. "My brother is Elrohir, but he still sleeps and cannot greet you. I greet you though, and welcome you to Imladris."

"Thank you, Master Elladan," the man nodded his head slightly. "I am Albast and I am a soldier of King Valandil."

Elladan's face lit up with excitement. "I knew you were a soldier. There were lots of men here, the ones you were with, but most of them had to leave. King Valandil lived here once, when he was young."

"So I have also heard," Albast replied. "How old are you, Elladan?"

Elladan sat up straight. "I will celebrate my thirteenth begetting day this summer," he said proudly.

Albast stared at him in surprise. "Please take no offense at my question, Master Elladan. We know little of the children of elves. Are you small for your age?" he asked tentatively, wishing not to hurt the child's feelings but wondering if the child was telling a tale.

Elladan's brow furrowed in confusion. "I do not think so," he said after a moment.

"My nephew is five years old. You are the same size as he," Albast said as he rubbed his eyes.

Elladan's mouth fell open in disbelief. "He must have been very large when he was born."

A chuckle from behind interrupted them, and Elladan glanced over his shoulder to see Glorfindel. He motioned the elf over excitedly.

"Glorfindel, this is Albast. He is my friend. He was hurt in the rockslide," Elladan informed him.

Glorfindel smiled at the elfling and then gently grasped the man's hand in his own. "Mae Govannen, Albast. I helped tend you the day you were brought here. I am pleased to see you awake. I hope Elladan has been good company," he said pleasantly.

Albast stared at the tall, glowing, golden-haired elf before him, speechless. He could not meet the eyes of the elf for long and quickly lowered his own eyes even as the melodic voice laughed again.

"Elladan, a tray was brought with breakfast for you, and clean clothing as well. Go eat and dress, and perhaps you may visit your friend after he has rested," Glorfindel said as he set the elfling on his feet.

Elladan waved at the man before Glorfindel put him down and then darted away to fulfill the request of the growl in his belly.

* * *

Glorfindel refilled the man's glass with water and held it up to him. He watched as the man drank the full amount and then rested his head back against the pillows. Already he appeared ready to fall back into sleep.

"The healers will check on you in a little while," Glorfindel said quietly as he rested his hand briefly on the man's forehead. "Rest again. The little elfling will not disturb you."

"I enjoyed his visit," the man murmured, as his eyelids grew heavy. "I hope he returns….feels like home. . . ."

* * *

When the man next awoke, he could hear low voices speaking, although he could not see the bodies the voices belonged to. He heard low laughter and recognized that one of the voices was that of a child.

"Master Albast, it is good to see you awake," a dark haired elf spoke from behind him, then moved to stand next to his bed. He recognized the elf as one who had been tending him, but could not recall his name.

"It is good to be awake," Albast admitted.

"Today I would like to sit you up in that chair," the elf pointed to a nearby chair, "at least for a short time. You have been lying for several days, and it will do you good to sit upright."

Albast nodded and felt the healer's hands assessing his injuries. Bandages were changed and he was bathed by soothing hands that managed to ease the aches of his broken bones and injured tissues as they worked. All the while the elf tended him, he softly sang and the melody nearly lulled the man back into sleep.

"I will lift you now," the elf whispered softly.

To Albast's surprise, the tall but slight figure lifted him with ease and carried him gently to the chair. He settled him into the cushions and covered him with a blanket.

"Today you must eat as well. The cooks have prepared broths and soft foods that will digest easily," the elf explained as a tray seemed to appear from thin air, and then suddenly there was a spoon against his lips and he found himself swallowing the warm broth.

Other elves moved silently about, changing linens and removing used bandages, and Albast found he had to pay attention to their presence or he would forget they were there. Finally, well fed and content, he leaned into the cushion and closed his eyes.

"You may sit for a while longer," the elf whispered in his ear and then was gone.

Albast drifted pleasantly, wondering if he had ever felt so well cared for and deciding he had not. All he had ever heard of Imladris was true, and he would expand upon those stories when he returned home.

"Are you feeling better?" a child's voice interrupted his daydreams.

He opened his eyes to see that the child had returned, only without the splint on his arm.

"I am. You must be as well, for your splint is gone," he replied with a smile.

The small face grinned delightfully. "My ada says elflings do heal quickly."

"How is your brother? Is he also better?"

"Much better," the elfling replied with dancing eyes.

Albast closed his eyes again for a moment, and when he opened them the elfling was watching him closely. He smiled and then frowned as he saw the splint back on the child's arm. The child giggled and Albast rubbed his eyes and massaged his temple, confused. When he looked again he was sure his vision was failing for he saw double. He blinked his eyes open and shut quickly, but two elflings remained.

"You are twins," he groaned as they giggled and laughed. He looked at the twin without the splinted arm. "You are Master Elrohir?"

Elrohir laughed again. "I am." The child pulled the blanket that they had taken turns hiding under off his leg to show his cast. "I have the broken foot."

"Forgive me for saying this, my little friends, but I am glad you have different injuries, for at least I can tell you apart!" Albast grinned. He felt a light touch on his arm and saw the small but long finger gently feeling the hair on his arm.

"Why do you have hair on your arms and your face?" Elrohir asked curiously.

"All grown men do, to varying degrees," Albast explained. "Why are you so small?"

"All elves of our age are this size," Elrohir answered seriously. "My brother says you have large children."

A slight cough interrupted the conversation and Albast saw the small faces light up with delight.

"Ada! We are talking with Albast. He says all men have hair on their arms and their children really are that big!" the twins spoke as one, each speaking part of the sentences. Albast began to laugh as he listened for he could not tell which one was talking except by looking to see whose mouth was moving.

"Master Albast, I am Elrond, father of these children. I hope they are not disturbing your rest."

Albast turned to meet a dark-haired elf who was a larger image of the two children sitting before him. He was struck by the kindness in the face, and particularly the eyes, of this adult elf. He did not glow as brightly as the golden elf he had seen earlier and while it was difficult to meet his eyes for long, the intensity was less than that of the one the child had called Glorfindel.

"Lord Elrond," Albast bowed his head to the elf. "Please accept my sincerest gratitude for the care you and your people have shown me."

"Your recovery is our most fervent wish for you," Elrond replied kindly.

"Your sons are most delightful, my lord. I have enjoyed their company," Albast said as he smiled at the elflings now attached to their father.

"They have looked forward to meeting you," Elrond said as he looked at his sons. "They are most anxious to learn about men, and I must apologize in advance if they overwhelm you with questions or ask something considered inappropriate by your customs."

"They shall stimulate my recovery, I am sure," Albast laughed as he felt small hands slip into his.

Elrond stood. "I shall return in one hour. If they tire you before that, please send Elladan for me."

Albast watched as happy faces met his and inquisitive minds prepared to inundate him.

"Where do you live? Do you fight orcs? Can we visit you? Tell us about your nephew….."

Albast laughed again as he began the first of many hours he would spend in the delightful company of the family who cared for him.

* * *

"Ada, did you know that human children grow faster than we do?" Elladan asked his father, his expression quite serious.

Elrond covered his smile with his napkin and passed the dinner rolls to Erestor before answering. "I did know that," he answered. "Mortals age much faster than elves do. When you reach your majority, humans of the same age will already have married and had their children. Their oldest children will be nearly ready to marry."

Elrohir stared at his father in disbelief. "But. . . Ada . . . that is . . .incomprehensible," he sputtered.

Glorfindel dropped his napkin and Celeborn aided him in retrieving it, while Erestor choked on his bread and Celebrían occupied herself by pounding on his back. Galadriel maintained her usual serene expression, although her eyes were twinkling. Elrond pinched his own arm to ensure that he did not laugh out loud.

"It is incomprehensible," he agreed, "when you first hear of it." As he repeated Elrohir's new word a few snickers were heard around the table.

"So if we went to visit Albast, his people would think we were only five years old?" Elladan asked indignantly.

"Only when they first saw you," Celeborn said seriously but with mirth dancing in his eyes. "However, once they had spoken with you they would realize you were much older."

"They would just think there was something wrong with us," Elrohir rolled his eyes. "That we were of abbreviated height."

This was too much for Glorfindel. He roared with laughter, despite the expressionless looks he received from the twins, who had no idea why the adults were laughing. "Elrohir, has Istuion been teaching you new words?"

Elrohir nodded as he watched all the adults laugh. He blushed. "Am I using them wrong in sentences?" he asked as he sank a little in his chair.

Elladan slipped his arm through his brother's and sat up to his full height, ready to battle the Balrog slayer or anyone else who would tease his brother.

Glorfindel was sitting on the other side of Elrohir, and he immediately pushed his chair back and pulled Elrohir into his lap, cushion supporting his leg and all. "No, tithen golwen," he soothed the child. "You are using the words so well that we are impressed with your knowledge. Such big words from one so little is amusing. You made us laugh."

Elrohir immediately forgave Glorfindel and smiled at him to show it. Elladan still glared at the big elf, and Celeborn found that amusing. He kicked Glorfindel under the table and nodded towards Elladan.

"I am sorry, Elladan," Glorfindel said contritely. "I did not mean to tease Elrohir. Please forgive me."

Elladan glared at Glorfindel one last time, but seeing Elrohir smiling contentedly in the big elf's arms dissipated his anger pretty quickly. He looked up to see his ada watching him and sighed. "I forgive you, Glorfindel. I know you were not teasing Elrohir."

Elrond stood. "Elrohir, I will bring some medicine to you to make sure your foot does not hurt during the night. You had a long night last night, so you need to go to bed early tonight."

Elladan's face fell. "Ada, can we not go to the Hall of Fire again tonight? The minstrels said they would sing our song again," he said, crestfallen.

"Not this night, Elladan. There will be plenty of other nights for them to sing your song to you," Elrond replied gently.

"Come," Celeborn said as he stood, motioning for Elladan to join him. "I will tell you a bedtime story about another elfling who used big words."

* * *

Celeborn settled himself comfortably at the head of Elrohir's bed and waited patiently while his daughter bathed and dressed the twins in their night clothing. Elladan raced to the bed and jumped on it, bouncing a few times before plopping down next to his grandfather. Celebrían carried Elrohir to him and set the child gently in his arms, and he watched as the elfling yawned and snuggled up to him.

"Are you able to stay awake for the story?" he tickled his grandson under the chin.

"Yes, Daerada. I will be listening even if my eyes are closed," Elrohir yawned again.

Elrond entered and set the glass of medicine on the bedside table. "He can take it after the story," he said, bemused.

"Well, then, let us start," Celeborn said with a smile. "Elrond and Elros moved in with Círdan and Gil-Galad in their big house on the Isle of Balar. . . "

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Gil-Galad saw the blur of small child rush down the hall, away from the chambers assigned to him and away from those who wished to put him to bed.

"Elros! Daro!" he commanded. The child did not stop, and with an exaggerated sigh Gil-Galad pursued him down the corridor. "Does he not realize I am his king? He is most disrespectful," he muttered under his breath.

He rounded the corner, sliding on the polished hardwood floors in his stocking feet, and as he slowed he noticed a few strands of silky black hair hanging over the small crossbar of the framework of a wooden bench in the hallway.

"That child is incorrigible," he sighed, speaking aloud. He sat down on the bench, stretching his long legs straight out in front of him. "I do not know what I shall do with him. If Círdan finds out about this latest misbehavior, I think the elfling might end up confined to his room and unable to sail with us tomorrow." Gil-Galad smiled as he heard the thump of a small head hitting the bottom of the bench seat and a low muttered 'ouch'. "Ah, the sea! There is nothing like riding the waves in a glorious white ship, the sails let out full and catching the western breezes, the spray of the water and the wind in your hair. . . alas, he shall miss it all."

Gil-Galad leaned his head back against the wall and mostly closed his eyes. Soon, he heard a slight scuffling noise, and a worried small face appeared near his knee. He bit his lip to keep from laughing as Elros watched him cautiously for a moment. The child then stood and began to back slowly away, his eyes fixed on Gil-Galad until he reached the corner. Then he turned and fled.

With a gleeful laugh, Gil-Galad slapped his hand on his thigh and jumped to his feet. He raced to the end of the hall, then slid around the corner. . . and came face to face with a long white beard. He launched himself backward to avoid a collision, landing hard on his backside with a groan.

"Ereinion!" Círdan growled. "Will you ever give up sliding on polished floors? One would think you were the elfling. A fine example you are to them," he grumbled.

Gil-Galad threw back his head and laughed merrily. A twinkle appeared in the shipwright's eyes. "Aye, Círdan, a bad example, but did he not return to his room?"

Círdan laughed as he held a hand out to the elf reclining on the floor. "Aye, he did. So that makes you a fine example for teaching bribery."

Gil-Galad stood and straightened his clothing. "I learned from the master."

The grumbled retort was unfit for small ears and Gil-Galad roared with laughter. "He is merely excited for tomorrow. They have been here for a month and all he talks about is going sailing. You spurred it on yourself when you let him sit with you when we brought them to Balar," he replied.

Círdan scowled. "Elrond has covered his bed with books about ships. Go read to him."

Gil-Galad bowed with a flourish. "Yes, my Lord," he said cheekily and quickly moved off down the hall, chuckling in mirth, as Círdan growled and swatted at him.

He reached the room that had been given to the twins, located next to him and not far from the housekeeper. Círdan's room was on the opposite side of the house, and the old elf claimed that he had wiped enough noses raising Ereinion and was entitled to the peace and quiet. Gil-Galad accepted the decision without argument for he knew the old elf checked on the children several times a day. Where else did all the books on Elrond's bed come from, but the old mariner himself?

Gil-Galad stuck his head in the room and a tender smile crossed his face as he saw the twins lying together on Elrond's bed. They were both on their stomachs, the book open before them, and Elrond was carefully reading words to Elros, his small finger pointing at different places on the page.

"This is a schooner," Elrond carefully sounded out the word and pointed at a ship on the page. "These are its sails and this is a mast." He paused for a moment and then pointed at the next page. "Círdan says this is a sex-tant and you use it to navigate the ship, Elros. You will have to do that."

"How?" Elros demanded. "How does it work?"

Gil-Galad could see Elrond's lips moving as he carefully sounded out the words. "You measure between cesti. . . cestial . . celestial bodies." He read further. "Stars. It helps when you guide the ship by the stars."

"Maglor knew the stars," Elros replied as he rolled to his side, resting his back against his brother. From this position he could see out the window.

"Elbereth made the stars and Maglor had met Elbereth," Elrond agreed. "Círdan and Gil-Galad will teach you navigation. You will be a good mariner, Elros."

Elros flipped on to his back and looked up at his brother's face. "You will always come with me. I will build you a ship and sail you wherever you want to go!"

Gil-Galad watched the exchange between the brothers with amusement. He felt a strange longing, a wish that he had had a sibling to share his thoughts with and to comfort him when he was uncertain or scared. He remembered how gruff Círdan had been, and how at first he was scared of the bearded elf. How he had longed for his naneth and adar. How very alone he had felt. He remembered the night he cried in his loneliness, for that was the night he learned the gruff old mariner had a soft heart. Círdan came to him in the night and held him in his arms, without complaints even when he had fallen asleep with his face and hands buried in the old elf's beard. He had awakened to being rocked in strong but gentle arms. Thereafter, when Círdan was grouchy, he had learned to laugh and found that the crusty outer shell was not so tough after all.

"And what kind of ship will you build, Elros?" asked Gil-Galad as he entered the room and sat on the bed with the twins.

Elros sat up and held his arms as far apart as they could reach. "The biggest, with white sails and it will be the greatest ship to sail the seas!"

Gil-Galad laughed in delight at the excitement and grandiose plans of this small child. He pulled Elrond into his lap and set the book up before him. "I remember this book," he said thoughtfully. "I used to sleep with it at night. I read it all the time when I was young."

Elrond tugged on his hand and pointed at a large word on the page. "Read to me?"

"Aye, I will read to you, then you must sleep for sailing is hard work and you must be well rested for tomorrow," Gil-Galad promised.

He felt Elros squirm under his arm and snuggle next to his brother, and the two small children were quiet as he read to them about ships and how they worked and where the sea might take them. When he had finished, Elros was sound asleep in his lap. He picked the child up and tucked him into his own bed. Elrond still looked at the book, and with a smile Gil-Galad slid it under the child's pillow and then tucked Elrond in with it. "Good night, Elrond."

Elrond reached up and touched the face above him. "Good night, Ereinion."

Gil-Galad left triumphant, for it was the first time Elrond had answered him after being bid a good night.

* * *

The morning sun rose early and bright, and the winds were gentle and warm. Elros raced down the trail from the wooden house to the beach, quickly doffing his shoes to run through the cool sand. From this beach he could see the quays of Balar and the ships that were docked there. He shivered in anticipation.


Elros spun on his heel and raced back towards the path that led to the house. He grabbed his shoes on the way and climbed the stone stairs that led to the grassy yard and the back door. He slowed and wiped his feet clean on the grass and then slipped the shoes back on his feet before entering the house.

"I saw the ships, Círdan," announced Elros as he dashed into the kitchen and climbed up on his chair.

Círdan gave him amused look. "I am glad they are where I left them."

Elros grinned saucily at him, but was distracted from further comment by the arrival of his brother. Elrond entered with the big book of ships in his arms and walked to Círdan. The bearded elf pushed back his chair and regarded the child with the big, solemn eyes.

"Did you enjoy the book, Elrond?"

Elrond nodded.

"Are you finished with it already?"

Elrond shook his head.

Círdan watched the child for a moment, contemplating what it might take to make the child speak. He raised his hand above his head and stretched slightly, and was surprised when the child flinched and backed a step away from him. He immediately recalled the missive he had received from Celeborn regarding the abuse the twins had suffered at the hands of Maedhros, in particular Elrond. Pity stirred in his heart, and all thought of forcing the child to speak was forgotten. He gently reached for the book and set it on the table, and then pulled the child into his lap. A long-suffering sigh escaped him as small fingers softly stroked the beard.

"You do not need to return the book, child, if you have not finished with it," Círdan told Elrond. He waited and was surprised by the lack of a non-verbal response of joy or thanks, which the child normally readily gave.

"May I take it on the ship?"

Círdan smiled at the sound of that voice, so like to his brother's but so seldom heard unless speaking to his twin. He brushed the child's hair back from his face and nodded. "You may, but you must take care to ensure that it does not get wet. Ereinion will show you how to wrap it in paper and oil cloth to keep moisture from it."

Elrond smiled and leaned against him happily. His nose twitched at the smell of the steaming biscuits the cook placed on the table and he leaned forward to see what other good things the table held.

"Ah, you are hungry. A good breakfast is essential before one sails," Círdan instructed them. He stood and set Elrond on his chair and then moved the book to the safety of the sideboard behind the child. He then returned to his seat and smiled at his own cleverness, for by ensuring the little ones sat at their own plates, he also ensured no sticky fingers in his beard.

"My favorite!" Gil-Galad entered the room with his usual cheer and swung his leg over the back of the chair as he seated himself. "Strawberry jam on biscuits." He looked at each child in turn, Elros nearly giggling under his perusal and Elrond smiling brightly at him. "Círdan, what are they supposed to eat? This is barely enough for me."

The twins had learned that this remark meant they were to eat now, and Elros laughed and grabbed for the basket of biscuits near him and served himself and his brother before passing the steaming bread on. "This is my favorite too," he replied smugly.

"Aye, I see that," Círdan rolled his eyes. "Since Ereinion shares his favorites so readily, he may also share his favorite washcloth and wipe all that butter and jam from your face and hands when you are done."

Círdan served himself of the eggs and meat and began to eat with relish. From the corner of his eye he saw movement from Elrond's seat next to him, and then there was a biscuit slipped on to his plate, buttered and spread with jam, with all the care a five-year old child could muster. He raised his eyes to meet those of the child. Elrond looked at him, concern in his eyes, and when Círdan smiled at him, a warm smile spread across the child's face and he returned to eating his own breakfast.

* * *

Elros raced towards the Alphiel, his eyes wide with anticipation. Sailor elves smiled and called greetings to the child, which he returned readily. Círdan and Gil-Galad followed, greeting their people and talking with some of the fishermen, already returning with the first catch of the morning. Elrond followed last, his eyes taking in the activity on the wharf. Small boats of fisher-elves were coming and going; the smell of fish was in the air as they unloaded their catch and prepared their nets for a second run. As he neared the larger ships, Elrond stopped and sat down on the wharf. He carefully pulled the book from his bag and unwrapped it from the protective covering Gil-Galad had helped him wrap it in. He opened the pages to one showing the large ships, and with a finger marking his place, his eyes moved from the ship to book.

A shadow fell over him and Círdan lowered himself to the planks with a groan. He leaned near to the child and watched the movements of fingers and eyes as Elrond attempted to identify the ships.

"The Alphiel was built after this book was made," Círdan finally said, "so you won't see it in the book. She is of this type, though." He turned the page and pointed to another ship. Grey eyes raised to meet his. "See, look at the sails and the curve of the prow." Círdan traced the lines in the book and then pointed to the Alphiel. He spent the next few minutes pointing out some of the ships in the harbor and then showing Elrond where they were in the book. "Are you ready to go on board now?"

Elrond nodded and carefully closed the book and wrapped it back up in its covering. He slipped it into his bag and got to his feet. Círdan was already on his feet and watched the process with amusement. He looked down at the child standing patiently at his feet, waiting for him to lead the way. He reached down instead and scooped the child up in his arms, hung the bag over his own shoulder and then placed the child atop his shoulders.

"Do you like the view from up there? Can you see the ships better?"

Elrond leaned down to speak in the big elf's ear. "I like it up here."

Though Círdan could not see the child's face, the smile that crossed Gil-Galad's face and Elros' shout of joy as they boarded the ship told him that Elrond truly was enjoying his ride. Elros tugged and pleaded with Gil-Galad until he swung the child up on his shoulders so he could have a similar vantage point.

"Círdan, you have a strange bird perched on your shoulder," came a voice from behind.

"Celeborn!" Círdan turned and greeted the elf. "What news do you bring?"

"Patrols report no movements upon shore except for some of the men of the Edain. Maedhros' forces were trailed for nearly a hundred leagues northward; they do not show plans of returning south. No reports of orcs or dragons from Angband," Celeborn summed up the movements of the troops he still commanded.

Círdan and Gil-Galad knew, as did Celeborn, that Morgoth remained a threat. Círdan knew that the Valar would act against him, that Eärendil had fulfilled his quest and the Valar had promised their aid. He kept an eye ever westward and his ear ever to the sea as he waited for Manwë to act. He did not speak of his thoughts to the others, but counseled defense and restraint as they forged a new community on Balar, integrating the remnant of Sirion's survivors. An interesting mix they had become: Noldor of Gondolin and Nargothrond, and the Sindar of Doriath and the Falas, with green elves and men of the Edain scattered throughout.

"Cousin!" Gil-Galad turned to greet the Lady Galadriel as she boarded. "How do you fare in building?"

"The house progresses well," Galadriel responded, and she gave him the details of the house she and Celeborn were building up the shore from the house Círdan and Gil-Galad shared. "It is a fair day for sailing, Ereinion. Who is this sitting upon your shoulders?"

Elros giggled and kicked his feet against Gil-Galad's chest. "I am Elros and we are going sailing!"

Galadriel lifted the child down from his perch and taking him by the hand, said, "Take me on a tour of the ship, then, young Elros, for I desire to see all of it."

Círdan transferred his small charge to the shoulders of Celeborn, and Elrond watched the docks of Balar disappear from the horizon as Círdan guided the Alphiel out to sea. Once well on their way, Celeborn set Elrond onto the deck and watched as the little one began to explore every nook and cranny of the ship. His thirst to know how everything worked and what its name was, from the parts of the ship to the birds in the air and the fish in the sea, even caused him to speak as he asked question after question.

"Stimulation of his brain and a feeling of safety do much for this little one," Galadriel commented to Círdan and Gil-Galad.

Círdan frowned as he pondered her statement. Gil-Galad gave voice to his thought. "It would be unfair to move them when your house is built."

Círdan merely snorted. "Children adjust."

"Ereinion, look at me!" Elros shouted.

Gil-Galad turned to the sound of the voice and a small gasp escaped him. "Elros! Do not move!" While all the adults stood transfixed at the sight, Círdan held the rudder steady as Gil-Galad climbed the rigging. He reached the small child a few moments later.

"Elros, what are you doing up here?" he scolded as he tugged the child into his arms.

"No, stay here!" Elros pleaded. "Look!"

Gil-Galad followed the child's finger out to the sea in time to see the great tail fin of a whale rise in the air and then plunge into the water. A moment later another whale surfaced and then flipped up its tail fin in the air as it dove back beneath the surface.

"Whales starboard!" Gil-Galad called. He held Elros tightly as Círdan adjusted their course to bring the ship round that all might see them. Elros was wiggling and bouncing in his excitement, calling to his brother and anyone who would listen.

"Elrond, big fish!" he squealed.

Gil-Galad watched in amusement as Elrond tugged on Celeborn's sleeve and pointed at his brother. Celeborn obliged by climbing the rigging with Elrond firmly in his arm and soon they too had a wondrous view of the whales.

They followed the whales for some leagues before Círdan finally turned and headed back towards the shore. Gil-Galad and Celeborn brought their small charges back to the safety of the deck, and laughed when Elros immediately plopped himself down next to Galadriel to tell her all he had seen.

Elrond went back to his nest in the pile of coiled rope and pulled out his book again. He flipped to the end and found the picture he wanted, then carefully carried the book to where Celeborn and Gil-Galad were seated. He stood before them, book in hand, and watched them patiently until they finished what they were talking about and acknowledged his presence. Gil-Galad picked the elfling up and sat him on the bench between them, and looked at the page Elrond had opened to. The child pointed to ships on the sea, and in the background of the picture were the tails of whales flipping in the air. Gil-Galad picked up the book and looked carefully at it and the other pictures on the page.

"Those are whales, Elrond," Gil-Galad confirmed. "You have very good eyes to catch such small detail."

"How long has he had that book?" Celeborn asked.

"One day," Gil-Galad answered matter-of-factly. "I begin to believe the child has it memorized already. I treasured this book when I was young and read it often, and yet could not have told you there was a whale in any of the pictures."

Celeborn looked at the small child gravely. Elrond must have felt eyes upon him, for he turned to look at Celeborn. He met the thoughtful look with a solemn face, then leaned up against Celeborn and pointed at the book and said, "What does this say?"

Celeborn had just begun to read to Elrond when he heard his wife cry out, "Elros!"

Celeborn and Gil-Galad reached Galadriel at the same time. She was half hung over the side of the ship and dangling from her right hand was Elros. Celeborn grasped her about the waist, allowing her free use of both hands, and she slid further over the side to grasp Elros' other hand and gain better purchase on the one she already had.

"Pull us up!" she called.

Celeborn eased her up over the rail and Gil-Galad took Elros from her hands. He pulled the child up close to his chest and embraced him, then pulled back to look the youngster in the eye, preparing to scold him.

Elros smiled at him.

"I wanted to touch the water," he said, a slightly guilty look on his face.

Gil-Galad bowed his head and willed his heart to slow and his breathing to steady. Before he could even speak he felt Círdan at his back and a piece of rope dangling in front of him. He burst out laughing.

Círdan saw the surprised looks on Celeborn's and Galadriel's faces. As he walked past them to resume his duties as captain, he muttered, "Leash." A wicked smile crossed his face. "Ask Ereinion about it. He is much experienced in this matter."

All eyes turned to the still laughing Gil-Galad, who threw up his hands. "This is actually proof in my favor that there is a more incorrigible child than Círdan claims me to have been."

Elros looked at Gil-Galad, bewildered, as the elf fashioned a small harness from cut strips of canvas and then cut a length of rope and tied it to the back. The whole contraption was slipped over his head and he found himself held on a short tether.

"Ereinion, I do not like this. Take it off?"

"No, Elros. This way I know where you are and that you cannot be hurt," Gil-Galad said sternly. "Trust me when I say you will get used to it."

Elros struggled and pulled at the bindings, finally kicking a nearby barrel and then collapsing in sobs on the deck as he held his sore foot. "I do not want this on," he sobbed.

Círdan only chuckled, but Celeborn and Galadriel watched in fascination as the child launched a temper tantrum, a rather rare thing for an elven child. "Do you think it is his human blood?" Celeborn wondered.

Gil-Galad ignored Elros for the most part and only turned back to him when the crying stopped. What he saw made him laugh and wish again that he had had a sibling.

Elrond had moved to sit next to his brother and he had brought his precious book with him. He had also taken a piece of rope and wrapped it around his own middle. The rope was not tied to anything on either end, but the gesture seemed to comfort Elros. The excitement of the day had tired him though, and soon his head was on Elrond's shoulder and he drifted into sleep as Elrond pointed at the pictures and named the things he had learned. Elrond soon drifted off too, and Celeborn hung a tarp to protect them from the sun while Galadriel placed cushions behind their heads.

Círdan smiled at all the adults now happily seated about the ship, watching the scenery and enjoying the beautiful weather.

"Ah," he sighed. "This is how I like children best."

Not surprisingly, no one disagreed.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

The laughter subsided in the room and Elrohir yawned through his grin. He patted Celeborn on the arm and spoke through another yawn. "Daerada, you saved us and you saved Ada and Uncle Elros, and then you and Daernaneth saved Uncle Elros again. I think Uncle Elros was an irrepressible elfling."

Elrond quietly laughed as he thought of his brother. "Yes, Elrohir, irrepressible is a great word to describe Elros. Now, drink down this medicine and then you must sleep."

Elrohir swallowed the medicine and closed his eyes as his grandfather tucked him into bed. Elladan was also yawning and hugged his ada tight as he was tucked into his bed.

"Ada? Do you miss your brother?" Elladan asked sleepily.

"Yes, Elladan, I do miss Elros. I think about him every day."

* * * * *

tithen golwen -------------------------little learned one
Mae Govannen-----------------------well met

Chapter 15: Peredhil

"You have to keep your foot still, 'Ro," Elladan reminded his twin for the third time in as many minutes.

"But I cannot see what you are doing," Elrohir complained.

"I am not doing anything because you keep moving," said Elladan, exasperated.

"I think you cannot paint with your arm in a splint anyway," Elrohir argued.

The twins were staring at each other, frustrated, when laughter from the doorway distracted them. Both heads turned to see Glorfindel casually leaning against the doorjamb as he watched them. Elrohir's eyes widened as he turned back to his brother, and Elladan attempted to surreptitiously push the palette of paints behind himself.

Glorfindel laughed so merrily that Elrohir finally broke into a smile and he laughed back. Glorfindel strode into the room and like a big cat, languidly stretched out on the floor next to the twins. He inspected Elladan's work, then picked up one of the brushes and dipped it in the blue paint. With a few deft strokes he had painted the waterfall and the stream leading away from it.

"Glorfindel, that is good!" Elladan cried. "You made the water flow right down the cast!"

"Let me see!" Elrohir attempted to move his foot, but Glorfindel held it firm.

"I have a better idea," Glorfindel informed them. "Elladan, go ask Erestor to join us."

Elladan frowned. "Erestor?"

"Yes, Erestor," Glorfindel chuckled.

Elladan stood but did not move towards the door. "He will be mad about the paints," he said finally.

"No, he will not," laughed Glorfindel. "Besides, he is a very talented painter." He motioned Elladan to go. "Trust me."

Elladan grinned suddenly. Trusting Glorfindel at times provided great amusement. He scurried off to find Erestor.

* * *

Celebrían found her father and her husband deep in discussion in Elrond's study. She cleared her throat once, then a second time before they noticed her presence. When Elrond held his arm out to her, beckoning her in, she moved to his side and kissed him on the cheek.

"Have you seen our sons this morning?" she asked.

"Not since breakfast," replied Elrond with a frown. "Elrohir has learned to move entirely too well on that cast."

Celebrían kissed him again and rose. "I will leave you to your discussion and ask Erestor to aid me in finding them. They surely cannot have gone far."

Celebrían left the study and checked the twins' room again, but they had not returned there. She looked in her own chambers and study, Erestor's office, the children's classroom, and even Glorfindel's quarters without success. The kitchen staff had not seen the children, Glorfindel or Erestor.

"Perhaps the library?" suggested one of the cooks.

Celebrían smiled her thanks and headed for the library. She opened the door silently, thinking that perhaps they were studying together, but the only one present was her mother, who was reading.

"Naneth, have you seen Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel or Erestor?"

Galadriel shook her head, deeply engrossed in the book she was reading. Celebrían sighed and exited the room silently. She stood in the middle of the corridor, pondering where to look next, when she heard laughter. She followed the sound, unable to pinpoint its source at first, then realized she was hearing it from the outside. She looked out the nearest window, but did not see anyone outside. A slow smile covered her face, and she moved to the stairway that led to the cellars and storerooms. The sound of laughter grew louder, and Celebrían realized she had been hearing sound escaping out the small window of the storeroom and entering through the ground level windows. She moved soundlessly to the source of the merry chatter and laughter, finally stopping in the doorframe of a small office used for inventory and recordkeeping purposes.

Elrohir lay on his back on the table, his head cushioned on a pillow and a glass with a straw at his side. In his hand he held a mirror, which he held at different angles to watch the progress being made on his cast.

His casted foot was propped up on several cushions that were covered with a tarp, with Glorfindel working on the left side of his foot, Erestor on the right and Elladan on the bottom, as they recreated scenes of their camping trip on the plaster.

"I am putting a worm on the bottom of your foot," Elladan announced.

"Paint a bear by the waterfall, Glorfindel," Elrohir begged.

"There was no bear at the training site," Erestor snorted.

"Glorfindel said he saw one once," Elladan defended his brother. "So there could have been and we just did not see it."

"I will paint a doe and a fawn on this side, Elrohir," Erestor offered. "Should the fawn have spots?"

"Yes!" Elrohir agreed. "Make twin fawns. What are you painting, Glorfindel?"

"Birds," replied Glorfindel quietly, deep in concentration as he painstakingly painted tiny birds into the trees. "Do you recall their songs? They were telling all their friends we were under their tree that day."

Celebrían entered the room silently, watching the production with a mixture of amusement, pride and love.

"Nana!" Elladan caught sight of her first. "Come see this!"

Celebrían circled the table, stopping first to kiss Elrohir on the forehead and accept a hug from him, then to inspect the work of each of the artists.

"Erestor, I had forgotten your considerable talents," she murmured as she watched the doe come to life before her eyes. Erestor smiled briefly at her, then resumed his work adding expression to the eyes of the deer.

"Elladan, did you draw these bugs?" she wrapped her arms about his small body as he stood on the end of the table. "And with your left hand, too!"

"Look, Nana, this worm is smiling!" Elladan pointed to his creation.

Celebrían moved on to look over Glorfindel's shoulder as he was painting their campsite. She looked closely at the detail, her silver hair falling in Glorfindel's way as she leaned in close to inspect the work. "The campfire, bedrolls, packs - you even have clothing drying in the lower branches of this tree!" she said, amazed. She moved back slightly to allow Glorfindel to resume his work, noting the intense concentration on his face. "Do not forget to add your pretty clothing," she whispered in his ear.

Glorfindel's paintbrush froze in mid-air and he turned his head fractionally to look at her.

"How do you know about that?"

Celebrían laughed, the sound like that of bells chiming softly on a clear day. She pointed to a tiny yellow finch sitting in the tree he had painted. "A little bird told me."

She laughed and glided away from him, sitting down in a chair near Elrohir's head.

"You, muin-pen, are going to have the most elaborately painted cast in all of Arda," Celebrían tweaked his nose and laughed as a huge smile covered his face. "Now, you have drink, but are you hungry? Shall I have lunch brought down for you all?'

"Yes, Nana," agreed Elladan readily, his belly growling. " 'Ro has to stay still until we are done."

Celebrían nodded sympathetically at Elrohir. "It is trying work, being the model for these artists. I will be back shortly with lunch for all."

Glorfindel watched the Lady of Imladris glide gracefully from the room, his look intense. When she had gone, he turned to meet Erestor's eyes. "You do not suppose Celebrían…."

"No, certainly not," Erestor interrupted hastily. "Celebrían would never… would she?"

Glorfindel's eyes narrowed and a playful grin appeared on his face. "I intend to find out. Somehow."

* * *

Elrond and Celeborn answered the summons for lunch and arrived in the dining area of the Last Homely House to find many members of their house already eating and certain other members missing. When none seemed to know where his wife, children, advisors and mother-in-law were, Elrond finally decided to ask the cook, who seemed to know where most people were at meal times.

"The Lady Celebrían came for a tray for five and her mother, the Lady Galadriel, said to make it for six and then helped her to carry it away," the cook informed him with a chuckle. "Where they have gone, I do not know."

"What endeavor would be so pressing as to keep them all from lunch?" Celeborn asked. "They did not even send word."

A search of the main floor of the house failed to disclose the whereabouts of the missing elves, until Elrond, too, passed near the windows in the corridor by the library and heard voices outside. His keen hearing led him also to the cellars and storerooms, and he thoughtfully retrieved Celeborn from his own search before investigating further.

"Tis for this they have disappeared?" Celeborn whispered. "To paint a child's cast?"

"Aye, it appears so," Elrond agreed.

They watched the progress for a few moments, Galadriel and Celebrían inspecting the work and suggesting improvements as the artists finished their repast. Celeborn sniffed disdainfully. "I can not believe that this is how the morning has been spent," he finally said.

Elrond suppressed a laugh. "You are only miffed because you were not invited."

"Ada! Daerada!" Elladan called to them. "Come see what we have painted!" His eyes were lit with excitement as his naneth and daernaneth aided him in painting a whole colony of insects upon the bottom of his brother's foot, complete with tunnels and small hovels.

Celeborn and Elrond entered the room, joining the artists and critics at their work.

"I would make this fawn just slightly lighter than the other, as he is not as hidden in the shadow of the trees as is his brother," Elrond suggested to Erestor.

"This is tolerable work," Celeborn acceded to Glorfindel as he took in the campsite. "Are you not forgetting to show the clothing you brought along?"

Glorfindel scowled and Erestor laughed and finally Elrond heard a small voice calling over it all.

"Ada!" Elrohir pleaded.

He raised his head to look at the small child attached to the cast that so many were hovering about, and saw a look of near panic in the child's eyes. He moved quickly to his child and bent down.

Elrohir pulled his father's head close and whispered frantically in his ear.

"Daro!" Elrond ordered authoritatively.

His call was loud and strong, stern and unyielding. He had, after all, been the herald of Gil-Galad. When he spoke, people listened. As paintbrushes were raised and everyone stood upright to face him, he spoke again. "Elrohir will return shortly. Please take a short break."

With that he scooped the elfling up in his arms, careful to keep the cast from brushing against anything, and carried him from the room. He made a beeline for the nearest water closet, and held his son in a most unusual position, keeping the cast undisturbed and untouched, as the elfling relieved himself.

"Ada, thank you," Elrohir breathed a sigh of relief. "I thought for sure I would embarrass myself immensely. I am so glad you came."

Elrond bit his lip to keep from laughing. "I am glad I came too, Elrohir, but someone else would have helped you."

Elrohir's eyes met his and he nodded solemnly. "I know, Ada. But I wanted you to help me. I knew you would understand."

Elrond did not know why such a silly thing would touch him so, but he hugged the little body close for a moment as a wave of emotion rolled through him. "I love you, Elrohir," he whispered in his son's ear. "Let us get you back to your adoring artists."

Whistling a jaunty tune, Elrond carried Elrohir back and laid him on the table. He tucked the pillow comfortably behind the child's head and situated his foot just so, then turned to the silent onlookers.

"You may resume," he informed them, his eyes twinkling.

* * *

Elladan and Elrohir swayed lazily in the porch swing, the sun shining brightly upon them as they gazed out over the grounds of their home.

"There are so many things we cannot do because of our injuries," sighed Elladan.

"No riding our ponies, no practice swordfighting," Elrohir listed sadly.

"No archery, no playing in the stream," Elladan added.

They fell silent again, the swing slowly rocking as Elladan occasionally pushed off from the floor with his feet. The only noise was the buzz of insects and the songs and calls of the birds. Elladan leaned his head back and closed his eyes, enjoying the rocking of the swing. He moved his hand and accidentally bumped Elrohir's cast. Opening his eyes, he looked at the work of art next to him. He tugged gently on his brother's foot, until Elrohir shifted and allowed him to pull it into his lap. He traced his worms on the bottom of Elrohir's foot, tickling the bare toes that peeped from the front edge of the cast.

"That tickles," Elrohir giggled.

"That was a really good trip until the accident," Elladan thought aloud as he studied the paintings.

"Do you think Ada will take us again sometime?" Elrohir yawned sleepily in the sun.

Elladan nodded. "He will, or Glorfindel or Daerada. I wonder if Ada can get this off your foot without ruining it."

Elrohir sat up straight and, bending forward, fingered the edge of the cast, scratching the skin just below the edge of it. "Ada will figure out a way. He can do anything," he answered confidently.

There was another long moment of silence as Elladan studied the pictures on the cast, turning his brother's foot back and forth as Elrohir tried vainly to scratch the itch with a small twig he was jamming down the inside of the cast. "I wish I had a cast."

Elrohir stopped scratching and looked at Elladan's simple splint. "Does your arm hurt?"

"No," Elladan answered. "But you will have this forever."

"Oh," Elrohir shrugged as he settled back against the swing back. "We will have it forever. It's for both of us."

"What if we aren't together forever?" Elladan asked with a frown.

"We are twins," Elrohir laughed. "We will always be together, forever and ever."

Elladan pushed off the floor again, setting the swing back into motion. He leaned back against the cushion on his end of the swing, Elrohir's foot still in his lap. He was just dozing off in the warm sun when Elrohir spoke again.

"Ada and Uncle Elros are twins. How come they aren't together?"

Elladan pondered that for a moment. "Uncle Elros must have died and gone to Mandos' Halls," he finally surmised. "So they will be together eventually."

"If one of us goes to Mandos' Halls, the other one will keep the cast until we are together again," Elrohir decided.

The front door of the house opened and closed, and the twins saw the elf from the infirmary join them. He stood in front of them, blocking the sun, smiling at their sleepy faces.

"Albast is awake and asking if his two young friends have forgotten about their promise to visit him," he said kindly.

"No!" Elladan got up abruptly. "He was sleeping when we stopped by earlier. We will come right away!"

"I thought as much. Master Elrohir, may I provide you passage?" The elf bowed with a flourish and laughed as Elrohir grinned and agreed to be carried. "And such art! You will be able to tell Albast the story of your journey right off your foot!"

Albast was resting upright on the couch when the elflings were escorted in, and his face brightened with pleasure to see the dark-haired youngsters again. The healer settled Elrohir on the end of the couch, that Albast might see the cast easily, and left the elflings to entertain his patient.

"Who did this?' Albast asked in wonder as he stared at the detailed painting on the plaster.

"Glorfindel and Erestor and Elladan, and my naneth and daernaneth helped some too," Elrohir answered proudly. "Our Daerada told Glorfindel what to do some, but Glorfindel was mostly done by then anyhow."

Albast laughed. "I did not think anyone told Lord Glorfindel what to do. He seems rather . . .." he paused.

"Intimidating?" Elrohir finished the sentence.

A few laughs were heard in the infirmary at that, but Albast merrily agreed. "Yes, intimidating."

"You have to meet our daerada and daernaneth then. They are too," Elladan added.

"When I am stronger, perhaps," Albast muttered under his breath. "Tell me about your trip, which I see painted here like a story, and how you got hurt."

Elladan started the story, showing the tiny ponies Erestor had drawn, and then two tiny elves and one bigger elf practicing archery. "And this is where are our daerada pinned Glorfindel. I would not do that to Glorfindel. He did not like that daerada reminded Erestor about that and then Erestor painted it here, and I think they were going to do follies again."

"Here we are swimming and our clothes are hanging up here to dry while daerada told us a story," Elrohir pointed to another spot on the cast.

"Did you have a girl with you?" Albast chuckled.

"No, and Glorfindel will not tell us why Daerada painted a gown on here. I don't like it," Elladan frowned. "But Ada said to humor them."

Low ripples of laughter were heard throughout the infirmary at the twins' answers to Albast's questions, and Albast found himself biting his lip to keep from laughing aloud.

"But then everything went wrong here," Elrohir pointed to the waterfall. "It looks like a nice waterfall, but it is not. We fell here, and I got knocked nonconscious and Elladan saved me but he had a broken arm and I broke my foot but then Ada came in and saved us both."

"Glorfindel and Daerada raced up here," Elladan traced a path up Elrohir's leg. "They had to dig through a rock slide and then swim underwater for a long time and finally they found us. But we were almost dead. So then they had to take us back underwater and breathe for us and finally they dragged us out. This is us afterwards," he pointed to two small elves and three big ones lying around a campfire. "We had hypthermia …um-we were really cold - and they had to warm us up and Daernaneth had a foresight about it and sent Erestor to help us. This is Erestor and the guards helping us home."

