The Old Ways
1. A Man With Golden Hair
Note: this story follows the alternate canon idea that Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Rivendell were two distinct characters. Here, Glorfindel of Rivendell is the character in question. The story also follows an HoME idea that all remaining Elves and Men of Beleriand fled to Balar in the year 540 of the First Age... and this "all" included Maedhros and Maglor. Because of the divergence from Silmarillion canon, this can be considered AU.
It was raining on Balar. Elrond's hair and clothes were wet, sticking coldly to his skin. Mada's old cloak, the only shelter Elrond had in the small boat, had long since soaked through, and it hung heavy with water around his shoulders. His fingers felt icy cold where the gripped the fabric at his throat. His breath did little to warm them.
He could see Elros playing on the shore, some yards away. His brother ran, chanting rhyming games with each step he took, collecting clam shells around the feet of the soldiers. The cold and rain seemed to bother him less. The soldiers told him not to go far, and not to leave the small spit of gravely beach. When he became too adventurous, one of them would pick him up and carry him back. They told him not to do it again, but he always did.
Elrond squirmed on his bench in the little boat. The wood was wet, and his legs ached. It felt like days since he'd last stood up or moved. He tried to stretch and poke his toe around the coil of rope at Malo's feet.
"Do you want to play with your brother on the shore?" Malo asked.
Elrond shook his head.
Malo put his hand on Elrond's back. "Your cloak is soaking wet." He pulled it off, letting it fall half over the edge of the boat and into the water. Elrond leaned toward him, gladly trading his cloak for the shelter of Malo's arm. Malo's clothes were wet too, but his body was warm, and he pressed his face against Malo's chest.
"Is there any bread left?"
Malo sighed. "No. I'm sorry." He tightened his arms around Elrond.
"Can we go inside soon?" Elrond asked. "I'm cold."
"Oh Elrond, I am sorry..." He leaned forward and shouted to the soldiers on the shore. "Please, how much longer will we be kept out here? The children are cold and hungry."
The soldiers, stern as statues, gave no answer. One went to pull Elros down from a pile of rocks.
"We must wait for uncle Mada to come back," said Malo.
"Where did he go?"
Malo smiled. "He went to see the High King," he said as he kissed Elrond's wet hair.
"What would you do in my place?" Ereinion asked. "Yes, they are murderers, and the people will not stand to have them housed here. But they are still kin seeking refuge. By law it would be just to turn them away in vengeance, but they would surely die by Morgoth's hand if not by the sea. That would make us no better than them."
"They have Elwing and Eärendil's children," said Círdan.
Ereinion nodded. "Yes, one thing to their credit. They didn't abandon those boys to die. Would it be fair to keep the children here but turn Maedhros and Maglor away?"
"No." Shaking his head, Círdan stood and crossed to the window that overlooked the shore. Down below, he could see a small boat containing two tiny figures, while a third ran up and down the beach amid the soldiers. "If Maedhros and Maglor have acted as parents to those boys for the last four years, it would be cruel to separate them now."
"So you do advocate letting them all stay," said Ereinion.
"No..." Círdan answered slowly. He watched as one of the soldiers carried the boy on the beach out to the others in the boat. Even from the distance, he could see the boy's short legs kicking in protest.
After a long moment, Círdan turned back. "You are the king now, Ereinion. It's your decision."
"But I'm asking for your advice!" Ereinion pleaded. "Círdan, please, you know the hearts of the people far better than I. Do you think, under the proper circumstances, they can be persuaded to keep the sons of Fëanor here? What if we were to keep them almost as prisoners... Not in a prison, of course, but under watch?"
"Would Maedhros allow that?"
"He would have to," said Ereinion. "He can choose between a secure but restricted life here or an uncertain survival back on the mainland. We will take his and his brother's weapons, forbid them from ever again carrying so much as a dagger, and have them followed at all times."
Círdan smiled thinly. "They would need to be guarded more for their own protection than for the protection of our people."
"That is true," Ereinion agreed. "But I think that with time..."
"The survivors of Doriath and Avernien will never forgive them, no matter how much time passes."
"Not forgive them," Ereinion said. "But accept that having them kept alive and in servitude, always guilty in the presence of those they wronged, is a suitable punishment."
