2. Brother and Lover
Fingon secretly rejoiced in the presence of his cousin and lover Maedhros, though his joy was dimmed by the awareness that all too soon they would have to part. That his father turned them a cold shoulder whenever he saw them together made it no easier to bear. But Fingolfin was above spreading rumours, of that his son was convinced. No one else would discover them, if Maedhros and he would show restraint until they could share some privacy.
Or so he thought.
And so, he thought nothing of his younger brother Turgon's visit to his room, a week after their arrival - except that he hoped it would not last too long, for he expected Maedhros to join him before nightfall.
Turgon did not look happy, and he declined both the wine and the seat Fingon offered him. Instead, he went to stand at the window to the west, gazing out over the outer court, and the walls, and over the forested, undulating hills bordered by the distant Mountains of Shadow at the very edge of Elven-vision. And beyond the mountains were the Great Sea, out of sight, and the Blessed Realm, out of bounds to the Noldor.
Just as Fingon began to feel impatient, his brother turned and walked back to him, yet still without seating himself. 'I need you to answer a question for me,' he said tonelessly.
'Is it true what I think?'
A shiver ran down Fingon's spine, but he decided to put up a fight. 'And what is it you think?'
'That you mate with one of his brood,' Turgon snarled. Since the Helcaraxë, he refused to speak Fëanor's name.
'What makes you say such a thing?' snapped Fingon, angered by his brother's choice of words.
'Your eyes betray you. Both of you.'
Fingon was relieved it was not their father who had been loose-tongued, inwardly chiding himself for thinking he might have. 'Name him,' he demanded.
'Maedhros!' Turgon's mouth curled downwards. 'But you haven't answered my question yet.'
'It is true.'
Turgon hissed. 'Do you have no honour at all?'
Not his brother, too! Fingon jumped up. 'Go ahead,' he cried hotly. 'Tell me I am a pervert who broke our laws. Tell me I am accursed because I reddened my sword on the quays of
Alqualondë.' He pointed at the door.' Then count yourself blessed that you did neither, and get out of here before you run the risk of crashing into my lover.'
His brother cast a glance over his shoulder as if Maedhros was about to appear. Yet he did not leave. 'Pervert? Breaking our laws? You can bed your favourite hound, for all I care! Just not one of those treacherous dogs!'
Fingon had expected his brother to share their father's reasons for condemning him, and for a moment he was taken aback. Then his fury overrode his surprise. Loath as he was to use violence against one born from the same womb, he did consider it now. 'This is ridiculous. Take it back! Maedhros is no traitor. Not he!'
'I know that is what he claimed,' Turgon replied scathingly. 'The faithful friend, kindly requesting his maniac of a father not to set fire to the pretty ships. Are you so taken by his charms and his other attributes that you believe this? Has the Grinding Ice affected you so little?'
There it was again. The Helcaraxë, the freezing hell of the North. Searing cold, numbing them into lethargy, laming the will to go on. Jaws of ice snapping shut without warning on the strong and the weak alike. His fathers hoarse voice, shouting them into motion whenever they halted. A crust of tears gnawing at their cheeks. Tramping the snow without feet. Galadriel, yelling incomprehensibly at them. Finrod, trying to drag a half-frozen boy along.
The screams of Elenwë and Idril when the wall of ice crashed down; Turgon launching himself at them, getting buried by ice himself but pulled from underneath it in the nick of time, clutching his daughter in his arms - but not his wife.
Elenwë was dead and gone to the Halls of Mandos. And Turgon set foot on the Hither Shores with most of his heart gone. Because the ships were burned at Losgar.
'Because of his own generosity, Maedhros was reconciled with our Father,' Fingon pointed out.
'But not with me.'
'He bears no guilt!' Fingon said vehemently.
'Who is a fool?'
They wheeled. Maedhros had come in, earlier than expected, and frowning at Turgon's presence.
'I am,' Fingon told him.
'For loving you.'
His lips tightening, Maedhros searched Turgon's face. 'Since when does love take its lead from reason?'
'Would that it did,' Turgon retorted. 'For if it did, it would not be so blind to treachery.'
Fingon's lover closed in on him. The two were of equal height, the tallest of Finwë's grandsons, but Maedhros was broader in the shoulders, and stronger. 'Why do you presume to know me better than your brother does - were you ever as close to me as he is?' he asked in a dangerously low voice. 'Have you ever sworn an oath that would teach you the meaning of treachery? Have you ever even gainsaid your own father?'
Fingon's brother blinked, but stood his ground. 'I know what was done to me. I do not take anything back.'
A prolonged silence, pierced by fiery gazes, until Turgon looked away. 'But I will take myself out of here,' he went on, 'so you can take your pleasure of my gullible brother - who will swallow any kind of filth from you.'
Maedhros made a strange sound, and struck. The next moment found Turgon sprawling on the floor.
Fingon took a step towards his brother and bent over him. Then he checked himself.
'Should you not help him up?' Maedhros said, sounding hurt. 'Your little brother, floored by his big bad cousin whose taints are so contagious?'
Fingon balked. Why were they both making it so difficult for him? 'If I knocked one of your brothers down, would you help him up?' he asked.
