Lonesome Rider by mangacrack
Summary:

In the Silmarillion Maglor is (allegedly) the sole survivor of his family.
Here, it's someone else.


Categories: Fiction Characters: Amras, Amrod, Arwen, Caranthir, Celebrían, Celebrimbor, Celegorm, Curufin, Fëanor, Galadriel, Gil-galad, Maedhros, Maglor, Nerdanel
Content: Action/Adventure, AU, Drama
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: No Word count: 28739 Read: 777 Published: May 01, 2018 Updated: June 15, 2018

1. "East of Eden" - (Maedhros) by mangacrack

2. "Here I am, This is me" - (Maglor) by mangacrack

3. "Wake me up Inside" - (Celegorm) by mangacrack

4. "The Light or Me" - (Caranthir) by mangacrack

5. "Eyesight To The Blind" - (Curufin) by mangacrack

6. "Never Ending Story" - (Ambarussa) by mangacrack

7. "Ashes remain" - (Fëanor) by mangacrack

8. "Forget my name tomorrow" - (Nerdanel) by mangacrack

9. "After the Rain" - (Celebrimbor) by mangacrack

"East of Eden" - (Maedhros) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

Written for the Fëanorian Week 2018. This is also a Gift Fic for Encairion, because holy hell I enjoy discussing ideas with you so much it's almost easier to create a story than write an essay as review. Besides your writing motivates and inspires me so much that I wanted to give something back ... and these are not even all the ideas&theories we cooked up together over the years. These are just the ones I finished in time.

Otherwise ... this was supposed to be a little 5+1 thing of roughly 3000 words. It somehow got out of hand. Lesson learned, don't throw AU ideas at me. Usual warnings apply.

 

In the end, he's his father's son. Maedhros stands before the chasm and as great as the desire is to end it here, he can't. He feels too much resentment towards the Valar. For centuries they fought against Morgoth, lost soldiers, women and children to the war. Yet they never had any hope in finishing it. Not without the Silmarils and the aid from the Valar. Now it's done and he's alone. And feared, that above else. Even among his own loyal warriors, the few that are still around, he's no longer counted as human. He fought too much, killed too much and survived too many odds to be still treated as normal. 

Maedhros inhales, smells the heavy smoke rising from the fires below and makes his decision. His brothers are dead. Makalaurë was the last one remaining and he just lost his life a few hours ago. As much as he wants to belief that Maglor didn't truly want to die, Maedhros knows that his brother hadn't much to live for either. The children they raised for a few years, are beyond their reach now. Elros never made a secret out of his torn feelings about living under the roof of kinslayers. Elrond might be another matter, but that was decades ago. 

By now Elrond spend time with Gil-galad, Círdan and other great names, who are better people. 

If Elrond mourns his foster father, than it's a credit to his good character and not, because either of them deserves it. 

But it's still unfair. Unfair that it ends like this, when all they wanted was to get rid of Morgoth. Father always knew what kind of creature Morgoth was. Right from the beginning, Fëanor didn't trust the Vala, when he was released from the Halls. He warned his sons to stay away from him and not believe a thing he might whisper in their ears. 

With a roar of defiance that flies over the dying Beleriand like a bird, Nelyafinwë Fëanorian throws the Silmaril into the fire and refuses to jump after it. When he comes down from the mountain, he meets a few surprised faces. None of the few soldiers, who accompanied him, thought they'd ever see him again. 

"After all the battles I fought, the hardships I survived, I refuse to give up now," he tells him. Determination shines in his eyes and in the dark night he looks like his father. "I'll welcome death, if it ever dares to approach me, but I won't end my life early, just because it'd be the easiest way out."

Maedhros leaves Beleriand, caring not the least, who is going to follow him. 

 

 

-

 

Anyone who sees him from afar mistakes him for a bonfire, a beacon of light only the bravest dare to approach. He becomes a legend, a whisper in the night and is spoken of only by those who've weathered many centuries already. In lack of a mission and his inability to let go, Maedhros returns to Himring. A few loyal warriors join him, though most of his people follow Celebrimbor. Together they make the fortress inhabitable again. As it turned out, not even Morgoth had been able to unseal the doors, when Maedhros left his home behind as the armies in the North started to surround them. 

"I'm surprised how well preserved the walls are," one of the warriors says to Maedhros. If he remembers correctly, the elf's family once served Celegorm. 

"My father taught me how to build and how to create," Maedhros says with a shrug. "It doesn't surprise me that the enemy wasn't able to set a foot over the threshold." 

The Elf is dutifully impressed and leaves Maedhros be. The Fëanorian knows it isn't going to be easy. The last time he lived here, he still had all of his siblings. Not to mention that this is an island now, though the tides allow crossing the miles to the shore on foot from time to time. Still, they going to need boats. Learn how to live with the ocean. 

But Maedhros refuses to yield. He won't give up now. Not when he survived Angband, torture and losing his father. Besides Morgoth might be gone, but Angband isn't. No matter how much Ulmo might try, he can't swallow and bury Angband completely. 

"I'll keep watch," Maedhros vows. "Others might soon forget what happened here, but I refuse to let evil raise again." 

 

 

Círdan is surprised to see him, when Maedhros visits him one evening. The fisher lord is on guard, but not outright hostile. Not that Maedhros would blame him, yet coming alone and unarmed helps a lot. 

"What do you want?" Círdan looks suspicious. "I didn't think you had the guts to come here. Ereinion is building a city in  Harlindon and after the news of your possible but not confirmed death, I never expected you to return here." 

The tone makes Maedhros smile a little. Whatever grudge Círdan has with him, it's not enough to make him budge. 

"I've settled in Himring again, with a few of those who are intend to stay loyal to me. I'll build a few ships to safely travel back and forth, but I've no intention to disturb you or the other realms. Please notify your foster-son that I'll keep an eye on the remains of Angband," Maedhros explains. "There are quite a few Maia and other creatures, which escaped the wrath of the Valar once Morgoth was thrown down. They might never return to old strength, but it'd be wise to remain careful." 

Almost against his will, Círdan nods. He mentioned the issue to Gil-galad. The sinking of Beleriand doesn't make the taint and the evil go away, though a fresh start can't harm anyone. Well, everyone but Maedhros. Círdan has seen the Fëanorian only a handful of times ever since Fëanor landed on the shores of Beleriand, but right now the tall warrior looks a little out of place. Even dressed in simple ropes, Maedhros can't hide the power and the authority that thrums through his veins. 

He's has grown used to the war and now he doesn't know what to do with himself, Círdan realizes.

A part of him pities the other Elf, yet when Maedhros turns around and vanishes into the night, he doesn't exactly look miserable or unhappy. 

When Círdan mentions his observations to Gil-galad in the morning, the King of the Noldor only sighs. 

"He was born to rule one day. With or without a crown, it doesn't matter to him," Gil-galad says a little wistfully, as if he understand far too well how Maedhros feels. "After so much suffering and loss, he has to pick himself up after each fall. How else can he justify the blood on his hands? Personal happiness comes second, it has to." 

Círdan pretends to understand, but in truth he does not. Never will, since the sea provides him with joy everyday. 

 

-

 

Years turn into decades and Gil-galad turns a blind eye on whatever Maedhros is up to. His survival isn't common knowledge, not among the Eldar and Gil-galad takes great care not to advertise the fact to the Sindar. Since he isn't sure how most of the Noldor would react, he'd rather not test the Sindar's temper. Though there are rumors among mortal fishermen that someone lives and reigns over the isles in the north, but thankfully no one listens to their tales.

Sometimes he can't help himself. Sometimes he writes a letter, asking for advice, for the opinion of an unrelated outsider or just some old tales about his father. 

Maedhros never fails to write back and something urges Gil-galad to preserve every single one. For Maedhros doesn't just write about Fingon, he has tales about the rest of the family as well. Pages over pages, telling outrages adventures of the younger Arafinwions, Aredhel's friendship with Celegorm and how her parents feared that she'd never turn into a proper lady. The letters never fail to make Gil-galad laugh and he publishes them under a false name. The Noldor need to be reminded that their history is more than just pain and loss. 

The books become famous, of course. When he's asked, Gil-galad admits that he doesn't write them himself, but that the true author wishes to remain unknown. 

 

-

 

The years drag on until the day Celebrimbor himself rides into his city, eyes blazing and with a great cape bearing the sigil of his house fluttering in the wind.

"Where is he?" Celebrimbor asks, as soon as he dragged Gil-galad inside and holds up the most recent book. He looks like as if he will care the answers out of Gil-galad if he has to.

They had quite a few arguments in the past. Heated ones, where every meeting ended in shouting matches and Gil-galad had learned to respect Celebrimbor's temper, his stubbornness and thus rather sends Elrond whenever he can. He likes to think they've reached a truce, an agreement that involves Gil-galad treating Elrond has his heir and in return he leaves Celebrimbor to do whatever he wants. In the last century they've managed to keep their meetings civil, the prospect of enough food and the safety of their people, easing their tempers somewhat.

The King of the Noldor blinks in surprise, unaware what Celebrimbor could mean.

It has to be serious, it's been a while since the Telperinquar Curufinwion, Grandson of Fëanáro made an appearance. Gil-galad thought that Elf had vanished with the War of Wrath and the news of his uncles demise.

Now that fiery warrior and fearsome leader that could've contested Gil-galad's claim on the crown, had he so desired, stands before him once again, drawn up to full height and his fëa crackles against the evening sky. His guards and a few servants watch the scene with apprehension. Elrond remains in the background, but he has his arms crossed over his chest and eyes are stern and full of barely contained emotion and Gil-galad realized that his friend had never talked about his feelings regarding the Fëanorians. Not once, not even in private and yet right now Elrond's polite demeanor threatens to crumble.

Celebrimbor's voice is a whisper as he bends down, "Tell me, Gil-galad. Where is my uncle?"

The Fëanorian's tone trembles with anger, emotions spilling forth in a manner Elrond tries to yet to hold back. But their eyes are the same, deep and fierce. Painted by memories of old and colored by a history Gil-galad in never going to comprehend.

His reign has lasted peacefully, because he learned early on not to judge anyone's past. They always had more than one reason why they should focus on the present and during the War of Wrath quite a few old enemies became friends and companions through the battles they shared together.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Gil-galad tries to deny. 

"Stop lying to me. Haven't I earned your honesty by now?" Celebrimbor hisses and frees Gil-galad's latest Lost Tales of History from it's confinement. The King sighs in defeat, yet the Fëanorian already continues, "I've had my suspicions, when these books first turned up. I figured, they were from one of my followers. Someone, who wished to avoid attention and send the scripts to you in order to make up for deeds in the past. But let me tell you, there aren't any other people left, who knew my mother well enough to write about which house she originally came from." 

"I guess it's not a surprise you figured it out," Gil-galad mumbles, rubbing his forehead. "I had the scripts copied as I received them, since I didn't wish to edit first hand accounts, when we have so few of them."

The King of the Noldor glances to Elrond, but the Peredhil's face doesn't betray anything. Elrond's expression is guarded, as always. But there's something in his eyes. An emotion so deep that he resembles Celebrimbor more than ever before and Gil-galad wonders how well he truly knows his cousin. 

They've talked about the content of the books. Quite often Elrond belonged to those first, who got to read, copy and comment on them. Gil-galad has seen Elrond read the books with great interest, yet never he got curious about how the King of the Noldor came to them.

With a sigh, Gil-galad admits, "He lives in Himring. Forgive me from keeping the news from you, but you might understand that I feared what kind of reaction the news of his survival would cause." 

"We're going to visit him," Elrond says with a finality that leaves no room for protest. 

 

-

 

During the war Maedhros' fëa burned like the sun itself. Hot and scorching anyone, who came too close. The effect has dampened a little and when he descends the steps with an amused smile Maedhros reminds Gil-galad of the Elf he met in his childhood. Back then he was tiny enough to fit into his father's arms. Gil-galad remembers tucking curiously at the long red bangs when they were introduced. As child he thought he was meeting one of the Valar his Ada always told him about and the silent feeling of awe never quite went away. 

"You complete and utter bastard," Celebrimbor yells and jumps over the railing, long before the boat is tied to the pier.

The younger Fëanorian is the very picture of anger and wrath, walks towards his uncle with determined steps and Gil-galad knows from past events that crowds part for him whenever Celebrimbor is in a mood like this. He envies his cousin for his natural charisma sometimes. Elrond is more quiet, but no less resolved to confront Maedhros about hiding away from the world. Though it's probably the fact that neither of them had an idea he survived, if Gil-galad understood the angry murmuring that accompanied him on the trip correctly.

"You insolent self-sacrificing coat hanger. If you're trying to hide from the world, do it right. But don't vanish from the face of Arda and than come back after a few decades, just to leave us guessing ," Celebrimbor continues his tirade and pokes Maedhros into his chest. "I thought, I was going mad, literally reading too much into an old book."

Elrond isn't saying anything, but he has crossed his arms over his chest and seems to be seconds away from tapping his foot on the ground. Gil-galad hates that look, because he loses his patience every time. He can't say how often Elrond has stared him into submission with nothing but silent resolve and a stare that could make Manwë quiver in fear.

Maedhros hasn't even bothered to move his hands out of his pockets. He remains relaxed and only raises an eyebrow as he says, "Anyone who compares you to Curufin is a blind idiot."

Gil-galad holds his breath as Celebrimbor's father is mentioned. That is a sore subject, which he avoids even hinting at. The only time he did, it took three year for Celebrimbor to talk to him again.

But Maedhros is unfazed and continues, flicking a finger against his stunned nephew's forehead.

"You might be the spitting image of your father, Telpe. But your heart, your soul and your actions are all Tyelko," Maedhros sighs and looks incredibly fond. "With the slight difference that you haven't hit me yet."

Celebrimbor's resolve crumbles. His voice wavers as he says, "I can still do that if you want. You certainly deserve it for letting us think you're dead all these years."

"Can I have a hug instead?" The question is addressed at Elrond as well.

When he gets no immediate reaction. Maedhros opens his arms and then it takes only a single heartbeat for the three men to fall into an embrace.

Gil-galad politely busies himself with unloading the boat, but when the wind turns he overhears, Celebrimbor saying, "I thought I was the last."

His heart breaks a little and Gil-galad is glad that the two-and-a-half Fëanorians found each other again. The rift between their people is still deep, even among the Noldor, but he can hope that they'll grow and learn.

He tells himself that there's hope, because the days that follow are nearly perfect. Celebrimbor stops acting as if everyone is out to get him, relaxes enough to joke around and let Gil-galad in on some of his more outragous plans. Elrond opens up in a similiar manner, for he basks in Maedhros' presence while the Fëanorian smiles and laughs. 

The sight almost takes Gil-galad's breath away. He doesn't know if it's love, remnants of a childhood crush or just general hero worship, but he takes it as a good sign. If Maedhros Fëanorian can move on from war and loss, than so can he. Perhaps they're truly and finally healing. 

 

-

 

Unlike Gil-galad, Maedhros is a bit more realistic about the future. He welcomes his guests into his home, shows Elrond the great fortress he heard so much about and could never visit during the war. Gil-galad is just at awe and confesses that his own city in Lindon is not that grant.

"Be glad that it doesn't have to be," Maedhros answers and then turns to discuss with Celebrimbor how they can repair the left wing.

While he's not alone on his island, he lives with Elves of various origin who only wish to be left alone and a few mortal fishers, so the repairs take time. Since Celebrimbor is the Lord of the remaining Fëanorian Host, he quickly agrees that sending trusted craftsmen is a good idea.

"Do you think we can keep your identity a secret?" Elrond wonders.

He knows enough Noldor, who will drop everything in order support the last Son of Fëanor. Especially if it's Maedhros, who still has a lot of support. It's mostly the other brothers, who get discredited and blamed for the Kinslayings.

Maedhros always seemed untouchable. Surviving Angband only reinforces that image.

Reading Elrond's thoughts, Maedhros smiles. His lips twitch in suppressed amusement as he says, "I surrendered the crown once, I've no compunctions of refusing it again, should someone get the idea of offering it to me."

It takes all of Celebrimbor's willpower not to say, 'Yes, because you're very capable of ruling without it.'

Already the books Maedhros has written are showing how deeply connected the surviving members of their race truly are. As Leader of the Fëanorian Host, Maedhros has been privy to a lot of politics that never made it into the history books. Casually he once described the good relations between Ambarussa and the Nandor, how they earned their respect enough to built Amon Ereb. The paragraph finishes with the sentence that it's a miracle that the hill, where Denethor's grave is build upon survived the great flood and the breaking of Beleriand.

It's just a small tale, but the effect cannot be denied, since Celebrimbor spotted Sindar and Silvan alike, on their way to the Grey Havens in order to ask Círdan to take them to their lost King's resting place.

You've a plan, Celebrimbor realizes after he watched his uncle for a while. You've already ideas brewing in the back of your mind. You'd never content yourself with living an unremarkable life, not with Morgoth finally dead and our family's legacy weighting on your shoulders.

He learns what exactly Maedhros is planning, when his uncle turns to him one day. He says, "You know that I've never been fond of boats. Do you think you could convince the Dwarves to build a bridge to the mainland?"

 

-

 

 

 

Many centuries later it's less of a bridge and more like an entire city. It turned out that the Khazad threw all their skills and their enthusiasm at the project, seeing it as worthy replacement of the lost cities of Nogrod and Belegost. It towers over the bay, finally completed thanks to the aid of the Numerorans. At first the Dwarves were skeptic, but Maedhros diplomatic skills ensured that they worked along side each other. Earning respect and friendship over time.

It surprises anyone but Maedhros, when Numerorans and Dwarves settle in the new city, which is made of stone and build on water.

Trade flourishes. Many Fëanorians rediscover old skills and become craftsmen again. Others refuse to put down their sword and prefer to guard the mainland instead. With the growing population the threat the Orcs present has lessened, they never quite go away.

