1. I Hate You
Te quiero sólo porque a ti te quiero,
te odio sin fin, y odiándote te ruego,
y la medida de mi amor viajero
es no verte y amarte como un ciego.1
--excerpt from the poem, "Te quiero," (Sonnet 66) from
Cien sonetos de amor by Pablo Neruda
"I cannot believe you did that. You are filthy drunk, Finno," Turukáno said.
"Not so drunk as all that," Findekáno answered. He dabbed at the cut on his cheek, pulling his handkerchief away to glance with satisfaction at the blood on it, while glowering at his brother. Turukáno affected such self-righteousness, displaying his pretty little wife, basking in contentment at the grateful appreciation of his responsible ways by their father. Findekáno, the eldest son, the one who should set the fine example, was the failure, the brokenhearted clown, who not only loved a man and not a maiden, but couldn't even hold onto his man.
"I think you should go home now. I will find someone who will take you."
"Why should I leave? He's not leaving. Look at him." Across the glade, under a string of festival lanterns swaying gently in the night air, Maitimo stood tall, elegant, his chin cocked up, talking to a group of their old friends or more accurately once their friends now Maitimo's. They might not realize how false Maitimo's apparent self-assurance was, but Findekáno did. He could read every sign: the thin line of his lips, the slight quivering of his nostrils, and the blush of color on the apex of each cheekbone. Maitimo's control balanced on the head of a pin. His hand clasped the upper arm of the young woman at his side. Deliberately provocative, Findekáno thought, and I am a fool for responding to his goading.
Turning again to his brother, Findekáno said, "That gaudy ring of his cut my face." He then made an effort to use logic. "He smacked me first. "
"After you accosted him. Both of you shame the entire family with your behavior. Brawling in public like two unfortunate ner-do-wells from the lower levels of the city. I have no control over Nelyafinwë Fëanárion, but if you refuse to leave willingly I can find Atar and insist that you be removed."
"Shut up, Turvo. Or I might punch you as well. Would you hit me back? Oh, the scandal of it all!"
Elenwë, who had held back at some distance to allow her husband to speak to his brother alone, shot a worried glance in their direction. She walked up to Findekáno and slid her arm around his waist.
"I'm sorry. This has been too much for you. Is Turvo bullying you again? Listen. They are starting another dance tune. Come dance with me," Elenwë said, her gaze sympathetic but not without a glimmer of amusement, neither pitying nor pompous. "Leave him with me," she said to Turukáno. "He'll be fine."
Turukáno sighed with relief and affection for his wife. "Thank you. I will go find Irissë."
As they began to move to the music, Elenwë seemed happy to say nothing more. Findekáno at last could breathe without difficulty again. He could not be that far gone. He was still able to dance well enough not to make a further spectacle of himself. Elenwë had an innate musical sense. Perhaps she made it easier. "How did someone like Turvo ever find a woman like you?"
"He has his qualities." She laughed up into Findekáno's face, all gentle eyes, honey-blond hair, and flushed cheeks. "It's just that the two of you are like water and oil, fire and ice; you choose the cliché."
"You are lovely and a good person," he said, thinking she truly was. "If I cared for maids, I'd want one like you. You're smart and funny and kind. You are a little short though."
"Not that short. You're tall and more than a little inebriated."
"Not as tall as him."
"No. No one is as tall as Nelyafinwë. You do realize he stills loves you, don't you? He wouldn't behave like that if he did not. Irissë wants to take you home. Will you go with her nicely?"
"Give me one more dance and then I will. I don't love him anymore though. I hate him."
Elenwë chuckled. "Of course, you love him." Her face turned suddenly somber. "Things won't go on like this. It's as though everything has been turned on its head. It will have to get better. I overheard Nolofinwë saying that he intends to apologize to Fëanáro. Publicly if he must."
The music stopped. He hadn't trampled on Elenwë's feet and actually felt somewhat calmer. Not really drunk, he thought. But the compulsion to confide overwhelmed him.
"You can't begin to imagine the things that Maitimo has said to me. That I'm a liar. That I have been plotting against Fëanáro. That I am a craven lackey to my father's ambition."
"I don't think he meant any of that."
"He meant it all right."
"Then you must tell him that it is not true." The truth seemed so simple for Elenwë. Not complicated like for him, but then he remembered that her immersion into this world of the battling Noldor could not have been easy for her, a carefully raised Vanyarin maid.
"Don't you think I've tried to talk to him? A dozen times at least."
