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Eärendil’s Tale  by Bodkin


‘The sea called me,’ Eärendil said matter-of-factly.  ‘It sang in my blood, even as it had in my adar’s – like a never-ending hunger.  Much as I loved your naneth, even she could not hold me on land, not when the waves danced and Ulmo’s voice rang in the deep.’

Elrond looked at his adar thoughtfully. Vilya’s influence had been different, yet it had still at times hovered there between him and his family; not malign, any more than was the sea, but not wholly under his control, either.  There had been occasions, he knew, when Celebrían would have happily joined her adar in a quest to drop both Vilya and Nenya in the depths of Orodruin.  ‘Was it always so?’ he asked curiously.

The breeze teased the Mariner’s hair from its neat elven braids and made him push the thick waves back impatiently.  ‘I believe so,’ he replied frankly.  ‘From the time we settled by the Sirion I could feel the sea’s restlessness in its pure waters, and the wind smelled of salt.  It teased at me.’  He grinned.  ‘My adar was always catching me attempting to build rafts to head downriver.  He knew early that my fate was bound up with the ocean.  And so did my naneth,’ he added, ‘although she did not wish to admit it.  I think she hoped that, if she kept me from the shore, she could have me safe for longer.  She feared for me,’ he said softly.  ‘I was clearly no elf – and she knew my time would be short.  She did not want me to throw away what I could have.’

‘Galadriel spoke to Celebrían and me before we wed,’ Elrond nodded.  ‘She warned us that we could not be certain that our children would be entirely elf-kind – despite the words of the Valar that those of our House could choose to which kindred to belong.  There was no guarantee that this element of their heritage would not slip through.  It did not,’ he sighed, ‘but we watched in great anxiety the pace at which they grew.’

‘Your children are much more elf than man,’ Eärendil pointed out.  ‘It is likely that they would show few signs of their descent from Tuor and Beren.’  

‘But still possible,’ Elrond mused.  ‘The blood of men flowed much more strongly in Elros than it did in me, but still I have it.’

His adar looked him over with interest.  ‘I never felt,’ he said, ‘that you and Elros were that much alike.  Even I could tell you apart,’ he added, ‘and, to me, babies all look the same.  Although it would be best not to say that to your naneth,’ he went on guiltily.  ‘For some reason, ellyth do not seem to appreciate the fact that their loved ones are unimpressed by infants.’

‘It is incomprehensible,’ Elrond agreed solemnly, hiding the dancing of his eyes.  ‘Foals, now – my sons would tell you that it is clearly important to identify their strengths from the moment of their birth, and they would laugh at the idea that anyone could not tell a warhorse from a draughthorse at first sight.’

Eärendil smiled with unexpected sweetness.  ‘Ah, well – I have never been greatly interested in horses, either.  Except for the ones that ride the waves on a breaking sea.’

Elrond returned to the story he wanted to hear.  ‘Yet,’ he said, ‘despite the call of the sea, you remained more-or-less landbound until your adar took ship.’

‘I would not say that.’  Eärendil rubbed his nose.  ‘But it is true that our ships remained mostly in sight of land and our voyages were generally brief.’  His eyes gazed out over the tidy gardens, but clearly saw them not.  ‘Voronwë would talk of his experiences on the endless sea,’ he said softly.  He looked sharply at his son.  ‘Turgon sent him from Gondolin, you know,’ he said, ‘in the hope of sending messages to the Valar – to let them know of Arda’s needs and plead for their aid.’ 

Elrond nodded without speaking.  He did, indeed, know the stories.  He had sifted every mention of his adar and daeradar, every reference to his naneth, every piece of his family’s history from the legends of the First Age and the memories of his acquaintance, anxious for even this minimal contact with them.

‘But he could not find his way, and Ossë teased and taunted him until Ulmo finally rescued him and sent him to Vinyamar to take my adar along the secret ways into Gondolin.  He thought he had escaped the sea,’ he smiled reminiscently.  ‘He would talk of her always as dreadful mistress – beguiling when she chose, but changing in a breath to a raging termagant, who would do her best to drive the ships who courted her beneath her waves – and fickle, always fickle – with Ossë always as her jealous guardian, goading her to greater extremes.  I do not know what Uinen thinks of it all.  I am told she does what she can to soothe Ossë’s wildness, but he is not one to accept authority, not even Ulmo’s.’  He sighed.  ‘But the sea’s call is not to be thrown off so lightly.  He escaped Gondolin with us to come to the Havens of Sirion and she enchanted him again.’  He looked at Elrond in bemusement.  ‘But the ever-changing ocean does not call you?  Not at all?’

