“Elrond”, Gil-Galad approached him, “Care for a dance?”
“Certainly, my Lord”, Elrond smiled politely as he accepted Gil-Galad’s hand and followed him to the dance floor.
The high-king never failed to impress Elrond with his suicidal bravery. He supposed that Gil-Galad was trying to imitate Fingon the Valiant, into whose shoes he had stepped. Nobody at court would have dared to ask Elrond for a dance more than facing a balrog. Many of them had learnt the hard way that he did not care for any sort of revelry at all. But Gil-Galad persisted in trying to seduce Elrond, even if the younger elf was about as cold as Namo himself.
“Like the music?” The king asked him as a slow, romantic song began, the floor was empty except for the king and his herald. Elrond felt the eyes of the entire assembly on him.
“My father’s songs are what I like the most”, Elrond smiled back, “Nothing compares to them.”
“You know, you should forget the past”, Gil-Galad said softly, “There is much you would gain if you look at what you can have now. Your foster-parents are both dead.”
“I have only one father, Macalaurë Feanorian”, Elrond said evenly, “And he is not dead. I know it in my heart.”
“Oh, really?” Gil-Galad smiled indulgently as he pressed his chest to Elrond’s and cupped his chin, “Then maybe we can seek him and ask for his blessings. Would you like that, my beautiful herald?”
The king’s lips descended on his confidently, demanding entry as teeth nibbled on his lower lip. It was so unlike the kisses he had received from Maedhros, those sensual, slow, gentle, almost hesitant kisses that he treasured with all his heart.
“Unhand me, My lord Gil-Galad”, Elrond said quietly even as the nobles surrounding them began to cheer, “I don’t entertain anything of that regard concerning you.”
“You don’t have a lover”, Gil-Galad said huskily, “Nor a bonded-mate. Perhaps Maglor conveniently forgot to engage a tutor for you. Answer me, my herald, would you favour my bed tonight?”
“I love, Gil-Galad”, Elrond said in a low voice as he pulled away and met the king’s gaze with defiance, “I love as you have never loved. And I shall remain true to my heart.”
“Elrond”, Gil-Galad’s voice was sharp and loud now. The entire court was watching with avid interest. “As your king and guardian, I have a right to know of this love, if you indeed speak the truth.”
“You are not my guardian”, Elrond said coolly, “You are my king as long as I acknowledge you only. However I am tired of this constant speculation and chase. Let it end today.”
“Elrond”, Cirdan’s voice was cautionary, “I don’t think you need to justify your personal life to anyone.”
“No, My Lord Cirdan”, Elrond said calmly, “This has gone on enough. An elf saved me and my twin from my mother’s madness. An elf protected us and my father from the harsh world. I love that elf. I love Nelyafinwe Maitimo Feanorian, High-Prince of the Noldor.”
“Maedhros is dead”, a noble said harshly after a few moments of utter silence, “Though the fact that he had bedded his captives does not amaze us.”
“Say that again and I’ll kill you with pleasure”, Elrond said with eyes blazing, “He is dead, but he was more honourable in life than the most of you.”
Gil-Galad shook his head saying, “You are crazy, Elrond. I think I should arrange your marriage soon.”
Elrond Peredhil married Celebrian, daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn under Gil-Galad’s order and Cirdan’s coaxing. The marriage was consummated. He fought in many battles and took up the leadership of the Noldor after his king’s death in the second alliance. But he was never addressed as a high-king. The past was never relived within the walls of his home in Imladris. He became everything that Maglor and Maedhros had hoped for. A healer, warrior, lore-master and ruler beyond compare, Elrond was now among the wisest of Middle-Earth.
One day, Elrond received Cirdan at his home. It was an unexpected visit. There was an air of suppressed excitement and sadness about the old elf.
“I found him”, Cirdan said quietly as soon as they were alone in Elrond’s large study.
“Where is he? I want to see him now!” Elrond slumped into his seat weakly, “Is he safe?”
“Elrond”, Cirdan paused uncertainly, “I sent him across the sea. Ulmo promised to give him a safe journey. It seems that the High-King of the Noldor in Valinor has begged the Valar for pardoning his kin.”
Elrond buried his head in his hands before whispering, “He was well, Cirdan? Did he remember you or me or Elros?”
“He asked about Elros and you until I had set the sails. He was distraught that he could not see you or your children. He told me to give you this”, Cirdan took out a scroll from his robes, yellowed with age and neglect.
Elrond accepted the scroll with his shivering fingers. It was not sealed by ink or dye, but by blood. He gulped before unfurling the parchment. A single word was written in his foster father’s flowing Quenya script.
He met Cirdan’s calm eyes and said softly, “Thank you.”
“My friend, what ails you?” Gandalf asked softly as Elrond stared unseeing at the mountains shielding his valley.
“A disease that I hope you never suffer from”, Elrond smiled sadly as he turned to face the Maia, “Tell me, Gandalf, what price will Mandos accept to release a soul?”
“To claim a life from death, you must repay it with life”, Gandalf said solemnly, “Why do you ask? Everyone returns from the Halls except for the most damned.”
