The Second Path: 3. Chapter 3

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3. Chapter 3

Maglor watched amusedly as his elder brother bested Finrod yet again in a duel. There was a scowl on his cousin’s fair features. It had been nearly a decade after Maedhros had handed over kingship to their uncle.

Maedhros had then moved to Himring to build a mighty fortress facing Angband. Maglor had moved further east, taking the lands between the rivers Gelion. But he left his lands in the hands of his able chieftains, staying with his brother the most of the time. All their siblings had left, and barely visited their eldest brother. They had never forgiven him for the handing over of the Kingship.

“You win, fair and true”, Finrod gasped, as he accepted Maedhros’s outstretched hand after landing on his back for the seventh time.

Maglor smiled, his brother had recovered well enough from his sufferings, atleast in the daylight. At nights, the cold walls of the fortress still resounded with his screams as he was caught in nightmares. Maglor sighed and made his way inside.

At night, Maglor listened sadly as his brother screamed from the next room, sobbing in anguish at whatever torment he relived in the nightmare. He had tried knocking on his brother’s doors many a time, but Maedhros would beg him to leave him alone. When the sun claimed the sky the next day, they would never speak of the night.

As Maedhros let out a piercing wail, Maglor got to his feet and made to his brother’s door determinedly. He tried the handle, predictably, it was locked from within. He sighed as he unsheathed his long sword and broke open the finely crafted doors. Entering the room, he put his sword down and closed the doors before turning to look at his brother.

Maedhros was cowering in his sleep, his eyes dilated in fear and loathing as he curled into a ball on his side away from the door.

“Stupid, stubborn brother”, Maglor muttered as he lit a torch and set it in a bracket before coming to sit at the bedside.

“Mother?” Maedhros asked shivering as Maglor began soothing his brother’s tresses, “Hold me, don’t make them hurt me.”

Maglor sighed and settled down beside his brother on the large bed, Maedhros snuggled to him, Maglor wrapped his limbs around his brother’s longer ones.

“I am scared”, Maedhros sobbed anguished, “Very scared. Don’t leave me.”

“Never”, Maglor whispered as he kissed his brother’s sweating forehead before crooning softly until Maedhros relaxed in his arms.

The next day, Maglor was awoken by a shrill squeal of shock as Maedhros disentangled himself from the mass of limbs and demanded, “What are you doing here?”

“I was sleeping until you woke me up so rudely!” Maglor said testily.

“How did you get into my bed?” Maedhros fumed, “The door has been broken down! How dare you?”

Maglor rose to his feet and said in a placating tone, “I did it because I did not want you to face another night of restless grief, Russandol. You should not shut away yourself thus! You scare me every night with your screaming.”

“So you are disturbed”, Maedhros said wildly, “Fine! I shall move to another wing so that your rest is not disturbed! I knew that I was a burden to you! Atleast the others never deceived me. They were frank with me that I was no more of any worth. You, you fed me false hopes! He should have left me to die there or…or just finished his revenge and left me”, he stormed away, banging the door behind him.

Maglor sat down on the bed wearily. Never in all his years had he seen his elder brother so insecure of himself. He cursed Angband and Fingon liberally before walking to the window and looking out. He saw the dreary Thangorodrim. Cursing again, he set out to find his brother.

Maglor found his brother working feverishly on a patrol plan. Maedhros did not look up as he entered.

“Russandol”, Maglor said quietly, “You are my elder brother, the brother I love the most. I live not for the Oath, but for you. To support you, to help you fulfil the Oath. So that we can live again; so that you can live again. If you ask me to die I shall, not because of my loyalty to our house, but for the love I bear you. You are all that is left to me in this harsh land. And I am sorry if protecting you from your grief, or asking to share in it, angers you. But I will do it again. I want you to choose. Either there will be no more secrets between us, or I shall return to my lands and seek you never again. I will leave you now”, he watched his brother opening his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He left sadly. If Maedhros refused to trust him, then he would lose his elder brother to his grief.

Maglor was awoken that night by a warm body that slipped in next to him.

“Hold me”, Maedhros asked quietly, “I need you, brother, to keep me sane, to give me a cause to fight for.”

“We need each other”, Maglor said softly, as his limbs twined around his brother’s slender form.

“I did not want anyone to pity me in my weakness”, Maedhros confessed as he glanced into his brother’s eyes hesitantly.

“I would never pity you, my brother, never. Even when I saw you broken and helpless, I saw only your determination and courage. Of trials borne and triumphed”, Maglor sighed, “My handsome brother, you are sometimes stupid.”

“Think for me then Macalaurë, lead me to the light again”, Maedhros murmured drowsily, “I trust you.”

