The gulls were screaming defiance at the wind and at the sun and at all of arda beyond her window. Elwing did not hear them and sat, staring at nothing as she turned over the missive in her hand. The terms were clear, the remaining sons of Fëanor would arrive soon and bring down upon them
She could refuse. There was a voice on the wind telling her to refuse and when they arrived, to jump off the cliffs and fall away with the silmaril.
But Elwing was both afraid of heights (well falling from a height) and had other things she had to care for.
Her great-grandfather had doomed himself by asking for the Silmaril. This was much obvious. With the Silmaril had come the end of his immortal life, the breaking of the girdle of Melian and the sundering of the proud kingdom.
Her father had doomed both himself, his kingdom and a large proportion of his people by refusing to return the Silmaril. He was now dead as was her mother and most likely her brothers.
On the bed opposite her, Elrond stirred in his sleep mewling softly, and she smiled over at the sleeping bundle of sheets that was her two sons. Day by day they seemed to grow now, and all without their father to see. Her smile slipped away and was replaced with a frown. He should be here, not wandering on a hopeless quest. Their children needed someone to show them how to be men, honourable and true, and how to be princes as their lineage dictated they were.
The sun was going to set soon, and the messenger awaited her reply outside.
Ai! She could not do this! This was a world changing decision and she was terrified. Her guts were iced over and twisted into knots so tight she had barely eaten since the message had arrived. Where was the simpler life she had dreamed of, raising her children in a loving warm home.
Rising to her feet Elwing glanced at the box that held the doomed jewel and came to her decision.
The day was crisp and a little overcast. The wind was plucking at Elwing’s fine dress and at the shawl around her shoulders, lifting up the lace and ruffling it irritated. The voice on the wind had grown stronger day by day as she waited for the response to her own. Telling her to come away, to fly away from all of this, to fly, fly, fly!
She could hear them coming now; those sons of Fëanor. Hear the lilting of Quenya that was a stranger to her ear, so long had it been since she had seen her husband and he had whispered sweet nothings in his childhood tongue.
Oh Eärendil! Where was he now? He should be here, guarding her back.
Her breath shuddered out and wheezed a little in fear and ice was stabbing down her spine. Her muscles were locked and tensed, her throat so swollen she barely managed a croaking assurance to her maid when she asked her if she was alright.
Finally they were in view, riding forth on magnificent horses that even she, in her horror, could admire.
At the front there were the two that mattered the most; one was so tall it was like his fiery head touched the sky for a moment as he came out from the cover of the trees. The other was a far more reasonable height, at least amongst the long limbed lachenn, his hair dark and his face strangely pleasant though weary.
“Greetings!” she called out as they entered into ear shot and raised her hand to wave.
“Greetings Sons of Fëanor!” On her breast the Silmaril was burning brighter than the sun and her soul quaked for a moment at the loss of its beauty.
“Greetings Princess Elwing, Daughter of Dior.” The dark haired one greeted her and his voice was like a harp note plucked with perfect timing; bliss upon the ears.
She smiled shakily, all too aware of their sharp focus upon her breast and the jewel gleaming there.
“Nana what is going on?” Elrond piped up behind her, making her spin in place. Why were her sons here? Their nurse maid was meant to be keeping them occupied! She could see neither hide nor hair of the woman and resolved to dismiss her when this was over. If she survived.
“Nana who are they?” Elros asked without any fear, pointing at the two Fëanorian’s.
“Your sons, Lady?” The red haired one asked in a voice that was like the harsh rumbling of a firestorm, “they are beautiful and of your likeness.”
“Thank you Lord Maedhros,” she replied, letting her boys slip their little hands into hers as she stared up at them and tried not to swoon in fear.
“My Lords I believe that this is yours,” she had to shake Elrond’s hand free for a moment to undo the catch and let the Silmaril slide into her hand. She held it out, wincing a little as it began to heat up like a coal in her hand the closer the Fëanorian’s came to it. “Willingly and with no hesitance I would offer this back to you and yours as it should have been returned after the death of my grandfather. May this contribute towards the completion of your oath and may you find peace.”
Just like that the burning went out and the silmaril was as cold as a coal lump as it slipped from her hand and into the scarred one waiting to receive it. Long fingers closed over the jewel in an almost caress before the brightness disappeared into Maedhros’ tunic.
“Thank you…” Maglor’s voice caressed the air as he stepped forwards, throwing a soft smile at the twins who were pressing up against her legs and almost hidden in the folds of her dress because of it.
“With all our hearts we thank you lady and would name you friend of our house, forever welcome in our halls, though halls we do not have at this time, and able to come to us when you are in need.”
“Then I would ask for something now,” Elwing swallowed at the sharp look she received “my lords my husband is often at sea and not here to teach my sons to be the princes of the house of Finwë as he should. I would ask you, when my sons are older, look kindly upon them and guide them in their growth.”
Yes somehow her sons would grow up and grow strong. She was not sure what the future would bring her exactly but she was determined that her sons would live and she would see them live. The wind was howling at the cliffs and cursing her but she paid it no mind, bending down to gather Elros and Elrond’s forms against her chest, needing to feel their embrace and know they were alive.
This was making a pact with the enemy. She knew this. But in the end this enemy was only her enemy because of the choices of three generations of men preceding her, men who were now dust in the grave. She would rather lay down her pride and make peace, be a mother and know that death would not come raining down upon her children like it had rained down upon her as a child.
“Lady your trust in us is staggering and humbling. We will treat your sons as our own if they ever come to us for such guidance,” Maglor murmured, voice sounding a little stuffy, the way voices often did when tears were being held back by only mental strength alone.
In the distance the sky darkened ominously and there was rumbling which foretold of a coming sea storm. A gull screamed in tandem with the wind’s recriminations for her cowardice and surrender but she ignored it all.
The silmaril was now gone from her and she mourned the loss of its beauty but at the same time it was as if a weight, dragging her down, had been cut away from her skirts. She felt so light and so filled with hope for the future it was a miracle she did not sprout wings and fly.
“Nana,” Elrond whispered against her neck, “is everything going to be alright now then?”
“Yes,” she replied, “Yes my darlings, my precious ones, everything will be alright.”