12. Chapter 8, Part 2 - Forgiveness
During the following days, the brothers were together in deep discussions. They spoke in Quenya most times, especially when they were arguing. Late one afternoon, Ailsa was just about to enter the library when she heard them, which made her stop. They spoke so quickly, she couldn't make out what was being said, but she recognized the tone of an argument when she heard it. If only her father were in the library. His Quenya was far superior to hers and he could have translated what was being said, but he was down in the cave room and out of earshot. Damn! She wanted to know what they were arguing about. Ailsa could only stand in the hall wondering. What if Maglor was feeling uncomfortable around so many mortals and wanted to return to the Isle of Man. Maybe he was trying to pressure Maedhros into returning with him, and he was meeting with resistance. That would explain the reason for their heated discussion. Their voices weren't raised, but their words were spoken with quick short bursts. Defeated, Ailsa decided to leave them and come back later, but she quietly closed the library doors before she left.
Inside the library the brothers barely noticed the doors closing. Maglor was frustrated and his anger was rising. "Why are you being so stubborn?" Maedhros though older and supposedly wiser could not control his irritation. "What makes you so sure that we can sail your little boat to The Blessed Realm on the mere chance we will be allowed through the barrier mists?" Maedhros grew more animated as he spoke. "You may be strong enough to take the rejection. I am not!"
Maglor's anger cooled as he heard the dread in Maedhros' voice. "How will we ever know unless we try? Maedhros, I am not blind. I know you have something else that makes you stay. Is it not better to leave with the memories of them as they are now? Forever unchanged and happy?"
"You just do not understand. I made a promise."
"Oh, I understand brother." His eyes narrowed. "I too know what it is like to make a promise. I also know what it is like to lose family. I share the same memories of their deaths as you do. Neither one of us could keep our father and brothers from their fates. You should know by now your promise can not keep the inevitable from happening to your children." Maglor stared coldly at his brother. "What will you do when it is finally Ailsa's turn?"
Though he was bathed in the sunlight pouring through the library windows, Maedhros suddenly felt stone-cold. If Maglor had struck him in the face, he could not have felt any worse. "I have already made my decision." He lowered his eyes unwilling to let Maglor see what he tried to hide.
Maglor's eyes widened as he realized what Maedhros intended. "So you will allow your grief to kill you." He threw the accusation at him.
Maedhros turned and faced the windows. "You know nothing of the grief I have buried deep inside me," he said flatly.
Maglor gave up and walked away leaving Maedhros standing defiantly in front of the windows. He opened the library doors and firmly closed them behind him. Slamming them shut wouldn't have been as loud as his controlled firm closure. It was heard all the way down in the Archives where Ewan stood at the bottom of the stairs, his hand on the railing and his mouth slightly agape. He had heard the ending of the brothers' argument. He also knew that Elves could will themselves to die of their grief. The anger and harsh statements were overwhelmed in Ewan's mind by the thought of Maedhros wanting to die because of the ultimate fate Ailsa and he would share.
Ewan climbed the stairs and slowly approached Maedhros. The Elf stood looking out the glass, his arms crossed against his chest. Ewan cleared his throat and Maedhros looked over his shoulder at him.
"You know the one bad thing about teaching someone your language…" As he took off his glasses, Ewan sheepishly tried to smile. "Is that you run the risk of them being able to understand conversations not meant for them to hear." Ewan blushed slightly as he spoke.
Maedhros lowered his eyes and slowly turned his attention back to the window. "Maglor and I are just disagreeing at the moment." He said somberly, obviously choosing his words carefully. "How much did you hear?"
"I was spared the beginning, but lucky me, I was there for the end," Ewan tried hard not to reveal his concern.
Maedhros lowered his head a bit. "I am sorry you heard that part." He voice was sad. "I…," he tried to continue.
"Listen Maedhros, I don't know where you got this idea," Ewan interrupted, "but I can't…we can't be the reason you end your life that way." He stepped forward, "No, not because of us."
Maedhros turned to face Ewan. "Without Ailsa and you, I have nothing. The affection I feel for and from you both is something I have not experienced for a very long time." His hand came up and touched Ewan's arm. "I can not imagine living without it."
