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Drabbles and Three Sentence Stories

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(Chapter 1: this index)

Stories and their prompts:

Chapter 2: Escape Pod (Mairon, space AU)

Chapter 3: Observer (Finrod/Curufin, Celebrimbor's viewpoint)

Chapter 4: A Big Puppy Really (Fëanor and Huan)

Chapter 5: The First and the Last (AU where Maedhros and Maglor's fates are reversed)

Chapter 6: Listening to the Rain (Nerdanel and young Maglor)

Chapter 7: A Lesson in Politics (Young Fingon learns about Ñoldorin court politics from Maedhros)

Chapter 8: The Ones Who Have Lost Things (Eärwen and Celebrían, loss)

Chapter 9: Blue Flowers (Orodreth and Finduilas)

Chapter 10: Survivors (Fingon and Maedhros reunited in an AU where Fingon survives the Nirnaeth Arnoediad)

Chapter 11: Lampstone (Celebrimbor and Narvi)

Chapter 12: Blood-Soaked Stones (Dior and Celegorm's last conversation)

Chapter 13: Grey and White (Fingon and Aredhel meet in the Halls of Mandos)

Chapter 14: The Company of Brothers and Cousins (Fingon is jealous of Maedhros and Maglor's conversations without him)

Chapter 15: Only Dreams (Nerdanel/Anairë)

Chapter 16: The Trials of Having Younger Siblings (Argon and Aredhel being mischievous)

Chapter 17: Gondolin Falls No More (Doctor Who crossover, featuring Maeglin)

Chapter 18: Revolutionising Everything (Celebrimbor/Annatar, scientists)

Chapter 19: A Reputation (Maglor, cunnilingus king)

Chapter 20: Only Us Left (Gil-galad and his remaining living relations)

Chapter 21: Don't Forget Us (Gil-galad and Finduilas in Nargothrond)

Chapter 22: Swords (Duilin and Rog in Gondolin)

Chapter 23: Another Artist in the Family (Mahtan and young Maglor)

Chapter 24: When You're Older (Beleg teaching young Túrin)

Chapter 25: Caranthir Special! (Various Caranthir-centric prompts)

Chapter 26: Lost and Found (Fëanor and baby Caranthir)

Chapter 27: These Days (Celebrimbor and Narvi again)

Chapter 28: Quote prompt: son of paradise (Turgon) 

Chapter 29: Quote prompt: I have loved you into oblivion (Turgon and Fingon) 

Chapter 30: Quote prompt: did you tell them the part where we die? (Andreth and Haleth)

Chapter 31: Quote prompt: the lost boys (Eluréd and Elurín)

Chapter 32: Quote prompt: the vagabond (Maglor)

Chapter 33: Quote prompt: did you tell them the part where we die? (Aegnor/Andreth)

Chapter 34: Quote prompt: in the wake of destruction (Celebrimbor/Annatar)

Chapter 35: Fascinated, Maedhros and Azaghâl

Chapter 36: Threatened, Mairon

Chapter 37: Awed, Finduilas and Celebrimbor

Chapter 38: Acceptance, Finwë and Caranthir

Chapter 39: Jealous, Maglor

Chapter 40: Hurt, Curufin

Chapter 41: An Eventful Wedding (Beleg/Túrin, Happy AU)

Chapter 42: Dragons in the Night (Melkor/Varda, Melkor is good AU)

Chapter 43: You Look the Same (Maedhros and Amlach, Dagor Dagorath)

Chapter 44: Coffee Break  (Fingon/Maedhros, modern college AU)

Chapter 45: Out in the Black (Finwë/Míriel, plus Fëanor, space AU)

Chapter 46: Draw Me (Melkor/Sauron, Titanic AU)

Chapter 47: Fire on the Ice (Fëanor/Nerdanel, figure skating AU)

Chapter 48: Leaving the Darkness Behind (Finwë/Míriel, plus Fëanor, AU where Míriel survives)

Chapter 49: A Bad Influence (Fingon/Maedhros, modern college AU again)

Chapter 50: Offstage (Maedhros/original female character)

Chapter 51: Possessive, fem!Fingon/fem!Maedhros

Chapter 52: Lovesick, Lalwen

Chapter 53: Proud, Azaghâl

Chapter 54: Despairing, Maedhros

Chapter 55: Awed, Fingon and Fingolfin

Chapter 56: Resigned, Anairë and Aredhel

Chapter 57: Sorry, Fingon and Argon

Chapter 58: Determined, Haleth

Chapter 59: Playful, Fingon/Maedhros

Chapter 60: Worthless, Fëanor

Chapter 61: Confident, Nerdanel

Chapter 62: Thrilled, Celebrimbor

Chapter 63: Acceptance, Fëanor

Chapter 64: Bored, Caranthir

Chapter 65: Despairing, Glorfindel & Ecthelion & Turgon

Chapter 66: Determined, Celebrimbor

Chapter 67: Distressed, Celebrimbor

Chapter 68: Ecstatic, Celebrimbor

Chapter 69: Ecstatic, Turgon/Elenwë

Chapter 70: Creation, Melkor and Manwë

Chapter 71: Tears, Nienna, Námo and Irmo

Chapter 72: Mirror, Curufin

Chapter 73: Quote prompt: Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2AM? (Fingon and Turgon)

Chapter 74: Haunt me, Maeglin and Aredhel

Chapter 75: Mourn me, Elrond and Elros

Chapter 76: Enamour me, Maedhros/Fingon

Chapter 77: Quiet me, Finarfin and Fingolfin

Chapter 78: Offer me, Fëanor and Nerdanel

Chapter 79: Tell me, Idril and Tuor

Chapter 80: Wed me, Turgon/Elenwë

Chapter 81: Maglor, Space AU

Chapter 82: Galineth (OC), mathematics

Chapter 83: Ambarussa

Chapter 84: Carnimeldë | Caranel (OC) 

Chapter 85: Celebrimbor/Maeglin

Chapter 86: Fingolfin, silence

Chapter 87: Directions, Aredhel & Glorfindel

Chapter 88: Death, Maedhros/Fingon

Chapter 89: Cruel, Fingon

Chapter 90: Adoration, Elwing/Eärendil

Chapter 91: Determined, Maedhros

Chapter 92: Betrayed, Maeglin

Chapter 93: Warm, Maglor & Fëanor

Chapter 94: Fingolfin, Lily (majesty) + Verbana (pray for me)

Chapter Text

The ancient, rickety, stolen escape pod rattled and shook as he hit the atmosphere, the shaking indistinguishable from the exhilarated pounding of his own heart as the little craft hit the atmosphere. Behind him, Mairon could see the light glancing dull and red off the hull of Aulë’s ship as the sun lit it from behind, a great, solid thing with a maze of scaffolds and external companionways bolted to the outside by Maiar who had come and gone. He turned his eyes determinedly forward, away from his past, squinting out into the further reaches of the system to where he saw (or perhaps only hoped and imagined that he saw) a tiny bright dot that was the starship the Mighty Arising, the great battleship of Melkor, and, Mairon knew, the only future he ever wanted.

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It hadn’t taken Celebrimbor long to realise that Nargothrond was a warren of passages and turns, of spiral staircases and galleries and delicate highwalks that could confound the idle visitor or, equally, could allow those who knew the layout to hide and eavesdrop very effectively, nor had it taken him long to gain a working knowledge of it himself.
He stood on a discrete balcony, stony faced as he stared down at the two people pressed against the wall in the corridor below, his own father with his eyes squeezed closed and his lips clamped at one corner between his teeth, fingers knotted through Finrod’s golden hair as the king kissed his jawline, working his way down Curufin’s throat with a roughness rarely seen in one usually so serene and golden-calm.
Celebrimbor finally wrenched himself away, turning his back to the scene and closing his eyes, trying to breathe deeply and evenly; trying to forget what he had seen and yet, in some small, rebellious corner of his mind that he usually denied the existence of, not quite wanting to.

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"Tyelko!" yelled Maitimo into the garden, regarding his chewed and ruined leather boots regretfully, "would you please learn to control that hound!" He stepped barefoot onto the paving stones outside the house, following the sound of laughter and excited barking coming from around the corner of the house, but where he expected to see his brother, he was greeted with the sight of his father sitting on the grass, Huan lying on his side in front of him. Huan’s tail wagged furiously as Fëanáro gave him an enthusiastic belly rub, but when Huan spotted Maitimo he leapt to his feet to give him a cheerful lick on the arm before returning to Fëanáro and plopping himself down decisively for another scratching, as Fëanáro grinned and shrugged apologetically at his eldest son.

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He had been the first, he thought with the usual, by now familiar stab of pain, and now he was the last. It was his duty to remain, had always been his duty, he had learned that long ago when he had almost given in to pain before, when he had begged to die. But dying, Maedhros sometimes thought, was not his place, and though the world changed and rolled on, he must remain here on the fading shores, for all their sakes.

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"Ammë, Macalaurë’s been doing that for hours", said Maitimo, dragging his mother by the hand to where his younger brother sat on the floor by the window with his eyes closed, one hand and one side of his face pressed flat against the glass, "what’s wrong with him?"
Nerdanel frowned, watching her son sit motionless as the rain pounded on the outside of the glass, “Macalaurë, sweet, are you alright?”
"Sshh,"he said, without opening his eyes, "I’m listening to the rain!"

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"I don’t see why you had to kick me quite so hard under the table”, complained Findekáno, lifting the corner of his heavy court robes and examining his ankle as he approached Maitimo who was still sitting in his place at the now otherwise empty council table.
Maitimo folded his notes from the meeting neatly with ink-stained fingers, before raising his eyes to regard his cousin, “I’m sorry Fin, but you need to learn that in councils you can’t simply say everything you think, especially not in front of some of grandfather’s lords, no matter how low your opinion of them.” Then he saw Findekáno’s look and chuckled softly, “don’t worry, we’ll make a politician of you yet, and I’ll try to make the lesson more gentle next time.”

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There was more of her mother to Eärwen, thought Celebrían as those slender but strong arms enfolded her in an embrace, than simply a physical resemblance, despite the silver hair instead of gold, despite the bright salt and sunlight tang of her accent. But she could not put her finger on it until Eärwen whispered in her ear, their pearl-silver hair mingling in the sea breeze; “we’ve all lost so much, all the women in our family, my sweet grandaughter… you will surely be safe here in Aman, but I fear you will lose more before this is over.”
Celebrían smiled into her grandmother’s hair, inhaling the warm scent of her, but tears were starting in her eyes already, for she had learned from her mother long ago that this bright, strong woman with the laughing, sad eyes tended to be correct about such matters.

Chapter Text

Her father used to take her to the window in his study at the very top of the tower, to look out the green island and river flowing around it, fast and clear and glittering bright.

"Here we are safe" he had told her as she braided blue flowers into his pale white-gold hair one spring morning, "and my little princess will grow up strong and brave", and with that he had kissed her on the nose and tickled her until she had squealed with laughter.

It was only when she looked at her father now, quiet and serious and wearing his uncle’s crown instead of one of flowers as he walked through the echoing halls of Nargothrond, that she wondered whether the reassurance had been as much for himself as for her.

Chapter Text

There was no knock, for there was no door to knock on, but Fingon was momentarily disorientated as he was jolted awake, only to feel a burst of joy at the sight of Maedhros standing framed by the tent flap, lip bloody, breastplate dented and a rudimentary bandage around one shoulder, but very much alive.
"Fin… oh thank Eru, there were rumours…" Maedhros’ voice was thick with relief as he ran to Fingon’s bedside, clasping his hand tightly and kissing the knuckles, before pressing their foreheads together and closing his eyes, his smile infectious. "Oh Maitimo" said Fingon, who could not stop himself grinning although it hurt his bruised face, and brushing a soft kiss across Maedhros’ lips "you know it would take more than that to kill me, especially when you’re still around for me to look after."

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"And you say your grandfather invented this material… do you know the formula then?" asked Narvi, tapping the lampstone curiously with a small hammer he had taken from his pocket, listening intently to the sound it made on impact and running a broad thumb over the surface to check for hairline cracks. His voice contained none of the worshipful admiration Celebrimbor had heard in some voices when they spoke of Fëanor, nor the violent hatred he had heard even more frequently; there was only a sort of mild, practical curiosity.

"No" admitted Celebrimbor at last, before drawing himself up a little taller, "but one day I should like to invent something just as great, but something new, something all my own, that will bring light to my people anew."

Chapter Text

"I’m a dead man now, but give it to my brothers or you will all die”, Celegorm coughed out, blood bubbling at his lips, “every single one of you, your children will not be spared…”
Dior raised his head a little, blood spurting from the ragged hole in his stomach and seeping into the cracks between the flagstones as he struggled to form words “…children… escaped far away… they’re safe…” even to himself it sounded uncomfortably like an appeal for reassurance, even now, even to the one to kill him, and suddenly he hated himself.
Celegorm was laughing, low in his throat, an awful spluttering, blood-soaked laugh of a man who has nothing left to hope for and nothing to lose, whose reason for existence is slipping away along with the blood seeping from the stab wound in his chest, and for a a fraction of an instant Dior almost felt it was an act of mercy as, with his last ounce of strength, he lifted his sword (how heavy it seemed now) and drew it almost tenderly across Celegorm’s throat.

