Warnings: Non-graphic slash (Maedhros/Fingon)
Disclaimer: The Silmarillion and all associated characters/stories etc. belong to the estate of J R R Tolkien.
Russandol – a nickname of Maedhros. Means 'Copper Top', referring to his red hair
Findekáno – Fingon's name in Quenya
This story set long before the Silmarils were made and things got complicated. It is AU – to quote Master Erestor, we prefer bow and arrow to canon.
'Chasing and Catching'
It was the coming of age ball of Fingon, eldest son of Fingolfin, and all the maidens in town were in a flutter.
Partly this was because of who he was – admittedly the kingship ran down the other side of the family, but everyone knew Fëanor's lot were a bit odd – and partly because of what he was – i.e. a very handsome young elf.
This was a sentiment with which Maedhros, Fëanor's eldest son, agreed wholeheartedly.
He wasn't sure exactly when his feelings for Fingon had changed from friendly to more-than-friendly. They'd known each other since they were children, although they had only met once or twice a decade during that time. But there had always been a bond between them and the last time Fingon had visited, Maedhros at least had felt there was something more.
True, they were half cousins and many would not approve of a relationship between them. Equally true, relations between the two sides of the family were often strained. Maedhros did not have his father's hang-the-consequences approach to going after what he wanted, but he knew he loved Fingon and now they were both adults he was determined to pursue him. The only question remaining was what Fingon himself thought.
At that moment, what Fingon thought was that he really didn't want to be here.
The day had begun as birthdays always did in the house of Fingolfin. They had a special family breakfast where he got to choose the menu and then his parents, brother and sister gave him gifts. He couldn't say that the heavy-looking, embroidered robes were what he wanted, but he had thanked his mother anyway (with as much enthusiasm as he could manage) and looked with more interest on his other gifts.
Then his adar had called him into his office for a talk. Fingolfin had looked distinctly flustered and had rearranged most of the things on his desk while he 'explained a few things that an adult elf needed to know'.
Actually Maedhros had explained it all to him in glorious detail (with the help of a book delicately entitled 'Expressions of Love (Illustrated Edition)' he had "borrowed" from his father's private library) when he'd reached his majority some years before. But the spectacle of his father so ill at ease was highly amusing, so Fingon feigned ignorance and asked all the most awkward questions he could think of.
When that was over – Fingolfin had explained about the birds and the bees, but hadn't progressed to anything much larger – he had managed to escape long enough to go for a ride. Fingolfin's present to his newly-adult son had been a very fine red-haired stallion, whom Fingon had officially named 'Firefly' but privately thought of as Russandol, as the colour reminded him of Maedhros' hair.
He'd come home as late as he dared, whereupon he'd been seized by his mother. She'd made him clean up, put on the embroidered robes (which were just as heavy as they looked) and then braided his hair in a complicated fashion. As far as Fingon was concerned, he looked like a girl. The only saving grace was that Maedhros had looked just as silly at his own majority-ball.
And now here he was, having to stand with his parents and greet all the guests as they arrived. He hadn't realised there were so many maidens in town. Fingon knew that he was now considered old enough to pursue a mate. And, of course, to be pursued. He hadn't expected they would be quite so unsubtle, however.
"Having fun?" Maedhros whispered, as he reached Fingon.
By this time, Fingon had told so many people he was glad they came that he no longer wanted to talk to any of them. "Are you the last?" he whispered back.
"I think so."
"Thank the Valar," Fingon said under his breath. "Adar, Naneth, I'm going to go with Maedhros to get something to drink," he said quickly, and then hurried off with his friend before they could call him back.
"Nice robe," Maedhros told him, smirking, as they sipped cups of punch by the buffet table.
Fingon elbowed him in the ribs good-naturedly. "At least mine isn't pink."
"For the final time mine was not pink!" Maedhros snapped. "It was wine-coloured! It's not like I chose it anyway."
"Nor me," Fingon said, tugging at his collar. "I feel like I'm wearing a tent."
Maedhros looked around the room. "Lots of maidens here tonight," he said, grinning.
"All decked out in their best gowns."
"All hoping to win the attention of our fair Fingon."
Fingon snorted. "They all came to your coming of age ball as well! All they see is the family name. I haven't exchanged two words with any of them and don't intend to. It's not like…" he trailed off.
"It's not like what?" Maedhros asked casually.
"Oh nothing," Fingon said, his ear tips going slightly pink. "I'm hungry, let's get some cake."
An hour later, Maedhros was sitting alone at the far end of the ballroom. He was pretending to be absorbed in his brother Maglor's music. He was actually watching Fingon dance with a pretty maiden in pink.
"You could always ask him to dance yourself, you know," came a voice in his ear.
