2. Chapter 2
Maglor was still waiting when the sun rose the next morning.
Elros had quieted somewhat in the night, sucking on his brother's fingers. Elrond himself was also silent, a hostile glare substituting for the earlier stream of curses. All through the night the boys remained in their corner, huddled together behind Elrond's kitchen knife. If ever Maglor made a move, the knife would be in Elrond's hand. So Maglor sat, still as dawn broke, on the floor opposite the children.
"Are you hungry?" he asked at last.
"Go to Mandos," Elrond responded, tiredly.
"Can I bring you some food?" Maglor asked again.
The boy's hunger was apparent, as was his exhaustion, but he was unwilling to give Maglor the slightest consent. "Do as you will," he answered.
Maglor got up, slowly, so as not to startle the almost-sleeping baby, and ran downstairs to find food. He returned quickly with a loaf of bread and a banana, which he placed on the floor somewhat beyond Elrond's knife.
Elrond waited, not wanting to appear too eager or too grateful. After a time he took the banana, peeled it, and mashed it between his hands. Then with one finger he scooped out some of the pulp and gave it to his brother to suck.
The action was smooth, almost unconscious, as if Elrond had done this many times before. Maglor was astonished. He knew better than most what a Silmaril could do to a soul, but was this truly how Elwing's children had been nourished? He felt pity for the boys, and more for the woman who had flown away.
"You take good care of your brother," Maglor said.
Elrond nodded, tentatively. "I am going to be a teacher," he said, with the certainty only extreme youth can give.
"What kind of teacher?" Maglor asked, eager for the possibility of conversation.
"A Master," the boy responded.
From an adult such a statement would have been exceedingly prideful, but from this lonely, neglected child it seemed the bare truth of his life. Few indeed were those in these later days who bound themselves by Master's vows: to willingly teach anyone, of any race, who seeks their teaching, until the end of the age of the Firstborn in Middle Earth. Since the fall of Doriath the only Masters remaining on this side of the seas were Galadriel and Cirdan, and neither used the title openly. Maglor wondered how this doom had been laid, along with the care of an infant, on such a small child.
At that moment, though, all that mattered was the opening this gave Maglor. "Then you would teach me?" he asked.
Elrond nodded slowly, and fear replaced anger in his gaze. "What would you learn?"
"Teach me how to feed him," Maglor asked.
Elrond picked up his knife again, but instead of threatening with it he put it in his lap. "You are going to stay with us," he said, his voice expressionless.
"I want to care for you now that your mother and father are gone." Maglor desperately wanted this boy to approve of him, to forgive him, but he tried not to voice his longing. "May I?"
The boy looked down, abashed by his own helplessness. "Get a spoon and porridge from downstairs," he said.
It took a number of trips. First the spoon was too big, then too pointed, then the porridge was too dry. When everything was in order, Elrond slowly fed two spoonfuls to his brother. Then he turned to Maglor. "Now you try."
Maglor crawled hesitantly across the invisible boundary on the floor. He did not dare try to take Elros in his arms, but he held the spoon of porridge and brought it to the baby's lips. Elros took a mouthful, and immediately spit it in Maglor's face. Elrond's mouth twitched, but he did not laugh at Maglor's embarrassment. Maglor wiped his face on a sleeve and turned to Elrond. "Why aren't you killing me?" he asked. The knife was still in Elrond's lap and Maglor's own armor remained at the far side of the room.
"I can't take care of Elros by myself," Elrond said, his shame and contempt clearly audible. "And you wanted to learn from me."
"May I hold him?" Maglor asked.
Elrond bit his lower lip until blood came. Then, with visible pain, he released his brother into Maglor's arms.
Elros immediately began to cry, but quieted soon after as Maglor began to sing:
An si Tintalle Varda Oilosseo
Ve fanyar maryat Elentari ortane
Ar ilye tier undulave lumbule
Ar sindanoriello catia mornie
I falmalinnar imbe met, ar hisie
Untupa Calaciryo miri oiale
As the song went on, as the tears passed from Elros' face, they appeared in Elrond's eyes. He remembered his mother, always distant, now gone, and his father, on that day long ago when he had set sail across the sea. Despite all this Elf had done to him and his family, he knew they shared a longing, and a loss. He did not yet understand what loss Maglor had suffered, or for what he longed, but he could not help but respond to the pain they shared. As the song ended, he placed one small hand on Maglor's knee.
Is it possible, then, Maglor thought, that there is love left in this world for one such as I? He was grateful for the child's touch, and for the hope it implied.
"I still hate you," Elrond said, to make sure Maglor had not forgotten.
"Will you let me stay with you?" Maglor asked again.
"Until Mother comes back," Elrond said.
Until Elwing comes back, Maglor thought, Until the stars become dim, and the light of the trees is forever lost. Until I no longer yearn for the Silmarils. He knew he was bound to these boys, by the horrific beauty of his father's stones, and by the blood that had filled his hands in their absence. And, more, by this night of loss, and by the fear and anger in Elrond's eyes.
Maglor thought of his own father Feanor, in the short years before the Silmarils consumed him. His skill, his unexpected gentleness as he crafted. The pleasure he had taken in Maglor's first, childlike songs. The madness had come too soon, and the memories were barely remembered. This child would have better, if it took the remnants of Maglor's soul.
until I stop needing you
until I stop loving you
Translation of Maglor's song:
For now the Kindler, Varda, from Mount Everwhite has lifted up her hands like clouds, and all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Galadriel sings this song in The Fellowship of the Ring . If it was actually written by Maglor, the greatest Noldor singer of the First Age, then Galadriel must have learned it from Elrond during their time together in the Second Age.
In Silmarillion 24 we are told that after Maglor and Maedhros sacked Sirion and drove Elwing into the sea, Maglor 'took pity on Elros and Elrond, and he cherished them, and love grew after between them, as little might be thought.' To me this is the strangest love to be found anywhere in Middle Earth, including all the Mary-Sues and bizarre slash pairings we perverse fanfic authors can come up with. So of course it endlessly fascinates me. In 'When I am Wise' and 'Naming the Stones' I have attempted to look at some of the consequences of this love for Elrond's life. Here I am finally facing head on the challenge of figuring out how this love could have developed, and what it could have been like.
I am finding this story unusually disturbing, even given my liking for dark themes. If you are with me, and would like me to continue, please let me know. It may be slow going.
Please do not get on my case about bananas in Middle Earth. If they can have tobacco, they can have bananas. Not to mention tomatoes and corn.
I am extremely grateful to Legolas Greenleaf (the writer, not the character, greenleaf-legolas on this site, see my favorite authors list) for reading drafts, and for the many useful conversations that helped me get this story together.
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.