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LET THE SONGBIRD SING: 8. Bragollach
Maglor was able to see Daeron only seldomly over the ensuing years. But this was not enough for Daeron, whose feelings for Lúthien grew greater and his love for Maglor, while it did not diminish, became tinged with sadness. A sense of doom overshadowed it. Each time Maglor came, he told of something new and dreadful that had befallen the Noldor.
Morgoth continued his attacks, wishing foremost to destroy Fingolfin. Knowing that he could not defeat the High King or his strong and valiant son Fingon, Morgoth bred a new and terrible creature: the dragon. Of these beasts the most terrible was Glaurung who while still young was eager to try his strength against that of the High King and the Noldorin princes. In the year 250, Glaurung attacked Fingon's army. But Fingon, using archers mounted on swift horses, managed to assault the young dragon and force him to flee back to Angband. Fingon was held in great esteem for that feat, but Maedhros and Maglor were shaken by Morgoth's relentless assaults with new and ever more dreadful creatures, and they met to discuss their continuing strategies.
"Gods," Maglor said to his brother. He held a silver goblet of wine as they sat together in Maedhros' great hall. "Have you ever thought ahead to what you would do if your reckless Findekáno were ever killed while performing one of his heroic stunts?" He raised the goblet to his lips and quickly downed the contents.
Maedhros ran a hand through his mass of crimson hair. His arched brows came together above his fine nose in a frown that creased his pale face. "I have thought on it, yes," he said, his voice dry and cracking. Maglor rose from the sofa and crossed to a table that held bottles of wine and several goblets. He poured two and took one to his brother. Then he returned to his sofa and sat down, slouching with one long leg draped over a sofa arm.
"I know not what I would do. Go mad, I should think," said Maedhros. He, also, gulped down the entire contents of his goblet.
"Do you ever consider giving up this foolish thing that we have done?" asked Maglor.
"What would that particular foolish thing be, my brother?" asked Maedhros.
"The Oath," said Maglor. "If it is rescinded, then we can live more peaceful lives, surely."
"And what of Moringotho? It is too late for peace," Maedhros replied. "He will keep up his attacks on us. Now we are bound to keep him held at bay and protect these lands and all of our people within."
"I know that," said Maglor. "Sometimes I just wish ---." His voice trailed off and he took another sip of wine.
"I know what you wish," said Maedhros. "How long has it been since you have seen him?"
"More than fifty years now," Maglor replied with a deep sigh.
"Go to him then," said Maedhros softly. "We should have some peace for a time and we can do without you here. If there is need, I will send a messenger."
Maglor hastened to Doriath once again and enjoyed a visit of ten years' stay with Daeron. They lay in Beleg's bed on the last morning before Maglor was to leave, Daeron's head on Maglor's shoulder and Maglor's arms enveloping Daeron, one hand stroking his chest. Daeron's emotions were conflicted. He loved Maglor dearly but could not envision a life for them together. He felt that he was suffocating under the constant fear that Maglor may die in battle somewhere far away, the loneliness that surrounded him when Maglor was not there, and their inability to settle somewhere and live together. He had begun to turn to Lúthien more and more, who he felt could give him the constancy and stability that he needed. He felt that he loved her and he knew she had affection for him. But did he have the strength to give up his beautiful Noldorin lover?
He sighed and turned to face Maglor. He stared at him and stroked the dark hair that fell over one side of his face. With sensitive fingers he traced the slender dark eyebrows and looked into the dark grey eyes, full of tenderness and sorrow. He leaned forward and kissed his fine, strong nose, and then let his lips slide to kiss Maglor's, his body becoming aroused by the feel of their familiar softness. He pressed himself to Maglor's side.
