This is an amateur effort and does not intend to infringe on the rights of J.R.R. Tolkien. No profit is made and no harm is intended.
This was written for the B2MeM 2019 Bingo Bash. I will add cards as I write each chapter.
Card: Deep Thoughts
Number: O72 (We)
Fingon was standing alone in one of the many ‘rooms’ in Námo’s domain. There were empty spaces where a spirit could rest and think in imagined familiar surroundings. When Fingon arrived at the Halls, he had been unable to do anything but glide around the many corridors, looking for his soldiers, for Turgon, for Maedhros. He had finally found Arakáno, the brother he had lost so long ago, and little by little he had come to understand that he had died, and that Turgon was alive, and that Maedhros and his cousins had been defeated in a battle that only brought tears and pain.
Arakáno had told him all about it.
How did he know?
Arakáno knew because he was about to leave the Halls, but he refused to do so now that Fingon had come. He wanted to stay with his brother and help him adapt to the cold Halls of the Lord of Mandos.
It had been him who taught Fingon how to find peace, and how to create his own space to think of his mistakes, to rest, and to look forward to the moment when he would abandon the Halls forever.
Now Arakáno was gone, and Turgon had come to the Halls too, and then Caranthir, along with Curufin and Celegorm. The last to come had been the twins. Finrod had left long ago, and so had his brothers. Fingon wondered when his time would come.
He knew that he would not leave unless the Valar allowed him to return to Ennorath and help Maedhros.
We are meant to be together.
Fingon sighed and closed his eyes.
My brother is coming.
Fingon started when he heard Caranthir’s mental voice. His cousin had become a more powerful mind reader since he came to the Halls. He had taken a long time to speak to anyone, but now Caranthir seemed to be calm and composed.
Have you seen him, Moryo?
Moryo’s spiritual body lost form for a moment, as if in pain. When he was able to sustain the illusion of a body again, tears shone in his eyes. “He is burning, Fingon. His body is burning, and he is alive.”
Card: Fun with Fëanorians
Numbers: B7 (Let it burn), G57 (Nerdanel)
Card: Deep Thoughts
Numbers: B7 (Love), I20 (Reason)
Fire surrounded him, not in the way the fire had almost burned Amras at Losgar, not in the way it had burned his father’s spirit. This fire was burning his flesh, and Maedhros could feel the smell of it, the way his skin turned black even as he let go of the Silmaril.
Let it burn, Maedhros thought. Let it all burn until I’m no more.
Mother, I am sorry…
He had done so much harm to others, even to Fingon, who had died in that accursed battle. Fingon had died alone, while Maedhros and his brothers made their way toward him from the east. They had been detained by Uldor, but Fingon must have believed they would not come and so he launched the attack.
No, Maedhros reasoned, something else had happened. His mind was clear, which was strange. The pain had ceased for the most part and now his fëa was leaving behind his ruined hroa.
That was when he heard the call from Lord Námo. It was not a mental call, not as Maedhros had imagined it. It was the feeling that something needed to be done before going back home, if he so wished. It was light and darkness, cold and fire, love and compassion. Maedhros fëa recoiled when he ‘saw’ the fire, but the light coming from it did not burn him. There was the cold too, and fiery winds. They soothed his charred flesh, or the memory of it.
Maedhros had a choice now. He could stay and watch over Maglor, or he could go and fall into darkness as was meant to be. He could see Maglor, crying on the beach, having felt Maedhros’ passing. Maglor could go home now, or stay in Ennorath. Would Maedhros’ presence be welcome if he stayed?
Then Maedhros saw Eärendil’s children, the ones they had taken from their home, and knew that whatever consolation Maglor would have from now on would come from them.
After all I convinced him to steal the Silmarils, and the pain he feels now is also my fault.
Maedhros’ will to resist the call left him and he allowed his hroa to blindly follow Namo’s call. It was time he accepted the penance for his crimes, and to pay for them.
As he moved toward the west, darkness surrounded him, as if all the harm he had done clung to his hroa like a heavy cloak. There were flashes of light, and the pain of the fire had come in full to torment him, but there was light too somewhere…
Fingon was there.
It was his brother who was sending the images. How could he manage to do that? Caranthir had always had certain affinity with Námo and Vairë, but this was impossible…
Then the images faded, and the pain returned and Maedhros found himself “standing inside the Halls. Lord Námo was there, while Lady Vairë held back a bewildered Caranthir. Lord Námo made a gesture, and Maedhros rushed into the dark corridors, determined to meet his fate. Where was Fingon? Why had Caranthir been allowed to come so close to the entrance?
Many spirits were coming now, and Maedhros recognized them. The ones he had killed, the ones he had maimed, the ones he had helped. They stayed away, but Maedhros could feel their presences. Then all he could feel was confusion and pain.
Card: Color Burst Red, Number O64 (Fire)
Card: Deep Thoughts, Number N45 (Death)
Caranthir almost lost his form as Maedhros’ pain washed over him like a fiery tide of darkness. He was exhausted after trying to send images of light and hope to his brother, and it maddened him that Vairë was stronger than him.
“Please, Lady Vairë, let go of me.”
“Only if you stay here with us, Caranthir. Maedhros needs to be alone with his pain.”
Caranthir nodded, and when Vairë released him, he turned to Námo. “He killed himself, my lord. He is confused and in pain. He needs me!”
Námo’s expression softened. “He needs to be alone, Morifinwë. You know that. Not even Findekáno or your father will find him now. Nelyafinwë needs to settle down before we can help him.”
“How? With the fear of those he killed surrounding him? What if he goes mad? And why did you allow me here if you were going to restrain me?”
Námo and Vairë exchanged a look.
It was Vairë who answered. “Since you were a child, you have had a special connection with my husband and me. There is a reason for that, dear child, but we cannot tell you yet. Eru forbid it.”
Caranthir wanted to lash out at Námo. For some reason he would never do that at Vairë. It was confusing to know so much about them, and to be allowed to come so close to the entrance to the Halls. He had always been allowed to sense their presences, especially Námo’s.
“So I am different to the other Elves?”
“You are,” Námo said, “but you are still one of them.”
“What else am I?”
Vairë embraced him. “We cannot tell you, Caranthir. You trust me, do you not?”
Her brown eyes were full of love and kindness. “I trust you, my lady.”
“Then accept what Námo says, what I say. No other Elf is able to send his thoughts out of the Halls. You have always been a mind reader, but your abilities are greater now.”
Caranthir trembled in her arms. “Yet I am still dead, and I cannot help my brother.”
“You can seek Turcafinwë and Curufinwë, and tell them that Nelyafinwë is here. You can speak to your father and your grandfather. You will be able to see Nelyafinwë in time.”
Caranthir could feel the emotions running inside both Valar, and again he wondered what this connection with them was about. It had always been there, and it had become greater after he died.
“Is this connection the reason why I can retain my form for longer than others? I know it is a mere illusion, but sometimes my brothers lose their forms and all I can see are their essences. Is that why I can feel them?”
“Yes, and maybe,” Vairë said. “There are other mind readers among your people, but you are especially strong. You were able to move small objects, remember?”
Caranthir did remember, and that brought a painful memory, of Aegnor as a child watching him do just that. He had seen his cousin and former lover from afar, but now Aegnor was out of the Halls. So was Brellas.
The look Námo gave him was strange, but Vairë grabbed Caranthir’s hand. “They are both well, and waiting for you.”
Caranthir didn’t believe that, but he simply nodded and left their side. He needed to find his brothers, his father… He could no longer feel Maedhros’ pain, and that meant that nobody could reach him but Námo.
“Take care of him, Námo,” he said, and after releasing his hold on his form, Caranthir rushed inside the Halls.
Card: Deep Thoughts
Number: B15 (Immortality)
Fingon stood outside Lord Námo’s chamber, stubbornly refusing to go back to his ‘room’ or speak with others until he could see Maedhros. Caranthir had told him of the terrible pain Maedhros was in, and of how Lord Námo had stopped him from following his brother. Every spirit that came to the Halls was given a time alone, watched by Námo’s invisible Maiar. Maedhros would be allowed to find someone close to him eventually, but not until he was calm enough to open his heart to whoever came.
It had been Arakáno for Fingon. It had been Finwë for Caranthir. Who would be there for Maedhros? Finwë, or Caranthir himself? Fingon wished it could be him, but why would Lord Námo allow it? He was only Maedhros’ lover, and their union had never been blessed by Eru. They had never dared to ask for it.
Elves did not make permanent attachments during war, and it was worse if you happened to be both male, and cousins, and after your father left on a suicide mission and left you in charge…
Immortality was not something Fingon believed in. Only the Valar lived long enough, and according to the Vanyarin lore, even they would grow if not old, at least tired one day. Yet Fingon wished his life was long enough to be there for Maedhros when they both came out of the Halls.
Come inside, Findekáno Nolofinwion.
Findekáno clothed himself appropriately, like of a Prince of the Noldor, and walked inside Lord Námo’s chamber. He was on a formal mission, even if his clothes were nothing but an illusion and his neatly braided hair was not even there.
“My Lord,” he bowed. “I am grateful you agreed to receive me.”
“Námo had taken his physical form, long dark hair and grey eyes that looked at everything but let nothing of his thought be known.
“Why are you here, Findekáno?”
“I came to ask permission to help my cousin Nelyafinwë Fëanorion to adapt to the Halls.”
“You know that is a task for those of his kin.”
“I am his mate!” Findekáno closed his eyes and bowed slightly. “I apologize, Lord Námo, but surely a spouse can also be considered kin?”
“Yes, but your union was one of fact. You never asked for Eru’s blessing.”
“We were at war, and then I was the king, with the duty to produce an heir. I could not offer my love to a woman, but I had to at least remain alone. My brother, Turgon, was king in Gondolin. He was my heir.”
“And now only Ereinion remains of Nolofinwë’s line, along with the Half-Elven twins who are Turukáno’s direct kin.”
“Maybe someone from Arafinwë’s kin will be wiser than the rest of us were. Eru knows we tried, but we were doomed to fall after Alqualondë.”
Námo looked at him for a long moment, and Findekáno wondered what was going on through the Vala’s mind. He stood there, unmoving, determined to fight for this until the end.
“Your cousin is not ready to see anyone now. He is very disturbed after throwing himself into the fire. I will not stop you from seeking him out once he is able to roam the Halls on his own. Finwë and Fëanáro take precedence, and Morifinwë would defy me if he could.”
Findekáno almost lost his form at Námo’s words. If Maedhros was in such a state that he might not come out of wherever he was for a long time…
“Can my cousin feel Maedhros' pain?”
“No. I have blocked their mental link for now. Maybe it is Morifinwë who needs your help now. He has gone into the deepest recesses of the Halls and no one can find him. I do know where he is, but severing their link is something he had taken badly.”
Findekáno wished he dared to ask why Carnistir was able to defy the lord of the Halls in such a way, but whatever the reason it was not his place to ask. He doubted Lord Námo would share this knowledge with him, anyway.
“Go now, and be at peace, son of Nolofinwë. Redemption is always possible, even in Fëanáro’s case. Be patient, and try to help those you can. You will not stay in the Halls as long as your cousins.”
