The Heirloom - Epilogue

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'The Heirloom'

 

Epilogue
 

The moon had set behind the mountain before Glorfindel finally came to bed. Erestor was asleep, so he moved quietly around the room divesting himself of clothing and unfastening the tight braids he preferred for riding. Getting carefully into bed, he lay down, drawing the covers up over his shoulder. Moments later he sat up again, annoyed.

“Hey. Give me my pillow, you.”

Erestor made sleepy, disapproving sounds and sighed deeply as Glorfindel unceremoniously yanked a pillow out from under his head. “Yours is nice. Smells like you, makes me happy,” he complained, holding onto the dislodged bedcovers.

Glorfindel was unimpressed. “Don’t be a victim, I’m not that gullible. You just like your comfort. Get yourself a second pillow, leave mine alone.”

“Oh no, then it’d become a habit.” Erestor rolled onto his back and yawned. “Sleeping every night with two pillows is very bad for your neck. Couple of nights a month won’t hurt though.”

Glorfindel punched the feathers back into shape and lay back down. “Gives you a double chin, two pillows.”

Erestor digested this in silence. “Where did you hear that?” he asked finally.

“Oh – somewhere. Anyhow, just keep that in mind next time you want to help yourself.”

“Mean.” Erestor turned on his side and moved closer. Glorfindel reached an arm round him and they took a few moments to get settled together. Erestor’s voice was midnight soft in the gloom. “How far did you ride? Right down the valley?”

“Went up to the top of the cliff and had a look around – there was nothing in sight, but who knows how much longer that’ll last for. Then we rode down to the Ford, and I spoke to the guards there. There’ll be four on duty now while two sleep instead of the other way round.”

“Mm. Elrond’s watching too. If they’re encouraged by this to come exploring, they won’t take us by surprise.”

“No, they won’t. Those little trails that wind along down here are being sealed too. They’re working by moonlight, it’ll be done by morning. So we just have to concentrate on the cliff and the ford.”

“No more goat tracks. Poor goats will be upset.” Erestor yawned again and snuggled closer, his arm warm around Glorfindel’s waist. 

“You’re still cold, come close. They weren’t happy with me telling them to douse the bonfire, but the wind’s too strong, they’d need to finish early anyhow – too close to the trees.”

“Ah. I saw it was out, wondered if you ordered it.”

“I just thought it was tempting fate to signpost our whereabouts tonight.”

Glorfindel nodded, touched his lips to the top of Erestor’s head. “True. Are the boys all right?”

“No, but they will be in time,” Erestor said soberly. “It was a terrifying experience, and then to be faced with Elrond straight after… “

Glorfindel grinned briefly at a memory. “Elrond angry isn’t a good experience at the best of times. How did this happen? I couldn’t stay to hear the whole story, I was already getting watchers up on the moor when you brought them to the House.”

“Yes, I know.” Erestor turned onto his back again with a gusty sigh, remaining in the curve of Glorfindel’s arm. “There was a ring, one of the lesser rings they made in Ost-in-Edhil, quite similar to the one I had. Síladon’s grandfather was a smith there, working directly under Celebrimbor. Those rings were all meant to have been destroyed, but Gil-galad always suspected there were still a few out there. He said people couldn’t resist an heirloom with a dark history... Anyhow, Síladon’s mother had no idea what it was, just that it belonged to her husband’s family and was left behind when they sailed to Aman – I assume they knew better than to try crossing with something made under Sauron’s tutelage.”

“And Síladon found it.”

“Yes. Meldis says she has no idea how that happened, but she never realised it was dangerous, just strange, so… Anyhow, he found the ring and kept it - and then something claiming to be his father started talking to him through it, telling him to climb up to where the trail exits onto the moors and put it on.”

“Making himself visible to Angmar and showing him the road in?”

“Precisely. But Calareg followed and saw what was really beckoning him on and made him take the ring off. He was nowhere near the exit, and I – I think it needed to touch him first, so in the end no real harm was done. But it was close.”

Glorfindel lay listening to the wind and the soft sound of Erestor breathing beside him. Eventually he said, “They saw the Witch-king?”

Erestor made an indecipherable sound. “We all did. Not a good moment.”

Startled, Glorfindel leaned up to look down at him. “Are you all right?”

“Of course I’m all right. Running at a spectre with a stone is probably too stupid to confess, but otherwise – yes, I’m all right. “

“You…? Right. No questions. I’ve done stranger things.” He lay down again, pulled Erestor closer in a half-conscious need for reassurance that he was, indeed, all right. Erestor turned to face him again, head in the hollow of his shoulder. “What did he look like?”

