Author's Note: Who, me, have a perverse and morbid obsession with character deaths? No way.

It had never been in Fingon's nature to back down from obstacles. He thrived on challenges. So on the field, cut off from Maedhros' company and hemmed in on all sides, his people dying around him, he gripped his sword more tightly, refused to allow his bodyguard to keep him from the fray.

If there was one thing you could say for Fingolfin's eldest son, he had his bravery.

Jerking his sword from the belly of an orc who clawed uselessly at his arm, he happened to look up and saw them. Demons of fire, and behind them- his heart sank. And he knew.

Fingon had seen death before. He saw it now, coming for him, as for a moment he locked eyes with Gothmog, lord of Balrogs, and shivered.

The moment of distraction cost him. An arrow stabbed in under his shoulder-blade – painful, but not lethal. Just a distraction, but it was enough to force him to break that terrible gaze and turn with a snarl, embedding his blade in the helm of the orc nearest him, reaching to snap the shaft of the arrow off, gritting his teeth not to succumb to the pain. So death was approaching. He could face it. And he could win.

Dividing another of those corrupted bodies in half at the waist as he spun, he flung his head back and met the blazing eyes again, half started forward, raised his voice to cry to any left standing, "To me!"

He could hear their screams as they died, as none came and he knew it was because there was no one left to come. His guard closed, hemming him in just as their enemies. And still he could not look away as Gothmog bore down on him.

His guard took the others, lunging forward to his defense. Defiance in every line of his body, Fingon himself leapt forward to meet fire, and fear, and death.

The minutes blurred together, though he could see the last of his guard dying, the bannerman dragged down. Desperate to keep it upright, to keep hope from flagging – in who? – Fingon spun to reach for it, to raise the silver and blue up out of the dirty mud.

His fatal mistake. The whip cracked, loudly, and a burning line of fire wrapped around his knee, throwing him sideways and off balance. He fell.

Fingon fell, knees sinking into the mud, and tried to lunge upright, brandishing his sword and snarling like a wild thing, but the Balrog holding the whip pulled harder and he went down fully, face first, mouth full of bloody mud.

He tried to roll over, to hack at them as they bent in gloating triumph, and was halfway through the stroke before one stepped on his left arm. His momentum unstoppable, bone snapped, violently, and he couldn't keep back a sharp scream. Held on his back no matter how he fought, chest heaving, he knew before it happened what the upraised mace was for, and howled his fury.

He had expected death. He had not expected this.

His left leg below the knee was crushed in one blow, the white hot pain setting his vision red, then black, coming back just in time for the next strike to destroy his right leg. Then they let him go.

He fought to rise. Fought probability and pain and the weight of his body, finally managed to bring his sword to bear with his still useful right arm, to attempt to lunge with bared teeth at their Lord.

Another whip snapped, this one curling around his neck, choking him and sending him crashing back down with a howl of fury. He locked eyes with death again and bared his teeth, summoning all his defiance to scream one last war cry, fighting to raise his sword.

He was still screaming when the mace slammed into his chest. Even in death, his dull eyes, glazing, held no fear.

They left him, trampled and defiled, sprawled broken beside the blue and silver stars of his banner, stained and streaked with red mud. His right hand was still clenched around the hilt of his sword. All the attempts of the looters could not pry it loose.


He hadn't known.

That bothered him, somehow. He'd always felt that somehow, if Fingon died, he would feel it, like a light going out, or like a pain in his own heart. Always been certain that he would know if his friend perished fighting, even if they were separated by miles. Especially if they were separated by little more than a few meters.

Morgoth's beasts had gone. Why not? They had won, and they knew it, and glutted themselves on blood besides, soiled the bodies of the dead, stolen what they could grab, and stormed off victorious.

He didn't know who brought him the banner, but he didn't recognize it at first. Torn, caked with mud and blood, the emblem of the Dark Lord plainly visible written in blood, the blue field and silver stars were almost lost.

When they offered it to him, though, heads lowered, he began to suspect, and took it. The mud smeared under his hands, revealing a silver star, stubbornly glowing through the foul mixture, surrounded by blue.

His heart stopped beating. No. Just because – it was only a banner. It meant nothing. Fingon had not survived the shifting ice of Helcaraxë to perish here. No. Eru would not…

And a small voice whispered, Eru has turned his back on all of you, you fool.

No.

He heard his voice, hoarse and barely audible, "Where?" And followed where he was led, still holding the banner though he hardly knew why. It seemed to matter, somehow. Why, Maedhros would have been at a loss to say, but it did matter. The silence of the field was eerie, without the cries of the wounded, just the dead. For miles, the dead.

They hadn't just killed him, of course. They wouldn't have, even if his entire company was broken and it was only him, standing alone, defiant to the last. His guard were scattered broken around him, fallen defending their lord, and the mutilations of their bodies were almost afterthoughts. They no longer even had the power to make him sick.

Fingon, though…Findekáno. Trampled into the mud, the gold ribbon threaded through his hair was loose and barely visible through the mud. It was that that Maedhros fixated on, not the shattered bones, not the ruin of his chest, tunic nearly black with blood; that and the way his eyes stared blankly into forever, mouth twisted in a snarl.

Maedhros dropped to his knees and reached out, not letting his hand tremble, to close his friend's eyes.

Even then, though, it did not look like he is at peace. Never would, in truth. He died fighting, and so it will be. There was too much blood to mistake it for anything else. Too much ruin.

He let his hand drop back to his side and held very still, staring at the wreckage of his friend. The dead carcass that had been his friend.

No.

He was surprised by the sound that boiled up his throat and burst out, a cry of fury and sorrow, that shook him as though it were not quite his own but something greater, something stronger, something powerful and insistent and unstoppable.

Grief.

When it was gone, he felt empty, limp, tears streaming down his face, and leaned forward weeping to kiss Fingon's forehead, lightly. "Send…" His voice broke, briefly. "Send word to Turukáno that his brother is…dead. And you – you…" He indicated the two that had brought the banner. "Bear his body away from here. Southward. When there is green land again – build a tomb…"

He let his voice fade. The cold was settling into his bones, and there wasn't time. The Enemy might return at any time.

He nearly choked on it anyway. "No. Forget…no. We ride together. At once." He forced himself to his feet. "Turukáno will hear for himself." He turned his back and strode away, forcing himself not to look back, not to think.

No time. There was never any time now. Hardly time for the living.

And certainly no time for the dead.

The carrion crows were beginning to circle and land, screeching their hungry cries, as they rode east. So much death, they would feast for weeks. The thought hardly seemed to light on his shoulders and added little weight.