5. Chapter 5
Maglor came downstairs into the garden to find his brother already there, pacing. He had returned two days before but had refused to speak, yet, of his journeys. He said the night would come, perhaps tonight, when he would show what has become of Elvenkind. Maglor sat down on a bench and waited for Maedhros to speak to him.
"So", Maedhros said,"has the boy forgiven you yet?" His brooding eyes caught the light of the setting sun and reflected only harshness. Maglor knew the thirty years they had been apart, only a breath to an immortal, had brought nothing of happiness to his brother, so he was inclined to be patient. How different those years had been for him.
"Elros trains with me every day. He is going to be a great warrior, like his uncle," Maglor said. Maedhros did not smile. "Elrond has become learned in languages and lore. He is working on a book."
"But does he call you father?" Maedhros asked, his set mouth melting into a sneer. "Or Father Kinslayer, perhaps?"
"Silence!" Maglor shouted, his patience gone. He turned on his brother, seeking to return hurt for hurt. "And how fared you with Gil-galad's soldiers?" he asked, guessing the answer. Morgoth had not fallen, and Maedhros had returned alone.
"Gil-galad has no soldiers!" Maedhros said. "Gil-galad has only a troop of craven fugitives cowering on the Isle of Balar. For years I sought to rouse them, to bring them against Morgoth, for I remember the ancient oath, and Father, and this," he shook the stump of his right hand in Maglor's face.
"Who fights, then?" Maglor asked. Surely there was some resistance, otherwise their refuge would have been long since overwhelmed.
"Ah, my brother, that is the question. The answer will be told, and I do not doubt your sons," Maedhros emphasized the word, mocking, "will wish to hear it. Tonight, you will. All of you."
Suddenly Maedhros' face softened, as Elros came in from the field, still bearing his sword. He had grown tall and muscular, and moved graceful as a dancer. He reminded Maedhros of his father, all those years ago. "Brother," Maglor said, "I present to you my youngest son, Elros."
Elros beamed. "Uncle," he said, and stretched out his arms.
Maedhros embraced him and then stepped back, thinking. "Maglor tells me you are skilled in warfare."
Elros nodded. "Soon I will be at my majority and then I will go to fight Morgoth to regain the Silmarils for Father."
Maedhros smiled appreciatively. Maglor had a son indeed, and Feanor a grandson. "And is your other son trained like this one?"
Maglor shook his head, resting one hand on Elros' shoulder. Elrond had refused to touch any weapon of war, for any purpose, since his nights of resistance at Sirion. Maglor did not blame him. Perhaps he feared what they would allow him to do. "Elrond is a scholar. He would perhaps advise an army well, for he remembers the great battles of the past." He could not keep pride from his voice, thinking of countless days spent with manuscripts. "But he is no warrior."
"Very well," said Maedhros. "Call the scholar and let him record the tale."
The young half-Elf came reluctantly from the study, and stood slightly farther from Maedhros than good manners would allow. He did not bow, and his voice was flat as he spoke the name. "Maedhros. Son of Feanor."
Maedhros inclined his head in response. "Elrond. Son of Earendil." He spoke the name with respect, and for that at least Elrond was grateful.
"You said you have a tale to tell," said Maglor. "Will you not tell it now?"
"When night falls," Maedhros answered.
They waited in silence, each in their own thoughts. Then, as the last rays of sunlight passed from the sky, a star appeared on the horizon.
"Behold," said Maedhros. There was an ache in his voice that Maglor recognized, and looking at the star he began to feel it as well. He remembered a far-off time in Valinor, and Feanor clasping a jewel brighter than starlight.
"Surely," said Maedhros, "that is a Silmaril that shines in the West."
"Surely it is," said Maglor, his voice breaking. "And surely this is the tale you have come to tell, how a Silmaril came to be set in the heavens." And shall we now wage war against the stars?
A Silmaril, Elrond thought. Was this the brightness that his mother had kept and never revealed, for which she had fled all those years ago? "Tell me," he breathed. "Tell me!"
Maedhros stepped forward, arms outstretched, as if bathed in light. "Hail Earendil brightest of angels above Middle Earth sent to Men! So the men sing, whose armies march against Morgoth. For they march not alone. With them are the hosts of the Vanyar, and the Noldor of Valinor, and even the Valar themselves come to war in their need. For they were summoned by a mariner, Earendil by name, and his wife Elwing, bearer of the Silmaril." Maglor remembered a light beyond words over the battle of Sirion, and closed his eyes. Elros took Maglor's hand in his own but did not turn from Maedhros as he spoke.
