Today there would be many guests and important matters discussed. It was best to start the day well – with a good, hearty breakfast.
* * *
Maglor was relatively sure that he was now immune to any strangeness of the world of Men. Nothing would impress him as much as the flying metal birds called 'airplanes' – not even the moving stairs, or the boxes that carried people straight up and down on metal-twined ropes. Ropes!
The things the Secondborn invented! But Maglor had worn out his suspicion, and instead found himself fascinated. Not even the Noldor had imagined these things, not in their wildest thoughts! He could do naught but shake his head and watch in amazement.
So it was that he was almost relieved to see the hand-carved door of Elrond's home. He touched the patterns there lightly. "My nephew?" he asked softly of Artanis. "Is this the work of Celebrimbor?"
"It is," replied the Lady, a shadow passing over her face. "He lives on even now, in the countryside of France – it is across one of the seven seas of this world," she continued before Maglor could ask. She slipped one hand to cover the other, and then Celeborn's hand slid between them, taking her covered hand in his. Maglor looked away.
And as he did so, the door was opened by an Elf Maglor did not know. The Elf bid them come inside, and as Maglor stepped clear of the door and made room for Artanis and Celeborn, he looked up to see Elrond Peredhil, son of Eärendil the Mariner.
If time stretched or passed, Maglor did not know it, as he gazed upon a face he had known best when it was much younger. His arms were crossed before him; he wore a sweater and slacks in the style of many Men in this age, and his hair was grown out long in the style of the Elves. His features were grim and silent. But there could be no doubt; this was the younger half of the twins born to Elwing and Eärendil, even though the half-Elf's eyes held even more grief and pain than they once had.
Never had Maglor imagined such a meeting, and all the words he had thought to say fled him. He could only watch in silence as his guilt rose up to choke him, cutting off his air and voice.
"Lady Galadriel, Lord Celeborn," Elrond greeted the couple formally, before his gaze swung back to Maglor. "My Lord Maglor."
"My Lord Elrond," Maglor whispered. And there was a moment of silence.
* * *
He was so different.
Elrond did not know quite what to say when he gazed upon the Elf that haunted his earliest memories of Middle-Earth. Everything about him was different. Maglor wore a button-down shirt and black slacks that were too long in the leg, but beyond that, his very countenance was changed. It was as if his pride had been shattered; only grief and hunger haunted those dark eyes. One hand was a ruined, reddened mess – the hand that had held the coveted Silmaril, no doubt. Elrond shook his head ever so slightly and closed his eyes briefly, before again focusing on Maglor.
He drew a deep breath and let his hands fall to his sides from where they were crossed in front of him. "There is much I would say to you, but not while we stand here in the foyer. Please, Airelond, take their coats." He smiled diplomatically. "You are just in time for breakfast. Please, join us." He led the way to the dining room.
* * *
Celebrían cheerfully greeted her parents as they entered the dining room, hugging them both, and Legolas, Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel, and Olórin greeted them as befitted their respective stations. There was a bit of hesitation, however, when Maglor followed them in. He stared at them all before inclining his head slightly and politely, and stepping back, just behind Celeborn's shoulder. There was silence.
It was Olórin who broke the uncomfortable moment. "Come now, come now. We mustn't let this breakfast go to waste," he chuckled, taking his seat. "There will be time for serious talk after the meal." He took a bun from a bowl and broke it open, releasing a bit of steam. "How delicious!"
And although the tension did not relax entirely, it was reduced; there were chuckles and laughter, and everyone chose their places at the table.
"Where is Allen?" Legolas wanted to know.
"He sleeps still," Elrond answered smoothly. "I thought it would be best if he had some time to himself, regardless, and so I ask that you give him room once he wakes."
At these words, Legolas nodded his agreement. "As always, your course is wise," he replied.
"How are you, Mother, Father?" Celebrían asked, encouraging small talk with grace. "Try the sausage, and tell me what you think, Father. I was attempting your recipe."
While Celebrían discussed breakfast and business with her parents, Elladan and Elrohir asked after Glorfindel's travels for the last year. But Olórin, sitting directly across from Maglor, watched the ancient Elf with even more ancient eyes as he ate and stole glances at Elrond and his sons, as if taken aback at the thought that the son of Eärendil had offspring.
