Thangorodrim Triptych by lightofthetrees

Summary:

A set of three ficlets. The first explores Fingon's interactions with his father and siblings after returning from rescuing Maedhros. The second involves Maedhros, Mairon, smithing, and symbolism. The third is a heart-to-heart between Fingon and Maedhros in which Maedhros confesses that he is going to pass the kingship of the Noldor to Fingolfin.


Categories: Characters: Aredhel, Fingolfin, Fingon, Maedhros, Sauron, Sons of Fanor, Turgon
Challenges: None
Genres: Drama
Warnings: ***Torture, Mature Themes
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 5210 Read: 478 Published: August 07, 2017 Updated: November 06, 2017

Story Notes:

The Adult rating here is really just to be safe for future chapters. I don't intend on including anything super graphic but there is definitely implied physical torture, as well as Sauron being Sauron on screen.

There's a lot of stories featuring this series of events (Maedhros' captivity, rescue, and recovery) and I wanted to put in my two cents. 

It's so much fun to be writing Silmarillion stuff again! :) 

1. A Lullaby in Bronze by lightofthetrees

2. An Interlude in Iron by lightofthetrees

3. A Reconciliation in Copper by lightofthetrees

Chapter 1
A Lullaby in Bronze


That first morning, Findekáno had to hold the edge of a metal cup to Maitimo’s lips to make sure he was breathing. His body was still and pale as a corpse that had been cleaned and prepared for burial, though the healers had worked all night stitching and setting and bandaging.

The condensation of his feeble breath touched the cup’s surface, and the imaginary vise that had clamped around Findekáno’s chest released its pressure. He was still alive, if only barely. Findekáno placed the cup on the crate serving as a bedside table and sat down beside his cousin.

“Ai, Russandol,” he sighed, yearning to take Maitimo’s face in his hands, to clear away the last remnants of sweat and soot. He wanted to draw his cousin’s head to his chest as one might with a weeping child, to stroke the charred, shorn ruins of his copper hair and whisper that everything would be all right.

But Findekáno could not lie to Maitimo. He could never know all that his cousin suffered, the nightmares that now lurked behind his closed eyes. Into Findekáno’s mind crept the request spoken in a whisper softer than newly-fallen snow: “End my life.” Would a swift arrow to the heart have been kinder than this? He did not know.

A rustle at the entrance to Findekáno’s tent drew his gaze away from Maitimo. “Enter,” he commanded, though his voice was weaker than its wont, still strained from the stifling smoke of Thangorodrim.
His heart skipped with surprise as his sister slipped into the tent. Her lips parted as if she would speak, but at the sight of her cousin, her dark eyes went wide and her mouth drew into a thin line.

She inhaled deeply through her nose and then said quietly, “Findekáno, this is why you vanished.”

He nodded.

“You have not spoken of this with Atar.” There was no question in her voice.

Findekáno shook his head.

Írissë approached him and took his hand in both of hers without another word. She examined Maitimo with her keen hunter’s gaze, flitting over each puckered scar, each scratch the winds and rocks of the cliff face had scored into his flesh. The survey stopped at the end of his right arm, and she bit at the inside of her cheek to keep from crying out, though an uncharacteristic whimper caught in her throat.
The cut had been as clean as Findekáno could manage, but the site where Maitimo’s hand had been severed was surely disturbing to behold, even after its initial treatment and bandaging by the healers who had so abruptly been pulled from their beds. They had seen many wounds in their crossing of the Helcaraxë and had attended to the result of their prince’s novice amputation with their typical stoicism. Only after they asked Findekáno to step outside had he heard the urgency in their whispers.

After a long moment, Írissë’s scrutiny turned to her brother. She reminded him of their grandfather in that moment, and of their Fëanárion cousins, so piercing was her stare. But it held understanding, too.

“You are weary, Findekáno,” she said. “You did not sleep.”

Findekáno did not answer, but she released his hand, stepped behind him, and began kneading the stiff muscles of his shoulders with her strong thumbs.

“How did you know I returned?” the prince grumbled under his breath.

