Heart In Chains
Erestor had thought this day would never come, but it was finally happening. After decades of suffering abuse at the hands of Curufin and Celegorm, the two brothers had decided to live with Maedhros, and more importantly Maglor. That meant he would finally be reunited with his former protector.
Things had first changed when Feanor had died. In his arrogance, his former tormentor had chased after Orcs, never waiting for support. A Balrog had attacked and Feanor had eventually succumbed to his injuries. Erestor had felt strangely satisfied, hearing about his nemesis’ death, but then things had taken a turn for the worse, as he was forced to live with Curufin and Celegorm and act as their servant. His freedom had never seemed more out of reach.
Shaking himself from his musings, he concentrated on the present, reminding himself that he was going to live with Maedhros and Maglor!
Whilst most of the other Elves were on horseback, he had been told to walk. It wasn’t that he really minded being one of the few on foot, but he was tired and he still hurt from last night’s beating.
Curufin had grown more violent during the last few decades and took great pleasure in showing Erestor his place. Last night had been exceptionally bad. Curufin had drunk too much potent wine and had beaten him all the way down to the servants’ quarters, leaving him bruised and aching. The servants had looked away – as they always did – and he had tried to hide under a blanket, licking his wounds.
The next morning he had been forced to get up early and finish the chores he hadn’t gotten to the evening before, leaving him so tired that he now almost fell asleep on his feet. He was walking and his eyes were open, but part of him had dived into the world of sleep and dreams.
“Stay awake!” Curufin -- seated on his aggressive steed -- kicked Erestor in the back.
Erestor nearly stumbled, but managed to catch himself by grabbing hold of the tail of the horse in front of him. “I beg your pardon, my Lord.” He kept his eyes trained on the ground, not wanting to aggravate Curufin further.
Curufin seemed to finally grow tired of harassing him and the elder Elf joined his brother, who was riding at the head of the party.
/Only a few more days,/ thought Erestor, trying to uphold his courage. /And then Maglor will be close again. Maybe he will take me on as his servant. That way I could get away from Curufin and Celegorm./ But he doubted the two brothers would ever let him go.
Arien stood high in the sky and her rays burned through his clothes, searing his flesh. He was thirsty, and watched, miserably, when Curufin and Celegorm splashed their faces with water. Several servants groaned, as they were thirsty as well, but the water would be rationed until they reached Maedhros and Maglor’s keep.
It would be a long and exhausting walk.
Maglor walked into the courtyard after seeing his brothers’ approach. When their request to be allowed to stay with him had reached him, he had wanted to decline, but Maedhros had reminded him that they were blood and that brothers shouldn’t desert each other. With great reluctance he had given in, allowing them to take up residence with Maedhros and him.
Curufin and Celegorm had been forced to leave their realms due to their aggressive and dishonorable actions and their need for shelter had put Maglor in the position to dictate some conditions. One of them was that Erestor would become his personal servant. He wanted the younger Elf away from his abusive brothers.
His two brothers dismounted and Maglor forced himself to calmly welcome them. Then he turned to Maedhros, who would show their brothers to their assigned quarters. Now that Curufin and Celegorm had disappeared inside the keep, his eyes searched for Erestor.
When he finally laid eyes on Erestor, a distressed sigh left his lips. The former Elfling hadn’t changed much. Long, raven hair framed a pale, bruised face. The long strands were still unbraided and slightly tangled. The large, doe-like eyes looked haunted and black circles had formed beneath them. Although Erestor had long reached his majority he was too small for his age – too frail. Looking closer, he noticed that the younger Elf limped. Apparently, his brothers still enjoyed tormenting Erestor, but he vowed to put a stop to that.
“Erestor, join me over here!” As he had been closely watching Erestor, he caught the happiness and joy that appeared in the chocolate eyes upon hearing his voice. Had his brothers already told Erestor about his new task? Knowing his brothers, he reckoned not, as they wanted Erestor to feel intimidated as long as possible.
Erestor smiled for the first time in decades, seeing Maglor signal for him to approach. He stopped himself from flinging himself at his former protector, knowing such behavior was inappropriate in public. “Uncle Maglor…”
Maglor smiled; he still remembered the last time Erestor had called him that. Erestor had cried when he had left. “Walk with me, pen-neth.”
Erestor wavered. “But Curufin and—“
Maglor cut him short. “You are no longer their servant. You serve me now.”
Erestor’s eyes mirrored his confusion. “I do not understand.” What was Maglor talking about?