Chapter Text

The halls were grey, thought Findekáno, and he had never liked grey much, but there was something else there, a white flash in the corner of his field of vision (he could not call it the corner of his eye now, he realised vaguely) but it was more than that; he knew it was her, something about the quality of that bright outline seemed to recall all his memories of his sister at once.
They touched hands, once, or the equivalent of what it had once meant to say they had touched hands, although that too was meaningless now; perhaps, thought Findekáno afterwards, they had simply touched minds.
And in that moment, suddenly a rising torrent of words and shapeless emotions came cascading over both of them, sweeping their fëar away and tangling them momentarily together in a tide of I am sorry, and I hated myself for letting you be hurt, and there were things I meant to say to you, and above all a welling flood of I missed you, threatening to drown them both.

Chapter Text

"Hello Maitimo, Macalaurë!" said Findekáno brightly, bounding towards where the two brothers stood by the fountain talking quietly, and linking arms with Maitimo, "what can you possibly be talking about that is important enough to deprive the rest of the party of your company, hmm?"
Maitimo looked a little uncomfortable, rubbing the back of his neck and looking at the floor, as Macalaurë tried to catch his eye, a fact that was not lost on Findekáno, who pouted at them both, biting his lip a little, before giving in and grinning roguishly at Maitimo, “surely, Macalaurë, you will not selfishly keep your brother away from his… from me all evening?”
Macalaurë narrowed his eyes as if considering Findekáno, before giving Maitimo, who was still staring determinedly down at his shoes, a none-too-subtle elbow in the ribs “I swear, Findekáno, I shouldn’t dream of it.”

Chapter Text

"They’re only dreams" they told each other, whenever one of them awoke in the night, sweat-soaked and disorientated, wracked by hitching sobs and images of their children, fighting, hurt, dying in pain in a far off land. Both knew the reassurance was a lie; and yet, it still made Nerdanel feel fractionally better when Anairë whispered the well-worn litany to her, dark hair brushing her face in the half-light as their foreheads, lips and noses brushed gently. The words themselves came to be unnecessary, when they had each grown accustomed to the curve of the other’s arms around them, carving out a niche in each other’s hearts and minds over the long years, that empty reassurance mingling into the warm breath between their lips, a small brush of comfort in the dark.

Chapter Text

"Come on, Finno, Atar says we should have left ten minutes ago” said Turukáno, holding Arakáno and Irissë’s hands and rolling his eyes impatiently as he watched his elder brother search, barefoot and bare chested, through the inner recesses of his wardrobe and then under the bed, an increasingly puzzled expression on his face.

"I can’t find my shoes… any of my shoes… or my shirts… or that book I was planning to lend to Maitimo… or my harp…" he stared at his three siblings, narrowing his eyes, with dawning realisation "Arakáno, Irissë,  just give me my things back… I don’t find this amusing, and neither should you."

"Actually" said Irissë, she and Arakáno sporting matching grins, "we find it very amusing, don’t we Arko?” 

Chapter Text

"Lómion", said a calm voice, and he whirled around suspiciously, for one could never be too careful, especially amongst the Crissaegrim, but, it seemed, this was no servant of the enemy as far as Maeglin could tell, or if it was his disguise was cunning; one of the Edain, dressed in a long brown coat and strange white shoes, with no armour or weapons… although Maeglin started when he spotted something blue glowing brighter than a lampstone in the stranger’s hand.

Maeglin narrowed his eyes, and was about to ask how the man knew his name, that name, but the stranger was already saying hastily, “I’m the Doctor, by the way, and I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry, but something bad is about to happen to you…” the man looked aggrieved, “… I can’t stop it if you stay here, but if you trust me, or even if you don’t, I can take you away, away from this life you’ve been living…” he looked quizzical now, pointing the blue glowing thing at Maeglin “… if you like.”

For a moment Maeglin stared, wondering if this was real… to leave… and never have to see any of the hateful people again, never have to see her again, to watch her living a happy life with him… to never have to watch her fade in grief when he died… he gave the Doctor a long look “… I’m listening…”

Chapter Text

"We’ve done it Annatar" said Celebrimbor, wonderingly, looking at the small, nondescript ring-shaped magnet in his palm, "this material… superconducting at room temperature… it will revolutionise energy, electronics, transport - "
"Everything?" purred Annatar, draping himself over the back of Celebrimbor’s desk chair, plucking the sample from his palm and holding it up to his eye, before slipping it into his pocket; when Celebrimbor opened his mouth to protest he knotted a hand through his hair and kissed the side of his neck, sitting down on the table amidst the mess of pens, scraps of wire and photocopied scientific papers.
"Come now, we need to publish first…" Annatar smiled, twisting a lock of Celebrimbor’s hair around his finger "… but I’m in no hurry…" he kissed Celebrimbor’s jawline, letting his teeth just brush the skin "… but if you really want I’ll let you be first author on the paper…"

Chapter Text

"Why are all those girls chasing after Macalaurë?" said Carnistir to no one in particular, balefully regarding the small trail of suitors his older brother seemed to have acquired since the dancing had ended, "do they want dreary poetry, because I can certainly try… what?”
Irissë was grinning at him “clearly you don’t move in the same circles as I do Moryo, or you’d know that Macalaurë has… hmm, how shall I put it… something of a reputation, for being inordinately skilled with his tongue, in matters other than poetry and song…” she grinned at Carnistir’s expression, before calling out to Macalaurë “…or do my friends tell me wrong…?”
Macalaurë’s face was serene, but fixed in a hint of a smirk, with the fabled tongue just visible at the corner of his mouth for all his admirers to see, “why Irissë, I’m sure I don’t know what reputation you’re talking about…”

Chapter Text

"Do you ever think it strange…" Gil-galad looked out at the sky and toying with his wine glass, and then between the faces that sat around the table, "that of everyone, our whole family… it’s only us left?"
Elrond frowned, following his gaze out of the window to the sea shore, and then at the sky above where a bright star blazed, and then at the sea again “that’s not necessarily true…” but he trailed off at the sight of the pained expression on Celebrimbor’s face.
"I do not think it strange anymore" said Galadriel, staring determinedly straight at Gil-galad as she answered his question "it only means that we have to fight all the harder, to make a safe place for our people, that our family was charged to rule and protect."

Chapter Text

"Ereinion!" Finduilas skidded to a halt at the stables just as her brother and his guards were preparing their horses and securing the baggage for the journey, catching him in an embrace made clumsy by his bulky travelling cloak, "I wanted to say…" her voice stopped in her throat, but she swallowed and carried on, "… goodbye, since you’re going to the sea, and… I made you something."

With that she handed him a tiny book no bigger than the palm of his hand; “oh…” he stammered as he turned the pages, tiny jewel-bright watercolour images meeting his eyes, portraits of his mother, father, sister and himself that were so lifelike they seemed about to walk off the page “… Finduilas, it’s…” he blinked back tears.

"I made it so that you won’t forget us" said Finduilas, straightening his cloak, "they say the sea washes memories clean… promise me you won’t forget us, brother?"

Chapter Text

"You’re working on swords" stated Duilin, leaning against the door post of Rog’s forge, "lots of them… tell me true, Rog, do you think there is truly a threat to us here, or is it simply the King being…" he gestured as he sought the right word "…over-cautious again?”
Rog did not look up, but continued to beat the metal as he spoke, “I think that I was given orders to make more swords, so that is what I am doing” he said flatly, “but if I must have an opinion on the subject, I think that there was never not a threat to us here…” he turned the sword “… the security of this city was always a precarious illusion.”
Duilin sighed, longing to simply dismiss the words as sensational, alarmist even, but finding himself not quite able to.

Chapter Text

"Ah, this must be my second grandchild" Mahtan said looking down at Macalaurë appraisingly, "I really must come to Tirion more often and stay with you, Nerdanel, Fëanáro, if you are going to keep having more, or I will surely miss one" - he bent down so that he was at the child’s eye level - "hello, little one…"
"Hello" said Macalaurë brightly "Ammë told me all about you…" his small face creased in a frown "I wrote you a song, but I haven’t met you yet until now, so I don’t know if it’s exactly right…" he looked up at his grandfather shyly from under his lashes "would you like to hear it?"
Mahtan lifted his grandson in his strong arms and spun him around in the air until he squealed, all trace of shyness gone, “I see we have another artist in the family… my dear Macalaurë, I should love to.”

Chapter Text

"I want to do it" said Túrin petulantly, looking at the dancing flames of the campfire "collecting firewood is boring, and it’s not as if I don’t know how to make fire… I though you brought me here to show me how to survive in the forest, anyway?”
Beleg sighed, “I brought you out here to get you used to being out in the forest… you may one day need to survive out here, but for now you are a child, and Menegroth is you home.” He smiled, ruffling Túrin’s hair with one hand and turning the spit on which the rabbit he had shot was cooking, “there will be plenty of time for making fires, and in a few years, if you like, I will teach you how to hunt for yourself.”

Chapter Text

Caranthir looking at Míriel’s old works:

Carnistir ran his fingers over the faded threads, as though trying to glean some new insight into the one who had put them there, his grandmother, the broideress, she of the name that set their family apart; the name that cut the Royal house down the middle, and yet the great absence in their lives. He frowned at the embroidery; people said he had her talent, yet he had never met this enigmatic lack-of-presence, the mention of whose name alone caused even his bright, tireless and boundlessly creative father to look as though he were breaking apart inside. Sometimes, too, he wondered what she would think of him if he were to meet her, but he knew that was impossible, for she was beyond any of their reach now.
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Caranthir in Beleriand, being friends with Huan:

“The Lords Celegorm and Curufin, of Himlad, and their party, here to see the Lord Caranthir” said the herald, and Caranthir was about to make some sweeping statement, when a large hound bounded ahead of his brothers’ party into the entrance hall, and proceeded to stand on his hind legs and lick Caranthir’s cheek.
“I thought you didn’t like animals, and that the feeling was mutual?” said Celegorm as they approached, narrowing his eyes suspiciously, while Curufin merely raised a disapproving eyebrow.
“Everyone makes exceptions” he smiled at them and Huan wagged his tail furiously, “and I think Huan feels the same about diplomatic visits such as this one as I do.”

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Caranthir and Aegnor:

“You should leave her” said Caranthir shortly, “these people, they’re all the same… she does not truly care for you, and you are deluded if you think anything else.”
“Just because you were in love with an Edain woman, and she didn’t love you back… do I hear wounded pride speaking?”
Caranthir simply ground his teeth and glared.

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Caranthir looking after baby Argon:

“This is the last time I ever let myself end up owing Nelyo a favour” grumbled Carnistir, lifting Arakáno under the arms and giving the baby a long stare, as if trying to judge the capabilities of an opponent “I don’t see why he and Findekáno couldn’t have just stayed in and looked after you,” he told the child, “as they promised your father they would, anyway.”
By way of reply Arakáno wailed, and Carnistir bounced him awkwardly up and down, muttering, “what do you want?”
When Arakáno didn’t answer, Carnistir stared around the room for inspiration, and, finding no useful guide on how to look after a diminutive, crying half-cousin, he realised that he was in for a long evening.

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Caranthir at social events in Tirion:

“Moryo!” a voice called, and he cursed, recognising Maitimo’s voice; Moryo, with his split lip and the bruise that was already blooming on his cheekbone, had been hoping to avoid his eldest brother of all people. He tried to duck behind a column, but it was too late; he had been spotted.
“Moryo” Maitimo caught up with him at the palace door before he could slip out unnoticed “have you seen – wait, what happened to your - ” he frowned, “alright, who did you get into a fight with this time…?”

Chapter Text

There you are” said Fëanáro, opening the door of the tall cupboard in the hall beside his study to find his fourth son tucked between some boxes of of mineral samples and a pile of rolled-up maps, “your mother and brothers have been looking for you for hours.” But as he spoke, Carnistir, clearly startled, let out a piercing shriek, hid his face and knocked over the lampstone he had placed beside him in a stand on the floor; it rolled to a halt at Fëanáro’s feet. 

"What were you doing in here?" asked Fëanáro, picking up a sniffling Carnistir, but as he did so his son dropped what he had been holding and let out another wail of protest; Fëanáro drew in his breath as he saw a long, elaborate braid of brightly coloured threads fall from his son’s grasp, loose threads trailing from where it was unfinished, unravelling now as it fell from Carnistir’s grasp onto the floor.

"Moryo…" Fëanáro picked it up, trying to hold the unravelling threads together as he placed it back into Carnistir’s small hands, those hands that had not yet lost their baby softness and yet one day, he realised, would be quick and clever and skilled, "who taught you to braid threads like this?"

