Title: Strings of the Heart
Rating: G with hints of PG
Theme: B2MeM 2015
Elements: Maglor & Daeron, gen or slash, wandering together
Author's Notes: Disclaimer: Tolkien built the sandbox, I only play with the bucket and shovel that he left for me. No money, profit or non, is made from the publication of this story.
Summary: Maglor and Daeron find each other and wander Middle-earth in each other's
company, posted on 2-26-15 by starbrow
Word Count: 2162
Strings of the Heart
Maglor looked across the muddy field toward the bentwood shelter of Elu Thingol's small delegation. The two elves sat atop their folded cloaks under a shelter of bent birch branches that barely kept the lightly falling rain away from them. One was sharpening a sword, the other, playing a harp.
"Why did you pick such a poor site for this meeting, cousin?" he asked as Fingolfin strode past him heading toward the large delegation of Grey-elves headed by Círdan.
"It was centrally located for all of us," the King growled and continued walking without slowing.
"Centrally located," Maglor mumbled as he continued walking toward the harpist. "We can all sink into the muck together; that will firm up an alliance against Morgoth."
Arriving at the shelter, he bowed. "May the stars shine upon you," he began. "Do I have the honor of addressing Daeron of Doriath?"
The seated musician ceased playing and looked up. His eyes scanned the elf standing in front of him, noting the rich but worn clothing and the traveling harp on his back. "Maglor," he said. The tall elf remained standing. "Well, you might as well sit, since you've trudged through the marsh grass to get to me."
Maglor removed and arranged his cloak as a ground cover while Daeron's companion bid them farewell, leaving to join the conclave forming around Fingolfin and Círdan.
"Warriors!" Daeron said dismissively. "They seek only blood and success on the battlefield. Shall we have a private battle with weapons of our own choosing?"
"What weapons would those be?" Maglor sat down gracefully and pulled his travel harp over his head to his chest.
"Harps will do for now," Daeron responded with a mischievous smile.
Thus began a battle of tunes and flying fingers that went through the night and into the next day. Maglor barely looked up when Maedhros brought him stew and bread, and Daeron ignored food brought to him until both musicians agreed to a break. Then, while they ate, talk flew between them; verses, harmonies, wood types for various instruments and rhythms. With the second dawn came time for them to part. They pulled each other into a firm embrace.
"It is my dearest hope that we will meet again, Daeron," Maglor said as he clutched the other musician to him.
"I share that hope." Daeron pounded him on the back and kissed first one cheek, then the other. He left, walking into the surrounding forest, and turned for a final wave before disappearing into the shadows. It was as if the two elves from Doriath had never been there at all.
Maglor suddenly sat up with a shout. Another nightmare. He shook his hand, massaging the infected palm and pulling at his deformed fingers. How that accursed stone had burned when he had grasped it and thrown it into the sea. He heard the sound of the waves crashing against the nearby cliffs. Again he was sorely tempted to cast himself away from the rocks, into the maelstrom, to join his brothers in the Void. It was no more than a kinslayer deserved.
A stabbing pain radiated from his hand to his heart and he shook his head, fighting against the tears that were threatening to fall. Above the booming ocean waves, he heard a silver note, then another, and yet one more. He carefully pushed to his feet, bent over as if he were an aged man, and began to stumble toward the music.
Several minutes of walking brought him to the base of a small hillock. Ahead was an abandoned temple to Ossë, with canted pillars and fallen roof tiles. Seated on the ground, facing away from him, was an elf playing a flute; its notes dancing in and out of the waves as they formed and broke before him. Maglor approached carefully. He was a presence unwelcome to most elves.
The playing ceased and the elf stood and turned, facing him. "Welcome Maglor," Daeron said.
"Welcome?" Maglor croaked. "Why would you welcome me when the world has turned its back upon me?"
"The world condemns me also, for informing my King about Lúthien's plans. I gain no welcome at elven fires. Therefore, I welcome you, Maglor, also cast away, and I ask if you would share my fire and perhaps my company for a time while you heal."
As he stepped forward and took Maglor's injured hand into his own, Maglor asked "Why? Why seek me out and offer me welcome?"
"Because at the conclave, you welcomed me. No other elf came to us, only you." He braced Maglor, offering strength and stability to his weakened walk, and led him to a small sheltered area at the leeward side of the temple. "Let me see your hand," he requested.
And as Maglor burst into tears from feeling kindness after long days of exile, Daeron drew him into his arms and comforted him.
It was a hot day and the grassland steppes were hard going for a single person, yet Maglor pushed on. He had heard the Great Khan had established a court and he needed a job. He took his time as he walked east. In every small town he played for his meals and a blanket by the hearth, and the townsfolk had, in turn, taught him new tunes and dances. He traveled slowly, but the knowledge he had learned was rich.
With little warning he heard horses approaching. Quickly glancing around him, he realized any shelter was far beyond him, so he settled into the grass with his flute and waited to be found. In a short time he was surrounded by warriors mounted on their small, fiery steeds. He finished playing his song, then carefully stood and bowed, respectfully.
"I seek the Great Khan," he began, but was quickly silenced by a spear aimed at his torso.
