Recipient's name: Amy Fortuna (starbrow)
Title: Deep Waters
Request: “I would like a sweet fluffy story about Maglor and Elrond at any point in their lives.”
Author's notes: In this fic Elrond is 13 – far from an adult by Elven standards, but a teenager by human standards. I am assuming a development in between. This is the year the War of Wrath starts, and the story is set at the brink of it.
Beta: Many thanks to Curious Wombat
Summary: Elrond catches a very big fish… and says a very big word.
Somewhere to the south of Himring, 545 FA
The water ran dark, slow, looking like the tar the men brought from the wells up north for the furnaces of the bathhouses and of the smiths. Elrond clamped his jaw to stop it from rattling. Not that there were any fish to scare. He had been standing at the margin of the stream for nearly an hour, in impossible cold, and nothing had crept up to his baited hook. He persisted in his stillness, though, wondering why Elros always had it easier.
Today, his brother had managed to wiggle himself out of Maglor’s tutelage to go off with Maedhros, laying traps. As cold as his fingers were, beyond numb even, Elrond did not envy him. He hated trapping, hated the beauty of a wild thing crushed and bloodied, unaware. It seemed like an unfair business, more unfair than fishing, more unfair than shooting an arrow. Maglor teased him for his queasiness. Elrond understood that winter was harsh and that they needed the meat and the furs for survival. He did his part when he was ordered. But he did not try to pretend he enjoyed it.
A small pull on the icy line tugged him from his thoughts. He held his breath. Another yank, stronger this time. A catch! Elrond adjusted his weight on his feet, trying to ignore how painfully cold they were and he waited. Another tug. He started pulling the line in, slowly, patiently, giving a little, pulling back again. It was a big one. ‘Please do not escape,’ he thought, ‘please – stay’.
It was close now. Elrond could see the shape under the dark water, an occasional flash of tarnished silver when it turned and fought the hook. Elrond looked at the line and begged, ‘Please don’t break, please don’t break.’ It was big. It felt stronger than anything he had caught to date. He pulled the line again. His fishing pole was bent into an impossible arch now. “Please,” he said aloud, no longer scared of frightening the fish. As if in reply, the trout twisted and jumped out of the water, pulling so strongly that Elrond had to take a step forward to avoid falling to his knees. He looked incredulously at his intact, if strained, gear. It had held and the trout was still there, at the end of his line. He wasted no time. He grabbed the line with his bare hands, and pulled, pulled, feeling the line cutting into his flesh. It was all or nothing.
He had picked a high fishing spot, on a rock. It had felt like a good location. From there he could keep his feet dry, he barely cast a shadow over the water and he could cast the line further into the stream, to the deeper parts. Now he cursed himself. The trout was immense and he would have to pull it up while it struggled. When he thought his arms would break, strong hands came to his aid.
“Maglor!” he exclaimed.
Maglor laughed and helped him pull the pugnacious trout up to the rock, landing it with a satisfying slap.
“My, the student outdid the teacher,” Maglor said.
Elrond beamed. “Thank you. But hardly… if it were not for you I am sure we would still be wrestling each other,” he said, looking at the trout that still moved on the stone. “Or, judging by its size, I would be in the water.”
“It is veritably formidable,” Maglor said, satisfied, landing the coup of mercy to its head. “A magnificent catch, my boy.”
Elrond’s smile turned into a grin. He knelt by Maglor’s side, examining the catch.
“You have blood on your hands,” Maglor noted. “Let me take care of that.”
“No need. I will wash them in the stream and apply some salve when we get home,” Elrond said.
Maglor watched him for a moment and then nodded. With three well-calculated leaps, Elrond came down from the rock to the edge of the water. He washed his hands, eyeing the rock. It was easy to climb down, but it took some skill to climb up, especially in absolute silence. Or had he been so absorbed with the fish that he had not heard Maglor at all? “Hardly,” he thought with a chortle. His foster father was silent, skilled, deadly. Elrond had been born too late to know the famed Celegorm, but he would bet that Maglor was his equal or nearly so, despite his protests at the comparison.
“Ready, Elrond?” Maglor asked, coming down to his side with the fish and the gear.
