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History Lessons  by Nilmandra

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.

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