It is remarkable, Turgon muses, how a city can manage to look new and old, sedate and wild, raw and exquisite. All at once. Only Finrod could do it.
He is not envious, because he learnt long ago that there were
certain things only Finrod could do.
There is a hurry of thought in Nargothrond. Turgon can spot influences from everywhere and nowhere. Yet there is a strange symmetry in the diversity; he cannot say it is unpleasing to the eye when it is not. Indeed, he wonders how Finrod persuaded so many races of people to part with so many treasures. Ah, he knows. Finrod probably smiled. And the world melted. There is wood from trees only found in Doriath, jewels that could only come from Aman, a foreign touch that could only come from the hands of the gruff, unwieldy dwarves.
He knows these are unnecessary, passing thoughts, observant as is his wont, but slightly pointless. He has not come to gawk at the city. He has come to see that favourite cousin of his who happens to be waiting on the other side. Turgon laughs to himself; Finrod has never learnt to be inconspicuous.
He reaches the other end. The Lord of Nargothrond bows gracefully, and presses a kiss to each cheek in the old gesture of filial welcome. A wide smile betrays his pleasure, and Turgon thinks that he still resembles the Finrod of Valinor.
Finally seated in Finrod’s official quarters, Turgon traces the carving on the surface of the desk, inlaid with silver. A glint of pearl flashes when the light catches it; the room, like the city outside, is a lesson in heirlooms.
Turgon, swirling the liquor in a fluted glass, finally leans forward, eyebrow raised. ‘A museum, cousin?’
Finrod laughs, and sound floats into the stillness of the evening.
‘I just happen to like collecting things.’
They will always view the night with the suspicion that foreigners instinctively have. It unnerves them, not being able to see what is what: because shadows become walls, and walls become shadows. The stars that will appear will be dimmer, but they will be there. The same stars. It is a curious nostalgia.
Turgon glances at Finrod.
‘You know?’ he asks.
Finrod contemplates answering this with care, but dispenses with the thought almost immediately.
‘It is true.’
He turns to Turgon, with an expression that is too sincere to be considered anything else. ‘Congratulations, Cano.’
Beyond, Anar falls with slow abandon and disappears, defeated for a while.
‘What will you call it?’
‘You don’t mean…’ Finrod murmurs.
‘What it will look like?’
He leans forward, drawing in a sharp, inaudible breath. ‘You love the city already.’
Finrod thinks of his own Nargothrond; he can understand his cousin’s attachment. He has always understood Turgon’s little eccentricities.
‘There will be gates, bronze, silver and gold. A valley in the embrace of this sun, a mountain amidst the forest. The rock will not be mined from the ground; the earth itself will offer the rock. It will sing, I will sing. I will see it built.’
His eyes shine with the unmodest pride of the craftsman. Fear touches Finrod’s heart briefly. He has seen that light before, and never on Turgon’s face.
‘And you, Finrod? Would you die for this Nargothrond of yours?’
‘I would die if it were an option.’
‘But it is somewhat different, ambalë
…’ The old nickname is not suitable for his words. ‘Death is always an option here.’
Finrod turns away; the mountains have lost their beauty. The back of his head gleams gold, brighter than his now-shadowed face.
‘You pay the price, Turucáno, for being the only cynic in this family.’
Turgon reaches out, and brushes Finrod’s cheek with the tips of his fingers - it is gentle, a ghost caress, but it forces him to turn his face. His hands are warm, and long fingers trace a scar on the underline of his jaw; Finrod has to fight to remember that it exists. But it is there. It must be there, because Turgon touched it.
He aches, and it stings, but the bitterness of reality is not all that bitter. Immortality is not his excuse, nor is abandonment. There is no excuse. The touch, that is the moment itself, and there will be no furthering, and no retreating.
Finrod is content to stand, just there. Drawing a breath, he starts to speak.
