Curufin was the first elf I met in Gabilgathol and I resented his presence immediately.
I disliked the newcomer less because of his friendship with the Khazad than because he was a Noldo, one of those who had settled in Himlad. I had not controlled these lands as closely as my stronghold of Nan Elmoth, but I had hunted there under the stars and felt the hills and meadows had been mine before the lachren came.
The Khazad, however, were fascinated by Curufin. The Noldo had known Mahal personally; they drank his words with avid curiosity. I cared not for the Valar. I had refused the call of Elwë by the shores of Cuivienen and never regretted my choice. The Noldor had something about them that was… changed, in a way that displeased me. There were time when I wondered if that was because I had been a thrall in Angband once, and a valued one; I did not like to dwell on those thoughts.
Our hosts did not know about the animosity between me and the Noldor. They thought to please us, I think, when they decided we should seat together; it did not please me, but it did start some unforeseen developments.
Curufin’s first impression on me was like a punch in the guts. He sat with the easy elegance of a cat, yet there was something about him that felt like a caged animal. His hair were braided too tightly to his skull, and then in one complicated plait that had the rigidity of a second spine; the velvet of his tunic hugged his neck almost to the chin. It was embroidered with patterns like fire, blue and as cold as his silver eyes. Everything about him was polished, contained to the point of suffocation.
But he was beautiful. Under the velvet he was thunder; silenced, controlled, but rumbling deep anyway. He smelled like a summer night before the detonation of a storm.
I hated his beauty. He made a point of being polite and pleasant. Was he, inside, laughing that I had been trapped in his company? I had refused to receive any of his and his brother’s embassies. They were thieves and trespasser; salt on a wound that would heal only with their departure. He kept talking with a voice that was silk over steel, and I wished to answer with hot coal to shove into his face.
“I am delighted we can meet at last,” Curufin crooned. “I firmly believe friendship amongst our people is the key to keeping Eastern Beleriand safe.”
I drank some of the brown beer they brew in Gabilgathol, and I drank it too quickly. Angband had always been a threat, but it had been a manageable threat. Sauron had ruled over Northern Beleriand and had, mostly, left everything else alone.
Until Morgoth came, and it seemed to me that the Noldor were not innocent in his coming.
“I am not interested in friendship with you,” I answered.
“You may be surprised.”
I thought not. I did not insult our hosts by ignoring Curufin completely, but my replies to him were so laconic I hoped he would tire and leave me alone. He was persistent as a mosquito from the southern swamps, though he was more akin to an exotic bird in looks. I was taller than him, so much that when I looked at him, I saw his eyes only through the curtain of his eyelashes. They veiled his glances as if they beheld secret thoughts, close enough to tempt but out of reach. As the feast proceeded he drank more and more until his cheeks were flushed red; as always, the halls of the Khazads were overheated, and I was not surprised that he felt hot in his high necked tunic. He slipped long fingers into the collar and pulled, head thrown back in a way that bared the apple of his neck.
He had such a beautiful neck.
His fingers parted the fabric until he reached the hollow where his clavicle met, revealing a triangle of milky flesh. I swallowed, turned to my other neighbor and launched a conversation in Khuzdul. Curufin did not yet speak the language, and I thought to exclude him completely from my vicinity. I pretended I did not see him leave when he did. His departure was a sudden relief followed by a feeling of loss, as if the air had turned colder without the infuriating Noldo.
I was starting to believe the feast would not be so disagreeable when I found the key.
It was a Khazad key, big and heavily decorated with geometrical patterns. Khazads are proud creatures who value hospitality and craft immensely. Not only will they host honored guests in bigger chambers than the ones they would use for themselves, but the very keys of these chambers would be pieces of art. This one was not mine and it was in the pocket nearest to where Curufin had been, but I could not begin to guess what it was doing there until I fully took the key in my hand and the spell was triggered.
Do not ask for permission.
I almost dropped the key. The intrusion sent a flash of anger into my chest, but the spell dissipated harmlessly and I could not make sense of the words. To ask permission for what? I had drank my fair share of beer, perhaps too much, and I think my first aim in going to Curufin’s room was to throw the key at his face. It was massive enough to do some damage. The room was easy to find as Khazad keys and doors are always decorated with the same symbols and guests were hosted in the same hallways.
The door was locked and I wondered, once again, at the meaning of this as I worked the key into the lock.
Khazad guest chambers in Gabilgathol follow a pattern. It is a single room with an additional bathroom, high enough to allow me to stand (barely), with an alcove that can be closed by curtains or folding screens for intimacy. Curufin had left the curtains open, so that his sleeping form was the first thing I saw when I entered.