Maedhros jumped and tried to pretend he hadn't as Maglor sat down beside him. He'd been so distracted he hadn't even realised the music had changed.
He picked at his plate of food. "That's not tradition," he said shortly.
While elves sometimes did ultimately wed a member of their own sex, for one in Fingon's position offspring would be preferred. It was expected that tonight he would dance with the available maidens of the town. Dancing with a male, especially a relation, would certainly cause a stir.
"That didn't stop you."
Maedhros shot his brother an exasperated look. "That didn't count. Findekáno wasn't over the age of majority then. I danced with Ambarussa too, remember, and no-one accused me of wanting to wed my little brothers. Now he's of age – it would mean more."
Maglor smiled and said softly. "It would mean you love him, which you do."
Maedhros spluttered a little at that. "I've never said that."
"You don't need to. It's obvious."
Maedhros' heart stopped beating momentarily. "Does anyone else know?"
"Well, let me think," Maglor said, pretending to consider. "Adar knows. Naneth knows. I know. Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin and Ambarussa know. So just everyone."
"And…what do you think?" Maedhros asked nervously.
Maglor grinned. "Have some faith in us, big brother. We all like Fingon. Naneth says that she's got six more sons to produce grandchildren anyway and Adar says that anything that will scandalise Uncle Fingolfin is a good thing. So, you see, we're all in favour."
Maedhros sat back and thought this over. "Well," he said finally, feeling almost confident "in that case, I will. That is, if I can get close enough to Fingon to ask."
Maglor laughed. "Oh, I'm sure you'll manage it somehow."
Maedhros tried his best, but it was a losing battle. The maidens' efforts were too well co-ordinated. Every time he attempted to speak to Fingon, one of them was whisked onto the dance floor and the other surrounded by twittering females.
Finally he pleaded exhaustion and escaped onto one of the balconies off the ballroom, drawing the curtains behind him and praying for a little peace.
"Escaped at last," a familiar voice said.
Maedhros' head snapped up. Fingon was sitting on the balcony wall in front of him, eyes shining in the moonlight.
"I'm taking a well-earned break," Fingon announced. "I've danced with every maiden who's asked me and I still don't seem to have gotten through more than half."
Maedhros came to sit beside him. "The other half will probably corner you at Maglor's majority ball. Everyone I didn't have a dance with at mine has demanded one tonight."
Fingon grinned at him. "And does the future king see something he likes?" he asked in a teasing tone.
"Yes," Maedhros answered, not managing to meet Fingon's eyes. "But not among those I've danced with."
He dared to look up. Fingon was looking curiously at him. "Oh yes," he said, "and what flower of maidenhood has caught your attention?"
Maedhros tried to answer, but to his shame found he lacked the courage. Rejection by a maiden mattered little, but Fingon was another matter.
"Keep it secret if you like," Fingon said, when the silence had gone on too long. He looked slightly hurt. Maedhros usually told him everything. "Does Maglor know?"
"He guessed, I did not tell him," Maedhros said quickly, when his nod increased Fingon's look of hurt. "It is…a delicate matter."
The look on Fingon's face was one that Maedhros couldn't describe. "I would not have thought you would be delicate in anything…even in love," he said.
Maedhros didn't know how to fill the silence that followed.
"Leaving that matter aside," Fingon said at length. "As I danced with you at your majority-ball, I think we should dance together tonight."
Maedhros paused, taken aback. His earlier confidence deserted him as he considered the consequences for Fingon. "You were below the age of majority then."
"Us dancing together tonight would be thought to have certain…implications."
Fingon's eyes flashed. "Since when do you care about idle gossip, Fëanorian?"
"I'm thinking of you," Maedhros replied, sounding calmer than he felt. "My father will not care overmuch, but yours will certainly have words to say about it and he will not be the only one."
Fingon got down off the wall. Grabbing Maedhros' hand, he pulled him to standing as well. "You tell me nothing I do not already know," he said, leading Maedhros towards the curtains and the ballroom. "And I see no reason not to dance with you. The implication of our dance will be that I love you – and I have no objection to people knowing that."
And he pulled Maedhros through the curtains and into the ballroom before the latter could say anything more.
In the end Maedhros barely noticed the stares and murmurs as they danced (and there were plenty). His mind was occupied by Fingon's last statement. Had he meant it the way it had sounded? Or did he just mean love between cousins, or friends?
"Don't be surprised if Fingolfin comes over here," Maglor told them, as Maedhros and Fingon left the floor and went to stand with him. "He does not look happy."
Maedhros debated whether to look. Fingon turned round and waved merrily to his father.
"Are you mad?" Maedhros hissed, grabbing his hand. "Fingon the valiant may soon be Fingon the deceased if you continue to provoke him."
