He knocked on Maehdros' door. "Come in," said the voice inside. He did not quite hear it, because it had just barely reached his ears through the heavy wooden door –yet, since when had they needed the thickness of such doors in times of peace (peace...?)? In Aman there were no doors– but assumed it had been there, and uttered those sounds. The steel handle gave way under his fingers –a carved work of metal, and of art surely also, but he had never stopped to observe its designs, he remarked, though he had oft wondered for a fleeting second what it looked like, each time, in fact, his hand had touched it to open his friend's door; he had to, when he stepped out this time, spare a moment to take in its actual form, but he was going to forget again–, and he felt upon his shoulder the lingering eyes of the guard on duty, who had stepped aside upon recognizing his face. –he had saluted the young soldier upon entering, and the other had hesitated for a second to return his salute: it was clear, though he could not quite fathom why, that he had been surprised by the gesture. He wondered whether the guard would have been more surprised had he suddenly raised a knife to stab his stomach, and whether there would have been hesitance then in promptly returning the deed–

"Hi," he said, and Maedhros turned to face him with a smile.

"Sit down, wait a second," the red-haired elf said jovially, abruptly, and his face spun away, brow already creasing again at the thought of the paperwork in front of him, which his mind had not left. He was glad for that, and stared long at the flow of ginger hair that was now what he saw of Fëanor's eldest son; with flashes of copper occasionally glinting in its texture that looked as if he had woven shards of jewels in his braids. Fitting, he thought. Fitting, but false.

He became very aware of the dagger dangling from his waist, hidden under his clothing: the steel of its handle digging into his ribs.

Sometimes, Fingon had hallucinations. Sometimes were times when he came into the presence of Maedhros. Saw the smile of Maedhros. Because Maedhros always smiled when he met him, and his eyes were glad. Fingon thought it unnatural, because he had been the one, after all, to cut off his right-hand –he had wondered for a long while (and never stopped wondering) whether Morgoth had asked his friend whether he was right or left-handed before hanging him on the cliff-side. After all, both Fëanor and his second-son Maglor had been left-handed; it would have been a cruel stroke of fate if the loss of his right hand had actually not uncomforted Maedhros at all in his way of life– –then again, he remembered that it was strange that Curufin, the one of his cousins, half-cousins that resembled his father the most had not inherited this particular trait of his–. Fingon had hallucinations, and they stuck to his eyes, blinded him, though he knew them for what they were –they? it, because it was one, and always one, the same– And when he saw Maedhros live he always saw him dead; each time he saw Maedhros from afar, through the depths of a hall, or close in his room or even closer when they sat together in a field and watched the clouds –white clouds in the blue sky, grey clouds that were the sky from filling it with their wrath and dark, dark clouds from a mountaintop that were the world-, each time he saw Maedhros he saw Maedhros hanging from the cliff, and he saw that he was dead, though he could not believe it; and he saw that he had not died because of the black tortures of the Foe, because there was an arrow through his side; and there were words that came upon his tongue, though no tears in his eyes, that he had climbed up into Hell itself to see that Maedhros was dead –he was not sad and not angry, only calm, so calm that he wished to die at that moment for knowing that he would die in peace; hatred only maybe after a while for thinking in such a way–, and the words welled up inside his mouth though he could not say them, because he felt they needed not to be said, not shouted, not whispered, not sung, not silenced: they were words that needed something else and he could not think of what. He hallucinated that the eagles flew over his head in large circles, and that they were not eagles, but vultures, that when he would turn away they would swoop down and eat from Maedhros's –whose red hair was darkened now, from the filth, and looked like nothing next to the thread of bloody red that fell from his pierced side- corpse, both their corpses maybe –but, he could not kill himself: he remembered that there was only one arrow in his quiver and it was up there now, up there planted like a thing in another's body– And the words in his throat said "Why hast thou forsaken us?" though he did not look up at the sky –indeed there was no sky, not even beyond the thick, dark clouds like a soft stretch of wispy fabric, treacherous, like silk, gentle silk that needed knives for freeing another from, gentle silk that chocked and left limbs dead for lack of blood– and he knew not whom he spoke too, and hated the words, hated the thou for being above them, above and silent, outside the dark smoke, outside his world.

And Maedhros smiled in his death, a beautiful smile, because he, he was happy now, –or thought he was going to be–, and when Fingon cried "Why hast thou forsaken us?" he was looking up at the wide form of a eagle that covered the pallid corpse and tore at it with its claws, looking at the shreds of red flesh that came easily off the body of him who did not feel it.

