A/N: The cover picture was made & is owned by the wonderful artist Jenny Dolfen ( Gold-Seven)!


Restless, you pace along the shores –

No, the word is not restless. A crown prince has many things to attend to, but he can handle them all. A crown prince is always calm, serene of mind, with no time to ponder things like ships or exile or treachery. Those notions elude you now: they seem intangible as the meaning of honour; yet solid and physical: a red fog to emerge from those fresh graves beneath the Sea.

(You can almost feel the shovel in your hands; yet all words of farewell elude you as well).

What is done cannot be undone, at least. You don't want to undo anything; that would open gates and passageways to some terrible fates and uncertain chances. At least, you know what you are now.

When you make a list in your mind, it seems that you are so many things. Everything you have always been, and more – a kinslayer, a traitor and the veriest fool -, yet he, at the other side of the water – he is neither.

He is only the same as he's ever been, and you feel like nothing.

~ § ~

Your people bring the ships in line, and one by one they dock, each falling anchor another bar on your prison cell. You can see Atar from where you're pacing to and fro, and you can tell he thinks of them as bars as well, although in his eyes, they must be currently breaking.

One by one. With the same accurate precision as you feel them fall and break your bare bones.

You wish you had the prudency to deny what you're seeing. Denial would justify why you're letting it happen…

Because you do. You even pause your restless wandering (to and fro), and sit upon a rock, helpless like the prince from that song, who digs skulls from graveyards, then talks, talks and talks to them, and never acts.

(It doesn't occur to you how you have never seen a skull, or a graveyard before).

~ § ~

There is no sound around the ships now, only the faint murmur of Ulmo's creatures amongst the waves. Everyone has left the decks now, and your eyes are on the ships. They're white and graceful and bleeding from many wounds, wet black patchworks in the weeping nightfall.

Shadows are deepening and the tide rises. You cannot see the other side, but you know what is there, who is there. You shrug off a bone-clattering shiver: the timely alliance of the evening chill and your crippling discomfort is not strong enough for a crown prince to care.

You haven't talked for years, anyway. You followed your Atar, and he followed his, and the first time those two paths have collided in a long, very long time was now: at the cataclysm of this disaster that destroyed Maitimo (whoever that was) and let the crown prince be born (whoever that is).

He is none of your concern now. He has so many friends, so many admirers around – why would he need you to vouch for him? Why would he need your help?

This is one of those moments when the never-lifting shadow of your friendship is too hard to bear, when your memories – some of them you can't even properly remember – weigh on your shoulders, and you mourn what should have never been mourned if not for Melko and his devious ways.

(It is too comfortable to see Melko behind every mistake you have ever made).

Your thoughts are a maze, and you still haven't turned that proverbial skull properly out of the insistent ground so you may talk to it, and talk, and talk, and never act, like the prince it that song. What sort of useless brat are you, if you cannot even get to the talking part?!

~ § ~

Atar approaches you, so you quit your definitely-not-restless pacing, and straighten your back at least. You don't have time to change your costume, equip the scene, or finalise your script. (Improvise. You have to improvise).

And so you do, and some terrified part of yourself hears the question that lingers in the air for a long time,

"Now what ships and rowers will you spare to return, and whom shall they bear hither first? Fingon the valiant?"

(Dry. Your throath is dry, and your breath tastes bitter like bits of ash wheeling in the open air).

Then Atar laughs as one fey, and cries,

"None and none! What I have left behind I count now no loss; needless baggage on the road it has proved. Let those that cursed my name, curse me still, and whine their way back to the cages of the Valar!"

~ § ~

The ships are on fire, and so are your eyes.

You take one deep, ragged breath, and close them. It all feels wrong, so wrong it hurts, so wrong it could burn a hole in your chest if you were no crown prince, and let any feeling rule you.

The smoke rises to the skies, crying "BETRAYAL" louder than any herald of the Valar could.

(Now, at least, you know who you are).

Perhaps it was meant to be all along, you think and you smile, just a little bit. Fire is a cleansing thing, it cuts him off you. It might as well save him now.

Home. Yes, he can go home now – and if not for Atar, you would have cruelly taken that chance away from him.

This is your own personal exile – he has no place in it.

At least he is free now. Free to go.

(Free to hate you).

Even a crown prince can be weak sometimes, but Atar, in his madness, got the better of you. You are stronger now. You know better now.

~ § ~

The ships are on fire, and so are your eyes.

For what other reason should they be burning?


NOTE: The two lines of dialogue were taken from 'The Silmarillion'.

There are Shakespeare references, if you squint a little bit. (Or if you don't).