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until the moon gives up her sovereign claim

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Elenwë’s survival changes her. The grim spirit which hangs over the Host of Fingolfin no longer seems to touch her. She dances along the ice with wild abandon, her form fading in and out of the weaving fog, where before she was quiet and drawn. Her song and laughter rings out over the endless miles; the others shiver at the sound, and at how the obscuring mist makes it seem at times as though her voice came from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Fey, some whisper when they think themselves out of earshot.

Perhaps she has turned fey, but it is a madness that Aredhel admires. She never thought Elenwë unlovely—never that—but there is a wildness to her now which captivates beyond the power of mere beauty, as though her brush with death has unlocked all that is ardent and untamed within her. The others can no longer meet Elenwë’s gaze; Aredhel cannot tear her eyes away.

Elenwë notices.

She comes to Aredhel while the others sleep, just as she’s always dreamed of her doing, and takes her by hand, drawing her out from their people’s shelter and under the half-hidden eyes of the stars. There is little warmth to her touch; no one, Aredhel thinks, has been warm of late. Elenwë leads her boldly, stepping quickly across the shifting, creaking ice where their people hardly dare to tread, and as Aredhel follows she finds that she too has no fear now, with Elenwë by her side. All she sees is ice and fog and Elenwë’s thin hand in hers, and the flow of her golden hair down her back; and though the Helacaraxë is still as monstrous as it ever was, for the first time she admits to herself that it’s beautiful too.

Elenwë looks back to her, then, as though she can sense her thoughts, and for a moment her eyes glint like the ice around them, ancient and endless. Then she smiles, and her eyes are again the warm grey Aredhel’s loved so long.

It is there, in the wide-open dark, that Elenwë takes her, with the snow as their only bed and as their only music, the whispers and groans of the same waters which had almost taken Elenwë for themselves. Aredhel returns her kisses with eager desire, and Elenwë is no less eager than she. She pulls Aredhel to her as though she wants to feel every inch of her body, as though she wants to take in every bit of her warmth, and Aredhel shivers and sighs under her chilly touch. Her fingers slip between Aredhel’s legs, her mouth at Aredhel’s neck, and she wrings every bit of pleasure from her that she can.

Aredhel succumbs with joy, and her moans fill the empty air.