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“…All that’s best of dark and bright” by Fadesintothewest

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Chapter notes:
Title is taken from Lord Byron’s She Walks in Beauty

Unbeta’d. Forgive me for grammar/spelling mistakes I miss.

Tauriel beat me to the punch. In Desolation of Smaug, she tells Kili (about starlight), “It is memory, precious and pure.” Indeed stars/starlight is special to elves in Tolkien’s legendarium. Though Tauriel explicitly links starlight to memory my inspiration comes not from her words but from a beautiful documentary Nostalgia for the Light that is a poetic take on stars, memory, and the politics of forgetting in Chile. The film’s director, Patricio Guzmán, narrates, “… “los que tienen Memoria son capaces de vivir en el frágil tiempo presente, los que no la tienen, no viven en ninguna parte”/Those who have memory can live in the fragile present, those that don’t do not live in any place. In this documentary Guzmán interweaves the tale of the astronomer’s search of the stars, the archeologist’s search of the earth, and women’s search for the remains of the disappeared in the Atacama desert, to highlight the importance of memory, the act of remembering, and ultimately holding those accountable for the pains of our past. His work is important not only for Chile but for all of us, as we stand on the grounds, the shoulders of others.

Moreover, of late I have been engaged in discussions/dialogues dealing with astrophysics, indigenous cosmologies, and the idea that the essence of us is star material. This philosophical, indeed onto-epistemological endeavor was influenced by Guzmán’s work in particular. In an interview Patricio Guzmán tells us, “But in Nostalgia there is, of course, an element of philosophical reflection on the relationship between human life and the life of the cosmos, on human memory and the memory of the stars, of infinity. It’s a film about the past, a demonstration that the most important thing in life is the past, because the whole territory of the past is fundamental for people and the future. In as much as we are human beings, we are the inheritors of generation upon generation going back to pre-history, and the matter of our bodies is the matter of the stars. We belong to the Milky Way – that’s our home, not just the Earth.”* It struck me that there is a certain Geist in the universe at the moment, captured by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: “The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”*

I hope that my own philosophical and deeply personal reasons for residing in memory and starlight serve the Slashy Santa fic exchange well, asking for Elrond/Gil-Galad. Who else if not our elves understand memory and starlight. Who else after all.

Chapter One: Starlight

The river Bruinen ran full with the waters of spring melt from the mountains. The falls roared, plunging over the precipice he stood on and down into the river below. The night was clear. The moon shone brightly. Memory reached him through starlight, for that is what starlight is, the very past. Stars, made of the very essence of creation. He felt it in his bones, bones made of the substance of stars. Children of the giliath. Walking in memory amongst starlight was not something he committed himself to often, but sometimes the yearning of those things gone, of loved ones no more, was too great. This was such a night and so he climbed to the chambers in the falls, knowing up here he could feel he was on the edge of the world, walking in moonlight, but he was not alone.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without him. And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture. What does it matter that my love could not keep him. The night is starry and he is not with me. This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost him,” [1] a voice recited lines of the Noldolantë, Maglor’s lamentation of the Doom of the Noldor. Its verses tended towards grander narratives of sorrow, yet personal stories and tragedies were woven within, reminding those who would listen that behind the great stories were simple men and women.

Without turning, Elrond answered, “None now dare utter a single verse of that melody, none save for one who was there.”

“You walk in memory my friend. I know what this night marks. You should not walk alone,” the elf standing behind Elrond answered.

Elrond smiled, contemplating the stars crowning the night sky. “I remember when I heard Maglor sing that verse. It felt then, though I was a child, that it was meant for me, though it was a lamentation for Maedhros who silently endured Fingon’s loss.” Elrond paused, his silence indicating his path was slipping back to a different memory. “I asked him then if he also sang of things that had not yet come to be.”

“What did he answer?” the voice--strangely possessed with its own star matter, like a golden light contained in sound-- asked.

