Summary : Can or not be considered a sequel to "Of iron and of steel". Starring Dior, Elwing, Maedhros, Maglor, Elrond and others from the second Kinslaying on to the rise of Gil-Estel.

Author's note : Okay. The first part, "A Candle in Daylight", is undergoing major revising. Therefore, I don't think it will be coming up anytime soon.

And yes, I know, Maedhros sent a message to the Sirion havens, did not go himself, … But I just thought that a dialogue between Elwing and Maedhros would be something to write…

Disclaimer : I own nothing, as much as I wish to.

That which shines West

By Le Chat Noir

The royal family of Doriath sat, as if huddled together to profit from each other's heat, near the central window of a sleeping chamber, on the third floor of Menegroth. Dior, son of Luthien, held his younger son, Elurin, on his lap. Nimloth, his wife, sat opposite to him, and on her knees was Elwing, their only daughter. Elured, the eldest of the three children, stood next to his mother. They were still and silent, the children sometimes shifting position in their parents' embrace, but not a word was spoken and their eyes stayed riveted to the snowy winter landscape. The white sunlight peered shyly through the window and illuminated their pale complexions, making them look in their immobility like statues of marble clad in kingly raiment.

The Lord of the Umanyar looked young in elven years, but he was tall and proud and his face was that of the Heir of Thingol, King of the Thousand Caves. On his forehead he bore the crown of the Hidden Kingdom, and on his breast the Gem of Fëanor which his mother had torn from the Dark Diadem shone. His eyes were gray, and his slightly wavy hair was cut shoulder length, falling around his face in dark locks of night. Nimloth of silver hair, who had been wed to him in the Land of the Dead that Walk, wasn't as fair, but in her eyes there was something that lacked in his; something that was hard to define. The two younger children unmistakably took after their father, wile Elured bore on his face the very traits of his mother.

But suddenly in the silence, rose a faint cry, coming from outside, and gradually growing louder and louder. On the blinding whiteness of the almost silver snow there appeared in the far East thousands, millions of small dark dots, slowly and yet fast approaching. None of the five stirred in their stillness, but Elwing, after a moment, suddenly jumped off her mother's lap with a little cry and went to hide herself under the bed. Nimloth let her go without reacting. The four which were left at the window stared, as if their eyes were transfixed, and too soon the figures arrived at the foot of Menegroth's walls. Then the faint cry rose to an open clamour outside. In the room the silence was broken by Nimloth's soft voice.

"They have come." She murmured softly, as if for herself.

Dior looked on, making a quick estimation in his head. His voice was no louder than that of his wife, serene and tranquil.

"We're outnumbered four or five to one."

None of them moved for a minute, not even the children. They watched the battle going on like one would watch a movie, and the two adults' faces were absolutely expressionless. Then Dior rose, Elurin sliding from his lap, went to fetch his sword from where it laid on a shelf, and attached it round his waist. He went back to his family, and deposed a gentle kiss on each the boys' forehead. After half a minute spent on all four trying to get Elwing to come out of her refuge, he abandoned the task, and walked towards the door. But Nimloth stood too, and went to him, resting a hand on his shoulder. He shivered under her touch.

"We will meet again soon."

It was more a question than a statement, as if he wanted to make sure of it, to make sure that it was only a short parting before they'd be reunited in the legendary Halls of Mandos.

"Yes."

Like a whisper.

He bent down to kiss her one last time. It was the same kiss they always shared in the morning before he went away to look over the city's rebuilding. Maybe, that day, a little longer, a little deeper, or maybe not. Then they parted as if with as little regret, like they would meet again the very same day for dinner.

"Take care."

"Take care" was answered.

Then he was out of the door. If he had turned around for a second before leaving, he would have seen that Nimloth had gone to sit again, and that Elurin was now in her lap. Elured had climbed and sat himself in his father's chair. They were back in their original stillness, like carved out of stone. The clamour outside grew to yells and shouts of pain and the horror of Death.

The corridors were sombre and silent for the most. He ran about aimlessly, sword unsheathed in hand, sometimes getting lost in the maze of his own palace. There were small groups of riots at some corners, and soon from his blade dripped blood. But he came at last upon the heart of the battle. It took place in the Great Hall, the once wondrous Great Hall of Thingol. He saw that the throne of gold had been knocked-down from its place. The fighting raged on, and many corpses lingered the polished floor of marble, but always from the outside new soldiers of the Marks poured in. The tall walls and pillars of alabaster were stained with blood. Dior cringed from the sight, but threw himself into the onslaught after an instant's hesitation. His people's hearts were uplifted at the coming of their King, and he fought with all the strength and skill he had. The sons of Fëanor would pay dearly for the fall of Doriath.