Carnistir peeped out from between his fingers and took back the threads he had woven together, still sniffing, “I - ” he hiccupped, absorbed in trying to right the threads ” - I taught myself.”

Chapter Text

"I haven’t seen much of you lately," said Narvi, making sure to keep the accusatory note out of his voice, folding his arms and looking appraisingly at Celebrimbor where he was lying back in the armchair across the room.

"I’ve been…" Celebrimbor wasn’t looking at him, Narvi noticed, and where   before his gaze had been bright and clear even at the end of a long day of forge work, however exhausted he had been, now there was a bone-deep drained look to him, "I’ve been… busy."

"Time was" said Narvi, more cautiously than was his wont, "when we would work together… before - "

"Don’t" said Celebrimbor suddenly, his eyes flicking fully open, staring at the ceiling, "just… don’t mention Annatar, this isn’t even about him."

I didn’t, thought Narvi, and though he frowned to see the change that had come upon the elf recently, he did not give voice to the thought.

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"Irissë, please, you must understand… this is what I’m for, why I’m here in this… I’ve heard them calling Aman “Paradise” you know…” he gave a hollow, mirthless laugh. “Why else would the the Valar be so cruel, why would they take - ” he words stopped in his throat choking him, but he coughed and carried on, knowing he must make her see, “why would they do that if we did not have a duty, a sacred purpose, to recreate paradise, to bring it to this dark land, make a safe haven, bright and hopeful against the darkness?”

"It wasn’t paradise, Turno" Irissë had been about to answer, but she found, looking into her shining, desperate fever-glaze of grief and love and pain in her brother’s eyes, that she could not bring herself to form the words.

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"Finno…" Turgon touched his crown, his voice cracking a little. "I hope it’s not dark where you are. You didn’t like the dark. You said the day had come when you saw me, but all I brought was death and oblivion. I… I wonder if you’ll ever see a dawn again."
Turgon’s breath hitched in his throat, for he knew what his brother had done, and he knew what the punishment would likely be for the slaying of kin, what he had always believed it should be until now… The Halls were dark, he had been told all his life. Dark and blind and cold. He pressed his lips together for a moment, before continuing with determination, his voice suddenly high and reedy, too much like a plea. “Know only that I love you, even though you may not have known it…” he sighed. “No. You died not knowing it, but it was true, brother. It was true.” Turgon hated how the words sounded like a child appealing for forgiveness, even to his own ears. Forgiveness he did not deserve.
He reached out to the mirror, his reflection extending a hand back towards him. His fingertips touched the glass, but there was no insight there. No message. He had never resembled his elder brother much, but now he felt he could see no resemblance at all, but for the dark hair and the crown upon his head.
The pale pre-dawn light was beginning to seep in through the crack he had left in the curtains, and, he knew, soon the bells in the market square would be ringing, sounding the morning. Just as they had that day when they had ridden out to his brother’s aid, as they had the day he had buried his father, his sister… he sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. He let them flick open again. “I’m sorry” he whispered. “I loved you.”
There was, as usual, no response.

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"You love him, do you?" said Haleth, looking at the younger woman (still a girl really, she thought with a pang) appraisingly, wondering if it was just a passing thing, but feeling a sense of alarm at the grim determination in her eyes and the steel beneath that soft brown gaze. Haleth pursed her lips, trying to be gentle and kind about this, "they are different from us, sometimes they do not understand, cannot understand us… does this prince of yours know of our fate… did you tell him that we - “
"Die?" interrupted Andreth, her face set proudly, "yes, he knows, and he loves me still, and I will love him until my life’s end and beyond, although my path may be a different one to his."

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They had played in these wood, played at running away from home and catching food and fighting imaginary wild beasts, the two of them lost in the forest together and having excellent adventures, without their parents or their sister there to spoil their fun. But those had been games, and it had not been a snowy night then; the lost boys had been able to return home, tired and breathless and happy, at the end of the day. Now, though, they weren’t sure quite what home meant anymore, their family may well be dead, and those monsters, always hidden amongst the ghostly smooth trunks of the tall beech trees with their bare winter boughs, seemed a little more real. 

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"Are you an elf?" demanded the barefoot girl with the curly hair, as her younger brother peered out from behind her skirts at the impossibly tall, ragged stranger before them, the one with the voice as lustrous as old gold, but cracking a little as though it was rarely used. "There aren’t supposed to be no elves round Buckland way no more," she said accusingly, "Ma said they all went off years and years ago."

The stranger smiled, a pained smile, as if remembering something long ago, “well she is right in that case; I wouldn’t worry about what or who I am, for I’m just a lonely vagabond, passing through.”

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"Aegnor…" she hesitated, the words sticking in her throat, "sometimes I think you forget…" she took a deep breath, trying to put her doubts into words, but they would not come, not the way she wanted to say them, "I will die!" she blurted out at last, "I will die and you will still be young, and… and…"

But then his arms were around her, and she was almost surprised when she found herself sobbing into his shoulder, ”hush my love” he whispered, kissing her hair, “I know, I know.”

The words, however, did not afford her any comfort, but rather sounded too much like a desperate cry for help, echoing back at her from the vast emptiness in which they would forever be parted; the price, it seemed, for this brief moment of holding each other in their arms would be uncountable years of searching blindly for the touch of one another’s hands in that endless dark.

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The city was lost, Celebrimbor knew it with a horrible certainty as the acrid tang of smoke stung the back of his nose, the blood from a gash at his temple seeping into his eyes, blinding him, weakening him… but now hands were lifting him as though he weighed no more than a child (did I really lose that much blood, he wondered hazily) and a finger was tracing the line of his jaw, its touch familiar, gentle.
"Ah my sweet Celebrimbor, you see that wasn’t so difficult now, was it?" said a silken voice, "a shame about the destruction of the city, but now you have a chance, my dear one, a chance to… redeem yourself…” fingertips trailed across his bloody lower lip, and Celebrimbor gritted his teeth, defiant despite his weakness.
Quick as a snake, the hand was in his hair, wrenching his head back until he cried out, although the voice that answered only gave a light, honeyed laugh, “my dear, clever, noble Celebrimbor, I would have thought you wouldn’t want to…” the hand tightened, nails digging into his scalp even as Annatar brushed a delicate kiss just below his eye, “… to disappoint me now, would you?”

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"This… this is like nothing I’ve seen before…" said Maedhros softly, running his fingers over the delicate brass mechanism and shaking his head a little. It was a lie though, he realised as soon as he said it, for his father that been on the verge of producing clockwork like this, close to the end, before his work in Formenos had been brought to an abrupt halt… he held it to his ear, listening to the quiet ticking. The style and mechanism was different of course, the lines more angular. The watch’s weight felt solid in the hand, and yet there was a delicacy to the burnished golden-coloured gears inside that spoke of precision and accuracy. Even the jewelled casing was neatly tiled, orderly. Fëanáro’s clockwork had been just as functional, of course, genius miniaturised, but its style was different, the lines sinuous, the gears compacted and hidden. Maedhros had a sudden urge to take apart the two different mechanisms and compare them.

"Yes, our watchmakers have been progressing in leaps and bounds recently" said Azaghâl, who was not looking at him but poring over the papers on the desk. Nevertheless, she sounded proud. "You’ll find, if you care to use it, that the time it keeps is incomparable." She picked up the magnifying glass on the table and squinted through it at the small, neat annotations on the large map that lay unrolled on the table. "These letters…" she was half smiling, Maedhros saw. "They are aesthetically pleasing, I’ll grant you. You will have to tell me more about them."

"I see we’ll have much to talk about, you and I" said Maedhros, smiling.

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Mairon swept out of the throne room in a swirl of robes, only to catch sight of Tevildo waiting to be shown in before Melkor. Mairon narrowed his eyes, for he disliked the Prince of Cats and how much his master was coming to rely on him for news and the waylaying of enemies. He scowled, as the other Maia’s face twisted into a mocking grin, and lashed out, seizing Tevildo by the throat and pressing him up against a column.
"I know what you’re up to" said Mairon, with gritted teeth. "I have people watching you, never fear. And if you even dare try to usurp me - ” he grasped a handful of the silken black fur at the scruff of Tevildo’s neck and twisted ” - just remember that a wise kitten stays awayfrom werewolves.”

Tevildo’s face was contorted with pain but an amused smile played around his lips and his slitted eyes nonetheless. “Feeling threatened, are we?” he asked sweetly. His tail waved flicked lazily back and forth, brushing Mairon’s cheek ever-so-lightly before twisting to the side before Mairon could bat it away. Somehow, Tevildo managed to slip from his grasp, curving his body sinuously, almost purring. “I’d advise you go teach those werewolves to do something to prevent your prisoners escaping first. Might be useful next time. Especially if there’s a certain someone you are quite… desperate to impress…”

Mairon opened his mouth to give a cutting reply, but at that moment the troll guards at the door parted their crossed spears for the Prince of Cats. With a parting flick of his tail, he slipped into the throne room, cleaning his whiskers nonchalantly. Mairon was left standing outside staring at the closed doors, his hands balled into fists at his sides. 

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If Celebrimbor had known that he would find the princess crying in the alcove at the end of this particular little-used, winding corridor, then perhaps he would have taken a different one. But he had not known, and by the time he saw her she was standing up to meet him, scrubbing tears from her eyes angrily and smoothing her skirts, a fierce blush rising to her cheeks even as she tilted her jaw to meet his gaze defiantly.

"I… my Lady," he stammered, "forgive me, please, I did not mean to… did I intrude…?"

She shrugged, biting her lip. “It’s everybody’s corridor.” Then she seemed to remember herself, and stared up at him with something like awe on her face. “You’re that smith aren’t you, one of the princes of Himlad. People say you’re dreadfully clever. And that you look a lot like your father.” Then she suddenly stopped speaking again, as if her courage had left her. 

Celebrimbor frowned. “No, I could not claim that honour. I am a Prince, I suppose, but it is my own father who is the clever smith who looks like his father… although I suppose if you mistook me for him…” he felt a blush rising to his own face now, and cursed the paleness of his skin. A silence stretched between them, as he tried to make up his mind whether to look at Finduilas or to avoid her eye. 

"The description could fit both of you then" she said, smiling, although she looked a little wary. Perhaps she has been told about Alqualondë, he thought uncomfortably, and if she mistook me for my father… he was about to try to tell her that he had taken no part, that he had only been a child at the time, but even as he was trying to put the words into order she spoke again. 

"As it happens I did mean you" she said. "But what must you think of me, weeping in the corridor like a little child?"

"Who is it that you miss…?" he asked softly. He knew, by now, how to tell. 

"My little brother" she replied. "Ereinion. My father sent him away. I know he will be safer, but…" she looked at the floor, her hands twisting unconsciously in front of her. 

Celebrimbor felt a stab of pity for her, for she too had escaped the ruins of her former home. “If you ever want to talk about it, or anything else…” he began, emboldened by her candid confession.

She looked up at him, her eyes shy and her face still reddened and tear-streaked, but he could see the beginnings of a tentative smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Thank you. I will.”

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"Grandfather, I made you a gift, for your begetting day."
At first Finwë did not know where the voice was coming from amongst the many voices in the crowded ballroom. He whirled around, peering over the heads of the guests for a long moment before realising that the voice was coming from below, and stooping to meet the eyes of the child that stood beside him. 

Carnistir tugged on his robe, looking somewhat guarded. He did not look at Finwë, but he held out a small cloth-wrapped bundle, whilst staring at his feet. “I didn’t think it was very good and I was going to make you something new” mumbled Carnistir, “but Atar said I should give it to you anyway. He said you’d like it.” He shoved the bundle into Finwë’s hands, still looking alternately at the floor and at the guests who were milling around them, his cheeks flushing fiery red. 

Finwë unwrapped the bundle, his curiosity piqued, for he had not known that Fëanáro’s fourth son had shown any aptitude for any particular craft as yet. But as the wrapping came away, he caught his breath. 

Inside was a silken collar of the kind fashionable at court lately, intended to be fastened to the neck of one’s robes. The cut was simple, the lines clean, but that was not what had caught his attention. The garment was embroidered all over with intricate patterns, studded with tiny gems, but the richness of the threads and the delicacy and patterning of the stitches were truly remarkable. Finwë stared at his grandson, and then at the gift, and then back again, for it was the finest embroidery he had seen since… since… he could not even bring himself to finish that thought.

"You…? You made this…?"

Carnistir nodded, slowly, chewing his lip. “Some of the stitches are a bit crooked, but Nelyo said you’d never notice. Sorry.” Realising that he had given the secret away, he blushed even darker than before. “Why… why are you crying…?”

To Finwë’s surprise, he realised that there truly were tears starting in his eyes, and he blinked them back, forcing a smile. He swept Carnistir into a tight hug, letting his little grandson’s wiry black hair tickle his face, “no reason Moryo” he whispered into his ear, “thank you. It is the most beautiful…” he tailed off, “I shall wear it proudly.” He shook his head in wonderment, suddenly assaulted by memories as he ran his fingers over the sinuous patterns picked out in the texture of the threads. “You have a gift, Moryo. Use it well.”