Elrond did not flinch when a gentle hand traveled up from the small of his back to rest on his shoulders. He felt reassured by the touch. Elrond continued, “He looked up at the stars and then looked at me--I can see his eyes as if they were here before me: bright, piercing, grey and cold. He looked at me, studying me, looking into me. I felt he was reading my life.” Elrond turned to look at the tall elf that stood behind him, crowned by a radiance of his own kindling, the light of the Two Trees shining in his eyes. “He said to me, ‘Our people are doomed to repeat the same pains, to know the same loves and endure the fickle hammer of fate. We are fated to watch our greatest loves shine brightly only to fade. Our souls will never be satisfied. Thus is our doom. Know this well son of the Noldor for it is also your doom.’ I will never forget these words.”

“The Sons of Fëanáro were always forthright,” Glorfindel replied.

“And prescient. Maglor had-” Elrond paused, correcting himself, “-Maglor possesses that gift, like Galadriel.”

“As you do,” Glorfindel offered, Elrond’s humility a faithful companion, unrelenting and a source of wisdom, Glorfindel thought.

“Indeed,” Elrond replied. “Yet, for Maglor, his gift was also his bane in a way it is not for me or even Galadriel. He wove it into the Noldolantë, knowing that he sung of things that had yet to be, but he sang of them nevertheless, sang them because they deserved to be cared for and mourned for.”

“Just like you mourn for him, our Last King,” Glorfindel whispered.

“Yes,” Elrond breathed, his reply soft, featherlike. It was the anniversary of Gil-Galad’s fall, the last High King of the Noldor in Middle Earth and Elrond mourned him, missed him.

“They were our stars,” Glorfindel offered to the night.

“You are our star,” Elrond corrected, drawing closer to Glorfindel for truly Elrond knew he did not need to be alone in his sorrow.

Glorfindel smiled, a sad, plain smile that did not reach his bright blue eyes. “A fallen star then, lost in the tides of memory.”

Elrond turned towards Glorfindel, placing a hand on his cheek. “That is not such a terrible place to find yourself for memory is starlight and we are made of the very essence of stars.” Elrond turned his gaze back to the stars, “And that gives me some hope, to know that I remember he walks in starlight. He walks in memory.” Elrond and Glorfindel spoke no further choosing to commune with the stars and memory. Elrond’s path took him to Gil-Galad, before he marched on Eregion. It was a good memory…

)()()()(

Elrond stumbled upon Gil-Galad standing in the clearing, bathing under the luminescence of starlight. Gil-Galad shimmered, he was starlight. His radiance drew Elrond to step closer though he did not intend to disrupt Ereinion’s reverie. Indeed Gil-Galad was starlight, the last bright star of the Noldor, Elrond mused. It was a moment of quietness, of peace, a stillness in spite of the mustering of elves Elrond would soon lead to Eregion.

“Memory is starlight.” Gil-Galad whispered, sensing Elrond near him. His eyes were closed in reverence of the starlight that washed over him. Gil-Galad spoke again, though Elrond was quite sure that though the words were being shared with him, they were not meant for him. “Memory is our past,” the High King spoke. “Memory is our present.” Gil-Galad opened his eyes and turned to look at Elrond, offering his words like a prayer to the stars. “In memory lies the future.” Turning to look at the skies, he continued his incantation, “To memory we return when we die. It is where our soul is committed, in the memory of others. Without memory we die a different death.”

“Your father walks in your memory tonight,” Elrond offered, sensing Gil-Galad’s mood.

“My father, my mother, so, so many walk in memory,” Gil-Galad breathed.

“We remember them, we remember him well,” Elrond continued, referring to Fingon, knowing Gil-Galad’s thoughts were turned to him.

“As we remember those who bore the light of the Silmarils away on wings and on to the skies. But what of those that are forgotten, despite Oaths? What of those that remain, are they condemned to oblivion?” Gil-Galad spoke his voice reaching Elrond as if from a dream.

Elrond sucked in his breath, the pain of the loss of his parents, of the loss of those he grew to love in spite of their names flooding his memory. “I remember them well, though I cannot say I understand their choices,” Elrond finally replied, the bitterness of that early pain stretching through time to reach him in that place.

