So it was that the Sons of Eärendil were the first to stumble across the Sons of Fëanor trying to slip off unnoticed into the hills, while the cries from the camp below came to them as the baying of hounds. Maedhros and Maglor had bundled the Silmarils away in their cloaks and were creeping upslope like hunched, misshapen creatures -- or so it seemed to Elrond's keen eyes when he spotted them first -- but Maglor cast his cloak aside and drew his sword with hopeless despair when Elros stood forth to meet them, eyes blazing. The Silmaril threw light across the twins' fair faces so that they themselves were too bright to look upon. Maglor's own face was twisted in anguish, since he would not let go of the Jewel which he held in his other hand. Nor would Maedhros, who was one-handed, for which reason his brother stepped forward to defend him.

Maglor groaned when he saw who it was that confronted them. "Make an end of me if you must, my sons. Perhaps it is better so. You are not Eldar; the curse of Kinslaying will not fall on you as it has upon us."

But at that Maedhros set his own Silmaril upon the ground and stepped forward, drawing his own sword. "They will not," he growled. "Go, children. I would rather not add your blood to that already on our hands, but you will not touch my brother."

Elros did not waver, although Maedhros was known to be a fearsome swordsman. Elrond stood beside him with his own blade drawn, a parting gift from Maglor, and gazed impassively at the two thieves.

"Go!" Elros said softly, his eyes suddenly full of more pity than revulsion. "You are not Eldar either, to do such things. But my brother is! He has earned the gift of the gods, and he will live forever. Yet seeing what you have become -- more worthy to be called Peredhil than we -- I rejoice that I rejected the gift and will not be accounted one of you."

"You had best hurry," Elrond said sadly, glancing down the hill. There were other figures running towards them, now that the Silmarils had been unveiled. "They will be here in a moment."

Maedhros snatched up his Jewel again, giving them a curt nod, for the pain that smote him when he held it again stole words away. Maglor put his sword away and set a hand on Elrond's shoulder before they took off running. The brilliant light of the twin Silmarils was veiled once more. In the sudden darkness, the boys stood blinking and blind, and could only hear the rush of the wind as the hunters and trackers reached their position and swept past them.

"Are you hurt?" It was an Elf's voice, knitted with concern.

Elrond blinked, finding his sight returning, and looked up into the compassionate face of Ereinion, whom he had not met before. The young one's face was distraught, nearly as anguished as Maglor's had been a moment ago. "He will never die," Elrond whispered, stunned.

Elros sighed and stepped to his side, slipping an arm around his twin's shoulders. "He will if those hounds reach them," he muttered. More loudly he addressed the king. "My brother has taken no hurt save that of betrayal, with which you are familiar. Maglor was as a father to us."

Ereinion was staring at the silent one of the pair. "As I will be," he said gently. "Come. We will await news of the pursuit at my pavillion, and you will be safe there."

Elros grimaced. "No, I am going to my father's people... his real people. The Edain. Are you coming with me, brother?"

______________

When Elros entered the camp of the Edain, head held high, he was alone. They received him in wonder and awe, and his news to them seemed greater than the matter of a few stolen jewels. One of the Eldar, with the beauty of Lúthien in his face, had chosen to give up immortality to be accounted one of them. The revelry in their camp continued unabated, while the Elves sorrowed.

Meanwhile, Elrond sat in the tent of the High King and heard the distant sound of the singing of Men, full of raucous joy. It was new and strange to him, and to his ears uncouth, but the Elf smiled, setting his harp upon his knee. "He will be a good king."