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A Heart in Bondage

Chapter Text

Maedhros' eyes were empty as he woke.

It had been during the middle of the night, when the stars of Varda glowed brightly and unreachable atop the sky; it almost seemed mocking, seemed deceitful, and Maglor squinted at those twinkling lights.

The sky has no business to be clear and void of chaos after what had happened. It had no business to still ensue as if the world bid them no thought, bid them no time to heal, or a time to mourn. He wanted rainstorms, thunder and lightning screaming the rage that he and all of his brothers have been caging within their hearts. He wanted the sky to spill tears as they had spilled their own that was unnumbered, eternally weeping for what had become of the Noldor. Or what was left of them.

But no, the stars of Elbereth continue to shine. The sky is clear, and the grasses and flowers still danced under the cold wind blown by the breeze evoking the feeling of cool detachment. Once, it had enchanted Maglor, but now, it has lost all of its colors and exuberence to him. It was during this mockingly peaceful time when Maedhros awoke.

And, deep inside, Maglor wished he hadn't.

Curufin was with Maglor in Maedhros' chambers when it happened. He opened his eyes as if one who woke from the dead, but his sunken eyes were so devoid of life that he sat up as if one who was still dead. His skin was pale, numerous wounds and scars scatter about his once fair skin. His hair was woven in tangled knots, his brothers not able to fend for them in their own injuries, but Maedhros suffered the most of them all. Patches of his skin were burnt, some more than others like his biceps and shoulders. He acquired them when he attempted a desperate attempt, one acted upon in such haste and impetuousness that Curufin judged their eldest on, but Maglor could not fault him, for it was an attempt to save Fingon from the clutches of death's grip, though too far he was to even do anything.

It was during this time, Maglor suspected their elven sight is a curse just as much as it was a gift.

He will not forget the way Maedhros ran through the fires lining up upon the fields like an impenetrable wall. He will not forget seeing Maedhros hissing at the pain, and still was unable to come to the other side to Fingon and his army, as he was drawn back by the treacherous sword and hands of Ulfang's people. The fire grew hotter and bigger then, but Maglor was still able to see what had happened on the other side of the battlefield. He would want nothing more than to erase the image of it from his mind, but it was there, planted too deep to dig out.

He held back a sob at the memory, but the sound he made caught Maedhros' empty eyes. And he felt hollow and graven below its watch. His eldest brother's mouth was agape. He looked at him as if he wasn't even there. Upon his hand, there lay still a golden ribbon with golden beads upon its end. It made a sweet sound when Maedhros moved his hand. His eyes then darted to it.

Maedhros' eyes watered.

Maglor felt a grip on his shoulder then, his own eyes snapping to Curufin's. He beckoned them leave. Maglor nodded in agreement.

He was about to speak, unwilling to look at Maedhros for he could not bear the sight of his brother in such deep pain, such unbearable agony, but Maedhros' spoke with his parched voice.

"So, it was not a bad dream." They heard him say. Maglor bit his lip.

"No, it was not." Maglor said, looking down.

"His ribbon... how did I--?"

Curufin stepped in front to explain. His was always of much better temperament and words, one that may not be suitable in times like this, for he only says facts with no consideration of what one may feel. Maglor trusted he would speak with more care now than usual, and Curufin delivered.

"You awoke two days ago, and went to the battlefield to seek him." Curufin's expression strained in even the subtle hint of Fingon, but Maedhros sat still and unresponding. So, he continued with great care, "Our guess is that it was the only one that can be... salvaged, so you took it."

Maedhros' face contorted then. His eyes closed tightly and his lips thinned to a line as he curled about himself, the ribbon being gripped in the curl of his fingers.

Maglor could not bear it, so he left.

The rest of his brothers' eyes he could feel gaze upon him as he hurried his footsteps upon the hallway. Their words bombared him, but he bid them no mind as they flew through his mind as if they were wind; undiscernable and quickly being swept away.

He sat upon a large stone, the cold breeze of Arda welcoming him in its dark embrace. He let go of his breaths, and shook his head so fiercely he felt an ache forthcoming, but it was the only thing he thought could help him be rid of the memories that Maedhros' expression had reminded him.

Yes, only the small golden ribbon can be salvaged.

For there was nothing left of Fingon but that.

He remembered hearing Maedhros wallow when he first found him two days ago; his screams terrible and unbearable to hear. Gothmog and his Balrog had trod Fingon to the dust.

Maglor wept, casting his head upon his palms at the memory. The wind felt cold against his warm skin. He hoped the sky would break into rain. He hoped there would be the loud booming of a great thunder so it could overshadow the rage seeping into his heart.