"You may be right," Círdan said with a slow nod.
Ereinion exhaled a heavy sigh of relief. "Good. We agree then. I just hope the others... Well I guess we'll see." He smoothed his hands over his shirt and sash. "Come with me to tell Maedhros. How do I look?"
"Nervous," said Círdan. "Stand up straighter."
Ereinion straightened his posture and fixed a stern look on his face.
"Now you look angry," Círdan said with a laugh.
"I can't help it. I know he's judging me. He knew my father so well and... The way he watched me when they brought him in made me think the comparison in his mind wasn't favourable." Ereinion sighed, shoulders slumping. "He thinks I'm too young. That because he's my uncle, he somehow holds authority over me."
"But you have already decided his fate," said Círdan. "There is nothing to discuss with him."
"You're right," Ereinion agreed. He took a deep breath, standing straighter again, as if to convince himself. "You're right. Either he accepts my decision, or he is escorted back to his boat."
"And what of the children, if he chooses to take his chances with the boat?"
"They can decide for themselves."
It seemed a long time until Maedhros came back to the beach, escorted by soldiers carrying long spears.
"Mada!" Elros cried. He skipped across the rocky beach, abandoning a tiny castle made of sticks and reeds, and flung himself into Maedhros' arms.
Maedhros picked him up absently. "Where's your brother, Elros?"
Elros pointed ahead to the water, in the direction Maedhros was walking. "In the boat still."
"He won't play with you?"
"He says it's too cold. Did you see the king?"
"Aye," Maedhros said, nodding.
"Did he have a crown?"
"No, no crown..."
"What did he look like?"
Maedhros waded out into the waves. The water went up to his knees, and he set Elros down into the boat. "He looked a bit like your uncle Malo."
"What did he say?" Maglor asked quietly.
The waves swelled around his legs, splashing up against his breeches, but Maedhros only stood fidgeting with the cuff of his shirt. "We are allowed to stay," he eventually said.
"But we will live as captives here. They will take our weapons. We will have a room in the King's house. Always under watch. Or we can leave now." Maedhros stared at his cuff as he spoke.
"What did you say?" asked Maglor.
Maedhros shrugged. "I said I would have to consult with you."
"I think we should accept the offer."
Maedhros looked up at him.
"The children are cold," Maglor said in defence. "They've not eaten all day, and I've not had so much as bread in three. Where else can we go? And what else should we expect here? They are very generous to offer to let us stay at all." He hugged Elrond closer to his chest. "We can accept charity on their terms. We have no choice."
"Hm," was all Maedhros said. He stood still and looked down at his cuff again.
Then without a word, he grabbed his swordbelt from the boat and dropped it into the uneasy waves. "There is my weapon," he told the guards on the beach as he waded back to shore. "You may take it if you wish."
Elros fell out of the boat trying to reach the sword at the bottom of the sea.
Elrond liked Erestor immediately. The first words out of Erestor's mouth, after Malo and Mada and the Telerin man left them alone, were, "I suppose I can let you have another cake if you like, but you mustn't tell your uncles." Erestor gave him another cake, as big as his hand and filled with jam. Elrond finished it quickly and only remembered he ought to be polite and share with Erestor when he had eaten nearly the whole thing. Then Erestor gave him a cup of milk.
From a very young age, Elrond had carried an appreciation for fine clothes, and Erestor's clothes were some of the best he had ever seen. Unlike Malo, who seemed only to wear old, ill-fitting and dirty things, and Mada, who often wore the same dull grey shirt more than ten days in a row, Erestor was dressed in impeccably clean, well-made, and impressively fancy garments. There were tassels on his belt and ribbon flowers on his sleeves. Elrond touched one. He knew it was bad manners, but he could not stop his hand in time. Erestor only smiled, seeming not to mind.
"Would you like to play a game, Elrond?" he asked.
"Whatever you like. I have cards, and little wooden soldiers, and animals, and game coins, and building stones."
"I like animals," said Elrond.
It was difficult to tell how old Erestor was. Elrond could never guess the ages of adults very well, but it seemed to him that Erestor was not very old. Not as old as Malo and Mada at least, nor the Telerin man and the King he had seen only briefly. Whatever his age, he was good at playing. He and Elrond played farm animals, and Erestor built a little barn for the horses out of the flat building stones, using a cake plate for the roof. When Elrond grew too curious, he asked, "How old are you?"
