Disclaimer: Tolkien and his Estate own all. This might be considered "AU", but the Professor changed his mind quite a few times, so I'm going with the one he said might have happened that I liked. Happy Birthday, Lyllyn!
Sea and Stars
He should have gone.
Should have insisted, for now...all was lost. Their haven, their lord, their lady and the sons of Eärendil.
"Ai...Eärendil..." Voronwë looked west over the waves of the ocean. "What will I say when we meet again? Take care of them, you bade me. Keep them safe." Remorse gripped his heart.
Another time, earlier, before the haven had been so large. Another morning he had been left behind, bade to remain, to watch over the Half-elven son. Tuor had grown weary, so weary. Ulmo, he had said, was calling him West, and Idril would go with him.
But Voronwe was not then ready to leave Middle-earth, and he had remained, eventually to journey with the son of his friend, and Eärendil became beloved to him. Yet Voronwe sorrowed for the uncertainty of Tuor's fate, who alone of mortal Men sought for Valinor.
And now it seemed that all was lost.
Behind him he heard the activity of Círdan's Elves, gathering up the refugees, helping them ready the dead for burial. A voice rich with authority, no doubt Gil-galad, was coaxing a group of Elves to tell him details. Where had the nurse hidden the sons of Eärendil? Which direction had they been taken?
Taken. Voronwë closed his eyes, willing the despair washing over him like waves, back. Tried to forget the gleam of the curse that had burned deep in the eyes of Fëanor's sons.
What could he do? What would have driven him had his wife been taken, or killed? Nothing would stop him from seeking her, or their unborn child. Could he do less for Elros and Elrond? He could not, would not, think of the twins as gone forever. For even the Silmaril was now lost to them, lost when Elwing had leapt from the cliff rather than allow kinslayers to hold the hallowed jewel.
Ashes. All was ashes.
Starting, having not heard anyone approach, he raised his eyes to those of the only Elf he knew of who wore a beard. "Lord Círdan."
Grief and determination blended in the silvery eyes and set them gleaming. He had seen much in his long life, and lived through grievous times.
And would probably live to do so again.
"All is not lost if he succeeds, lad."
Frowning, Voronwë looked down, preferring the worn wood of the dock to the gruff kindness of the Shipwright. And yet his heart wept, the solitary lament all but filling the air. "I should have gone with him."
A snort told him what the Lord of Balar thought of that. "I had not thought my own kin so thickheaded."
Voronwë winced as a strong hand, worn in ages of working with wood and ropes, tar and seawater, gripped his shoulder hard and turned him to face the still-smoking remnants of the haven.
"A ship halved cannot sail."
Perhaps grief clouded his mind, certainly blood still stained his clothing and hands, for he shook his head.
Círdan huffed, shaking him once. "Your own son will have need of you, will he not?"
Ai. The child had been conceived in peaceful times, but now it seemed would be born to strife. "What of Elros and Elrond?"
"Taken, as you know." Círdan stood before him, and held both shoulders, gazing into his eyes. The Shipwright was as a solid rock when the waves broke against it, letting the waves rise, wash over. The rock remained. Changed, worn, but standing. His grief was deep, as deep as the ocean he so loved, but not displayed for everyone to see. "Faithful you have ever been, Voronwë. Do not quail now in this storm."
He blinked as he was pulled into a quick, hard hug before being set back. "Hold the line, lad."
And with that, Círdan turned, leaving him staring after the silver haired lord in bewilderment.
Voronwë shook his head, and drew in a deep breath of the sea air blowing over the haven, driving the smoke away.
Clearing his mind.
Eärendil had been.... No. Voronwë put such thinking out of his mind. Eärendil was dear to Círdan, as were Elwing, Elros and Elrond. He would not rest until they were found, or their fate known.
Nodding, Voronwë turned, and strode for where he knew his wife helped gather what could be taken with them to the Isle of Balar. First to see his wife and unborn child, the survivors of this haven safe.
Then they could search and discover the truth.
Voronwë wept. Such beauty, in the midst of such horror and chaos, left his heart weary and he knew not how else to express his sorrow.
And his joy.
