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Sons of Eärendil

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I barely remember our Father. I remember that he was tall, so much taller than us, a laughing figure, full of love, but he was hardly ever home, spending most of his days out at sea. He would tell us stories and bring us gifts but it never made up for the fact that he would soon be gone again.

I remember our Mother, the pain in her dark eyes each time she watched him leave. A pain that haunted her days and nights although she always tried to hide it, hiding behind the brilliance of the jewel she wore. But you saw it, my twin, your eyes always saw deeper than mine. It was you who woke me the night after our Father had left once again. You who insisted we should leave our warm bed and seek our Mother's. I followed you, trusting you my brother. As we entered her room and I heard her crying in her sleep I understood and we climbed into her bed. I remember that our arms were too short to hold her but that didn't matter as she wrapped her arms around us. We never let her sleep alone again.

Those were good times, my twin, even with our Father absent. It was best that we didn't know what our futures would hold back in that quiet innocence of our childhood.

I remember you, my brother, my twin. You were my echo, my mirror and I was yours. We were together. Eating, sleeping, bathing, it was always the two of us. We played together, there by the sea. We laughed and ran, fought and squabbled but we were always together and we swore nothing could ever drive us apart. A childish oath from childish lips and I wish by the Powers and the One that it was an oath we could have kept, but that was not to be so and our lives didn't stay peaceful for long.

I remember that day, even now it's still branded vividly into my memories, into my nightmares. I remember the terrible sounds of battle and our Mother's fear and panic as she tried to get us to safety. I remember our friends dying, their deaths more vivid to me than any memories of their lives. Those who guarded us fell one by one under the swords of our distant kin. We couldn't run fast enough to get away. I remember you, my brother, as you stood beside me when we tried to protect our Mother. Our short blades were nothing compared to the swords of our attackers, but I could see my own determination to fight echoed in your eyes.

To this day I don't know what made us turn around, turn our backs to our attackers. It could have been our Mother whispering goodbye. I do not know. Time seemed to stop when I saw her leaping out over the ocean, her white dress flapping in the wind as she fell, the jewel bright on her breast. I tried to run towards her and knew that beside me you were doing the same my twin, I could hear your voice joining mine as we screamed for her.

But rough hands took us, preventing us from following her. I remember kicking and clawing at them, trying to get away, trying to get to you or to follow our Mother. But they were so much bigger than me, so much stronger.

 

Ah, our bond, it's strange that I had forgotten about that, my twin. That connection between our minds that would carry our love and our pain and that sometimes would carry our thoughts. I remember calling out to you as those unkind arms carried me away from the sea, from our Mother. I remember calling your name and having my own echo back to me down the bond. I stopped fighting them, knowing they were too strong, and concentrated on our bond, clinging to my connection to you. Wanting, needing to know if you were near, that they weren't separating us.

I do not know where they carried us to, my eyes were too blinded by tears, but I knew that you were still close. When they put me down beside you I clung to you and you wrapped your arms around me in turn. Together we wept for our grief, ignoring our captors. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been there my twin. If you had followed our mother off that cliff I think that I would have done anything to follow you, but you were there with me and I would not allow myself to dwell on that possibility, I already had far too much grief to add to it.

I think someone may have tried to offer us food that night but I cannot be sure, in my grief I noticed little else.

I do not know how long we clung to each other. I remember sleeping and dreaming again of the attack and of our Mother's fall. I woke, crying again, still clinging to you, my brother, the only kin I had left. I held onto you tighter, fearing the strangers would take you from me too. I couldn't get back to sleep so I lay there watching you sleep, whispering to you, trying to keep the nightmares at bay.

They tried to separate us but we tightened our grips in fear and panic. We screamed and we cried, although we never spoke a word to them. They eventually stopped trying and left us alone.

They must have had a cart with them or have found one somewhere because I remember the rumbling and squeaking of the wheels and the rough jolting. Still I clung to you my twin. I kept my eyes shut as if that could make all the badness go away.

I remember the first time he sang to us, it was while we were riding on the cart. His voice and songs were dark with pain and with other things I didn't understand back then. He was still singing to us when the cart stopped and it was his voice that was in my ear when we were lifted down. That's when I realised he was one of our captors, I had thought he was another like us, not one of those who had killed our friends and destroyed our family. I tried to turn away from him, to ignore his songs but I couldn't, his voice continued to creep into my ears.

