My brother and I sleep close together to fight off the fear of the darkness.
We lie together while the shadows reign, bodies intertwined and skin touching so that you cannot tell where one of us ends and the other begins, hair dark and red mingled on the mat under us.
He calls my name in his sleep, and I touch the pale skin of his throat to feel the swift palpitations of his heart and pull him deeper into my arms, tightening my hold so he cannot get away. My hands stray across the skin of his back and up towards his neck. I hold him.
He fights sometimes, but that is when he is more fully asleep. He mostly stays awake, hand locked onto my wrist, whimpering if I pull away but never saying anything. He brushes his lips on my jawbone.
It is not quite love, although I love my brother more than anything; indeed, we have been best friends since before I can remember. Maitimo was always the strong one, the brave one - invulnerable Maitimo, who protected me.
And now he seems so frail when we cling to each other in the darkness, hands trembling as he presses his chest against mine and wraps his arms around my back.
"Sing for me," he asks, and his voice is cracked, broken, pleading, terrified. "Sing for me, Makalaurë."
I sing. The lullaby from Tirion is a sweet melody, very simple, and I sing softly into his ear in the nighttime as the tangles of his hair brush my cheek.
He does not sleep. Even my voice cannot stave off the everlasting darkness.
It is not quite love that makes me press my lips against the feverish skin of his shoulder, rough from scars. It is not quite love that drives him to bury his face in my hair and breathe my scent when he wakes, shaking from the fear and exhaustion of another nightmare, sweat coating his body.
It is not quite love. It is more the desperate desire to simply be warm and close to something real; something concrete that, in the touching, proves you have not yet faded away.
Or perhaps we are both ghosts, and when the sun rises we will be gone.