Disclaimer: Everything mentioned in this belongs to Tolkien, not me… I'm merely borrowing the characters to play with them.
A/N: After my excursion into fluff, I return to writing angst. This is still The Plot Bunny That Wouldn't Die, a.k.a. the series I began in Battles of Blood and Fëa and Dancing. The ending *could*, with a very far stretch of the imagination, be considered romance.
Final note: In order to understand this, you really should've read either Battles of Blood and Fëa or Dancing – preferably the former, although the latter also recaps all the essentials.
Edited in reply to isiswhit's review… sorry, I got confused between German and English.
Sunlight streams into the hall, lighting the steps so many have climbed up before as the Lord and Lady do now. They see the golden light glimmering off white marble, turning the throne at the end into a blaze of fire. They do not see the shadows in the corner of the hall. Few do, albeit all know that where there is light, there must be shadows, hiding those who would stay in them. Like me.
I stand cloaked in not-light, hidden from the prying gazes of those who stare, behind the ray of light that does not reach the corner. Shadows drift around me, darkening to cover my lean form as I watch. The importance of watching is something I picked up from Maglor, something he spoke of in the darkness of the night when the silver fire ran through my veins, burning. I remember how he would sit by my bedside and speak, speak, speak of things inconsequential and fate-deciding, sad and joyful, speak in that lilting voice of his until the pain went away and I was lulled to sleep. One of the things he spoke of was watching and understanding.
Watch,he told me as he brushed away my tears. Listen. See the furtive glance, hear the muted whisper. Connect them to understand the hearts of the people, and you will never be surprised. You will know what they will do, when and why, and you will be able to take measures to prevent or aid their deeds. His voice grew softer as I drifted off to sleep. If I had watched, heard, understood my father instead of merely following him blindly… I could have prevented so much. I was young, and foolish, and did not watch. Do not make my mistake, Elrond.
Maglor is long gone, but his lessons remain foremost in my mind. I have added to them, staying in the shadows for it is easier to watch if one must not worry about being watched. It is easier if no one can watch you, listen to you and connect the pieces to try to understand your mind, your heart, although they never will for I am not like them. I do not want to be watched, stared at like a strange butterfly pinned to a paper. I am not theirs to take, to tame, to cage and stare at!
So I remain, cloaked in not-light yet not in darkness, for darkness is more than lack of light. I watch and I understand, and who may gainsay me this, this last legacy of the one I loved as my father? It pleases me to look into the people's hearts, to be able to catch a glimpse of a fëa from the flutter of an eyelash and the twitch of a finger while remaining unknown.
Yet they worry, and come for me, and try to take me out of the shadows that succor me. I hiss at them and draw back, for I am not theirs to command and if I prefer the shadows to the sunlight, what of it? I tell them that shadows hide faces, hide the flutter of an eyelash and the twitch of a finger, while allowing one to see the other's so much better. They tell me that I should not only watch, observe, but participate also. It is not my wish to participate, to speak with those who would stare at me, laying my heart open for all to see! This I tell them when they ask me to explain why I love the shadows so.
It is, however, not the whole truth, for shadows do not only hide faces and keep the stares away. They also hide what I sought to quench for so long – the silver fire running beneath my skin, the glow of my foremother that lights my eyes, the way reality twists and bends with my will… the whimpers of pain I cannot suppress. If I must suffer this way, I will do it alone, hidden beneath the not-light that gathers to hide my trembling form. I shall not suffer as I did in my childhood – under the eyes of the people who stare without understanding, who point and laugh as I whimper in pain. Never again will I be… entertainment for them! Better to stay in the shadows.
Gil-galad comes often, when they are gone and the sun has set. He pleads with me, face shining brightly in the stars. Dear Gil-galad, my king and my friend… he worries dreadfully for me, for he does not understand, understand what I am doing or why. None of them do, none of them can. He begs me to come out from my dark corner. I do, reluctantly, staring around with wide eyes as he grasps my shoulder. I have heard him whisper when he thought I did not hear – Ai, Elrond, Elrond, what has become of you? I wish to tell him that nothing has become of me, that this is the way I always was. 'Tis not my fault if he remembers my father, shining brightly beneath the sunlight, or my mother glowing with the light of the Silmaril, and expects me to be like them! I am not Eärendil, I am not Elwing, I am Elrond. Elrond Peredhil, Elrond foster-son of Maglor, Elrond the Watcher, Elrond child of shadows…
Elrond brother of Elros. Ai, Elros, where are you now? I call for you in the not-light, I search for you, abandoning my role of a watcher to wander through the shadows, to find where you might dwell. Yet you are not here, nor in Eregion, nor in the Havens, nor in the palace of Númenor where once you dwelt, so I return to Lindon in grief. Once you stood next to me, in the shadows, and silently we watched the people come and go, thoughts flying to thoughts without need of words. Yet the shadows never came to you as they did to me, for you did not love them. You were proud, too proud to mind the staring people, too proud to stay in the shadows forever. So one day you stepped into the light. You were so fair the day you left me, so proud, standing tall, sun turning your skin into golden flame, your hair into molten fire, your eyes into amber jewels. I wept for you, my brother, although no one saw me and my tears were caught by the shadows ere they hit the ground. You left me for the light, brother, laughing in childish wonder at the feel of it on your face. You walked up the steps, not watching but watched… were you happy, brother? You told me you were, and I watched your face and your reactions and caught a glimpse of your fëa and there was no lie in it. I almost wish there were, almost wish you had grieved for me as I did for you. Yet I am not as selfish as that.
And now you are gone, and your descendants walk up these steps instead of you. And where you were rightfully proud, they are arrogant, sneering at all except for the one in the shadows they do not see. You saw, brother. Even after you left the shadows, you saw them, saw me hidden in them. Even in the light, brother, you were ever close to the shadows. They are not. Every generation, it seems, steps further from the shadows, further into the light. And it is in the light where they will fall into darkness…
I do not like premonitions. They are disturbing, sometimes painful, and useless for they tell too little, and what should I do about what cannot be prevented? So I banish the unwelcome thought and turn my attention back to the Lord and Lady entering here, coming to the throne to greet Gil-galad, who stands in welcome. There is love in their voices, for they are kin, she by blood and he by marriage, yet kin all the same, and kin is precious these days.
Ai! There is a third, a third behind the Lord and the Lady, hair shining silver in the sunlight. A maiden, like to both Lord and Lady… I remember a girl with silver hair, a girl who feared me yet sought me out, who saw the shadows. Long time ago that was, ere Elros left me for the light. So she has come as well, come to visit her kin in this sunlit palace…
Her eyes do not go to the throne. Rather, they sweep the shadows, and they find me in my corner, futilely drawing my cloak of not-light about me. Our eyes meet, and I can hardly make sense of what I see in hers. I see… fear, fresh as it was those many years ago, and attraction, both so strong they keep one another in check. I see worry, I see hope, I see joy and grief, I see compassion, I see… understanding? Her eyes see past the shadows to me hidden within them, laying open what I would wish to hide, my fear, my pain, silver fire coursing through my veins… and as she steps towards me, I see that finally, here is someone who understands, understands as Maglor did so long ago, someone who will not stare or point or laugh, someone who will brush the tears of pain from my cheek.
And I step from the shadows to greet her.