‘Quiet…’ Turgon says, dark locks falling about his face as he bends, touching his forehead to Finrod’s. ‘We never spoke of cynicism or idealism, or of rational thought and irrational action.’ Finrod thinks that his cousin’s eyes are the most beautiful colour he has ever seen. He sees charcoal, and smoke, and there…just a wisp of cloud. He does not remember that his own are identical to those he stares at.
Turgon smiles, softly.
‘Keep quiet, Artafindë, and we will we watch the stars while we still can.’
The days are shorter; autumn draws to a hushed close. It is colder because of the trees and the rivers, and the mist is treacherous.
‘Idril,’ Finrod says. ‘How is Idril?’
Turgon shakes his head, eyes twinkling. ‘She surpasses everything I have ever known.’
‘I know that, cousin,’ Finrod teases, gently, ‘I was merely giving you a chance to brag eloquently about your child.’
‘I detect a hint of sarcasm there.’
‘And justified sarcasm it is, Kano.’ He twists the lever of the window, pushing it open. Cold air rushes in, the icy wetness of the Narog being swept along with the wind. Finrod inhales deeply, pauses for moment, the fondness in his voice betrayed.
‘How is she?’
‘An irresistibly charming brat.’ There is indulgent exasperation on Turgon’s face.
Finrod turns and catches his cousin by the arm, briefly aware of the surprise in Turgon’s eyes. ‘Do not say that.’
‘By Eru, if there is no gentle rein on her, she will be as spoilt as your sister!’
‘A case of the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?’
‘Aredhel is reckless, yes. But no one would dream of calling her sensible.’
‘My sister is quite capable of handling her own affairs.’
There is no visible reaction to that from Turgon. His face reminds Finrod of a portrait he saw in Doriath; too blank for reality, too real for artistic vagary. It hung in one of the many hallways, and after a while it was forgotten, always cared for but relegated to the darker corridors when newer things came to Thingol’s attention. But Finrod loved it, and it had amused Elu to watch his young kinsman gaze solemn sincerity at such a canvas, at an expressionless face possible only because of the utter lack of expression.
Later, Elu remembered that there were no portraits in Valinor.
‘In that,’ Turgon says ‘I suppose you are correct.’
Finrod laughs, willfully ignoring the gravity in the other’s voice. ‘Strange, really, how Galadriel says that so reluctantly to me.’
‘Galadriel…’ Turgon murmurs. Finrod wonders if his sister’s name sounds so artificial on his own lips. But there is only one person who can say the name as it is supposed to be said, and Galadriel’s brother is not that person.
‘It is an unusual name,’ Turgon says slowly. There were not many left who were brave enough to speak Quenya. It had surprised even Finrod when Turgon had been one of the last to learn the language of the Sindar.
‘Does she love him?’
‘Artanis was always brave.’
‘She sees it as no act of bravery.’
‘No’, Turgon concedes. ‘She would not.’
He masks a quiet smile, but will not hide the tinge of bitterness from Turgon. ‘She will not wed him. Not yet.’
‘Custom, I suppose, does not count for much. Not here. Still, she surprises me.’ A shadow passes over Turgon’s face and he stares, his eyes tracing every angle in his cousin’s beautiful face, then turns away, unusually silent.
‘What was once our law need not be our law now.’
‘No,’ Turgon shrugs. ‘It need not. Things are forgotten.’
‘I have not forgotten.’
‘I wasn’t talking about you.’
Orange flame is seen in the distance, and the slow fire of the sun begins its ascent. There is a strange silence in the cave-hewn valley, Finrod longs for his harp; it is his favourite time to sing. The quietude creeps into the room, and it feels unnatural because these two have never been silent around each other.
‘But in the attempt at memory, Turgon,’ he says, eyes half-closed, ‘do not forget to make new things to remember.’
Both dream that night.
There was once a boy who was called golden bird. It was impossible not to love him. There was once a boy who, when born, was proclaimed to be uncommonly intelligent. It was possible to envy him. They played together as children and rode together as adults. They even went to war together, despite it not being their war.