Albast looked at the two small elves gravely. "I did not realize that you nearly died. I am more glad now to know that a broken arm and a broken leg and a bad bump on the head are the only lasting injuries you had."

"You were hurt much worse," Elrohir patted the man's hand. "We are glad your men saved you too."

"It will be a shame to wreck this cast when it is ready to come off," Albast said thoughtfully as he studied again the minute detail.

"We have a plan," Elladan said confidently. "Ada has to get it off without hurting it and then we are going to keep it together forever."

"But if one of us goes to Mandos' Halls, the other one will keep it until we are together again," Elrohir added.

Albast smiled at the twins. "I hope that neither of you goes to Mandos' Halls."

"We hope you don't either," Elladan said solemnly.

"That such would be the fate of men," mused Albast. "To go and be reborn, to live forever?"

The twin faces that were watching him appeared confused. He waved at them. "Forgive the musings of a mortal man. Tell me about learning to shoot your first bow. Did you do well?"

Elrond wandered through the infirmary late in the afternoon, listening to the sounds of his sons' voices as they told stories to the man and answered his questions. He smiled, for it was good medicine to see the minds of all three engaged even as their bodies healed.

* * *

"Ada, where is your twin brother. Where is Elros?" asked Elrohir as his father carried him to bed.

Elrond was silent for a few moments as he continued to walk to the twins' room. He entered and set Elrohir down on his bed and waited until Elladan had joined him.

"Elros died," he finally said, amazed at the pain that still flickered through him merely from saying the words.

"So he is waiting in the Halls of Mandos?" Elladan asked.

"I do not know," answered Elrond truthfully. He looked at the confused faces of his sons and knew he was going to need to provide a better explanation than what he was doing. He had known the day would come when they would ask this question. He had known it would be difficult to answer. He had not expected, however, for the pain in his heart to assail him as if it were only yesterday that his brother had passed beyond the circles of Arda.

"Elves are bound to Arda; we will exist as long as Arda exists. Even if our bodies die, our feär go to Mandos' Halls to reside until Mandos determines we can be given a new body. This is not the fate of mortals. Even the Valar do not know, or if they do know they will not say, what happens to mortals when their bodies die. It is said they pass beyond the circles of the world," explained Elrond.

Elrohir tucked a hand inside his father's and squeezed it. "So Albast, if he had died in the rock slide, would not have gone to the Halls of Mandos?"

"I do not know," answered Elrond again, to his own chagrin. "I do know he would not go where the elves are waiting."

"Ada," asked Elladan hesitantly, "what about Uncle Elros?"

"Do you remember why my father, Eärendil, was able to stand before the Valar and ask them to come to the aid of Middle-Earth?"

Elladan looked at Elrohir, who always remembered such things and could say them better.

"You told us that one had to stand before Manwë who could ask for help on behalf of both men and elves. You said that there were only two people in all of Middle-Earth who could do that, and that was your nana and your ada, because they were of both man-kind and elf-kind," Elrohir said slowly, recalling what he had learned.

"Correct," replied Elrond, smiling at how Elrohir's brow had furrowed as he had thought. Celebrían always said it was an exact reproduction of how he looked when thinking deeply. "That means that Elros and I were also of both man-kind and elf-kind. I am called Elrond Peredhil for this reason."

The twins both nodded at him and waited patiently for him to continue.

"When we were grown up, there was a great war, called the War of Wrath, when the Valar and the Maiar and the elves of Aman came to Middle-Earth and fought Morgoth. Many of us fought as well - Círdan and King Gil-Galad and Elros and I. When it was over, many things happened, which I will not try to explain tonight. But one thing I will tell you a little about is this: Elros and I were called before the Valar. We were the only Peredhil in Middle-Earth and we had to choose if we were to be judged as the First-Born - the elves - or as the Second-Born - the men."

"You are an elf, Ada," Elladan clutched at his father's hand and Elrond could feel a fear rising from him.

"I chose to be judged as one of the Firstborn. I will live as long as Arda exists, as do all the elves," Elrond reassured his sons. "But my brother made a different choice. He chose to be judged as those Second-born - as a man."

Elrond let out his breath, relief that he had finally said the words. He remembered the bewildering pain and confusion he had felt when Elros announced his choice, how his brother had refused at first to look in him the eye afterwards.

"Men are mortal. Their bodies age and grow old, and they die. I do not know where their feär reside; only Eru knows his own plan for them. Elros was given long life for a mortal man. He lived to be five hundred years old before he died."

Elrond watched as his sons moved closer together, unconsciously, he thought, as they considered his words. He had confused them and brought instability to their world, but he would not lie nor hide the truth from them. He had determined with a paternal fierceness that some information would not be given unless the right questions were asked, but already the sharpness of their young minds was showing, and he knew in time they would ask the question he truly dreaded.

He stood and moved silently to the wardrobe, pulling out two night tunics and handing them to his sons. They undressed quietly, Elrohir deftly managing his clothing around the cast and Elladan nimbly using his teeth where a second hand might have been useful.

"Ada, did the Valar only let you choose one time?" Elrohir asked unexpectedly.

Elrond smiled reassuringly at his children. "Only one time, Elrohir. I will not change my mind."

Elrohir let out a sigh of relief, and Elrond noted that they both seemed to relax some.

"Ada, tell us a story about you and Elros when you were our age," Elladan suggested.

Elrond's eyes twinkled as he thought of Elros at that age. "Just thinking of myself and Elros at your age is enough to make me pity Círdan and Gil-Galad," he laughed. "Elros was rather creative. . .

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"Elrond, I want to fly like a bird," said Elros as he stood at their bedroom window, watching the seagulls fly off the cliff and over the waves. He sighed and moved to his bed, flopping down with an intentional lack of grace and then rolling on to his back.

Elrond glanced up at his brother and smiled at the look of intense thought on his face. He could see the ideas racing through his twin's mind as he contemplated how he could achieve his latest goal.

"I cannot flap my arms hard enough. Even if I tie my cloak to my wrists and let them be as wings…," mused Elros aloud.

"You will need a sail, but one that catches the wind from below, not from the side," replied Elrond, his head already buried back in his book.

Elros bounced to his brother's bed. "What do you mean?"

Elrond turned his book so Elros could see it too. "Look at the sail. Círdan is building a ship like this one; look how the sails are positioned to catch the wind. If you were to turn them up this way and then catch the wind below it, you could ride the wind for as long and as far as it would take you.

"Different than a bird, more like a flying ship. A ship is too heavy, but I might not be," pondered Elros. He jumped up and grabbed his brother by the arm. "Come on, Elrond!"

Elrond allowed himself to be dragged out of the room, grabbing his shoes as Elros propelled him out the door. They ran down the hallway, unmindful of Círdan's admonitions about running in the house, and exited out the back door. Elros waited impatiently as Elrond slipped on his shoes and then the two ran off down the path to the beach and followed that around to the shipyards.

They arrived barely winded from their long run in the sand, accustomed to the trail as one they often took, for it was shorter than weaving through the streets of the town. Elros went immediately to the building housing the supplies for making and repairing the ships and pulled out a length of canvas. "We need rope and something to brace it with, like a bird's wings or the mast on the ship."

Elrond was searching through the stacks of wood and finally produced several strong but flexible boughs of young trees, recently strewn about the shore after a powerful storm. He and Elros had helped collect them from along their beach and stack them for use in the shipyards. He grinned at his brother. "These are perfect."

Elros whooped with excitement. "Let us build it at home. Come on!"

The two walked home at a more sedate pace, the long pieces of wood making running impractical. Elros was chewing his lower lip as he thought, occasionally mumbling and making motions with his hands. They reached their own beach and Elros carefully laid out the canvas on the sand and Elrond began placing the boughs at various intervals. They measured and cut, tying knots and binding the pieces together. They spoke little, communicating silently or with motions, but worked very much as a team, in harmony, each sensing the actions and needs of the other.

"I think we are ready to try it," Elros said confidently. He watched his twin double-checking each knot where the rope bound the boughs to the canvas. "After lunch."

"I bet cook will give us sandwiches to eat out here," Elrond replied with a grin.

"You go ask. She will give you anything you want," laughed Elros.

"That is only because I do not snitch from her," retorted Elrond with a grin.

"I am growing," protested Elros. "I need to eat."

Elrond laughed again, but there was truth in Elros' words. Though twins and like in face, they were becoming different in body. Already Elros stood taller, with broader shoulders and a heavier structure to his frame. Elrond was slightly shorter, leaner and built more in the classic form of the elves. Elros needed to eat constantly, whereas Elrond was content with less.

"I will go ask," he agreed readily.

"I will prepare for the first test. Off that cliff?" Elros pointed at a cliff a short distance to the north.

"Not too high for the first one. We don't want to have to start over if everything breaks apart," Elrond said after a moment's thought.

* * *

Gil-Galad entered the dining room to find Círdan already seated and the table set for only two. He sniffed appreciatively at the biscuits and steamed fish before heaping his plate full.

"Where might your young charges be?" asked Círdan as Gil-Galad raised his fork.

"I do not know where your younglings are," he answered in surprise. He put his fork down and glanced around. "Their places are not set, which means they informed someone of their plans."

"Aye," said the cook as she bustled into the room, "young Elrond came and asked for sandwiches they might eat down on the beach. Such a polite one, he is."

"Elros was not with him?" Círdan asked suspiciously.

"No, but I made enough for four, so even he should be satiated," laughed the cook. "They have been out of the house all day, down at the beach."

Círdan fixed Gil-Galad with a glare. "They are up to something."

Gil-Galad laughed, his head thrown back and a twinkle in his eye. "It is most likely you are right. What do you supposed Elros has concocted this time?"

"Do not blame him alone. Elrond aids him," snorted Círdan.

"Elrond helps ensure that Elros' plans are successful. He sees how to obtain the goal, but it is Elros' ideas and cunning that achieve it," theorized Gil-Galad. He laughed again at Círdan's expression. "And 'tis another fine example that he is far more incorrigible than I at that age."

"Peredhil means they grow faster," Círdan replied. "You, at least, I could still tuck under my arm and put you where I wanted at that age."

"Elros outgrew that leash in short order," agreed Gil-Galad. "He seems to grow as do the Edain, and Elrond only slightly more slowly. I do not know how Edain parents keep their children clothed."

"Or fed," muttered the cook as she cleared dishes.

Gil-Galad's laughter filled the room again, as often was the case since the young Peredhil had come to live in the house. He enjoyed their liveliness, their questions and especially Elros' many schemes and designs. "I shall go see what they have devised this time."

He left the house through the back door, following the footpath through the gardens as it wound down to the beach below. He saw evidence the twins had been there, for their lunch supplies and tools were neatly arranged for return to the house. But he did not see them. He followed their footprints northward and a shout caught his attention. He felt his breath catch as he looked upwards.

On a low cliff, approximately twenty feet or so above the sea, he could see Elros holding on to a sailing contraption. Elrond was steadying him and keeping the wind from blowing the canvas away. To his horror, he saw Elros move to jump off the cliff edge.

"Elros!" he shouted as the child leapt nimbly off the cliff.

He watched as the sail caught the wind and slowed the descent, and then Elros began to glide at what seemed a rather fast speed over the water and neared the beach. He saw Elros tugging on the side of his contraption, lowering the sail slightly, which led to a change in his direction and speed. A gust of wind blew in from the sea, pushing Elros back towards the cliff. Gil-Galad could see Elrond gesturing madly to Elros while yelling instructions. Elros managed to turn slightly and head towards the beachhead instead. His speed was still alarming as he approached ground, the wind negligible in the small cove and even as Gil-Galad began running towards the child he saw Elros crash into the ground, rolling over and over in the contraption.

Elrond was racing to the crash, but Gil-Galad arrived first. "Elros!" he called as he began pulling the canvas aside. He was surprised to hear laughing from beneath it and he thought the child might be hysterical. He pulled the twisted canvas and boughs aside.

Elros was breathing heavily, his face flushed and his eyes dancing with glee. He was laughing, which was not helping him catch his breath. He looked up at Gil-Galad. "I did it, Ereinion! I flew like a bird!"

Gil-Galad sank to the ground next to the mess as Elrond came running to them.

"Ai! Elros! You did it!" Elrond tumbled to the ground by his brother. "I thought you were going to crash in to the cliff. Are you injured?"

Elros continued to laugh for another few moments, then took several deep breaths and controlled himself. He sat up and moved his arms, but winced as he straightened his leg. "Maybe a little," he finally answered.

Gil-Galad knelt beside Elros, whose dancing eyes now held pain. He gently felt the child's lower leg, running his fingers down from knee to ankle. "Foolish child," he gently scolded. "You have broken your leg. Did it not hurt?"

Elros shook his head, biting his lip to hold back the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes as Gil-Galad examined him. Elrond had slipped behind him, supporting him, his own face mirroring the fear and pain in his brother's.

"Elrond, clean up this mess and return everything to where it belongs. I will speak to you later. Elros, I am going to carry you back to the house. Wrap your arm about my neck," he instructed the child as he gathered him in his arms and then cradled him to his chest. He softened his angry tone when he heard Elros gasp from the pain of being moved. "Soon you will be too big to be carried like this," he informed Elros as he easily lifted him, glad to see a slight smile tug at the corner of the pained face, for Elros was glad he was bigger and stronger than other children.

Gil-Galad carried Elros to the house, leaving Elrond to disassemble the flying contraption, and leaving him with his guilt, easily read upon his countenance.

* * *

Elrond folded the canvas and laid it with the stacked poles and neatly wound rope. He knew he had to return it to the shipping storehouse, but he wanted to see Elros first. He picked up the lunch basket and their tools, and walked slowly up the path to the house. Cook was in the kitchen, and tousled his hair and smiled at him as she took the basket. He kept his eyes downcast, and heard her sigh as he left the room.

He went next to the room he shared with Elros, but Elros was not there. He thought for a few moments, and then moved to the other side of the house, to the small infirmary near Círdan's quarters. It was seldom used, but Elrond knew Elros was present for he saw the bustle of activity. He sat on a bench in the hallway and waited.

* * *

Círdan saw the small figure sitting dejectedly on the bench outside the infirmary. The child's head was bowed and he was slumped forward in a way Círdan had not seen before. He approached the child silently and sat down next to him, but Elrond did not even look up at him. Círdan smiled and felt a certain tenderness despite having wished to throttle both of the Peredhil only moments before.

"Elrond," he said gently, surprised when the child drew away from him. He raised his hand and stroked the dark head, glad when the child neither flinched nor pulled away. "The healer is nearly finished. The break was not severe and he will not be immobile for long."

He both felt and saw relief flood through the child at his side and then the young one was scrubbing at his eyes with his fist. Círdan pretended not to notice the tears.

"Your brother is full of adventure, Elrond," Círdan continued. "I think he will come up with one wild scheme after another. I think I shall put him to work in my shipyards soon, to direct some of that energy." He paused and considered the one next to him. "You are not responsible for Elros' choices, Elrond. But you must think through what might happen if you participate with him. What he tried today was dangerous. He might have been killed."

At this declaration, a small sob broke forth and hiccupped from the child. Círdan wrapped his arm about the child and hugged him briefly. "You are perhaps wiser than Elros and will need to help him think through the consequences of his actions. He may not always listen. You must at least make wise decisions yourself. Do you understand, child?"

Elrond nodded, and Círdan knew he was unlikely to get more of a response than that. Despite his declaration at lunch that Elrond shared in the blame for aiding Elros in his schemes, he did not wish to impose more guilt upon the child than he had already placed upon himself.

The healer came out then, laughing. "You may see him now. He is a most delightful child."

Círdan and Elrond entered the room to find Elros lying comfortably upon a bed, his leg neatly bound and splinted and a smile upon his face. He looked tired, and Círdan knew the healer had given him herbs to ease the pain as they set and wrapped the broken bone. Gil-Galad sat nearby, a bemused expression upon his face that softened further when he saw the agony in Elrond's.

Gil-Galad looked at Círdan, who shrugged in response. Gil-Galad had been both concerned and angry when he had brought Elros to the house. Elros' pain, combined with his excitement at having done what he had set out to do, had tempered Gil-Galad's anger over the child having been so foolish as to try such a thing. He had found himself laughing with Elros as the healer cared for him, to help distract him but also because the child was charmingly funny.

His anger at Elrond had not dissipated, though, until he saw the child. He considered Elrond the wiser of the two, and placed more of the blame on him for abetting his brother's folly. He could tell from Elrond's expression that the child agreed with him and suddenly Gil-Galad felt he had been too harsh with him on the beach.

Both elves stood back as Elrond approached the bed and sat by his brother. They sat silent for a moment, communicating without words as they often did.

"Do not feel bad, Elrond. I would do it again," Elros whispered.

Elrond shook his head. "I would not help you again, Elros. I cannot bear seeing you hurt. Círdan said you might have been killed."

Elros gripped his brother's hand. "I flew, Elrond, flew! I felt so free! I want to sail, like Círdan," he whispered, excitement evident even through his slightly drugged state.

Elrond did not respond, but sat at his brother's side until he was asleep. He stood then, and approached Círdan and Gil-Galad who had sat silently together throughout the exchange. His grey eyes were deep with emotion, but showed self-control and wisdom beyond his young years.

"I will go, with your leave, and return the canvass and rope to the shipping storehouse. I will come to you when I return and you may discipline me," he said, looking to Gil-Galad as he said the last words. He was silent for a moment. "I wish to be allowed to care for my brother, if the healer will show me what to do."

"You may go," Gil-Galad said quietly. "We will talk when you return."

Both watched as the child left the room, this time with his shoulders squared and head held high. His posture clearly spoke for him: he would accept whatever punishment they deemed appropriate and do so with dignity. Círdan began to laugh, quietly, so as to not awaken Elros. Gil-Galad glanced at him.

"Why are you laughing?"

"That child never ceases to amaze me. He will grow to be counted among the wise one day, Ereinion. Do not be too harsh in your punishment," he chuckled as he stood and, still laughing, left the room.

* * *

Elrond walked down the beach towards the house, kicking at the sand as he went. He had returned all the materials to their rightful places as he had said he would do, but he was dreading returning to the house. He did not fear punishment, for he had seldom been punished. He only vaguely recalled being struck by Maedhros, for he had been very young. He did not think Gil-Galad would strike him. But never before had he felt such disapproval from his guardians. Never had Gil-Galad's anger been directed at him before. Círdan seemed to have forgiven him, but had left his punishment to Gil-Galad. Elrond sighed. He would accept whatever punishment Gil-Galad gave him. He just wondered what it would take to earn his favor again.

He climbed the path to the house and entered through the back door, careful to remove his shoes and not track sand throughout the house. He washed his face and hands in the anteroom, then moved quietly down the hall to the infirmary. He pushed the door open quietly, and peered in to see Elros still soundly sleeping, the shades in the room drawn and a light coverlet spread over him. He drew in a deep breath as he slipped from the room, and marched to Gil-Galad's study. He raised his hand to knock on the door and held it there for a moment, trembling. He heard footsteps behind him and closed his eyes, willing the person to go away. The footsteps stopped and he could sense someone tall standing behind him.

"Are you going to knock?" he heard Gil-Galad's amused voice.

He drew in a sharp breath in surprise and heard laughter as Gil-Galad covered his still-raised hand with his own and lowered it. "Elrond, you are trembling." Gil-Galad opened the door and nudged him inside. "Come inside. You know I do not bite."

Gil-Galad moved around him and sat down on a comfortable couch. He looked at Elrond, and Elrond saw kindness in his eyes. He let out his breath, which he had been holding. Gil-Galad beckoned to him, and Elrond moved forward obediently to stand before him.

"Elrond, are you frightened?" Gil-Galad asked, surprise in his face.

Elrond shook his head.

"Why were you shaking so?"

Elrond looked down, unable to meet Gil-Galad's eyes. He thought for a moment, knowing he had to answer as Gil-Galad awaited his reply.

"I am not afraid of my punishment, even if you have to hit me," he finally said bravely.

Gil-Galad's face registered his shock. "Elrond, seven years you have lived in our care and never have I struck you. Why do you think I would do so now?"

"I did not think you would, but you may, if that is a fitting punishment," replied Elrond, now trembling again and staring at the wall beyond Gil-Galad's head, not at his guardian directly.

"Elrond, I was very angry and scared on the beach, for I knew Elros could have died or been seriously injured. But I would never strike you," explained Gil-Galad.

Elrond nodded, his hands tightly clenched behind his back. He felt Gil-Galad watching him and kept his eyes averted, unable to meet his gaze. He heard Gil-Galad sigh.

"Go to your room and rest, Elrond. It has been a trying day for us all. I do not think Elros will wake for dinner. I will move him back to your room this evening, so you can be near him," Gil-Galad directed him, his voice impassive.

Elrond nodded again and turned to leave. He stopped at the door, his hands still clenched so tightly behind his back that he had to force his fingers apart that he might lift the latch. He slipped from the study and moved swiftly to his room. Once in its safety, he allowed the day's fears and frustrations to overcome him and lay on his bed with his face buried in the pillows. He allowed no tears to fall, but clenched his jaw tightly and held his breath at each sob that threatened to escape until he too fell asleep, exhausted.

* * *

Gil-Galad sat silently in his study long after Elrond had left. He had not seen the child so tense in years, not since they had rescued him. It had taken time for the child to be comfortable with the adults, much longer than his twin. Elros had thrived almost immediately, whereas they had had concerns about Elrond fading for the first several weeks. Círdan had been convinced it was the tie to his brother that saved Elrond from such a fate. Elros' excitement and enthusiasm over all he saw and could do had drawn Elrond in, for in many ways Elros needed Elrond too. Elrond tempered his impetuousness and supported his zeal. Círdan had been right to blame Elrond at lunch for abetting Elros' schemes, but Gil-Galad knew that Elrond's cautiousness also prevented many a disaster too.

He sighed, frustrated, at the fear Elrond had shown. He had been angry at them both, but he did not think he had given the child reason to fear him. He had not even promised punishment, only that he would speak to Elrond later.

"So, were you just in your discipline?" Círdan's voice startled Gil-Galad from his thoughts.

"The child was afraid of me," Gil-Galad said quietly. "He gave me permission to strike him, if I thought I should."

One brow on the old elf's face arched into his white hair. "Were you so harsh on the beach when you found them?" inquired Círdan.

"Nay, I merely told him to return everything to where it belonged and that I would speak to him later," explained Gil-Galad.

"Then the child is creating his own fears in his mind," surmised Círdan. "Do not underestimate the power of emotion to do so. Their mortal blood and early trauma show at strange times, Ereinion."

Gil-Galad sat up straighter, interested. "Then what does he fear?"

Círdan pondered the question for a long moment. "Your rejection, perhaps. He is a child who seldom needs discipline and never has he faced it alone. Elros has usually been the one to need direction and if Elrond has been scolded, it has been with his twin."

"He has punished himself worse than I ever could," Gil-Galad laughed quietly.

"Elros' punishment is his pain and immobility. He will drive us to distraction as he heals, and I imagine he will heal as the Edain do - well, but slower than we might be accustomed to," predicted Círdan.

Gil-Galad chuckled. "I do not think it Elrond's intention when he spoke, but I believe his punishment shall be what he himself has suggested: he shall care for his brother."

"Very fitting," agreed Círdan. "When Elros is well, I intend to put him to work in the shipyard. He will thrive learning to build and sail the ships. It is his desire."

"And Elrond?" Gil-Galad asked.

"He is for you to decipher. They are half grown, these Peredhil children. It is time to set them on a course that will prepare them for their future. Young Elrond's course will be far different than his brother's," answered Círdan without further explanation. He left the room as silently as he had come.

Gil-Galad pondered Círdan's words for some time, then rose and went to the room the twins shared. He knocked quietly on the door and entered when no response was forthcoming. His heart was torn by the child sprawled upon his bed, asleep, but tense even in what should have been rest. His fists tightly clenched the sheets, and his face was half buried in his pillow. No tear marks stained the face, and Gil-Galad could see the effort this restraint had cost him. He sat down on the edge of the bed and thought of the first months the child had lived with them, how easily Elrond had allowed him to hold and comfort him.

"Elrond," he gently shook the child.

The eyes that met his were the ones he remembered, the eyes that looked upon him with love and near-worship. He smiled, but the smile was not reflected back immediately, as memory took over and the child seemed to recall their last conversation.

"You forgot to punish me," whispered Elrond.

Gil-Galad stroked the dark hair, and massaged the tense shoulders as he answered, "I did. I have thought long and hard about it and decided that your punishment shall be caring for your brother until he heals."

Gil-Galad felt a moment of triumph at the combination of surprise in Elrond's eyes and the relaxing of the muscles in his neck and shoulders.

"But I want to do that! It is my fault he is hurt!" Elrond exclaimed.

"So then you want your punishment. It is still just in my eyes, for Elros will be nearly impossible as soon as the pain diminishes. I will not envy you your job," Gil-Galad laughed. "I think we will not talk about who is at fault, though. Elros bears most of the fault on his own shoulders, and he would not argue with that."

"I should have stopped him. I should have thought about the wind changing and that he could be hurt," said Elrond contritely.

"You will not be able to stop your brother from doing many things. He is headstrong and full of adventure. You must learn to give good counsel, but you cannot make him take it," answered Gil-Galad wisely.

"How do I learn to give good counsel?" Elrond asked as he sat up.

Gil-Galad smiled. "Elros is going to apprentice in the shipyards. I think we should find a path for you that will teach you wisdom. We will advance your studies and have you come to court, to improve upon what already seems to come naturally to you."

Elrond smiled back. "I would like that."

Gil-Galad tousled the long black hair that had loosened from its clips. "Let us have dinner first. I am hungry."

Elrond nodded and stood, but as Gil-Galad reached the door he heard the child speak again. "Gil-Galad, does this mean you are no longer angry with me?" He turned to face the child and reminded himself again that the Peredhil were the size of mortals, that this was not a much older elf in the body before him.

He pulled the child into an embrace.

"Elrond, I was angry at you for but a moment. I was angry because you and Elros had placed yourselves in danger and I feared losing you. I can promise I will be angry if you ever do anything like that again. But I will still love you."

He released the child and beckoned him to follow. "Come, you need to eat to keep up your strength so that you may wait on your brother hand and foot for the next week."

Elrond grinned, the glint of joy back in his eyes. "I can handle Elros."

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"Ada, was Uncle Elros nearly impossible?" Elrohir asked.

Elrond looked at his sons sitting before him at rapt attention.

"He was entirely impossible," he laughed. "But I could not complain, for it was my punishment. I was very glad when Elros could walk again."

Elrond tucked his sons in bed and damped the small lantern that sat between their beds. He stood in the shadows, listening as they drifted into sleep.

"El, we are going to be together forever, aren't we?" Elrohir asked sleepily.

"Yes, 'Ro, forever," Elladan answered.

* * * * *

Muin-pen-----------------------dear one

Chapter 16: Things Learned in the Library

Elrond left the twins’ room as they settled peacefully into sleep.   Their words hung as a weight upon his heart, and now the words spoken by the Valar 3000 years earlier, burned into his mind then, had renewed their fires in his soul.   His choice to be counted among the Eldar had opened a door for his children to make a choice as well. He wished with everything in him to slam that door and seal it shut, never to be opened again.  

The pain of Elros’ choice was fresh again this night. He had spoken of it little since the day Elros had announced his fate. Their choices had driven them apart, Elros to Númenor and the kingdom he would rule, and Elrond to Lindon, where he had served Gil-Galad.   The final sundering of their bond at Elros’ death, long expected, had been less painful in many ways than the knife-blow that had separated their dooms that day before the Valar.   Tonight the words of his sons, still too young to fully understand, had given rise to a creeping fear that one day Elrond would face such a separation again, this time from one of his children.

He leaned against the wall in the empty corridor, his head resting against his hands on the cool plaster. He swallowed hard, pushing his fear down deep within himself.   He willed his body to comply with his wishes for control, slowing his heart and controlling his breathing. Thus he stayed for several minutes.

“Do not borrow trouble from the future.” Galadriel’s soft voice interrupted his thoughts.

Elrond felt the cool touch of her mind upon his, and he willingly allowed her access to his thoughts and fears.   His memories and his pain were easily read so close to the surface of his thoughts, and his fears as well.

“If it were possible to take away your pain, I would.”

Her words were soothing, cooling the fiery ache.

“You must understand, Elrond Peredhil, that your fate and the fates of the ones you love are tied to the fate of Middle-Earth. This is not by your choice, but you have a responsibility to see it through to the end, as do I.”

Elrond felt the steely determination in her words, but also an undercurrent of pain as well.   He lifted his head from the wall and opened his eyes to face his mother-in-law.   Suddenly he was five years old again, and looking upon the most beautiful female elf he had ever seen.   He had known even then that she was powerful and had kept his distance from her.   Elros had not. He would crawl up into her lap or sit next to her, and demand her attention for all that he had to say.   But as they grew older, Elros would seek out her wisdom less and less, while Elrond gladly absorbed all she could teach him. He knew of her gift of foresight, and as his eyes met hers he saw her pain, and his fear flared suddenly.


One word and one slender hand rose to silence his questions. He knew she could read his thoughts, that she knew his question.

“Why did you allow your daughter to bind herself to me knowing that this choice would stand before our children one day?” he asked.

“Allow?” Galadriel laughed softly.

She reached forward and stroked his cheek gently for a moment, then slipped her hands back into the folds of her gown, and began to walk slowly down the corridor. Elrond fell wordlessly into step with her.

“You loved my daughter, and she you, from the moment you first laid eyes upon each other,” Galadriel answered. “I would not deny my daughter the one she desired because I feared pain for her, or for her father and me, in the future. Celebrían loves you and bound herself to you for all eternity.” Galadriel paused, then laughed softly again. “She is my daughter, Elrond, but she is her own person.   She made her choice to marry you with clarity of mind.   She knows that your children could make a decision such as that of Elros or Lúthien. It did not cloud her love for you, or her desire to spend all the time she was given with you.”

Galadriel stopped near the entrance to Elrond and Celebrían’s chamber, and turned to face him. She studied him for a moment, and Elrond met her gaze unflinchingly.   At last she spoke.

“Wise and powerful you have grown, Elrond. Great responsibility you have taken upon yourself, and greater responsibility yet has been entrusted to you.   Our choices leave us bound to Middle-Earth, and her fate, perhaps, is wrapped up in that which we carry.   Evil remains, and the curse of the Valar still stands. Together we will stand until the fate of this age is met.”

With those cryptic words, Galadriel turned and glided away, turning the corner of the corridor and disappearing from Elrond’s sight.   He pondered her words again and was struck by how deftly she had turned his personal fears and concerns to the broader fears and concerns of Middle-Earth.  

He entered his chamber to find Celebrían waiting for him.   Tangible signs of her love for him were evident, from the prepared bath with warmed towels and goblet of his favorite wine, to the unspoken message in her eyes.   A smile crossed his face as she rose from their bed, a short dressing gown draped loosely about her that fell open as she wrapped her arms about him.

He returned the embrace, momentarily both annoyed and amused that his concerns could be so quickly brushed aside by the temptation that was his nearly naked wife in his arms.   He kissed her tenderly and then laughed as her nimble fingers began to unfasten the clasps of his robe.

“You promised me that we would practice, meleth-nín ,” she whispered between kisses.

Elrond’s mind danced back through the last several days to recall his wife’s desire for a daughter and his promise to practice conceiving her until the time was ripe for the actual begetting to occur.

“Glorfindel will be so pleased that we managed to do so in the privacy of our own chambers,” he whispered in her ear as he decided that the ear in question was in need of being nibbled.   “Do not expect perfection for some time.”

“Nay,” Celebrían breathed with a small cry of pleasure as his tongue danced upon the sensitive flesh. “I suspect it will take us many years of practice to make perfect.”

* * *

Galadriel entered the Hall of Fire as a crescendo of the minstrel’s song rose and filled the air about her.   She lowered herself gracefully on to the pile of cushions next to her husband and relaxed into his side as his arm pulled her close.   Glorfindel sat just beyond them, his long fingers preparing his harp for a turn with the minstrels.

“Where are Elrond and Celebrían?” Celeborn asked quietly.

“Practicing,” answered Galadriel cryptically.

Celeborn’s brow arched in question, but he was distracted by a laugh on his other side.   He watched as Glorfindel rose with his harp, a knowing smile upon his face, and joined the minstrels.   The hall quieted as he began a romantic ballad telling the tale of enduring love.

* * *

Their breakfast was finished and their parents had not been seen yet that morning, so Elladan and Elrohir slipped quietly away from the dining hall before another adult decided how they would spend their day, and headed for their classroom.   Their passage went unnoticed as Elrohir was now moving so well on his cast that the plaster made barely a sound as he walked on the hardwood floors.

“Which book has the maps?” Elladan asked as he looked at the books lining the shelves on the side of the room.

“This one,” Elrohir pulled out a large tome and carried it to the table.   He carefully opened the pages and began searching for the map he wanted.

Elladan tapped his fingers impatiently as Elrohir patiently turned the pages, then finally turned his attention to their experiments of the week before.   He liked how Istuion had taken some of their toys and showed them how or why they worked.   He looked forward to Ada taking the splint off his arm, for then he would be able to use both hands and could try building one of the things Istuion had shown him.

“It is not in here,” Elrohir finally said.   “There must be a map of Beleriand in the library.   Come on.”

Elladan watched as Elrohir maneuvered his big heavy foot around the table and walked down the hall.   He stayed several steps behind his brother, giggling at nearly every step.

Elrohir finally stopped and turned to him, his arms crossed over his chest and a frustrated look on his face. “Why are you laughing at me?”

Elladan giggled again.   “I am not.   I am laughing at the worm on your foot.   Every step you take he pops up and smiles at me.”

“Oh,” Elrohir laughed then too.   He looked as far over his shoulder as he could and tipped his foot up so he could see the bottom.   The worm smiled up at him. He giggled and the two laughing youngsters made their way to the library.

Elladan pushed open the heavy door as they reached their ada’s favorite room.   The room was warm and smelled of paper and parchment and ink.   Shelves lined the walls, filled with books with all different kinds of bindings, and scrolls, rolled and tied with soft leather thongs.    More bookcases made aisles in the room, and tables and chairs were placed in corners and nooks for secluded study.

“The maps are over here,” Elrohir whispered as he headed for the far corner of the library.

“Why are you whispering?” Elladan asked.

“Because we are in the library. You are supposed to be quiet in the library because someone might be reading,” Elrohir whispered, exasperated.

“We are the only ones in here,” Elladan reminded his brother.

“Oh.   Well, be quiet anyway. It is good practice,” Elrohir admonished him return. “Come on.”

Elladan followed his brother obediently, for he seldom helped Istuion pick out or carry the items they were to study from the library to the classroom, and thus did not know where certain items were most likely to be found.   Elrohir loved the books and maps and had their adar’s permission to come to the library to pick out books to read.   He had had permission too, until Ada found out that he was using the books he borrowed to make bridges and towers for his pretend village.    Elladan frowned at the memory of his ada finding his books all over the floor, haphazardly piled where they had fallen after a particularly violent battle in his little town.   He had been scolded, then had to carry each book back to the library, one trip per book, and then had to sit on his bed for the rest of the day.   Elrohir had joined him in his punishment, bringing of all things – a book.   But it had been a book about battles and they had read it aloud to each other for the whole evening.   Ada had found them and nearly sent Elrohir away, for he said it was hardly punishment when Elladan enjoyed it so much, but Nana had pulled Ada from the room and winked at them, so Elrohir had guessed that Nana had taken Ada off to kiss him.

Elladan stuck out his tongue at the thought.   He still did not believe Elrohir about that.   Why would Ada and Nana go off to kiss? They kissed all the time in front of them.   Elrohir said sometimes parents kissed more passionately alone.   Elladan rolled his eyes at his brother’s back as he thought of that big word.   He knew what it meant, or at least he thought he did.

“El, over here,” Elrohir whispered and motioned for his twin to hurry up.

Elrohir carefully spread out the old yellowed parchment on the small table in the corner of the room, securing the edges with two heavy books.   He swatted Elladan’s hand away when Elladan reached to touch it. “Wipe your hands on your tunic.   You do not touch old parchment unless your hands are very clean and dry.”

Elladan rubbed his hands against his tunic, but refrained from touching the parchment again.  

“This is Beleriand,” Elrohir said quietly.   “See, here is Sirion, where Ada was born.   And here is Balar, where King Gil-Galad and Círdan the Shipwright lived. I cannot tell where their house was, though.   But, look this symbol means cliffs, so maybe Uncle Elros jumped off this one with the sail.”

Elladan leaned over the map carefully.   “Look, ‘Ro!” he whispered excitedly.   “This is Angband, Morgoth’s stronghold! This is where the War of Wrath was fought.”

Elrohir traced a line on the map with the tip of his finger.   “This is where the elves of Aman and the Valar marched to go to war with them. Do you think Ada will continue to tell us about Elros and how they grew up and went to war?”

Elladan shrugged.   “If we ask him to, I am sure he will.   Glorfindel will tell us too.”

“Glorfindel was dead when all this happened,” Elrohir reminded him.

Both children were silent as they considered this sobering fact.   “I want to know why Uncle Elros chose to die like a Man and why Glorfindel came back here,” Elladan finally said.

The sound of the door opening interrupted the twins and they heard their ada’s voice, followed by their nana’s voice. Elladan put his finger to his lips to silence his brother, who would have called out a greeting to them.   They would surprise them instead. They crept silently forward to the edge of a bookcase and then peered around it.

* * *

Elrond laughed softly as Celebrían pinned him playfully against the now closed library door.   His eyes swept the room but saw no one. He allowed her to tug his head down and capture his lips, her tongue seeking entrance to his mouth.   He let her play dominant for a moment, but then reached his hands down to cup her backside and press her firmly to him.

“You are insatiable,” she murmured.

“You instigated this,” he playfully responded as he freed her breasts from the constraints of her bodice, then lowered his head to indulge his desire to taste her.   Her head was thrown back as he held her with one arm that had crept under her skirts to hold her about the hips, and the other aided his lips in finding what they were seeking.

Voices in the hallway stilled their passions, and Elrond quickly allowed his wife’s skirt to fall gracefully about her hips again, while her fingers swiftly closed up her bodice.   As the voices faded, he pulled her close once again and kissed her deeply.

“Now, I must gather the scrolls I need and meet with Erestor,” he said regretfully.

Celebrían smiled in return.   “I shall go see where our sons are off to this morning. Thank you for a most wonderful night. And morning,” she added.

With one last kiss she slipped out the door, and Elrond turned to find the scrolls he had been seeking.   A slight noise caught his attention and he walked to the far bookcases.   He leaned over and his eyes met those of his sons, Elladan’s reflecting shock and Elrohir’s accompanied by a grin. With a sigh he lowered his head to the top of the bookcase.

* * *

Elladan watched in shock as his Nana and Ada kissed and fondled each other.   He could feel Elrohir’s silent laughter next to him and knew his brother would be saying ‘I told you so’ as soon as their parents left.    They heard voices in the hall too, and suddenly their ada dropped their nana’s skirt and she fastened up her gown, and then left the room.   Elladan watches his adar’s feet disappear behind some bookcases and he clutched Elrohir’s hand, hoping Ada would find what he came for and then leave.

He heard a noise then, and looked up with shocked eyes to see his father looking at them over the bookcase.  

Elrohir laughed and nudged his brother.   “I told you so. Come on, El, lets ask Ada about the map!”

Elrohir got to his feet with a grace unexpected while wearing the cast, and moved back to the table.   Elladan stood slowly, staring at his adar until finally Elrond raised his eyes to meet those of his son.

“Ada,” Elrohir interrupted them,   “where on this map were you when Elros jumped off the cliff?”

Elladan watched his adar sigh and walk towards him.   He put an arm around Elladan’s shoulders and walked with him to the table.

“I need to go meet with Erestor and give him these scrolls,” Elrond finally answered.   “I will be back in a few minutes and show you then.   Wait for me here.”

* * *

Elrond closed the library door behind him and leaned against it for a moment.   His chagrin at being caught by his children soon turned to amusement, and a chuckle came from deep within him and he laughed aloud.

“A fine morning, then?” Glorfindel approached him from behind.

“Very fine,” Elrond grinned.   “Take these to Erestor. I will join you later.” Elrond entered the library again as Glorfindel took the scrolls with a bemused look and left to deliver them. Elrond paused to listen to the twins, who apparently had not realized he had returned.

“But how did you know they did that ?” Elladan was asking.

Elrohir laughed, and from the breathlessness of the laughter, Elrond knew he had been laughing.   “They do it all the time, El!   You just never see it.   I am sure other parents do it, too.”

“But Ada was kissing Nana’s breasts !   And she liked it!” Elladan exclaimed.

Elrond felt warmth rising in his cheeks at his son’s comment, and was torn between wishing they had not been behaving in the manner witnessed by their sons, and remembering how much he had been enjoying it too. He cleared his throat to announce his presence.

“Ada!   You were fast.   Now can you look at this map with us?” Elrohir asked, already leaning over the map again.

Elrond sighed and sat down at the table by his sons.   Elladan was still watching him with a dubious look, and Elrohir was waiting for him to start poring over the map.   He did not know which disconcerted him more.

“In a moment, Elrohir,” he answered, turning instead to Elladan.   “Elladan, I am sorry that your mother and I were not more careful about showing our affection where others were present.   We did not know you were in here.”

Elladan stared at his father for a moment. “We were going to jump out and surprise you,” he said after a moment, reproach in his eyes.

Elrond laughed.   “Yes, and you would have surprised us.”

Elrohir giggled, and Elladan glowered at him.   Elrond sighed.

“Elladan, what in particular upset you?” Elrond tried a different approach.

Elladan kept his head down, picking at the wrap on his splint.   “Elrohir knew that you did that and I did not.”

Elrond bit his lip to keep from laughing.   “So, you are not upset that I was kissing your naneth, but that Elrohir knew that we kissed like that?”

Elladan nodded and Elrohir giggled again.

“Elrohir, how exactly did you know that we did that ?” Elrond inquired.  

Elrohir grinned.   “I have seen you and Nana before, Ada.   And sometimes out in the gardens there are elves kissing, but not like you and Nana just did.   They only kiss on the face.”

Elrond nodded while biting the inside of his mouth to keep his laughter from bursting out.   Elrohir was very perceptive!   He turned his attention to the map.   “What did you want to know?”

“Ada, did you ever see something you were not supposed to see, like we did?” Elladan interrupted his father’s and brother’s musing over the map.

Elrond stopped and thought for a moment.   “Yes, Elros and I were once in Círdan’s library when we overheard something that was not meant for our ears.” He smiled as his sons sat at attention, waiting for him to continue. “It was not about kissing though…”

 ~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

“Quiet!” Elros whispered, laying a restraining hand on his brother’s arm.  He sank against the wall, pulling Elrond down with him.   He watched as several elves streamed in the open door, gathering around the large table in the middle of the room.

Elrond sat motionless, his keen eyes and ears focused on the powerful elves seated around the table.   They did not seem to know that the two peredhil were present, and curiosity to hear what would be discussed led the youngsters to not disclose their presence.  

“. . . men on the shores near Sirion,” Círdan began.   “More and more men are arriving from over the Blue Mountains, and they have traveled far even to come into Ossiriand.”

“Are they in league with Morgoth?” asked a voice unknown to either of the twins.

“By all appearances, yes,” Gil-Galad answered.   “Scouts have tracked them on a course to Angband. Men loyal to the Elves remain, but their numbers diminish, and they, like us, are pushed ever to the sea.”

“Morgoth will strike us when he senses the timing is right,” Galadriel spoke quietly.   “We are a small remnant of what used to be, gathered here on the Isle of Balar.   His Dragons and Balrogs increase in number, his orcs multiply and more men are drawn to serve him.   The day will come when they will seek to exterminate the last of the Elves from Middle-Earth.   Those of the Edain who stand with us shall fall with us.”

“Then what hope have we?” asked the unknown voice. “Do we sit and wait for our doom? Wait for death to claim us and our souls to be summoned by Mandos himself?”

Círdan stood.   “Our plea for help has been heard and help will arrive. We must continue to fortify our defenses here on Balar and aid the Edain who gather at the shores.”

“When, Círdan?   Do you receive any foreknowledge of when the Valar may come to aid us?” Gil-Galad asked, already knowing the answer but asking for the sake of those who did not.

“What confidence have you that the Valar will come?   Aye, a new star rose and you say in this there is a message of hope, a sign that your messenger was favorably received.   But what proof have you that this is true?” another unknown voice spoke.

“One who has seen a Silmaril in its glory knows that this is the star that sails the night sky,” Círdan answered simply.

“Messages may come by sea and by dream, by means that mortals may not comprehend and perhaps many an Elf cannot comprehend either,” Galadriel answered. “Aid shall come.   I agree with Círdan that defending this Isle and our allies until help arrives is the only course of action we can take.   We have not the strength to fight Morgoth, not even if everyone on this isle could bear arms and fight valiantly.”