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Sometimes Maglor was jealous of his brothers. 

It would come when he least expected it, and yet, there was a sort of weary familiarity to the feeling now. It came when he woke screaming from storm-tossed dreams in the grey light of morning. When the cold bit at his scarred-thickened fingers, leaving them stiff and numb and clumsy. When he looked up at the star, that star, and felt that familiar burning in his eyes, the nausea rising in his throat. The guilt rushing into the back of mouth like hot bile, prickling his throat and cracking his voice, making his head spin and the world tilt violently, leaving him faint and fevered, weakened in body and spirit. But it never quite killed him, for, he thought bitterly, that would have been far too easy.

It made him wish for death, the death that he had wilfully given up, for, a voice that sounded like his own taunted, it would have been so simple. He had even had the chance, as Nelyo had, although his brother had made a different choice. What reason have you to live, broken as you are? Much better to face the cold greyness with them, then the cold and the pain and the world. At least they would have been together. At least the pain would end, or if it did not end then, selfishly, he would have someone to share it with. 

The chance was gone now though, Maglor knew, although he could not have said precisely how he knew.

Sometimes he thought what Nelyo had done had been an act of courage, and his own turning away an act of cowardice. Sometimes he thought many things though, every tortured iteration of every cursed memory ground down to sand in his head, dissected, until they were as meaningless as the words of a song playing endlessly in the mind, driving one to madness. How he hated it. 

The quiet was what he was jealous of in the end, he knew. The quiet and the chance to make the pain stop. But that would have been too easy. If there had been one thing he was made for, it was this, the voices sang to him in his sleep. Jealousy did not even come into it.

He would persist, and he would remain, as the world faded and changed around him. Jealous or not, he must watch.

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He gritted his teeth as they rode away, the muscles in his neck locked, refusing to turn and look back. His brother was at his side, he did not have to look to know, following close behind. Tyelko was loyal, he would never betray me… but the thought, which should have been reassuring, brought a new twist to his stomach, rage and pain boiling up inside him.Your son… you thought he would follow you too. You thought he would follow you anywhere. You fool. Anger boiled in his throat as he remembered his son’s face, the slight blush that rose to his cheeks, that righteous fire in his eyes… his own fire, his father’s fire… Tyelpë should be counted a traitor now, he supposed. The thought made him angry all over again.

The boy probably thought he was doing the right thing, whatever he thought that meant.He has not been a boy for long years though. He grew up while you were not looking. You taught him to be proud, to not bow to anyone… Curufin ground his teeth, in an effort to curb the flood of misery welling up inside him, sticking in his throat and choking him. Still, he made an effort to keep his face blank and smooth, but for a slight arch of one eyebrow, the curl of a lip, the proud upwards tilt of a jaw. 

"Brother, stop" came Celegorm’s voice from behind him, decisive, when were out of sight of Nargothrond. Curufin made no move to stop or slow his horse. "We ride for Himring" he said, hating the fraction of a waver in his voice but continuing nonetheless. "No stops. He has made his choice." He did not even trust himself to say his son’s name. The whole situation, the Þindarin princess and her mortal lover, Findaráto’s idiotic moralising and his accursed need to die a hero, the Silmaril for Eru’s sake, Huan and the change in his brother, and now… now his son… well, thought Curufin bitterly, it would have been absurd enough to laugh at if it were not all such an abysmal, Void-damned debacle.

Celegorm, however, did not seem to need to hear anymore. For once he did not argue.

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"If anyone knows of a reason why these two should not be wed, speak now or forever - "

And then, suddenly, the doors burst open and in rushed a very wet and muddy elf holding a great bow and crying out to the room “THEY’RE BROTHER AND SISTER!”

After him followed a golden-haired elf-maid, and there was an immediate cry of surprise and then a confused cheer as she and the bride fell into each other’s arms, before the bowman threw aside the bow, scooped up the groom in his arms and kissed him, before kicking open the door and carrying him from the room. 

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They lie on their backs together and look up at the stars sometimes, and the tiny sparkling golden and red scaled dragons wheeling overhead, their bright little gouts of flame glimmering against the constant silver points amid the velvet darkness. 

But then Melkor snaps his fingers and the dragons come to him, swirling in a little cloud of brightness about the two of them; the evening hour of dragons is over.

Now comes the night, when the Children flood beneath the great dome of the radio telescope of Taniquetil to use this huge bright eye to look up into the night sky, for their curiosity is even more boundless than any of the Valar had known.

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"You look the same, old friend."
"So do you, superficially, but you have a new hand… death was kinder to you than it was to me, it seems."
"I would not quite say that… yet now we fight again, side by side, against the great enemy once more."

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Findekáno came up behind him, kissing him on the top of the head, “Maitimo, I brought you coffee, I thought it might help in the dissertation writing.”

Maitimo closed his laptop and steadied the teetering pile of books about him on the table, and then leaned backwards to look up at him, “Fin, you’re perfect, you know that?”

"I know" Findekáno smiled brightly, “I just suspected you might want some coffee… now, can I borrow your revision notes from back when you took this class?”

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Sometimes she took little Fëanáro outside the ship, watched his small child’s face fill with wonder beneath the thick glass of the space suit’s helmet as he looked out into the great darkness of space. 

Their tethers floated out in elegant curves, tangling together sometimes as her son played about her, but always anchoring them firmly to the outside of the ship, where Finwë would sit, smiling, at the controls as he watched his wife and son through the tiny window.

Until that day; she did not hear the tether break, for in space there is no sound, only felt herself drifting further and further from the ship and saw Fëanáro’s large eyes widen in fear and fill with tears as she drifted slowly away, powerless, for Finwë was not looking out of the window… she could only wonder how much oxygen she had left as she desperately jammed the button of her broken communicator and watched the ship receding until it was just another bright silver point amid the endless black.

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"Draw me like one of your Valinorean girls" purred Melkor, repositioning the necklace so that the Silmaril lay alluringly at the centre of his bare chest, ignoring the burning pain it caused him.

"Master, the ship is sinking, we don’t have time for this - "

But at that moment a great wave rushed into the cabin, and the ship was taken down to the bottom of the sea and they were teased by Ulmo’s Maiar until the Dagor Dagorath.

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The sequins and metallic embroidery on their clothes flashed red and orange in the harsh glare of the floodlights as they spun around, as he lifted her into the air, spinning on one leg all the while, and in that moment they were like one, bones and muscles working together to make something elegant and beautiful.

They held the trophy between them as they stood on the podium later, faces flushed with exertion despite the chill in the air, and as she looked at Fëanáro she saw the same bright flame of triumph that lit in her own heart.

For it was not the trophy that brought about that look, that she knew as well as he did; it was arcing across the ice as one, it was moving in perfect synchronisation, and it was everybody seeing that the two of them were the brightest, the quickest, the most graceful… it was all the world seeing the two of them dance like fire upon the ice.

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Sometimes she slipped back into long periods of darkness, even now, but as Fëanáro grew she found that her son’s brightness could help to bring her out of them somewhat, and she clung to that, forced herself to think of him when she felt the black moods and exhaustion coming on… and gradually, almost to her surprise, those times in which she only wanted to sleep forever began to grow shorter and farther apart.

Finwë held her differently now, he touched her as though she were the finest glass filigree, wont to break into a thousand pieces, and sometimes there were tears in his eyes when the three of them sat together, ate meals together, or when Fëanáro showed his mother something he had made.

Fëanáro was grown and gone now, he had a wife and child of his own, and as Míriel leaned back in Finwë’s encircling arms and watched Fëanáro play with his tiny, laughing, red-haired son she knew she thought suddenly that she would not have missed this for the world. 

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"Uuuurrrggghhhhh I have a tutorial at nine o’clock tomorrow morning… well, today" complained Findekáno, leaning forward over his arms on the table, knocking over the mug that held the dregs of the tea they had made when they had stumbled back to the kitchen at 3am.

"Don’t go" slurred Maitimo, grinning despite the lukewarm tea that had splashed over his elbow, "I’ll distract them… or something."

"You’re supposed to be a good inf -" he hiccupped "influence on me, but you never were, were you?"

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Maitimo peered through a gap in the curtains onto the stage where the player prince and princess danced, their bodies moving as one in a sinuous, graceful duet. The light of Telperion filtered down through the wide open circle in the roof of the round drum of the theatre, picking out the strange, stylised features of the stage masks they wore in stark white, light and shadow playing across the fixed, painted expressions.

The music picked up its pace as the play approached its end, drums joining the flutes and harps and bells as he listened. The rhythm became insistent, and the dancers drew together, twining their bodies closer and closer together as Maitimo watched from behind, unobserved by the rapt audience. There were no words to this part of the play he knew; no lines or poetry, only music and symbolic motion to tell the love story to its end. He watched as the prince held the princess by the waist and she leaned back, her body curving so that her head nearly touched the ground, taut, strong muscles rippling under the sheer white silks worn by both players. Then, quick as they had come together, they were drawing apart again. Maitimo had seen the play before, and many like it; it was a popular genre, and this was not the first time he had waited backstage for the play to finish so that he could meet Macalaurë on his way out of the orchestra pit. And yet Maitimo could not deny that as he watched the dancers, a certain heat had begun the creep across his skin, and he could feel the accustomed flush rising up his neck and over his pale cheeks.

Suddenly he felt someone tap him on the shoulder, and he whirled around from the gap in the curtains, startled.

“Who are you? And what are you doing here?” the girl hissed, accusatory, but there was laughter in her voice.

“I… I’m watching the play…” he muttered, cringing at the obviousness of his statement.

Frowning, she pressed a finger to her lips and dragged him by the sleeve to a plain backstage corridor where they could talk more easily. The light was different here, the harsh blue-white of lampstones. She wore discrete black, the better to disappear backstage, and she had a round face, brown skin and soft brown eyes. Her unruly mass of curly hair was tied back in a black scarf. Her hair was also light brown, or perhaps dark gold, it was hard to tell in the harsh light.

She was startlingly beautiful, Maitimo found himself thinking, the memory of the players and the dance bright in his mind even as he found his eyes drawn to her full lips. She smiled sidelong up at him, as if she knew full well what was on his mind. “I’ll repeat myself. What are you doing here, apart from getting in the way? You’re clearly not stage crew…” she looked him up and down, her eyes travelling over his white tunic and pale grey breeches. Then she looked up at his copper circlet and grinned. “Well, it seems I’ve caught Prince Nelyafinwë, of all people. Looking for your brother, I suppose?”

“I was” said Maitimo. “But I’m in no hurry. I was most content watching the play.”

“I’ll say…” she seemed amused.

He regarded her curiously. “You know who I am, but I don’t believe we have met…?”

She bowed deeply and – he thought – slightly mockingly. “Mírilindë, of the house of no one in particular. I am a friend of Macalaurë’s though, so I would have expected you to remember me, but no matter.”

“If I met you and did not remember you, I cannot imagine why” said Maitimo hastily. He could feel himself blushing again. “I could not believe I could forget one such as you.”

She smirked. “Well then, it must remain a mystery, I suppose. Still, before the performance Macalaurë told me you would be coming, and to look for you, and tell you to meet him outside the stage door, rather than backstage.”

“So you did know who I was all along?” Maitimo raised an eyebrow, his mouth quirking into a smile. “There are those that might call it dishonest to pretend not to.”

She shrugged. “Never said I didn’t. All I said was that I’d find you and ensure you met up with your brother after he’s finished playing.”

There was a short silence as they looked at each other, their gazes locked together, each with a hint of a challenge in their eyes as the music carried on in the background, faint and distant. The play was nearly over, Maitimo knew. He suddenly realised that they were standing very close together.

“The question is” said Mírilindë, lifting her hand and holding it out palm-first to meet Maitimo’s fingertips, “what shall I do with you in the meantime…?”

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"Ah, Fin" muttered Maitimë, leaning backwards against the trunk of the tree under which they sat as Findekániel straddled her, holding her hands by the wrists to the trunk above her head and kissing her neck and collarbones hungrily. "You don’t know what you do to me. I am all yours."

"I hope so" said Findekániel, her voice breathless between kisses. "I saw the son of some minor lordling or other looking at you as we passed him in the square today. Your dress was starting to slip…" she let go of one of Maitimë’s wrists to playfully slip the dress down off one shoulder "…exposing more of those glorious freckles." She began trailing kisses over the newly exposed skin. "There are whispers that your parents intend for you to marry soon…" Findekániel’s face tipped backwards so that their eyes met and Maitimë drew in a gasp at the sight of their crystalline blue against her golden brown skin, the pupils wide and black despite the brightness of the day "…but they can’t have you. You’re mine. Mine forever."

Maitimë’s mouth quirked into a smile at that. “And what will you do to them that try to take me from you?”

"I will fight them. With my fists and my nails and my teeth if need be" with that she nipped a little at Maitimë’s skin, sending a shiver of pleasure through her, although whether it was that or the mercilessly wicked smile that accompanied it, Maitimë could not say.