"The Vanyar who fight our battle for us say that Earendil and Elwing may not return. At night Earendil guides his ship through the heavens, a Silmaril on his brow. Elwing flies to meet him, with wings of white and silver-grey." At that moment, as if in response to Maedhros' words, a bird flew heavenward, shining, rose-stained in the sunset.
The four stood silently for a long moment. Elrond was the first to speak. "Father," he whispered. Then, louder, "Father!" He stepped forward on his toes, as if to embrace the star. "Father!"
Maglor could feel Maedhros' eyes on him, could hear his mocking voice: your sons. Elros still gripped his hand, but his eyes, too, were fixed on the star. These boys knew their father now, a father that shone brightly, and seemed to leave a place for Maglor that was dim indeed.
In the empty space in his heart the yearning returned, the only yearning that would never fade. He would climb into the heavens to take back the Silmaril, of fight Morgoth himself, for such was his vow, and such his desire. They are hostages, he thought, not sons. They shall remain with me until the Silmaril is returned. It was at that moment that he looked again on Elrond's face.
Elrond had always been beautiful to him, even in the darkest moments of his childhood anger. But now his face shone with a radiance that Maglor had never before seen, never before imagined. His eyes were wide, and full of starlight. "Father," he whispered. "Mother. Father." With every whisper his eyes grew brighter, as if the light of the Silmaril shone in him and through him. Maglor was suddenly glad for the moment of happiness that had been given his son. It was little enough, after all the harm he had done. But something.
"If it is truly the Silmaril which we saw cast into the sea that rises again by the power of the Valar then let us be glad;" Maglor met Maedhros' eyes proudly, "for its glory is seen by many, and yet secure from all evil." And at that moment he was glad, although he knew he would never again touch the Silmaril that hung in the heavens, nor could he ever again hope that his children would call him Father with a whole heart.
Elros let go of Maglor's hand and stepped towards Maedhros, his eyes burning. "Yet not all the Silmarils of our house of Feanor share that fate. I will go to the armies of the Edain and join with them in the war against Morgoth. They will not turn me away for the blood of Men which runs in my veins and for the Elven-skill of my training. Perhaps, Uncle," he emphasized the word, willing everyone to believe it, "they will take you also into their armies for my sake."
"And why do you wish this?" Maglor asked. He did not bother to disapprove, for Elros was to old to be prevented by Maglor from doing as he would.
"Long I believed myself son to a man who fled battle, and a woman who abandoned her children. Now that I know that my parents are the evening star and the bringers of aid to Middle Earth I would be a worthy son to them," he turned to Maglor, the love clear on his face, "and to the Father who raised me."
"No," Elrond whispered, turning away from the star at last. But he did not speak, for he knew his brother had long since ceased to listen to his stories. As he looked from one face to another he saw hope, relief, loyalty, determination, and for one brief moment, nothing of despair. He wondered at the strange changes he had seen worked by one short tale. If this tale could change him as well perhaps it could free his voice and his prayers, like those of his father, could one day be answered.
As Elros rode off with Maedhros months later Elrond watched from the balcony, singing songs of farewell. Songs that, perhaps, his father Earendil had once sung, if he only could remember them. And he called out his brother's name, the name his brother had chosen: Elros, son of Earendil, son of Maglor, youngest of the house of Feanor.
Almost all the material in this chapter is from Silmarillion 24: Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath.
The first line of Maedhros' speech ("Hail Earendil ) is from the Crist of Cynewulf, which was the inspiration for Tolkien's story of Earendil.
If you have not yet read 'Naming the Stones' (after slogging through 5 chapters of this) I suggest that you do. It looks at the same events from a somewhat different angle. This chapter is especially intended to go with chapter 2 of that story.
For those of you who asked if Maedhros in this story is intended to be the same as Maedhros in 'What Flesh Remembers': yes.
Feedback, reviews, e-mails etc. continue to be gratefully appreciated. There are 1-3 more chapters to go.
I am very grateful to greenleaf-legolas, Soledad, Joan Milligan, and Oboe-wan for good advice, moral support, and nagging me to finish this cursed thing. I also bow to Le Chat Noir, whose excellent pieces about Maglor and Maedhros were very helpful to me in thinking through their characters.
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.