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The Downside of Paradise by arafinwean

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Table of Contents

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I.
Broken is a strange word, made of ribbons and pieced together with rusted metal and savage words. It rings through holy places with an air of pity about it that Celebrimbor laughs when he hears it spoken upon his return.

After all the Exiled Noldor never broke, and that, perhaps, is why they are dangerous.

II.

His mother is a flurry of motion in blues and greens. Pacing back and forth as she waits for him.

It only takes her a moment to see and before he can think of what to say to her (‘I’m sorry,’) she has him wrapped in a bone crushing embrace.

“My son,” she says, and it feels like coming home.

III.

There are those who would see him return to the smithy, and, by a stroke of bad luck, AulŽ is among them.

“Why?” Celebrimbor says, voice laced with distaste for the Ainu in front of him, “So I may join you at your forge once again? So that I can create wonders and follow in my grandfather’s footsteps once more?” He laughs then, a bright, wild thing that would have frightened a lesser being.

“It’s too late for that it seems. Now be gone AulŽ, friend of my father and grandfather, we’ve nothing more to speak of.”

IV.

There is little that escapes his notice these days. Whether it is simply the quirk of an eyebrow or the ornate decorations on the pillar he passes while on his way to the market. He notices everything and the whispers about him do not pass him by. They resound of pity or hate and set his teeth on edge as he walks between the stall lines clutching a piece of paper in his hand.

He does not need pity, though he might deserve their hate.

V.

Once, in rage and pain and hate, he thought that his fathers’ family never returning to Arda would be a blessing.

Now he just misses them.

VI.
The sound of a hammer hitting metal fills the air next to his mothers’ home. So intent is he on his work, he doesn’t notice the way she calls for him or the grin that threatens to spilt her face when she finds him in the forge that once belonged to his father.

She brings him a meal later and shakes him out of his stupor with the smell of spiced wine and chicken.

“Your favourite,” she says, and stifles a laugh as he blinks owlishly in confusion, “Come now, you’ve been here all day, surely you haven’t lost track of the time?” It’s a rhetorical question he knows, his own father often lost days while hidden away in the forge, the fact his son seems to have inherited this trait doesn’t seem to bother her.

He wonders if she’s heard of his working habits in Eregion. She must have, he thinks, he was dead for several millennia after all.

“I was busy,” is all he says, taking a long draught of the wine his mother brought. She laughs then, shaking her head and putting the tray in her hands onto an empty work bench.

“I can see,” she muses, eyeing the eight unfinished brooches next to him, “Are those for your fathers family?”

“Yes,” he says after a long pause, “They are.”