"Finnë, sweet Finnë… " she gasped as Findekániel let go of her arms and embraced her tightly, pressing the rough bark of the tree against her back through the linen of her dress. "I never doubted it for a second."

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Lalwendë had often heard it said by people who professed to be wise that there was a time and a place for falling in love, and that the Eldar had a knack for knowing it, for finding the one they wanted when the time was right. Much philosophical and discursive energy had been spent on the finer points of the subject back in Tirion. 

All she knew was that if there was a time and a place to fall in love, this was surely neither.

And yet, here she was, her heart fluttering in her chest and her eyes seeking for a glimpse of silver hair, standing on tiptoe to try to get a look over the heads of the people milling around the camp. The shores of Lake Mithrim, cold and bleak, unremittingly stoney and grey, were surely no place for love to survive and flourish, or even for infatuation to take hold. Grief and death had dogged their every step across the Ice, freezing her heart until it was as numb and invulnerable as a stone. 

Or so she had thought. But that was before a soft-eyed, quiet and solemn young woman had walked into her life, fresh from the destruction of a small Sindarin village east of the lake, and the slaying of her father, its lord. Elenniel and her sister had led a ragged band of refugees to Ñolofinwë, little knowing that the strangers from across the sea had little alms for them. And yet she stayed here, with her people. Elenniel was brown skinned and silver-haired, like most of her people, but something about her made Lalwendë’s heart squeeze in her chest. The ice that had gathered there was beginning, slowly but surely, to thaw. 

"My Lady?" said Elenniel politely. She was taller than Lalwendë, and her wide pale eyes were inquisitive, always seeming to take in more than she gave away. "Are you alright? You seemed positively lost in dreams."

Lalwendë shook her head, slightly. “Why yes. Forgive me, I think I was.”

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She had a balcony, which looked out onto a vast and somewhat needlessly high hall (at least from a purely practical point of view), a great central shaft that connected their city together. It went all the way down, to the bottom of the mountain, and all the great thoroughfares of the city joined to it.

Consequently, when Azaghâl looked down she saw a multitude of bright lights, torches combining to make a light almost as bright as day, but golden and fair as the metallic fruit of the earth whose bounty they harvested with picks and chisels. In torchlight, flickering off carven stone, the precise angular carvings on the walls seeming to pick up the light and dance, mathematical rigidity given life of its own. 

There were people moving below, her people, she could see them picked out as tiny points of light far below, winding their ways along passages and wide galleries, terraces and stairways. 

And then there was pride, rising up through her, warming her; for pride, their people had always held, was the greatest virtue when it was unselfish and stemmed from one’s own creations. It was a virtue of great Mahal himself, Azaghâl had been taught when she was just a little child, the flames dancing in her eyes as she listened to the sacred texts as they were read to her. Pride in one’s creations was the very reason for her people’s existence, but it was more than that; it was a sacred duty.

And so when she looked out from her balcony and saw her people, and felt pride growing in her chest, and love, then she knew that she had done well. They would persist and flourish. They would endure.

Chapter Text

The snow whispered down around him as he trudged through the forest. Sounds were dulled; it was perversely beautiful he thought, in a cruelly soft way. He called their names, over and over, until his throat was raw, but the sounds fell dead into the forest. 

He had sheathed his sword and held a lantern now, his arm growing stiff with cold for every hour he held it aloft. His boots and cloak were soaked and heavy, dragging him downwards, bleeding the hope from him moment by moment. No. Nothing would never wash the blood away. But the thought of the children kept him going. He had to keep trying, he had to keep searching. As long as he kept searching, then maybe there was a chance, maybe there was some hope…

The ghost of his missing hand ached in the cold. He knew it was irrational, selfish almost, and self-centred, designed to quell his own conscience; that two saved children would never make up for uncounted dead, for a tide of blood, soaking the flagstones in the caves… and yet this was something he could do. This kindness, the suffering he endured in the frozen forest, would help some to wash out the memory of the blood that still stained his cloak, would wash out some of the wrongs that he had done, would burn away the memory of his dying little brothers and their bitter tears and curses as their all-too fragile bodies failed and their lives slipped from them. Their blood mingling with the blood of Doriath on the stones.

And yet, he thought, with a hollow, humourless laugh that cut his raw throat with its bitterness, he could not even achieve that much. The twins were lost, as lost as he was. 

Chapter Text

“Atar! Atar!” Findekáno tugged at the hem of Ñolofinwë’s tunic, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Finno!” He bent down so he was level with the child. “What’s that you’ve got there?”

“Look! I drew a picture of you” proudly, Findekáno showed him a crumpled piece of paper, stabbing his finger at it determinedly. “This is you” he pointed at figure scribbled in blue pencil. “And there’s me beside you.”

“It’s lovely Finno” said Ñolofinwë earnestly. “But why did you make my hair yellow? Your uncle Arafinwë has golden hair, but I don’t.”

“It’s not your hair! It’s a crown. I drew you a golden crown, because you would be a much better king that uncle Fëanáro, or even grandfather Finwë.”

“Now now, Finno. Even should your grandfather abdicate, your uncle Fëanáro is still his heir, not me.”

Findekáno shrugged and made a face. “I know that! I just think you would be better. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I wanted another cake yesterday, but Amil said I couldn’t have one, because I had had two already, and stolen another from the pantry. It’s the same with kings.”

With a quiet laugh, Ñolofinwë lifted him in his arms, making Findekáno squeal with joy. Ñolofinwë tried to rearrange his face to look stern. “That was wrong of you, Findekáno. You shouldn’t steal cakes from the pantry. You know better.”

Findekáno’s face fell. “I know. I’m sorry atar.” He looked as though he were about to cry. Then he brightened, his voice hopeful. “But you do like my picture, don’t you?”

“Oh Finno” he stroked the child’s unruly dark curls, and kissed him on the cheek, causing his son’s face to light up in a gap-toothed grin that stretched from ear to ear. “Of course I do.”

Chapter Text

Anairë tutted, as the second comb of the day broke in her daughter’s tangled hair. “Honestly, Irissë, I don’t know how you manage it.”

Irissë looked hurt. “Amil! I don’t do it on purpose, I swear! It’s just what happens in an ordinary day!”

"Is this really what you would call ordinary?” Anairë raised an eyebrow, pulling a twig with several leaves still attached to it from Irissë’s curls, as well as a clump of pine needles, sticky with resin. “You’ve got half the forest in your hair. At this rate there won’t be any left soon. If I don’t decide you can’t go out before that, that is.”

Irissë’s face fell. “I’m sorry Amil. I’ll try to be careful next time. Just don’t keep me shut up in here with Finno and Turno and their boring grown-up brother conversations, and little Arko crying. Please?”

Anairë pulled her daughter swiftly into a hug before settling back and starting on the other side of her hair again. “I don’t think I could stop you even if I wanted to.”

Chapter Text

Findekáno’s new body still felt strange, not quite right, but his little brother’s arms felt exactly as they should. He held Arakáno tightly and tears flowed down both their cheeks as Findekáno whispered meaningless, incoherent things up to the brother that he had missed the longest. 

They drew apart and stared at each other, both taking in the other in silence for a long moment.

"Oh Arko" said Findekáno indistinctly. "You’re real, aren’t you. You’re alive. I was so damn certain I would never be allowed to leave the halls, and never see you again…" he felt a sob hitching in his chest. "I’m sorry I let you die, little brother, I should have been there, I should have been fighting beside you - "

"Finno. Listen. None of it matters anymore. Amil was driving herself to distraction, she also thought you would never be let out, because of…" he tailed off, his face twisting with painful memory. But suddenly he grinned. "Finno, you don’t know how much I wish I could have seen you being a king! And I hear you actually did something valiant to match your epithet, several times over in fact!"

"Well I suppose I can claim that at least." Findekáno grimaced. "But I fear I didn’t achieve much as king. Other than to die."

"Have you forgotten who you’re talking to?"

"Arko don’t, it’s not funny."

Arakáno’s face went grave. “I know. I’m sorry. We missed you, Finno. Know that we missed you.”

Chapter Text

Her father’s people were dying all around her. 

Or rather, she realised, her own people were dying around her, of those scant few that had escaped the slaughter that had been the first orc raid. Her father had been amongst the dead, and her brother.

She was the only one left to lead the people now, and if they were to die then she would die fighting right beside them. She seized the great horn at her belt and blew a long blast, echoing amongst the rock scree-slopes, and threw the horn aside. Then she drew her heavy longsword, and with a cry that burned through her, she charged at the advancing orcs.

Chapter Text

Maitimo stood up from where he had been sunning himself on the river bank, letting his hair and skin dry after their earlier swim, and let out a yelp of protest. “Findekáno, what do you think you’re doing?”

Findekáno grinned cheerfully, treading water and swimming against the current. “Stealing you clothes. And mine, for that matter. Or rather, I mean to say, they fell in the river. Somehow.” He shrugged apologetically. His tone was regretful, but his smile was the most self-satisfied that Maitimo had ever seen. “We can’t possible put them back on now. What a shame.”

"Alright Fin, that’s it, I’m coming to get you…" Maitimo took a running jump into the centre of the river, splashing Findekáno thoroughly. Findekáno splashed him back, then ducked below the surface and rose, laughing and spluttering, to push Maitimo’s head under the water. They broke the surface wound in each other’s arms, their hair mingling in the water around their shoulders as they kissed, paddling with their feet to stay afloat even as the slow, lazy current carried them down the river. 

Suddenly, Maitimo looked up. “Fin… where are our clothes…?”

They both looked at the cluster of rocks in the shallows where the bundle of their clothes had been wedged, half in and half out of the water. Had been. Now there were only the rocks.

Maitimo followed Findekáno’s gaze downstream, to where a colourful spot could just be seen in the middle distance, making its way alone down the river. 

Chapter Text

Fëanáro was too often alone in the palace these days. Or perhaps alone was not quite the word for it, he thought; there were servants, councillors, lords and ladies, as many as their ever were, and yet the halls felt wide and empty.

Finwë was often away, since his mother had gone. He did not tell his son where he went, but Fëanáro knew. Sometimes he took Fëanáro with him to the gardens, but more often he left him behind, to save him some pain, Fëanáro supposed. 

That was worse. Fëanáro would curl up in the corner of his room, his knees up to his chin, and close his eyes, trying to make himself as small as possible. He would wrap himself in his embroidered blanket that still smelled of her. Perhaps, he thought sometimes, if he were to curl up so small that he disappeared then all of this would be undone. If his life had drained hers away - as the servants whispered when they thought he couldn’t hear them or that he was too young to understand - then maybe if he shrank down to nothing then she would come back, his life would seep back into her. That if he simply vanished into nothingness then maybe she would wake again.

She never did.

Chapter Text

Nerdanel drew off the dust sheet, giving the centre piece of her exhibition a final look over from every angle as it stood on its plinth, in pride of place in the great courtyard gallery. She felt joy well up inside her; she knew what they would say, they would ask “what is it supposed to be?”, “why does it not look like anything?”, but she cared little for such words. She ran a hand over the lovingly smoothed curves of the stone, for she knew every detail of its surface well, she had carved them with her own hands. 

If they asked what it was, she had decided, she would not tell them. It is what you want it to be. It is abstract, it is pure thought made stone. But Nerdanel knew what she thought it was. In her head, the large, curving block of stone curled around the smaller could never be anything else but a mother, protecting her child. 

And yet, she would never tell them that. They must work it out for themselves, or simply ascribe their own meaning to it. She smiled a little, looking at her lesser sculptures that lined the edges of the room, with certainty in her, the certainty that comes when an artist knows that they have made something truly great. 

Nerdanel took a deep breath, and opened the doors. 

 

Chapter Text

Tyelperinquar knew every sloping passage, every tunnel, every broad gallery or narrow spiral in the outer wall of Formenos. He took pride in it, and when no one was looking he would even suck in his breath and clamber out of a window. All the passages were cut from a sheer wall of living rock, a cliff that fell down vertically all the way to the valley far below. Sometimes he clung to a little ledge and simply stared out, marvelling at the smallness of it all, laid out before him, watching the tiny figures coming and going through the main gates of the great mountain stronghold. Here they were safe, and yet he gloried in the danger of it, the thrill coursing through him even as he climbed and the wind whipped at his hair, stinging his eyes and chilling his fingers. 

He never fell. He was quick and small, his feet sure and nimble. No one, he vowed, would ever know about this. Tyelperinquar had never had a secretbefore; it was hard to keep secrets in this family, and besides he had never had anything to keep to himself until now.

And yet here on the ledges and crannies of the rock, when all the family was busy, in conference, or his mother and his father were arguing (they did that a lot these days, and whenever he heard their voices raised he would long for the outside air on his face, the feeling of being up high, of the cold wind and the thrill of sharp, delicious dizziness as he looked down into the half-darkness, rather than their voices echoing and rattling in his head) he would seek solitude. When his uncles shouted at each other - or rather their voices were not raised, but were still sharp as blades, the tension thick in the air. Or whenever something he had made came out twisted and wrong, whenever his handwriting sloped and caused his father to press his lips together and sigh, whenever he broke something, then he would come out to the cliff face, to set the fires of danger burning in his blood once more, hardening him to go back and face them all again. 