“Then this is your council?” the unknown voice was incredulous.   “This is what the fair beings of Balar have to offer?”

“Men have not the strength to fight Morgoth, nor even to stop the flow of men turning to his side,” the first unknown voice answered.   “We sent for aid one who could speak for both kindreds. I believe the message has been received and we have only to wait for the Valar to act.   I shall council my people to wait.”

“Your people are welcome on Balar,” offered Gil-Galad.

“Your offer is kind and will be considered,” the voice answered, now distinguishable as a Man’s. “We will continue to reside in our own lands unless danger draws near.   Our scouts will continue to aid yours, in the hopes of extending the reach of our knowledge.”

There were other voices of agreement, and then chairs were moved and everyone stood as the visitors were escorted from the room. The room was soon quiet and dim, as the lantern had been extinguished. Elros finally shifted and spoke.

“Those were men from the mainland,” he said quietly. “I have seen some of them at the shipyards.”

Elrond was silent for along moment.   “Elros, nearly all of the Noldor elves that came to Middle-Earth have died.   Only Maedhros and Maglor and some of their followers, and Galadriel are left.   Gil-Galad is High King, but he was born here.   All of the great strongholds are destroyed – Nargothrond, Doriath, Gondolin, the Falas, and Sirion. We are all there is left.   Morgoth will come to destroy us. How do you think Círdan knows that help will come from Valinor? What does the sea tell him?”

Elros shook his head.   “I do not know what the sea tells him.   He has some power over it, for I have seen him raise his voice and silence the tumult.”

“Gil-Galad, Galadriel and Celeborn all believe him,” Elrond mused.

“What will Middle-Earth be like if it is rid of Morgoth and all who serve him?” Elros wondered.   “I would build a great port on the westernmost shore.   If the Valar do come, perhaps we can go to them when we want.”

“Do you like sailing the ships, Elros?” Elrond changed the subject.

Elros sat up straight against the bookshelf, his head leaning back to touch the bindings.   “I love the sea, Elrond.   I love the ships and sailing.   I have seen villages of men along the coast, and we speak to them and fish with them.   Someday I will build ships like Círdan and maybe even my own port.”

Elrond was silent again, deep in thought.  

“You have begun training with the sword,” Elros stated.

“Gil-Galad said all will be trained in the sword and defense, no matter what other craft they may practice,” Elrond answered.

“I think you will be quite good,” Elros turned to face his brother. “I watched you from the ship yesterday.”

“It is odd being the age we are.   The others in training are so much older than we are,” Elrond   spoke as he stood.   He held his hand out to his brother, and pulled him gracefully to his feet. “They are more skilled as well.”

Standing side by side the differences in the two was most remarkable.   Elros was taller by several inches, broader through the chest and shoulders and heavily muscled all over.   His skin was bronzed from long hours working under the sun at sea or in the shipyards.   His mind was astute and Círdan and others tutored him in the sciences and the craft of shipbuilding.

Elrond remained slender, his muscles lean and his skin pale.   His mind was very sharp, and while elflings of sixteen years played and learned at the rate of elven children, Elrond served in Gil-Galad’s court with elves more than twice his own age. Their long years of gathering knowledge and experience shamed and frustrated him at times, for their depth and breadth of knowledge far exceeded his own.   

Elros eyed his brother up and down, noting the fatigue and weariness that seemed to infuse his very being.   He felt suddenly angry, wondering why Gil-Galad could not see this in one who lived within his own household. “You are tired, brother,” he said suddenly.

Elrond yawned and then shook his head sharply.   “I am glad for the swordplay, for it is a good skill to have and I wish to defend our people should the need arise.   But the others are more advanced, so the master works longer hours with me.   All of the young elves serving in Gil-Galad’s court have studied the arts of healing and history and lore, whereas I have barely begun them.   I have much to learn yet,” he admitted ruefully.

Elros was silent for a long moment, reflecting upon the differences in circumstances between them.   “At sea I am able to do what others my size can do, and they readily teach me what I have not yet learned.    I think perhaps they ask more of you, brother, than might be possible.”

Elrond bristled at Elros’ words, and Elros stepped back a pace.   “Come, Elrond, you are weary, as am I. Let us go beg a snack from the kitchen and then lie on the beach under the stars.   If that star is the Silmaril, perhaps our father or mother is with it, and we can think of them this night.”

Elrond allowed his brother to lead him to the door. “I wonder if our father and mother felt as we do, having both mortal and immortal blood,” he mused as the door closed behind him.

* * *  

Círdan sat silently in the corner until the twins had left the room, and then rose to his feet and left himself. A small smile caught at the crook of his mouth, for he well recalled the way Eärendil and Elwing had risen as Lord and Lady to their people, when by age they were still children in the eyes of the Eldar. Eärendil had been the pride of both kindreds, and in Elros Círdan saw the same fiery determination to build and explore and succeed.  

But about Elrond he would speak to Gil-Galad, for in this child the mortal blood ran thin. His desires and skills were of elven-kind, and could not be mastered in the short years of a mortal life. A picture of Ereinion at sixteen, less than half the height Elrond now stood, playing in the shallow waters of the Falas came to his mind.   The child had explored everything deeply and thoroughly – much as the one he mentored longed to do.

* * *

Gil-Galad strode into the dining room with his characteristic flare and smile to notice that only two places were set.   Círdan grunted in reply to his greeting and continued eating and perusing the scroll in his hand.

“Where are Elros and Elrond?” Gil-Galad finally asked.

“Sleeping,” Círdan replied.

Gil-Galad waited for further explanation, then sighed in exasperation when none was forthcoming.   He rose to go wake the wayward youths.

“Let them sleep,” Círdan ordered.

Gil-Galad resumed his seat and stared expectantly at the gruff old mariner.   Círdan finished his review of the document and then neatly rerolled it and set it to the side.  

“You are pushing Elrond too hard,” Círdan stated without preamble.

Gil-Galad looked surprised, then narrowed his eyes in suspicion.   “He has not come to me with complaints of his education and training.”

“Nor has he come to me,” Círdan informed him.   He stared at Gil-Galad for a moment, garnering the picture of him as an elfling.   “How did you spend your days when you were sixteen, Ereinion?”

“I hardly think that Elrond would be content to play with elflings half his size in the pools near the beach,” replied Gil-Galad dryly.

“I agree,” replied Círdan amiably.   “Yet he has started swordplay with elves who have been swinging a blade since before he was born.   His strength nearly matches them, but his grace does not.   So he works many more hours to try to match their skill.   He is one of the brightest minds I have known; yet his schooling is many, many years less than those he serves in court with.   So the child reads late into every night, absorbing all the knowledge he can to be on equal ground with the others.   He is but a child, Ereinion, and a very weary one at that.”

Gil-Galad was quiet for a moment.   “If you saw all this, why did you not speak of it before?”

Círdan snorted.   “I did not know, because I am as blind as you.   They overheard our conversation in the library last evening, and I then overheard theirs.”

“Why has Elrond not spoken to me?” Gil-Galad asked curiously.

“Because he does not see this himself.   Elros has returned from two weeks at sea, and much was clear to his eyes, for he loves his brother.”

“How is it that you convinced him to sleep this morning?”

Círdan flushed slightly, but none but one who knew him well would notice.   “I convinced him without his permission.”

Gil-Galad laughed aloud.   “You sedated the child!   Círdan, what possessed you to do such a thing?”

“I looked deep into his eyes and saw a weariness that should never be seen among children.   It is the weariness I saw in you when you came to the Falas, the weariness of children who are pushed to their limit. I regret that I had not seen it before,” admitted Círdan.

Gil-Galad sobered at the statement.   “I will adjust his training and schedule, Círdan.   Perhaps I will take a few days with him to determine where we must alter his course.”

* * *

Gil-Galad stood in the doorway to the twins’ room.   They still preferred to share a chamber, and Elros sat now on the edge of his brother’s bed as Elrond slept. Elros turned to meet Gil-Galad’s eyes.

“Why is he still sleeping?” Elros asked, confused. “It is long past noon and soon evening will be upon us. He will be most upset that he missed lessons and training.”

Gil-Galad sat on the other side of Elrond’s bed and gently stroked the dark hair away from his face, tucking it behind an ear.   The youngster did not stir.

“Círdan sedated him,” admitted Gil-Galad, a slight smile tugging at the corner of his mouth as he saw Elros’ eyes widen.   “Elrond pushes himself past endurance and we did not notice, Elros.   You are both yet children.”

Elros grinned.   “He wants to know everything.   He wants to who everybody was, and everything they did, and why they did it, and how. He wants to know why things work, and what plants are good for, and how to heal the sick.   He wants to know about men and dwarves and why Morgoth is here and all about the Valar and Maiar in Aman.”

Gil-Galad smiled back at Elros.   “One day he will be my greatest councilor for all those reasons.”

“Gil-Galad, how long will we live?”

Gil-Galad did not even pretend to not understand the question.   “I do not know, Elros.   You and Elrond are the only Peredhil in Middle-Earth, your mother and father left while still young, and your grandfather Dior died when he was still young by the reckoning of either kindred. I do not know, once you are fully grown, whether you will age only slowly as the elves, or quickly as do the mortals.”

Elros was quiet for a long moment as he watched the slow rise and fall of his brother’s chest. “When do you think the Valar will come?” he asked quietly, not daring to meet Gil-Galad’s eyes.

Gil-Galad laughed softly.   “So you did overhear that.   I do not know, Elros. Ask Círdan, for his knowledge comes through the sea – perhaps from Ulmo himself.    He is very confident that they will come, as is Galadriel.   Of those living in Balar, they are the only ones to have met the Valar face to face.” He rested his hand briefly on Elrond’s chest, then rose.   “Come, he will not wake for some time yet.   I hear that you visited a sea-village of men.   Come and tell me what you heard and saw there.”

Gil-Galad escorted Elros from the room and shut the door softly behind him.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond looked at the somewhat troubled faces of his sons as he finished the story, and paused when Elrohir seemed to gather his thoughts to ask a question.

“Ada, you and Uncle Elros were fast growing, like the mortals?” Elrohir finally asked.

“Yes, we grew very fast.   We were fully grown by the time we were twenty years old, whereas the elves were fifty years old before they were fully grown.”

“Ada, are you glad you chose to be an elf?” Elladan asked.

“Yes, I am glad.   If I had not, I would not have met your mother or had you for my sons.”

Elrohir flashed a grin and giggled.   “Then you would have no one to kiss like that .”

Elrond rolled his eyes and tugged on a black braid.   “Now I must join Erestor and Glorfindel.   I will see you at lunch.”

As the door shut behind him, Elrond heard laughter and a final snippet of, “Someday I am going to kiss an elleth like that.” He pressed his palms to his forehead and massaged it, then looked up as he heard footsteps approaching.

“Elrond, have you seen the twins?” Celebrían asked as she neared him, concern in her eyes over his apparent headache.

“Yes, they are in the library.   I would not go in there, meleth-nín ,” he warned.  

She looked at him quizzically, and he grinned lecherously at her.   “They have been in the library all morning, melethril .”

“Oh,” she murmured, then patted his hand and began to lead him away.   “You have answered all their questions, I trust?”

“For now, Celebrían.   Might we strike a bargain, dearest? When we have this daughter, you will answer all such questions.”

“Certainly, Elrond. I agree to answer all questions she asks me,” Celebrían clarified with a smile.

* * * * *

Meleth-nín-------------my love
Melethril---------------lover (f)


Chapter 17 Men and Elves

Glorfindel folded the gown over his arm and tucked a thin blanket over it and the small bag of accessories hanging from his wrist. He opened the door to his chamber quietly, peering out into the corridor to ensure it was devoid of people before venturing out on his errand. Once sure the hallway was clear, he moved swiftly towards his destination. He heard a noise as he started to turn the corner, but was unable to avoid the ensuing collision.

The blanket, bag and gown fell as he caught the elf who had collided with him, one arm wrapping about her waist and pulling her to his chest as the stack of garments she had been carrying scattered across the hallway floor.

"Lord Glorfindel!" she cried in dismay.

Glorfindel cast an amused glance at the young female elf in his arms, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment when she looked up and found herself within inches of the elf-lord's face. She squirmed away from him, jumping back as if burned.

"I am sorry! I did not see or hear you coming," she said, the horrified look still upon her face. She dropped gracefully to her knees and began gathering up the fallen items.

Glorfindel laughed. "It is as much my fault as yours, my Lady," he answered gallantly. "Please, allow me to assist you."

He reached to pick up the item closest to him, but heard her gasp and felt the item ripped from his fingers an instant later. He looked at her in surprise and saw her frantically stuffing the garment, a lady's shift, into the bottom of the pile she was forming. Unwilling to cause her more distress, he stepped back a few paces. He watched her for a moment, then recalled her name, for he had seen her about the house.

"Amariel? Is that your name?" Glorfindel asked kindly.

Color rose in her face as she slowly looked up at him. "Yes, my Lord."

"I apologize if I have caused your further distress," he said as he reached to gather up the blanket covered gown he had dropped.

Amariel grabbed the bag that had landed near to her items, but it opened as she lifted it and the contents spilled out on to the floor. Her eyes widened in surprise, and then she cautiously lifted the pink hair ribbons.

"I am returning those to their proper owner," Glorfindel attempted to explain himself. He reached for the bag, causing the blanket to shift across his arm, exposing the fabric of the gown. To his surprise, Amariel pulled the dress from his arm, and then flew to the opposite wall.

Glorfindel watched as she held up the gown, turning it around and then opening the lacings to look at the workmanship inside. She dove for the bag of accessories and gathered them to her, sorting through them quickly. When she next looked at him, her eyes were filled with righteous indignation.

"You!" she said, as she rose to her feet. "Why did you take my things?"

"No, you misunderstand me. . .," Glorfindel tried to explain as he felt his own face flush.

She gave him no chance to explain himself. With an inarticulate cry, she flung the items on top of the pile of clothes she had been carrying, and scooped them up into her arms. With tears in her eyes she hurried off down the hall, not once looking back. Glorfindel could see the slight shake of her shoulders and heard her sob once before she disappeared around the corner.

"Do you often make the house staff cry with your insensitivity?" asked Erestor as he approached Glorfindel from behind.

Glorfindel sighed and then turned to face him. "You know I did not take those things!"

"Perhaps not, but she thinks you did," answered Erestor with a frown. He paused for a moment. "Celebrían would never intentionally cause distress to one of the young maidens. She is so kind to them. . . maybe she is not the one who put those things in your pack."

Glorfindel's eyes narrowed and he clenched and unclenched his fists. "No, but I could think of some others who might enjoy playing me for a fool regardless of the feelings of a young maiden like Amariel," he growled.

He grabbed the blanket from the floor where it had fallen when Amariel grabbed her dress and tossed it on to a nearby bench, then strode out the front door of the house.

* * *

Amariel pushed open the door and dropped the load of clothing on to a chair, one more sob escaping her as the door closed behind her. She then collapsed in giggles on the couch next to Celebrían.

"Did you hear all of it?" she asked, finally ceasing her laughter to draw in a breath of air.

"Oh, you were perfect, Amariel!' Celebrían managed to say, before laughter overtook her again. "He was mortified! The poor dear. . . . if it were not so amusing to see him finally on the receiving end of a foolish prank, I would feel quite bad for him!"

Amariel bounced to her feet and grabbed her gown. "So, do you think I should wear it to the Hall of Fire tonight?" she asked, her eyes sparkling.

"No, my dear," Celebrían sighed contentedly. "This is enough Glorfindel torment for one day." She patted Amariel on the arm as the maiden sat back down next to her. "He is really very kind and will now wish to appease you. I expect you will receive flowers or he will ask to escort you on a walk about the grounds where he can apologize formally. He had nothing to do with your clothing, but he will be quite distressed that you were upset." She looked slyly at the young elf. "He is quite charming. . ."

Amariel blushed. "I would truly be embarrassed if he asked me to walk with him, but I would accept a bouquet of flowers."

Celebrían laughed with delight. "Well, accept gracefully, but do not cause any hurt feelings with that handsome young guard who sits at your side most evenings in the Hall."

"Sorontur is very handsome, and he is also very kind," replied Amariel, suddenly becoming serious. "We are in love, Lady Celebrían," she confided. "Sorontur was trained by Glorfindel. He said that Lord Glorfindel praised his skill with the bow, and might have him help teach some of the younger warriors."

Celebrían smiled and encouraged Amariel to tell her all about her love, while inside she laughed still at the golden warrior who charmed everyone around him. Eventually she might have to confess. . . but for now she was enjoying seeing the delight of the challenge in his eyes as he attempted to unravel the mystery.

* * *

Elrond picked Elladan up and sat him on the examination table, stacking several cushions into a pile for him to rest his arm upon. The child flinched slightly when he touched the pins holding the wrapping in place.

"There will be no pain, Elladan," he reassured him.

Elladan's eyes flashed and he sat up straight, then slouched slightly when he saw his father and Elrohir watching him. Elrond smiled; his Elladan was tough and had been about to protest that he was not scared, but then saw no need to impress his father or brother.

Elrond unwrapped the bandages and removed the splint, cradling the pale and slightly shrunken arm in the palm of his hand. He wiped a cool cloth over the skin, then began to gently massage the limb, feeling each muscle and tendon and bone beneath his sensitive fingers. He manipulated the wrist and each finger, and was pleased when Elladan squeezed his fingers with appropriate strength.

"Your arm has healed well," he pronounced.

Elladan grinned as he lifted his arm, and began to twist it and move it all about. He slid to the floor and did a silly dance as he bent his wrist and waved, smiling from ear to ear and humming a little tune.

"Ada, me too?" Elrohir looked imploringly at his father.

Elrond smiled and lifted Elrohir into his arms, kissing his forehead and then replying, "Not yet, Elrohir. Your foot needs a few more days in the cast."

Elrohir looked crestfallen as he watched his twin dance about the room. He sighed and rested his head against his father's shoulder for a moment, his fingers idly twisting the fastenings of his father's robe. He perked up when he saw the Man watching them from across the room.

"Ada," Elrohir tugged on his father's sleeve. "May we go visit Albast?"

"Albast! Ada took my splint off!" called Elladan when he saw the man reclined on a low couch, smiling at Elladan's antics.

Elladan looked to his father for permission, and when Elrond nodded he raced across the room to show Albast his arm. Elrond carried Elrohir to join them.

"Your arm looks as good as new," Albast agreed as he inspected the wrist the child held out to him in joy.

Albast looked up as Elrond approached, and Elrond saw the man's gaze rest on Elrohir. The man patted the couch next to him.

"Come sit with me, Elrohir, while we watch your brother dance," said Albast kindly. He tapped the bindings on his own broken leg. "Our casts can keep each other company."

"You have a cast now too!" Elrohir said suddenly. "When did you get that? Did you get hurt again? Did you try walking on it too soon?" He squirmed a bit in his father's arms, and Elrond set him down near the couch. Elrohir reached out to touch the cast, then stopped and looked at the man for permission.

"You can touch it," Albast assured it. "It does not hurt anymore."

Elrohir ran his hands down the cast, much larger than his own for it ran nearly the length of the man's leg. His curiosity piqued, he pulled himself up to sit next to the man.

"How did you hurt it again?" Elrohir repeated his question.

Elrond sat down on the edge of the couch and folded the thin blanket up, uncovering the man's legs. Elladan drew close to look and Elrohir leaned forward to watch their father as Elrond gently bent Albast's good leg.

"Albast was very badly injured in the rock slide," he explained, watching as Albast relaxed beneath his touch, and his sons focused on his motions and words. "These bones in that leg were broken," he explained as he ran his hands over the unbroken but battered leg, "and only now is the swelling reduced and the wound healed enough to cast the broken bones. Albast has not reinjured himself; he has healed enough that we are ready to move on to the next stage of healing."

"But, Ada, Albast was hurt before us," Elladan said, confused.

"He was hurt first, but his injury was worse than yours," explained Elrond. "Also, you are an elf, Elladan. You heal very quickly. Albast will heal well, and he is healing fast given the severity of the injuries, but Men heal more slowly than Elves."

"How long does Albast have to have this cast on?" asked Elrohir, unconsciously wrapping his hand around the man's in comfort.

"In several weeks I will check his leg and perhaps change the type of cast to one he can walk on a crutch with," Elrond answered. He noted that Albast's eyes had closed and the man made low noises of satisfaction as Elrond massaged the muscles. He knew that the other healers did this several times a day as they helped Albast move and strengthen his unbroken limbs.

"Oh," answered Elrohir softly, and Elrond knew that suddenly his little one did not feel so bad for having to wait several days to have his own cast removed. Elrohir lifted his casted foot and carefully set it down next to the man's leg. Albast opened his eyes and regarded the child with a smile.

"I would like it if you two were to paint my cast," said Albast, "if your father agrees."

Elladan and Elrohir both turned to their father expectantly and he laughed at the excited looks on their faces. "Yes, they may, but it will be different than painting Elrohir's cast," Elrond warned them. "You cannot move Albast's leg, or twist or turn it or have him lay at funny angles."

"We could ask Glorfindel and Erestor to help!" Elrohir said excitedly. He turned to Albast. "They are very good artists."

Albast grinned and squeezed the small hand that still held his. "I would rather it was just you two who did it. I will show it to my nephew when I return home."

"No painting today, though," Elrond decided. "Not until tomorrow or the next day, after the cast is completely hardened."

"Ada, when did you learn to be a healer?" Elladan asked suddenly.

"I started to learn about the healing arts when I first served in King Gil-Galad's court," Elrond answered thoughtfully. "We were taught many things, about lore and history, but also about all living things."

"Did you heal Men and Elves?" Elrohir added.

"Yes, some of the first people I ever treated were men," Elrond answered as he thought back to that time. "There had been an attack on one of the settlements of men on the coast of Beleriand. My brother Elros helped to fight off the attackers."

"Ada, will you tell us the story?" Elladan and Elrohir asked together.

Elrond was about to answer 'not now', that he would tell them later, when Albast spoke.

"Master Elrond, I would like to hear the story too, if you would allow. We learn of our history, but you were there. You are the brother of my first King."

Elrond heard the awe in the Man's voice, and thought again of the tapestry of threads that wove his life - and those of his sons - to these Men of Westernesse. Elros' blood flowed through their veins; the blood of his beloved brother long since dead and passed beyond the circles of this world. Yet in these Men Elros still lived, his blood thinned and weakened perhaps, but still with the legacy of a promise that remained unfulfilled.

"As you wish," Elrond answered. "Elros and I were about twenty years old, nearly full-grown, as is the way with men, and Círdan and Gil-Galad had taken us to sea. . ."

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

"That is Brithombar," Círdan called over the wind to Elros and Elrond as they stood at the side of the ship.

Elrond's sharp eyes took in the remnants of the stone quays and brick buildings that lined the waterfront of the destroyed sea village as Círdan maneuvered the ship into the bay where the waters of the River Brithon emptied. Elros jumped at the call of an order, leaving the rail instantly. Elrond watched his brother climb into the rigging and raise and fold the sail, his hands moving so quickly and deftly that Elrond could not follow the precise motions of the maneuver. Elros then slid down the mast and jumped to adjust a smaller sail.

"He will sail his own ship one day," said Gil-Galad as he rested against the rail next to Elrond.

Elrond turned to look at Gil-Galad for a moment. The King's eyes were twinkling but he appeared impressed as he watched Elros perform his duties on the ship. Elrond turned back to study Elros again, listening to his brother's easy banter with the other sailors and watching the combination of grace and strength of movement as he climbed the masts and maneuvered in the rigging.

"I was ten years old when I was sent to live with Círdan at Brithombar." Gil-Galad had turned to face the ruins of the havens. "My grandfather Fingolfin had great friendship with Círdan, and his people helped the elves of the Falas to wall and fortify their cities after they first arrived from the west. The stonework you see was created by the hands of the Noldor exiles."

"How did Círdan know he could trust any of the Noldor?" Elrond asked, his eyes roaming over the quays and buildings as they sailed slowly by. He watched as seagulls circled a broken pier, diving and swooping to the water amidst the stone pillars remaining near the shore.

"Círdan had no reason not to trust the Noldor when they first arrived," Gil-Galad answered. "They did not speak of their reasons for leaving Aman, nor did they tell of the kinslaying or the curse and doom laid upon them. Those living here in Middle-Earth had been assailed by Morgoth upon his return, and only the Falas and Doriath were safe. Fingolfin and his sons, including my father, and the sons of Finarfin fought against Morgoth, as did the sons of Fëanor. They were united against a common enemy."

"King Thingol did not trust them," Elrond stated, but his voice betrayed his confidence and his statement sounded more like a question.

"Celeborn lived in Doriath, and Galadriel came to dwell there also, for King Thingol was kin to her mother. Ask them your questions, Elrond. They will tell you with honesty what happened in Doriath," Gil-Galad encouraged him. "I do not believe that Melian trusted the sons of Fëanor and she advised Thingol of her distrust."

Elrond was silent for a long while as they passed the length of Brithombar. He could hear Círdan pointing out landmarks, explaining the trade and industry of the Falas, what certain buildings were used for and the great battle that eventually destroyed the city. He had heard of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

"The city was so great in size!" one elf exclaimed. "Where are your people? How comes it that there are so few in Balar?"

Elrond recognized the elf as one who had come from Gondolin, part of the small remnant that had escaped with his father, Eärendil, and grandparents Tuor and Idril.

"They are gone, dead or enslaved," Círdan answered quietly. "The might of Morgoth came with fire and engines that prevailed against the great stone walls. Only a remnant of the Falathrim escaped by ship. As with you of Gondolin, Dúilinn, few survived the fall of the city."

"Did you know King Turgon?" Elrond asked Gil-Galad.

"No, I never met him. One did not come and go from Gondolin," Gil-Galad replied. "My uncle's law did not allow for visitors, for his hope of safety lay in secrecy. Few knew where the entrance to Gondolin lay. My father died in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, when I was a child of twenty-six, about half the size you are now. The Kingship of the Noldor passed to Turgon at that time, and when he died in the Fall of Gondolin thirty years later, the Kingship passed to me. All of the sons of Fingolfin and Finarfin were dead. Only Galadriel of that generation yet lived; and of mine, only myself and my cousin Idril, your grandmother.

"So the curse is real," Elrond murmured.

"Yes, the curse is real," Gil-Galad agreed. "Those of us born in Middle-Earth face the same penalty as our parents and grandparents; should we have children they will also live under the curse and doom of the Noldor."

Elrond again fell silent, his keen mind sorting all the names and places and facts carefully for future reference.

"Do you wonder where you should swear your loyalty?" Gil-Galad asked.

Elrond looked up in surprise. "No, you are my King," he answered solidly.

"I was not seeking your favor," Gil-Galad answered with a laugh. "You have a mighty heritage, Elrond. King Thingol was your great-great grandfather; Melian the Maia your great-great grandmother. King Finwë of the Noldor was your great-great grandfather as well. You descend from the three mighty houses of the Edain. You are a mixture of many bloods and kinships. You may claim all, and all may claim you."

Elrond stared out at the sea, noticing that the sails were fully catching the wind and they were now well underway again, heading down the coast, as planned, to see the fallen tower of Barad Nimras and then Eglarest, the other fallen city of the Falas.

"I had not considered that any might claim me, nor that any would have purpose in doing so," he finally answered. "All of the elves living now in Beleriand call you King, and to you I do swear fealty, whether you seek my favor or not."

Gil-Galad's eyes shone with pride in his young charge. He would have expected loyalty from one raised within his house, but more importantly, Elrond's wisdom and modesty regarding his own heritage pleased him. He did not judge one kin more harshly then another, and instead looked to a common purpose instead of blood to decide where to place his loyalty.

"My grandfather built Barad Nimras as a lookout to watch for the approach of Morgoth," Gil-Galad pointed down the coast to the cliff where the remnants of the tower stood. "It was destroyed with the Falas. Morgoth has never yet attacked from the sea, but I do not want us lulled into a false sense of security on the Isle of Balar."

Elrond pondered this for a moment as he pictured the geography of Beleriand in his head. Many hours he had spent pouring over maps in Gil-Galad's study and learning of the tactics used by the enemy. The enemy drove the Men and Elves to the sea, but they did not use it to their advantage.

"When did Círdan build on Balar?" he asked suddenly.

Gil-Galad smiled. "He did not build there originally," he informed Elrond. "Fingolfin built up Balar as a last refuge for the elves. He did not live to see it used. Círdan completed the building when the remnant of the Falathrim escaped there after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad."

Elrond saw the pride in Gil-Galad's eyes. "Your grandfather was very wise."

Gil-Galad laughed with pleasure. "So was your great-grandfather."

Elrond pondered the statement for only a moment before laughing with Gil-Galad. "I wish I might have known our common ancestor," he said wistfully.

"And I as well," Gil-Galad agreed with him. "I wish you might have known your father, Elrond. He would be pleased with his sons."

Elrond nodded seriously, his gaze turning again to seek his brother. "Elros especially."

"Eärendil and Elros share a love of sailing and the sea, and they are similar in temperament," Gil-Galad followed Elrond's gaze to Elros, who waved at them from his spot in the crow's nest of the rigging. "But Eärendil would take great joy in you as well. He would have found, as I have, that your mind is keen and wise, and seeks knowledge and truth. And you aren't bad with a sword."

Elrond laughed again, but treasured the praise for both his mind and his growing skill with the blade. He had worked long and hard to develop the grace and strength that seemed to come naturally to the elves in his group.

"I was but a child when the Falas were destroyed," Gil-Galad was serious again. "We escaped Brithombar as the walls fell. Many a brave elf paid for our escape with their lives. Many of my friends escaped, but lost their fathers and grandfathers and uncles. Others I knew did not survive. I saw houses burn, elves killed by the wicked scimitar of the orc and the flames of the dragons. We passed Eglarest, where even fewer escaped. We could see the flames from the ship far into the night." Gil-Galad paused. "Círdan watched it all. He was stoic, watching his people die. Never had he lost so many; never before had the walls of his Falas been breached. One of the mothers tried to pull me from the rail, but Círdan let me stay at his side. He seemed to know that the day would come when all of the Noldor would fall and I would be named King. He raised me to remember that responsibility. He did not shield me that day from the horror of our utter defeat."

Elrond had watched Gil-Galad's face as the King stared out over the water, his eyes fixed on the ruins of the tower that they were passing. He saw the grief and sorrow on his face, felt the deep emotion in his spirit as he remembered those who had died. Unconsciously his hand slid to cover Gil-Galad's and he focused his energy on that deeply held sorrow.

Gil-Galad had flinched slightly when Elrond's hand covered his own, but he did not withdraw, and Elrond closed his eyes as he instinctively gave comfort to his guardian. He felt a strange tingling through the contact of their skin and felt the song of the sea weaving into the melody he felt between them. He smiled as he felt Gil-Galad relax beneath the touch and some of his sorrow drift away. When he opened his eyes he found Gil-Galad staring at him curiously.

"Elrond, what just happened?" Gil-Galad asked softly. "What were you trying to do?"

Elrond jerked his hand back, but Gil-Galad caught it in his own and held it. He turned the palm up, as if expecting to find something hidden there. He looked at Elrond expectantly.

"I do not know, exactly," Elrond answered truthfully. "I wished to take away some of your sorrow, but when I touched you it was as if there was a connection in the spirit, in the melody of our songs."

"When you were small and in captivity with Maglor and Maedhros, we had a spy that watched you and learned much of your treatment in their hands. He said that Maglor had such a touch that he could strengthen you when they feared you would fade."

Elrond's eyes darkened and narrowed at the mention of the brothers. He started to speak, but Gil-Galad interrupted him. "Maglor offered his own life to his brother in payment for releasing you."

Elrond's anger turned to surprise. "He did?" he asked in disbelief.

"Maglor sent a messenger under a flag of parley to the Havens while he himself hid you and marked the location so that we could find you. Celeborn led his troops to meet Maedhros, and it was Maglor that rode between them and offered himself in forfeit, on the condition that no more blood would be shed," Gil-Galad explained. He watched Elrond closely. "He loved you enough to die for you."

Elrond found himself speechless and turned his gaze out to sea, as Gil-Galad had done earlier. His momentary rise of anger dissipated as quickly as it had come. "I do not know what to say," he finally responded, his eyes fixed firmly ahead.

"Your mother put you and Elros into the hands of your nurse before taking the Silmaril and leading the attackers away from you. She knew she could not give up the jewel, so she cast herself and it into the sea. Her choice can be seen as placing the Silmaril above all else, but her actions also saved your life."

"Why are you telling me these things?" Elrond finally asked.

Gil-Galad laughed. "I do not know. You just diminished my sorrow and I felt your spirit sing with mine, Elrond. It is rare even in a healer to have such a touch. Perhaps I am just searching for reasons why you would have developed such a gift, or maybe I am seeing what has been poured into you through the sacrifice of others. "

"I had not thought of it that way before," Elrond admitted.

"Many things in your life have not been ideal," Gil-Galad said, and Elrond thought he flinched at his choice of words. "You are of mixed race, and there has been much uncertainty and even mistakes made in your upbringing because we did not know how to adjust for your development. You were slow to speak and trust adults, because adults in your life had not proven trustworthy. Your family is mostly gone, killed by kin and evil. But do not doubt that there have been equal measures of sacrifice and love given to you. You have but to look for them."

Elrond smiled as he felt Gil-Galad's strong hand close around his. While the touch was not healing in the sense of what Elrond had just imparted to his guardian, it was the familiar touch of one who had poured large measures of love into him.

"I will not forget," Elrond promised.


Elrond turned at the call of his name and glimpsed his brother again in the small lookout in the rigging. Elros waved, motioning for Elrond to join him. Elrond turned to Gil-Galad, who grinned and nodded towards the sky. Elrond whooped in return and made his way to the mast. He quickly gained his footing and scaled the rigging, climbing the last feet carefully, before settling next to his grinning twin.

"Getting more lessons in the history of Beleriand?" Elros asked as he pulled Elrond on to the small platform next to him. He looped his arm through Elrond's, conscious that his brother was not used to climbing about the sails and rigging.

"Gil-Galad was speaking of his grandfather, our great-grandfather," confirmed Elrond as he looked out over the land to their north. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You can almost see forever from here."

"I love being up here," agreed Elros. "Sailing should be smooth to Eglarest. We can stay up here until then. This is the bird's nest, and sometimes when the ship is in port the birds will roost here. When we are at sea, this is called Elros' nest."

Elrond laughed and leaned against Elros, allowing his brother to play protector to him while in his nest. Elros loosened his hold slightly when Elrond relaxed against him.

"Tell me about your sword training. I have heard you are becoming quite good," Elros said, squeezing Elrond's arm in several places. "You're finally developing muscles, little brother!"

Elrond laughed good-naturedly at the ribbing. Elros had surpassed him in height and strength quite early in their childhood and had pointed out his own physical superiority at every opportunity. Of course, he also had no qualms about using that strength to Elrond's benefit either.

"We have been learning defensive techniques against the curved scimitar of the orcs," Elrond answered. "Do they teach you this?"

Elros laughed. "Long ago we learned that. Many of the sailors on this ship sailed with Círdan when he would launch attacks against Morgoth's forces. They would land and strike, then return to their ships knowing the orcs would not follow for they feared the water. Some fight with pleasure, for nearly all have lost family to the orcs." Elros pointed to a sailor standing near the prow of the ship. "He has taught all of the younger sailors. Perhaps he will spar with another or me later, and you can see his skill. He even taught Gil-Galad."

Elrond listened as his brother pointed out different elves and told of their strengths and their families, why they sailed and where they were from. Most of the sailors were Círdan's people, but survivors of all the realms seemed to be represented. Elros then told him of the ship and the sea, his excitement both palpable and catching, as he spoke of currents and tides, sea villages he visited, peoples he had met on landing, and the different types of ships they sailed. Elrond found himself pleasantly comfortable in his brother's presence - his brother's arm yet wrapped about his own, his pleasing voice describing so vividly all his adventures, and the sound of the sea adding its own harmony to the words. Elrond knew that little of his life of study would hold Elros' interest, but that if he wished to speak of it Elros would listen for as long as he wished to speak, and even help him to think through problems and issues. But here at sea he found that Elros' voice complemented the sea best, and he allowed their song to wash over him as the voice of the wind blew through the sails.

* * *

"He is asleep," Gil-Galad said incredulously.

Círdan glanced up at the nest and met Elros' eyes. "Elros will not let him fall."

Gil-Galad turned an exasperated look at Círdan. "I know that Elros will not let him fall. Elrond wished to see the coast of Beleriand, though, and now he is sleeping through it."

Círdan smiled as he watched the brothers together. Elros was at home in his nest high above the sea, but to his surprise Elrond appeared nearly as comfortable as he swayed slightly with the rocking of the ship and the caress of the wind upon him. "Elros will wake him when there is something to see." He watched as Elros shifted, allowing Elrond's head to rest against his shoulder. Círdan heard the familiar voice of the sea speaking to him, the whispered words of great joy and great sorrow that would separate the children of Eärendil one day to the fates appointed to them. He forced his gaze away from the young peredhil above him and turned his ancient eyes westward, for the sea also promised that the hope and future of all the children of Ilúvatar lay far from the shores of Beleriand.

* * *


Elrond awoke with a start and would have sat up abruptly if not for the restraining arm of his brother. He turned his head to look at Elros and felt the blood creep into his face even as Elros grinned merrily.

"So my voice puts you to sleep, little brother," he teased. "I am still deciding if I should be offended."

When Elrond tried to speak, to apologize, Elros just shook his head and tightened his arm about his twin. "Do you see why I love it up here? The wind and the waves soothe the body and spirit," Elros explained. "Sometimes I tether myself to the mast and sleep up here." He grinned suddenly. "It is why I called you up here."

"So I could fall asleep and nearly make a fool of myself tumbling to the deck below?" Elrond grumbled half-heartedly.

"So you could hear and feel the sea and the wind all about you and in you. So it could wash over you and remove the tension that was all about you when you boarded the ship," Elros answered, refusing to be baited. He smoothed his brother's hair back from his face. "And because I have missed you." He tugged on the hair. "And because now you owe me your life for not letting you fall to an embarrassing death at the feet of your king."

Elrond leaned over and looked down to see Gil-Galad watching them with an amused look. He sat back upright and leaned against Elros. "He still thinks I am a child and now I have it proved it so," he muttered.

Elros laughed merrily and hauled his brother to his feet as he stood himself. They clung to the mast, and looked at the ruin of Eglarest that was fast approaching on their port side. The scene was much as they had seen in Brithombar, with crumbling stone and brick walls overgrown with weeds and grasses, the quays with gaps missing where the engines of Morgoth had broken through the stone.

Elrond felt Elros grip his arm tightly and he looked up, following his brother's gaze further down the coast. "Smoke," Elros said. "Fire!"

Elros yelled the last word, gaining the attention of all on board. He pointed down the coast to where a growing plume of smoke was rising in the air.

"All hands to arms!" Gil-Galad shouted.

"What is it?" Elrond turned to Elros and saw the combination of eager anticipation and anger crossing his brother's features.

"Listen," Elros replied as he stepped into the rigging, pausing for just a moment as he waited for his brother to hear the faint sounds. "Battle. That is a sea village of men. They are under attack!"

Elros slid quickly down the mast, watching to make sure his brother could follow with ease as Círdan swiftly turned the ship to race to the beleaguered village.

Elrond felt the deck beneath his feet, and then Gil-Galad was thrusting his armor and sword into his hands. He felt his training take over as he quickly fastened the straps and ties about his chest and abdomen and then slid the arm and leg coverings on and tied them in place. He tied his sword belt about his waist, and felt the comforting weight of his sword come to rest against his hip. He looked up to see Elros similarly outfitted and standing at the prow of the ship, as if wishing the vessel to reach her destination faster.

"Take this." Elrond took the chest of herbs, bandages and surgical supplies that Gil-Galad thrust into his arms. "You are to stay to the rear and help the wounded. Fight only if you need to."

Elrond opened his mouth to protest, but Gil-Galad cut him off. "You have no battle experience, Elrond. And right now I do not know if we shall be outnumbered or if this is a small band that we will slaughter. If it is possible to do so, I will bring you up to gain some experience. But your healing abilities may be of greater value to us than your sword."

Elrond turned his head at the sound of shouts and realized they were already nearing the small village. The docks were too small to allow their ship berth, and he watched as small boats from their ship were lowered to the water, and others were being rowed towards them from the dock. Women and children were crowded at the water's edge, many already in boats, and up the small hill from the shore he could see orcs and men in battle, their cries and the sounds of metal hitting metal drowning out all other sound around him. He watched in fascinated horror as he saw an orc cut down, its black blood gushing from a mortal neck wound.

"Come!" Gil-Galad grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to the rail. Elrond leapt nimbly down into the boat, the chest secure in his arms and his sword at his side. His eyes were fixed on the shore as he realized he was about to enter into his first real battle.

* * *

Author's Note: . I will reference the sources of information I used about the Falas in the next chapter. Most of the information Gil-Galad tells Elrond comes straight from the Silmarillion, but some of the detail comes from HoME volume XII.

Chapter 18: Elves and Men Part II

Screams and shouts from the shore drew Elrond’s eyes to the women and children crowding into small boats at the docks.  He was stunned to realize that there were Men attacking them with swords and knives.  Men of the village stood between the attackers and their helpless victims, fighting them back, but falling in alarming numbers. Elrond found himself studying the men, searching for differences that would help him tell them apart. His keen eyes noted differences in clothing and hair, as well as weapons.

The small boat in which Elros rode reached the shore first.  Elrond watched him leap on to the dock and draw his sword as he ran forward into the battle.  Those waiting near the shore called shouts of relief and encouragement as the elves joined their fight.  Elrond watched in a mixture of fascination and fear as his twin hewed down a man who was about to kill an injured villager.  The villager sagged in relief as the sword he had expected to end his life never fell, and instead the man wielding it crumpled over.  A second thrust of Elros’ sword ended the attacker’s life.

All of the elves in Elros’ party surged up the shore towards the village, killing or causing the attackers to retreat away from the docks.  A second boat reached the docks and those elves followed the first ones, further pushing the battle line back away from the women and children.   Elrond’s small boat reached the dock next, and he leapt on to the dock and would have raced after the other elves if not for the restraining arm that caught his shoulder.

“Tend the wounded, Elrond,” Gil-Galad commanded.  “I will be directing our forces to bring the injured to you.  Perform emergency treatment only.  This is not the time to stitch wounds or set bones.  Stop the bleeding and ease the pain, and we will worry about the rest later.” The king paused, considering the young peredhil.  “Watch your back and do not leave your sword for any reason.  You may have to defend yourself and your patients.”

With that Gil-Galad charged forward into the battle, directing two other elves from their ship to carry some of the injured mortals to Elrond.

Elrond clutched the supply chest tightly for a moment, watching Gil-Galad leave; then the sounds around him invaded his consciousness.  He heard the crying of the children and the weeping of the women, mingled with the agonized moans of the injured and dying.  He quickly scanned the docks in the fading daylight and found a suitable spot from which he could tend the injured.   He moved swiftly to it, setting down the chest and throwing several blankets Gil-Galad had left with him on to the rough wood.  He rose and hurried to the first injured person.

“Bring the injured here!” he called as he gathered the injured man gently in his arms and carried him to the blankets. 

Elrond quickly assessed his first patient, noting the confusion in the man’s eyes and the vast amount of blood that covered his upper body.  He rapidly located the deep laceration in the man’s skull, now beginning to clot but still in need of a bandage to slow the seepage of blood. He looked around him and saw several women near the children.

“You, women, come and aid me!” he commanded them.  “Bring clean water if you have it.”

The women regarded him warily for a moment, but then two of them rose and came to do his bidding.  At his direction, they began to clean and wrap bandages around the man’s head, allowing Elrond to move on to the next man in need of his aid.

He worked as quickly as he could, skipping over some men to tend to one more severely injured, then returning to those who were waiting.  The two women proved able and aided him deftly, following his directions in the binding of wounds. 

The sounds of the battle had retreated as the men, reinforced by the elves, pushed the attackers back from the village.  The children had calmed and sat huddled with the older women on the docks or in the small boats.  The younger women were beginning to move among the injured, some providing aid, others comfort, and still others seeking knowledge of their kin. 

Elrond turned his attention to a man with a severe chest wound.  He could hear the wound sucking air, and knew the man’s lung was breached.   He realized that this man would die.  He bound the wound anyway, his hands trembling, when he felt the man’s hand weakly clutch at him.

“I am sorry,” he whispered as he bent near to the man, gently gripping the man’s injured hand in his own.

The man croaked, unable to speak, and then his head rolled limply to the side as the effort to keep it upright became too much.  Elrond closed his eyes as he stroked the man’s hair, willing the pain to leave the man and free his body.  He did not know where the spirits of men went, but he found himself pouring forth all the healing energy he could summon, not to save, but to ease this man’s passing.

