Singing to an Ocean|
Elrond followed Cirdan out of the shipyard and onto the dock. They walked in silence, other than the crashing of the waves and the cries of the gulls overhead. At the end of the dock Elrond stopped to stare out into the distance, breathing in the sharp scent of the sea. He had not been to Mithlond since. . .
"It has been long years since I had your company in Mithlond," Cirdan said, as if reading Elrond's thoughts.
"Not since Celebrian's departure," Elrond sighed, voicing what he had been dwelling on since he had arrived the previous night.
"Soon you will be reunited with her," Cirdan answered, his hand brushing Elrond's shoulder.
"When will your ship be ready for us to sail, Cirdan?" Elrond asked, sidestepping the topic of his reunion with his wife. He could hardly contain his eagerness to see her again but that was tempered by the dread of telling her of Arwen's choice. Celebrian would know when the ship docked that he came alone, their children sundered from them, perhaps forever.
His sons had not accompanied him to Mithlond. They had stayed in Minas Tirith with Arwen and Aragorn. Elladan had said Arwen would need them more, now that Elrond had chosen to depart. He had not met his father's eyes when Elrond had asked if he had a message for Celebrian. Elrohir had broken the silence. "Give her our love, Ada."
"She has never lacked for that, ion-nin," Elrond had responded. "You know she will ask, especially when I speak to her of Arwen."
Elladan interrupted him. "Give her our love and our word that we will watch over our sister, as we always have." His grey eyes met Elrond's now. "I can tell you no more, Ada. I have no other answer to give you myself."
Elrond realized he had missed Cirdan's reply, caught in memories of his farewell to his sons. Cirdan had stopped speaking and was looking at him thoughtfully. "Forgive me, Cirdan. My mind had taken me away." Elrond apologized.
Cirdan shook his head and gripped Elrond's shoulder rather than brushing it this time. "I know your thoughts dwell not only on what awaits you on the shore ahead, Elrond, but also on who you are leaving behind here. They will not be here to see you sail, as they were for their mother?" Cirdan questioned.
"We have made our farewells, Cirdan. The pain they felt at the departure of their mother is still fresh in their memory. I would spare them a repetition."
"I wish your memories of Mithlond had stayed the happier ones of your younger years." Cirdan said.
Elrond gazed at the sea again before turning to look at Cirdan. "There is no place I have lived that has not had its fairness marred by some tragedy. Not even the place to where I sail." Elrond gave Cirdan a small smile. "Now I must ask you again due to my inattention, my friend. When will your ship be ready?"
"The ship is ready, Elrond. I wait for Mithrandir. He brings the halflings. By my estimate he will be here in time for you to sail three days from now." Cirdan answered.
"Three days more." Elrond said. "I will treasure the time spent with you, mellon."
Cirdan smiled and turned to walk back up the dock. Elrond took one last look at the sea, then followed him. They walked back to the sandy beach and Cirdan looked at Elrond questioningly. "Shall we walk along here for a time?"
Elrond nodded, following Cirdan to the shore, dotted with large rocks. It changed to a more rugged, rocky terrain as they moved north.
"Have you seen him at all, Cirdan?" Elrond asked the question he had been holding in since his arrival.
Cirdan did not need to ask to whom Elrond referred. "I had not, for many years, heard or caught sight of him. Not until about a month ago." He gave Elrond a sidelong look, hearing the sharp intake of breath that had come from Elrond at his words. "I had come to walk under the stars, restless one night, when I heard his singing amidst the sounds of the sea. I could not find him, even though I searched. I came back, night after night." Cirdan pointed to a promontory up ahead, the rock dark against the sky. "I saw him there, in the brightness of the full moon, five days later. He was gone by the time I reached that place." He paused and looked at Elrond. "I have not seen him since, but I am not the only one who has heard song mingling with the waves these last few weeks."
Elrond's breathing was more rapid and a tightness grew in his chest at Cirdan's revelation. His eyes swept the terrain around them.
"Do not get your hopes up, Elrond!" Cirdan warned. "You know how many ages he has wandered and his skill at eluding those who search for him. Few have exchanged words with Maglor FŽanorion in the ages since the lands sunk below the sea."
