It was a rare afternoon of peace and quiet for Elrond. There were no meetings, no visitors, and no reports to read. There were no household crises for Celebrían to manage – and best of all, his sons were safely and quietly occupied in making sails and painting their flotilla of little wooden ships. It was a perfect autumnal day, with a clear blue sky and a hint of woodsmoke in the air.
The tranquillity was broken as someone approached, and Elrond sighed. It seemed his brief respite was over.
A guard appeared, dragging the twins behind him. Their voices were raised in inevitable dispute – but not, for once, with each other.
“But it wasn’t our fault!” Elladan protested, struggling against the guard’s grip. “Tell him, El!”
“Rimmon, it really wasn’t,” Elrohir added. “It was in the story!”
“I am not interested in stories, or whose fault it was. You can explain to your parents!”
Elrond exchanged a resigned glance with Celebrían and rose to his feet. “What have they done now?” he asked in dread. His sons had an enthusiastic approach to their history lessons, and played games based on the stories they were told: battling imaginary Balrogs and dragons, and defending the towers of Gondolin. He still shuddered to think of the near disaster the previous winter, after Glorfindel had told them about crossing Helcaraxë.
“I found them down by the pond,” the guard began.
“We wanted to sail our boats,” Elladan explained.
“The pond?” Elrond echoed sharply. “But you know you are not to go there alone after what happened!”
“But we weren’t alone …”
“… we were together.”
“You know that does not count!” Elrond snapped, even though he could recall himself – or was it Elros? – saying the same thing to Maglor long ago. He sighed. “Thank you for retrieving them, Rimmon.”
“But my lord, that it not all,” Rimmon explained. “Yes, they were down by the pond – but when I found them, they had set fire to one of their little boats.”
“But it was in the story!” Elrohir insisted. “Only it wasn’t meant to happen quite like that.”
A story? About burning ships? Elrond felt himself go cold. “Thank you, Rimmon. Will you just keep them there for a moment?” He turned to Celebrían and drew her away.
“What stories about burning ships do you know?” he asked grimly.
“Losgar,” she whispered in horror. “But Elrond, they are far too young to learn of such terrible times. Who could have …” Her eyes narrowed. “Glorfindel!” she hissed. “If he told them about Fëanor burning the ships, I will make him wish he had never been reborn!”
Elrond could well believe it. His wife could be more terrifying than any Balrog when her ire was roused. “And if he told them about what happened to Amras as well, they will have nightmares for weeks - months! We have to talk to them.”
“And then,” Celebrían added in an ominous tone, “we will talk to Glorfindel.”
They turned back to Rimmon and the twins. “Thank you for your swift action, Rimmon,” Elrond told the guard. “We will deal with this now.”
“Now then,” he said to Elladan, crouching down so that they were at eye level. “What did Glorfindel say to you about Losgar?”
The twins exchanged a puzzled glance.
“Glorfindel?” Elladan asked.
“What’s Losgar?” Elrohir added.
“The story he told you,” Celebrían prompted. “About burning the ships.”
“It was very wrong of him to tell you,” Elrond said sternly. “There are some stories that are much too frightening for you to hear.” He paused, wondering how to ask about the tragedy of Amras and his horrific death. “Did he say … anything else?”
They shook their heads. “But it wasn’t Glorfindel,” Elladan explained.
“No? Then who was it?” Elrond asked.
They stared at each other again, then Elladan shrugged. “It was you, Ada. Don’t you remember?”
Elrond caught Celebrían’s look of fury and blanched. “I have never told you about Losgar!” he exclaimed.
“What’s Losgar?” Elrohir asked again.
With another glare at Elrond, Celebrían knelt at his side and turned the twins to face her. “What story did Ada tell you?” she asked.
“It was about Daerada Eärendil,” Elladan explained.
“But what has that to do with burning the ships at Losgar?” Elrond demanded.
Elladan looked very confused. “Nothing, I don’t think. It was about Daerada Eärendil, and the Silmaril, and …”
“Look, we’ll show you,” Elrohir suggested. Elladan nodded in relief.
The twins led their parents down towards a small pond fed by one of the many streams that ran through the gardens. As they approached the bank the smell of woodsmoke grew stronger, and they saw a forlorn collection of charred wood and scorched sails - some floating on the water and others languishing on the bank.
“You said that the Silmaril burns like a flame when Daerada carries it across the sky in his ship,” Elrohir explained.
“So we wanted one of the boats to be Vinglot,” Elladan continued. “We got a tiny piece of coal, and put it in one of the boats, but when we lit it, it burnt up the sail, and then El dropped the boat …”
“It burnt my fingers!” Elrohir protested. “You’d have dropped it too!”
“And then El dropped it,” Elladan repeated, “and it burnt up the other boats as well.” He pointed to one of the pieces of burnt wood, a dismal wisp of smoke still drifting from it. “That was Vinglot.”
“Vingilot,” Elrohir corrected his brother.
“I see,” Elrond said, torn between relief and anxiety. The thought of them playing with fire horrified him, but the whole tale was typical of the twins, and so much better than what he had feared. “So it was all my fault, because of the story I told you last night?”
“I think you should say sorry to Glorfindel,” Elrohir said severely. “It’s not fair to blame him for something he didn’t do!”
Elrond nodded. “I think you are right,” he admitted. “I should not jump to conclusions.” He took Elrohir’s hand in his as they walked back to the house, relieved that there would be no more awkward explanations.
“Ada?” Elrohir looked up at him. “What was the story about burning the ships at Losgar? And who was Amras?”
The EndAuthor Notes: There are two versions of the death of Amras, one of the twin sons of Fëanor. For the purposes of this story, I have chosen the version where Amras died trapped aboard one of the burning ships.