Ewan was finding it hard to understand Maedhros' reasoning. "What you're planning isn't right." There was urgency in his voice now. "The direction our lives take is just that…ours. Your destiny is different and you must continue to its conclusion."
Maedhros' face paled as he felt the truth in Ewan's words. "What makes you think I want to continue?"
"What about Maglor? Your destiny is tied to his." Ewan face reflected his anguish. "You and he are the last of your kind to dwell in what was once Middle-earth. You have saved so much of its history. We now know how it has touched every culture through the ages. If you allow yourself to be destroyed, everything you've built will be for nothing. And all of it won't mean anything to Ailsa and me if we're the reason you do this." Ewan felt like he was trying to talk someone off the ledge of a high building. "Maedhros don't let your story end with us," he pleaded.
Tears filled Maedhros' eyes. Ewan hadn't heard all of the argument, but even he knew where his destiny lay. He brought his hand up and held the side of Ewan's face. Ewan tried to retain his pathetic attempt at a smile, but found he could only press his lips together after seeing the emotion in the ancient Elf's eyes. Maedhros stood there a moment and quickly drew Ewan closer into a hug. He abruptly let Ewan go and left the library. Once Maedhros was gone, Ewan pulled out his handkerchief, dabbing it at his eyes and his nose. I don't even know if I got through to him. With a shaky sigh he turned toward the stairs and began to slowly descend into the Archives.
- O -
Ailsa sat in the cast-iron chair on the back lawn facing the garden and woods. She snuggled deeper into her jacket very glad she'd worn it. The sun hadn't made its way to the back of the manor house yet, so it was still rather chilly. Looking at her watch, she tried to figure out when it would be a good time to check on Maedhros and Maglor. Suddenly from around the corner Maglor came walking in a most determined manner. Ailsa opened her mouth to say something, but closed it immediately once she saw the look on his face. As he walked past, Maglor turned his head slightly and gave her a quick nod. His face was like stone, jaw set and his eyes were…just plain angry. She had never seen an Elf truly angry before. Well, irritated thanks to her unyielding pursuit to make Maedhros touch the Silmaril, but never actually angry.
Maglor quickly walked into the woods. "Whoa," Ailsa said under her breath, "They must've had quite a little discussion." Just as she began to wonder where Maedhros was, he stepped around the corner of the manor and stopped. Maedhros' eyes quickly looked away.
Maedhros needed to be by himself. The grief he fought so hard to dominate was slowly winning its battle against him. The short conversation he had with Ewan triggered it, buried too long it now demanded to be heard. Maedhros knew he needed a quiet place where he could gain control of it again. As he made his way toward the garden, he hadn't expected to see Ailsa sitting at the glass table. As she turned, he quickly averted his eyes remembering the last time he felt vulnerable like this and the bonding that occurred at the open-air theatre. He couldn't allow her to experience what he was feeling; he remembered how the kinslayings affected her. To Maedhros' mind his grief was too intense; he could not risk harming her with it. Before Ailsa could say anything he was down the garden steps and into the trees.
Ailsa could feel the swirling grief pulsating from Maedhros. Her fingers instantly tightened into fists, her nails pressed into her flesh as she tried to control the tears welling up in her eyes. A simple glance from him brought this on and then he tore his eyes away. He was gone before she could utter a word. Something was terribly wrong and she was determined to find out what. She quickly got up and ran after him. Ailsa had only gone a few feet into the trees when she came up short and looked around. The dappled sunlight touched the trees and angled its light to the forest floor. There was a thin haze in the quiet air. Ailsa wondered at the unearthly silence within the woods. Neither bird nor creature made a sound. The wind was still and the normal creaking groan of the tree limbs were muted.
She continued to walk deeper within the protection of the trees; a strange feeling of heaviness filled the air. It surrounded her and she began to feel drowsy. She stopped and sat for a moment on a moss covered log. Sitting there, she began to hear the melodic echo of singing. She immediately recognized Maedhros' voice as it flowed around her caressing her ears. She strained to hear the words; he was singing about love. Ailsa couldn't help smiling, he was singing of Elizabeth. Her eyelids felt heavy as she listened. As her eyes closed, she allowed the Elvish words to weave images in her mind. Her heart filled with happiness as she watched Maedhros stand next to a beautiful young woman with flowers in her long hair. He took her small hand in his, and the words wove themselves into a song of joining. Ailsa sighed as the couple turned toward the crowd witnessing their ceremony. Elizabeth glowed as she looked at her husband. Maedhros' eyes never left her face, but the song stayed with Ailsa. She felt their happiness and longed for more.
