Ever had Elros had that word thrown at him like an accusation, but he was determined that this day, of all days, he would not be. This day he would remain and watch the band of green that had been his homeland for so long slip slowly farther and farther away. He would not be impatient to look forward to the new land to which he and his people were sailing, rather he would stand watch, even as his brother did, and put off breaking the fragile bond between them for as long as possible.
They looked alike, many said. Elrond had always been a bit taller and more slender, he shorter and more muscular. Elrond's hair was kept long in the manner of the Elves, with warrior braids of which he was inordinately proud; he preferred his hair to remain shorter, unencumbered by those awkward braids or the need for beads to prevent the unraveling. Still, their eyebrows arched in the same manner, and were facile and devastating in the same degree. They shared grey eyes, a straight and narrow nose, full lips and subtle dimples, although his were on the left side where Elrond's were on the right. Their hands were long-fingered and skilled with sword and harp – well, Elrond preferred the harp, where he liked the flute instead; the harp required too much concentration and reminded him too much of his childhood.
Twins were a rarity, although they seemed to favor his family. His uncles, who died long before his birth, had been identical twins. And it was that twin bond that held him at the stern of the great ship, watching as his tie with his brother – something he had once believed would last as long as they did – stretched and thinned as the ship traveled each pace away from Ennor. He would not break that tie willingly.
All these years, he possessed the surety that he would go through his life with his brother. Maybe not at Elrond's side, for his older twin seemed far too fascinated by and involved in the comings and goings of Ereinion Gil-Galad's court, but surely close in spirit. They had been through everything together until these last few decades: capture by the dread Kinslayers, education in history, music and arms by those who saw them orphaned, then freedom into the care of Círdan of the Falathrim.
His brother had flourished among the Elves, whether they be Kinslayers or Falathrim; where he had either rebelled at so many of the traditions that seemed more a waste of time than anything else or become frustrated at the constant hesitation and soul-searching. Elros wanted to do things, whereas Elrond and the Elves he so admired were content to merely study them for years – decades, it seemed – before deciding what course of action to take. Círdan, wise as well as slow to act, gave him duties that at least partially satisfied that urge.
In fact, it had been while undertaking a task for Círdan that Elros had met his first Mortal. Fascinated by the very idea that such beings of ephemeral lifespan and prone to diseases and aging could, somehow, find joy and pleasure in life, Elros had requested that Círdan allow him to be a liaison between the Elven court in Mithlond and these incredible people who lived their lives quite contentedly apart from the Elves, for the most part. Círdan had easily agreed, and Elros had soon discovered an entirely different way of life. In a very short time, he was spending as much time as he was allowed amongst them, learning – and teaching!
Elrond had not understood his curiosity at all.
"You are wasting your time."
"I am not. These people want to learn, do you not see? For them, all must be presented as new over and over again, for those with the memories too soon accept the Gift and leave them. Even I, who am only barely over my majority among our own people, have stature and weight as being among the oldest in their village when I…"
"Listen to yourself, brother. You are not Mortal…"
"And yet I am not Edhil, and neither are you. You and I stand where our mother and father stood, between the kindreds: kin to both and yet part of neither. And yet, where the majority of edhil look upon us with suspicion and loathing, when I am in the Mortal camps, I am accorded respect. People ask for my opinion, or advice."
"Círdan does not…"
"No, Círdan does not, and those who know us do not. But the others? Can you truthfully say that you have a place among them not allotted you by Círdan's decree first?"
The troubled look in Elrond's eye was more than enough answer. Peredhil, they were called – Half-Elven – better than Mortal, but not quite as good as a "real" Elf.
After the battle to end all battles, in which their father in his incredible ship had taken on the worst of the dragons, Eönwë had come to the two of them privately to give them the choice of kindreds. There had been no question in his mind which way he would choose. He was tolerated in Mithlond, but had a position of authority that accorded him respect among the Second-born. Not for him was the disdain or the deprecation. For him, it was no choice at all.