Eärendil was alive. Alive! He had saved them, all of the peoples of Middle-earth.
But at what price?
Beleriand, ravaged and ripped apart by the wars, was sinking. And so many had been lost.
But there was hope yet. The Host of the Valar was leaving, going back to Aman, and the road to follow was again open to the Exiles.
Pardons granted to those who would come home again, though not to Valinor.
Voronwë blinked bleary eyes and lifted his gaze, tracing the ascent of Vingilot. His heart ached at the sight. "Eärendil, my dear friend...." Tears spilled down his face for he had not the words to say what moved him. "Wind to your sails, my lord."
He was weary. Weary beyond joy, and dull to the wonders around him.
It was time.
So why was he standing on the beach, staring out at the gulf when wife and son awaited him? No doubt they would send Círdan after him and he would be scolded again, like a youngling for wandering off when it was time to sail.
He did not yearn to stay. Too much had changed. Too much was gone, never to be seen again.
And yet...he lingered.
"I know why you feel torn, old friend."
Ah, well, not all wonders were gone to him. Voronwë turned to offer a weak smile to the golden-haired Elf now standing next to him. Glorfindel, re-born and returned to Middle-earth! It was something he had never thought to see, and someone he had not expected to meet again until...much later. "I have ever been foolish, my friend. Foolish to think I could sail against the wrath of Ossë; foolish to think I could keep step with one who was forever bounding forward, and more the fool I for thinking I could keep his son safe."
"And yet his grandsons are mighty here in Endóre." Glorfindel shook his head. "You are not foolish, Voronwë." Voice softening, nearly soothing in the tones, he set a hand on the other's shoulder. "Your watch is done, old friend. Faithfully you kept it, and faithfully you kept them safe."
"I cannot stay!" The blue eyes were dull as Voronwë met the green gaze of Glorfindel. "Faithless they shall call me...faithless to desert when dark times again come."
"Nay." Glorfindel smiled, nearly seeming to glow so great was his joy. "I tell you, your task is done, Voronwë. 'Tis now mine to bear and to be faithful." He pulled the wearied Elf to him, hugging him as he would a kinsman, kissing either cheek. "Go to your reward, faithful one, and be refreshed."
And yet he stared. "Yours...." Voronwë closed his mouth, feeling the burden lift from his shoulders as he heard the golden one's laugh ring out.
He had one thing he must know before he departed. Before he passed the watch to the next guardian. "Glorfindel...did you... Did you see him there? I spoke with some of those from Valinor when they came to fight with the Valar. One of them mentioned Idril...but..."
Glorfindel smiled sweetly, understanding. "Tuor is there, no doubt wondering why you tarry so long here when he could use your steady hands to help him build whatever ship he is dreaming of now."
"He lives then?" It seemed so fantastic, so impossible that he could not quite believe...
Voronwë laughed. Laughed as he had not in many long years, the sorrow of Eärendil eased by the joy of his sire. "I shall see Tuor again!" He felt as giddy as a young Elf, and must have looked a bit like one, for Glorfindel was chuckling, clearly amused. Feeling far more joyous about his journey, Voronwë threw his arms around his old friend, how long ago had they both lived in fair Gondolin, and hugged him. "Thank you, dear friend."
"Your joy is reward enough, Voronwë." Glorfindel turned him, hands on his shoulders. "But you should go now before Círdan sails without you!"
Voronwë turned. "Glorfindel."
The old warrior watched him, smiling in the secret joy that always seemed to lurk near the surface of his gaze. Cocking his head, he replied, "Voronwë."
"You have the watch, milord. I wish you much joy and much strength." A gleam entered the blue eyes as he grinned. "You will need it to keep pace with Elrond!"
Glorfindel watched him stride off, back straight and head up; a most excellent Elf, ready to face anything.
As he always had been.
"Clear skies, my friend," he whispered. "May your journeys be long and the homecoming sweet."
This was written specifically for Lyllyn, for her birthday. She asked for something of Tuor or perhaps Voronwë. Definitely a challenge since I knew almost nil about either. I hope you enjoy it, Lyllyn! Thank you for being such a source of inspiration, information and encourager in all things! You're great!