“A wraith with a crown of white flame and the build and garb of a mortal.”

“A wraith…?”

“One of Sauron’s Undead. Galadriel suspected as much.”

“I know. So in a way this near-disaster did us a favour, we know more now than we did before.”

“That’s what I told Elrond before he could start shouting. That poor child meant no harm, he was just missing his father, it made him easy to manipulate.”

He thought about it. “So when I sensed something wrong at their cottage…”

“Yes. The ring must have been quiescent while you were there, so you sensed something wrong without being able to pinpoint it. “

“Where is the ring now? With Elrond?” While he spoke he worked Erestor’s hair loose where it was trapped between them.

“He took it to the forge to smelt down, and Celebrían went with him. She’s not her mother’s daughter for nothing, they left arguing about the right chant for smelting a magic ring. Between them, it’ll be properly unmade.”

“Good.” Glorfindel played with the dark silky hair for a while, then said quietly, “There were so many fatherless children after the Tears, too – I’ll stop past there in a few days as I planned, see how the boy’s doing.”

“I’ll come with you,” Erestor told him, “I seem to have promised his father I’d keep an eye on him.”

“Sorry, what?” The wind gusted and huffed outside the window and somewhere Glorfindel could hear a door banging. He had a transient thought that it was very good to be at home and in bed on nights like this. 

Erestor made no reply to begin with, then Glorfindel felt his head move, a silken shake in the dark. “I’ll tell you in the morning,” he said sleepily before turning on his side, his back to Glorfindel’s chest, snuggling into warmth. Glorfindel put an arm around him, aware as always of how well their bodies fitted together. Erestor got his pillow settled, then rested his hand over Glorfindel’s. “I’d rather you not accuse me of having an overactive imagination till I’m awake enough to defend myself.”
 


 

Too wide awake to sleep, Meldis sat on her bed with the mending she’d not had time for during the day. The wind was howling around corners outside, but she had found the latest gap and plugged it and tonight the cottage was once more warm and snug. Síladon was sound asleep in his bed under the window, covers piled high. Lord Elrond had said to keep him warm as shock could take hold hours after the event, so she had given him hot, sweet tea to drink and added one of the heavy winter blankets to his bedding.

She still had no idea what to think about it all. She had known there was something unwholesome about that ring, but not that it could do harm. And she was certain Thavron had known no more about its past than he told her. As she explained hesitatingly to Lord Elrond, had she so much as suspected its true nature, she would have handed it over at once. To her surprise, Master Erestor had supported her and told Lord Elrond it was no one’s fault, or to blame the Dark One should he need a culprit.

Síladon had sat quiet through the interview with their lord, answering questions in a small, flat voice which had worried her and which Master Erestor had told her was due to shock. The seneschal had been more than kind, walking them home afterwards, even carrying Síladon when it was clear his legs were finding the short journey heavy work. Even after the horror of the night’s revelations, she found this last a matter of some wonder.

When the boys came rushing up to tell her there was ‘something wrong’ with Síladon, Calareg’s father had gone with her to see what was amiss. Later, being a captain, he was more at ease with Lord Elrond than she was and had known which questions to ask, looking at his son with quiet pride when Master Erestor explained how Calareg had saved them all from disaster. Calareg had spoken up at that, to say how none of it was Síladon’s fault and he was sorry they had teased him. One small note of pleasure that had come out of all this was Calareg’s firm commitment before they parted company to come round on the morrow to spend time with Síladon. He seemed a true friend, and just the kind her son needed.

One other thing had happened, but not something she felt led to share with anyone now or possibly ever. While they had been looking for Master Erestor and the children, she'd had the strangest sense of Thavron’s presence. It felt exactly as it had in the past when he was away from home and thinking of her, the marriage bond making their fëar resonate one to the other. It was very brief, but for those minutes it was as though her husband stood close beside her, offering his strength and support as he always had. The feeling passed shortly before they met Master Erestor and the boys coming down the trail, but instead of the empty greyness that had filled his place in her heart, she felt a sense of peace, of work well done. She knew then that Thavron was really gone, but also that a part of him remained with her, a little boy with hazel eyes and a sweet, shy smile.

Shaking out a pair of Thavron’s trousers, she looked from them to the sleeping child in the bed across the room and nodded slowly, a smile touching her lips. The fabric was good and there was plenty of it. She reached for her scissors. These and one or two tunics could easily be cut down and reused, Síladon would have good winter clothes after all. She would mourn Thavron with a deep, quiet grief, but it was true that for their kind such partings were for a time only, and some day beyond the sea she believed they would meet again in joy and love. But for now, she had a son to raise and work to do. 

 

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Finis

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