“You truly believe that your sudden disappearance did not worry us?” She pinched the junction of his neck and left shoulder on purpose, and he winced. “Atar has spoken little, and Turukáno has gone on every patrol he can manage. I have taken to walking when I should be sleeping.”

“I apologize for any distress I caused you, Írissë,” Findekáno muttered.

He could feel himself relaxing ever so slightly as Írissë soothed his exhausted arms and shoulders. He had hardly noticed how sore he was before, though it was hardly surprising considering that he had climbed so far into the Thangorodrim.

“How did you find him?” Írissë asked, taking Findekáno’s hand again. Her tone was gentle.

“I played upon my harp, as foolish as that may sound. Perhaps it was to comfort myself, or perhaps it was in defiance of the dark. I cannot say. But when I paused after a verse, I heard a voice answer my song, and I knew it to be Maitimo.”

“In the mountains? Was he wandering?” her eyes traveled to Maitimo’s right arm again, where his hand should have been. She whispered her next words. “I thought he was held in Angamando.”

Findekáno’s mouth moved soundlessly for a heartbeat before his answer came. There was no easy way to describe what he had seen. “He had been chained there, to the mountainside, by a ring of iron about his wrist. I – could not remove it.” The air hung thick with the words Findekáno had not spoken. There was one injury Morgoth could not claim.

Írissë slowly nodded her comprehension, but her eyes narrowed. “And you carried him here?”

“We were carried,” Findekáno answered, still half disbelieving it himself, “by the King of the Eagles.” He must have sounded like a madman.

Írissë stood in awed silence, blinking as if blinded by bright sunlight. Time stretched, and Findekáno feared she would laugh at him, insist that he had jested, but instead she said, “We should tell Atar of your return.”

“And of Maitimo…?” It had been childish of Findekáno to think he could keep Maitimo a secret, like a butterfly kept in a jar in his room.

Írissë’s confidence wavered. She knew her father had little love for the sons of his half-brother. Even her own heart had turned against them when they forsook their own kin in the far North of the world, and few among Nolofinwë’s host had not spoken bitter words about their departed kinsmen, as so many starved and froze. All of them had been curt and cold in their dealings with the Fëanárions since their arrival at the shore of the lake, and none were permitted to visit their camp unless Nolofinwë ordered it.

“He should know sooner rather than later,” Írissë concluded. “But even he could not be so hard-hearted to turn our cousin away in this state.” She gave her brother’s hand a squeeze, and like a shimmer of starlight, she was gone from the tent.

Before making the journey to his father’s tent, Findekáno washed hastily and donned clean clothes, then combed the tangles from his hair and bound it back from his face. He made sure his boots were clean and his mind was as still as he could manage. If Findekáno carried himself with enough confidence, his father would be more amenable to proposals he would not usually accept. Nolofinwë’s spirit did not blaze like that of his half-brother, but all in the line of Finwë had a measure of their patriarch’s strong will.

As the camp stirred to life, Findekáno could feel eyes following him. Their Prince had returned to them, but their questioning suspicion hung as thick as the mist around the lake. Findekáno pointedly ignored it. They could think what they liked until his deeds had become common knowledge. He had neither the time nor the energy to explain himself to every gawking child or whispering couple.

Findekáno reached his father’s tent in good time. “Atar.” He announced himself in the tone with which he might address a unit of soldiers under his command.

There was the sound of a mug being returned to a wooden table, and then his father’s voice said in an unreadable tone, “Enter, Findekáno.” Those of the court in Tirion knew how to lend their words that sort of irritating inscrutability. Even Findekáno had mastered the neutrality that was a prerequisite for any diplomatic discourse, but his father was a master of his craft.

Findekáno pushed the canvas aside with one hand and strode inside, offering the same nod of acknowledgement he would have given had he seen his father yesterday.

Nolofinwë’s stare, as he levelled it at his eldest son, was cold. It took a great deal of will for Findekáno to keep himself from shivering.

“So you have returned,” Nolofinwë said.

“I have.”

