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Hope, Born of Darkness
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Prelude

Disclaimer:
The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. I'm only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us fanfic writers to have some fun. Only the Lady Aquiel belongs to me.

Rating: Teens, for angst, violence (in later chapters) and implied m/m relationship.

Author's notes:
This is a stand-alone story about Elladan's final choice, the reasons for which he made it and the consequences that follow it, told mostly from his own POV. For better understanding you might want to read parts of my Boromir-series, starting with Part 4, "The Bitter Gift of Compassion".

Timewise, this story begins after the death of Boromir in the yet-to-be-written last part of the Boromir-series and ties in with my Glorfindel story "A Tale of Never-Ending Love".

Sorry for making things so complicated; unfortunately, I tend to interweave my stories into an intricate web of background facts - not because I want to, but because they often sprout from each other like grapevines beyond my own control. They can be read and understood independently, though - they just belong together.


~~~

HOPE, BORN OF DARKNESS
by Soledad


PRELUDE: MORNIE ALANTIË (DARKNESS HAS FALLEN)

My beloved is dead.

The bond that connected me to Boromir son of Denethor has been broken, and the touch of his tormented soul upon mine is gone.

We have had no tidings yet concerning the headway made by the Company chosen to go with the One Ring to the Land of Shadows, yet I know that the Man I love more than anything or anyone, more than life itself, is no more. Two days ago, he has gone wherever Men go when their bodies are broken - where I, too, shall go one day.

When I have fulfilled my oath and the legacy he left behind.

Two days ago, I stood high upon the shoulder of the hills, at the head of the grey, narrow stone stairway that leads out of the dale, and looked southwards and eastwards, for my heart was full of dark foreboding. Ever-growing had I felt in recent days the evil power of the Ring, luring Boromir's heart under its spell.

He had reached out to me through our bond, draining my strength, and I had given it willingly, eager to keep him from fall. My own heart had told me already that it would not go on like that much longer.

I always knew he was in great peril and marked for death. Yet I hoped against hope that my love would be strong enough and pure enough to save him. Not for myself - our times together were over, and I knew and accepted that - but for all those of his land whom he had vowed to protect from the Darkness with his strong arms and his great heart.

Then I heard the sound of the great war-horn of Gondor. Faint and far away it sounded, yet I knew its deep and hoarse sound, for I had heard it in this very valley, on the eve of his departure. And my heart fainted.

I still cannot understand how I could have heard it, for the Company had left Lórien already - this much we knew, for the Lady of the Wood had sent us tidings on the wings of the Eagles - and was too far away for any horn to be heard. Mayhap it was our bond that opened up my ears beyond even Elven abilities, for as far as I know, I was the only one to whose ears the sound came. It is said the sound of that horn could always be heard between the borders of old in Gondor... maybe I, too, belong now to Gondor, through what we shared.

A second time I heard the great horn cry, not much later, and my heart was filled with anguish. And then I felt his soul touch mine - a short and gentle touch I felt almost bodily - and then darkness. His presence was gone, our bond broken and my heart barren.

I am so numb, I cannot even weep.

Given enough time, I shall feel the whole weight of my loss, of that I am certain; and it will hurt beyond any pain I have felt in my long life. But right now, I am just empty. As empty as must be his broken shell, now bereft of his noble and valiant and so very kind soul.

I shall grieve for him in silence and solitude, hiding my agony even from my father and my siblings, for they would not understand my anguish. They would say that I had already lost him when he left with the Company, for he never truly loved me. And I could not bear to have to defend the memory of what we shared from the well-meant but belittling words of my family. For they wish only to be helpful - and yet they are so very wrong.

'Tis not true that he had no love for me. He might have kept the face of another one in his heart, yet he loved me well, and - save that one hurtful fight we had, which he regretted deeply afterwards - he made me more content and at peace with myself than I had ever been. Not only did he give me his passion, he also shared with me the secrets of his soul, a soul that was haunted by darkness, tormented and driven, yet still so very beautiful.

And he needed me. I had lain with mortal Men before, had touched mortal passion, and I had had Elven lovers as well. And it had been wonderful at times, but never had I been needed before. Mayhap that was the reason why I had never fallen in love.

Until I met him.

I first caught sight of him at that feast my father gave upon our return from the wilderness. So proud and noble and kingly he seemed in my eyes, clad in silver-embroidered velvet of deep burgundy red and royal blue, and in black leathers, and yet a warrior through and through, in spite of his rich garments.

He seemed better suited to the battlefield than to the fragile beauty of my father's house. For his clear, blue-grey eyes, which so unexpectedly changed to deep blue whenever passion touched his heart, were haunted, speaking of more than just the horrors of war. And though not very young anymore, at least not by the measure of his own Kin, he was all hard muscle and grim determination.

Arwen had spoken to me of him before. My dear sister, always worried about the loneliness of my life, thought I could use some pleasant distraction. So I knew already that this Man - this warrior - was the firstborn son and Heir of the Ruling Steward of Gondor, the very land Estel was to rule one day. Yet he had chosen to fight alongside the troops of Minas Tirith rather than remain in the safety of the strong walls of his father's city whilst his people suffered and died.

If not for Estel, he would have made a great King of Gondor.

I believe Arwen saw him thus, as well, and was troubled, for she knew there would be bitter animosity between the two of them once Boromir learned of Estel's claim. Indeed, I know not whether, when she pointed him out to me, knowing I would take a liking to him, she had in mind the very agenda Boromir later accused our father of having: to make the Man more receptive to the return of the King through the pleasures of our shared passion. She loves Estel very much, and at times, love can make a person blind, even unintentionally cruel.