"I worry about you, Káno." She reached a small, soft hand up to stroke his cheek. "Talk to him again."
"I doubt your husband would agree with that advice."
"Well, I am not my husband, am I?"
At that moment, Turukáno and Irissë returned. Irissë's face looked wan, her usual ebullience washed out of it.
"Hey, Findekáno. Let's go home," Irissë said, taking his arm.
"To my house, not yours," he answered with a shrug. He knew his old room waited for him at his father's house, but to return there was to give up entirely.
Turukáno slapped him on the back and Elenwë pulled him down by the neck to give him a peck on the forehead. "Take care," she said.
"You're still comfortable living with Macalaurë and Vingarië?" Irissë asked.
"So far. They pretend that nothing is happening. They are concerned only for their music. Macalaurë is staging a new opera, due to open in a few days. It takes all of his time and Vingarië claims she has no interest in politics, babbling non-stop about her concerts and whether or not to postpone a visit to her family in Alqualondë until after the opening of Macalaurë's opera."
Findekáno reflected that Fëanáro and Nolofinwë were like two ill-matched, out-of-control horses dragging a cart behind them, scattering crates of produce and squawking chickens in their wake as they tore off down the road. His Grandfather Finwë recalled to him nothing so much as a drunken teamster who had passed out at the reins. It was frightening to think that the fate of their people rested upon such an unstable basis. Findekáno's frustration with his own powerlessness left him feeling sickened.
He barely spoke to his father anymore, who had rejected every attempt he had made to voice an opinion. Turukáno simply acted supercilious, seeing himself in the role of the sensible, obedient son trying to reason with a rebellious, self-destructive older brother. And Findekáno wondered which of the two oldest sons of Fëanáro had the worst reaction to the situation. Macalaurë reminded him of a fly caught in a piece of amber, utterly oblivious to the danger. Maitimo, who realized that he was incapable of influencing his father, instead of breaking with him had settled for blind loyalty and defensiveness.
"You shouldn't stay here," Irissë said, glancing in the direction of Maitimo. "I'm glad you danced with Elenwë though. Took most people's minds off the incident." She didn't hold back a snort. "They've probably decided there was nothing more to see. But I wouldn't trust my luck with Maitimo and his crowd if I were you. The atmosphere is ugly."
He allowed his sister to take his arm and guide him out of the clearing and toward the road leading back into the center of Tirion.
"Can you walk that far in those shoes?" he asked.
"Ha!" Irissë said. "They'll do. I chose shoes suitable for dancing. Some party." Her self-deprecating laugh reminded him that she could understand him in a way that Turukáno never would. Her relationship with Tyelkormo as her long-time best friend, and Findekáno suspected occasional lover, had been at the core of her life for years.
"Your face is still bleeding." She pulled a handkerchief out of a pocket hidden in her voluminous skirts. "Press this against it for a while."
"Do you think it will scar?" he asked hopefully.
"I seriously doubt it!" She shook her head at him grinning. "You really are a disturbed person, you know."
"You sound like Tyelkormo."
"I saw him last night. Stayed there, in fact. Everyone was perfectly pleasant to me. He is worried about Nelyo."
"He should be. Do you know that woman he was with?"
"Men are so stupid. He wasn't with her. He latched onto her when you arrived."
When Findekáno and Irissë had reached his house near the city center, he hailed a passing coach for hire to carry his sister to their father's residence. Findekáno pulled Irissë into a strong embrace. "I love you, little sister. Thank you for everything."
"I am an easy mark for you, Káno, no matter what you do. Maybe tomorrow, after both of you have had time to calm down, you should try to talk with Nelyo. He is beside himself with heartache over you."
"I'll think about it. Elenwë said the same thing, but I think you may be underestimating how serious he is about breaking with me. Forgive me for not spending more time with you recently. Tell Amil I'll try to come by soon. I haven't been comfortable there for a while. I'm almost as fed up with Atar as I am with Fëanáro."
"Poor Káno! I just ignore him." She shrugged and took his face in her hands. "That's what I do. Now, give me a kiss good night. The driver must be getting restless."
Findekáno stumbled up the steps to the house. He felt suddenly exhausted and desperately in need of a bath, smelling on his body a sour odor that he believed came from emotional stress and not physical exertion. The light of Telperion entering through the open draperies flooded the house with a soft silver glow. Neither the music room to right of the main entrance nor the sitting room on left contained even a single lit candle or lamp, indicating to him that Macalaurë and Vingarië had not returned home.