But suddenly he felt something tugging at his sleeve. Freezing, he turned around, and stared straight into a pair of grey eyes much like his own, wide with fear.

"Elwing! What are you doing here?"

With another blow he struck a soldier, and the little girl responded in a frightened murmur.

"I'm scared, father."

He turned to face front again, not knowing what to survey, his daughter or his defence.

"Oh Eru."

She clung to him, hampering his every move, and his swordplay was thus greatly lessened in swiftness and force. Once a man of Herevorn tried to pull her away from her father, but the attempt resulted in nothing but a piercing cry from the little princess and a deathly blow striking the soldier's head. After that, Dior carried her daughter in his free arm, stepping back, trying to get her out of the battle, would it be but to gain some minutes' life for her, or at least for her not to witness his own death. But then, just as the situation was getting hopeless, a familiar voice called out.

"Dior!"

He did not dare turn around to look, but recognized the voice. It was Celeborn, his wife's uncle. The noble elf used to always call him Lord in reverency, although his King had often bid him talk to him like to an equal. But now in the wrath of the fight for Death all differences between ranks were forgotten. He could hear the elf coming up behind him, killing himself a way through the mass of enemies.

Eventually Celeborn arrived near the son of the first Union between elves and men. Some seconds they were silent, too busy that they were in keeping themselves alive, but then Dior felt the wrenching sobs shaking Elwing's fragile body against his shoulder, and shouted to be heard above the slaughter.

"Celeborn! Take the child!"

"No! You can still escape! There are still some alive under me who are willing to make a barrier of themselves for you. Go to your wife and children, and you can still flee!"

"No father, no, don't give me away!"

The voices all came mixed with the yells of terror, in the voices of wrathful Hell. The young girl supplying him not to abandon her, his friend showing him a way to light provided he fled from his people, and his own voice, as if coming from somewhere behind him. He turned to look at Celeborn in the face.

"Do you not see that my doom is here?"

Celeborn would have wanted to think. He would have wanted to make Dior think, think about what he was and what he meant to his people, think about his wife and children who had been his pride, think about his parents he loved, but there was no time. Each second was a threat to the little girl's life, and each second she spent in her father's arms was dangerous for them both. She was crying still in his shoulder, a tenuous voice of innocence and love in the great roar of hatred and darkness. The silver-haired elf bent to pick her up, but she clung to her father like to life itself. Forgotten all the time she had spent with her mother's uncle, playing and reading in the Halls of Menegroth. Forgotten the jokes they shared and the some lessons he gave her. For now he was only the man who tried to pull her away from her father.

"Come, Elwing. We'll get out of here."

"No, no, father, please!"

"Wait."

In a hasty yet reverent gesture, Dior took off the Nauglamir from his neck, and fastened it round his daughter's. The jewel hung there lamely, being ten times too big for the girl. Then he kissed her small forehead of porcelain, and she passed into Celeborn's arms.

"Daddy!" A last terrible, heart-wrenching cry erupted from her lips, but got lost in the sound of swords clashing against each other.

Already Celeborn was on his way out of the slaughter, with a few others.

"Shh, don't cry, your father will follow closely…"

Nimloth' uncle, feeling the unceasing sobs now on his own shoulder, whispered words of comfort in her ear, while with his free arm he took part best as he could in the fight.

And so the youngest child of Dior was carried, kicking and screaming, safe out the Kinslaying of Menegroth, last survivor of the House of Elwë.

___________________________________________________________________________

The room was cosy and warm. A joyous fire danced in the fireplace, and the room smelt of old paper and ancient furniture. The young woman in the chair held her three years old son on her knees. The little boy sat on the ground, at her feet, with an enormous book in his lap, reading aloud in a clear voice.

Elrond felt strange. It was not often Elwing consented to her sons' company, and not often she let them in her lap. He never doubted that she loved them as a mother, but always was her gaze absent when she kissed them good-night, and always was she silent at meal times, and sometimes when he spoke to her she seemed to emerge from a dream. Sometimes his childish words put her on the verge of tears, and so he soon learned to avoid her almost ghostly figure in the corridors. However that evening she seemed calm, and there was a gentle smile on her lips when she came into the room. She had taken Elros in her arms and sat herself in the chair, as if it was a habit of hers she accomplished every evening. Then she had asked Elrond to read them a story.