Fingon has fallen.

Turgon is hidden.

The Sons of Finarfin spent.

And Maedhros has finally broken.

Everything is now gone for them.

There is no hope left for the Noldor.

Chapter Text

Celegorm loathed Maedhros. At least, the shell of what he had become. He wanted to snatch away that pesky ribbon from his hold, one that he cannot be parted with, one measly thing that he grips of what was left of their cousin.

He had always disliked Fingon. Even if he has no reason to; he just dislikes him because he had always stolen Maedhros from them. Stolen his smiles, his laughter, his warmth and his heart from their clutches even when they were only elflings.

It was Fingon whom Maedhros loved the most.

And all of his brothers know this well.

But one thing he does not understand is why Maglor and Curufin endure this lifeless being sitting upon the bed. He does not understand why they tolerate him being in such a pathetic state. This was not Maedhros. Maedhros is their leader, their eldest brother. Not this sad shell whose only similarity is its long dark red curls that trailed to his waist.

"Let him mourn, Celegorm." Curufin had sharply told him, his eyes stern, "You know who Fingon was to him."

"He is not the only one who lost someone in the battle he himself conceived! I fail to see anyone else looking this ghastly!" Celegorm spat.

Curufin sent him cold, dark eyes, "And now it is plain to see you fail to understand the depth of what Maedhros is feeling. He has fallen into darkness, brother, one that only Fingon prevented. And in his absence..."

"Are you speaking of the oath?" Celegorm asked, perplexed.

"The Oath, yes." Curufin averted his eyes and looked ahead, as if Maedhros was behind them himself, "It is all he talks about now."

Celegorm smiled, "I find it a blessing then that Fingon was smashed to bits!"

He did not anticipate the blow that fell upon his jaw until he was thrown to the ground. He groaned, and felt a seething anger that was crawling in his chest to come out.

"You have grown mad and despicable! Do you even hear your own words?! Have, at the very least, respect for your cousin who has passed and fought valiantly in the battlefield!"

"You speak to me of respect, yet you also, were as less and dishonorable as I in that venture with Melian's brood!"

"Get out of my sight, fiend!"

Curufin wants him to get out of his fight? Fine, he will. He snarled as he stood up and left his brother alone in his chambers, slamming the door in his wake.

He will leave his sight and go to Maedhros.

Is that not what Curufin wanted?

His thunderous footsteps echoed in the hallways as he went. The small fires roaring from hewn laps dancing in the cold, its fire leaking as if to leave the confines of its cage.

He arrived at the front of Maedhros' room, and Maglor stood staring at him. His back to his door. Celegorm scowled.

"I came to see him." He said.

"You are unfit to be a visitor." Maglor glared at him, his shoulders stern and strong as he casted those unreadable eyes that Celegorm cannot stand.

"Like he is unfit to rule us, now?" Celegorm spat, venom in his words. Maglor suddenly gripped his collar and brought him close, his own rage spilling from his eyes, "Leave his premises, Celegorm. He has enough to mourn about already without a fell brother to occupy his thoughts."

Celegorm gripped his older brother's wrist, shedding it away from his clothes. He growled at him when he still did not leave his position at the door, steady and strong with dual blades sheathed upon his back.

"Tell him this, for me, then," Celegorm decided, "That Fingon is dead and gone. And he will have to accept that sooner rather than later. The Noldor counts on it."

"There is nothing left of the Noldor to rule, nor is there any hope left for us all." Maglor told him, eyes distant but shadowing a great grief Celegorn could so plainly see.

"I do not care for hope! I care to see this done! By all means necessary! Or would you rather be sent to the void?" Celegorm sent him a sharp look, looking down at him from his great height.

Maglor squinted his eyes, but he looked down. Celegorm noted his clenched fists at his sides. Even if he stands at Maedhros' side now, Celegorm knows his brother acknowledges his words as truth. He gave him time to respond, but when he didn't, a spark of anger made Celegorm lash out.

"Be that way, brother-mine! Sentence yourselves to the endless chasm of the void and wallow in your grief! You know the only reason why we are still breathing is because of that cursed oath! If not because of that, we would have been beside Fingon, bloodied and sunken to the earth!"

Suddenly, the door behind them clicked.

Celegorm did not acknowledge the fast beats of his heart, and his nerves that lit anew when Maedhros stood now behind Maglor.

