Warning: Serious AU involving gender games. Please only read if you think you can manage not to flame me for blasphemy. I'd put warnings for slash and MPREG, but that would be rather missing the point. On a more positive note, it's rated G.

This fic is based on discussions in the Silmfics group, who also encouraged me to post it. It is dedicated to my paleography professor who taught me that the difference between 'required' and 'forbidden' is a minor textual variant.

Mother and Daughter

Elrond cursed, and slammed the parchment down on the table. Then he took his quill, carefully crossed out the places where this wretched manuscript referred to Celeborn as lord of Eregion after Galadriel's departure, and changed the name to Celebrian. Human scribes, taking his wife's name for a spelling error. Elrond sighed, and enlarged the letters. Not that it would help.

There was no shortage of errors in this text, but seeing Celebrian mistreated by history was the worst. Well, the worst for Elrond. He knew that Celebrian, when she returned with the twins from the Orc-hunting expedition, would laugh at his troubles and call him half-human before kissing him soundly. She never could understand how much it mattered to him the way stories were told. And she never understood the very strange way humans seemed to insist on thinking about male and female. Very few Elves did.

It wasn't just Celebrian, of course. No matter how carefully Elrond corrected the text, human scribes consistently emended it according to rules that were more than boring in their simplicity. All warriors must be male. All marriages must consist of one male and one female. So when two warleaders wed, like Elrond and Celebrian, there was no end to the silliness and misunderstandings that the human scribes could produce.

What frustrated Elrond most, though, was that certain stories could not be told, or if told, were doomed to be misunderstood. There was a story from his childhood, from the still painful memory of the burning harbor of Sirion, that was of this kind. He had left it in the text, but with the changes the human scribes had made it was all but invisible. Told another way, it would sound far different to human ears from what they had written. Different, even, to his own.

When Fingolfin's valiant son rescued Feanor's brave eldest daughter from the chains that bound her to the rock of Thangorodrim, everyone suspected that they would soon have the greatest wedding in Arda Marred. They could not, of course. The chasm that had grown between the house of Feanor and the descendants of Indis was perhaps narrow enough to be bridged by an alliance, but far too wide to allow for a state marriage. Maedhros's siblings were mighty, and powerful, and brave, and would only be ruled by one of their own. Fingon knew that he was his father's heir, and that immortality in Beleriand was far from absolute, and that those who had crossed over the Helcaraxe would never, ever consent to follow a Feanorian. So Maedhros did homage to her half-uncle, and left her beloved friend to found the great fortress of Himring, where she kept Morgoth at bay with her vigilance as centuries passed.

It was a great injustice, Elrond reflected, that Maedhros was remembered most for the end to which she fell. If not for her constant watchfulness and fierceness in battle, if not for her guard over the intermittent madness of her siblings, all of Beleriand, all of Middle-earth would have been taken by the darkness long before the First Age was done. Even the hosts of the Valar, if they had come to defeat Morgoth, would have found only a ruin worse than the very pit of Mordor in this age. It was for this reason that Elrond did not force the human scribes to tell the rest of the story. Maedhros would have become, in their tale, a passive, forgotten wife, her greatness unremembered.

The constant tension between the houses of Fingolfin and Feanor was too much to allow for a formal wedding, but apparently did not preclude a less formal bond, as the Noldor discovered to their shock when Fingon returned from Himring carrying his young daughter in his arms. There was much scandal over this at first, rather less soon after when Fingolfin was slain and the people became more than aware of the need Fingon had for an heir, however ill-gotten. Maedhros remained at Himring, for it was only through her strength that the east was held. With Morgoth on the march, Himring was no place for a young girl, and soon neither was Hithlum. So Gil-galad scarcely knew her mother, and after her earliest youth she was sent from her father as well to dwell with Cirdan in the relative safety of the coast.

Some say it was her husband's death in a battle of her own devising that sent Maedhros, finally, into madness. Others say the final moment was when Turgon took the High Kingship that should have gone to Gil-galad, swearing that no descendant of Feanor would ever rule in Beleriand while he lived. It may simply have been the return of one Silmaril to Elven hands, and the memory of the ancient vow. Whatever the cause, Maedhros and her siblings, defeated in the struggle against Morgoth, turned against Doriath.

Gil-galad used to tell Elrond about her childhood in the First Age. She saw many horrors, and more than once had to stand in Cirdan's court and listen to the news of yet another defeat they were powerless to prevent. But the worst moment of all was when the messengers told of the fall of Doriath at her mother's hands. The Kinslayers have again slain their kin. She renounced her mother then, swearing she was no Feanorian, and bid the scribes erase forever the name of Maedhros from her lineage.

Elrond remembered again the burning of the Havens of Sirion. Maedhros in battle, terrible in her fury. His kidnapper Maglor, soon to be foster-mother, gathering him up in her arms while she called orders to her soldiers. A torch, a scream, and in the distance Gil-galad's ships, too far in the distance to reach the harbor before the Feanorians and their captives were gone.

The scene played over and over in Elrond's mind, the one memory he would never forget. How often had he returned to it, and each time it told a different story. This time it was a private tragedy not his own that he recalled, the story of his foster-mother's sister, the mother of his commander and dearest friend. A mother who had sent away her daughter, a daughter who had renounced her mother, facing each other across the embers of a destroyed refuge at the end of an age.

This story was different from the one in the text copied by the human scribes. Even among the Elven peoples, few spoke of Gil-galad daughter of Maedhros, few dared name the kinslayer mother of the king. But Elrond would never forget Maedhros's face as she looked out across the burning harbor to the sea, an age of regret in her eyes, and then, finally, turned away.

Elrond put down the parchment, and struggled to his feet. Celebrian and the twins would soon return, and aside from the human scribes he had to berate, there was much other work to be done. He made his way uncomfortably down the stairs, holding on to the rail to support the weight of his enlarged belly. Pregnancy was certainly an inconvenience. But Celebrian had carried the twins, so he supposed it was his turn.

*******

Notes:

In the published Silmarillion, Fingon is the father of Gil-galad, but we are given no information whatsoever about who Gil-galad's mother is. I wrote this while in a fit of frustration about all the unmentioned and undeveloped wives and daughters in canon. I can't expect the Great Professor Tolkien to forgive me for this, so I won't ask, but I do recognize that the characters belong to him and that I have no right whatsoever to do what I just did.