Kings of Men
1. Kings of Men
After a time, Elrond came and sat with his sons. “Arwen has already chosen to follow Luthien.”
“You knew this day was coming, Father,” Elladan said.
“I knew, but the foreknowledge does not make our parting any easier.” Elrond lost himself in the flickering flames before him. “Or rather, in truth, I did not know that this day would come. I did not know she would come to love a man.” He fell silent again, and only the crackling of the open fire disturbed the still of the night.
“You did not call us here to commiserate,” Elrohir said.
Elrond sighed. “True enough.”
“Then why have you called for us, Father?” Elladan asked.
Elrond turned his attention from the fire and looked to each of his twin sons in turn. “There is a matter that I have kept from you for all this time, and I apologize if I have wronged you by doing so.” He took Elladan’s hand in his right and Elrohir’s in his left. “Have you ever wondered, my sons, why the choice of the Half-elves was granted to you?”
“It is small wonder,” Elladan said. “You are Elrond Half-Elven, and we are your sons.”
“Yet I chose the numbered among the Elves, and your mother was an Elf,” Elrond said.
“Then tell us, Father, why this difficult decision is offered to us, who should rightly be Elves without question,” Elrohir said.
Elrond took a breath, and the air seemed as heavy as his heart. “Elladan, Elrohir, my sons, you are not twins as you think you are.” His sons looked at each other then back at their father.
“What mean you, Father?” Elrohir said.
“You were indeed born at the same time, but you are not both my sons.” Elrond squeezed their hands. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Still we do not comprehend the meaning of your words,” Elladan said.
Elrond closed his eyes. “You know that I am a twin. My brother Elros chose to be accounted among Men, but when he died, he could not depart from this world, not while I lived still. He is dead, but he cannot die. He lives still in me.” Elrond looked to his sons, who watched him closely.
“By the time I married Celebrian, Numenor had already fallen, and Elros beheld the folly of his descendants. I did not know it at the time, but he put forth his spirit when the two of you were conceived.” Elrond gazed at Elladan’s grey eyes. “You are not my son. You are the son of Elros Tar-Minyatur. Yet he and I are one, and so you are no less my son than his.”
“It cannot be,” Elladan protested. “Elrohir is my twin. I feel him in me, just as you feel Elros in you. Our spirits are one, though our bodies are two.”
“Stranger things have happened, and I do not understand all the happenings of the world,” Elrond said. “I know only that Elros purposed to renew the strength of Men through you, for it was his intention that the blood of Men would awaken in you and that you would choose to be their King.”
“They have a King,” Elrohir said. “They have Aragorn.”
Elrond nodded. “That is so, but it was not the case when you were conceived. At that time, the Fate of Men was uncertain, and it seemed to us that they would descend back into the darkness, little better than beasts. Elladan was to change that; he was to rekindle the hope of Men with the mingling of the blood of the Elves. Little did we know that Arwen would be the one to choose such a fate.”
“What are you saying, Father?” Elrohir asked, and there was a note of desperation in his voice.
“I am saying that, through very unusual circumstances, the two of you were born as Half-elves rather than full-blooded Elves. The choice is now upon you both, to choose to be accounted among either Elves or Men.” Elrond took his hand from Elrohir’s and brought it to Elladan’s. “Yet you are no longer needed as King of Men. Elladan, I know that your heart has strayed most towards Men, but your sister has instead given her strength to Men. Come to the West with me! Come to the Grey Havens and sail to the Blessed Realm.”
Elladan pulled his hand from Elrond’s. “How can you expect me to choose so easily?” he said hotly. “All our lives, we have lived in Rivendell. We have been raised as Elves. Even when we traveled among the Dunedain, we traveled as Elves among Men. Now you tell me that I could be the King of Men, the leader of these unhappy mortals. Do you think I would not be tempted by such a fate? To be mighty among Men, to help my lesser kindred to rise to some small measure of greatness?”
“What of me, my brother?” Elrohir said. “Our father speaks to you, yet our fates are tied, even as our spirits are bound one to the other. I have supported Elessar throughout this War of the Ring, but if I had known that I could be King, for if it is your fate then so it must also be mine, then I would have taken the role and called all men to flock to my banner. Then would Mordor have trembled at the trumpeting of my heralds. And perhaps then Arwen would not have been able to wed with Aragorn, for he would not have become King of Gondor and Arnor.”
“Do either of you really want to be a King of Men?” Elrond asked.
“I have never before considered it, for I did not know that such a choice was open to me,” Elladan said. “Now that it is, I find myself sorely tempted.”
“As am I,” said Elrohir. “The lives of Men are brief here upon this world. I wish to make their visit as pleasant as possible so that they may bring fair memories of our home on with them to whatever awaits them after death.”
“You are both good-hearted, but you should think of yourselves as well,” Elrond counseled. “The end is more bitter than you know.”
“Yet if I could make a difference for Men, then my personal suffering and my life’s bitter end may be worth the song,” Elladan said.
“Indeed. How can I live peacefully in the Blessed Realm when my people still struggle to make comfortable lives for themselves?” added Elrohir.
Elrond looked to each of his sons in turn, both ageless and eager in face, and he felt his heart swell with pride and joy. Tears came to his eyes, and he embraced them.
“I have ever thought this way as well, my sons,” Elrond said in broken voice. “I could not leave my people, the race of Men, and so I elected to remain in Middle-earth. Yet now I must make that decision that I have long loathed to make, and though I do not fear to fade in the face of the coming Dominion of Men, I also long to again see your mother, whom I hold dear above all the Aftercomers that have been or will be. But I am proud, very proud, to see my sons so noble and giving of themselves.”
Elladan and Elrohir were speechless for many moments thence. They held their father and felt closer to him than they had ever before. Elrond had not departed to the Blessed Realms at the end of the First Age not only because of his love for Middle-earth but also because of his love for Men. Yet Arwen had chosen to remain in Middle-earth for Aragorn, and likewise, Elrond would choose to return to the Blessed Realms for Celebrian. Elladan and Elrohir closed their eyes and foresaw that their parting from their father would indeed be bittersweet in the end.
When at last Elladan found voice, he said to his father, “We will accompany you at least as far as the Grey Havens, but we will not board the white ship there.”
“Instead, we will return to Rivendell and tend to it in its decline,” said Elrohir. “It may not now be so homely as it once was before, but it is still our home. And from the Last Homely House, we will help Men as we may with the wisdom that we have learned from you.”
Elrond nodded. “If I were in your positions, I would choose as you have. But remember: the Straight Road will always remain open to those of the Elven Kindred who choose to depart from these lands and sail West. If you find your choice too hard to bear, then you may come to the Blessed Realms, and there we may meet again. Then, together, as father and sons, we will walk beneath the trees in Eldamar.”
“I thought the choice irrevocable,” Elladan said.
“It is. But you have not yet chosen,” said Elrond. “I have heard what you have had to say, and the two of you have elected to remain in Middle-earth to continue your works of healing, but you have not yet chosen to be accounted among Men, and neither have you chosen to sail West and be accounted among the Elves. Delay that choice yet longer, and do as you may for the Kindred of Men. Consider for a while what I have said to you here today: that you are the children of Elros and that you may also choose to become Kings of Men. Then, when you are certain, choose as you will.” Elrond embraced his sons. “Though I long to see you both sail with me, I understand that it may not be so.”
Elrohir leaned his head upon his father’s arm. “It may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, but that remains to be seen.”
Elladan leaned upon their father’s other side. “Farewell, Father,” he said for them both.
Elrond kissed each of them atop their heads. “Farewell, my sons.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.