Elrond had stopped calling him sir, lord, or anything of the sort a long time ago; but for a while now he felt an ever-growing urge to add a word at the end of his sentences when talking to Maglor. He followed him into the path that crossed the copse and led to camp. By the stream the leaden sky had threatened the first snow of the season, the starkness of the light adding to the gelid feeling of the landscape. Under the canopy, though, the darkness absorbed every sound, the details of the shadows, the idea that there had ever been such a thing as summer.
“Are you cold?” Maglor asked. “We will light up a nice fire tonight to roast this beast of a trout. I think it weighs close to three stone.”
“Will you sing?” Elrond asked, again clipping that word he longed to say.
“Maybe. Depends on how much mulled wine I get to have,” Maglor joked.
Elrond stopped. “Atar.”
Maglor turned sharply, staring at him in perfect silence. Then his lips moved, opened, closed, twisted a little to the left, in that pensive expression Elrond knew so well.
“Your Quenya is very fine,” Maglor said at last.
Elrond felt his face falling. He composed himself. “It is but one word,” he replied in Quenya, with flawless accent.
Maglor turned and continued to the camp. Elrond followed him, cursing himself. That had not gone well.
Later, after the fish was done and eaten, and Elrond abundantly praised, and all the fishermen’s tales had been told, Maglor pulled out his lyre. He sang a little, but mostly played. A certain moodiness fell over the camp, as the first snowflakes floated down to their hair and tingled their noses, the rest of the party dispersed to their tents. Maedhros and Elros had arrived just before dinner and remained by the rapidly dwindling fire for only an instant longer. Elros looked at Elrond, but Elrond was not ready to leave yet, and neither was Maglor, judging from his absent stare at the fire.
When they were left alone, Maglor made to rise.
“It was not ‘but one word’.” Elrond said, so low that he thought Maglor had not heard him.
“I know,” Maglor said. “And I did not mean to hurt you, but I do not deserve it.”
“But you do,” Elrond said, “You absolutely do, Atar. For if anyone has been that to me it is you.”
“Shush child,” Maglor said sternly, looking at the sky.
“Vingilot is far away,” Elrond said, following his gaze. “I know you blame yourself for our fate, mine and my brother’s, but you have more than made it up to us. I could ask for no better father.”
Maglor lowered his face to his hands. “You should have been raised by your mother and father. My oath…” he shook his head. “It was a terrible thing, to rob you of your childhood.”
Elrond looked as his foster father rose and covered the embers with earth.
“He was never home,” he said, knowing full well he was being stubborn, petulant even. “And she threw herself to her death, not even thinking of us. She left us behind to the killers of her brothers.”
“Elrond!” Maglor snapped. “They had their reasons,” he said, voice taut.
Elrond lowered his head, his eyes stinging but not from the wisps of smoke rising from the embers.
“You are smart but you need to be wise,” Maglor said, stepping closer to him. He placed an arm around Elrond’s shoulder and pulled him close. Elrond turned his face away.
“You and your brother were a gift to me,” Maglor said, holding Elrond close, even as his body tensed. “The best thing that happened to me this side of the Belegaer.”
Elrond bit his lip and let a little of the tension ebb away. Maglor kissed the top of his head.
“I am honoured that you would call me that. I feel such pride in you, in your abilities, in how grown and handsome you are. You are in every way a son to me. And this is why I do not want you to betray your parents. I do now want to think that one day you will regret this or be ashamed of me and of have called me father.”
“I could never-” Elrond started.
“No, Elrond. You will. This oath is not yet done with me or with my brother. And you can still, one day, meet Elwing and Eärendil and come to understand more about their actions. Who knows, maybe even soon.”
Elrond looked up to the sky, to his ever absent father, then to Maglor’s face. “You are my father, whether you want the word or not.”
Maglor sighed, smiled, leaned his forehead against Elrond’s, closed his eyes for just a moment. When he looked up again, Elrond met his gaze expectantly.
Maglor’s smile grew. “Well, then, honouring my role. Go to bed before you catch a cold.”
Elrond smiled back. “Yes,” he said, walking to the tent he shared with Elros and another boy. Before he was out of Maglor’s earshot, he added in a whisper, “Atar.” He did not turn to see if Maglor was rolling his eyes or smiling. He knew his father too well for that.