by Sauron Gorthaur

Maeglin stood alone at the edge of the field, watching Eärendil playing. The boy was chasing a red ball with some of the other children of Gondolin, and the happy shouts of the elven lads echoed off the walls of the Encircling Mountains as they raced back and forth across the green expanse of Tumladen with the energy that comes only from youth.

Leaning against the rocky feet of the mountains, Maeglin stood, his arms folded across his chest, as he stared piercingly at the son of Idril. He could see Eärendil's mother in her son: in the Noldorin light of his grey eyes, in the graceful smile of his elven mouth, in the noble grace of his bearing. Just like his mother. So alike.

But the elven beauty of his mother was marred. Eärendil's proud jaw and strong brow were those of a Man. Maeglin saw Tuor in the boy's face just as much as he saw Idril; and just as much as he loved to see his cousin in Eärendil, so he hated seeing his cousin's mortal husband enshrined there as well. It seemed unlawfully wrong to mingle such immortal beauty with such mortal frailty.

It could have been different.

His peoples' customs told him that what he wanted was perversion, but he alone seemed to understand that the true perversion dwelt in Eärendil. Yet Turgon, Idril, Glorfindel – all the nobles of Gondolin – had allowed that perversion to take place without a second thought, and they even praised the resulting offspring of that abhorrent union as if he was a starry gift from the Valar.

Maeglin narrowed his eyes and leaned forward slightly. Eärendil had the ball now, running with it towards the edge of the field with the other boys in fast pursuit, but he would soon be caught by them. The child's movements were not quite as light as his companions', not quite as graceful as they would have been if…

No, you are no allowed to go there.

But he couldn't help it, no more than he ever could. He imagined his own face mingled with Idril's eyes and mouth and bearing. He imagined his own elven brow and proud jaw, his own dark hair, in place of those marring human features. Subconsciously, a smile drifted across his face.

Yes, this is the way it should have been.

A louder shout arose from the playing children, causing Maeglin's attention to snap away from his fantasies. One of the young elves had thrown the ball high over his companions' heads. The red toy glistened against the Sun briefly before hitting the grass and rolling several yards to halt at Maeglin's feet. He bent and lifted it, staring at the small, dirty fingerprints that covered it.

He became aware of eyes fixed on him, and looking up, he found Eärendil standing in front of him, gazing up expectantly while the other boys hovered at a distance. Maeglin let himself sink for a second into Idril's eyes, still mentally seeing the Eärendil that should have been. The Eärendil that was his. His and Idril's.

"Can we have our ball back, please?" Eärendil asked in his elven-fair voice.

Maeglin smiled and held out the ball. "Of course," he answered his perfect illusion. "Here you are, Eärendil, my son."

But then Eärendil furrowed his human brow and gave Maeglin the quizzically amused look of a child that thinks his elder has made a funny mistake. He laughed, and the sound was mortal. "Silly cousin Maeglin!" he giggled. "You're not my father!" Still laughing, he plucked the ball from Maeglin's hand and returned to his friends and his game without a backward glance.

Maeglin's lips remained fixed in their accustomed smile as he watched him go. "No," he murmured, "no, of course not."