"But he was here? You said you saw him yourself, Cirdan?" Elrond questioned, ignoring Cirdan's last words.
"Elrond," Cirdan stopped walking and faced Elrond. His hands dropped heavily onto Elrond's shoulders as he met his eyes. "Do not get your hopes up," he repeated sternly. "He does not seek out discourse. You know this." Cirdan frowned.
Elrond let his breath out, his shoulders slumping under Cirdan's hands. "I know," he said. "I know. I have held onto the hope these many years, Cirdan, that I would get to see him, just one more time," Elrond confessed.
Cirdan's frown deepened. "You will sail without that meeting, Elrond, and he will not join you on that other shore. He has refused every offer to sail." Cirdan gripped Elrond's shoulders even more tightly. "He has known where you dwell and has not sought you out in all this time, Elrond. Think on that. You said your farewell to him long ago."
Elrond nodded, closing his eyes briefly, then shaking his head as if to clear it. "I know you speak truly, Cirdan. I would ask your leave to walk this shore in the days and nights that I have left to me here." His eyes looked at Cirdan bleakly. "If only to catch the echo of his voice on the waves."
Cirdan returned Elrond's look, his eyes reflecting the sadness in his friend's. "You have my leave, Elrond, though you know you do not need it. You may come and go as you see fit here. But expect disappointment, my friend. He is elusive at best."
Elrond nodded again, his grey eyes troubled.
"Shall we head back now?" Cirdan asked.
"I would stay here for awhile, Cirdan. You need not linger. I can find my way back," Elrond replied.
"As you wish," Cirdan said, inclining his head at Elrond. He gave Elrond a searching look, then shrugged. Cirdan turned to make his way up the shoreline, leaving Elrond standing alone.
Elrond walked up the shore to the stony outcropping ahead, climbing up to sit on the rocks and gaze out at the sea, his thoughts more disordered than they had been in years.
He returned to his rooms hours later, having heard no sounds but those of the sea.
Three days, Cirdan had said. Three days before he sailed. Away from his home, his children, the life he had made for himself here. Away from the foster-father he longed to see again.
Elrond was out on the shore again the next day. He returned for the evening meal, meeting Cirdan's questioning look with a shake of his head. He made good on his original intent to spend time with Cirdan, speaking with him deep into the night before retiring to his chambers. He was restless in his rooms, despite the late hour. He opened his balcony doors and stood out in the night. The breeze from the sea stirred his hair gently but he caught no sound other than the waves on the beach below.
He spent the next morning with Galadriel and Cirdan, looking over their ship as Cirdan's Elves loaded their belongings and supplies aboard. He was on edge and he knew Galadriel could sense it from the questioning looks she sent his way. He shut his mind to her and she gave him a puzzled, hurt look when she felt him do it. He was not about to discuss this with her.
She had never been as close to her FŽanorion cousins as her brothers had been. He had no appetite to listen to her litany of reasons why his was a foolish hope. By mid-afternoon he was unable to tolerate it anymore. He was tired of shielding his thoughts and even more weary of discussing the ship's inventory.
He excused himself to Cirdan and brushed off Galadriel's questions as to his plans for the rest of the day. He left the shipyard and followed the path to the beach again, walking to the promontory Cirdan had shown him that first day. He reached it before sunset. Settling himself on the sun-warmed rocks Elrond watched the sun go down in the west, the brilliant orange, purple and rose colors filling the horizon.
He sat there long after moonrise, straining to hear any sounds out of the ordinary.
At last he stood up, knowing he had missed the evening meal and that it was likely that Galadriel or Cirdan himself would be out to search for him soon. Mithrandir would have arrived with the halflings by now. He had no interest in fielding Galadriel's inevitable questions or dealing with the scrutiny in Mithrandir's eyes. He should return to his rooms before they sought him out.
He looked north one last time, his eyes searching the moonlit beach. Seeing nothing, he turned to make his way back when he heard it. It was faint but seemed to be coming nearer. Elrond held his breath to hear better, the thumping of his heart far too loud. There. He heard it again. He let his breath out as scattered words of the "Noldolante" came to him with the wind.