 

-

 

There's an inscription on the gate. It reads They died for us in numerous languages and every visitor has to walk beneath it, if they wish to explore the wonder that is Himring.

 

-

 

It's late at night as Maedhros steps out and watches over his city. It has many names by now, but to the world it's still known as Himring. That stuck, mostly because Maedhros insisted on it. There are various districts that show influences of those who build it. The Dwarfish Port in the South that is also their connection to the Blue Mountains. The settlement further east that harbours those, who prefer to live on land. Many of them are Elves and Rangers, guardians of Arnor.

It's not quite peaceful, not like Lindon is. A lot of the political playground has shifted to Himring. In a way, Maedhros takes care of the international trade, the ships coming from Numenor and their relationship to the Dwarves through Ered Luin and Celebrimbor, while Gil-galad keeps the remaining Eldar happy.

Maedhros is glad not to be involved in that. He has no patience for those, who remain set in their views. He doesn't even know what the Sindar are up to these days. All he cares about that there's talk of building an university. With most of the constructions finished, the descendants of those who shared his dream right from the beginning and helped him build Ost-Eruchín, strife to share and compare their knowledge. They had been forced to do so, early on when Numenor provided materials the Dwarves kept demanding and wished to be included in return.

The result are the seven great towers that surround the city.

It's one of the few concession Maedhros made to the past. While Himring's origin is definitely Fëanorian, he never wished to rule. If he has turned into an advisor for the city council and an impartial judge, than he won't argue. But he's not Lord of the City and neither is he King Maedhros, no matter how much Galadriel complains.

"Your father would be proud."

Maedhros flinches and old battle reflexes have him ready as a figure raises from the sea. It takes a moment for him to recognize Ulmo.

"I can only hope," the Fëanorian says with a shrug. He has buried that feelings a long time ago, rather focused on the present than on the past. "For I will never see him again."

But yes, in the lonely hours he often wondered what Fëanor would've thought of this. Maedhros likes to think he'd bounce down the streets in excitement, demanding to see everything for that's the father that Maedhros wants to remember.

"It's a loss that he's not here to see it. Anyone of your family." Ulmo hums beneath his breath.

The Vala looks content. It's been thousands of years since the last met, the War of Wrath is an Age away, but Maedhros isn't blind. While building the City of Eru's Children - that name, aside from the original one, is the one that Maedhros like the most - he heard the sea whispering to him. He always knew that they could not succeed without Ulmo's blessing, but when they found the waters more shallow than suspected and the constructions went on without any major disasters, he took it as a good sign.

"What do you want?" Maedhros wants to know.

He doesn't interfere with day-to-day politics, but he keeps an eye on the changes within the society. From time to time he reminds the young, why they came together in the first place. To this day the great ships take detours in order to avoid the waters of Angband, even though it'd lessen their journey considerably. Yet the citizen's of Ost-Eruchín know what the cold winds from the north means and they're all aware of the danger that lurks in the water.

Maedhros temper threatens to snap, he's not a saint and being confronted with a Vala brings out the worst in him. He buried a lot pain over the centuries.

Ulmo doesn't say anything, only opens his hand to reveal a gleaming jewel.

Maedhros gasps as the stares at the Silmaril. He waits for the onslaught, the madness that came with the Oath, but his mind remains silent. There's nothing, not even a whisper.

"I'd say that it belongs to you, but I can see in your eyes that you don't truly want it," Ulmo says and closes his fist again. "We've not interfered in your work, Nelyafinwë, but your accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. You've archived more peace and understanding between the Children with your project than we could've ever dreamed of."

Taking a deep breath, Maedhros waits for Ulmo to continue. There have been very few news from the West, only whatever the visitors from Aman carry to Numenor, but Maedhros refused to listen to gossip.

"This is about Mairon, isn't it?" Maedhros asks and contemplates the Maia that moved to the city a few years ago.

He nearly fooled anyone else, including his nephew. But his suspicions were confirmed the moment Maedhros looked into Annatar's eyes and his guest flinched. In fear. In guilt.

"You managed to do, what no one else even thought possible," Ulmo nods, confirming Maedhros theory. "We waited for the inevitable betrayal, yet it never came."

"Everyone deserves a second chance." Maedhros knows that there are some wounds that will never heal, but the Eldar have to realize that the world will move on, with or without them.

Ulmo nods.

"I'd remain wary, if I were you. While I sense no malicious intend and truly hope that Mairon will find peace for his soul, the past cannot be erased. Not for him and not for you either. Memories remain."

With a long haul Ulmo throws the Silmaril back into the sea. Maedhros watches it sink beneath the surface, not as dispassionately as he wants, but his face betrays no emotions when the jewel disappears.

Yet ... there's a new light illuminating the bay.

It may be his imagination, but Maedhros could swear that breathing gets a little easier. The stench of Angband that always blows around his nose also seems to lessen.

"It will remain at the bottom of the bay," Ulmo says towards Maedhros. His wet hair flows in the wind and the Vala wades back into the water. He turns to Maedhros one last time. "I promise that it will be well protect and it cannot be removed. Yet I hope the light of your father's work will help to protect yours, Nelyafinwë. There're enough restless spirits at sea, I have no need to for more."

Maedhros scoffs and watches the Vala become one with the sea again. He heads back inside.

 

-

 

There's little what can surprise Maedhros at this point, not when he has seen everything after watching a befuddled Maia trail behind his nephew like a puppy, but it completely takes him by surprise when a figure crawls onto the small beach near the main harbour one evening. A part of him would call it a coincidence, but it's only been three weeks since Ulmo gifted the city with a Silmaril.

Maedhros stops in his tracks, angles his head and then forgets the breath as the figure raises to its feet.

The first clear view of the face he gets is Maglor spitting out sand.

"Where have you been?" are the first words he speaks, voice thundering through the air.

Maedhros knows that he sounds as if his brother is just late for dinner, but there's hardly an appropriate reaction for the dead returning to life.

Maglor grins a little sheepish, wrings out his clothing and makes a dismissive gesture with his hand. As if he's only gotten lost and not been dead for over two thousand years.

"Curvo says Telpe is not allowed to marry until the rest of us has figured out how to get our legs back."

His little brother grins like the little shit he is and pats Maedhros on the shoulder. It takes a while for the oldest Fëanorian to grasp that there are scales on Cáno's skin . Faint and fading, but definitely there.

"Makalaurë," Maedhros thunders. "Explain yourself."

Yet the Fëanorian can't decide if he should run after his brother or turn back to the sea and stare at the unmoving surface.

End Notes:

Am I an insane traitor for slightly shipping Gil-galad with Maedhros? The dynamic would be so messed up, it's almost beautiful again. Regardless if Fingon had a relationship with Maedhros in the past or not. Guess, what kind of porn I'm going to write one day?

The second part just sort of happened. What I originally wanted to write was Maedhros fighting and defeating Sauron in single combat, but then Fëanor interfered and claimed his son could to better.

"Here I am, This is me" - (Maglor) by mangacrack

 

When he walks away, he never wants see a familiar face again. The sea is crashing against the cliffs beneath, calling him, shouting his name. But Maglor burns with anger and ignores Ulmo. In his imagination the Silmaril hit somewhere it hurts. Throwing the jewel away had been easier than he thought it would be. After everything he had done, had lost, the Silmaril should be more worth to him. Unfortunately he's accustomed to power. He doesn't need to the light of the Two Trees to twist and bend the world to his likening. 

His palm burns a little, but after a quick inspection Maglor realizes that the scar will fade over time. He's too familiar with the Silmaril and how the jewel truly works in order to suffer from it's effects. 

Maglor turns south and starts walking. He needs to get away, put some distance between him and ... everyone else. He's not made for company as long as he feels like tearing down mountains and filling the sea with blood. Death is easy. He has killed so often, so many times that he barely needs to flick his wrist. He's an expert with the sword, good with a knife and sufficient with the bow. He's in possession of all three, when he walks down the shore, ready to fade out of history. 

The Eldar can take care of themselves. None of them wanted their help in the end. Never asked for advice despite the general confusion what to do with the reclaimed Silmarils. 

One day Maglor might tells them that he and Nelyo saved a majority from a severe poisoning, but it's unlikely. They aren't going to listen anyway. They never did. They never wanted to be saved. 

With great effort Maglor buries his hate and his anger. Spite is what keeps him from lashing out, spite is what keeps him alive. Just because he's sick of their company, it doesn't mean that he's going to do them the favor of dying. Seeking death, because a few hypocrites guilt tripped him into feeling remorse is out of question. 

They succeeded with Nelyo. For that alone the remaining Eldar deserve to stumble and fail. Nelyo was a better person than he ever was. 

With his brother gone, Maglor doesn't see any reason why he should stay and help those, who don't want it from him anyway. 

Hurting and full of raging grief, Maglor vanishes. For centuries he'll evade the Eldar, explore realms and countries beyond Eriador. 

Fëanor always had been driving by his curiosity. The least Maglor can do is stay true to his father as far as it's possible. If they don't want him as a Lord, as advisor or at least as warrior at their side, his former friends and followers can stay right where they are. In the past days a lot of people have made it abundantly clear that they neither need nor want his help. 

Let alone his company. 

-

Maglor walks until his feet are bleeding. He doesn't care in which direction he's going as long as the realms of the Eldar lay behind him. After a short break, in which he eats, sleeps and rests a little, Maglor resumes walking again. Anger drives him and he refuses to care. It can't get any worse than it already is. 

If his heart throbs from time to time, out of grief and loneliness than Maglor pretends not to care. 

Sometimes he meets other travellers or ends up in a harbor. Since they're alone men, who are far friendlier to strangers than Elves, Maglor usually stays for a few nights. Restocks his supplies, gets a new coat and enjoys the change in his diet. Yet men are far more observant than the Eldar usually give them credit for, because they're bound to notice his abrasive behavior. Since the war in the north is a well known fact, most do the math and don't ask if he has lost someone. 

Instead they want to know if he's alright? If he's hurt? 

His answer is always the same. 

He's fine. He doesn't a healer and he'll be on his way tomorrow. 

He's so fucking fine he could scream. 

 

 

Of course he's bound to run into an Elf sooner or later. The Avari spread out wide, after refusing to make the journey. 

In the first century Maglor avoids them. He only talks to them if he has and thankfully they don't ask too many question. Though his appearance should be enough to tell them, what's going on. The light in his eyes, the dark color of his hair and the shade of his skin differs greatly from those he meets on the road. It doesn't take a lot to guess that he belongs to the Tatyar. 

Over time his hate and his anger fades a little. The desire to see the world burn subsides and when he meets a Clan of Elves, who is related to Míriel and he stays for a while. He lives at the edge of their community, sings during the evenings and entertains them with songs and tales. He wouldn't call it friendship, but the tribe is less annoying the all of the other Elves he met after leaving Beleriand behind. 

Unfortunately news travel wide, even among the Avari tribes that mostly keep to themselves. 

One day the tribe gets a visitor, who met someone who fought in the war against the dark god. The tales is a little outrageous but mostly true. 

"They have lost any sense and reason," the wanderer tells them. "Rumors have that Elves were killing Elves. Over leader- and kingship. Over jewellery." 

Maglor's face twist into a dark and horrifying expression. Thankfully no one is paying attention to him. Murder isn't unknown among the Avari tribes. Feuds happen, but it's usually the tragic end of a romance gone wrong. Anything else is considered a waste. Isn't Arda big enough in order for the fighting parties to avoid each other? He sees a lot of shaken heads that night and the wildest theories, what could be up with their kin in the west. 

Most come to the conclusion that refusing to make the journey was a wise decision and that the tribe should continue the way the always have. 

 

-

 

"You were one of them," Maglor's distantly related uncle says after the visitor has left. "I've noticed how your eyes changed during the tale. While you often keep to yourself and don't talk that much, in general you're a person who doesn't complain and does as he's told. Last night your entire composure changed. You wanted to speak out. I knew you were a warrior, given your skill with the sword and your relation to Míriel, but that's not how you learned how to lead, isn't it?" 

Maglor snorts and doesn't answer. Why, if his distant uncle guessed the truth already? 

"You're a Kinslayer," his uncle concludes. Sadness and disappointment shines in his eyes. It's impossible to tell, if it's because the fact itself or Maglor's lies. "You killed your own kin. In large battles and without any personal reason."

"It's complicated," Maglor says. He doesn't expect his uncle to understand.

In this part of the world the tribes know each other by name. Are related to another twice over due to marriages and children marrying cousins back and forth. For them it's inconceivable not to know the name of your neighbour. That Maglor mostly killed Elves, who were just another face in the crowd is beyond them. Nor would they understand Thingol's refusal to aid the Noldor.  

What Maglor expects is ... harsh words. Exile. Accusations. Being called a monster. A knife at his throat. Maglor waits for the blow. 

The hand on his shoulder makes him look up in surprise. 

"Canafinwë," his uncle tells him and pulls back to the fire. He does it with great care, of he's afraid Maglor will break. Or run. "Tell us the truth. Tell us your story."

He does. Maglor talks, sings and screams, depending on which part of history he currently tries to get across. The fire reacts to each of his moods and there's a guard specifically assigned to keep Maglor from accidentally burning down the clearing. That Maglor barely notices the fire, it the tribes greatest concern of all. They suffer with him, listen closely and shed tears, when Maglor is unable to do so. 

It takes the entire night. When Maglor is finally done, breakfast is being handed out and he falls quiet. His throat his sore and he wants to hide. 

Run. 

Being allowed to stay isn't something he excepted. 

"Why?" He asks his uncle in confusion. 

"Family is important," his uncle says and reminds Maglor of his own father. "I can't claim to understand what motivated you to go so far, yet I can't say that my reaction would've been much different, had I found myself in your place, when the world went dark." 

The kindness in his uncle's voice almost kills him. Little has touched him ever since Fëanor died and stopped making sense. Shouldering another weight and another didn't seem to matter anymore. Crying, laughing ... feeling. Any of this didn't seem to matter anymore. So Maglor just stopped. 

His uncle asks, "Do you still have family, Canafinwë? Someone, who's waiting for you?" 

The question is so bizarre that Maglor laughs. He doesn't know what, but ... it's just funny. Of course he has family. Lots of it. It's just they're either dead or they hate him. 

"I've sons. Two of them. Strong beautiful children," he finally answers. "And I miss them terribly." 

From the moment, where Maglor threw the Silmaril into the sea he has wondered what he's supposed to do with his life. Apparently it took him five centuries and journey of thousands of miles to find the answer. 

 

-

 

Maglor departs soon after the fateful night. Delaying the inevitable would just end up hurting everyone. Maglor sharpens his sword and waits until his throat has healed. A few of his companions worry for him, but he assures them that it's all he ever needed in order to defend himself. The day he finally leaves the tribe behind he has come to love, he receives more hugs than he anticipated. Well, at least this time he had the decency to say goodbye. 

His grand-uncles, brother to Míriel as he has learned, nods quietly and accompanies him to the edge of the forest. 

They part in silence, but it's enough. They've said what is to be said. 

"You're always welcome," his uncle offers him and Maglor is glad, though he doesn't believe he's ever going to return. 

 

-

 

Guilt drives him to Eriador. The world is large and he'd like to travel again, but he departed in haste after the war. Even if they have no particular wish to talk to him, he needs to know if his sons are doing well. Since it's the fastest way to travel, Maglor swallows his pride and his fears and steps on the next ship that will carry him to Númenor. 

"I must be mad," he murmurs to himself, when the ship slides across the ocean. 

For he can feel the sea singing to him. The sailors don't ask for his name or for payment. Not after Maglor has smiled and summoned enough wind to carry them out of the harbor. It should make the journey pleasant enough, but his fingers are tingling. Whenever he looks at the water, the surface shines. Reflects the sun at day, the moon and the stars at night. It seems as if the Silmaril is just beyond the surface. All he has to do is dip his hand into the water. 

Perhaps it'd even work, but Maglor doesn't want to risk drawing attention to himself. 

During the months of the journey that the Kings and Queens had settled on a new reckoning. They called it the Second Age now. Maglor doesn't know how he feels about that. Apparently he's ancient history already, but he listens to the sailors and adds their songs and their language to his ever growing collection. 

 

-

 

The Haven of Rómenna is loud and busy. Maglor is a little taken aback how vast and beautiful Númenor is. High towers, white stones and races mingling on the street. No one bats an eye, when a dark-haired elf walks by. At least a quarter of Númenor's citizens are Elves. Not just any kind of Elves, those coming from Middle Earth. Maglor stumbles over Vanya Teleri as well. 

"Oh, after the war the host took an awful long time to leave," an older man recounts for him. He is four centuries old, because the Valar offered the brave Edain a gift of longevity. 

Maglor doesn't know if he should be bitter or happy about it. Andreth enters his mind, as does Haleth. Both women greatly suffered, because their elvish lovers would out-live them. Not that it would've helped, Aegnor still died decades before Andreth did. But it'd have made their time together a lot of easier. Haleth relocated her people, because she couldn't stand the thought of Caranthir remaining young while she got older each day. But it's not a surprise, in the end. It's just another sin, just another oversight which can be placed at the Valars feet. 

 

-

 

It's early morning and the capital still very quiet. Elros loves the brief time, when the Elves had retried after spending the night singing to the starts and his own people hadn't rising yet. 

"Ada, you shouldn't be up yet," his oldest son scold him. Elros smiles when Vardamir offers him tea. "The day will be hectic enough. I don't understand why you don't use the change to sleep in, when you get the opportunity." 

"It's an old habit, my son," Elros laughs. "Besides I'm growing older. I'll enjoy the time I've left in this world. I fear I'll be tied to the bed soon enough." 