"I am one hundred and two years old," Erestor answered.
Elrond smiled to himself. Erestor was not nearly as old as Mada and Malo. He had guessed right.
"How old are you?" Erestor asked.
"Eight," said Elrond.
Erestor smiled too. "You're quite big for your age."
"That's what Malo says."
Elrond squirmed. "My uncle Maglor," he said, embarrassed for using the pet name he and Elros had made up years ago. "I... my brother and I call him that. I mean we used to. When we were little."
"Ah," Erestor said with a nod. Then he was quiet long enough to make a fence around the stone barn and put the little wooden horses within. "Elrond..." he finally said. "Do you remember much from when you were very little?"
"I don't know," said Elrond, and he shrugged.
"I mean," Erestor continued, "do you remember anything before you went to live with your uncles?"
Elrond shook his head. "No. Not really." He thought back to his earliest memories: Maglor giving him a little bag made of rabbit skin, Elros falling out of a tree and breaking his wrist, drinking water from a stream, having to wear a big grey cape to go outside in the snow. And, strangely, a man with golden hair. A man who wasn't Maedhros or Maglor or anyone else he knew.
"I sort of remember..." he said, "a man with golden hair. But I don't remember him doing anything. I just remember seeing him."
"Is he your ada?" Erestor asked.
"I don't know. Did my ada have golden hair?"
"Yes," said Erestor.
"Did you know him?"
"No... not well." Erestor picked up a miniature wooden pumpkin and rolled it between his fingers. "I only met him once or twice."
"I never met him," Elrond said quietly. "Not that I remember anyway. Mada... Maedhros said he and my nana died when I was hardly more than a baby."
Erestor sat down with a tired sigh and took a long drink of wine before he spoke. "Elrond remembers nothing. His only childhood memories are of Maedhros and Maglor. He has no sense of who his parents were."
"How is that possible?" asked Ereinion. "He was nearly four years old when Avernien was attacked. Surely he must remember something?"
"It was a terrible time for him," said Círdan. "It's likely he blocked all the memories. Or it could be his mortal heritage. An Elven child would remember his early years, true, but is it the same for human children?"
"A pity either way," Ereinion sighed.
"A pity he never knew his parents, yes," said Erestor. "But the way he acts, I think he's had a fine childhood so far, all things considered."
Círdan shifted in his seat, propping his elbows on the table and resting his head against his knuckles. "How much does he know?"
"Of Avernien? Nothing, I'd guess," Erestor said. "He knows his parents are dead. Maedhros told him that much, but I'm sure never said how. I asked about some of his earliest memories, and all of them were of Maglor or Maedhros. Except..."
Ereinion looked up at him with eyebrows expectantly raised.
"He told me he has one memory, probably very early, of a man with golden hair."
"Eärendil?" asked Círdan.
"I would guess so," said Erestor. "It's an uncommon enough hair colour, and who else would he remember?"
Erestor became something like Elrond's guardian, since Maedhros and Maglor were not allowed to wander the island unaccompanied. Elros preferred to explore on his own, but Elrond liked Erestor's company. The two of them walked all around the king's house, all around the courtyard, and eventually all around the little city that seemed constantly under construction. Erestor explained that it was because Balar was a new settlement. The King and his people had been here not even seventy years, and there was always something to build or make better.
All sorts of Elves lived on Balar, coming from placed that had been destroyed. There were pale-haired Sindar from the North, Elves of Doriath trying to speak to Elrond in their strange language, coast-dwellers with a funny accent, and refugees from Gondolin and Nargothrond and other places Elrond had never even heard of. So many different sorts of Elves, and so many Elves of each sort. Balar was crowded. Elrond guessed that Maglor must hate it. Maglor preferred wide open spaces with room to be by himself. Elrond, though, found it fascinating. He had never been in such a lively place with so much to see.
It was hard to place where Erestor belonged. He looked like the Elves from Gondolin, but spoke North Sindarin to Elrond and with a costal accent to everyone else. After a day of listening to Erestor explain where everyone came from and when they arrived, Elrond had to bow to his curiosity and ask.