Both the children were anxious, somewhat embarrassed. Elros, still too young to understand, did not dare to move a muscle in his mother's embrace, which somehow didn't feel as warm as it should have. Elrond continued reading, peering at his mother from times to times. Elros didn't dare move. He didn't dare stop. And Elwing still smiled. The two young brothers both knew confusedly in their heart that the slightest change brought to that situation would shatter the moment forever.

Maybe Mother had changed.

Maybe she loved them after all.

"A messenger from the Marks!" The guard burst in the room, leaving the door hanging wide open, and letting the cold air from the outside infiltrate the room. Elrond stopped abruptly, looking up, suddenly hating the guard. The smile vanished from Elwing's face. She kissed Elros's forehead, rising swiftly from her seat, and strode silently out of the room. Elrond smacked the book shut.

But torment was in Elwing's heart. She could easily guess what the people of the Marks wanted, and the very name brought her but repulsion.

However it was nothing compared to what she felt when discovering whom the messenger was.

There was no other light in the room but the blazing fire, which sent shadows dancing eerily on the walls of the half-lit room. The elf was facing the fireplace, and thus turning his back to her. A cooper braid fell down his back, nearly waist-length. He wore a heavy travelling cloak, and held himself with shoulders slightly hunched, as if weary. She immediately recognised the tall, slender frame, and stiffened.

Maedhros of Himring.

In a flash she remembered the silhouette. She had seen it once before in her life, when she was a child. It had been loosely clad in a floating dark cloak, a silver sword dancing in its hand, and where it passed it left nothing but corpses, while itself had remained unscathed till the end. And to her childish eyes he was like the shadow of Death.

She laughed a bitter laugh inside, though her face stayed of marble. If the Lord of the Marks himself had deigned deliver his message, and lower his eyes onto the Sirion Havens…

She saw his left ear twitch, acknowledging her presence, though he did not turn to her. She took some steps into the room, and her voice rose, calm, mocking, hateful, surprising herself.

"And what does the Lord of Himring seek this time, even to the last survivors of his kin? More deaths? More slaughter? More blood on his hand? The death of my sons, after that of my brothers? The ruin of, let's not say the hope he has already destroyed, but of even those whom he has stripped of hope?" She spat the last words.

Maedhros blinked, and his eyes followed her as she paced round the room.

"But a message of friendship."

Elwing felt her anger rise. A message of friendship? She had been carried by force from her father, the fair Dior, and family as a little girl. She had seen the last gleam in his eyes when he bade her farewell, knowing of his own death. She had seen Menegroth burn from afar, before Celeborn had covered her eyes. She had heard the screams of her people dying under the swords of the hosts of the Marks. All for despair, for a hope they knew already was lost, for the memory of an ancient glory, of the past golden days of Doriath. All for nothing. Dior Aranel was slain, and Menegroth lays in ruins.

But she had learnt her lesson. The wrath of Fëanor's sons wasn't something to be stirred lightly.

"Tell."

Maedhros seemed slightly surprised, but nevertheless said:

"We wish to make our past mistakes forgotten. We wish to form an alliance with the people of the Havens. I saw the dwellings of your people when riding past. We can provide architects and workmanship. We can make a city emerge from those wooden houses, a city worthy of the names of its inhabitants. We can help." He paused a short instant, thought he had heard something move behind the door, which Elwing had left ajar, and turned around abruptly. He saw a little shadow quickly retreating in the darkness. But then everything was still, and he went on. "We want to help. There will be ships built in the port city of Sirion. There will be towers reaching for the sky. There will be an army at your command." A moment of stillness. "Provided, of course, you surrender the gem."

Silence fell. Elwing looked at him, and there was no tire in his face. Only pride, the terrible pride which would not bend, be it under the Valar's curse, the pride which would prefer burning cities, slaying its kin, reaping the land, razing kingdoms, than give up a jewel of light. Pride that would never bend, till broken.

She walked up to him, and stood, unwavering, though he was at least more than a head taller then she was. They stood, silently, grave, lord and lady of two worlds that could but clash when met, but destroy one another, but fall with one another.

She felt her eyes narrow. The gem her grandparents had risked everything for. The gem her father had been slain for. The gem her brothers starved for. The gem that held the fate of Arda… fatality. The gem of the Kinslayers. The gem so many died for.

Why should things change?

Elwing smiled peacefully, and said in a casual voice "The Sons of Fëanor can keep their friendship."

She then turned on her heels, and walked away.

But when she kissed her sons that night, it was with a new love; maybe already a pinch of regret, of a kind of life she had gotten used to, and had killed herself.