Once upstairs, he shed his clothing in his bedroom, their bedroom, which Maitimo had deserted to stay at his father's house on the outskirts of the city. The room looked as though someone were in the process of moving in or moving out. Doors left ajar revealed an empty wardrobe. There were odd blank spots on the tops of chests and half-empty shelves in bookcases. A few weeks past, Maitimo had shifted all signs of his presence into the adjoining bedroom.
They had furnished that extra room when they had first moved into the house, a poorly maintained ruse that they did not share a bed. That they lived together as a couple had long been an open secret within the circle closest to the Finweans. The knowledge that the spare bedroom still contained most of Maitimo's clothing, books, and papers, had ceased to provide any comfort to Findekáno. It felt more as though Maitimo had abandoned his possessions there like a snake might shed its old skin.
At last sinking into a hot tub of water, Findekáno submerged his head to wet his hair and felt a sharp sting when the soapy bath oil came in contact with the scratch on his face. While soaping his hair and rinsing it, he decided he would go to Fëanáro's house, slip into Maitimo's bedroom, and wait for him there. He did not believe Maitimo would go as far as to bring that woman there. If he did, then that would resolve the need for any further discussion.
Walking to Fëanáro's house took the better part of an hour, but it was far more inconspicuous than riding, with the necessity of stabling the horse and all that would entail. He did not know if he would stay there but a few moments or possibly spend the night.
As he approached the house, he did not see any lights through the ground floor windows. The yellowish glow of a lamp was visible in the window of Fëanáro's and Nerdanel's bedroom on the second floor. The front door would be open; few people aside from his father bothered to lock their doors in Tirion. He crept inside with the practiced skill of someone who had surreptitiously entered this house countless times in his youth. The only sound he heard was that of the twins talking and laughing in the common room at the back of the house.
Avoiding every familiar loose board, he silently mounted the stairs. Opening the door to Maitimo's room, he expected to find it unoccupied. Instead, Maitimo, barefoot but still clad in his festival finery, sat on the edge of the bed staring at him with his mouth hanging open.
"What are you doing here?" Maitimo asked, his voice hoarse, like someone who had been awakened from a long sleep. He coughed and cleared his throat.
"I didn't expect to find you. I'd thought I would wait," Findekáno said. He had always believed that Telperion did wonderful things to Maitimo, darkening his hair in a way that intensified the pale luminosity of his skin and accentuating his refined features. It frustrated Findekáno, however, that the lighting from behind made the expression in Maitimo's eyes impossible to read.
"What do you want?" Maitimo no longer sounded hostile or angry, just tired.
"You." The word came out as barely more than a whisper.
Maitimo crossed the room in two strides and pulled him into his arms. Their kiss was hard and desperate. The pressure of it reopened Maitimo's lip split by Findekáno's blow in their tussle in the festival grove. Findekáno drew back with a horrified groan, licking away the blood left on his own mouth.
"If you can't stand a little blood then you should not have punched me in the face," Maitimo said, with the first smile Findekáno had seen on him in more days that he could remember.
"You slapped me first," Findekáno said, without conviction.
"To the bed?" Maitimo asked.
Findekáno permitted Maitimo to take him by the hand and lead him to the bed. Maitimo's look of apprehension pulled at something deep within him. Findekáno stifled his emergent realization that their estrangement could be irreparable. Maitimo might desire this act to serve as a goodbye. His own response reminded Findekáno of the disillusionment at learning that one's parents could be fallible, or that good intentions could end in ill results, or causing pain to others might be unavoidable. For almost as long as he could remember, the single constant in his life had been Maitimo, first as a friend and mentor and then as his only love. But if Maitimo desired physical intimacy, Findekáno had neither the will nor the strength to refuse him. He speculated that he had come to Maitimo that night hoping they would make love.
He allowed himself to fall back onto the bed, not taking his eyes off Maitimo's face. Memories of aching vividness swamped Findekáno: his youth of unrequited yearning, his jubilation at their first time together, and his once careless trust of Maitimo's continuing presence in his life. The throb of impending loss became nearly unbearable. But Maitimo's gaze, turning in an instant from guarded to soft and open, chased away any residual hesitation.
Findekáno's body responded without him willing it, insisting that this was Maitimo, and, therefore, a place of safety and acceptance. His logic told him all of that had passed. Undiminished by their personal history, the strife between their Houses remained. The thread of any possible illusion of certainty had snapped.
The only thing he could do was obey his body and his heart, ignoring his overactive mind. Maitimo appeared to have made the same decision.
