The Price Of Being Peredhil

by Jay of Lasgalen
August 28, 2007

Stories > Jay's Quicklist > The Price of Being Peredhil

He had always known that this moment would come one day.  Ever since he and his brother had made their choices he had known that one day all too soon they would be parted for ever.   And now that day was here.

When they had made their choice, so long ago, it had been that hardest thing he had ever done, although he knew it was right for him.  Now though, faced with the inevitable outcome, he knew he had made a terrible mistake.  He would do anything to undo the past, to change his decision;  to become mortal so that they might die together.  But it was too late.  He could not go back and change things now.

He raced up the stairs two at a time, drawn by instinct.   In his urgency he kicked the door open, and should not have been surprised when guards jumped forward to bar his path.  As they looked at his face and recognised him, both stepped back with apologetic bows.  “Your pardon, my lord,”  one murmured as he backed away.

Striding forward, he ignored the men and crossed the room impatiently.   Only as he reached the bed did he slow down, sitting on the edge carefully, fearful of disturbing his brother.  “El?  I am here, little brother,”  he whispered.  He took one pale hand in his and held it to his cheek.  “I was afraid I would not be in time.”

Greif and sorrow overwhelmed him.  Knowing was one thing.  The reality – to be here, now, as his beloved twin lay dying, was far worse than he had ever imagined.

“El?  Can you hear me?”

His twin opened his eyes slowly.  Once as familiar as looking into a mirror, his eyes were now filmed with age and slightly unfocused.  After all the long years, the sudden swift onset of age was finally beginning to claim him.  His smile though, was the same as always.   “You came,”  he whispered.  “I knew you would.”  He sighed, and raised a hand to wipe away a tear from his brother’s face.   “Do not grieve, El.  I have had a good life – a long life.  I have seen my children, my grandchildren, and their children – through four generations now.  I have no regrets – save one.”

“And what is that, little brother?”  He made no attempt to wipe away the tears as they began to fall.

“That I must leave you.  Ah, El – do not cry.  I chose this fate – as you chose yours.  You must go on, for both of us.  One day you will see mother and father again.”  He paused, swallowing dryly.  “Say goodbye to them for me.”

“I will not need to, little brother.  One day you will see them for yourself.  Listen to me, El.  I believe that one day we will meet again in a time to come, and we shall find a land somewhere where we can all live together and be content.”

He gave a sigh of longing.  “Together …”

“Yes – together.  But until that time comes …”  he paused, struggling to speak.  “I will miss you, Elros.”

 “Hush.  There is one other gift the Valar have granted me – the chance to choose my own end, and the grace to go at my own will.  I have waited for you, but my time has come now.    And I have been spared the long slow decay of old age, and have kept my wits.”

Elrond smiled.  “That is as well, little brother – you had few to lose in the first place!”  The joke – poor though it was – made Elros smile.

“That is what I missed most, El – someone to insult me.  The people here – even my own family – feel it improper.  It lacks ‘protocol’.”

Elrond smiled again.  “You know I have always been only too happy to remind you of your many failings!”

Elros gave a weary chuckle.  “And never stop, El.  Remember me – but remember the good times and the bad, the times we fought and argued as well.  Remember all the times you have called me names, and the time you saved me from that flooded river!”

“That was you – you saved me from the river.”

“Was it?  There were so many adventures and misadventures – I find it hard to remember now what happened to you, and what happened to me.  I mean it, El – do not grieve our parting, but celebrate the time we had.”

Elrond nodded, weeping again.  “I will.”

“And who knows?  Perhaps one day you will have twins of your own; twins who will be as close as we once were.  It is a family trait, after all.  Tell them, El – tell them of us; of me.”

“I will,”  he repeated helplessly.

There was silence for a while, broken only by the shallow rasp of Elros’s breathing.  Elrond sat silently at his side, still holding his hand.  Words were unnecessary between them now.  Though the bond they had was greatly diminished, it was still there – for a little while.

At last Elros opened his eyes once more.  “It is time,”  he whispered, his voice faint.  “Open the window for me, El.  I would hear the sea one last time.”

Elrond stood and opened the window at the side of the bed.   Light, filmy curtains drifted in the breeze, and the wind brought with it the smell of the sea, the distant roar of the waves, and the cries of the seabirds.    The sea called to him distantly, but it was not his fate to follow the tides into the west.  Not yet.

As he turned away, a great white bird with snowy feathers flew down and landed on the sill.  He was about to shoo it away when it cocked its head and looked at him, an intelligent expression in its beady eyes.  He shrugged, and left it alone.  Elros would not mind.

Returning to the bed, he sat once more at his brother’s side.  The hand in his tightened slightly, and Elros spoke for the last time.  “Goodbye, El.  Remember what I told you.”  His hand went slack, and Elrond knew that he was alone.  The bond that had linked him to Elros was gone, and there was a great void in his heart and in his mind where he had always felt his twin’s presence.  He bent, holding Elros in his arms as he wept.  “Goodbye, little brother,”  he murmured.  “I will always love you.”

There was a high, shrill cry from the window, and he turned to look, wiping his eyes on his sleeve.   Two white birds perched there now, their plumage shining brightly even in the dim twilight.  As he stared at them,  they took off with powerful beats of their wings, soaring high into the darkening sky.  Crossing to the window, he watched as they climbed ever higher, finally disappearing into the night.

As they faded from his sight, the first star of evening glimmered over the city, and he raised a hand in greeting, then paused.

Beside Eärendil another star shone, new and bright.  He watched it for a moment as his tears dried, then he gave a slow smile and gave another wave of greeting.

High above the city, the two stars shimmered and twinkled as they began their journey across the night.

The End