Beneath his touch the man relaxed and sighed, and Elrond opened his eyes to see the man staring up at him, a slight smile on his face.

“Thank you,” the man mouthed; then he closed his eyes and moments later breathed his last breath.

Elrond did not try to stop the tears that flowed down his cheeks.  Gently disengaging his hand from that of the dead man, he stood, looking over the twenty or so injured men and women. His keen ears noted a slight sound from the reeds just behind him and he instinctively reached for the sword hilt at his side.  He stared into what was now shadowed darkness, for the sun was hidden beyond the tree tops.  A slight movement caught his attention, and he drew his sword as he moved swiftly down the dock and back to land to investigate.   He had just reached the sandy beach when a curved scimitar swung at him from the dark.

“Yrch!” he yelled as loudly as he could, while swinging his own sword to block the blow. 

The orc jumped towards him even as his blade was stopped by Elrond’s with a tremendous clank of metal and a bone jarring impact.  Elrond swung his sword around, completing the arc, and thrust from below, neatly decapitating the creature before him.  Another orc was already taking the first one’s place, and Elrond stabbed at it quickly, his keen eyes taking in at least three more orcs appearing behind the one he currently fought.   A momentary panic filled him as he realized he could not fight off a whole band of orcs himself, and that all that stood between the orcs and the injured men, the women and children was himself.  He felt a rage fill him, and he swung at the beast savagely, cutting it neatly across the chest and gut, felling it.  He spun to face the next orc, but his sword met resistance and he was knocked backward by the force of the parrying blow.  He did not fall, however, and even as he regained his balance he was thrusting his blade again, injuring one orc and causing another to step back lest it be hurt as well. 

The three orcs had formed a semi-circle around him, and he noted in his peripheral vision several more orcs slipping past them and heading towards the docks.  He knew the innocent were about to die, unarmed women and helpless children, and injured and defenseless men.   A roar filled the air, deafening him with its intensity and causing even the orcs to step back in surprise.  It was only then that Elrond realized the sound had come from him.

An answering call was returned even as Elrond threw himself into what had been his first and now seemed likely to be his final battle.  The three orcs were playing with him, he realized, and his rage grew.   To his amazement, one of the orcs fell and Elrond impaled the one next to him, who had let down his guard in surprise at seeing the one next to him fall.  Elrond quickly pulled his sword from the orc’s body and spun and swung at the remaining orc, only to meet thin air.  He twisted further than expected at the lack of resistance and then fell to his knees and rolled, regaining his feet swiftly.  He looked about him in the gathering darkness, towards where the orcs had first appeared, but saw nothing.


At the sound of his name being called he spun around, his sword lifted high, and found himself face to face with Gil-Galad.  The king had his sword raised as well, and lightly touched it to Elrond’s.  Elrond stared at him in shock for a moment, and then raced forward to the docks.  To his relief, he saw only dead orc bodies; they had not reached the villagers. He lowered his sword.

“Elrond,” Gil-Galad spoke again from behind, and Elrond felt the king’s hand on his shoulder and then a light squeeze at his neck.  Elrond looked down at the dead orc near his feet and despite having beheld much blood as he tended dozens of wounds, he felt bile rising in his throat. He was unable to stop its passage and leaning forward, he vomited next to the orc.

Gil-Galad’s hand never left him, and now his arm snaked around Elrond’s chest and supported him as he retched.  He felt his sword removed from his hand and then Gil-Galad’s hand was back, smoothing his hair. When the spasms subsided, Elrond straightened, wiping his mouth with the tunic sleeve just visible below his armor.  Gil-Galad still held him about the chest, and to Elrond’s surprise, gently turned him and pulled him into an embrace.

Elrond rested his face against Gil-Galad’s shoulder, feeling the coolness of the metal armor beneath his cheek. He allowed himself to be comforted for only a moment, then pulled back and looked up at his king.

Gil-Galad smiled and ran his hand down Elrond’s hair one last time, holding him at arm’s length.

“There are more injured.  Shall we tend them?”

Nodding wordlessly, Elrond turned towards the docks, his hand moving instinctively to his sword hilt, which was not at his side.  He spun around to see Gil-Galad still standing there, Elrond’s sword in his hand.  The king wiped the blood from the blade, and then tossed it to him.  Elrond caught the hilt and thrust the weapon back into its sheath.

As soon as he appeared on the docks, the women who had been helping him cried out in relief and one of them grabbed his hand and kissed it.  Tears of joy ran down their faces.

“We thought they had killed you,” the one sobbed.

“They did not,” Elrond answered softly.  “There are more wounded; come, I need your assistance.”

Elrond worked into the night.  As others came to assist, he turned over the task of providing immediate aid to them, and began the work of stitching up wounds and setting broken bones.  With each one he would lay his hand on their forehead first, and as time went on he could better control the healing energy he imparted.  Patients calmed beneath his touch, and their pain diminished, allowing him to stitch and set their wounds. A healer from the village joined him, as did Círdan and another elf Elrond did not know, and they worked with Elrond, stitching up those he aided first and tending to some of the more minor wounds.

Elrond felt exhaustion overcoming him, a bone weary tiredness unlike anything he had experienced before.  He was glad he was working on his knees, for he did not think his feet could support him.  Círdan worked at his side, stitching up a leg wound with all the skill he used to tend his sails and nets, and Elrond noted the perfect even stitches even as the world spun around him.   He felt himself falling, but he was so near to the ground that he only ended up sitting at a more awkward angle as he struggled to keep himself upright with one hand.  He heard fading voices around him, and then nothing more.

* * *

Círdan eased Elrond to the rough wood of the dock, next to his patient, and then quickly finished the last several stitches to close his patient’s leg wound. Gesturing for one of the women to come and spread healing salve on the wound and bind it, he turned his attention back to the young half-elf curled up next to him.

He noted the slow, shallow breaths and the pale color of Elrond’s face, despite the flickering torchlight that cast a golden hue on all else.  Círdan unfastened the bindings and ties of Elrond’s armor, removing the leg and arm plates, and then the pieces covering his chest and abdomen.  His eyes narrowed, confused, for he saw no wounds.  He stood, his eyes scanning the darkness until he saw Gil-Galad’s familiar figure on the shore.

“Erenion!” he called.

Gil-Galad came quickly, for only Círdan called him by his original name.   As he approached he saw Elrond laid out next to his patients, and he moved swiftly to the side of his young charge.

“Elrond!” Gil-Galad shook him gently even as he ran practiced hands over the still form, checking for injuries.  He turned to look up at Círdan.  “What happened?”

“I do not know,” Círdan answered gruffly.  “He appeared to be more exhausted as time went on, and then collapsed. It is unlike him; he does tire more quickly with his mortal blood, but . . . .”  Círdan’s voice drifted off. “Each patient he touched he soothed, and they felt little pain.”

Gil-Galad nodded as he turned his attention back to Elrond.  He recalled the tingling touch when Elrond had sought to comfort him earlier in the day.  “Somehow, each time he touches like that he must drain himself,” Gil-Galad speculated. He looked down at the many men lying in the temporary infirmary.  “He has touched many this night.”

A shout from shore caught both of their attention.  A group of men and elves were returning, victorious, as they had killed or routed the last of those who had attacked them.  Those on the docks who had been waiting for news of their families and loved ones swarmed forward, seeking husbands and fathers, brothers and sweethearts.   The elves moved aside, allowing the men to rejoice with their families, and in some cases, comfort those who now realized that a loved one was not returning.

With a grin on his face, and many pats on the back following him, Elros moved through the men to join Círdan and Gil-Galad on the dock.  He was nearly upon them when he realized the one they were kneeling near was his twin.

“Elrond!” With a cry of anguish, Elros called his brother’s name. He dropped to the wooden dock, pulling Elrond’s still form into his lap and cradling his head in the crook of his arm. 

“He is not injured,” Gil-Galad reassured Elros even as Elros rested his palm over his brother’s chest and felt the slow rise and fall of each breath.  Elros sagged in relief and bent over his twin’s still form.

“Was he hit in the head?  Where is his armor?” Elros choked out the words.

“I just removed his armor, and he was not hit in the head,” Círdan spoke sternly.  His gruff tone served the intended purpose as Elros straightened and calmed himself.  “He fought bravely against orcs that attacked from the shore, and he has tended all these injured you see before you,” Círdan explained once he had Elros’ attention.

“He has drained himself in tending them.  I do not entirely understand it,” Gil-Galad added.   “Take him back to the ship, Elros, and make him warm and comfortable in my cabin.  We have more to do here but will join you later.”

Elros carefully got his feet beneath him and gently lifted his twin.  He carried him to one of the small boats, where other elves aided him in settling Elrond and then paddled them back to the ship.

Gil-Galad watched them leave and then rose and returned to find the leader of the village, to resume discussions on where the injured should be further tended and what defenses the village could mount in case of another attack.  Already the small council had refused to vacate the village and come to Balar, where they might join with the elves, adding to their defense and enjoying the safety of their numbers. 

Círdan gazed west for a moment before resuming his stitching of the wounded.

* * *

Elros smiled gratefully at Magor, the swordmaster, as the elf took Elrond from Elros’ arms and lifted him on to the ship.  Elros picked up Elrond’s sword and leapt nimbly on board, calling ahead, “Take him to King Gil-Galad’s cabin.”

Magor arched a brow as he looked back over his shoulder at Elros, but did as asked, depositing the young peredhil on the bed in the King’s private cabin. 

“He handled his sword well for one who is barely grown,” Magor admitted.

Elros turned to the elf in surprise.  “You saw him fight?  How did he do?”

“Get your armor off,” Magor instructed.  “You are done fighting this night.”  Magor waited until Elros had begun to remove his armor before continuing.  “We heard the cry of ‘yrch’ from the docks, and the King recognized the voice as Elrond’s.  We hurried to the shore and spotted Elrond fighting with the orcs as they emerged from the underbrush and reeds on the beach.  Elrond did well; he had dispatched four orcs and was working on his fifth when more appeared, some surrounding him and others making their way to the docks.” Magor slipped a pillow beneath Elrond’s head.  “Elrond gave a roar that I think startled even him and began to fight furiously.  He nearly lost his edge, but then seemed to control his anger.  I took out one orc with a knife that I threw when Elrond moved out of my line of fire.  He killed the second, and when he spun for the third I had thrown my second knife, killing that one.   Gil-Galad and Reviar killed those approaching the docks.”

Elros had finished removing his armor and stacked it in the corner of the room.  Magor pointed at the washbasin on a night table, and Elros moved obediently to wet a cloth and begin to wipe the sweat and blood from his face and hands. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Magor asked as Elros dampened another cloth and began to clean his twin’s face and hands.

“For saving my brother’s life.”

Magor shook his head.  “There is no debt among warriors, Elros.  Your brother saved many, many lives tonight.   Someday perhaps he will save mine.”

Elros crawled up on the bed and reclined against the cushions at the headboard.  He pulled Elrond into his arms and began to gently stroke the dark hair that he had released from the ties that held it back from his brother’s face.  He looked up at Magor when he realized the older elf had ceased speaking, and found him watching the brothers intently.

“Who taught Elrond the healing arts?  They exceed any that I know King Gil-Galad or Círdan possess.”

Elros shrugged.  “I do not know.  He has had many teachers on Balar, in Gil-Galad’s court.  But even Gil-Galad and Círdan seemed surprised by what he did this night.” He paused, thinking.  “Even when we were small children, though, Elrond had a healing touch. So did Maglor.”

“How did you fare in battle, Elros?” Magor changed the subject and laughed aloud at the smile that suddenly appeared on Elros’ face.

“I fared well indeed,” Elros responded gleefully.  “We joined with the defenders of the village and routed the eastern men and the orcs.  There were more men than orcs,” Elros added as he considered the battle. “Men fight fiercely, Magor.  I know they were defending their homes and families, but they fight and die bravely, despite the shortness of their lives.” He paused for a long moment, shifting Elrond slightly in his arms.  He smiled when his twin sighed and seemed to actually snuggle closer to him.  He looked up at Magor to see the older elf grinning as well.

“Does this surprise you, Elros?” Magor asked. “You have mortal blood and you fight bravely and fiercely.”

Elros paused for a moment, stumped.  “But I was trained by elves who have lived long  - for hundreds and even thousands of years.  They have had much time to perfect their skills and have had many experiences in battle.  These men – most would still be children if they were elves.”

“You are still a child, Elros,” Magor answered, a twinkle in his eye, “just a fast growing one. Elrond is more a child yet than you – look at the difference in size between you two.”

“But this is what I mean,” Elros argued.  “I know we are different because we bear the blood of both kindreds, but Men live so fast!  They race through childhood and become adults, mastering the skills it takes to build and fight and raise families and survive in a short fraction of the time allotted to the elves!”

“You find them exciting,” commented Magor.

“I find them amazing,” answered Elros.  “Creative in ways that perhaps we are not.  Ingenious in how they solve problems.  Their battle tactics in routing the attackers were brilliant! The elves take a long time to find solutions to problems – they think and plan and evaluate and talk.  Men just do it!”

Magor remained silent after Elros finished his enthusiastic commentary. Elros watched him, wondering if he had offended the old elf, but Magor seemed nonplussed as he considered the half-elves before him.

“Of what are you thinking?” Elros finally asked.

“How much like a Man you are,” answered Magor with a slight smile. He stood and stretched before turning back to Elros.  “I will find some lembas and water to drink.  You need to eat now, and make sure your brother does when he awakes.”

Elros nodded as Magor left the cabin.  He curled his arm about his brother’s shoulders.  “We are not children, little brother,” he whispered.

* * *

Elrond slowly awakened, first conscious of the slight rocking of the ship and then of the sun streaming through a window into the cabin. He blinked a few times, staring at the wooden beams of the ceiling above him.  He had no idea where he was.

“You have finally awakened.”

Elrond turned slightly at the sound of Gil-Galad’s voice and saw the king sitting at his writing desk, quill in hand and a bemused look on his face. He realized then that he was in the King’s cabin, and pushed himself into a sitting position.  The room spun for a moment and he suddenly found himself lying flat on the bed again. He closed his eyes, willing the vertigo to depart and the room to stay still.

A cool cloth was laid upon his forehead and he heard Gil-Galad’s soothing voice telling him, “Easy, Elrond. The vertigo will pass.”

He opened his eyes after several moments and accepted a sip of water from a cup held to his lips.

“Am I injured?” he finally asked.

“Not by sword or spear,” Gil-Galad replied, “but perhaps by good intentions.” He broke off a bit of lembas bread and fed it to Elrond, who took it very reluctantly.

“I am sure I can feed myself,” he muttered ungraciously. 

Gil-Galad laughed, lifted Elrond’s hand to his chest, and stuffed a small piece of the waybread between his fingers.   When Elrond did not move immediately, he broke off another piece and held it to his lips.  “Eat, Elrond.  You have weakened yourself far beyond exhaustion, and I encouraged you to do so.  Allow me to assuage my guilt by aiding you.”

Elrond accepted the piece of lembas, his brow furrowed in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

Gil-Galad arched an eyebrow at him.  “You do not recall the dozens of wounded men you aided?”

Elrond scowled.  “I recall them,” he answered pointedly.  “I do not understand what you mean about weakening myself.”

Gil-Galad took Elrond’s hands in his own and focused all his energy on the young half-elf for a moment.   “What do you feel when I do that?”

Elrond shook his head slightly.  “Nothing.  Am I supposed to feel something?”

Gil-Galad smiled.  “What happened when you focused yourself on each patient?  What did they do?”

“They relaxed,” Elrond answered tiredly.  “They seemed to not feel the pain and we could care for them much more quickly and with less distress.”


Elrond blinked.  “Why?” He looked at Gil-Galad in disbelief for a moment.  The king knew nearly everything.  He had never yet failed to answer Elrond’s questions adequately, but this time he truly seemed to be asking Elrond for the answer to his question.  “I do not know.”

“Neither do I, exactly,” admitted Gil-Galad as he took advantage of the half-open mouth before him, slipping in a chunk of lembas and effectively silencing whatever comment Elrond had been about to make.  “Círdan says you have a healing touch.  When you comforted me on the ship yesterday, I felt a surge of energy flow from your touch.  It soothed me and diminished my sorrow.  It did far more for your patients, but apparently it is a limited commodity, at least at this point in your young life.” Gil-Galad held up his hand as Elrond opened his mouth to argue the point about his age. “You healed many, then you fought the orcs, and . . .”

“And then I got sick,” Elrond interrupted, his face reddening at the memory. “I am sorry I . . .”

“Everyone gets sick after their first battle, and some for many more battles after the first.  Do not apologize,” Gil-Galad dismissed his concern and instead pressed another bit of lembas into his patient.  “Then we encouraged you to keep on healing, and all those assisting you waited until you worked your magic before they set a bone or closed a wound.  Even Círdan could see that you were becoming exhausted, but none could know you would continue until you collapsed.”

“I . . . fainted?” asked Elrond, mortified.

Gil-Galad laughed aloud.  “Dead-away, and you have been blissfully unaware for hours. Elros and Magor brought you back to the ship not long afterwards.”

Elrond closed his eyes as he felt the heat rise in his face.  He had fainted in front of everyone?  His brother had carried him to the ship, and other warriors and sailors had witnessed it? His disgrace was so great he could not even look at his king.

“You have been given an amazing gift, Elrond, perhaps from the Valar themselves,” Gil-Galad continued, his voice gentler and the laughter gone.  “Never before have any of us seen such a thing, and none are more appreciative than the villagers you helped to save.  They witnessed your skill in healing, but also your bravery when you fought the orcs. You were surrounded and yet you continued to fight.  You did not run or hide, but made them fight you to get to where your patients lay.”

There followed a long silence as Elrond gradually regained control of himself.  Once he knew that no further tears would spill from his eyes, he opened them to find Gil-Galad watching him intently.   Gil-Galad wet a handkerchief and washed his face, wiping away the tears that had dared wet his cheeks without comment.  He gave him another sip of water before continuing to feed him the lembas.

“I am very proud of you and Elros.  You both performed admirably. I hope that you will forgive me and the others who pushed you beyond endurance,” Gil-Galad finished.

Elrond started to answer, but could not find the right words.  Did Gil-Galad not think him weak?  He lay in the King’s bed in the King’s cabin, and was tended by the King himself  - perhaps Gil-Galad was not embarrassed by his failings?

A knock on the door interrupted them and saved Elrond from having to speak at all.  Gil-Galad opened the door and was nearly knocked aside as Elros barreled past him and pounced on his brother.

“You are finally awake!” Elros grinned as he flopped next to him on the bed.  He looked at the lembas pieces on the small plate and popped one into his mouth, ignoring the disapproving look from Gil-Galad.  “Is Gil-Galad feeding you like a baby?”  He picked up Elrond’s arm and dropped it, noting his twin did not even try to hold it up.  “You are still as weak as a baby.  Do you remember when I broke my leg and you had to take care of me until I could walk?  I get to return the favor!” Elros laughed aloud as he grabbed a small lembas chunk and pressed it to Elrond’s lips.  “Eat, little brother! Do not make me have to force you!”

Elrond laughed and Elros shoved the lembas into his mouth with delight.  He frowned suddenly, and turned to the exasperated Gil-Galad.  “I do not do diapers,” he informed his king imperiously.

Gil-Galad swatted Elros across the back of the head.  “Get him to eat all of this and drink the water, and he will soon be strong enough to not need your assistance with his personal needs.  I must speak to Círdan and the leaders of the village again before we set sail.”  His eyes twinkled as he looked at Elrond, now lying snug in Elros’ arms.  “He will not let you fall.” He laughed at the look of confusion on Elrond’s face and the look of glee on that of his twin as Elros shoved more lembas into his brother’s mouth, and left the cabin confident his young charge was in good hands.


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond finished the story, and as he allowed his vision to expand beyond his sons and Albast, realized his audience had grown considerably as many of the healers and members of his household were gathered around them.

“Ada,” Elrohir tugged on his sleeve.  “Did Elros have to help with your. . . personal needs?”

Laughter floated around them and Elrohir blushed slightly, but Elrond calmly answered him, “Yes, he did, and so did King Gil-Galad, until I had recovered enough to walk on my own.”

“Your healing touch, Master Elrond,” Albast spoke softly, “does it still drain you?”

Elrond was touched by the man’s concern, clearly reading his emotions to know that the soldier was concerned that Elrond had harmed himself while helping him.

“No, I have learned much since then, Albast,” Elrond responded kindly, moving his hand to rest on the man’s leg once again. He watched as the man sat upright in surprise as the tingling energy again flowed into him. “I have learned to control what I give, and to use the song of Arda and others to aid and replenish me as I work. What happened then would not happen now.”

A snort from behind Elrond made him smile and he looked over his shoulder to see Glorfindel standing with his arms crossed over his chest and a look of disbelief on his face.

“Although, should I extend myself beyond that which I am capable of, or should I be in need of someone to forcefully care for me after overextending myself, Glorfindel willingly fills the role that Elros and Gil-Galad served so long ago,” amended Elrond.

Another ripple of laughter filled the room and Elrond was pleased to hear Glorfindel’s tenor adding voice to the amusement.

“Elros was amazed by Men?” Albast asked tentatively.

“Elros was fascinated, amazed and excited by Men,” Elrond answered truthfully.  “He loved the fast pace of their life and their ingenious methods of solving problems and the way they created new ways of doing old tasks.”

The room remained quiet after Elrond answered the question, and he rose, lifting Elrohir into his arms and taking Elladan by the hand.

“Now, we will leave you to your rest, Albast,” he said with a slight bow and his face carefully masked of any emotion. With his sons in hand, he smiled at his staff and departed the room.

Elrohir wrapped his arms tightly about his father’s neck as Elrond carried him down the hall, then laid his head against his father’s shoulder and whispered, “I wish we could have known Elros, Ada. I think he was a good brother to you.”

Elrond hugged the small body tight.  “I wish you could have known Elros, too.  And he was as fine a brother as I could ever have wished for.”

* * * * *

Author’s Notes:  Since I am writing this story as a ‘history lesson’, I feel compelled to make clear what is stated in the Silmarillion or HoME and what I am making up.  Would hate to start any fanon trends *grin*


  1. Maturity of Elrond and Elros:  I am showing them maturing at the rate set by their mortal blood based on the other mixed race children: Dior, Eärendil and Elwing.  They each married (Eärendil and Elwing to each other, as parents to the twins, and Dior to Nimloth, as parents to Elwing) and had children by the time they were 30 years old, so I decided to follow suit with Elrond's and Elros's development.
  2. This is not new to this chapter, but I thought it was good to say it again:  The age of Elrond and Elros is unknown when Sirion falls; we know they are fostered with care by Maglor, but we do not know for how long or where, and we only know that Elrond chooses to stay with Gil-Galad at the end of the first age.  I have used information from Tolkien’s letters about the twins being found in a cave, but even that does not say who found them. For my story, I have them being raised by Círdan and Gil-Galad, and Celeborn was involved some as well. It just worked best this way to show Elrond learning skills that would be of value to Gil-Galad, for Elros to develop a love of the sea (he built the greatest sea-going nation ever in early Númenor) and for Elrond, at least, to be present at the War of Wrath (as he says he is in the FotR, Council of Elrond).
  3. Maglor being willing to die for Elrond: It might have happened, but is something I made up earlier in the story.  It does not contradict canon, however.
  4. Círdan’s friendship with the Noldor elf Fingolfin, the help of the Noldor in rebuilding and strengthening the Falas, and Fingolfin’s role in developing Balar and building the tower of Barad Nimras: these comes from the Silmarillion (Chapter 14: Of Beleriand and its Realms) and HoME Vol XI (Part One: The Grey Annals).
  5. Gil-Galad was fostered to Círdan at the age of ten, and escaped by ship with him during the Battle of Unnumbered Tears when Gil-Galad was about twenty-six years old;  the Falas were destroyed at this time by great engines of fire and strength. They settled on the Isle of Balar, built by Gil-Galad’s grandfather, Fingolfin, as a last refuge for the elves.
  6. Some elves of all the realms of Beleriand attached themselves to King Gil-Galad after the Fall of Sirion. There was a mix of Sindar, Noldor, green elves and possibly men of the Edain living in Balar.
  7. It is unknown where the rest of the Edain lived after the elven realms fell.  The Silmarillion and HoME just do not say.
  8. Elrond’s healing skills:  Most of this is made up and I have been influenced by fanon.  His skills as seen in LOTR seem rather magical, and thus I have given him some unique healing skills.

If anyone wants direct references, please let me know.  I am aware that HoME has other pieces of information on some of these topics suggesting everything from Gil-Galad’s parentage being different to who was or was not living in Balar.  I think it is nigh impossible to reconcile HoME to all of Tolkien’s works, and I am not using the references as ‘canon’ – but as just my way of incorporating other ideas and thoughts Tolkien had into the story.

Chapter 19: Making Plans

Elrohir awoke in the pre-dawn quiet. He sat up noiselessly, looking at his still slumbering twin and then at the moonlight that was peeking in through the sheer curtains blowing gently in the breeze at their window.  He sighed audibly. It would be hours before daylight and his parents awoke.

He flopped back down on his pillow, exasperated.  Why did he wake up so early?  It certainly made more sense if one managed to stay sleeping until the last moment, because then if you were looking forward to something, it would happen all that much faster. Elrohir pondered his logic for a moment.  Well, it sort of made sense.

He slipped the sheets down over his casted foot, and crawled to the end of his bed.  He managed to reach over, unlatch the chest and raise the lid, having practiced the awkward movement on more than one occasion.  The lid flopped quite far back, and he slipped his hand in from the side, feeling for the leather scabbard.  It was exactly where he had put it – right where he could reach it, without even needing to see it.  He slid it out of the chest and shut the lid as silently as he could.  It made a dull thud as it closed, but he knew Elladan would sleep through that small noise.

Settling back on to his bed, leaning against his headboard, he laid the sword in his lap and ran his hands over the pattern of the scabbard.  He very much wanted to pull the sword out of its sheath, but he had promised Ada he would never draw the sword in the house.  He knew that he really could not hurt himself while sitting on his bed with it, but a promise was a promise.

He swung the sheathed sword above him, smiling at the swishing sound it made as it sliced through the air. How he had missed sword practice!   And they had only had one lesson with Daerada with their new bows before being hurt!  He bounced his casted foot on the bed. 

“Today you are coming off,” he whispered to the cast on his foot.  “I will save you forever, but you will sit on a shelf after today.  I want to run and shoot arrows with my bow and dance with a sword, and I cannot do any of those things with you attached to me.”

The cast remained silent. Elrohir sighed.  He fingered the buckle that held the sheath in place on the sword, then flicked it open.  He pulled lightly on the sword, until he could just see the shine of the metal.  He stared at it for a moment, as if mesmerized.  His words of promise came back to him. Guilt flooded through him, and he quickly pushed the sword back into the sheath and fastened its buckle.

“You are too much of a temptation for me,” he told the sword, rather dramatically.  “I shall put you away and get up, so I cannot be tempted by you again.”

With that he rose and readied himself, putting on clean clothing and washing his face and hands.  Elladan slept on as Elrohir slipped from the room and moved quietly down the darkened halls. He had not been up this early in the morning before, and he was fascinated by the slight echo that interrupted the silence each time his cast touched the wood floor.  As he neared the Hall of Fire he heard the slow, low tones of a ballad being sung. He crept near to the door, surprised to learn that some elves really did stay up all night. The song made him melancholic, not sad but thoughtful, and he slipped through the open doors so that he might hear better.  A small group of elves was gathered in the middle of the room, seated on cushions and rugs, and some had lutes and harps and other instruments.   Some were strumming their instruments while others sang. Elrohir had heard such music before, but for some reason it seemed different to be hearing it in the twilight.  Starlight and moonlight twinkled in through the large open windows that ran nearly floor to ceiling, shining on the elves as they sang, and enhancing the glow of the singer.

Elrohir entered, willing his cast to silence, and crept as near as he dared, shielding himself behind the low couches and benches that ringed the room. He slid a cushion from the bench in front of him, and lay down on it, his chin resting on his crossed arms, allowing him to watch the singing elves from behind and beneath the bench.  He closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift with the crescendo of the music, feeling it flow through his body and make him feel as if he were riding in the air with the notes.

Lost in the music, he jumped when a large warm hand came to rest upon his back. He turned his head slightly, his face burning, to see who had caught him in this place he did not have permission to be. It was Glorfindel.  He smiled wanly.

To his surprise, Glorfindel smiled back, pulled another cushion from the bench and laid it next to his, then lay down so their heads were nearly touching.  They spoke no words as Lindir continued his haunting ballad, and several times Elrohir stole a shy glance at Glorfindel, surprised to see his eyes closed.

Lindir finished, and there were low murmurs from the elves as they discussed the next lay they wished to sing. Glorfindel rolled to his side, facing Elrohir, and tucked the elfling’s loose hair behind his ear.

“Why are you up so late, Elrohir?” he asked.

Elrohir opened his eyes wide in surprise.  “I am not up late; I am up early,” he whispered.

Glorfindel laughed lightly.  “At this time of the night I suppose one is as accurate as the other.  Did you have a bad dream?”

“No,” Elrohir answered, shaking his head.  “I was too excited to sleep.”

“Excited for what?”

Elrohir rolled on to his back and lifted his cast in the air. “I get this off today!” he exclaimed softly. “Then I can run and practice swordplay and use my bow.”

Glorfindel nodded knowingly, and Elrohir smiled.  He knew Glorfindel would understand.

“I tried to lie quietly in my bed,” he confided, “but I was tempted by my sword, and I did not want to wake Elladan.”

“Swords can be a great temptation,” Glorfindel agreed.  He studied the child for a moment. “I think that couch would be more comfortable than this floor.  Shall we sit there and listen to the music?”

Elrohir smiled, surprise then joy evident in his eyes at Glorfindel’s suggestion.  He sat up and put his cushion back on the bench, then took Glorfindel’s proffered hand and walked with him to the couch.  They settled upon it, Glorfindel placing a pillow in his lap, and Elrohir sprawled out next to him, his head on the pillow and his eyes on the musicians.  Several of the elf maidens rose and began to dance as another song was begun, and Elrohir was entranced by the grace and beauty of their movement as they twirled slowly around the outside of the small circle. Their hair was loose, swirling about their shoulders and swinging freely as they dipped and swayed. Elrohir was amazed, for they seemed to be part of the music, as if it flowed through their bodies and controlled their movements.  He found himself relaxing under Glorfindel’s soothing hand, which gently stroked his hair, and soon fell fast asleep.

* * *

Celebrían entered the Hall of Fire quietly, the soft swish of her skirts the only noise in the now silent space.  The musicians and dancers had departed, leaving only the sleeping elfling and his keeper on the comfortable couch.  Glorfindel had sent word to her that Elrohir was in the Hall with him.  She approached them silently, the sight of one of her sons deep in slumber a cherished vision to her mother’s heart.  He looked so innocent, and she was grateful for these years of carefree childhood.

She smiled at Glorfindel as she knelt down at his knee, her hand reaching immediately to stroke her son’s dark head.

“Thank you for watching over him,” she said quietly.

Glorfindel returned her smile.  “He could not sleep, he said, for he was excited about his cast coming off today.  I hope for his sake that Elrond determines it can be removed.” His long fingers reached over the cast, rubbing lightly over the scene with the gown hanging from the tree branches.

Celebrían’s smile widened as her gaze followed his fingers to the cast. “Lessons of patience are lost on young ones,” she agreed. “My father will be pleased, as he has been looking forward to teaching them archery, and they so enjoy their sword lessons with you and their father.   They will be glad when they can again do all they wish to do.”

Glorfindel appeared thoughtful for a moment. “Their childhood is idyllic in many ways.  I am glad they are growing up at a time when shadow has been vanquished, at least for a while.”

“They shall remember their trip to the waterfall fondly, for the joy they had before the accident, but as time passes they will also come to realize the sacrifices made for them that day,” Celebrían replied, her own fingers now tracing the scenes painted on the cast.

Glorfindel grinned slyly. “Of their mother’s deed they know not, for their father sent them off when the items were discovered.”

Celebrían sat back on her heels, an eyebrow arched in a look she had borrowed from her husband.  “Of what deed do you speak, dear Glorfindel?”

Blue eyes sparkled with mirth as they met hers steadfastly.  “You know of what I speak, dear Lady.”

Celebrían’s eyes twinkled merrily in return. “Do tell, my Lord.”

“Nana,” yawned Elrohir sleepily, interrupting them.  A slow grin spread across his face and he stretched, raising his arms.  Glorfindel caught his hand before it struck him, and Elrohir suddenly realized where he was. He sat up, leaning against Glorfindel’s side. “Is it morning? Is Ada awake?” he asked, excitement in his voice.

“Yes, Ada is awake,” answered Elrond from the door. He entered the room, coming to stand before his small son.  “Why are you not in bed, Elrohir?”

“I could not sleep, Ada,” Elrohir replied solemnly.  “Please, Ada, will you take it off today?”

Celebrían laughed aloud as she saw Elrond pondering whether to point out to Elrohir that he had been sleeping.  Instead a smile crossed his face and he answered, “I will look at it after breakfast.”

Celebrían laughed as Elrohir clapped his hands and slid from the couch.  He took the hand she held out to him, and with a wink at Glorfindel, she led her son from the room.

Elrond stood with arms crossed over his chest, staring silently at the powerful warrior seated before him.  A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he looked upon the suddenly innocent countenance of his good friend.  He sighed, and sat down next to him.

“Thank you for watching over Elrohir this morning,” he said graciously.

Glorfindel nodded.

“You were in discussions with Lady Celebrían,” Elrond prompted him.

“Yes,” Glorfindel answered.

A long moment of silence stretched out between them.  Elrond finally clapped Glorfindel on the knee and stood.  “My beloved wife I treasure and would protect from any misdeed. We are fortunate to have your loyalty, for I know that you too would keep any harm, large or small, from touching a hair of her head.” He smiled and nodded at the golden one, and then left the room.

Melodious laughter floated from the room behind him, and he knew his message had been understood.

* * *

“Albast, today I get my cast off!” Elrohir announced as he entered the healing rooms.  He moved quickly, the cast making its slight thumping noise as he made his way quickly to where the man reclined on a couch.

“That is good news, Elrohir!” Albast replied with a smile, as clasped the hand of the child.

Elrohir sat down cautiously next to the man, and studied him quietly.  The man’s face was ashen, and he looked ill.  Elladan skidded into the room and ran to join them, but he stopped suddenly as he saw his twin looking so grave.

“Albast, are you sick?” Elladan gently touched the man’s arm.

“I am feeling better than I was during the night,” Albast reassured them.

“I am going to get Ada,” Elrohir decided.

“I will go,” Elladan said, jumping to his feet.  He looked apologetically at his twin. “You will be able to run later today.”

Elladan reached the door just as Elrond entered. “Ada! Albast is sick.” He grabbed Elrond’s hand and pulled him to the couch.

Elrond’s gaze settled on Albast, and he quickly evaluated the man’s condition.  Other healers were hovering near, having tended him during the fitful night. He moved to the man, resting his hand upon the man’s forehead, then ran long fingers down the man’s face, feeling beneath his chin and down to the pulse point of his neck. He smiled with reassurance at his patient, but his eyes were masked and to those who knew him, his impassivity suggested deeper concern.

Albast had taken a turn for the worse two days earlier when a fever they had thought defeated returned during the long watch of the night. Elrond had tended him and had his sons kept away. The man had improved some during the day, but this second difficult night concerned Elrond. He finished his examination, his warm hands imparting strength and comfort to the man’s body and soul.

“We shall remove this cast,” Elrond told Albast as he ran his fingers lightly down the plaster. “I believe the wounds to your leg are the source of your illness now.”

Elrohir squeezed Albast’s hand.  “I am sorry we did not get to paint it for you,” he said sadly.

“I am glad you did not,” Albast answered sincerely. “For I would be reticent to ask you to paint another one, and I am sure my leg will eventually need another cast, one that will stay on for a longer time.”

“Yes, indeed,” Elrond replied with a smile.  “This is a temporary removal.”

Elrohir grinned happily then.  He turned to his father.  “Ada, I think you should take off Albast’s cast first.  I can wait.  My leg is not the source of any illness for me.”

Chuckles were heard throughout the room at Elrohir’s choice of words, but Albast squeezed the small hand tight, gladness in his eyes for this young one’s concern.  Elrond’s eyes shone with pride, for his son had thought of another’s needs before his own, and this type of behavior he wished to encourage.  But Elrond had to turn away to hide his emotion then, for Elladan had taken a damp cloth from the healer, and placed it gently on the man’s fevered forehead, his small fingers smoothing the man’s hair away from his face as he listened to the plans for his friend.  Elrond felt joy that his sons’ presence brought comfort to the man, but also fear, for Albast’s condition was worsening and his sons had never known grief.

“Albast first, and then Elrohir,” Elrond agreed. 

He nodded to Glorfindel, who had joined them, and then went to prepare his tools while the strong warrior gently lifted the feverish man and carried him to the padded table where Elrond would work. Elladan and Elrohir immediately moved to join them.

“Why don’t you two go play, and I will come for you when it is Elrohir’s turn,” Elrond said gently.

Elladan took Elrohir’s hand and pulled him close.  “Oh, no, Ada,” Elladan began resolutely and Elrohir finished the sentence, “Albast needs us.”

Elrond stepped back and drew them to him, bending down to meet their eyes.  “If I ask you to leave, you must go without question.  Will you promise me that?”

“Yes, Ada,” they replied in unison, and though their eyes questioned what they might see that would cause their father to send them away, their voices did not lend words to their thoughts.

Glorfindel situated the twins near Albast’s head, allowing them to hold his hand and keep him company as Elrond worked.  He kept a close eye on all involved – watching to see if Elrond should need aid removing the large plaster cast, if Albast should show signs of distress, and if the twins should see something that necessitated their removal.

After Albast winced twice at the slight jostling of his leg, Glorfindel held a cup to his lips and the man swallowed a draught of medication to numb his pain.  Elrond waited for the effects to be felt, and when he resumed his ministrations the man lay still and quiet.  He pulled the plaster carefully from the leg.  A putrid smell filled the air, causing the twins to both wrinkle their noses, but both leaned near to see the pus stained bandages that had been uncovered.  Elrond dampened the bandages, allowing him to free them, and it became quickly obvious that the wound, which had been nicely healing, was now grossly infected.  A warm compress over the old wound released more blood and pus, and the sickly sweet and metallic smell permeated the room.

Elrond examined the leg, his sure fingers discovering that the bone itself appeared to be knitting well, but the tissues and small blood vessels held infection.  He silently thanked the Valar, for if the bone became infected he feared they would lose the man to death. He flushed and cleaned the wound as gently as possible, then packed it with healing herbs and wrapped clean bandages about it.  He reattached the skeleton of a splint that would protect the healing bones, and then bound the whole leg in linens.

He had glanced at his sons several times, but they appeared curious and unfazed by the smells and sights they had witnessed. Elrohir continued to hold Albast’s hand, and Elladan stroked his hair and placed fresh cool cloths on his forehead as the healer handed them to him, throughout the entire procedure.

“Finished,” Elrond announced softly.  Albast only nodded to him, the medicine making him too sleepy to speak.

Glorfindel lifted the man with the same ease he would a small child and carried him back to his couch, settling him carefully amid the blankets and propping his leg on cushions. With a gentle touch he covered the man’s forehead with his own hand, and felt him relax again.

Elrond held out his arms to Elrohir.  “Are you ready?”

“Yes, Ada!” Elrohir cried.  He wrapped his arms around his father, squeezing him tightly, and as Elrond sat him on the high counter, he whispered in his father’s ear, “Thank you for taking care of Albast, Ada.  He is our friend.”

“I know,” Elrond answered. 

Elladan was quickly at his side, and Elrond lifted him to the counter as well.

“Now, how are we going to remove this so that we don’t damage the cast?” Elrond asked with a smile.

“I thought we were going to use this?” Glorfindel brandished a club over his head, causing the elflings to squeal with delight and pretend fear.

“No, Glorfindel!  You would break my foot all over again, with the cast!” Elrohir cried.

Glorfindel gently tapped the club against the cast.  “I would be gentle.  Truly, I would,” he tried to convince the child who vehemently shook his head at the statements while Elladan giggled.

“Ada, I think you better do it,” Elladan decided.  He whispered to Elrohir, who whispered back.  “We think Glorfindel is overzealous with that thing!” Elladan finished triumphantly.

Groans and snickers filled the room, and Glorfindel shook his head at Elrond.  “You must speak to that tutor of theirs. . . do you really want them sounding like a vocabulary text?”

“I can explain the words to you, if they are beyond your comprehension,” said Celebrían as she breezed into the room.  She hugged her sons and kissed her husband, then winked at Glorfindel before heading over to check on Albast.

Glorfindel scowled at her, then hissed in Elrond’s ear.  “It is not the hair on her head that needs harming, but her teasing tongue!”

Elrond laughed, delighted.  “I love that tongue,” he whispered playfully.  “Your loyalty must protect that as well.”

Glorfindel rolled his eyes, but laughed good-naturedly, and they set about the task of removing the cast with as little damage to it as possible. Elrohir sat patiently throughout the process, holding his breath at times, as Elrond painstakingly cut through the plaster until it could be removed from his foot.

Glorfindel took up the cast, eyeing the edge carefully.  “I will seal the edge back together, and you will hardly be able to tell where the cut is,” he announced with a smile.

Elrond was already busy examining the foot, washing it and gently manipulating it in all directions.  Elrohir was grinning and gave no sign of discomfort at any of the movements.  He pressed down on his father’s hand and provided resistance when Elrond pushed up on the sole of his foot, and the smile grew wider and wider until Elrond set him on his feet.

Elrohir took a few tentative steps on his foot, and then ran a few steps, finally turning in a circle and running back to throw himself at his father.

“Ada, I am healed!” Elrohir’s flare for the dramatic led to general laughter in the room; even Albast watched him from his couch with a smile.  He ran about the room, grinning at all who congratulated him and bestowing hugs on his mother and Glorfindel.

“Nana, where are Daerada and Daernaneth?”  Elrohir asked breathlessly. “I must go show them!”

“They are in the garden,” Celebrían replied, laughing as Elrohir grabbed Elladan by the hand and the elflings flew from the room.

“Lady Celebrían,” Albast spoke softly, gently kissing the back of her hand as she still held his, “your sons are a delight and a credit to this house.  They have aided my recovery immensely, as I believe Elrohir would say.”

Celebrían softly touched the man’s cheek, then leaned forward to kiss his brow.  “Your words are as music to my mother’s ear, for they are my pride and my joy. Thank you.”

She stood and with a final smile at the man, followed after her children.

Glorfindel snorted. “She glows, and he swoons at her kiss,” he complained.  He turned on Elrond.  “And you let her . . be her!”

Elrond laughed, the sound pure and lovely. “Come, mellon-nín, let us go join Celeborn and Galadriel in the garden.  A little tea will refresh you.”

Glorfindel scowled again outwardly, even as he delighted in the sound of Elrond’s pure laughter, and they left the room, Elrond stopping to assure Albast he would check on him later.

* * *

“Albast is a Man, and Uncle Elros was his first King,” Elrohir explained to his grandparents. “He especially liked hearing the parts of Ada’s story when Elros was in it.”

“How is Albast today?” Galadriel asked, as Elrond and Glorfindel entered the room.

Elrond’s face reflected the gravity of the man’s condition, even if his words remained neutral.  “We have drained the infection, which does not appear to be in the bone.”

“Is Albast a descendent of Uncle Elros?” Elladan spoke up.

“I do not know how direct of a descendent he may be, but in some ways you can say that nearly all of King Valandil’s people are descendents of Elros, as are the people of the Kings of Men in the south,” Elrond answered.

“So, that makes them related to us,” Elrohir surmised.

“Distantly, yes,” Elrond laughed.

“Ada, why did you choose to be an Elf when Uncle Elros chose to be a Man?” Elladan asked.

There was silence in the small garden, and all eyes were turned expectantly to Elrond.  He paused for a long moment before answering.

“I do not know that I considered my decision as a decision, but as a foregone conclusion, Elladan.  It was not something I thought about when the Valar told us we must choose. I was an Elf,” he replied.

“As Elros was a Man,” said Galadriel softly.

Elrond’s eyes flashed in a mixture of defiance, anger and disbelief at her words, for his heart refused to believe they were true, but Galadriel held his gaze unflinchingly.  Gradually his face softened, and he lowered his eyes from hers. He felt Celebrían’s arm wrap through his, and he allowed her into his heart. Her presence upon his mind was calm and tranquil, and as he let her feel his emotion he was surprised to feel her strength.  She rode the waves of confusion and anger, gradually calming the storm and easing his pain. He turned and met her eyes, and the love he saw there suddenly knocked down some of the barriers that had been constructed about his heart in his childhood years as if they had been made of straw.

“Tell me more about Elros,” she said softly.  “Tell me what it was like to live in those days before and during the War of Wrath, and to stand before the Valar and make your choice.”