The years passed as Maglor watched his brother become wiser and nobler. Fingolfin fell, and Fingon assumed Kingship. Caranthir and the younger siblings attended the crowning as Maedhros did not wish to see Fingon and Maglor did not wish to leave his brother alone in Hithrim. But Fingon and Maedhros still remained correspondents and strived to forget the mistake of their past.

Finally, Fingon himself decided to visit Hithrim, he did so without warning his cousins. Maglor greeted him and escorted him to the council chamber where Maedhros was occupied with his counsellors. Seeing his cousin, Maedhros paled, but he recovered swiftly to come forward and greet him warmly with a warriors’s embrace.

“My beautiful cousin”, Fingon said softly, “You look as resplendent as ever, Maitimo!”

“Yes, well”, Maedhros said uncomfortable under the King’s scrutiny, “Macalaurë has been taking care of me well.”

“Ever the helpful brother, eh?” Fingon remarked.

Maglor frowned but remained silent as he watched his brother say diplomatically, “Indeed. Cousin, without him I would not be here. He is a treasure.”

“I am glad that you are being well cared for, cousin-mine!” Fingon smiled, “Now lead me to a chamber so that I may refresh and rest.”

Maedhros smiled weakly and led Fingon to a set of chambers usually occupied by noble guests. As the aides withdrew, Maedhros said, “If you had alerted me, then I would have prepared better chambers, cousin.”

“I will never be used to everyone fawning over me”, Fingon said dismissively, “I want to be treated normally, as I have always been treated by you.”

“As you wish”, Maedhros inched towards the door, “If you need anything, please ask Macalaurë or one of our aides. I will take my leave of you now. You must be weary from the journey.”

“I hope that our last meeting has not affected our friendship”, Fingon’s lips curled in a knowing smile, “I still have pleasant memories of those four hours. And you, Maitimo, did you push it away as yet one more horror suffered? But I thought you enjoyed it secretly.”

Maedhros took a deep breath before saying proudly, “It was to honour a promise. I think of it only in that way.”

“You have not forgotten sobbing and begging me, have you?” Fingon asked quietly, “Of course it must be difficult for you to do that yourself with your left hand, I have memories of a night in Formenos. And I am sure that you used your right hand that night in the river.”

“I have forgotten nothing, Findekano”, Maedhros sighed, “But I do not wish to speak of this any more. My chief counsellor will escort you to dinner.”

As he turned to leave the chamber, strong hands gripped him from behind and pushed him against the closed door. After ten minutes of frantic fighting, Maedhros found himself pinned stomach down on the rug, his arms twisted away upwards and his cousin sitting triumphantly on his back.

He whispered quietly, “I have been broken enough by Morgoth, Findekano. Why do you seek to humiliate me more? Are you not satisfied with what I have become?”

Fingon laughed saying, “Your spirit will rise again, Maitimo. But fear not, I will do nothing to harm you. The sight of your defeated face is victory enough for me.”

“Russandol? Findekano?” Maglor’s voice was sharp, “Open the door!”

Fingon got to his feet and helped Maedhros up quietly and whispered in his cousin’s ear, “Why do you fear me, Maitimo? You are a far better warrior than me. I wanted you to defeat me so that I could be assured of your renewed spirit.”

As he opened the door, he found himself face to face with a furious looking Maglor. The Feanorian’s eyes swept over his elder brother’s dishevelled, slumped form before flicking back to Fingon.

“Russandol”, Maglor said firmly, “The patrol is waiting to meet you before they ride out.”

Maedhros nodded to Fingon and left hurriedly, trying awkwardly to smooth his messed-up hair with one hand.

Fingon smiled at Maglor saying, “Your brother and I had a lot to catch up on. I have missed him.”

Maglor narrowed his eyes before saying dangerously, “King or not, you will not touch him again unless you wish to risk my wrath.”

Fingon raised his eyebrows at Maglor’s words remarking, “Why is a gentle minstrel trying to live up to his father’s fire?”

“I may be a minstrel, cousin, but I have slain enough elves and men under our Oath. One more elf, one more Kinslaying, will not change my fate”, Maglor said quietly, “If that Kinslaying would protect my brother, then I shall not regret it.”

“I merely wish to make his flame burn brighter”, Fingon said quietly.

“And a wonderful way you have of achieving it, Findekano”, Maglor shook his head disgustedly, “He is broken more than you realize.”

Maedhros entered his brother’s bedchamber quietly, taking care to lock the door behind him.

“Why do you fear him?” Maglor asked, “I have spoken to him. He will not do anything again.”

“Macalaurë”, Maedhros sighed, “I do fear him and probably will, even if I have a sword on me always!”