Vardamir sighs. Of course, his father is right. Númenor might be prospering, but it's undeniable that it's King had grown old in the last years. Practically over night his hair turned white, he stopped sailing to Middle Earth, because the journey proved to be too stressful and he surrendered most of his duties to his children. Elros Tar-Minyatur had turned into the elderly grandfather, who was happy to watch his descendants run over the yard and play pranks. 

What worried Vardamir more than anything else, was that his uncle Elrond already stayed far longer than usual. Perhaps he sensed, what the entire family dreaded. 

Elros was dying. They had to face the fact that the King might go to sleep one evening, but would never wake up again. 

Just when Vardamir intents to reprimand his father for sprouting such pessimism, a figure appears at the end of the stairs. Too tall for a servant or a guard. Just as Vardamir turns around to politely ask the Elf to leave the King alone for the next hour at least, he hears his fathers gasp. Elros' wrinkled hands grasps Vardamir's arm, reaching out to steady himself, because his knees threaten to give out under him. 

Noticing the tears in his father's eyes Vardamir wants to ask if he's alright, if he needs a healer. That's until hears the word leaving the King's mouth. 

"Ada?" Elros voices his insane day dream. It has to be a dream. So often he wished for the Fëanorian just to appear, but it never turned out to be true. Like Elrond and many others, he came to believe that Maglor had perished in the sinking of Beleriand. "Ada, is that you?" 

Elros takes a few unsure steps to the man, who raised him. 

He expects Maglor to say something, yet in the end the Fëanorian only crosses the remaining distance and takes his son into his arms. Strong arms press the King of Númenor against a broad chest and it's as if no time had passed at all. Forgotten are the hours of endless wondering, the wishful sighs and Elros aged body. The paternal embrace turns him into a young boy again. It's exactly the same as back then. He is exactly the same. 

Maglor is smiling at him. Kind and with full of love, though he doesn't have to. He didn't have to love and care so much for them as he did. As he does.

"Look at you, Elros," Maglor finally says and strokes Elros white hair. "You've grown beyond what I've ever imagined. A beautiful kingdom full of peace and tolerance. Visitors from all over the world. Even in the remotest part of Arda children know your name."

"Are you proud?" Elros asks as if they aren't talking about a kingdom, but the drawing of a child.

But Maglor understands. It breaks his heart, seeing Elros like this. He heard rumors during the war that the Peredhil had been given a choice, but he never thought much about it. Yet he can see why. Elros always wanted to build, shape and create. He had plans, ambitions. It would hurt him seeing his people wither and die, seeing a descendant fall into darkness or his own family turn cruel and greedy.

"Of course, I am proud of you," Maglor says with enough conviction he can manage. "You've archived more in four hundred years than I ever managed in my entire life. It humbles me, seeing you happy and surrounded with children of your own."

Maglor's eyes travel to Vardamir, who slowly realizes who exactly the elf must be.   

"Makalaurë Fëanárion, I'm deeply honored," Elros' son finally says, when he regains his senses. "My name is Vardamir Nólimon and as Prince of Númenor I'm telling you that you're welcome to stay in my house for as long as you desire." 

Eyebrows up at his hairline, Maglor answers with dry humor, "That's a far warmer welcome than I expected to receive." 

Elros pulls away a little, but ultimately refuses to let go of his father. He puts more weight on the Fëanorian that it's necessary, but to the hells with proper decor. He's an old man and has just been reunited with the only parent that matters to him. He's allowed to indulge. 

"Well, Elrond is visiting as well," Elros mentions. "I bet, he'll be happy to shout at you for as long as you desire. It'd be good for him to get it off his chest." 

 

End Notes:

Maglor's survival in the book is a bit ambitious. Sometimes he drown, sometimes he fades ... personally I'm to opinion that had Maglor lived beyond throwing the Silmaril into the sea, he would have turned up in Middle Earth sooner or later. After Celebrimbor's death the very least. Or perhaps I just can't have Elrond suffering from another person leaving him behind. So, there ... happy ending.

"Wake me up Inside" - (Celegorm) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

*screams into the void* Why is it so hard to write Celegorm? Argh!

Short Note: Thingol, Olwë and Elmo are brothers. Elmo has Galathon as canoncial son, I usually add Eöl and Oropher. Celeborn and Galathil are Galathon's son. Nimloth is the daughter of Galathil. Not sure how Amdír fits into this, but it's only said he's an Elf of Doriath. Since got to be King of Lórien and not Celeborn, I guess he must have been important in Thingol's court somehow. For fun, I threw Haldir into this as well.

 

"Lord Celeborn, we have found an outsider near the camp," Haldir informs him one night. He whispers the words in his ear discreetly.

Celeborn turns towards his cousin and raises an eyebrow. There has to be a reason why Haldir wants to keep the news a secret. The war is still raging and at this state they shelter anyone, who is not working for the enemy. During the last year Celeborn doesn't even react to the few Noldor they picked up anymore. What does he care if they're from Gondolin, Himring or from Sirion? They're all fighting to stay alive after all.

"Show me what has you so concerned," Celeborn orders and curses that they have so few capable warriors.

The Kinslayings have thinned their ranks out, many more joined the Host from the West. Insanity in Celeborn's eyes, who is currently the last of the House of Thingol. He's not sure if Oropher counts. He hasn't heard from him a while, years passed since the last confirmation that he's still alive. Besides his uncle always lived outside Doriath, mingling with their Nandor kin and marrying into the remnants of Denethor's family.

It means that he's alone. There is hardly anyone left.

Haldir is one of the last relatives that remain and Celeborn trusts his judgement. His cousin had been too young to fight, when they fled Doriath, but he had grown since then.

Sometimes I wished he had been Elwing's husband, Celeborn signs. It'd have gotten us into less trouble.

For Haldir had a good head on his shoulders. Evident once again, when they climb a tree and Celeborn follows Haldir's pointed finger.

He expects a monster, one of the escaped prisoners that are neither Elf nor Orc. Instead he finds a figure that is too tall and too well fed to be an Orc. He has also too much hair to be one of Morgoth thralls. It gleams in the moonlight, silver and white.

"Is he one of us?" Celeborn whispers. "One of the Mithrim?"

Haldir quickly gestures him to be silent. Before Celeborn can ask why, the Elf in the distance raises his head. Looks around and seems to listen. Celeborn freezes. He cannot possible have heard them. Not even elvish ears are that good. There are several miles between them, they are protected by the trees and a loud roaring river separates them. Their people are well hidden and the howling wind drowns out whatever noise the campers produce. Yet the Elf on the other side is definitely looking in their direction, even though there are a few more potential hiding spots in the area.

'He has been following us in the last few days,' Haldir communicates. 'Keeps to himself. Not sure if he is alone, appears only at night.'

'No trails? ' Celeborn wants to know. He's not the best person, when it comes to defending their people to outside forces. Just like his wife his strength has always been to keep the peace between various fractions, but ever since Mablung's brother died the task of keeping an eye on potential attackers had fallen to him.

As talented and determined as he is, there are a few decisions Haldir cannot make alone.

'We have no idea how he stays hidden.' The younger Elf shakes his head.


-


They don't invite the strange Elf. He never gets too close and his identity remains a mystery, but Haldir theorizes that he keeps the Orcs away. Somehow. At first they're relieved and discuss if the Elf is perhaps one of the Maia that came from the West with Host.

Unfortunately they make a disturbing discovery a few weeks later.

"They were torn apart," Haldir states as he crouches over the corpse. They had been Orcs, so he's not overly sympathic, but it looks like as if they were killed by a huge animal. "Were they attacked by their own wargs?"

Wargs, they found out, are far more intelligent than they initially suspected. According to the small Noldor group, they are even capable of speech, even if it's just the one spoken in Angband.

"No, the marks around the wound are too large for wargs," another warrior says, pointing towards a broken neck.

It's one of a Noldor. Celeborn doesn't like him, but while the war rages around them, he will take what he can get. Cause that's not much in the first place, but he has learned that this particular one has fought at King Fingolfin's side and was forced to leave the host after a troll shattered every bone in his left hand. It has healed, mostly. He can defend himself against a band of Orcs, but it's not enough to fight in the army anymore.

Celeborn will never admit it, but the advice he gives invaluable.

"A beast larger than a warg?" Celeborn questions. "Do those even exist?"

Sure there are wolves and mountain lions, but Morgoth has breed wargs to be larger than any other carnivore.

"A bear maybe?" Haldir shrugs, but he knows it's unlikely.

They agree it has to be one of Morgoth creatures that escaped Angband and with a shudder Celeborn reminds them that the great wolf Carcharoth who attacked Doriath once, was the biggest animal he had ever seen. Not even Huan, Luthien's hound that accompanied her on the journey, was that size.

"It would fit the size of the paw prints I've seen on occasion," Haldir muses and looks worried. "A relative maybe. Carcharoth died and got buried with the remains of Huan under a big Oak. It's said even in death they're eternally fighting each other, making sure that their opponent's spirit never finds rest."

Celeborn doesn't want to believe such stories, but it'd be hardly the first time something weird happened in Doriath. Mablung once mumbled that is was a side-effect of the girdle that things don't die as they are supposed to, but he never gave it much thought.

And yet there has to be a reason, why father pressed that we leave the Kingdom behind after the Kinslayings, Celeborn remembers Galathon ordering everyone to leave Doriath behind. He had always thought it was all the death that sullied their home, the thought that would've to scrub away to blood of the Kinslayers in order to live there again, but perhaps there was more to the decision.

"Keep your eyes open," Celeborn orders. He can't help, but look around. "We don't know if the beast is still around. So far it may have only killed Orcs, but who knows how long it remains this way."


-


"You look worried," Galadriel tells him one evening.

They've found shelter in the mountains and the group voted to stay here for the next few seasons. The goal is still to make it past the Blue Mountains, but the War and winter approaching, it's unlikely they'd make it in time.

Celeborn sighs and crosses the arms over his chest.

"I am worried. Not just about the War, the Valar or what our future may bring," he admits. His stomach churns at the discovery they made a five days ago. "Haldir reported that the beast that has been following us, apparently eats all wargs and orcs it kills."

Galadriel raises an eyebrow. She makes a strange sight with her braided hair and the armor she's wearing. Somehow she wounded up to be the driving force, the person who bullies grieving wives back onto their feet, telling them that there will be time for mourning once they get to safety. They say it's because she was Melian's student, but Celeborn believes that his love has always been this way. Sometimes he forgets that Galadriel lived through such a journey once already.

We should be grateful that we don't have to worry about freezing winter in eternal darkness as well, Celeborn thinks, before he yields to his wife's questioning gaze.

"Haldir saw the beast transform." Celeborn swallows at the vivid images that Haldir described. "We have seen it hiding in the shadows. For someone this size, it's very stealthy. But we never made a connection between the lone Elf and the beast until it lost its fur. One moment it's on all fours, eating warg hearts raw and the next there's the Elf ... doing the same, just with two hands!"

If they could be called hands. Apparently they're more claws, sharp and deadly, just like the pointed teeth. It's questioning, if that Elf is truly an Elf at all. If he's still human or just another of Morgoth's experiments.

"Sauron is known for his trickery and for the many shapes he can take, but in this case I don't believe it's him. He's too busy supporting his master, the Host is doing good work of cornering his armies," Galadriel hums. "And while I've noticed our traveller as well, I never connected him with the beast. Though that would explain the strangeness of their minds."

"What are we supposed to do?" Celeborn asks for advice. Galadriel's power's go beyond his imagination, but his wife is rarely wrong, when it comes to such matters.

He'd kill the beast if a single arrow could do the deed, but he highly doubts it. The dead Orcs tried that already.

"As long as he's not harming anyone, leave him alone," Galadriel advices. "Ignore his existence. We don't know what kind of curse has befallen the Elf, but I'm afraid that there's we can do to help him."


-


One day the beast vanishes. Celeborn only notices it, because they have start defending themselves against the stray bands of Orcs again and only then he realizes how good the beast's presence did for them. Sometimes he wonders what happened to it, but accordingly to Galadriel the Elf doesn't live a happy life.

I hope you find your peace, Celeborn prays one night. The war is finally over, they say. Morgoth is gone and they can start anew. Some hurts and grudges will never truly die, but he can pity a single Elf who is most likely victim of a tragedy.

Not soon after his daughter is born and Celeborn forgets the beast's existence.


-


"Is she alright?" Celeborn storms into the room and stops in his tracks, when he sees Celebrían sleeping in Galadriel's arms. He sinks onto the bed, a weight falling of his shoulders and he buries his nose in his daughter's hair. He has to hold back the tears.

An entire week his daughter has been lost and they already feared for the worst. Eriador is far safer than Beleriand was, but there are enough dangers lurking around. A small child could easily come to harm.

"She's unharmed," Galadriel says and smiles down at Celebrían. "Due to an old companion of ours. He brought her back after finding her wandering around north of our home."

Celeborn tries to figure out what his wife means, follows her pointed finger and gasps, when he sees the beast sleeping in the backyard. Slowly he gets up, opens the window and leans forward to get a better look. It's the first time he sees it up close. The fur is white as they always suspected and the beast is truly as big as Carcharoth was. But he's less horrifying than he always thought it would be. Still dangerous, most likely, but he can sense nothing malicious in it.

"He found her?" Celeborn whispers and figures that he now owes a debt to a wild wolf.

Galadriel nods and seems to be lost in thought for a moment. "I have heard rumors before that there's a white wolf, who leads children back to their homes. He keeps to himself and doesn't come this far south very often, but our scouts and many travellers know him. He appears to help the lost find their way back."

Most likely, because he's a lost soul himself, Celeborn thinks.

He resolves to thank the wolf properly in the next morning, but somehow it vanishes unseen. A guard claims it jumped over the wall and for a moment Celeborn considers tracking it down, but Galadriel's firm gaze banishes that idea entirely.

"I sensed that he's afraid," she tells him one evening. "He hides in that terrible form, for he's afraid what we would say to his face. Keep that in mind, dear husband, should you ever cross path again."


-


They don't. At least not anytime soon, but Celeborn learns that the beast becomes somewhat famous. There are tales of Rácisca or Fánahu, as the children often call him.

Warriors learn to keep an eye out for him. Sometimes they band together, when the situation requires it, but as far as Celeborn is aware, very few suspect that Fánahu can walk on two legs. What surprises him are the tales how easily the white wolf can cross the Misty Mountains, but they take it as warning sign, whenever they year grows cold and Fánahu is hunting in the lower regions. No one dares to cross the mountains until the wild wolf does and Celeborn suspects it saves many lives over the years.


-


Sometimes he dreams of a different life. Of times, when he ran with brothers instead of pack mates. He didn't use to be so lonely, but he can't bring himself to live among the immortal ones either. They look at him with suspicion. Pity sometimes, but what drives him away is their fear.

He can smell it, it hunts him day and night.

Since they don't like either of his faces, he stays away.

Only wolves and wargs keep him company. Over the years he collected a bunch that is smarter than serving the shadows. His pack is still dangerous, but they refuse to bow to Orcs and the shadows. They live in the North and they're free.

"You've no ambition," a she-warg tells him one evening. Her muzzle pokes into his side. Her body is warm, approaching her next cycle and he will probably sire pups with her.

Not that he cares about raising them, he never does. But children are strong, are brighter than the average wolf. Some have moved south to live among the Eldar, who appreciate the long lifespans of his pups. He doesn't name them, rarely keeps track of them, but he doesn't deny that they're his.

He's just not ... their father.

"You could become our leader," the she-warg eggs him on and raises her tail to suggest she's ready. "The King of all Wolves and Wargs."

He growls as he mounts her. He's not a King. He's monster. A monster without a name. He left his own behind, buried with three dead children.


The twins had been infants. Pups, too young to survive alone.

And the King had been a child, too, when Celegorm killed him.

 

Though the question that haunted the wolf if Dior had been his and if the Elf, he once had been had killed his own son. Maybe. The world denied the possibility, but his nose never betrayed him. Scents don't lie. Blood is blood and blood had spread over the floor, revealing the truth and that had been the first time the wolf had howled. But ... he isn't sure. Hundreds of years and he's still lingering at a 'maybe' ... and he doesn't want to die and find out the truth.

He doesn't know what he'd do if it is the truth.

He doesn't want to know if he only hallucinated and became a ghost, because he's unable to let go.

It's good like this, the wolf tells himself. The wolf is only an animal. A beast that doesn't have to concern itself with such worries.


-


Celeborn shudders as another howl echoes through the air. The white wolf has been at it for three days straight and the sound is upsetting everyone. For that reason alone he hopes that Celebrimbor will survive. The Sindar glances towards the tent, where Elrond is trying to archive the impossible. Galadriel is helping him, leaving Celeborn and Gil-galad left to do nothing.

Perhaps he should be grateful for that. He can't say what is worse, cleaning Celebrimbor's wounds or staring at his own, clean hands. The screaming he can't escape either way. That hasn't stopped ever since Celebrimbor had been delivered. By messengers of the enemy.

The Orc had laughed, face twisted into a terrible form of delight, when Gil-galad had killed him. Celeborn understands the desire for vengeance. He would've done the same, Celebrimbor deserves that much. Even if he's a Fëanorian.

"He's going to die, isn't he?" Celeborn asks without looking up.

"I hope he does," Gil-galad answers. There's no emotion in his voice. No hate, no grief. Only cold comfort. "There's no coming back from that."

"His uncle did," Celeborn says.

He has met Maedhros. Seen him from afar, but mostly refused to deal with him in the War of Wrath. He bore the same marks that Celebrimbor. But knowing that it is possible to survive such torture doesn't necessarily mean it's a goal to strife for. Especially since none of them can say if Celebrimbor will ever be the same again.

Gil-galad shakes his head. "I've seen his hands. He'll never be able to hold a hammer again, he's lucky if he can feed himself one day."