Gil-Galad found himself standing on the soft earth of a glade. The din of night a mere whisper despite the nearby encampment of elves. No longer was he walking in memory amongst the stars. His eyes softened as he beheld Elrond before him, the pain of Elven history written on his young face. “Eärendilion, I fear my stargazing has made me speak more honestly than I would have wished, for never would I dare hurt you.” Gil-Galad spoke in the forthright way of his. He turned to walk towards Elrond, but stopped himself, unsure if his words would put more distance between he and Elrond.

Elrond closed his eyes and shook his head. “Alas, my own memory is not a pain I turn from. If I cannot face my own warring emotions how can I lead our men to war?” Clouds appeared high above, masking the light of the stars, shadowing the glade in a strange starless darkness. Though elven sight pierces such shadow, the blight of the light cast eerie shadows harkening Sauron’s armies. Gil-Galad’s own radiance was dimmed. It was as if the breath of Sauron descended upon them. His desire for the rings of power growing, his hordes breaking upon Ost-en-Edhel, a weight upon Gil-Galad. Elrond would march on the morrow.

Gil-Galad’s bright eyes pierced the darkness. “Though it is my will you lead our armies, I will not loose you Elrond.” While his words had not put more distance between them the coming of dawn and war lay heavily upon them. Elrond closed the distance between them, coming to stand before Gil-Galad, his eyes reflecting yearning and doubt.

“Whether I go to live another day or die you will always have my love,” Elrond whispered, his voice careful not to betray his passion to those that might be about, readying for the march to war.

“My love, my star,” Gil-Galad breathed, drawing Elrond close to him. He pressed his forehead against Elrond, breathing in his essence. Gil-Galad felt Elrond’s hot breath on his own neck. He too was breathing Gil-Galad in, both knowing that change was coming, an inevitable flood of shadow, looming on the horizon, dark and destined: the Doom of the Noldor raising its specter once more to claim its victims. Together the light of the elves cast a silvery light on the glade, like the light of Telperion before Ungoliant defiled it. Though neither Gil-Galad nor Elrond knew the light of the Silver Tree, there were those among the elves that quietly prepared for war who had seen the light of the two trees, who witnessed the silver glow and for a moment believed Telperion was reborn. The Calaquendi were weary: another march, another engagement with the dark malice of Melkor’s treachery. Arda marred. Yet there was hope.

Gil-Galad gently brushed his lips over Elrond’s, taking Elrond’s breath deep into himself, feeling Elrond do the same, sharing breath, the mingling of souls everlasting. Slowly, languorously, Gil-Galad kissed Elrond, pausing to feel their shared breath rise and fall. Though dawn menaced, Gil-Galad took care, took time, stretched it out as he explored his lover, his kisses haunting Elrond’s lips, ebbing and flowing over the skin of his neck. They kissed, their passion simmering, lost in reverence for one another. This passion was purely elven, hard won, wistful, deep like the roots of ancient forests and far reaching like the distant stars. Such a passion would overwhelm a mortal whose fires burn quick and die too soon.

Gil-Galad’s hair poured through Elrond’s fingers. He was loosing his control. Gil-Galad was undoing him. “Mercy, my lord,” Elrond implored, grasping Gil-Galad’s hair, pulling his head back, like riding a stallion unwilling to heed its master. “Mercy,” Elrond whispered more forcefully, aroused by the look on Gil-Galad’s face that betrayed lust.

“Lenity is not mine to give, Herald, nor yours to seek,” Gil-Galad breathed, his words commanding Elrond to savage him, to mark him. Elrond obliged his King, his mouth claiming Gil-Galad, hard and reckless, no longer caring about who might hear. Laces were undone, clasps were ripped that did not easily succumb to feverish fingers, and boots were tossed aside in that familiar dance of lovers’ haste. A breeze carried the clouds away, revealing the stars last glimmers, but on this night Isil and the giliath were stubborn, reveling in the glory of the Firstborn, delighting in the passion of the Children of the Stars and so the path of Anor was delayed for a moment.

