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36
The Pain of Remembrance

Written for the first A_L_E_C prompt: "Don't tell me--I don't want to know!"

Beta by RiverOtter


~~~

Written for the first A_L_E_C prompt: "Don't tell me--I don't want to know!"

Beta by RiverOtter


The Pain of Remembrance

He remembered almost nothing of his earliest years. He knew he’d had parents--parents who loved and adored him and his twin brother; but they were for the most part but a shining memory of grey eyes and illuminating laughter and great grief. His father had gone away--he was oft away, or so he remembered it amongst the little he could recall. He’d come back in a time of darkened skies and anxiety, and there were councils held to which had come many, both sides of his parents’ kindred, men and elves. And then there was the vague realization that that bright presence who’d been his father had come to him, held and embraced him and his brother and their mother, and that Ada was weeping, as was Nana, before he left again that last time. After that all was a total blur until he’d awakened one morning here, here in Ada Maglor’s home, knowing somehow he and Elrond had been here for some days and now belonged here.

He suspected that Elrond remembered more than he did. Certainly after Elros had asked his brother what he remembered of their parents and the home into which they’d been born, Elrond had only shaken his head, his expression toward the father of their hearts and his brother filled with mixed love and loathing, with a level of deep grief thrown in as well. But as to why? Elros was but left to wonder.

Elros had come to love the lands Ada Maglor claimed as his own, and had found a number of small places in which a young one could secrete himself and a scroll or codex as well as some bread and meat from the larders, and perhaps some apples or plums as well. Properly hidden, Elros had learned he could avoid many of the less pleasant chores and more boring lessons that might otherwise fall his way. He was not a great one for appreciating the value of work for its own sake, after all. Today he had a codex brought last night by Uncle Maedhros that he was perusing, and he had no intentions of returning from his hiding place until he’d had the chance to read it through at least twice. Here, with the bubbling of the stream singing happily in his ears and the calling of birds overhead, he enjoyed a great green plum and carefully opened the codex, which proved to hold the tale of the meeting of Beren One-hand and Lúthien Tinúviel. Fancy, calling a beauteous lady a bird! he thought as he took another bite of his plum and read on....

“I don’t know why you chose to bring them that story, brother,” he heard suddenly.

Elros went totally still as he heard the voice of Ada Maglor. He’d not heard the two elves approach the area near the stream where he hid, not that he ever seemed to hear Ada’s footfalls.

“I can see no harm in them reading of the meeting of Lúthien and Beren,” Maedhros’s deeper, almost rumbling voice responded. “I found it among the wares sold by a mannish peddler. A pretty work, and the hand that inscribed it is fair, as is the wording used. You saw how excitedly Elros received it.”

“But what if it awakens memories in him--memories of before?”

“And if it does, what can be done about it, muindor nín? Those memories must come out one day, after all. And I have reason to suspect that Elrond remembers far more than he allows others to know.”

“As do I,” Ada conceded grudgingly. “Oh, I’ve seen the looks he gives us at times, as if he hated everything to do with us.”

Uncle Maedhros gave but a grunt in response.

“Not,” Ada continued, “that he has any reason to think well of us, considering what we did then.” The elf’s voice was sad, almost fatalistic. Then it sharpened to anger. “I hate what that oath has led us to, Maedhros! We have been made kinslayers and fugitives and murderers by it. For all the love I bore our father, I can yet wish I’d never become party to his oath.”

“You would have willingly forborne this, my brother?” his uncle said. “Living in an uncouth land amongst other elves who loathe us, with no conveniences or servants to ease our way or see to what needs doing, breaking our own land and harvesting our own bread?” The sarcasm was palpable, but then the voice became bitter. “But you know what he stole from us, how the Light went out of our atar’s life with the death of his father and the ravishing of the treasury. Would you have allowed him to come away alone, without us to back and support him?”

“And what have we achieved with all our struggles to retrieve the Silmarils, brother? What we did at Aquallondë was unforgivable, while what we did at Sirion....”

Elros could almost hear Ada Maglor shuddering.

He’d never heard the tone he now heard in his uncle’s voice as Maedhros answered him. “What else could we hope to do, Maglor? We were--are--bound by that cursèd oath we swore! There is no hope for us, for we must take back the Silmarils or die in the attempt!”

“As we have ever done,” his foster father said with even more bitterness in his voice. “Of the seven of us, only you and I remain, Maedhros. We left Ambarussa lying in the chamber from which we drove out the twins’ amma with the Silmaril taken by Beren and Lúthien still on her breast! Ah, but I wish Atar had never forged the things, or that he’d given them to Yavanna so as to rekindle the Trees!”

Maedhros gave a bark of a laugh with no humor to it, a laugh as bitter as the voice of his brother. “Our father--be reasonable? Give up what he so long sought to forge so that all might rejoice once more in the Light of the Trees? Unlikely! Most unlikely!” From the change in the timbre of his voice Elros, sitting cold and sweating in his hiding place, the codex and treasured plums forgotten, judged that his vaunted uncle had turned toward the stream, away from his brother. “No, not for Atar, to share his treasures with others! I swear he came to love them more truly than he did our ammilë. No wonder she refused to accompany us. So we have sought and plotted and betrayed those who ought to have been our staunchest allies because they did not surrender what we have claimed for ourselves.” There was a plop as if he’d thrown a stone into the stream before again he apparently turned to face Maglor. “Do not think, Macalaurë, that you alone hate what the vow has done to us, and through us to so many others. Elrond is right to hate us, knowing we drove his mother undoubtedly to her death!”

“We never found her body, though....” Maglor said uncertainly.