___________________________________________________________________________

The rain was pouring down. The sky was grey, a dark, moody kind of grey, and the pitiless rain fell, cutting through the columns of smoke rising to the heavens. The landscape was dead. It looked like there was nobody alive in a circle of miles. The horrible silence of death hung, and every second that passed could have been years. Remnants of crumbling walls still stood, darkened, and in some place the fire crackled, dying, giving its last against the shower.

A deep, grave horn sounded in the distance. There was no answer to its call but the sound of splashing rain. The regular gallop of a horse approached, ghostly, eerie in the stillness.

The silhouette slowly outlined, blurry at first, then more precise, in the fog. The horse's hooves hit into the puddles, of both water and blood.

Maedhros looked at the sword in his hands, and shuddered. Crimson elven blood. Quickly, with disgust, he sheathed it, and wiped his hand on his clothes. It didn't help.

He blew his horn again. But still there was no response.

Maglor! Amrod!

The flames danced. He tried not to look, but it was impossible. They were everywhere. Clouded his vision.

Fire had been the lot of Alqualondë. Fire the lot of the Teleri's ships. Menegroth. Fire the Kinslayers lit in their tracks, everywhere they went.

The fire of the Silmarils.

The fire of his father's soul.

Brothers of mine!

No answer. He willed his thoughts away from the fire, but in vain. Slowly it grew. Slowly the flames grew higher. He blinked, trying to refrain from falling from his seat. He smelled the scent of burning, destruction, death, and blood.

And still, there was nothing to be heard except his horse's gallop.

The fire.

The rain.

He felt like fainting. Because the Kinslayers had always flown the aftermath of the slaughter. Because they never remained on the site of the bloodshed, leaving the fire to do its work. The fire was clean. It never left anything.

Not a trace of life.  

He was faintly aware of figures beginning to move around him. Figures rising from the ash where they laid, grey, red, calling out to each other. Ghosts of the battlefield.

The resistance had been fierce.

His eyes stung with the acrid smoke.

But somewhere, seemingly far, far away, a clear, silver call responded to his. The Trumpet of the Gap… Called him back to reality.

He turned his head sharply West, and his horse, sensing his will, immediately turned towards the Sea. He passed the limp body of a young girl, impaled on a sword. But she was gone within seconds, as he galloped westwards.

The silhouette was on his knees, surrounded by corpses and drenched in dark blood. His sword was stuck in the ground, and he held onto it with both hands, leaning against it. His face was downcast, and his dark hair fell into his face.

"Maglor!"

Maedhros jumped off his horse, and flung himself to his knees in front of his brother, pulling him into a tight embrace, wanting to cry from sheer relief. For a moment he felt no reaction from the other elf, and they stayed there, in perfect stillness, forgetful of the outside world. Then Maglor shivered, and spoke calmly, though his voiced trembled and was weak and feeble, and barely audible.

"It's no use calling anymore."

Two identical little boys, toddling alongside the palace. Red-headed like himself. Raised by their older brothers after their mother left. [1]

He refused to think. But as always, the memories were stronger.

A tiny hand in his, clumsily holding a quill, moving slowly across the sheet of paper.

The past always caught up.

He felt a hand tugging at his sheets, and turned abruptly in bed, to meet the wide, scared eyes of a child. "Maglor, what are you doing here?"

Maedhros felt something hot pouring down his cheeks, but at the moment his mind did not go as far as to think they were tears. He felt Maglor shaking violently in his arms, and released his grip a little. Was his brother sobbing?

The tiny voice, already beautiful, but on the verge of tears. "Nightmares."

He felt the blood softly oozing from beneath his brother's clothing, and his own fingers were beginning to become sticky from it.

But when Maglor looked up, there was no tear streaking his face, but a faint thread of blood running from the right corner of his lips. He smiled feebly, pallid eyelids half-dropping over feverishly shining eyes. His voice almost laughed.

"Did you see the gull fly?"

"Shh, it's all over now…but a nightmare…"

"Yes."

He clenched his teeth. Oh yes, he had seen the gull fly away, with the gem on her breast. And he had hated her for flying, flying away into the storm, free as only the dead can be, yet live. He looked away, refusing to see his brother's peaceful face.

Maglor sighed, and his smile died.

"It's the last time, isn't it? It's the last time we're doing this."

The little boy climbed onto the big bed, and buried his head in the arms of his auburn-haired brother.

"Yes."

He laughed bitterly. Who was there left to slay? Ereinion and Cirdan? When they would seek death, probably.

He found himself able to give nothing more but monosyllabic answers to the dying elf in his arms, in the first and last, his only brother, the last one left.

Maglor closed his eyes, and began whispering softly, as if for himself.