She held his gaze, and she held his heart.  He twined his fingers with hers, and kissed her fingertips. “It was Círdan who first knew that change was coming to Beleriand. . .” he began, smiling at the delight on his sons’ faces.


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

“I need wood and workers,” Círdan announced gruffly.  “Ereinion, give me Elrond for a few days.  He can organize my plans and get the work started.”

Gil-Galad finished chewing the broiled fish, savoring the meaty flavor, before answering.  “Where is Elros?” he asked.

“At sea for at least another week,” answered Círdan. “But I want Elrond regardless.”

Elrond watched the exchange with curiosity.  Gil-Galad had him working on several projects involving defense of the isle, and he spent a fair number of hours in the healing houses as well.  He knew that Gil-Galad would send him to help with whatever Círdan wanted, but he would eventually get the information out of the old mariner that he wanted as well.

“I am sure we can arrange something,” Gil-Galad answered agreeably.  “What will he be doing?”

“I need wood to build more ships.”

“What will you use these ships for?” asked Gil-Galad, his curiosity truly piqued.

“Moving people and things,” Círdan answered, not looking up from the table.

Gil-Galad and Elrond exchanged glances, slight smiles on their faces.  When Círdan would not meet the eyes of those he conversed with, a mystery was at hand.

“Are there elves moving here?  Or away from here?” Gil-Galad queried.

“What kinds of things?  Animals?  Household goods?” Elrond quizzed him.

Círdan clapped his hand loudly on the table, and then tossed his napkin on to his plate.  Without meeting their eyes, he commanded, “Elrond, meet me here in the morning.”

Gil-Galad grinned devilishly. “Elrond is not available tomorrow.  He is meeting with the advisory council to go over the defense plans being implemented by the military council.”

Círdan snorted.  “These plans are more important than anything your councils have ever devised.”

“What word have you received, Círdan?” Gil-Galad finally asked, his tone serious and respectful.

Círdan sighed audibly. “The word to build more ships.”

Elrond moved to sit closer to Círdan, who eyed him suspiciously.

“Do not touch the beard,” he growled.

Elrond laughed.  “I have not done that in twenty years, Círdan.”

“You thought about it for long after that,” the old mariner groused.

“Are they coming?” Elrond asked softly.

“Of course they are,” answered Círdan, his eyes blazing.

“You have told me they would, ever since I lived here,” Elrond agreed. “You said that my father went to ask for aid from the Valar, and you told me the Valar would come.  But have you received new word?”

Círdan met his eyes steadily. “I have received word to build more ships.”

“Then Elrond is at your disposal,” Gil-Galad said soberly.

* * *

Elrond looked at the vast array of sketches and designs laid out on the table.  His eyes widened as he considered how long Círdan must have been working on the plans, and he studied the elf, fascinated.  Círdan looked old, something Elrond had never really seen in an elf before, but not as old as Men he had seen.  Yet he was hardy and hale, able to captain a ship, climb nimbly about in the rigging, and wield a sword as he must have in younger days.  Elrond clasped his hands behind his back as Círdan sat down next to him, for he had to admit that the beard was tempting to touch.  He had loved the few times that Círdan had held him as a child and allowed him to touch his beard.  It was not as soft and silky as the hair of elves, but coarser, more like what the hair of men felt like, but not as coarse as their beards. 

It was a difference between men and elves that Elrond had noticed as he grew older and spent more time with Men.  He had first cared for injured Men nearly five years earlier, and since had seen and treated injured humans often.  The adult males grew hair on their faces, chests, nether regions, and even their backs.  Elrond had noticed that he and Elros, having some mortal blood, had some hair on their bodies, unlike the elves, who were smooth all over.  Except for Círdan, elves only grew hair on their heads.

The sound of Círdan clearing his throat caught Elrond’s attention, and he raised his gaze to find Círdan glaring at him, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“What fascinates you so, Elrond?” Círdan asked, his tone gruff but his demeanor honest.

“Men have hair more places than elves do.  They have hair on their faces, their chests, their groins, and some even on their backs.  Elves do not,” he explained, adding hurriedly, “well, except for you. But your beard is different from theirs.”

“How so?” Círdan asked.

“It is not as coarse,” Elrond explained.  His hand moved unconsciously to the long white hair, and he touched it gently. “Men’s beards are very coarse, and curly,” Elrond broke off as he heard a low growl emanating from the old elf.  He quickly let go of the strands he had been holding and folded his hands in his lap.  His face burned and he turned away, unable to believe he had touched Círdan’s beard without permission.

 He heard a deep chuckle, and the sound rose, finally bursting forth as Círdan laughed out loud.  Elrond watched him, his eyes again wide, and to his disbelief, Círdan put an arm about his shoulders and hugged him.   The old elf laughed deeply, his eyes twinkling, and he pulled Elrond’s dark hair back from his face and, looking him in the eye, roared with laughter again.

“You are a healer, Elrond, and have good powers of observation,” Círdan said through his laughter.  “It is why I want you to work on this project.  But for just a moment you looked just as you did when you were five years old, and I held you in my lap and you stroked my beard.”

With that Círdan squeezed Elrond tight, and Elrond felt the softness of that beard against his cheek.  He immediately noted the thickness and texture and stored that information away in his mind, for he did not know if he would ever have the opportunity to touch it again. And then he laughed, for by the final roar of Círdan’s laughter, he guessed the old elf knew exactly what he was doing.

“Now, pay attention,” Círdan commanded.  “We are building ships to hold all the people of Balar and possibly others.  I do not know what ‘others’ so do not ask.  The ships should be entirely sea worthy, able to go long distances, although I do not know if they will go anywhere.  We must all be able to live on them, but I do not know for how long.  These designs show measurements for length, height and width, and general requirements on the materials we need to build them.  I have also listed here what types of materials we need to finish the insides.  I do not know how these ships might be used, so I do not know if we will have time to furnish them completely.  We must plan for some necessities, like food, as if we were under attack.  I have estimates here of the number of ships we need to build.  Do your own calculations and list your assumptions, and I want to know what we need, how much of it, and where you think we can obtain it.  I will be at the shipyard.”

The words had rushed from Círdan like the sea coming in at high tide, and Elrond was still taking in the information as Círdan rose, clapped him on the back, and walked out the door. He stared after him in disbelief as the door slammed behind him, and then turned back to the array of designs and numbers spread out over the table.

“It must be a confusing thing to receive word from the Sea to build ships, and know not why,” he said softly. He turned back to the plans, his mind already whirling with numbers and assumptions and ideas for where to obtain information. His eyes gleamed with excitement for the challenge set before him.

* * *

Elros sang a ballad of the sea as he walked up the beach to the house.  He still preferred this route, rather than following the streets of the village from the shipyards and docks to the street on which they lived.  He was barefoot and shirtless, his pack slung over his back and his shoes tied to the strap.  He enjoyed the feel of the sand on his bare feet, and the light salt spray against his bare skin.  His skin was bronzed from the many hours he spent on the deck of a ship, tanned much deeper than any of the elves he knew. 

He slipped his shoes on and began to climb up the rocky path to the house.  Instead of heading for the back door, as he usually did, he dropped his pack and walked out to the cliff that faced westward over the sea.

Círdan stood there, deep in contemplation. Elros waited for his mentor to acknowledge his presence.  It was several minutes before Círdan spoke, and he did not turn his gaze from the sea.

“You will go on the Alphiel next week, following the coast towards the Falas, much the same route as we took five years ago.”

“What should we expect to see?” Elros asked.

“You will tell me what you see,” Círdan replied.

“I have never seen so much activity in the shipyards before,” commented Elros. “Why are you building more ships?”

Círdan finally turned to look at him, but his face was unreadable.  “More ships may be needed in the future,” he replied.  “Would you like to learn to build them?”

Elros smiled broadly.  “Yes.”

* * *

Elros walked the perimeter of the room, looking at the maps and drawings that covered the walls of the chamber that Elrond had claimed for his workspace.  The locations and specialty of each craftsperson on the Isle were marked, along with their potential output of labor.  The coast near Sirion was plotted, from the River Sirion to Cape Balar, with the types of wood present and the quantities.  The amount of wood, and the labor and equipment that would be needed to transport the wood to the Isle, were documented near each grove of trees.   Diagrams and sketches of the ships and their interiors were also laid out, with lists of goods that would be needed if the ships were occupied.  On the table was Elrond’s plan, with markings added by Gil-Galad and Círdan where they added their assumptions or corrected his.

Elros plopped into a chair at the worktable and skimmed the lists on the tablet of paper. 

“What do you think Círdan is planning for?” he finally asked his twin.

Elrond looked up from the list of names he was creating: a population list of Balar, mapped by house or residence.  He was preparing information that would be collected about each household: the number of elves residing there, their abilities or trade, and their realm of origin, although he did not know why Círdan wanted this information.

“I do not know,” Elrond replied honestly.  “I do not know if he knows.” He paused for a long moment. “I think he has received some foresight, or word from the Sea, but if the message is more than ‘Be prepared to all board ships,’ he has not told me.”

Elros was silent as he looked again over the lists. “There is a village here, near the Cape of Balar, and another near the Havens of Sirion.  The men might help cut the wood.”  He too grew silent, then suddenly asked, “If the elves have to leave suddenly, what of the Men? Are they preparing?”

“Círdan said the ships would be used for the elves and possibly ‘others’ but he did not know who the ‘others’ might be,” answered Elrond.  “Perhaps it would be for Men.”

“Are you mapping their villages?” Elros asked.

“I have mapped where they are, since we may be taking timber from near their homes, but I was not asked to map their populations or anything similar,” Elrond replied, noting the fire in his brother’s eyes.

“I am being sent on the Alphiel next week, for a run up the coast.  Perhaps there is fear of an attack, a large attack, from Morgoth, and we are being sent to look for signs,” postulated Elros.

“Many scenarios have run through my mind in the last week,” confided Elrond.  “I have to push them aside, or I will not be able to do the work Círdan and Gil-Galad have set before me.”

Elros raised an eyebrow.  “Gil-Galad is involved in this too?”

“Yes,” replied Elrond.  “Whether he knows something or merely trusts that Círdan is right, I do not know.  But remember, brother, that Círdan is among the oldest of the elves.  He awoke at Cuiviénen, and met the Valar when they enticed the elves to Aman.  He speaks to Ulmo and Ossë.  He has seen much that we cannot comprehend.  Perhaps the King believes that too.  He must, for he believes what Círdan says.”

Elros knocked on the side of his brother’s head, laughing.  “There is enough in your head for us both, little brother.  Do you remember all the stories told?”

Elrond slapped his brother’s hand away and mussed his hair in retaliation.  “Do you recall the names of the stars and which sail to move when the wind drops and the schedule of the tides?”

“Yes, and you probably know all that too!” Elros laughed as he smoothed his hair down.  “Although I do not think Círdan will allow you to sail his ship.”

“Not unless he wishes it dashed upon the rocks,” agreed Elrond.  “Let us go eat; Cook has fixed a massive plate of fish and baked fresh bread in triple quantity, just for you.”

Elros extinguished the lantern as he rose, and with a final glance at the maps hanging from the walls, he followed his brother to dinner.  Something was about to happen; it seemed the only question was when.

* * * * *

A/N: This ‘chapter’ will be broken in half, or maybe even thirds.  The next chapter will resume in the first age, and possibly stay there the entire time.  I will footnote the end with my assumptions about the War of Wrath.  The Silmarillion and HoME give very little information about it, and yet there were some interesting considerations to deal with and think though.  The third age part of this chapter is a little long and fluffy, but it has a point I hope is sort of obvious (the contrast) but will become more so as we go.

Special thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter.

Chapter 20: Preparing for War

Elrond disengaged himself from the many craftsmen and artisans who were waiting to speak with him and walked up the hill to a small overlook with a view of the shipyards.  The sun gleamed off the golden wood of a new ship being prepared for her maiden voyage. Below him he could see Elros slowly walking the length of the deck, his hand sliding along the polished rail.  He paused as he neared the ship’s wheel, walking to it and running his hands lovingly over the smooth wood.  He turned it slowly in one direction, then the other.   Every touch spoke of the devotion and passion he had poured into the craft.  Elrond felt pride welling up within him at his brother’s accomplishment, for Elros had overseen the building of this vessel. Elrond was sure that his brother knew every plank and sail, every rope of the rigging. Círdan had watched over him, meeting with him regularly at first to ensure that construction was proceeding as planned.  But as the years of labor progressed, Círdan had entrusted the ship wholly to Elros, for the young peredhel had proven his ability.

“What shall you name her?” Elrond called.

Elros looked up, a broad smile crossing his face at the sound of his twin’s voice. “Círdan has given that privilege to whoever captains her,” he answered wistfully.

“When will she be tested for sea worthiness?”

Elros laughed.  “I do not know. But she will pass any such test with flying colors!” he answered confidently. He ran his hand up the main rigging as he spoke, the touch a caress as gentle as any one might reserve for a lover. “I shall speak to Círdan about when she will go to sea.”

“Elrond!” Lasbelin’s voice interrupted him.

Elrond grimaced slightly at the sound of the counselor’s voice and waved to Elros as duty beckoned him. “She is a treasure!” he called as he departed.

“Elrond, there are men from the village near Sirion here with concerns.  Also, Calendîn is here on behalf of his people.  The green elves are troubled by the number of trees being felled. I have explained the plans to both parties, but they are not satisfied.  They wish to speak to the King.  Will you hear them?” Lasbelin asked, exasperated. “For some reason they listen to you.”

Elrond smiled graciously, despite Lasbelin’s less than genial tone, and allowed the elf to lead him to the waiting parties. Calendîn nodded nearly imperceptibly to Elrond, indicating he should speak with the men first. Elrond bowed his head in return, acknowledging the favor respectfully.

Mae Govannen, Garman,” Elrond greeted the leader of the Men with a slight bow.  “How fare your people?  Have you had any further difficulties with the eastern invaders?”

Mae Govannen, Elrond,” Garman replied, relief showing openly on his face now that he was no longer dealing with Lasbelin.  “Our people are well, and we have not had difficulties since the elves began their harvest near our village.”

“I am glad for this, and I know the King will be as well,” Elrond assured them.  “How may I assist you today?”

Elrond watched as Garman stiffened and his eyes narrowed, and he heard the sigh behind him indicating Lasbelin had drawn near.  He turned to face the elf.

“Lasbelin, would you deliver this message to Círdan?  Gil-Galad indicated it was of some importance,” Elrond explained as he held out a missive bearing the King’s personal seal.

Lasbelin took it with a sniff, turning on his heel and leaving them without a word. Elrond counted to five before turning back to Garman.

“My apologies for the interruption. Please do continue.” Elrond smiled at the man, wondering what Lasbelin had said to cause such animosity.  To his amusement, Garman relaxed as soon as Lasbelin was out of sight and hearing.

“My people have learned that these ships are being built so that the elves can escape from an attack.  We have tried to learn details of this attack, so that our village might plan as well, but information has been denied us. We have aided you in obtaining supplies and transporting them to the havens.  I would consider us allies, yet your King has not seen fit to even inform us of a risk that you are taking great pains to prepare for!” Garman finished, frustration and dismay evident on his face and in the tone of his voice.

Elrond felt a great empathy grow within him for this man.  The elves were trusting of Círdan and Gil-Galad’s plans for the most part, but even they had difficulty at times with preparations they did not understand. He reached out, laying his hand gently on Garman’s arm.

“Come sit with me,” he counseled, deftly leading the man to a bench with a view of the shipyards. He took a deep breath, choosing his words carefully. “In a time such as this false information seems to prevail, and this hardly is surprising when one considers the dearth of accurate information.  However, this lack is not due to anyone withholding the truth.  We who are so young in years cannot understand the wisdom of those who have lived through the ages.” He looked Garman straight in the eye.  “We do not know why these ships are being built.  We do not know if or when they will be used, how or by whom. But we trust the one who bore the message, for he knows the one who sent the message.”

“You do all of this on such faith?” Garman asked incredulously.

Elrond smiled. “Yes, and the King does not forget his allies,” he promised.  “When there is information to be had, it will be shared with our friends.”

Garman continued to stare at him, momentarily speechless.  “Do you trust this plan?” he finally asked.

“I trust in those who make the plans. They have never failed me,” he answered.

Garman was quiet for a few moments as he pondered all that Elrond had told him.   He stood and looked out over the shipyards, watching the activity of the many builders and artisans.

“There are men working in your yards,” he said suddenly.

Elrond stood and joined him.  “Yes, Elros met several young men with an interest in sailing and shipbuilding.  They work on his crew.”

Garman turned to face Elrond.  “Please tell your King that we renew our alliance with you today.  We will share any information we gather and continue to aid your wood harvesters.”

Elrond reached out and clasped the man’s forearm.  “We welcome your alliance, as always, and will also share any information we gain with you.” He paused, choosing his words carefully, “When we do know more of the future, you will be told all that we may tell.”

Garman bowed and, with a nod of his head, walked from the shipyards with his men at his heels.

Elrond drew in a deep breath and released the tension from within him.  The elves needed the aid of the Men in harvesting the wood to build their ships.  If they had to perform that labor on their own, it would greatly delay their shipbuilding efforts. He walked to where Calendîn waited for him.

“Calendîn.” Elrond bowed to the green-elf respectfully.

Calendîn intently studied the young half-elf before him. “I heard much of what you said to Garman,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Elrond nodded and waited for the elf to continue.

“The trees are restless with all the activity in their midst. The harvesters are somewhat careful in the trees they fell, but they are thinning some areas too greatly.  They also are not thanking the forests for their gifts,” Calendîn said softly.

“For this I am sorry,” replied Elrond honestly.  He did not have the connection to the forest that the green elves did, but he also did not doubt their deep ties to the trees. “Have you any suggestions for how we might work differently?”

Calendîn nodded thoughtfully.  “Will you allow me to direct the workers to where they may cut each day?”

“I know I speak for the King when I say we would be grateful for your assistance,” Elrond answered with an inward sigh of relief. “Will you also assist those leading the work in offering thanks to the forest?”

“Yes,” replied Calendîn simply. “My people will also help, to ensure that these changes do not slow your shipyards.”

“I will speak to those leading the harvest later today. Beginning tomorrow they will follow your direction.  Will you send word of any problems, with either the workers or the schedule?” requested Elrond.

“Yes,” answered Calendîn, and with a slight bow he disappeared into the trees beyond the shipyards, melting into their waiting arms soundlessly.

Elrond watched him go, amazed at how quickly and easily the elf had blended into the woods. He smiled, glad the wood elves were willing to assist, for their skills were unique and invaluable and would likely lead to increased production.

“I am glad you have not left. I do not need to waste my morning searching for you,” said Lasbelin imperiously. “That missive was for Círdan, but it also had instructions for you.”

“Thank you, Lasbelin,” Elrond answered, forcing his voice to stay calm at Lasbelin’s tone. He turned to walk past the elf, but to his dismay the counselor fell into step beside him.

“Tell me about your conversations with Garman and Calendîn, so I may inform the King of any actions that he may need to take,” said Lasbelin stiffly.

“I need to speak to several others to complete my part of the agreement,” Elrond answered calmly. He would not trust Lasbelin to accurately convey his conversations second hand. “When I have done so, I will report to the King.”

“Elrond!” called a gruff voice.

Elrond smiled at the interruption, for Lasbelin would not continue at his side in Círdan’s presence.  He took pleasure in knowing the counselor was intimidated by the old mariner.

Suilad, Círdan,” Elrond greeted him, quickly falling into step with the spry elf.   He grinned as Lasbelin lagged behind them. He felt Círdan’s eyes upon him, and purposefully kept his gaze ahead, so he would not laugh in Lasbelin’s hearing.

Círdan, however, felt no such reservations.  “That elf can organize anything, but he should not be allowed to talk to others,” growled Círdan.  “If he was half as rude to the Men and Calendîn as he indicated he was, I would forbid him from speaking in the future.”

As they approached Elros’ completed ship, Elrond asked, “When will she take her maiden voyage?”

“That was the message you were supposed to deliver,” teased Círdan.  “Her captain, name and maiden voyage are ready to be announced.  Gil-Galad will be present.”

Elrond arched a brow in surprise.  “Why is the King coming?  He did not mention anything this morning.”

Círdan laughed.  “You will see.”

They stopped near the ship, where many had already gathered.  Elrond sought out his brother, wishing to lend his support and comfort to his twin, for he knew despite Elros’ earlier smile, giving over his ship to her first captain would pain him. He found him tying ribbon from the ship’s wheel to the rail, ribbon the new captain would cut when he named the vessel and turned her wheel to the sea.

“What shall you do next?” asked Elrond softly. “Will you build another ship?”

“Círdan is being evasive,” answered Elros dryly. “He will not say what he wishes me to do next.  He tells me to be patient, that I will be told when he decides.” He paused, drawing in a deep breath. “I wish to take her to sea.”

Elros turned then, facing seaward, his hands gripping the rail so tightly his knuckles were white. His jaw was tightly clenched and his cheekbones prominent, and Elrond felt the pain of his twin.  He moved to stand at the rail and leaned into his brother, and was pleased when Elros relaxed against him, accepting his comfort.

Voices and movement behind them distracted them soon after, and they turned to see Gil-Galad and Círdan boarding the ship. Elrond watched as Elros forced a smile and stepped forward to greet the arriving guests.  She was his ship until her captain was named.

“We are here to announce the captain and plan for the maiden voyage of this fine ship,” began Círdan without preamble or greeting, his voice gruff but a twinkle visible in his eye.  “Elros, come forward.”

Elrond watched with dismay as Elros stepped forward, and thought for the first time in his life that Círdan was acting cruelly, unintentionally perhaps, but he seemed not to notice Elros’ discomfort. Elrond felt his own muscles tense as he willed all the strength he had to his brother.  Intent on his twin, he did not notice Gil-Galad coming to stand near him until he felt a strong arm slip around his shoulders.

“Elros is completely ignorant of Círdan’s plan, is he not?” murmured Gil-Galad in Elrond’s ear.

Elrond turned sharply, nearly knocking the king off balance.  Gil-Galad held up his hand, motioning Elrond to silence.  Gil-Galad’s eyes were dancing and Elrond turned back to watch Elros, who was now standing near Círdan.

“Elros, do you accept command of this vessel?” Círdan asked.

Elros turned to stare at the old mariner, and much good-natured laughter was heard in the audience as the young peredhel was rendered momentarily speechless. Elros gripped the ship rail for support and attempted to answer, but no words were forthcoming.

“A simple ‘yes’ will suffice, although an answer is merely a formality,” added Círdan after a moment.  He clapped Elros on the back then, and that seemed to bring him back to reality.

“Yes!  A thousand yeses!” Elros finally managed to reply.

“What shall her name be?” continued Círdan, a broad smile now covering his face.

“Her name shall be Mîriel, for she is a treasure,” Elros replied as his eyes met Elrond’s.

“She sails in two weeks, time for you to finish outfitting her and choosing her crew,” announced Círdan, as glasses of wine were passed out to all present.  He lifted his cup, “To the Mîriel! May she be worthy of her captain.  May she fly like the wind when an enemy is at your back or need or good fortune before you.  May she serve you well and always bring you safely home to those who love you.” With that, Círdan lifted his cup to the young half-elf he had raised and mentored, and downed the contents.

Cheers erupted and Elrond joined in, lifting his glass and drinking with Gil-Galad to Elros’ good fortune.  He watched with joy as Elros cut the ribbon and turned the ship’s wheel, and then turned to accept the congratulations and good wishes from those he had served with and those who had worked on the Mîriel. Elrond was fairly certain that bids were being made by those who wished to sail with his brother. Then Elros began working his way to where his brother stood, finally flinging himself into Elrond’s arm with a cry of glee.

“Did you know, Elrond?” he asked breathlessly. 

“I did not,” admitted Elrond.  “Círdan and Gil-Galad held this secret close.”

Gil-Galad laughed as he embraced Elros.  “It was decided the day Círdan turned over primary building responsibility to you.  Did you really think Círdan would let you build her, and then take her away from you?”

“That was nearly two years ago,” said Elros, astonished.  “It was decided then I would captain her?”

“It was decided then you would captain her IF you managed to complete her successfully,” interjected Círdan gruffly as he joined them.  “You exceeded my expectations, Elros. I am well pleased with you.”

Elros nearly glowed in the hard earned praise of his mentor, and Elrond knew that his brother would remember this day as one of the best of his life. Círdan steered Elros away to lay further plans for choosing a crew, and Elrond was drawn back to the present by the king issuing orders.

“Elrond, I need a report prepared for the military council outlining the current status of relations with each of our allies. Also include a list of all the other groups of people in Beleriand and an assessment of which side they would fight in a war.  I need an update on the wood harvest and the progress in the shipbuilding project.  I understand there are some issues with the Men near the havens of Sirion and the green elves; include an update on what you have done to alleviate those problems.   Word has come of an attack near Nan Tathren; learn what you can.” Gil-Galad paused, as if thinking, then added more slowly. “Galadriel plans a journey across the Blue Mountains. Please speak to Celeborn and ensure that he has what he needs, if possible, for the trip.  I fear we cannot spare many to accompany them, but some of the elves of Doriath remain loyal to them and will attend them on this trip.”

Elrond’s questions regarding the reason for Celeborn and Galadriel’s journey remained unasked as Gil-Galad’s attention was turned to advisors competing for his attention. Instead he bowed slightly, and slipped away.

* * *

It was late in the night when Elrond heard the door to his study open. He recognized the shadow of his twin even in the darkness, and smiled at the figure that moved to sit next to him.

“You are working late, little brother,” Elros said softly, a yawn escaping him.

“I will be working until well into the morning to gather all the information Gil-Galad has requested,” replied Elrond. He laid down his quill, turning his attention to Elros.  “Have you chosen your crew?”

“I have had a crew picked out for weeks,” laughed Elros. “We could leave in three days, if need be. Círdan has assigned Magor to me.”

“Such experience will doubtless be helpful,” answered Elrond with a grin as he thought of his first encounter with the elf.

Elros grinned. “I have no complaints.  He likes Men, and I have chosen several to serve on the Mîriel.”

“The assistance of Men has been invaluable,” Elrond said suddenly.  “We are stretched thin, our food supplies are low and so many of our people are working on the ships or patrolling the areas where the wood is being harvested that everyday tasks are being neglected. The aid of men has helped some to alleviate the stress.”

Elros grew somber. “I did not know all of this, Elrond.”

Elrond turned away quickly.  “Your job was to build that ship, and you have done that.  It is the job of others to insure you had what you needed, and to allow you to focus on your task.”

Elros studied his brother for a moment, then embraced him, smoothing back the dark hair from the face that mirrored his own.  “You deserved as much credit as I today. Make sure you rest, Elrond.  Your mind needs rest, even if your body seems as if it can continue forever.”

Elros slipped from the room as quietly as he had come, and Elrond pulled the lantern closer as he bent back over the parchment he was writing on.

* * *

“Ereinion! Elrond! Elros!” shouted Círdan.

Elrond leapt to his feet, nearly colliding with his brother as they left his study where they had been talking about Elros’ leaving the next morning to captain the Mîriel on her first voyage, and they both crashed into Gil-Galad in the hallway. Gil-Galad grabbed them both by the scruff of the neck, righting them, and Elrond was surprised at the strength in the King’s arms that let him nearly lift them both off their feet.  They raced to the back door of the house, the anxious faces of the house staff watching them from half opened doors as they came to see what could cause Círdan to shout.  Some of them had served the old mariner for centuries, and many were trying to remember if they had ever heard his voice raised in such a manner.

Gil-Galad led them out the back door and they followed Círdan’s voice to the cliff where so often he had stood and gazed westward. This time, however, he gazed to the northwest.

Elrond gazed upon the western sky, but instead of the darkness he expected to see with Anor having long completed her day’s journey, he saw flashes of light, a brilliance unlike any he had seen before.  It was not light as he had seen from a forest fire, or the fiery glow of the sun as it settled beyond the horizon, or the cool reflection of Ithil.  This light was as the brilliant sparkle of the rays of the sun as they reflected off the many prismatic surfaces of a fine jewel, yet magnified as if the jewel were the size of a large vessel.

“What is it?” he finally asked, unable to tear his gaze away from the light.

“It can be only one thing,” replied Círdan solidly.  “The Valar have come to throw down Morgoth once and for all.”

“They march northward to Angband,” breathed Gil-Galad.

“War has come,” answered Círdan. He stepped back to stand with them, never taking his eyes from the brilliant light. “The end of Beleriand as we know it is upon us.  When the fury of the Valar is spent and Morgoth is cast down, the lands you see will not exist as you now see them, if they exist at all,” he predicted.

“It is for this that we have been preparing,” said Elros, disbelief in his voice.  “You knew this would come!”

Círdan did not answer.

“Go to rest,” instructed Gil-Galad.  “Elrond, we will meet early to discuss what word we will give our people and send to our allies.  Elros, you are still to sail in the morning.”

“Stay well east of the ruins of Barad Nimras, Elros,” added Círdan.

Elros nodded, and the twins left silently, each glancing back one last time before their view of the light was blocked by the trees.  They entered the house, the servants watching them curiously, but they did not speak of what they had seen. They entered Elrond’s room, shutting the door behind them before speaking.

“What do you think will happen now?” asked Elros.

“I think we will go to war,” answered Elrond after a moment’s contemplation.  “We have more ships to finish, so I do not know how many warriors we can send. I wonder how the Valar fight?  Do they use swords and bows?”

Elros flopped back on the bed, staring at the ceiling.  He rolled on his side, then got to his feet and walked to the window.  He stared out into the darkness briefly, then began pacing restlessly.  “It will be a glorious battle,” he said, a hint of excitement in his voice. “Everything will be different after this, Elrond!”

“I think we are soon to find out,” replied Elrond somberly.

Elros moved quickly to sit next to his twin. “Are you not excited?  This could be the end of Morgoth!  The end of attacks and people living in fear.  A chance to build new cities and new ports!”

Elrond smiled at his brother’s enthusiasm.  “It will be exciting,” he agreed, pushing aside his own thoughts about the action they needed to take and what such changes might mean to their people.

* * *

Elrond woke early and the sound of low voices in Gil-Galad’s study, next to his own, drew his attention.  He closed his door and the voices ceased, then he heard his name called. He entered to find Gil-Galad and Círdan seated, and by all appearances they had talked all night.

“Join us, Elrond,” Gil-Galad said, motioning him to take a seat. “We have plans to make.”

Gil-Galad had a map of Beleriand spread out on his desk. “We shall lead our army northward towards Angband. We will need to send advance word to the Valar, to see what position they wish us to take.  I am inclined to believe that we will be involved in mopping up the stragglers and preventing any forces from the east from arriving to aid them.”

“What shall be our priorities between the shipyards and sending warriors north?”

“Both are priorities,” answered Gil-Galad. “I need information regarding how many need to stay behind to defend Balar and continue work in the shipyards, as well as what kind of support our warriors will need heading north.”

“Will our allies go north with us?”

“We will need to send word.  Any who will follow my command may join us,” replied Gil-Galad.

“They will follow your command,” murmured Elrond. He pulled out a sheet of parchment and began taking notes as Gil-Galad and Círdan spoke.  When they had finished several hours later, cook having the grace to serve them breakfast in the study, Elrond had a list of tasks and assignments as long as his arm.

“Let us go see Elros off,” Círdan ended their session.

Elrond stopped briefly in his own office to organize his day, but overheard Círdan and Gil-Galad continuing to speak in the hallway.

“Is it wise to entrust so much to Elrond?” Círdan asked. “He is young and has never fought in a war.”

“He is more reliable and more accurate than any other advisor I have,” replied Gil-Galad. “He makes good assumptions, notes them appropriately and is willing to learn what he does not know.  His ego and pride do not limit his abilities, as it does with others.  And you trusted his judgment many years ago to start the shipbuilding project.”

“I saw the potential before you is all,” laughed Círdan, and then the voices receded.

Elrond smiled, pleasure spreading warmly through him.  He knew he was meant to overhear the words, but that did not lessen his appreciation for them. Praise from the King and the Shipwright was hard earned and seldom given, and he would treasure it. With a smile still on his face, he followed them to the shipyards to see the Mîriel depart.

* * *

Elrond mounted his horse, then waited, watching as the columns of warriors lined up in ranks.  The last ship was just setting sail to return to Balar, its sails catching the breeze and its size diminishing as it returned to its home dock.

They were going to war.

He repeated the words in his mind, barely comprehending them despite the months of preparatory work he had done for this day.  He recalled the first day after Círdan had seen the lights, when they had announced to their people that the Valar had come.  Such excitement there had been on the Isle!  Fear there had been also, from those who had left Aman so many years earlier.  Most believed that this sign meant they had been forgiven, while a few despaired of facing those who might yet pronounce their doom.  Gil-Galad had rallied the people, reminding them of Eärendil’s voyage and the message he carried, and how his sacrifice had not been in vain.

Messengers had been sent to all their allies with word of what was to come, and they were asked to send representatives to Balar.  Men came, some in disbelief that the stories of old were true.  The tale of Eärendil the Mariner was known to them, for he was a Lord of Men and Elves, and the knowledge that his voyage had been successful caused joy in the hearts of Men.  In this Elros had particularly delighted, and he had greatly enjoyed the attention that came from the resemblance he bore to his sire. The rumblings in the Earth and the lights to the northwest were other visible proof that great change was coming, and hope was born anew that evil might finally be destroyed.

In the end, several of the villages of men had emptied, sending their old, their women and their children to Balar. They would be safer there with their fighting men gone, and many of the older men could practice their trades and crafts on the Isle, filling a need with Balar nearly emptied of its males.  Círdan remained behind to see to the ships – building, outfitting and patrolling the coast –and he had a contingent of workers with him.

The female elves would see to the isle’s defense, work in the shipyards and care for the children.  Galadriel would rule the isle. Elrond was glad she and Celeborn had been caught before they had left on their trip. He understood now what Galadriel wished to do – she also feared that Beleriand would be changed forever and wished to explore east, across the Blue Mountains, for new settlements for the elves.  Long they had discussed the ban of the Valar.

“The Valar have not come to destroy Angband and bind Morgoth only to leave the elves to die in an upheaval of the land,” Galadriel had predicted. “They will end the ban for most and those elves will be free to seek the peace of the West.”

“What about the Men of Beleriand?  Will they allow them to go west?” Elros had questioned.

“No,” Galadriel had answered sadly. “But many of the elves will not choose to live in Valinor either, thus the need for us to think about new homes in the East, should Beleriand not survive.”

“The earth already trembles and the trees cry out,” Celeborn had growled. “Let us win the fight before worrying about what shall occur after the war.”

A shout broke Elrond of his reverie and his eyes were drawn to the standard bearers – the main flag the banner of Gil-Galad, High King of the Noldor, – but smaller banners were borne beneath of Doriath and Gondolin and Nargothrond, tribute to his realm being formed of the remnants of others. The Men also carried their banners, and the many colors waved merrily in the morning breeze.

Gil-Galad took up position at the front of the column and Elrond heard him cry, “An auth! To war!”  A chorus of shouts answered him and the formation slowly began to move forward. Elrond began the journey at the rear, but moved easily in and out of the companies of elves and men. As he rode thus he learned the hearts and minds of those he would fight with. At night they would camp, and he would join Gil-Galad in his tent and tell him all he had learned.

“Garman’s men are untested in anything but defensive maneuvers.  They are brave, however, and they will follow you.

“The men who lived further up the coast, just beyond the Cape, have driven orcs to the sea and are mighty fighters. They see value in numbers, but will follow Tauron should he choose his own course to fight.  Including him in council will go far to ensure his continued support.

“Tarias was born in Gondolin and his parents died in the fall when he was a small child.  He fears meeting the Valar, for his parents spoke of the doom and curse laid upon them.”

Elrond watched with an ever growing respect for his King as Gil-Galad led them northwards. He met with the leaders of all the groups in council, hearing their opinions and concerns. He moved among the warriors, speaking words of hope and encouragement.  And when they first encountered battle, Gil-Galad led with sound orders and fighting tactics.   On occasion Elrond rode at his side, but Gil-Galad usually encouraged him to act independently, saying that Elrond’s eyes and ears doubled the information they could gather. Elrond soon came to realize that all his young life he had followed Gil-Galad because he was family, for the elf had raised and mentored him, but now he would follow Gil-Galad as his King.

* * *

They engaged in their first large battle north of Nan Tathren, with a band of orcs fleeing from the Hosts of the Valar.  Gil-Galad’s forces had been victorious, their large host destroying the even larger host of orcs, but they had suffered casualties, with the majority of the dead and seriously injured being Men.  The orcs were routed long before Anor rose, yet Elrond and the other healers worked until she was nearly ready to end her journey that day.  Exhausted, he allowed the cold waters of the Sirion to wash over his tired and filth covered body.  He had just finished dressing in fresh clothing when a messenger summoned him to a meeting with the King. It took all the strength he could muster to walk to the King’s tent, and he slipped inside quietly with hopes of being quickly questioned and excused.

The enclosure was warm in the autumn air, and Elrond feared he might drowse in the dim light. He stood to the side of the tent, mentally preparing a concise report on the status of the wounded. Exhaustion still weighed heavily upon him, and he found himself learning against one of the tent supports as he waiting for Gil-Galad to call upon him.

“Elrond, what is your assessment of why the Men took such heavy casualties in the battle last eve?” Gil-Galad had asked.

Elrond looked up in surprise, coming suddenly to attention when he realized all who remained were elves. All of those elven eyes were turned towards him, and he felt a growing heat in his face. He realized that some debate must have occurred prior to his arrival, and now wondered what he had walked into.

“My Lord,” he began slowly, “the enemy appeared desperate in their escape, but they were also fierce and experienced fighters.  The men who were most grievously injured and killed had the least experience among us.  Yet due to the timing and place of the initial attack, those Men were at the front of the battle.  Perhaps they were even targeted for their weakness.”

Elrond watched as Lasbelin and Gaerion, who had headed the military council of Balar, exchanged smug glances, but his attention was immediately drawn back to Gil-Galad as the King posed a second question to him.

“So you would say that the inexperience of the Men was a contributing factor to their heavy losses.”

“Aye, my Lord, how could it not be so?  They are young and untried, and have never faced so great an enemy before this day,” replied Elrond, his brow arched quizzically. “Taruron’s warriors fared better, but have more experience.  Their forefathers have long fought orcs and taught them well.”

Gil-Galad’s face remained impassive, showing neither pleasure nor displeasure at Elrond’s answers.  “What is your solution for how such losses will be avoided in the future?”

All within the tent were silent and all eyes remained on him, leading Elrond to wonder if he was being used to test another or if the test was of him.  In the past when Gil-Galad had wished to teach him or show him a flaw or error in his thinking, he had done so privately.  Elrond’s thoughts raced as he quickly tried to recall any lapses in judgment he had made this day, of any gross error that would lead the king to rebuke him before all of his advisors, but the ongoing silence recalled his thoughts and he forced himself to focus on the question posed to him.

“We have not the time to set up a full training camp for them, but we are in need of a several day respite to allow the wounded to mend and decide where those too severely injured to continue shall reside until they may rejoin us or return to their homes.  I would propose that the battle strategists determine the best placement in the column of all of the men and elves with less experience, so that they are not grouped to cause a weakness in any one flank of our army. I would also propose that in these days battle tactics are reviewed and basic strategies in offense and defense are taught to them,” Elrond finished, his eyes fixed on Gil-Galad.

“Shall you also be the one to teach these strategies to those less experienced?” asked Gaerion in a slightly mocking tone.

Elrond flushed slightly and his eyes sought Gil-Galad’s, but the King merely waited for him to respond.

“No, Lord Gaerion,” he replied.  “I am hardly experienced myself, and not qualified to know what skills or strategies would be most useful in the short time available to teach them.”

“Lasbelin, what are the flaws in such a plan?” Gil-Galad turned his gaze to his oldest advisor.

Lasbelin always stood ramrod straight, but seemed to Elrond’s eyes to further raise his head and neck.

“The Men have cost us time and resources this day, neither of which can be spared. Food, medicine and weapon stores must be closely monitored so that the weakest among us do not drain these valuable commodities from the strong. It is the strong who will ultimately win this battle,” replied Lasbelin with firm conviction.

Eyes turned expectantly to Elrond and a nod from Gil-Galad indicated he should answer such a defense.

“Lasbelin’s concerns are valid and should not be lightly considered,” he answered after a moment, shifting his weight to stand with his hands behind his back, thus preventing him from indulging in the desire to wipe his sweating palms against his trousers. “However, such rationing of medicine and food hardly seems an issue at this time.  In addition, these men learn quickly and have the potential to become worthy warriors with but a little effort. Lastly, if in this war the weak are to be so judged I believe we may as well all turn back now, for next to the mighty Hosts of the Valar all here may appear as weak and unworthy vessels.”

There was a lengthy silence in the tent and Elrond’s face burned hotly at the impertinence of his words.  Lasbelin’s face twitched in anger and Gaerion nearly shook with rage.  Other advisors regarded him with twinkling eyes and hints of smiles.

“What shall you do, Elrond, if the King decides it is best to split from the Men?” Gaerion spat.

“The King I serve would not casually dismiss the young and the inexperienced as weak and leave them to fight alone when we can be made a stronger unit by working together,” Elrond answered tersely, anger finally rising in him that Gaerion would question his loyalty to the King.

Yet despite his brave words, a horror rose within him that he had spoken on behalf of Gil-Galad without knowing his thoughts on this matter and without his permission. He did not back down, however, and instead turned to face Gil-Galad.  If the King chose to censure his words, so be it.

Gil-Galad rose from his chair. “Thank you, Elrond, you are excused.  I expect a report on the status of the injured in the morning.”

Elrond let out his breath, unaware he had been holding it, and watched in disbelief as Gil-Galad turned his attention to another matter entirely. He bowed, though Gil-Galad’s attention was already focused elsewhere, and left the tent.

The cool night air caressed his face and he breathed in deeply, as if cleansing himself of the anger and tension he had just experienced.  Most nights he slept in a tent with some of the advisors and healers, but now he just wished to be alone.  He saw Elros sitting next to a tree, sharpening his sword and fletching arrows. Grabbing his bedroll, Elrond tossed it next to his twin and flopped down upon it, pulling the woolen blanket up snugly about him. Elros smiled at him, and despite his weariness, Elrond could not help but ask, “What is the total this battle, brother mine?”

“Fourteen, but I came late for I was posted on the far side of the column,” answered Elros with a grin.  “You?”

“I lost track of the number of stitches I sewed, but my blade did manage to finish an orc that thought to take advantage of an injured man,” yawned Elrond.

“There will be plenty more opportunity for both,” Elros answered wisely. He turned slightly, straightening his legs and folding his blanket over both of them.  He glanced down at the prone form, now silent, and realized his twin was already deep in sleep. “Well, at least this time you managed to clean up and find a bed before collapsing from exhaustion, little brother,” he whispered.

* * *

The camp was dark and quiet when Gil-Galad located Elrond and Elros asleep near the tree.  Elros roused despite the nearly soundless movement of the King, but Gil-Galad motioned him to silence. He effortlessly lifted his young advisor, and signaled for Elros to follow him.  Entering his tent, he laid the sleeping Elrond on a cot and covered him with a blanket, then directed Elros to the cot next to it.

“Ah, there are some advantages to having such an important little brother,” quipped Elros as he looked appreciatively at his improved accommodations.

Gil-Galad merely smiled.  “I am nearly positive he did not eat, and I just questioned him despite his exhaustion before my council for reasons he knows little about.  Do not let anyone waken him too early and make sure he breakfasts before going about his duties.  Even the brother of such an important member of the king’s staff must accept that his improved accommodations come with some additional responsibility,” he teased back, mussing Elros’ hair affectionately.  “Fourteen, I hear?”

Elros grinned as he made himself comfortable.  “I’ll do better next time.”

* * *

Elrond awoke with a start, confused as to his surroundings, and let forth a cry when he realized the sun streaming into the tent was part way through its morning climb.  He threw back the covers and was leaping from his bed when a solid weight threw him back down.  He looked up in surprise to see the grinning face of his twin.

“Elros!  Let me up!  I am late!” Elrond attempted to push his brother off him.

“King’s orders,” laughed Elros, taking a bite from an apple from his perch on top of his brother.

“Where is he?  Why aren’t we breaking camp?” Elrond asked as he fought to free his legs.

“I do not know,” Elros answered truthfully.  “Some of the warriors are assembling for special training, there is a meeting to reorganize the column and the healers are all meeting to discuss the status of the wounded.  I was told to make sure no one bothered you and to make sure you ate. So, I am just following orders.”

“Well, then let me up so I can eat,” growled Elrond.

Elros regarded his twin with a serious expression.  He pointed to a prepared tray nearby, and said, “Eat all of that.”

“Lembas are fine,” argued Elrond.  “I should be at that meeting.”

