3. Lost But Not Forgotten
Maitimo woke up to a dull throbbing pain in his right arm and a sickening sense of lightness where he expected to feel his missing hand. For the briefest of moments panic and despair threatened to crush him, before the sound of Findekáno's soft breathing and the pressure of his companion’s arm draped across his torso reminded him of where he was and who was with him. Findekáno's head rested solidly upon his good shoulder and their legs tangled together among the bedsheets. Maitimo squirmed a little, sliding Findekáno's head to one side, gently so he would not wake him. He wanted to see Findekáno's face, to look upon his heavy lashes resting against lightly flushed cheeks and dark hair tossed across the pillow.
Maitimo stroked Findekáno's hair and whispered, "It was all worth it, if it led you back to me."
"Are you deliberately trying to wake me?" Findekáno said as his eyes fluttered open, intensely blue and focused upon Maitimo, and an irresistible smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. "Or are you incapable of remaining quiet now that you are recovering?"
"Hmm. I suppose I did want to wake you." Maitimo grinned and kissed him. Findekáno's lips were warm and this kiss involved an increased amount of tongue, more like old times, the remnants of guardedness slipping further away with each new encounter. As he raised himself upon one elbow, Findekáno's unbraided hair fell upon Maitimo's chest in a tangled, shockingly alluring mass. He is sensuality incarnate, Maitimo thought. The pain in Maitimo's arm lessened and his shoulder stopped aching entirely.
"I love you,” said Findekáno, “but what an appalling thing to say--about it being worth it. You could have won me back without either of us suffering so much, but you did not."
"I was a fool. Yet you took on an impossible task. You faced death on my behalf without flinching."
"Ai, you do not yet understand how small that was for me to risk death to find you. What was my life worth without you? The big things that I might have done to keep you close to me I could not summon the courage to do, like when I stopped coming to Formenos because in a fit of spitefulness you forbade it, or when I would not take your wretched oath. Do you know how close I came that night in Tirion? One word from you . . . "
Maitimo suddenly felt slightly sick. The air felt heavy and warm around him, yet Maitimo shivered at Findekáno's words and shouted, "Stop it, Káno! You speak so lightly of your death and murderous oaths." Then he lowered his voice to almost a whisper while catching great gasps of air. "And you claim that I say appalling things. Would that I had had the courage or foresight to refuse that oath. I held back at every step along the way, but capitulated over and over again at every critical point. He was a great man, Káno, and right more often than not, and I adored him. We all loved him so. But I don't want to discuss that now. Tell me what I might have done to win you back to me?"
Findekáno said, "Like saying 'I miss you,' or 'I still love you,' or 'I am sorry I treated you badly.' Any combination--no, actually, any single one of those statements would have succeeded at so many points. Anyway, it does not matter. We are here now." He wrinkled his nose at Maitimo in a clowning, flirtatious smirk, incongruously appealing on his noble features.
"You always oversimplify everything." Maitimo laughed lightly, relieved at steering away from dangerous topics.
"Oh? It seems to me that you always seek to construct extraordinarily complicated theoretical ballast for the smallest adjustment," Findekáno answered, his voice lifting as he raised an eyebrow with his return to a gentle, teasing manner.
Determined to defy expectations, Maitimo struggled to find something mundane to say, finally deciding upon, "You smell lovely, Káno." A huge smile broke across Findekáno's face.
"You smell wonderful. I remember Macalaurë once telling me that he thought you smelled like the light of Laurelin on a spring day. He did add: 'When he is clean, of course.' I wanted to answer that you always smelled of love to me. But in those days--we were all very young and crass--I was afraid he would think I meant the scent of certain bodily fluids." Findekáno snorted with laughter before continuing. "Not what I meant at all. Although there often enough has been that," he grinned, playing the fool deliberately before turning thoughtful. "But there was something else, something indefinably vivid and always fresh about you--that was what I meant by love. You did, you do, have your own distinctive scent. It was absent when I found you, but now it is rushing back. Irresistible." Findekáno breathed in, barely audible, "I love you."
Maitimo did not speak but kissed him. Findekáno moaned against his lips saying, "Umm. You are regaining your health. First your scent, now your brute force."
"Stop chattering," Maitimo ordered, kissing harder.