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Nerdanel smoothed the front of Fëanáro’s formal robes, eyeing his braids critically and placing one over his shoulder, before brushing his hair back. "I never thought I’d see the day when you’d agree to become part of the establishment."

He grimaced. “I am a prince, I am already part of the establishment. Besides, a seat at the Tirion Royal Institution of Ingenuity and Invention will allow me to work with people with reputations" he spoke the word with distaste. He sighed, before his mouth quirked up into a sudden smile. "Oh, who am I trying to deceive… I’m only taking up the position because your father and Aulë were so keen that I do so, and because it is a tiresome but necessary part of being taken seriously in this intellectually stifling city. I don’t think I shall be able to stand much actual collaboration before it gets to me."

Nerdanel smiled wryly. “There it is. Just make sure you don’t say that at your inauguration ceremony.”

"I’ll try to restrain myself." He winked, pulling Nerdanel into his arms. "I have something even better planned for my speech, but you’ll have to wait and see."

She laughed. “I hate to think.”

He kissed her forehead, passionate but careful not to muss the elaborate braids he had put into her hair for the ceremony and the reception afterwards. 

"Fëanáro" she said, suddenly serious although she still held him in her arms. "There will be a lot of people there tonight who hate you."

"Those people that hate me also use a writing system of my own invention." He feigned deep contemplation. "Also, the lamps in the hall… and hmm, I think the statues might be the work of my startlingly talented wife, you know…"

Nerdanel was laughing again. “Alright! Fine. Just don’t say anything too…”

"Controversial? Nel, I would never put you or your father in a position like that. I promise." He kissed her once more, and then drew back, standing up in mock pomposity and offering her an arm. "Now, my sweet… shall we…?"

Chapter Text

Carnistir hammered on the door with his fists. “Nelyo, let me in! I’m bored!” When he received no answer he gave the door a kick, hopping on the other leg and cursing violently. 

"He’s not in" came a placid voice from behind him. He turned, scowling, to see Macalaurë standing there with an armful of papers, looking mildly amused. 

"Yes, I can see that" snapped Carnistir. "Macalaurë, I’m bored!"

"Oh, Valar save us all" Macalaurë rolled his eyes. "Well, you could do my music theory assignment for me if you want… or you could be my ink-pot refiller, if you like that better…"

"Fuck you! You used to be fun!"

"Don’t let Amil here you cursing" chided Macalaurë. "And anyway, I was never fun. You’re imagining things, I was always profoundly boring. Now will you leave me alone?"

"Where’s Tyelko?"

"Hunting with Atar and Nelyo, I would imagine."

"Amil?"

"Working."

Carnistir gave a huff of frustration and kicked the wall once more. “I’m bored. And hungry” he added, as an afterthought.

Macalaurë sighed deeply. “Alright. If I make you something to eat, will you promise to stop trying to kick holes in the house?”

Carnistir grinned. “I think we can come to a deal on that.”

Chapter Text

"My King."

Turgon whipped around at the sound of the voice, startled, but then relaxed as he recognised the two figures in the door, one tall and broad chested and golden-haired, the other slighter and darker. “What’s it like out there?” Turgon could not keep the weariness from his voice.

Ecthelion grimaced as Turgon stood up and crossed the room to him, clasping hands between them. “Little has changed since before we let you sleep. The city is still half in disarray with all those who were wounded in the battle, and our losses were… severe. Although the situation is better than immediately after the host arrived back, many did not return, and the families of those slain have come out into the streets.” He shook his head, looking pained. “There is panic. Grief and despair.”

"Listen" said Glorfindel. They all listened to the peals of bells all across the city, ringing off the stone streets and courtyards. They mourned for Fingon and his people as well as those of Gondolin, for a fallen king, for the city’s proud host slain or scattered or limping back… Turgon pinched the bridge of his nose, pushing the memory of his brother’s face away for the moment, for he could not afford to fall into that dark place, not now. "Thank you. I shall go out into the streets again, and see how it is for myself."

Ecthelion looked concerned, holding one of Turgon’s hands while Glorfindel held the other. “You’ve barely slept. Are you sure…”

Turgon was sure of nothing, and it showed, he realised despairingly. “Yes” he said, trying to keep the tremor from his voice. “I am their king, I must be there for my people.”

"But first" said Glorfindel, "you must strengthen yourself. I know we cannot bring your brother back to you, but…" he gestured at himself and Ecthelion. "Perhaps - "

"I think he means it would help you to talk, old friend" said Ecthelion, smiling sadly. "If only for a little while."

Turgon looked up into the faces of his Lords, captains and friends. “Yes” he said at last. “Yes I think it would.”

Chapter Text

Annatar ran long fingers along the taut chain that held one of Celebrimbor’s wrists to the wall, before returning to toying with the curved, serrated blade he held. “Now” he said in a leisurely tone. “They tell me you haven’t been… cooperating” - he touched the chain that held Celebrimbor’s other arm, bouncing his fingers playfully up and down and snickering to himself, before stroking the place where the iron collar about Celebrimbor’s throat met his skin - “and I thought, perhaps, I should pay you a personal visit. Between friends, you know.”

Celebrimbor gritted his teeth, refusing to meet Annatar’s gaze despite the finger that was lifting his chin, gently but firmly. No, he thought. I will not tell you anything. Whatever you do to me. Images swam unbidden into his mind, of his uncle Maedhros, brought back from Angband twisted and bleeding and missing a hand, the scars that remained engraved across his face his whole life. Of Gwindor, his friend. Of all the others with that haunted look in their eyes, ragged stumps of limbs, chunks of flesh missing. And those were the ones who had survived. A shudder ran through him.

"Recalling your dear uncle?" purred Annatar. "Oh! And that one from Nargothrond, who got away. You knew him, did you not?" He smiled indulgently. "I’ll tell you who did not get away. Sweet, golden Felagund. Would you like to hear how he fought? Would you like to hear about all the pain he endured, needlessly?" Annatar placed the flat tip of the blade against the soft skin just below Celebrimbor’s eye. "But then again, none of them were worth half as much as you are." Celebrimbor’s felt the metal warming in contact with his skin. "None of them had a piece of information as… precious as that which you withhold from me.” Annatar tapped Celebrimbor’s temple with a fingertip. “How much easier just to give in now, and save yourself the pain. All you have to do is tell me… what did you do with the Three…?”

Celebrimbor clamped his mouth closed obstinately, but his mind was churning, with something absurdly like hope. He cannot access my mind, he realised. He has not the skill to look into a fëa such as mine, so instead he must use threats and manipulation. I have found his weakness. It was at that moment he decided; he would not say a single word, whatever pain was inflicted on him, whatever blood he shed, for that information was keeping him alive.

And even there in that moment, Celebrimbor smiled.

Chapter Text

Tyelperinquar slipped in and out of dreams, tossing in fitful sleep.

His mother was on a ship. He watched from the sea cliffs, waving his hand to her as the sailors moved past her, on the deck where she stood watching him silently; they swarmed over the rigging, the ship starting to pull away from the harbour. But something was wrong, he realised; the sailors were too pale, and their throats were all slashed and bloody, their mouths grinning and gaping at him, and at her.

He felt himself try to shout, but no sound came. He tried to run to the ship, but he felt his father’s hand in his, tugging him back. He did not even know how he knew it was his father, but he did. His father was always there. Or was it his grandfather? Suddenly a sheet of flame sprang up in his path, smoke filling his eyes and nose… he could not see her anymore, and all around him was smoke, flame, and silver metal… 

Tyelperinquar started fully awake, biting back a sob as his eyes sprang open. He listened to his heart pound for a while, letting the realisation that it had only been a dream wash over him. It brought him little comfort. After a while his head cleared a little and he realised that he was simply cold, drenched in a layer of icy sweat. It was always cold in these new lands, and the small fire had long ago burned down to nothing. Tyelperinquar tugged his furs closer about himself, but it only exposed his feet to the air, making him shiver convulsively. Gritting his teeth, he climbed out of bed, wincing as his feet touched the cold floor, quickly slipping on his shoes and wrapping himself in a blanket. He poked at the fire idly, deciding it could wait until morning.

Instead he picked up his lampstone, the one in the finely-wrought bronze holder that he had brought with him from Formenos. The one that his mother had always placed by his bed because they had been far from the Trees, and Tyelperinquar had been afraid of the dark.

He was no longer afraid of the dark. But he seized the lampstone in both hands, clutching it until the holder’s sharp edges bit into the flesh of his palms. He took off his shoes and got back into bed, pulling the furs up over his head and curling himself into a tight ball, staring into that blue-white light until his eyes stung, pretending that was why his cheeks were wet with tears.

Chapter Text

The autumn wind always held a bite of cold in Eregion, but today Celebrimbor barely felt it as he let himself out of his workshop, though it stirred his cloak and tugged at his hair. His heart lifted as he squeezed his hand closed about the three rings he held there, euphoria bearing him up on a rising swell.

He walked through the streets of his city as though in a dream, revelling in the feeling of the metal against his palm. They were finished. This was it, this was to be his masterpiece, his greatest work… with the power of these rings he could help, he could do what he had been trying to do all along. He could save, he could protect and preserve… there would be no more of those he loved sent off to die, he could keep them safe.

He looked down at his hands, one clasped tight, one open. Both were callused and rough, a craftsman’s hands. Celebrimbor lightly touched the eight-pointed star that pinned his cloak at the shoulder. This, surely, was what my skill was given to me for, he thought. This is why I had to stay. To redeem my father, my uncles, my grandfather. To not repeat the mistakes of the past. But more than that, so much more… to make a better world, for all of us. 

Chapter Text

"A… a baby?" Turukáno’s eyes were wide, and he held Elenwë’s hands in his own. "Elenwë, truly? You’re certain…?"

"I’m certain" she said quietly, running a hand over her stomach. She half smiled. "Turno, say something."

"I…" he stood gaping at her for a long moment, before his face split into a huge smile and he pulled her into his arms, kissing her as though she were a delicate, breakable thing. He pulled back to stare at her, placing a tentative hand on her stomach, still flat for the moment. "Elenwë…" he let out a little, breathless laugh of disbelief.

She cupped his cheek and laughed herself, feeling tears in her eyes. “Oh Turno. You should have seen your face a moment ago. You looked like you would collapse from shock, right where you stood. Or run away.”

"Never" he said, grinning and shaking his head. He leaned forward and and their brows touched in the space between them. "Never, ever."

Chapter Text

The world had unfolded from their voices then, though their memories of it were indistinct at best, and the term “memories” did not quite seem to fit. It was more, they each thought, that the song was still going on, the process still unfolding. 

They had started the same, the two bright brothers, but walked two different paths. 

Their songs had twined around each other to begin with, Manwë trying to wrap his clear, high, ringing voice around Melkor’s, trying to restrain him a little lest he disrupt the melody, lest he disappoint Father… he had been trying to help, he thought bitterly, sometimes.

Melkor was free of his brother’s well-meaning trammels now, or so he liked to think. 

But truly, it was not the case. The song of creation never stopped, though all thought it had, and ever their voices twisted and ensnared each other, tantalising and feinting and moving away at the last minute, letting the creations of their Father dance like notes on a stave, like puppets on strings, as they played their never-ending game. 

Chapter Text

Nienna asks many things of her brothers. 

She asks Námo to let he speak with the pale grey fëar, wracked by pain and fear, shocked and confused into silence, newly come in from the battlefields across the sea. She frees their voices, or at least sometimes she can, by speaking to them, by letting the tears they cannot cry fall from her own eyes, even as her brother looks on, shaking his head. It is not enough, she knows. But it is all she can do.

Námo watches over the spirits of the dead, but he doesn’t really know them. Not like she does. 

There are those, of course - and some among the living, too - that do not want her pity, that will not let her share their burden but curl their spirit-flesh away from her, hiding in a protective ball of pain and hard, frozen stasis to keep her out. 

She wishes she could help them too.

Even the dead dream though, and she has another brother who can help with that.

Irmo sends them dreams at her bidding sometimes - the living too, sending them visions of what may befall them so as to warn them, not that many of them heed the warnings - and she tries to make sure, at least, that the most battle-scarred and fragile of the spirits are sent only soft and gentle dreams.

It is a process; they try different types of dreams, see which of the wounded fëar become whole again. If it doesn’t work, if it only causes pain, they try something new. 

Neither she nor her brothers truly know what will heal them. 

But one day, she hopes that they will get a little closer to finding out.

Chapter Text

They have few mirrors at Lake Mithrim; their camp is too new, and mirrors are luxury items. 

He is glad of this. 

He fears looking in the mirror and seeing his father’s face looking back at him; the grief is still too near, too raw.