With his other hand, Daeron stroked Maglor's body under the covers, feeling the hard muscles and smooth, taut skin, while Maglor smoothed Daeron's hair and kissed the top of his head. Daeron hugged the warrior closely before he spread Maglor's strong legs apart with a slender knee. Maglor responded by shuddering with a deep sigh. Daeron moved against Maglor's side, enjoying the friction he created, exciting himself into a state of blissful lust. The Noldorin prince responded by moaning into Daeron's ear. Daeron parted his lips and nibbled Maglor's mouth. He continued to rub his knee along Maglor's inner thigh. His hand crept underneath the Noldo to cup a buttock, and he turned Maglor toward him. Maglor's breathing became heavy and his erection pressed against the Sinda's hip. Daeron slithered down the length of Maglor's body until his lips found the warrior's hard arousal. He began to suck him slowly, sensuously, preparing him for a lovemaking session that Daeron knew might possibly be their last. Maglor's cries resonated throughout the cabin. Daeron brought them both to the slow, passionate edge of ecstasy as he took Maglor from behind, filling him deeply and holding him tightly to his heart. They rested awhile and then began again, this time Maglor taking Daeron and filling him completely. It had become a ritual for them every time that Maglor had to leave. Each would fill the other with their essence, leaving a little bit of himself behind. They had memories to get them through until their next meeting.
When Daeron returned to Menegroth, Lúthien called him to her rooms in order to have a serious discussion with the minstrel.
"You have spoken to me of love, Daeron," she said. Daeron's face grew sorrowful, his eyes becoming large and filled with tears and his face growing pale and wan. "My feelings for you are strong," he said. "I feel our lives would be happy and peaceful if we were to wed."
"But what of Maglor?" she asked. "Your love is strong for the prince. I have no doubt that you love him dearly. How is it possible that you love me too?"
"With you I can have children. With you I can enjoy each day we have together without my fear of losing you. With him I can never have those things." Daeron's cheeks grew flushed as he realized the futility of his words. Even before Lúthien spoke, he knew what she would say.
"There can never be marriage between us, Daeron," she said, and took his hands in hers. "I am sorry. I hope that we can remain friends, for I do value your friendship."
He dropped his gaze and drew her hands up to his face, kissing them. "I will never give up trying to convince you to be mine," he said.
"You will never be able to give up your prince," she said softly. "I am sorry, Daeron," She stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek.
After two hundred years of peace, Morgoth sent Orcs again into East Beleriand, keeping Maglor, Maedhros and Caranthir busy as they held their strongholds in the mountains east of Maglor's Gap. They drove back armies of Orcs that tried to swarm through Maglor's lands between the arms of Gelion. Maglor was kept busy defending his lands and people, and could not get away again to visit Daeron.
In 455 the winter was upon Fingolfin's lands in Hithlum, where the Noldor kept strongly protected hill-forts. Yet Morgoth devised rivers of flame that he sent forward across the plain of Ard-galen, and thus the Elves renamed it Anfauglith. In this year the Dagor Bragollach took place, the terrible battle in which Fingolfin was killed and the sons of Fëanor were dispersed. Glaurung the dragon, now much grown in size, came flying through Maglor's Gap, destroying the lands with fire. Maglor fled to Maedhros's hill-fort upon Himring before the High King gave in to despair and went to fight Morgoth alone in single combat.
After that, Fingon became the high king, and Maglor stayed with Maedhros for a long time, all of them feeling utterly defeated by the terrible battle and the loss of Fingolfin. Maglor could not leave to go to Doriath, and while he never forgot Daeron, there were many years that passed when he did not think of him because of the terrible troubles now facing the Noldor in the north.
In year 464, Lúthien met Beren son of Barahir by chance, and gave herself in love to him at their first meeting. Daeron, greatly troubled over having not seen Maglor for more than one hundred and fifty years, turned to Lúthien again, but she spurned his advances now that she had met her new love. Sick with grief over the loss of Maglor and angry with Lúthien, Daeron went to King Thingol and told him that Lúthien had given herself in love to a mortal man. Lúthien was upset by Daeron's treachery, and told Thingol in return of Daeron's love for Maglor.
"You have both betrayed my faith in you," said Thingol. "Foolish you both may prove to be as you stride towards your dooms. Could you not find happiness with each other rather than with a Man of the weak mortal race and a treacherous prince of the north? Why could you not have loved each other as I had hoped? I would have been happy, and so might the two of you."