"They're still alive. The children. The two little children. They went for the Sea. They went for their mother. I saw them, escaping unscathed from the slaughter. He led his brother by the hand. I went after them, but I got surrounded." He shuddered again. "They might still live. Be it their bodies, they have to be found." The rain splashed down. "Unless the Sea keeps them."

Maedhros tried to smile, tried to sound comforting.

"Don't worry. No one will take them to the forest this time." Unlike two others… But what did they mean to him? What did they mean, that he had never seen, never known them? He shook the thought away. "No one will throw them to the Ocean."

"They'll throw themselves."

And there was horror in the mere calmness of his tone.

Maedhros looked away from his sibling's hunched frame, and looked around him. The soldiers still living, those which had stood up and he had mistaken for ghosts in the earlier raving of his mind, had come to form a half-circle around them, at respectful distance, embarrassed by the scene, yet not willing to budge, seeing no other place to go that would be better. Waiting for orders.

"Look for survivors!" He called out.

"If there are any…" The last part of the sentence broke with his voice.

The men began to scatter around, aimlessly. There were survivors to be found nowhere near, and all knew it.

Maedhros turned back to his brother.

"Where is your wound?"

"In the back."

Feeling anger suddenly soaring to his head in place of the previous blur of indistinct emotions, he spat through clenched teeth.

"Cowards…"

But his brother did not seem to share his contempt, and said in a sigh:

"Traitors like us deserve nothing but a stab in the back."

Maglor closed his eyes completely, and seemed to go off to sleep like a little child.

___________________________________________________________________________

For three days, Maedhros feared for Maglor's life.

Delirium had seized him. It was no illness, as diseases were unknown to elven kin, but rather a prolonged stay in the Paths of Dreams. As if his soul had sunk into the realms of illusion, and wouldn't come back. Didn't want to come back. His ravings weren't dark, nor clouded with terror, but in his dreams he thought himself to be back in Valinor, back under the Golden Reign of the Trees. And often he laughed with delight, and addressed his words to his father, mother, or friends of yore, in between those his brothers, and often Aredhel. [2]Once, Maedhros even heard him speaking to Oromë.

However, long after his body had recovered, his spirit still refused to come back. Maedhros sat by his bedside day and night, sending directives to his servants on the managing of outside affairs. But Maglor's dreams were always happy, and if his pillow was often drenched with tears, they were not his own.

After two weeks of intensive care provided by his brother solely, his eyes snapped into focus.

___________________________________________________________________________

It was a stately dining room, with an imposing table, such as one would expect to find in the palace of royal family. Blazing torches set in the walls lighted the hall. But the meal lay on the table was a frugal one for such a majestic setting, composed of but one dish.

Maedhros and Maglor sat each at one end of the long table. Neither had begun eating; Maglor was simply staring at his plate, and Maedhros had leant back in his chair, observing his brother. The latter looked awfully pale. It was his first day out of bed, and Maedhros knew he hadn't recovered completely yet.

Reaching for the wine-pitcher with his one hand, he poured himself a glassful, and set the pitcher back on the table, before bringing the silver glass to his lips. He sipped the wine slowly, his gaze still rested on his brother.

Presently, Maglor's eyes travelled from the table to the stairs.

"Why isn't anyone bringing the children food?"

Maedhros shrugged.

"They won't eat."

"What?" The younger elf sounded aghast. "How long has it been, no one has brought them food because assumed they wouldn't eat?"

The older brother set his cup down. "About a week."

"Maedhros! They aren't full-elven! They may not be able to endure hunger!"

There was no answer. Maglor sighed, and began piling food on his plate. His brother followed his gestures from the dish to the plate, and, after a moment, stated again:

"They won't eat."

"They won't starve either."

The dark-haired elf stood abruptly, and carried the tray up the stairs, feeling the burn of his brother's stare in his back.

He stopped in front of the door. Stopped an instant, hesitating on what he should do. He knocked softly, but, getting no answer, pushed the door open.

And felt like he had entered another world.

The room was lit by candlelight. Everything was white, a blinding white, from the high ceilings to the tall walls to the curtains and the floor. Two canopy beds stood next to each other, with immaculate white sheets. He suddenly felt very out of place in his dark clothing. It was a beautiful room, but a prison nonetheless. A prison for princes.