Maitimo's eyes glittered as though he needed a good cry. But Maitimo was anything but a wailer. And his upturned face held that extraordinary beauty that always had caused Findekáno's chest to tighten when he looked upon it.
"I have needed you so much," Maitimo said.
"And you have me," Findekáno said, unfastening the stiff ties on Maitimo's incongruously celebratory garb. "Any way you like."
Findekáno pulled off his own simple tunic with ease. Watching him, lips slightly parted, eyes rounded as though with awe, Maitimo said, "Sweet Eru in Ea, how I love you, Káno. Your lovely mouth! And you have the bluest eyes. Never seen any like them." They attacked the ties of one another's breeches and inelegantly shoved them down with hands and feet until they could toss them off the bed.
Kneeling between Findekáno's legs, Maitimo's gaze roamed over him, from his face to his wantonly opened thighs. "Don't look so smug," Maitimo pleaded.
Findekáno ordered, "Don't be so careful." At that, something in Maitimo seemed to crack and he pushed Findekáno's legs up roughly. There was none of Maitimo's habitual tenderness and far less preparation, although the need was greater. Maitimo pounded into him and Findekáno's cries for 'more' or 'harder' were obeyed without his partner's usual fond protests or amused exhortations to patience. They both poured all of their sorrow, rage, disappointment, and bitter loss into the act.
It was harsh and coarse and Findekáno did not care. Of course, it was Maitimo who came back to himself first and tried to rein them in, slowing down and coaxing. "Easy. Easy. You're so tight. You've never been this tight. Not even the first time."
"Was so," complained Findekáno. "It's just been too long." He permitted Maitimo to gentle him and gave himself over to the slower, sweeter rhythm.
"It's been driving me mad," Maitimo said. "Twenty-three days."
Findekáno chuckled. "Really? I wouldn't have guessed you were counting." His breath against Maitimo's ear caused him to shiver.
"Liar! Twenty-three tomorrow. But it's already tomorrow," Maitimo answered. It was true. The Mingling of the Lights had begun. An iridescent shimmer of golden and silver light caught a single tear or a drop of perspiration as it slid down Maitimo's cheek. He withdrew almost all the way and pushed in again deeper.
He rocked slowly into Findekáno, until his stifled grunts had turned into one low moan. Then Maitimo gave several shuddering raw thrusts, which forced Káno to spill between them, clenching his teeth, trying to muffle one last too loud groan. It was Maitimo, usually the quiet one, who came with a hoarse and desolate shout.
Still shaking, Maitimo collapsed heavily upon Findekáno. He tucked his head in the crook of Findekáno's shoulder and neck, gasping in a desperate, broken-hearted whisper, "You make this so difficult."
Holding him tight, Findekáno stroked his back, making soothing sounds, until Maitimo finally stopped trembling. Everything was unfair on so many levels and utterly just on so many others, that Findekáno could not sort it all out, except to know that he owed Maitimo more than he ever could give back in return. Although it felt like the ache in his chest might asphyxiate him, he did the only decent thing he could possibly do. He comforted Maitimo.
When Maitimo rolled off him, Findekáno continued to hold him fast. The silence stretched out before them, consoling and soporific. Findekáno wished for it to last, for nothing to break it, as though time could be arrested if no one spoke or moved.
Maitimo unwittingly shattered the spell, his voice constricting when he spoke. "You were all I ever truly wanted. Everything else was incidental."
"Hmm." Findekáno could not control a flash of irritation. He would have continued as they were, despite all the madness. It was Maitimo who refused. "You knew where to find me."
Maitimo squirmed loose from Findekáno's embrace to sprawl onto his back. He still held Findekáno's eyes. Maitimo's pupils were blown so wide that only the narrowest rim of silver lined them, his lips swollen and red, his fair complexion splotchy, utterly debauched, and yet, to Findekáno, he was more stunning than ever.
"But not if I should." The grief in Maitimo's tone did nothing to assuage Findekáno, quite the contrary.
"So. What about the girl at the festival?" Findekáno snapped.
"What about her?" Maitimo responded, with affronted innocence.
"Please! What were you doing draped all over her?"
"What do you think? I thought I should try to make you angry. That it would make things easier for you."
"Well, you succeeded. Didn't you?"
"But still you came here. Why?"
"Why wouldn't I, you bloody fool?"
"Because it ought to have been fairly obvious I was doing everything I could to keep you away."
"You might have explained that to me."
Maitimo exhaled with a tortuous groan. "I seem to recall that I have done so a dozen times already."