He did not look any better. His face was still pale, dark red hair falling messily around his visage, but there was a change in his eyes. There still lie the pain, grief and hollowness so clear for the world to see, one that Celegorm was not used to seeing for Maedhros was a master at hiding them. But now, as they looked straight at Celegorm, he found himself being affected by that grief.

"A word, Celegorm?" Maedhros said. Celegorm was surprised by the strength in his voice; it didn't possess his previous strength, but it was a sudden change even Maglor was shocked to hear.

Celegorm followed Maedhros to the room, Maglor helping him back to the bed for his leg was still injured from his burns. It was here Celegorm noticed the golden ribbon now free from Maedhros' hands, but it was laced now in a small braid in his red hair. He frowned at the sight.

"I see the ribbon no longer grips your fingers." Celegorm told him as he crossed his arms, Maedhros looks at him emptily.

"Did you do that yourself?" He added in the silence that lingered between them.

Maedhros nodded, his fingertips touching the surface of his small braid that lay in front of his left ear, "It's all I have left of him."

"It's your fault he died." He spat suddenly in his growing anger. Maedhros' eyes twitched at his words, and Celegorm found himself grimacing. But he could not take back his words. It is his fault, indeed, even if some sugarcoat their words in their reassurance. Was it not Maedhros who thought of engaging a frontal assault on Angband? Was it not called the Union of Maedhros, one that he now knows rang mockingly in his eldest brother's ears?

And of course, fair sweet Findekáno, High King of the Noldor, with his undying loyalty, will always go help Maedhros in his plans. Oh, yes! If it was not for his loyalty, Fingon would still be breathing now!

Maglor clutched his collars again, the rage now overflowing unhindered in the way his face contorts, "Watch your foul words! If it had not been for your accursed actions in Nargothrond, Orodreth would have stood with us!"

"As if that will make any difference in the light of the Easterling's treachery!" He yelled, pushing Maglor off of him in vain.

"Enough." Maedhros boomed his voice, though it did not have its previous strength, it was enough to silence them both.

"Enough." He said again, softly now, "I'll talk to Celegorm alone, Maglor. You may leave."

Celegorm, as he now stood alone with Maedhros, felt his heart sting and his facade falling as the door to Maedhros' chambers close with a thud. They talked of the oath; Curufin was right. His words were few, even hesitant at times, though laden it was with implications of what they shall now do. And Celegorm knows it shall only take one agreeing voice, one push, to convince Maedhros towards the path of taking the Silmaril.

And Celegorm bided his time.

Once their conversation finished, once he left Maedhros' chambers, he found himself feeling, in the despair that suddenly claimed him and the darkness that spilled in his thoughts, the regret that broke through his hardened heart.

He had always disliked Fingon. Even if he has no reason to; but he dislikes him now because he had stolen what was left of Maedhros' light after his captivity, and took it to his grave.

It was Fingon whom Maedhros loved the most.

And Celegorm knew Maedhros will never be the same because of it.

Now, only the oath shall drive them.

Chapter Text

After Maedhros, Caranthir had suffered the most from his injuries. His right hand was rosed in a casket, head wrapped in bandages from a mace blown to his temple, and a large laceration that traced from the back of his shoulder to the lower end of his spine, caused by a sudden strike of a treacherous sword that stabbed him in the back.

Indeed, it had been an act of treachery.

And it was that betrayal that sundered the Elves, the Noldor, from their victory in Nirnaeth Arnoiedad. He felt a burning anger that simmered within his chest, his face growing hot at his rage, his nerves and muscles growing alight that exploded within every fibre of his being.

"You dare serve under me!" He bellowed in the battlefield, his sword gleaming terribly as it unsheathed and catched the fire around them in its wake, echoing the wrath within his heart at being betrayed, but most of all, being fooled. No one fools Caranthir the Dark, no one!

He had been the one to kill the most of the people of Ulfang, sword and mace---one he stole from a nearby dead orc---in his hands, creating craters around the battlefield with his every blow. So terrible was his wrath that the orcs fled before him, eyes blazing in hatred towards Men, towards the lesser beings and he did not feel, not a single drop of regret in spilling the blood of whom he trusted before, ignoring and treating the spawns of Morgoth, the Enemy, not worthy of his attention in the face of the searing pain of treachery who is just as foul as the beasts of Morgoth.

But as his wrath grew, so did it cloud his eyes. He and his brothers had suffered injuries from the swords the Elves themselves had forged, being wielded by Ulfang's people. The fiends had fooled Maedhros, from Caranthir's counsel, into staying their army for false news that a bigger scout will come from a different direction. But all that did was wound Fingon's vast army, the Fëanorions' being late in their arrival and was unable to aid properly in the battle they themselves had planned, and ultimately, caused the death of their High King.

