Ereinion Gil-galad entered his bedroom and spotted Elrond in one of the large overstuffed chairs next to the fireplace. Long legs, ending in graceful bare feet, dangled over the arm of the chair and Elrond cradled a bound manuscript in his lap. Usually, over the past several months, Elrond would have jumped up to welcome him with a kiss and a shameless grin at being found once again lying in wait for Gil-galad to return from the rare private dinner that had not included the young peredhel.
"Elrond," Gil-galad said, delighted as always to find Elrond, grateful to the Shining Ones for gifting him with such a precious treasure if only temporarily as he suspected. But the omission of Elrond's expected salutation perplexed him. "What fascinates you so?"
Elrond blinked with surprise at the sound of Gil-galad's voice. He swung his feet to the floor and, placing the book carefully on the chair behind him, quickly approached Gil-galad to greet him with a forceful kiss. "A book about Maedhros."
"Apparently a most interesting one."
"The introduction says it is the only copy ever to be made. It was tucked behind the tedious books on topography on the third shelf. Covered with dust. Written by one who was close to him from their days in Tirion until the end. It is a love story."
"One less bold than you, dear, might have thought it was not meant to be generally accessible. Might even have begged permission before reading it," Gil-galad said, breaking loose with a loud guffaw. Elrond smiled, his eyes alight with affection and mischief.
"Most people would react that way, wouldn't they? But what have you ever refused me?" Elrond ran his thumbs across Gil-galad's cheekbones and then stuck an impudent tongue directly into his king's mouth.
After a lengthy kiss, Gil-galad pulled his lips free again. "Ai, Elrond. What am I to do with you? Yes. I think I know that book. I didn't recognize the cover. And how does it strike you? Is it accurate?"
"I could not say. I recognize the Maedhros that I knew and it fits with certain things I never understood. Yet I never once heard that Fingon and Maedhros were lovers, although the book states that their bond was nigh universally recognized, abhorred or glorified, depending upon the company within which it was discussed. No one among their followers gossiped of Maedhros in front of Elros or me. And here, of course, most are careful to avoid any mention of Maedhros in my company."
"He never spoke of my father?"
"Almost never. Maglor mentioned King Fingon infrequently but never in Maedhros's presence. Once I asked Maedhros to tell me the story of the cliffs of Thangorodrim. Elros almost choked in horror when I asked." Elrond snorted with amusement at the memory. Gil-galad's eyes crinkled in an indulgent smile. He had often heard the tales of how Elrond had been the rebellious, outspoken child and Elros the quieter, responsible one.
Elrond continued, "Maedhros loathed to speak of his past. But he told me the story of his rescue in great detail that day. His telling of it was heartbreaking in its beauty. He even sang me part of the song that Fingon had sung to find him. He said Fingon had written it when they were very young. Then his eyes filled with tears and he couldn't finish it. I thought he spoke of a dearest friend long lost. I had no idea they were lovers. Do you remember anything of Maedhros and your father together?"
"Little enough. But I do recall the times during my life there when he came to stay. My father appeared younger and carefree. My mother was happy too--wore her prettiest dresses and let her hair hang free. He played with me, read to me and paid me a good deal of attention in general. But I was so young. I remember my impression of his glorious looks and the way my father's eyes shone when he looked upon him. But that all ended when I was sent away. I did not know him as you did."