1. The souls of many, gone
"Can you tell me anything, Atar? Anything at all? You wander the world, you must have seen something!" Elrond was visibly distressed, tugging at a hank of hair and gesturing frantically with the other hand as he described his fears. "We haven't heard anything in several months, and a trip to Valinor could only have ended in disastrous consequences for the men of Númenor. And the worst- the worst is that Sauron himself was there, playing puppet with that fool Pharazôn! Is there anything we can do, please, anything? Something you've heard or know about Sauron, about the Elendili…Atar…!" He turned and set worried eyes on a tall elf leaning tiredly on a window-sill across the room, watching the leaves outside flutter in the wind.
Maglor waited a few seconds before responding, certain that his foster-son would very much not appreciate any advice he could give. "Elerondo, they will die. There is nothing you can do about this, and there is nothing that I can tell you that will ease your mind. They are but few, truly, compared to all that everyone has lost in these long ages. "
Elrond's expression darkened. "You can't possibly think-"
"I know that truly, you care more about them only because they are long descended from your brother, and let me tell you this: I may not have loved him anywhere near to the amount you do, but I loved him nonetheless. He was as dear to me as Celebrimbor was, but I neither hold his peoples close to my heart nor in high regard. They do not deserve your heart. Do not give it to them." Maglor closed his eyes and leaned his head against the marble behind him, unwilling to continue the conversation. Elrond glared at his father for a while longer before stepping back and sinking into the couch he had been sitting in prior to his distress.
After a time, the thick silence was broken by the elder elf. "If you truly want news and are prepared for it to be terrible, I may be able to help you provided you still have what I need."
Elrond blinked and sat a bit straighter. "What are you referring to?"
Maglor sighed and opened his eyes to watch his son in all but blood. "Do you recall the box of jewels I let you and your brother play with, once upon a time?"
The Peredhil thought for a few minutes and then nodded. "I believe so. You're talking about the gems your father left with you, the ones that seemed to contain feelings of happiness and contentment when you held them? Ancient precursors to the Silmarilli? " His father nodded. "You gave them to us when we would not stop, ah, crying. After Maedhros had scared us so badly that first night." He colored. "That…was very long ago, I had almost forgotten. I may still have them, though, in one of the storage rooms. Shall I go look?" Accepting Maglor's nod, he got up and made for the archway into the next room to find Erestor and request he join him on what was sure to be a dusty search.
Maglor watched him go with no particular emotion in his eyes. He had never told his sons the reason he'd never taken the gems back, and they had never asked.
Never would he tell Elerondo that from the moment of the Oath, he had felt that he never again wanted to feel such fake happiness, and certainly didn't deserve to experience it when it wasn't rightly earned – or more honestly, even when it was.
Raising the twins had tormented him. He neither felt that he could truly honor Ambarussa's memory nor truly atone for his sins in caring for Elrond and Elros, but he tried anyway. It had come so naturally to him, after caring for five younger siblings and countless cousins, that he hadn't bothered fending off the urge. His instincts saw the cowering children and immediately demanded that he shelter and love them, despite his guilt wanting to ignore the outside world entirely.
Maedhros, when he saw a sheathed sword and the bundles in his brother's arms, understood immediately but despite himself proceeded to give the two a thorough but physically harmless interrogation. It was said questioning that scared them out of their already fragile wits and into serious crying fests, which then prompted Maglor to put his little box of gems into their small hands and encourage them to feel around. They were children and fake emotion was still beyond them, as it had been beyond him before he was exposed to the horrors of death and all that Beleriand had to offer.
Coming back to himself, he waited until he heard Elrond and Erestor coming down the hall, hopefully with their prize. They entered, Erestor bowing his head in deference that Maglor knew was only a nicety. "I'd like to witness this, if my lords don't mind."
Elrond gestured at his advisor to sit down and walked over to Maglor's settee to hand him a dusty box. "I must admit that I fail to see what you can tell me once you have feel-good gems in your hands. And I hope you don't mind if Erestor stays; I told him the story as we walked over and he wanted to know what you were planning to do."
Maglor shook his head and took the box. "It's fine." Prying the rusted lock open, he opened it up and was greeted by glimmering stones. Looking closer, he selected a dark blue one, brilliance lost to the ages, and handed it to his son. "Do you remember this particular stone?"
Elrond rolled it around in his hand for a brief moment and replied confidently. "Yes. It always felt conflicted, but rather lovely to me, and it was Elros' favorite. But it lost its power over the years, I suppose because we played with it so much and used it up?" He handed it back to Maglor. "It's cold now."
The darker elf rose and began to pace the room, rubbing it between his forefinger and thumb. "The emotion-stones don't work that way, Elrond, and this isn't like the others. This is - was - my palantír, and the reason it grew cooler as the years went by is because my brothers and family were dying, one by one. Every time someone in possession of a palantír dies, the bit of it that is connected to their soul blinks out, and all the others lose that connection in turn. They no longer communicate, or transfer feelings and thoughts. With death and loss, they grow cold. That is what you felt." He turned and faced his son. "However, they still may function as spyglasses, and I may look upon Númenor and tell you what I see, if you truly wish me to."
Elrond blinked slowly, taking in what he had been told. The more he learned of his father, the more he realized that his sadness was nothing in comparison to the sorrow and loneliness Maglor carried with him everywhere he went. Sorrow and loneliness he never forgot. And for his father to tell him this, to expose this small part of his despair, signified that he would do this only for Elrond, because his son was the last thing in the world keeping him alive.
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.