With the troubled sigh, the King of the Noldor adds, "He's not going to want to live this way."

Celeborn glances at the tent.

Are you telling me he's already dead? The Elf thinks. Are you telling me that we're only waiting until it's over?

So often he had wishes his family had survived. So many of his friends he lost to cruel murder, but never he entertained the thought of his family living the life of a cripple. For the Fëanorians didn't leave survivors, when they attacked Doriath or the Havens. Would he had been able to live with a crippled Dior? With an Elwing, who had made some questionable decisions during the short time she spend in his care? Elrond cared for the old, the injured and the sick, regardless how pitiful and fruitless the task was.

I don't think I would be able to do the same, Celeborn thinks.

In the following years he's haunted by nightmares, only that it's not Celebrimbor he sees, torn apart and tortured, but Thingol, Dior and many other members of his family. Thanks to his long life, his mind provides him with vivid images and in the nights, where not even Galadriel is able to banish them Celeborn feels guilty for glad that his family suffered a kinder fate than many others.

Even if it means being grateful for the Fëanorian's actions.


-


Elrond acknowledges the new visitor by making space as the great wolf enters the tent, but he can't bear to look at him. Instead he focuses on counting Celebrimbor's ragged breath. Every single one is a hard won battle and Elrond fears he will lose it, long before the next sunrise.

"Do you want to say goodbye?" Elrond asks and looks at the wolf. Its fur is dirty, caked with mud and blood.

He could use a bath, but they all have other things on their mind now.

The wolf looks at him. There's pain in the grey ancient eyes and if Elrond ever had doubts, they are gone now. The expression is too familiar, too close to his own heart to deny the truth.

"Do you want to alone with him? I'm not sure if he can hear you, but he would appreciate the sentiment at least. " Elrond asks, though he doesn't truly expect a verbal answer. When Fánahu doesn't react, Elrond adds in quenya, "You're the last family member he has left. Please, Telperinquar deserves a proper far well."

Moments pass and nothing happens. Just as Elrond gets up to turn away, he notices a sudden shift in the air. A quick looks provides evidence what he and Galadriel had long suspected, but always kept quiet about. His hair is a tangled mess, grey and unkempt. He also doesn't wear any clothes, only remains cling to his body, but Elrond isn't sure if the Elf sitting on the ground notices the state he's in.

Instead the last Son of Fëanor reaches for Celebrimbor's hand and squeezes it.

"Is he in pain?" Celegorm finally asks without taking his eyes of his nephew.

His voice is hoarse and quiet from disuse. If his father's tales are correct, than Celegorm hasn't spoken with another human being ever since he found the dead sons of Dior. Cold, frozen and abandoned in the deepest woods of Doriath.

It drove him mad, Maglor had said once, when he warned Elrond and his brother to stay away from the animal that roamed the lands around their camp. Don't trust him to recognize you. He forgets very easily.

"Yes, there's too much damage to his throat," Elrond answers truthfully. "He'd wouldn't be able to swallow whatever medicine I come up with."

He doesn't know what Celegorm is. According to Maglor, there had been a body, right next to Dior. And yet, there had also been bloody footprints leading away from the two corpses, deep into the wood, where Maedhros found a pair of dead infants, Elrond's uncles, and howling spirit.

During the War of Wrath, Eönwë had said that the Valar couldn't help the Fëanorian.

' He's lost. To us, to his family, to himself. He has to find his way back on his own.'

"I will stay with him until it's over," Celegorm says without looking at Elrond. "You can go. You don't have to be here for this."

Elrond nods. He recognizes the request and will respect the Fëanorian's privacy. They deserve that much. Though, if he's honest, they deserved so much more. They, anyone of them, should've been able to do something. Instead Maedhros cast himself into a chasm, Maglor died searching for his lost, mad brother.

His shoulders shake, when he steps out of the tent and his welcomed by the cold air of a late autumn night.

Celebrimbor deserved more. Whatever crimes the Sindar want to lay at his feet for being related to the House of Fëanor, Celebrimbor had never done anything that warranted such scrutiny. Perhaps, if they all had been a bit kinder, Anna tar wouldn't have it so easy to ensnare Celebrimbor.

' No, not Annatar,' Elrond corrects himself. ' Sauron. He has been Sauron all along and we have all been too blind to see it.'

It felt like a failure. A mistake they all had made, but one that Celebrimbor had to pay for. For while they all had been suspicious of Annatar, there is a huge difference between a Maia that stayed behind after the War of Wrath and the cruelest and smartest creature Angband ever let out.

Elrond's gaze falls on Celeborn, who looks just as lost and dejected as he feels. On any other day they'd be carefully dancing around each other, suspicious and cautious not to mention the fact that Elrond has been writing Celebrían letters for quite some time. Though that topic is far saver than Celeborn's insistence to educate Elrond in the ways of the Sindar, a group that is part of his heritage but Elrond never felt he belonged to.

"Your King went to get some wine," Celeborn offers an explanation. He's staring at his hands. "He figured none of us wishes to stay sober for the remaining night."

"Good choice," Elrond answers.

Perhaps he won't feel Celebrimbor leave this world if he's inhibited, but the chances are slim.


-


I'm sorry, Telpe. I never wanted this. Not for you. Not for anyone of our family.

Where did I go so wrong? Where did I fail to keep my family together?

After they lost Himlad, probably. The loss of their home had hit them hard and the journey all the way to Nargothrond had been traumatic. They had arrived there with bleeding feet and empty bellies. Empty souls, because Curufin had lost his wife in the fires of the dragon hadn't been the same ever since. His little Curvo, who had spiraled out of control and pushed his son away from him, because he was afraid he'd die as well.

Your father is going to have my head for this. I was supposed to protect you.

He had been Telpe's babysitter since day one. He never minded, since Telpe had been born just right when Ambarussa started to rebel against their overbearing elder brothers. They had gotten over it, mostly. But the fact remained that it had been him so very often, who got up at night, when the baby started screaming. Less because of hunger, more because he wanted cuddles and attention.

I'm sorry, Telpe. I'm so, so sorry.

Tears run down his face. He didn't know that he could cry. Wolves can't. Animals can't cry. One reason why he prefers fur over skin, but Telpe is more important than fears. Not that he'll have to wait very long. Telpe is nearly gone. Blind and broken, hanging only onto live, because he's as stubborn as the rest of his family.

Doubtful that he even noticed that his uncle is here.

Perhaps it's even better this way.

He can live without seeing the disappointment in Telpe's eyes.

Go, Celegorm finally commands, afraid that the familiarity of his fëa is what keeps Telperinquar in this world. Go to them. They're waiting for you.

Without a doubt they would. Curvo first among them. Not even hunting down Sauron takes priority over embracing his son again.

But I can, Celegorm swears, when his nephew takes his last breath. Wind rattles at the tent and gently carries Telpe's wounded fëa away. I can end Sauron and I will not rest, before the deed it done.


-


"I'm not good at keeping oaths," he tells the small group waiting for him, when he steps out. "But Sauron will die."

None of them mentions the tears they can see in the eyes of each other. They're all mourning, hating the world for losing a friend. In a manner no one deserves. Not even Maedhros had been this broken, when Gil-galad's father brought him back. No, he can't fault Telpe for dying. It's a miracle he held out this long.

It's a miracle Sauron allowed Telpe to escape. It'd have been just like him to bind Celebrimbor to this mad, broken world.

The last Son of Fëanor walks past his family and his former enemies. They don't stop him. Only Galadriel speaks up, just before he's about to vanish into the night, never to be seen again.

"Will you chain yourself to this form forever, Turcafinwë?" she asks and had she not used the name his father gave him, he might not even considered answering her.

"As long as I can't distinguish facts from lies I do less damage in form of a beast," he says.

Then Celegorm Fëanorian is gone and only the wolf remains.


 

End Notes:

This part is kind of depressing, don't know why it turned out this way. It just did. As for "Is Dior Celegorm's son?" Question ... maybe. Maybe not. That is the crux of the matter. No one knows. Perhaps it's only wishful thinking on Celegorm's part.

"The Light or Me" - (Caranthir) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

Narvinya - *trans. little fire - as adopted son Elrond needs a proper Fëanorian name.

 

He chokes when the pyre is finally lit. The smell alone had been awful enough, but Caranthir is never going to get the sight of his brothers corpses out of his head. Nelyo, Cano, Ambarussa ... all dead. Next to him Curufin is silent, visibly shaken and doesn't even try to hide his tears. Caranthir doubts Curvo would've cried for him, but that's fine. From his point of view, the better half of their family just died and left behind the cruel, the violent and the mad. All traits father displayed for the world to see before his end. It's all they remember him by. That and the Silmarils. Countless inventions, an eternity as the best father Caranthir has ever known, wiped out by a few hours where they sullied their hands with blood. 

Caranthir turns his battle ax in his hands and studies the sharp edge. It's black, darkened by blood and intestines. 

A smile brightens his face and for the first time since their brothers bleed out in the winter snow, Caranthir feels good again. He inhales smoke, throws his doubts into the fire and exhales into the night. They've always called him The Dark. No matter his other names, the nick name always stuck. Though Nerdanel's name fits better these days, for his face is covered in blood. 

It splattered all over him, when he beheaded Nimloth with one solid strike and her body sunk to the ground. The head still in his hands, he marched into the duel of Dior and Celegorm to help his brother. Lifting Nimloth's head for all Doriath to see was enough to turn the tide. 

Dior's horrified scream still sounds in Caranthir's ears and he wants to laugh. 

Foolish, foolish boy. 

Spoiled prince, who never knew what hit him. Who isn't worth the credit of Maedhros' death. 

It doesn't sit well with Caranthir that his brothers memories are going to be sullied by the manner of their death. They need something better than the clever trap Celeborn and Galadriel set for them, killed Fëanor's heart, his voice and his hand in a sea of arrows. 

They'll pay, Caranthir swears to himself, when the desire for violence eats his heart. I'll not rest until they've paid with their blood. 

 

-

 

After Doriath falls the world is never the same. News of Maedhros' death spreads fast and many look north with worry now. No one dares to approach the remaining Fëanorians. Gil-galad focuses on the refugees in Sirion instead, but he can't quite manage to pity them. The princes and the princess are young and orphans, but their grandfather Galathil survived. They'll be fine. If they can manage to defeat Maedhros in battle, who faced Angband and worse, the Sindar will be able to fend of the rest of the Fëanorians. 

That is Gil-galad's reasoning at least. This is what he tells his nobles and Galadriel, when she finally dares to set foot into his halls. 

The truth is that anger burns in his heart. His father spoke highly of Maedhros. Always lectured him that Nelyafinwë Fëanorian is an Elf worthy thriving after. That his childhood hero is dead now, killed in a battle for something which rightfully belongs to the House of Fëanor, sets Gil-galad on the edge. He replaces his blue robes with red ones and orders a set of paintings. No one is allowed to forget Nelyafinwë Fëanorian, the Elf who should've been Highking - instead of him. He's just a cheap replacement of his own father.

When Gil-galad receives the letter, of Sirion asking for help, because the Fëanorian Army is approaching, he throws it into the fire. The flames in the fireplace eat the paper and the words in ink pleading for help, fade away quickly. 

Ereinion is King of the Noldor and he doesn't feel an ounce of regret as the horizon lights up red one night.

If Doriath is capable of slaughtering Maedhros, they're able to fend off the remaining brothers.

 

-

 

Sirion is a desolate place, when Celebrimbor walks down the streets. The fires in some houses are still burning, though the journey took an entire week of hard pace. Celebrimbor pushes his company to ride hard. Maybe Gil-galad is able to ignore Sirion's cry for help in his anger, but his fraction of the Noldor is very safe on Belefas. The war doesn't exist on his island. 

Gil-galad can afford to ignore the growing shadow, but he's Telperinquar of the House of Fëanáro. He still has family left in this world.  

He needs to know what happened. 

Unfortunately the answer is not the one he has been hoping for. 

For there's an area, which has been completely deserted. The survivors refuse to venture further an invisible line that holds them back, but Celebrimbor ignores the feeling of eyes following his footsteps and begins searching. In the end he finds a house near the cliffs. He's drawn to it. He dreads what he's going to find at the end of the stairs, but Celebrimbor doesn't shy away from the path he must walk. 

Yet nothing could've prepared him for the sight of his father's body, laid out on the stone. Cold, lifeless and unmoving. 

Celebrimbor cries out, crosses the remaining distance with a three large steps, but it doesn't matter anymore. Curufin isn't going to answer, his empty eyes are just staring at the ceiling. 

He's dead. His father his dead and there's nothing what Celebrimbor can do about it. 

Regret burns in his chest, when Celebrimbor cradles his father in his arms. He should've never stood against his family, no matter his personal feelings. Nargothrond seems a world away, distant like the memories of Tirion. Finrod's face fades into the shadows until everything Celebrimbor sees behind his eyelids is his grandfather. Proud, tall and confident as he raised his word into the sky and challenged the gods. 

Fëanor wasn't afraid. He swore to tear down the world, when he lost his father and Celebrimbor is his only grandson. 

It's his duty to carry on, where his family cannot. 

He can't tell how much time passes, how much time Celebrimbor spends mourning over his father's body, but one chilly morning he carries the corpse outside, wrapped in fine a cloak that shows off the Star of his House. Celebrimbor takes his father with him, out of Sirion and it's broken people. He doesn't spare them a single glance and the Sindar avoid looking at him. 

This is the end of Curufin and the tales end there. Celebrimbor will emerge at his uncle's side a few years later, but he'll never tell anyone what he did with his father's body. There are whispers that he gave to the flames as it is custom among the Fëanorians. Others say he build a tomb, grand and magnificent. Some believe he left the corpse for the animals to find, since the son had no use for the empty shell that used to be his father.

 

-

 

Above them the war is raging. Gods in golden armors are fighting flying shadows. Fire rains from the sky, land breaks away and the sea threatens to swallow them all. Yet Caranthir doesn't care. He's standing on a hill, surrounded by death and he's laughing. The noise is drowned out by the cries of the dying, yet that has became a background sensation decades ago. Caranthir doesn't loose sleep over such trivialities anymore. 

"You're a heartless monster," Galadriel screams at him. "How can you claim to be still better than Morgoth? Don't you realize how far you've fallen, Carnistir?"

Her short hair flutters in the wind. Caranthir cut it off after he forced his cousin to kneel. This hair had been her pride. The reason why she took an a new name, when her late husband fell in love with her. As he had promised so long ago, Caranthir took it away from her. That and everything else Artanis ever loved. 

Caranthir smiles at his little cousin. His teeth are perhaps the only thing of him that is still white. After Celegorm lost the struggle to shoulder the burden of leading the remaining host, after they lost Curvo, Caranthir had abandoned sense and reason. He turned into the dark Elven Lord they always painted him to be and he wears the image well. Dressed in black from head to toe, his sight frightened the Orcs far more than Maedhros ever did. Maedhros burned with fire and light. Caranthir is something that melts with the shadow until the only distinguishing feature that remains is the war paint on his face.

"Oh child, of course I'm better than Morgoth," Caranthir purrs and runs a finger over Artanis cheek.

Mostly, because he sensed how much the gesture throws her off. He sees the fear in her eyes, her wild imagination of him raping her. He won't, of course. Such an act is beneath him. Besides, he already rules her mind, has burned himself into her heart thanks to the events that led them here. Just as he's never going to forget that is was her arrow, which felled Maedhros. 

"Liar," Galadriel hisses, but she doesn't have the strength to prevail against him.   

She's still kneeling on the ground, Celeborn's broken body just a few feet away. 

Caranthir laughs, again. It's seems it's all he does these days aside from killing everything which stands in his wake. 

"Oh Artanis, Morgoth  fears  me. I make him  uncomfortable. " Caranthir says with the confidence of a king, who commands a loyal army. Given that the last son of Fëanor is alone and yet holds the power of seven, causes those to shiver who dare to meet his gaze.

Fear always remains, for no one knows where Caranthir's power comes from. But so far The Dark One has never faltered, has never stumbled or fallen. No matter how often he's wounded. He always stands back up, laughing at his opponent. 

Galadriel crossed his way. She had and Celeborn decided that this horror in human form had to be taken down. Banished from this world in the hope the dead members of his house would be able to contain him. Yet it didn't work. Nothing did. 

Gil-galad warned her, when she started the journey. As had Celebrimbor, when she crossed his path.  

"I advice you to run," Elrond had told her, before he followed his father inside. "Empty your pockets, throw everything away what could hinder you. Say your farewells, to everyone. Walk. Run. To a place where no one knows your name and become someone else. Dare not to grieve your past and I can assure you, that he will never find you."

She hadn't listened, of course. Such strange words, even from someone like her who learned many things from Melian and the Gods in the West.  Perhaps she should've. Yet somehow she destroyed everything along the way. One misguided arrow, one vision she read wrong and the world turned sideways.

An axe is pressed against her back neck and Galadriel swallows thick, when the sharp edge cuts her skin and blood runs into her cleavage. She's in no position to make demands and she fears what Carnistir will do to her. Kill, rape or dismember her. Send her back as a cripple. Blind her and force her to walk through the world in darkness.

"Choose. Choose well, Artanis," the last Fëanorian says. Power comes of him in waves and Caranthir's black eyes are filled with emotion so deep that Galadriel cannot decipher which. All of them at once, probably. "For there can only be the light ... or me." 

The last sentence sounds almost sad. But Galadriel doesn't believe that Caranthir is capable of regret anymore. 

 

-

 

She doesn't expect to wake up. A part of her doesn't want to, but when Galadriel opens her eyes days later in a Sindar camp, she can only sigh. Of course, dying by Caranthir's hand would've been too easy. Too merciful for a Kinslayer like her, though she's surprised that the last Son of Fëanor possessed enough restraint to let her live. Yet the memory of Celeborn's death, the hole in her heart where her loved one should be, is nearly enough to break her. 