“She could never have survived the fall from that window,” his brother responded. “Fifty feet up or more--at the very least! And there was a storm that night, I’ll remind you. Her body was most likely dragged by the tide out to sea immediately.”

“But her grandmother was no mere elf, remember. And it has long been said that Elwing herself knew the gift of skinchanging.”

There was a moment of quiet consideration between them. “You think,” Maedhros said tentatively, “that she might have done that--changed herself into a great bird, perhaps, and so escaped us?”

“It is my hope, muindor. It was the sight of her throwing herself from the windows that shook me at last from the battle lust. That she should throw herself to her death for the sake of a mere bauble such as our father’s Silmaril----”

“You would speak of any of the Silmarils as a bauble?” Maedhros’s voice sounded shocked at the idea. “Did he not pour into them all of his hope and will----”

“And love!” interrupted Maglor, his voice filled with a mixture of anguish and loathing. “You yourself have pointed out how he held them over even the honor he owed our mother!”

Now it was apparently his turn to turn away toward the stream. “And what is worse is that he never made it even this far so as to retrieve the cursèd things himself! Nay, that was left to us, without even the hope of returning them to him once recovered!” There was a brief, brooding silence. “Nay,” he said at last, quietly, the anger fled, leaving his voice flat and empty. “We have no hope of good things coming from our vow.”

“Two good things have come from it,” Maedhros pointed out. “You have Elrond and Elros, and they have made of you a far more hopeful person than you were before. They help to restore the delight of your soul. It had been yeni since you last composed music before they came to you.”

“Yes,” Maglor said in a soft tone. “I learn to give my heart again. But to what point? Will I in the end be robbed of them as I was of my wife and child in Aman? Have I any hope ever of seeing what kind of ellon my son has grown to become, or to hold my beloved in my arms again, know her sweetness and the delight of her love?” Again the bitterness returned. “I would wish again the Silmarils had never been forged, to have been driven to abandon the only elleth I will ever love. Instead of loving my son’s mother, I have driven away, perhaps slain, the mother of two I have so come to love. Indeed, Elros and Elrond have every right to hate us with every fiber of their beings. If Elros only realized that the Lúthien of which he reads in that codex was his mother’s grandmother....”

The two adults moved off, away from the stream, away from the small child crouched so close to where they’d stood.

His ada, his uncle--they had perhaps slain his mother--driven her out the window? And for what--that pretty jewel, the one that seemed forged of light itself, that she’d worn that night? For the memories were coming back to him. Then there were those who’d taken him and his brother from the tower, leaving them exposed, intending them--intending them to die! Oh, he remembered now. He remembered the terror as the room had been broken into, how Marcipor had been stricken down as he sought to protect the Lady Elwing, how his blood had stained the carpet and the white stone of the floor.

It was not until long, long after nightfall he returned to the house. The door had been left unsealed. He wondered if Maglor realized he had to have been concealed somewhere near at hand during that talk when he didn’t return for the noon or evening meals. But all was still, the doors to Maglor’s room and that given to his brother’s use closed, and with no sign of candles or lanterns. Unlike many other Elves, neither brother used light-bearing jewels in the illumination of their homes--and now Elros knew why.

He crept up into the loft room he shared with his brother, put off his clothes, made the most cursory of ablutions, and slipped into their bed.

“I wondered if you might choose to return.” Elrond’s voice was quiet, almost dispassionate. “They sought you for a time, but then gave over when Ada said it must be your own choice to return, if you would. So, you remember? Did you overhear them, then?”

“Yes.” Then after a time of silence he finally asked in a whisper, “You’ve remembered all along, haven’t you?”

“I can put it from my mind at times, pretend that I didn’t see them kill Marcipor. It was Uncle Maedhros who did that, you see.”

“I wish I hadn’t heard,” Elros said, tasting the gall of the bitterness he bore in his heart. “How can I love them as I have? They are monsters!”

“But they love us.” After a moment Elrond added, “And perhaps they love us the more because they did drive Nana into flying from the tower. But I don’t believe she is allowed to return to us. I always hope, every time I see a sea bird, it is her, coming back for us; but it never is.”

He shifted slightly in the bed so as to look into Elros’s eyes. “I know it is hard to understand, but Ada is sorry for what he did, for what they did. But he made a vow--a terrible vow, and he must keep faith with it in spite of what it makes him do.”

“How do you know?” Elros felt the question escape him.

“I can see his dreams sometimes. I have seen his father’s face, heard his voice, as he made the vow and called on his sons and his people to join him in it. Ada never--never dreamed to what it would lead him! He thought only he would follow his father and brothers to Morgoth’s stronghold and besiege him there, then finally break in and force him to give back the jewels. So many have died due to that vow, though--he hates it with every bit of him there is! But he has sworn himself to it, and must see it done.”

“Why didn’t he give it over long ago, then, when he saw it was evil?”

“He can’t. He is one of the High Elves, and his vows hold him.”

“Then I don’t wish to be an elf, too, if I must hold to evil vows!” Elros said vehemently.

“Oh, Elros!” Elrond responded, reaching out and holding him close. Elros could feel the tears on his brother’s face, the quiet sobs that shook his brother’s body. He found himself holding his twin back, seeking to offer what comfort he could. Once again he wished he might have remained ever in blissful ignorance of the day when they lost their mother’s comfort. Elrond had received strongly the gift of foresight. What else did his brother know that he’d not yet shared?

And so they were found the next morning by Maglor as he came to see if, indeed, Elros had returned--two small, dark-haired children, clinging to one another, tracks of tears to be seen on both faces.



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