I remembered the whispered words he had attached to the key and my cock stirred, though he could not have meant it that way. Noldor were prudish creatures, even more prudish than the Sindar. I could not, however, divine any other intend. There was no note left anywhere. His clothes were carefully folded on a bench, next to some leather care products that had been probably used on the boots and leather jerkins nearby. I found the jewels he had worn at the fest close to some products for the bathroom: perfumed oil, soft sand and a weird curved bronze tool the Noldor use, I later understood, to scrap the dirt and oil off their skin.
At least I moved to the alcove. I was not his to command, I thought, and I believed I would make my discontent known or take revenge somehow; but Curufin was fast asleep, his eyes closed as we do when we feel safe or tired to the bone. He laid on his belly, his face turned to the wall, and I could picture the shape of his body under the sheets: one leg stretched flat, the other bent in a way that would bring his hips up. His hair were spread like ink in water on his shoulders, still curly from the braid.
Do not ask for permission, he had said, and I felt anger mix with want in my belly. I grabbed the sheet and pulled, very slowly, so that it slid off his shoulders – naked shoulders, and then down the valley of his spine to his hips, up the hills of his buttocks. My mouth went dry at the sight of his naked body, sprawled in such an inviting fashion, and I thought of the leather care products and scented oil that had been left out rather than carefully packed away. I wondered if he wanted me to rape him or if it was the darkest part of me that wanted to believe he did.
I laid my hand on his shoulder and extended my spirit through it until I felt his heartbeat. He was calm, actually asleep though not as deeply as he should with his closed eyelids, and I detected eagerness toward something I could not identify. I travelled from his shoulder to the nape of his neck, then ran my knuckles down his spine.
Yes, I felt from him, the feeling almost shaped into a word. He shuddered and his lips opened to let out a soft sight when I reached the small of his back.
I could still leave, I thought; but the moment I considered the possibility, my whole being rebelled. I wanted him. I wanted him beneath me, my hand in his hair pressing him into the mattress while I penetrated him. I hated Curufin of the Noldor of Himlad, but I wanted to possess the defenseless body he had offered me.
I walked away from him and undressed, laying my plain clothes on his rich folded ones, and tested the oil meant for his leather wares. It would suit, and it had an earthly scent that was more appealing than the mint smell of his scented oil. I coated my hands with it as I moved back to his side.
I drank his image like rich wine from the south: the strong, athletic legs of a rider, the strong shoulders of a smith; my hand tested the firmness of his buttocks, the thumb coming close to his entrance. I could have awakened him with caresses alone, but I wanted him to be wrenched out of sleep with me buried deep inside him. He moaned softly when the first slick finger entered him. I have very long, callused hands, and they did wonder that night; I could have undone him with fingers alone, one then two, working his relaxed, tight body into opening for me. He moaned into his pillow, pushed into it, the muscles of his strong shoulders rolling under the skin. He sought my finger with unconscious voracity.
I could not take it anymore. The noises he made, the helplessness, the beauty and firmness of him; he spoke to the darkest part of me, and yet he also called to the softer side who wanted to please and make him come.
I knelt behind him, grabbed his hips and entered him in one slow, deep movement that birthed a long groan. His eyelids fluttered open, the long lashes like the wings of black butterflies, and then closed when his face became a mask of pleasure. I rode him slowly at first, but he started to push back and the rhythm quickened into something rougher. He was fully awake, enthusiastic, hungry for sensations. Harder, I felt, possess me, dominate me, more, more, more! I laid a hand between his shoulder blades and pushed him down, letting the palm slid to his neck. I grabbed his hair and his voice went wild, exploding from his throat with the strength of his orgasm. His flesh contracted around mine, sucked me in and brought me to the peak of pleasure.
I pulled out and walked to the bathroom. I wanted to be away from him to collect my thoughts. I despised him, and now we stood there, naked, smelling like sweat and oil and cum. The silence was deafening until I opened the tap and the sound of water filled the small room. I had not had any lover since I left Angband. I had never been quite sure they were willing: I had been a favored slave of Sauron because of my skills, do less fortunate slaves sought me in hope of gathering favors or because Sauron ordered them to. I had always been kind to them. Taking care of a lover after sex brought me almost as much pleasure as the rough bedding, but this was Curufin, the thief that occupied my lands; he was not a fragile thing who needed protection.
I returned to the chamber and gathered my clothes. I did not speak to him. He had wanted a faceless stranger to take him in his sleep and I had no wish to be anything more. I caught glimpses of him at the edge of my field of view. He had covered himself with his sheet, and that, somehow, made him look more vulnerable than if he had remained naked.
“Why do you hate me with such passion?”
Curufin sounded calm and detached. His voice had left the realm of pleasure and abandon to become the cadenced, well mastered tool it had been during the feast. It was odd, this mix between his fragile appearance and the controlled facet of him.
It was a game; all a game toxic like Thingol’s court, and I wanted none of it. I would not play, and so I left without any answer, wordless and stoic like the stones of the mountain.