Disclaimer: Characters, events, all created by the great Master Tolkien. This writer owns nothing but the strange notions about stuff.

Author's note:

*** "A hand is a remarkable work of engineering. A palm, four fingers, and an opposable thumb can perform acts sufficient to distinguish one as an individual, a complete and unique being. Two hands, working together, can accomplish a far vaster range of tasks than any one could achieve. Three hands is the minimum number to represent a family unit…" / Tom Smith, notes on "Falling Free" ***

Don't ask me what that's the proper quote – it just *is*. Hearing the song is a good idea.

This is for the many Maedhros fans out there – the guy just forced me to write him…!

My father was to have been King.

I still have recollections of him from a gentler, better time, before the jewels, before the madness. Those I keep to myself and do not share with any, not even my brothers, and they are my most treasured memories, my most cherished thoughts. They are the only thing that I treasure and cherish that none can take from me, neither Elf nor Man nor god, nor even the Curse.

Still I remember him when it is dark, and I recall the light of the Trees, and those bring to me memories, distant and hazy through waves of bright crimson, of the glory of the Silmarils. And those I remember only in my father's hands.

I remember my father's hands, almost better than I remember his face, and that latter memory fades daily, the less real it seems and important. I think perhaps in a short time, the only memory of his face I will have will be bloodied and twisted with agony as after the Battle under Starlight, and then the image will go up in flames.

But I remember my father's hands, and that memory I shall never forget. Large, strong hands, delicate and yet with the strength of many, gentle to the touch of metal as they would not and could never be to the touch of flesh. Clearly I remember their touch on my head, always hard without meaning to be, always strong as if I had no need to stand on my own, rather the strength of my father's hands would keep my on my feet. Strangely and in sleepless nights, I remember the smell of ash and burnt metal and flesh, and it is clearer than all other memories. I no longer recall his voice, not anymore.

But I remember my father's hands, which seemed to contain all the power in the world; I remember them clutching tightly three stars of flawless radiance.

My father was to have been King, High King of the Noldor, High King of the Elves in the Blessed Realm, High King of the exiles, High King of the Dispossessed.

My father, Feanor Curufinwe, creator the Silmarils, destroyer of Alqualonde, slayer of demons, slayer of kin.

He would not have been afraid to run in a dark forest, even at night when the moon is faint between the treetops, even with smoke rising from afar.

Even if the trees reach to grab and snap and tear and wound.

Why do I fear it, then?

Smoke is in the distance, rising away into the night sky, darkening the stars of the Lady Elbereth, covering all other smells, hindering the sight of all that is behind me. There still stand my brothers, those still living, there they stand over the ruins of Doriath, pride and joy of the Sindar Elves, beloved home of our kin. There they stand, bloodstained swords of my father's making in one hand, torches in the other, looking into the night and calling my name.

"Maedhros!" They call, in the distance I can hear them. "What is it you seek?"

But I am not listening, and I pay no mind to their cries nor to the light of their torches, far away, where Doriath burns by our hand. There proud stone walls are rabble and shattered glass is scattered in the streets and blood pools, and there Celegorm my brother lies dead, slain by Dior the Half-Elven. From there children flee, their parents lying dead, from there flees Elwing daughter of Dior, but her brothers are nowhere to be found.

And me…

I am seeking the sons of my brother's slayer.

The woods are dark and seem endless, the branches are long and their leafs are dead, long dead, dead as the Elves that loved them. Perhaps they are alive; perhaps the souls of the dead seek in them sanctuary, one moment more to be stolen of this world before leaving to Mandos. Perhaps that is where they hide and soon they will reach out, and they will take my soul and bury it under their tall roots, the only place it is worthy of being.

But I run, and I cut their branches with my sword, wielded in the left hand better than it was wielded in the right. A good sword, firm and of metal bright, and the Star of my father's house shining upon the scabbard.

A good sword, of my father's making. He was to first to create their likes, none before him could, had not the skill, the will, the insolence. Of all the Elves of the Blessed Realm he was the first to make weapons, take arms and call to his kin to learn to wield sword, shield and bow. In many years' time they will have need of it.

My father taught all of his sons the art of wielding his weapons. In his hands the sword was sure and quick and deadly. I remember my father's hands, wielding the sword, bright in the light of the Trees, bright under the stars in Alqualonde, bright in the fires of Morgoth's hordes. I remember they never trembled, not once.