He had not heard that voice in over an age. He would know it anywhere. Had he not heard it sing him to sleep, night after night? Had he not heard it day after day--lessons on history, music, art? Had he not heard it, shouting in agony and defeat on that last day?
It was coming from further up the shore. He scrambled down the rocks to the sand, moving north, following that voice. Elrond scanned the shore, the rocks, the beach ahead, his eyes moving to try to find any movement to follow. The song grew louder and more clear as he followed it.
Elrond skirted around a high, jutting rock, his feet splashed by the now-cold seawater.
He was there, facing the sea, the moonlight touching the raven-black hair. Looking up. As always, looking up at it, shining so brightly in the sky.
Elrond held his breath and kept moving forward, hardly daring to believe what he saw before him. A note faded into the night as the singer stopped. He did not turn to face Elrond. Elrond edged closer, barely breathing, expecting the vision to dissipate if he blinked or looked away. He was just steps from him now.
The wind stirred the hair that fell down the now-silent singer's back, his shoulders rigid, his face angled away.
"Ada?" Elrond whispered.
The figure took a deep breath and the head dropped forward, the shoulders hunching now. A trembling hand came to cover the face that still looked away.
"Maglor, please," Elrond breathed.
Maglor shook his head, his other hand clenching and unclenching at his side. Elrond took a step closer, so he was standing just behind the figure. He reached out a hand and gently touched Maglor's shoulder. He shuddered as Elrond's hand made contact and a low, broken sound came as Maglor slowly turned around.
Those well-known grey eyes gazed at Elrond, dark shadows circling them, tears tracking silver down his cheeks.
"Elrond," Maglor said softly. Elrond threw himself on his foster-father with a strangled sob, arms going around those still-strong shoulders. Seconds later Maglor's arms circled him and Elrond felt he had finally come home.
He didn't know how long they stood there, Elrond's head on Maglor's shoulder while Maglor gently stroked his hair and whispered the comforting murmurs he remembered from the first days after Sirion. He could feel a damp patch on Maglor's shoulder where Elrond's tears had soaked his frayed tunic. Elrond breathed in and then stepped back to look at Maglor, his hands still resting on his father's shoulders.
Maglor smiled. "You've grown, child."
Elrond smiled back, unable to contain the joy he felt. "I've missed you so, Ada."
"My brave boy," Maglor said. "I almost came to you. I was here when she sailed." He looked at Elrond sorrowfully. "I wanted to come to you, to share your grief."
"Why didn't you?" Elrond asked.
Maglor shook his head. "I could not intrude on your family during such a time. I wished to comfort you but your children needed you more. I would not interfere in that." Maglor gently touched Elrond's cheek. "I had hoped your sorrows had ended when we left you, Elrond. I have grieved for your losses and pain. It should have ended with us," Maglor repeated. "I never meant for it to follow you."
"I have had great joy with the sorrow. Your curse did not taint me, Maglor. What Morgoth and Sauron wrought stained my world, not you. Never you." Elrond replied.
"You are sailing now that Sauron is gone?" Maglor asked.
"I am. I am weary and long to see my Celebrian again. Peace has long been my wish and I hope to finally find it."
"I did not see your children here. Are they not sailing with you?" Maglor asked, but at the expression on Elrond's face he hurriedly added "Oh, ion-nin, I did not mean to wound you with my query!"
"You have not. My daughter Arwen has made the choice of Luthien and I must abide by it. My sons. . . my sons have yet to make their choice known." Elrond finished.
"So you are sundered from them as Elros was lost to you. I am so sorry, Elrond. It is bitter to be cut off from your family in such a way."
"You share this hurt, Ada. Your pain at losing your family is no less than mine, despite the ages that have passed." Elrond said, his hand firm on Maglor's shoulder. "Will you," he paused then started again. "Will you not come with me? Join together a family that has so long been apart?"
Maglor sighed and closed his eyes. "I have wished so many times to see you again. Wished so many times that I could go back."
"The Oath is fulfilled," Elrond stated. "You claimed the Silmaril and willingly gave it up. The Oath can hold you no more."