Suddenly, they both started at the clatter of hoofs entering the courtyard, greeted by barking dogs and squealing, laughing children. Findekáno struggled to reposition himself while Maitimo shifted to prevent him from sitting upright easily and said, "Stay as you are. It is my brothers. I love them dearly and have missed them, but we can delay seeing them for a short while. I have waited much longer to be alone with you."
Maitimo listened to his brothers talking as they dismounted. Tyelkormo's and Macalaurë's well-cherished voices dominated. He sensed Carnistir's presence and blessedly no longer as the open-wound he had perceived in the last several times he had been aware of him. Through Carnistir’s ability to communicate mind-to-mind, his strange, quiet brother had touched his heart and soul several times while Maitimo suffered Morgoth’s foulest torments. Although he drew strength from his brother’s attempts to give him succor and support, Maitimo had pled with him to leave him when sensed the terrible pain Carnistir suffered on his behalf.
Findekáno remained still, listening also to the tumult in the courtyard. Maitimo turned to Findekáno with a sense of sudden urgency. "If they should ask today, we shall tell them that I am not leaving for a while yet. I want to stay here with you. You must do most of the talking. If I sound too well then they will want to insist that I leave sooner. Not Macalaurë, he will understand. And he can oversee my brothers and the others a bit longer."
"Please. You need not try to convince me. You were all but dead yesterday. You haven't even eaten anything of substance yet. You know it is your connection to my fëa that is helping to heal you, don't you? They would not dare ask you to travel," Findekáno spoke, his voice severe and loud, his eyes all but shooting blue flames.
"Calm yourself, Káno. We are allies in this matter. And Macalaurë will agree with us." Maitimo could not hold back a chuckle and took another kiss. Findekáno returned it; his mouth was fierce against his lover's, his earlier reserve abandoned in favor of an intensity more to Maitimo's liking.
A soft tap on the door interrupted them.
"Russandol? Káno? May I enter?"
"Ai, Manwë's bollocks. Reminds me of Fëanáro's house in Tirion. Now it's Findaráto," Findekáno said, with a huge, heaving, tortured sigh.
Maitimo found Findekáno's exaggerated attempt to convey a lack of sympathy for their cousin more than a bit false and experienced a prick of jealousy--not an accustomed emotion for him. The last time he had felt it they were young, their yearning for one another still undeclared, and his uncertainty at ever winning Findekáno's love caused him to see potential rivals around every corner. He realized for the first time that after they had pledged themselves to one another, even when he had claimed that he hated Findekáno, he never doubted that they would somehow find one another again; that underneath every calculated consideration of why they should separate he had always had confidence that nothing could keep them apart for long: not their family, the Valar, nor any other chance or doom. Now he feared he had been far too confident that he could never truly lose his Findekáno.
"Oh, our dearest cousin and your special friend," Maitimo answered, feeling petulant. But though Maitimo had no desire to coddle Findekáno, neither did Findaráto deserve his malice. He allowed his voice to soften and added, "Please, tell him he is welcome and be gracious." How could he be angry with either of them in light of his own cruelty toward Findekáno in those last months before they left Aman?
"Ingo, the door is open. Come in!" Findekáno called out.
Findaráto slid into the room and closed the door behind him. Clad in a pale blue woolen tunic over elegantly tailored soft leather britches dyed a rich, dark blue, he looked every bit a son of Arafinwë. His golden hair falls thick and wavy upon his shoulders, as bright as ever--no even brighter than I remember. Findaráto’s lightly Tree-tanned skin offset his unusually pale bluish-grey eyes. The square jaw and high cheekbones of Findaráto typified all of the men of the House of Finwë and were distinctly reminiscent of the handsome features of Finwë.
"Russandol! I am pleased to see how well you look, so much better than yesterday. You really had me worried." He radiated the good-natured kindliness that reminded Maitimo of Findaráto's father Arafinwë. But Maitimo did not want to think of Arafinwë just then, as that always brought thoughts of Tirion and what he had left behind, not least of which was the goodwill of his once light-heartened uncle not much his elder.
Maitimo could not but compare Findaráto's fair-haired elegance to his own lost beauty. Findaráto virtually gleamed, nearly luminous in the sunlight-filled the room. It appeared to be early afternoon, which meant that Maitimo and Findekáno had slept perhaps four hours. Unlike the day before, which had seemed dark and cold from what little impression he retained of it, today it looked warm and pleasant outside. Findekáno jumped up naked from the bed and managed to locate the robe he had worn after his bath, struggling into it as he crossed the room to greet Findaráto. Maitimo watched them exchange a swift, easy embrace. His jealousy flared reflexively again at the sight of his lover's relaxed demeanor with another despite how uncomplicated their brief clasp seemed to be.