But now my hands tremble as I cut through the undergrowth, and I push away branches and leafs, yet there is still darkness ahead of me. My footing is unsure and my breath is ragged, and I no longer see the fires from afar, but no matter.

Somewhere out there are the boys, somewhere out there are the sons of my brother's killer, Dior Kinslayer, now he is no better than us.

Save perhaps for us still living.

But somewhere out there, his sons still live, and must go on living, must, if I am to have a saying in the matter. And who else, who else but me?

"Elurin! Elured! Come out, for I will not harm you!"

But why am I wasting my breath? What reason have they to believe me?

Yet I press on, somewhere out there they wait, and though I cannot see the sky and I cannot know where I am going, and though I know well that I am lost, perhaps never to return, I must go on. I must go on as my father would have. I remember his hands; I can picture them to myself pushing away the trees on my track, clearing away the darkness. Somewhere, somewhere…

The fires have faded in the distance, and I can no longer smell the smoke. The sounds are fading, no more are out there voices calling out in pain or rage or heat of battle. Only my brothers call to me, my still living brothers, bloodstained swords in their hands.

"Maedhros! What are you seeking?"

What am I seeking, indeed? What are those children to me?

The night grows heavy and cold, the skies grow darker, if that be possible. Above me the treetops are dark, and they seem to grow lower, they seem to press down on me, seek to hold me and stay my path, seek to lead me astray. Somewhere out there are those children, innocent Elven children who should not have yet seen a city blaze. Somewhere out there they wander, lost and frightened, perhaps holding each other's hand, as to not separate. Small Elven hands…

What are those children to me? What are the sons of my brother's slayer?

Now my thoughts wander to Celegorm, as sooner or later they would. I know he is dead, I felt it in my heart, my brothers felt it, as we knew well we would. Over the sea in the Blessed Realm, our poor mother felt it, but of her I no longer think. My memories of her are faint and seem meaningless, I remember my father's hands in her hair…

What are you seeking, Maedhros Kinslayer? Are you seeking penance? Have you the insolence to think you may receive it?

By saving two small children, two Elven children? How many children died in Alqualonde? How many in the crossing of the Helcaraxe? How many in Doriath?

I do not know what I am seeking. Blindly I run, thoughtlessly I run, stumbling through the forest, lost in the darkness, gasping for air, straining to see the stars. But there is nothing but the woods and smoke and dark, my world is black as it always was. There is no light in the distance, as I knew there will not be, somewhere in the distance are the sons of my brother's slayer, somewhere in the dark, holding small children's hands…

I remember my father's hands; I remember their support, their power, the glory that came from their works. I remember the light my father's hands caught and shaped. Their power strengthens me, their light guides me. Deep in the wood, from where the ruins of Doriath cannot be seen, I run tearing through the woods like fire, I run haunted by the image of small Elven hands.

What are you seeking, Maedhros Kinslayer? The children of your brother's killer?

The trees become denser, and now there is snow falling, and the ground becomes hard and I fall more than once. And my hands are frozen and aching and my sword falls from my grasp. Forward I fall, and I do not rise again. Somewhere out there, somewhere in the darkness, small Elven hands…

I remember my father's hands, I remember my palms in his when I was young, when I was small and frail, I remember how much larger they seemed. My trembling, frozen hands are as large as my father's, my grip is my sword is as strong as his, forth from my hands comes light.

Forth from my hands comes fire, consuming cities and lives.

What are you seeking?

Small Elven hands.

Yet untouched, yet untried, seeming so frail, seeming as if they would never grow…

Small Elven hands, forth from them comes no strength, no gentleness, no light…

What are you seeking, Maedhros Kinslayer? What can you possibly change?

The cry of wolves rouses me, and slowly I rise to my feet and turn around. From the distance I can still smell the smoke, and it will make me a trail by which to return. The snow is deep and heavy and the trees are harsh, reaching out to tear clothes and skin and borrow into flesh. Somewhere in the darkness, the ruins of Doriath await.

And I walk back to the ruins, and I am alone, and I remember my father's hands.

And I wonder for but one moment if they were always so large and strong and skilled. But for one moment, I wonder how small my father's hands must have been once.

But that is only one moment, one simple moment. And then I have no regrets.