Warning: Discussion of non-consensual sexual situations, slash, and mildly S&M towards the ending of the chapter. (Although neither character would consciously see it that way.)
I finish speaking. Maglor pulls me closer and touches my hair a little. I lie still, trying to relax, and he knows the talking is over for tonight. We lie in silence, watching the stars blink in the frosty air.
"Could you open the window?" I ask.
"I could," he replies. "The wind was from the west today, and the air was clear, without poison. But you may be cold."
"Open it." I say. "It feels close. I think fresh air would help."
He nods, then leans over me to unbolt the lock. He sits up against the frame and I rest back on him. I can breathe easier in the cool breeze. The chill is soothing to my hot face. Maglor pulls the blankets closer around us. I sigh a little. It feels good.
A dying quarter moon is in the sky, a thin veil of mist floats gently just above the horizon. There is life in this outdoor air. I feel very peaceful. I do not sleep, it does not matter. This is rest enough.
"There," he says "Does that feel better?"
I nod and snuggle deeper against him. We stay like this, in silence, for a very long time.
It is me who hears it first, the sound of hooves, of a rider. Maglor feels me tense, and strokes my arm gently.
"What is it?"
"Someone is coming."
"No brother, no one is …"
But then he hears it too. We sit up, two faces in a window, alert as children, waiting for our visitor to make themselves known.
I know who it is, even through the dark. I know from just the silhouette, featureless against the night. I would guess that form anywhere.
"It is Fingon." I say.
"You have the eyes of an eagle, Maedhros."
"No," I say. "I just know my cousin."
I start to shiver, despite myself. I am not cold, but I am shuddering violently. I try to master myself, and fail. My limbs will not listen, they want to shake and shake and nothing will stop them.
Maglor moves to shut the window. I stop him.
"I am not cold." I say, as steadily as I can manage.
"But you are shaking."
"I do not want him in the house Maglor, not now, not tonight, not ever."
Maglor looks confused.
"He saved your life, brother. He has been kinder to us than we had any right to deserve."
"He saved my life because he wants to sleep with me." I say.
"You are fey."
"I am not fey, Maglor." I sigh. "I think it is a measure of my worth that the only person willing to attempt my rescue would want repayment of that sort."
Maglor frowns and hold me a little closer.
"Fingon would never ask for such a thing. He is an elf, a Noldor such as ourselves. He would never ask of you what you would not give freely."
"But that is what he wants, whether he asks for it or not. And that is what repulses me."
"I think, you are still thinking as a prisoner of Angband."
"Perhaps, but I do not know of any other way to think anymore."
"Shh," says Maglor softly. "Shh."
Very well, brother. You have wanted me to speak the truth, to hold nothing back. Now I shall tell you a truth that may not be to your liking.
"I know he wishes to sleep with me because he has done so in the past. He probably has every right to expect I will again. I was not an innocent when I was taken to Angband. Nothing worse was done to me than I did willingly before. Fingon and I were lovers." I tail off.
For a moment, everything is painfully still. Then I feel my brother's arms squeeze against me, and I know, whatever his private thoughts are on this, for now, Maglor is prepared to accept.
"You are fey," He says. "To speak of what was done for love, and what was done to destroy as if there were no difference."
"If there once was a difference, I do not feel it now."
Maglor runs his fingers across my own, I wish for tears that do not come.
"Maybe, in a while, that too will heal."
"He frightens me."
"No" Said Maglor, and his eyes were curiously hard." "It is not him that frightens you. It is your own desire you are afraid of. It is the chance that that may lead you back to where you are so afraid to go."
Maglor's words are only partly true. I do still care for my cousin. I care for him more than anything in this world, little brothers excepted. But the thought of his touch, or his kiss, or even a look of desire that cannot be hidden upon his face fills me with a cold that is worse than my own death. To feel his touch, and to feel nothing, as I know I would, is pain more than I can bear.
"I do not know Maglor, I do not know what to do or how it will be, or anything. I feel as though I traded my rights to love when I traded my body for safety from the mines. I only know I cannot face him."
"Then I shall see to it you do not have to. Not tonight, anyway. I will tell him you are resting. And I shall see to it that our well read healer gives you something to make that true."
He rises and shuts the window, then makes sure I am lying comfortably on the bed.
"Thank you." I say. "Not just for that, for… well, not…"
"It is nothing," he replies, then gives me a wry look. "I too have been in love."
And at least, he would add, but for sounding cruel, at least Fingon still lives.
"And for tolerating your cantankerous, sickly brother. I know my words are often harsh these days. It is just nothing seems to make sense anymore."
He bends over me and strokes the hair back from my fore-head.
"Shh," he says softly. "You are the King and I am the poet. It is your place to make things happen, mine to make sense of them."
And with that, he leaves me.
Fingon came in my room later that night. I knew it was him. Luinianth would have brought a light. He walked over to my bed and I froze, playing dead, with my face turned away from him, buried in the pillows.
He sat beside me while I desperately tried to keep my breathing even. He sat beside me for too long.
Before he left, he bent down, twisted my hair away from the nape of my neck and kissed there. His lips felt clammy. I felt terrified.
But I also felt something else, something sharp, travelling down my bruised spine. Something that almost made me dare to turn round and declare myself. No I said firmly. No the rest of me said. Do not take the risk.
So I lay there, still as china while he walked away.
