UNDER THE CURSE
Silmarillion-based (but for Fingon being unmarried, see HoMe, Volume 12, The Peoples of Middle-earth: The Shibboleth of Fëanor, note 35).
Warning: Fingon/Maedhros slash. Homo-erotic content. R, to be on the safe side
Disclaimer: Characters and background all belong to Tolkien. Plot definitely doesn't, and it's quite possible it would make the Author turn in his grave once more.
The Mereth Aderthad, the Feast of Reuniting made by King Fingolfin had been splendid and joyous. In the green lands near the pools of Ivrin at the foot of the Ered Wethrin, Noldor and Grey Elves had feasted long under the young Sun and Moon, celebrating friendship, swearing oaths of league and taking counsels to ensure peace for the realms of Beleriand. The shadow in the North had seemed dim and distant to those who toasted under the stars and sang and danced amidst the flowers of spring.
Now, most of the guests had left for their homes. It was a quiet night under a near-full moon, and the remaining Elves, mainly Noldor of Fingolfin's own following, rested beside the dying fires. Some were silent, some were singing softly, while others again spoke of the glamours of past days, or their hopes for the years to come. Ambling alone along the bank of the rushing river Narog, Fingolfin was content, or as content as could be. Elu Thingol had sent greetings by the mouth of two messengers, but his failure to appear at the feast slightly marred its perfection, for it meant that the king of the Grey Elves of Doriath remained on his guard against the Noldor.
As well he might - though he did not yet know why, Fingolfin found himself thinking while he bent away from the loud stream and entered the woods to avoid a stretch of marshy ground. A flicker of guilt leapt up in his heart, but he quenched it. He would not dwell on the Kinslaying, not here, not now amidst these trees whose crowns obscured his view of the sky. There was a glade nearby, he knew, and there he could sit down to dream under the stars for a while, before he went back to his people.
With soundless feet and night-sharp eyes he trod the turf, seeking for a moonlit arch in the wall of black stems. When at last he found the glade he saw that it was not empty; others had gone there before him.
Fingolfin froze in the shadows of the forest. Less than twenty yards away two figures, one slightly taller than the other, were locked in a frenzied embrace, their mouths clinging together. But instead of being male and female, as might have been proper, both were men. They had shed their cloaks, belts and tunics, their leggings were unlaced at the front, and they ground their hips together in a way that left little to be guessed. Even from where he lurked in the shadows he could hear their ragged breathing and their low groans.
The satisfaction he felt about the feast dissolved. It would have been revolting enough if these lovers had been two strangers, or even two members of his retinue. What made it almost unbearable was that one of the two was his own son Fingon.
Fingolfin averted his face, without even having seen who the other was. Aghast, gasping for air, he took a step backwards to lean against a tree bole, his mind reeling, his soul in turmoil. He had not wanted to know this. He fervently wished to leave, to slam the gates of his memory shut on this unbidden vision – or to believe it was a deceit of the Enemy, used against him to destroy his peace, visited on him for his part in the wrongs of the past.
Yet he knew it could not be so.
In a few strides he was inside the glade, taking care to make just enough noise. And indeed, as soon as the two heard him they backed away from each other, their faces deathly pale in the silvery moonlight.
Fingon uttered a strangled cry when he saw his father. The other, the taller of the two kept his silence. Now Fingolfin recognized him, one copper braid flaming against the white skin of his bare shoulder, the wild gray eyes in his handsome face forever clouded by the memory of unbearable agony. His left hand rested on his hip. His other arm was hidden by his body, but Fingolfin knew it ended in a stump.
It was Maedhros, the son of his half-brother Fëanor, and Fingon's cousin. Half-cousin, Fingolfin said to himself, clutching at the thin straw line that separated this ignoble act from the worse outrage of incest.
At times they had left the feast together, carrying swords to suggest that they intended to spar. Not once had he suspected they would do aught else. The blades were unsheated, he saw, lying discarded in the grass. Had they fought to heat themselves, to edge each other on?
His son and Fëanor's had been close friends in Valinor, from the time Fingon was still young in years. Maedhros had been his example and teacher in many things until they became equals, sharing many pursuits and pleasures. But pleasures of what kind? Fingon's father had cause to wonder now. Could it be they had become lovers in the Blessed Realm, even before the lies of Morgoth and Fëanor's madness led the Noldor astray, and the curse of Mandos fell on them? Fingolfin cringed at the thought.