His son smiled sympathetically.  ‘Her song was in Elros’s blood,’ he said.  ‘He loved the sea – and Númenor’s ships made free of her waters, but no, it is not in mine.  I prefer fast-flowing streams and wide rivers of sweet water as they wind between forests and fields.  The sea is – too hungry.’

Eärendil nodded slowly.  ‘I see what you mean,’ he said reluctantly. ‘But there is hunger, too, in those who seek her.  They feed on each other.  Ulmo’s conches summoned Tuor,’ he said abruptly.  ‘Dabbling at the edges of the deep was no longer enough.  He knew that he was growing old,’ he continued softly.  ‘He could feel time’s demands in his aching bones and aging body.  He saw the fear of separation in Idril’s eyes.  Ulmo had used him as a messenger before: he reasoned that it might be so again.  He was a symbol of both kindreds – a son of the Secondborn, who had fathered a son on Finwë’s granddaughter.  His end was coming, there at the edge of the sea – why not, he thought, take one last chance and sail west in the hope of finding the aid that Turgon had sought.’

‘But he did not go alone,’ Elrond stated.

‘He wanted to,’ Eärendil told him ruefully.  ‘He told my naneth firmly – she had eternity to dwell in Arda with her kin, with me and with any children I might have – but she would not listen.  He told her, in the end, that he was more likely to succeed in his quest without her – he was not under any Doom.’  Eärendil grinned mischievously.  ‘And then she brought out her deadliest weapon,’ he said.  ‘She did not weep – weeping, I find, is relatively easy to resist – she merely looked at him and allowed silver tears to roll down her cheeks.  Her sorrow was – palpable.  I could taste it on the air and it was not even aimed at me.  Tuor did not stand a chance against her and, deep down, he knew it.  He raged a little and tried commanding her, but it was obvious to all who knew them that they would go together.’

‘Did many know of their departure?’

The silence extended as a blackbird chitted a call of warning.  Elrond glanced towards the sound and smiled as a tabby cat stretched with supercilious indifference and settled in a patch of shade, only its twitching ears suggesting that it was, perhaps, rather more interested than it pretended.

Eärendil sighed.  ‘None knew,’ he said flatly.  ‘They did not wait for the debates to end.  They had made their decision.  We woke one morning to find them gone.’ 

‘They took nothing with them?’

‘Their vessel was fully equipped,’ Eärendil shrugged.  ‘Laden with food and water – and we found that they had managed to take much of their clothing, but most of their possessions they left behind: shed like a skin they no longer needed.  My naneth left the Elessar resting on her pillow and her letter told me it would be an heirloom for my house as long as her descendants remained in Arda.’  He stopped, picking up a small stone and throwing it with a vicious flick of his wrist.  ‘But what cared I for that?’ he challenged. ‘A green jewel from the Blessed Realm in exchange for my parents?’  He snorted.  ‘An heirloom for a shattered house.’

His son remained silent and left the Mariner to come to terms with his memory of grief.

‘I was not kind to your naneth,’ Eärendil admitted after a time.  ‘She had lost her parents and brothers; lost her home; lost her place in the world to come at last to the edge of the sea – and I loved her, but there is no place for love in bitterness and fury.  She wanted to help me, so that we could mourn together, but I was determined to go after my parents – to find them and bring them back.  And so I left her, too.’   He selected another stone and sent it after the first before heaving a deep sigh.  ‘Voronwë had a ship in port ready to sail – and he knew that I would go anyway, whether he aided me or not.’  He smiled wryly.  ‘And he was right.  Elwing did not fight my decision – she knew that it would only lead us to part in anger and that she would still not be able to hold me.’  His eyes were bleak as he tossed another stone after the others.  ‘We sailed on the next tide.’ 

‘My grief at our parting clouded my last days with my brother,’ Elrond said softly.  ‘You think you would learn – but I came close to letting my sorrow spoil what time I had left to spend with Arwen before I had to take ship.  Bitterness can be more destructive than anger.’

‘It nearly destroyed me,’ Eärendil allowed.  ‘It was not Ulmo’s intention that I should follow my parents – and he was not about to let a half-elven brat interfere in his schemes.  He chose not to permit me the freedom of the wind and the waters.

