Storm-tossed

Author: Levade

Second Age

PG-13

Summary: She was his, his bright-eyed, noisy, always-hungry lovely, until the day the sea called her home. Ereinion, Círdan and a bird

~*~*~

The storm had been terrible. Driftwood, shells, dead crabs, dead fish and even several things that normally lived far deeper than he could swim had been tossed ashore, left scattered on the beach as if a giant child of wave and water had thrown a tantrum.

Ereinion looked out to sea and frowned. His thoughts were guarded, no one knew how much the waters heard and carried back to Aman, and trouble bowed normally straight shoulders a bit.

Was this an omen of what Ossë felt? So many elves were storm-tossed, also racked up on the sea shores like so much flotsam.

His people were not flotsam.

His people.

Noldor, yes, he was their High King, though at times he did wonder …

Ereinion wondered.

Sindar. Yes, if only for the love they bore for his Sindarin mother.

Silvan. Ah, there was an unruly horse that, well, Ereinion was beginning to see that he didn't want to tame it, not at all. It was impossible to hide his smile when the proud Silvan (and sometimes Sindar) elves suddenly appeared as if from the shadows, there to talk to him, without fuss or pomp.

It unnerved his guard.

It made Ereinion laugh.

And the Falathrim. His foster-father's people. They mostly wanted to be left to the sea and shore, to sing and sail as they had since before the sun and moon.

He envied them that sometimes. Wished he too could join in the mending of nets, the singing to the stars and simply…be.

A strange mewling cry dragged his attention back to the shore and Ereinion looked around, trying to see what was crying.

He found it behind an ancient water-logged tree that had been ripped from the shores and tossed about before being dragged to shore by the ceaseless waves. The seagull cried again as it saw him, and ran out from behind the tree, broken wing dragging along, leaving drops of red blood that trailed from its feathers to the sand.

Kneeling in the sand, Ereinion, High King of the Noldor, last of his line, held out his hands to the injured bird and crooned softly. "Hello, lovely. Don't be afraid."

The gull, beloved bird of his foster-father's people, cocked her head and watched him with dark eyes that reflected the depths of the ocean. When he didn't move, she took a step closer, listening to the soft, musical sound of his voice.

"Doubtless you are hungry, and your wing must be painful. Come and let me take you to someone I know will tend to you." Ereinion ignored the black braid that dangled forward to drag in the sand, though the bird watched it with interest. "Were you knocked from the sky by the wind and rain?"

Another figure, this one far sturdier and far more used to storms, straightened from bending as he tossed another starfish back into the sea and instead watched the youth talking to the seabird. Crossing his arms, Círdan shook his head and waited to see if the bird would come to the hands waiting patiently for it.

Ereinion didn't move, though his leggings were soaked now and a curious crab had sidled close to a foot to see if it was something edible. He waited, speaking softly in a low voice that had more than once quieted a startled horse, an angry widow, a forlorn child.

Patience was something the boy had cultivated, tended and grown as carefully as any farmer waiting on a much-needed crop. It was essential in dealing with the disparate bands of elves he was trying to coax to a new kingdom.

The gull finally hopped awkwardly forward, unbalanced by her dragging wing, to settle under the gentle touch of the young king.

A nod and Círdan moved forward, smiling gruffly as Ereinion stood, bird in his arms. He seemed not to care that her broken wing was bloodying the white of his tunic, but held her carefully, as not to jostle her wounds. "Take her to Bronwen, lad. She'll mend the wing."

"Seeing to starfish, are you?" The wind blew dark hair across his face, mingling black elven hair with white gull wings.

"As many as I can." Another nod and the shipwright moved past, softly singing a song older than even the tree that had washed ashore.

Soft smile as Ereinion watched Círdan toss back yet another starfish, and he began walking. "Come, lovely. We'll go see the healer, and then find a fish or two, shall we?"

~*~*~*

Months later, dressed far more regally than he cared for, hair braided too tightly and too formally, Ereinion Gil-galad walked from group to group, greeting his guests and asking if they were comfortable. Did they need more wine? More fruit? Was the music too loud?

To their amusement, the High King had a shadow; a small white gull that waddled behind, sometimes extending her wings, to run faster, all the better to keep up with her elf.

For the Falathrim, it was a sign that he had favour from the Powers. A blessing from the skies, and the seas.

For the Silvan, it was a sign that here was one who cared about the land, the creatures.

For the Sindar, it was a sign that he was not too in love with prestige and power.

For the Noldor it was a sign of eccentricity. Tolerated and sometimes joked about, though never where Ereinion himself would hear, it was a true sign of old Noldor blood to be a bit quirky, to think outside the boundaries.