The melody changed slightly as did what Ailsa saw. A child was coming. A very pregnant and smiling Elizabeth watched as Maedhros lowered his ear to her stomach and listened. He sang of his contentment and his voice danced around Ailsa as he shared his happiness.
He whispered, "Ionnen" into her ear. Maedhros held his tiny son in his arms and sang to him. He would always love him, his arms would always protect him, and he would always be there for him. Ailsa couldn't stop the tears falling down her cheeks as the song cradled her too in its arms. She let his joy fill her, and it made her weep. The pleasure of Maedhros' song only increased, and Ailsa watched as Maedhros put his son's small hand on his mother's swollen stomach. Douglas was a beautiful little boy about four years old with his father's auburn hair and grey eyes. Ailsa knew they were awaiting Edward's arrival and her eyes crinkled as she smiled. The golden words of the song were of dreams and anticipation.
Suddenly, Maedhros' song turned dark, a cloud blotting out the sunlight. His voice deepened, all light and joy were gone from it. A thick wall of grief encircled her and began to tighten like a vice. Ailsa stood up and forced her eyes open, but the visions continued. Cold words of mourning battered at her now. Maedhros sat on a bed, a pale Elizabeth in his arms. The chorus of his song clutched at her breath. "Elizabeth is dead!" The very sound of the words stabbed at her heart. She tried to concentrate, but her breathing only quickened as black threads of sorrow worked their way into her mind. Maedhros song called to Elizabeth, begging her not to leave him. He pleaded over and over. His words became desperate; his song consumed the woods with his anguish. "NO!" Ailsa screamed and collapsed to her knees. The words began to choke her. Maedhros wanted to die and so did she.
"No, no no!" She leaned against the dead tree and held it as she tried to rid her mind of his song. His song was killing her. Between sobs she wailed, "My God, there wasn't enough time." Ailsa felt his heart break, blood pounded in her head. She couldn't stop the pain. Unable to breathe she felt lightheaded and unable to see properly. The singing stopped as blackness stole her into its waiting grasp.
Ailsa heard her name. It was quiet in the dark, the pain wasn't so bad and she liked that. If only that voice would stop calling her name. Something was shaking her and it made her angry. "Ailsa, hear me," the voice insisted. There's that damn voice again. She wanted to yell back, but her mouth wouldn't work. Finally, she decided to open her eyes and see just who was bothering her. To her surprise, Maglor's concerned face was a breath away from hers. It was his hands that held her shoulders, and he was still shaking her. Tears were falling down her face faster than she could wipe them away. "Leave me alone." She finally said and began to cry uncontrollably.
Thank the Valar! Maglor was afraid Ailsa had slipped too deeply into the darkness. "Telo si," Maglor said tenderly as he pulled her into his arms. Burying her face in his shoulder, Ailsa sobbed. "He lost her too soon," she wailed
"I too feel his grief." Maglor's face softened and he held Ailsa closer. Maedhros' song had touched him as well and his heart ached with it. He held her close and let her cry her sorrow out. Her bond with Maedhros was more intense than he had thought. So much so that when he first found her, he had worried she had come to harm.
"I always thought they had at least a normal lifetime together." Her voice was muffled in his shoulder. "Their time together was so short," she cried harder for Maedhros and Elizabeth.
Maglor began to sing softly to her as he tried to sooth her tattered nerves. He sang of hope and the power it gave the wounded spirit. His beautiful pure voice dispatched its magic into her mind and heart drawing her back from the edge of despair. Her sobs quieted, but she still held on tightly to the fabric of his suit coat as she clung to the comfort of his song. Maglor held her close and continued to sing, rebuilding the strength that had been drained from her. When he was certain she was recovering he ended his song and gently stood her up. He looked closely, she was still a little pale, but her eyes were clear. "Are you feeling better," he asked. Ailsa was still a little disoriented, but the throbbing pain was gone. "I think I'm okay. I think?" Maglor let her go and smiled when she stood without swaying. She held onto his arm when she took her first step. "I'll be fine," she looked up at Maglor, grateful he was there.