‘We headed west in the stiff breeze that blew from the land.  The sea was welcoming and the sails were full.  The Gwingól leapt over the crests of the waves – but we saw my adar’s ship not at all.  Not even as a dark fleck in the silver of the vast ocean.’  Eärendil leaned his head back and looked up into the unbroken blue of the sky.  ‘It was not possible for them to have sailed so far that they would be beyond our sight, yet, even from the top of the mast the sea seemed empty.

‘I do not know how long we would have raced headlong into the west,’ he said with a shrug.  ‘Too long, I suspect.  The Valar would not permit ships to approach too close to Aman and we would have become enmeshed in the enchantments surrounding the Islands and wandered in confusion until we perished.  But Ulmo had other plans.

‘The wind changed.’  Eärendil smiled.  ‘It seems a small thing, but on such things can rest the fate of men and elves.  Ulmo commanded Ossë to send us home – but Ossë took it as his mission to punish us for our arrogance in trying to master his waters.’


‘Reef the sails!’  Voronwë shouted insistently.

‘I do not want to slow down,’ the Mariner protested, grabbing the elf’s wrist.  ‘We will never catch up with Adar unless we take a few chances.’

‘We will never catch up with them if Gwingól founders!’ Voronwë snapped.   ‘It is one thing running for home before bad weather hits, but we are not within sight of harbour now, Eärendil.  Tuor is not such a fool as to face that with full sail.’  He nodded towards the purple bruise of cloud that approached them swiftly across the plain of the sea.

Eärendil hesitated.  ‘Very well,’ he agreed reluctantly as a contrary wind began to pull at his dark hair.  ‘If you say so.’

By the time the sails were reefed, the approaching storm was firing darts of ragged lightning across the sky and the sea had begun to stir like a bear wakening from sleep. Its restful greens and bright silvers had shifted to sullen greys and yellow foam was lipping on the rolling crests.

‘Ulmo help us,’ Voronwë requested anxiously.  ‘Turn into the wind, Eärendil.  Let us run before it.  It is our only chance – Gwingól will turn into a wallowing sow if we try to fight the waters.  We must go where the sea wishes to send us.’

Tuor’s son scowled.  ‘That is not where we need to go,’ he said.  ‘We will lose too much time.’

‘We will lose more than time if we do not.’  Voronwë staggered as a wave broke over the side of the small ship and drained back into the surging sea.  ‘We are in Ulmo’s hands, ellon, and he is not one to tolerate defiance.  If you want to get back safely to your wife in Sirion, you will bend to his will.’

As if to reinforce the older sailor’s words, a surge twice the height of Gwingól lifted her high before dropping her into a grey-walled valley between two massive waves, either of which could have swamped the small vessel and sent her to the bottom.

‘Very well,’ Eärendil said, too intimidated by the force of the storm not to agree.

Gwingól laboured to turn, withstanding the slap of another wave before starting to move with the angry waters.  ‘Take the tiller,’ Voronwë told his friend’s son.  ‘We need a small amount of sail to keep us running with the storm.’

‘Rope yourself,’ Eärendil insisted.  ‘Even elves cannot expect to keep their footing in a sea like this.’

‘We will suffer less when we are not trying to fight the waves.’

‘I do not want to lose you, too.’

Voronwë grasped Eärendil’s arm.  ‘You will not,’ he promised.  ‘Ulmo is warning us – if we do as he commands, we will return safely.’

‘I hope so,’ Eärendil muttered, leaning on the tiller with all his strength as he tried to keep the craft steady.

The night of struggle seemed endless, in the way that time can cease to move when any moment might prove to be the last.  The stars cowered behind dense cloud and the angry waves rolled interminably.  Eärendil and Voronwë fought in darkness almost impenetrable even to elven sight to hold their vessel steady against waters that curled repeatedly over the deck, tasting them like a predator sporting with his prey, waiting until the game no longer afforded him enough amusement to be worth the playing, the moment when his jaws would snap and crush Gwingól to spills of wood and he was free to seek out her crew.

The storm’s rage passed with the darkness.  Arien rose to find Gwingól floating idly on a glassy sea, scrubbed white by the ferocity of the waves, her sails hanging limp on the masts.  Voronwë still stood, leaning on the tiller with his red-rimmed eyes half shut and his dark hair crusted grey with salt, but Eärendil huddled on the deck, too exhausted to move.

‘Go below,’ Voronwë commanded him.  ‘Get some clean clothes, if any have remained dry, and find something to eat.’

‘They are gone,’ Eärendil told him numbly.  ‘I do not see how we survived – Tuor and Idril will certainly not have been able to ride out the storm.  They will have drowned.’