They told me Fingon wished to see me the next morning, when they brought me yet another breakfast I refused to eat. They keep trying. The thought of food still makes me feel faintly disgusted. I have been living off milk, chicken-broth and honey dissolved in warm water, mostly coaxed inside me by Maglor. It has done some good. There is just the trace of flesh under my skin now. I no longer look like a carcass. Yesterday, I was feeling a little proud of my new wholesome appearance. Today, I wish I had no flesh at all.
I nodded my assent to my cousin's visit. I also asked for some clothes. The tunic they brought me was deep red, as if my very presence had come to remind them of blood.
Fingon enters the room looking awkward. I knew Maglor must have spoken with him. He looks worriedly into my face and I stare back defiantly. Go on Findekano, see what you can read. See if the goods are still acceptable, if the marring can be accommodated, or if they should be thrown away to start again.
I take it we are not going to be talking about the weather. There is still enough residual respect between us to not have to make pleasantries.
Unfortunately, that leaves us with absolutely nothing to say to each other.
It occurs to me I probably should say thank you.
"Why are you laughing?" he asks.
"Because I have just realised how idiotic thank you is going to sound."
He does not smile. He looks troubled. Why, I do believe the silly creature has been agonising over whether or not he did the right thing.
"Well, do you think I should wish myself dead?"
"I would never wish you dead."
"That is not what I asked."
"No, but I thought you might."
"And why might I wish myself dead, Findekano?"
"Because you have been raped, Maitimo."
I have to admire my cousin for that. He is my match in plain speaking any day. And because he knows me too well to believe I should fret over a hand.
"They did not all force me."
"No?" He asks.
"No, after the first couple of times I gave in and let whoever wanted to sleep with me as long as I did not have to go back to the mines."
He nods. I have no idea why I am speaking like this. Still he might as well know the truth.
"And you wish me shocked by this?"
"I wish you to know this."
"I love you."
"And what does that change?"
"I want you to know that."
"And what exactly do you think love means to me right now?"
"You tell me."
"It is a spell which does not work. It is poetry that does not touch the heart. It is music that has grown stale with age and repetition."
"You are enough to beat Maglor in high-flung speech."
I close my eyes.
"It is something that one says to mark the difference between acts of affection and acts of violence."
"I do not know how I shall ever feel that difference again."
Fingon looked at me intently.
"Do you want to try?"
"What do you mean?"
"You are telling me this for a reason, Maitimo. If you had given up all hope you would be silent."
He bends down and kisses my cheek, gently. I feel it.
"You are telling me this," he continues, "Because you wish for it to be different. And yet you do not know how to make it so."
"No, I do not."
"It is enough for me that you wish."
"How long have you lain in bed for now?"
"Six weeks," I reply. "Or so my brothers tell me."
"Do you not get bored?"
"I think I am loosing my mind."
"Come on then, up you get."
"I wish to take a walk with you."
"I walked across the Helcaraxe for you. And do not deceive yourself. Whatever drove my Father on it was you that kept my feet moving. It was you that kept me leading my people forward, knowing that many would die in the attempt. I think the least I can ask of you is to walk with me to the bedroom door and back."
"I did not ask you to."
"No, but I am here now, and I have a right to exact revenge. On your feet, son of Feanaro."
"I do not have the strength."
"Cousin, I can walk across the grinding ice to be beside you. I can dare the fume and might of Angband to bring you to safety. But I cannot make you heal, and I cannot shield you from the pain of learning to live again. That is something you must do for yourself. Dare you risk the pain?"
I swung my legs awkwardly over the side of the bed.
"I think you are going to have to hold me, Findekano. I am not sure I can stand up on my own."
He holds me, one arm behind my back, the other around my waist and pulls me upright. I feel very light-headed at the new position, I can feel sweat pricking under my hair. I think I might be sick again.
Fingon continues to hold me. I breathe deeply, trying to adjust to standing.
"Am I hurting you?"
I nod. I do not think I can speak.
"Do you want me to put you down?"
"No." I grit my teeth. I have come this far.
"Alright. I am going to take a step backwards and you are going to walk with me."
I nod again.
He is hurting me but I trust him to.
He moves backwards and I step in towards him. We must look like lunatic dancers. The very sensation of ground beneath my feet is so strange it makes me shiver.
He keeps stepping backwards. I keep walking forwards into his arms.
It makes my hips ache. My back feels as though someone is running fire along it. My feet sting every time I force them down onto the floor.
I am resting all my weight on his shoulders. Sweat drips into my eyes. And still we keep walking forward.
He is holding me and he is pulling me in towards him.
He will hold me, and I shall feel safe despite the pain.
We shall go back there, together. We shall never be innocent again. I do not wish to be.
I cannot change what I am, or what I know, and I would not, even though the Valar themselves might hold me accursed for cherishing such knowledge. I choose to know my own strength.
"I love you," I whisper.
"I know," he replies.
And that is how it shall be between us. I shall keep walking towards you. There will be fear and there will be hurt. There will be times when I cannot tell your hands from the hands of those that tortured me. There shall be nights where you shall touch my skin and I will not be there. I would risk all that to stand beside you.
For that is how much I love you, son of Fingolfin. And against our love no power of darkness shall stand, not even the will of Morgoth himself.
When we finally reach the door Fingon takes his hands from around me, and I stand before him unsupported. I smile faintly when I remember standing straight I am taller than him. He has mercilessly dragged me across my own bed chamber, but now he kisses the smile with tenderness.
"We made it," he says.
Yes Findekano, I think. We shall indeed make it.
I think I am going to leave the story here for now. I may revise it, edit it, add more chapters in future. But for now it has taken quite a large chunk of my creative energy getting this far, and the elves are happy, so I think I will leave them where they are.