Many years later, he looks in the tall mirror in the rooms he had been given in Nargothrond, inspecting his face in minute detail. He looks different, in small, subtle ways. His face is a little more angular, paler than he had ever been in Aman, due to the dimmer light he supposes. He has a few battle scars, though not as many as some. His hair is shorter, and he wears hunting garb - his brother and he often go out hunting the wolves of the enemy these days - more than he does his work clothes or the stiff embroidered velvets favoured by the court.

He wonders how his father would have changed, had he lived. 

What would have happened, if Fëanor had led them still? What would be different?

He has no answers to that question, but when he looks in the mirror, his father’s face lingers in his mind long after he turns his eyes away. 

Chapter Text

“Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2AM?” Fingon narrowed his eyes, taking in the beakers and papers that surrounded his brother. He raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that the stuff they use to knock people out, for anaesthetic? Are you sure you should be - ”

But his brother was apparently not listening. “I can’t believe you would think that of me!” Turgon drew a frustrated hand through his hair. “I’m using it as a solvent, it’s for my experimental assignment for mistress Amatelië” Turgon stared blearily up at his brother from his desk. He slammed his fist down on the corner of the table. “But it’s not working right! I think I’m doing something wrong…”

Fingon shrugged his shoulders. “Well, don’t ask me brother, I steered clear all of mistress Amatelië’s classes after that unfortunate incident with the sodium and the royal fountain.” He patted his brother genially on the shoulder. “I’m going to bed now. See you in the morning.”

“Goodnight” said Turgon distractedly, peering sleepily back at his notes. “Close the door behind you!” he snapped. “I don’t want father and mother to know I’ve left this so late…”

The next morning, Fingon knocked on the door with some trepidation. “Turno?”

There was no answer.

Frowning, he nudged open the door to be confronted with a strong, overpoweringly sweet smell. He coughed a little, covering his mouth and nose, before gasping. “Turno!”

His brother was lying asleep on the floor, with the remains of a smashed flask beside him. Fingon gritted his teeth, throwing wide the window and bracing himself to lift Turgon in his arms. “You idiot” he muttered. “Did you really, honestly not expect that something like this would happen?”

Chapter Text

“No” Maeglin said, through gritted teeth. The heavy chains loosely strung from the manacles at his wrists clanked against the floor where they pooled in steel coils, weighing him down, weak as he was. He tried to raise his arms, to cover his face. To hide her from his sight. “No, you’re not real, you’re dead…” he was half sobbing the words now, curled into a tight ball. “You’re not real, it’s not you, mother, it’s just another vision sent by… by him.”

She said nothing. Perhaps she couldn’t speak at all, Maeglin thought, as he gazed at the outline of his mother, her white dress standing out pale in the dim, milky light filtering into his cell from the tiny window, high above. 

She said nothing still, but that was almost worse. 

“No” said Maeglin, trying to force conviction into his voice. “No, it’s not you, it’s him, it’s just him again…”

But he could feel his resolve slipping, even as he reached out for her, his chains and the weakness in his muscles making every motion an effort. “Mother…” he rasped. “If… if that is you…” he faltered. “Forgive me. I should have done more, I should have saved you, I should have…” he felt tears on his face, blinding him and blurring her image before him.

Still, she said nothing, merely looked at him with her sad, dark eyes. 

Chapter Text

Elrond had known this was coming, for many years now. Elros had chosen mortality; the future had been set long ago.

That choice had been made back when they were young and knew little of the world.

Still, Elrond supposed that even if Elros had known more, then he would not have chosen differently. 

Elrond wondered if he himself would have chosen otherwise, if he knew what it would be to face all the long ages of this world without his brother, without his mirror who had been there for longer than he could remember. 

Many others had left them, slipped away into the dark or been consumed by the fire, but Elros had always been there. 

He gazed up at the brightest star in the sky, blazing in the dark. Elros would never meet him in the Halls, he knew, would never sit with him in the golden land in the West. They were divided forever. He stared and stared up at that bright star, until it passed away beyond the horizon, and he was left quite alone.

Chapter Text

Findekáno, for his part, was rarely one to feel conflicted. 

And yet the sight of his tall, beautiful cousin with his curtain of red hair tousled, his eyes bright and his cheeks flushed, was enough to make him feel so, given the circumstances. 

Maitimo had had quite a lot to drink, that was plain, and for one who was so reserved and proper this was quite out of character.

(Not that Findekáno could claim that he had never imagined or experienced a scenario else in which Maitimo had looked quite so beautifully dishevelled.)

Maitimo dropped an elaborate courtly bow before him, a lopsided smile on his face, and swept Findekáno’s hand to his mouth to kiss it. His lips were warm against the backs of Findekáno’s fingers. “Fair one, will you do me the honour of a dance?” He produced a flower from Findekáno knew not where. Perhaps he just keeps them on his person for charming people beyond sense or reason at the drop of a hat, thought Findekáno dimly, in the small part of his mind that was not fixed on Maitimo. 

“Maitimo” said Findekáno. “You fool, we’re in the middle of the street at night. It’s not really the place for dancing…”

“Ha!” said Maitimo, taking Findekáno’s hand and sweeping him around by the waist, catching him up in his arms. He swayed a little, but he seemed happy enough. “As if you are one to lecture me on where it is appropriate to dance or not. Remember last year, when you took of all your clothes and danced on the - ”

Enough” interrupted Findekáno firmly, and not without a little alarm. Unwillingly, he removed Maitimo’s arm from around his waist, lest someone see them, propping him up by the shoulder instead. This, however, gave him an ideal point at which to whisper in Maitimo’s ear as they began to walk. “Talking of appropriate dancing locations though… I know one where we would certainly be unlikely to be spotted.”

Maitimo’s eyes sparkled. “Lead on, sweet prince of mine.”

Chapter Text

“Arafinwë…” Ñolofinwë seemed lost for words, his eyes flickering over his younger brother’s face. He seemed to lose his balance for a moment, and then catch it again, in the way that the newly re-embodied often did. “Arafinwë” said Ñolofinwë again, his face filled with a strange mixture of emotions. Then, to Arafinwë’s surprise, tears started at the corners of his eyes. “I’m so sorry” he burst out, covering his face with his hands. “Your sons… I was supposed to protect them for you, and I let them die, I let them suffer under the Curse…”

It was a thought that had occurred to Arafinwë too, many times over all those long years after he had heard the news of Aikanáro and Angaráto’s deaths, and then Findaráto’s, which had been particularly cruel it was said. In the nights, for all those years, blame had crept up within him, raising its ugly head at his brother, far away across the sea. You led them across the Ice, brother. They followed you, and you were supposed to keep them safe. You let them die.

And yet, seeing Ñolofinwë with his head bowed before him, his face raw and vulnerable with the knowledge that he did not deserve his younger brother’s forgiveness, Arafinwë felt his treacherous heart soften.

“It’s… it’s alright, brother” he said falteringly, feeling the anger of all those years suddenly slipping through his fingers like sand. With only a little hesitation, he laid a hand on Ñolofinwë’s chin, bringing his head up so meet his eyes. “Everything will…” he swallowed, and took a slow breath, “everything will be alright.”

The sheer relief that passed over Ñolofinwë’s face even at those few hesitant words - based as they were on so little - amazed even Arafinwë himself. “Thank you, little brother” said Ñolofinwë, taking him in his arms in a shaky hug. Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Nerdanel stared at the small pile of stones that he had placed in her hands, one eyebrow raised. “You mean to tell me that the great and reknowned Prince Curufinwë Fëanáro, the most promising young jewelsmith that Tirion has ever seen and the most skilled of my father’s pupils, would present his almost-betrothed with a gift of a pile of rocks?”

“I collected them on my latest trip out into the mountains” said Fëanáro, unconcernedly. “I know you care little and less for jewels, but you do find stone samples interesting. And I know you’d never look at such a rich variety of ores and see a mere pile of rocks. Thus you are clearly only testing me.”

A small smile played about her mouth. “And you are under the impression that you passed this test?”

“I thought that we could go there to quarry them together next time.”

She sighed, in mock resignation. “How appallingly well you know me.”

Chapter Text

“I think” Tuor said, holding both of Idril’s hands in his own “that I have to leave. And that it has to be now, if it is to be ever.”

She nodded. “Is it the sea?”

“Yes. It’s always been calling to me, I suppose.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, before opening them again. “You know that I am coming with you, don’t you?”

For a moment he looked surprised, and seemed about to protest, but then he smiled. “I suppose I knew that too.” He hesitated for a moment. “Eärendil…”

She sighed, true sadness in her voice now. “He’ll be alright, I think.”

Chapter Text

“I am so sorry, my lady! Please excuse my clumsiness.”

“Please, let me help, my lord!”

The two people who had collided with each other beneath the arch of the palace’s inner courtyard gate did not recognise each other at first, each apologising profusely as they struggled to clamber upright and smooth out their stiff, elaborate formal wedding robes as the clamour of the immediate preparation for a royal wedding flowed about them. But when they had both got to their feet and extricated themselves from folds and tangles, their eyes met, and they both gasped. 

“Elenwë…?”

“Turno! I didn’t recognise - ”

Turukáno’s face began to flush red. “We shouldn’t have seen each other…”

“…on the morning of our wedding…” Elenwë was blushing too, her eyes never leaving her soon-to-be husband. “But Turukáno, you look…”

“Beautiful” he breathed, taking in Elenwë’s braided hair, her wedding circlet and other ceremonial jewellery. He blushed fiercely once more, backing off slightly. “Let’s just pretend this didn’t happen!” he blurted. 

She nodded, determinedly. “We never saw each other.”

“We were never even here.”

“No one need know.”

And with that, they both turned on their heel and strode off, in entirely the wrong directions.

Chapter Text

He fiddled with the dial of the transmitter, pulling his headset down over his ears, then placed his hands gently over the ship’s antiquated controls. “This is Maglor Fëanorion, transmitting from orbit around Hithlum. This will be my final transmission; may it go out to the stars and the ages.”

Chapter Text

“What I’m saying” said Galineth, her one finger raised, to tap decisively at her pencil diagram on the page, “is that is the path doesn’t actually matter… it takes the same amount of work to get from point A to point B,whichever path you take. It’s not true for every field, but it’s a property of this particular field, as I’ve defined it.” She smiled brightly, “which I can easily do here, if I so choose.”

Chapter Text

Ambarto’s face - and his mind - had been closed to Ambarussa for once, as they had parted; perhaps that should have set off a warning, he thought later, a thousand variations of it chasing each other around his head. He should have thought, he should have known, but always his brother had been his mirror, the lines between them fluid, even. 

Yet mirrors, as all knew, he thought regretfully when he was all alone in the dark, did not only reflect; they also reversed. 

Chapter Text

She is restless in Aman, hungry for more than the languid summer heat of the streets of Tirion, though when those streets begin to boil with the great unrest it is enough to take the edge of the unbearable stasis. 

She learns to fight, and as her body becomes strong, agile, moving in tandem with her the bright arc of her sword she thinks that she was born for this, perhaps; yet still it is not enough.

When she follows the sons of Fëanor to the new lands, she tells no one but she thinks to herself that she would have paid any price to break out of that stifling land, and that she will follow them to the very ends of the world and the Void beyond.

Chapter Text

Celebrimbor sees the way Maeglin looks over the edge of the walls of the Caragdûr, sees how the fall beckons to him, almost. Maeglin himself never told Celebrimbor of his father, but he has heard the story in snatches, whispers and rumours that follow the king’s nephew like smoke. And Celebrimbor understands this, knows what it is to be spoken of in fading whispers, to live one’s life in the shadow of one’s father, and so he never says anything to Maeglin, never mentions the abyss before his feet until it is far, far too late. 

Chapter Text

Fëanáro would have made a speech, if it were him, is all that Ñolofinwë can think, as he places a lit torch on the pyre of his youngest son. But here, all is silence, save for the howling of the wind over the frozen tundra, the battlefield that had greeted them even as they left the ice-desert behind. His other children, all his people, stand in silence all around, and he realises that for all the deaths that have gone before, he has no words for this.

Chapter Text

“My lady, I don’t think this is the way to Barad Eithel… shouldn’t we stop and ask for directions?” Glorfindel was struggling to unfold the map and keep it from blowing around in the wind.

“Well, if I didn’t know the way, that might be a good idea.” Aredhel turned in the saddle and smiled innocently at him. “Oh, also that would require that I ever had any intention of going to Barad Eithel in the first place.”

She had already turned around to look down the road ahead, so she didn’t see the map blow away as he smacked in forehead in frustration. 

Chapter Text

“Please…” Fingon’s voice was tearing at the edges as he reached up to touch Maedhros’ cheek, keeping him from turning away, “please, Maitimo… I just need you to tell me that you won’t ride off to die somewhere, and leave me behind.”

“There’s a chance we all might die” said Maedhros with a sigh, “we’re fighting a war here, and the situation looks worse by the - ”

“Maitimo… stop it. Not now, not so soon, please, I just want to hear you say it…”

“Fin, you know I would never leave you like that, and if you don’t believe it yet, I’ll even swear it.” He smiled, lifting Fingon’s chin in his hand with a grim smile. “And if there’s one thing I am bound to, it’s keeping my promises.”

