(For those who like to read the notes before the story, there is a fairly long note at the end of the second chapter)
The cries of battle could be heard from the city as Maglor ran up the stairs. He knew, abstractly, that his soldiers were fighting, dying, killing, but he could not allow that to matter. All he could think of was the jewel in Elwing's hand that he had seen from the street below. He ran, crazed with a desire beyond passion, throwing open each door and window as he ran, madly, seeking that for which he had crossed the seas when the age was young.
Finally he found her, near the pinnacle of the tower, in a bedroom overlooking the sea. She stood by the large picture window, dressed all in white, with the Silmaril at her breast. Her eyes were cold, as if she had abandoned fear. He ran towards her, and she took one calm step up into the window-frame. "You will never have it," she said, both her pale hands clasping the Silmaril as she faced him. "Never." Then, as if reclining, she stepped backwards out the window.
Maglor followed her and leaned out to his brother who led the armies below. "Maedhros!" he shouted, "To the sea!"
But Maedhros and all the soldiers had stopped, for a moment, to watch in amazement as Elwing and her Silmaril flew across the sky. First she was a woman, falling helplessly to her death in the sea, the next a bird, whiter than the moon, lit with radiance brighter than the sun. She illuminated the night for a moment, and then was gone to the west.
The battle resumed, slowly. Both sides fought, as if they had forgotten how to do otherwise, knowing that the object of their victory was now forever lost. Maglor sat down on Elwing's bed with his face in his hands. He knew he ought to go to his brother's aid. At that moment, though, with the Silmaril gone, he found himself not caring how the battle ended. He thought about throwing himself after Elwing, knowing that for him there would be no miracle, only the sharp seaside rocks. Not for the first time he envied the doom of Men. Even if the vow of the sons of Feanor had not precluded any kind of escape, death would be no release. It would only bring him to the Halls of Mandos, where he would be forced to look on the faces of his victims for as long as the Valar deemed fit. Maglor knew that in his case, as in the case of his father, Mandos had no reason to be merciful.
The wail of a baby roused Maglor from his thoughts. He walked downstairs to one of the doors he had carelessly thrown open on his way up. Across the room, a small dark-haired child was struggling to escape, a rope in one hand and a howling red-faced infant in the other arm. The Peredhil. Maglor had heard of these strange half-human children, sons of Elwing and Earendil. He stepped quickly across the room. "Come back in," he said to the boy, "I won't hurt you."
The child looked up at him, his bright grey eyes flecked with red. "Morgoth take you!" he shouted, and pushed himself further out the window.
In his life Maglor had seem many children die. Some he had killed himself. He had to live with the memories, but he did not want there to be any more. He grabbed the boys, ignoring the child's curses and the baby's screams, and set them on the floor away from the window.
The boy backed towards a corner, never loosening his grip on the silver-haired infant in his arms. He pulled out the knife he carried at his waist, barely missing the baby's ear.
"Put down the knife," Maglor said, trying to sound soothing. He willed himself to remember Feanor his father, before the fire consumed him, all those years ago in Valinor. "I don't want you to cut your brother."
"I'll cut off your head!" the boy screamed. "And may Mandos keep you until the end of Ea!" He moved towards the older Elf for a moment, and then stopped, remembering the baby in his arms. Unwilling to put down his brother or his knife, he called down further curses on Maglor, in the name of Eru Iluvatar and all the Valar.
Maglor could not move. The boy's eyes, so wide, so open, and yet so full of hate, these eyes called to him, transfixed him.
They reminded him of his own.
After a time Maedhros joined them. "The battle is over," he said, exhausted, barely caring.
Maglor turned an icy gaze on his older brother. For an age they had traveled together, but their adventures, if so they could be called, had not brought them together. Rather, each evil act they had shared only deepened the chasm between them.
The boy, who had never stopped his stream of curses, now turned to Maedhros:
"Maedhros kinslayer! I Elrond son of Earendil curse you to eternal darkness!"
The boy seemed to grow taller, as if the anger of generations spoke through him.
Maedhros ignored him. "Do they remind you of anything?" he said to his brother.
Maglor nodded. He remembered the two young boys, Elwing's brothers, abandoned in the forest, never found.
"These must be Elwing's sons," Maedhros continued. "Elrond andEldur?"
Elrond barely paused in his stream of curses. "Elros," he said. "My brother's name is Elros."
Maedhros barely acknowledged the name. "They would make excellent hostages," he said. "Perhaps I should take them?"
Before Maglor was aware of what he was doing, his sword was out of his sheath and pointed at his brother's neck. "If you touch the boys I will kill you," he said. Elrond, shocked by Maglor's transformation, fell abruptly silent. Maglor turned towards him, hoping to catch a glimpse of approval in Elrond's sullen eyes. There was none.
Maedhros frowned, and pushed the sword away. If his brother was drawn to these children, so be it. They had known since Valinor that they would never have children of their own. Perhaps these half-breed children could bring a hope of a future to the last sons of Feanor.
"I will hate you forever," Elrond said solemnly.
Maglor nodded, accepting these words as his due. He did not know how long forever would last for a child Elrond's age, but as long as it would be, he was willing to wait.