2. The Wild
Warning: Slash and the restoration of the OTP.
Fingon remembered it well, the moment in which the new Lord and Lady of Dor-Lómin* had been presented to him. He had been sitting on his throne, signing some reports to be sent to Himring. He recalled looking up, almost carelessly, when Húrin's presence was announced. Yes, he recalled looking up just as he recalled the smile of welcome freezing on his face.
"My king?" Húrin had asked with some concern. "Are you well?"
"Ay," Fingon had replied, shaking his head. "I am quite well." He had risen to his feet, invoking some inner strength of which he had been hitherto unaware. "Welcome, my Lord Vassal. Tales of your bravery in driving forth the forces of Morgoth precede you. I am in your debt."
Húrin had bowed low so that his golden hair, so like that of his ancestors, fell over his face. "My thanks, my lord. I simply wish that my father had lived out the day."
Fingon's face had then darkened with sorrow. "Ay, he was a good man." He smiled faintly. "But you and your brother are also good men. I have little doubt that your father's courage and steadfastness run in your veins too, Húrin Thalion."
"My liege." Once again, Húrin had bowed before straightening up. "Might I introduce you to my wife?" he had asked, placing his hand on the elbow of the woman standing alongside him.
It had been then and only then that Fingon allowed himself to look into Morwen's face. He recalled being unable to prevent a faint scornful smile crossing his face although he hid it quickly beneath a more welcoming countenance.
"This is Morwen," Húrin had continued and Fingon could not help but notice the love shining in the man's face. The sight had done little to still the High King's thumping heart and yet Húrin kept speaking. "She is sometimes called Eledhwen for her beauty."
Morwen had blushed deeply at that, bowing her head. Fingon had approached her and had put out a hand to cup her chin in his hand, raising her head so that their gazes met. Fingon's expression had been hard and cold when he spoke. "Ay, my Lord Húrin, 'tis a name well-suited to her. You are exceedingly lucky to have found such a woman, Eledhwen indeed."
Húrin had nodded, his face wreathed with smiles. "Ay, my king, it was as though she simply wandered into my path one day in the wilds of Dor-Lómin."
Fingon had raised an eyebrow at that. "Indeed? How serendipitous. Would that we all had your fortune, my friend, to simply…" His nostrils had flared. "… happen across a wife in the wilderness."
At that, his court had laughed, as had Húrin. Only Fingon and Morwen did not laugh, their gazes briefly meeting again before Morwen dropped her eyes, the flush in her cheeks subsiding to a dull red rage that lacked fire in the face of the High King's jealous fury. Húrin had put his arm around his wife's waist and he had smiled and smiled at the gathering.
Fingon could do nought but smile in return.
He jumped and looked around, disoriented. He was met with a fierce glare from his cousin Maedhros.
"'Tis not wise to use Quenya in front of our few Sindarin allies," Fingon said reprovingly, in low tones so that only Maedhros could hear.
Maedhros laughed and replied in equally quiet tones. "Considering that your attention appeared to have wandered, cousin, it was the only way in which to capture it again." He swept his hand to encompass the expectant Elves, Dwarves and Men who sat at the council table. "We speak of war, Findekáno, and you pay little heed!"
Fingon rubbed his face. "I am tired, Maedhros. Perhaps we would be better off adjourning until tomorrow?"
Maedhros looked surprised but nodded curtly. "Ay, as the King commands." He straightened up and addressed the council. "If it be not displeasing to this honourable assembly, the King has requested that we adjourn our council until the morrow. We are all tired, I deem, and talking ourselves in ever-decreasing circles of logic."
Azaghâl, Lord of the Dwarves of Belegost, rose at this. "I agree, Lord Maedhros. You have a difficult enough task in persuading us all to agree to your plans without your own King drifting off to sleep during a council."
Maedhros gave a short bow. "We will reconvene in the morning, my Lord Azaghâl, and I promise that you will have no cause to complain about the commitment of the Eldar to this cause."
The Dwarf bowed in return and the council members filed out of the room, save Fingon and Maedhros.
"What troubles you, cousin?" asked Maedhros. "Is it this talk of war? Or do your thoughts travel elsewhere?"
"What do you mean?"
"There is something in your eyes, Findekáno. Where once there was no light, there is now a dull fire burning."
Fingon looked at Maedhros in surprise. "How long has it been since you and I met with each other?"