“One condition for them to be allowed to live with me was that they released you in to my care. I am now responsible for you. Curufin and Celegorm will never hurt you again.” Maglor wasn’t prepared for the impact his words had on Erestor and suddenly found his arms filled with a distressed Elf. “Hush now, I mean it. I am not playing games.”
“I never thought… Had stopped to hope… When Feanor died and I had to live with them… I…”Unable to finish his sentences, he pressed closer to the elder Elf. “I was afraid… to hope… that you had not forgotten about me.”
“I understand, pen-neth. Believe me when I say that things will change from now on.” He didn’t tell Erestor the rest of his plans yet, seeing how overwhelmed the younger Elf was. “Come, let me attend to those bruises and other injuries you are hiding, and then I will send you to your room with a tray filled with food.”
“My room?” Erestor’s already big eyes widened impossibly. “My own room?”
“Aye.” Maglor smiled. /For the time being. I want you as far away from Curufin and Celegorm as possible./
Erestor tried hard to hide his discomfort, now that Maglor was examining his injured foot. The elder Elf could do little against the bruising, but his injured foot was a different matter. After thoroughly examining the poor limb, Maglor was binding it now, finally giving it the support it needed.
“Try not to walk for the next few days, Erestor.” Maglor put away the bandages and gave Erestor a stern look. “That foot needs rest.”
“How do I do that? I need to do my chores and—“
“No more chores for you, at least not until your foot has healed.” Maglor pushed his arms beneath Erestor’s back and knees and easily lifted the underweight Elf. “And you will eat everything I put in front of you, is that understood?”
Embarrassed at being the center of attention, Erestor nodded timidly. “I will try.” He had no idea what was happening with him. No one had ever fussed over him before. Well, his mother might have, but his memories of her had faded with the years.
Maglor carried Erestor to the bed and lay him down. “Are you comfortable?”
“Is this my room?” He’d had never had his own room before. He had always shared quarters with the servants.
“For now, aye.”
Shivers suddenly traveled down Erestor’s spine. “For now? I won’t be allowed to stay here, then?” Of course not! He had been deluding himself! But if that was the case, why was Maglor being this nice to him?
“Nay, I did not mean it like that!” Seeing Erestor’s fears return, Maglor did his best to soothe the upset Elf. “You will leave shortly, because I do not want you anywhere near my abusive brothers. They tormented you for too many years. I need to know you safe someplace else.”
“Where am I going, then?” Erestor didn’t like this. He wanted to stay here with Maglor; the only one he had ever trusted! His fingers wanted to claw at Maglor’s shirt, but he quickly stopped himself, realizing how pathetic he would look to the elder Elf.
“I want you to eat this and then you will go to sleep,” said Maglor, putting the tray on Erestor’s lap. “Eat everything on that tray! I will be back with some hot milk in a few minutes. Hopefully it will help you fall asleep.”
Erestor watched Maglor leave his room and then stared at the tray. “He cannot mean that! I cannot eat all this!” He wasn’t even sure what kind of food this was! He had lived on bread, cheese and water. And this food was hot! His food was never hot!
Awkwardly using the fork -- as he wasn’t accustomed to using one -- he managed to place a piece of meat in his mouth. He sighed; the taste was fabulous and he dove in, cleaning the plate just as Maglor had told him to. On the tray were also several pieces of fruit and he greedily buried his teeth in a juice pear. The sweet juice dribbled down his chin and he wiped it away with his sleeve.
He had never before felt this full and he leaned back into the pillows. Maglor was spoiling him! Growing tired, his eyes began to darken and grow dull. He was quickly falling asleep.
And that was exactly how Maglor found him. The tray balanced precariously on Erestor’s lap, and the fingers were buried in the sheets. The empty expression in the unfocused eyes told him that Erestor had lost his battle against his sleep. “I do not think you need this hot milk after all.” He would drink it himself then. Seating himself on the side of the bed, he placed the tray on the floor and studied Erestor. The younger Elf looked vulnerable, malnourished and neglected. But that would change.
He had already sent word to Elwing and Eärendil and they had agreed to take Erestor under their wing. Now that the twins had been born, the parents needed extra help, and hearing that Erestor was a gifted healer had worked to his advantage as well. He would tell Erestor the good news tomorrow when the younger Elf was rested.
“Sleep now. You are tired.”
Erestor struggled to wake up again, but failed. “Do not… want to… sleep.”
“You are exhausted. Sleep.” Maglor soothingly caressed his charge’s hair. “I wish I had gotten you away from them earlier. They already did so much damage.” But Erestor no longer heard him. The younger Elf was sound asleep.