They stood motionless, all three; years could have fled by as easily as heartbeats when at last the king spoke, forcing the words over his lips. 'When did this start?'
It was Maedhros who answered in a steady voice. 'After he freed me from my torment on Thangorodrim, where Morgoth hung me naked from the rock face by one wrist. Your son came to my aid even though he believed me to have betraye him when the ships burned at Losgar. He helped me overcome the loss of the hand he had to sever. He taught me to wield a blade with my other hand until I could best him. Who would have done as much, my lord?' The voice grew fierce. 'All praised him for rescuing my body, none praised him for saving my mind, not even you.'
'And to show him your gratitude you took him for a mate, to rut like animals in the woods?' Fingolfin spat, though in his heart he was relieved to hear this taint did not hark back to Valinor.
It was Fingon who spoke. Fingolfin turned towards his son, who had begun to lace up his leggings with none too steady fingers, though his eyes held a challenge. 'He took naught,' Fingon said. 'Do not vent your anger at his sire on him, atarinya*! Between us, there is no taking, only giving. Thus it has been from the beginning. But we did not recognize our mutual need and longing, nor the true nature of our bond, until the Eagle bore us back from Thangorodrim, Maedhros resting against me, while I tried to stem the flow of his blood with my hands.'
'Indeed,' Fingolfin said darkly. 'You do have blood on your hands. As has Maedhros. As have I. The blood of the mariners of Alqualondë, our kin, whom we slew for no just cause. It is the curse of Mandos, the Doom of the Noldor, that has brought you to such perversion, and condemns me to witness it. This is wrong. When the Quendi first awoke beside the waters of Cuiviénen, each man had a woman beside him, and that is how things must be.' He thought of his own spouse, who had refused to leave the Undying Lands with him. 'And if you can or will not see this is a violation of our very nature, will you at least save a shred of dignity, and cease?'
Fingon was finished with his leggings. Now he dropped to one knee before Maedhros and raised his hands. For one moment, Fingolfin feared his son would defy him by doing the unspeakable before his very eyes. But Fingon merely knelt to lace up Maedhros's leggings as well. Belatedly it struck Fingolfin that this was an act difficult to perform with one hand; his son wanted to spare his lover the embarrassment of having to fumble with his clothes before such unkind eyes as those of the High King Fingolfin. The mocking smile on Maedhros's lips was the image of Fëanor's, and Fingolfin hated him for it.
Then he saw his living hand, the left one, go up as by old habit, and caress Fingon's long, black plaits.
'Will you cease?' the king shouted desperately, knowing it to be vain.
His son rose to his feet, exchanging a look with Maedhros. For a long time they spoke not, and he saw their chests heave and fall as one.
'My lord,' Maedhros answered at last, 'I relinquished the high-kingship of the Noldor to you, and I will defer to you in all other things – but not in this. Shout it from the hilltops if you must, that all may despise us and cast us out, but I shall not cease unless Fingon bids me do so, for I love him.'
'Neither of us is bound to a woman, nor will we be, bound as we are to one another,' said Fingon. 'If this will add to our stay in the Halls of Mandos, even to the end of the world, so be it. But I deem that the Kinslaying brought us as low as we could fall. Compared to it, even this… taint seems a virtue. I will not leave him.' His mouth set.
Then you are my kin no more, Fingolfin wanted to say. Suddenly he shivered in the night wind, though he was fully clad. They were still half-naked, yet they did not shiver, as if their hearts were hot enough to keep all chills at bay.
He did not speak the words. Instead, he turned away to stride from the clearing. He did not look back to see what they would do, and shut his ears to what they might say yet.
Groping his way back through the woods as if his sight failed him, Fingolfin brooded on their words, attempting to comprehend his own son and his brother's, marveling at this ill chance, or strange fate, that had befallen them in these dying lands. By the time he could see the stars again he had decided not to let it come between them and him. Divided, none of them would stand against the Shadow.
And though he knew it was not in his power to forgive these two, he dearly wished that he could.
* Quenya for 'my father'