A/N: I'm nervous about this. Really nervous. But one must take risks sometimes, right?
Celegorm's voice was harsh, his head tilted back in the chair, and he didn't look at his brother as he entered. "He's dead." His face was haggard, drawn, weary. It took a moment to realize who was dead.
"That was kind of the point, wasn't it?"
It took Kurvo a moment to realize that the wracking sound from his elder brother was laughter. He swore, quietly, to himself. "Was it?"
"Of course it was the point. You said you wanted power. Nargothrond. You were the one who brought it up."
"I know." His elder brother lifted a hand to his face. Curufin couldn't see his expression. "Have you seen Tyelperinquar?"
Curufin shrugged. "He hasn't gone anywhere."
"But have you spoken to him?"
"Neither have I," Celegorm said in a queer voice. "I tried. He won't speak to me. I thought maybe…"
"You know how close we've been recently," Curufin almost snapped, feeling a brief twinge of guilt. He knew he should be paying closer attention to his son. But with the war and so many things to do…it was just easy to forget, especially when the boy spent all of his time in the forges anyway.
"I know." Celegorm turned and looked at Curufin, his face still shadowed, but as easily readable as always. That was Tyelkormo, with his open-book face, honest, clear, gray eyes and slightly serious set to his mouth. It was that earnest lack of deceit that made everything he said so convincing. It was just a pity that his elder brother had never really figured out how to use that to his benefit. But between his words and his brother's face…they could convince anyone. He realized that Tyelko was giving him a slightly odd look and focused.
"They say he died at the teeth of Sauron's wolves."
Curufin grimaced. What an unfortunate time for his brother to develop a conscience. "Yes, I know. What are you driving at?"
"They're already telling stories. The last stand of Finrod Felagund." He paused, head tilting slightly to the side. "Did we do the right thing?"
Curufin sighed. "Yes," he said, reassuringly as he had so many times before, back to when they were children and he wanted something he knew his older brother could get for him but that might not have quite been allowed, "Yes, I'm sure."
Tyelkormo hesitated, and then shook his head. "I don't think so." He leaned his face on his hand, thoughtfully, that serious and convincing mouth frowning a bit. "What did Findarato do to us?"
Kurvo grimaced and went to his brother, meeting his eyes evenly. "You know. You've seen how Nargothrond has turned against us. Do you think that is just coincidence? He's turned them on us, poisoned their thoughts."
"But he's dead," said Tyelko, blankly, and Curufin resisted an urge to kick him. Dense. He took a deep breath instead.
"Before…clearly he made provisions, when he saw we were winning them over…perhaps he isn't dead at all. News is corrupted, often, and it's possible there's a mistake…" He watched a little of the tension leak away and was relieved. Tyelko frowned more, though, expression now pensive.
"He'll come to his senses," Curufin said dismissively. "It's probably nothing. He's probably just busy with some new project. You know how he gets." The ghost of a smile flickered on his brother's face.
"As bad as you used to be." Curufin said nothing. He hadn't touched a forge in years. In honesty, perhaps he was afraid of what he would make. Tyelkormo sighed and tilted his head back again, looking at the high ceiling of the room. There was a silence.
Tyelko's voice was quiet and odd again as he said softly, "I want to go home."
Curufin feigned confusion. "Home? This is home. Has been for years." Celegorm shook his head.
"No – I mean home. Valinor."
"Well, you can stop wishing for that," Kurvo said, more harshly than he meant to, and his brother flinched.
Curufin sighed and shook his head, turning away. "What's done is done, and can't be undone," he said, clearly, and his brother echoed the words.
"That's not comforting, really. What if…someone wanted to undo something? To go back and do it again?" Curufin turned, startled, and stared at his brother, but Celegorm wasn't looking at him, his gaze troubled and clouded, those clear eyes oddly uncertain. "What if…someone wanted to change something enough. To fix things. Could they?"
"Don't talk nonsense," Kurvo said sharply, "It doesn't matter if they could. They don't need to. You've done nothing wrong." He turned away. "Come. Go out. Go hunting with me. It's not good to linger on such things."
Celegorm stood, brightening. "I'll get Huan."
"No!" Curufin said, sharply, and then moderated his tone. "No. Just us, today." His brother had been glad when the hound returned. But Kurvo mistrusted him, disliked the way he watched with too intelligent eyes, disliked his brother's attachment to the beast that had already betrayed them once. To his relief, Celegorm hesitated, and nodded.
He scanned his brother's face, frowning at the haze in those usually clear eyes that knew what they wanted, even surer than any of the others, confident, unwavering, true. But now, for whatever reason, his brother was wavering. Not for the first time, he wished their father were here. He would guide them. He would have kept them true to their Oath.
But that was useless, and he would not expend the energy wishing. What's done is done, and can't be undone. He felt a little chill at his own words, wondering what Tyelkormo thought he wanted to change. Wondering what, if it were possible, he himself would change.
He shook off the thoughts like flies. "Let's go," he said, hearing the harsh note in his voice, a chill of foreboding crawling briefly up his spine. He would stay strong.
Even if all the rest fell, he would stay strong. He kept his word.