“I will protect you”, Maglor said determinedly, “Now, come here and get into bed. I am sleepy.”

“Who will protect you from him?” Maedhros shuddered, “You are the most handsome of us all, what is to say that he may not desire you next? No, better it is to let this end with me. He is strong.”

“You succumb to him because you fear him, Russandol”, Maglor said firmly, “I do not fear him. He cannot hurt me.”

Maedhros said nothing as he crept into bed and entered the safety of his brother’s comforting embrace.

“What would I do without you?” he whispered after a few moments.

“Go insane probably!” Maglor laughed, “Russandol, did you say that I was the most handsome of us all?”

“I did”, Maedhros said confidently, “Everyone agrees to that. Even our vain cousin Finrod.”

Maglor laughed again saying teasingly, “I cannot believe that people think me more beautiful than my elder brother. Mother always said that you were their most splendid creation.”

“She would have changed her view had she seen me now”, Maedhros said bitterly, “Why else have you had removed all the mirrors from this place?”

“There is a mirror here in my room”, Maglor got to his feet and lit the torches, “Why don’t we have a look at my brother’s reflection?”

“Macalaurë”, Maedhros said uncertainly, “I think it might not be a good idea. I am much distraught by Findekano’s presence already.”

“Nonsense”, Maglor reprimanded his brother, “If I say you can do this, you can! Do you not trust me?”

“Well, yes”, Maedhros sighed as he joined his brother, “Though I cannot help wondering if some of my insanity has passed to you.”

“Close your eyes and obey me”, Maglor commanded as he pressed a kiss to his brother’s fingers interlaced with his own.

Maedhros shrugged in assent and closed his eyes. Maglor gently opened the clasps of the ornate, ceremonial robes that Maedhros wore and eased the clothes down his shoulders. As the robes pooled down at their feet, he uncovered the mirror before them and said quietly, “You may look now.”

Maedhros opened his eyes slowly, hesitant to look at his reflection after so many decades of fearful contemplation. His eyes caught the reflection of his brother’s grey eyes in the mirror and was comforted by the soft confidence in them. Maglor moved to stand before him.

He pressed a kiss to his brother’s cheeks murmuring, “Your face is perfection, like our Father’s gems and our mother’s cold marble craft. Your cheeks are hollow, yet soft. Your lips”, his fingers ghosted over Maedhros’s mouth, “your lips are less red and full than they were. But they are still stubborn and soft. Your ears”, his fingers moved to cup his brother’s left ear, “they are the same. Are you not satisfied by your face?”

“If you can look upon it, then I find that I do not really mind even if I look like an orc”, Maedhros smiled gently, “Not for nothing are you called a poet, Macalaurë! I do envy those who catch your heart.”

“There has never been one for me, Russandol, as you know well”, Maglor said smiling, “now, where was I before you interrupted so basely?”

“You were eloquently describing the beauty of your insane brother’s face”, Maedhros offered.

“These shoulders”, Maglor placed his hands on his brother’s bony shoulders, “they have borne me and my brothers on them for countless hours in our youth. They are not bowed down by the burdens they have”, his hands descended on to the limbs, as he encountered the stump of the missing hand, Maedhros asked curiously, “How would you describe that?”

Maglor bent to kiss the stump remarking, “It reminds me of the strong, fine hand that taught me to wield a pen and a sword. The hand that taught me to play a harp. But now it tells me of a stubborn, determined, brave brother who clung to the right path even when he had no hope. It tells me of the unquenchable fire who is my elder brother.”

Maedhros remained silent, his eyes burning with tears at his brother’s words. Maglor traced the fading scars on his brother’s chest saying softly, “This body may be broken yet again, Russandol, but I promise you that it will never stay broken. The soft skin hides beneath it a spirit harder than any steel forged by our father’s crafts.”

“Thank you, Kano”, Maedhros whispered, “I don’t think I will ever need a mirror again. Your eyes are my mirrors.”

“Good”, Maglor said happily, “Now shall I finish my description?” his fingers fiddled with the ties on his brother’s leggings.

“I would rather not!” Maedhros grumbled good-naturedly tugging his brother’s hands away, “You have no experience, Macalaurë, remember how you glowered at me when I came to you with a list of names that day in Formenos!”

“I wanted to choose in my own time”, Maglor sighed, “Though the Kinslayings drove all thoughts of liaisons from my mind!”

“We are both drowned in regrets, Kano”, Maedhros pulled his brother to his chest and rested his head on Maglor’s shoulders, “But we shall face it together, I promise.”

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.

Story Information

Author: JDE

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Romance

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 02/10/09

Original Post: 10/28/08

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