“What if I seek the release of one of the most damned?” Elrond demanded, “I seek the release of a kinslayer, an oath breaker guilty of the most terrible crimes.”
“Maglor?” Gandalf frowned, “I thought that he is not dead. The high-king has sought pardon for all of them, Elrond. We must trust to the merciful judgement of the Valar.”
“Ada!” Elladan and Elrohir came riding at a break-neck pace into the courtyard, “We have won the war!”
Elrond sighed as he closed his eyes. His duty in this land had ended at last. He was free. Darkness would rise again, evil would never be defeated forever, but his duty had ended and that was all that mattered to him.
He gave his daughter’s hand to his foster-son. He blessed them, his heart wringing at their love and its union. He could not bear it anymore. When Galadriel said that she was ready to sail, he asked to accompany her.
“I am sorry, my friend”, Gandalf said gently as he joined Elrond on the deck, “There has been no news from the west. I tried to find about the fate of your foster-father.”
Elrond nodded not trusting his voice. He did not point out to Gandalf that there was another that he loved as much, if not more. He comforted himself with the image of a red-haired elf smiling at him, tormented grey eyes staring into his own.
Elrond was awoken from his dark dreams by the sailor’s cry of ‘LAND!”
He joined the others on the deck, his heart daring to hope for the first time in many centuries. They drew near the great port of Alqualonde. Elves, Noldor, Sindar and Teleri; waited excitedly to receive the Ringbearers. Elrond’s eyes roved madly about the gathering hoping to find the dark, coppery mane that he had dreamt of so many lonely, desolate nights.
Gandalf whispered conspiratorially, “Elrond, my friend, I believe that there is someone to receive you.”
Maglor’s musical voice was as golden as Elrond remembered. He laughed happily as he launched himself into his foster-father’s arms and hugged him tight, the burdens of centuries falling away.
They held each other for a long moment before Elrond whispered, “Are you redeemed?”
“Yes”, Maglor kissed his brow and wiped away the tears from Elrond’s cheeks even as Elrond wiped them away from Maglor’s, “The One himself held my oath fulfilled. I am sorry that I was not there for you all these centuries. I was nearly mad with grief and self-hatred.”
“No more of the past”, Elrond whispered, “What of him, Ada?”
Maglor was about to speak when a loud, clear, proud voice resounded in the dock, “Macalaurë, whom are you greeting so intimately before the entire town?”
Elrond broke apart from the embrace as they turned to face the questioner. Dark-haired, extremely handsome with a fire unmatched sparkling in his grey eyes; the elf looked over Elrond coolly.
“Atarinya”, Maglor said smiling as he pulled Elrond before him, “Meet my son, Elrond. Elrond, my father.”
Elrond stared at Feanor before sighing in relief. If Feanor was released from the halls, then certainly Maedhros would be free too! He smiled nervously at the rather overwhelming elf before him.
Feanor raised an eyebrow at Elrond’s tentative smile before muttering, “I will be civil only if you promise to never call me Grandfather.”
Elrond stared open-mouthed, Maglor said with a roll of his eyes, “Never mind him, Elrond. He has a strange sense of humour. Atarinya, please, would you come with us to the palace?”
Feanor looked as if he was about to refuse, but then he shrugged saying, “Have not been to see him in months. He would banish me if I miss today. All right, Kano, lead the way. You, Elrond, what news of that son of Aegnor’s? My brother did not think that their family could stand the disappointment of not seeing him, so I came.”
“That is why you came”, Maglor muttered, “I thought it was to receive Artanis.”
“Now that you remind me”, Feanor smirked, “Arafinwe did ask me to receive her too and escort her to their home. I forgot.”
“Atarinya!” Maglor seemed scandalized.
“Never mind, I am sure that she can find her way home”, Feanor said dismissively, “Elrond”, he turned imperiously towards Elrond, who was rather baffled by the whole conversation, “Do I get an answer to my question?”
“Gildor is well. He will sail with Cirdan on the last ship”, Elrond offered, “He does not think that it is time yet to leave the lands of his birth.”
Feanor lapsed into silence, his eyes lingering on Elrond’s hair.
Elrond turned to Maglor and asked bravely, “Ada, you did not tell me yet. Please, I have spent centuries in desolation torn between hope and fear.”
“Tell you what?” Feanor enquired cutting off Maglor before he could even speak.
“My Lord. Where is he?” Elrond was near falling at Maglor’s feet and begging.
Maglor sent Elrond a warning glance and then looked meaningfully at his father. Apparently Feanor was not likely to welcome Elrond if he knew the truth of his relationship.
Elrond bit his lips and clenched his teeth as his features deepened into a scowl. He wanted to drag Maglor away and demand answers. But atleast he had his foster-father’s reassurance that Maedhros was not in Mandos now.
Feanor said curiously, “Why, Kano! He scowls like you!”
“He is my son”, Maglor said as proudly as if his father had complimented one of Elrond’s more pleasing virtues.
“You will have that grandson of Turkano hunting for your blood, Kano, when he hears that you have been helping his wife cheat on him”, Feanor said solemnly.
“Atarinya!” Maglor pursed his lips, “You are hopeless.”