Findekáno opened his mouth to protest, but Lord was no longer there, and he was out of the chamber. He felt the first tears roll down his cheeks, and when his strength failed him he let go of all illusion of physical form. He could not be send away before Maedhros was ready to come out! He would not go away, even if he had to defy Lord Námo himself.
Card: Fun with Fëanorians
Number: B14 (Battered but not Broken)
Maedhros moved through fire, his body burning though he knew that he no longer had a body. He had died after all. Unless he was still alive and coming to the Halls had been a dream. Námo’s call had “sounded” strange, but then he had never heard it before. Whatever had happened, he could not escape the fire and his hand was burning, and the Silmaril was black.
He let go of the jewel, horrified. Was he so unclean now that he had tainted his father’s jewel? He had killed so many that the darkness inside him was enough to darken the purest light. Then why was he still alive?
So you can live in torment until the end of time, his mind supplied, and there is was again, the black Silmaril in his hand.
The fire stopped burning him, but the black Silmaril was still in his hand. It burned his hand though he no longer had a hand or a body. It burned as it should be. He had abandoned his brother in Endorë, he had left Maglor, screaming in pain, alone on the shore after throwing the white Silmaril he held to the water.
Why is my Silmaril black?
Because I taint all I touch.
Fingon died because I thought we could win.
Maglor wanted to go back home, and I convinced him to stay.
I left my mother behind, and my brothers…
Lord Námo in the flesh, like Maedhros had seen him only a few times when he attended the celebrations at the foot of Oiolossë, or Fëanor’s trial at the Máhanaxar.
“Why is my Silmaril black?” he asked, more to himself than to the Lord of Mandos.
“Do you remember what you did before you came to my Halls?”
“Am I in your Halls, or am I still falling through that crack in the Earth and my hand burns and my father’s jewel is no longer clean?”
“You are in my Halls, Nelyafinwë.”
“Then why is my hand burning? Why is my Silmaril…?”
The Silmaril was no longer there, and Maedhros had no hand. He was just a broken spirit, nothing was left of him. He was evil.
“You are not broken, son of Fëanáro. You are bruised, battered, in pain, but you are too strong to break.”
Maedhros would have cried if he had a face… and tears…
“You are not evil,” Námo continued, “but you have done terrible things, and now is the time to think about them, to atone for the harm you inflicted, and to ask forgiveness and to forgive yourself.”
“I do not deserve forgiveness.”
Námo’s expressionless face changed slightly. “Everyone deserves forgiveness, even the one who started this all, but that is something you need to realize by yourself. Stop trying to destroy yourself, Nelyafinwë. Think of why you are here, of the things you would change, of the ones you would do again. Only when you stop dying in your mind, you will start to heal.”
Caranthir stood inside Vairë’s workshop, looking at the tapestry she had recently finished. There was Maedhros throwing himself into the fire, his hand burnt, the silmaril brighter than ever, and the flames scorching his body less painful than the touch of the jewel in his hand.
It started all again, the anguish, the pain, the helplessness, the absolute despair at realizing that their Oath was void, that his brothers had died for nothing, and that Maglor had condemned himself after stealing the jewels with him. Why hadn’t he allowed Maglor to do as he wished? Why had he convinced his brother that they would fall into everlasting darkness, when they were already in it?
Caranthir's fëa shivered uncontrollably as he sunk deeper into Maedhros’ memories, and he extended what would have been his hands to destroy the tapestry. He was restrained by gentle hands, not Vairë’s, and he was guided away to an antechamber.
“Come out of it, child.”
Caranthir did not recognize that voice, but it was soothing and reminded him of his father. Nobody but a few fëar were allowed to come into Vairë’s workshop. Was this…?
“Yes, I am Fëanáro’s mother. I am Míriel.”
Caranthir opened his memory eyes and looked at her for the first time in his life… or death. She was in her bodily form, but her hold on it was tenuous. Her eyes were kind, but her expression was full of pain.
“I will see to him, Míriel,” another voice said. “You have done Caranthir a great kindness.”
Míriel looked at Caranthir one last time, and then left, her physical body dissolving into tendrils of silver and blue. Caranthir looked at Vairë.
“Why is she like that, Vairë? Does she know who I am?”
“She does, but she is not ready yet, and she might never be. She has not yet met Finwë or Fëanáro, and you, my dear, radiate power when you are inside my chambers.”
“I cannot tell you.”
“Why not!” Caranthir exclaimed, and then he remembered the pain he had felt. “Let me see my brother, please! He needs me!”
“I wish that were possible, Caranthir, but for now only Námo is with him. You were not supposed to feel Nelyafinwë’s pain. Námo shielded you and Findekáno. He shielded every member of your family who might be attuned to him. It was the tapestry…”
Caranthir did not understand how he had managed to break the shield, and he could care less. All he wanted was to be with his brother and help him. There was still a trace of Maedhros’ pain inside him, but it was fading now.
“Tell me how is he? I believed my life would end when I sensed his pain and despair. Is Námo really helping him?”
Vairë’s eyes were kind and compassionate. “Do you believe that Námo would hurt your brother?”
Caranthir felt exhausted. “Not willingly, but he can be harsh when it comes to judge my family’s crimes. He was harsh with Ambarussa…”
“He gives everyone what they need. Your brothers were young when they left, but they had to take responsibility for what they did. Tyelkormo and Curufinwë were more aware of their misdeeds. The twins killed and returned to their lands. This war against Melkor affected them in a different way. They locked the guilt where it could not bother them until the next time. They were numb.”
Caranthir understood, but still he was angry at Námo. Why was he always angry at Námo?
“You and my husband are very much alike,” Vairë said, “but where he keeps his emotions in a tight hold, you let them out. You created a life for yourself, apart from the war.”
“I lost Aikanáro, and Brellas.”
“Aikanáro still loved you and Brellas---”
“Stupidly allowed himself to be killed to save me.”
“---loved you enough to give his life for yours.”
Caranthir was starting to lose his hold on consciousness, which was the way in which the fëar in the Halls rested.
“I love you too,” he said, and before he drifted into sleep he saw himself gliding in a strange place with Námo and Vairë.
Sorry for the long wait. I was sick. I'm okay now.
Findekáno wished he could measure the passage of time, but that was the only thing no one but Valar and Maiar could not do in the Halls. The fear waiting for their release had a certain awareness of time, but only because they felt “different” as time passed. Fingon had started to feel better after his first “days” in the Halls, and he had only met with Arakáno’s fear once he was able to see his last moments on Endorë as something that already happened. Would Maitimo be able to escape the nightmare of his last days in the Outer Lands? Fingon had died in combat, while Maitimo had taken his own life.
I have to find him!
The worst of it was that Findekáno could not find Caranthir either. He had searched everywhere for his cousin. He had even spoken to Celegorm and Curufin, but they were as concerned as Fingon was. The twins where somewhere else in the Halls, and nobody had heard of them for a while. Findekáno dared not to go to his father and ask him about Maitimo. Whatever process Fingolfin was going through, trying to separate them also in the Halls would not help his father at all.
It was Finwë, his fëa bright, the illusion of his physical form almost as solid as Caranthir’s. He looked sad, though.
“Grandfather, is something wrong?”
Finwë glided closer. “Everything is wrong, and right now I cannot help my son to bear the weight of his guilt.”
“You mean, Uncle Fëanáro.”
“Yes. We cannot find Maitimo, and I am surprised at Lord Námo’s patience when Fëanáro’s demands. We cannot find Carnistir, either, but Lady Vairë has assured me that he is all right.”
Findekáno nodded, relieved to hear that. Caranthir was always disappearing somewhere in the Halls, especially when he was concerned or angry about something.
“I am worried for Maitimo, Grandfather. I asked Lord Námo to allow me to see him, but he said this was a family matter, meaning is direct kin. Maybe Carnistir is with him? Apart from Makalaurë, he is the one closest to Maitimo.”
“I hope you are right, Finno. You look tired. Have you rested lately?”
“Not since Maitimo came here…”
“Your fëa… I can see it inside your physical form illusion, but it is dull, as if there was almost no life in it. Findekáno, you have to let go and rest.”
Resting in the Halls was to lose all sense of oneself, and “wake up” feeling calmer, even stronger, but what if Maitimo needed him?
“Listen, Finno, Maitimo will come out of this, as we all do. Fëanáro came out of it, and I was the one who helped him. Have faith, and allow yourself to rest. You need to be at your strongest when he is back with us.”
Findekáno still resisted. He had been unable to fall into this strange resting time since Maitimo came to the Halls. He lost his form, and he could no longer see Finwë or anything around him. All he could see was fire. He fled, and then he knew no more.
Maedhros drifted between wakefulness and a strange loss of consciousness. Sometimes he would dream of the fire burning his flesh, but the Silmaril he held was no longer black. It was pure light burning him, and the pain made him let go and he could see how the jewel disappeared into the cracks of the Earth. He was evil and tainted everything he touched, but not the Silmaril. It was too pure to be touched by the likes of him, and it had rejected him.
All his life Maedhros had tried to be a good son, a good brother, a good person. He had loved his family and friends, and he had loved Findekáno, bringing him down in the process. He had indirectly doomed his beloved cousin too, for Findekáno had jumped into the battle at Alqualondë believing that the Teleri were the one who started the attack.
He had been selfish, and arrogant, and too confident, and Findekáno had died because of that. So many had died, that it was only fitting that Maedhros lived in torment. Nobody would lift a hand to help him now, and he would make sure that nobody who dared come to help him, left.
I deserve what is happening to me.
You deserve forgiveness too, son of Fëanáro. All you have to do is repent of what you have done.
Those had been Námo’s last words, and though the Lord of Mandos had left, Maedhros could still feel his presence at times. Maedhros tried to push the memory of that meeting to the back of his mind, but it kept coming back and he could no longer think of anything but the shred of hope that Lord Námo had given him.
Would he dare to hope that redemption was possible? He had hoped to defeat Melkor, and he had failed at every attempt. Only the first years, during the siege had Maedhros been at peace, and able to concentrate on the defense of his realm and the protection of those he loved.
Then Melkor had broken the siege and it had all fallen apart. He had failed everyone, even his father who…
Maedhros’ fëa froze in place when he felt a presence close. It was a fëa he knew well, but gone was most of the anger and there was no madness in the illusion of his father’s body.
It was the father he remembered, long, dark hair and intense grey eyes. There was Fëanáro, his father, looking at him, extending a hand, inviting Maedhros to go with him.
“You never failed me, my son. I love you.”
Maedhros almost ran away, but the love in his father’s eyes stopped him. He had no body, no physical illusion to take Fëanáro’s hand, and he wanted it so much!
Fëanáro moved closer and let go of his body, only his essence “touching” Maedhros, silently asking for forgiveness. It was too much, and Maedhros just let go of any resistance and allowed his father to soothe him, to make him feel loved, and safe for the first time since he had seen Fëanáro’s body turn to ashes in his arms.
Hush, my son. I’m no longer ashes, and there is hope in my heart. Let me help you to heal. Let me repair, at least in part, the damage I have caused you.
I tried, Father. I tried, but…
It was an impossible task, and yet I saddled you with it. I saw it before I died, but I was so full of anger and madness. I do not deserve your forgiveness, Nelyo, but let me help you find peace.
