1. Holding Onto Hope
"Why are you here?" The deep voice sounded raspy, as if he had not spoken in some time.
Celebrimbor turned to look for his uncle and was stunned by his appearance. Maedhros' face, once radiant, was pale with dark circles under his eyes, his cheeks gaunt. His russet hair was tangled and hung limply over his shoulders, tied back with a strip of leather. But Maedhros' eyes glared at him with an intense unexpected fury.
"Uncle, I wanted to see…"
"To see what? The cripple I have become? How typical of my brother to send someone to remind me that he is whole and strong, the always-favored son. If you have come to witness my humiliating impotent struggle to exist after…after what happened, then be gone!" Maedhros spat, looking away in disgust.
Celebrimbor took a step back, unsure how to proceed. Feeling the weight of the package in his hands, he remembered how certain his belief that he should be the one to come. A surge of conviction swept through him. Walking over to the windows, he laid down his package and opened the thick drapes, letting in the sunshine. Pushing the windows wide open, he ignored Maedhros' indignant groan and the way he covered his eyes.
"Uncle, you know me well enough to know that I would never come to mock you. I have come to aid you in your recovery so you can stop wallowing in self pity and be the leader of this family once again," Celebrimbor said sternly. After he finished opening all the windows, he continued, "First things first. You need to bathe and dress. We are going outside. Fingon told me you have not left your room in weeks so I took the liberty of ordering you a bath and some fresh clothes."
Somewhat surprised at this nephew's tone of voice, Maedhros eyed him suspiciously. "I do not need to bathe for I am not going outside. I do not need all the world to see me, maimed and hideous, such that I am."
"No, you would prefer to hide away in your room, ashamed and afraid of what people might think rather than show them how wrong they are. How very…noble of you, Uncle. To cower and spare the family the shame of having a imperfect leader," Celebrimbor snorted in disgust.
"How dare you!" Maedhros seethed and he rose to his feet. "I am not too crippled to teach you some respect Celebrimbor."
"Prove that to me," Celebrimbor dared, a twinkle in his eyes. Retrieving the package, he handed it to his uncle. "Show me the great fighter you once were."
Curiously, Maedhros began to unwrap the cloth in between glares at his nephew, who was now grinning mischievously. Anger and resentment boiled in his blood when he saw the beautifully crafted blade, the intricate gold and mithril wrapped hilt glinting in the sun.
Before Maedhros could speak, Celebrimbor said, "Uncle, I know you suffered unimaginable pain but the time has come to begin your recovery. The healers say your arm has improved greatly, but you need to strengthen as well as relearn things with your left hand."
Maedhros dropped the sword to the floor and sat down, looking away from him. After a few moments, Celebrimbor crouched down beside him, picked up the sword by the blade and offered it again to his uncle. "You once told me that I could not learn anything by giving up, Uncle. This blade was specially crafted for you to use with your left hand. After some time, you will be as deadly on the battlefield as you were before."
"Celebrimbor…I cannot. Please go and do not torment me anymore," Maedhros said. "You are young, it is difficult for you to understand…I cannot start anew. I am not strong enough."
"Why? You are the eldest son of Feanor, the leader of our family. Without you, we are incomplete. But with you, we are an unbreakable circle. We all need you to unite us again. I need you, Uncle," Celebrimbor said. "Please allow me to aid you now, to teach you to fight as you taught me."
Maedhros did not answer him but Celebrimbor noticed him subtly examining the sword without taking it from him. "Do you remember the first time you taught me to wield a sword, Uncle? How clumsy I was and my father swore I would end up killing someone accidentally. You told him you had faith in me and you worked with me for endless weeks on the practice field until I finally was able to defeat you. Then you laughed as I bested my father the next day, much to his surprise. He taught me everything he knew about crafting the weapons but you taught me everything I know about wielding one. Your knowledge is unsurpassed; you simply need to retrain yourself to use your left hand. I will practice with you night and day until you restore your abilities."
Choking back his emotions, Maedhros gazed at Celebrimbor for a moment before asking, "Did you craft this for me?"
Smiling broadly, Celebrimbor answered, "No. My father did and told me to not return until you were able to defeat Fingon and myself. He also sent a message to you." Laughing he added, "He said to quit sitting around crying like a elleth. He would have come and held your hand through this but then you would have to learn to use the sword with your teeth."
Despite himself, Maedhros chuckled. Soon their laughter filled the room and Fingon, who was lingering outside the door, grinned. Seeing the servants bringing the tub and hot water, Fingon knocked quickly and entered the room.
"Celebrimbor I think before you help him with a sword, perhaps you could teach him about personal hygiene while I burn the sheets and his clothes. Cousin, I did not want to add to your distress but I have never known any elf to smell so foul. In fact, I think Huan smells better than you do," Fingon teased.
"I beg your pardon Fingon. I seem to recall a certain time that you fell…"
"Celebrimbor does not need to hear that story," Fingon interrupted with a chuckle. "If you need help bathing, I will send someone. I do not have the stomach to witness Celebrimbor teaching you that as well."
"Nor do I," Celebrimbor replied.
"Send one of the beautiful servants. After looking at you two, she will feel as if the sun has finally risen through the fog," Maedhros quipped as he stood. After a moment, he embraced his nephew. "Celebrimbor…I do not know what to say."
"This is a first," Celebrimbor grinned. "Compose your speech while bathing. I am desperately in need of something strong to drink before I step on the field with you again."
"Come with me, young one. I will treat you to our finest wine," Fingon said as they left the room together. Fingon smiled at Celebrimbor. "I am glad you have come. I assumed none of his brothers would wish to see him like this."
"Do not judge them so harshly, Fingon. They all wanted to come to him actually," Celebrimbor replied.
"Then why did they not come themselves?"
"You should know better than most. Maedhros does not want anyone to see him weak and vulnerable. My father and my uncles did not come out of respect for him. They know that in time he will return to who he was but if they had seen him like this, he would feel lesser in their eyes," Celebrimbor smiled gently. "Despite your feelings towards my family, there is nothing stronger than the bonds between them, as much as they are loath to admit it."
Fingon nodded. He had been shocked when Maedhros' brothers had not come in person but instead sent Celebrimbor to help Maedhros regain his strength but he realized it made sense. Celebrimbor never had to prove anything to his siblings as they did. He could simply be there for his uncle when they could not.
Left alone, Maedhros looked down at his arm, his stomach clenching at the reminder of his weakness. He took a deep breath as he walked to the tub.
'I will learn to fight again. I will lead my brothers to redeem our name and strengthen us once again. We will regain the Silmarils and bring peace at last to the Noldor. As long as I draw breath, I will not give up hope that I lead our people as my grandfather once did."
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.