Elros took another bite from his apple, his feet firmly planted on the ground as he held his twin in place and prevented Elrond from gaining purchase and flipping him off. He ignored Elrond’s struggles and smiled at the snarling noise issuing from the cot.

The tent flap was flung back and Gil-Galad entered.  He moved quickly to his makeshift desk, quickly gathering the maps and parchments he was seeking.  As he turned to leave, he noticed the brothers on the cot.

“Elrond, eat this!” Gil-Galad tapped the tray impatiently.  “I need you to speak to the healers as well as Garman, he trusts you, and . . .,” Gil-Galad’s voice faded as he left the tent.

Elrond grinned at his brother.  “Now will you get off me?”

Elros grinned back.  “He said you had to eat that before you can go.  I still win.  King’s orders.”

Rested and well fed, Elrond joined Gil-Galad a half hour later.

“Speak to Garman first,” Gil-Galad greeted him, “then join the healers.  We can tarry here only two or three days.  I want details worked out as to where the wounded will stay by this afternoon.  Meet me in my tent afterwards.”

Elrond accepted the staccato orders and watched with a mixture of love, pride, respect and admiration as his King moved quickly on to his next task.

* * * * *

Author’s Notes:

When I first read the Silmarillion and had the idea for this story, I never doubted that Gil-Galad and the elves of Beleriand fought in the War of Wrath.  Then one day I was reading some notes in the Atlas of Middle-earth and noted that the author said none of the elves of Beleriand fought.

So I returned to the Silmarillion, wondering how I could have missed such an important detail.  After much thought, I will say that I do not think I did.  My take on the war may be much different than that of others, but to any who are interested I will explain how I came to my conclusions.

First, in the The Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring, Elrond says he was present:

‘Thereupon Elrond paused a while and sighed. “I remember well the splendour of their banners,’ he said. ‘It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the hosts of Beleriand, so many great princes and captains were assembled. And yet not so many, nor so fair, when Thangorodrim was broken, and the Elves deemed that evil was ended for ever, and it was not so.’

Now, for many other reasons, I have Elrond in the keeping of Gil-Galad from a fairly young age, but even if he stayed with Maglor and Maedhros until the War, why would he be there alone?

The oft-quoted passage used to say that the elves were not present is this:

Of the Voyage of Eärendil, The Silmarillion

‘Of the march of the host of the Valar to the north of Middle-earth little is said in any tale; for among them went none of the those elves who had dwelt and suffered in the Hither Lands, and who made the histories of those days that still are known; and tidings of these things they only learned long afterwards from their kinfolk in Aman.  But at the last the might of the Valinor came up out of the West, and the challenge of the trumpets of Eonwe filled the sky; and Beleriand was ablaze with the glory of their arms, for the hosts of the Valar were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible, and the mountains rang beneath their feet.’

The paragraph only says that of the march of the Valar north little is known because none of the elves of Beleriand witnessed it– it does not say that the War was unknown to the elves.

I also had to consider the perspective of the ‘writer’ of the Silmarillion.  In the Introduction (and repeated, I believe, in Tolkien’s letters) Tolkien explains from whose perspective each book is written.  Frodo Baggins, a hobbit, wrote the Lord of the Rings – The Red Book – and it was amended and corrected by men and potentially elves.  Everything there was told to Frodo or witnessed by him (for the most part) and thus we see through the filter of his eyes.  One thing I have always found lacking in the LOTR is how in the RotK Frodo’s detail lessens and we see less and less through his eyes.  Indeed, Tolkien said that Frodo remembered little and did not wish to write his own experience and hence we saw a perspective switch to Sam.  That is brilliant of Tolkien – talk about him being in Frodo’s head! Tolkien says The Hobbit was written from a more ‘human’ perspective, and The Silmarillion is the account laid down by the exiled elves of Beleriand.  This is why there is little accounting of the Sindar in all the ages living beneath the stars or the happenings in Aman after the Flight of the Noldor.  In my opinion, Tolkien’s ability to write entire books through the eyes of a particular race or group of people is amazing. He shows what they saw, knowing that it was only one view of that which they are writing about.   The LOTR may have looked immensely different if written from the perspective of the Elves or of Men.

Based on that, when I read the paragraph again about how no one witnessed the march north of the Valar, but how men of the three houses of the Edain alone fought on the side of the Valar and the elves do not forget it, I have to ask:  What elves do not forget it?  Why would the elves of Aman care which men fought where?  They did not know anything about Men. The elves who would remember this are the ones who wrote the histories told in the Silmarillion.  This implies rather strongly the elves of Beleriand were present at the War of Wrath.  Also, why would the elves say they were present? That would seem obvious if they are writing the account.  I do not know how great a role the elves of Beleriand may have played in the War of Wrath.  Frankly their might seems rather small compared to the might of the Valar. But they wrote an account as if they were there, and in the Silmarillion when something is being repeated (e.g. It is said…) second hand it is noted as such.  This is not.  They didn’t see the march north, but they saw Angband obliterated, the slaves freed and Morgoth chained.

In the Tale of Years, the years of the War of Wrath are numbered at about twenty-five.  That is an awfully long time for anyone not to join in a battle, especially one shaking the very foundations of the Earth.

So, some may interpret these passages differently. This is my interpretation, and I believe it does not violate canon.

Regarding a few other things in this chapter:


  1. I do not know if Elros captained a ship.  Here I have given him a taste of doing so – because he goes on to found the greatest sea-going nation in Middle-earth history.  He would need some knowledge and experience, and it was fun to give it to him.
  2. Elrond’s role as a trusted advisor to Gil-Galad.  In that same passage in FotR Elrond says: ‘I was the herald of Gil-Galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black gate of Mordor, where we had the mastery….’ I could not find anything specific beyond this as to when Elrond took on this role.  He says he was Herald.  A new sentence says he was at Dagorlad.  I don’t know if that was his first time as Herald or if he held that office throughout the second age.  So, Elrond is a smart and teachable young thing and I hope we see him growing into this role at the end of the first age.
  3. Building Ships:  The Silmarillion merely says that in those last days a lot of ships were built.  Now, if at the end of the war Beleriand is cracking and falling into the sea, it hardly seemed a good time to start building ships.  And Círdan, in HoME Vol XII is said to have received great foresight about every major event in Middle-earth after the time of Eärendil’s voyage on the Vingilot. So, he has a bit of a ‘Noah and the ark experience’.  There were no notations I could find as to what the elves were doing on Balar from the fall of Sirion to the War of Wrath, so I had them build ships.
  4. Men:  On that same token, we do not know how many men were living in Beleriand, or where, or what they were doing.  The Houses of the Edain had settled near the great elven strongholds, and I could only assume when those strongholds fell and the elves were pushed to the sea, so were the Men. They fought under Elven Kings in the past, so it seemed reasonable that some would do so again.


Chapter 21: The War

Gil-Galad led his forces north, moving slowly up the steep pathways cut in the rock near the Gates of Sirion and then onward to the forest of Region, near Doriath.  Elrond watched respectfully as Celeborn led a group of Doriath’s survivors in words of remembrance as they recalled their flight with young Elwing down this same path so many years earlier, and he listened in fascination as survivors of Gondolin recalled the glory of Ecthelion, Glorfindel and the other captains who died in the fall of their fair city.  He heard again how Glorfindel helped to save his father, Eärendil, and grandparents from the orcs and balrogs that pursued them through Cirith Thoronath. Their stories mingled, only a few years separating the tales of grief that led them down the great river Sirion to the Havens where the two Kindreds mixed.

“Perhaps there will be time for us to visit the ruins of Menegroth[1],” Celeborn spoke softly.  “I have never passed through the Hidden Way to Gondolin, but there are those who could lead us there, should you wish to see the home of your father.”

Elrond nodded as he watched the older elves speak.  He had lived nearly his whole life on the Isle of Balar, while learning the history of Beleriand from those who had lived in her glorious kingdoms. For these elves, walking again the paths that had carried them far from their homes as they fled the destruction that had claimed the lives of their kings, brought a sorrow to their spirits and hearts that pained Elrond to see. He was hard pressed to describe the emotion that came from knowing how many had sacrificed to see Elwing and Eärendil saved.  Mere children they had been, innocent and defenseless, and Elrond was struck by the similarities their childhood tragedies bore to those he and Elros had suffered.  And yet, elves had sacrificed to raise them to adulthood too. Already he and Elros had lived longer than Dior, Elwing or Eärendil had in Middle-earth.

“Celeborn, Gil-Galad wishes to see you in his tent.” A messenger interrupted them and Celeborn excused himself.

A hush fell over Gil-Galad’s troops as a small group of elves entered their midst a short while later. All were armed and mounted on magnificent stallions except for the lead elf, who led on foot, his hands held up in greeting. He was tall and of a proud bearing, and yet when he looked upon them a warm light seemed to emanate from within him, and he nodded and bowed to them graciously.  His horse walked at his side, a large white stallion with a flowing mane of white.  The animal seemed intelligent and Elrond was convinced the horse nodded his head and bowed at the same time the elf did.

“Well met, friends,” the elf spoke in a musical voice, and it took Elrond a moment, as it did all listening, to realize the elf spoke in the high elven tongue of Quenya.

“Well met, my King,” answered Gil-Galad as he left his tent and walked forward.  He dropped to his knee before the regal elf and bowed his head.

The elf touched Gil-Galad upon the head, and then raised his hand, indicating Gil-Galad should rise.  He had not yet spoken, but instead seemed to study the elf before him, as if memorizing his every feature.  Then he gently took Gil-Galad’s face in his hands and kissed him on one cheek, then the other.

“I am pleased to meet you, son of Fingon, son of my brother Fingolfin,” King Finarfin finally answered.

Gil-Galad met the gaze of his great-uncle and High King unflinchingly, and spoke softly, his words not meant for all to hear. “I last saw my grandfather when I was a child of ten summers, yet it is as if he is standing before me again.”

A smile crossed Finarfin’s face, and he drew Gil-Galad into an embrace. After a moment, Gil-Galad pulled away, his eyes moist, and turned to face those behind him.

“There are others of your family for you to meet,” said Gil-Galad as he motioned to those before him.  “This is Elrond, son of Eärendil, son of Idril, daughter of Turgon. His twin brother, Elros, is on patrol but will meet you later. Elrond, this is Finarfin, High King of the Noldor in Aman, son of Finwë and brother to Fëanor and Fingolfin.”

Elrond also dropped to his knee and bowed his head, murmuring, “My King.”

The King drew him to his feet, and Elrond felt like a child again, standing before Círdan or Gil-Galad, being inspected and evaluated before some event. Finarfin smoothed his hair back and gently ran his fingers down Elrond’s cheek.  He cupped his chin, turning his head slightly.

“I met Eärendil when he set foot upon the shores of the Undying Lands and stood before the Valar to plead for them to come to the aid of the elves and men of Middle-earth. Never before had we seen one with mortal blood. I see traces of Turgon in you, as I did in him.” Finarfin spoke in a low voice; all the while his warm hands were gently tracing Elrond’s face.

“You have met my father?” Elrond asked, his voice rough.

“Yes,” replied Finarfin, “and your mother, Elwing. We built her a white tower on the northern edge of the mountains, directly west of Beleriand.  There she awaits your father each morning when he returns from his nightly voyage.”

To Elrond’s chagrin, tears filled his eyes.  When he attempted to lower his head to hide them, he felt the fingers of the king below his chin, lifting his face. As he met Finarfin’s gaze, he saw tears in the King’s eyes as well.

“In this there is no shame,” said Finarfin firmly. “I am pleased to meet you, Elrond, son of Eärendil, heir of Turgon.”

Finarfin then straightened and turned a fierce gaze out over the small audience. His voice, which had been strong but soft, now rose in power and authority.  “My nephews I have greeted and with them I am well pleased.  Where now is the husband of my only daughter?”

Celeborn stepped forward proudly, his eyes appraising the father of his wife.  For several moments the two seemed intent on out-staring the other, and Elrond held his breath, wondering if Celeborn would kneel before this Noldor King. Celeborn was proud of his Sindar heritage and his fealty was ever to Elu-Thingol, his King. But this elf was the father of his wife.

“Finarfin, King of the Noldor, father of Galadriel, I am pleased to meet you,” spoke Celeborn in flawless yet slightly accented Quenya, and he knelt and bowed his head.

“Rise, Celeborn, son of Galadhon, son of Elmo, brother of Elwë – your King,” commanded Finarfin.  His eyes burned with fire and he surveyed his son-in-law, seeking to see what in this elf had captured the heart of his fierce daughter. “Why has Artanis[2] chosen you?”

“Galadriel, my lady of light, should answer such a query herself,” replied Celeborn as he rose to his full height and regarded his father-in-law gravely.

Finarfin’s laughter filled the air around them. “Celeborn the Wise I name you, for you know not to speak on behalf of Artanis, who has a capable tongue!”

Finarfin then turned again to Gil-Galad, motioning to the tent. “I come with plans and orders from Eönwë, herald of Manwë and commander of the Hosts of the Valar.  When your forces are arranged accordingly, he will summon you. Come!” Finarfin led the way into the tent, and Gil-Galad motioned for Celeborn, Elrond and his other advisors to join them.

* *

Several hours later, only Elrond, Elros and Celeborn remained with Gil-Galad in his tent. Finarfin’s presence had filled the space, making it seem smaller than it really was, and he had assumed leadership in the group, assigning battle positions to Gil-Galad but respectfully allowing Gil-Galad to arrange his troops. After finishing the discussions of the war, he had been introduced to Elros and spent time alone with Celeborn and then Gil-Galad. When he left, he had expressed his contentment with his nephew, the King of the Noldor in Middle-earth, in front of his Noldor guard.

“You lead mortals and the remnant of the elven Kindreds, and they follow you. Your father and grandfather would be proud of you, as am I.  Together we shall defeat Morgoth and you shall know what it is to live in peace.”

Now Elros stood and stretched, then moved to sit at the table on which were laid the plans for Gil-Galad’s troops.  He studied them for a moment before breaking the silence. “Do the Valar use the High Kings of the Elves as messengers?” he finally asked.

Celeborn laughed. “I rather think he volunteered for this position. An opportunity to meet the King of the Noldor of Middle-earth, and his son-in-law.”

“Tauron will lead his men east towards Maglor’s Gap, and Celeborn will lead his forces along the Celon River,” Gil-Galad interrupted their musings. He looked up at Celeborn. “This is an area you must know well. Will you add to the detail of this map as you make your plans to patrol this area?”

Celeborn’s eyes had darkened and a fierce scowl crossed his face. “Aye, I know the dwarf road well and the passage down from Himring.” He said no more, but his fury at the memories of the death of his king and a few years later his king’s heir, were easily read upon his countenance.

“Elros, you will go with Tauron.  He will be in command, but you have been serving as his lieutenant and will do so again, as well as serving as liaison to me,” Gil-Galad instructed.  In Elros he had a buffer with Tauron’s fierce Men, for Tauron was willing to serve as the leader of Men in the Host of Beleriand under Gil-Galad’s command, yet preferred to avoid the diplomatic and political duties of his office.  In these duties Elros excelled, and yet was also accepted among the Men as one of them.  The older among them remembered Eärendil and did not forget his sacrifice, and they treated his son with the respect due his sire.

“Elrond, you will serve Celeborn.  He will discuss your duties with you.  Come, Elros, let us meet with Tauron before nightfall,” finished Gil-Galad.

Elrond watched in some surprise as his twin and his king left the tent. He turned back to face the uncle of his grandmother, feeling unsure of his role yet not wishing to admit it.

“You need to learn command, Elrond, and you will not gain this experience as the King’s aide.  Your skill as a healer is primary, however, and you will serve that role as well,” explained Celeborn. He motioned the young peredhel to sit next to him and began to explain the geography of the land and the tactics that the enemy might employ in either escaping or sending reinforcements.

Elrond listened carefully, his enthusiasm for gaining battle experience in a smaller unit growing.  Thus far their army had met battle on several occasions, but he had had little opportunity to fight. Celeborn’s smaller unit would patrol the edge of the forest, along the river and the dwarf road.  They might serve here for some time, as King Finarfin’s plans indicated their role in this war would be to watch the eastern flank.  The Hosts of the Valar would fight the main battle near Angband.

A week later the troops of Gil-Galad split into battle groups, and Elrond and Elros each moved into new roles.

* * *

Nearly six years later……

Elros sank down onto his bedroll, his clothing, face and hands bloodied and dirty. Around him men were collapsing in exhaustion on to their blankets, these many nights of fighting wearying them so much that hygiene and even the tending of minor wounds were neglected in favor of sleep.

“Elros.” Tauron’s exhausted voice roused him.

Elros stood and made his way slowly to Tauron’s camp table.  The commander was as tired and dirty as his men, a scrap of linen bound around his upper arm where an orc arrow had grazed him.  His face was pale and gaunt, and Elros felt a sudden concern for the captain.

“Your wound has not been tended,” he said, pointing to the bloodied bandage.  He noted the slightly dilated pupils and grey skin, and knew that some poison had entered through the wound.

Tauron merely grunted in answer but did not argue as Elros pulled a chair up at his side and carefully sliced through the linen. The wound was reddened and angry, and Elros frowned.

“I could use Elrond here right now,” he murmured quietly. “I will return in a moment.  I need a healer’s kit.”

Elros obtained what he needed, the healers not even stirring from their rest on pallets next to their patients. He returned silently to Tauron, and only the man’s hiss as Elros cleaned the injury and treated it with healing herbs was heard. He bound it with clean cloths, and then moved to sit across from Tauron at the table.

“We need to send word to Gil-Galad,” said Tauron finally.

Elros nodded quietly.  He had recommended this action the day before, but Tauron had been unprepared to act.  “Do you wish to withdraw or hold out for reinforcements?”

Tauron sighed. “I do not wish to give up our position. But I do not know if we can hold it until Gil-Galad sends aid.”

Elros stared at the map, his mind mentally assessing their numbers, how many injured were among them and the terrain.

“They will attack again at nightfall. These last nights we have been forced into a defensive role, holding them back and chasing them into the caves to hide from daylight. Could we take an offensive role, set a trap for them?”

A sly smile crossed Tauron’s face. New energy seemed to flow through him as he turned the map and studied the paths and cliffs they had charted. “If we were to set our forces along this cavern wall, and send a small group to close around behind the enemy here, we could force them into this pass and ambush them here.”

Elros studied the markings his captain had charcoaled in, excitement gradually overcoming the skepticism he had felt when Tauron first began to explain the attack. “We have to split our forces. It will be dangerous.”

“Either we challenge them, or we pull out and they chase us back to Celeborn’s or Gil-Galad’s forces.”

“Let us send the messenger and set the trap,” Elros agreed, a feral grin crossing his face. “These orcs will not make it beyond us.”

* *

Elros lay amidst the rocks and brush on the cliff, his bow lying beside him and his arrows in easy reach.  He was in the attack group that would shoot down upon the orcs once they were trapped in the pass. Tauron led the forward group that would fight primarily with swords and hold off any who made it through the pass.  A third group would close in behind the enemy.

For months we saw no action, thought Elros. The men grew weary of the boredom, and now we have been fighting each night for over a week in the fiercest battles any of us has ever seen.  Tauron was a great tactician, Elros had learned.  He used his men wisely and through his strategies they had slaughtered party after party of orcs.  This last group was large and determined; the leaders seemingly better tacticians as well.  If they did not succeed in this battle, they could well face many casualties and losses, and the first enemy reinforcements could reach Angband.

Dusk had fallen when Elros heard the call from the scout.  The orcs had entered the pass, unwittingly shepherded that way by the natural flow of the land and some strategically placed obstructions.  The enemy moved forward quickly, emboldened by what they had perceived as weakness in the men the night before. 

Timing was crucial, and Elros heard the call from the forward scout that the first of the enemy had reached the end of the pass.  Elros felt his heart thudding in his chest as he waited for the call of the lag scout.  A moment later it came, indicating that the enemy was surrounded.  Elros felt the exciting rush of blood pounding in his ears, and he gave a sharp, high call signaling for the attack to begin. Arrows whistled down upon the orcs, each one seemingly finding its target in the first volley.  In the distance Elros could hear the sounds of a swordfight and he knew Tauron and his men had engaged the leading edge of the party.  A call from rear indicated that the orcs who had attempted to retreat had been attacked as well.

Elros held his position, his small group of men loosing volley after volley of arrows at the orcs.  His shots flew true, and he felt a growing sense of triumph as orc after orc fell to the ground below them.  Their assault position high above the orcs meant few could climb up to challenge them, and the orcs fled forward or retreated in an attempt to escape their arrows. 

“Forward!” Elros bellowed, and then led the charge down the cliffs and into the pass. He drew his sword, and then whooped as he heard the swish of other swords being unsheathed and saw the glint of metal in the moonlight as his men spread out beside him, some following the forward charging orcs and the others pursuing those retreating. 

Elros roared again, his sword flashing, as he engaged the first orc that spun to fight him.  A burst of energy surged through at the hand-to-hand combat, and he quickly lost track of the number of enemies that fell to his blade. An orc scimitar grazed his thigh at one point, but he barely felt the wound and only the sensation of the blood dripping down his leg alerted him to the injury. After dispatching the orc, he ripped the edge of his tunic and bound the freely bleeding wound. Gradually the sounds of the fight lessened and he felt his heartbeat slow and his breathing become more regular as he stood still, carefully eyeing the trees and cliffs around them for any further signs of the enemy.  He watched as scouts took up position and began scouring the hillside before turning his attention back to the carnage around him. He glanced at the haggard yet triumphant faces of the men he had fought next to and knew they had won the night.

Concern for the injured quickly replaced the bloodlust that had consumed him, and he organized the uninjured to transport the injured back to camp.  Despite his feeling of victory, his heart fell as he came across the first bodies of the men who had died.  The orcs they tossed in a ravine beyond the pass, where they would later burn them.

“Take care of our injured first,” Elros directed the men.  “We will return for our dead after the living are cared for.”

He began to make his way towards the rear of the pass, and met more of his men carrying injured forward.

“There are few injured?” he questioned, relief in his voice.

The first man shook his head miserably. “We have won the day, but the price was heavy.  Many are dead.”

Elros jogged back to the scene of the rear battle, and stopped short at the carnage that met his eyes.  Garman was there, uninjured, directing the disposal of orc bodies into a deep ravine at the side of the pass. The bodies of the dead men were laid out on the path, the number shocking Elros.

Elros turned saddened eyes to those of his men. “We cannot carry them back to camp. We shall need to bury them here,” he said with finality.

“But not with the orcs,” agreed Garman.  “We will not sully them in death that way.”

Elros shook off the great sadness that threatened to consume him, and instead began searching for an appropriate burial site.  The ground was too hard to dig and he resigned himself to having to commit the bodies to flame. He began collecting deadwood for the fire, and soon others joined him. They built a large pyre and began to pile the bodies atop it.  When all was done, Elros intoned a blessing of the Valar and lit the pyre.

“Stay until it is well consumed,” he directed Garman.  “I must return to the front.”

As Elros walked back the way he had come, he realized he had not seen Tauron.  He made his way past the bodies being burned and returned to camp, immediately seeking out the tents of the healers. He scanned the injured quickly, but did not see Tauron. Moving back outside, he saw a lone body covered with a shroud lying near the edge of the camp. Dread filled him, and he moved to the body, reluctantly drawing back a corner of the shroud to reveal the face of the dead man.

It was Tauron.

Tears filled his eyes, and he bowed his head, weeping for this Man he had greatly respected. 

“Go to your peace, Tauron, to the rest of mortals beyond this world,” he murmured as he drew the shroud back over his captain’s face.

He stood to see the eyes of many watching him, and in that moment he realized that he was in command.  He straightened and raised his eyes to meet theirs, and then strode purposefully to the captain’s tent.  He was ready for this. His months of training and service under Tauron served him well, and he found himself organizing watches and patrols, sending out scouts and receiving reports from the healers and those who ran the camp. The men under his command took comfort in the normalcy of his organization of tasks and planning.  I will serve them as you did, Tauron, he promised himself and his former captain.  These are now my men and my people.

* * *

Many years later……

“May the stars of Elbereth always guide and protect you, son of Eärendil,” said Celeborn in the traditional begetting day greeting.

Elrond stretched in the late morning light, dark circles under his eyes and evidence of exhaustion on his face. His expression registered surprise at Celeborn’s words before he recalled that this was indeed the day of his and Elros’ birth – the fiftieth anniversary, he thought tiredly. Elves celebrated begetting days, but their mortal blood threw the validity of that date off, and thus early on Círdan had recognized their birth day instead. 

“Thank you,” answered Elrond with a smile as he sat down near the fire. He stared in disgust at the filth of his clothing but the frost of his breath on the air meant the most he would do was clean up with a cloth.  His stomach rumbled at the smell of leftover breakfast near the fire, a breakfast he had slept through after tending the injured well past dawn, but as he reached for a plate of food an elf quickly moved it beyond his reach.  He looked up, confused, as the elf placed the plate behind him and then moved closer to Elrond. Indeed, all of the elves seemed to be drawing near. Elrond surveyed them in surprise, their grins of delight causing him a slight hesitation as to what they might be planning.

His eyes widened further in surprise when Gil-Galad appeared, for he had not heard that the king had arrived. He started to rise, but was waved back to his seat.

“Elrond, you become an adult today in the eyes of the elves,” said Gil-Galad formally.

All watching laughed as Elrond’s brows arched in question, but humor was evident upon his face as well.

“We are a mixture of Noldor and Sindar, as your blood is also mixed.  Therefore we will combine the rituals of both Kindreds in acknowledgement of your passing out of childhood this day and into the community of adults,” continued the King.

A smile tugged at Elrond’s lips as he waited for Gil-Galad to laugh, for surely the king was not serious about performing the coming-of-age rituals on a half-elf, on a battlefield in the midst of war, when the half-elf had clearly become an adult at least twenty-five years earlier?

But Gil-Galad did not laugh; instead he continued with an explanation of the day’s rites and plans.

“In the traditions of our people, Elrond, the males of your house would have begun fasting the night before and it would continue until the evening meal today.  They might have kept watch during the night, and then all of the adult males would bathe in the steam filled waters of the bathhouse or a hot spring in the morning,” explained Gil-Galad. 

Elrond found himself slowly surrounded, and as he considered fleeing several large, warm hands came to rest on his shoulders and upper arms.

“However, in our extenuating circumstances here on the battlefield of Beleriand, we have missed enough meals and kept enough watches that we will instead take every opportunity to sleep and eat, in honor of this day, of course.”

All around him laughed and Elrond let out a sigh of relief, yet the elves holding him did not release him but watched Gil-Galad expectantly.

“A bath you do need, though, my son,” laughed Gil-Galad. “Alas, there are no hot springs here, nor a bathing facility.  The waters of the Celon are cold and refreshing though!”

With that statement, Elrond found himself lifted from the ground and though he struggled, the elves laughed at his ineffectual movements as they carried him to the riverbank.  He found himself stripped of his clothing and dumped unceremoniously in the freezing waters of the Celon.

He sputtered to the surface, inhaling a deep breath at the shock of the icy waters. To his surprise, Celeborn and Gil-Galad were willingly joining him.  Much laughter was heard as they swam out to him, slivers of soap in hand. They seemed unaffected by the cold and washed themselves and him quickly, then pulled his shivering body from the freezing water.  His teeth chattering, he was wrapped in a warm blanket and amidst cheers and good-natured teasing was led back to camp.

Back at the campsite, the elves had set up a makeshift steam tent, where they were pouring pots of boiling water over red hot stones. Steam filled the air inside the small tent, and Elrond found himself quickly warming in the small space.  Gil-Galad had an arm about his shoulders and Celeborn sat on the other side of him, and Elrond wondered if they expected him to attempt to escape from their plans. As if I could, he thought wryly.

As his shivering gradually ceased and his teeth stopped chattering, Elrond began to relax in the steamy warmth.  He closed his eyes, allowing the heat to penetrate his tired body and the words of Gil-Galad and Celeborn to float about him.  The river had been refreshing, and the heat was delicious, but he decided bathhouses and hot springs were definitely the preferred alternative.

“Do you think he is ready for the next part of the initiation?” Celeborn’s words caused him to nearly leap up from his seat, his eyes opening wide.  The two laughed at him.

“We forget your mortal blood allows you to feel more of the cold,” apologized Gil-Galad.

Elrond glanced from Gil-Galad to Celeborn, noting that neither looked repentant. Celeborn grinned at him.

“He is tough enough,” laughed Celeborn. “He will handle this initiation as any strong blooded Sindar elf would.”

“His strong blood comes from his Noldor kin,” argued Gil-Galad in an amiable tone.

Elrond had the feeling they had held this argument before. He rolled his eyes.

“My mortal blood ensured I grew to adulthood long ago,” he finally interjected, the first sentence he had managed to complete since wakening.  “Is this not a little late?”

“For a mortal perhaps,” answered Gil-Galad.  “But your elven kin should be allowed their customs and rites.  It is only fair.”

The steam had died away then and the air began to grow cool. Celeborn stood first, using the blanket to wick away the remainder of the moisture from his skin.  He opened a package wrapped in oilskin, and removed from it an exquisitely detailed tunic and trousers that reflected the colors of the Kingdom of Doriath.  The tunic fell gracefully to his knees, and he tucked the trousers into tall black boots. His hair he braided in an intricate style denoting his lineage to King Elu-Thingol.

“None would doubt you a Lord and Prince of the Sindar,” said Elrond graciously as he stood, the blanket clenched tightly about him, and bowed.

Celeborn nodded, and then stood to the side as Gil-Galad also rose and pulled from another package clothing equally beautiful, in the color of the Noldor Kings.  Elrond felt no less appreciation at seeing his King in attire he had seen him wear to court.  Both elves had dispensed with the formal robes they would normally wear over such clothing, but it had been impractical to bring such fine garments over such a great distance. Gil-Galad then meticulously braided his hair in the style of his House, a pattern devised by King Fingolfin in ages past.

Gil-Galad stood before him then, and Elrond rose once more, this time dropping to one knee as he bent his head to his King.

“Rise, Elrond,” Gil-Galad laughed as Elrond attempted to keep the blanket covering all of his exposed skin, then paused briefly before continuing. “I told you once that many Kindreds could claim you, and on this day of celebration, the Sindar and the Noldor both claim you as an adult.  I shall dress you in the manner of the House of Fingolfin, and Celeborn shall adorn you in the style of a Sindar Prince of Doriath.”

Gil-Galad opened another package that lay nearby, and pulled out clothing similar to his own but with a slightly different pattern as chosen by King Turgon of Gondolin. Elrond donned the clothing, and as he fingered the material of a tunic that draped to his knees he realized he had never before worn formal clothing of the house of his great grandfather.  Still speechless, he allowed Celeborn to easily push him into a chair and begin the work of braiding his hair in a manner similar to his own.  Celeborn wove ribbons of color into the braids, and then set a narrow Mithril circlet upon his brow.

Elrond remained speechless as the two inspected him, then allowed him to see himself in a small looking glass.  With a grin of triumph, Celeborn said, “He is ready to be introduced to our people.”

Gil-Galad led him out of the tent to where the soldiers were waiting.  The elves were of the Falas and Gondolin, Doriath and Nargothrond. At a nod from Celeborn, Gil-Galad spoke, “My people, it is normally the privilege of a father to present his son to the community upon the child’s coming of age.  Eärendil is not present, nor is Dior or Tuor, Beren or Turgon or Elu-Thingol. While this is evidence of the cursed world in which we live, Elrond does not stand bereft of family. Distant uncles though we be, Celeborn, a Lord and Prince of the Sindar of Doriath[3] and I, Gil-Galad, King of the Noldor, claim him as son this day, and present him to you as a people of Kindreds united.”

“My son,” spoke Celeborn as he stepped to Elrond’s side, “accept and wear this ring as a symbol that you belong to my House.” Celeborn slipped on to Elrond’s finger a ring of Elu-Thingol’s, worn by Dior and saved in the destruction of Doriath. He took Elrond’s face in his hands, and kissed him on each cheek.

“My son,” spoke Gil-Galad from Elrond’s other side, “accept and wear this ring as symbol that you belong to my House.” Gil-Galad slipped a ring that had belonged to Eärendil, a gift from his grandfather King Turgon, on to the same finger. He pulled Elrond into an embrace, whispering in his ear, “A son you have been to me.”

Elrond found himself choked by emotion as he realized how long they must have planned for this day.  He had never been to a coming of age ceremony, as few elven children had come of age during the time when he might have attended such a ceremony.  But he had studied the customs, and his education did not fail him now. He turned to face both of the elves standing in place of his father, and knelt on a square of cloth before them.

“I accept both the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood in your House, and promise to faithfully serve this House all the days of my life,” Elrond replied, then kissed the hand of each before rising again.

A cheer rose then from the audience, and the three found themselves quickly surrounded by the warriors whom they had served with these many years past. If any thought it odd that a warrior and healer of Elrond’s experience was only now experiencing the rites of passage into adulthood, they did not express it.   Times of celebration in war were rare enough, Elrond thought.  If this lifts the spirits and encourages but one of these, then it was a ceremony well served. But even as he thought such a benevolent thought, deep inside he felt a strange and wonderful satisfaction that he belonged.

“Normally the fast is broken with a fine meal and good wine,” announced Celeborn.  “We have all fasted enough in recent years to consider that rite fulfilled, and while the feast is prepared let us open the wine!”

To Elrond’s delight, some of the finest wines of Círdan’s stores had made their way north, and it was a merry band of elves who delighted in the heady flavor, soon followed by a sumptuous meal grander than anything they had partaken of in recent years.     

Elrond excused himself from the feasting several hours later, changing his clothing and then moving to the camp infirmary to check on his patients. He changed dressings and bandages, soothing pain and offering a comforting word. One old elf smiled weakly at him, reaching unsteady fingers up to lightly caress the circlet still upon Elrond’s brow.

“I thought the King himself had come to tend me.”

When Elrond reached to remove the mithril, the elf caught his hand. “Leave it, my child.  It is your heritage, and it is time you embraced it.”

Elrond instead turned the elf’s hand to clasp it firmly, then placing his other hand on the elf’s forehead, he pushed him gently into sleep and watched as the lines of pain melted from his face.

He stood then and was tidying the area, when he realized Gil-Galad sat near the tent entrance. He moved to sit down next to his king, and a sigh of contentment escaped him as Gil-Galad slipped an arm about him and began to massage his stiff shoulders.

“Thank you for today,” said Elrond softly. “I would not have guessed how much it would mean to me.”

Gil-Galad continued to massage his shoulders, silent for a moment. “But one thing was missing.”

“Elros,” agreed Elrond.

Gil-Galad nodded but remained silent, and though Elrond wished to ask if Elros would be welcomed into elven society this same way, he found himself reticent to do so.

“The scouts have reported that all appears silent this night.  Come, have another cup of wine, and then sleep,” instructed Gil-Galad, and he led Elrond back to the fire where he was greeted enthusiastically with another cup of wine and song.


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond found himself drawn back to the present by small hands tugging at his sleeves. As he had spoken, the twins had moved several times between his lap and that of their grandfather as Celeborn had added his own voice to the story

“Ada, did they really throw you in the freezing water?” asked Elrohir

“Do you still have the rings, Ada?” interrupted Elladan.

“Do you miss your ada, Daernaneth?” Elrohir turned to his grandmother.  “Did you see him in the war, too, like Daerada did?”

“Patience, Elladan and Elrohir!” Celebrían’s voice rose over that of her sons, and they silenced immediately.  “Ask your questions one at a time,” she said gently.

The twins both blushed, but Elrond laughed inside when neither gave up their hold on his clothing. “Yes, they really threw me in the freezing water, and yes, I still have the rings,” he answered.

“Was the water colder than the water in the cave?” Elladan asked, his eyes darkening at the memory.

“No, I think the water in the cave was colder,” Elrond decided.

“May we see the rings later, Ada?” asked Elrohir.

“Yes, at bedtime I will show you the rings.”

“Will you continue the story then, Ada? Did the dragons come next?” Elladan asked, excitement in his voice.

“The dragons did come next, and if it is possible I will tell you more this evening.”

“You too, Daerada?  You were there!” Elladan turned to his grandfather, and then raced into the arms Celeborn held out to him. “Did you like Daernaneth’s adar?”

“Yes, I did,” answered Celeborn with a sly smile at his wife. “He was brave and regal and elegant, traits he passed on to his daughter, but I believe your daernaneth’s beauty came from her mother. I think your grandmother did not marry in Aman because her father chased off all her suitors.”

Galadriel’s eyes sparkled in delight when Elrohir stated, “But Daerada, Daernaneth could not have married in Aman because you were not there.”

The logic of children caused all the adults to laugh. Then Elrond rose, setting Elrohir on his feet as he did so. “Go, run and play and use that leg.”

The twins ran from the garden with shouts of joy, freed from casts and splints and the last physical reminders of their brush with death. 

Elrond excused himself from the garden, returning to the healing rooms.  He found one of the healers with an apprentice, both sitting next to Albast, who was sleeping. Their hands were laid upon him and they sang in low voices, their eyes closed, and Elrond was drawn back to the story he had just been telling.

Scenes of battlefields, with the smells of battle – of blood and burning flesh – returned to his memory as if it were only yesterday he had been there. Elves and Men – allied Men - had died in those long years, some without aid or comfort. Memories of scenes he would never relate to his young sons passed through his mind, of stitching a gash in their grandfather that had nearly claimed his leg or treating his King, poisoned by an orc arrow. Of being found himself after a battle, lying in a pool of his own blood, where the enemy had left him for dead after an ambush. On that day he had thought that he too would die alone, and in the fleeting moments of consciousness after being struck, he had wondered what his fate would be from Mandos’ Halls.  Would he go to wait with the elves, or be sent beyond with the mortals?  The other healers had tended him and within days Gil-Galad had arrived, ostensibly to visit the command and troops but he had stayed by Elrond’s side for many days.

He remembered the day Elros was brought to him, and how his hands had shook as he fought to save his twin’s life. Elros’ army and Celeborn’s had met, squeezing the enemy until they had nowhere to turn, nowhere to run.  It had been a brutal battle, with none of the enemy left alive.  Elros had been like a feral cat with his eyes ablaze, reflecting off the hilt of his sword, its blade covered in blood. He had been cut down in the last moments of battle, and his Men had carried him to his brother, thinking they had lost their captain.

The wound to his chest was deep, but his heart had been missed and Elrond had been able to stop the flow of blood. As he worked, his tears had fallen, leaving small splotches in the dirt and blood that covered his brother’s body.  He recalled now how some of Elros’ Men had stayed at his side until his survival seemed sure. He had not left the healing tents either until the day Elros opened his eyes, lucid at last.  Elros had taken in his surroundings, expressed joy at seeing his brother, and then calmly instructed Elrond to go sleep or he would command his men to physically put him to bed. Elrond had believed him.

The dragons and balrogs had come next, and he would tell his sons an abridged version of the fight, of the glory and valor of those who had fought, not of the horrible deaths of those who had died or been burned beneath their fire. Not of the severely burned who had died slowly and painfully, glad when the mercy of death claimed them.  Not of those elves who had given up their lives in the face of such misery; not of men who had begged to die. The memory of those sights and smells he pushed into the recesses of his memory, and he hoped never again to see anyone suffer as those elves and men had suffered.

“My Lord.” The apprentice interrupted his melancholic thoughts. “May I ask a question, about the man’s leg?”

Elrond snapped back to the present, and motioned the apprentice to come away from Albast. Once out of the reach of mortal hearing, Elrond spoke.

“One cannot know what the mind remembers during such restless sleep,” explained Elrond. “Keep all discussions private until you are ready to speak to the patient about his condition.”

The apprentice nodded eagerly, then moved on to his question. “At what point will you take his leg, my Lord?”

Elrond paused, for such treatment he had considered. “If the infection claims his leg and moves to threaten his life, I will offer Albast such an option.  For now I will not discuss it with him, for the burden of such knowledge will weigh heavily upon his spirit.”

“What if he declines? Will you perform the surgery anyway?” asked the apprentice.

Elrond slowly shook his head.  “No, Tinár, I would not. It is not for you or I to judge what our patient believes is the best course for his life.”

“But then he would die,” Tinár stated, his eyes widening in disbelief at what he was hearing.

“Yes, he would,” agreed Elrond. 

He left the young apprentice to consider his words, and returned to sit next to Albast.  He quickly assessed the man’s condition and smiled, pleased.  “It is not your time yet, my friend.  Fight just a little longer and you will recover.”

* * *

Celebrían remained with Glorfindel and her parents in the garden, the sounds of her sons’ laughter as they played on their tree swing occasionally drifting back to them.

“Adar, did you and Gil-Galad perform an elven coming of age ceremony for Elros as well?” she asked curiously.

Celeborn shook his head.  “Neither Elros nor the men he captained would have understood or appreciated such a ceremony. Elros had not attended such a ritual, nor had he studied the customs of his people in days past.  A ring was given to him though, a token given to his mortal great grandfather, Barahir, by Finrod after the man saved Finrod’s life at the Dagor Bragollach.  It resided in Beren’s possession, then Dior’s, and was kept safe for Elwing’s children.  An elven ring forged in Aman, treasured as an heirloom in the House of Bëor, it is in the possession of King Valandil today.”

All were quiet for a few moments, then Celeborn rose.  “Let us go see if a couple of elflings are ready for their second archery lesson,” he said to Glorfindel.

Glorfindel’s brow arched and his eyes danced to life. “I will watch as you set up the targets, my friend.”

“For my lessons, I must have you place them precisely where I need them,” argued Celeborn.

Bickering, the gold and silver elves departed.  Celebrían turned to her mother.

“Naneth, you have never told me what your father said to Adar when they talked alone for the first time,” she said suddenly.

Galadriel laughed softly. “Your father has never told me,” she admitted.

* * * * *

Author’s Notes:

[1] Menegroth means ‘The Thousand Caves’, and was the cavern and stronghold of King Thingol and Queen Melian.  The kingdom they lived in was called Doriath, which mean ‘Hidden Kingdom.’

[2] Artanis is the father-name of Galadriel.  Nerwen is her mother-name.  She chose for herself (or accepted from Celeborn) the Sindar name of Galadriel.

[3] I find it difficult to figure out who carried titles in Middle-earth, and what they meant.  Celeborn’s grandfather (in the version I chose to use) is Elmo, brother of Elwë (King Elu Thingol of the Sindar). How the titles Lord and Prince might be used among the elves and by whom, I do not know.  This topic has been hotly debated on yahoo list groups without resolution.  I am using the terms here, because this is a formal occasion and if a father carried a title, he would use it here.  Since Elrond’s father cannot be present, I want to show Celeborn’s and Gil-Galad’s blood relationship to Elrond and their positions or authority among their people. 

Just to keep these Noldor straight….Finwë was high king (he died right before the Two Trees were destroyed).  His sons were Fëanor (father of Maedhros, Maglor and co.), Fingolfin (father of Turgon of Gondolin, Fingon  - Gil-Galad’s father - and Aredhel) and Finarfin (father of Galadriel, Finrod and their other three brothers).   After Morgoth stole the Silmaril, most of the Noldor went to Middle-earth – including Fëanor and all his sons; Fingolfin and all his sons, and all of the children of Finarfin.  Finarfin stayed and became High King of the Noldor in Aman. So, Finarfin’s family in Middle-earth at the time of the War of Wrath consisted of his daughter Galadriel, and his brother’s grandson (Gil-Galad) and great-great-grandsons (Elrond and Elros).


A special thank you to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter

Chapter 22: Dragons, Silmarilli and Decisions

Elrond was settled upon the couch, studying a text on the healing of infections in men, when he heard the commotion of small feet racing down the hall.  He laid the book aside as the door flew open and his sons raced into the room, both leaping into his lap at the same time.

“Who won, Ada?” exclaimed Elladan as he pulled himself up while hanging on to Elrond’s collar. Elrohir scrambled to stand on Elrond’s other side, his eyes wide with excitement.

“Who won, Ada?” echoed Elrohir with enthusiasm.

“It was most definitely a tie,” said Elrond sincerely. “I will have bruises of the same shade on each leg.”

The twins dissolved in giggles at this pronouncement, knowing full well they had not hurt their father.  They were still laughing when their mother and grandfather entered the room at a more sedate pace.

“We tied, Nana!” called Elrohir.  “Just like this afternoon.”

Elladan frowned. “You beat me this afternoon,” he said, disappointed.

Elrohir frowned in return.  “I did not.  We raced to Daerada and Glorfindel and we hit them at the same time.”

“Oh,” said Elladan, blushing. “But you hit the target more times than me.”

“But that was because Glorfindel helped me more,” explained Elrohir sincerely. “That was not a competition; it was just practice.”

 “Oh,” said Elladan, now smiling. He turned back to Elrond.  “And Ada, Daerada did not even try to pin Glorfindel again.”

