You were ill-gotten, and I loved you.
They will tell you I ensnared your mother. They will tell you I brought her to my doorstep with enchantment; dear child, my son, can you imagine? Your mother, so forthwright, so strong in spine and quick in anger, being fooled by mere hedgewitchery? The woman who defied a King, so meek and yielding as to skip a path right to my forge door because I gestured?
You will believe it. I forgive you.
They will tell you I took her to wife without all the rights due to her, and they will be right; my ways were not hers. Our ceremony was simple, our binding brief. It was as any business transaction I have performed with the traders who travelled the dark roads of our forest.
Business, that was what it was.
How she loved her gold. Her silks, her furs. Spices from the east, paper from the far north, glittering chains from the depths of Khazad Dum. All of these things were hers, as was her right by my side as Lady of Nan Elmoth. She had her household, her friends, her long walks in the sun which I could not endure.
She had you.
Her Lomion, her little prince, her insurance in lieu of spices and paper, silks and chains.
Her ill-gotten son.
I loved you.
I loved the way your hair was uncontrollable, so much more like mine than hers. I loved your eager hands, and your quick mind, and your laugh like silver bells. I loved how eagerly you picked up a hammer, how readily you threw the word 'naugrim' away for 'khazad'.
I loved you, and I was afraid.
My son, recall your mother. Your beautiful, horrible mother, who took an oath to lead my people by my side, to stand in my stead in times of war and be my council in times of peace. Recall her cousins, great in doom and in wrath. Recall their tempers, like fire and lightning. Recall the many angry letters, the way I pleaded with her to stay.
Recall the day you turned your face from me and in anger and despair I told you I would set you in bonds.
Ill-gotten son, I loved you.
Remember this moment. Remember me, bound and exposed in the sun, the sun that burns my flesh and hair, the sun that destroyed my people so long ago and drove me to the darkness. The sun that hurts you, though you will never admit it; cutting like a subtle knife, bouncing off these too-white walls.
Remember how the White Lady would hold you just out of my reach in the watery morning light, her fingernails digging moons into your shoulders.
Remember the tears in my eyes when she fell.
You will believe they were tears of fear, and cowardice.
That is what they will tell you.
I forgive you.
Remember this: my hand patting your head, the way you fit into my arms as I rocked you to sleep. The rush of joy as we cut down orcs, the pride I felt when you presented your first knife to me, edges a little crooked. Remember the fire of the great hall, the soft blue of my robe, the one you would play in when you thought I didn't see, ordering about your stuffed bear wardens, declaring yourself Lord of Little Nan Elmoth.
Remember the name I gave you. Remember the name she gave you.
It is too late for you. I can see it. I see so many things now.
Ill gotten son, I loved you.