Caranthir cursed at the memory, a memory that was still too close that it stirred a roaring anger begging to be released from his chest in every moment.

"No longer will I deal with any affairs of men!" Caranthir, face growing hot, shouted and planted a curse, words spitting venom and tone as sharp as his sword, "Curse them! If it was not for the gift of death their short, petty lives had been given, I would have chased them in every corner of their strongholds and slay them where they stood in all my immortal years!"

"There is honor still to be found in men," Amrod had said, quietly, while he patched new bandages upon Caranthir's arm.

"Tell that to Fingon! In fact, tell that also to our brother who lay as if lifeless in the other room!" Caranthir hissed, not at the wound, but at his brothers. Amras was sitting beside his twin brother, their eyes sunken to the earth.

"It is Gothmog who---" Amras started, but Caranthir will not have it.

"It is because of Men Gothmog even got close to the King! It is because of Men we were not able to join our cousin's army and exact our wrath upon the scroundels of Morgoth as what would have truly been the Union of Maedhros!"

The twins lay silent at his words, sending each other looks as if forcing the other to speak. It was Amrod who conceded, daring to raise his eyes to lay contact with Caranthir's fiery ones, but his mouth thinned as soon as it did, no words leaving his mouth.

"Maedhros doesn't blame you, brother." Amras suddenly said beside him, and Caranthir choked on his breath at his words, not expecting it at all.

There was a new warmth growing within his heart, stirring the anger into new directions he himself could not recognize. He bit his lips, and felt his hands tremble where Amrod still held him. Caranthir had tried, tried so hard, in all these two days, to not think of their eldest brother. He had not even visited him, did not come with him in his search for Fingon, and the pride that still sundered strong inside his heart prevented him to acknowledge the small patch of guilt that was driving him mad due to its sheer ridiculousness.

Caranthir knows Maedhros does not blame him for not being able to judge his own people rightly. He knows none of his brothers blame him.

But it seemed he needed to hear those thoughts materialize into words from a voice that did not come from his own lips.

"I know," He said at length, heaving a breath at the incessant running of his thoughts, "Because Maedhros blames himself."

Still, those words did not fully soothe him, for there was still the anger that refused to part from his heart. The anger at Men, at himself, at the Oath, at the Valar, at the wounds on his body that prevented him to move as he once did and at Maedhros who lets himself drown in his own self-guilt. He loathed seeing their eldest brother suffer.

Just as much as he loathed the treachery that led Maedhros to this pain.

Chapter Text

Curufin, in the absence of Maedhros' strength, felt he must shoulder all of his brothers' weight. It had not always been like this; he cannot remember a time where he led the rest, being the third youngest of his brothers. But it seemed necessary, and as much as he tried to push the thoughts of his older brothers' current state, it still glowered into his thoughts and shook him to his very being.

Maedhros has fallen; Curufin knows his grief is permanent, one that will never leave his eyes, one that he will carry even in the Halls of Mandos. It is a pain that cannot be soothed, and one that he knows he will never feel, nor will any of his brothers.

For who else bore the love shared by Maedhros and Fingon?

He may name some, like that of Beren and Luthien, like Fëanor's love for Finwë, but he can say he will never understand it, though he had been married, nor does he yearn to experience it himself seeing what it did to his brother when sundered away from him.

Next, Maglor's eyes were also graven in pain. He had always been one closest to Maedhros amongst his brothers, and seeing him in this immense pain might have troubled him to an extent that Curufin did not attempt to ask. He saw him now upon the window, gazing at the stars of Elbereth with squinted eyes and tears upon his cheeks. He no longer sang as much as he did.

No song also came from his lips in remembrance of Fingon. Perhaps, the pain was still too close to bear, but Curufin wondered if he had already planned one, but respected Maedhros enough to wait for his permission to sing of his name again.

Maglor was not built for kingship as much as Maedhros was, all of his brothers know that, and were able to experience his rule when Maedhros was imprisoned in Angband. If Maedhros falls, Maglor will not be able to bear the responsibility of being their leader upon his shoulders once more, though courageous he would be under the title.

Celegorm, fair and boisterous Celegorm, who Curufin spent every waking moment with the most among his brothers, was starting to fall into madness. It pained Curufin to hear his words, not thought of, cruel and unbearable to hear. It had started long before, after that whole affair with Melian's brood, Luthien, and when he lost Huan, his faithful hound, to the lovers' quest. He, at times, would hear Celegorm murmuring and cursing Beren and Luthien, blaming them for even planting the thought of an all out assault in Maedhros' mind.