"Where did you come from?"
"North," said Erestor. "Mithrim. But I came to live on the coast when I was a child."
"Did the King come from the north too?" Elrond asked. The King looked like he came from the same sort of Elves as Erestor. And Maglor.
"He did," Erestor said with a nod. "We came together. We're both orphans from the north."
Elrond felt sorry for Erestor and the King. He was an orphan too, but at least he had Maglor and Maedhros and Elros. Erestor and the King had no uncles and no family. "That's very sad..." he said to himself.
"What?" asked Erestor.
"That you have no family," said Elrond.
"I suppose it is," Erestor agreed. "But I never think of it that way any more. Ereinion has been as good as a brother to me all these years, and Círdan is like our father. We have enough friends to keep us happy."
Elrond wondered whether it was easier to have no parents as an adult than as a child, and wished he could grow up faster.
After ten days on Balar, Maglor stopped coming out of his room. He said it was because he wanted to stay out of the cold autumn rain, but Elrond knew it was because he wanted to stay out of the crowds of people who shouted and threw garbage at him.
After twenty days, he looked pale and weak. His skin was dull and there were dark circles under his eyes. He sat by his window, listlessly staring at the King's rainy garden, sometimes singing to himself, sometimes sitting still as a stone.
Elrond visited him whenever Maedhros had been allowed out for the day. The little room, which was shared, had the opposite effect on Maedhros as it had on Maglor. It made him restless and violent like a dog in a cage. He hit the walls and broke the furniture. The fury in his eyes frightened Elrond. It made him look less like Mada and more like a demon. So Elrond only visited Maglor after he was sure Maedhros was gone. Erestor often came with him.
Erestor could speak the secret language. This was the only thing that could get Maglor to act like himself. While speaking to Erestor in flowing words Elrond could not understand, he seemed like the same old Malo. He looked less pale and weak when Erestor was there. He looked happy. Elrond could never guess what they discussed, but they talked and laughed like best friends.
"How did you learn that language?" Elrond asked when they left.
"Quenya? I learned it growing up. My father spoke it at home."
"But it's my uncles' language," said Elrond. "Only they're supposed to speak it. It's secret."
"Secret?" asked Erestor. "No, I think they've been teasing you, Elrond. Quenya is the language of the Golodhrim, the language they spoke across the sea. Though we hardly use it now, except in private conversations. We mainly speak the native languages of these parts. But I still learned Quenya, and so did Ereinion, because it is part of our heritage. Someone ought to teach you and Elros as well. Even if you rarely use it."
Elrond considered this. "Alright," he said.
"Then you can understand what your uncle and I talk about," Erestor added with a sly grin.
"What do you talk about?"
"Oh, everything," said Erestor. "Mainly old things. He always wants to talk about the past. My father was a friend of his, who came with him across the sea, so he tells me about those times. I like to hear his stories, and I think he likes telling me."
The day the autumn rain finally stopped, marking the beginning of winter, was the King's birthday. He was turning ninety-five. It was very warm for winter, Elrond thought. The ground was warm on his bare feet, and the sun was shining for the first day in a long time. A small group had gathered on the beach for a celebration.
Erestor looked like a king. He had told Elrond once that he had often been mistaken for the Prince Ereinion when he was a child, because he stood so regal and still in his immaculate clothing while the real Ereinion was off making himself a wig out of dirty seaweed. He looked equally regal sitting on his little folding chair under the beach canopy. He was wearing the same outfit he had been wearing the day Elrond met him. It was the outfit with tassels and ribbon flowers, and Elrond thought it looked even better than before. Elrond himself was wearing one of Erestor's tunics, as long as a night dress on him and tied about the waist with a bright, braided sash. When he smiled down at his clothing, he knew he looked like a little prince, sitting on the royal blanket next to King Erestor's folding beach chair throne.
The real King was running about on the beach, naked as an Avarin baby and having a mud fight with Elros. The two of them screamed with laughter, and wailed in mock pain as mud splattered across their skin. They raced after each other up and down the beach. Then the King picked up Elros by his ankles, spun him around a few times, and let him go flying headlong into the ocean. Elrond laughed almost as hard as Elros did.