He observed the aspect of serenity coupled with sagacity that always adhered to Findaráto. Peace is often overrated and vacancy known to masquerade as wisdom. But I think this is not the case with my cousin Ingo. Why should not Káno find some balm for his injured spirit? Should I not try to step aside and allow his restless, rebellious nature to be soothed rather than relentlessly rubbed raw by my eternal regret and cursed oath? Findaráto reached Maitimo’s bedside and bent over him.
"Good to see you, Ingo," Maitimo said, yet instinctively turned his head to one side, causing a kiss Findaráto had aimed at his mouth to land upon his cheek. Whatever higher inclinations Maitimo believed he should hold, he could not so readily forgive what had passed between Findaráto and Findekáno.
Blushing deeply Findaráto said, "Káno told you! I would have told you myself had he not been so hasty." Then Maitimo felt embarrassed and ashamed at his own resentment.
"Am I so easy to read?" Maitimo asked.
"Not usually," Findaráto answered. "It must be the distress of all that has come to pass. I apologise if I have hurt you. It was never my intent."
"Nor did I mean to be churlish. I turned my back on Káno. Neither of you owe me any explanation under the circumstances."
"But I would give you one if you permit me," Findaráto said, "I do not know if I can adequately describe the emptiness and cold we endured. Káno pined for you ceaselessly while trying to be resolute and to support others, not knowing if you had abandoned him willingly or under protest. I had finally realized I had truly lost Amarie. Meanwhile, we both were driven nearly mad by being forced to listen to Turukáno's relentless hostile grief. I was not even convinced you could have survived the burning of the ships, although Káno thought you had. He said he would have sensed it if you had perished."
Maitimo spoke forcefully to prevent Findaráto from going on, "You do not need to justify . . . "
"But I would have you know. I never imagined interfering with what you share with one another. None could think to rival a passion such as yours, one that could withstand the pain, the ice and the fire." Findaráto, although he appeared somewhat caught off guard and voiced his apologies with unquestionable sincerity, was every bit as outwardly poised and regal in demeanor as ever. Then, he added. "If you must blame someone, blame me. Did he tell you how it happened? I got him drunk and then seduced him."
Maitimo would have recognized the lie even if Findekáno's mouth had not dropped open in disbelief at the statement. Findaráto smiled shyly and reddened at having been caught out, no longer regal. "Forgive me, Russandol."
"You honor me with your forgiveness of my part in the wrongs you have suffered. Friends then?" Maitimo asked. He reached upward with his left arm toward Findaráto, who bent over him, making it possible for Maitimo to kiss him.
"Friends! And I am grateful that you pardon me. I assure you that Káno made it clear that his heart belonged always to you and you alone--our beautiful Russandol. I see you will be healed again soon," Findaráto said, with a brilliant smile. Maitimo did not truly know until that moment how much he had longed for the reconciliation with his second most-loved cousin. Neither spoke for a moment as they held one another close.
"What about me?" Findekáno said closing his lips in a childish pout that he never would have dared as a youth, accompanied by an amorous gaze in Maitimo's direction. Happy to have smothered his own bitterness, momentarily at least, Maitimo could not hold back a laugh at Findekáno's unashamed manifestation of his emotions.
Findaráto, without a doubt similarly relieved, said, "You of all people ask for reassurance? Of all the chivalrous exploits and heroic deeds that led us to name you Findekáno the Valiant, this latest one surely surpasses them all. Anyone who has ever loved with great fervor or wanted to be loved in such a way will be envious to hear what you have accomplished on behalf of your beloved."
"Then the word of Maitimo's rescue is spreading about?" Findekáno asked, his frown turning into a grin, for the first time revealing that he might be pleased with himself over his recent accomplishments.
"Ai, Káno, for most of your adult life, your relationship with Russandol has been a periodically re-emerging scandal, albeit within a narrow circle. Now it will become the stuff of legend."