All he talked of now are the Silmarils, their Oath to reclaim them, to finally be rid of this 'curse' his father had sworn them to obey. In the depths of his mind, Curufin knows the reason why Celegorm wanted to finally finish their oath, it was so they can finally rest.

And he knows, that all of them share that sentiment.

Caranthir had mostly been silent, bouts of sudden, frightening anger will come spilling from his quarters, before he is reduced to staring aimlessly at the wall. What runs through his mind he dared not think about, and he pities the twins for being always subjected to his perilous moods.

But even they, usually bright and cheerful and beaming with energy and undiluted faith, were growing stale, their voices now faint and movements hesitant, tiptoeing around their older brothers. They knew not what to do, knew not what to say, but then again, who does in such an event?

They were taking care of Maedhros now, and for what it's worth, he could hear light, though forced, chuckles from their eldest's quarters, after telling of a fair memory from the long lasting siege of Angband. Curufin should be happy, but all he now felt was something akin to strange, that laughter could not have belonged to anyone from his brothers, but nevertheless, it did.

He sat with a huff at the ground, the grass brown and dead, dry and unpleasant upon his palm. He looked into the West, and far from his sight he knew not what he was looking for, but his thought rang true and clear in his mind:

Father, what have you done to us?

His throat began to hurt, but he swallowed it down, looking instead at the booming black smoke rising from those accursed mountains.

No, he thought, it is all him. Curse him. Curse him!

And though the darkness and the call is now beginning to conquer his mind, his heart travels back to that of a talented young elf, booming with magnificent potential, his easy smile and loud laughter that echoed in the halls, who he now had left behind.

And how he hoped, beyond all hope and faith, that fate shall give him a better path, and not abandon him to a bitter end.

Unlike the rest of his family whose fates had been sealed, as they muttered those words in the darkness of Tirion.

Chapter Text

Amrod and Amras ran through the nearby forest, letting loose arrows targeting beasts who ventured too close to their camp. It was perilous, but it was a far better way to spend their time than to wallow in the depressing, broken halls they temporarily resided in, claiming their hearts and their mind to the point that it made them restless.

Another arrow flew, piercing through the cold breeze, though Amrod was not aiming for anything. His muscles yearned for something to do, something to pull himself out of his mind, and a far off patch of grass fell victim to his frustrations as it landed there.

"It is unwise to waste arrows, brother." Amras said beside him, sheathing his bow, "Especially during times like this."

Amrod started to walk forward, eyes laying upon the golden rays of the afternoon sun sneaking through the canopy of trees. It will be dark soon.

"I know. I shall get it." He proposed, and Amras followed him as he started to walk.

They were both silent on their way there. It was unusual, and they both knew how much they wanted to talk, but their words fail them, and silence claims them.

Amras, however, managed after a while, and brought up a distant memory. That was all they could seem to talk about now: past memories, for the present is still too close to accept and speak about.

"Brother Maedhros taught us how to wield the bow back then." Amras started. Amrod, despite himself, managed to smile.

"Indeed, and we gave him all sorts of trouble."

"Lots! It is a miracle he lasted till the end of the lessons, we thought!"

"That was because he brought cousin Fingon with him that made it all the more tolerable for him!"

They both laughed, laugh far harder than they should, as if trying to drown recent memories within their minds with the use of their humor, of gleeful memories that they refuse to turn into a trigger of pain, though it was closely getting to that point.

For their laughter soon waned, and their smiles disappearing upon their faces. Bitterness arose, and their mind was of one when it travelled back to their brothers, to Maedhros, to their cousins, who are mostly spent.

They were lucky they were still complete, all seven of Fëanor's sons still alive. But are they truly lucky? Is it considered luck to be left behind to grieve those who have passed? Or is it the other way around?

Are those slain and bereft of further suffering the true lucky ones who have been favored by fate?

These thoughts filled their mind, and Amrod and Amras did not need words to know that the other is thinking this as well, that they are now both inclining to believe the latter. That those who passed are fated, and those that were left...

As Amrod reached his arrow that pierced the ground, Amras spoke.

"We are doomed, aren't we?"

Amrod looked at him, and saw the same grief upon his brothers' eyes now fully shown upon his twin's face.

And he knows that same expression is also what he is wearing now.

"Yes, we are."

The last rays of the sun disappeared, and darkness claimed the sky as the twins went back. Stars were twinkling, but they lay behind thick, grey clouds that arose from the North, their light far from anyone's reach.