5. Epilogue: A Mistake
Disclaimer: Tolkien´s characters, but my family ties. And the Avari are mine, too (love Avari).
Epilogue: A Mistake.
The red eyes.
Looking at him again. Studying, judging, staring inquisitively at his fëa, until only Melian´s gentle squeeze on the hand could prevent his royal countenance from breaking down and showing that unexpected weakness to the others. Intent on trapping him once more.
Or were they just innocently curious?
The young Avarin nís turned her head to whisper some quick words in the boy´s ears, and he lowered his gaze at last, bowing before his King as the rest of his family had already done.
Maybe the memories were too strong.
"How is he named?" Thingol asked in a steady voice. It was obvious that the family of Avarin elves that were there before him was not at all used to light and civilisation, and that their fascinated fear of his queen and himself was of a superstitious nature, but the little boy of the red eyes did not seem to take part in their wonder. If all, he looked like he disliked being there, as if he was aware that he only could be out of place in Menegroth.
"I called him Eöl, my King." the older nís, the mother, answered in the end." since the day I found him as a baby in the sacred forest."
The sacred forest. Oh, yes, Thingol thought, Nan Elmoth was a sacred forest for the Avari. They only ventured there for their secret rites, of which he did not know much, nor wanted to, for just the thought of the being they might be offering expiatory sacrifices sufficed to make him shiver. He had not forgotten, how could he?
And now, this.
"The King and the Queen want to speak with you privately, good nís, while your family rests of the toils of the journey." he announced. The lean, extravagant dressed Avarin mother looked nervous, but nodded quickly, and so, directing a last morbid glance to little Eöl, Thingol took Melian´s hand and left.
* * * * * * * *
It had been only a short while after the building of the city was finished when rumours had first reached the King´s ears about the strange red- eyed child found and kept by a family of Avari near Nan Elmoth. Extremely disturbed by the possibilities that dawned upon him then, confirmed by Melian, he had resisted to meet him for a long time, but had ended by yielding to the inevitable and at the quiet insistence of his wife.
What had been the reason of his shock? the King wondered, while he sat alone at night at the majestic roots of Hírilorn. Perhaps he had never believed that this child could have anything to do with his dreadful adventure, until he saw him, his eyes glowing red, and all efforts to avoid the truth became vain. Perhaps his hopes of the whole thing being but a nightmare had been dashed that same day.
What a fool he was. Shutting his eyes against unpleasant things, as young children did, he, the King of all Beleriand!
After dismissing the family, he had been talking with Amara, the foster- mother of Eöl, and she had explained him everything in a way that even the things that did not appear clear to his mind before fitted now perfectly in the story of his great error. The baby had been found a very long time ago, but he seemed still a child because he grew at a slower pace than the other Elves. In fact, he was much older than the daughter of the family, who was already a young adult in mind and hröa.
Of course, Thingol thought then, as old as his own wedding with Melian the Maia.
A thing that shocked him too was that Amara, while she spoke, kept assuring him repeatedly that her adopted son was inoffensive and as good as any other, so many times that he could not help but question her about it. Could it be that anybody had tried to harm him before? She confessed it had been so. Uneasily standing the King´s stares, she told him how she and her husband had been banished from their tribe for having refused to kill the baby. They had preferred to leave, seeking refuge with the Dwarves, than to perform the deed and fall to the wrath of the evil Queen of the Dark Forest, to which the baby was evidently connected in some mysterious way. And afterwards, she added quickly, they discovered that there was no malice in his little mind, and then they began to love him as if he were their own son.
"You will not harm him, my King, will you?" she pleaded, concern all over her face. "He is not a..."
"I know, I know." he reassured her. "I give you my word that nobody will touch him wherever people respect my power."
Yes, that he had said, before dismissing her to avoid all the motherly comments about her little one´s renowned deeds in the forges of the Naugrim, mixed with many archaic and unheard of ways of thanking him for his benevolence. When he talked with Melian later, she said he had done right, and did that not imply that she too did not believe the boy to be dangerous?
She, of all others, should know.
And he just wanted to sleep.
Tired, and overcome by his thoughts, the King closed his eyes. As each time he did so, hoping to find some rest, he soon saw himself instead tearing a path between dark trees and their thick branches, and a phantasmagorial creature who pierced him with her grieving, desperate red stare.
"No, not you again!" he heard his own voice crying." You were defeated, leave me in peace!"
"Come with me, do not fight it, we will be as one forever."
Thingol awoke at once, at the very sound of the welcomed voice that had brought him back from his fiendish nightmare.
But only to find himself trapped in another.
"No! Go away!" he cried to the horrible red eyes. The child stepped back and, instinctively, Thingol began to realise his mistake.
"Nay, do not go." His voice was much calmer now, although he still felt attacked by the unsettling presence. So calm, so quiet, so curious...
He is a child, Thingol had to remind himself. Just a child.
"Wha do you want of the King, little one?"
Eöl, not at all abashed in the presence of royalty, did not waste his time.
"I am not your son."
"What?" A cry of dismay and wonder nearly escaped Thingol´s lips. He needed to gather all his composure to face the child again.
"And, pray, who said you were?"
"Nobody." Little Eöl frowned, so deep was his intent in denying everything remotely connected with the hateful fact. "Nobody said it, because I am not your son."
And I wish you were right, Thingol thought, but he nonetheless had to feel angry to keep his royal dignity intact.
"Then, respect your King and go with your nonsense to your family. Of course you are not my son. Do you see anything in common between Elu Thingol, leader of the host of the Teleri and King of Beleriand with a young insolent Moriquendi like you?"
His words were cold as ice, such as would make even grown- up adults to cringe. Even he did not know where had such bitter animosity came from, directed to no more than a tiny child, and wished ardently that Melian could be there to guide him in that very difficult moment of his life.
"Amara and Callon said I was their son, and I believed them." the childish voice rang in his ears again. Why, he was there still? Damned little brat!" But then, the Dwarves said I was their son because I was good at the forge and did not grow up, and the day I got lost in the forest the funny lady that talked to me said she was my mother. Now, you think I am your son, too..."
"Listen, you are not.."
"I am not!" Eöl repeated furiously, while a dangerous spark twinkled in his eyes. "Indeed not! I believe my parents, they are my true parents! And nobody will ever take me away from them."
Thingol stood still, looking at him in silence for a moment that seemed endless. He could feel his rage dying down, inexplicably, and, with an odd mixture of relief and pity swelling his heart, he searched for the boy´s eyes to discover the brilliance of unshed tears.
"Yes, they are, little one." he said, as he caressed the cheeks of the Avarin child." You will go home with them tomorrow."
* * * * * * * *
He had honestly thought then that he was doing the right thing. In fact, never had he been more sure of himself that the day he bade his son farewell and saw gratitude in the unforgettable red gaze.
What could have been his mistake?
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.