4. Chapter 4
Elrond held Elros in his arms all the way to Himring. He made no sound, except to dutifully and emotionlessly ask for food when the baby cried. When Maglor tried to touch him he pulled away and wrapped himself around Elros as if the boy could protect him from a danger beyond words
At Himring, there was a great deal of work to be done. Rooms had to be cleaned out, and set up. Elros had to be fed, and diapered, and taught. There were servants, of course, for these jobs, but somehow Elrond was always on hand, expressionless and silent, when they needed to be done. Maglor was busy most of the day, but at night he liked to sing to the boys, and tell them stories. Elrond at first ignored him, or tried to, but the stories pulled him in, forced him to listen even as he faced the wall with a scowl. After a few weeks he lost even that resistance. He especially liked it when Maglor told creation stories: the formation of the Dwarves by Aule, the Gift of Iluvatar to Men, the awakening of the Elves. They made him think of beginnings, of possibilities, of freedom.
Then Elros spoke his first word: Father. He spoke it to Maglor.
Elrond fled the room, and ran to the study. Maglor found him crouched in a closet behind the oldest books, whimpering noiselessly. Maglor brought him downstairs and put him to bed, singing the most comforting songs he could, but the tears did not stop.
As the weeks and then months went on, Elros learned other words. He said "Let's sing" and "I love you" and "Why is Brother crying?" Maglor taught him basic songs, and then began to train him to use a small wooden practice sword. Elrond's sobbing began to disturb Elros at night, so Maglor let Elrond sleep in the study. Sometimes Elrond would lock himself in for days at a time, sneaking downstairs when no one was looking to find a little food. Alone in the study he would cry while reading, or read while crying, or simply sob while holding a book in his empty arms.
After two years Morgoth attacked, and they had to move again. Maedhros went off in disguise to try to join Gil-galad's soldiers. Maglor mocked him for thinking an over-large one-handed Elf could pass unnoticed, and took the boys and the rest of his people to a refuge on the coast, far south of Gil-galad. There was much to do again in the move, and Elrond did as much as he could. But when the tumult settled down, he found that he had even less responsibility than he had before. Maglor, no longer a ruler, had more time to be a father. Elros learned to ride, to dance, and to fight with all the skill Maglor could teach. Elrond did some of his lessons for a time, and then once again lapsed into silence and tears. Maglor reached out to him at first, as often as he could, but learned after a while that he was not wanted.
In the silence of the study Elrond dreamed, sometimes asleep, sometimes awake. First his dreams were only of violence. He remembered the knife he had once held in a lost moment of defiance. He thought how he could use it on all the people who betrayed his family, ending with himself. He remembered Maglor's touch on his chest. 'Never,' he thought, and did not know what it was that sickened him so.
Sometimes he searched among the books for more stories, for someone else's memories. Some books were in Westron, which he could not understand, or in Quenya, which he understood somewhat but could not read without assistance. Others were of herb-lore or craft, and while he found them interesting they could not give him what he needed. Only a few were story-books that could tell him tales. He learned of Maglor's grandmother Miriel, who sent her soul to Mandos by her own will after birthing her son. He read about the creation of the Silmarils, and the genius of Maglor's father Feanor. Finally he read about Luthien and Beren, his own great-grandparents, and of their bravery and love.
There was an especially large book, written in unusual letters. Could they be Khuzdul? The Dwarves did not teach their language to outsiders. Elrond liked to hold this book, to touch it. It reminded him that there were things he did not understand but could learn one day. It was a long time before he thought to open it. He flipped through the pages, understanding nothing but marveling at the letters. Finally he saw, about a third of the way through the book, some notes scribbled in Sindarin. A translation, it seemed.
The notes were messy and difficult to understand, but they seemed to be on the creation of the Dwarves. He remembered that story, spoken in Maglor's musical voice, pulling his sullen face from the wall. Here it was, written in Maglor's hand.
In this strange book Elrond read of Aule and his forming of the Dwarves from clay in the darkness in the beginning of days. How the new-created Dwarves cowered and begged for mercy from the one who had just given them life as he held above them a destroying hammer, weeping in shame at his creation. How Iluvatar had adopted them and allowed them, malformed, misshapen, to survive.
So they are foster-children, Elrond thought, like me.
He read further of the sleep of the Dwarves (or was it imprisonment?) for long ages, while the Elves awoke under starlight. Then he went on to read in amazement (although he knew it to be true) how the Dwarves revere Aule, and call him Father. For who else do they have to love?
Maglor's song drifted up the stairs. Perhaps he was singing to Elros, although the boy was long asleep. Elrond unlocked the door to the study and went downstairs to meet him.
Maglor turned, astonished. "Tell me a story," Elrond said, before Maglor could speak. His voice shook and he sounded even younger than his eleven years.
"What story would you like?" Maglor asked. His voice also trembled, as he feared of losing this one last chance that was given him.
"Stories of the beginning," Elrond said. "All of them."
Maglor nodded. Perhaps this child really would be a Master, if these stories could feed his broken heart.
"I will tell you all the stories I know, and how to sing them. I will teach you Quenya, and Westron, and Proto-Elvish, and even what I have been able to decipher of Khuzdul, so you can find other stories on your own. I will teach you to write, and to compose songs, so you can make new stories of your own. Would you like that?"
So this is what you offer me, Elrond thought, to take the place of a mother, a father, a people, a home. But he knew he could not live without it, and so he would take it and live.
He sat with Maglor well into the night, speaking of languages. The next morning their lessons began. A few months later he sat on the balcony, as night fell, and began a song.
One of his own.
The story of the creation of the Dwarves is found in Silmarillion 2, 'Of Aule and Yavanna'. Remember, though, that in my version of Middle Earth Elrond wrote/compiled 'the Silmarillion', in the Second Age. And Maglor's Khuzdul is probably not that great. So I am NOT claiming that this is identical to the creation story Dwarves tell among themselves.
Thanks to Honesty for pointing out the Maglor-Aule connection, way back in her review of 'Naming the Stones'. *Bows to insightful reviewer*
Also many thanks to Soledad and greenleaf-legolas for draft reading and emotional support.
As always, I am very grateful to all my loyal and kind reviewers. Keep up the good work!
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.