Sun setting spills like a welcoming light
from an open door upon the face of Elrond Half Elven, Lord of the
Edain. He stands upon a raised walk outside his private chambers. In
the study therein are pages of parchment, and books in many languages;
carved on slabs of stone, woven in webs of tapestries, marked upon
leaves of gold and silver; the wisdom of many Men and Elves accumulated
through the ages. He felt the weight of that knowledge behind him, a
foundation and also an anchor. So much would he like to cast off that
line and fly like a bird toward the setting Sun, to catch that light
and find the place where She rests.
Overhead a bright star winks, first and brightest in the sky. Without even raising his eyes Elrond knows it is there, feels the touch of it like a hand on his shoulder. "Soon, Father. Not yet, but soon. It is beginning at last."
They were waiting for him; a household full of merry folk, to celebrate the recovery of Bilbo’s nephew. That precious life had nearly eluded him, and he had worked ceaselessly for three days to save him.
For what had he worked so hard? Was Frodo not still blessed to die as all mortals do, spilling laughter and tears in their brief span between birth and doom? Elrond frowned and wondered if he had not done a dis-service to the hobbit, prolonging his suffering and withholding the bliss of forgetfulness that is found in the halls of Mandos, and the journey that mortals take that Elves know nothing of.
He heard laughter then below his balcony, and looking saw two small figures walking arm-in-arm toward the light and music of the Hall. Frodo Baggins leaned a little on his friend’s arm, but more to add to Samwise Gamgee’s joy in being helpful than that he required assistance. Both of their faces were lit with wonder and joy. The feeling of it washed over Elrond’s chilled conscious, and a smile thawed his frowning face. "They will bring joy back to the world," thought the wise Elf.
A dove flew down to the rail next to Elrond’s hand and it sang to him sweetly of flight and forgetfulness. He picked up the bird, stroking its snowy feathers gently. Small black eyes met his own grey, and he lifted the dove and let it fly from his hands, stroking his fingers with soft feathers.
White linen snapping in the wind, caressing his face like the wings of a bird…
They stood at the sea wall while behind them the world screamed and burned. One each of her white hands they held and their tears fell like music as she kissed them.
"Farewell, my sons. I go now to seek thy father. He must find a way to redeem the acts of the Oathtakers," and she leapt then from the wall with the Silmaril shining on her breast; a white bird falling wingless to the hungry sea. Elrond reached for her and would have fallen then, if not for the hand of his brother.
Elros said to him, "It is not yet your time to cross the sea, Elrond. Other journeys we have before us, and more sunderings to endure than we can now fathom," and his face was wet with tears as he spoke.
Now comes up Maedhros and seeing the Silmaril again beyond his grasp, in his oath-bound fury he raised his sword and would have cut down the two youths but for the intervention of Maglor.
"Enough blood have we shed in the name of our oath. The Silmaril is gone; she has given it and herself to Ulmo. These two I shall take into my house and give them sanctuary." He knelt then before Elrond and Elros, and they saw in his face the weight of grief that his vow was to him, and also his abiding regret for his deeds. His hands were wet with the spilled blood of their people, but now held out to them they were empty.
Elrond and Elros took his hands, for death they would stave off; Maedhros’s temper had cooled and he sheathed his weapon and threatened them no more, but spoke gently and raised them upon the back of his own horse to bear them to their kingdom.
At first, neither twin spoke to the sons of Feanor and for long Maglor despaired that they would accept him. He cherished them and repented all his deeds, hoping that the oath would leave him to find what joy in the world he could, and the hearts of Elrond and Elros were the only jewels he sought.
It seems strange that love could grow between the young captives and Maglor, however repentful he might be, but so it did occur. Their hearts were softened by the honest contrition of Maglor, and they came to love him as he might hope, and he protected and guarded them as if they were his own flesh.
But neither Elros nor Elrond forgot the vision of their mother falling to the sea, nor the blood that stained the floor of their once fair home.
…And the fires consumed all and left ashes on the sand.
The brush of wings beating around his head brought him back to Imladris, brushing his cheeks with feathered fingers. Elrond watched the dove dance in the air with another, spiraling as if celebrating like the folk within the Hall. Elrond sighed and turned to go in, tired, but pleased to be having something to celebrate. He walked inside and past a polished metal panel bright as a mirror. His slightly distorted reflection seemed to be looking at him with amusement.
Elrond paused, and his lips did twist into a smile. "Elros. My brother I still think I see you when I walk past this panel. So alike we were, and yet so utterly different. Will we ever meet again? Must I wait until the Ending of the World to be one with my brother again?"
A voice from the past spoke in Elrond’s memory. "I will go and lead the men to greatness. The stains of the Eldar’s sins taint my hope for Valinor. The Younger Children are my people. I shall abide with them."
"But Elros... I am thy brother!" said Elrond, as he had said that day their decision was handed to them. "Should not our children play together and raise their voices in mingled song? Will we not go and find our Mother in Valinor, and see perhaps our Father again when he comes down from the lightless paths of the sky? Do not say that thou wouldst prefer a final death to redemption!"
"Brother, my choice is made, as is thy own. We must live as we were meant to live, and from us will be born the hope of the world."
"Stubborn, bull-headed..." muttered Elrond, and he heard a chuckle behind him. Startled that the reflection had uttered a sound, he turned and found Gandalf standing in the doorway of his chamber.
"I wonder if you were talking to yourself or someone close to you," said the Wizard. His grey-bearded face was smiling and years of care seemed to be lifted from him. His laughter was a warm sound to Elrond’s ears.
"I was speaking both to myself and another. Time, it seems, cannot always separate one thought from another. Nor can thought divide time." He sighed, releasing his weariness in his breath.
Gandalf nodded sagely, his eyes twinkling. "Your guest of honour awaits you, Lord Elrond."
"Let us go down to the Hall then, Lord Mithrandir. I feel that there is much to celebrate tonight. Much more than I had imagined when first the Sun rose today. There are many merry meeting to occur, and many more coming that I can foresee."
On the sill of the window a pair of white doves perched, adding their singing to the voices that drifted up from the Hall.