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Faded Glory
Author: Myaru
Rating: PG
Theme: A River Runs Through It
Elements: Narog
Word Count: 1372
Summary: Elrond and Elros always ask the hard questions.
Disclaimer: none of Tolkien's stuff is mine.

Author's Notes: This is my first attempt at a story in this canon. I hope it isn't terrible. I tried to canon-check, but may not have been entirely successful.


EDIT: unlocked, now that it has been posted here at [profile] lotr_community.



.......................................................................................

They started with a small oil lamp to combat the dimming of the summer night-- Maglor with his harp, and Elwing's young boys sitting on stools by the window to wait for a breath of air which was not forthcoming. After a glance at the window, he decided to sing about Nargothrond, because the setting sun lit the dry fields north of Amon Ereb yellow and gold and brought to mind a cousin who shone the same way in sunlight, torchlight, candlelight. He was a living flame, and like so many who had come with them across the sea, he was snuffed out in a place of darkness. But such a way to go, he often said, unquestionably heroic - glorious in its brutality - and worthy of a place in the songs Maglor's father promised, which would live forever among the Eldar.

Maedhros was somewhere beyond the walls, beyond sight, hunting in the deepening gloom. The map room, where Maglor had met the boys for their lesson, faced north and looked over the battlements at the sweeping expanse of a plain that seemed empty, but which always managed to disgorge a few orcs, plenty of wolves, occasionally fires of mysterious origin. The Enemy was out there; the fall of Amon Ereb would come some day soon. All fortifications fell eventually, and their fortress was alone in a sea of nothing.

Every realm in Beleriand had gone down in flames. History had spoken.

He emulated the glissade of water over rocks with descending notes, wishing he could summon a vision of the river, regretting he had never laid eyes on Narog long enough to memorize its turns, or the city nearby. Elrond watched Maglor's fingers on the harp strings, and Elros looked right, gazing out the window and wishing, likely, he had been allowed to ride out with the others.

Maglor's fingers stilled, and the strings with them.

"Could you not show us?" Elrond said, speaking softly as if the sudden silence oppressed him as much as the heat did. "I would like to see the hall where Felegund ruled."

"Perhaps Lórion can sketch it for you," Maglor answered, setting his harp aside. The strings breathed faintly. "He journeyed there many times on my behalf, but I never saw the city myself."

"You always tell us to use our imagination," Elros said, flipping his hand at a mosquito. "Can't you imagine?"

"It doesn't work that way. It will not be Nargothrond." And Maglor wanted it to be real if he sang it to life, faithful to the original vision.

"I think you don't want to." Elrond again, quietly combative. Golden thread picked a broken pattern around his collar, faded finery salvaged from an older tunic. "We know the story, we know what happened."

Indeed, he was right. All roads led to the Oath in the end, even the strumming of a chord and the halls of a city he had never seen.

"It is awful, what your brothers did," Elros said, catching on to his train of thought. "I wouldn't own a brother who-- turned on someone I loved."

"Nor me," Elrond agreed.

Maglor remembered a night lit by fire, choked by smoke, and their small voices vowing to avenge their parents and their people. "You would shut him out, see him cut down by orcs?"

"Of course not!" Elros looked outraged; he might've suggested they do exactly that, right now.

Maglor shook his head, left the window to light two tapers from the lamp and set them in holders above the empty hearth. He wouldn't say the thought had occurred to him, as it surely had to Maedhros; he wouldn't mention how many times he wanted to hit Curufin when he insisted it was not he who betrayed their cousin, but the other way around. That was the way of brothers. Forgiveness too. And where forgiveness was impossible, Maglor turned the other way.

Why haven't you turned away from me, brother? Maedhros asked, once. He was a self-professed murderer of men, women, children - cousins, by proxy. Because he had failed to protect them, he said, he was a murderer of brothers too, and all their men, and two innocent twin boys. What if you're next, Macalaure? What if?

He remembered the unsteadiness of his brother's hand, visible only because the surface of the wine in his cup trembled.

We are both more like orcs than men or elves, he replied. But we are together, and we will stay together. I will not leave you. The Enemy had not yet succeeded in ripping them apart, despite his cruelest devices, and he would not do so now, nor ever. Maedhros didn't realize how essential he was to the world. Maglor had believed once that there was nothing without his father, but if that was incorrect, he knew down to his marrow that nothing would exist without his brother. Arda would die.

"You will find that love is harder to break than you think. Hate can coexist with love. Don't we know that?" Their twin gazes rested on him, hot as coals. He paced back to the window, flung his braid over his shoulder, leaned on the casing to look for the star that rose after he brought them back to Amon Ereb. It shined like a jewel, and he knew it must be, somehow; it was their jewel, suspended in the sky where he could not reach it. Hope, it was called. But if the star had risen it was hidden from his view, rather like its namesake.

"Did your brothers ever love your cousin?" Elrond had the nerve to ask. "It would seem not, from the tale."

Maglor couldn't believe otherwise. "They did not confide in me. But how not?"

They greeted his statement with skepticism, Elros shaking his head, draped in Maedhros's over-sized, faded red finery; Elrond lifted one eyebrow, his mouth flat, looking so much like his grandfather that Maglor's throat closed. But it was just the light; he bent down, reached for the harp, and he was sixteen again, seeming small under the weight of history. The melody he began was familiar to Maglor, an echo coming down the years from the great feast in the north, when he met Daeron from Doriath. His rival sang the history of the Silvan king and Melian the Maia, bestowing it like a revelation upon the Noldor, who until then only knew that Elwe had been lost on the Great Journey. Elrond was skilled enough with the harp - a skill his brother lacked - and he acquitted himself well, letting the music move on by itself when his knowledge of the words failed. The ancient romance made a fitting song for a night under the stars; a shame they could not go out.

"What did Menegroth look like?" Elros asked. His brother's play faltered.

"I told you of Menegroth," Maglor said, slanting his gaze away. The dark of night would have been calming, if not cool.

"You told us what you did there," Elros said, his voice sharpening. "You have shown the Trees to us, and Tirion, and Himring, many other places, but never Doriath."

"What would you have me say?" Maglor asked, the images leaping to vivid life in his mind's eye: the gore-clogged fountains, the famous hall of stone beeches lit red by the burning of Melian's tapestries. No, he did not want to paint that picture, with words or with music. Worse, the scene wouldn't be new to them, because they had seen its like during the sack of Sirion. His own blade had cut their guardians down.

Their mother would have been next. Maglor was glad she jumped, that she took that choice away from him.

"Show us the star dome," Elrond said, and Elros at the same time: "the stone trees." And he added, "Don't worry about the blood."

How kind of him.

Maglor beckoned, and Elrond surrendered the harp.


.......................................................................................

I feel this is still very uneven, but time is up. :/

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