“And you have set the healers into a frenzy, though I see no wound upon you.”  The words themselves were casual, but they sounded as if they had been plucked from the most unyielding of harp-strings. “Curious.”

“If I have caused a disturbance, it is for good reason,” Findekáno replied. He advanced a little further into the room, but did not sit down in the chair across from his father. “You know well that one of our kinsmen has been the captive of our great foe.”

Nolofinwë’s mouth leveled to a terse, taut line and his brow knitted with displeasure.

“This is true no longer. Maitimo lives, and I have returned him to us.”

Nolofinwë stood, stepping around the table to approach his son more closely. “You took this upon yourself, Findekáno? The rescue of a kinslayer and a traitor?” He would never strike Findekáno – it was not his way – but fury was rising behind his eyes. “You risked your own life, where his own brothers would not?”

Findekáno crossed his arms, refusing to be silenced by his father’s anger. “None deserve to languish in Angamando, save the Black-Handed.”

Nolofinwë closed the remainder of the distance between himself and his son, seeming to tower over him although they were roughly equal in height.

“And if you had been waylaid? Slain? Taken? What then?”

Findekáno did not answer the questions, but they stirred ire in him all the same. “I was not taken, nor was I slain.”

“You put yourself in mortal danger and told no one,” Nolofinwë countered. “That was reckless of you, Findekáno. Foolish.”

“Reckless, perhaps, but never foolish,” Findekáno snarled, frustration flaring, “Gaze upon your brother-son and tell me you would have left him chained and suffering!”

This silenced his father, if only for a moment.

“You have always been naïve,” Nolofinwë finally conceded, voice flat. “And your heart is young.”

“My heart – ” Findekáno shook his head, searching for words. “My heart is broken that our kin hold their pride dearer than the life of one of their own.” He turned to go, speaking to the tent’s exit instead of his father. “I will do all that is in my power to restore my cousin to health. There will be no more distrust, no more betrayal among us.”

Nolofinwë’s sudden hand on his shoulder was not warm, not reassuring, but the gesture held a ghost of sympathy. “Your kindness does you credit, my son, but know this. Once, I offered forgiveness to Fëanáro, and we steeped our hands in blood to follow him. He cared not. His sons chose their path, just as he did.”

“And I have chosen mine,” Findekáno said, and left.





“How will you tell his brothers?” Írissë asked. “Surely they will wish to see him. They may even wish to take him back to their own camp.”

“If he lives,” Turukáno muttered, earning him a sharp glare from his sister.

The three remaining children of Nolofinwë sat together in Írissë’s tent that evening, dining on dried fruit and day-old bread. Though Findekáno had offered his assistance with Maitimo, the healers had instructed him to tend to himself instead, and to leave them to their work. It was just as well. Findekáno’s hands knew much of battle, but little of healing.

“A messenger will not suffice,” he mused aloud, stretching a piece of leathery apple to its breaking point.

“Then go yourself,” replied Turukáno. “Even our cousins cannot forget your friendship with Maitimo. If they would trust anyone, it would be you.”

This thought had crossed Findekáno’s mind many times, but each time it did, he could only deny it. The vision that chased it away was always the same: Maitimo screaming awake, searching for a face he knew, despairing at the state of his arm. Feeling once again like a captive. Eyes wide, pulse racing. Panic.

“Findekáno?”

Írissë’s voice pierced through his imagining, returning him to what was real.

Both his mind and tongue stumbled as he answered, “I should be with Maitimo when he wakes.”

“Reasonable,” Turukáno said, nodding. “But that leaves the question open.”

“Then I will go,” Írissë said, bold as usual. “It is not far to the southern side of the lake.”

Turukáno bristled. “It may not be far, but it may also not be safe.”

“And Atar may not allow me to ride into battle, but that does not keep my arrows from their marks, and it does not slow my steed. Besides, you must look after Itarildë.”

“You need not risk yourself, Írissë,” Findekáno said. “Atar would hardly – “

“I will go.”

There was no arguing with Írissë when her bright eyes flashed and her voice hardened to steel. Perhaps that was why she had gotten on so well with the sons of Fëanáro, back when they would explore and hunt together beneath the light of the Trees.

“Not alone,” Turukáno insisted. “Findekáno and I will each send a soldier from our companies.”

Findekáno nodded. “Indeed. It is unwise for any of us to travel unaccompanied.”

“They are welcome to accompany me,” Írissë conceded with a smirk, “if they can keep up.”

 


 


When Findekáno returned to his tent, the last of the healers was departing. She looked haggard, as if she had been working for many hours with no rest, but she offered him a polite bow as she left and he acknowledged her with a nod.

The healers had certainly been busy in his absence, Findekáno noticed as he made my way to the bed. Maitimo’s bandages had been changed and a salve had been applied to his more superficial scratches and abrasions. The rise and fall of his chest was visible now, if only barely, and he muttered softly and without true words, whimpering in whatever fitful slumber held him.

Findekáno sat down in the same chair he had occupied earlier and wished that there was more he could do. Írissë had once told him, dismissively, that he took the weight of all Arda upon his shoulders. Perhaps he did. Nothing could change the clawing feeling of dread in his stomach, the tearing ache of helplessness.

A nervous twitch ran through Findekáno’s fingers, and he sought out his harp. His own meager talent could not even approach that of his cousin Macalaurë, but music had always been a balm for his spirit. Busy hands, he often found, were good for stilling the mind. He plucked absently at the strings, not knowing what to play, but knowing that he needed to. He closed his eyes, letting his fingers do as they would. Eventually, the notes solidified into a simple nursery song, a candle-spark of innocence from a time long past, and he toyed with its melody as a theme, adding variations as they occurred to him.

He could not bring his voice to sing the words, for he could only remember them as he had heard them the first time, when his sister was small and Maitimo had taught him a song to soothe her when she fussed, a song he had sung to his own brothers. This song. It belonged in his bronze tones, swaying as he rocked back and forth with little Írissë’s head on his shoulder. Not here, in a strange land tainted by blood and death.

When Findekáno stopped playing, Maitimo was silently weeping.

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Author's Notes:

Inspired in part by “Weep and be Burned” by Gwedhiel.
Available here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9270412/1/Weep-and-Be-Burned


I don't know if I'm really happy with this chapter, but here it is.
Also, I'm unsure as to whether it's correct here to refer to Sauron as Mairon, but I don't know if he was referred to as Sauron yet (there's a headcanon I really like floating around Tumblr where it's Maedhros who starts calling him Sauron), so I just stuck with Mairon.

Chapter 2
An Interlude in Iron
(Maedhros)

At the touch of the Maia’s hand upon his shoulder, Maitimo saw once again his father’s workshop in Valinor. It was just as he remembered it from his childhood, on the very first day Fëanáro had taken him there. He felt his father’s warm, callused hand around his own, small and soft. Light streamed in through high windows, illuminating metalworking tools, half-finished projects, and the blueprints, notes, and sketches that were haphazardly affixed to the walls. The smell of metal and smoke cut through the air, and Maitimo could taste it on his tongue.

Fëanáro led Maitimo by the hand to the forge, where an apprentice was removing something from the fire with a pair of tongs – a length of iron about six inches long.

“A project for you, Fëanárion,” a voice not his father’s purred in his ear. The Lieutenant.

Maitimo’s vision swam, and he emerged from the memory of his father’s forge to a reality that made him sick to his stomach. It was Mairon who held the tongs, golden eyes flashing in the firelight, a wicked grin painted across his perfect lips. The familiar scent of metal-tinged air had been replaced by the stifling miasma of Angband’s ironworks and the stink of sulfur and orcs. Two of the creatures stood guard by the door to the room, fangs glinting in the flickering half-light from the forge.

“My Master does not give his hospitality as a gift – oh, no. You must earn your keep here.”

Mairon turned to the large anvil in the center of the room, and with his free hand, slender but firm as a claw, he pulled Maitimo after him by the wrists. He placed the end of the glowing piece of metal into a hole in the anvil and took up the hammer that rested on a nearby table. With strength and fluidity that made Maitimo’s bruised arms and lash-torn back ache, the Maia brought the hammer to bear on the metal, pounding it into a U-shape.

“Can you guess what it is?” he asked, turning again to Maitimo as he let the metal rest on the anvil’s surface.

A link for a chain. Maitimo knew the answer but did not speak it. Instead, he pressed his lips together as he always did in response to leading questions by the Enemy and his Lieutenant. His continued stubborn silence had earned him punishments beyond his imaginings, but he would not give Mairon the satisfaction of playing his game. The Maia already savored screams and gasps of pain as if they were drops of honey. He would not get the added pleasure of cooperation. Not from the scion of the House of Fëanáro.

“Now, now. My servants have not cut your tongue from your mouth,” Mairon said in a voice laced with sweetness. He leveled his eyes at Maitimo, willing him to speak, but the Elf said nothing. “Yet. There is no need to be coy with me.”

Oh, but there was. Maitimo mustered the courage to glare.

Mairon let out a short laugh like the sound of a broken bell. “Or maybe you do not know what this will become? Your father would feel such shame.”

Still, Maitimo gave no answer. Mairon had no inkling of what Fëanáro would or would not feel. Have felt. Fëanáro was gone. The sight of his father’s body disintegrating to ash, scattering on the breeze, blazed in Maitimo’s mind. He choked on the smell of charred flesh and burnt hair, and his eyes ached with remembered tears.

Mairon smiled. “That must be it.” His smile broadened.

Mairon took Maitimo’s hands, and Maitimo winced at the heat of the Maia’s fingers as they skipped over his skin and unfastened the manacles about his wrists. He could almost feel the tender flesh blister. This did not mean Maitimo was free, of course: a chain a few feet long connected the band around his left ankle to a bolt on the floor, and the guards remained at the door.

With agonizing care, Mairon guided Maitimo through making the remainder of this link – heating the ends of the U-shape, flattening them and bringing them together and joining them into a final oval. They repeated this process, fashioning more links and joining them together, until a chain a few feet in length had been formed. The labor exhausted Maitimo, and his parched lips cracked and stung with the sweat that dripped down his brow and nose. His eyes ached from the light of the forge, so much brighter than the dark corridors and other chambers of Angband. But Mairon allowed him no time for rest, watching him with bright amusement.

When the chain was complete, Mairon took the cooling metal in his hands as if he were holding a bolt of silk. “Beautiful.”

Maitimo spoke at last. “I suppose it is for me.”

As suddenly as a serpent, Mairon grasped Maitimo sharply by what remained of his hair, forcing his head back so that their gazes could meet, a clash of silver and gold. “What a selfish notion,” the Maia sneered. “But those of your family have always been selfish, have they not?” He released Maitimo from his grip, and started towards the door, speaking over his shoulder. “There are many who toil in other forges. How fortunate they are to receive a lovely gift from so mighty a prince.”



When it came to pass that Maitimo had lost count of how many visits to the forge he had made, a trio of orcs took him from his cell, and he was led by his chained hands through countless dark and twisting tunnels until the group reached a gigantic, cavernous chamber lit by the fire of a great many forges and the glow of hot iron. They stood on a balcony overlooking a wide floor where many small, hunched forms toiled. Mairon was there, surveying the goings-on below, and he turned to Maitimo like a cat who has just finished consuming a feast’s worth of mice.

“Bring him forward,” Mairon commanded, and the orcs shoved Maitimo towards him, passing his chains into the Maia’s hands.

Mairon simply stood beside Maitimo for a few moments, letting him continue to take in the room. The sheer size of it was astounding, as was the quantity of workers below. The hordes of the Moringotto were great in number indeed and so, it seemed, was the number of craftsmen supplying them. Upon closer inspection, however, he realized that the workers he was watching were not orcs. Their nearly-naked bodies were covered in wounds and filth, much like his own, and their expressions were empty.

“Your people,” Mairon sighed. “Crafting the weapons that kill their own kind.” He chuckled. “Kinslayers, you might call them, in their own way.”

Maitimo did his best not to flinch at the use of the term. Mairon was trying to get him to react, baiting him as he always did. “Why did you bring me here?”

“I do not need a reason, prisoner,” Mairon replied, still smiling, but his eyes glowed with malice in the firelight as he dragged a finger along the side of Maitimo’s jaw, his claw-like fingernail drawing blood. “I can do with you as I please.” Expression thoughtful, he licked the blood from his finger as delicately as if he was sampling a fine wine. “But there is something I wish you to witness. Look below – it will happen soon enough.”

The crack of a whip echoed through the chamber, but it did not sound as if it was hitting flesh. Instead it had simply snapped at the air itself. Maitimo could not help but follow the sound to its source, a particularly muscular orc who towered over a group of thralls, one of whom had fallen to his knees before the creature, mumbling words Maitimo could not understand. The orc was unmoved by this supplication, and hauled the thrall to his feet, dragging him over to a set of manacles attached to a nearby wall by a short length of chain.

Maitimo’s stomach lurched up into his throat. He knew what was coming. But when he tried to look away, he found Mairon’s hands, strong as talons, holding his head in place.

“Do you remember our lessons in the forge?” Mairon asked.

Maitimo was silent.

“Those beautiful links of chain you crafted?”

The orc moved away from the now-restrained ner and drew back his whip.

“They have been put to good use.”

Snap. Leather through air. The wet sound of flesh tearing. Though the thrall shook and whimpered, he did not cry out as the whip carved more red welts into his skin. The lightning of remembered sensation rushed through Maitimo’s own scars and still-healing gashes, and he struggled in vain against Mairon’s hold.

“You must be so proud.”

No. Not proud. Shame and guilt threatened to bore a hole through Maitimo’s chest. He could do nothing for these others. They would suffer, and he would suffer, and that fact was unchanging as the rock surrounding them, steady as the clanging of hammer on metal that pervaded the air. The thralls would never again see the stars, would never again breathe air that was not tainted with forge-smoke, and he was just as helpless as they were. If his brothers came for him in some foolish attempt at rescue, would they be forced to work as their muscles frayed and their backs broke and their bodies and spirits were slowly starved?

Mairon only released him when he began to retch in revulsion.

“Shame on you,” the Maia chided, glowing with satisfaction. “Do you take no joy in your handiwork?”

Maitimo was still silent as he regarded Mairon, but there was no glimmer of defiance in his eyes this time, only a dull, unactionable hatred.

“Very well. Let us return to the forge. I have one more thing to teach you.”



The piece of metal Mairon removed from the fire this time was more rectangular than the links of chain had been. Thicker, more solid, more singular.

Maitimo’s arms and shoulders screamed in their familiar chorus as Mairon placed the hammer in his hand, and just as before, he shaped the metal according to the Maia’s specifications. Mairon’s golden eyes watched him every step of the way, though the Maia was silent, the edges of his mouth curved up into a perversion of a smile.

As Maitimo worked, he saw that this piece was different from those he had crafted before: it was a manacle instead of a fragment of chain. Fresh memories of the violence he had witnessed flared red in his thoughts. Whose wrist would feel the bite of this metal when it was cold? Would it be used to restrain another helpless prisoner as he was beaten, or to keep a thrall from fleeing the cruelties of laboring in the pits? Whose skeletal arm would it bind to the wall of a dark cell? The manacle’s curvature mocked him, turning the safety of an embrace to imprisonment and despair. The wholeness of a circle could be broken.

Maitimo’s arm stilled, the hammer a dead weight. I cannot.

“But you must,” Mairon said, lips whispering softly against his ear. He felt the Maia’s grin spread like a drop of poison through wine. “This one is for you.”

End Notes:

Hopefully I will be able to get the third chapter done in a more timely manner than this one. 

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Author's Notes:

The final chapter, long overdue, and a little shorter than I'd like it to be. It's actually been done for a while, but real life has gotten in the way of my feeling ready to post it. 
So here it is - thank you for reading!

Chapter 3
A Reconciliation in Copper
(Findek
áno)

“Finno,” was the first thing Maitimo said, his voice a whispered half-croak. Though he had been conscious for nearly two weeks now, he had not spoken a single word. He simply watched through hollow eyes as the healers tended to him, not flinching away from their hands. Instead, with disturbing impassivity, he allowed them to work. He did not seem to be present in his own body.

It was not surprising, then, that Findekáno wondered at first whether his ears were playing tricks on him.

“Finno.”

Findekáno’s heart leapt as he raised his eyes from the parchment he’d been reading and they found Maitimo’s stony gaze, alert and lucid. He had really spoken.

“Yes, I am here.” Findekáno put the parchment aside and focused his full attention on his cousin. “What do you need?”

Maitimo’s lips and jaw moved as if he was just learning how to produce words, but finally he said, “Need to tell you. Something.”

“Anything,” Findekáno replied. He almost reached for Maitimo’s hand, but on this side, he would find only a thick covering of bandages on a vacant wrist.

“A secret?”

Anything,” Findekáno repeated in what he hoped was an encouraging tone.

Maitimo closed his eyes and let out a breath Findekáno hadn’t realized he’d been holding in. His jaw worked again, slowly. “We swore the Oath again. When Atar died.”

This was hardly a secret now that Pityo was in the camp. He had been the only Fëanorion to return with Írissë. Apparently, Macalaurë had appointed him their emissary, as Curufinwë the younger would remind his uncle’s followers too much of his father, Tyelkormo and Írissë were not yet back on speaking terms, and Carnistir was too easily provoked. Macalaurë had his duties as the acting High King to attend to. Or perhaps, Findekáno thought in a brief flash of satisfying anger, he felt guilty for having abandoned his brother.

Findekáno nodded for Maitimo to continue.

“You see what it did. To me.”

“That is no one’s fault but the Moringotto’s,” Findekáno said, perhaps too forcefully – Maitimo’s eyes turned hollow again and it took him a long moment to gather his mind and body back together. Findekáno briefly feared that he had sent Maitimo back into speechlessness.

“This cannot. Hold.” Maitimo’s voice was even softer now, and Findekáno had to lean closer to hear him properly. “We cannot do both.”

“Both?” Findekáno asked. Had he missed something?

“King…ship,” Maitimo rasped.

Findekáno blinked once, twice, as he put the pieces together. “You do not want the crown.”

Maitimo didn’t nod. He just stared ahead now, at the canvas that made up the other side of the tent.

“But you are not ready to tell your brothers.”

No reply.

“Maitimo?”

Still, no reply.

“…Russandol?”

Maitimo’s head turned a fraction of an inch towards Findekáno and his lips quirked in a poor imitation of a smile. “Finno?”

“You were speaking about the kingship,” Findekáno reminded him softly.

“Yes,” said Maitimo. “That’s. Right.” He tried to nod but stopped halfway through, as if even that movement had exhausted him. Or as if something else was on his mind.

“Your father should be king. Not me. Not any of my brothers.”

Findekáno chewed at the inside of his cheek, unsure of how to respond. The sharpness in Maitimo’s eyes indicated that he was not just rambling in some fevered state of mind. This was him, the real Maitimo. Nelyo. Russandol.

“Give yourself some time, Russandol.” Findekáno could no longer resist the impulse to offer physical reassurance and he reached out tentatively to caress the side of Maitimo’s face, asking permission with his eyes.

“No,” said Maitimo. Whether this was in answer to Findekáno’s words or to his outstretched hand, he couldn’t tell. Just to be safe, he returned his hand to his side.

“I know this to be true. This is. What I wish.” Maitimo let his eyes drift shut again, breathing becoming labored as pain flared somewhere on his body. Sinking back against the cushions that supported him, he muttered, as if through molasses, “Do not. Tell. Yet.” And with that, sleep claimed him once again, drawing him back down into silence.  

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