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Where Love Is: 12. Epilogue
When Arwen returned to the study, she found her father sitting at his desk. He was writing something.
"Hello, Undómiel," he said, looking up at her and smiling. "Have you had a pleasant morning?"
"I have had an interesting morning," she said, taking a seat by his side and peering over his shoulder. "Is that a letter?"
"Yes, to Lórien," he said. "Lord Celeborn has sent me news, and I am replying with such counsel as I can think to give. The darkness around Dol Guldur is spreading again. I am glad you returned when you did." He glanced at the envelope that she was holding. "And you? Borrowing from my library?"
"Yes," she said. "For there was a book you forbid me to read when I was young, and now that I am older, I found myself curious to know the reason for your command."
Her father set down his pen, gave her a long look. "Yes," he said. "The old family history. Few have read that volume. What did you think of it?"
"I was moved," she said. "And bewildered, for it is a strange story, and I have not heard another like it. How did it come to you? Why is it not remembered?"
"There are few alive now who would be interested in such a tale," said her father. "I mean those who would be interested in the private histories of the Noldorin princes--whether or not it would interest others due to its particular subject matter, I know not, though I have my suspicions. And there are hardly any to retell it, apart from the words in this volume, which have not been copied. I know what passed between Fingon and Maedhros, as does your grandmother, and a half-dozen others who have read this book themselves. I suppose we have never felt inclined to pass it on verbally. I think it is better to read it for yourself, in silence. It is an intimate tale, after all. I think they would have preferred it this way.
"As for how I came across the manuscript--sheer accident, you might say. For some reason, after Maedhros's death, his possessions ended up in my hands, along with some things his brother left behind. The book was among them. It would have been more rightly given to Celebrimbor, but he was disinclined to inherit his uncles' things, and I was pleased to have the book."
Arwen looked down at the envelope, imagining her father, younger than she, holding this book in his hands, marvelling as he read. "What was he like?" she asked suddenly.
Her father thought for a while before answering. "Proud," he said finally. "Intimidating, to my brother and me. I thought at the time that he did not like children. Now I see that it was old dreams that distanced him from us. We were the children he and Fingon might have cared for together. I think, also, that the memory of my mother's brothers still haunted him, and drove him both to regret and inaction in his relations with us." He shrugged. "But you know what he was like as well as I do. You read Fingon's journal."
"That is only another impression," she said. "It was a very tender rendering, yet I wish I could know more about him. About both of them." She laughed. "That love letter! It reminded me--"
But she remembered to whom she spoke and fell silent. Her father pretended not to notice and, when she said no more, went back to his letter. Surely he knew what had stilled her speech, whose memory Maedhros's tender words had conjured up within her. Yet she could not speak of Aragorn before him, not of love at least, when her words had such capacity to wound. Maedhros and Fingon had counted themselves lucky, to have Beren and Lúthien as their contemporaries. Oh, luckier still, to be sundered by custom only, and not by doom. If she did not love Aragorn so dearly, happily would she give leave for her heart to turn toward women, rather than bear this love for a mortal Man.
She put down the envelope before her father. "Thank you," she said.
Her father looked up, smiled. "It is you whom I thank, dearest. Thank you for reminding me of an old story. It is many years since I have gone through that volume. Perhaps I shall read it again this afternoon. Now, alas," and he motioned to the half-written letter, "more pressing matters are at hand, which take precedent over the memory of old forgotten love."
She smiled back and kissed the top of his head. "You had better finish your letter," she said. "I will be in my chambers."
Walking back from her father's study, she thought about what she had read. Who would have guessed that two of the brightest figures in the history of her people had carried this brighter secret within themselves for so many years, even to their deaths? She thought of Fingon, slain in the Nirnaeth, and of Maedhros, carrying on without him, hardening with despair and plunging into the earth when the pursuit of the Silmarils proved to be in vain. Arwen knew her history: they had not met in battle, as Fingon had hoped. Instead, their armies had been sundered by Morgoth's hand, and Fingon had perished. How cruel, the theft of that last meeting before death.
Had they met since? She could not say what had become of Maedhros's spirit once his body had made such an end. Could it have renewed itself in Mandos? Might Fingon and Maedhros be together now, whole and content at last, beneath the trees of Aman?
She would likely never know. The fate to which she had tied herself was a different one from theirs. Yet as she entered her empty chamber and took a seat beside the window, she, too, was glad that Fingon and Maedhros had loved.
From her seat, she looked out upon the valley, the rain and the quiet gardens. She wondered where Aragorn was, what weary task he now undertook, and silently set her voice out across the distance, in prayer for his safety. A moment later, she was sure she need pray no longer. Let fate bring what it must: whose doom, in all the history of Arda, had not been strange, whether marred by the stain of the Enemy or woven by the hands of love?
Love weaves strange patterns in us indeed, thought Arwen. Some are so novel that we hesitate to speak of them at all, save in a whisper. Surely it would be easier to deny them, to flee from the perils that accompany such heights. Surely it would be easier not to love you, Estel, if such denial were possible.
Arwen watched the rain rejoin the Bruinen and rush past her window. Soon enough it would come to the Sea, to the place where, beneath the waters, a Silmaril was buried. Love did not rest beside it. Love was where fingertips had brushed against pages. Love was here, in a darkened room, with the woman who had read the words.
Maitimo is Maedhros's mother-name and means "well-formed one."
Findekáno is Fingon's father-name.
Tolkien tells us in the unpublished mostly-canonical Laws and Customs Among the Eldar in Morgoth's Ring that Elves lose the urge to have sex once they have been been married for some time and have presumably borne children. He also tells us that "the Eldar can read at once in the eyes and voice of another whether they be wed or unwed."
Incidentally, this is my very first slash fic. Before writing it I had read very little Silmarillion slash, Maedhros/Fingon or otherwise, so this is me reinventing the wheel. Hope it rolls.
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