m for violence
Maglor lies on a rock covered with moss and watches the clouds change shape between the branches of the trees. His hair is wet, but his skin has dried already. It is the afternoon. Estel is close to Maglor, but he doesn’t see him. Maglor doesn’t move. Estel probably won’t see him even if he looks at him. Sometimes he becomes transparent. He’s fading. He’s been fading for centuries. His soul is desperate to leave his body, to leave the pain of it.
His damp hair lies heavy on his shoulder. He will cut it soon. Ask Elrond for a knife or for scissors. Elrond might cut it himself. Elrond is sweet like that. Sweet like he would forgive his kidnapper because he was sorry enough for the deaths. Maglor hates that he can’t count the number of people he has killed.
Sometimes Elrond calls him father. Sometimes he calls him Maglor. Sometimes he calls him Kano, and it makes Maglor start each time.
Kano, his nickname, from so long ago that time does not remember it, and he barely does. But it was what Maedhros called him sometimes when they were with the children, Elrond and his brother, waiting for the end of another night that wasn’t promised to end in anything but death.
There have been many wars. They blur together in his head if he thinks about them all at once. Doesn’t Elrond know better than to forgive? Morgoth was forgiven, and he turned to evil. Sauron too. But still Elrond looks at the deeds of history, the betrayals, and holds his brother’s son, sixty-four times removed, give or take, and calls him Hope because for some reason he still has it.
Maglor looks at the clouds again. He watches the trees as they bend towards him and then away. The blackberry vines rise high into the air, growing up along the trees. They are thorned.
He wants to move somewhere. He isn’t used to being still. He leaves everywhere, always, and goes on, lamenting. And is that grief enough to ask for forgiveness? He is a murderer. He’s had blood on his hands. He held Elrond for the first time with blood on his hands, and he brushed back his hair, and the blood smeared on Elrond’s cheek, but it was fine, because Elrond already had blood drying on his face.
And Maglor would do anything to take it all back. If he could go back to before, before they flew from the Undying Lands for revenge against Morgoth, he would cut his own throat, throw himself from a tower, drown himself in the silver sea.
Elrond knows it. Elrond forgives him. Elrond forgave him long before that. He’s a lore master. Doesn’t he read the histories he writes?
Maglor thinks that he might leave now. He might. He might get up and dress in Elrond’s clothes and walk away until he was back by the sea and follow it along the shores, singing of pain, singing of regret, searching for the cursed blessed stone that he threw into the waves.
But it wouldn’t be there, would it?
So now he’s come out to stare at the clouds so that Erestor won’t break down on the other side of the kitchen table because something something he was there at Sirion when the Sons of Fëanor came. And it’s sad, it’s terribly sad, but so is most of history, so can’t he get over it?
And Maglor’s just thinking that because he’s sick of remembering that day with the torches in the sunlight and how the dead fell around them until Elwing raised them up with the black magic of Melian Maglor had only heard tales of and turned them against the Fëanorians’ army.
He’d thought then that they might lose, because you had to dismember and burn the corpses if you wanted them to stop, because she would use even a hand. And some part of him had wanted to die in the battle because in death he might be forgiven.
But Elwing was only one person. And she was only partly a god. So she grew weak, and the bodies dead fell. And she had such a fury in her eyes that he thought she would burn to ashes like his father had done. And maybe that’s why she jumped to the sea. Maybe she would have gone up in flames. Instead she chose water. She chose to drown. And she wasn’t drowned, for even then the gods had mercy on one of their own.
It’s all so complicated when he thinks about it. It’s such a fairy tale. She turned into an albatross. It’s strange the way the world goes.
Maglor touches his knee, and he barely feels it. He looks down at his hand. He sees the rock through it.
Erestor lies awake. He can’t sleep. Not with Maglor that close.
Maglor looks the same. That’s the problem. Maybe thinner, more transparent, but he looks the same. He has the same piercing eyes, the same high, hollow cheeks. He walks with the same noble grace, so unbefitting him.
He watches with those same long glances that left Erestor sick to his stomach as he lay on the ground, playing dead, among the corpses. The blood, he can smell it when he looks at Maglor. He can taste it in his mouth. He can see the blood pooled on the ground – the earth not accepting it – the bones, the guts beside his face.
He had been frozen at first, too shocked to move, and that had saved his life, as the soldier passed him over, thinking him dead. So dead he had played. He had taken a handful of blood from his mother’s leaking corpse and drawn it over his face, matted it in his hair. And then he’d lain still for hours while the birds circled in the sky above and the people shouted.
And Maglor took Elrond that day and somehow Elrond came to love him. Somehow in those years he spent Maglor’s captive – Maglor’s son – Elrond forgave the loss of his mother and the deaths of his people. But Erestor cannot forgive.
