Maglor wakes, and he is not cold, and he is not hungry, and his hands do not ache.
He can barely recall the last time that his hands did not hurt. It must have been before the Silmarils, possibly even before the war; it is only recently that he was able to play the harp again. And yet he is not cold, and he is not hungry, and his hands do not ache.
Maglor opens his eyes. The room is red and silver, opulently decorated; silver-gold light streams in the window. I’m dreaming, he thinks first, although his hands hurt even in dreams now, and then, It’s Formenos.
There’s a knock on the door. “Káno?” says a soft voice, and — oh. He’s definitely dreaming.
“Come in,” Maglor says, his voice tight, and Fëanáro enters.
Usually in these dreams Maglor wanders a deserted Tirion or picks through an abandoned and ruined Alqualonde; his father and his brothers feature in other dreams, but not the ones that take place before the Darkening. Maglor’s throat feels like it's been corked shut.
“You were screaming,” Fëanáro says. He looks softer than Maglor remembers, warm like a hearth and not blazing like a forest fire. “Kanafinwë, are you alright?”
No, he thinks. “Yes,” he says, “just a dream.”
Fëanáro looks unconvinced. Maglor must have lost his skill at lying in the years he spent alone.
“I love you,” he says. It's an offer as much as a statement, a true thing that Fëanáro will want to hear. Maedhros would have picked up on that immediately, but Fëanáro doesn't seem to.
“I love you too, Káno,” Fëanáro says, and hugs him, and does not ask again, and Maglor allows himself to melt into his father's touch.
It is almost certainly a dream — but Maglor has missed this so much that he finds he is able to put that aside, and not care.
Maglor settles gingerly into his own life, becomes accustomed to being called Makalaurë or Prince Kanafinwë, learns not to stop and stare at all of the people whose deaths he has witnessed.
It does not come easily. Within two days there are whispers throughout Formenos — Prince Kanafinwë screams in a strange language in his sleep, and Prince Kanafinwë has closed himself in his studio, and Prince Kanafinwë looks pained whenever his brothers walk by, and Prince Kanafinwë shies away from the light of the Silmarils — for Maglor can remember a time when he was able to relax in their light, remembers when his father's greatest creations inspired his own, but now he looks at them and sees nothing but blood and death and pointless, pointless war.
Of course, Maitimo figures him out before the week is done. There was no other way it could have happened.
He corners Maglor in his studio where he's holed himself up for the morning, closes the door behind him, and sits down on the floor in front of Maglor like when they were children.
“Makalaurë,” he says, when Maglor pauses. “What's going on?”
Maglor sets down his harp. “Nothing you wouldn't already know about,” he says as lightly as he can manage.
“That's a lie,” Maitimo says, because of course he was never going to not notice. “You didn't recognize your own composition yesterday, Káno, something is wrong and I don't know what it is and you're scaring me.”
Maedhros didn't look afraid when they were facing down armies. Maitimo looks Maglor in the face, and his eyes are wide. “I'm sorry,” Maglor says, and means it.
“Don't be sorry,” Maitimo says, gentler than Maglor can remember hearing him since before Alqualondë, “just tell me.”
Maglor is out of practice with osanwë; there was never much occasion to use it when he lived alone by the sea. He fumbles with it until he finds Maitimo’s mind, still shining bright with youth and with hope, and sends —
— their father is away at a festival and Makalaurë hopes against hope that the Valar allow him to return and then — everything goes dark, not like the light is gone but like the light has been smothered — there’s screaming and nobody can see and —
— when the presence of the darkness leaves the light doesn’t come back but they find torches and light them — the whole city’s destroyed, Finwë’s body is smeared on the steps, not lying there, smeared — the Silmarils are gone and the Trees are gone and Finwë is gone and everything is so, so dark —
— Makalaurë screams until his throat is burning until he hears his brothers yelling back until he knows they’re alive until he knows they’re safe — it’s months of walking to Taniquetil and when they get there the Valar have said nothing, done nothing — Fëanaro nearly kills himself when he hears that Finwë is dead, Makalaurë has never seen Curufinwë so frightened and he would pray he never will again except that the Valar aren’t doing anything and, and — there are speeches that blur together and an Oath that is crystal clear and, and, and —
— the Teleri won’t help the Teleri say they’ll see wisdom the Teleri say they’ll get over it as if anyone could ever just get over it — there is a battle and Makalaurë knows how to kill an enemy but not how to stop one and he is only now noticing the lack — their father burns the ships and all of them help and it is only later that they realize Ambarto is gone, gone, gone, they killed their brother they killed their brother they killed him their father said to follow him and they did and they killed their brother and they didn’t even know until —
— Maglor stops there. Maitimo is pale and his hands are shaking and his eyes are red. “There’s more,” he says out loud to Maitimo. “I can show it to you when we can disappear for a week,” and when Maitimo looks like he’s about to protest he adds, “I’m not just delaying, you’ll need the time.”
Maitimo nods, slowly. “Makalaurë,” he says, and stops. “Makalaurë,” and Maglor pulls him forward and holds him tight enough that Maedhros would have flinched and Maitimo settles into his arms like a small child, never mind that Maitimo is a head taller than Maglor ever will be.
He has his brothers, and he has Fëanáro, and he has time. Maglor will not lose them again, any of them. This I swear, he thinks, and he does not say aloud.