But he knew Elrond's choice was also very simple: Elrond loved the slow lifestyle, the lofty teachings, the literature and music, the very approach to life that the Edhil had that so drove him to distraction. He had begun to study healing with a vengeance since the end of the war, even while agreeing to serve Gil-Galad in his court. Elrond was as satisfied with and empowered by the life of the First-born as he was in the villages of the Second-born.
Eönwë had given them but a little time to make their choices, and Elros had escaped Mithlond and taken his stallion to ride the wild and deserted beaches and the moors that bordered them. Elrond would have wanted to talk, and talking would have been an agony. He didn't want to hear Elrond's choice before the moment it was announced to Manwë's herald; didn't want to face the fact that he would not be living his life at his brother's side.
Or rather, Elrond would not have him at his side - at least, not for long.
The dark line that was Ennor was now only barely visible. Elros sighed and leaned against the railing.
"My lord?" It was Branor, a good friend and fellow warrior that he'd chosen to be his right hand as they voyaged to this new Land of the Gift.
Elros raised a hand before his friend could come closer. "I am well, Branor. I just desire to be alone for a while." His eyes caressed that far-away dark line. Elrond, will I ever see you again?
He didn't regret his choice, only that he had knowingly chosen other than Elrond – or that Elrond had knowingly chosen other than he. There had been an immediate pain the both of them had felt walking out of Eönwë's pavilion together, and yet now eternally separated, one that had driven them apart in a way nothing before had done. In the days and weeks following that decision, they had had very little to say to one another.
How many times had he looked up at the stone towers that stood guard over Mithlond, from the home he now kept with his new people, wondering if Elrond hurt as he did? Only at the end, standing at the quay with the entire fleet waiting on his embarkation, did that question find an answer.
Elrond's hand sat warm on his shoulder. "I will miss you forever, brother."
"Perhaps you will voyage across this sea to see the realm the Valar have set me to rule."
"Perhaps. Much depends on Ereinion's demands on my time."
"Just remember, brother, my time is no longer infinite."
"I am very well aware of that!" Elrond's voice had both snapped in fury and grieved openly, and the hand dropped away as if burned. His tightly-reined exclamation and physical withdrawal had taken Elros aback.
It was the first time they had touched upon this… this wedge between them that had driven them apart since leaving Eönwë's pavilion that day. All other arguments they had always been able to talk away, once tempers cleared; this one, however, would remain and, eventually, part them in a way that was unthinkable if care was not taken now.
"That was a jest only, brother. I meant not to offend." Surely, at this parting, Elrond wouldn't argue and send him off to a new land and a new life with the Second-born on the wings of anger and strife between them!
"I know. It is just… I wish…"
He had gazed into his brother's eyes and known exactly what the other was thinking, wishing: that this separation need not be, that one of them had given up their dreams so as not to lose the other. It was an impossible wish, they both knew it; but in that split second, Elros could see that both of them were testing the idea of renouncing their choice and choosing over in a different way.
And when they both sighed in unison, he knew that his brother had come to the same conclusion: they could not have chosen another way. For whatever reason, Eru Ilúvatar had seen fit that they should lead very different lives and find very different fates at the end of their journeys.
"Promise me one thing?"
"When the time comes, watch over those who come after me. If they are in need…"
"They will be as my own, I swear it. A merest drop of your blood in their veins will bind me to their welfare."
Now, looking across the ceaselessly moving, blue-silver sea that stretched impossibly far between them, Elros knew a moment of foresight. Elrond would keep his promise, and in so doing, protect the nobility of a people far different than his own. In a way, it would be as if they continued together, even if his time to accept the Gift had passed. Their bond would not break, even with his death. There would be no cutting of the strings that tied them together, not now, not by turning to face his future, never.
He knew it as well as he knew his own name.
Elros took a deep breath and turned from the stern of the ship and walked forward to join the small group of his advisors and friends at the bow of the ship. Ahead was a much broader streak of green, with a tall mountain towering over it all; and it was drawing closer
Leave it to the Elves to grieve forever; they had the time for such things. He did not, and he would not. As hard as it was, he would have to leave Elrond to do the grieving. He had more important things to occupy his time. A smile slowly unfolded across his face as he filled with impatience again. A new land!
He could hardly wait!
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.