It is spring in East Beleriand, and Maedhros is walking beside Celegorm in a grove in southern Himlad. Huan is padding beside them. They hear a screeching call and, shortly after, Maedhros glimpses a flash of white, then a wing barred with pale blue. A brown bird the size of a small jackdaw flits through the thicket. Celegorm's eyes follow it, absentmindedly.
'That jay, Tyelkormo?', asks Maedhros. 'What is it looking for?'
'Something to line my nest with, something soft, she said', answers Celegorm.
'Cut off a strand of my hair then and give it to her, please.'
'Must you cozen and bribe even the birds, Nelyo?'
'It is only a whim, Turko—humour me, will you? I am feeling a sudden affinity for those who must build their own nests.'
Maedhros loops a strand of his hair around his index finger, pulls it tight, and says: 'Here, Turko. Cut.'
Celegorm looks at the finger and its loop of hair. It is not so very long ago that that red mane was a mass of clotted filth, hopelessly matted. They had to clip his brother like a sheep. He grunts impatiently, reaches into his own curls and carefully counts out five hairs. He draws his hunting knife and cuts them off.
'A double offering?', Maedhros asks lightly.
He draws his own knife and winds his hair around the blade. One-handed as he is, he looks more likely to pull it out than cut it.
'Give over!', barks Celegorm, takes Maedhros's knife from his hand and neatly severs the strand.
'Thank you, Turko.'
Celegorm gives a contemptuous snort; then he calls out softly to the jay, who comes and alights on his wrist. Soon she is flying off with the gift of two princes of the Noldor in her beak.
The brothers continue their exploration of Celegorm's southern border, and only an hour or so later Celegorm is shouting at Maedhros again, while his people are trying hard not to listen. It is not even about the crown that he is angry anymore, or about the oath—at any rate not today. It is because Celegorm knows that Maedhros is never going him to tell him what he could not bear to hear—and because he is ashamed to feel so very relieved every time they do not talk about the subject.
Night falls again in Beleriand. The scouting party sets up camp and settles down to rest. Celegorm wraps himself in his blanket and stretches out on the ground beside Huan. He must have picked a bad spot. He twists and turns around so much, trying to find a better position, that Huan gets up and curls up again a little way further off with his head on his front paws, watching him. Unexpectedly, in his mind's eye, Celegorm sees the jay's nest, lined with strands of pale-gleaming and red hair, all intermingled. It is surprisingly comforting, that thought, he discovers, and finally drifts off to sleep.