"Well, that does not make it right. You are wrong about what is good for us." Findekáno despised how loud, aggressive, and petulant his voice came out.
Maitimo's response was so soft that he had to strain to hear it. "I am sorry, but I am not wrong." He sat up and held his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs.
"Bloody fucking Ainur, Maitimo. This is our life you are intent upon destroying, not just another one of the political intrigues that you and Findaráto have plotted that supposedly will once and for all put end to the disputes within this family!"
Maitimo jumped up from the bed and stood above Findekáno. "This is not a game. This is about the future of our people. Not some trifling romance or your need to satisfy your concupiscence."
"I cannot believe the ludicrous words you use. I'd laugh if you weren't stomping on my heart and grinding it under your heel. You wanted to fuck me just now as much as I wanted to be fucked!"
Findekáno stood and pushed Maitimo on the chest with one hand. Maitimo grabbed his lower arm. When Findekáno wrenched away he knocked his elbow against the bedpost and yelped. Both stopped opened-mouthed when they heard a responding thump on the ceiling.
"Great!" Maitimo said. "You woke up Amil and Atar." Findekáno might have protested, if Maitimo had not smirked, instead he laughed.
"Oh shit," Findekáno said. The inevitable comparison of that moment to countless noisy, adolescent disputes among Fëanáro's sons turned incipient calamity into farce. The distinctive sound of Fëanáro's footsteps on the staircase caused them both to chortle again.
"I have to give it to you, Káno. You have a knack for this sort of scene." Maitimo pulled him into a hug, before stepping back with that same infuriating woebegone look on his face again.
The door to the room swung open, banging against the wall. Findekáno had not latched it when he came in, an error he would never have made in those long-lost days of their youth.
Wild-eyed, clad only in his nightshirt, Fëanáro leaned against the doorjamb. He looked them up and down, as they stood before him naked and obviously post-coital. The room doubtlessly smelled of them as well. Findekáno could not be bothered to care anymore. It all seemed so inconsequential in the scheme of things.
The fury on Fëanáro's face faded. He said, almost kindly, "Go home, Findekáno." Then straightening and turning upon Maitimo, clenching his fists, he shouted, "Have you lost your mind? The entire house could hear you. Your arguing and what came before. Your mother is beside herself. If the two of you have something to resolve, do it when you are sober. And do it somewhere else."
Fëanáro slammed the door behind him as he left, hard enough to rattle the mirror on the wall and send a small vase tumbling off a chest of drawers onto the floor, inexplicably not breaking. Maitimo collapsed onto the bed and did not look up.
"Things are not going well between Atar and Amil," Maitimo finally croaked. Findekáno couldn't find it in his heart to respond. He had heard that story a thousand times before and was largely inured to it. Although or perhaps because, Findekáno felt sympathetic to Nerdanel, Maitimo's bleak expression of even-handed distress only aggravated him further.
"Maitimo, I really need to go." Filled with foreboding, Findekáno nonetheless managed to choke out the essential question. "Will you stop all of this now and come home with me?"
"I cannot," Maitimo said, still refusing to look at him. "Not tonight. Surely you understand why I cannot."
"No. I really do not understand why not. I give up. You don't intend to ever come home do you?" Findekáno asked.
"Probably not," Maitimo whispered.
Findekáno stood next to the door. He had done all of the begging and groveling he could do for one night. Rooting around in the pile of clothing on the floor, he found his smallclothes and his breeches. After struggling into those, he could only locate one stocking, so he left it and pulled on his boots over bare feet. It seemed like an eternity that he waited before he at last turned and opened the door.
"Wait," Maitimo said, finally raising his head. "Do you really hate me?"
Outraged disappointment swept over Findekáno at what he perceived as Maitimo's futile self-sacrifice, but he answered truthfully nonetheless. "Don't be absurd. I'll always love you."
"Good," Maitimo said, lying down on the bed with his back turned. His admission touched Findekáno with its acknowledgement of defeat, while simultaneously angering him anew.
Hating his own unwillingness to leave, Findekáno stood with one hand on the doorknob and the other holding his tunic, looking toward the bed. Maitimo must have sensed that he remained in the doorway. His muted voice reached Findekáno. "You can take my horse if you like. Send someone back with him tomorrow if you can."
"Fine, then," Findekáno said. "I'll do that."
1My translation of the above excerpt:
I love you simply because you're the only one I love;
I hate you endlessly, yet hating you still grovel before you,
And the measure of my vagrant love
Is not to see you, but to love you blindly.
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.