It was he who convinced me to move my head enough to take some water and I felt you move as he also gave you some. That night he wrapped his arms around the both of us. He may have been the enemy but it was so good to be held protectively by an adult again. I don't know about you, my twin, but I don't remember having nightmares that night.

The next morning I could smell a stew and the voice of the singer was cajoling me to eat. I opened my eyes, seeing for the first time since seeing our Mother fall. The face that filled my vision wasn't quite like any I'd ever seen before. Freckles and battle scars competed for space on it and the green eyes were full of dark regrets and griefs. His lips were parted in a soft song and his face was framed by dark red hair, fast escaping from it's braids. He smiled when he realised I was looking at him.

Do you remember him, my twin? Maglor Fëanorion. Who with his brother and their men invaded and killed. Who forced our Mother to her death and who tore us away from our home. Did you ever question why you trusted him? Did you ever feel guilt or anguish over coming to love him, over letting him take the place of our lost parents? I know that I have, particularly in the dark when ghosts of the past haunted my thoughts. Even now it is in the dark of night that my ghosts plague me the most.

Yet even that first time I saw him I trusted him, that bloodstained son of Fëanor. Years later I was still afraid of his fiery and brooding brother, yet Maglor I quickly came to love. Was it just a child's need for an adult to make everything right again? I do not know but I remember him holding us and soothing us. He taught us to sing and to play and he told us tales of the long past yet never would he tell us of his time in the undying lands, nor of his Father's terrible oaths.

He taught us how to fight and how to hunt. How to protect ourselves and look after ourselves, lessons I took to heart. I knew that you shared my desire to never be left defenceless again. Never again did I intend to watch while those I cared for were hurt and killed.

 

 

Do you remember, my brother, when the Valar marched? When their armies came and drove the Enemy from this world? Do you remember the day when Arda shook down to her very foundations and the maps changed forever?

I remember when the news came and we hid where we could listen to the brothers, our guardians. I remember their argument, their bitter words as their Father's oath reclaimed them. We would never see them again.

Father. I had forgotten. That night when his star first rose. It was Maglor and his brother who recognised it as the light of the Silmaril our Mother had worn. We stood there together, you and I, hands clasped as we watched the new star crossing the sky. We knew it was the Father we had barely known. Many times since then I have comforted myself with the fact that he is watching over me, it comforts me even more to know that he watches over you, my twin.

When Maglor and his brother left they took all their men with them, abandoning us.

We travelled then brother, just you and I. The times were strange, with Arda herself still unsettled. We walked the new coastline together and found mountains where none had been marked on our maps. Sometimes we would come across groups of Elves and we would stop to exchange news. I remember the shock of hearing what had happened to the two who had raised us. It was strange to be sitting there in grief while those around us celebrated the end of the kinslayers. Yet I could not find it in my heart to deny them their joy. How long, my brother, did we walk the shore, hoping to see Maglor again?

Eventually we came to the lands called Lindon and there we stopped for a time. It was pleasant there, a new land full of hope for the future. But the longer we stayed there the more lost I began to feel. You, my twin, had found a home and friends there, I was proud when you gained a place in the household of the High King but it never felt like home to me, there was something that called me away. I hated to leave you, my brother, but I could not stay and I could not take you away from the home you had found for yourself. So I started to travel again. Just a few days at a time at first. It hurt when I realised you hadn't noticed, you'd been so busy with your duties, yet it also convinced me that I was right to go.

I remember the first time you did realise I was gone. I'll never know why you were looking for me that day but when your pain and shock echoed down our twin-bond I turned back immediately. When I returned, more than a day later, I found you in my rooms, you had cried yourself to sleep, curled around my pillow. I sent word to your friends, in case you had been missed, before closing the door and standing by the bed to look at you. You seemed so young, so vulnerable, and I didn't want to wake you but you stirred, knowing I was there, and you spoke my name, reaching out for me. I took you in my arms, letting you cry. When you got angry at me for leaving I continued to hold you quietly, waiting for the storm to pass. You wanted me to promise that I'd never leave you again, but I couldn't do that. I knew I couldn't stay in those lands, not when something was telling me that my future lay elsewhere.