Maedhros managed to form a hand, the hand he had lost when Findekáno rescued him from Thangorodrim. Fëanaro grabbed it.
But I don’t have that hand anymore!
Have faith, and rest. I will be here for you when you are ready to wake.
Caranthir could see himself or rather his fëa gliding in the void, but it was not a terrible place as it should be but merely the place where the Ainur lingered waiting to see what Eru would tell them next. It could not be the void then, but what was he doing among Eru’s creatures?
His name was Morë, that he knew, and he was alone because he trusted no one. He had been approached by Melkor’s followers, but he had dismissed them with a gesture of anger. It was easy for him to become angry, and he tried to let go of that feeling. Maybe that was why Melkor’s followers believed that he would help them in their cause.
Morë had no intention of following Melkor in his quest to make his own song. Eru had created them for a purpose, and he saw no reason to go against him. He did not understand Melkor’s song, though he could not deny that it unsettled him.
A higher spirit made of golden brown and green hues was looking at him. Morë stopped, wary of anyone more powerful than himself. His own spirit was made of dark blue and gold, but he served no higher being other than Eru. Would this one try to subdue him?
Something like laughter reached him, and it made him angry, but the higher being was opening his… her very essence to him and there was no offense in her laughter, just mirth.
My name is Vairë, lonely one. I would speak with you.
Because you shine with a bright light, and yet you seem to be confused and lonely.
I am alone, not lonely.
Will you tell me your name?
I am Morë.
Then come with me, Morë. I am alone too, so let us explore this place together. I feel restless, yet I feel that everything has a purpose.
Even Melkor’s song?
We shall see.
So Morë followed Vairë, and together they explored every part of the void, and even glimpsed a darkness that was brewing in it. They dared not to reach that place, and together they returned to the light that surrounded Eru.
“He remembers,” Vairë told Námo.
Námo sat beside her, watching Morifinwë sleeping in their bed. He was beautiful, and restless, and quick to anger, but he was lost to them. Morë had been lost to them since Melkor’s Valaráukar tried to take him.
“What is it, husband?”
“He is not ready, not with his brother in pain, not with his longing for Aikanáro and Brellas. If he remembers, it might destroy him. We need to make him forget.”
“We cannot. Eru is the only one who can change what he did.”
Námo sighed. “Then let us hope that when Morë wakes up he is only Morifinwë Carnistir, son of Fëanáro and Nerdanel. Let us hope that Eru helps him to forget about his previous life.”
There was fire all around him, and as Findekáno’s fëa fled through the Halls, the fire seemed to follow him. He could see Maitimo jumping into the fire ahead, determined to die, but as much as Findekáno tried he could never reach his cousin. The earth always closed in around Maitimo and Findekáno could do nothing but stand there, helplessly.
He wanted to die, to break the earth with his own hands and fall into the fire as Maitimo had. He had also killed at Alqualondë, believing that the Teleri had attacked his Uncle and cousins. His father had followed him and killed many too. So had Turukáno until Findaráto came and stopped him. Arakáno had been stopped by Laurëfindil and Ehtelë, and little by little they had realized that the carnage had started when Fëanáro tried to seize the Teleri ships by force.
The Valar still cursed them all, so Findekáno was cursed and he wanted to die over and over again until he found his cousin and fell with him into oblivion. He had to find Maitimo!
That was not Maitimo, so Findekáno struggled to get away from the fëar that tried to pulled him back and stop him. Whoever they were prevailed in the end, and Findekáno fell into a sleep without nightmares about fire. He rested at last, and when he woke up again his father and brother were there with him.
“Where is Maitimo?”
“He is with Fëanáro,” Nolofinwë said. The Noldor spoke mostly Quenya in the Halls, though sometimes Caranthir mixed both languages. He didn’t seem comfortable with his Quenya name anymore.
“Is that a good thing? What if Uncle Fëanáro reminds Maitimo about the Oath, or about his death, or---”
“My brother is much changed,” Nolofinwë said, “and he’s always loved his sons.”
“Until he went mad and forced them all to take the Oath.”
Turukáno seemed to take a deep sigh, though Findekáno knew it was all an illusion. They had no bodies here, and Findekáno was not trying to hold to his own mind-body at all.
“I apologize, brother,” he said. “I know that Maitimo stood aside when Uncle Fëanáro burned the ships, and I… There is so much anger inside me now and… I came because we are concerned about you.”
“I am well…”
“Then let us see your mind body, brother.”
Nolofinwë looked at Turukáno. “Finno is too exhausted to---”
“I am not exhausted, Father. I simply have no wish to fall into the illusion that I have a body, and that I live in this room I have made for myself.” All personal things that made Findekáno’s space his own vanished as he let go of them too.
“Findekáno, Maitimo will come out of his confusion and suffering, like we all did. Fëanáro will help him. He needs his father now, a father who has understood the wrongs he’s done to his children.”
“Maitimo always believed that he was a disappointment to everybody,” Findekáno said. “Not when we lived in Tirion. He was a start shining on Arda back then, but later when his father died, when he tried to make things right and defeat the Dark One…”
“I know he tried,” Nolofinwë said, “but the doom was on him, and us. We were never meant to succeed.”
“Is that why you let Melkor kill you, Father?”
Nolofinwë looked shaken. Turukáno gave Findekáno a sharp look.
“I was mad with grief, and I was proud enough to think it would make a difference. I trusted you to guide our people if I fell, and you did, Findekáno. I am proud of what you accomplished.”
“I fell too, we all did.”
“I should have listened to Tuor,” Turukáno said, “but I believe that pride is a sin we all Noldor share. At least Arakáno is back to life, and Írissë will leave the Halls soon.”
“Come with us, Findekáno,” Nolofinwë said. “Take your mind off your pain and let us find your sister. We might not see her again for a long time.”
“You are right, Father,” Findekáno said. Carefully he built his mind body with the last strength his fëa had. It was not the Noldor Prince with gold plaited in his braids, but he looked good enough not to cause Írissë more distress. She had enough with the knowledge of her son’s deeds.
Fëanáro didn’t know how much time had passed since he came to his eldest son at Lord Námo’s request. It was difficult to measure the passage of time in the Halls, but Nelyafinwë had been so damaged that it seemed forever before his son was able to form a body again and keep it for more than a few moments. The illusion of a body that Nelyafinwë formed was without his right hand, though. He could not bring his right hand back because he still believed that he deserved to be punished for his failures.
It had been different with Turcafinwë and Curufinwë, the first to come to the Halls along with Morifinwë. For some reason Morifinwë had hidden from everybody for a long time, while his other two sons had accepted Finwë’s presence first, and then Fëanáro’s. They had been full of anger and regret, but the scars they bore were of a different nature. They had believed in Fëanáro’s quest more than Nelyafinwë had, and so they needed another sort of healing.
Morifinwë had accepted his presence and help when he came out of wherever he was hiding, but he would not speak of his life in Endorë, not with Fëanáro at least. He knew that Morifinwë had been living with a Sindarin Elf, but there was someone else, and Morifinwë would not speak his name at all. Lord Námo and Lady Vairë had taken a special interest in him, claiming that they had met him once when he came too close to the Halls.
Nelyafinwë was standing in front of him, still without his right hand, having woken from his rest. His hair was loose, and his clothes were simple for a Noldorin Prince, but at least he was no longer losing his physical illusion into an explosion of fire.
“What is it, my son?”
“Have you seen Findekáno?”
Fëanáro quickly schooled his expression into a calm one. He was still trying to understand the love his son had for his cousin. At least that Brellas whom Caranthir loved was not his own kin.
“Not lately, but I know that Findekáno well… and wishes to see you when you are ready.”
“He died because of me. Why would he want to see me?”
“He died because Gothmog killed him, and no one could reach him in time.”
“I believed that it was the right time to take Morgoth down. If I hadn’t convinced him to attack…”
“Findekáno is not easily convinced to do anything he doesn’t want to do, Nelyo. Even as a child, he was stubborn, even disrespectful at times. If there is someone to blame for his death, it is me. I sent Lord Mandos away when he pronounced our doom. I should have stopped you all when I was mortally wounded. I saw clearly in that moment that we were doomed to lose. I was selfish, and for that I ask you forgiveness.”
Nelyafinwë looked at him for a moment, as if surprised that he was asking forgiveness. Then he embraced Fëanáro. “You were not yourself, Father. You would never wish us harm, but I forgive you if that will take the guilt from your heart.”
“Thank you, my son.” Something like tears rolled down Fëanáro’s face, and he kept Nelyafinwë in his arms, feeling a little less guilty for his own faults. He did not deserve his sons’ forgiveness, but he was learning that love was always stronger than hate.
“Findekáno wants to see you, Nelyo. Your brothers want to see you too, but not before you are ready. We all love you.”
“What if I am never ready to leave this room, or the Halls?”
Fëanáro moved back and stroked Nelyafinwë’s tousled hair. “Then I will stay here with you forever.”
Caranthir woke up to find himself resting in Námo’s and Vairë’s bed. How he knew this was their sleeping chambers was a mystery to him, but he knew. Carefully, he sat up and slid his feet to the floor, determined to leave the place before their owners came.
That was when he realized that he was not alone. Vairë was there with him.
“How do you feel, Carnistir?”
“Confused, my Lady. What am I doing here?”
“You collapsed in the weaving chambers. Do you remember that?”
Caranthir looked inside himself and he saw it all. The tapestry that showed Maedhros throwing himself to the fire, the pain he felt, Míriel coming to him, Vairë…
“I remember. My body hurt, but I have no real body, so it was Maedhros pain. I had stopped feeling it until I saw the tapestry. Then Míriel came, and she helped me, and then you… Why did I collapse?”
“The pain was emotional even if you felt it in your illusion of a body. Everyone who ever had a hröa, feels it at times like a lost limb.”
Caranthir looked at his body. “But I retained it even while sleeping in your bed. Why was I sleeping here, my Lady?”
“It was closer than your chambers, and you were having nightmares at first. Then you fell into a calmer sleep.”
Caranthir frowned. “How long have I been sleeping?”
“A long time, beloved.”
And then the memories came, of him gliding through the void with Vairë, his spiritual form less powerful than hers. Námo came later and Caranthir distrusted him at first…
Vairë looked concerned. “What did you dream, Carnistir?”
“I was someone else…”
“You were.” It was Námo.
“We cannot tell you more, Morifinwë,” Námo said. “Eru forbade it.”
“But I know now, so why stay silent?”
“Because the memories will come to you when you are strong enough to bear with them,” Vairë said. “You dreamed of it, and me calling you beloved brought the dream back. The harm is done, and I am sorry.”
“It is not your fault, my Lady, but I need to know.” He looked at Námo. “Is that why I have always sensed your presence?”
“That is so,” Námo said.
“Am I not the son of my parents, then?”
“You are, beloved,” Vairë said. “You were one of the spirits that Eru created, destined to be a Maiar.”
“At your service.”
“At Vairë’s service,” Námo said, “but Eru decided that you should be one of the Firstborn. You can read minds, and you can move small objects. The source of that power is who you were before.”
“And who am I now?”