‘We cannot know that.’ Voronwë’s voice could not hide his own doubt.  ‘If Ulmo has a purpose for them, they will have been saved.’  He turned towards the west, gazing along Arien’s dawn path, silently bidding farewell to his old friend and his king’s daughter.

Eärendil rested his head on his knee and curled one arm round it, his anger leached by the raging of the storm and a stillness about him that matched the motionless morning. 

Forcing himself to detach hands still clutching at the smooth wood, Voronwë abandoned Gwingól to journey as she wished and came to sit by Idril’s son.  He might be adult in men’s terms, the elf thought, his heart pained by the despair shown in the slumped shoulders and the hidden face, but the ellon – the lad – was still a child to him.  He had lived so short a time and lost so much.  ‘Come,’ he said gently, brushing the salt-caked hair back before resting his hand on Eärendil’s back, ‘we have survived – if only just – and that must be for a reason.  We cannot give in to our feelings now, hír nin.  If we wish to make it back to Sirion, we have work to do.’  He shook his hand slightly to try to rouse the half-elf.  ‘I have no idea where we are,’ he sighed.  ‘Without favourable winds to blow us home, we are not safe yet, pen-neth.’

‘It felt longer than a single night,’ Eärendil observed, his voice rough.

‘Aye, it did,’ Voronwë agreed.  ‘And it probably was – Ossë does not go out of his way to make life easy for those who would seek to master his waters.’  He leaned back and rested his head against the drying wood.  ‘I think we are far to the north,’ he said, ‘although I cannot be sure.  There is a chill to the air that was not there before – and Arien seems lower in the sky.’ 

‘It is a shame we overlooked the chance to collect some fresh water,’ Eärendil said ironically.  ‘I could do with a bath.’

Voronwë patted his shoulder approvingly.  ‘Some fresh clothing, together with some food and water will help us both,’ he remarked.

Eärendil stood.  ‘I will see what I can find,’ he said with decision.  ‘We cannot continue to sit here indefinitely.’  He headed towards the firmly-closed hatch that led down to the cramped living quarters, glancing up at the pale blue sky with a desperate resignation.  He stopped. ‘There must be land close by.’  He looked to the north east where a swirl of white wings reflected the morning light.  ‘Seabirds,’ he remarked, turning to look at Voronwë.

‘Later,’ the elf told him.  ‘We can do nothing until Ulmo chooses to bless us with a breeze.’

The sea lay flat and mirror-like – shamming innocence, like a wolf resting in the sun of a bright morning, as if it could never rise up and pluck a ship from its waters and send it sliding to its doom.  Arien beamed a well-washed brilliance on the scene beneath her and they were surrounded by a silence so profound that Eärendil began to wonder if the bellowing of the storm had affected his hearing.  They were tempted to whisper as their voices rang out across the waters, for fear of disturbing creatures better left resting beneath the waves.  Day became night and night day while Gwingól bobbed silently like a stick on a pond.

‘We are not moving at all,’ Eärendil said anxiously as he watched the rope trailing in the water.

‘You would think that it might be a relief,’ Voronwë commented, ‘after moving much too far and much too fast.’

The grey eyes that flicked a glance at him suggested that his companion found this to be no relief at all.  ‘We have rested long enough.  We lost two barrels of water,’ Eärendil said flatly.  ‘And enough of the dry goods have been ruined that we will need to worry about food if we cannot make landfall soon.’

‘We are in an ocean full of fish.’  A grimace crossed Voronwë’s face.  ‘It can be eaten raw at need.’

Eärendil sighed.  ‘I do not want to reach that level of need.’

‘And we can use the sails to collect fresh water when it rains.’

‘Perhaps we should have brought a rather smaller vessel – one with oars.’

‘I believe we should not worry yet,’ Voronwë said, looking thoughtfully at the sky.  ‘Calm often follows a storm.  The wind should pick up as the day turns to evening.’  He turned to watch the white wings of the gulls as the distant sound of their mocking cries reached out across the water.  ‘There are legends,’ he remarked, ‘of an Isle of Seabirds, whence come all the birds of the waters.  I never believed them myself – I have seen enough gulls nesting in the cliffs, and taken enough eggs from them to know that birds, like elves, settle where they choose – but I can see how a sight like that might make a sailor who has spent too long cut off from the land believe otherwise.’