"He had a daughter as well, you know, and she was said to be nearly as beautiful as Luthien herself," Olórin said at length. "But she chose the path of Men, so that she could live out her life at the side of the man she loved – Aragorn son of Arathorn, the descendant of Elrond's brother Elros."
Maglor looked up sharply at Olórin. "How do you know what I think of?" he asked, before his eyes widened. "Nay; I withdraw the question." He shook his head slightly. "You are Olórin, one of the great Maiar! Long has it been since I have seen you. It was in the Undying Lands, before all went amiss and Morgoth attacked us! Why do you walk on Ea – how did you escape the fate of the Valar?"
"That, Maglor, is a question that not even I can answer," Olórin replied, the slightest bit of bemusement in his tone. "It is a miracle, not unlike your own survival over the ages." He took a bite of his eggs. "These are delicious. Celebrían truly takes after her father over the hearth."
"She is the child of Artanis, no doubt, with that gaze, but I can hardly imagine Lord Celeborn cooking," Maglor muttered softly, stealing a glance at the Elven lord. He turned his eyes back to Olórin. "When did he learn that?"
"Perhaps, Lord Maglor, when he was fleeing Doriath after you and your brothers sacked it," Olórin said seriously, and Maglor flinched. The Istar softened slightly. "Forgive me, that was cruel."
"It is nothing less than I deserve," Maglor replied stiffly, putting down his fork. His plate was still half-full. "Indeed I left my mark upon this world, and it is one of misery. May Ilúvatar forgive me." He glanced again at Elrond. "Ai, Wise One, I do not know how to speak to him! What wrong I have done him, and all for a jewel, which I still covet in my heart of hearts. What can I hope to say to him?"
"Speak the truth to him," Olórin advised gently. "Certainly he deserves no less."
* * *
As breakfast was ending, Elrond went to Maglor and drew him aside, to a more private room. He beckoned the older Elf to a seat, and then sat himself. And for several minutes there was an uncomfortable silence.
Again and again Elrond searched himself for a way to speak to Maglor. He did not want to be merely diplomatic; there was no time for distance or coolness. The Enemy would move quickly the moment he had a chance. They had to present a united front; he had to resolve the matter of their tangled past quickly. And yet, it was much easier said than done, as the saying went; Elrond found himself locked between resentment, anger, and gratitude when he thought of Maglor, and how the Fëanorion had been party to the destruction of his hometown and the desertion of his mother, and yet had cared for him and his brother in the end.
So he was surprised when Maglor spoke first. His voice was stiff with pride and perhaps fear as he said, "Forgive me, Elrond, the wrongs I have done you and your family. I cannot take them back, but nonetheless I ask … please forgive me."
Elrond felt his heart soften slightly at the words; he could not hold a grudge quite as deeply as his father-in-law. "That grief has still not left me in full," he replied. "Ever and anon I will live with that memory. But while I cannot forget that, I shall forgive you as best as I can hope to." He met Maglor's gaze and held his eyes. "There was little that I understood when you took us, my brother and I, and I hated you then. But I too must ask that you forgive that hatred, Lord Maglor, and I thank you for saving our young lives."
Maglor's jaw clenched slightly, and he looked away after a moment. "Certainly, it was the least I could do after I ripped your home from you," he replied bitterly. "Curse the Silmarils!" And then, as if he had cursed Ilúvatar Himself, Maglor covered his mouth and closed his eyes. "Nay … I did not mean that." He drew a ragged breath. "Ah, Elrond, do not call me 'Lord'." With that he stood, bowed in the Elven way, and left the room.
Elrond closed his eyes.
* * *
Allen awoke to the delicious scent of cinnamon rolls.
It took him a few moments to remember where he was. The night before seemed like a dream now; the sunlight streamed in the large windows of the room cheerily and reflected off the many buildings of New York City as if they were giant prisms. He yawned, rubbed his eyes, and stretched, before sitting up and checking his watch, which he had left on the nightstand. It was 8:43. Almost six hours of sleep, he calculated, and all of them restful. Which was surprising; his sleep on the plane had been fitful, memories of nearly being killed haunting him. It was as if the penthouse was a safe haven – almost as though something was protecting his dreams. He chuckled softly at the thought; it wouldn't have been out of the range of the other bizarre happenings in the last 24 hours.