When I made my offer to the Steward's Son, I did not expect to fall for him at all. I had been alone for a long time - long enough for even an Elf to grow tired of aloneness. I only wanted to warm my bed with the fire of mortal passion again, for it had been cold and empty for much too long. The love of mortal Men had always tasted to me like a strong, old wine that, once devoured, only left me more thirsty for it. And though as-yet untried in the matters of man-love, he proved to be everything I had hoped for, everything I had wanted for that one night, or mayhap a few more.

But then, in an unguarded moment of passion, he let me glimpse the depths of his heart, and what I saw there touched me deeply. I had never thought it possible for a mere Man to suffer so much in such short a life. And beyond the pains that life and war and a forbidden love had brought upon his heart, there was the Shadow that befell him during that last battle in Osgiliath.

And for the first time in my life, I understood what being born as a healer truly meant.

For though both Elrohir and I have chosen the way of the warrior - he mayhap less fiercely than I have, for the blood of our mortal ancestors is less thick in his veins than it is in mine - we are still the sons of Elrond, greatest lore-master of Middle-earth, and we both inherited from our father the skills and the urge to heal.

Being more in touch with his Elven half than I am with mine, my brother's skills are greater than mine, as they are in singing and in music and with words, too. But I still am a strong [ans - and] skilled healer, stronger even than most Elves, and certainly far stronger than Estel, who is greatly admired for his limited skills among the Rangers of the North.

I am a healer, and this Man was in grave need of healing. I was needed, for no one else could give him what he truly needed. Not his brother, whom he secretly and desperately loved against the law of Gondor and in spite of the wrath of his father, the Lord Denethor, not caring that his love would be forever unrequited. Nor Éowyn of Rohan, whom he had vowed to wed upon his return, not out of love but out of duty to his land and his House and a respect born of their shared fate as children of nobles. Only I could make him whole again.

And so I took up the task. I spent much time with him and came to know him a little more with every passing day - and slowly I began to fall in love with him. For there were hidden depths in that tortured soul no one had ever explored before. In more than one way, I was the first to truly know him.

I was the only one who had seen him haunted by the memories of darkness and fire, who had heard him scream in his nightmares, who had been allowed to soothe him and comfort him and make him feel better again. To me alone had he ever shown his wounded heart, his vulnerability.

Never was he ashamed of his own weakness while with me, proud and almost haughty though he might have seemed to others. I was the only one he had ever asked for help. And I loved him for this even more than I loved him for the fairness of his face and for his nobility and his strength.

He was all those and yet he was more than that. He was mine in a way he would never have belonged to anyone, even if he had lived. Mine to love, mine to protect - mine to let go when the time of departure arrived, the time to return to the only one he belonged with even more than he belonged with me: his shining city, Minas Tirith, White Queen of the South, his only true love.

Mine to live for and mine to die for.

And die for him I shall, eventually, for as all of Elrond's children must, I have made may choice, and I have chosen to be of the Kin of Men. I have chosen to share the fate of my beloved, for good or ill, for I cannot be without him.

Early did I know that he was in peril, even before my father told me. Great peril, not only from the Shadow that had fallen upon his heart, but from the evil power of the Ruling Ring that he desired from the first moment he learnt of it.

Oh, I could see the desire in his eyes! And while he was a noble Man, driven only to protect those who depended on his strength, that accursed Ring tempted him with the good that he could do had he such power. It fed on his desires and filled his heart with visions of doom and with false hopes. He already saw his beautiful city in flames, its great gates broken, its people slain - or enslaved and the Shadow-Lord of Minas Morgul sitting upon Gondor's throne - unless he took the Ring to wield it against its Maker.

And I knew he would fall under its spell and into darkness if nothing was done to save him.

So I did the only thing I could. I performed the Rite of Protection and bound my own soul to his to shield it from the Shadows with the powers of the Light that once shone in the Blessed Realm, captured and returned to Middle-earth in the Shielding Stone, an heirloom that had been passed down into my keeping.

Now I am bound to him 'til the end of Arda, beyond lands and waters and time - beyond Death itself, for Death is what we shall share one day, and it shall not part us any more. My father despaired when I announced my choice, and my brother was furious, for he felt betrayed. The Lady Aquiel wept, and I caught a faint glimmer of jealousy in Arwen's eyes Yet in the end they all have accepted my choice, for they could do naught to change my heart.

So, with the support and in the presence of Glorfindel, who at times understood me better than my own father, I performed the bonding, leaving my beloved free to fulfill his duties to his country and his House, should the Valar grant him a safe return, and it gave me great joy and great relief.

For he understood fully what I had done and accepted my gift with gratitude and with the natural grace of his noble heart. And from then on, he never hesitated to reach out for my support through our bond, and I gave him as much protection against the Ring and the Darkness as was within my powers to give.

There is one thing only I kept hidden from him: my choice to accept the Doom of Men. He was so guilt-ridden already, I could not bear to add to his burden. For he felt himself unworthy of my love, which he could not return in the same measure, and would never believe how full of joy and purpose he had made my life.

When I follow him beyond the Rim, where all secrets are laid open and all doubts are gone, he will know it - and that is enough for me.

But as for now, there is only darkness.

TBC

~~~

End note:
I never intended to write a sequel to the canon Boromir series, even less before it would be finished. But Elladan wanted his own story to be told, and I cannot argue very well with my own heroes.


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