Fingon grinned back at him. "You're so cute when you're paranoid," he said, fluttering his eyelashes.
The remark, which a few years ago he would have answered with a quick retort, completely floored Maedhros. He muttered a bit, flushing bright red. Fingon's eyes travelled from Maedhros to Maglor (who was rolling his eyes) and back again several times. He looked thoughtful.
"I'm going to go soothe Adar for a while," Fingon said, a small smile dancing around his lips. "Save me another dance for later…Maitimo." He strolled off.
Maglor's eyebrows shot up to meet his hairline at Fingon's choice of name. Maitimo was the name Maedhros' mother had given him. It meant 'well-formed one', prompting many jokes among the brothers about what a pretty baby Maedhros must have been. But now, with Maedhros grown up, tall and well-built, it took on other connotations. For Fingon to say it like that…
He turned to Maedhros, who was staring after Fingon. "My brother, I suspect that your pursuit may be easier than anticipated," he said, grinning. "That is, if you get to do any chasing at all…"
Fingon's attempts to soothe his father took longer than anticipated and they didn't manage a second dance. This was probably a good thing, since the first one had caused enough uproar.
Maedhros retired to his guest chambers as soon as the ball ended and made ready for bed. He was no longer sure what was happening. When the night had started, he'd been trying to work out how to woo Fingon. Now it seemed the tables had been turned.
He heard a noise from outside and the next moment a gentle tapping on his balcony doors. He got out of bed and opened them.
"Good evening," Fingon said, with a predatory look Maedhros had never seen before in his eyes.
"How did you get here?" Maedhros asked, nervously retreating to the bed.
Fingon let himself in and locked the doors behind him. "My rooms are right next door. It's not a difficult climb."
"Won't your father realise you're out of bed?"
"Not likely," Fingon said airily, "I've locked my door from the inside. Which reminds me…" He strolled over to Maedhros' bedroom door and turned the key in the lock. "There…privacy."
Fingon came to sit beside him on the bed. "I thought we should talk," he said, in a more serious tone.
"I expect so," Maedhros replied, trying to sound in control.
Fingon gently took Maedhros' hand in his. "I don't know if you noticed, but the last time we visited together – I found my feelings for you had changed," he said, making the words that Maedhros found so difficult sound easy. "I no longer thought of you as just a friend. It wasn't until tonight that I thought…that might be true for you also."
In all the fantasies he'd had about this moment, he'd pictured himself declaring his love while Fingon listened. He should have known that it wouldn't work that way. Maedhros might be older, but Fingon had always been the leader of the two.
"When you say that…do you mean you think of me as a brother or as…something else?" Maedhros asked, needing to be certain.
"I mean…" Fingon said, rising off the bed to kneel on the floor in front of him. "I, Fingon of the house of Fingolfin, ask leave to court you, Maedhros of the house of Fëanor with a view to marriage," he grinned, "when Adar has cooled down a bit."
Maedhros's eyes widened at the formal declaration. It was enough to tell him that Fingon meant what he said.
"I should like that," he said, unable to recall any proper response.
"Good," Fingon said, and kissed him.
Some minutes later, when they'd gone from vertical to horizontal without actually stopping kissing, Fingon pulled back. Maedhros heard himself make a small sound of protest.
"I was thinking," Fingon said, twirling a lock of Maedhros' thick red hair around his finger. "Do you remember that book you borrowed from your father's private collection the last time I visited?"
Maedhros did. He nodded weakly as all the blood rushed away from his head.
"I seem to remember reading that it used to be tradition for a young elf to be…initiated into the arts of love on the night of his majority," Fingon said slowly, his eyes not leaving Maedhros'. "By someone older and more experienced. Someone he trusted. Even someone he loved. I think that's a tradition we should resurrect."
Maedhros managed a weak smile. "I don't think I count as more experienced," he said.
"Minor detail," Fingon replied, grinning. "I'm sure we can work it out…"
The house of Fëanor rode home the next morning, all those over the age of majority (and Maglor, who was older in mind than body) pretending not to notice that Maedhros kept wincing every time he went over a bump.
"I have spoken with Fingolfin," Fëanor said casually. "And he has agreed that Fingon will visit us shortly. It will probably be a long visit."
Maedhros looked at his father and wondered how he had managed that. Fingolfin's mood last night had been nothing to what it had been this morning. It hadn't helped that Maedhros had winced when he'd sat down at the breakfast table, prompting Fingon to look smug all through the meal. When Fingon had called him Maitimo again (in what could reasonably be called a suggestive tone), Fingolfin's face had gone the colour of a storm cloud.
Fëanor noticed him looking. "Don't concern yourself with how, my son," he said softly, for Maedhros' ears only. "Just be grateful that I managed it."
That Maedhros certainly was.