One thin little form, clad in what looked like a white sheet, rested on one of the bed, with grey eyes wide open, but vague. Its face was pale, and straight, long black-hair spread on the sheets all around his head like a dark halo. He didn't look like he was more than three years old. [3]

The other one was seated in a chair, near the window, with his back to the outside. He looked older, maybe nine or ten, but was even thinner than his little brother. His hair wasn't lighter, but was cut shoulder length, and slightly wavy. He wore the same garment as the other child, but on him it didn't look like a simple sheet, but royal raiment. He sat straight, with his hands neatly folded in his lap, and his eyes didn't turn to look at the intruder, however stayed fixated on the wall opposite to him. Hard grey eyes, unsuitable for a child, and Maglor immediately saw in him the Heir of the two fallen Crowns, reuniting the lines of Finwë and Elwë. He felt even more uncomfortable, carrying a dinner-tray and finding no table to set it on.

"I hate you." The words had been spoken calmly, with neither hurry nor passion, but the smouldering fury under them could not be mistaken for childish anger. It was the wrath of thousands, dead and living, the hatred of Menegroth, the bleeding heart of Doriath, the contempt of Sirion ablaze who in its last hours preferred burning and Death to the gesture which would have saved it, the words never spoken, always lurking deep down, never heard but always guessed, and at last found their way through the lips of a child. Maglor looked up from his hopeless search of somewhere to put his burden down, and found Elrond speaking to the wall.

He eventually set the plate down on the ground, and made his way near the sitting child, resting his elbows on the windowsill.

Elrond went on, undisturbed by the presence beside him, not even blinking.

"Why did you save us? You shouldn't have."

"That wasn't me."

"You shouldn't have. At least not me."

They persisted into not looking at each other.

"What would you have done? Flung yourself into the Sea?"

"I would have done as Mother has done." Whatever Elwing would have done. Maglor thought, and winced. Children. He remembered being a child once. The kind of stubborn, blind and fierce devotion to one's parents, because they always were right. He recalled never quite outgrowing that devotion until it was quite too late.

"There is one thing your parents should have taught you. You should never turn your back to a starlit sky."

And indeed, the stars of Elbereth were glorious that night, as if they wanted, by shining all their might, to pierce their way through whatever veil of shadow and darkness clouded the elven hearts.

The little boy seemed to make his staring at the wall even more intent.

"You know, it is always from the stars that hope will come in the end. From their beauty there will be healing…"

"I am blind to that beauty." He spoke with the faith of childhood, believing every word he said. However, there began to be an edge to his voice, an edge of interest in the other elf's words, and Maglor refrained a smile. He had found the soft spot. He went on, with his most gentle voice, the one he used to take when telling a story, in a time when not only children, but adults would come to him after a banquet, around the fireplace, to hear his tales.

"It is always in stars one should seek the answer to hopeless questions. Always in stars." And at that time he wondered if he wasn't trying to impress it upon himself rather than to the child sitting next to him. "When one looks at the sky, at first one cannot see the difference between them. Only thousands little dots of light, with no apparent meaning. So one has to look on. And every night, one has to come down in the mead or the valley, up the mountain or the hill, to watch the stars. Until it suddenly makes sense. And then you will see their pattern. And there will be one star that will be shining brighter than the others. It may be only the faintest of a hint of a difference, but then you will know that star forever. It will be your star. Every time you look up at the sky, it will be there, shining for you. And it is in that star you can find your answers."

For the second time that evening, Maglor got no reply from his interlocutor. He continued looking at the sky, and felt more than he saw the child's gaze move from the wall to him imperceptibly, though the boy did not turn his head and looked only from the corner of his eyes. He did not say all he had in mind to. He had thought about it, extensively, but once next to the son of Eärendil and Elwing found the words stuck in his throat. In the stars he had sought forgiveness, in the forbidding stars that held the reproach in the eyes of the Lady.

Elrond wondered how it could be that from an assassin and a traitor could come such beautiful words in such a soft voice.

Maglor knew he was playing tight, but that the first defence was down. However, in the winning of such a child he could permit himself no errors, or everything would be lost. But Elrond liked stories, that was an enormous advantage. And…

"Who is he?"

Maglor spun around in surprise. The other child had awakened. He sat on the bed, with his frightened eyes fixated on the much older elf. The latter took a step towards him, but before he had the time to do anything else, found himself to be pushed backwards in the wall, with amazing force considered that Elrond was not ten yet and hadn't eaten for weeks.

"Don't you touch him!" The older boy ran to his brother and threw both his arms around him, protective, as their true mother had never been. Maglor felt another kind of pity beginning to creep into his heart, guessing that they had to be of each other. But now the two young boys were sitting next to each other, and both were staring him in the face. In someway, it was terrible to see. Two complexions similar in many ways, one with a childish fear in his eyes, fear mixed with curiosity, and the other literally radiating hatred and animosity from head to foot. Maybe it was then, seeing the two brothers in each other's embrace, that Maglor realised that never would they look at him in another way, however attenuated it may come to be, never would the world stop looking at Fëanor's sons in that way, with fear and hatred.