A sudden outburst of squawking fowl and a renewed barking of dogs reached them from the courtyard, along with an increasing din of strong male voices. Maitimo heard a distinctly feminine peal of laughter, which he instantly recognized as belonging to Irissë, followed by a shriek of "Put me down, Tyelkormo, before you drop me in the chicken dung. Pityo, Telvo, come! Give me a kiss." Irissë appeared to be in high spirits to see the two youngest of Fëanáro's sons. Years of close companionship and shared tastes made those particular cousins her favorites and she had long chafed under the critical eye of her father and her brother, Turukáno, with whom she shared little understanding.
For a brief moment Maitimo wondered if most elves in the compound were glad that the nonsensical ragging of his cousin Irissë and his brothers could not be fully understood by the native Moriquendi. Although perhaps the proudest of the vain and haughty Noldor, the scions of the House of Finwë--except for Nolofinwë and, at one time, he himself--did not exercise restraint among family nor often heed how they might be viewed by others.
"Well, it sounds as though your sister at least is willing to open-heartedly hail my brothers in friendship," Maitimo said.
"If only she were wiser or more politic and would greet them a bit more sedately," said Findekáno, laughing. "But then my sister never has had a reputation for discretion. Least of all in the presence of your brothers."
"Unlike you," chuckled Findaráto. "The paradigm of restraint and discretion among all of Finwë's grandchildren."
"Poor long-suffering Atar and Turukáno. They never expected anything from me except what they got and sadly now have to endure Irissë's irrepressibility as well. She has grown indispensable to Turukáno in helping to care for Itarillë since the loss of Elenwë," Findekáno responded.
Findaráto sat upon the edge of Maitimo's bed and took his uninjured hand, "I am glad to have you back. I believe that even Turukáno must feel that way, although he will not say so and may never wholly forgive you and your brothers for swearing your father's oath or for the deeds that followed. For my part, I do not presume to sit in judgment upon either you or him but prefer instead to consider how we will meet our common enemy in the future."
"Your sentiments mirror mine exactly and those of Findekáno as well. Have you spoken with my brothers yet?" Maitimo asked.
"I talked mainly with Macalaurë but briefly with Tyelkormo also. You should be filled with pride in Macalaurë; he has shown his strength. He held your supporters together in your absence with precious little help from your brothers that I could see. Your other brothers appear to have had a rotten time of it," Findaráto answered. "They suffered greatly in your absence."
"Macalaurë is my rock." Maitimo lifted his chin in an expression of affection and pride. "Few realize his firmness. They think of him as an artist, somehow soft. Perhaps they will better understand his quality now."
"I came to tell you that Uncle Nolofinwë and the healer Pilimor intend to speak with them before they all march in here and begin demanding things of you."
"Thank you, Ingo," Findekáno said. "Perhaps if you would delay them just a little while longer I can dress. I am concerned that Maitimo will have to see company all day, and I cannot allow them to exhaust him and cause him to lose ground again."
"Pilimor told your father and me that Russandol's condition is not robust, so I am sure he will explain that to the brothers Fëanárion."
The door swung open wildly, crashing against the wall and causing a small sprinkle of plaster dust to puff out from alongside it.
"Too late," Findekáno sighed.
"Nelyo!" Carnistir shouted, pushing by Macalaurë as though his older brother were an awkwardly placed piece of furniture. Macalaurë rolled to one side without a hint of annoyance. His face was suffused by a youthful, wet-eyed smile of pure bliss. Meanwhile, Findekáno kissed Maitimo on the forehead and stood, moving away from his place on bed with a deliberateness which he undoubtedly hoped would indicate that he relinquished his spot willingly but without bowing to any pressure from the whirlwind of color and sound that had burst so abruptly into the small space. Findaráto backed up against the wall next to the window grimacing in a pretense of avoiding being crushed by the onslaught.
"Carnistir," Maitimo said. "All is well now."
Carnistir crawled onto the bed and embraced his brother, carefully avoiding Maitimo's bandaged arm and shoulder hidden largely by a sling, buried his face in the crook between his neck and shoulder, and released a muffled sob of "Nelyo."
Macalaurë crawled up onto the bed behind Carnistir, embracing both of them, looking down at Maitimo's shrouded limb. He kissed Maitimo on the mouth and mumbled, "What happened to your arm? How did Káno ever find you?" before kissing him again.