Howling wind. The ice bit into the golden one’s feet until they bled, but he walked, leaving a red trail behind. They followed him in hope, in desperate, wrenching, furious hope.
The dark haired one stared into the cracked ice. He did not weep.
The voice of the blue haired light. Tremble. Fall to your knees. Dream. I command. They obey.
But neither speaks of it. The inevitability of treason.
A kiss given when no choice was left, when the battle had continued for too long.
Both wake in separate rooms, breathing hard, knowing that both love and death would not come easily.
He plays with inhuman grace, if grace was what showed in the structure of the body in such an immobile position.
A continuous melody, probably one of his own compositions, and on previous evenings he would keep playing as they talked, the gentle rise and fall of the music punctuated by conversation and a sudden crescendo of high, pure song if Finrod felt the maestro that night.
He looks up, and the silence in the room is unearthly.
Turgon looks straight into his eyes; the truth will be the only option now. ‘I did not know how much it would hurt.’
Reaching out to brush back a lock of dark hair, his hand lingering longer than necessary, Finrod’s voice is terribly soft. ‘Do you wonder at what could have been?’
But Turgon retreats, and will not answer. Finrod will not expect him to. It is one of the advantages of having known each other for thousands of years.
Turgon risks a quick glance at his cousin, a strange, wistful smile on his face.
‘Will you sing what I want you to sing?’
‘Tell me again.’
Turgon says nothing, his trust in silence more than Finrod’s.
Finrod turns, his eyes more flamboyant than his words.
‘You are so old-fashioned, Turucáno.’
He strums the harp, and the instrument is again alive in his embrace.
‘When do I see you again?’
‘You are always welcome at Nevrast.’
‘You know what I mean.’
‘You are welcome, Finrod’ Turgon says calmly, his eyes roaming the landscape below. They are standing on the highest precipice of Nargothrond, a jutting cliff shaped from the rock above a waterfall falling from an inland cave. The water crashes with unbridled intensity from a great height, and foam is created with writhing, fluid, consistent grace.
Finrod glances at his cousin.
‘A wilder beauty, don’t you think?’
‘Made more beautiful for the wildness?’
‘Or for the utter disregard it has for neighbouring surroundings?’ Turgon laughs suddenly. ‘A waterfall in a city of caves. Surely, Finrod, there must have been some symmetry to its inclusion.’
‘Symmetry?’ Finrod says thoughtfully, ‘No. Only for the selfish reason that I love it very much.’
Turgon pauses, his eyes flickering towards his cousin’s side-profile. ‘A good reason.’
Their embrace is swift but unhurried, and for a moment dark hair gleams with intermingled gold. But there is no desperation, no sense of impending departure, only the surety that whatever happens, it will not be so difficult. When his cousin withdraws, and stares into his eyes for a second longer than he should, Finrod knows that glimpses of eternity have not abandoned him yet.
‘I think,’ Turgon’s voice is curiously low. ‘That I must return.’
He turns to depart, leaving Finrod standing in the same spot. The path back to the city of caves is narrow and winding, left rather undeveloped by the Naugrim, purely for the reason that they probably never come there.
Suddenly, Turgon pauses in mid-stride, leaning with exquisite grace on a steep rock. He does not look back, tossing his words to the wind.
‘You always had an exceptional eye for beauty, Artafindë.’
Finrod watches him leave, a ghost of a smile upon his lips.
Ambalë – (Q) Golden bird
Turucáno – (Q)Turgon
Artafindë – (Q) Finrod
The Silmarillion says that Turgon visited Finrod in Nargothrond before Gondolin was built. Then Turgon was isolated in Gondolin, while Finrod proceeded to help Beren and Co. with their mission. There is no mention of another meeting before their deaths – Finrod in Angband and Turgon in Gondolin.
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.