"Get out. Get out now." He didn't stop staring at him with a burning gaze. Maglor couldn't help backing away, without being able to tear his eyes from that of the boy's. He felt the door behind him, and rested a hand on the doorknob, turning it slowly, and began edging out. "And take your plate. We won't touch it."

Accepting utter defeat, Fëanor's son bent down to pick up the tray, and walked out of the room with what little dignity he had left, after having been thrown out of a room in his own house by a child.

He walked down to the stairs, to find that Maedhros hadn't budged from his earlier place nor position. The dish was left untouched. His left hand played with his now empty cup, and his eyes immediately fell on the still full plate his brother carried. However, he didn't smile, nor mock, and Maglor was thankful for that.

"They didn't eat, did they?"

Maglor set the plate on the table. His wound was beginning to hurt again.

"No."

Up in the little prisoners' room, the children hadn't moved. They both sat on the bed, Elrond still holding his little brother in his arms, and rocked him gently back and forth, in silence.

"You shouldn't have sent the food away. I'm hungry."

Elrond felt like crying. Tired to be strong for two. He too was hungry, but to indulge in eating their food… Maybe, maybe…

"He'll be coming back tomorrow. You'll have your breakfast. I promise." He ran a shooting hand through his brother's hair. The latter seemed calmed by that last sentence, and soon Elrond felt his little body go limp. But he did let go.

From somewhere below, there rose a voice singing a melody. It was a strange music, and as Elrond listened the tears came flowing from his eyes, falling to silver drops on his brother's dark hair. It was beautiful, beautiful beyond all reason, and yet shattering and forlorn and terrible, with a horror he could not understand, however felt he knew. The voice itself was something new to him. Clearer and sharper than ice shards in winter, but softer than the voice of mother when she hummed.

And suddenly, from the music at his side, she emerged.

___________________________________________________________________________

A while later, Maglor entered the room, as soundlessly as he could, and blew out the few candles which were still burning. Both the boys were asleep on one bed, with their arms around each other, but their eyes closed, in the habits of mortals. He took a blanket from the other bed, and covered their little sleeping bodies, tucking it under their chins. He pushed Elrond's hair out of his face. Then, he bent forwards to kiss their foreheads, but stopped halfway, eventually not daring to, and simply stood staring at them for a moment.

Silently as ever, he exited the room, and closed the door slowly, and leant his back on it. Slowly, he slid down to the ground, and sat there, hugging his knees.

How he wanted to rest…

___________________________________________________________________________

Maglor must be a scholar; Elrond decided that evening, sitting on the windowsill of Maglor's library. It was huge. An enormous room, with each its walls entirely covered with shelves, and many more in orderly lines in the middle. Completely filled with books, from top to bottom. The room smelt good, of old paper and parchment, of ancient leather-cover. It reminded Elrond of something, something which he could not quite place, but moved his heart uneasily.

There was a wooden table in the middle of the room, and there sat Elros and Maglor, bent over a big book. The younger boy was learning to read and write.

Elrond, as for him, was sitting on the windowsill, with one leg dangling out. He was looking at the sky, at the empty sky with hundred stars, one shining for each being in the world, but none for him. He thought about the Lady Star-Kindler, tales of whom Maglor liked telling.

Maglor was tired. He sat back in his chair, and rubbed his eyes. Elros, his tongue stuck out, carefully wrote his letters in an uncertain hand. The older elf looked up, to see the other boy sitting there, seeming dangerously close to the void, a slender, young silhouette, but already tall. Suddenly, in a panic, he recalled a little child, years ago, sitting in a chair and refusing to look at the sky.  "What would you have done? Flung yourself into the Sea?" "I would have done as Mother has done."  

"Elrond."

He looked up to see his foster-father standing beside him.

Maglor looked at his adopted son. He knew Elrond, unlike Elros, had never really befriended him. It was rather a kind of acceptation, of mutual consent, of I-don't-hurt-you-you-don't-hurt-me, and he didn't try to look for more, for fear of losing what he already had gained. What had he expected in the beginning? The impossible friendship between the warlord and the child, the assassin and his victim…

Elrond turned his gaze back to the sky. It was a summer night much like the one, years ago, when the fire had started consuming the wooden houses of the Havens. The stars blinked, danced together, in a dance of eternity. The light breeze blew into his face. He shut his eyes, trying to retain this image forever. Nights like these should never be disturbed, never, be it by cries of Death or a soft, caring voice speaking your name.