Erestor looked up from his book. "Mercy, Elrond, undress and go join them. You needn't sit here watching me do ledgers all day. Go have fun."
"But..." Elrond said, though he could not think of a but. As much as he liked the thought of maybe being mistaken for a prince if Erestor were mistaken for the King, he liked the thought of being thrown into the ocean more. He wiggled out of the borrowed tunic and ran down to the wet part of the beach where the waves licked the sand. The King picked him up by his ankles, just as he had done with Elros, and whirled him through the air until he flew out across the waves and landed with a splash. Choking and spitting water, he stood up, a wide grin on his face. And he ran back to shore to be thrown again.
After a while the King called for Erestor to put down his work and come swimming. Erestor refused at first, but was eventually lured away from his ledger by two pair of small, clinging hands. He left his fancy clothes under the canopy and waded out into the ocean. For someone who liked staying indoors, he was a good swimmer. He could disappear under the surface for longer than anyone, and reappear far away down the beach. A few times he crept up on Elros or Elrond under the dark water and ducked them.
Elrond was the first to get cold in the winter ocean. So Erestor walked him back up to the canopy, dried him off, and set him down in the sun, wrapped in a bundle of blankets. He shivered happily to watch Elros and the King still playing in the waves. They were having a seaweed fight. Elros managed to get some in the King's mouth.
When he felt warm again, he went back to get dressed and stand beside Erestor again. Erestor was working. He made pen marks in his ledger book, a frown of concentration on his face.
"What are you doing?" Elrond asked.
"Figuring," said Erestor. "I'm in charge of recording who has paid taxes to the King, and how much."
"How much did they pay?"
Erestor smiled. "Well, that's what I'm trying to figure."
Elrond looked down over Erestor's shoulder at all the marks in the book. "Does everyone on the whole island have to pay taxes to the King?"
"Nooooo..." Erestor said slowly. "Many of them refuse to follow the rule of a king of the Golodhrim. Especially those from Doriath. They pay their taxes to Círdan instead." Then he muttered under his breath, "Though it's not as if it doesn't all go to exactly the same place in the end..."
"Do I have to pay taxes to the King?" asked Elrond.
"When you're fifty you will," Erestor answered with a silly smile.
Elrond looked down at the book again. It seemed overly complicated and boring. "Why do you have to do this?" he asked.
This was clearly the wrong question, because Erestor set his pen down with disgust and a dark look crossed his face. "Because," he said bitterly, "the King's old accountant decided to leave the profession and become a turnip farmer. And since I was the old accountant's assistant, I was promoted."
"A turnip farmer," said Elrond. He was not sure whether he should laugh at the situation or feel sorry for Erestor. Somewhere deep down, he was half convinced that Erestor was pulling his leg. Turnips were horrible vegetables. Nobody would ever want to farm them, and especially not somebody in a position as glamorous as accountant to the King.
"Yes. Well, and other vegetables too. But he likes turnips best."
Now Elrond knew Erestor was pulling his leg. Nobody would ever like Turnips best. It seemed to him that a hint of a smirk pulled at Erestor's lip.
After three days of pestering, Erestor finally agreed to take Elrond to see the infamous Turnip Farmer. His hesitance only served to convince Elrond that he had indeed been telling a tall tale.
The Turnip Farmer, according to Erestor, lived south of the main settlement in the hilly middle part of the island. It was a long walk to his farm. Elrond asked how he could haul his turnips to the market over such a long distance, and Erestor said he tied a sledge to a donkey. Elrond was slow to believe that, too. But over the next hill, they saw a little house with a wisp of smoke at its chimney. And there was a donkey, swishing its tail at flies as it stood in a fenced pasture. There was also a goat tied to a post by a long tether. It ate grass in a wide arc around the front of the house. Elrond curiously looked for pigs, but there were none. A real farm, in his mind, needed pigs. There were always pigs in stories about farms and play sets of wooden farm animals.
The air outside the house smelled of animals and soggy grass, but when Elrond passed the window, the scent of something wonderful cooking inside made his stomach growl with hunger. He hoped it was dinner time soon, and that he and Erestor would be invited in to eat. Whatever the food was, it smelled even better than the dinner he got from the King's kitchen every day.