“Where are you sending me?” Erestor still didn’t know what to think of this. When he had woken up Maglor had presented him with a set of new clothes. He was now wearing a brown shirt, black leggings and soft leather boots – though putting them on had been a struggle, as his bandaged foot refused to fit in there.
“To the Havens of Sirion, where Elwing and Eärendil live. They have just had twins and need someone reliable to look after them. The fact that you are also a healer made their decision easier to let you watch over them. You will mostly deal with Elwing, as her husband Eärendil is often away, sailing. They will shelter you in turn for watching their twins. That way, you will be out of my brothers’ reach.”
Seeing Erestor’s sad expression, Maglor said, “You do understand why I am sending you away, don’t you, pen-neth? If it were up to me, I would keep you here, treat you like a son, but my brothers’ presence makes that impossible.” Maglor pleaded with Erestor to understand. “If I kept you here they would find other ways to harass you.”
In his heart, Erestor knew Maglor’s words to be true. “I appreciate what you are doing for me, but… I had hoped I could stay here – with you. You are the only friend I ever had.”
“You will make new friends, Erestor,” said Maglor warmly. “Elwing’s twins are still mere babies, but one day they will grow up into fine young warriors. The fact that you took care of them will create a strong bond. You will have friends. Trust me on this.”
“I will go to the Havens of Sirion, then.” Erestor’s heart felt heavy now that he had to leave Maglor again. “I wish I could stay though.”
“I know you do. And you won’t travel alone. One of my men will take you there.” Maglor rested a hand on Erestor’s shoulder. The younger Elf looked better after a good night’s sleep and he hoped Erestor would continue to grow stronger once he was away from Celegorm and Curufin.
“When do you want me to leave?” Erestor plucked at his sleeve, feeling nervous and insecure. He knew no one at the Havens of Sirion.
“Tomorrow morning. My brothers will celebrate tonight and much wine will flow. I want you to stay here in your room and lock the door. Make sure no one enters. I do not know how quickly they will learn about my plans for you, and as they are unpredictable, I do not want to find out their reactions to this news whilst you are still here.”
“I will keep my door locked,” promised Erestor softly. “Will I see you again before I have to leave?”
“Maybe.” Maglor gently squeezed the younger Elf’s shoulder. “Make me proud of you, like a father would be of his son. Be kind to Elwing and obey her. Although she is still very young, she is also very wise, as well as protective, now that she is a mother. I would not be surprised to learn she would mother you as well.”
That last sentence actually made Erestor smile. “Thank you for everything. You saved my life.”
“I am glad I could be of service. Though it is much too late. You never deserved such cruel treatment, pen-neth.” He rose from his chair, briefly hugged Erestor and then marched out of the room. “Lock the door behind me!” he said on his way out.
Erestor obeyed, quickly locking the door. His life was about to change again and this time hopefully for the better.
Rhoss, one of the few guards Maglor trusted unconditionally, would escort Erestor on his journey. The warrior would also remain at the Havens, to become Elwing’s personal guard. That way, Maglor reckoned that Rhoss could keep an eye on Erestor as well.
Maglor had found a moment to say his final goodbyes and joined them. Erestor and Rhoss had already mounted and Maglor could tell that the youngest Elf was nervous. Erestor had probably never before been on horseback. “Travel slowly,” he said, addressing Rhoss. “There is no need to rush.”
The warrior nodded in understanding. “And maybe you would like me to teach him some basic survival skills?”
“Teach him after you arrived in the Havens. This is a very confusing time for him.”
Rhoss nodded again. “I will make sure he gets there in one piece and introduce him to Elwing and Eärendil.”
“They are expecting you.” Maglor now turned to Erestor. The Elf still looked like a child to him. “Elwing is a very kind woman. She will treat you well. Your life will change for the better once you live with her.”
“I hope so,” whispered Erestor softly. “Wish I did not have to leave you to get a better life.” Although several Elves, including Rhoss, were looking at him, Erestor leaned in closer, giving Maglor one last hug.
Feeling Erestor’s arms around his neck, Maglor smiled and patted the back, making sure Erestor didn’t accidentally fall from the back of the horse. “May Elbereth bless you and keep you safe on this journey.”
Erestor controlled the tears that swam in his eyes, maintaining a calm front, but inwardly, he was screaming. He didn’t want to leave the one Elf who cared for him.