It took most of the night to make you understand but eventually you conceded, provided that I promised to always tell you before leaving to journey. I promised, it wasn't such a hard thing to do. We slept the rest of that night in each other's arms, like we had done as children.

You got used to my travels, your duties always kept you busy anyway. Over the years I travelled further away, and for longer. I spent much of my time among the Edain, finding them more interesting than I had expected.

Then there was that year. I had known that the Herald of Manwe had been moving among the Edain, teaching them, but that was the first time I had met him. It was a very disconcerting meeting. He looked much like one of the Eldar but there was something about him that made him feel older and more powerful than any Elda I have met. He greeted me by name and spoke of our Father and of our Mother. He then told me that the Valar had chosen me to be King of the Edain. I was shocked at his words, something that I know you sensed through our link. But when you sent an enquiry I pushed you away, I needed time to think. That was something Eönwë seemed to understand as he told me to seek him if I had questions before leaving me alone to think.

Feeling a need to be apart from the daily activities I went to my rooms and watched the Edain through my window. Watching them I realised that they meant something to me and I felt both honoured and frightened to be asked to lead them. Suddenly I knew what that would mean for my choice, something we had never discussed. With a new feeling of dread in my stomach I rushed back to your side, barely resting on the journey there.

When I saw you I held you tight, praying to the Valar that you hadn't made your choice yet. My behaviour worried you, I could see it in your eyes when you pushed me back to look at me. I asked my question and you answered, bemused that I was asking it. You had chosen to be counted with our Elven kindred, of course you had, it was what we had planned to do when we had first learnt of our choice. I cried as I clung to you again, your puzzlement soon turned to fear and then anger as you shook me, demanding to know why I cried. I didn't want to speak, by saying it I would make it real, but when you stopped yelling and started crying too I knew I had to tell you that my destiny lay with the mortals. Your tears hurt me but not as badly as it did when you went cold, telling me that I was abandoning you, betraying you, telling me to go away and leave you alone. When you closed yourself off even from our bond I knew you were serious.

I didn't sleep that night, nor the next few, I tried, longing for that oblivion, but sleep wouldn't come. I stayed in my rooms, hoping you would seek me out, but you didn't. I was continually checking our twin-bond, hoping that you would let me in, but you didn't.

Eventually I understood that you would never return to me. I was sobbing as I said the words that would separate us forever. Then I packed my few things and fled that place, fled my twin. I returned to the Edain and traveled among them, not settling down. If I was going to rule them then I wanted to know as much about them as possible.

Then Father lit a silver path across the sea and we followed it to a new land, the land of gift that the Valar had prepared for us. Those first years were hard but it was satisfying knowing that we were building something new. It warmed my heart to watch my people grow, becoming something more than they were and their children were so beautiful.

But I missed you, my brother, many times a day my thoughts would turn to you and it hurt every time I was reminded that you had turned your back on me. I wanted you there by my side, needed you there. There were so many things you were better at than I, my brother, so many mistakes you could have kept me from making. My people never knew that their King wept himself to sleep, mourning the loss of his brother.

Yet time passed. While it didn't bring healing it did bring me a little distance from my pain and there was always so much to do.

~~

Elros drags himself off of his bed with a sigh and paces to look out the window, his thoughts turning to the present.

Today a delegation arrived, from the High King of the Elves to my court. We have only just finished building the great hall. I am so proud of the hall my people have built, with its vaulting room and large stained glass windows. But you know what it looks like, my brother. My heart froze in my chest when I saw it was you leading the delegation. The hall whispered as people saw your resemblance to me. I'm not sure how I managed to breathe properly by the time you reached me. I didn't dare check our bond, still haven't dared.

You stood in front of me and I searched your face but never a hint of remembrance did you give. You addressed me only by title and spoke in such formal tones that my blood turned to ice. I do not know how I managed to reply, I was sure my words would stick in my throat. As soon as you left I ended the audience and escaped to my rooms, dismissing all the servants. I lay on my bed crying, knowing that you hadn't come because you wanted to see me.

Why have you come at all?

I do not have much time to myself before I have to prepare for the formal dinner to welcome you and your entourage. I must make sure to wash the tears from my face before my servants come to dress their king.