Erestor must have read Elrond's thoughts, because he said, "We're just in time for dinner. And my friend is a very good cook." He paused a moment to inhale the food smell, then knocked on the door.
A strange man opened it. A man with dark skin the colour of tea with cream, and rich golden hair unfortunately cut off at his chin in an ugly, short style. He wore a funny button-up outfit with tight sleeves, made from the kind of brightly patterned fabric Sindarin girls used to make aprons. It was ripped at one elbow and part of the ruffle around the hem was coming off. In one hand the man held a long spoon, and in the other was a jar of brown powder. He nodded wordlessly to Erestor to invite them in before returning to his cooking fire.
"Lovely day, isn't it?" Erestor said as he stepped inside. Elrond followed close behind. "I've brought our young master Elrond to see you. He's very interested in seeing the workings of a turnip farm." Erestor spoke to the Turnip Farmer in North Sindarin as he led Elrond to sit at the table in the corner of the room.
The Turnip Farmer turned to look over his shoulder at Elrond. He looked only briefly.
"Elrond," said Erestor, "this is my friend Glorfindel. He used to be the King's accountant, but now he is a turnip farmer."
"Rutabagas," said Glorfindel.
Erestor blinked at him. "...What?"
"That's what I grow. Rutabagas. Not turnips." Glorfindel spoke back to Erestor in North Sindarin, which made Elrond guess he came from the North too, though he looked very different from Erestor and Maglor and the King.
He crossed over to the table carrying a vegetable that looked like a turnip. "This," he said, "is a rutabaga. It is yellow with a purple top. See?" He held up the rutabaga for Elrond to inspect. It was indeed yellow with a purple top. "Turnips on the other hand," Glorfindel continued, "are white with a purple top. They are smaller and don't taste as good. So I choose to grow rutabagas. Not turnips." He looked pointedly at Erestor. Erestor frowned and rolled his eyes. Glorfindel pulled the rutabaga away just as Elrond was about to touch it, and he went back to the stove.
Erestor was silent for a good long while. While he was being silent and looking foolish, Glorfindel filled three bowls with a thick golden stew. Elrond eyed his bowl warily. He knew the stew was made from rutabagas, which in his mind were even more suspicious than turnips, but it smelled too good to resist. He licked his spoon with the tip of his tongue. The stew tasted nutty and spicy and savoury all at once with a harmony of wonderful flavours. He finished the bowl quickly, and took more when it was offered. Erestor had been right. The Farmer was a very good cook.
Elrond wanted to see more of the farm once dinner was finished, but Erestor said it was time to go. Glorfindel invited him to return any time. Elrond said he would, but Erestor said, "We'll see." Erestor was still scowling over the rutabagas. Elrond hoped they would come back. He knew Elros would like visiting a farm, pigs or no.
As they walked back toward the city, Elrond said, "I like your friend. He's nice."
"He can be sometimes," said Erestor.
Glorfindel looked familiar to Elrond, and acted like someone he had known for a long time. Almost like family. His hair was peculiar and short, but his face looked like someone Elrond knew. "Erestor," Elrond said. "I think... I think he's the one in my memory. The man with golden hair."
"You must convince him to come back to the city, Erestor," Ereinion said. "As a friend of Eärendil and Elwing, he is someone who can claim guardianship of the boys. And Elrond has a memory of him from early childhood. That will make things easier."
Erestor frowned back at him. "And then, once the children have a new guardian, you'll send Maedhros and Maglor back to the mainland to be killed by the hordes of Morgoth. Won't you?"
"Won't you?!" Erestor stood up violently, knocking his chair back. He paced alongside the table. "No, I won't facilitate that."
Círdan cleared his throat, but did not lift his gaze from the floor. "They're not wanted here, Erestor, and that means they're in danger. The people have made it very clear how they feel about any sons of Fëanor living on the island. There are daily threats."
"Then protect them!" Erestor shouted. "You always said you'd offer a safe haven to anyone who needs it! And they need it now! How could you think of turning them back?"
"I have limits," Círdan answered quietly. "I can't offer protection at the expense of another's safety."
"I don't know," said Círdan. "But I have a feeling, a very strong feeling, that we will be in danger as long as Maedhros is on this island."
"They're cursed," Ereinion added. "The curse will follow them wherever they go. That means we're cursed while they're here."