Chapter Text

A hero, everyone is calling him; the rumours have run all up and down the shore of the lake, of his daring rescue, of his goodness, of his selfless heroism. 

Fingon, for his part, doesn’t think they could be farther from the truth. 

He felt cruel, all the while; he had felt cruel when he had ignored Maedhros’ pleading to take his life, cruel while he listened to Maedhros’ thin, weak keening screams as Fingon had cut through flesh and bone. Cruel as he forced Maedhros to eat and drink, despite his protests. He felt cruel when Maedhros woke, screaming in the night, only to scream louder at the sight of Fingon’s face. No. It’s not you, it’s him again, it’s always him. Make it stop. Please, end it now. Maedhros’ cries cut into him like knives as the truth of them set into Fingon’s mind, inescapable. Was even showing his face to Maedhros an act of cruelty now, if the Dark One had used Fingon’s image to torment him? Fingon thought perhaps it was.

And yet, he could not leave his cousin behind. That was the truth, and though it felt - at this time - like one cruelty after another, Fingon knew now, what he was waiting for. 

The day when it felt as though the sum of an endless stream of cruelties came to a kindness… that, he knew, would be the day he had truly brought Maedhros back. 

Chapter Text

“Eärendil, my love, please, I’m begging you…” there were tears in her eyes as she said the words, and she clasped his hands so tightly in her own, never wanting to let them go, “….don’t leave me here in this world on my own.”

“You would have me choose the immortal life of the Eldar? Against what my heart tells me?”

“Your heart truly tells you to follow your father’s people?” it was barely a question, the words spoken more to herself than to him as the full implications of what would happen if he chose mortal life - a mere candle’s flicker of a life, before the long, long dark - began to fully sink into her mind. “But doesn’t…” she swallowed, almost not wanting to hear the answer, “…doesn’t your heart also call out to mine?”

He looked stricken as he stared back at her, clasping her hands fiercely back in return. She felt that gaze like a knife twisting in her chest; every moment spent with him precious suddenly, a scant commodity. “Of… of course it does, but…”

“Then why not choose life! Why would anyone choose to die?” she burst out, more sharply than she had intended. “The Valar have given you a task, if you should accept it. It wouldn’t be such a bad way to live, would it?”

“N-no, but…” he was frowning. No, let him see, let him understand… “You could take it” he said, placing her hands gently over the Silmaril that lay still clasped about her throat. “The Valar would give the same task to you, if you wanted it.”

For a moment she was speechless. “I… Eärendil, don’t you see? I don’t care about the task. Or… I do, but…” she ran her fingers over the surface of the bright Silmaril, feeling a little dizzy, tears starting in her eyes once more, “I say I do, but really, all I care about is you! I want you to live. That’s all that matters, all that’s important…” Please. Just let him live. She had had to endure her brothers’ death, her mother’s, her father’s, even Beren and Lúthien, who she had always been told were figures of legend, nigh invincible. They had all died, and then the red slaughter and fire had come to the Haven, and it was her own fault, however Eärendil tried to tell her it wasn’t. And now their sons were very probably dead too, sweet, gentle Elrond and bright, curious Elros, seized by the cruel sons of Fëanor. 

Her fault

But she wouldn’t let it take him. She would give herself first, though the thought of leaving him to spend an eternity alone seemed yet another cruelty. 

Still, it was all a non-question, anyway; she knew there was no way she could offer her life for his. That wasn’t how the world worked. All she could do was try to persuade him to live. She lifted her hand to his chest, feeling his heartbeat there. “Please, Eärendil. Please live. For me.” Was she being cruel? Was she manipulating him? At that moment, the thought barely touched her mind before it had been driven out; she was too desperate to care. A terrible fear had been ignited anew in her, the old fear that everyone would leave her alone, one by one, as they always had. 

His heart beat beneath her hand though, for now at least. “I love you, Eärendil. You are all I have… if you love me, then live. That’s… that’s all I ask.”

“Elwing…” he looked back into her eyes for a long, long moment in which she barely breathed, feeling as though her own heart was slowing to a stop as she searched his eyes - as turquoise-blue as the harbour at the Haven, where each day he had stood and stared out at the sea - for some sign, yet she could read nothing there. Finally he sighed. 

Elwing prepared for the worst. 

“Elwing.” He took a deep breath. “Of course I will stay in this world with you.” And with that, he clasped her very close in his arms, taking her by surprise. Tears of joy and sorrow and disbelief ran down her cheeks, as his golden hair tickled her face. “After all, I love and adore you more than any light of the Valar, and you shine brighter than any star. Let us blaze across this dark sky together, while this world lasts.”

She could only laugh through her tears, holding the Silmaril out to him, inclining her head a little. “Good. Then…” she took a deep breath. “Let us begin.”

Chapter Text

“You do know this is almost certainly a trap?”

“Of course I know that, Macalaurë” said Maitimo, stopping short and turning back to his brother. “Does a simple parley really sound like something the Dark One would do? He’ll have a full fighting force hidden where the valley turns, just out of sight around the bend in the river here…” he turned to the map table and pointed at the new, neatly inked map of the long expanse of Lake Mithrim and the surrounding lands. “And Tyelko suspects there might be another company hidden over the ridge. I’m inclined to agree with him.”

Macalaurë narrowed his eyes. “Forgive me if I’m missing something here… but isn’t this just asking to get yourself killed?” His voice had been sharp a moment before but now it softened. “Father wouldn’t want that, Maitimo. Even when…” he hesitated. “He never intended to ask that of any of us.”

Maitimo blinked and frowned. “This isn’t about Father, and it’s not about what he wanted” he said tightly. “Macalaurë, don’t you see? It’s about our people, and doing what is best for them. It’s aboutpeace, even if it’s only a temporary peace, some uneasy truce or other.”

“Moringotto will try to trick you at every turn.”

“Two can play at that game… when it comes to making deals, you know I can give as good as I get. It’s not like I don’t have experience.”

“With Grandfather’s insipid courtiers, not the Dark Vala!” Macalaurë threw up his hands in exasperation. “Maitimo, walking into this trap hoping to get something out of it is reckless. You know it is.”

“Not necessarily. And if there’s the slightest chance of ending this - even gaining back one Silmaril, for now, with which to bring light back to our people - before anyone else dies, then I would walk into a thousand traps. I’m in a good position in that I know it’s a trap - ”

“This is hardly a good position - ”

“ - and so I’m bringing a company of my best and most loyal soldiers. We fought them before and won, remember? Tyelko’s cavalry chased them off down the river into the marshes. If it all goes bad, we can do it again.” He met his brother’s sceptical gaze squarely. “Don’t look like that. It’s worth the risk. Besides, it’s my duty as King to at least try.”

King” muttered Macalaurë derisively, shaking his head. “That’s not what Kings do, you do know that don’t you?”

“But it’s what they should do.”

“Arguable.”

Maitimo smiled wryly. “Actually, I win arguments by default now. Because, as you so rightly say, I am King.”

Macalaurë rolled his eyes. “Really? You do a very good impression of my conceited elder brother, your Majesty.”

Maitimo shook his head in affectionate disapproval. “Conceited? Me? Never.” He sobered quickly. “You’re not going to change my mind, Káno.”

Macalaurë’s shoulders dropped. “I know.” He looked up at his brother once more. “At least let - ”

“If you’re going to ask me to bring you with me, you know the answer is still no” interrupted Maitimo, raising a quelling hand. “Valar know we’ve been over this already. You and the others are my heirs, and you’re staying here.” He drew on his fine, tooled-leather gloves and laid a hand on Macalaurë’s shoulder. “You are my Regent. Hold the people together until I come back, won’t you?”

Macalaurë bowed his head, sighing resignedly. There was no help for it; when his brother was set on his course, there was almost no one who could change his mind. “Of course I will.”

Chapter Text

Maeglin watched the smoke coil overhead - or was it the blackness slipping over him, the haze of pain creeping in at the edges of his consciousness to bury him - and thought about broken promises. 

This hadn’t been what was supposed to happen; Maeglin was not supposed to be lying here, broken and bleeding on the rocks as the city burned, lives flickering out every moment. This was not what he had been promised; he had been promised his freedom, he had been promised her

That last though, he thought vaguely. Why had he ever been fool enough to believe that for a moment? Idril was far, far beyond his grasp now, always had been. Still, when he had been trapped alone in the dark, with no sight and no sensation to ease his trapped mind, only that voice, the voice of the dark echoing in his head… well, then it had seemed a beacon, that promise of her. A figure too bright to look at directly, offering him a shining hand, an end to the torture. He had been lost then, too fragmented and broken to see the truth. 

He had been promised his life too, if he were to cooperate, to just give a few simple little directions. Not just his life; the life he had always wanted. He had been promised an escape from the blindness, the darkness crowding in at him, and he had taken it. He had not been strong enough not to. 

And now here he was. And now this was what had come of it.

Yet still, he thought, as pain ricocheted through him, breaking his mind into pieces. Perhaps he had not been betrayed so wholly. Perhaps death was the only true freedom there was in this world. 

He knew that either way, he would soon find out.

Chapter Text

The fire warmed his face, near burning his cheeks. Maglor remembered the old days, when he stared into a fire; staring into dancing flames seemed more like looking back through the years. Sometimes, he though he really could see back through time when he looked into them - like the foresight that came up sometimes in their family, only in reverse - though some part of him knew this was only fancy.

How they had danced, in their time.

He and his brothers had all felt it, the heat their father had left behind. His body had blown to ash, but on the ground where the blistering-hot fire had been the dark grey powder had been warm still. Odd, he often thought, how when one is gone their warmth still lingers.

Maglor remembered everything there was to remember.

(And what was he if not memories and ashes?)

He remembered the way it had felt when he was a boy, and his father had held his hands as the child had tested his meagre skill in the forge. Fëanor’s hands had been strong and warm, but it hadn’t really been enough; Maglor had not the talent for it. Still, he loved simply being there, in the world his father inhabited, fitting into it so seamlessly.

When Maglor had found his true skill in music, Fëanor had put Míriel’s old kithera into his hands reverentially, the warmth of Fëanor’s hands lingering on the old, exquisitely polished and inlaid wood. Maglor had held the instrument in a way that he had hardly ever held anything else before, marvelling for a moment at how nothing ever really comes to an end. Old things linger, leaving traces. Nothing ever truly departs from the world, once it is born.

He had certainly found that to be true.

He remembered his father putting a sword into his hand for the first time, when he was near grown, the warmth of his hand lingering as it always did. The heat on his face as the ships burned. The hot wind blowing across the plain as their father ran on ahead, beyond where they could stop him, with the force of a wildfire.

The warmth that had blown away into the ashy air on that stony hillside was not gone, thought Maglor. Nor were the flicker of flames, the twisting streams of words born away on the air as his brothers had reaffirmed their Oath; for as their father’s last breaths blew out into the roiling, smoky air, what else could they do but keep his words, clasp them close to keep them from departing on the wind?

It was certainly true now, Maglor knew with a tired certainty. The warmth of the fire on the dark shoreland was the same, the same as fire had always been, and Maglor knew that some things would always be doomed to endure.

He himself was proof enough of that.  

Chapter Text

“Ñolofinwë. Wait.”

He turned back, feeling his hand caught behind him. “Mother… what is it?”

“You’re not going so soon, are you?”

He frowned, his face set. “We leave by the fifth hour, so not so soon. I have a little longer, though I should really be helping oversee the preparations for - ”

He broke off, as Indis clasped him in her arms, holding him close to her chest as she had so often when he was a child. For a long time she simply stood like that, holding him tight, and after a while he raised his arms to hold her too. 

After a while she drew back, holding him at arm’s length and inspecting him from head to toe. She smiled, and her eyes were shiny with tears. “You will lead them well… Your Majesty. I can feel it.”

He caught his breath. When his mother made predictions, she tended to be correct. Still, though, he shook his head. “Fëanáro is to be king.”

She made a little, dismissive sound. “But it should be you” she insisted. “It will be you.”

“Mother…” 

She cupped his face. “My son. Look after Lalwendë and Arafinwë.”

He nodded. “Of course I will. I swear it.”

“Will…” she hesitated. “Will you let me pray for you?”

He nodded slowly. “Please do, mother.” He imagined her in the temple atop Taniquetil, the incense smoke curling about her as the light streamed in, glinting off her golden garments, the bright gold-spun lace collar catching the brightness of Laurelin as she bowed her head to pray. No, now there would be no Treelight, and the words of the intricate, chanted Vanyarin recitations he had learned as a child would have to be changed… so much would have to be changed, he was realising that every day. Every hour, even. 

But, perhaps, not everything. 

She clasped his hands, and kissed them, nodding. “Then consider it done.”

He felt tears start in his eyes. “Thank you, mother.”

She nodded. “Now, hurry and see to your people. They await you.”