Suddenly, Maedhros laughed. 'Depends on the brother. Some of them deserve a blow any time. But you have only one living brother left.*' He glanced at Turgon, who scrambled to his knees, rubbing his jaw. 'I think he has a problem; perhaps you should try to lay it bare, Fingon. Meanwhile, I shall go outside to cool myself in the drizzle awhile. When I see him leave, I will return.'
Fingon nodded, all gratitude. 'Love partly does take its lead from reason, it seems.'
Maedhros smiled a somewhat crooked smile, and left.
'Sit,' Fingon commanded his brother, who had regained his feet.
Turgon obeyed, jamming his hands between his thighs.
'So you miss Elenwë.'
'Ah, so you noticed. Good.'
'Spare me any further sarcasm.' Fingon snapped in exasperation. He leaned forward, and moderating his tone he went on: 'I know you will never stop grieving for her - a grief I do not even presume to fathom. But what I meant was that you also miss her bodily.'
Turgon looked at him. The expression on his face was all the answer Fingon needed. He poured his brother a cup of wine. This time, far from declining, Turgon took it and drained in one draught. 'We were one soul and one body,' he whispered into the empty cup. 'There are times when my bed seems as dark and cold as the Void. But why am I so absorbed by it?'
A silence fell. 'There is no shame in that.' Fingon finally said, pouring him more wine. 'Yet even if the battle is hard, if your fëa has to struggle to retain the mastery over your hröa** - and the Valar know Maedhros and I have suffered defeat - to take it out on others -'
He faltered. His brother was shaking his head in a most significant way.
'My fëa mastering my hröa?' he said. 'Why do you think I did not denounce your breaking of our laws? Just because I am such a tactful and considerate person - or because I am too bloody afraid to speak my mind?' He emptied his second cup and held it out to Fingon, who refilled it after a slight hesitation; the cups were quite large.
'What happened?' he wanted to know, taking a sip of his own wine.
'I slept with another woman,' Turgon replied bluntly, 'without the excuse of love, or infatuation, or even affection. It could have been any woman, except that almost none of them want a married man, even though his wife is dead, for they know as well as you and I do that such vows last until the end of Arda. One look and they see you are bound, one word and they hear it***, and they turn away. This woman did not turn away. I lost my wife to the Grinding Ice and was left with a daughter, she lost her husband and was left with a son. We began by commiserating, and ended up copulating.' He drank deeply again. 'Twice, and we kept our eyes closed both times and pretended to be with someone else. But then we found we had a hard time facing our children, for fear they would perceive we broke our vows - to my wife, to her husband. So we ended it. Yet we did break our vows, wittingly and knowingly. Speaking about treachery. That mad dog was the first to betray Elenwë, and I am the second.'
Seeing his younger brother's agonised face, Fingon was at a loss for words.
'So you see why I do not bask in blessed innocence,' Turgon continued, his voice embittered. 'The Curse has not passed me by, and I don't know which of us two our father would give a harder time if he found out about us: you, for lying with a man you love, or me, for breaking my vows with a woman I could and would not love at all.'
Fingon took a deep breath. 'He knows about Maedhros and me, and I can tell you he was very harsh on us. And though I do not think you transgressed as badly as we do, you can count yourself lucky you were more... discreet.'
'I am every bit as bad as you are.' Turgon said and emptied his third cup of wine. He blinked. 'Fingon, forgive my ugly words, please.'
What an odd little brother he had. One moment tight as a clam, the next one completely open and vulnerable. Hopefully the clam would not snap for good in the end. But that was far from certain, for even now Turgon's confession remained incomplete. He had avowed everything, except his jealousy, misplaced as it was. 'There is one matter that needs to be resolved before I can say either yea or nay,' Fingon said slowly. 'Do you still claim that Maedhros is a traitor?'
With a slightly exaggerated shrug Turgon answered: 'I will trust your judgment of him.'
'Then I will forgive you,' Fingon decided, knowing it was the best he would get. 'But if you intend to get seriously drunk, could you please do it elsewhere?'
Turgon put down the cup and rose. 'I am steady enough on my feet, see?' He walked a straight line to the door.
When Maedhros returned to Fingon's room, his coppery hair moistened by the rain and curling more than usual, the first thing he asked was: 'Did you put a spell on your troublesome brother, or what?'
Fingon pulled him close and they embraced tightly, as if they could crush the guilt between them with the force of their bodies. Hesitatingly, he raised a hand to wind one of the damp ringlets at Maedhros's left temple around his finger. 'Just poured three fast cups of wine into him,' he replied after a while. 'What did he say to you?'
Maedhros laughed wryly. 'Three cups, during the short period I was in the yard? That explains it.'
'He said: Have a good time.'
*According to the Shibboleth of Fëanor (HoMe, Volume 12, The Peoples of Middle-earth), Fingolfin had a third son, Arakáno or Argon, who fell in the first battle of Fingolfin's host with the Orcs, the Battle of Lammoth.
** see: Laws and customs among the Eldar (HoMe, Volume 10, Morgoth's Ring). Turgon's 'sin' amounts to double adultery.
***soul & body
As for Elves getting drunk: remember Angrod's words about listening to the words of Fëanor and becoming "as if besotted by wine". (Not to mention the butler Galion inThe Hobbit). Obviously, even Elves did not always hold their liquor.
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