Elrond broke away from the tangle of the High King’s arms. The glory of Gil-Galad stood exposed before Elrond. Elrond drank in Gil-Galad’s form, circling him, knowing that he too was being admired, devoured by sight. Gil-Galad’s breathing came hard, watching Elrond circle him like a predator playing with its prey. He was utterly stripped, his desire worn openly, his love for Elrond burning like deep fire of a star. He did not have long to wait for Elrond could not hold back his own need to claim him in the secluded glade, bathed in starlight.

The lovers collapsed on the grass, their bodies a canvas of desire, beautiful and erotic. Gil-Galad flipped Elrond onto his stomach. The cool grass against Elrond’s burning skin provoked Elrond to arch back against Gil-Galad’s muscled torso, earning a deep, low moan from Elrond. Gil-Galad’s large desire was hard against him. Elrond growled, “Take me now. I need my body to be reminded of you in ways my memories cannot provoke.”

The High-King obliged his Herald, penetrating Elrond in one quick thrust. Elrond cried out, pain and ecstasy exploding, surging through his body, exhaled in his erratic breath. Any sense of hushed propriety long abandoned. Elrond pushed back against Gil-Galad, demanding Gil-Galad lose himself, break the bodily veil that only such passions could rip apart. Theirs was a wild ride, a hard and unrelenting coupling, the type that the onslaught of war provokes, for who of any lovers on the precipice of calamity can predict what the days following will bring? Better to absolve the benedictions of gentle passion and lovemaking with the raw and purely instinctual war of bodies at the edge of death.

Gil-Galad and Elrond were utterly spent. Their lovemaking had spilled more than the physical. They poured their souls into one another, understanding that perhaps this was the last moment they would spend with one another. And if that were to be so, then what a way to remember one another. “You leave me with precious memories,” Gil-Galad whispered into Elrond’s ear. The two were on their backs, watching the stubborn stars refuse to disappear.

Elrond sat up, “I suppose I must get dressed.”

Gil-Galad rolled over on his side to watch Elrond. “I suppose you do. It would not do for you to lead an army looking thusly,” Gil-Galad offered, indicating Elrond’s naked state. Elrond laughed and quietly gathered his clothes while tossing Gil-Galad’s at him.

“As your Herald it is my duty to remind you, my King, that it would not be suitable for you to appear before us looking like a maiden tussled in the bushes,” Elrond quipped. Gil-Galad laughed, a deep hearty laugh. Quickly and efficiently the two made themselves presentable. They made their way to where food had been served. Gil-Galad made Elrond sit and take a meal. Elrond’s squire was soon at his side.

“Your horse and weaponry are ready my lord.”

“Indeed,” Elrond answered looking around him, his gaze finally settling on Gil-Galad. “The men await your command my King.” Bright grey eyes looked upon Gil-Galad observing the elves fall into their companies, making ready to march. Elrond took his cloak from his squire, and without a word followed behind Gil-Galad who headed towards the head of the gathered elves. Elrond mounted his elven war horse, an elegant creature, whose mane was braided with fragrant flowers, an entirely elven desire to hold onto beauty and whimsy even on the long march to battle.

Gil-Galad raised his hand, quieting the troops. His words were simple. “Friends, you march to battle. May the light of all that is good guide your hopes and find you victorious.” To which the elves responded in unison, “Hail the King!”

Elrond turned to face the troops his arm raised, his steed dancing in anticipation beneath him. Dropping his arm, the troops started their march, all noting that this was the dawn that followed the Long Night where for a time their dearly departed came down from the stars to be in fellowship with their loved ones.

Gil-Galad watched Elrond depart as the light of the sun and moon mingled. Stars yet glimmered in the sky but only for elf eyes. As the High King watched the host disappear behind a hill the stars reminded him he had memories to return to. Closing his eyes, bathed in his lover’s touch, his kisses, he saw another who loved him standing under the starlight. His raven hair was bound in a long plait tied with golden thread…

)()()()()(

Chapter end notes:
[1] Pablo Neruda, from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair-Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

*For more on the interview with Patricio Guzman see here. http:// www. pbs. org/ pov/ nostalgiaforthelight /interview. php You can watch the documentary with English subtitles here: http:// vimeo. com /72022198 remove the spaces