Eärendil had braided his dark hair into a long tail and the angles of his face gave him an almost shocking resemblance to his grandfather, Voronwë thought: Turgon as he was when the Ice had taken his wife and left him exiled and alone with a child to raise.  He closed his eyes briefly and sent a silent plea to the Valar for this scion of Fingolfin’s house.  It was not his fault: none of it – not the jewels, nor the defiance of the Valar, nor the kinslaying, nor the failure to destroy Morgoth, yet he would continue to pay the price of choices forced on others long before his birth. 

‘Yet why should the legends not be true?’ Eärendil asked lazily.  ‘The Noldor live in Arda and bear their children there, but it is not their home.  Why should seabirds not be the same?’

‘The green elves would say that the true home of the elves is Arda,’ Voronwë mused.  ‘That they came to be at Cuiviénen and that Ilúvatar intended them to stay there – that those who followed the Valar to Aman are the ones who have betrayed their purpose.’

‘Is it not Morgoth and his underlings who betrayed the purpose of the One?’ Eärendil said bitterly.  ‘The Valar rescued the quendi from his plots once, in the way that seemed best to them – and only the Valar can help us now.  We are powerless to chain one of them – we have tried and been defeated, time after time.’

‘We sought their aid,’ Voronwë said, ‘and they rejected us.  I am the only one to survive of all Turgon’s emissaries.’

‘Perhaps he did not send the right messenger.’  Eärendil stood.  ‘Can you feel a stirring in the air?’

‘I believe –,’ Voronwë narrowed his eyes at the distant birds as they sank from his sight and then turned sharply to gaze intently westwards.  He groaned.  ‘Look there!  I think that Ossë is not yet finished with us, hír nin.  He is driving us with a whip.’

The wave came with the inevitability of winter.  Gwingól was drawn to it inexorably, pulled from her position to cut across its green expanse until she sat just below its crown, riding it like a novice on a wild stallion, able to feel in control just as long as every move was dictated to her.

Voronwë grasped Eärendil’s wrist.  ‘We can do nothing,’ he murmured.  ‘Ossë is displeased, but he will not harm us as long as Ulmo commands.  Whether he will see us safely to land, I do not know, but we had best not annoy him further.’  He smiled wryly.  ‘Be ready to take to the water – he may be forced to keep us whole, but poor Gwingól is unlikely to survive his wrath.’

‘I am not sure whether this experience is terrifying or exhilarating,’ Eärendil laughed shakily, clutching at solid wood as he looked down the smooth curve of the wave into a depth greater than that from the highest wall of Gondolin to the floor of the valley.

‘It is terrifying, Eärendil,’ Voronwë told him firmly.  ‘That you should even consider anything else worries me considerably.  Know when to be afraid, pen-neth.’

The grey eyes that met his gleamed with silver.  ‘It is not our day to die, Voronwë,’ Idril’s son said.

A growl of frustration shook the timbers beneath their feet as, with a contemptuous flick at Gwingól as though she were no more than an irritating flea upon the back of a large dog, the wave dropped away to nothing.

The ship flew through empty sky and, for a moment, the sailors felt an unexpected lightness before the weight of the world reclaimed them. 

‘Hold tight!’ Voronwë gasped. 

In a moment that seemed both interminably long and almost non-existent, the vessel dropped towards a sea jagged with rocks that leered at them like the teeth of hungry bear.  The awareness of pain to come hovered over them so that they almost welcomed the shattering of the small craft as the impact bit into her hull.  Despite their attempts to hold still, both Voronwë and Eärendil flew helplessly into the air, crashing back to the deck only to slide down the steep slope towards the eager sea.

‘No!’  Eärendil screamed, clutching at his friend’s wrist and closing his fingers in a grip tighter than he would have believed himself capable of employing.  He twined his other hand round the end of the halyard that had struck him in the face and lowered his head.  He would die before he let go, he determined, teeth clenched.  He ignored the burning pain in his muscles and the taste of blood in his mouth.  Not this time, he thought, even as lights began to spark before his eyes like fireflies in a summer meadow.

‘Obstinate.’  A deep voice rumbled in his mind like the sound of the sea booming in a cave.  ‘It will serve you well.  I will let you have your way this time, Tuor’s son.  And I suppose I owe him something for obeying me.  But enough of this folly, child.  You will stop chasing across the sea in search of that which you will not find.  You were born for a purpose, son of both kindreds.  It is for you to find what was withheld from others – you will build a ship worthy of this quest before you seek to move the hearts of the Valar to pity for the sorrows of Middle Earth.  It is for this that I have plucked you from the deep: it is for this that I send you back to your home.  Remember my words, son of elves and men.  Do not challenge me further – or I may allow Ossë to finish his games.’

