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Author's Chapter 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 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.
A Reconciliation in Copper
“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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
Still, no reply.
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.
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.