In a near pileup at the foot of the bed, Curufinwë grinned foolishly and Tyelkormo laughed out loud, while Pityafinwë and Telufinwë pushed against them from behind. The noise level seemed to have reached earsplitting proportions and for one short-lived moment Maitimo felt himself transported back to the chaotic security of his childhood home in Tirion.
"The story of how Káno found me is interesting perhaps, but not pretty. I'll tell you all the details later. I lost a hand in the process. But the important thing is that he did find me," Maitimo said in answer to Macalaurë. Turning to Curufinwë, he asked, "Where is Tyelperinquar?"
Curufinwë squeezed by Findekáno to reach Maitimo's bedside and lean over and kiss him. "Outside. He knows you are here and safe. I told him you are not feeling well. I wanted to see you before I brought him in. You look so much better than I feared."
"Of course, we would not want to frighten him and I don't want to be responsible for giving children nightmares," Maitimo said, immediately regretting the tinge of cynicism in his choice of words. He continued in a softer tone, "Can you bring him in before I get too tired and look worse again?"
"Let me get him." Curufinwë kissed him again, hugging him around the neck, before scrambling in the direction of the door. "I love you, Nelyo." He rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, sniffed, and then gave a hint of a smile.
Macalaurë moved down toward the end of the bed and motioned to the twins and Tyelkormo to approach. After more greetings, hugs and kisses, and answering of questions, the door opened again. Curufinwë reentered holding a small boy, barely more than a toddler. As soon as he sat him down upon his sturdy, chubby legs, the child approached the bed confidently and took Maitimo's hand.
"You cut your hair. Did the dark one or his fell beasts hurt you?" Tyelperinquar said, pointing at the sling. Maitimo winced at the matter-of-factness of the boy's manner in speaking of such horrors.
"They did, Tyelpo. But there are good healers here and they are helping me recover. Crawl up here with me." Tyelperinquar squirmed to insert himself between Maitimo and Carnistir, forcing his uncle to his feet. The child stroked Maitimo's shortened hair in fascination.
"Hold still, Tyelpo," Curufinwë said. "You could hurt your uncle wiggling around like that." Tyelperinquar frowned at his father. Maitimo laughed at how like Curufinwë he had looked for a moment.
"Is it true you came on a giant eagle with our cousin Findekáno?"
"Yes. Thorondor mightiest of the Eagles carried us here."
"Which one is Findekáno?"
"That would be me, little one." Findekáno's wide smile, alight with all his charm and energy, and startlingly blue eyes clearly interested the boy.
"I have heard about you. You look like a brave hero.” Looking around the room, Tyelperinquar asserted to no one in particular, “Uncle Nelyo is back and we are all happy again now." He wrinkled his forehead in consternation at the loud laughter his innocent remark elicited.
Maitimo suddenly began to feel lightheaded, as though he were terribly hungry. He sank back into the pillows, the clamor of his brothers becoming a roar from which he could no longer discern one voice from the others. The sensation caused by the racket reminded him of when he was young and had stuck his head inside of an empty metal container near the forge and Macalaurë whacked it with a stick.
At just that moment Findekáno interjected himself into the commotion with a tone of command that caused everyone else to stop talking at once. "All right then. That is enough. There are now ten people in this small room. Maitimo needs a quieter environment and I would like to dress. Perhaps Macalaurë and Findaráto could stay for now and the rest of you can return in twos later in the afternoon." He picked Tyelperinquar up from the bed and changed his expression to one of gentle affection. "There are a couple of women and a girl outside who would like to see you. Maybe you could come back with them in a little while."
"What kind of a girl?"
"A girl who is a little older than you and very pretty and clever. She is a cousin you have never met."
"I think I saw her outside. She laughed when Uncle Tyelkormo picked up the beautiful lady with the black hair."
"I suspect that was the same girl. And the dark-haired lady is my sister. She makes everyone laugh, whether they want to or not. She will play with the two of you. Now run along." Findekano held the door open and the five youngest of Fëanor's sons trooped out as well, each pausing only to give Maitimo another kiss. They obeyed their cousin as though he were a respected schoolmaster.
Maitimo watched with curiosity at how readily his younger brothers followed Findekáno's instructions. Would that I could give it to him instead of his father. Nolofinwë is wiser and infinitely more practical, but what a light burns in our reckless Káno. He almost could have been my father's son, but for that streak of innocence that none of us have ever had.
"Well," Macalaurë said expectantly.