Maglor saw him open his eyes again, and stare off into the distance, his large grey-eyes seeming almost watery as the night sky reflected in them. Gradually, his lips formed into a smile, beaming to the moonshine. Then, unexpectedly, he burst into merry laughter.

"Look!" A silver tear streaked his cheek, and he stretched himself on the sill. "Look at my star."

Maglor started, and  looked up, following Elrond's gaze. At first, he couldn't believe his eyes, and his lips parted in amazement. The bright glow, westwards, far, far away, made him blink, be it for its piercing rays of white or the memories it brought back from the deepest corners of his heart where he had sought to bury them. He clenched his teeth, and said slowly, in almost a drawl:

"It certainly is, a very beautiful star."

Then, he turned away, and walked out of the room, Elros entirely forgotten.

"You chose well, child."

It was pure bitterness that was to be heard in his voice.

Elrond stared after his retreating frame, then went back to his star.

Maglor walked down the stairs, and sought the calm peace of his study. Opening the door, he felt a wave of warmness welcome him with open arms. Someone had lit a roaring fire in the fireplace. And that very someone was sitting in one of the two armchairs facing the flames, with his long legs stretched out in front of him. The fire made the shadows dance on his face, and behind him was darkness where its rays were powerless.

Had Maglor not already known that he would be there, he would have recognised that way of sitting among thousand others.

"Maedhros."

His footsteps were unheard in the silence, and he sat down in the other chair, which had been dragged there from his desk, waiting for him.

"It is a Silmaril, isn't it, that henceforth shines West?"

The red-headed elf stared into the fire. The question needed no answer. It was more of a statement, that he must have turned and turned in his head many a time before saying it out loud. They stayed in silence, both seeming entranced in the fire's dancing, in their own thoughts.

Then, after a while, Maglor burst into sad laughter, and buried his face in his hands.

"What is it you are laughing about?"

He wiped the tears out of his face, and found himself beaming to the ground.

"Do you remember when our father first showed them to us?"

Maedhros couldn't help a smile either.

"His face almost shone with the same light as that he had made."

"It did."

"And when he showed them to Finwë?"

A new burst of hilarity came upon htem.

"He was pleasant to see. Looked like a child bringing good grades home to his parents. [4]"

A sigh.

"He had never looked at us in that way."

"No."

"Though he did love us.

"In his own twisted way." A wry smile appeared on Maedhros' face. "You remember how he used to call me Russandol?"

"You know, I reckon he was proud of you, even more than he was of Curufin. He was proud of you looking like our mother."

"He loved your music."

"He had always hated Melkor." Maglor's voice had suddenly dropped from a light, but forlorn tone to a hateful, hateful one. "It is the whole of Morgoth's shame. He corrupts but the beautiful."

Maedhros looked pensive for a moment.

"Reckon he'd have hated himself if he could have seen what he was to become?"

An uneasy silence followed those words.

"But in those moments, one could but understand Finwë."

"Yes. One could not but love Fëanor, the greatest of us who's ever lived."

Maglor abruptly stood up, unable to bear it anymore, and walked to the window, pulling the curtains back. He stared at the sky, the unchanged and unchanging sky, which had been and would survive long, long after he himself would be no more than a name hated through generations.

That night, a new star had made its way to the firmament, the Star of Hope, the star of Eärendil. The first Silmaril had found its casing.

"If it is truly the Silmaril which we saw cast into the sea that rises again by the power of the Valar then let us be glad; for its glory is seen by many, and yet secure from all evil."

They stayed in the room long into the night, silent, buried in their own thoughts, but guessing the other's must have followed about the same trail. The flames crackled in the fireplace, and slowly died.

1- I figured that when Nerdanel left, and because Fëanor was always away, the younger brothers had to have been raised by their older siblings, more particularly Amrod and Amras by Maedhros and Maglor, therefore rather strengthening the bond between those four, while Celegorm, Caranthir and Curufin were off by themselves or something… Or whatever.

2- And it is said in chapter five of the Quenta Silmarillion that Aredhel was often seen with the Fëanor's sons, though she gave her heart to none of them. Therefore, I deducted that they were good friends.

3- In this story, Elond and Elros, because of their half-mortal ancestry, grow up like mortals; meaning that when I say he looks like a three years old, he is a three years old.

4- I don't know if they would have grades in the First Age?

Valar, just realised that I described Dior and Elrond very alike… And the last scene would be, like, maybe some years after the second slaying of elf by elf. Sorry, but I'm really bad at chronology.

And wow. This is the longest thing I've ever written, and the ending is sooo lame.