"I was very worried when I found you. Maedhros told me of your bond, but I had no idea it was so strong." Maglor kept his eyes on Ailsa's face looking for any weakness. Ailsa brought her hand up to her forehead and gently rubbed. Although the pain was gone, the gesture felt good. "I had no idea it was that strong either." She suddenly stiffened. "Maedhros! Is he all right?"
Maglor brought his arm around Ailsa's shoulders and started to walk with her. "Do not worry about Maedhros." He paused as he tried to find the words that would explain what Maedhros was doing. "Elves use songs to express many things. Our songs of grief are very powerful, but they comfort us."
"But his song made me want to die."
"Maedhros has been keeping his darkest grief buried deep. You see, he promised Elizabeth that he would always look after their sons. Without that promise, his grief over her death would have killed him."
"You mean he would have actually…"
Ailsa stopped and looked at the ground unable to grasp the idea Elves could literally die of a broken heart. Modern songs always said that you could die of a broken heart, but no one ever really did. Elves, it would seem, were more fragile than she imagined. Remembering what she had just gone through, she became very worried. "Maglor, we have to find Maedhros. We have to make sure he's all right." Ailsa started tugging his arm as she pulled him in a different direction.
The look of fear in her eyes made Maglor smile. "You are still not completely yourself. I think you should return to the manor house and rest. I can cover more ground on my own and I will be able to find him faster."
"But…I.," Ailsa began to protest, but Maglor gently held her shoulders as he firmly pointed her towards the path to the gardens.
"I will find him and bring him back with me. Do not worry." He told her confidently.
Ailsa couldn't argue with him. She still didn't feel quite normal yet and she realized that she would only hinder Maglor. "Okay, I'll go," she promised, and started to walk. Stopping a few feet down the path, she turned and found Maglor watching her with a "Why are you stopping?" look on his face. He gestured to her to keep going and then swiftly disappeared into the trees. She silently prayed Maedhros was all right.
- O -
Maglor stood within the shadows of the trees surrounding the clearing and watched Maedhros as he sat motionless on the stone bench…his head bent and eyes closed. He hesitated disturbing his brother. Although he had told Ailsa that Maedhros would be unharmed, he wanted to be sure himself. Maedhros' song of Elizabeth still tore at his own heart and Ailsa had slipped nearer to death then he would ever let her know. The grief that touched them both came from Maedhros and the words of his song carried the power of his anguish. Maglor silently entered the clearing.
Maedhros' thoughts were finally settling down. The grief, so long hidden, returned to where he kept it. The song he sang had brought it to the surface and made him relive it again. But amongst his pain, the many moments of joy also rose from his memories. Where his grief made him want to die, these other memories demanded he live. All the memories were there, of his sons and their children, and their children; on and on down through the generations. Until one day he stared into Ailsa's face and saw Elizabeth's eyes staring back at him. Ewan was right, death was not his destiny. He must choose another path. Somehow he would make himself worthy of that decision. Maedhros tilted his head back and welcomed the feel of the sun on his face. The love he felt for Ewan and Ailsa warmed his heart.
"I told Ailsa I would find you. She has the notion you might have come to harm."
The suddenness of Maglor's voice only made Maedhros smile. "As you can see, I am unharmed." Maedhros looked at his brother. Maglor stood a few feet away, his hands behind his back, but his face wore a worried look. "How long have you been waiting there?"
"Not long." Maglor glanced at the ground. "Your song made me realize the grief you have had to carry," he looked at his brother, "Maedhros, I had no idea. I am sorry I did not understand."
Maedhros stood up and reached out to his brother. "Nor did I understand what you were trying to make me see." Maedhros sighed and put his hand on Maglor's shoulder. "But I now see what we must do," he smiled. "It is time we went home."
To be continued.
Elen sila lumenn omentielvo: A star shines on the hour of our meeting.
Emelen linna ceni chen: My heart sings to see you.
Aphado nin!: Follow me!
Ionnen: My son.
Telo si: Come here.
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.