"Silence, foreign pig. The Khan has no need of ones such as you! You …" he abruptly cut off, catching a ripple of warning moving through his men. A single rider approached from the rear. The ranks of soldiers opened to allow passage to the person who was wearing rich clothing with magical symbols embroidered on them.
The rider's head was bent over the neck of his horse, and was crowned by an elaborate hat designating his high rank. As he raised his face, a shock of recognition hit Maglor. The Imperial Soothsayer turned his horse to face the squadron leader. "The Great Khan, may he live forever, has need of this one," he called out. "He plays music, but within his music hides magic. Many years ago I told the Khan that someday this one would arrive to serve him. We must travel to court immediately. The Khan must meet this man."
Late that night, in a small yurt which he now shared with the magician, Daeron welcomed him with a strong embrace, a sweet kiss, and lessons on what he would need to survive in the court of Kublai Khan.
It was a stormy night and the wind whistled down the streets, causing the torches to flicker and the banners to snap. The mood of the crowd was ugly. Several buildings of the nobility located on the edges of the great city had already been overrun and looted. The homeowners and their servants had been taken prisoner, and the mob's momentum was still building. All of the aristocracy, from the king to the lowest duke was in danger.
Maglor ran to a large stone house set back on a quiet street. This building served as the winter quarters of the Court Musician and as a member of the court, all those living here were in danger. He pounded on the door.
"What?" the manservant said as he opened the door. "What are you doing? Don't you know it is late? How dare you interrupt my master by pounding on the door as if you were a peasant!"
Maglor ignored him and pushed past him into the foyer. In Sindarin, he called out "Daeron! Daeron, you must flee! You have little time until your home will be overrun and you will be taken captive. I cannot save you from the guillotine. Hurry, you must flee."
Daeron appeared at the top of the stairs and took a single look at the messenger. "Maglor. I have been thinking this day would come, but thought I had a bit of time remaining. No matter. Come upstairs. I have an escape route from my bedchamber." He instructed the servant to close and bar the main door against anyone else. Maglor ran up the stairs and the two then quickly walked into the musician's sumptuous bedroom.
"A bit too rich for my taste, my friend," Maglor said as he looked around the room.
"Well, the house was a gift from the King. I had no good way to criticize his taste." He was quickly changing into dark clothing that would blend into the shadows and grabbed a pack, his flute and a small harp. "I'll be sorry to leave this time. It was wonderful to play some of the large harps and the newer pianofortes that were at my disposal." He pushed a stone near the hearth and a narrow passageway opened. The roar of the crowd could be heard approaching. "Here's the entryway to my escape passage. Quickly, now. We'll come out quite a way from here near the banks of the Seine."
An hour later, cobweb covered, two peasants walked next to the river on their way out of Paris. Riders on horses clattered down the street and occasional wagons rumbled by them. By dawn they were outside the city, on their way to Brussels and a Channel crossing.
"That one was a bit close, Daeron," Maglor said, clapping his friend on his back. "You might want to stay away from royalty for a while."
"Tell you what, my friend. I'll let you work your magic with the King of England. You haven't been there since Henry VIII, have you? No? You find your way in England, and I'll go on. I hear interesting things about a new land to the West. I think I'll explore those new 'United States'."
It took Daeron some time to find Maglor's corner, but when he did, he stood in the park's shadows and listened to his friend play for pennies. Finally it was early morning. The bars and public houses were closed and it had been an hour since anyone had tossed a coin or two into the open guitar case. Maglor unfolded himself from his seat against the sea wall, stretching as he wrapped the strap around the guitar before he would put it into its case and call it a night. His eyes darted into the darkness as a familiar shape separated from the shadows.
"Daeron. What brings you this way?"
"Maglor." The wood elf walked to the exile and embraced him. Their lips met in familiar welcome, then separated again. "Turn, my brother, and look toward the west."
The two elves stood next to each other and looked at the moonlit ocean beyond the sea wall. The night was calm and Varda's stars shined brightly down creating pools of light in the gently jostling waves. At the edge of the far horizon a curtain of stars began to fall, illuminating trusses rising westward in the distance. Moonlight illuminated small islets floating in the calm seas, leading toward the star-filled arch.
"And will you walk this road, Daeron?"
"I will. And you will walk it alongside me."
"I am accursed, not welcome in Valinor until Arda itself falls."
"All things can change, and the sentence of your doom has altered. Manwë has declared your punishment complete and Valinor is open to you once again. Come, let us journey together one final time and cross that bridge together."
"Why did you not cross long ago, Daeron? Why are you still here in this land of pain peopled by those with short lives and even shorter memories?"
"Long ago a fallen prince of the Noldo came to me, sat in the mud, and met my fingers note for note. I fell in love. Through centuries and journeys without count we have met, separated, and met again, and each time I renewed my vow to be with you, whether you welcomed me or not. Now, this day, I ask you to be my partner, my companion, and my love throughout the remainder of our time in Arda. Will you cross the bridge with me?" Daeron held his hand out.
Maglor slung the guitar strap across his body and turned to look once more at the star bridge Varda had made for them. He put his hand behind him and felt his heart-brother grasp it. Nodding, he climbed over the wall and the two elves began walking, matching their pace to heartbeats that had shared the same cadence since their first meeting.