"Well, indeed. I am proud of you," answered Maitimo, voice cracking despite his effort. "I thank you for not coming after me. Although I cursed you more times than I can count when I wasn't feeling relieved and grateful to you that you had not. I must admit though that my despair overcame my satisfaction when I realized that you definitely would not come."
"Every day I nearly weakened, until Findekáno arrived. I thought I should tell him not to try any heroic stunts, and I did warn him of the dangers, but secretly hoped he would heed his own counsel," Macalaurë said turning to face Findekáno. "Thank you for returning my brother to me."
"I'd like to pretend my intentions were noble and unselfish but none of you would believe that. I was scared shitless and more than half-mad with rage and grief. But I will accept your thanks anyway. If you will excuse me, I will go next door and finish dressing."
Before Findekáno could reach the door, it swung open to admit Tadiel, once again bearing a food-laden tray. "My lords," she said in Sindarin, nodding to all. Findekáno relieved her of the heavy tray and placed it on the table beside the window.
"Nelyafinwë must eat and Findekáno," she announced. "Shall I get another pot of tea for your guests?"
Maitimo could not resist answering, "These are not guests. They are my family. Tea would be good, but if you had some wine or spirits it would be even better."
"I certainly can manage that. But neither you nor Findekáno should drink any." Tadiel smiled.
"Don't worry about me. I am trying to convince myself that I can actually eat some of the food you have brought. I promise that I'll watch Findekáno carefully," Maitimo said. The previous sense of hunger vanished immediately as his stomach roiled at the sight and smell of the simple, rather bland, dishes that were arranged on the tray.
"Try the broth again. And it would be good if you could manage the custard. It is nourishing--made of eggs and milk. The rest is for your cousin. We will start with simple things until we see how well you tolerate those." Tolerate. That sounded difficult but he was anxious to regain his strength.
"I will be quick," Findekáno said, closing the door behind him. He immediately stuck his head back in. "Should I ask Atar to join us?"
"Not yet. Perhaps you should find him though and tell him that I look forward to speaking with him soon. Tonight, if I feel well enough, or tomorrow."
"Yes, sir," Findekáno said, exiting backwards while bowing obsequiously.
"Káno!" Maitimo said, raising his voice. Findekáno’s head popped around the corner of the door. "I am worn-out. Will you figure out what to say and how to say it, please? But make it sound . . . respectful."
"I'll do my best," Findekáno said grinning.
When Findekáno had gone, Macalaurë said, "Ai, I see you have patched things up with Káno. Reminds me of the old days. The two of you hatching plots and working around Nolofinwë."
Maitimo smiled. "Findekáno is difficult to remain on bad terms with--impossible when he comes looking to rescue one from the most foul and desolate place in Middle-earth, alone and against all odds, and succeeds spectacularly, including securing transportation directly from Manwë."
"I am happy for you," Macalaurë said, his voice low and tender.
"I did not feel whole without him," Maitimo answered with a shrug, nodding toward his injured arm. "I suspect losing my hand will be less of a hardship than trying to imagine an existence without him."
Findaráto, who had been leaning quietly against the window sill, arms folded across his chest, ankles crossed, stood fully upright and approached the bed, taking a seat on the foot of it. "So, am I an invited guest at the cabal of Russandol, Findekáno and Macalaurë, or a full-fledged co-conspirator now?"
"Hmmm." Macalaurë said. "I was never truly part the group you speak of myself. But Nelyo has my complete attention now. Everything that once distracted me has been lost." Macalaurë tossed his loose dark hair out of his face so that it fell down his back, looking at his brother with an half-smile that indicated something midway between bemusement and cynicism.
"Yes. Lost but not forgotten. If we intend to build any sort of a tolerable existence here we have to recognize we must defend it together," Findaráto said. "Knowing you, Russandol, I am assuming that you have a plan and you have already discussed it with Findekáno."
"Actually, I haven't discussed it with anyone. We should wait until Káno returns because I think I am too knackered to repeat it twice. But if you stay to hear the details, you can never reveal what you heard, or that you were part of these discussions, or that they even took place."
"How sinister sounding. I'm terrified," Findaráto chuckled. "I suppose trust has to start somewhere. I am in . . ."
Macalaurë spoke up. "You looked so well and now you are visibly fading like a Vanyarin gentlewoman on a day in the country with our family. Remember when Atar invited guests for those? Bloody awful affairs they were--tromping through the underbrush, flies, ticks and mud. What was Amil thinking to let him do that?"
