Talking Hurts Disclaimer:All characters belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Warning: Rated R: AU, Non-consensual sexual situations, rape, torture, gory imagery, delirium, abuse of Laws and Customs, self-harm, characters whose opinions are not necessarily the author's own.

Also note: Thank you to Finch for my rather bizarrely named healer.


It hurts to die, but then you fly away. A white flash, a tug, the end of gravity. Scream of wind and whistle from the old days, songs of Valinor. Everyone goes home in the end. The night air falls like a blanket on my naked fëa. As children, we saw eagles in the sky. Riding the stormclouds. Maglor would say they were the birds of Manwë bringing the souls of the Avari to Mandos. We were always so afraid of thunder. There is a morbid streak in the family. We never knew then it was our destiny to ride these black and formless creatures, over and onwards to the very edges of the circles of the world. Lord, bring home the forsaken children. That is how we used to pray, as good children. As Noldor of the Blessed realm. We never knew then we prayed for ourselves.

I am hurtling so fast it is hard to catch my breath. Breath. So souls breathe. It hurts and I wish I could stop.


Fingon is dirty. They must have sent him to the mines. Bad luck, son of Fingolfin, but then I always was prettier than you. He is tugging at me but I cannot save him. He tries to put something in my mouth. I spit it back at him. His hands and face are all scratched. Red rimmed eyes. He looks ugly.

There is a ghost here too. Luminous. Trying to hold my arms down with his imitation hröa. I know he is not real because I cannot feel his touch. But he keeps trying.

Fingon pushes the cup so hard against my mouth it is either choke or swallow. I want to swear at him, but I need to know where my brothers are. One by one they captured us. I wonder who is left. If anyone is still fighting, somewhere very far away.

Fingon, you idiot, why are you here?

He swallows from the cup himself. The ghost smiles, the weary smile of one enduring beyond his time. Just die brother. I do not need you now.

The next time he offers me the cup, I do not struggle. I cannot.

They keep saying -safe. Over and over. Safe now.

Maybe they did not permit us to return.

Maybe we are all ghosts.


Maglor's voice is stern, as if he fears disobedience.

"You are in Mithrim."

It is true. I can see the bandaged stump of my right arm on the bedsheets.

"Well." I whisper. "Most of me is."


My bed is next to a window. If I look up I can see sky. White clouds with grey clouds scuttling over them. When the healers give me herbs to help me sleep, I can see shapes in them. Mountains, forests, seashore, horses, elves, nothing frightening. They look like Míriel's tapestries, the silver grey thread on the white.

If I turn my head so my nose points to the ceiling, I can see sticks pointing up to the sky. Maglor tells me it is a tree. It has no leaves. He said that is normal too. He said that it is because it is winter. In the winter the green things die to come alive again next spring. Apparently, this has been going on for some time.

I do not ask my brother what kind of tree it is. I should like to be well enough to sit up and see for myself. It gives me something to aim for.

Maglor makes me talk. He is a poet. He believes in the power of words. I do not believe in anything.

Talking hurts. But I have to do it, if only to kill the time. I cannot move and I cannot sleep.

Maglor turns me on my side so I lie facing him. He pulls the blankets around me then lies down next to me, holding me like a parcel. At first, I tried to fight him off. I did not like to be touched. It made me feel so very distant, lonely even. But he just held me closer until I felt the warmth from his fëa.

"I thought you were dead." I say. "On the mountain, I saw you die."

I did see him die. It was not a dream. Nothing about the landscape changed at all. The orcs led him out and put him to death on the horizon. In myself, I felt him die.


I have insects crawling under my skin. I can feel them. I can see their bites, raised red welts, along my right arm. They scuttle across my legs, my stomach and my shoulders. I can feel them biting under my hair. Maglor turns my face upwards from the pillow. He dabs something cool on the welts on my cheeks. The insects move away from his fingers. When he touches me they become still.

"Are these little creatures still bothering you?" He asks. In the background I can hear a healer tut.

"Yes." I say. "Maybe if I could have a bath they would go away."

"We wash you every day," said the healer. "There are no insects on you."

I ignore her. There were insects. I used to lie on a floor covered with them. I watched them crawl across me, black with red markings. I let them. I was too tired. If I had chased one away another would have taken it's place soon enough. There were spiders too. Hairy, sinewy things, the size of a baby. One dropped on my face when I was trying to sleep. I did pull that off. You cannot let them get their fangs into you. In the mines, you would often see elves with an eye missing. That is how it happened. They let the spiders get their teeth in.

"Or maybe," I add, "if we had some of that acid father used to clean metal. If you could put that on my skin it would kill them. I am sure Curufin must have some."

"Maybe, " said Maglor. He moves his fingers from my face to stroke my hair. I get stroked a lot. I get stroked like an animal that has done well.

After my brother leaves me, the healer holds down my left hand and cuts all the fingernails off.


My brothers pester the healers when they think I cannot hear. Why is he not healing faster? In Valinor...
"But we are not in Valinor." The chief healer, an elf called Luinianth, replies.

"Even so."

There is silence. I know even with my eyes unfocused she is shaking her head. She does not wish to tell them. I could.

It is our spirits that give our bodies strength. My fëa died long ago. Without it, my hröa will not heal.

I whisper this to Maglor, later, lying on the bed. My face is almost buried in the pillows. He is raised up on an elbow. Still our faces are only inches apart. That is as far as my voice will carry, sometimes.

There is some more hair stroking. I wish I could tell him I do not like it. But it seems a way to make myself useful at least. If I cannot get well, at least I can lie here and let them stroke me.

An insect bites in my eyebrow, but my fingers are too blunt to kill them now.

"Your spirit is not dead." He said. "I can feel it. It is faint, but it is there."

I was lying face down on the floor, listening to my heartbeat. I was naked, bleeding, covered in filth. The only thing I could feel was my heartbeat. It told me I was still alive. I was so fiercely proud of that soft pumping sound inside me. I was so senselessly glad to be alive. Intoxicating. That is when I knew I was not an elf anymore.

"But it is not an elven spirit."

I know that. I hear my brothers argue too. Rules and kingships and petty bands of Quendi come across the ice, what is to be done? I cannot bring myself to care. It is like something happening thousands of miles away. All I care about is the patterns in the sky and what kind of tree grows outside my window. Feeble-minded.

Also, everybody else is very concerned about my missing hand. It makes me feel like laughing. I can lie on my back and be useless as well with one hand as I can with two.

I continue.

"Something less complicated. Like the spirit of a goat or a sheep." It would explain the constant stroking.

"Fool," Laughs Maglor. "How do you think you would be lying here with a goat's fëa. You would be bleating and out ruining the lawn."

If I had the breath, I would laugh. Breathing is still incredibly hard work.

"Your spirit is damaged. That is why you are not getting well."

So he makes me talk.