He survived the fall of Gondolin, but his father and sister did not, and he came to the Havens of Sirion for refuge with his mother and her brother, and he was going to try to be happy there. He was going to grieve and build a new life with what remained of his family. And then they came.
Erestor picks at his dark grey trousers, unravelling a thread along a seam. He almost wishes he didn’t know when Maglor visited. But there aren’t many secrets that Elrond keeps from him. And it still hurts to see Maglor in Rivendell, to see the way that Elrond looks at him – eyes soft with love.
All Erestor can see is Maglor in armour on a foggy morning, helmet glittering by torch light, by sunlight, sword gleaming, standing over him, searching the dead bodies. One of his brothers was beside him, one of the ones with dark red hair, who died later that day. Maglor touched Erestor with his sword.
Erestor didn’t breathe.
Maglor stands by the treeline in Elrond’s clothes. He’s weaker now, but he looks the same. He always does. Erestor feels cold down his spine. Maglor’s form is pale in the moonlight, half transparent.
Glorfindel places his hand on Erestor’s shoulder. Erestor shoves it off.
He doesn’t know what Glorfindel will say, but whatever it is, he doesn’t want to hear it.
‘Erestor,’ Glorfindel says.
He was right. He didn’t want to hear that.
‘Just leave me alone,’ Erestor says. Glorfindel was born in Valinor and then born again in Valinor. Glorfindel is golden and perfect and beautiful. He has clear, shining eyes, and he isn’t afraid of anything.
Erestor is afraid of the sick feeling rising in his stomach. He hates that he has to follow every thought in his head to whatever horrible end it might have, but he has to. He sees many lines where Maglor betrayed them and then betrays them again.
As if he is on their side. He’s never been on any side but his own. Raising Elrond was nothing but selfishness to absolve him of his guilt. A trick he played on himself – tried to play on the world – thinking somehow he could gain pardon by whatever good Elrond and Elros came to.
Erestor didn’t breathe, and Maglor touched the sword to his face where the blood ran from his dark hair, and he said, ‘so young,’ as if he cared. Maglor turned away, and his brother left with him, and Erestor played dead on the ground until Gil-galad’s army came too late to save them.
Then Erestor got up off the ground, and his mother and uncle were dead. He went on Gil-galad’s ships an orphan and had to tell strangers who he was: Erestor, from Gondolin, aged thirty-seven years old.
The next time Erestor saw Elrond, Elrond was tall with burning eyes and the star of Fëanor tattooed on his hip. Grown too fast. Gone too long.
He spoke with their accent and hugged Erestor like he had him. He put on Gil-galad’s heraldry, and swore his love and fealty to him. He marched underneath Gil-galad’s banner while his brother Elros marched beneath their father Eärendil’s.
He was called Elrond Peredhel, and he got too drunk on a too cold night and said he loved Maglor and Maedhros. He loved them so much. Gil-galad held him anyway.
Erestor hasn’t forgiven Maglor. He doesn’t know if it’s possible. Shouldn’t he have already? It was so long ago.
He was so young.
‘Erestor,’ Glorfindel says again. He’s going to say something more:
This bitterness will hurt you more than it hurts him. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry. Erestor, you have to forgive him.
Erestor curls his hand into a fist. He doesn’t want to hear it.
Glorfindel puts his arms around Erestor.
‘It isn’t good enough,’ Erestor says.
‘This hate hurts you more than it hurts him,’ Glorfindel says, settling on a platitude.
‘I will take whatever hurt it gives me,’ Erestor answers. ‘As long as it hurts him, no matter how small that hurt may be.’
‘Erestor,’ Glorfindel whispers, voice soothing, like he thinks he is somehow older and wiser. He is. He isn’t. He’s shining gold and nobility and the only person in the world who would ask Erestor to forgive this monster. This broken man.
‘No,’ Erestor says, too loudly. He drags his hand through his hair, and a ring catches on a braid. ‘I can’t. He killed my mother.’
He will take this poison and swallow it until it surges through his blood. Then it might kill Maglor if he bites him. He could, you know. He isn’t quite sane. You can’t trust him. He stands by the trees, and the needles are sharp through his hands. Elrond comes out and takes Maglor’s faded hand. He holds it as gently as a parent holds a child’s.
‘Why does Elrond have to be so good?’ Erestor says. The irony of asking Glorfindel that. ‘Don’t say I’m bitter.’
‘I don’t have to tell you that.’
‘I get to be bitter.’
The clouds fold over the moon.
don't mind me pulling pieces out of my longer works for stand-alones to reference back to later
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