Disclaimer--The characters in this story (unless otherwise noted) and the settings and the whole of the Silmarillion belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. Even Morgoth...

Author's note--Generally I write poetry. This is my first fanfic that is -not- poetry, but please R&R anyway. Thanks!

Ash came like soft snow through the unbarred window, which had been opened despite the chill and the bitter tang in the air. Dying breaths of a dying land, painful, labored, the halting breeze flittered over the sooty sill, and into the tower room that looked out over the grim courtyard. Not that it had always been so, for once green trees had grown twined about the tower, as if they and it were one living thing, meshed in a net of green and brown and glittering grey-silver. Yet now the trees were dead, their charred skeletons creaking and crackling in the faded breaths of air, and the stone of the fortress was begrimed with the stain of fire. Once light had shone, but now it was nearly quenched.

Nearly quenched, but not quite. One globed lamp shone from the darkness of the tower room, lighting the face of the sole occupant. Ageless was his countenance, and yet grim years seemed to lie heavy upon him, and he bowed his head as if under a heavy weight as he paced about the room. A roll of parchment he held in his hand, clenching it, unclenching it, and finally throwing it into the embers of the fire upon the hearth. "Aegnor... Angrod.... dead.... and no word of Orodreth or Finrod," he murmured, shaking his head. "And the sons of Feanor... scattered... to what end? Hador, dead.... the Edain...." The king stopped, turning to look out of the window. "What have I done?" A knock sounded at the door, but the elvenking did not answer. He moved not, and only his eyes glittered, the fire in them growing star-bright. He moved not, but his thoughts took him miles away, north and east, into the shadows.

Once the wide plain before the grim Thangorodrim had been green and fair, and many had been his folk and the secondborn who kept the siege about Morgoth's stronghold. Many his folk, far too many, and what of them now, lying in a roofless grave, under a sky sullied and befouled by the reeks and vomits of the Enemy's devilry? If only the others had listened, if only they had attacked! If only--! A wordless cry of rage tore from Fingolfin's lips, and he wrenched the jeweled crown from his head and threw it across the room. It rang as it hit the stone wall, and the son of Finwe went very still. Once again, when it really mattered, they had not listened. Once again, he had failed his people.

"They would have listened to you, Father," he said quietly, his voice breaking. "They would have listened, but you abandoned them! And your favorite son--!" Fingolfin's words were as bitter as the ash-tainted air, and he turned away from the window. "Abandoned by you, betrayed by him.... and now I have failed them as well...." He shook his head once more, and then strode across the room, lifting up the crown of twined silver and gold. "I could not keep them from returning here.... could not keep them back from the Kinslaying... I could not even make you proud of me... I am no king..."

He strode then to the table, and set the crown upon it. He closed his eyes, and for a moment pain and grief creased his brow, but there were none to see it. A soft exhalation, almost a sigh, escaped him, and he nodded, as if reaching a decision long-debated. "It must be so..." He walked to the door, and spoke softly to the one guard, ordering him to ready his great horse. "It must be so," he repeated as he crossed the room once more, pacing again. His silvered mail shifted and rang like many small bells, and he girt his sword-belt around him, and hung from it his sword Ringil in its scabbard. One time more he crossed to the table, and there folded a piece of parchment, and closed it with a seal of wax marked with his signet ring. The letter he then slipped under the crown, and the ring he placed atop it. "Please understand," he whispered softly, and then turned and left the room.

The breath of air grew into a breeze, tugging and pulling at the hangings in the now-empty chamber, causing the embers of the fire to flicker into life, and catching at the curled edges of the king's letter. From the courtyard below could be heard shouts and cries of lamentation, and then the beat of swift hooves, drumming away into the night. And then with a soft sound the seal cracked, and the letter opened slowly like the petals of a doomed flower.

Fingon, my son,

It is with heavy heart I write this to you, knowing as I do that it may well contain my last words to you, unless beyond all hope we should meet once more in the West. Yet I will keep a glimmer of that hope, that you might see me riding back from the North, victorious.

For our hopes have been cheated in this war; the sons of Feanor are scattered and I know not where, and death has come to the House of Finarfin. And we are trapped here in this now-forsaken fortress. What hope have the Noldor now?

I have failed now in my trust, and led the Noldor into ruin. And as I seek in my thoughts redress for these griefs, I can find but one: to face Morgoth himself in combat, and to defeat the might of his armies by defeating him. I have little hope in such endeavor, but I must go, and redeem both our people and myself.

You must not seek to come after me, my son, for I charge you with the rule of our people until and if I should return. You are strong and wise, and I place my faith in you. Lead them well, Fingon, and know that, wherever I am, my thoughts and my trust and my love go with you.

May the Valar watch over you, and the stars guide you. Be well, Fingon; we shall meet again in happiness. Namarie.