But he lived in this world; and Fingon felt the soft, carpeted ground beneath his booted feet, very unlike the harsh, rocky ground that had eaten at them when the soles of his boots had been worn out at last by the long, hard walk upon the mountainside. Maedhros turned his back to him and his hair was clean, but the image of blood clouded his eyes, and he could not see that this heavy mass of coppery hair, so renowned, so praised, so envied, he could not see that it was beautiful; because after having seen Maedhros's blood nothing of his friend's fair body seemed beautiful to him, nothing of the palaces and of the young girls that giggled in his wake through the streets. They had become devoid of beauty like they were devoid of meaning: because he had seen Maedhros dead, and there was no beauty –nothing– when elsewhere there was blood.

His right hand was under his shirt now, and the fingers of it were unmerciful: they clenched and unclenched around his dagger's handle, and he almost smiled.

Sometimes, Fingon had hallucinations. Sometimes were times when he wished to kill Maedhros.

He stepped to peer over his best friend's shoulder, and tenderly placed his left hand on his shoulder: very, very close to the neck. The white flesh was slightly warm under his hand –alive, disgustingly alive–. Maedhros used his left hand to write now: his handwriting was not the same as before. But Fingon's own handwriting had changed, too, though it was not because his best friend had cut off his good hand: Fingon found –though others could not see it, or said that they did not, trying in some strange manner to soothe him, but it did not soothe him; only angered him further that they could not see that which had devoured so much of not his life, but his essence– that the curves of his letters took on a sharper turn, a more elegant, maybe, thin, elongated line that cut, and sometimes the tip of his quill scratched the paper, tearing a hole into it –that had happened in Maedhros's presence once, and Fingon had felt the pen start from his fingers, though he wondered afterwards whether he had not thrown it from himself in a gesture of sudden, blind hatred and repulsion; it had happened in Maedhros presence and the latter had laughed, "You may be an excellent swordsman, my friend, and your father may be an exceedingly annoying person, I must agree; but that is not reason to wage war upon this letter!"–

If he cut Maedhros's throat now, no one would know. It had been rumored that Maedhros had become strange. He could have been attacked; the other would have lost his mind, and grabbed the first thing that fell under his hands to defend himself; there would be scandals, and he might not even be believed; it might be better maybe if he ran away after the deed, went to live with the Laiquendi in some deep forest where no one stepped – but to know Maedhros dead!

To never see his face again, never be reminded of his failure!

Because Fingon was High Prince of the Noldor, and he had journeyed to and back from the deepest reaches of Hell, saved his best friend from the clutches of a God, the most powerful of Gods; but he had lost another's hand to the jaws of stone and the blood left there upon the rock's surface was a witness to his failure, his smiling, immortal failure that walked in the form of beauty made flesh.

When Maedhros's stump -the word was so ugly in itself that he wanted to kill for only having to utter it- bled, in the first times he saw him upon his bed, the healer had told him how to bandage it properly in case no one else was around –indeed, Fingon thought that he, and he alone was the being most often present at his cousin's bedside: unless the lot of his brothers were counted as one, in which case it was true they would have stayed day and night in his tent– But as he tightly wrapped the white strip of cloth around the rotting flesh, he noticed that he did it so only because he knew it had, in some manner, to be; and found himself wondering what would happen if he just let his best friend bleed, and found himself wanting, wanting so badly to just let him bleed, and drinking perhaps some of that blood, licking it off the wound. The air around him reeked of sickliness. He wanted to let Maedhros bleed, and let Maedhros die, and step outside the tent and say: "Our King is dead." He knew that Maedhros would not begrudge him the strange act. Maedhros would understand. Because Maedhros here or Maedhros there had no consequence at all for him, and Maedhros at his side or Maedhros shut inside the dim Halls of the Dead for an eternity that suddenly took a meaning, a form, a vast, unseemly presence, it did not matter at all to his heart, or his mind, or his soul, or his body, because he realized that the only thing he needed was not Maedhros, but the idea of Maedhros, the knowledge of Maedhros; and he realized, at that time when he first saw him again, that this conscious shadow of a Maedhros had been left hanging off the cliff's side in dark Angband where nothing lived.

Then, –he clenched his other fist, and took it away by an act of will from the steel under his shirt– Fingon leant forwards suddenly, and snatched the quill from his friend's long fingers, chucking it away over his shoulder. Maedhros blinked at him, but laughed.

In three days he would be back into Mithrim. He did not need Maedhros dead either. Only the idea of it.

"Enough of this, my friend," he said, reluctantly taking his hand away from the other's shoulder –but it was all, after all, a question of resolve–, and moved to almost tear open the window to Maedhros's study. "This room reeks like the chamber of the sick and dying."