"You may think that if you want," said Erestor. "I don't."
Ereinion threw up his hands, exasperated. "How can you not? After all they've done-"
"They were only doing what they thought was right. They swore an oath. They must follow it."
"At Alqualondë and Doriath and Avernien?"
"They must follow it," Erestor repeated flatly. "An oath can't be broken. No matter what happens."
"You thinking like them," said Ereinion.
Erestor scowled. "What makes you say I think like them? Maybe I do, maybe I don't. Maybe I think like me. Maybe I think I'm tired of being constantly badgered by you, and that I don't want any part in this scheme of yours to give Elros and Elrond to Glorfindel so you can be rid of Maedhros and Maglor. Maybe I think the boys are better off as they are."
Ereinion and Círdan watched as Erestor turned and left the room. Círdan sighed, and Ereinion rubbed at his forehead.
"Then... do you want to talk to Glorfindel?" Círdan asked.
Ereinion scoffed. "No. You know what he thinks of me."
"Do you want to talk to Maedhros?"
"Not at all."
"You want to do nothing and hope a different solution eventually arises?"
Ereinion weighed the options in his mind. "That sounds about right," he said.
But Erestor did go back to speak to Glorfindel the next day. He brought with him Elrond and Elros, and a musty old encyclopaedia of plants.
"Rutabaga," he read from page two-hundred-twenty-six. "A bulbous root vegetable of the *turnip* family, originally cultivated in the northern part Valinor and extensively in Formenos. Distinguished by its golden-yellow flesh and purple skin near the leaf base, rutabagas were originally brought to Endor by Noldorin exiles. More under: Fëanorian turnip." He closed the book with a significant clap.
Glorfindel, who was wearing his peculiar button-up outfit again, only raised an eyebrow. "Erestor, nobody calls them Fëanorian turnips any more. That name went out of style before I was even born."
"But the important thing is that they are still turnips," said Erestor. With a triumphant grin, he tucked his plant book under his arm and marched out the front door, leaving Elrond and Elros sitting uncertainly at the kitchen table.
"Do we have to go?" asked Elros.
"No no," said Glorfindel. "You just got here. Stay sitting, and pour you some milk."
"But Erestor-" Elrond began.
"Erestor suffers from an unfortunate condition known as merenyalië quentalo."
Elros and Elrond blinked.
"What that means," Glorfindel continued, "is that he is an idiot. Especially when it comes to anything Fëanorian."
"He likes Fëanor?" asked Elros.
Glorfindel nodded solemnly. "Very much. In fact, I think he wants to marry him."
At this, Elros laughed so hard he started to choke. But Elrond could only smile a weak kind of smile. He stretched his neck to look out the door at Erestor, who was sitting on the grass near the goat. What was so wrong with loving the family of Fëanor anyhow? That was Maedhros and Maglor. They were Elrond's family, and he loved them. So did Elros.
Glorfindel spoke again. "He came from a camp of exiles in North Mithrim. He's always been a supporter of the sons of Fëanor."
"So?" Elrond said suddenly. He surprised even himself with the harsh sound in his voice. "What's wrong with that? I mean, he can be friends with our uncles if he wants, right? Just because they're not from here everyone treats them like enemies. But they never did anything. Why shouldn't Erestor visit them if he wants?"
Glorfindel opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it silently. He paused long enough to rub at a smudge of dirt on his arm. "It's not my place to tell you, Elrond," he said quietly, but with a bitterness. "There is a reason why your uncles are kept locked up like criminals. One day you'll learn the truth about them, and about your parents. Though for your sake, I hope that's not for a long time yet."
Elros stopped even his silent giggling. "What about our parents?" he asked.
"Nothing," said Glorfindel. He strained to make his voice sound too bright and happy. "Forget I said anything. It's not important. What's important now is making you some dinner." He stood up and went to the stove, and said no more about Maedhros and Maglor.
Elrond walked home that afternoon with Glorfindel's words ringing over and over through his head. He knew they would haunt him for some time. A sickly twinge was worming around in the bottom of his stomach: a twinge that told him something terrible loomed in the future. Something about Maedhros.
He held tighter onto Erestor's hand, and walked a bit more slowly back to the city.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.