Sobs shake her body as Galadriel buries her face in her hands and sheds tears over the most recent tragedy in her life. Stars, why didn't Caranthir just kill her? She's the one, who let the arrow fly. Not Celeborn. Well, her husband never answered the question how he managed to overcome Maglor in battle, but Daeron's violent demise a few years ago has made her wonder before. Now, with the fresh memories in her mind how crazed Caranthir looked, when he slashed Celeborn's throat, she's almost sure that Maglor's end resembled more a murder than a desperate Sinda Prince defending herself.

But it's just guesswork and it doesn't change the fact that most of her family is dead.

"There's still hope," Oropher tells her and points at Galadriel's belly three days later. "Are you going to need help with that?"

They've never particularly loved each other, but the union that follows a few decades down the road is a practical one. They unite the Sindar and the Green Elves under one banner with their marriage. Too many of Doriath people cling to Galadriel, regardless of her relation to the Noldor. She fought for them, bleed for them and they believe it's what Celeborn would've wanted. Oropher doesn't look pleased, but arranges himself with the situation. One day their realm will be large enough in order not to trip over each others feet.

Besides, little Celebrían is beautiful. So will be the children he'll have with Galadriel. He just hopes there won't be any issues with the line of succession.

If anything, the Noldor are proof how messy half-siblings can be.

 

-

 

After the dust slowly settles and the Eldar learn how to breath again, they wake up to world, where their race is divided into two halfs. A deep chasm runs through them and it doesn't look like as if it's going away anytime soon. Oropher worries that his wife might do something stupid in name of revenge, because they need to stand united. Never he has been so thankful for the existence of the Dwarves, for their mighty Kingdom runs between the Kingdom of the Sindar in the East and the Kingdom of the Noldor in the West. His policy is to stay away, keep as little contact as possible. 

Durin becomes an expert in diplomacy, never invites a delegation of the Sindar and the Noldor at the same time. 

At request of the Noldor, the Khazad build a huge gate over the Gap of Rohan. The men living there largely benefit from it and over the centuries Rohan becomes the only place, where the free people can mingle without risking bloodshed. The feud between the Sindar and the Noldor runs deep. Thanks to their distinctive hair colour, their are soon referred as Light and Dark Elves. A fact, which drives the respective parties half-mad with anger. One of the few topics their agree on, but the stereotype never quite goes away.

It does help, that the King of the Noldor is a powerful Elf, who forges an alliance the remaining Fëanorians. With Gil-galad in Lindon and Caranthir in Eregion, Celebrimbor insisted on a location close to Khazad-dûm, they rule Eriador. Officially the House of Fëanor bows its head before the King. But even the Sindar in the East are aware that whose strength enables Gil-galad such an uncontested rule. As much as they might hate him, Caranthir killed Morgoth. The armies of the Noldor helped, of course, but he delivered the final blow while his nephew and his distant cousin got rid of the last Balrog. A rule of three powerful Elves the Sindar don't want to mess with. So very few venture over to the other side.

Curiosity drives the young ones sometimes, but since the number of Orcs dwindle over time, both Elven Realm bath in wealth and prosperity.   

 

-

 

"Marry him yourself, if you're that desperate to play nice with the Golothrim," Celebrían shouts before she storms out of the room. 

Galadriel winces as the door slams shut. Thankfully Thranduil remained seated, showing more sense than his sister. The situation isn't ideal and Galadriel feels pity for her daughter. Stars, she can claim would've reacted any differently, had she been in Celebrían's position. 

"Thranduil, I hope you can talk some sense into your sister," Oropher addresses his son. "She's going to marry Elrond, whenever she wants it or not." 

The King of the Sindar has aged and looks wary. The recent decades haven't gone easy on him and Galadriel feels the weight as if it were her own. Despite the rocky start, they've come to like each other and there's always been enough room in the kingdom to give Galadriel the freedom she needed, when they quarrelled. Their children are used to their parents fighting, hence why them agreeing on the matter of an arranged marriage is completely unexpected.  

The prince admits that he isn't quite over the shock yet, but unlike his sister he sees the direness of the situation.

"I understand that we need to do something against the raising tension between our people," he says and remembers the ugly letter their received a while ago.

Apparently some of their people passed the borders, either with official permission or in secret, to cause trouble among the Noldor. A few singled-minded people seeking revenge and settling old grudges. There have been brawls on occasion and duels of honor, which are held in a tournament every century and are supervised by a council. Usually made up by the King of Gondor and a member of each royal family. It had been a good solution. So they thought, until an Elleth named Nimrodel got caught up in very old family feud when she married Amroth.

Who could've known that Nimrodel would draw a knife, when she introduced to her brother-in-laws Noldor wife? Still a rare event, but not unheard of in Edoras. The city had become a symbol unity and peaceful coexistence over time and its King was less than pleased at the attempted murder.

Elros, older son of Eärendil and Elwing, who ruled the Southern Kingdom, had long claimed neutrality and now demands a marriage between the two royal families.

None of them was pleased about the fact, but the only solution to a tricky situation. Neither Oropher nor Galadriel wished for the Noldor to shut down their borders again. By now they relied too much on the trade. Besides, rumors said that Finduilas returned to Middle Earth a view years ago as messenger from the Valar and Galadriel would do everything in order to see her niece again.

-

 

Caranthir can't help but laugh at Elrond's outraged face. Celebrimbor tries to look sympathetic. Yet in the end he too has to cover his mouth in order to hide his smile. They all have grown fond of Celegorm's ward, who their brother raised in the last years of his life. None of them truly grasped how the youngest son of Elwing and Eärendil ended up in his care, but they deduced Elrond must've been separated from his family during the attack on Sirion. They spend years together, while everyone believed them dead.

Elrond returned one day, walking straight up the Fëanorian camp and told Caranthir and Celebrimbor about Celegorm's end. At this point it had been a relief, for Caranthir mostly feared at this point his brother became a prisoner of Morgoth. That his older sibling hadn't just been able to live with the failure was tragic, but Caranthir had slowly come to terms with it. He couldn't exactly hold it against Tyelko for blaming himself. It had been his actions in Nargothrond and against Luthien, which resulted in the attack against Doriath in the end. It probably made sense for his brother to feel responsible for the death that followed.

"I know you're aren't happy with this, but please consider that you're the only candidate," Celebrimbor tries to sooth his little cousin, trying to calm down Elrond's temper.

"Why do I have to marry a fragile Sindar princess?" Elrond wants to know. "Isn't Ereinion a far better choice?" 

As irritated as he looked, Caranthir knew the Peredhel well enough. At this point Elrond only raged against the inevitable and needed an outlet for his anger. If it hadn't been his own idea, Caranthir would never force his adopted son to marry someone against will. Peace or not, he faced worse than battered pride. 

"Oropher doesn't want his daughter to become a victim anymore she already is," Celebrimbor explains. "Ereinion's extreme dislike for the Sindar is well known. Besides I can understand the objection that Celebrían shouldn't marry a man, who worships Maedhros even more than his father did."

Elrond throws a look towards Caranthir. The Fëanorian is the only left, who knows the truth. Aside from a few soldiers, who are too loyal to ever breach the subject, only Caranthir remains on this side of the Misty Mountains to have seen the Battle of Doriath. 

The Fëanorian slowly nods, confirming Elrond's suspicions. 

"Many assume that Celebrían is Oropher's daughter. The secret of her true parentage isn't well-known outside among our people," Caranthir explains and his eyes darken to black pools as he remembers the night. "Even fewer are aware that it was Galadriel, who killed Maedhros. I'd have loved to end her life back then, but not even I wished to lower myself to the point, where I could slay a pregnant women and walk away from it whistling a merry tune." 

Elrond stops pacing, throws himself into a chair and fills himself a cup of wine. 

With a defeated sigh he says, "Well, along as she is going to live with us, I'll play along with it. Getting a child or two out of the arrangement would be nice as well, so the most difficult part will be convincing the public that the marriage is genuine."

As much as he respected Gil-galad, Elrond admitted that his cousin's obsession with Maedhros had worsened over time and reached unhealthy degrees.  Letting the daughter of the pair, who are largely responsible for the demise of no less than two Fëanorians, into his grasp or his bed, doesn't set right with Elrond. Perhaps he's a little prejudged, but he isn't downright cruel.

"I'll ask Finduilas to set up a wedding date," Elrond says and makes a face. "She's the one with an official mission for peace and unity, so she can suffer through this with me."

"Oh, Narvinya*," Caranthir laughs. "Trust me, this is going to take years."

 

-

 

Caranthir would hardly claim the next centuries to be peaceful. They fought and lost much, but in the end they survived. His family was shaken to the core, but they were alive. They'd heal. He glances towards his grandchildren. The twins are reliable and loyal, guarding the camp while their father could not, too busy to heal the wounded.

When Arwen steps out of the tent, tired and weary, he offers her his coat. He doesn't feel the cold as much as she does, though Elrond's daughter tries to be brave. Yet he can see the fear in her eyes. It's normal, he guesses, after losing your home so abruptly.

"Is she going to make it?" Caranthir asks without looking at Arwen.

His face is impassive, but he's pleased to see her shouldering her bow out of the corner of his eyes. Arwen has always been a swift rider and good with bow, but her talents lie elsewhere. Thankfully she knows it and welcomes the escorts Caranthir ordered to remain at her side all the time.

"Father isn't sure," Arwen sighs, glancing back at the tent. "He's still trying to call her back to us, yet I'm more worried about the infection in Uncle Telperinquar's wounds."

Caranthir hums. His eyes are fixated on the horizon. Dark clouds cover the stars and let the Misty Mountains disappear completely. It looks worrying, especially to the eye that expects a clear view on the mountains towering above everyone's heads. Yet he's confident that he can keep the shadow at bay.

"Telpe will be fine. He's strong and survived worse than these little cuts," he says with full confidence. There's no way that Curvo's boy will succumb, when his fëa still burns to bright.

No, it's Celebrían's strength he doubts. His senses can barely make her out.

Arwen seems to be aware of this as well, for her eyes flicker towards him, searching for reassurance.

Not for the first time, Caranthir curses himself for being so helpless when it comes to such situations. He's good in battle. There're very few people left in this world, capable of besting him and most live in the West. Not even Durin's Bane proved to be a much of challenge, as Artanis had to realize recently. He wonders what she's doing now. If his kinslaying cousin is rethinking her alliance with Annatar.

Caranthir wonders if she had figured out yet, who the Maia is in truth and while she doesn't deserve the warning, he plans to journey east nonetheless. The possibility still remains that Sauron is just that good at disguising himself and that Caranthir only figured it out, because the light of the Silmaril burns in his heart.

"Don't fear the future," Caranthir advices his granddaughter and places his hand on her shoulder. Arwen doesn't flinch at the contact, but rather leans into the touch, finding strength in the Fëanorian's unwavering determination to face the next day with a grim smile. "Whenever Galadriel was deceived or not, we owe it your mother's people, her brother especially, that we free the Greenwood of Sauron's shadow. Maybe we will lose Celebrían's light within the next year and perhaps we will have to go to war in order to win the new peace, but trust me when I tell you that even the worst and darkest of your thoughts will serve you well in the future."

He leaves at thought, though Arwen's confusion is apparent. He doesn't tell it that he'll bully his family back onto their feet if he has to. There'll be time to grieve. Later. In a few decades they can mourn old friends and lost opportunities.

Right now they have to focus on survival or else there'll be no future to be had in Middle Earth ... and Caramthir refuses to yield the field to Sauron after he fought so hard and sacrificed to much to get rid of Morgoth.

I will summon father's spirit out of Manaos before that happens, Caranthir vows. It should frighten Sauron that Caranthir truly thinks himself capable of doing that. It shouldn't be that hard, if someone that crude and untalented can bind unwilling ghosts to a bunch of rings. For his brothers will come forward cheerfully angry and most importantly out of their own free will.

All Caranthir has to do is yell loud enough.

 

End Notes:

What I love about AU's is how quickly they can derail canon. Hail to the Butterfly Effect, in this case Maedhros, Maglor and Amabrussa being the ones to die. I have also realised that any Elrond I write, is fated to be raised by one or several Fëanorians.

I also need to read and write more fics where Doriath goes differently. The thought of The three C's surviving is very appealing!

"Eyesight To The Blind" - (Curufin) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

Summary: By chance Curufin survives the battle of Doriath. It's not necessarily a good thing.

 

Sheer luck is what saves him. One twist to the left and he avoids the arrow, which would've punctured his lung. Curufin survives, but it doesn't help much. Moryo and Tyelko are still dead. Cáno dies a few days later, succumbing to his injuries. Nothing is the same after that. Before Curufin wouldn't have called himself a good person. Now he's barely human at all. On his orders they hunt down the Sons of Dior and through sheer miracle and determination on his side alone, the boys survive. 

Sometimes Curufin wonders if it hadn't been better if the harsh winter had been faster than him. 

He doesn't argue, when Maedhros orders them to be trained as soldiers. The boys are old enough to become squires. Since Curufin refuses to even look at them, it's Ambarussa's responsibility to look after them. From what he gathers, they treated alright. Ambarussa has never been one to act in cruelty. They're like Cáno that way. 

Sadly with only Maedhros and Curufin left, Ambarussa can't do much. Both brothers worsen in the coming years. Curufin throws himself into gathering informations, learns how to torture intel out of even the most stubborn Orc and Maedhros lets him. They focus on bringing down Morgoth, while the Sons of Dior serve in their army. Perhaps the boys harbor the secret dream to go home one day, but Beleriand drowns in war and they simply stay, because chances of survival are higher within the Fëanorian camp.

"The Silmaril is in Sirion," Curufin says one day. Only Maedhros is listening. 

Ambarussa is no longer part of the brotherhood they once shared. The twins have grown apathetic towards their older brothers. To them, Maedhros and Curufin died in Doriath as well. The two war mongers that are leading the host now, can barely be called Elves. Even Fëanor would've trouble recognizing his sons.  

"I know," Maedhros says, nonchalant. "What about it?" 

"Any plans on retrieving it?" Curufin snarls. "Or have you sworn a different oath than I did?" 

"I don't care about the blasted jewel," Maedhros hisses back. "I've other concerns." 

The fight that follows is an ugly one. Maedhros ends up with three broken rips and Curufin loses his left eye. The eye patch he wears from that day on, is later a reminder how blind a single person can become. How much someone can loose their way. In the end Curufin departs with Ambarussa and the Sons of Dior for Sirion. They leave Maedhros and the majority of the host behind, which is their mistake. Despite Curufin's intentions, Sirion doesn't listen, when they invite Elwing to their negotiations. Instead Doriath comes with a small army and the Fëanorians are taken prisoner. Well, Curufin ends up being one. 

Ambarussa dies trying to defend the Sons of Dior, who Elwing doesn't recognize when she gives the order to fire. When they put Curufin in chains, Elwing's cries sound over the camp as she realized that she mistook her dark-haired brothers for Noldor. But it's too late. Both set of twins die that day and Curufin stand in a sea of blood and laughs. 

He laughs for a long, long time. 

He laughs, when Elwing visits him in the dungeons, but he can't even hear her words.

He laughs, when the guards beat him bloody in the night.

He laughs, when Gil-galad comes and Curufin tells him that he shouldn't expect any mercy, when he meets his father's lover. Maedhros is the last free Fëanorian and Curufin knows he'll do his best to die on the battlefield. It's the best, what can happen to them at this point.

Curufin knows he isn't going to be that lucky. He doesn't deserve peace, rest or the chance to see his father again. Humans deserve second chances, but Curufin isn't human any longer. His son tells him as much, when they finally see each other.

Well, what Celebrimbor says is, "You've changed."

He even vaguely sounds sorry and Curufin tells the child of his wife that's not true. He has always been this way. What's left of his heart, breaks when Celebrimbor denies it. Claims that he remembers a different man. A good father, a great teacher and a even better smith. 

A glass shatters into thousand pieces right next to Celebrimbor's head and the son flees as his father begins to rage. 

Curufin rages for three days before Celebrimbor finally drags him into the forge. 

"Make yourself useful," Celebrimbor spats and puts his father to work. 

This at least hasn't changed. Curufin is still a Son of Fëanor - the last one, he learns three months later. Maedhros is finally dead, taking Morgoth and his army with him, when it finally happened. Rumors say that Elwing handed over the Silmaril to make it happen. Curufin couldn't care less. It's too late. Far, far too late. Beleriand is a wreck and the once mighty Elven Kingdoms just a band of dirty, helpless souls. They don't even care anymore that he can walk around freely. Well, the damage he can do isn't worse whatever awaits them in Morgoth's tender care. 

"Have you ever believed in a better future?" Celebrimbor asks one day. 

Curufin can't even tell anymore, what's going outside of his forge. No one is mad enough to ask if he could lead the remaining soldiers to battle. Gil-galad is doing fine with that. People need a shining figure to believe in. Not a soul-dead, half-forgotten kinslayer. 

"Only the dead have seen the end of the war," Curufin shrugs. "I've stopped believing in seeing its end the day father died. Or perhaps, when Fingolfin succeeded in stealing the crown from us. Without that, without a reminder that we should be better persons than we are right now, it kind of stopped being worth my time to believe in anything at all." 


-


He never expected to be the last living Son of Fëanor. The war came and Curufin tried his best to die in battle, but go figure he wouldn't be this lucky. Perhaps it's out of spite that he can't just lie down and die as he probably should. On the other hand there's his son. His beautiful Telpe, who never lost hope. Who works tirelessly to give the Noldor a new home, a purpose. Curufin helps. In building houses, setting up forges and other tasks that need his expertise, but rarely he goes out to meet people. Thankfully they leave him alone. Of course Curufin can't help but notice the strange glances, when he walks down the streets yet since it's always them who break eye-contact, he doesn't really care. 

