Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Originally posted sometime last year, I returned to this story recently and realized that, while it had elements that I liked very much, it wasn't written in a way that could be easily appreciated by others than myself. I tried to just edit it a bit, but it was proved to need much more than mere editing – and so, having reworked it almost entirely, I present it to you again. Thanks to anolinde and DarkShine for reviewing the original.

And just because I know it's not very clear and I could find no way to make it so, I'll just let you know that in scene IV, Fingon's last line refers to Turgon's dead wife.

Extended Summary: Alternate Universe. In earlier drafts, Tolkien had Morgoth send Maedhros back, but maimed. This is my take on that. Fingon is just as much in love as ever, but times prove hard when the younger sons of Fëanor deem their eldest brother unfit to rule and strip him of his crown. The two lovers struggle with life in a world where Maedhros does not get the chance to pass the crown to Fingolfin, therefore leaving the feud between their families unhealed. I suppose this is a sort of study on the various ways in which we analyze those before us, for better or for worse.


Flawed

I

– Here is thy Brother – calls the Messenger, the orcco, the accursed. Here is thy brother, here is thy brother, here is thy brother. The shadowy horse stamps its feet, the sun is blocked out by clouds, the orc laughs. Sin is redefined in the creature's eyes, but something else is characterized as well: a pain that is deep and dark and brutal, a phenomenon that will soon be mirrored in another's.

Fëanorians scamper from tents and makeshift dwellings in various states of dress and manner; Maglor leads the race. He watches, red lips parted, breath caught in his throat, gazing, a fish out of water. Preoccupied with the Messenger, thick and muscled and ugly, he starts and gasps when a passenger drops from the steed: little more than a starved, skeletal body, with hair like the fire of Anar and blood like nothing else.

The corpse, craggy with thick scars, caked with tendrils of russet and crimson, is not what it seems; it might fog a mirror; it might smash one. Struggling to sit, it has not even the strength to make a movement perceptible by its audience.

–Russandol? – questions Maglor. The inquiry seems almost a command, or desperate plea.

Fingon sits in a nearby tree, drawing back his bowstring again and again until the Messenger is stuck like a pincushion. One more arrow for good luck. Two for his lover's lifeless eyes, three as they open against all odds, the color of dust or stormy skies.

A fëa of ash is a fëanonetheless.

II

There is a blaze of light in every word he speaks: – Fingon, don't leave me – I am so sorry – and so on. Each last utterance is precious.

– Call me something new – he commands one day, in his weak voice that makes Fingon weaker. – It is too late for Maitimo.

– It is never too late – says Fingon listlessly. He traces the scars across the other's back, one by one, memorizing. Just in case.

I must be broken – Maedhros insists. Call him faultless or flawed, call him damaged, shattered, or loved, here he is, waiting for an absolution, waiting for Fingon's warm body against his cold. He insists: – He promised to send me back broken, and here I am.

– Nonsense – says Fingon.

III

One day Caranthir becomes too high and mighty to visit his brother. Passing by the doorway after three days out of sight of flaming hair, he peers in at a pacing Fingon and sleeping Maedhros.

The dark-haired elf gestures to his cousin with reflective, wild motions. Says he: – Look at him. He stinks of nightmares and lost dreams. What do you stink of, Son of Fëanor?

Through this encounter Maedhros slumbers on his side, metaphorical flowers in his hair. A whine like a frightened dog's escapes his chapped lips; next a whimper, then a moan. Fingon abandons the younger elf to return to his lover's side, murmuring sweet nothings and stroke thin tresses until all is quiet once more.

From this time on, Caranthir comes at twilight to stand and watch the content lovers sleep beneathisil-moon.

IV

– Our little Fingon loves an orcco. – teases Turgon. It is not a nice taunt. It makes Fingon's fists clench, his heart race; he imagines himself with hair all on end like an angry cat's. He is, after all, not a Fëanorian, and so does not draw his glistening sword. He snatches a feathery pillow from Idril's nearby bed and hits his brother over the head with it.

– If I ever hear you speak of him that way again –

Yrch, then? – Turgon suggests in teasing spite, eyes hardened. – He is less gallant than my son's wooden soldiers, less alluring than the dirt beneath your feet. A traitor who reeks of ice and starvation and death. This is what you love.

Fingon says: – And you don't love at all.

That is a low blow. The two do not speak for the rest of the day.

V

– You know we would all forgive you, if you were to admit he is past saving.

It is Fingolfin speaking. Fingon stares in undisguised abhorrence. Love is never past saving, and Fingon is perfectly in love, locked in a flawed romance with a broken body and raw lips, with hair like flames and eyes like dust. He replies:

– I can save him.

– The damned must wait for Judgment Day, Fingon, not for your love.

The day grows silent as Fingon grows shunned. His feet bring him ever back to his cousin, his ashen and unbalanced cousin – mad, some say – his cousin who spends his days counting every last floorboard and crack in the wall. His cousin who will soon be unwillingly crownless.

– It is for the best – says Fingolfin. The crown would be too heavy, too ornate, too beautiful against fiery hair and pallid skin. A madman cannot reign. – It is for the best, it is all for the best.

– You will accept the rule of a Fëanorian? – It is said with a tone of mistrust. Fingon scuffs at the dirt furiously with the toe of his boot. – High King Celegorm, indeed.

– I will accept no such thing. We pack and move south this very night.

– I stay.

Fingolfin, the taller but not stronger, cups the younger's cheek with willowy fingers. He meets his son's eyes directly, the furious, piercing gaze that screams of defiance and hope beyond hope. The younger looks away.

– So be it – says the father.

VI

And forth came the First Children, the Fair Ones, the Blessed, two of whom sit by the side of Lake Mithrim, Maedhros with his head on Fingon's strong shoulder.

They fit together faultlessly, two pieces of a puzzle too large to comprehend. They interlock like never before, as though newfound strengths and failings have formed curves and indents that connect in ways they could not have in the past.

Maedhros commands: – Tell me I could have been a good king.

– You could have been a good king.

– Tell me you love me.

– I love you.