“Glorfindel would not set up the targets!” laughed Elrohir in delight.  “And they argued and if Nana had been there she would have made them both sit down on the bench until they could talk nicely to each other.”

“But they quit arguing while they helped us,” interjected Elladan helpfully. “Daerada says we will be good archers when we grow up.”

“We have good lines,” added Elrohir proudly.  He paused for a moment, then whispered to Elrond, “What does that mean, Ada?”

Elrond began to laugh, a rumbling laugh from deep within, as he listened to this sons’ excitement and watched his wife glare at her father for setting a bad example before her children.  Glorfindel had entered rather surreptitiously while the twins were speaking, and despite Celebrían’s overt glare, the mighty warriors were staring at each other like two great cats, ready to pounce and wrestle for dominance.  Elrond stifled his laugh as Celebrían turned to him, but knew it was only a matter of time before some challenge was issued between the two and they had the household in an uproar again.

“Would you like to see the rings now?” Elrond deftly changed the subject as he retrieved his coming-of-age rings from a pocket in his robe and held them out to his sons.

Elladan and Elrohir took turns trying on the rings and pretending it was their coming-of-age ceremony, effectively drawing their mother’s attention away from her father and Glorfindel and back to themselves.  Celebrían fussed over the rings and who they had belonged to, and soon the twins were clamoring for more of the story.

“Ada, tell us how the Men and Elves and Valar won the war,” Elladan begged.  “Tell us how you fought the dragons!”

“The stronghold of Angband was rocked to its very foundation, and Morgoth knew that the Valar were near,” Elrond picked up the story near the end of the War. “And so he loosed the dragons against us, driving even the Valar back. . .”


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

“Eönwë has called us to move to the north east of Dorthonion,” Gil-Galad announced.  “The Men and Orcs who served Morgoth are destroyed, and as the Valar cast down the towers of Angband we are to block any attempts of his servants to escape eastward. Beware the fault lines and floods that run across the plain, and stay to high ground.”

Cheers greeted the announcement, and it was with joy that the Elves and Men of the Hosts of Beleriand prepared to move to their new positions.  For years they had fought Morgoth’s forces, at times fighting for days on end without rest, and at other times nearly consumed by the weariness of boredom. The end appeared near, and even as Beleriand was shaken to her very foundations, they were glad.

Several mornings later, dawn found them perched on the northern side of the Dorthonion Mountains.  As Anor rose, they could see the Hosts of the Valar riding forth to the gates of Angband.  Trumpets were heard, and the voice of Eönwë rose loud and clear in the still morning, commanding Morgoth to surrender.

Suddenly there rose from the gates great winged creatures, fire bellowing from their mouths and with a roar like thunder, they flew out and descended upon the Hosts of the Valar.   Several more, smaller creatures followed them, flying out to the east and west of the gates.

Elrond never learned what the Valar did as the Dragons descended upon them, but a great light shone around them, blocking the fire from burning those who stood below the mighty beasts. Yet the call for retreat was made, and the Hosts of the Valar drew back.  So intent were Elrond, and indeed all of Gil-Galad’s troops, on watching the fight to their west that the sudden darkening of the sky as a dragon flew over them caught them off their guard.

“Take cover!” shouted Gil-Galad as the great beast descended on his troops. 

Elrond dove into the rocks, the heat of the dragon’s breath nearly singeing his hair as it flew overhead.  He heard screams around him as others were not so fortunate, and he quickly peered out to see several Elves and Men rolling on the ground, attempting to put out the flames that engulfed them.   Others reached them before Elrond, throwing blankets over those burning to suffocate the flames.

“Get them to the stream!” Elrond called.  “Douse them completely!”

A creek flowed nearby, and the burned warriors were taken there and soaked in the cool waters.  The roar and flames of the dragons returned though, and those treating the burned took to the waters, submerging themselves and their patients each time the fire descended on them.

One of the healers located a protected shallow of water under the weeping branches of a willow tree, and they took the worst of the wounded there.  Hidden from sight, they were able to strip the burned warriors before their clothing dried imbedded in their wounds, and those who could drink were fed hastily concocted tinctures to numb their pain and push them into oblivion. 

In the smoke and flame, all sight of the Valar was lost, and Gil-Galad arranged his forces in an attempt to take down the mighty dragons when they next returned.  Archers stood hidden in the clefts of rock, care taken that they had places to hide should the dragons spot them.  Other soldiers had climbed into the tallest trees and were stringing strong elven rope in the hopes of felling one of the beasts that caught on the line. 

“Tie off the ends and come down,” Elros called.  “The dragon may well break the rope and uproot the trees, but if it allows us the time to aim a few arrows well, then it is worth it.”

“Our arrows are useless against the scales of the dragon!” one man cried out in frustration.

“Aim for the eyes or into the mouth, or the pit of its arm or its groin,” instructed Celeborn.  “Every creature has a spot that may fell him – we have only to find it!”

“We have killed balrogs; we will kill these dragons,” encouraged one of the Gondolin survivors. 

Elrond was thankful the Valar seemed to have dispatched all the remaining Balrogs, as he had no wish to see the damage they could inflict.  He felt tears trickle down his cheeks as he tended the man before him.  Not a hair was left on his body, and what skin remained was tight and shiny. Already his lungs were failing, the breath sounds wet and crackly, but mercifully he was unconscious.

“If he wakes at any point, give him this,” Elrond instructed the human healer who had come to sit nearby.

The man took the small vial and opened it, then sniffed the contents gingerly.  His eyes rose to meet Elrond’s and he nodded.  “Comfort and ease of passing, it is the most we can offer,” he agreed sadly.

A cry went up as another dragon flew out of the smoke and circled over them, its keen eyes seeking for living targets to consume.  It swooped low and hissed its fire as it neared the ground, setting ablaze the grasses and trees as it passed.   Elrond watched in horror as an archer jumped from a burning tree, landing and rolling in the flames of the grass below.  The archer moved swiftly, finding a patch of dirt and flinging himself upon it, and then jumped up again and ran into the middle of the stream.  Elrond had begun to run as soon as soon as the archer leapt from the tree, and jumped into the water after him.  The archer surfaced, drawing in a great breath of air and hissing out his pain as he exhaled.

“Stay in the water,” advised Elrond.  A dark shape suddenly blocked the sun again, and Elrond waited, knowing there was no time to move.  The dragon had seen them. “Get ready – when I tell you to breathe, draw in as much air as you can.”

A fireball issued from the Dragon’s mouth and instantly Elrond hissed ‘Breathe!’ into the man’s ear and then pulled him under.  He counted slowly to ten, and as the man in his grasp began to struggle he kicked upward and surfaced.  He immediately looked around, but did not see the Dragon.   He heard it scream at him, cursing him, and he looked straight up to see the creature descending on him again.  He covered the heaving man’s nose and mouth, and dragged him under water once again.

This time he began to kick and dragged the man along with him, his arm wrapped around the man’s chest, beneath his arm, while he kept the man’s mouth and nose covered with his other hand.  The man had gone limp when Elrond surfaced again, this time near some rocks he had seen earlier.  The injured were still in the protection of the willows, but having seen the dragon ignite the trees so easily, he feared for those hidden there. He had again begun looking for the dragon, when a great bellow of pain and rage rang from above.

High on the cliffs where the warriors had tied the rope, a second dragon had become entangled.  It screamed its rage as the trees bent and the elven rope bit into its belly, but the elven rope held true and it was the dragon who dropped to the ground far below.   This dragon was younger, its scales thick but not as impenetrable as those of a mature dragon, and it screamed in pain, cursing as an arrow penetrated its eye and then it groaned in agony as another entered its mouth.  A small breath of fire issued from it, but it was not enough to harm those nearby. Swords began to hack at its tail and limbs, and finally a great spear was thrust against its chest, breaching its scales and entering its heart.   Its tail flopped once more, and a last moan was heard before the beast lay still.

Elrond watched in amazement as the dragon was felled, and then the beast that had been attacking him withdrew, keening cries hanging in the air as it mourned the loss of the young dragon.  For a crazy moment Elrond wondered if the dead dragon was child to the one who had attempted to roast him.

He felt a weak breath on his hand, and suddenly remembered the injured soldier he held in his arms.  He began to swim to the shore, and was grateful when others waded in to take the injured man from his arms and carry him to dry ground.

“We have found a cave,” said the one healer, relief in his voice.  “Let us move all the injured there before the dragons return.”

Elrond nodded in agreement, but allowed the other healers to carry and tend the man.  He did not see his brother or Celeborn or Gil-Galad, and suspected they had been the ones to fell the dragon on the cliffs.  He began to climb the hills, and when he was high enough to look west he found a great air battle taking place over the expanse of ground in front of the gates of Angband. Speechless, he stared at a mighty ship that flew against the winged beasts, driving the leader of the dragons back to the gates, only to have the formidable dragon force the ship back moments later.  Mighty eagles, with wingspans as great as the largest of the dragons, flew with the ship, their powerful beaks biting and pecking at their foes.   Even the air seemed to tremble with the fury of the battle, and bolts of lightning issued all around the combatants. The ground shook and mighty rumbles of thunder filled the air.

“What is that?” Elrond said in disbelief as others moved to stand near him.

“It is the Vingilot!” called Gil-Galad, laughing and shaking his spear at the sky.  “Eärendil has joined the battle!”

A cheer rose from the exhausted warriors, and they watched as the fury of the battle increased. The magnificent eagles quickly intercepted the few dragons that tried to fly beyond the gates to harass the Hosts of Beleriand, and as the threat to Gil-Galad’s forces decreased, Elrond began to see the injuries on those around him.  He found a flat rock to work on, and began beckoning over the injured one at a time.  He smiled as he realized he had chosen the spot well, for it offered a good view of the ongoing battle.  His patients were so engrossed in watching the action that he was able to efficiently stitch wounds and place salve on burns and bind the injuries. 

“Elros, keep your arm still,” demanded Elrond, shaking his brother slightly as Elros seemed to want to thrust his body forward with every good hit that the Eagles or Eärendil made.  Elros did not even acknowledge him, but the arm stayed still enough for Elrond to sew up the long gash in his forearm.

“Gil-Galad, let me see your hand,” Elrond finally gained the King’s attention by pulling on his spear.

Gil-Galad turned to him, a sparkle in his eye.  “This is all dragon blood,” he proclaimed proudly.

Celeborn was mute as Elrond cleaned the burn on his leg, a final hurt from the dying dragon, then salved and bandaged it.   Seeing no other injuries, Elrond sank to the ground as a sudden weariness overcame him, but jumped forward as soon as his back touched the rock he meant to lean against.  He turned, grimacing at the pain in his back, and rubbed his hand across the surface of the rock, but could find no sharp edge.  Reaching over his shoulder, he lightly touched his back and felt fire spread across his skin.

“Don’t touch it,” Celeborn said quietly.  His large hands gathered Elrond’s loose hair and pulled it forward over his shoulder.  Elrond felt the cool metal of a blade as the flat edge lightly touched his skin, and then his tunic fell from shoulders. “When did this happen?  Why did you not get it treated?” he lightly chastised.

“I do not know when it happened, or I would have,” Elrond answered.  A bright light flashed in the sky then, and he watched as the King of the Eagles knocked one of the dragons from the sky, its mighty talons sinking deep into the flesh and its beak ripping at the face of the beast.  Elrond watched the dragon fall, the sky now dark enough that the beast was only a crumpling shadow.  It landed hard and bounced, and the dust slowly settled around it.

“Another one down!” someone cried.  “The tide has turned!”

“Elrond, lift your arm.”

He suddenly heard Celeborn’s frustrated voice and he jumped slightly, then lifted the arm that Celeborn was pushing upward.   Celeborn finished wrapping the bandages, securing them beneath his arm and around his chest and Elrond looked at him in surprise.  “You are done?”

Celeborn laughed.  “Yes, the battle is a mighty distraction, is it not?

They watched throughout that long night as Eärendil and the Eagles fought the dragons, and it was near dawn when Eärendil struck the death blow.  The King of the dragons fell from the sky with a screaming roar that silenced as his body crushed into the towers of Thangorodrim.  He bounced against one peak, and then another, and a great cloud of hazy dust rose about him in the early morning light.

But the sound did not cease.

The rumble continued to grow until finally the mighty mountains of Angband split and fell apart.  The trumpets of Eönwë sounded as Anor rose, and the Valar descended upon the hold of Morgoth as his caverns were laid open to them.

“Move the wounded from the caves and to high ground.” Elrond heard Gil-Galad command a group of his soldiers, and the reason became obvious as great shockwaves spread out from Angband.  A fierce battle seemed to ensue within her crumbling caverns.

“Who are those running from the hills?” Elros asked, pointing to the openings in the mountains.

“The slaves of Angband are free,” said Celeborn softly. “It is a wonder any have survived, and yet look how many there are.”

The slaves were gathered into the arms of the Hosts of the Valar, who surrounded them and laid hands upon them and sang of their victory and escape.  And even from a great distance one could see bent backs straightening and heads being lifted to the sky as many saw the sun for the first time in many, many long years.

The ship of Eärendil dipped low once last time over the plains, and with a twinkle rose into the sky and disappeared, followed by the mighty Eagles. Elrond had felt a sense of awe to know that his father was fighting in this battle, pride when Eärendil had routed the dragons, and now a sense of loss tugged at his heart as the ship of his father departed.  He could not help but wonder if that was the closest glimpse he would ever have of the one who sired him.

Angband grew quiet then, and all waited expectantly.  Finally, those of the Valar who had entered the dark caverns of Morgoth’s stronghold came forth. Between them, bound with a mighty chain and collar around his neck, was Morgoth.   Broken he seemed, yet no pity was spared him. In a great flash of light he disappeared, along with those who held his chains.

“It is over then?” Elrond finally asked, disbelief in his voice.

He felt his brother at his side. They joined arms, and then Gil-Galad turned to face them.

“Manwë will take Morgoth beyond the walls of this world, to the Timeless Void, and he shall not be allowed to return,” he said, the memory of Eönwë’s words, of their plans for Morgoth, fresh in his mind.  “The war is over.”

Even as Gil-Galad spoke a mighty trumpet sounded, its sound coming as if from the heavens rather than the camp of the Valar and spreading out all across the lands of Middle-earth.  Its wordless tones spoke deep into the hearts of all the firstborn, offering forgiveness to those of the banned who would repent, and an invitation to return to their homes in the West.  To the others of the firstborn it called them to come and see the land the Valar had prepared for them, to come and be healed of their sorrow and weariness.  Where the hearkening call met hesitation, in the hearts of those who were still tied to the lands they loved, a patient promise was made: that the way would remain open to them until they were ready to come.

To the Secondborn the trumpet spoke a mighty promise: that they were not forgotten.  The Valar themselves would prepare a home for them, away from the cares and sorrows of Middle-earth.

Elrond and Elros heard both calls.

* * *

As the lands of Beleriand continued to rumble and shake, the mountains were broken apart and the rivers were thrown from their banks.  Great fissures formed in the earth, and then mighty floods filled the gaps.  Eönwë sent word to Gil-Galad to move his troops to a location near the Camp of the Valar, an area they would protect from harm until all were ready to depart.  The Men and Elves worried for their families, but had comfort that the years of preparation would help to spare them.

Elrond helped to oversee the transportation of the injured, and they made their way carefully to the high land where the Valar camped.  They were some of the last to arrive, the uninjured warriors having gone ahead to prepare the way for them.  It seemed to Elrond that an air of excitement hung over the camp

“What is the cause of the excitement?” Elrond asked as he settled his packs in his tent.

“The Silmarilli from the crown of Morgoth were recovered, and are in the tent of Eönwë,” answered Gil-Galad.  His brow furrowed, and he turned to Elrond.  “The elves of Aman believe the Two Trees might be able to be restored from the light kept within the jewels, that the light of the Trees will once again shine in Valinor.”

“Is such a thing possible?” asked Elrond.

“I do not know.” Gil-Galad paused, then changed the subject. “Our scouts have reported a party of elves coming from the east. They bear the colors of the Noldor.”

Elrond sat on the edge of his cot, old memories tugging at his mind.  “Maedhros and Maglor, and their people?”

Gil-Galad nodded.

“They will be within reach of the Silmarilli,” said Elrond softly.  A fuzzy picture formed in his mind, and the memory of fear accompanied the image of Maedhros, while ambivalence floated about the image of Maglor.  They had destroyed Doriath, and killed his grandparents and uncles.  They had destroyed Sirion and take him and Elros captive after driving their mother into the sea. All for an oath, all to recover the Silmarilli.  A sense of foreboding rose in Elrond’s mind. They would not attempt to take them from the Valar, he thought.  Would they?

* * *

 The exiled Noldor elves passed just south of Gil-Galad’s encampment, cutting within sight of Gil-Galad’s tent as they followed the path that led to the camp of the Valar.  Many of Gil-Galad’s warriors stopped to watch them pass, and all kept a hand on the hilt of their swords. Tension weighed heavy in the air, and murmurs of ‘kinslayer’ were heard occasionally as the survivors of Doriath and Sirion recognized elves who had cut down a friend or family member.

Elrond stood near Gil-Galad, but found himself enclosed by Gil-Galad’s guard rather than being counted among them.  Celeborn stood atop a small mound close to the path and watched the column pass, his eyes ablaze and the line of his jaw set in fury. Elrond knew little of Celeborn’s family, but Gil-Galad had told him some had died at the hands of the dwarves and others at the hands of the kinslaying elves.  He had no love for either group, and Elrond was impressed by the restraint Celeborn showed as the elves passed by him.

Near the front of the column rode Maedhros and Maglor, their names whispered with the same contempt as the word ‘kinslayer’.  To Elrond’s surprise, and the surprise of all those present, Maglor halted his horse near Celeborn.  The two stared at each other for several long moments, but the looks were not of hatred or revenge, but of some sort of understanding.  Celeborn finally turned and looked at Elrond, and nodded slightly; and then turned to Elros, who was standing with his men a short distance away, and nodded again.

Maglor’s eyes followed Celeborn’s movements, and Elrond suddenly realized that Celeborn was pointing him and his brother out to Maglor.  Elrond started, as if to move, but Gil-Galad laid a restraining hand on his arm.  Maglor’s gaze settled on Elrond, then moved to Elros and finally returned to Celeborn.  To everyone’s surprise, he bowed to Celeborn and then to Gil-Galad, and then motioned his horse forward again.

Maedhros’ gaze lingered only briefly on Celeborn and then with one sweeping look at all watching him, he followed his brother.

The rest of the column passed swiftly, most of the elves keeping their eyes lowered from those of Gil-Galad’s people, and Elrond sensed a deep regret in many of them. It was not until the last one had passed by that Celeborn left his position atop the mound and walked back to the King’s tent. 

Elrond kept his eyes fixed on Celeborn’s face as Celeborn approached them.  He stopped in front of Elrond, and Elrond wished for a moment that he had Celeborn’s great height, so he did not have to look up at his mentor.  A look of tenderness crossed Celeborn’s face, and he raised one hand to stroke Elrond’s hair, and then leaned down to kiss him on the top of the head.  Without speaking a word, he entered the tent, the tent flap falling closed soundlessly behind him.

The camp had been silent until this time, but now elves and men began to move about and a low murmur of voices arose in discussions about what the kinslayers might be seeking and what their presence might mean.  Elrond stood motionless, however, and was still staring at the closed tent flap when he sensed his brother at his side. Elrond raised his eyebrows and then shrugged in answer to his brother’s unspoken questions.

“Individuals are seldom fully good or fully evil. The same hands that killed innocent elves and held you captive also cared for and protected you, and in the end he was willing to die that you might live,” said Gil-Galad thoughtfully.

“He created the conditions by which we needed his care and protection and sacrifice.  That makes his actions less than noble,” replied Elros with a flash in his eyes.

“Yes, that is true,” answered Gil-Galad. “But I am still grateful for them.”

* * *

Anticipation hung in the air all that afternoon as the camp waited to see if the Noldor elves with Maedhros and Maglor would return.  Eyes glanced west to the camp of the Valar at regular intervals, yet no one walked that return path and no word was heard. Darkness finally settled over the camp and still all was quiet, but the feeling in the air was not of calm.

Elrond finished tending his patients late that evening, and decided to bathe in the nearby stream before sleep claimed him.  The tension still hung palpably in the air, and he was not surprised when the guards on duty insisted on accompanying him. He would have declined the bath to avoid taking them from their duties, but they seemed glad for something to do.  He floated in the cool water, stretching the nearly healed skin on his back as he listened to the soft murmur of their voices. He slipped beneath the surface of the water to rinse the soaproot from his hair and as he surfaced sudden movement on the bank caught his attention.

The guards had risen and one was beckoning to Elrond while the other moved to higher ground to gain better sight of whatever it was that was happening. Elrond moved quickly to the shore, pulling clean clothing over his wet body and wrapping his sword belt around his hips.  Shouts and calls of distress were heard from the direction of the Valar’s camp, and a bright light appeared in the sky over it. 

The guards had signaled to the captain on duty, and Gil-Galad’s forces were roused as well.   Weapons were drawn in face of the unknown threat, and the soldiers spread out.

Elrond remained with the guards in their position just to the north and west of the camp. In the distance he could see the light growing, and then suddenly it was moving toward them.  The sound of hoofbeats grew and then the pounding sound of many horses rushing towards them filled the air. The soldiers blocked the path and filled the clearing near the stream, and moments later the riders rushed into their midst in a blaze of light.

“Daro!” Elrond roared as the riders descended on them.

The horse reared and neighed a warning, its front hooves kicking dangerously near to Elrond’s head.  The multitude of drawn swords reflected the light of the Silmaril in the hands of the rider, and the horse drew back, blinded by the glare.  The second horse tried to edge around the first, stopping only when the slash of a sword blade cut the air within a hairbreadth’s space from its flaring nostrils.

Elrond found himself face to face with Maedhros, whom he had not seen since he was a frightened young child.  He growled his fury as he realized that they had stolen the Silmarilli from the Valar. Maedhros hissed at him, his own sword drawn in return. Elrond caught sight of Maglor then, and he was stunned by the torment in the elf’s face. At the sound of a loud cry Elrond turned to see the guard next to him swing his sword upward, the blade crashing into Maedhros’ blade.

In that same moment a force appeared to the rear, the guard of King Finarfin among them, but they parted as Eönwë came forth.  Gil-Galad had also entered the clearing, and he motioned the guard and Elrond back, choosing to stand before the sons of Fëanor with only his long spear in hand.

The glittering light of the Silmarilli was mesmerizing, sparkling and shining with an ethereal beauty. Silence fell over the clearing, and Eönwë moved to stand before the brothers.  With one hand he motioned to all present to lower their swords and spears.  Elrond was so intent on the scene playing out before them that he was surprised when Gil-Galad pushed his sword down.

“Sons of Fëanor, hearken to me now as you did not in our earlier meeting,” Eönwë spoke in a strong and clear voice. “I repeat to you the words Manwë has spoken: Any right you possessed to the work of your father has perished due to your many and merciless deeds, and most of all for the slaying of Dior, heir of Elu-Thingol of Doriath, and the assault upon the Havens. This night you have slain two of the guard of your own Noldor kin in your greed for the Silmarilli.  Relinquish the jewels, that they might be remanded to the West, and return to Valinor to face the judgment of the Valar.”

Elrond watched in disbelief as Maedhros and Maglor rejected their final opportunity for surrender by lifting their swords.  He instinctively raised his own, and saw flashes of steel all around him. Finarfin’s guard moved in from the rear as Elrond stepped forward with Gil-Galad’s forces. The call of Eönwë’s voice startled him.

“Let them leave!”

Eönwë walked forward, Gil-Galad’s forces parting before him, until a path was open for the sons of Fëanor to escape.  Eönwë stepped to the side beyond the last guard, and with an inarticulate cry the brothers spurred their horses forward and raced from the clearing.

There was silence as the brothers disappeared from sight into the blackness of the night. A great crack of thunder sounded as another fissure opened in the surface of the earth and fire shot into the sky, momentarily illuminating the fleeing brothers one last time.  Then Eönwë turned and strode back into the middle of the clearing.

“Hands that have shed blood in greed to possess the light of the Silmarilli will not be long able to bear the touch of the hallowed jewel upon their flesh. The Silmarilli will soon cease to exist where living flesh may bear them,” predicted Eönwë.  He turned to Gil-Galad. “Sheath your weapons and return to your camp. Hearken to my call and prepare yourselves to depart.” Eönwë then turned to the captain of Finarfin’s guard. “A final kinslaying darkens the hearts of the Noldor.  Come and prepare your dead for burial.”

Eönwë turned and walked back down the path to the camp of the Valar. The Noldor of Aman met the eyes of the forces of Gil-Galad with an understanding they only now could share.  They had long shared a common goal in the fight against Morgoth and the Shadow he cast over their lands; but this greater pain of seeing kin die at the hands of kin in greed bore a deep sorrow into the core of their very being. Silent and grief stricken, they returned to their own camp.

Elrond watched as Elros led his men away, knowing that few among them understood the significance of the Silmarilli or the light contained within them. But Elrond had noted the respect and admiration in Elros’ expression over Eönwë’s words. Elrond found he agreed; killing Maglor and Maedhros would have lowered them to the same shameful actions they despised in the sons of Fëanor.

He watched in silence as all departed back to their tents, knowing few would sleep. He had listened to the excitement of the Men as they talked about what Eönwë’s call meant to them. He had also listened to the elves talk about returning to Valinor.  It seemed that most would go, although some seemed to wish to stay longer. Those discussions would resume, but Elrond wished to be away from it all.  The Men had not heard Eönwë’s call to the Elves and the Elves had not heard Eönwë’s call to the Men.   Yet he and Elros had heard both, but seemed included in neither. Elrond felt distant from both races; as if he were adrift and separated from all he knew. Elrond could not remember a time when he had not felt welcome among the elves. Yet the silence that fell over such discussions when he came near had begun to wear on him.

He waited until he was alone, only the guard standing at his post aware that he had remained behind, before moving to sit on a rock at the edge of the clearing that overlooked the stream.  In the distance he could hear and see the sounds of Beleriand disintegrating; he could even smell the tang of salt water and knew that the sea had pushed up through the earth’s crust.  If the Men had a new land, and the Elves returned to Valinor where mortals could not go, did the Valar then have a special plan for the half-elven? He laughed at himself. Our father flies the skies, our mother lives in a tall tower in wait for him, and our grandfather Dior is dead.  That leaves Elros and me.  I hope we can stand the company of each other until the time of our kind ends.

The bitterness of his own thoughts choked him, and anger at his own morose and self-pitying thoughts rose within him.   He stood and drew his sword, raising it high in the light of the moon, then swung it in a furious arc about him. The desire for physical release was great, and he growled his frustration at parrying with the air.  He thrust again, then turned, feinting with his invisible enemy, when suddenly his sword cracked against metal. His eyes lit up in surprise and then met the eyes of his opponent over their raised swords.  After a slight bow to the other, Elrond thrust and relished the throb in his shoulder as metal met metal with force. For nearly a solid hour they danced, long hair coming loose and a sheen of sweat covering their bodies.  Finally his opponent lowered his sword, and Elrond mirrored the action.  They stared at each other for a long moment, then moved in unison to sit on the cool grass, their backs to the rock.

Elros wrapped his arm about his brother’s shoulder and pulled him back against his chest, folding both arms across Elrond’s chest.  Their cheeks nearly touching, the brothers sat in silent companionship until Anor rose.

* * *

Gil-Galad stood near the guard, silent, as the twins danced and fought themselves into exhaustion.  He could only imagine what was going through their minds, but he had sensed the confusion in them both as the plans of Men and Elves were discussed.  He turned his head to the camp of the Valar, wondering if they had forgotten about the peredhel in all the plans they had to make.  They were two young half-elves, without direct family to advocate on their behalf.  Come morning, he decided, he would speak to Finarfin and they would plead the case of the peredhel. A slight fear rose in him, however, as to what the case was they would plead.

None saw the single tear that slipped down his cheek.

* * * * *

Author’s notes:  The descriptions of the battles are based on the Silmarillion, The Voyage of Eärendil – in what I think are some of the most moving passages of the entire book.  Eönwë’s words to Maglor and Maedhros are paraphrased directly from what Tolkien wrote was said.  If you read nothing else, read that chapter.  :D

A special thank you to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter

Chapter 23: Dragons, Silmarilli and Decisions (Part II)

Anor had risen and Elrond and Elros were walking back to their tents when a messenger mounted on horseback passed them.  The messenger greeted them cordially, continued on to deliver the message and was returning along the path by the time the twins walked past the tent of Gil-Galad.

“You have both been summoned by Eönwë,” Gil-Galad greeted them.

Elrond took the small parchment roll from the king and read the words requesting the presence of the sons of Eärendil. “We are expected upon receipt of the message,” Elrond said to Elros. “It does not say why we are being summoned.”

Elros read it and then shrugged, his appearance nonchalant, but it was clear to Elrond that his brother was as tense as he was.  “Breakfast first,” decided Elros.

Fed, their hair brushed and braided and their clothing refreshed, the sons of Eärendil walked down the path that led to the camp of the Valar.  Many watched them leave, curious, but only Gil-Galad was aware of the summons and his face was carefully impassive. Elrond did not look back, but kept his eyes on the road ahead, until they came to the camp of the Valar.

The structure of the Valar could hardly be called a tent, so magnificent was its façade. Elrond and Elros approached it together, their shoulders nearly touching. Awe and fear consumed them, leaving no room for words, and so they approached silently. Their passage went unchallenged; shining elves with the light of Valinor gleaming in their eyes and Maiar of great power and might watched them pass with looks that hovered between curiosity and an almost paternal love. At last they came to a guard who lifted one hand in a signal to halt, then motioned for them to follow him.

They entered the tent and found it lit more brightly than the outdoors, but the source of the light was neither the beams of Anor nor an external flame.  The light seemed to emanate from the beings who sat in the court, and the mightiest of these sat upon a magnificent dais.  Despite the glory and beauty of his surrounding, Elrond found that his eye refused to linger on the inanimate objects, for the ones who sat upon the thrones demanded his attention by their mere bearing. In front of the dais sat Eönwë, whom they recognized from the incident the night before.

Eönwë rose, and the guard halted and then turned aside, leaving Elrond and Elros standing together before the Maia. Both knelt and bowed their heads before the dais.

“Rise, sons of Eärendil,” said Eönwë.  When they had done so he continued, “I am Eönwë, herald of Manwë, the High King of Arda. 

“Elrond and Elros, you are begat from the lines of the Eldar Kings and the three houses of the Edain, Fathers of Men.   To each kind Ilúvatar has appointed a doom: for the Eldar not to die, but to live bound to Arda for so long as it shall endure, and for the Edain a Gift, to die as mortal beings, and travel beyond the circles of this world upon passing.

“To you of the peredhil a choice of destiny has been granted: You may choose to live and be judged as the Firstborn, or you may choose to live as mortal men. Even as the end of Beleriand draws near, the Edain shall not be forsaken. As heirs of Eärendil you would lead your people in their new land.

“For two days you will consider your choice.  On the third day you will choose your destiny.

“Go in peace, sons of Eärendil.”

Elrond and Elros bowed and turned, a guard again at their elbow, and they were escorted from the tent. Many eyes followed their departure and as they returned to the camp of Gil-Galad it seemed as if the entire host was gathered, waiting for their return. 

The brothers had not yet looked at each other nor spoken a word, both yet overwhelmed by the experience of meeting with Eönwë and the choice they had been given. They entered the camp and Elrond felt a momentary panic fill him as all seemed to be waiting for them to speak. He breathed a sigh of relief as Gil-Galad spoke.

“Elrond, Elros, please come to my tent.”

They entered the cool darkness and sat as Gil-Galad motioned to several chairs. Elrond glanced down at his hand and realized it was shaking. He quickly pressed it against his thigh to still it, and felt Elros’ hand cover it a moment later.  Elros’ hand was warm and strong, and Elrond drew comfort from his brother’s touch, as he knew Elros did from his. He heard laughter, and finally turned to look at his twin.

Elros was laughing. His grey eyes were twinkling and his body shaking as mirth overcame him.  Elrond felt himself drawn in by the absurdity of it all, and began to laugh as well. Finally, tears streaming down their faces, they calmed.

“I feel much better now,” sighed Elros.

“As do I,” agreed Elrond.

“Good.  Now, are you ready to tell what has happened?” Gil-Galad asked, amused.

Elrond exchanged a quick glance with his twin, both of their faces sobering immediately. As Elrond was pondering how to answer the question, Elros spoke.

“The herald of Manwë has informed us that being half-elven, we must choose with which kindred we are to be judged.  We may live as the Firstborn, or choose to be mortal men.  The Edain are to be given a new land, and if we choose that fate we would lead them in this new place.”

“When must you make this choice?” asked Gil-Galad, his face suddenly serious.

“In three days,” replied Elros.

Gil-Galad was silent for a few moments, then spoke cautiously, “I encourage you to speak to those with whom you might have questions as you make this choice. To be allowed to choose your destiny. . . perhaps none can truly understand what you are facing as the fate of mortals is not known to us.” He paused, seemingly at a loss for words. “Take what time you need,” he finished, then quietly left the tent.

Elros rose immediately, and with a final squeeze of his brother’s hand left the tent as well.

Elrond breathed a long sigh, grateful for the quiet and calm. Standing amidst all that power and grandeur had been overwhelming, but the choice was not.  There was only one choice – they had been born and raised amongst the elves.  While Elrond respected Men and had even come to love them, he was not one of them.

* * *

Elros left the king’s tent and walked to his own, finding it amongst the tents of men whom he had led and fought with for these last many years.  After Tauron had been killed, he had taken leadership of the main army of Men.  The men were brave and courageous fighters, and Elros took pride in their abilities.

He thought back over the meeting with Eönwë. The herald had seemed to look within him, into his very soul, and a great promise had been communicated to him. ‘You will lead your people in their new land.’   The words were meant for him.At some point in this war Elros knew that the Men had become his people.  For a great many years he had felt a kinship with them, even before the war, but it had heightened as they fought together and become sealed in his heart in the battle in which Tauron died. He was one of them.

As he confirmed his choice in his heart a great pain nearly overwhelmed him, for although he knew he must choose as his heart led him, he also knew his choice would separate him forever from the one he loved most in the world.

* * *

Elros awoke early on that third day, and was sitting at his table preparing himself for the meeting with Eönwë when Gil-Galad entered his tent unannounced.  The king motioned for him to stay seated when he pushed his chair back to stand, and instead sat down across from him. Their eyes met, and Elros saw the pain in Gil-Galad’s.  Elros lowered his gaze. Neither spoke for a few moments.

“Elrond is blind to your destiny,” Gil-Galad finally said, and there was no question in his voice.

“Yes,” whispered Elros. He took a deep breath, “Whether he truly does not see it or chooses not to see it, I do not know.”

Gil-Galad reached out and took both of Elros’ hands in his own. “You will make a fine leader, Elros, of a fine people.  Your grandsire Tuor and great-grandsire Beren would be proud to see you take the mantle of leadership of their houses. From your line a great people will grow.”

Elros rose and allowed Gil-Galad to envelop him in a warm embrace, and tears slipped unashamedly from both of their eyes.

“You and Círdan have been as fathers to me, and I will miss you both,” Elros said, his voice rough. “You raised me to be who I am today.” He paused. “Elrond will not…,” Elros’ voice broke, “he will not understand, Gil-Galad.  Please help him to understand.”

Gil-Galad stroked the dark hair, pride and grief and love for both of the children he had helped raise flowing through him. “I will try, Elros. I will try,” he promised.

* * *

Many eyes watched as the peredhil twins walked the long path to Eönwë’s tent.  Word had quietly spread of the decision the two would need to make, and although not discussed in their presence, it had been heavily debated and discussed among both the hosts of Beleriand and the hosts of the Valar.  The elves of Aman had been unfamiliar with Men prior to the War, and were curious about them, impressed with the valor with which they fought and gave their mortal lives.

Elrond felt the eyes on him, but felt less apprehension than he had the first time they had trod this path. They were led inside by the same guard, and bowed low before Eönwë again.  His powerful voice soon filled the tent.

“Rise, sons of Eärendil. On this day you are summoned to choose your destiny. Are you prepared to make your decision on this day?”

“Yes,” the twins answered in unison.

“Elrond, son of Eärendil, son of Tuor and Idril of Gondolin; and Elwing, daughter of Nimloth and Dior, son of Beren and Lúthien, daughter of Melian of Doriath, how do you so choose?”

“I choose to be counted among the Firstborn, my Lord,” answered Elrond solidly.

“Your fate shall be of the Elder, Elrond Peredhil,” Eönwë answered, with a slight nod of his head. “The west is open to you, and I bid you hearken to my call to live in the peace and tranquility of that land.”

“Elros, son of Eärendil, son of Tuor and Idril of Gondolin; and Elwing, daughter of Nimloth and Dior, son of Beren and Lúthien, daughter of Melian of Doriath, how do you so choose?”

“I choose to be counted as a mortal man,” answered Elros.

Elrond jerked his head to the side, but Elros was focused on Eönwë; indeed, he seemed held in place by the eye of the herald of the High King.

“Your fate shall be as that of Men,” answered Eönwë. “A new land will be prepared for you, and you will be its first King, Elros, son of Eärendil. Long life you will be given, but the Gift of Ilúvatar not even Manwë may renounce.”

Elrond felt the sights and sounds of the tent recede, and even the voice of Eönwë dimmed and vanished from his mind.  He felt the ground shake and then someone steady him as he swayed. He reached for his brother, but the farther he reached the farther away Elros seemed to be.  He saw the pain in his brother’s eyes, saw Elros stretching his hand out to him too, but he could not reach him.  Pain gripped him, squeezing his chest, forcing the air from his lungs and refusing to allow another breath to be taken. He felt his heart would burst, and he clutched at his tunic as if to throw off the vise that held him so tightly.  Instead the vise tightened, and to that unrelenting pain Elrond succumbed.

* * *

Elros was held in Eönwë’s gaze as the Maia spoke his fate. When Eönwë released him he bowed his head, and then turned to his brother, ready to face the disbelief and hurt that he was sure would greet him.  Instead he saw Elrond falling, one hand reaching for him, his name on his brother’s lips, while Elrond’s other hand clutched his tunic over his heart.

Elros’ mouth gaped open as the most beautiful female he had ever seen easily picked up his brother, and carried him to a private antechamber set up nearby.  Elros did not remember it having been there before. He attempted to follow, but found Eönwë at his side, gently holding him in place.  He clenched his jaw, tears pooling in his eyes.

“Estë has come for him, and Nienna waits for him,” said Eönwë kindly. “Their comfort and healing will sustain him.”

“They are Valar,” breathed Elros in awe.

“Yes,” said Eönwë simply. “Elrond was unprepared, as we knew he would be. The bond you share has been partially sundered, and his spirit, being of the Eldar, has felt it keenly.  You also feel the pain, but are better prepared.”

“I did not wish to cause my brother such pain,” Elros said, a single tear slipping down his cheek.

“Arda has been marred and pain will always be with those who reside here.  If Elrond hearkens to my call to sail West, he will be healed there and live in peace,” answered Eönwë gently. “Come. You and I have much to discuss about the lands being prepared for you.”

Elros allowed himself to be led away, but to his sorrow, when he felt for the bond with his brother, he found himself unable to discern the state of Elrond’s well being.  The bond had already diminished.

* * *

Gil-Galad looked up for what felt like hundredth time that afternoon, wishing to see Elrond and Elros coming down the path from the camp of the Valar. They had been gone for hours and his concern was growing. Celeborn had come and gone twice, organizing the warriors into groups to prepare for departure. The earthquakes and floods continued, the sea drawing ever nearer, while the elves stood watch on the high cliffs.

With a sigh, Gil-Galad returned his attention to the reports in his hands.  Elven slaves had escaped from Angband when the mountains were thrown down. Many were Noldor – his people, taken from the Noldor strongholds - and others were Falathrim – Círdan’s people captured at the Falas.  They would nearly all sail west with the Valar, their hurts and pain only able to be healed there.  Círdan had sent word that he had begun filling the ships with people as the lowlands began to sink into the sea.  The Teleri from Valinor were tending the freed slaves and would begin transport of them to Tol Eressëa.  Calendîn had sent his people east to their usual homes in Ossiriand only to receive news that the Blue Mountains were breaking apart near the Ascar River.

Gil-Galad stared towards the camp again, but no movement was to be seen or sound to be heard. He forced his thoughts back to the matters at hand, of those who might need homes yet in Middle-earth when the destruction ended. Homes for elves who would not heed the call of the Valar. Tol Eressëa was open to them, they were promised, a place where they could build their own cities and harbors.  They could then all come to Valinor, even the exiles, for the ban was lifted and they were forgiven. 

Most of the Noldor would go and some of the Sindar, but many of the Moriquendi would not leave their homes.  Many like himself, Gil-Galad thought, who were born in Middle-earth amidst her wars and struggles, wished to live in the only home they had known in peace.

If he were honest with himself, he might admit that he did not wish to move to a settled land full of Kings and Princes, where he would have no people to serve and no lands to rule.


Elros’ voice broke through his thoughts and he looked up to see Elros finally approaching him. He seemed excited, yet Elrond was not with him.

“Elros, come and tell me what has happened,” answered Gil-Galad, relief in his voice.  He stood to lead Elros into his tent, then looked once more down the path. “Is Elrond coming?”

Elros shook his head and lightly touching Gil-Galad’s elbow, let him lead into his tent.  Gil-Galad frowned but entered, seating himself and motioning for Elros to sit.

“I have been sitting all afternoon,” Elros declined the offer.  “I have much to tell you.”  He seemed then to note the concern on the King’s face. “I will start with Elrond. He remains with the Valar, and they will continue to watch over him for the rest of the day. I was not allowed to see him, but Eönwë had word sent before I left.  Gil-Galad, I have caused my brother great pain.”

Gil-Galad had watched the excitement left Elros’ face as he pushed aside his news in favor of delivering the news of his twin first. Despite his earlier statement, Elros now sat, and he even slumped slightly in the chair.

“We knew your choice would be difficult for Elrond to accept,” agreed Gil-Galad.

“It is more than that,” explained Elros, grief in his voice.  “The bond we share as twins was partially sundered when Eönwë accepted my decision and pronounced my fate. Elrond looked as if he were stricken with great pain, as if I had stabbed him through the heart. He was reaching for me, and I could not help him. Estë appeared, and carried him away to Nienna. They are tending him.”

Gil-Galad sighed and closed his eyes. The image of the twins at the age of five, when Maglor had freed them, came to mind.  He recalled his thoughts then, about how young they were to have lost so much.  So many bonds broken – no parents, no grandparents and then even Maglor who had loved them gave them up. The weeks and months of investment in those small children had led to great reward as they grew older and seemed secure. Neither Círdan nor Gil-Galad had over-protected them, for the world they lived in was one of sorrow and grief.  But this pain Gil-Galad would have spared them if he could. Choosing different Kindreds for their destiny would separate them for all eternity, or at least until the end of Arda. 

A hand covered his, drawing him back to the present.  He opened his eyes to see Elros kneeling before him.

“I did not wish to harm him,” whispered Elros. “If I had known of this sundering pain, I might have chosen differently.”

Gil-Galad shook his head at the words.  “No, Elros.  That would be the wrong reason to make your choice.   In your heart you know you have made the right decision.  Hidden in your eyes I see great joy at news you have received.  Elrond is in the care of the Valar.  Tell me your news now.”

A grin spread across Elros’s face, and he sat down across from Gil-Galad.  “A land is being prepared for us to the west.  It will be an island, nearer to Valinor than to Middle-earth.  Andor the Valar call it, for it is a Gift of Land to Men. I have been named her first King.  The Valar will prepare the land for us, and when it is ready they will calm the seas and the star of Eärendil will guide us there. I am mortal, Gil-Galad, but the Valar have promised long life to me and my descendents.”

Gil-Galad stood, drawing Elros to his feet as well, and he clasped arms with him saying, “King Elros!  Congratulations!” Then he had him in a bear hug, holding him tight.  “Imagine a land free of evil and deception, Elros.  You will be able to build and sail and do all that you have dreamed!”

Elros laughed then, the happiness and cheer in him obvious.  “Eönwë will announce this to the Men in the coming days, and when we move to Andor, Eönwë himself will come to aid us.”

When Celeborn returned, he found Gil-Galad and Elros sharing a triumphant cup of wine, and Elros was only too happy to pour another cup and repeat his news.

* * *

Elrond awoke in the warm glow of firelight, a thick blanket covering him.  The bed was softer and more comfortable than anything he had slept on since leaving Balar decades earlier.  A dull ache within notified him that all was not well, and he began to wonder where he was and why.  He started to sit up, but found himself restrained by a slim hand on his shoulder. 

His mind was unable to form words adequate to describe the ethereal beauty and tranquility of the female before him. Stunned, he lay silent as she moved to kneel gracefully next to the bed.

