Sometimes in his quiet mind, queer fantasies took shape. He thought of his mother, the sweet smell of her skin and the brush of her hair. He thought of the taste of his cousin's lips, or his father's whispered warnings of danger.

He wrapped his hands with strangling strength around the railing of this balcony and forced himself to look down.

The walls of his mind fell away, vertigo sweeping him up and threatening to dash him against the rocks like gnashing teeth. For a dizzy moment, he wanted to vault over the edge and dive as into water – but the moment passed, leaving only a black shiver behind.

My life is not my own, now, he thought, and a moment later wondered who else it belonged to. The wind rose, blowing his hair away from his face. Queer fantasies.

His hands constricted on the marble as though it were flesh and he watched the life abandon his pale blue eyes, fixed on nothing and forever, heartbeat no more than a drunkard's stagger.


The howling within his ears died, and he turned sharply, back pressed against the railing as if it would reveal all of his secrets. His expression was less anger and more fear; the fox, trapped, that will chew off its own paw to get free.

He found his smile. "Sister," as if that word alone would somehow bind them more closely together. Her eyes were the pure, clear blue of the sky whose infinity would pull him into pieces, and his smile trembled.

"I didn't see you today – in the hall."

"No. Should I have been there?" He made his voice careless, callous, as though he did not know already exactly what day it was, cruelly satisfied by the brief hurt in her eyes.

"I missed you." No, whispered a soft and poisonous voice, no, you did not, you are lying. You only wanted me there to see me suffer.

He shrugged and turned away to look out north, the shadow of black mountains creeping in his mind. "My apologies. I did not realize my presence was necessary." He had never liked this place. He half closed his eyes and watched in his mind the world below him burning.

He could hear her frown. "Tuor hoped that he might speak to you. That as your cousin, now, you may put aside your enmity. He asked if you might go hunting with him." The dark reared up, gaping wide, and he hunched his shoulders, remembering the grotesque with Tuor's face, grinning, pulling skin from muscle as he lay bent back over a bloody altar –

He said nothing.

"Lomión?" She said, beside him now, but he didn't turn his head lest she observe the blackness of his eyes that might lead all the way back into his mind and the dark thoughts therein. "You are quiet."

Why should I have any reason to say anything, he could have asked her. "So I am." He felt strangely empty and detached, and looking down the rocky slope the teeth winked back at him. Ask me, he thought bleakly. Ask me what is wrong with me. I could tell you of blood and darkness and hellfire, and maybe then you would at least have pity for your small and shriveled cousin. She shuddered, and he watched her look away in disgust. His reverie ended.

"I'm going out scouting." Tell me to stay, if it matters. He turned and saw her back to him, her narrow shoulders white and smooth, drawn up toward her ears. Eru help me.

"Why are you here, cousin?" She asked, almost sharply, and he did not answer. If I stand here any longer, he thought, I'll fall. For a moment, vertigo overwhelmed him and he staggered, foot slipping on the edge and sliding toward oblivion. For a moment he was filled with terrible lassitude, no urge to stop himself or fight the pull of the ground.

She caught his arm and him and jarred him back to life; he gasped as though surfacing from deep water and started at her as though he'd never seen her before. "Are you all right?" She pulled him away from the railing, and his hands slipped limply loose, stranglehold broken. "You look pale…sick."

I'm going to fall, he wanted to babble. He wants me to die. He seized her wrist and pulled her close to tell her how he was afraid, but his mouth changed the words.

"Don't," he said, not knowing the wildness of his own life and eyes. "Don't marry him. You can't." In desperation, he invoked the only relationship that she would understand. "Sister-" Somehow disaster must be delayed, he thought, somehow he could hold it off. But this was the condition – the only condition.

Her voice had changed, icy cold now. "Let go of me, cousin."

The wind wrapped its hands around his chest and thrust long fingers down his throat to stopper his voice. Shadows loomed and reached for him, mouthing hungry words. "Itarildë," one of them thundered, "What in Námo's name is – unhand her, what do you think-"

For a moment, his mind was so full of hate that he thought his mouth had filled with venom, and he spat it into its blue eyes, coils unfolding to squeeze the life from every piece of flesh and bone and muscle.

And then it was gone, and he stepped back, looking at this his rival, his enemy, with nothing more than bleak disinterest in his eyes. His mouth moved without direction, the thoughts in his mind somehow not connected to the words. I will kill you, he thought, savagely, I will see you suffer forever, and you will be grateful for the mercy of my killing hands.

His cousin watched him, and he turned his eyes on her and wondered what she saw. His tongue came back to him at last. "Your bride is beautiful," he said, quietly, and Tuor's laughter, though genuine, seemed awful and hollow.

"Come inside, cousin," she said quietly. Moths of death flapped their wings behind his eyes, trying to burst free.

"No," he said. Hating this place, it drew him all the same, "I will not be here long. I am sorry to have missed your wedding."

He heard her breathe as though she was about to say something, but all she said was, "Have care." What care, he thought. Yours?

A very slight nod, and he turned quietly away. Distant and strange, he imagined casting off the trappings of his body and winging westward across the sea, to the land his mother had once known. But there was no place for a bird so dark as he there.

He thought of the knife, sharp enough to cut silk, tucked under the pillow in his room. Thought of stroking the blade along his wrists alone with a single lamp for company, and how he considered pressing it just a little deeper and letting them find him on a bed of blood in the morning – let them wonder why, let them blame themselves, and none of it would be his concern. Sometimes it seemed a fabulous thing, to die.

He thought of bringing that same blade across Tuor's throat, red blood on white marble like a sacrifice, beautiful and brutal, and then he was falling again, and the fiery teeth below seemed to slaver for his blood.


She had not gone. He turned, and found his smile, and did not understand why she shrank away and Tuor's hand twitched toward where a sword might be, because he could not see his own eyes and know that they were full of nothing. "Are you certain you wish to be alone," she asked, and for a moment he almost said it, no, stay with me. There is something dead in me, but maybe you can bring it back.

"Of course," his mouth lied. "Go on. It's a beautiful afternoon."

They left him alone. The wind rose again and dashed him against the rocks, and in his emptiness there was nothing to do but shatter.