Recipient's name: mangacrack
Title: An Unexpected Welcome
Request: Maglor in Imladris. Scenes with Elrond and his family would be nice. Endless love if Aragorn is included.
Summary: They stared at their father and then at Maglor. Arwen eventually said, “Welcome to Imladris.”
Maglor studied the path ahead of him, looking for another white stone. One of the Men he'd met in Bree had told him of a Last Homely House where everyone was welcome, the last place to stay before the Misty Mountains, though she hadn't been able to tell him anything else.
There was the last one, placed on the edge of a barely noticeable track leading down into the valley that had suddenly opened before him. Maglor swallowed and began leading his horse down it. He soon heard faint singing coming from the trees ahead of him and he stopped abruptly, his horse snorting into his hair.
“Why did you halt?” a voice said-- in Sindarin.
Maglor lowered his hood. “I did not think I would be welcome.”
The Elves in the trees laughed and one leaped down. She walked over to him, tossed her silver hair over her shoulder, and placed a hand on her hip. “We know more about who is coming here than most suspect. It would not have been difficult to hide that last marker if we desired to.” She smiled. “A room has been prepared for you.”
Maglor stared at her and then down at the house barely visible behind the trees. “I…”
“Go down the path and across the bridge. It's narrow; you'll need to lead your horse. Someone will meet you in the courtyard.”
Maglor thanked her and set off, listening to the singing begin again as he walked under the trees. He looked around at the valley: the fields and pastures in the near distance and then at the mountains beyond them. The rock walls towered above him, the river rushed below, and the multitude of waterfalls cascaded down the cliffs: he could very easily see why Elrond had settled here. Yet… that the bridge was so narrow suggested that defense was a concern.
When Maglor reached the courtyard, he saw exactly who was waiting for him: not a guard or groom or other servant, but Elrond himself. Maglor tossed the rein over his horse's neck and took two steps forward to embrace his foster son. “I have missed you.”
Elrond smiled up at him. “As have I.” He gestured at the valley. “How do you like Imladris?”
“It's beautiful. Is that why you settled here?”
Elrond's expression shuttered. “I found it during the war against Sauron after he destroyed Eregion. It was a refuge at first and only later became a home. And… I could not see myself living in Lindon.” He shook his head. “But that is a tale that would be best told on another day. Come.”
Maglor let a groom take his horse and followed Elrond into the house.
It was much larger than the glimpse through the trees had suggested. Elrond showed him first to his room so he could clean up and then led him through the varied hallways to, among other places, the healing wing, the library, and the Hall of Fire. When Elrond was called away, Maglor sat down on the hearth and stared into the flames.
He had not expected a warm welcome when he realized who dwelt in the valley. But despite them having passed Elves who were clearly unhappy to have Maglor there, no one had done anything more than glare or pointedly ignore him. And most had looked surprised and even pleased to see him.
He'd expected to find a refuge for the night, an inn of some sort. But not an entire valley of Eldar who appeared more open to mingling with other races than he would have anticipated: he'd seen several Men on the tour and even a Dwarf. But to welcome a Kinslayer, even after four and a half thousand years?
Yet Elrond had not informed him he was unsafe. He would not completely discount his instinct that said otherwise… but the valley was cocooned, he would say: restful, comforting, and safe.
Safe despite the narrow bridge and the subtle fortifications the main structure of the stone house had. Safe despite the lack of escape routes, though maybe the river was one in dire need. Safe despite the dangers of the wild and of those who thought that a valley was a good place for a siege.
Maglor sighed, ran a hand through his hair, and stood. There was little point in brooding, especially when he had so little information.
He returned to his room to find all his baggage placed neatly in the center of the floor. They had not otherwise been touched; the knots were precisely as he had tied them after packing up his camp. He glanced out the window at the sunny afternoon, the late spring flowers blooming in the garden, and back to his belongings. He would unpack, ask a servant to take care of his laundry, and then go to the library. It was unlikely anyone would pick a fight with him there.
Maglor looked up from his book when Elrond cleared his throat. “My family and I are having supper in our private dining room. I would like you to join us.”
Keep him separate from the rest of the household, then. Maybe he wasn't as safe here as he thought. He closed the history of Imladris he'd been engrossed in and left it on the side table next to the armchair as he stood. “I would be honored.”
Many bells rang as they made their way down the hallway and up the stairs to the family wing. When Maglor entered the room, he raised his eyebrows at the silver-haired woman already seated at the table.
She smiled mischievously at him. “I'm Celebrían, Elrond's wife.”
Elrond looked between them with a wry expression. “She likes greeting visitors in the trees. Their reaction to learning she's the lady of the house--”
“I find it amusing.”
Given how Galadriel and Aredhel, among others, acted, he was unsurprised to find Celebrían taking after the women of the House of Finwë. “It's also useful.”
Celebrían nodded her head regally. “Most things are, if you think about them correctly.”
Elrond gestured at the empty seat on his right. “Please, sit. Our children should be along momentarily.”
Elrond smiled. “Three of them: twin sons and a daughter.”
Twins… He'd wondered if they ran in the line of Lúthien. Apparently so.