"It would not be wise to speak ill of Vanyarin ladies later when Turukáno might be present. It is unlikely he will ever forgive us, but if he is even to temporarily put aside his resentment for the sake of our people you must guard your careless tongue," said Maitimo.
"Ever the diplomat. My joke was at the expense of Atar and not those unfortunate ladies." Gesturing upward at Maitimo with a spoon. "Let's start with the broth like the good healer said."
Maitimo grinned up at Tadiel. "It is rude to speak in a tongue which the lady does not understand. She will gladly tell you that she is not a healer, but an apprentice to the master here. A student."
Tadiel fussed about the bed, rearranging the pillows, and touching Maitimo's forehead. "I should tell you that Master Pilimor intends to warn your brothers that too much activity will strain your nerves. Your uncle is looking after you as well and has already spoken to your other cousins."
"Open up?" Macalaurë said, reaching around Tadiel with a spoon, dangerously close to spilling broth onto the bed.
"Give me the cursed broth. I can do it myself. I am not a helpless invalid."
"Point of fact: that is precisely what you are. You must be exhausted, Nelyo. You are the one who is supposed to be the master of words."
Grabbing the bowl out of Macalaurë's hands, he lifted the whole thing to his mouth and took a long swallow. "Tadiel, do you know my cousin, Findaráto? My brother, Macalaurë?"
"By reputation only. Gossip is rampant here, my lord . . . I mean, Nelyafinwë. It is a pleasure to meet you, my lords," she said, and then turning back to Maitimo added. "Please excuse me. I need to report to my Master that you still have no fever and he needs to recommend a draught for you. Not as strong as the one you had before. But the pain must be returning."
"Thank you, Tadiel. It is. If he gives me something, I will not complain."
"Lovely," said Findaráto, after the lady departed. "And more than a little in love with you it appears from the way she watches you and smiles at your every utterance."
Macalaurë snorted. "Every woman falls at least a little in love with my brother. What does Káno think of her?"
"Oh, he likes her well enough. I think she is infatuated with him. Not a bad situation altogether. She may give us some valuable information. Interestingly, she is apparently a distant kinswoman of yours, Ingo, related through Elwë Singollo. Which would mean she has traveled far to have ended up here, which further means she must have an remarkable story herself," Maitimo said.
"I am not sure, but that was one of the many rumors going around according to what Káno has heard. The natives of these parts like to gossip as much as the elves of Aman. And she certainly likes to talk. You will have your chance to chat with her."
Maitimo felt increasingly tired and unfocused. Macalaurë played the aggressive nursemaid in a typical Fëanorian way. He managed to get his older brother to consume all of the broth and swallow fully half of the custard, by having him wash each mouthful down with a swallow of weak tea. His hand across his slightly less concave belly, Maitimo said, "That was disgusting. Now I feel like I am going to burst."
Macalaurë was sitting on bed, still hovering over and fussing about Maitimo, when Findekáno came back into the room. Once again Findaráto rested with his backside against the windowsill, long legs, extended out before him, crossed at the ankles.
Maitimo noticed from Findekáno's intense eyes and brisk manner that he had something he was intent upon sharing.
“What it is, Káno?” he asked.
"Horses," Findekáno said. "We need horses. Give us a generous number of horses as an opening gesture. Even Turukáno will not think to turn those down. You know, I had to come after you on foot." He ran his hand down Maitimo's cheek and cupped his chin, while learning forward to brush a whisper of a kiss upon his lips. He silently formed the word "Beautiful." Maitimo grabbed him by the back of his head and returned the kiss.
Macalaurë coughed and cleared his throat in a parody of disapproval that elicited a guffaw from Findaráto, saying, "Please excuse us, Káno, if we are interrupting anything. We can leave if you would like, but it was my understanding that Nelyo wanted to speak with us."
"Sorry," Findekáno answered, blatantly without remorse.
Maitimo said, "Yes, I like the idea of horses. Macalaurë, would you please consult with Tyelkormo about the execution of that plan. Tell him to consider generosity to the point of foolishness as a guideline when deciding how many and which ones to turn over to our kinsmen. I have thought of offering something much larger, however. I doubt that three of you will disagree with me. But let me explain how I view it and then I'd like to hear your opinions on how best to present it to the others."
