My eyes are shut but I can see him. Maedhros. One thousand years together and I can never not see him.
“How did this happen?”
We might have been back in Tirion, still young. The way Nelyo used to laugh upon finding the remains of a party on the morning after, while I had rubbed my aching head in dismayed bewilderment. Evidence of a great life, he had called it, spreading his hands as though embracing the whole mess.
Maedhros does not do that now. Even had he hands, he would not embrace it.
“Macalaurë.” Insistent now, demanding answers.
“Do not call me that.” You will not let us call you Nelyo of the childhood lost or Maitimo of the beauty you no longer possess or even Nelyafinwë of the kingship you forsook, so Maedhros—that bitter name upon my tongue—do not call me that name I was given by my mother, that name I was called in love by my wife, the meaning of which is also lost.
But he ignores me: “How did this happen?”
So he had asked upon the docks of Sirion where Telvo—excuse me, Amras—had lain between us, sprawled over on his side and the rain and sea having washed his wounds to where, yes, it is as they say: He looked like he was sleeping. Amras who—we all used to complain—“took his half from the middle” and always flopped into one of us while we tried to sleep on hunting trips. Mumbled in our ears and kicked. I waited for the mumbling, but it never came, and here I am.
I see Maedhros with my eyes closed. Imposing, yes, and still beautiful—but not if you knew when he was. Echoing, mocking me, for I’d asked him once: How did this happen? a great voice made frail by uncertainty in the hour following Atar’s death. How did we—of the great life—become orphans?
And Nelyo—Maedhros—had kicked a shower of dirt down the hill. Because it did! There is no reason! It is like those rocks—it tumbles where it will!
No, I’d always liked music where the score always led somewhere and there were rarely surprises.
Now he haunts me with it: “How did this happen?” Gesturing at the sand, I see, with his right hand. Or—where his right hand should be. In practice, he uses the left, but practice shall never erase instinct.
I squeeze my eyes shut tighter, but still I see. I would dig my eyes from my face, but still I’d see.
Footprints meandering down the sand. One set—no two! Three! Where we’d let them go. He wants to walk and erase them, as though erasing evidence of our loss will bring those lost back to us. I wait with eyes tightly shut.
But it never works. I open my eyes. His footprints now lie in their stead.
“How did this happen?”
And I am alone.
For my dear friend Jenni are three double-drabbles about her two favorite Elves. Jenni requested Fingon and Caranthir, together. Not in that way…unless I wanted that, of course. Jenni, being one of the few people who I will unequivocally agree has a dirtier mind than me, certainly would not mind.
Well, odd pairings are always a fun challenge, so I went for it. Hence, this is a slash story. Not a graphic slash story but slash all the same. Therefore, it is not advisable to read it if you object to slash.
Spent on Joy
I had the most unlikely ally in my cousin Carnistir, whom few seemed to like and fewer to understand. But we would meet at the city gates and he would warn me of things.
“Your father,” he might say, “has just had tremendous row with my father. I suggest that you tidy your room.”
Or: “Your mother is arranging supper with the girl with the big teeth, so you and Turukáno might want to go to Alqualondë for a week.”
How he learned these things, I would never know. Carnistir was very good at sneaking and hiding, at melting into shadows and catching the faintest thread of conversation. Daily, I would descend to the gates and mill among the throng, where the meeting of two cousins would likely not be noticed much less regarded as suspicious.
I approached, always, with the thought that he would not be there. With the muscles in my chest held tight as though to buoy my heart, which felt like it plunked heavy as stone next to my stomach when I failed to find his dark head among the crowd. I found myself wondering why his friendship meant so much.
To both of us, apparently.
We met at the intersection of Ours and Theirs. Too wearied to devise names, this was what we called the two lands that met at the tip of the lake, in sight of both camps.
It was not planned. I wandered, he wandered—there we were, between Ours and Theirs. Standing and facing each other as though the intervening centuries of discord had not existed. “Findekáno,” he said without greeting, scraping his toe in the dirt, “Nelyo is gone.”
In life, we take actions, my father often said. I imagined in that moment the actions that I might take. The strange thought came to catch my cousin’s face in my hands and to kiss each of his eyes. I wondered at the feel of his eyelashes fluttering against my lips. Or the heat of his flushed cheeks against my palm.
For a moment, I thought hopefully, he might forget that Nelyo was gone.
But only for a moment. Then I would return to Ours and he would return to Theirs, and we would resume our private heartache, each staring at the imagined other across the water. This reconciliation—however brief—need never happen again.
Or maybe—there was another way?
When my father died, I rode forth from Hithlum. No one stopped me. They believed that I sought my brother and sister, long disappeared but suddenly desired at this time of terrible grief. Or perhaps solitude: my thoughts erased in a roar of wind and hoofbeats.
None would have believed that I sought the so-called Dark Son of Fëanor.
Yet there he was, loping towards me, dismounting before I had even stopped, and the childish words nearly formed on my lips: “What warnings do you bring today?”
But we’d long ago realized the futility of warnings here. His eyes spoke of them, and I felt a shiver of dread. His lips parted, and perhaps he would have spoken. Perhaps he would have warned me. Or perhaps he knew that I would seek my father’s murderer, no matter the cost.
As he had done.
Or perhaps he knew that fate would be what it was, and he could not change it. Not with fiery words or bright swords.
He caught my face in his hands. He kissed my eyes. Then my mouth.
Or perhaps he believed—as I did—that this last time we met: It should be spent on joy.