He rubbed his eyes again and looked at the end of the bed, where he clothes from the day before sat. He wished he had a change of clothes briefly, reaching over to pick them up – he would ask about a shower later – and realized that they had been washed. He blinked, rubbing the material under his thumb. Who would have …? He made a mental note to ask about that as well and pulled the shirt and pants on over the undershirt and boxers he had worn to bed.
So it was that Allen was caught unawares when the door to his room opened, and in trotted Huan, back to his usual dignified self now that he was back with his owner and there was nothing threatening about. He licked Allen's hand and sat at his feet, while an Elven woman with silver hair – so help him, her hair was actually silver! – followed the dog in, carrying a tray. "Good morning, Mr. Evanston," she said, her smile soft and motherly. "How do you fare this lovely day?"
"Uh, fine," Allen answered, a little nonplussed. "How about you, Miss …?"
Her smile widened slightly. "Please call me Celebrían," she said. "I am Elrond's wife, and the keeper of his home. And I am well." She put down the tray on the nightstand; it was laden with coffee, two cinnamon rolls, and two sausages. "I thought perhaps I would bring up breakfast so that I could meet you, Mr. Evanston." She laughed gently, and Allen couldn't help thinking it was one of the loveliest sounds he had ever heard. "My husband says you are the spitting image of your forebear Aragorn Elessar. Alas, I do not know; I had long departed to the Undying Lands when he was born."
Allen's mind whirled for a moment with the tales Elrond had told him the night before, and he reached for the coffee to take a sip. It was already prepared with two scoops of sugar, just the way he liked it. "Ah, well, I don't know about that, Miss Celebrían," he replied after a moment. "And please, call me Allen." He paused. "Is Aragorn Elessar the same person as Elessar Telcontar? And the Elf-Stone? I have heard this ancestor of mine called by so many names I can hardly keep them straight," he laughed a little, as if it would help stave off his confusion.
Celebrían's smile was almost pitying. "I have no doubt you have heard many times that this must be hard for you," she said gently, "And so it must be. Yes, Aragorn son of Arathorn was known by many names, and those are but a few of them! And you shall hear many tales of him in good time, I am sure." She stood, then, and smoothed the simple, elegant blue dress she wore down her thighs. "There will be more guests arriving, and they too will be Elves, and today we will hold a counsel about the threat that hangs over us now – the threat that came to your home yesterday." Her gaze, so gentle and warm before, became sharper. "You must be there."
Allen stood as well, intending to escort her to the door; Huan jumped to his feet, wagging his tail slowly, and gazed up at Allen resolutely, as if promising his master that he would do whatever Allen wanted him to. "I don't really understand why I have to be there," Allen confessed. "I have nothing to contribute."
"You can tell us what you saw at your home," Celebrían answered, "And you can listen, and try to understand. I have no great gift of foresight, but when I look upon you, I know that you are meant for great things." She reached out to him and touched his cheek. "Enjoy your breakfast, Allen, and join us when you are ready." And with that, she departed the room like a whisper, her gait as soft and smooth as Legolas'.
Allen looked down at Huan, who continued to gaze up at him faithfully. "Well," he breathed, sitting on the bed again and sipping his coffee, "I suppose I should listen to the lovely lady, right?"
Huan whined his agreement.
* * *
"Who took Elessar's heir?" Sabaoth growled.
The nondescript man in front of him turned his head away, but did not otherwise react. Sabaoth cursed under his breath. Ah, for the days when subjects were Orcs and there was actually some fun in scaring them. These shadows of Men reacted to nothing. "An Elf, my lord," he replied in exactly the same tone. "Elessar's heir is with the Elves."
"Curse them," Sabaoth growled. "You think then he is with 'Errol Payton'?" He sneered the false name out. It was almost as if the bastard half-Elf was mocking him with a name like that. "We cannot take his home!"
But there was probably time. The Elves were so reduced in potency it was actually hilarious, when Sabaoth considered it – they were even worse-off than they had been at the end of the Third Age. And Men would never believe in the threat of some 'Shadow' looming over the earth – no Man still believed in such things. Not even Elessar's heir would be able to convince them quickly enough.
"Keep a surveillance on the half-Elf's home," he ordered. "If Elessar's heir steps away unaided for even a second, snatch him. Kill him if necessary. We'll attack as soon as we can."
And as for me … it is possible to start wars without speaking to the masses.
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.