“You are Morifinwë Carnistir,” Vairë said, “though you seem to like your Sindarin name more. You speak Quenya again, but you think of yourself as Caranthir.”
“You are reading my mind…”
“There is a link between us, and it is stronger here,” Námo said. “We just feel these things.”
“You will remember it all, Carnistir… Caranthir,” Vairë said. “Just give yourself time.”
Caranthir sighed. “What about Maedhros. Is he well now?”
“He is with your father,” Námo said, “and he is healing. You will see him before you leave the Halls. That I can promise you.”
Caranthir wanted to ask when he would leave the Halls, but he knew that Námo would not tell. He bowed, and thanked them for their help and words, and then he left their chambers. He had to find his brothers.
Life… or death, had turned into a dull affair, Findekáno thought as he glided along the Halls’ corridors. He was alone by chance. Since his breakdown his father and siblings were careful not to let him alone. He had escaped their gentle concern and was now trying to think and find a place in his spirit where he could start to rebuild himself again. He had to do it, for himself, for Maitimo. The time for despair and grief was over. He needed to recover his inner strength if he wanted to help Maitimo when he was out of his rooms.
He still could not find Caranthir, but he knew that his cousin was all right and shielded from whatever was happening with Maitimo and Fëanáro. Caranthir’s mental powers seemed to have grown in the Halls, and even without a body he could feel the pain his family was in at every moment. He had learned to shield himself, but Maitimo’s despair had caught Caranthir off guard.
Findekáno missed him. They were not that close, but the moment Caranthir brought Aikanáro to Finwë’s palace a link based on their secret lovers was formed. Nobody, not even Finwë learned that two more of his young grandsons were lovers. Surely, he knew it now.
Finwë had told Findekáno and Maitimo about his love for another Elf when he was very young, still living at Cuiviénen. Finwë would not say who that was, but Maitimo had told Findekáno that he believed it was Ingwë. The two kings loved their wives, that was plain to see, but Maitimo had seen the way they looked at each other from time to time.
There is not passion, no, but something deeper…
Maybe that was why Finwë understood their love and had given them a place where they could be together. As heirs of the king’s sons, they had worked and lived in the palace for many years. Findaráto and Laurëfindil had come later.
It was Írissë. Had she been following him?
“What is it, sister?”
“Maitimo is outside his quarters. Father saw him with Uncle Fëanáro.”
Findekáno forced himself to stay calm and not rush in a mad search of his lover. It had been so long, but something in Írissë’s tone made him pause.
“What is wrong?”
“He is not healed yet. That is what Uncle Fëanáro told Father. You cannot look for him, brother. Not yet.”
“But he is my lover! If Father and Uncle Fëanáro are planning to keep us apart here---”
“That’s not it, Finno. Maitimo is still traumatized by his manner of death, and by the fact that you died because he was not there in time.”
“Those men betrayed them. I would never blame him for it. He needs me, Írissë. He needs my love, my words of comfort.”
“Be strong, Finno. The time will come when you will meet him again. You have to be strong and stay away from him for now.”
Maedhros looked at his brothers, a mixture of anxiety and guilt in his eyes. They had followed him, even when he had given Finwë’s crown to Nolofinwë. They had accepted him back after Findekáno rescued him from Thangorodrim. They could have rejected him as their leader; after all he had been in the enemy’s hands for so long that he might be a thrall, a spy. Makalaurë had been in charge already, and he had wisely decided not to rescue him. Melkor would have captured them all, one by one.
To this day Maedhros could not understand how Findekáno found him and came out of his rash adventure unharmed.
His brothers had taken him back, ask forgiveness for not rescuing him from torment, and waited until he recovered his strength and sanity. They all had suffered in different ways, and they had known that he was alive because of Carnistir.
He did not deserve a second chance…
“Your brothers love you, Nelyo,” his father said before he could bolt away. “We all love you.”
The first to approach him was Tyelkormo. “I urged you to attack Doriath, and for that I died, along with Curufinwë and Carnistir. We all felt the urge to fulfill the Oath, but it was I who started it. Death was the result of my actions. You couldn’t have saved us, Maitimo.”
“I’m not Maitimo anymore,” Maedhros said, his illusion body showing the scars it bore after his captivity.
Tyelkormo embraced him. “Maedhros then. I love you, brother. Let us share your pain. I have learned that here. Pain lessens when you share it.”
Maedhros leaned into his brother’s embrace. “What about guilt, Tyelko?”
“Guilt is another matter,” Curufinwë said, coming close to them. “It can eat you away if you allow it to fester like a wound. We are working on it, Nelyo. We can work together.”
Carnistir came next, his face pale even for a made-up body. Maedros knew why. He had sensed Carnistir’s mind searching for him, and he had pushed him away so his pain was not a burden to his brother. They embraced in silence; no words needed between them.
“We were mostly away from the war, and that was thanks to you, brother,” Pityafinwë said.
“You were so young… You died so young…”
“But we also lived,” Telufinwë said. “We hunted and feasted, and we were happy when the Oath was at rest.”
Maedhros embraced the twins and tried to remember if he ever was happy while he lived in Endorë. Findekáno’s face came to his mind, his smile, the way he would come to visit him unexpectedly, leaving his escort behind. The way he supported Maedhros’ decisions and tried to make the peace between his brothers and the rest of Nolofinwë’s host, the way he followed Maedhros’ counsel and attacked Angband, and died at Gothmog’s hands…
“Nelyo, look at me.”
Maedhros looked at his father, trying to escape the memory of that day, the tales about Findekáno’s death, the guilt he had carried since his beloved cousin was beaten up after his death by Gothmog and the other Balrogs. His missing hand ached, and his whole body burned in pain.
“We are here, son. You are not alone, and not everything that happened after I died was bad. You built powerful realms, you gave my crown to Nolo, making the peace with those we left behind.”
“Can you forgive me that, Father?”
“You made a hard decision, Nelyo. I understand it, and I know that it was necessary. You see, my son? Even I can learn.”
“Makalaurë wanted to surrender to Eonwë and come back to endure whatever punishment we must. I convinced him to try to steal the Silmarils… If I---”
“Even Käno’s attempt at surrendering was doomed to fail,” Fëanáro said. “The Valar do not forgive easily.”
Fëanáro’s voice was bitter, and only then was Maedhros able to see past his own pain and guilt and see that of his father. He closed his eyes, and even as he embraced his father, he felt his right hand forming. It was mostly bones covered with thin, pale flesh, but it was there for a moment.
“Even the Valar don’t know everything,” Carnistir said. “Káno will find his way back, Nelyo. He is strong; he is one of us. We all must bear our pain and try to heal.”
Caranthir watched in silence as Maedhros sat among their brothers while their father looked for Finwë. Maedhros was not ready to see him, but he wanted their grandfather to know that he was well. As well as he could be after his suicide, Caranthir mused.
Maedhros’ body was fully formed save for his lost hand that was bones wrapped in thin flesh. The scars on his body were an angry red, and his hair was short and singed off. His mind was tightly closed, but at least he no longer looked as someone who was about to fly away.
That was good. Maedhros needed to forgive himself, but for the looks of it that would take time. Trying to help their brothers was a good way of taking Maedhros’ mind from his own pain. Right now, he was listening to the tale of how the twins were allowed by Námo to stay together when they came into the Halls, and how they had found Arakáno once they came out of their chambers. Arakáno was gone now, back at Tirion, probably with his mother. Caranthir had a soft spot for him; as a young boy, Arakáno took to following him around for a while, though soon enough he started to spend more time with Ethelë.
“What do you think of our brother, Moryo?” Tyelkormo asked. Maedhros was speaking with Curufinwë and the twins, but mostly it was Telufinwë speaking about his touch with death when their father commanded them to burn the ships. Maedhros had refused to do it.
“He is so damaged that he might never be the same. None of us will.”
Tyelkormo sighed. “Yet he bears the weight of our faults on his shoulders in a way that not even those of us who did worse things do. I regret all I did, up to some point, but I am learning to deal with my anger…”
“Anger was something that led most of us on, but not Maedhros. For him it was duty, and pain at our Grandfather’s death. I know we all felt that pain, but it led to anger in you, Curvo and I. The twins just came along, and Káno… It was difficult for me to read Káno’s mind, but he adopted those children, and wanted to come back.”
Tyelkormo frowned. “To be punished.”
“Are we not being punished here?”
There was a sudden silence.
“I believed that if we got the Silmarils the Oath would be fulfilled,” Maedhros said, coming towards them. “I thought that maybe if we succeeded the Oath would stop tormenting us. I wanted Káno safe, and I condemned him to an eternity of loneliness on Endorë.”
“Káno could have said no,” Curufinwë said. “Yes, you convinced him, but only because he allowed himself to be convinced.”
“Or because he loved me too much to let me go alone into the camp. Only Eonwë’s intervention stopped the others from killing us. I took my own life and left Káno alone.”
“You are the best of us,” Caranthir said, and took Maedhros in his arms. His body still felt so frail, so about to lose its shape that Caranthir tried to give him whatever strength he had.
“Stop it, Moryo,” Maedhros said, holding him close now. “Whatever you are doing, stop it.”
Caranthir nodded dazedly, aware that Tyelkormo was looking at him with unveiled concern.
“You never told us where you have been, Moryo,” he said.
“I… I saw Míriel…”
“You saw my Mother?”
They all turned to see Fëanáro standing there, his face as pale as snow, his eyes burning as it with fever. His body illusion’s aspect showing the emotions inside him.
“I saw her, Papa, but it was brief.”
“When did you see her? Where?”
“In Vairë’s workshop. I was looking at one of her works and I… Míriel came and pulled me away, but Vairë sent her away.”
“Because she is fragile still,” Caranthir said.
“What were you doing in Vairë’s workshop?” Curufinwë asked.
Caranthir closed his eyes, knowing that he could not tell them what he knew about his past. He felt Tyelkormo’s arms around him.
“Leave him be, Curvo. Father, Moryo cannot say more. Can you not see?”
Fëanáro opened his mouth to speak, but then he nodded, the effort to leave this be plain on the way he clenched his fists. Then he saw Maedhros, eyes wide, his body trembling.
Caranthir sent a soothing wave in Maedhros’ direction and leaned into Tyelkormo’s support. He had spent whatever power he had in these Halls.
Fëanáro placed a hand on Caranthir’s shoulder, “I am sorry, son.” Then he turned to Maedhros and the others. “One day she will be strong enough to come to us, and you will meet her and talk to her.”
“Come with me, Moryo,” Tyelkormo said. “Whatever you are hiding, I hope that you tell me about it when you are ready. Now you need rest.”
Caranthir nodded, wishing he could tell Tyelkormo about it. His brother knew of his connection with Námo, and he was not happy about it. Caranthir didn’t want to say more until his memories returned in full, if it ever happened. For now, all he wanted to be was one of Fëanáro’s and Nerdanel’s sons.
It had been a long time since Maitimo came to the Halls, and nobody but his father and brothers had seen him. Findekáno knew that Finwë would see him soon, and that their grandfather’s presence would be good for Maedhros. Findekáno no longer expected to see his lover. Hope had dimmed inside him like a dying flame until it had gone out, leaving him with nothing but his own self.