“I am Estë,” she said in a low, musical voice.  She ran her fingers across his forehead and then down to cup his cheek.  He could feel a soft probe of his heart and something told him she had been there before.

A rush of memory came to him then, of the words Elros spoke and the crushing pain that had overwhelmed him.  With the memory came a sudden resurgence of that pain and he gasped aloud before he could even think to stifle the sound.  Almost immediately he felt a soothing calm brush his spirit and he heard the Vala speak, “Calm, Elrond. Allow the pain to flow through you.”

The pain diminished but did not leave, and when he focused his eyes on the healer again he saw not a face of tranquility, but one of great power and determination. Her eyes were like fire then and he felt her strength flow into him as well.

“Elrond, son of Eärendil, your heart bears many wounds, the scars of many losses. These wounds cannot be fully healed in Middle-earth.” Estë’s voice wove a melody about the words that surrounded and enveloped him. “The cares of this world will weigh upon you and crush your hope if you do not learn to temper your desires and rest and refresh your own spirit.”

Elrond felt as if he were floating on air, mesmerized by the sound of her voice, and yet her words confused him. “I do not understand, my lady,” he whispered.

A hooded figure appeared next to Estë, and Elrond never saw the face of the one hidden within.  Her voice was haunting, and he sensed a deep sorrow within her. She raised his hand in her own and Elrond’s eyes opened wide in surprise as he felt her tears dampen his skin.

“I am Nienna, son of Eärendil. For the marring of Arda I grieve, and for all that is blemished and lost I mourn. Hearken to me, Elrond,” she commanded gently, “for it is through pity you shall replenish your own soul. You shall find hope through endurance, and in compassion for all who come into your care you shall find strength.”

A tear slipped from Elrond’s eye as his grief began anew. “My brother will be lost to me forever,” he said as the understanding of Eönwë’s pronouncement settled upon him.  Nienna bent over him and he felt her tears fall softly to mingle with his own. He felt strangely comforted and his grief lessened as she spoke above him.

“Mourn freely, my child, for in this you will receive comfort.”

An understanding began to grow within Elrond, and as the meaning Estë and Nienna intended dawned on him, they both rose, and with final caresses that touched his face and delved deep into his soul, they departed.  Elrond felt a great peace wash over him at their touch, and he slipped into a deep, healing sleep.

* * *

Gil-Galad and Celeborn spent the night seated beneath the starry sky. They had toasted Elros as Anor set, and the new young king drifted into sleep as Ithil began her night’s travel and Eärendil sailed overhead, the Silmaril shining gloriously and triumphantly down upon them. Few words were spoken between them, and it was Celeborn who broke the long hours of comfortable silence as Anor’s light first broke upon the horizon to their east.

“The sea does not hold sway with me and Valinor is not my home. For many an age we lived in twilight, but with Anor came evil and destruction. Morgoth is vanquished now, and we shall see what is new under the sun in the lands to the east, on the paths our forefathers walked so long ago.”

“I am glad you will be here with me,” answered Gil-Galad with a smile.

A grin spread across Celeborn’s face. “Aye, this land yet needs a king, my friend.”

Their decisions made and announced at least to each other, they resumed their patient waiting.  A short while after Anor became fully visible, Elrond appeared on the path, finally returning from his audience with Eönwë.

Gil-Galad rose, but his greeting faltered as he found himself fumbling for words. Elrond was no longer a child, even in the eyes of the elves. Despite the irrationality of the thought, Gil-Galad felt he had failed him. He had seen this painful separation coming, and yet not prepared Elrond to face it. But as Elrond drew near, he merely folded him into his arms and held him tight.

“I am sorry I could not spare you this pain,” he whispered in Elrond’s ear.

Elrond did not answer, but instead drew in a deep breath and steadied himself. He pulled back, and turned to greet Celeborn. The words died on his lips as he looked beyond the elf, and Gil-Galad and Celeborn both turned to see Elros step from the tent.

The twins stood facing one another, a distance between them now where once there had been no separation.  Elros took a step forward, but stopped as he saw a shadow of pain cross Elrond’s face. Elrond’s hand again clutched at his heart, but only the sounds of his deep ragged breaths could be heard.  As they watched, he seemed to gain control, and he took the next few steps forward and in only a moment had his brother in his arms.  Elros’ control broke then and he clutched his twin as tears streamed down his face. In that moment all was forgiven between the brothers, and they held each other as if it were their last day together.

* * *

Elrond slipped from the warmth of the tent into the coolness of the night air as the others continued to discuss the future, grateful that no one stopped him. His emotions were in great conflict, and he hoped that some time to reflect on the last two days would help to give him perspective.

Eönwë had summoned Elros at dusk, and together they had gone to speak to the Men.  Elros had been flushed, excited, and Eönwë’s eyes had twinkled, reflecting Elros’ excitement in his otherwise peaceful countenance.  Elrond had forced himself to smile and laugh with the others, when inside he felt as if a part of him had died.  He hoped he had appeared genuine in his joy at Elros’ good fortune and happiness, and in truth he was glad for his brother.  Now, however, he wished to be alone.

He walked slowly down to the same rock he had leaned against the night before, and with great weariness sank down upon it.  He turned himself around slowly, until he faced west, and let his thoughts drift to Valinor.  When he had awakened in the early morning hours, one of the Noldor elves of Aman had brought him food and drink.  While Elrond ate, the elf told him about the peace and beauty of the land of the Valar.  All hurts were healed there, and the elf told him he would feel young again. Elrond had not bothered to tell the elf that in the eyes of the elves he had only just recently reached his majority – that he was young.  Then Eönwë had summoned him once again, and spoke words whose meaning Elrond did not understand.

“The way West will ever be open to you, son of Eärendil. Yet your destiny lies in the shared blood of the Secondborn.  Hearken to Nienna, Elrond, and you will find your way.”

I do not feel called to Valinor, he thought.  Perhaps I am too young, or not weary enough of Middle-earth. He turned, looking east, to the tent of the King. Gil-Galad had not talked about whether he would sail west. He did not know what Círdan would do.  He did not think Celeborn would go.  What would I do if I stayed here?

He sensed the presence of another before he felt a hand come to rest on his shoulder, the comforting touch of one he knew well. He instinctively leaned into the touch, suddenly finding he did not desire to be alone.

“May I join you?” asked Gil-Galad.

Elrond nodded gratefully, and Gil-Galad sat down beside him.  They were quiet for a moment, staring at the western horizon, and then Gil-Galad began to speak.

“Many are preparing to sail West, eager to begin new lives on Tol Eressëa.  Some will be reunited with families long parted, and others seek the peace and healing promised to them.  The Sea calls to them and their hearts are turned ever westward.”

“Your heart, Gil-Galad, is it called west?” Elrond asked quietly.

“No, it is not,” sighed Gil-Galad.  “Others will stay, as will I.  I will build a new Kingdom, Elrond, and explore the lands to the east of the Blue Mountains.  Our people will increase again, children will be born and grow up without the threat of Morgoth that has shadowed this last age.  We will live and not just survive.”

Elrond was silent, but he felt a new tug on his heart, and realized it was hope.

“If you decide that your heart is also not called West, Elrond, I would hope that you would come and build this new Kingdom with me.”

He drew in a deep breath, ensuring he had control of his emotions, and then turned slightly to face Gil-Galad. “I would be glad to still call you my king,” he answered.

“Then come, my son, for you need to sleep so that tomorrow we may begin planning for our future,” said Gil-Galad as he wrapped an arm around Elrond’s shoulders and pulled him from the rock.  “I am sure Círdan is already searching for a worthy port.”

“Círdan will stay?” asked Elrond hopefully.

“Círdan will not leave these shores yet, not while there are elves left who wish to dwell here,” answered Gil-Galad.

Elrond realized that the pain in his chest had lessened as he and Gil-Galad had talked, and a momentary panic rose in him – that he also could not sense Elros’ presence.  But as he thought about his twin, he realized the bond they shared was still present, merely diminished, and he took comfort in the ache he could feel in heart.  It was emptiness he would fear, for then he would know Elros was truly separated from him forever.


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond finished speaking and the room remained silent, as all seemed lost in their own thoughts.  A small hand covered his then and tugged, and Elrond was surprised to realize that his own hand was twisted in the fabric of his tunic over his heart.  Elladan was pulling on Elrond’s hand, and when Elrond looked down at his son, the child’s expression reminded him of Elros – a mixture of fierce determination and stubbornness and love.  Elrond forced his fingers to relinquish the fabric and instead engulfed Elladan’s small hand in his own.

“All is well, Elladan,” he said soothingly.

“But it was not well, Ada,” argued Elladan. “Your brother hurt you and brothers should not do that.”

“I do not think Uncle Elros meant to hurt Ada,” Elrohir broke in.  “He did not hurt Ada . . . intentionally.”

“Sometimes we make choices that cause others pain, but if it is the right choice,” explained Elrond, pausing as his own thought seemed to stun him, “then you must make it regardless of the pain it causes.”

“Was Elros’ choice the right one, Ada?” Elrohir asked.

Elrond felt his breath catch as the pain and emptiness in the spot of his fëa reserved for Elros swept over him.  His mind flew over several thousand years of history, of the rise and fall of Númenor, and the rise of the Kingdoms of men in Middle-earth.  He thought of how men and elves had stood and fought together, how the weakness of one man had destined them to have to fight again one day.  But did the current state of the Men of Westernesse reflect whether Elros’ decision was right?  Would another have been named King if he had not?  Would he have been as good a leader as Elros?  Better? Worse?  How was he to know if Elros’ choice was right?

“I think it is too . . .,” began Elrond, his voice trailing off.  He drew in a deep breath and looked at his sons, now both clinging tightly to him.  “Elros believed it was the right choice.” He raised his eyes to meet those of Celeborn and Galadriel, who had joined them midway into the story. Galadriel’s mind brushed his and he heard her words repeated, ‘Elros was a man.  He had to choose the destiny that fit who he was.’

“It was the right choice,” Elrond finally admitted.  He felt tears welling in his eyes, and then heard Celeborn and Galadriel coaxing his children from his arms with promises of bedtime snacks and more stories about the dragons.  He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and then felt the soft, soothing, loving touch of his wife on his body and in his heart.  He wrapped his arms about her as she curled up next to him.

“The husband I love has been shaped by pain and separation and loss,” Celebrían whispered in his ear, her breath warm on his cheek, “but more so he has been tempered and refined into the finest gold by mourning and compassion and hope.”

They sat in silence for a while, the room darkening as Anor was hidden behind the steep slopes of their secluded valley. Glorfindel had left them quietly, his eyes dark with emotion. Alone with his wife, Elrond twisted strands of Celebrían’s hair around his fingers, watching as it sprang free each time he let the end loose.  He smiled at the low sound coming from her.

“You, dear wife, are purring,” he laughed.

“And I shall growl if you remove your fingers,” she threatened playfully.  She then turned to him, a thoughtful expression on her face.  “Elrond, I understand what Eönwë might have meant by telling you to hearken to Nienna, that she would help you find your way, for I see evidence of this in your life.  But what did Eönwë mean by saying that your destiny lies in the shared blood of the Secondborn?”

“I do not know,” answered Elrond honestly.  “Perhaps he meant in the alliance of men and elves, or maybe it is something yet unseen.  Isildur may have failed, but there is still strength in the blood of Men. They may yet rise to some great deed, and perhaps our fates will again join together.”

Careful to keep one hand stroking her hair, Elrond pulled Celebrían to her feet.  “Let us put our sons to bed; otherwise questions will bring them to us in the night.”

Celebrían’s eye lit with pleasure.  “That will not do,” she answered as she slipped her hand around Elrond’s waist.  “Your time this night is already claimed.”

As they walked down the hall to their sons’ bedroom, they heard laughter and arguing pouring from the room.  They paused outside the door and Elrond had to purse his lips tightly together to keep from laughing.

Celeborn sat on Elladan’s bed and Glorfindel on Elrohir’s bed, each with a child in hand, snarling at each other as the twins shouted and bounced in excitement.

“A Balrog is scarier than a dragon!” shouted Elladan, pointing at Glorfindel.

“No, the dragon is!” squealed Elrohir, motioning wildly at his grandfather.

The contest moved from snarling faces to roars and growls, and Celebrían shrugged Elrond’s hand from hair.  “I will handle this,” she said.

She walked calmly into the room, not flinching at the awful sounds coming from her father or the golden one.  She held her arms out to Elladan, hugging and kissing him, and then to Elrohir for the same.  Glorfindel and Celeborn both quieted, watching her in amusement.  When the twins were occupied with saying good night to their father, she whispered something in her father’s ear, then Glorfindel’s. 

Celebrían slipped her arm back through Elrond’s then, and they left the room as the twins leaped back on to their storytellers.  Elrond glanced back once to see looks of pained resignation on the faces of his father-in-law and seneschal.

“What did you say to them?” he asked.

Celebrían smiled sweetly.  “Nothing, meleth-nín, but we will not be disturbed this night.”

* * * * *

 meleth-nín = my love

Author’s Notes:

From the Silmarillion, the ‘Valaquenta’:

Estë the gentle, healer of hurts and weariness, is one of the Valar.  She resides in the gardens of Lórien with her spouse Irmo, the master of dreams and visions.  The gift of Estë is rest.

Nienna is sister to Mandos and Irmo, and dwells alone. ‘She is acquainted with grief, and mourns for every wound that Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor.’ Those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope.  Those in Mandos’ Halls cry out to her, ‘for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom.’

Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this chapter, and to Karri, for her wonderful thoughts regarding the potential relationship between the elves of Middle-earth and the Men of Númenor early in the Second Age.

Chapter 24: New Lives

Elrond awoke in the early morning hours after only a few hours of rest. He and Celebrían had talked long into the night about Elros, and he felt a wonderful lightness in his spirit.  He glanced down at her, peacefully sleeping, and tenderly stroked her hair from her face, then bent and kissed her.  She stirred, but did not wake, and he smiled as he considered his silver queen.  She seemed to know just what questions to ask to cause him to remember something special about his twin, or to recall a wonderful memory of something they had done together.

He had never talked about Elros this much to anyone, and had not thought this much about their younger years together in a very long time.  Through the second age discussions about Elros had been about his kingdom, about Númenor, or his people, but seldom about Elrond and Elros as brothers, as twins.  Only with Gil-Galad or Círdan had he spoken personally of Elros, for they missed him too.  But now his wife and his sons wanted to know their husband and father – what was important to him, what he thought, what he felt, whom he loved, what had made him happy and what had caused him pain.

I did not realize that in the silence about us as brothers I had again grown bitter and resentful about losing him, he thought.   I have long known that Elros made the only choice he could make; yet it seemed like a new revelation to me.  I cannot let this happen again.  Elrond glanced at his wife and smiled, for he knew she would not let him.

He rose and dressed in the darkness, the sun’s light barely peeking through the trees on the cliff above them, and decided to check on his sons.  He had been surprised that with the Balrog and Dragon roaring contest the night before, he and Celebrían had not ended up with one, if not both, of their sons in their bed.   He entered their room quietly, and nearly burst out laughing.

Glorfindel lay on his side on Elrohir’s bed, his knees bent and touching one end of the bed while his head was pushed up against the other.  Elrohir was spooned up against his chest, his hands wrapped in the long golden mane of hair, pulling it around him like a blanket and cuddling it to his chin.  Celeborn had apparently given up such contortions, and lay on the floor next to Elladan’s bed, Elladan sprawled out on top of him, sound asleep.

Elrond moved first to Elladan, gently prying his fingers from Celeborn’s tunic, and then placing the sleeping child in his bed and covering him with his blankets.   Elrohir was easier, his small fingers gladly exchanging Glorfindel’s hair for his favorite cuddle toy.  Elrond stepped back, hands on hips, as the two old elf-lords stood and stretched, and then followed him from the room. 

“Your wife is cruel,” Celeborn commented as soon as the door closed behind them.

“Your daughter learned from the best,” replied Elrond with a grin.

“You are obviously speaking of her mother, as I would not inflict such torture upon another.”

“What did she say to you last night?” Elrond asked, curious.

“She thanked us for keeping watch during the night on her impressionable children, who might have scary dreams of balrogs and dragons,” said Glorfindel, yawning.

A smile crossed Elrond’s face as he considered the Lady of Imladris.  A mother lion when it came to her cubs, or himself, he thought wryly, yet she was gracious and hospitable to guests; ran the house as if she had been organizing and caring for many people her whole life; and commanded his warriors – and her father – fearlessly and with great humor.  He gave a sigh of satisfaction.  Gil-Galad had told him before the war to marry Celebrían, that he would find no greater love and no better wife.  Gil-Galad always was a good judge of people, he thought.

“I am going to go soak in the hot spring,” said Celeborn.

Glorfindel stretched again, pondering his morning run against the thought of hot water soothing his contorted muscles.  “I will join you.  So will Elrond,” he decided.

Elrond arched a brow in response to his seneschal speaking for him, but decided it did sound like a fine idea. 

The baths were quiet at this time of morning, and they had the large hot spring to themselves.  The three were quiet for some time, enjoying the soothing warmth in silence.   Elrond closed his eyes as his mind reviewed all that he had to do that day, foremost being to check on Albast.  He expected improvement today.

“Elladan said last night that he wished he had known King Gil-Galad,” said Glorfindel unexpectedly.

Elrond opened an eye and looked at Glorfindel, who was wide awake and watching him closely.

“I wish Gil-Galad could have known my sons,” he agreed.

“He would have cherished them like grandsons,” said Celeborn.

Elrond opened both eyes and sat up straight.  He eyed the two before him, wondering what purpose they had in speaking of something so obvious, yet something which obviously could not be.

“Of this I am sure, but it was not to be,” he finally answered.

“But they can know him through your memories,” said Celeborn gently.

Elrond closed his eyes again, his fists clenching and unclenching under the surface of the water, as he considered both Celeborn’s words and why he spoke them.

“In some ways you have changed little since you were a child,” Celeborn continued, his voice soft and unusually gentle.  “Even then you held all your emotions inside.  Only with Elros would you really let loose and laugh or cry.  Gil-Galad was steadfast after Elros departed, and perhaps he was one of the few people who you let get close to you.  Now you have Celebrían and Elladan and Elrohir, and you do laugh and you love them, but you have kept part of yourself hidden from them too.  Until these history lessons and stories were started, you had not spoken of Gil-Galad or Elros, or of your life before this age.”

Elrond’s eyes opened in a flash of fury clearly seen by Glorfindel and Celeborn.  His anger died, though, as he really looked into the faces before him.  He had long been able to read the hearts of others, and what he read here was love and truth.  He suddenly wondered why their words had angered him.

“You lost your mentor, friend, king and father on that battlefield a century and a half ago,” Glorfindel said. “You have settled back into Imladris, you care for all who pass your way; you have even found love in Celebrían and now you have your own children to love too.  You are a fine father and husband; and you lead your people and your house wisely. But you had locked away your old life since returning from Dagorlad.  Share your memories of Elros and Gil-Galad.  Let others know who they were through your own stories and experiences with them.”

Elrond listened to the words and a litany of emotions raced through him, though the shadow that had crossed his face was visible only to those who knew him well.  He knew about grief; he had certainly mourned the passing of those he loved.   He felt anger that they were bringing this up at all, anger that they would bring it up today after he awoke feeling so refreshed from talking to Celebrían.  But were they not saying the same thing he had told himself this morning? Had Celebrían not just said this past night how glad she was that he was sharing this part of his life with her?

He again closed his eyes, and this time they remained mercifully silent as he gathered his thoughts.  When he next looked at them, he unshuttered his emotions and they saw the depth of his feeling, the depth of his grief.  They had not caused him new wounds with their words; they had merely allowed him to see old wounds that had never fully healed.  Gil-Galad’s death had been a terrible blow to them all; that he and so many others had died for only a temporary victory only salted the wound.

“You are both right,” he finally said with a sigh.

The patter of small feet on the stone interrupted them, and they watched as Elladan and Elrohir flew into the room.  Their faces lit up with joy at seeing three of their most favorite people together, and they began stripping off their night tunics immediately.  Celebrían entered at a more sedate pace behind them, an indulgent look on her face as her now naked sons jumped into the pool, splashing water over their father, grandfather and Glorfindel.

The twins immediately swam to their father, and Elrond found himself hugging those slippery little bodies close to him.  He kissed them each on the head before returning his gaze to Celeborn and Glorfindel.

“For them, Elrond.  They deserve to know you and to know about those you loved,” Glorfindel finished.

“Your clean clothing is here,” Celebrían gained her sons’ attention and pointed to the low shelf.  “Make sure you wash your hair.”  With a smile and one last rather maternal sigh at the relaxing elves in the pool, she left the bathing room.

Elrond looked at his sons, now bouncing in the water and splashing water at one another. He smiled as Elladan shrieked when a large hand closed about his foot and his grandfather began pulling him through the water.   He did want them to know about Gil-Galad and Elros, and he did want Celeborn and Glorfindel to tell them about Eärendil and Elwing, Tuor and Idril, Dior and Nimloth, Beren and Lúthien and Turgon and Melian and Elu-Thingol.    His sons were descendents of people both ordinary and extraordinary, and were fortunate to have elves like Glorfindel and Celeborn who could tell them first hand accounts about their ancestors. The same feeling of lightness he had felt earlier that morning floated over him again, and he slipped under the surface of the water and tickled the bottom of the smaller sets of feet.  He heard their delighted cries even below water, and surfaced between them.

“Ada, this is fun!  We should all take baths together more often!” Elladan laughed, then splashed water at his father.

Elrond laughed as he agreed, and then began washing his sons’ hair.  He saw the glance shared between Celeborn and Glorfindel, a rather triumphant look, and then they were climbing from the water, leaving Elrond to finish with his children. He watched them go, silver and gold, and shook his head.  They argued and fought like small children sometimes, to the absolute delight of the twins, and yet they were obviously working together when it came to Elrond. 

He played with the twins for a while longer, then helped them to dry and dress.  As they ran ahead of him to the dining hall, his thoughts turned from Elros and Gil-Galad to Celeborn and Glorfindel, and he smiled.   He had been fortunate in each age to have beings such as these around him.

* * *

Elrond heard laughter and talking as he entered the healing rooms, and he was unsurprised to see Albast sitting up in his bed and eating breakfast.   A smile lit Albast’s face as he saw Elrond, and Elrond noted that the man’s color was vastly improved, and his eyes were clear and bright.

“Good morning, Master Elrond,” said Albast cheerfully.

“A fine morning it is indeed,” replied Elrond, “for you have improved much in the night.”

The faces of the healers who had faithfully changed bandages and cared for Albast beamed with pleasure as they stood near him during Elrond’s examination.   Elrond carefully inspected the wound on his leg that had been responsible for the infection that had nearly claimed his life, pleased when his touch did not cause further pain.  He could not help the small smile that tugged at his lips as he ran his fingers lightly over Albast’s face and neck, wrists and hands, and down his ribs.

“No fever, no swelling, and well on the mend,” he pronounced.  “We will recast the leg in several days, and have you on your feet with aid not long after that.”

Albast grinned.  “Thank you, my lord.  I hope I will see my small friends soon, then, too? They are a balm for the soul and their entertainment has helped pass many a long hour.”

A true smile did cross Elrond’s face then, and his whole demeanor softened. “Elladan and Elrohir have been most concerned for you, and are only awaiting word when they may see you again. They have spent hours planning the picture they will paint on your cast.”

As Elrond moved away, he thought how glad he was that there would be a cast for his children to paint.  They were so young, and while he would not hide truth from them, he was more than willing to let lessons of mortality wait until they were older.  The years of childhood were short enough without adding such burdens.

* * *

Elrohir carefully wrote down his questions, then folded the scrap of parchment and tucked it into his tunic pocket.   At a nod from Istuion, the brothers raced out the door, glad to be done with lessons for the day.  They ducked under the arms of big elves coming in the front door of the house, and then jumped off the porch and rolled in the sweet smelling green grass.

“Let us go ask Daerada if we can practice archery today,” suggested Elladan.

“He will say no,” answered Elrohir after a moment’s thought. 

“We could find Glorfindel and see if we can practice with our training swords.”

“He will say no, too.”

“How do you know?” asked Elladan in an exasperated tone as he sat up, crossing his arms over his chest and staring at his twin.

“I heard Ada tell them that we could not practice every day. It is not good for our growing bodies and our bones need to rest because they were broken,” explained Elrohir.

Elladan flopped back down in the grass, and rolled to lie near his twin. “How do you find out about these things? You knew about Nana and Ada kissing like they did in the library too.”

Elrohir shrugged.  “I do not know.  I just hear things, I guess.”

“What other things do you know?”

Elrohir chewed on a blade of grass for a moment, thinking.  “Remember how we wondered why Daerada painted a gown on my cast?  I heard Daerada telling Daernaneth that Erestor put that dress in Glorfindel’s pack.”

“Erestor?” said Elladan in disbelief.

 “Glorfindel thought Erestor put a gown in his pack, and Erestor thought Glorfindel did something to make his hair smell funny. But Erestor did not do it,” replied Elrohir with a giggle.

“Who did?”

“Nana!” answered Elrohir through his laughter.

“But how do you know this?” Elladan sat back up and poked his brother in the shoulder.

“Daernaneth told Daerada that Glorfindel and Erestor were planning to do something and it was exasperating Ada.  So Nana got them both first!”

“Our Nana?” asked Elladan incredulously.

“Our Nana!” laughed Elrohir.

“When did you hear this?”

“In the garden yesterday.”

“What did Daerada say?  Does Glorfindel know?  Does Erestor know? Did Daernaneth help?”

Elrohir dissolved in giggles again.  He finally sat up, and held up his hand to stop the questions, just like Ada did when he wanted them to stop talking. “Daerada seemed very proud of Nana and said she was a credit to them, whatever that means.  I do not know if Glorfindel or Erestor know.  But I do not think Daernaneth helped.  She did not sound like she did.”

Elladan leaned back into the grass again, crossing his hands over his chest as he stared at the bright sky.  “Our Nana did that,” he repeated proudly.

“We have a very good Nana,” agreed Elrohir.

* * *

Dinner was finished, but the twins had not asked to be excused.  Instead, Elrohir waited patiently at his father’s elbow until Elrond had finished speaking, and then carefully laid out his piece of paper.

“Ada, Istuion asked us questions about the First Age today, and we could answer almost all of them,” explained Elrohir, pointing to the paper.

Elrond picked it up, and looked at it closely. “Your penmanship is improving nicely,” he said. “The fate of the Silmarilli and the name of the new city Gil-Galad founded. These are the questions you did not have answers for?”

“Yes, Ada.  I do not think you have told us that part of the story yet,” said Elladan.

“I think we can finish the First Age and tell a little about the second age for tonight’s story,” said Elrond.

Elrond’s pronouncement was met with grins of delight, and the twins danced and skipped their way from the dining hall and towards the family sitting room.  Elrond offered his arm to Celebrían, and they walked slowly after their children.  Once settled together on the large couch, Elrond said, “Now where did we end last time?”

“Elros made his choice and you forgave him because it was the right choice, Ada,” Elrohir reminded him.  As he spoke the words, Elrohir patted his father comfortingly on the leg.

“Even though it hurt you,” added Elladan, a little fiercely. “You were going to go with Gil-Galad to build a new kingdom.  And Círdan was going to stay, and Daerada and Daernaneth.”

Elrond smiled at their very good memories, while also noticing that hearing Elros’ choice spoken of this way did not cause his heart to ache.   Glorfindel, Celeborn and Galadriel had followed them into the room, and he looked at them and smiled.  In that moment of silent communication they acknowledged his unspoken ‘thank you’, and he knew no other words were necessary.

“We had moved to the highest spot on the hills of Dorthonion, and the Valar were holding back the floods.  The lands were soon mostly covered in water, and we were waiting for the ships to come to us . . .”


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Night had descended on the camp, and for the first time in recent memory nearly everyone was relaxed, sleeping or involved in discussions of the future.  The hills they were camped on were now surrounded by water and for several days now there had been no signs of any enemies.

Elrond leaned back against a log, watching the camp activity with curiosity.  The elves had split into two divisions: those who were sailing west and those who were staying in Middle-earth. The men were visiting with both groups, for their immediate plans involved staying with those elves who would be remaining in Middle-earth, but they were fascinated by the Valar and spent time speaking with those elves who would be moving to live among them.

He watched as one figure left the group of men and approached him.  Elros had been full of joy these last few days as he discussed the future with the men of the Edain.   Elrond had purposefully kept his distance, for he sensed that he was a damper on that joy.  The shock of Elros’ decision had finally diminished, but Elrond found acceptance was slow in coming.

He shifted slightly as Elros sat down next to him, their shoulders touching, and Elros leaned into him. Elrond felt the tension in his brother, and shifted again to maneuver Elros in front of him.  He began to massage Elros’ neck and shoulders, imparting calm and healing in his touch. It was several minutes before Elros began to speak.

“I knew the moment Eönwë looked into my eyes which destiny I would choose.  I gave it no thought, did not even consider what I was giving up. My spirit heard the promise to Men, the chance for them to throw off the yoke of slavery that they fled from years earlier, but which had pursued them.  My heart heard the promise made to me, to be able to lead them into a new life. I had no fear of mortality, for it seemed to be a promise and a gift to leave the weariness of life when I tired of it.”

Elros paused, his eyes closed, as he relaxed into his brother’s touch.  Elrond had determined he would listen, and he concentrated on soothing the tension from his brother’s body. After a moment Elros continued.

“You are my earliest memory. You protected me, picked up the pieces when I tried new things, and were always there when I came home.  You always loved me, always listened to me.  You are the one person I cannot imagine leaving, and yet I have chosen to do just that.”

Elrond gripped Elros’ shoulders and buried his face into the black mane of hair before him.  He bit the inside of his lip to hold back the tears, tasting blood.  Elros’ fingers covered his, and he could feel Elros’ chest heaving as he struggled to control his breathing.  It was several moments before Elrond could speak.

“You have been fascinated by our human heritage since you were old enough to understand it.  You have long seen the good in Men, and all they could accomplish given the opportunity.  You have led men in battle.  But in all your interactions with Men, you lived among Elves. It never occurred to me that you would choose their fate to continue with them. It never occurred to me that you would leave us.” Elrond’s voice broke.

“It does not mean that I love you less,” answered Elros, his voice shaking.

“I will love you until time ends,” Elrond said, and a single ragged sob escaped him as he considered how long he might exist with emptiness where his bond with Elros belonged.

Elros turned and pulled Elrond into his arms, and a low growl escaped him as he felt Elrond tense and shutter all that emotion inside of him.

“Do not hold your pain inside!  I would rather you were angry at me!” Elros shook him.

Elrond drew in a deep breath and raised his eyes to meet his brother’s.  He could not be angry with Elros; he would not burden his brother with his grief.  He pulled from Elros’ arms, and resumed his ministrations on the tense shoulders.  Even as Elros relaxed against him and accepted his comfort, Elrond could feel tears splashing down on to his hands from their tracks down Elros’ cheeks.

* * *

Gil-Galad watched from the shadow of his tent as the brothers talked, and then Elros passed by him and returned to his tent in the early morning hours.  He waited to see if Elrond would follow and seek the rest of a more comfortable bed, but it appeared he planned on spending the night on the hard ground.  Elros had found release in tears and a soothing touch; Elrond seemed determined to remain stiff and cold.  A slight sound caught his attention then, and after a moment he realized what he was hearing.  He pulled a blanket from the tent and then walked to where Elrond sat. He sat down in the spot where Elros had been, wrapped the blanket about Elrond’s shoulders and then pulled him into his arms. 

“Still so stubborn; still trying to be strong for your brother,” Gil-Galad scolded him gently.

The dam broke then, and shuddering sobs racked the slender frame in his arms.

* * *

Dawn had not yet come when a strange light was seen in the distance. The first rays of the light seemed to spread through the sea, moving through the water quickly, far faster than the tide could carry it.  It then emanated upward and into the sky.  At the same time a brilliant flash of light lit the mountains, the earth quaking and then rising in a sheath of orange light that spread out across the surface of the earth, seeping deep into her chasms and then rising high above her surface.  The light rising from the sea joined the light rising from the earth, and the Star of Eärendil set forth a sudden burst of light as they all met.

Gil-Galad had watched in wonder, and a number of elves who had been awake walked near. Murmuring, they questioned what they were seeing. 

“The light can only be from the Silmarilli,” Celeborn finally said aloud.

They all watched as the light faded, and then Anor rose and the day began.   Before they could even seek answers about the strange light, the guard watching on the highest hill point called out more news: the ships had arrived.  An array of ships approached, the beautiful swan ships of the Teleri, and Círdan’s beautiful ships of natural wood and white. The ships dropped anchor in the deep water, and then small boats were lowered and rowed to the shores.

Elrond watched as those paddling the small boats from Círdan’s ships pulled the crafts on to the shore and came to greet long missed friends and family.  Those who paddled the small boats of the Teleri remained in their crafts, though they appeared equally glad to see those they had dropped off so long before.  Eönwë appeared then to speak to Gil-Galad, King Finarfin with him.

“The Silmarilli have gone to their homes, where they will remain until the end of Arda,” Eönwë said, answering the question lingering from the morning. “Maedhros held on to the end, and cast himself with the Silmaril into a fiery chasm of the earth.  Maglor has cast the other into the sea.” Eönwë paused as he looked over the camp, then turned his attention to Gil-Galad.

“The time has come to leave these shores. Ereinion Gil-Galad, are your people prepared?” Eönwë asked.

“Yes, my Lord,” Gil-Galad answered.

“Do you sail east or west?”

“I sail east, my lord, though many others will sail west,” Gil-Galad answered.

Eönwë studied the still-young elf, while behind him the face of King Finarfin reflected sadness.

“I understand the tie to the land of your birth,” Eönwë finally said.  “It has been a joy to know you, Gil-Galad. Come when you are ready.”

Finarfin then stepped forward, and with grief in his eyes and voice, he embraced his nephew. “I had wished to bring you home. Know that you will be welcome, when you do come.”

Finarfin drew Elrond into his embrace next, and he traced his long fingers over Elrond’s face, from his forehead to his chin.  “I am memorizing you, son of Eärendil, that I might adequately describe you to Elwing. Come soon, Elrond, that the scars of your heart may be healed.”

Elrond found he could not speak, but fortunately Finarfin did not seem to expect him to.   He watched as Eönwë moved among the men and elves, speaking to those who would stay and those who would go, organizing them and sending them to appropriate ships. He saw Eönwë come to Elros then.

“Elros, son of Eärendil and first King of Andor: Stay with the elves of Middle-earth and aid them in building their new kingdom.  When your land is prepared, the Star of Eärendil will guide you to your new home.  I will be there.”

Farewells were said, and ships were loaded, and the majority of the ships sailed West, while Círdan’s minority that would be staying in Middle-earth sailed east.  The sun was setting as the last sails were seen on the horizon. Elrond and Gil-Galad had been the last to board, and now as they watched the ships disappear into the sunset, they heard a familiar voice.

“Ereinion! Elrond!” Círdan called.

Círdan stood before them, silently surveying them, and Elrond and Gil-Galad both smiled as he looked them over. While his words were few, the embrace he pulled them into spoke of his love.

“I have found a perfect place to build a port, on either side of the new bay where the Ascar River used to run. The lands of Ossiriand west of the Ered Luin have survived. The shape of the earth has changed, but already Galadriel has sent out scouts to map the land.  A small village has been built on the southern shore, and all from Balar and the Edain who were rescued from along the coast are already there.”

Elrond listened as Círdan laid out the plans to them, his mind noting all Círdan said and all the questions Gil-Galad asked, but his sight was drawn to a ship near theirs.  It was the Mîriel, and Elros was at her helm. He felt Círdan’s arm slip around his shoulders then and Elrond leaned unconsciously into that comforting presence.  Elrond suddenly thought of the way that Círdan had taken over the direction of Elros from a young age, pointing him on paths that allowed him to meet and interact with men, build and sail ships, and in many ways prepare him for the destiny he had chosen. Elrond looked at Círdan then, and Círdan fell silent as he met his gaze.  There was pain there, Elrond thought, but also acceptance.  Elrond thought of the ships they had built long before war had come and of the foreknowledge Círdan had gained from the Sea, from Ulmo and Ossë. Círdan had prepared Elros for this time, he realized. He opened his mouth, the words about to pass his lips both questioning and accusing, but Círdan held up his hand for silence and Elrond had been long trained to obey that command. Instead, Círdan pulled him close, and he buried his face in the white beard, and in both of their eyes Elrond was five years old again and learning to trust in what he did not understand.

* * *

SA 32

Círdan had begun assembling the people and ships a week before the Star of Eärendil appeared in the sky and stayed present even in the morning light.  The seas grew abnormally calm, and it was with great excitement that the Edain gathered at the docks in the harbor of Lindon. 

Elrond walked out of the palace in Gil-Galad’s kingdom of Lindon and followed the brick streets to a garden overlooking the Havens. In only thirty years they had built a city, fortifying her walls and havens against any enemies that lay beyond them to their east, and work was well underway to the North in Mithlond, where Círdan would rule the second haven.  The Edain had aided them, and in turn developed tools and skills, textiles and other items they would need in their new home. 

He knew they were anxious to be settled and have their own kingdom and their own king. While Gil-Galad had not required any loyalty from the Men, they had lived and served under his rule.  None could complain of their treatment, but they still longed to be their own people. Soon they would be free to build their own destiny far from the shadow and curse that hung over Middle-earth.

Elrond watched as people began boarding the ships.  It would take most of the day, and they would sail when Elros determined all was ready.   He saw his brother calling orders and moving through the chaos below, solving disputes and problems with calm and grace. Elrond was torn between an overwhelming pride in Elros’ abilities, and the knowledge that today was the last day they would spend together.  They had not spoken the words, but both knew that they would never see each other again. A clean break from Middle-earth and all ties to her shores, thought Elrond.

By late afternoon the ships were loaded, and still Elrond sat beneath the arbor in the gardens above the havens.  He knew Elros had seen him, and would come when he was ready. He turned his gaze away as Elros said goodbye to Gil-Galad.

He sensed his brother’s presence before Elros came into sight, and he stood to meet him.  Elros walked to him, and the two stood facing each other for a long moment.  Each reached out at the same moment, hands tracing the line of the face, the curve of the cheek and the cleft of nearly identical chins.  Elros took his face in both hands then, and kissed him on each cheek, then ran his hands down Elrond’s shoulders, to his arms, and finally took both hands in his.

“Goodbye, my brother,” Elros finally said, his voice sounding strangled.

“Farewell, Elros. May the Valar guide and protect you, and may you live long and well in this new place,” Elrond managed to say.

Elros pulled him into his arms, and they embraced.  For some minutes they stayed like that, and Elrond memorized the feel and smell of his brother, the feel of his heartbeat and the depth of his breaths.  Elros finally pulled away abruptly, and walked away without looking back.  He ran down the path to the havens, and up on to the docks and on to the Mîriel. The gangway was pulled back, and Elros steered the ship from her dock.  Some of the ships would be staying with the Edain in Andor, but most would be returning with their crews and captains. Círdan was at the helm of the Alphiel, long his favorite ship.

Elros turned the wheel over to another as soon as the Mîriel had left her berth, and he climbed into the rigging, up to the crow’s nest.  He stood against the mast, watching the land recede from sight, until he could no longer see Middle-earth or his brother.

Elrond watched the ship until he could no longer see even one sail on the horizon.  Still he sat in the garden as darkness fell; the Star of Eärendil, though, still shone brightly as it led the ships westward. It was the darkest hour of the night before he rose and walked back along the brick paved streets of Lindon.

The fountains bubbled, and the lanterns were gaily lit, as they were every night.  Elves danced and sang in small groups in the streets, and many of the songs were for safe passage and joyous life for their friends, the Edain.  He entered the palace, the guards nodding to him respectfully as he passed, and walked the silent halls to his suite of rooms.  He entered the antechamber, and noted that someone had left a lantern burning for him in his study. 

He pushed open the door to find Gil-Galad sitting in a comfortable chair before the fire, his feet stretched out on a footstool before him.  Elrond moved silently to sit down in the other chair, and accepted the glass of wine Gil-Galad offered to him.

They raised their glasses, and Gil-Galad said softly, “To new lives.”

The glasses clinked, and they sipped the wine in silence.


~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

“Oh, Ada,” said Elrohir and he rested his cheek against Elrond’s as he hugged him.  “I am trying to be happy for Uncle Elros but I am too sad for you.”

Elladan had both of his arms wrapped around his father’s arm, and Elrond could feel tears against his hand. 

“Do you see now why Albast and the other Men like him are special to us?” Elrond asked gently.

“Yes, Ada,” sighed Elrohir.

“It was a time of joy,” said Elrond, surprising himself with the words. “Morgoth was bound and evil banished, at least for a time.  Gil-Galad was right – it was a time for us to live and not just survive.  Living in Lindon was unlike anything I had experienced before.”

“Was this the Second Age, Ada?” asked Elladan.

“This was the very beginning of the Second Age, and a time of peace in Middle-earth.”

“Will you tell us about living then, Ada?  Did good things happen?”

“Many good things happened in the Second Age, Elladan.  I can name two quite easily,” said Elrond.  His sons both sat up and waited expectantly for him to continue.  “Your Nana was born, and Glorfindel returned.”

Elrond found his lap quickly deserted as his sons turned to their mother.

“Well, I can tell you about the first time I saw your father, and how handsome I thought he was and how I fell in love with him. . .” Celebrían explained, laughing as she was cut off by groans from her sons.  “Well, perhaps I could find a story more to your liking.  Although. . .,” she paused dramatically, “Glorfindel helped to drive Sauron from the land, and could tell you what it is like to be the mightiest and bravest warrior the second age has ever seen.”

The whoops of delight as the twins dove on top of Glorfindel made everyone laugh, and the golden warrior scooped up the twins effortlessly and stood.

“At least some people recognize mighty feats of courage and bravery when they hear of them.  Come, I will tell you my story . . .” With a wink and a grin, Glorfindel carried the twins from the room.

“Who knew that a mighty Balrog slayer would make such a fine nanny?” mused Celeborn.

Galadriel stood with a long suffering sigh and held out her arm for her husband to rise and depart with her.

Once they were alone, Celebrían moved to curl up at Elrond’s side.  He pulled her close, his hands delving into her hair to stroke the beautiful mane in the way he knew brought her pleasure. 

“Did you ever see Elros again?” Celebrían finally asked.

“No, although a few letters were exchanged when Círdan’s ships met Elros’ on the seas. I knew he married and had children. He said his oldest son was much like me, and this was both a blessing and a curse to him.  His wonderful humor came through even in his letters.”

“Did they send word when Elros passed from this life?”

“They did, but there was no need,” answered Elrond slowly. “The emptiness I had long feared descended upon me one day while I was in Gil-Galad’s court. The bond that tied us together was just a mere thread at that point, but I always felt it. At times that thread brought comfort and at times it brought pain.  Then it was gone, and only emptiness remained.  I am not sure there are adequate words to describe that hollow feeling.”

“Is it still there, this empty feeling?” asked Celebrían tenderly.

“I think it will always remain, but I have learned how amazing the heart is, and how resilient the soul.  Around that empty spot new bonds have formed, and their strong threads insulate and protect and strengthen the spirit, so that the hollowness is but a tiny gap in a finely woven tapestry.” He leaned down to kiss her gently on the lips, and brushed a tear from her cheek.

“I love you, Elrond,” she whispered.

“And I you, my silver queen,” he replied, “for so long as time exists.”


* * * * *

Final Author’s Notes:

The Silmarillion does not say how the elves knew that Maedhros and Maglor had met the ends that they did, so the descriptions of the light are my own liberties taken to show that something occurred that the elves could see.   “Unfinished Tales” tell us that Círdan’s ships and sailors transported the men to Andor (Númenor) and left some of their ships there.  I could not find any information to suggest that Elros and Elrond had much contact after Elros departed Middle-Earth.  I think a clean parting was best, given time, distance, the need for Men to build their own lands and kingdoms, and the ongoing heartbreak that would otherwise occur between the two brothers. The Númenorians sailed back to Middle-earth in the year SA 600.  Elros died in SA 442.

 I had considered adding a few scenes from Elrond’s life to the end of this story, but have decided to hold off as I consider whether I wish to tackle the Second Age (or maybe the Third Age  - can you see Elladan and Elrohir teaching Estel?).  These included Gil-Galad’s death, Arwen’s birth, Celebrían’s departure, and Arwen’s decision. Each one is another significant event – but most are another blow, another loss, to this incredibly tragic character. It seems that all he loved were taken from him, some temporarily and some permanently.  All of these things except the last had occurred by the time of “The Hobbit”, and yet Tolkien described him thus:

“He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.”  (“The Hobbit”; ‘A Short Rest’).

It was a challenge and a pleasure to explore some ideas of what made Elrond into the person described above, despite his many losses.  Thank you to all who read, and especially to all who encouraged me with reviews and emails.



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