When the three of them stepped into the dining room, their chatter abruptly silenced when they saw him. One of the twins, distinguishable from the other by the fact that his hair parted on the right, said, “Father?”
“Elladan,” he looked at the other two, “Elrohir, Arwen, I would like you to meet Maglor.”
They stared at their father and then at Maglor. Arwen eventually said, “Welcome to Imladris.”
They took seats at the table and though they were polite enough to not stare at him further, the first few bites of the meal were quiet.
Maglor barely held back a snort. He should have expected awkward silences. “If you knew I was arriving, why did you not tell--?”
Elrond sighed and put down his fork with a bite of uneaten chicken on it. “I was unsure if you would continue down the path once you realized. I preferred not to raise my children's hopes.”
It was Maglor's turn to stare. “You wanted to meet me? Why?”
Arwen shrugged. “We know how much you mean to Father. Even Grandmother has good things to say. But we never expected to meet you.”
“I normally don't wander far from the Sea.”
“Why did you?” Elrohir said.
Maglor sighed. His reasons were myriad and complex and he didn't wish to share them with near strangers. “I desired a change.”
Elrond caught his eyes and raised one eyebrow slightly. Of course he wouldn't let that rest unchallenged. “How long will you stay?”
Later, then, Elrond would expect a longer explanation. “I don't know. How welcome am I here?”
“More than you would expect,” Celebrían said. “Those who live here are tolerant; we foster Elros' heirs here. One Elf is no hardship.”
“Even a Kinslayer? My actions exiled me from the Eldar.”
Elrond rubbed his temples. “And few would deny you this chance to dwell here for even a short time. But if you choose to stay longer, I believe that most will at least accept your presence here.”
Maglor poked at his vegetables and nodded sharply once. “I do not know how long I wish to stay.”
Celebrían smiled. “Let us know when you decide.” She then turned the topic of conversation to other matters.
Later that night, after Maglor was just about to climb into bed, a soft knock sounded on his door. He sighed and opened it. He stepped aside to let Elrond in and shut the door behind his foster son. “What is it, Elrond?”
“You said you desired a change. But that is not the entire truth.”
Maglor sank down onto his bed. “I heard rumors that there is a power growing in the Greenwood, that people are beginning to call it Mirkwood. I know Thranduil's people live there, but he was a child at the end of the First Age. I'm not sure how well he remembers the terrors that stalked Beleriand. I wanted to investigate for myself.”
“I have no one else, Elrond.” Maglor rubbed his face. “And there are those who would say that my death would be justice, the last of the Fëanorians to fall-- at least doing some good this time.”
“You don't think they're right.”
Maglor snorted. “Of course not. My death won't solve anything, deserved or not.” He sighed. “Exile is a far more permanent reminder of what I once had and lost. That is why I do not think it would be a good thing for me to stay here: too many memories best left in the past.”
Elrond studied him. “Spend the summer here. Decide come autumn.”
Maglor met his kind eyes. “That… is acceptable.”
Elrond smiled. “Sleep well, Father.”
He slipped out of the room after Maglor bid him likewise. Maglor blew out the candle and lay down on the bed. One season, with enough time to cross the mountains before the weather turned poor. That would be long enough for him to gather enough information on how welcome here he truly was.
At the beginning of lasse-lanta, Maglor met Elrond for a private breakfast. After they'd eaten, Maglor sipped his blackberry tisane and looked up at the mountains visible through the windows. “I'll stay.”
He didn't glance over at Elrond, but kept his gaze on the white-capped mountains.
Maglor put down his cup and turned to look at Elrond. “Because I am tired of wandering, tired of the shore, and tired of being alone. I enjoy having family nearby.” He sighed. “And I am not as hated as I had believed I would be. There are those who do, yes, and many more pity me. But I am neither shunned nor enthusiastically welcomed. That is what I need: people who do not forget my past, and who may never forgive it, but who nevertheless care.”
Elrond reached out and placed a hand on Maglor's forearm. His smile was gentle enough that it hurt. “I am glad you are remaining here.”
* * * * *
Maglor stared up at the mountains and glanced over when Estel sat down next to him on one of the porch chairs. “I often wondered as a boy why you let the histories say that you 'came never more among the peoples of the Elves.' I asked Father once and he told me that it was your tale to tell. Now? I begin to understand.”
Maglor turned to face him. “Why?”
Estel blew out a breath. “Father told me the truth of my birth this afternoon.” He fell silent and looked south, staring off at nothing in particular. Maglor let him think in silence. Aragorn eventually said, “That Father raised me…” He shook his head. “I suppose he had your example to follow.”
“Yet there are enough differences--” He shot a look at Aragorn. “You know my history and how Elrond and Elros came to live with me. So why the sudden understanding of my choice to pretend something other than the truth?”
“You have enemies.” Aragorn snorted. “I suspect many of the same ones I do. If they knew you lived here… If they knew we lived here…”
“No one would be safe. Elrond's protections can only reach so far. And the defenses are now not what they once were.”
Aragorn sighed. “Our only hope relies in secrecy.” He looked to the south again. “One day, though it may not be in my lifetime, Sauron will be vanquished.”
Maglor nodded. “One day.”