1. Part 1
This is the 5th story in my Maedhros series - I recommend reading them in proper order for maximum enjoyment, but this will probably make sense even if you haven't read the others.
They stood together idly gazing out the window overlooking the courtyard as they watched the storm blowing in from the northwest. When the first fat droplets began to fall, the taller of the two men swore softly under his breath, then smiled ruefully and turned to his brother. "I was hoping that this rain wouldn't break until after their arrival. But the luck of the Noldor holds true, just as always. Fingon and his men are going to be soaked through by the time they get here. We'd better start the fires in the guest quarters now, so they'll be warm when he arrives. And get some water heated - there's nothing quite like a hot bath after you've been travelling for days, especially when you're as chilled as he will be."
"I'll see that everything is prepared, you know that." Maglor looked at his brother Maedhros and smiled. "I wish you could see yourself, Russandol. I can't remember the last time I've seen you this obviously happy. It's been far too long since you've had a smile on your face."
"For that you can blame our Enemy, and the constant fighting; low level, yes, but since the Battle of Sudden Flame ended, there's never been any real letup. I grow so tired of it; some days, brother, I remember the years of the Siege, when we actually had time to ride for pleasure, and hunt, and even visit our kin on occasion, and those days seem like a dream now, something unreal I thought up as a distraction - surely fighting is all we've ever done, we never enjoyed such a thing as peace! With Dorthonion and Ard-Galen destroyed, and so many of our cousins lost - I've felt so isolated, Maglor, trapped here in my March, unable to leave lest Morgoth launch another major offensive in my absence. And now to find that Fingon is actually coming here himself - I'd expected we'd be discussing this by courier, in a polite exchange of letters. I never imagined he'd ride here to Himring, skirting all the long way around Doriath, merely to discuss my proposal. To actually see him again - it's more than I could ever have hoped for!"
"I know how much you've missed him - and all our cousins," Maglor added hastily as he saw a stricken, hurt look briefly cross his brother's face. They'd never spoken about what had transpired between them that fateful evening in Hithlum; it had been obvious to Maglor that despite his comforting words to Maedhros, his brother remained deeply ashamed of his desires, and he had been unable to think of any way to tactfully raise the subject with him that would not cause Maedhros even more pain than he already felt. Loathe to upset his brother further, he had remained silent, and the moment had passed; he wished now, with Fingon's arrival imminent, that he'd somehow found a way to bridge that silence between them. At least he won't lack for privacy here, should he need it, Maglor thought sadly. A small mercy, at least. I wish now we had not departed Aman, for his sake - perhaps in the gardens of Lórien he might have found some healing for his affliction. As it is now, I can only pray that the Valar will watch over him. Of all of my brothers, it is he who bears the least guilt. He alone openly opposed Father's plan to burn the ships, and later atoned for it - why is he the one among us who has suffered most? Aloud, he said only, "I will also be glad of the company. It has been too long since we last left east Beleriand, and I'd enjoy some news from the west. Especially if there's any that's happy."
"I suspect there will be little of that," Maedhros replied, "but one can always hope." He suddenly broke off the conversation and turned his attention completely back to the window, staring intently. The rain was now coming down hard, but far in the distance Maglor saw what had caught his brother's eye - a troop of riders, the one in the lead bearing the standard of Fingolfin's House. "They'll be here shortly - let's go see to the fires, brother, and the hot water," Maedhros said, joy in his voice, "oh, and you'd better tune your harp; I'll expect Fingon is looking forward to hearing you sing almost as much as I am." He turned back to the window to close the shutters, then the two oldest sons of Fëanor left to see to the final preparations for the arrival of their cousin, now High King of the Noldor in Beleriand.
Fingon had indeed been sopping wet upon his arrival; that, as well as his obvious discomfort when Maedhros had bowed to him in deference upon welcoming him to the fortress of Himring, had somewhat undercut his attempt to appear regal. He quickly abandoned it anyway, in favor of giving both his cousins a hug, soaked though he was - he was obviously as happy to see them as they were to see him, Maglor realized. It had felt odd watching Maedhros, whom Fingon had idealized as a child and who had always been the leader in their relationship, bowing before his younger cousin, formally acknowledging his sovereignty over them as the High King of the Noldor. But when they began to talk, it quickly became apparent that nothing had really changed between them, despite Fingon's elevation in rank. Fingon was still Fingon, as plainspoken and straightforward as ever, and clearly eager to spend time with his favorite cousin again. It hardly seemed possible that so many years could have passed since their last meeting, but the last time the three of them had been together had been shortly before the Battle of Sudden Flames, 13 years of the sun and a lifetime ago.
"So, what news from Hithlum, cousin?" Maedhros asked; Fingon, after seeing to the comfort of his retinue and changing his wet and travel-stained clothes, had asked his cousins to join him in his sitting room "to warm my fëa with their presence while I warm my hröa by the fire," as he put it. " How is your family? Your son, Ereinion, he's nearly 17 now, is he not? I remember you at that age - all eagerness and curiosity, and no common sense! I hope he's running you ragged, for you deserve it - a fitting retribution for all the grief you caused your own parents, and me, when you were young!" Maedhros laughed.
"No, he's no trouble to me," and Fingon sighed, hesitating for a moment; when he continued, his voice was subdued, "although I hear he's become a fine boy, and a credit to our grandfather Finwë's House. I haven't seen him for nearly 5 years, and that was just a brief visit - I sent him, and my wife, to Círdan's people in the Falas about a year after the Battle of Sudden Flames ended."
"I'm sorry, Fingon - I didn't realize just how bad things were in the northwest, that you'd choose to send your own family away while your child was still so young. But at least they're safe for now - no orc raids can reach the coast as long as you can hold the Pass of Sirion closed," Maedhros replied softly.
"I can, for now at least, but it's a struggle. We are constantly fighting small skirmishes over control of Eithel Sirion and the Pass. Be grateful you never married, cousin, and have no children - every time I rode into battle I found myself worrying about their safety instead of my own, terrified that if my troops failed, my family would find themselves in Mandos before the day was over. With them out of immediate danger, I can at least concentrate on fighting instead of worrying myself sick over them. Although I miss Angrod's and Aegnor's support, at least I know that if I should fall, both Círdan and Orodreth will do what they need to do in order to close the Pass of Sirion again - although it will take them time to get there. But I doubt that any of Morgoth's forces will penetrate as far as the Falas as long as Círdan and Orodreth act quickly."
"I miss our cousins also," Maedhros replied quietly, "and your father. But I'm glad to hear that our cousin Orodreth is not the fool that Thingol is, and at least recognizes that he can't simply cower in safety in Nargothrond forever while Morgoth does what he pleases elsewhere. Unlike Finrod, he's shown little interest in events here in the east - although Maglor and I have managed to recapture the Pass of Aglon, we still don't control Maglor's Gap fully. Morgoth's spawn destroyed Thargelion during the Battle of Sudden Flames when they successfully forced the Gap, and if his forces ever come through again in numbers, I don't know how far south they might be able to successfully penetrate. It's a less direct route to Nargothrond than the pass of Sirion would provide, but potentially no less dangerous. Yet I've heard no word from Orodreth since he assumed the kingship after Finrod's death, and I was beginning to worry that he thought events in the north were of no direct concern to him."
Fingon looked away, a troubled expression on his face. "I stayed at Nargothrond briefly on my journey here, largely to see him - I wanted to tell him how sorry I was about Finrod, and remind him that even though all of his brothers are gone, he still has family here in Beleriand, he's not completely alone. I know a little of how he feels, with my father dead now, and Turgon and Aredhel still nowhere to be found; granted Galadriel is still alive, but I don't think Orodreth has seen her in years, she's probably still living in Doriath. Anyway," he continued, turning to look directly at Maedhros and Maglor again, and now appearing very sober, "he was not pleased when he found out that the reason for my travels was to visit you. He wants nothing to do with any of 'those traitorous, Valar-damned sons of Fëanor,' as he calls you."
Maedhros swore viciously, a vile soldier's curse which caused Fingon to stare at him in surprise; Maglor merely replied, "I am so tired of everyone lumping me and all of my brothers together as 'those sons of Fëanor', as though we are all identical in thoughts and actions. Is it asking too much that we each be judged by our individual deeds instead of our parentage?"
"That's what I told Orodreth," Fingon replied, "but he's in no mood to listen to reason. Finrod's death hit him hard, and he holds your two wild younger brothers responsible for it, not surprisingly - and also the rest of you, all guilty by association. I'm sorry, it's wrong, but that is how he sees things now. You will find in him no ally."
"I should have gone to Nargothrond and brought Celegorm and Curufin back myself," Maedhros replied, "but Maglor and I were too besieged here to spare thought to anything but holding the Pass of Aglon closed, and by the time the crisis here was over, it was too late - they'd already left. I'd wring their necks myself, brothers or no, if it would bring Finrod back. But it won't, and I was hoping that Orodreth would recognize that we all must cooperate in our defense of Beleriand, especially now. This will definitely complicate my plans."
"What plans?" Fingon replied. "You said nothing very specific in your letter, just that you'd like to discuss an idea pertaining to the defense of our kingdoms with me, and would I be interested in hearing it. You're a better strategist than I, we both realize that; Father's equal, I'd say. Of course I'm interested! So let's hear it - what bold scheme have you devised for our security?"
"It's nearly time for dinner; we don't have time to discuss my proposal, or my reasons for suggesting it, in any detail - that will have to wait until later," Maedhros said, a smile on his face, "and when I tell you what I'm thinking, cousin, you will probably believe I've gone mad. But trust me - I haven't, and when you hear my reasons for what I propose we do, I think you will agree with them. Promise me you won't dismiss my idea out of hand, that you will agree to discuss it with me seriously after dinner, and I will tell you my proposal now, in brief."
"Of course I'll discuss it with you later; that's why I came, after all, to hear this brilliant idea my cousin Russandol has thought up," Fingon replied, sounding slightly exasperated. "So tell me - what is it?"
"I think it is time we attack Morgoth directly," Maedhros replied, "for I am certain that we can defeat him."
(To Be Continued)
Russandol – "Copper-top"; an affectionate nickname given to Maedhros by his family in acknowledgement of his reddish-brown hair. See The Peoples of Middle Earth (History of Middle Earth, vol. 12), p. 353.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.