The sun was warm on his back, but the pebbles under his face were cold and wet.  Eärendil realised that he was breathing, and he listened to the faint sound for several minutes as if to reassure himself that it was indeed an indication that he was still alive, but it was not until the aching of his body and the burning sting of salt water in his cuts and scrapes began to register on his mind that he became convinced.  His muscles resisted his attempt to push them into action, trying to persuade him that all he truly wished to do was rest in the sun until the water returned to wash him away.

Voronwë’s groan roused Eärendil more effectively.  Pebbles shifted as the elf rolled over and pushed himself into a sitting position.  ‘How did we get here?’ he asked in confusion.  ‘One moment we were about to drop into the sea and now. . .’

‘I do not care,’ Eärendil protested.  ‘Just leave me here to die, will you?’

‘Not a chance.’  Voronwë rested his head on his shaking hands.  ‘Ulmo’s gifts are not to be thrown back like undersized fish.  We must find shelter and food to last us until we have the strength to seek our way home.’

‘Give me some time.’  The half-elf pushed himself to his knees and forced himself to sit back on his heels.  ‘You look terrible,’ he commented.

‘Have you seen yourself?’ Voronwë raised an eyebrow, feeling that even that much movement was more than he could manage.  ‘You look like someone who has been put in his place by one of the Valar.’

Eärendil’s lips twisted.  ‘Well,’ he said, ‘now you come to mention it. . .’

The silence between them said more than words and neither felt the need to fill it with detail.  The sea broke behind them, dragging small stones playfully from the land before dropping them to rest beneath the green waters and returning for more. The wind stirred their hair and brought with it the smell of growing things as they sat exhausted on the shore and enjoyed the simple fact of being alive. 


‘As soon as he felt strong enough to look around him,’ Eärendil told his son, ‘Voronwë realised that he had been there before.  Some thirty or more years before he had met Tuor there and guided him to Gondolin.’

‘Vinyamar?’ Elrond asked.

The Mariner nodded.  ‘Ulmo had saved us from his waters,’ he said reflectively, ‘and I daresay that, as one of the Valar, he had no idea quite how long it would take us to return from Vinyamar to the Havens of Sirion.’  He grinned.  ‘Or, possibly, he did not care.  I doubt he wanted it to be too easy – but we were dumped on the shore in what we were wearing, without weapons or food and left to save ourselves.’  He looked at his hands.  ‘It was as well that Voronwë was with me,’ he observed.  ‘I was not prepared for such a journey.  We travelled mostly by night, following the coast south, seeking out warm sunlit spots to sleep.’ He glanced at Elrond.  ‘Or, at least, I slept.  I think Voronwë remained wakeful for all but a handful of hours.  We made rough spears to fish and dug roots to bake in our small fires.  In some ways, although it was less frightening, it reminded me of the flight from Gondolin when I was just a child.

‘And yet,’ he continued, ‘it was, in many ways, a catharsis.  Ulmo had told me that I was saved from the ruin of Gondolin for a purpose and that it was up to me to take up the burden – by the time we sighted Sirion again, I had come to terms with the loss of my parents and was prepared to do what I must.

‘And,’ the Mariner’s eyes sparkled with the white fire of the stars, ‘little though I merited it, your naneth forgave my desertion.  You and Elros were begotten almost immediately after my return and your naneth and I took consolation in each other and the beginnings of our own house.’

‘Son of Finwë’s house and daughter of Elwë’s,’ Elrond said thoughtfully. ‘Bringing together the blood of Noldor, Sindar and Vanyar and combining it with that of the Edain – with a touch of Maiar.  Had Ulmo allowed you passage on your first voyage, you would have been in less of a position to speak for the Forsaken – and you would not have had the Silmaril.’

‘So,’ Eärendil shrugged. ‘In the end it was all for the best.’

‘It did not seem that way at the time,’ Elrond kept his tone neutral.

‘No,’ the Mariner said softly.  ‘But we cannot see all that might transpire from our choices – all we can do is stand straight and follow our own path.  And take joy in what we are offered along the way.  Elwing chose to love me,’ he murmured, ‘and I fathered Elros Tar-Minyatur and Elrond Peredhil, Lord of Imladris – that is honour enough for any.’

Elrond reached out and clasped Eärendil’s hand.  ‘And, as Gil-Estel, you have offered hope to two ages of men and elves,’ he stated firmly. ‘Your path has been straight indeed and you have proved yourself worthy in every way.  I have always been proud to have you as my adar – and I am glad that, at long last, I can tell you so.’

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