After Daeron and Lúthien were outside the King's halls she said to him: "You betrayed me, Daeron, but I forgive you, for I know also the tragedy of your own love. Why do you not go to seek him and to find out what may have happened to him?"
Daeron looked startled by her suggestion. "How can I go to him?" he asked. "How would I fare alone against an Orc attack? Mablung has shown me how to use a sword, but I am no warrior. I have no army. I would not reach Maglor's borders alive."
"Then take Beleg, Mablung and some of their men with you," Lúthien suggested. "They will give you the protection you need."
"I shall think on it," said Daeron.
Daeron set off on his own into the east. He wandered bereft, and for many years he composed and sang laments for both Lúthien and Maglor, for he could not pass into the lands to the north to find Maglor, overrun as they were with Orcs. He traveled alone with naught but a single sword by his side.
After the Dagor Bragollach, Maedhros attempted to bring together all the lords of Middle-earth to strengthen their defences against Morgoth, who he feared would strike again, and soon. Maedhros feared for Fingon, now the high king and Morgoth's hated target. "Brother," he said to Maglor, "I worry for Findekáno. The enemy wishes to destroy him utterly, and I do not think our combined forces are strong enough to hold if he were to attack tomorrow. Why does his brother not join him? I hear Turukáno's army is vast, and his warriors fearsome. Why do they not come?"
"Our lives are all now driven by our doom – and the Oath," spat Maglor with derision. A bad taste had come into his mouth.
Then came the great battle called the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, in which Turgon's army of ten thousand did come to Fingon's aid, but it was not enough. Cut off from his brother and Húrin, the valiant Man who tried to help him, the High King was slain by Balrogs. They beat his body cruelly into the dust with their maces, and stomped his once-proud white banner into the blood that ran from his broken body.
The remainder of his men did not want to let Maedhros see what the Balrogs had done to their King, but he broke free of their grasps and rushed to find Fingon's bloodied corpse lying in the dust. His cries of anguish could be heard across the plains. They left a dread feel in many men's hearts. "They have not left a face for me to look upon," he sobbed as he held the crumpled body in his arms and shed tears upon it. "His beautiful face is gone."
He mourned long over his lover's broken body until, suffering from a madness of grief that could not be stilled, Maedhros, who had been delayed in coming to Fingon's aid by treacherous men, had to be dragged away bodily by Maglor and Turgon. Eventually they fled to Mount Dolmed in the east.
There, Maglor was out walking one day when he came across a solitary figure of an Elf sitting upon a rock by the river's edge. Something about this figure struck him as familiar, and he approached with trepidation. As he drew closer, he suddenly thought, "It cannot be!" His heart began to beat rapidly. When he was only a few yards away, the Elf on the rock turned his face toward Maglor. Maglor then fell to his knees and wept. It was Daeron.
Daeron stared at Maglor in wonder. "You!" he cried. "Where have you come from?"
"Eru above! You have not forsaken me after all!" cried Maglor.
"But I have," said Daeron, his voice empty of emotion, and he stood up and started to walk away.
Maglor rushed to him and grabbed him by the arm. "No, Daeron," he cried. "You cannot mean to leave me now."
"I do," Daeron spat at him. "I love not you, but Lúthien, and I go to look for her for she has disappeared."
"You do not know then," Maglor said with great sadness in his voice. "Lúthien and Beren are both dead. As is my cousin Finrod. And cousin Fingon has only just been killed. My brother is mad with grief."
Daeron grew very pale. "All dead?" he whispered. "Shall it end with everyone dead? Are you to be next? I go now, away from all this death." And he turned again to leave.
"Stay," Maglor pleaded. "I love you, Daeron. Please stay."
"No," Daeron replied. "Our tale is over. There is too much death here, too much grief. There is no love left in me. Only sadness. I go now to find a happier place."
Maglor let him go. He still loved Daeron, but he would rather have him be free than be unhappy. Clearly Daeron, with his grace and beauty and his unique talent, did not belong in such a land of wars and killing. It was better to let him go to seek peace and serenity, if that were still possible. Maglor watched him until he was but a small spot on the faraway horizon. Daeron did not turn back once. Then the grief-stricken Maglor turned to go back to his brother.
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