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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
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.
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