But then Maglor gave the sign and Rhoss steered his horse toward the road. Erestor’s horse followed instinctively. Looking over his shoulder, Erestor waved at Maglor in goodbye. His gaze briefly shifted to Maglor’s right, catching sight of Celegorm, who was glaring at him in loathing.
/Maglor was right. My life would have been hellish if I had stayed here. I have to leave./ Maglor’s form grew smaller and eventually faded from his view. Patting the horse’s neck, he hoped he would find some measure of peace serving Elwing.
“Rhoss? What is that?” During their journey Erestor had come to somewhat trust the warrior, as Rhoss was always kind and patient with him. That beginning trust was also why he now dared to ask this question.
“That is lots of water!” said Rhoss teasingly, having long ago decided that this young Elf was much too serious and shy. When he had begun to make some teasing remarks Erestor had withdrawn into himself, but now the younger Elf was growing more confident and actually smiled at his teasing.
“I know,” said Erestor, grinning.
“That is the river Sirion,” explained Rhoss patiently, “And that is the bay of Balar. This will be our home for quite some time.”
Erestor loved the way Arien’s golden rays were reflected by the water and his eyes widened, seeing the ships that traveled down the river. The Havens were a marvelous sight and he nearly lost himself in his admiration for the beautifully crafted ships. The houses, build from wood and stone, housed busy Elves. He instantly liked this place. The soft breeze, coming from the water, played with his hair and he quickly covered his mouth after releasing a pleased giggle. He just didn’t giggle, never!
Rhoss laughed warmly and then urged his horse to continue.
Erestor found they were heading for one of the larger houses, which was completely made from stone, except for the roof, which carried straw. The closer they got, the more scents he was able to identify. Someone was cooking a delicious meal. And then there was joyful laughter, coming from inside the house. It was a women’s voice.
“Nay, Elrond, do not do that! Elros, stay here!”
“That must be Elwing,” whispered Erestor in surprise. For the very first time it registered with him that this *was* his new home. He hoped he would be happy here.
“My Lady? This is Erestor. Lord Maglor already told you about him.” Rhoss had taken it upon himself to introduce them.
Elwing nodded, shifting one impatient twin from one arm to the other. “Aye, he sent me a letter.”
Erestor had first stared at the floor, uncertain how to act around her, but her sweet and kind voice made him look at her. She was beautiful. Long, raven- haired with big gray eyes, she didn’t radiate the authority Erestor had expected to find in her. Instead, she appeared caring and loving to him, judging by the way she was holding her sons. One of the boys was tugging at her braids and the other was trying to crawl off of her lap. They were obviously a handful, but Elwing just smiled at them. Erestor instantly liked her.
“I would love to help,” said Erestor, priding himself with the fact that he sounded calm.
“Maglor also told me you have some healing skills,” said Elwing. “Elbereth knows we need them. These two always get themselves into trouble. Yesterday, Elros crawled out of the room and Elrond followed – of course. I reached them just in time, as they were about to pull at our goat’s tail. The poor animal would not have liked that and might have retaliated. I need an extra watchful eye directed on them.”
“I will do my best,” said Erestor, smiling at the babies.
Seeing Erestor’s expression, Elwing asked, “You have never seen babies before?”
Erestor blushed slightly. Celegorm and Curufin only allowed females close who were without child. But of course they got pregnant after a while and then they were sent back to their elders. “I have never seen babies before.”
“As you can see, these two are twins.” Elwing signaled for Erestor to come closer. “This is Elrond, the younger of the two, but also the most curious one. Open your arms and hold him.”
Erestor wanted to protest, afraid he would drop the baby, but Elwing persisted. She showed him how to support the baby’s head and he felt a bit more secure holding Elrond. “He is cute.” Elrond was staring at him with big grayish-blue eyes and then opened his tiny hand to grab his finger.
“He likes you,” said Elwing pleased. She rose from the chair and walked over to a door in the back. “This is your room, next to the babys’ and mine.”
Erestor followed suit and swallowed hard, finding the room pleasantly decorated with paintings of the sea. “Thank you, my Lady. You are very kind.”
“Remember that when the twins cry their lungs out,” said Elwing goodheartedly. “Will you help me bathe them?” She hoped Erestor would take over certain tasks as she felt exhausted. The twins were four years old now and constantly kept her busy.
“Please show me what to do.” Erestor followed Elwing to the bathroom, all the time staring at the tiny Elfling in his arms. Was it just his imagination or were Elrond’s eyes twinkling at him? /You really are cute. And aye, I think I am going to be happy here, looking after you and your brother./
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