Ereinion found her endearing, and fed her far more bits of small fish than she needed. She would never fly again, the wing too damaged to heal correctly, and sometimes he walked the shore, bird trailing along behind him and they would sit and watch the other birds fly.

She was his, his bright-eyed, noisy, always-hungry lovely, until the day the sea called her home. Ereinion found her, looking as if she was sleeping, atop a rock overlooking the sea. He buried her there, and sang a soft song over her mound.

~*~*~

Years later, centuries from his youth, Ereinion was at another gathering. Another time to appease the upset faction that did not want Men harvesting trees in the forests of Eriador, to find a compromise and a path through the brambles that seemed to characterize his kingdom. Many sharp points and much water; this was Lindon.

Circlet off his head, dangling from his fingers, the High King Gil-galad sat wearily wishing his last round of visitors, councilors and advisors well.

Well away, to leave him to peace.

He looked up as a light from the shore was blocked, expecting another advisor with another argument, another signature….

"There is a young lady out here who wishes to ask you a question, Ereinion."

"Young lady, eh?" Circlet back on his head, quirky smile once again in place, Ereinion rose and followed Círdan, wondering what had caught the old shipwright's attention.

Wheat gold hair, crystalline blue eyes, she was watching the sea with a fascination that spoke of Silvan blood. Seagulls wheeled in the afternoon skies, stealing food from one another and winging off before their prize could be claimed by another bird.

"Milady? Lord Círdan said…." Ereinion's words dried up, as dry as his mouth, as she turned to meet his gaze.

She smiled, a quirky grin that spoke of a deep well of humour, but stared at him as well.

Círdan, watching it happen, smirked and stroked his beard as he walked off. Hopefully they wouldn't stare at one another quite as long as Melian and Thingol. Great stars, but that had been a long wait.

"I…" She gestured towards the sea, and the birds. "I have never seen anything so beautiful."

Gazing at her, Ereinion had to agree. "Neither have I."

The smile grew. "I have heard tales, my lord, of a king who once had a gull as a pet. Is …is it true? My father told me…"

Pet? Hmm… "And your father is…?"

"Amdir."

Oh. OH. Hoping his circlet wasn't crooked, Ereinion Gil-galad offered his arm and when she accepted it, putting a hand, strong and graceful, on his forearm, he lead them towards the path to the shore. "I called her Lovely, though she was quite noisy and demanding, but yes…she was a gull and she did seem to have a fondness for me."

~*~*~

Heat. Stars…the heat was oppressive! Tugging at his armor, Ereinion Gil-galad sighed and looked up. The sky was blue, the deepest blue he had ever seen. Rain seemed an elusive thing in Mordor, even more elusive than Sauron. How many wretched years had he been there, on the plains, near the volcano, the rumbling, belching, vaporous thing that made life so miserable?

A sigh. It was coming to an end. Soon. He felt it in the air, in his bones. He hoped his beloved, so far away in Imladris, would not mourn too long. His life had been full and joyous, though never easy.

And they would be together again. Someday. Somewhere far from the wretchedness of this tainted land, where the air was pure and children could play free of worry.

Flash of white against blue and sharp elven eyes followed the dot, wheeling through the air. No cloud. Too small. Too…

"Ereinion. Ereinion!" Círdan's voice was sharp, pulling his attention away from the small white gull, wheeling and playing in the blue, blue sky. "They are sending a new wave of Orcs. Pay attention!"

Attention? He had always paid attention. Now…. Now he was being called home, that bright white flash the very thing he had both dreaded and known he would see.

His people. His…. They were in Ilúvatar's hands now. He had done all he could for them.

All but one last thing.

Settling Aeglos, his spear, firmly in his hand, Ereinion, High King of the Noldor, nodded and fixed his gaze on the enormous enemy striding through Elves and Men as if they were but grass, mowing them aside. "Sauron is mine."

~*~*~

A/N: This came about because of a small gull who had a run-in with a car where I work. She lost, and we had a heck of time getting her to allow us to capture her! Her wing was broken, and sadly, she was too badly hurt for the rehabilitators to do anything. They had to put her down, but I was thinking of her in this, so fly on, little bird. Fly on.

Amdir was a real elf, however I made up his daughter. He did have a son (if you go by some of what Prof. Tolkien wrote; the other part contradicts this, such is 'canon' in Tolkien's world), but I wanted Ereinion to have something of love in his life.

Anything else botched is all mine, and likely the only thing that is besides the idea. 