This had made him stronger, even if he would always be in pain. Maitimo didn’t need him now. Findekáno’s sole presence might send his lover into a crisis, so strong was his guilt over what happened in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Findekáno wished he could find a way to relieve Maitimo of that guilt, to convince him that it was not his burden to wear. He was certain that he would find the words if he was ever allowed to see him again.
It was not going to happen, though, and he had to deal with it.
Findekáno turned around and saw Finwë standing there, Maitimo at his side. He looked frail, dressed in simple clothes, his hair short and without luster, his eyes so full of pain that it broke Findekáno’s heart.
“Finno, not that name,” Finwë whispered.
“That is how I have always called him, Grandfather.” Findekáno turned to Maitimo. “You are and have always been Maitimo to me. I love you.”
Maitimo stood there, his left hand on Finwë’s shoulder as if for support, his right hand merely bones covered with flesh. His illusion of a body showed how he felt, but the pain in his eyes had lessened slightly.
Findekáno wanted to rush forward and embrace his lover, but he had been warned to be careful when he met Maitimo again. What nobody had told him was that it would be now! He was as nervous as Maitimo looked.
“Maedhros wanted to see you, Finno.”
“Findekáno… I wanted to… ask for your forgiveness---”
“There is nothing…”
Maitimo seemed to take a deep breath. “Forgiveness for telling you that is was time to attack Morgoth, for assuring you that our allies would be faithful. I was wrong, and you died because of it.”
“I died because Gothmog killed me, but if you need forgiveness from me, you have it, Maitimo.”
Maitimo looked so relieved that it was all Findekáno could do not to cry. It didn’t matter that they were all illusions of the bodies they once had, and that his tears would be part of that illusion, but his pain was real, and so was Maitimo’s.
“Can I touch you, beloved?”
Maitimo froze, and closed his eyes, but before Findekáno could apologize, he extended his right hand, that one he had cut. Findekáno took it in his own and kissed the fragile skin.
“Can you forgive me for this?” he asked Maitimo.
“I have forgiven you for not killing me long ago, Finno. Will you… will you come closer?”
Findekáno could sense Finwë walking away, but he knew that their grandfather would be close if Maitimo needed him. He closed the distance between them and opened his arms hesitantly. Tears came down his cheeks when his cousin came into his embrace. Maitimo was trembling badly, and so was Findekáno, but he was aware that he had to be strong for Maitimo. He had to do everything in his power to forget about his own needs and give Maitimo only what he needed, what he was able to bear.
“I love you,” Maitimo whispered against Findekáno’s hair. “I love you, Finno. I know I do not deserve---”
“You deserve all the love in the world, Maitimo. It is I who does not…” Findekáno looked at his cousin and cupped his cheek with a hand. “You came to me, beloved. I am here for you. We all love you. Our family loves you. I love you. Will you allow me to stay with you for a little while?”
Maitimo closed his eyes and leaned into Findekáno’s touch, his pale face slowly regaining some color. When he opened his eyes, he was calmer, though Findekáno could see the anguish lurking in the depths of his eyes.
“Please,” Maitimo said. “Stay with me.”
And this time it was him who embraced Findekáno, tightly, as if he feared that he would leave or disappear. Findekáno embraced him again, careful not to hold him too tight.
“I will stay with you for as long as you’ll have me, Maitimo. I am yours. I have always been yours.”
Maedhros trembled in his cousin’s arms, wondering if this was a hallucination and he still was hanged from Thangorodrim. He might be for all he knew. Or Sauron might have turned him into an Orc, and now he was dead and dreaming of this.
“Are you real?”
“As real as a shadow in these Halls can be. Maitimo, what is it? I know that look. Come back to me.”
It had happened many times after Findekáno had rescued him from the mountain. Sometimes Maedhros would believe that it was all a dream, and that his family’s love, and his cousin’s presence were nothing but a dream. Findekáno had grounded him then.
“I rescued you, and we fought against Morgoth. You ruled on Western Beleriand. Remember Himring, and all the good you did. Remember me, visiting you there.”
Findekáno sounded distressed, and that was enough to shake Maedhros off the dark place he was falling into. He looked at his cousin. “I remember, you would come to Himring, sometimes without an escort. That was reckless, Finno.”
“I wanted to see you, and Father was too preoccupied about me being his heir and such. Turukáno had left to his secret city and taken part of our army with him.”
“Those who came to Endorë because of him.”
“Even Laurëfindil and Ehtelë.”
“And your sister, before she was lost.”
“We kept Morgoth at bay for centuries…”
They stood there, remembering, and for the first time since he came to the Halls Maedhros was certain that it was not all a dream. He had lived, and loved, and fought in Endorë. He had slain those who held the Silmarils, and he had lost his beloved cousin…
“I love you, Maitimo,” Fingon said, and placed his lips on Maedhros’. It felt different, but no less real. They might not have hröar anymore, but their fear burned brightly even in these shadows. It lasted too little and the light inside Maedhros went out too soon.
Findekáno was looking at him lovingly, not letting go of his skeletal hand while he ran his fingers through the shadows of Maedhros’ hair. He started to cry silently, feeling the weight of all that had happened to them, of all that he had done after swearing the Oath, of how Findekáno had died alone, of how wretched his life had been.
“You will leave here one day, and you will have the life you deserve.”
“We are leaving here together, Maitimo.”
“I may not be able to leave, like my father. You are not going to stay here forever. You are a creature of light and stars. I still remember how the sun shone in your hair, whether you had braided gold in it or not.”
“I will not leave if you stay!”
“Calm down,” a voice said. It was Finwë. “It is true that Fëanáro will never leave, but nothing has been said about his children.”
“I will still be here for a long time, but I have seen you again, and that is enough.”
“You are going to see me every day or night, whatever these perpetual shadows are. There are places where you can find some color, though they have eluded me lately. Will you not look for them with me, beloved?”
Maedhros doubted he would ever find such a place again, but he smiled at Findekáno’s words and nodded, feeling stronger and more aware of their surroundings than before.
“I will leave you too now,” Finwë said. “Return to your fathers when you are ready. They will worry if you don’t. I have spoken to them, and they will not interfere in your love anymore.”
“Thank you,” Grandfather, Findekáno said, embracing Maedhros protectively. Maedhros simply nodded, and when Finwë was gone he went into Findekáno’s arms again, needing to feel his closeness, even if it was only the illusion of his beautiful lover’s warmth.
Caranthir was sleeping, that he knew, and in his dreams, he was Morë again, following Vairë around, joining his spirit to hers, and feeling the love she had for him. Morë loved her too, and the only thing that disrupted their companionship was Námo’s presence. Vairë loved him too, but Morë didn’t trust him. Námo was more powerful than Morë. What would he do if he turned on her?
You are assuming that I mean to harm her, Námo said. Why is that? I love Vairë, and I would love you too if you allowed me to come closer.
Why would you love me? You do not know me, my Lord.
Námo didn’t like Morë to call him lord, which was why Morë did it. He could feel no menace from the powerful Ainur, but he would not be subdued by him, either.
I have no wish to subdue you, Morë.
Stop reading my mind!
I can’t, not without your help. There is a connection between us, and you project your thoughts when you lose patience.
Morë shivered, remembering the Valaráukar surrounding him, calling to him. He had escaped, but Melkor’s voice was still in his mind, calling him. He looked at Námo and rushed away.
That was when he found himself surrounded by the Valaráukar, unable to escape from their power, Melkor’s voice in his head. Morë was about to lose consciousness when a brilliant spirit, one of the Valaráukar not bounded to Melkor came. She was so powerful that even Morë fell back while the other Valaráukar left. Námo was supporting him.
“Moryo, what is it?” Tyelkormo asked.
“I was… one of them. I was…” Caranthir tried to escape, but he was easily caught by his brother’s arms, so strong for an illusion.
“Calm down, Moryo. You are safe here. It was a nightmare.”
“Can we have nightmares so real?”
“We can, but I could not wake you. What is it that torments you so, brother? Is it Lord Námo?”
“Yes, no, it’s just dreams of the past.”
Tyelkormo didn’t look convinced, and he tensed when Námo materialized before them. Caranthir looked at him and remembered it all. He had been saved by Arien, and Námo had taken him to Vairë. They had stayed together, gliding through the void, learning, loving each other, until the day when Caranthir… No, Morë, had fallen asleep never to wake up again.
“Is it true?”
Námo looked at Tyelkormo.
“I am staying with my brother,” he said.
“There are things that you are not allowed to hear, Turcafinwë.”
“I do not trust you with my brother. You have been there since he was a little boy. Why is that?”
“I was… one of them…”
“Tyelkormo is my brother, Námo. I am no longer Morë.”
“Moryo, what are you speaking about?”
Námo looked pained. “Something that he shouldn’t have remembered, but it was Eru’s will. I will leave you now, Morifinwë. You have the choice to break this bond, or keep it, but Turcafinwë must forget.”
“Hush, Tyelko,” Caranthir said. “I will tell my brother about it and make my choice. He will keep the secret.”
Námo looked at them for what seemed hours and left. Caranthir closed his eyes and leaned into his brother’s protective embrace.
“I will tell you all, but when I cut the link we will forget. That is how it should be, for you and for me.”
Findekáno spent all the time he could with Maitimo, only leaving him when he was with Finwë or one of his brothers. They never saw Fëanáro, but then Findekáno’s own father never showed up when they were together, either. It was better like that, Findekáno mused as he followed Turukáno along the Halls’ corridors. He didn’t want Nolofinwë to make Maitimo feel uncomfortable.
Now he was following Turukáno through the Halls’ corridors that headed to their father’s rooms. They were close, the rooms of his siblings and father. Findekáno’s was closer to what had been Arakáno’s rooms before he left the Halls.
“What is it that Father wants?”
“He wants to speak with you about Maedhros.”
Findekáno stopped. “There is nothing to speak about. Maitimo is my mate, and if Lord Námo allows us to stay together, Father cannot oppose him.”
Turukáno looked at him. “I don’t think that is what Father wants to do, Finno. Just listen to him, will you? We are supposed to close our wounds here. I am trying, and I know that Maitimo didn’t help Uncle Fëanáro to burn the ships. I am still struggling to forgive his brothers and father, though.”
“At least Elenwë is out of the Halls,” Findekáno said. He had been so engrossed in his own pain that he had forgotten about Turukáno’s.
“Aye, she is back and living with her parents.”
“You will follow her soon.”
Turukáno looked sad now. “Not while there is so much anger in my heart, brother, but I am trying to make my peace with what they did to us.”
Findekáno embraced his brother. “Anger will pass, forgiveness will come when you stop fighting against it, Tunno. Your daughter survived, did she not? You have something to be grateful for.”
“Írissë’s son betrayed me…”
“That was not our sister’s fault.”
“I know, and I am trying to forgive him. Our cousins and uncle, I never had a close relationship with them, save perhaps with Curvo for a while. Maeglin, I received him with honor and protected him when our sister died. She paid me with treason.”
“Then maybe you could start with Maitimo, who never wished to do you harm?”
“You died because of him, Finno.”
“No, I died because his host was delayed by treason. You know it, brother.”
“If I had come earlier to the battle… I am sorry, Finno. I should have been there with you.”