Perhaps this would've been the end of his tale. An end consisting of fading into the background, spend in the sanctuary of his forge day and night in order to escape his nightmares. 

If it weren't for Elwing, knocking at his door one evening. 

"Commander, may I take a minute of your time?" she asks, using the title he earned himself during the last years of the war. 

For Curufin volunteered to lead the army into a dangerous territory once. Better him than Gil-galad or Celebrimbor doing it. The title stuck, when he returned victorious against all odds. Truthfully, no one looked as unhappy as Curufin, when he returned alive and was celebrated as a hero.

"What can I do for you, my Lady?" Curufin drawls, barely looking at his visitor.

He doesn't care if they think him arrogant and uncaring as long as he's left alone. Elwing will say her piece and disappear again, as she should. Ignoring each other worked well so far. It's for the best. They're responsible for each other's lack of family. Anything they might say in honesty would end in screaming matches and violence until one of them is dead.

Curufin doesn't want more blood on his hands. Elwing is small and delicate, she wouldn't stand a chance against his strength and his battle reflexes.

"I'm pregnant," Elwing announces and these words make Curufin look up in surprise. His eyes travel to her swollen belly and he berates himself for being so unobservant. Before he can ask, why the Stars she's coming to him with such news, Elwing adds, "I'm having twins and I wanted... I wanted to ask, if you could offer me advice. You're the only left with any experience in that regard."

Deep down there's a part that wants to strangle the Sinda woman. Fury rises in Curufin and he thinks how easily it'd be to choke the life out of her.

How does she dare to come to him with twins beneath her heart, when she took away his own? For he still remembers Ambarussa's birth. He remembers the sleepless nights, their first steps, their never ending antics in their youth.

He also remembers their deaths. The blood running down his fingers, his screams filling the air, when Telvo wasn't strong enough to survive Pityo's death. To this day Curufin hears Telvo asking for permission to follow Pityo. Hears the "Can I go with him?" in his dreams over and over again. Saying Yes might be the last act of kindness in his life, no matter how long it will drag on.

Elwing sees how the news break the old and steel-reinforced dam the Fëanorian build around his heart. For the first time she sees a person behind the cold, soulless eyes. Fury, grief, anger. In an intensity that make her flinch back. Though she deserves anything Lord Curufin might to do her, because he came to Sirion to negotiate. He came in peace and she threw it away.

Threw her brothers' lives away. That blood is on her hands, but she doesn't want to be responsible for the end of another life.     

"I know I don't deserve any of this," Elwing confesses and shame is written all over her face. "But the babies haven't done anything. I just want them to be born as healthy as possible, no matter what I've to do in order to archive it." 

"Fine," Curufin spats. "I'll help you, but be assured that I'm doing it only for the unborn children inside you." 

Elwing nods, swiping away a tear. 


-


Despite his best effort, Curufin becomes invested. Elwing's pregnancy is a difficult one. Her fragile half-elven body is barely enough to carry one child, let alone two. The trauma she suffered during her childhood, certainly didn't help. A part of him is surprised that Elwing survived the loss her parents at all, given how young she was when they attacked Doriath. Yet Curufin believes the Silmaril helped. Latched onto her and kept her alive. 

Now it's gone, though, and it shows. Elwing isn't as strong as she should be and most of her days she spends inside her bed. 

"Do you think, she's going to survive the birth?" Celebrimbor asks one day. "Last time Eärendil visited, he looked as if he knew already that she won't make it."

"The chances aren't as bad as I fear," Curufin responds as he puts another meal together. His skills as physician and as part time healer as less known, but after a certain time a craftsman just learns a lot about the human body. Trying to survive a war meanwhile just added to it. "But regardless her chances, I want you to lie through your teeth. I fear, we'll never see Eärendil again if he loses hope now. Like his mother and his grandfather, he has the tendency to flee if trouble looms at the horizon."

"I'll take care of it," Celebrimbor promises. After a moment, he quietly adds, "I'm glad I'm not losing you as well. I feared you lost your will to live after everything that happened."

Before Curufin can answer, his son has stepped through the door and he's left alone with Telpe's desperate expression. His first instinct is to deny the words. He never actively tried to end his own life. Like Nelyo did. Like Nelyo, who is hailed as hero, because he killed Morgoth and ended the war. More than once Curufin has been asked How did he do it? Tell us, please. How did he do it? Including his son, though Telpe should have a faint suspicion as least. 

Yet Curufin never managed to get the words out. Maedhros broke the Silmaril, simple as that. Since they never found the other two and half of Beleriand burned down in a white blast, Curufin suspects that breaking one Silmaril triggered the remaining ones. Nonetheless they're gone, just like the oath.

Curufin glances trough the door, where Elwing strokes her swollen belly. The children are healthy and he can't deny his own giddy joy, when he first felt their fëa brush against his own. It's been ages, since he had the pleasure to overview a pregnancy. Bring a new life into the word.

A world without Morgoth. Without war.

Maybe, just maybe, being the last Fëanorian isn't as bad as he feared. Curufin imagines two identical children running through the house, shouting after them to be bloody careful and be home for dinner.

"This time I'll get it right," he swears to himself.    

His own son is a masterpiece and his greatest love. Despite that, he refuses to loose another set of twins. 

 

End Notes:

Okay, technically Celebrimbor survives and breaking the theme of the story, but ... I am not that heartless. I just coulnd't do that to Curufin.

"Never Ending Story" - (Ambarussa) by mangacrack

 

"I never thought, we'd be the last," Amras murmurs, when Maedhros and Maglor's bodies are given to the flames. "But it's not a surprise, given how hell bend everyone always was on protecting us." 

"What do we do now?" Amrod ask and throws a look at the snivelling children in their care. 

The Sons of Elwing Maglor picked up after Sirion, hell bend on taking care of them after their mother jumped into the sea and never returned. Ambarussa did their best to be friendly, but truth is that they don't have much practice with children. As the little ones, they only ever had older brothers and cousins. 

"Should we send them back to Gil-galad?" Amras muses, but he doesn't look convinced. 

"Certainly not," Amrod growls. "Elrond and Elros just lost their parents. For a second time, I might add. This day they will remember, unlike the one where Elwing left them behind. Can you imagine what kind effect it's going to have, if we just drop them off after this?" 

Amras nods, having his feelings confirmed. Giving up Elrond and Elros was never truly an option. 

Not even after this hit, Morgoth final revenge for the ever defying House of Fëanor. With Maedhros gone, they've lost their best insurance to survive the war. Maglor died in the flames, trying to save Nelyo from the dragon descending from the sky. None of the witnesses will ever forget, how the two Fëanorians stood together, taking down Ancalagon. One less evil in the world, but what a price they had to pay to make it happen. 

 

-

 

"Where do you want to go?" Ambarussa ask the question a few days later, when they sit around a campfire with Elrond and Elros. "You're free to chose." 

The younger twins look at each other, communicating in silence just as the older pair taught it to them. 

"We want to stay. Please don't send us away," Elros blurts out. "We know you discussed that we'd be safer with Gil-galad, but that doesn't kind of apply anymore. No matter where we go, Morgoth could always come for us."

"Please let us stay," Elrond whispers. He looks Amras directly into the eye, with only the flames separating them. "We'll make ourselves useful. You know we can. We'll also never complain. Just ... you're the only family we've left." 

"Oh fuck it," Amrod curses and shuffles closer to wrap his arms around the nearest twin he can reach. "Of course, we won't." 

 

-

 

They move east and leave Beleriand behind. The Host of the Valar hit land a few weeks before and the remaining company decided they were done. They had fought Morgoth for centuries, survived the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, three kinslayings, endless years in the wilderness and finally the onslaught of Ancalagon. They were tired and beaten. 

"Travel to Khazadum," one of the Lords in Nogrod told them. 

The Fëanorians look at each other. 

"Master Dwarf, surely you've heard of our recent exploits," Amras said. "Among our people we are a the worst of all. Those, who kill their own kin and steal children in the night. I'm not sure if King Durin will grand us sanctuary." 

"Nonsense," the dwarf hollers. "You've always made fine allies. Your brother Carnistir," - the dwarf stumbled a little over the attempt to use the quenya name, but Amras appreciates the effort - "took our people in after the one handed mortal came after us and slaughtered many of my own kin. It's a deed I've never forgotten. The Silmaril maybe gone, but at least I've been granted the opportunity to repay my debt." 

Amras bows at the words and accepts. For centuries Amon Ereb, Belegost and Nogrod had been allies. They appreciated the honesty of the Khazad, their loud and caring nature. With their brothers gone, it reminded him a little of days gone by, when they're only children at their father's side. 

"You've my deepest gratitude," Amras says and thanks the dwarf in the few words of Khazudul he earned over the centuries. "Should you or your kin will ever be in need again, I'll do my best to return the favor." 

 

-

 

They depart and move further east. Eriador is a land free of taint, but filled with refugees. It's not easy to stay unseen, but with stealth and a little luck they manage to sneak past Galadriel and her husband. Neither of the twins wishes to deal with her, though Ambarussa is confident they can hold her off at least. 

Elrond and Elros thrive on the journey. It's the first time in their lives, where they can run freely and act without fear. They lose any shyness they had left and make a habit of bothering the older warriors, who're glad to distract the young ones. They learn archery from a Sindar, who married a Fëanorian smith centuries ago and never returned to his tribe. The few Avari journeying with them, sing of older ancient and teach the twins about the great journey. 

During the day at least, Elrond and Elros always find a skill to explore. They do their best not to stand in the way and Ambarussa admits they're trying at least. 

 

 

Nights are different. During the night the Fëanorian twins quickly learned to let Elrond and Elros sleep with them. Nightmares dominates their rest, wakes them often and frequently. More than once the Ambarussa have to dry tears, those of the children's and their own, because the loss of Maedhros and Maglor is not easily forgotten. 

All four of them still feel the loss, the empty space in their hearts, where the older Elves are supposed to be. 

But things are start to look better. 

 

 

Durin welcomes them indeed and even the Ambarussa, who remember Tirion well, are impressed by the mighty city of the dwarves. They end up staying more than just a few months. The twins are delighted to learn more. Especially Elros is taken by the grand architecture and throws himself at the task of learning everything what is to learn about the subject. 

Amras thinks it's in part in memory of Maedhros, who build Himring and had a big hand in designing Formenos as well. 

Elrond's quiet demeanor worries them for a while. Until the day the younger twins are exploring Eregion on their own and discover a well-hidden valley a little further North. The Ambarussa see Elrond's eyes light up and for the first time since Maedhros' drew his last breath, they feel hope. 

 

-

 

The days of their new life should have been blissful, yet the younger twins were old enough to notice that something was up with their caretakers. Elrond's own close relationship with Elros allows him to pick up the signs. He freely admits that the Ambarussa are far more interwoven than he's with Elros. Perhaps time will change that. Still, Elrond doesn't like how Amrod snaps at everyone from time to time, grows silent and brooding. So much that he starts to resemble Maedhros more and more.

There's also Amras unmistakable growing tendency for violence that worries Elrond.

A broken cup here, a snapped arrow there. Hours spend in the forge to do something productive while attempting to beat the anvil into submission.

"I think it's the oath," Elros says one evening, after Elrond voiced his concerns. "I mean, they never fulfilled it, right? Ada once said how they knew for years that Elwing had the Silmaril. Yet they fought of the need to reclaim it as long as they could."

"But they failed," Elrond murmurs, following Elros line of thought. "For they swore and it's theirs. They bleed and died for it, which enforces the power behind the words."

They've been taught various versions of history. One from the eyes of the Noldor, from Fingolfin's line. The Avari and the occasional Sindar provided the tale of invaders, of kinslayers and somewhat trustworthy, if rather arrogant allies. Then there's also the history of the House of Fëanor. It's a secret one, entirely biased but very enlightening. Accounts of events, written from Fëanor's point of view, like the Darkening of Valinor and the time before. The Sons of Fëanor treasured those books, more than they'd probably treasure a Silmaril. Each Fëanorian added their own books, following a tradition their father had started and aside from a few lost volumes, the collection was complete. 

Elrond has spend hours and hours reading them. By now he felt closer to the House of Fëanor than to his cousin Gil-galad. He just knew them. Better than he could ever know Elwing or Eärendil. Those were strangers, who abandoned him and Elros. 

Reading about Celegorm and Curufin fleeing from Himlad to Nargothrond, losing their people with each day that Thingol refuses to help them, is far different. Closer. Far more intimate, since there are sections, where the handwriting gets illegible, because Curufin's hand trembled too much. Elrond was there, when Curufin lost his wife. Lost his son not soon after. Read how conflicted Celegorm felt about Luthien. Was witness to Caranthir's short but passionate romance with Haleth.

It's almost as if he had been there.

His knowledge about Turgon, Idril or even Fingolfin can't compare to that.

But... he doesn't want to lose the Ambarussa as well. The thought only to be able to connect with through dusty books on a shelf, ...  

"The war is almost over," Elros comments and hugs his brother. Elrond's miserable face is enough to decipher what's going on in his head. He doesn't have to read his mind for that. "Just think about it. They swore to bring Morgoth down. Reclaim the jewels. They gave that up, just for us. But as you said, there's no escaping."

"I don't want them to leave," Elrond whispers and fights the tears. No doubt that he remembers the day, where Maedhros and Maglor rode out, never to return.

Elros wraps his arms around his brother. He feels similar, but Elrond has always been more sensitive. Of course he notices the nightmares and the spacing out, catches Elrond staring into the distance, only to blink and suppress terrors rising in his chest. No, Elros is glad that they aren't as identical as the Ambarussa. He's selfish in thinking this, he should share Elrond's pain, but he doesn't want to. Magic, Songs of Power and Oswanë is something he has always struggled to understand. 

The Ambarussa said it's likely Elros inherited more mannish blood than Elrond and so far he hasn't dealt with what it means in the long run. 

"I won't leave you," Elros swears. "I promise, Elrond. I'll never leave you. No matter what else happens, you can count on me." 

He'll fight Námo himself if he has to. He might be a man at heart, but he can still live forever. Fight and live, stay at Elrond's side, because he doesn't want him to be so sad anymore. 

"Me too," Elrond mumbles and refuses to let go of his brother. "Me too." 

 

 

Later Amras pokes his head through the door, not surprised to find the pair asleep. They're hitting their late teenage years and require more rest. Growing up is exhausting and he's grateful the young ones can now live in safety. Peace will follow soon enough. Allowing himself a minute, Amras climbs on the bed as well and cradles the twin's heads in his lap. Elrond notices his presence immediate and crawls closer, opening one eye to be sure, before he nods of again. Elros, though, just keeps snoring into Elrond's chest. Curled up like this, they looks so very small again. Almost like the day, when he first held them in his arms. 

They were toddlers back then. Amrod remembers the day, plain and clear, because Maedhros tried to delay the attack on Sirion. But the armies in the north keep pressing against their borders and became more and more difficult to hold them off. The Silmaril would've helped with that at least. A far better use than putting it around the neck of a half-grown child. 

A second shadow slips through the door. 

"When I look at them sometimes, all I can see is Elwing," Amras confesses to his brother, without his eyes ever leaving the little ones. "I feel guilty for attacking a child. Elrond and Elros are older now than she was, when we came to Sirion." 

"The Sindar wanted a Queen. I guess, they didn't care about how old she truly was, when she looked like a woman already," Amrod shrugs. Unlike his twin, he rarely cared about the past or events, which couldn't be altered anymore. "Just look at Dior. We never knew to which race he belonged. Theoretically we committed child murder with him as well, at least according to our laws." 

"Infanticide," Amras hisses and hates the Sindar Lords a little bit more. 

They charged into Doriath, assuming to meet a full grown man. Luthien died and become mortal after all, before she gave birth to her son. Yet the Elf they found, when they came to take care of Celegorm's remains, was barely more than a boy. It reeked of manipulation, though it was impossible to prove. And yet ... the Sindar Lords had gotten rid of the half-blood, defended the Silmaril and were free to raise a traumatized child after their own wishes. Taking the young twins with them had been more of a logical conclusion than a decision made out of regret and pity. Even Nelyo and Cáno agreed to that, despite having far more paternal feelings for the little ones than the Ambarussa at the time. They couldn't risk the Sindar raising pre-judged, immoral and narcissistic heirs. 

So far their plan worked. Elrond and Elros developed a rather good sense for right and wrong, were mostly level-headed for a pair of children in a difficult age and were a joy to teach. 

What neither of them thought of, was their own feelings.

Amras knows that Amrod is just as unable as giving the children up as he was. He loved the boys. Something Nelyo and Cáno had done from the first very moment. They had needed a little longer.

"Fuck it," Amras swears. "Just fuck this shit." 

He can't deny that he felt the pull. Catches himself wondering if the Army had found them yet and a part of him wishes to make sure that the jewels were still there, where their brothers had hidden them before their death.  

But ... there're two tiny children in his arms. Helpless and innocent. They deserve better. Parents, who don't feel the need to run off into the wild for a suicide mission. 

Reading his twins thoughts, Amrod suggests the impossible. 

"Let's break it," he says. When Amras raises his head and stares at his twin incredulously, he repeats his words. "Let's break the oath. Or swear a new one on top of the old. Enough children have died in the pursuit of the jewels and remember what father always said? Family comes first. There should be no infighting among brothers."

"No crown, no gold and no jewel is worth risking your brothers love," Amras quotes, more than a little nostalgic.

Fëanor said the words, just before he left Formenos, heading off to the Taniquentil in order to make up with Fingolfin. Though their father feared it was too late already. Perhaps it had been. Fingolfin had never trusted their family. Neither before and especially not after they burned the ships.

"We've come so far, held true for so long. Is it alright to abandon all what we've suffered for?"

Amras stares at his twin. They have shared a womb. Share a soul. One death means two. Neither can survive without the other. But they value each other's opinion. Have compromised so often, thought of a third option when they couldn't decide on one. From early age they had been forced to be creative. Think outside of the box. Five fucking older brothers will do that to you. 

To break the oath, add to it until the meaning is twisted and fitting to their needs ... well, it could be done. They're the only ones left now, free to interpret the oath as they need. 

"Haven't we done enough?" Amrod asks and points at Elrond and Elros. "Are we truly forced to choose an heirloom over our children?" 

Amras wants to protest that the Silmarils will never be just a heirloom. Their sing with fathers voice and shine with his fëa. But no, father would understand. Their children come first. Always. Besides if Curvo can get away with cutting Telpe out of oath, make sure that little Silverfist doesn't inherit a curse after his father's death, than so can they. Fëanor always encouraged creativity after all and they're his sons. The last ones remaining, but still. They're the Sons of Fire and they'd burn the world to the ground in order to protect what belongs to them.

Nelyo and Cáno did it, after all. They died for these children.

"So can we," Amrod proclaims and it sounds true. "So can we."

Well, perhaps it'll come true one day. Amras can't imagine living forever. One day the oath will take them regardless of their good intentions. But they can buy time. A century. Ten centuries. An age or two. As long as it's necessary. They'll manage. 

They're the Ambarussa after all.

End Notes:

I couldn't write the ending I had in mind. This was it's an open, hopeful end and not the miserable one I imagined. I might, one day. But it's gonna be dark and depressing, which I absolutely can't have in the wake of the next two chapters. But the questions stands: What would've happened, had the Feanorians become Oathbreakers? Does their own guilt drive them into darkness or is there actual magic involved?

"Ashes remain" - (Fëanor) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

You have read the story so far. You know the theme. Do the math.

 

The trees are gone and his brother still discussing with Yavanna if the Silmarils could bring the light back. The Valië is convinced it's worth a try, while Fëanor argues that the process of capturing the light was dangerous enough. Releasing it might be dangerous as well, not to mention there's no way to tell if it will work. Fingolfin isn't sure what's going to come of this, but he should be glad that his brother is at least willing to negotiate. 

As envious as he might be at times, right now Fingolfin is glad for his brother's genius. If there's someone, who can figure out how bring back light into the world, than it's him. 

Desperate for fresh air Fingolfin steps outside. A sea of candles greets him. Not the same as light of Telperion and Laurelin, yet better than sitting around in darkness. A strange sense of foreboding takes a hold of him, when whispers break out and a lone rider joins the mix of Elves, Valar and Maia. Many lift their heads to see what the disturbance means and start talking, when King Finwë appears beneath the hood.  

Fingolfin wants to cry out in joy. It's the first time in years he has seen his father and while the matter of leaving the crown to him, still stands unresolved between them, Fingolfin could care less in a hour like this one. 

"Father," he says and runs towards Finwë. "I'm so glad to see you, but what are you doing here? Have you made the entire journey from Formenos?" 

The King lowers his head and says nothing. Only due to the candle light and their proximity Fingolfin notices how bad his father looks. He's thin, pale and a great sorrow shines in his eyes. 

"I need to talk to your brother," Finwë says and puts a hand on Fingolfin's shoulder. Fear spreads in the son of Indis, when he looks into his father's face. 

"Ada?" Fingolfin whispers. "What happened?" 

For it's obvious that something has gone wrong. All life seems to have left Finwë. He's a shadow of himself. A wraith holding onto an empty existence. 

"My son, the only news I can tell you that your family is alive and well, but now please let me see Fëanáro," Finwë says in a grave voice, choking on the words and horror claims Fingolfin. But before he can asked further questions, Finwë makes his way inside and Fingolfin is torn between storming down the Taniquentil back to Tirion and following his father. 

In the end, he chases after the King of the Noldor, hoping to get some answers. Finarfin, who listened in to the whole conversation, follows with a similar expression of unease. 

"What do you think has happened," Fingolfin's younger brother whispers. 

"I've no clue," Fingolfin answer. "Frankly, I'm afraid to find out." 

Inside the situation has gotten tense. When Fingolfin and Finarfin met a agitated Fëanor, a silent Finwë and Valar, who look obviously worried. The powers especially seem to be waiting for something, carefully watching father and son. Fingolfin notes Manwë's expression turning from neutral to sorrow. It's an emotion he has never seen in a Valar's face before and it's unsettling. 

"Father, why are you here?" Fëanor asks. He, too, wishes to embrace the King upon seeing him, yet just like his brother a few minutes before him, he notices the state the King is in. 

"My son," the King of the Noldor croaks and his voice threatens to break. "My dear beloved son, I don't know how I'm supposed to share this with you. Yet the fate as fallen to me and I shall not rest, before I've conquered this last task in my life." 

"Ada?" Fëanor whispers and his hands are trembling, when he places his hands on Finwë's shoulders. "Ada, what are you talking about? Are you alright?" 

"No, my son. I'm not. I'm not alright," Finwë says and lowers his head. "I'll never be alright again, for Melkor brought a even greater tragedy upon us than the one we're already facing." 

It looks like as if Yavanna wishes to intervene, exclaim once again that there's no greater loss than her burned trees, but to Fingolfin's surprise Varda stops her. The Valië buries her fingers into Vayanna's arms and the Queen of the Earth falls silent. They share a single look, which seems to enough to spread the fearsome knowledge. Fingolfin envies them for that. His mind has been offering horrific scenarios, speculating wild what could've happened and he fears the next words leaving his father's words. 

They're all waiting. Many can probably guess, what's going on, yet it will not be real until Finwë says the words and turns a nightmare into history. 

"Ada, where are my children?" Fëanor finally asks, noting the absence of his sons. The question is a valid one, because it's impossible for Finwë to have convinced all Sons of Fëanor to stay away, when the King himself is breaking the original agreement as well.

"Ada, where are my children?" Fëanor repeats, louder and more frantic. It's the voice of a father. Not that of a proud prince and clever craftsman. "Why isn't Maitimo with you? Or Makalaurë? Surely they haven't let you ride alone when you're in such a poor condition."  

"They're aren't coming, Fëanáro," Finwë says and the words echo through the room. 

Even the gods are holding their breaths, because of the fear what will happen next. 

A choked cry next to him tells Fingolfin that Finarfin has figured out, what must have happened. While his head came to the conclusion as well, his heart still denies it. Fingolfin has only eyes for his brother, studies the features of the prince on last time, because he knows soon he'll be gone.

Fëanor is a man of passion, who loves his children above all else. More than the Silmaril and his wife, more than his status, his title and himself. They've all witnessed Fëanor's proud and happy smiles, whenever his band of seven barges in and interrupts whatever he was doing. They've all seen Fëanor turning from a stubborn and mood prince of the worst kind into a laughing, open-minded man, who never cared how many children ended up eating at his dinner table, because each of his sons had brought at least one cousin along. 

Over the years they've struggled to maintain a functional relationship, something which they failed in during the last years, but Fingolfin remembers a time where Fëanor let him old the newborn Nelyo for the first time. Until today he thinks that there's no greater sign of trust. 

Not for Fëanor, who loves his children beyond reason. 

"I will not ask again, King of the Noldor. Where are my children?" 

Fëanor's voice has dropped dangerously and the candles in the room flicker as he speaks.  

Fingolfin notices with dread that the Valar have all taken a few steps back. Intend not to get caught up in, what happens next, he pulls Finarfin with him. Straight to the door, in case they have to get out and call for help. Or flee, whatever is more likely. 

"Answer me!" 

The cry is painful to hear. It carries the anguish of a father, who is denying the worst of his fears. Fingolfin watches how Fëanor's face twists and his eyes light up with agony, when Finwë shakes his head and buries his face in his hands. 

"They're gone, Curufinwë," Finwë finally says. "Melkor came to steal the Silmaril, but instead he chose to take what you cherish most. The life of your sons." 

Silence stretches out for minutes, where no one dares to breath. The only sound is Fëanor's ragged breathing, the sobs that take over his body. A single tear falls down his face, because there's no appropriate reaction for a tragedy like this. 

Fingolfin can't even begin to comprehend what Fëanor must be feeling. The thought this could his children, his four beautiful children. No, he doesn't have imagination for it. 

And since Finwë is a man, who likes to be through, he takes away even the last of Fëanor's faintest hope. 

"I found them, Curufinwë. I found them laying in their blood, swords drawn and ready to defend each other," Finwë recounts the gruesome image. "They must've wounded him as well, for I followed a trail of blood leading out of the gates. Yet he was still too fast for me. I had no hope of catching him, let alone fight. Instead I went back and grieved." 

"Grief?" Fëanor screams and Fingolfin stumbles backwards as a wave of heat hits his chest. "What you know of grief? How does it comes that you're still alive in front of me, while my children lay dead?" 

"Fëanáro, I did my best," Finwë claims and instantly Fingolfin feels sorry for his father. 

The King of the Noldor hasn't the best record of dealing with his eldest son, especially not when Fëanor feelings go beyond Finwë's comprehension. Fingolfin has studied his brother long and often. He knows that there's nothing what Finwë can say to make it better. Truly, there's nothing anyone can say. 

All what is left for them is to deal with whatever happens next. 

"How can you claim that you did your best, when you're still alive?" Fëanor thunders and the candles flicker again. "Why are you here? What did you do that you were spared the fate my sons had to suffer?" 

The room is empty now, except for Finwë and his two sons. The Valar have long fled and Finarfin had the sense as well to warn the spectators outside. But Fingolfin refused to move. He needs to stay, needs to witness this at least, when there's nothing else what he can do for his brother. 

Meanwhile Finwë keeps digging his own grave. 

The King of the Noldor takes a step closer towards his son and says, "We still have each other, Fëanáro. Just think, they're with Míriel now. She'll take good care of them." 

Even Fingolfin, who has fought with his brother often and is the first to roll his eyes, when the subject is brought up during dinner, knows that is the exactly wrong thing to say. Even Fingolfin is aware of Fëanor's struggles with the knowledge that his mother is never coming back. Is forever a prisoner in the Mandos' Halls. 

What follow is a scream. Fingolfin images this is what the original discord must've sounded like, because now the world is truly marred. Melkor is truly an enemy of the world and no one besides Fëanor wanted to believe it. Only his brother preached from the very beginning that Melkor's release is bad idea. That Melkor should at least not be allowed to roam freely in Valinor. 

Fingolfin wants to cry. Whatever future they had, it's over now. The loss of the trees they would have survived. They would've found a solution. 

This? No. There's way to rescue their shattered and torn family. 

Even if Námo released the souls in his care, the loss of his children has marked Fëanor. Already he begins to change. Fire flickers around him as his rage grows. His eyes light him, go from yellow to white to red and then back to yellow again. He's rage and grief and love incarnate. For a moment it seems as if Fëanor is able to contain the flames. They recede a little and the world grows cold, but it doesn't last long. 

One look at Finwë is enough for Fëanor to loose control again and the King of the Noldor falls to his knees. Both know that Fëanor will punish Finwë for surviving the death of his grandsons. For bringing Fëanor the news without holding Melkor's head in his hands. 

"Nelyafinwë." 

Fëanor grows as tall as his eldest son, when he speaks the word. 

"Canafinwë." 

The voice becomes fierce, powerful and every word is a summon, reaching into the sky. 

"Turcafinwë." 

Now his brother is wild and free, dangerous like a hungry animal. 

"Curufinwë." 

Clever to. Beyond comprehension. This is the mind that created the Silmarils, a feat no Valar can replicate. 

"Morifinwë." 

Darkness. Wrath and anger that hides kindness well. The knowledge that the night is everlasting and no amount of candles can convince you otherwise. 

"Pityafinwë." 

"Telufinwë." 

The little ones. The babies. The wonder. The innocence that is lost now. 

With each name Fëanor grows and when the litany is finished, a mad god has been born. 

The fire spreads until he's nothing more than a blaze. Flames flicker around him, melting the floor and reaching Finwë before the King of the Noldor has time to react. Fingolfin feels nothing as his father burns. In his eyes, Finwë has deserved it. He can understand Fëanor perfectly for punishing a useless King, who returns to his son with nothing to offer in the darkest hour of his life. 

No word of vengeance. No scars, no madness. No promise of bending the world backwards in order to correct this injustice. 

Fingolfin doesn't now what's going to happen, once his father has turnbd to ashes, but Melkor will die. That's a fact. Melkor will die and Fëanor will kill him or else Arda will crumble beneath the wrath of the Spirit of Fire. 

 

 

 

-

 

 

 

"Do you think they will return?" Finarfin asks his brother later as they stand on a hill, watching the battlefield below. It's almost over now, their forces are retreating. Only a few captains are still taking care of minor skirmishes.

It's another victory, thanks to the god fighting at their side.

The greatest challenge will be making the land inhabitable again. Fëanáro has burned down entire forests on his warpath and he does not always listen, when they warn him to be careful.

"They would come the moment he rouses them from their slumber," Fingolfin shrugs. His face does not show the same worry as Finarfin's. Instead, he seems to have grown perfectly into the role of the King, who lives and rules on the battlefield. Though the title still belongs to Fëanáro in theory, it's Fingolfin's fanatic and almost religious willingness to follow him to the end of the world, that truly makes a difference between a powerful madman and the god that rules in the sky.

"If he still grieves, every hour of the day, living in unimaginable anguish, then why he just doesn't return to his sons?" Finarfin wants to know. "Nerdanel is just as mad as he is and I bet she would give birth to her sons all over again, if it brings them back."

Fingolfin thinks on the comment for a moment, before he answers. It almost looks like as if he's mentally conserving with Fëanor.

"He failed to protect them. Morgoth has to be banished from Arda, before he can call his children back to him. He sees it as his duty to spare his sons the war, no matter what it will cost him in return. Be it his own soul, his power or long years before he can hold them in his arms again."

Finarfin nods, but he knows better than trying to understand what truly moves Fëanáro. He loves his children, but he doesn't want to know how it feels like what it means to love them to an intensity of this degree. Yet it's out of question to doubt the outcome his brothers have prophesied.

The Sons of Fire will return or else the world will break.

 

 

End Notes:

I swear, I will make it up to you. But I HAD to write this ever since I read the passage in the book, where the boys pass out as Morgoth flees from Formenos and find Finwe after they wake up. Always wondered, why he didn't kill them. Figured he was afraid what Fëanor would do to him, so he was smart enough to take out daddy dearest first.

"Forget my name tomorrow" - (Nerdanel) by mangacrack

 

They're dead. 

The truth just hits her one day. One moment she's picking up her fork while eating dinner with her parents, the next Nerdanel is choking. Screaming as the last remaining connection to her husband and her children is ripped out of her. There are shouts, people calling her name, but Nerdanel can't hear. She can't breath. Not when there's someone reaching inside her chest and crushing her hand in a cruel iron grip. 

"Nerdanel, my dear, what is happening?" Her mother asks obviously worried, but Nerdanel can't answer. 

She can't talk. There are no words for what is happening. Unimaginable pain crashes over her and she dies no less than eight times. She doesn't know how, but it's the truth. 

Death. All what she can feel is death. 

"No. No please," she screams. "No more." 

The last coherent thought Nerdanel has is that she should've never gone back. She should've left the side of her family. For now they're gone and she's nothing more than a shadow. 

 

-

 

They find her outside kneeling on the ground. It's dark, the little light the lamps give away flickers over her face. Her eyes glow with madness and her hair is burning. 

No one dares to approach her.

-

 

She's screaming. Again. Her screams make everyone uncomfortable. It echoes through the air and never quite fades away. But everyone, who hears the scream immediately knows why she's doing it. She's a mother who lost her sons. Her children. Her babies. 

And they're all gone. 

 

-

 

Her feed are bare and bleeding, when she pounds against doors of Mandos' Halls. The gate is huge, black and made of stone not even she can move. But it doesn't deter her. Nerdanel keeps hammering against it, never tiring. 

She hasn't eaten in years, though she's ever hungry. She yearns for blood and flesh. 

"Give them back," Nerdanel screams, calling out to Námo. "Give them back to me!" 

Time passes. Years. Decades. But the way remains shut. 

Nerdanel wants to sleep, but she doesn't. She can't. She dreams while being wide awake. Sometimes her sons are right beside her, sometimes she feels their death all over again. 

 

-

 

"Let me help you, child." Nienna says, finally being able to approach the insane woman. "Let me ease your pain." 

It's the only plan they have. Nerdanel's state hasn't gone unnoticed and since the remaining Elves in Valinor are uneasy with the wails that still echo over the land, they decided to act. They have to unless they want to risk another rebellion. The Noldor once again feel unprotected and helpless, think about leaving and following their kin across the ice, because Beleriand can't be worse than this. 

Nienna looks at the mad child of Eru and remembers her brother's words. 

"I can't help her," Námo had said. "She can't hear me for she's neither alive nor truly dead. It's just a matter of time, before she turns into a wraith ... or something worse." 

"You," Nerdanel hisses as she recognizes the god in front of her. "How you dare to taint my mourning with your presence? You claim to be merciful, understanding and kind." 

The blue light in Nerdanel's eyes make Nienna a little uneasy. She has never felt fear before, yet the thin woman in front of her carries a presence. A threat. One she cannot ignore. They all cannot ignore. Nerdanel Mathaniel has always been as sharp as her husband, yet disagreed with him on many matters during the rebellion. Now, with death of her family, she lost her former self. She's diminished. Broken. 

Nienna wants to help her, for no one else wants to. They're all afraid. But Nienna refuses to succumb. 

She spreads her arms and hugs the poor, lost woman. She will cry for her until Nerdanel will let go of her pain. One day she can have a new life. 

