Since the wanderer's arrival, Sílaniel had watched over her, gently bullying her to eat a little, soothing her with soft whispered words. It reminded me of how she used to soothe our own daughter after childhood nightmares, almost an eternity ago. The young woman accepted my wife's ministrations quietly, saying little, though her eyes seemed grateful. Yet those eyes--my brother's eyes--remained laden with unseen horrors.
She was my kinswoman--I knew this with certainty now. She was my brother's flesh and blood. What terrible things had she suffered? What had they done to her?
She came from Middle-earth, where fell shadowy shapes prowled the forests and the hills. There had the Enemy fled; there he had built his fortresses and pits, there he had bred his monsters, his demons of dread. There had the Noldor followed in pursuit, in wrath and unbending pride, stained with the blood of our people, cursed. My five grandchildren were among them.
Oh star-lit Middle-earth, home of my youth.
She came to us, and I could no longer suppress my fears.
I looked up, and found myself once more in front of Elwing?s room. Sílaniel stood just outside the closed door, talking in urgent whispers with one of the maidens.
"How is she?"
My wife turned to me. "She is silent and still," she replied slowly, choosing her words with thought, "yet without rest, though she is weary to the end of her strength. For she is alone in a dark place, inside her own mind."
Her face was full of concern, her blue eyes compassionate. I met her gaze. In one brief span of time, many thoughts were exchanged between us, wordlessly and in quick succession, and Sílaniel smiled a little.
"Perhaps it will do her good," she said softly. "But do not press her."
I nodded, and knocked lightly on the door.
The lamps were unlit, and the room was filled with the delicate glow of the moon. The young woman was sitting by the open window, arms folded tightly about her chest. Maybe it was only a trick of the light, but she looked even paler and more frail than during the day. She looked as if she would shatter at a touch.
"Elwing?" I asked tentatively, unsure whether she would hear me.
She started slightly, looking up with those dark fearful eyes of hers. I was already beginning to regret having come into the room. How was this going to help her? Yet then she spoke, and I was again surprised by her voice, which was mostly steady.
"My lord? I wish to thank you, for your kindness. And--they told me that you are the brother of King Elwë Singollo, who was my father's grandfather--is it true?"
I crossed the room, going next to her, but not too close. "Yes," I answered, "I am his brother. You and I are kin to each other."
Elwing turned a little, her eyes still fixed upon me. Moonbeams from the window fell on her hair and face, making her fairly glisten with light. I wanted to ask her about my brother, about Middle-earth, about our people. About my grandchildren. I wanted to ask her what evil creatures had done this to her. But I could not. I was afraid to ask, and of course I already knew the answers far too well. Had my brother been living she would not have come to this.
"Nothing can harm you now; you are safe here with us," I managed finally, after a silent moment that seemed to last forever. "Perhaps we can speak later. Rest now."
"There is no rest for me..."
She sounded rueful and apologetic. "For as soon as I am not on my guard, they come."
Already on my way out of the room, I stopped.
"The sons of Fëanor," she whispered, though I did not ask.
In the blink of an eye, the room dissolved around me, and I was alone in space, with only her voice:
"They came at dawn--they came for the Jewel. My lord was far away, and we tried to defend the city...But they were like demons; they would not spare even Sirion. We had suffered so much, but they would not spare us even this last place, the last refuge...and we could not hold on...My sons, my sons, they were only little children...and there was blood everywhere, so much blood..."
I realized that my hands were clenched tightly. They felt icy cold.
Fëanor's sons. Finwë's sons. For so many years I thought I knew them. I thought they were our kin; I thought they were good. I thought I knew them so well, those dark-haired boys, my friend's children and grandchildren. But I did not know them. I never did know them at all.
They came by the light of the stars; they came demanding our ships. We tried to defend the quays, but madness was upon them, and they were fierce with the darkness of the world, and they slew without mercy. And the dead were everywhere...We must defend the ships, we must defend our people...There was so much blood, covering the walls and the pavements, running into the harbor, turning the waters red...
"My little sons, my sweet darlings, I could not protect them..."
I knelt on the dock holding my son in my arms. The storm of death all around me, the sound of swords clanging, shouts and screams, the sound of arrows flying. Somewhere behind me, something was burning. And my child was covered in blood, blood gushing from a gaping wound in his side. I put both hands down upon the wound. I tried to press hard against it. My hands were stained red instantly, but the blood kept on gushing out.
"It's getting so dark, father..."
His eyes were losing focus. No. My dear son, my dear child. Do not die. Please do not die.
"I must guard my boys--" Elwing's voice came faintly through the wails. "I must guard my babies--But they were coming, and I could not hold on anymore, for It was burning so much...I could not hold on anymore...Oh my darlings I am so sorry..."
Her breathing was ragged, and she was beginning to shiver. Going over to her, I knelt down and placed my hands on her shoulders, forcing myself to gaze into her face, calling her name softly. Something--was it the sea?--roared madly in my ears, and I could barely concentrate--
Oh roar and rage, troubled waters! Oh Ossë, friend and guide, master of storms, do you not hear the widows and the children sobbing, do you not see the harbor running red? Do you not weep, oh Uinen, Lady of the Seas? For your mariners lay floating dead upon your breast. They walk no more amid the breakers; they sing no more upon the shore. No more the white lamps bright as stars, no more the white sails flying, no more the laughter and the music, only fire, fire reflected over the waves...
"But the sea refused to take me..."
I found Elwing sitting before me again, in this room, glistening with the moon. She was very still now, and her eyes seemed to see me once more. There were no tears in them.
What could I say? What could I possibly say to her?
"Elwing, child," I fought to keep my voice steady. I was still kneeling in front of her, with my hands on her shoulders. "I know you have suffered terribly, far more than ever should be allowed in this world. Perhaps more than I can understand. But you are here now, and you are my brother's flesh and blood. Though you have lost your family, I want you to know that we are your family, too, and we will care for you, always. And I want you to know that if anyone ever tries to hurt you again, he will have kill me first. I want you to know that you will be as my own child to me. Always. I promise you this."
Was that a glimmer of Elwë's light in her eyes? Finally, she nodded slowly, wordlessly.
"Try to sleep now," I murmured, kissed her forehead, and went from the room.
Closing the door behind me, I made myself take a deep breath, leaning wearily against the wall. No, it was not happening now. It was another place, another sea raging, another haven lost. Another scene of murder, though the murderers were the same. And it was another time. It was not happening now. Now the waters were calm, rippling, gently glittering with silver, and the city lay at peace.
Out on the long balcony, I saw Sílaniel standing alone, beside the balustrade, her back to me, gazing out over the shimmering, tide-swollen sea. The pale gold of her hair shone brightly in the moonlight; the night wind nipped at the edge of her dress. She was thinking of our children and grandchildren.
All those children, sons and daughters and brothers, lost in one Night. Husbands and wives, fathers and mothers...
Without a word, I went up to my wife and put my arms around her. Sighing softly, Sílaniel leaned against my shoulder, her warmth comforting me. And so we stood there in silence, together, watching the waves, until the tide ebbed again, and the dawn came.
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.