Findekáno brushed the ghosts of tears on Turukáno’s cheeks. “You came, and that’s all that matters to me. You would have drowned to save Elenwë. You have to forgive yourself before you can forgive others, little brother.”
Turukáno smiled, “You were not this wise before.”
They had arrived at Nolofinwë’s quarters. Findekáno smiled. “I have learned a thing or two.”
When Turukáno left, Findekáno turned to their father. “You wanted to see me, Father?”
Nolofinwë’s quarters were sparse, only the illusion of a bed, and a couple of chairs. No books, but maybe it wasn’t possible to have them in the Halls. They were supposed to think of their crimes and faults, and not get distracted by other matters.
“Come inside, Findekáno. Sit with me.”
Findekáno sat in one of the chairs and looked at his father. Turukáno had advised him to listen, and he was determined to do it, unless Nolofinwë spoke against Maitimo.
“You asked for me, Father.”
“I did. I haven’t seen you for a long time, and I wished to speak with you.”
“I am here.”
“You think I will speak against Maitimo. I will not.”
Findekáno relaxed minimally. “Turukáno said you wished to speak about him. What is it then?”
“Son, I might not fully understand your relationship with him, but I am trying. I just hope your feelings for my brother’s eldest son do not stop you from leaving the Halls when the time comes.”
“I will not leave without him.”
“It is not your choice, Finno.”
Findekáno stood. “I love him!”
“I know you do, but the time will come when you have to leave, and he will have to stay here. Please, sit down. I bear no ill will to him.”
“Maitimo, his name is Maitimo.”
Nolofinwë nodded. “I’ve heard he prefers the name Maedhros now.”
Findekáno sat down again. “He is still Maitimo for me.”
“Good. Listen, I called you because I will leave the Halls soon, and I wanted to make sure that you understand that Lord Námo will make you leave at some point.”
“You are leaving the Halls?”
Nolofinwë nodded. “Yes, and though I know you’d rather speak about Maedhros with my father, I wanted you to know that I am… I accept your feelings from him. All I want if to make sure that you don’t suffer when the time to leave comes for you.”
“You cannot change that, Father. I would stay here forever if Maitimo is never allowed to leave.”
Nolofinwë closed his eyes. “He will be allowed to leave when his time comes. The only one who will stay here forever is my brother Fëanáro.”
There was pain in Nolofinwë’s voice. Findekáno took his hand. “I am sorry, Father.”
“I will miss him. We have been speaking for a while, and much of the hurts between is have been healed, but such is his fate, to stay here until the end of Time.”
“If you have forgiven him, there is hope for our family. Maybe one day we will be all together, when the world is made again.”
Nolofinwë had left the Halls long ago, and so had Arafinwë’s sons. Then Ereinion, Artaresto’s son had left, and shortly after, Írissë had been released and so forced to leave her son behind. Maeglin still had to gain Turukáno’s forgiveness, and to really repent of what he did at Gondolin. Fëanáro knew that his sons would be the last to leave, but he also knew that Findekáno’s time was coming.
What would become of Nelyafinwë then? His son was stronger, and it was not only due to the help of his family, no. Findekáno’s company and love had been fundamental in Nelyafinwë’s recovery. Fëanáro had learned to accept his son’s love for his cousin, and now he feared the effect their separation would have on Nelyafinwë.
Telperinquar would leave soon too, and that was a relief. Curufinwë’s son had rejected the Oath, but it had found him anyway. Fëanáro still remembered the state his grandson had been in after he died. It had taken a long time for Finwë and Curufinwë to make him speak. Now he was better, and once out of the Halls he would go back to his mother, and Telpelindë would help her son to adapt to a new life in Tirion.
“What is it, my son?”
“I am worried for Nelyo, Father.”
Finwë nodded. “I worry for him too, but there is more. I can see it in your eyes.”
Fëanáro tried to look away, but his father’s hands prevented it. “Tell me, Fëanáro.”
“That is so.”
“I never thought I’d miss…”
Fëanáro nodded, “There is no need to tell him when you leave, Father.”
“I will not leave you behind, my son.”
“Do you not want to return to your… to Indis?”
“I would like all of us to be together, but that is not possible. I followed you to Formenos, my son. I will stay here with you.”
Fëanáro looked away. “You died at Formenos. Maybe you should not stay with me now. If I had been there---”
“Morgoth would have killed us both. Look at me, Fëanáro. My death was not your fault. No Elf should endure the grief of losing both his parents. I cannot condone what happened next, but I love you, and I understand you. If someone is at fault… I should have made sure that you felt loved and cared for.”
“You were the best, you are the best father I could ever have, and I understand now your loneliness. Mother was gone, and even now she will not speak to me. I took her life.”
“She chose to give her life to bring you forth, my son. You are so much like her that sometimes I feared I would lose you too. Míriel loved you, but though she was strong, she gave you all her life strength. One day you will see her again.”
Fëanáro nodded, though he was certain that he would never see Míriel again. He was moved by his father’s love, though.
“What can I do for Nelyo, Father? I fear he will fall apart when Findekáno leaves.”
“Nelyafinwë is stronger now,” Finwë said. “His hand is fully formed, and though his hair is still short and singed by fire at the edges, it is growing slowly.”
“I have noticed, which is why I wished…”
“That Findekáno stayed in the Halls?”
Feänátro sighed. “It is selfish of me, I know, and worse considering for how long I tried to separate them.”
Finwë placed an arm around Fëanáro’s shoulders. “You had Nolo’s help with that, but I believe you both have learned to think of your sons’ happiness. I can understand why you would wish that Findekáno stayed. Actually, he would have left already if he hadn’t convinced Lord Námo to let him stay until Nelyafinwë is stronger.”
“Findekáno convinced Námo to let him stay?”
“I think it was Carnistir.”
“That worries me too. Námo has always been… Moryo met him more than once before I made the Silmarils. That is not normal. Why would Námo and my son…”
“Maybe you should ask Carnistir, but I don’t think you should worry so much. Lord Námo would never hurt him.”
“I know, but something is going on, and I will find out what it is.”
Caranthir slept in his own quarters, not far from the ones his brothers had built for themselves. Ambarussa slept together, and so did Tyelkormo and Curufinwë. Not tonight, though, Caranthir realized when he woke up and saw Tyelkormo sleeping beside him. Since he learned the truth about Caranthir’s past, he seemed to believe that Námo would finally take him.
It was ironic that Tyelkormo would tease Caranthir with that when they were children. Caranthir had dreamed of Námo frequently, and once he even met the Lord of Mandos. Now he knew why, but it had been confusing back then. More so when he was older and got lost and meet Vairë. They had “felt” familiar.
“Moryo, did you have a bad dream?”
“No, I just woke up and found you in my bed. I am fine, I promise.”
Tyelkormo sat on the bed. “You were not fine the last time you slept here alone. You woke even Curvo, not to mention Father. He wants to know what is going on.”
“I cannot tell him more, Tyelko.”
“I know, but he is persistent.”
Caranthir sighed and left the bed, his mind producing a set of clothes around his naked body. He was more powerful in the Halls, and more so after he remembered his past.
Tyelkormo did the same, but at a slower pace. They all could imagine their bodies and sustain the illusion of having clothes, but it took part of their energy. Caranthir could do that in the blink of an eye now.
“Let us go to see Maitimo,” Caranthir said. “Findekáno will leave the Halls soon. Námo granted him a time, but now it is over.”
Tyelkormo looked at him, an unreadable expression in his eyes.
“What is it?”
“You swayed Námo’s will, and you are no Lúthien. You were a Maiar, more powerful than she ever was.”
“You are wrong, Tyelko. I was never a Maia. I was destined to be one, but Eru decided to make me Father’s and Mother’s son, your brother. That is all I want to be.”
“But you loved them, Námo and Vairë.”
“I did, but I am not that lost spirit anymore. I fell in love twice.”
“Aikanáro and Brellas.”
Caranthir nodded. “One changed me for a daughter of Men, and the other died to keep me alive. At least they are out of the Halls now.”
“I will not stay with Námo and Vairë, Tyelko.”
“Then why have you not broken your link with them?”
“Because I want to be able to help you and Father. Maitimo was not ready to lose Findekáno so fast. That is why I talked to Námo. Now that he is stronger, Findekáno will leave and we need to be there for him.”
“I know, and don’t think I’m not grateful for your help, little brother. I just worry for you. This link with Námo has tormented you since you were a small child.” He paused. “I know I made it worse when I told you that Lord Námo took little children away, but how could I know?”
Caranthir embraced his brother. “You couldn’t have known, so stop feeling guilty, Tyelko. I was a difficult child, and maybe this link was the reason, or maybe not.”
Tyelkormo nodded. “At least now we know why you cannot cook.”
Caranthir rolled his eyes. “Now that you are back to normal, let us go find the others.”
“What about Father’s questions?”
“I have admitted to having a link with Námo and Vairë. He will have to accept it.”
“He will go to Lord Námo.”
Caranthir smiled. “I know, and I am certain that Námo will find a way to get out of this.”
Fingon must leave the Halls...
Findekáno stood alone before Lord Námo, listening to his words. He knew what the Vala was saying, yet he could not understand the words. All he knew was that his time in the Halls was over, had been over for a while, and that he would leave Maedhros alone with his brothers and father, and that Finwë would take care of them all. His grandfather was close, Findekáno could feel his presence. It was comforting, but the pain was still there. How could Lord Námo ask him to leave Maedhros alone?
“It is part of Nelyafinwë’s his healing process son of Nolofinwë. He needs to deal with his guilt without your help. It is time.”
“But he needs me!”
Námo appeared to sigh. “I can see that you are almost as stubborn as Morifinwë, but you have stayed in my Halls for too long. You have wounds of your own to heal, and for that you need to focus on yourself.”
“I am fine.”
“You are not. There will be no more discussion about this.”
“I apologize, Lord Námo. I meant no disrespect. I am concerned for my cousin.”
“I know,” Námo said, not unkindly. “Go now and say good-bye. You will be restored to life soon.”
Findekáno bowed stiffly and left the Lord of Mandos’ judgment chamber. He had been there once before, when he came to the Halls. He had been wounded in body, mind and spirit, but never like Maedhros. Why could he not stay and help his cousin?
“Grandfather, you knew he wouldn’t let me stay?”
“I guessed, child. You have been here for long enough. You would have been gone already if it were not for Carnistir.”
“The link he and Námo have.”
“Aye, a link that is a mystery for everyone. Fëanáro questioned Carnistir, but he would say nothing that we didn’t know already. At least we know that Lord Námo will not punish him for his outbursts. Eru knows that Carnistir can be difficult at times.”
“Yet he loves his family dearly, and I am grateful for his help.”
“Do not take my words the wrong way, Findekáno. We are worried for Carnistir, Fëanáro and I. There is a link between him and Lord Námo, and that might be dangerous for Carnistir in the end.”
FIndekáno had not considered it, and now he understood why Maedhros had asked Carnistir what he had to convince Námo to allow Findekáno to stay in the Halls for a longer time.
“You said that Lord Námo would never hurt Caranthir.”
“Do you mean to say that Caranthir will never---”
“Leave the Halls? I will, in time. There is no need to worry about that.” Caranthir smiled, though his eyes were sad.