"The Oath may not hold me but the Doom of the Noldor still does. I cannot go back." Maglor shook his head at Elrond.
"Galadriel sails with me, Ada. She is under the same curse yet she sails."
Maglor shook his head again. "The children of Finarfin did not commit the deeds that we did . . ."
Elrond interrupted. "You were given the chance before. Come with me, Maglor. You may find your peace across the sea. You may find at least a part of your family."
"Elrond. I cannot. My family is in the halls of Mandos or the Everlasting Dark, which I do not know but they are not on the other shore waiting for me, that is certain." Maglor responded. "Not even my mother would welcome my return," he finished, in a whisper.
"Maglor, please." Gone was the lore master of Imladris, the venerable healer, the wise Half-Elven Lord, councilor and advisor. All Maglor saw in front of him now was the boy from ages ago who had begged not to be sent away to Gil-Galad in Mithlond, begged them to turn away from the Oath and stay with him.
Maglor reached out to place his hand gently on Elrond's cheek, the wetness of Elrond's tears now on his fingertips. "My boy," he said again as he enfolded Elrond in his arms. He closed his eyes and leaned into Elrond. "I am the last of the House of FŽanor. I will not go back to face the judgement of the Valar. My family did great deeds and great evil." He paused as Elrond lifted his head to look at him. "My father. My brothers. My nephew. They paid with their lives. Maedhros' torment alone should have settled the score but it did not." He met Elrond's gaze, his face stern. "No one remembers them as I do, Elrond. Before. Before the Silmarils. Before the darkness of my father's heart, to me a darkness far worse than the blighting of the Trees. I will not have those memories scorned, their names slandered forever." He gripped Elrond's shoulders tightly, his eyes blazing with a fire Elrond remembered from long ago. "This is my task, my burden you may think it, but I bear it willingly. For all they suffered I will not let who they truly were be wiped away and forgotten. Their debt was paid in death. My debt is paid in life-a life remembering and honoring them."
Elrond stood silently. Maglor gave him a small smile, his eyes soft again. "It was a gift unlooked for to see you again, Elrond. Go to your wife, your parents, the ones you have loved who have gone before you. I will remember you and it gives me hope that you will remember me also."
"I could never forget you and I will never fail to remember the stories you have told me of them, Ada. I will not let others forget or deny them. I shall not rest if they are still in the Halls of Mandos. I will make my case to Namo to release them. So you can come home." Elrond answered.
Maglor smiled. "As you wish, Elrond. If anyone can move the Valar, it would be the son of Ešrendil." He leaned forward to press his forehead to Elrond's. "May you have the joy and peace you deserve. Go now, before Cirdan sends a company of Elves in search of you."
Elrond kept his forehead pressed to Maglor's. "I have wished for this day for so long. I am grateful to have found you once more. I will look for you at the docks on the far shore. This is not the last ship. Do not make me wait too long."
"I will make no promises, Elrond. They don't work out too well for me, as you know." Maglor replied.
Elrond smiled. "That you can still make jests about oaths and promises, Ada."
"Too much blood has been shed over those oaths and promises, Elrond. I have finally learned not to make a promise I cannot be sure to keep, that is all."
"I will still look for you. I will find Maedhros, if he is rehoused or still in Namo's domain. I will find him, Maglor and give him word of you." Elrond said.
"Now you are making promises you may not be able to fulfill, Elrond. Did I not teach you better?" Maglor shook his head at his foster son. "I do not hold you to it," he added solemnly. Maglor gripped Elrond's hand briefly then stepped back. "Go with my love. Always."
Elrond nodded, then stepped back also. "Go with mine as well, Ada. I will never stop looking for you."
Maglor inclined his head then turned away, walking up the shore. A lullaby that Elrond remembered from his childhood drifted back to him on the wind.
Tears streaming from his eyes, Elrond watched Maglor until he disappeared from sight and the song was lost in the night air. He turned to find his way back to his lodgings and his memories.
author note: I've altered the timeline of the hobbits arrival in Mithlond to allow Elrond some days before they sail.