The Valië is optimistic, but unfortunately this will be her last thought. She doesn't notice how Nerdanel takes more and more power, drinks it up until she has Nienna.

As she lets go and the empty shell of a god sinks to the ground, Nerdanel stares at the drained corpse for moment. It's fitting. Fëanor, her great love and the father of her children, slayed Elves. His own kin. It's appropriate that she kills gods, those who tried to rule the Noldor, only to abandon them in their greatest need.

"You knew nothing of mercy," Nerdanel says before she turns around and leaves Nienna behind.

She doesn't know if the Valië is still alive. It doesn't matter, she will never recover. The power is hers now, far more fitting. She'll put it to use. She will do more than just sit around and cry in a corner. 

"I'm Nerdanel no longer. For the mother of seven died, when her children did," the new goddess says, when the first person she meets, asks for her name. "I come in the name of mercy and I'll go east to lift the ban the Valar have placed over the Noldor."

Her skin is white, her hair is burning and her eyes filled with pain. People can't bear her gaze for long and look away quickly. 

Finarfin is the last person the new goddess sees, before she heads east. He has the decency to bow before her. Out of respect. Or because he can't do anything else. 

He asks, "Who are you."

"I'm the cause of tears. I'm mercy. I'm hope," she answers. 

It sounds better than the truth. That she's the wife to a murdered husband. She's mother of seven dead sons. 

But she'll have her vengeance. In this life or the next. For Mandos' Halls can't contain her. What could possible she want in this place, when the Judge doesn't have her family? Her sons, her dear sons. Thrown into the void. But Fëanor will protect them. He's fire, her love. So much fire. He'll fill the void with his thoughts. One day Nerdanel is going to follow them. Join them. 

But first, Morgoth. They'll build a new world in the void out of Morgoth Bauglir's corpse. Then the Silmaril. 

For the light. For a new life. 

The goddess, who once was an Elf called Nerdanel leaves Valinor. She leaves behind a broken Nienna and bloody footsteps, wherever she goes.

Legend says it's the blood of her womb, flowing freely until her sons are returned to her. Reborn and given new flesh. 

 

-

 

"My King, there's a woman outside." Celeborn bows before Thingol. He looks nervous. "She demands to for you to met her outside."

"Outside these very doors?" Elu Thingol wants to know. "Who makes such demands in my own Kingdom?"

"She hasn't given a name, my Lord. But she's very insistent and I must say that there's something very strange about her." Thingol watches his nephew shudder. He appears ... afraid. Since it's been a long time ever since that emotion crossed over Celeborn's beautiful carved face, Thingol rises and gathers his grey cloak around him.

"Lead me to her," he demand. "Let's see what kind of woman intrudes into my forest and demands my presence."

For a moment Thingol wonders where his wife is. He can't quite remember when it was the last time he has seen her.

 

-

 

There's truly a woman outside. She has long red hair. It's beautiful, falling down her back and onto the floor. It makes a good contrast to her white dress.

No.

Thingol blinks and then the white beautiful dress is gone. Just as the fine features of the woman. Suddenly it's not an Elleth of fine beauty he's seeing anymore. The closer he gets, the more frightened he feels. Probably as much as the rest of his Kingdom, who stands frozen in fear.

"My Lady, how can I help you?" Thingol is surprised how much his voice wavers. Yet at the same time he's proud that he can speak at all.

In the corner of his eye, Celeborn's hands tremble.

"My name is Darkness," the red Lady says. "I've been told that you refused to ride to war with my sons."

End Notes:

My personal headcanon is that Nerdanel doesn't survive Feanor's death. Either she fades or she becomes the first suicide cases in Aman a few years later. But I don't support the version where she's reunited with her husband four ages later and yet remains sane?

"After the Rain" - (Celebrimbor) by mangacrack
Author's Notes:

This story does not entirely belong to me. Half of it is Encairion's, because once I promised a better ending to her Celebrimbor's fate in "The Price of Vengeance II". Hence why Celebrimbor's son Elmírion is not mine either, I'm just playing in someone else's sandbox.

 

"I never thought I would see the day, where we would be truly free," Celebrimbor tells her and pours more tea into her cup.

Celebrían turns towards him. She understands what he means and she can't help the smile on her face. Unlike him, she is unmarred, at least from the outside, but whenever their gazes meet she can see a reflection of herself. Though Celebrimbor should be the least likely she has something in common with. He was born in Aman, remembers how it was to live in a world without shadows looming at the horizon and watched his family fall, one after another over the long years.

"It's something your family has always been thriving for, isn't it?" Celebrían asks.

The Fëanorian's gaze lands on her stomach, where her own hand rests on her swollen belly. She isn't that far along, but the evidence of her and Elrond's union is evident.

"That's exactly the reason, why it is so difficult to believe. We've all fought and lost so much that I find myself waiting for the shadows to return any moment," Celebrimbor sighs and sits down next to her. His movements are slow, his scars must be bothering him again. As they always do on cold days.

One particular scar marred his beautiful face. It's an ugly slash across the left half of his face. He claims he can see well enough with the left eye, but Celebrían has noticed that Celebrimbor avoids being outside after nightfall. She suspects that his vision troubles him as long as it's not bright daylight.

"I think we should be happy with what we have despite the losses we suffered," Celebrían says.

No matter how hard the last decades had been, she can't help but smile whenever her spirit brushes against the growing life inside her.

An outraged yell makes her forces her to look out of the window, just in time to witness the twins go after their older brother with sticks. She doesn't know what happened, but even from the distance she can see how Elmírion laughs and dances out of the way in order to avoid getting hit. The closed window prevents her from hearing what he says, but he must be teasing the twins, for Elladan and Elrohir look at each other before they once again try to tackle him.

With various success, she might add, but it warms her heart nonetheless, when all three fall to the ground a few minutes later. From what Celebrían can see the twins have the upper hand for once and Elmírion's laughter rings through the valley as the twins keep tickling him.

"I can live with it," Celebrían finally says after they watched the children play for a while. "I'm sorry that we lost Gil-galad, Glorfindel and Gildor, but thanks to them all my children can grow up in peace."

She reaches out and snatches one of Celebrimbor's wrists to place his hand on her belly. Her daughter, recognizing the familiar fëa, glowed a bit brighter. Just like Celebrimbor's eyes. With Arwen chirping beneath his scared fingers, the pain that usually plagues him ebbs away.

"I know what you mean," he finally says and pulls away. "As much as I blame myself for their fate, Sauron is gone and with my son being alive, happy and thriving I'm quite aware that the outcome could be far worse."

There's nothing what Celebrían can say to that. She hadn't even been there. Her interest had been in keeping Celebrimbor alive. And her son. For some time it looked as if she would loose both of them and while she loved Celebrimbor only like a dear friend, like a brother, she isn't sure if she could've managed to pick herself up after his death.

Let's be honest, he's only here because Elmírion was too stubborn to let go, Celebrían thinks.

At some point a wise soul suggested to put the remaining Fëanorians into the same room and it had done wonders for their recovery. It had taken Elmírion crying out for his father in his sleep in order for Celebrimbor to wake up. One of the healers joked that Telperinquar dragged his son's spirit from Mandos back into the living world with sheer stubbornness alone. It sounded like an outragous tale, but Celebrían couldn't refute the fact that both of them had woken up on the same day suddenly, looking far better and healthier than they did the night before.

She doesn't believe in the gods like the Sindar do, she doesn't follow the customs of the Sindar and she doesn't have the memories of the Noldor either, but Celebrían has to admit that there's something that looked out for her son and his father. On some quiet days she liked to imagine that it had been his family that made the return possible. That maybe Fëanor himself send them back or else the blood of his House would be entirely gone from this world.

They share another quiet moment, as they always do. It's a peaceful afternoon.

Well, until a loud crash and various chattering voices announce the arrival of her children.

"Stay," Celebrimbor tells her, vaguely amused when Celebrían sighs. "I will take care of the horde."

"Thank you," Celebrían says. As nice as the Third Age may be, her sons are quite a handful and she's glad that Celebrimbor doesn't mind helping out.

They're going to adore you, little one, Celebrían thinks, when Celebrimbor vanishes through the door.

 

-

 

In the recent years Celebrimbor struggled with the knowledge of how much they had lost. Building Imladris drove him to tears sometimes, because he will never be able to forget the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. But the sight in front of him as he descended the stairs that lead to the entrance hall provided him with the greatest treasure known to man.

His son stood tall and proud, his black hair tied back in a simple braid, but the thick mass still flowed over his broad shoulders. Thanks to the training he had been doing, he put on some muscles, more than he possessed before they had been attacked. Right now Elmírion reminds him a little of Maedhros. While his son will never be as tall as his uncle, the similarity is undeniable.

Or perhaps it's just the image of Elmírion trying to wrangling his little brothers into doing what he wanted.

"You little noisy brats," his son growls as the twins do their best to drive their older brother insane.

"You seem to have your hands full," Celebrimbor comments, when he joins the small group. "Do you require assistance?"

"They need a bath, so yes. If you would take one of them, I will be eternally grateful," Elmírion says. Someone he managed to grab his brothers by their ankles and currently holds them upside down.

Not Elladan or Elrohir seem to care. He only gets two wide excited grins, when he raises an eyebrow at the two muddy elflings.

"Looks like you had fun," he says, taking Elladan into his arms.

Celebrían will worry about the scrapes and bruises, but Celebrimbor knew that this was normal. For any kind of child, not just enthusiastic elflings.

"Lots," Elladan quibed. "Are you gonna tell us stories later, Uncle?"

"Perhaps," Celebrimbor hums. "But we will have to get you clean first."

The twins grin is blinding and Elmírion's smile matches theirs perfectly. Not for the first time Celebrimbor wonders about the twins's affliation. They're young still, but from what he has seen so far, they're Noldor through and through. Thankfully Celebrían cares little about such things, she's wiser than any of them in that regard. Her father, for instance, is still bitter about her unplanned pregnancy with Elmírion and her later marriage to Elrond.

That Celebrimbor has taken up residence in Imladris hasn't helped with the relations.

Truly, he had other things to do in the last decades, building Imladris and taking care of their scattered people after Gil-galad's and Gildor's death took the majority of his attention, but he got to listen to Elrond complaining. Apparently Celeborn had been willing to overlook Elmírion's existence if his daugther would have married Amroth, new King of Lórien, in return.

It's sad that Celebrían's polite but firm refusal had strained the relationships in her family so much.

In the end Celeborn had refused to attend the wedding, since Celebrimbor had been invited as well. Amroth delinced the invitation as well, claiming that his father's death was too recent for him to think of celebrating any time soon. In his opinion, it's a mistake but since Thranduil came forth with the same arguments, there was little what they could've done.

"What are you thinking about?" Elmírion asks, when he finds his father leaning against the door frame, lost in thought.

Since the twins are currently happy to play in the bath, they have a moment for themselves. Elmírion is a good big brother, who took to the task of watching the little ones like he had been born for it. His love for Elladan and Elrohir even surpassed his passion for forge crafting.

"I was wondering how odd it is that it's surpringly Galadriel, who makes the effort to be a part of the little ones life," Celebrimbor says.

For so long he has seen Galadriel as a cold-hearted and ambitious woman. She had been his adversary that seeing her try to be better makes him pause. Weren't it for Celebrían hesitatingly reaching out, he'd claim Galadriel's behavior to be a ruse, an attempt to seek allies after she failed to make up with her husband after the war.

"I think, she's lonely," Elmírion muses. "She helped us to throw down Sauron, but it has cost her lot among the Sindar."

Celebrimbor nods. "They blame her for Amdír's and Oropher's death."

"It's not our place to judge," Elmírion says and scratches his scars.

They still covered part of his face, though Elrond had done a lot in the last centuries. He had acquired the burns through an accident in his childhood and so far they refused to heal, though no one had ever be able to say why.

With Sauron's death, Elrond had been carefully optimistic that the burns would fade, given enough time and care.

As father, Celebrimbor is glad for it, though the scars could never dimish Elmírion's beauty. It came from within. A fierce determination that gleamed like the sun. Elrohir and Elladan are similar in that regard and they were at an age, where they kept imuliating their older brother constantly. Hence why the little ones spend nearly as much time in the forge as Celebrimbor and Elmírion did, even if they were just watching and helping out most of the time.

Their heart would never be in it, not in the way Celebrimbor and his son bleed for it, but the influence on their life is undeniable.

"They're so strong and beautiful boys," Elmírion comments, able to read his father's thoughts.

"Mostly thanks to you." Celebrimbor says and strokes Elmírion's cheek. "I hope you are aware of the responsebility you shoulder. They will look up and listen to you more than to anyone else in their life. Your sister isn't going to be any different."

"Maybe, maybe not," Elmírion mumbles, watching his brothers like a hawk.

It seems unlikely that anything could happen to them, not with two adults standing guard not even a few feet away, but Celebrimbor knows that nothing would be able to pry Elmírion from Elladan's and Elrohir's side. His son is an unexpected gift, one he never be able to claim for himself since he never considered a marriage. Especially not after the Fall of his entire House, the thought of bringing a child into the world without Curufin there to greet it as it drew its first breath, had always seemed wrong.

And yet here he was. His beautiful son. Elmírion might be the only good thing Sauron ever created and a reminder of Annatar's betrayal, but for his son's smile Celebrimbor will bear the scars he carries on his body with pride and gratitude.

"Elmír, we're done," one of the twins screams and the serene moment is shattered as the boys climb out of the bath tube, dripping all over the floor.

Celebrímbor chuckles, when his son immediately forgets everything and goes after his little brothers with towels and a war cry.

Siblings is something he will never be able to gift to his son, not with the way his body ached and made even the simplest task to a challenge some mornings. So it makes him even more glad that Elrond accepted his wife's first child into his family without batting an eye. In a way, Celebrimbor suspects, it's Elrond's way to hold on to his dead fathers. Both had died at the end of the War of Wrath, leaving Elrond bereft of family and without anything to hold onto after Elros made his choice and sailed for Numenor.

"He's very much like you, Uncle," Celebrimbor mumbles as he watches his son and thinks of Maedhros. Both possessed an unbreakable will, creativity to reach whatever goal they set for themselves with unshakeable determination and an endless, boundless love for their younger siblings. "I hope you're watching over him. Over all of them."

Celebrimbor's musing gets interrupted, when Elmírion's cry sounds through the room. "Ada, help! Your one and only son is being drowned by evil little goblins."

"At least, we are clean," one the twins shouts. Celebrimbor is almost sure it's Elrohir.

"Unlike you and that means Uncle Telpe isn't going to give you a goodnight story," the other twins says.

Elmírion shouts in mock horror, but still has to struggle in order not to get pushed into the dirty bath.

"Hellions," he shouts, when they end up pulling at his ankles.

"Tts, you love us," twin number one replies.

"I'm reconsidering it!"

That is the last thing Celebrimbor witnesses before he has to duck away in order to hide his laughter. Just in time to avoid getting splashed as Elmírion is pushed into the bath head first and comes up moments later, cursing loud and extensively.

Elladan and Elrohir are delighted at their success ... and the colorful new expression they learn. Celebrimbor sighs. Elmírion is a bad influence in that regard, but he can't be angry at his son's behavior. He has changed so much for the better since the birth of the twins that he's not going to start reprimanding him now.

As long as he smiles like this, I don't care, the older Fëanorian thinks a while later. His son has fallen into the big bed the twins share one brother in each arm, fast asleep just like the elflings that are cuddling against his sides.

 

-

 

"Uncle Telpe," whispers one of the twins, when he checks in later at night, "When is Ada coming home?"

Celebrimbor sighs and ruffles the elflings hair.

"Pretty soon, little one," he says. "With Sauron defeated there's no power left in the world that could hinder him from being there for your sister's birth."

The elfling yawns and falls asleep again, but Celebrimbor remains where he is. Insomnia plagues him anyway and watching Elmírion and his brothers gives him a sense of peace. It's purpose he currently lacks in life, since most of the constructions on Imladris have been finished and he cannot visit the forge as often as he once did. Elrond worked mircales to treat the wounds Annatar inflicted on him, but a few aches remain. His fingers don't always obey him, his limbs become stiff if he doesn't take care of himself and despite that his experience is often needed in other matters as well.

Celebrimbor runs a hand through his son's hair.

Elmírion has taken over a lot of tasks that include heavy lifting, guarding the valley or other things Celebrimbor is not able to do anymore. Soon the twins will join him, emulating their older brother. Especially if they realize that their father is currently busy with rebuilding Lindon. Without Gil-galad and Gildor to handle the remaining Noldor, those that don't fall into the Fëanorian Quarter and therefore under Celebrimbor's rule to begin with, are currently leaderless.

They're are crying for a King to lead them and until now Elrond has been succesful in refusing the crown.

He hopes it stays that way. He doesn't want Arwen and the twins to grow up with a distant father.

Perhaps Galadriel will finally get her wish, Celebrimbor muses.

Not for a single moment he thinks about claiming the crown for himself.

End Notes:

Encairion, I hope you like this story. It's quite an AU compared to original story in 'Price of Vengeance II', but I always imagined how Imladris would've been had Elmírion survived. Celebrimbor as well, since I still have theme for this little fic collection.

If you've read the story (if not, you should!) just imagine that Elmírion never died and was able to free his father from Sauron's tender mercy ... though he took a great risk and it almost cost him his life. Yet with Celebrimbor's survival Gil-galad, Gildor and Glorfindel were able to throw down Sauron for good. What I left up to debate is Glorfindel's parentage (since Maglor is dead) and Gil-galad's as well. I just wondered a little what Galadriel's reaction would/will be and since Encairion hasn't reached that point in the book yet, I speculated.

... last chapter will up in a few weeks. I need my happy ending.

This story archived at http://www.faerie-archive.com/viewstory.php?sid=2051