“We will talk, Granfather. Maedhros is waiting for you, Findekáno.”
“Does he know?”
“He does. I told him.”
Findekáno rushed in search of Maedhros without another word. Part of him was angry at Caranthir for telling Maedhros, but on the other side this might have been a command from Lord Námo.
I am his brother, Findekáno. I love him too. Remember that Maedhros needs you to be calm.
Caranthir’s mind-voice was laced with irritation, but there was no anger. Findekáno stopped his mad race and tried to compose himself. He made his hair look braided, and his clothes clean and without wrinkles. He didn’t want Maedhros’ to see how distressed he was.
He found Maedhros with his father and brothers, but they all left as soon as they saw him. Maedhros looked pale, his hair was not so short anymore, but his clothes were singed as if he had fallen into the fire.
“Maitimo.” Fingon went into his cousin’s arms and held him as tightly as he dared. “Maitimo, I am sorry.”
Maedhros ran his hands through Fingon’s hair. “You are not to blame, beloved. It is me who has kept you from moving on. Caranthir meant well, and I am grateful to him, but you cannot stay here forever.”
“Not forever, only until you are freed.”
“I was the last to die, Finno. Look at me.”
Fingon swallowed his tears and looked at Maedhros. “I told Lord Námo that you needed me here. What I did not tell him is that I need you too. There is nothing outside the Halls for me, Maitimo.”
“There is life, Findekáno. There is light and warmth. Your parents and siblings are waiting for you. Turukáno will leave here soon, and your family will be complete.”
“I miss them, but you are my family, Maitimo.”
Maedhros brushed the tears off Fingon’s face. “And you are mine, but we must be strong. You need to remember how it is to live outside these Halls, and when I come out---”
“I will be waiting for you, even if it takes…” Fingon trailed off, knowing that he might not see Maedhros for a long time.
“I love you, Findekáno.”
“And I love you, Maitimo, and I pledge myself to you forever.”
“Say the words, please.”
Maedhros was crying now. “I pledge myself to you forever, Findekáno, under the eyes of the Valar and with Eru as witness…”
“With Eru as witness, may he bless our union, for there is no one else for me and no one else for you.”
They embraced, and Findekáno could feel the link between them change. Eru had accepted their bond, and it would be unbreakable from now on.”
“You still have to leave, my love,” Maedhros said quietly.
“I know, but now you are mine and I am yours for as long as Eru allows us to live.”
Maedhros shivered. He was lying on the cot that was now his bed, mere thin tunic and leggings covering his body, a pain like he had never felt before raking his body. He had tried to be strong, and he had managed to stay calm at first, but as time passed his need for Findekáno had grown and become painful. His lover, his bonded mate, Maedhros had not realized how difficult would it be for him to stay back and not be with him.
Or maybe he had known, but it mattered not. Findekáno was free of these Halls, as he should be.
It was his father.
“Look at me, my son.”
Fëanáro had not been happy when Maedhros told him that he had bonded with Findekeáno. Even if his father was trying to understand their love, he demanded answers from Maedhros, and only Námo’s presence had calmed them all. The bond has been made, Námo had said, and Eru has blessed it. Nothing could separate Findekáno and Nelyafinwë ever again. It was the first time a bond was made by two spirits in his Halls, but it was a true bond.
Maedhros had been lying on his side, his face facing the rough wall that reminded him so much of his captivity in Angband. He turned around slowly and looked at his father.
“Forgive me, my son. I should have been happy for you and not say those things about Findekáno.”
“You said he had tricked me into bonding with him. Am I so weak and worthless in your eyes, Father?”
Fëanáro shook his head, tears running down his cheeks. “You are not worthless, and I have never believed you weak. You are my eldest son, the first one I took into my arms, the first son your mother gave me.”
“Yet you expected me to be different, to bond with an Elf-maiden, and continue your line, and name my first son the fourth Finwë.”
“I deserve your anger, Nelyo, but I will not let you sink into despair. Rage against me if you must but think of Findekáno waiting for you outside the Halls. He would suffer if he knew… He would blame me with reason, but he would suffer for you.”
Maedhros sat up on the bed with his father’s help. How could a phantom body become so weak? If this continued, he might disappear and become a lonely spirit with no sense of who he was. He had to fight for Findekáno.
“It is not your fault alone, Father,” he said. “Your words hurt, but since Findekáno left I feel empty inside. How can you deal with being separated from Mother?”
Fëanáro brushed a few strands of hair off Maedhros’ face and gathered him in his arms. “It was torture at first, when we married, to be away from her. We didn’t have to stay away. Your bond is new, my son, and the wall that separates you from Findekáno feels thicker than the one that separates me from your mother. At least you know that he is waiting for you. I might never see her again.”
“Mother loved you,” Maedhros said. “She will wait for you if only to fight with you again.” He could feel his father’s pain ease, and it made him feel less alone. Caring for his father, trying to understand him, Námo had told him that forgiveness would heal them both, but only if the feeling was real.
“I forgive you, Father. Forgive me for not being the son you expected.”
“You have always been the son I wanted, Nelyo. It hurt to know that you had bonded with Findekáno without telling me, but then you were right to do so.”
“Fingon asked for it, and though I wanted nothing else but to be one with him, I tried to send him out of the Halls without being tied to me.”
Fëanáro smiled. “Findekáno has been following you around since he was able to walk. It would have been impossible for you to deny him. As things are, I hope my brother keeps him from coming back… I’m sorry, my son---”
“Don’t be, Papa. I don’t want Findekáno to come back to the Halls. I only hope that Uncle Nolofinwë is good to him.”
“He will be, or I will find a way to haunt him in his dreams.”
Maedhros smiled, and closed his eyes, feeling safe and calm. If his father had understood at last, there was hope for the rest of the family. If Nolofinwë hurt Findekáno, Maedhros would deal with him once he was out of the Halls.
Caranthir leaves the Halls.
Caranthir didn’t want to leave the Halls. There was no one waiting for him out there, and he didn’t want to leave his brothers. He didn’t want to leave Maedhros alone.
“You know he will not be alone, Moryo,” Tyelkormo said, as if he had read Caranthir’s mind. “You have said it like ten times already. I will be here, and make sure that Nelyo doesn’t fall back into despair. Father is sorry for his reaction, and Grandfather is keeping an eye on them both.
Caranthir nodded and embraced his brother. “I will miss you, Tyelko. I will miss you all.”
“I know, little brother, but your time here is over. You know that.”
“You will forget about my past.”
“I know. Are you certain you want to forget about it too? It is part of who you are after all.”
“I haven’t been Morë for a long time. I will remember the link and believe it’s simply a consequence of my mental powers.”
“When it is the other way.”
Caranthir nodded. “It is better like this. Námo and Vairë will cut our mental link, and I will believe it was a consequence of my stay in the Halls.”
Tyelkormo sighed. “As you wish, but if this affects you…”
“I will not, I promise.”
Tyelkormo didn’t seem to be convinced. “Right. Moryo, when you see Mother, tell her I am sorry for what I have done. Maybe one day she will be able to forgive me.”
“I have to ask forgiveness too and deliver all the messages you have given me. Even Father is sending a letter. I have no idea where he found ink and paper.”
“Lord Námo knows that Father isn’t happy about that link you have. I suppose it is easier to give him ink and paper than answer his questions.”
Caranthir laughed softly. “Keep the ‘house’ in order, Tyelko. Keep Maedhros sane. Good-bye, my brother.”
This time Tyelkormo embraced him. “Allow yourself to be happy, Moryo. Look for Aikanáro and Brellas.”
Caranthir just looked at him, and Tyelkormo rolled his eyes. “So stubborn, but then you always were.”
Vairë came in that moment to take Tyelkormo to a special chamber where he would sleep while his memories of Morë were taken away. Caranthir had already said good-bye to the rest of his family.
“Morifinwë, are you ready?”
Caranthir looked at Námo. He had taken the flesh, long, dark hair loose, grey eyes said. For a moment Caranthir remembered the way he glided along the void with him and Vairë. He had loved them both. He went into Námo’s arms.
“I loved you when I was Morë. Never doubt that, Námo.”
“And I will always love you, Morifinwë.” They kissed for the last time, and then Námo led him outside the Halls and to Irmo’s realm. He was to be reembodied in Estë’s island, like all those from the Elven royal lines. Caranthir lost his body as soon as he left the Halls, but he felt Nämo’s essence surrounding him. The last thing he heard was Vairë’s words of love, and then he slept.
When he woke up, he was lying on a bed inside a cabin, and he had a body again. Caranthir sat up slowly, unused to have a body again. He was dressed in a simple tunic and leggings. There was a cloak on a chair, and boots on the floor. Birds sang outside the cabin, and the air smelled of grass, and flowers. He could also hear the song of water, and soft words spoken outside the cabin.
He was not prepared to see his mother enter the room.
He stood at once and fell to his knees in front of her. “Forgive me, Mother. Please.”
Nerdanel was crying when she pulled him to his feet and into her arms. “My son, I forgive you for whatever pain you caused me. I love you. Now you need to forgive yourself.”
“Thank you. I love you.” Caranthir kissed her forehead, tears rolling down his cheeks. He didn’t know if he would ever be able to forgive himself for what he had done, but his mother was there, and she had forgiven him.
Fingon and Arakáno visit Caranthir.
It had been a long time since Findekáno left the Halls, and still Maedhros would not be released. Caranthir was out, and he had come to visit Findekáno, telling him all that had happened with Maedhros since he left the Halls. Findekáno had almost rushed back to the Halls back then, but both Caranthir and Arakáno had stopped him and taken turns to watch him for months.
Findekáno should have known that Caranthir would enlist Arakáno’s help for this. His younger brother was very fond of Caranthir when he was an Elfling, though they couldn’t be more different. While Caranthir liked books and mining, Arakáno loved the outdoors and painting landscapes.
Now Arakáno was living with Ecthelion of the Fountain, who had been his lover since the days when they left Tirion. Findekáno wondered if his father had known. Probably not, he decided. At least Arakáno and Ecthelion had prepared the path for Findekáno’s announcement of his bonding with Maedhros in the Halls.
Nolofinwë and Anairë had not been happy at all, but Turukáno, surprisingly, had been the one to calm them. It was not that Nolofinwë still expected to separate Findekáno from Maedhros, but the thought of a bonding inside the Halls made them think that the Doom of the Noldor would follow them to Aman.
Arafinwë, their king now, had welcomed Findekáno back to Court, and asked him if he could convince Caranthir to return as well. Apparently Caranthir had been there only once, and then retired to live alone as far from Tirion’s main square as possible.
So today Findekáno had come to Caranthir’s house, not to convince him to go back to Court, but simply to speak with him. Arakáno had come too, always willing to see their cousin.
They found Caranthir working in the small forge had had built for himself. He was not as good as Curufinwë or their father, but he enjoyed working with metal from time to time, especially when he had found beautiful gems in the mines.
“Moryo!” Arakáno rushed into the forge and embraced Caranthir. “What are you doing?”
“I was trying to make a jewel for my mother until you came in and almost toppled me down.”
Arakáno grinned, and Caranthir gave him an exasperated smile, eyes warm with fondness.
“Findekáno, how are you?”
“I am well.”