Maedhros answered promptly. "Shortly after the death of your father. I came to Hísilómë, do you not remember?"
"Ay, now I do," Fingon said with a slow nod.
"Will you not speak to me, cousin? All our councils will be for nought if you cannot concentrate on what we say here."
With reluctance, Fingon agreed. "I will speak to you, cousin, but not here. I am afraid of ears listening at doors."
Maedhros was surprised but responded smoothly. "As you wish. Come, there are extensive grounds here where we will not be followed."
"Grounds?" asked Fingon, with a faint smile of amusement. "Is that how you refer to the wasteland that surrounds this fortress?"
Maedhros looked surprised at this unexpected display of typically pointed humour by Fingon. "And I suppose the lands of Hísilómë are as neatly tended as the Pastures of Yavanna?"
"You know that it is not so," said Fingon, his face darkening again. "Even my lands are unsafe. One does not wander alone there without caution."
As they passed out of the great gates of the fortress, two of Maedhros' guards made to follow them.
"Do not accompany us," said Maedhros. "We do not go far but wish to take private council."
"My lord!" One of the guards began to protest.
"Nay, I tell you," insisted Maedhros. "We are two Princes of the Noldor, are we not? Between us we have endured Ice and torture and have only grown stronger for our travails. While we are thus armed, it would be a foolish Orc indeed who waylaid us."
At those words, the guards fell back and Fingon smiled vaguely. "I have had such trouble with my soldiers too. They do not trust me to travel alone."
"I do not blame them," said Maedhros in a faintly teasing tone. "If your mind is given to wandering, it would not be safe for you to go abroad unaccompanied."
Fingon snorted and the two kept walking in silence, deeper into the tangle of trees and undergrowth that surrounded Maedhros' fortress.
"Speak to me, cousin," said Maedhros softly when they had walked above an hour without a word of conversation passing between them. "Or day will have turned to night and not even my guards will be persuaded to remain at their posts."
"Of what shall I speak?" asked Fingon, his eyes flaring. "What is it you wish to learn from me?"
"Do not be so fierce, Findekáno," reprimanded Maedhros mildly. "It is clear that you are troubled and I wish simply to help."
"You cannot help me," said Fingon dully as he sat down with his back to a tree. "There is no one who can help me now."
"Is it the war?" asked Maedhros desperately, also sitting down.
"What war? When are we not at war?" shot back Fingon.
"Then for what reason can I see nothing but hopelessness whenever I look at you?" demanded Maedhros.
"I do not expect you to understand." A faintly petulant tone had entered Fingon's voice and he did nothing to conceal it.
"Then your expectations can only be exceeded if, by some miracle, I do understand," said Maedhros. "And the only way we can find out is if you speak to me. Ai, Findekáno! We have never had difficulty speaking before!"
Fingon met Maedhros gaze steadily. "What do you know about love, cousin?"
"Ai, and I speak not of the love between brothers which is so important to you. I speak of…" Fingon made an impatient gesture with his hand. "…love."
"I know but little," replied Maedhros guardedly.
"Do you believe there can be love upon first laying eyes upon a person?"
"Ay," replied Maedhros without thought. "I do."
Fingon looked at him with surprise. "You answer so easily, cousin, and in a manner I did not expect."
"Indeed?" asked Maedhros. "Do you expect Fëanorians to be incapable of love because we are bound to an inescapable Oath? It has not always been so, Findekáno, and I pray that it will not always be so." His face became clouded with repressed frustration and he closed his eyes, breathing steadily before he reopened them and met Fingon's eyes steadily. "Now, cousin, tell me of love at first sight, that you think me so inexperienced to have no knowledge of such a thing."
"You said yourself that you knew but little about love," said Fingon pointedly.
"I have known nothing of love returned," said Maedhros simply.
"Ay, and I believe that I know as little," responded Fingon.
"Tell me of this love," said Maedhros softly. "Here in my wilderness, there is no one to hear you, save me. There is no one to judge you."
"Nay." Maedhros shook his head. "I do not judge you." He smiled wryly. "'Tis not my place, aranya.**"
"And what is your place? To goad me into war?"
"No!" cried Maedhros. "To goad you into speech but to persuade you into war."
"There is a difference?"
"Ay, and I will not waste my time explaining it to you. Speak to me cousin or I will leave you to find your own way back to the fortress."
"Very well," said Fingon with a wavering sigh. "Love, Maedhros."
Maedhros looked up. "Yes?"
"I have known it and I have lost it."
"There was a woman… a mortal woman… by the name of Morwen."
"I know that name," said Maedhros slowly. "Is she not the wife of Húrin?" He looked at Fingon with wide eyes. "Your vassal?"
"Ay, although she was promised to no man when I met her." Fingon closed his eyes. "She came to me as I bathed in Lake Mithrim. Out of the mists, Russandol, she came. Eledhwen. She is as beautiful, you know, as any Elf, but like a spark of lightning, blinding and dangerous." It was clear from the colour that rose in his face that there was more to this than he was willing to say aloud but Maedhros remained silent.
After a few moments, Fingon opened his eyes and looked with surprise upon Maedhros' ashen features. "Russandol?" he asked.
Maedhros swallowed thickly. "Are you bound to her?" he asked.
"There can be no marriage between mortal and Elf," said Fingon. "And in any case, she threw me off when she found out who I was."
"There can be," said Maedhros. "Beren and Lúthien have wed, have they not?" He frowned. "She threw you off?" With a bitter laugh, he continued. "Was not the High King of the Noldor good enough for her?"
"It was not that, Maedhros. I had not told her who I was ere we…" Fingon trailed off lamely, gesturing futilely. "She was unimpressed with what she deemed to be an attempt at concealment on my part. It matters little now, in any case, for she is wed to another; ai, and better yet, she is wed to one of her own kind. It is doubtful she ever loved me."
"Then she was a fool," said Maedhros.
At that Fingon sprang to his feet and unsheathed his dagger. He pressed it against Maedhros' throat. "Do not speak of her like that or I will be forced to spill your blood again!"
Maedhros neither blanched nor flinched. "Ay, do it, cousin. Perhaps you should have killed me a long time ago."
"You are not afraid of me," said Fingon, unaware that he was repeating the very words he had spoken to Morwen.
"Should I be?" asked Maedhros. "I have asked you to end it before and you have not. You tend not to fulfil my requests." He raised his chin and did not wince even when Fingon's dagger nicked the skin on his throat. He seemed unaware of the hot trickle of blood that covered his cousin's blade. "I am used to being disappointed by you."
"Is this about this pointless war you wish to wage?" said Fingon, his eyes widening at the sight of Maedhros' blood running down the hilt to coat his fingers.
"You said yourself that we are always at war."
"Then what is this about?" asked Fingon. "Tell me, Russandol! As I have unburdened myself to you, so you should share your confidence with me. 'Tis only fair!"
"All's fair in love and war," mumbled Maedhros, his eyelids fluttering slightly. He shrugged Fingon aside and clamped his hand over his throat, in attempt to staunch the flow of blood.
"Ay, put it like that if you wish," said Fingon.
"Then, cousin, I will tell you. I will tell you of a love I have cherished within me, as fruitless as your desire for this mortal with the face of an Elf! 'Tis a love begun in Valinor. It will never cease, even after ice and fire and distance and war upon war! Believe me when I say that this latest scar you have so kindly given me is but a trifle in comparison to the damage already done to my heart! I have looked upon you so often in my dreams, Findekáno, and, despite all my efforts, I cannot dislodge you from this place." He removed his hand from his throat and thumped his chest with his fist, leaving long smear of blood on his tunic. "Oh, yes, Findekáno. When you so thoughtfully rescued me, you truly sealed the hopeless fate of the wreckage of my heart."
"As of this moment, I can scarcely believe that you have a heart that you would speak like this," said Fingon cruelly, wiping his blade on the ground. He was shaking, however, and now he wished he had never forced Maedhros into speaking.
"Ah," said Maedhros softly. "You cannot look at me now that you know where my love lies. Now that you understand your part in my despair, you wish nothing more than to flee from my sight."
"You cannot love me, Maitimo."
"Ay, I have told myself that often enough," said Maedhros. "That clearly irrefutable fact does not, however, appear to have impinged upon my foolish mind!"
Fingon took a step back. His cousin's sudden passion had left them both breathless.
"I apologise that I hurt you," he muttered, turning his face from his cousin.
Maedhros took a quick step forward and placed his hand under Fingon's chin. Fingon had barely registered that Maedhros' fingers were sticky with blood when Maedhros stooped to kiss him fiercely.
Initially Fingon froze but found that he had neither the strength nor the will to oppose his cousin. He returned the kiss, dimly aware of the power in Maedhros' body as they pressed against each other. Neither could say how long the kiss lasted, but the shadows around them had noticeably lengthened when at last they pulled apart. Fingon gasped as Maedhros closed his eyes, shaking his head. "I am sorry," Maedhros mumbled, his hand still resting on the side of Fingon's neck and his thumb lightly grazing Fingon's cheek. "I am sorry."
"Ay, as am I," said Fingon, untangling his fingers which had somehow found their way into the thick auburn hair at the nape of Maedhros' neck. "That in this bleak land, both of us are forced to seek comfort where we should not." His brow creased with concern. "You are still bleeding."
"I am?" Maedhros touched the skin of his throat again, now red and slick with blood. "Perhaps it is true that we are our own enemies. Ai, let us cut each other's throats and do Morgoth's work for him! Let us kill each other even as we love! I am condemned to the Eternal Void! Why should I not drag all my family with me?" He sank to the ground and Fingon knelt alongside him, using his own sleeve to cover the wound.
Maedhros sighed, shaking with exhaustion following his outburst. "Ay, cousin, all is hopeless. We have proven this by forcing each other to spill secrets where no confidence exists."
"That is not true," said Fingon. "I do have confidence in you." There was a ghost of a smile on his face. "Though you be as stubborn as any mule in insisting upon this war."
"This condemnation of my stubbornness comes from the fool who braved the Black Lands to rescue me?"
"'Tis only right that a fool should follow the steps of another fool," said Fingon. "Come now; lie back, that I might stop this bleeding."
Maedhros did so and Fingon lay alongside him, keeping his hand firmly over the wound.
"You loved her, this adaneth*** of yours?" asked Maedhros softly, gazing up at the shifting foliage above them.
"I believe so," said Fingon.
"Then I am sorry for you, cousin."
"Ay, as am I," responded Fingon. "Though I did not realise what a mistake I had made until she came before me as Húrin's wife."
Maedhros touched Fingon's hair, plucking a leaf out of the black strands. "You were jealous?"
Shifting a little, Fingon nodded. "Yes. It was not simply that she was wife to another. I was also jealous because she so clearly loves him." He sighed. "I loved her and I misused her and, being mortal, she could wed with another, even if she had ever loved me in return."
"We often hurt those whom we love, do we not?"
Fingon looked up from examining the cut on Maedhros' throat. "Ay, we do. I do love you, fool cousin of mine, but not as you love me."
Maedhros began to nod before Fingon placed both hands on either side of his face to prevent his movement. "Be so kind as to remain still while I attend to you," Fingon said. "I do not intend that you lose all of your heart's blood on my behalf."
Maedhros snorted. "'Tis already a lost cause."
"Always we return to this theme of despair, do we not?" murmured Fingon softly.
Maedhros reached up to lightly caress Fingon's face. "Ay, 'tis written in your face. You will support this war though you do not believe in it."
"You read minds now, do you?" asked Fingon. "You are right, of course. We will fight and some of us will die and all in the name of a fruitless hope."
"Thank you," said Maedhros, as his fingers moved to touch Fingon's hair again.
"You owe me no gratitude," said Fingon as he bowed his head to kiss his cousin's lips softly. "This is a thankless world," he whispered into Maedhros' ear as though he feared being overheard while sharing this most bitter of truths. "And more full of weeping than we can ever understand."
When their lips met again, Fingon simply surrendered to his loss of faith and hope, that his cousin might find comfort as he himself had done by the shores of Mithrim, in that mist-filled dream of another land.
*Continuity is difficult here. In HoME XI, it is said that Húrin wed Morwen two years after this but there is also evidence that two years after this Túrin was born which contradicts the initial claim. For the sake of this story, I'm assuming the Húrin wed pretty swiftly after inheriting the lordship from his father.
**Aranya = My King (Q)
***Adaneth = female mortal (Taken from a volume of HoME, can't remember which!)
Just as a final point of interest, a great deal of inspiration for the relationship between Maedhros and Fingon came from Damien Rice's album O, especially the songs Delicate and Volcano. (Don't build your world around/Volcanoes melt you down/What I am to you/Is not real/What I am to you/You do not need/What I am to you/Is not what you mean to me/So give me miles and miles of mountains/And I'll ask for the same.)
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.