Early evening had nearly overcome the remaining sliver of the bright, deep-red sunset reflected in the far edge of the lake and the last exhausting visitors had been shooed away so that Maitimo could finally settle down again. He accomplished his second attempt at eating more comfortably than the first. Leaning heavily upon Findekáno, he managed to walk with difficulty to the bathroom and back without any apparent ill effect. Resting quietly again, Maitimo turned his full attention to Findekáno. Of all the possible scenarios of reconciliation, Maitimo had never in any of his wishful dreaming imagined anything like the current one. He was content to lie back and watch the deepening shadows play across Findekáno's face.
"Do you know how beautiful you are, even so thin and pale?" Findekáno said. Maitimo smiled at the congruence of their thoughts.
"No. But I hoped I still was, just a little, for your sake."
"As soon as you are better I am going to make it apparent to you how exceedingly attractive you are and how appealing I find you."
"You don't have to wait. I need you now," Maitimo said softly, his eyes heavy-lidded and sensual. Looking down upon him, Findekáno perceived him as he had been when still clothed with the transcendence of youth and innocence in the happy realm of the Two Trees.
Maitimo then smirked and said, "Findaráto told me that you are far too difficult and demanding and he is glad to see me back, to keep you out of his way."
"Just as well," Findekáno said, smiling at the preposterous lie, as he reached for Maitimo and closed his hand firmly around his arousal. "It is only you that I want. You want me to make love to you? I do not want to hurt you."
Maitimo gasped at the black-fringed, dark blue eyes, excruciating in their beauty, wide-open and fixed possessively upon him. His voice quavered, filled with wistfulness and surrender. "You will find a way. You are very creative. Please. I cannot wait until I am able take you the way you like to be taken. Love me now, Káno."
"Ai, beautiful beyond bearing you are. I would do anything you ask," Findekáno said.
Maitimo rolled onto the side of his good arm, shifting his hips a bit to provide a better angle for Findekáno. After some gentle yet insistent preparation from his partner, Maitimo, breathing roughly, tossed his shortened hair as he turned to look back over his shoulder. He said with just a hint of a grin, "I'd forgotten how sizeable you are," followed by an audible sharp intake of breath as Findekáno pushed against him and he was slowly but intrepidly entered.
"Ai. Ai. Complainer!" Findekáno said.
"No, Káno. Never complaining. Worshiping."
"You do like this, don't you?" Findekáno panted, all the while holding Maitimo steady with his hands on his hips, not wanting jostle him or cause pain unnecessarily.
"Yes. Always did. Like it. But, you seemed to develop a preference--ai, yes, perfect--people do fall easily into habits over time. So, perhaps--ai, Káno!--after a while we found ourselves in a routine. It was never that I did not like it this way . . . "
"Stop talking," Findekáno said, moving more strongly. Maitimo shuddered, groaned and jerked compulsively, pressing back hard against Findekáno, who let out with a jubilant exclamation as they climaxed.
"Oh, sorry. Just give me a few moments and I can do much, much better," Findekáno said, kissing Maitimo on the corner of his mouth. "I promise I can love you long and well." He collapsed with his chest flat against Maitimo's back and wound one arm tightly across his waist, protectively aware his beloved's injured limb.
"I know you can, my love."
"Unless, of course, you are too tired." Findekáno laughed.
Maitimo frowned and rolled carefully onto his back again. "Come here, you rascal. Treat an injured man with a little respect." Findekáno straddled him and raising himself upon his arms above Maitimo bent over him to kiss and caress him until he moaned and whimpered. They both became decreasingly aware of the rapidly falling darkness.
Quenya - Sindarin
Findekáno/Káno - Fingon
Maitimo/Nelyafinwë/Nelyo/Russandol - Maedhros
Nolofinwë - Fingolfin
Turukáno - Turgon
Irissë - Aredhel
Itarillë - Idril (would be the little girl referred to above)
Macalaurë - Maglor
Tyelkormo - Celegorm
Carnistir - Caranthir
Curufin - Curufinwë, Curvo
Pityo/Pityafinwë - Amrod
Telvo/Telufinwë - Amras
Tyelperinquar/Tyelpo - Celebrimbor
Arafinwë - Finarfin
Findaráto - Finrod Felagund
Artanis - Galadriel
Angaráto - Angrod
Aikanáro - Aegnor
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.