I stand stricken, staring at the elf seated in front of me.
Matted hair, grimy skin, and thin. So very, very thin. His eyes are blank with tears and his madness is as palpable as the stench of the rags he is wearing. His eyes are fey, filled with fire and shadows.
But naught of this matters to me.
In my eyes he is radiant like the morning sun, fell and fair as the Host of the West, stirring my heart as a gale.
It seems like an Age has passed before I find my voice and take a furtive step towards him, afraid he'll turn to smoke and I be left alone.
His voice is harsh, unused, and it startles me so that I do as he bid. He gets up only to kneel in front of me.
I am shocked by this but even more so when I realise what he is doing.
He is picking up the shards of the broken basin - all forgotten - at my feet casting a furtive glance at me.
He breaks the gaze and fumbles with the pieces on the floor. "You must be careful, little one," he says in his broken, unused voice. "You could hurt yourself".
I sink to my knees and takes his hands in mine, needing to touch him, needing to know him to be real, to be there.
I can feel the shock of the young one, still standing behind me but I cannot tear my gaze from my foster-father whom I had given up for dead. I ask the young Teler to fetch food and drink all the while trying to catch Maglor's fleeting gaze. In the end I let go of his hands to cradle his face and then he looks at me and ... and I cannot speak.
This is not my people's sadness; this is not Sealonging or a fading heart. This is pain. Pain and madness and a sorrow so deep my own seems a shallow pool besides.
He puts a shaking hand to the side of my face and whispers "This I did not ruin" and then he smiles at me. And in at moment it seems as if the world is right and Elros will come running any minute to demand a story - a proper one - with swords and acts of daring and not just pretty words and poetry. My brother always had a distinct lack of patience with wordy passages unless they described armour or battle.
But time is a river and the elf before me is a broken creature, mad and starved and trembling. My brother is dead, my wife is gone, my daughter is gone, my little human charge is gone, and my people are fading.
Then the hand on my face moves, drying tears I did not realize were falling, and when Maglor's eyes lock with mine I see that he is still there, somewhat. Not all reduced to smoke and mad twisting shadows.
"I would not leave you alone tonight, little one."
He smiles again, sweetly, madly, stroking my hair and face.
"You never liked to be alone at night but now your brother has wed you must get used to it. Still, we needn't start right away."
There is almost laughter in his voice, his broken, hoarse voice and I begin to say, that no, it is not Elros he has seen, it is Elessar, but then I realize that he knows.
There is meaning to his madness and if that is all the meaning he has left I cannot tear it from him. So I smile through tears and when he pushes me down I go willingly, laying my head in his lap, feeling his thin fingers move through my hair.
The young Teleri brings a tray and leaves but Maglor doesn't notice. He hums to himself stroking my hair and I do not try for long to tell myself that I comply to make him happy. It is as much for my own selfish need I let him do so.
I weep as a child, mourning my losses as I have seldom let myself do, and he sings to me, snippets of nursery songs and old epic poems jumbled together.
In the end my tears dry up and I gently push away from him so I can sit facing him.
"Why have you come?" I ask.
"To bid you farewell," he says.
"Why must all leave me?" I ask, ashamed that I sound like a small child but not being able to hold back the words.
"I would not cause you pain, child, but I cannot stay. The Dead has grown so quiet. For a long while I waited but I dared not go near you for I have failed greatly and done much that was wrong. I feared to taint you; ruin you yet.
But I loved you; I loved you and your brother as if you were my own and that I did right. I thought my heart was ashes but seeing you…" here he paused to lay a hand on my chest "seeing you has reminded me of the gentleness of flame and I shall go into the dark knowing that there was warmth also in my life and not just lifeless lustre".
I bow my head and whisper: "You meant much to me".
Then I get up and fetch the now tepid water, a cloth, and clothes for the one who was as a father to me. He lets me tend to him, humming softly all the while. His skin is cold to the touch and I am reminded of my silver queen when she lay in silence in our chambers. And I fight to keep fresh tears from falling.
He turns still under my hands and I see how his gaze grows clearer till his eyes are once again like stars, clear and bright. His spirit is quiet now as the spirit of Mortals is quiet when they are old and worn and ready to leave the Circles of the World behind them. And I realize that even if I could make him stay I would not. Not anymore than I would have kept my wife with me against her will, kept my brother at my side when he wished to set sail, or kept my daughter and my Mortal Son apart, when all their happiness now lay with each other. Instead I try to impress every moment of this our time together upon my very soul. I loved him truly as a child and so I wish more for his happiness than my own. Even if it brings me sorrow. And the stilling of his tremors and slow growing softness of his voice do much to soothe my weary heart.
When the sun has set the King of Gondor and Arnor comes to the chamber, most likely fearing that I have left in my sorrow without bidding farewell. He stops bewildered just inside the door, looking in confusion at Maglor sitting amidst the pillows on the floor, one hand stroking my calf as I sit behind him, brushing his hair gently. He catches my eye and I nod and he enters the room and sits down next to us, folding his long legs underneath him.
So there we sit for a while, fathers and sons though not. And I feel the pain in my heart lessen as Elessar leans forward and says, “My name is Estel, grandfather,” gently and low when Maglor asks him. And he sends for Arwen and my sons and they come too. Maglor seems lucid and content, and I look around in the soft light of the candles and see that I too have done right for there is much love in the eyes of those around me. It does not take away the pain inside my heart but it grows steadily duller till it is an ache more than a gaping wound.
And so it was that the last Son of Feanor returned to his people to give up his spirit on the eve of the night of the Coronation and marriage of the King and Queen of Gondor.
Few where the hours he spent with his foster-son and none knew of what they spoke. But the servants later told that the song of Maglor was more beautiful than the starlit skies and bitter as brine.
When the night fell, a hush fell on the room and all therein knew that the time had come. Elrond knelt at the bed and Maglor looked long at him.
"It is silent" he said and looked towards the stars. And then he said no more.
All bowed their heads and Elrond sang a lament, wordless and ancient before they wrapped Maglor in linen, dark with the mark of his House upon it.
Elessar offered to lay Maglor in a splendid grave in the White City but Elrond Peredhil brought the corpse with him when he left with his Sons and their entourage for the deep valley.
And so the last Son of the House of Feanor was laid to rest in Imladris, in an unmarked grave.
The Sons of Elrond oft went to sit there after their father had left. It was a good place to remember, they said. A good place to sing of sorrow and loss. A good place to sing of love.
And so they did till they too were gone and Rivendell itself faded and all there was left was an unmarked grave beneath the dome of the heavens watched by the silent stars.
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.