Considering he longed to embrace his mate and wished he could hold him close forever. Maedhros would come out eventually, but the time apart was slowly driving Findekáno mad with grief.
“I heard that you are thinking of building a house away from your parents’. I thought you two were living there together.”
“I am moving in with Ehtelë,” Arakáno said. “It is time.”
“I hope Ecthelion can keep you in check. What was that about you going north again?”
Findekáno stared at his younger brother. “What is that about?”
Arakáno gave a look at Caranthir. “Why are you reading my mind, Moryo?”
“Because someone has to,” Caranthir answered. “You will not find the Helcaraxë again. You know that. What are you looking for up there?”
“I wanted to find a way back to Endorë.”
Findekáno could not believe what Arakáno was saying. “Why? Arakáno, I know you are curious about those lands but the time of Elves is over. Does Ecthelion know?”
“Ehtelë knows that I would never leave him behind.”
“So much for thinking he could keep you in check,” Caranthir said. “Listen, Arakáno, there is nothing for us there, not anymore.”
Arakáno looked at Caranthir. “Makalaurë is there.”
Caranthir was angry now. “Do you think I don’t know that? Do you presume to judge me for not going back for him? I would if I could!”
Findekáno placed a hand on Caranthir’s shoulder. “Moryo…”
“Do not call me that, Findekáno. Not now.”
Arakáno looked contrite. “That was a terrible thing to say, Carnistir. I am sorry. I know you would go back for him, and I know I will never be able to return to Endorë. I just need to make the journey, maybe paint some landscapes, remember…”
“Then do that, but if you dare to try to sail back I will know, and I will stop you.”
Arakáno clenched his fists, but then he simply nodded, and left the forge. Findekáno stayed behind, knowing that Arakáno needed to be alone for a moment. He was not so certain about Caranthir.
“He will not try to leave, no matter what he says. Arakáno died so young that he is now younger in years than his companions. Even Ecthelion is older than him.”
“I know. I forget sometimes, and others I am too aware of how young he is. I didn’t mean to snap at him.”
“Tell me what is wrong, Caranthir. Uncle Arafinwë asked me to tell you to return to Court.”
Caranthir looked at Findekáno. “You know I will not go back.”
“What about Aikanáro?”
Caranthir tensed, but Findekáno knew that his cousin would not snap at him. “Aikanáro is better without me.”
“I believe you are wrong, but it is your decision. I didn’t come to try to convince you to go back to Court, or to Aikanáro… or to Brellas.”
“Damn Aiko! He cannot keep his mouth shut.”
Findekáno looked into Caranthir’s eyes. “I came because I miss you. I will be living close, and we who do not feel at ease at Court anymore should be there for each other. I will come to visit, so don’t you dare to try to disappear on me, little cousin.”
Caranthir looked outraged, but then he nodded and embraced Findekáno. “I promise.”
Maedhros leaves the Halls of Mandos.
Maedhros stood inside the cabin on Estë’s island, unable to move or speak, a feeling of panic rising in his throat. He had a new body with no scars, his hand was back, and his hair was long and fell around his shoulders. Lord Námo had brought him here, and Lady Estë had told him that he could stay in Lórien for as long as he needed.
He might have to stay forever, because the thought of leaving the cabin sent him into unexpected fits of terror. He yearned for Findekáno’s company with an intensity that made his body and spirit ache, but he was unable to do anything to go to him. Maedhros felt as if he was no longer part of this world. He had stayed in the Halls for too long, and now he didn’t know how to live outside them anymore.
Findekáno was at the door!
“Maitimo? Can I come in?”
An image of Fidekáno the last time Maedhros saw him came to his mind. His cousin and mate had not been yet reembodied, but he looked beautiful, and so sad. He didn’t want to leave, but Maedhros did his best to calm him, and promised that he would be all right.
He was never all right after Findekáno left, but Caranthir and their father, and then Tyelkormo kept Maedhros from losing himself in his grief. Now his mate was outside, and Maedhros wanted to escape, even as he yearned to embrace him again.
“I am coming in!”
Maedhros forced himself to walk toward the door, and when Findekáno opened it, a spell of dizziness washed over him. The first moment he saw Findekáno, his hair braided in gold, his face flushed with emotion, his eyes alight with love. The next moment his mate was leading him back to sit on the bed.
“F-Finno…” Maedhros whispered, and then leaned against him, all strength gone. He felt Findekáno’s arms supporting him, his lips on his forehead, his heartbeat lulling him to sleep.
When he woke up again, Findekáno was there, sitting on the edge of the bed, and looking at him. Findekáno smiled, but Maedhros knew he was worried. He could sense it.
“Did you sleep well, my love?”
Maedhros could feel tears in his eyes, but he swallowed them, forcing himself to stay calm. This was Findekáno, his mate, the only reason he had not given up in the Halls. What was wrong with him?
Findekáno brushed Maedhros’ hair off his forehead. “I am happy to hear that. I would have lay down with you, but I feared you would wake up.”
Maedhros grabbed Findekáno’s hand and kissed it, then almost let it go when he realized he had used his restored right hand. Findekáno grabbed it and placed his cheek against Maedhros’ hand, and that was when he saw his mate’s tears.
“You touched me with this hand in the Halls, Maitimo. We said our vows holding our hands. Do you not wish to be with me now?”
Maedhros sat up. “Oh, Finno… How can you think that I…?” He paused and brushed Findekáno’s tears with his thumb. “I love you. I love you!”
Findekáno gathered him in his arms, almost protectively, and held him close without constraining Maedhros’ movements.
“Then come with me or let me stay here with you. I cannot live without you anymore.”
“Neither can I, Findekáno,” Maedhros whispered. “I wanted to go out and find you, but my mind is not working well. I find the thought of leaving here… I can’t do it, and yet if you go now, I will rather go back to the Halls.”
“You know I would never leave you, my love. If you need time to go out, I will stay with you. I promise.”
Maedhros pulled away a little. “What if I cannot leave this place? What if I am ruined for normal life?”
“Then I will stay here forever, with you, and not even Lord Námo will manage to send me away.”
Maedhros closed his eyes, to hold back his own tears, and when Findekáno kissed him, he opened his lips to his mate. The kiss was sweet, and it filled the holes in Maedhros’ spirit, the wounds that he still carried, the fear that seized his heart.
“I thought I would never see you again, my Finno.”
“That could never happen. I tried to go back to the Halls, to beg Lord Námo to let me in. Carnistir and Arakáno stopped me.”
“It’s good they did,” Maedhros said, feeling more in control of his emotions. “You are made to thrive in life, not death.”
“We bonded in death, Maitimo, and that means that nothing could ever come between us. Now it is time for us to live our lives together.”
Maedhros kissed Findekáno’s lips softly and then gathered him into a tight embrace. “We will, I promise. Just be patient with me, my love. We will live under the sun again and see the stars. I love you.”
Caranthir visits Maedhros and Fingon.
Caranthir was about to knock on the door when Maedhros opened it. He was dressed in a simple tunic and leggings, his red hair in a single braid. He looked calm and relaxed, though Caranthir could sense an undercurrent of uneasiness behind it.
“Moryo, come inside,” Maedhros said. “Findekáno is taking care of some business at the Court, but he shall be back soon.”
Caranthir smiled. “It’s good to see you, Maitimo.”
Maedhros looked at him for a moment, and then the uneasiness fell away and he pulled Caranthir into a tight embrace.
“It’s good to see you too, brother. I’m no longer used to company other than Findekáno’s, but I missed you.”
Caranthir returned the embrace, careful not to overwhelm his brother. Maedhros looked better that he had when Findekáno finally convinced him to leave Lórien and settle in the house he had built outside Tirion. Nerdanel and Caranthir had come to see him a few days later – one at a time – but the visits had been brief. Now Caranthir was here at Maedhros’ invitation.
“If Findekáno cooking?” Caranthir asked as he saw with Maedhros in the small terrace. It looked in the general direction of Tirion, but it was outside the white city’s walls, just as Caranthir’s own house was.
Maedhros served him wine. “No, I am cooking. In fact, everything is ready and keeping warm until Findekáno arrives. Do you like the wine?”
Caranthir took his time to taste it properly and nodded. “It is very good. Mother said you were making the wine yourselves.”
“We bought a field from a family that was moving into Tirion. It is good soil and I enjoy working with my hands now that I have both back.”
Caranthir could see that working in the fields was relaxing for his brother, and he wondered if Maedhros would ever return to Court and take his place as a Prince and a Diplomat. Maybe in time, or maybe not, but he looked happy now.
“Working with your hands is always relaxing,” Caranthir said. “I have been mining again, and I have a small forge behind my house.”
A door opened, and a moment later Findekáno entered the house, his face flushed, his dark, brown hair escaping his braids. He had obviously galloped all the way here from Tirion’s eastern doors.
“Carnistir! I’m glad you came!”
Findekáno embraced Caranthir enthusiastically, and then he turned to Maedhros, eyes full of love.
“Have you told Carnistir about our vineyard?”
Maedhros poured some wine for Findekáno and bade him to sit with them. “I have, and he likes the wine.”
“This is our first crop, and we are saving a few bottles so they age,” Findekáno said. “We are very happy with our little project.”
“I can see that,” Caranthir said, though he could not imagine Findekáno or his own brother working in the fields. No matter what they did, they still walked and spoke like the princes they were.
“What did the king want?” Maedhros asked.
“He asked if I was going to return to Court.”
A trace of apprehension flashed in Maedhros’ eyes, “Again?”
Findekáno placed a hand on Maedhros’. “I told Uncle Arafinwë that I was not going back. He doesn’t need me. He has Findaráto.”
“Did he ask for me again?”
“He did, but he knows that you do not want to go back to Tirion, or the Court.”
Maedhros nodded, obviously relieved. Caranthir looked at his brother, feeling the current of tension slowly fading. Even Caranthir had been at Court, and he was never popular as Maedhros. Whatever happened in the future, it would depend on his brother’s recovery and decisions.
“I will bring the food, maybe warm it up a bit,” Maedhros said suddenly. He kissed Findekáno’s hand and smiled at Caranthir. The next moment he was gone.
“He looks better,” Caranthir said.
Findekáno looked troubled. “He is better, but there are nights when he is again in Angband and being tortured by those foul creatures. There are other nights when he wakes up calling for me and believing me dead.”
Caranthir set his cup on the terrace table. “He had a bad time in the Halls after you left. You know that. Even now he is fragile. He will heal, we must hope for it.”
“Whatever happens, I will always be at his side. We are bonded now, and nobody can separate us.”
“Nobody will try, not even Father if he ever comes out of the Halls.”
Findekáno finished his wine, “And what about you, Carnistir? When will you allow yourself to heal?”
“I am healing. I keep busy with work, and my books.”
“Aikanáro asked me for you again.”
“Did you tell him that I do not want to see him?”
“I never lie.”
Caranthir was about to snap at his cousin when they heard Maedhros’ voice from inside.
“I though you two had set the table!”
“Coming,” Caranthir said, and he left the terrace. Findekáno followed him, but Caranthir ignored his cousin’s concerned looks. Aikanáro was better without him. So was Brellas.
If you wish to know what happens next with Caranthir, go here: