I'll be Yours if You'll be Mine by NelyafinweFeanorion
Summary: Modern setting AU. Maedhros/Fingon. Maedhros owns a bookstore. Fingon is in grad school. Expect appearances from varied members of the House of Finwë. Except Finwë--he's already dead in this story. This is a modern take on how Maedhros and Fingon meet and develop a relationship. Obnoxious brothers, prying little sisters, echoes of canon and an overall need for this not to all end in flames.
Categories: Fiction Characters: Amras, Amrod, Aredhel, Caranthir, Celegorm, Curufin, Erestor, Fëanor, Fingolfin, Fingon, Finrod, Maedhros, Maglor, Nerdanel, Turgon
Content: AU
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 17 Completed: No Word count: 33107 Read: 1355 Published: October 06, 2017 Updated: February 16, 2018
Story Notes:
My thanks to Cheekybeak for her beta work on this and to ziggy for encouraging me to post it here.
Many thanks to Spiced Wine for adding the lovely artwork my friend @cinemairon created for this story. I was too technically challenged to manage it!

1. Chapter 1 by NelyafinweFeanorion

2. Chapter 2 by NelyafinweFeanorion

3. Chapter 3 by NelyafinweFeanorion

4. Chapter 4 by NelyafinweFeanorion

5. Chapter 5 by NelyafinweFeanorion

6. Chapter 6 by NelyafinweFeanorion

7. Chapter 7 by NelyafinweFeanorion

8. Chapter 8 by NelyafinweFeanorion

9. Chapter 9 by NelyafinweFeanorion

10. Chapter 10 by NelyafinweFeanorion

11. Chapter 11 by NelyafinweFeanorion

12. Chapter 12 by NelyafinweFeanorion

13. Chapter 13 by NelyafinweFeanorion

14. Chapter 14 by NelyafinweFeanorion

15. Chapter 15 by NelyafinweFeanorion

16. Chapter 16 by NelyafinweFeanorion

17. Chapter 17 by NelyafinweFeanorion

Chapter 1 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Fingon stepped out of the monorail station and looked down at his phone again. Finrod had enthusiastically recommended this newly opened used bookstore in Formenos. While browsing there, Finrod had discovered an obscure book on Esperanto that he needed for his research and had been unfailing in his praise of the store ever since.

It had been years since Fingon had been to Formenos. Life was so busy with college and now grad school. True, Formenos was only a half hour away by train but it seemed more distant than a suburb somehow. He turned left towards the town square. Formenos had changed. He remembered it as a sleepy little bedroom community with a few quaint shops and a nice river walk but not much more.

Now the whole street leading to the square was lined with stores—coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, antique shops, and bistros. On this gloriously sunny, autumn Saturday there were people everywhere. He made his way to the central square, which was buzzing with a large farmers market, and followed a side street down one block. There it was—Beleriand Books.

He shoved his phone in his pocket and went in. He had expected it to be a typical used bookstore—small and cramped. This was completely different. It was laid out more like a conventional bookstore with large bookshelves, wide aisles and cozy chairs and sofas scattered at the ends of the aisles and in the open area in the center of the store.

The smell of good coffee hit him and he made directly for the small counter to his left. Coffee in hand, he wandered about the store, taking it all in, before focusing on the Art and Architecture shelves.

He was disappointed that Safdie's book was not on the shelf but not particularly surprised. It was an out of print, obscure architecture book that one of his professors had mentioned in passing but it had piqued Fingon's interest.

He wandered to the back of the store and was surprised to find this section was all used vinyl albums. Riffling through the racks made him smile as he recognized so many of his parents' old favorites, including some truly execrable 70's albums.

Glancing at his watch, he realized he had spent far more time browsing than he had expected. He headed to the shop doors, tossing his empty coffee cup in a trash bin and was about to exit when he stopped. It wouldn't hurt to ask the clerk at the desk if he had heard of the book. It hadn't been available on Amazon but maybe there was another source for it in the used book world.

The redheaded clerk was seated behind the counter, reading a book himself. He looked up when Fingon approached, leaving his book on the counter. "Can I help you?" he asked in a low, melodious voice. He gave Fingon a smile and stood up.

"I'm looking for an architecture book. It's kind of obscure—there's a store online that has it but not at a price a grad student can afford," Fingon said.

"What's the title and the author's name?" the clerk asked, turning to the computer monitor on the desk near him.

" 'Beyond Habitat' by Moshe Safdie," Fingon replied. "S-a-f-d-i-e. M-o-s-h-e."

The clerk nodded and typed it in. Fingon looked at him, now that he was absorbed in the computer search. He was extraordinarily tall. Fingon was tall himself at six feet but this clerk had to be at least 6"5 by the look of him. He had dark red hair caught in a man-bun. Fingon hated man-buns—they were so pretentious—but he had to admit it looked natural on this guy. He was wearing a comfortable looking gray sweater and jeans. Fingon thought he might be about the same age as himself. Likely an English major or grad student working for extra cash, he thought.

"I don't have it on the shelf. I saw Harrington's has it online but yeah, that's a bit of a steep price." The clerk clicked on the keyboard a few more times then turned to look directly at Fingon.

He had unusual gray eyes, almost silver in color, their intensity not dimmed by the narrow tortoiseshell glasses he wore.

"Pardon me?" Fingon said, belatedly realizing he had missed what the clerk had just said.

"If you give me your number I can ring you up when I track down a copy. I'm sure I can find you a cheaper one but it might take a little while." The clerk repeated the words Fingon had missed.

"Oh yeah. Sure. That would be great." Fingon gave his name and phone number and watched him type it into the computer.

"I might have some info for you later today—is it ok if I call or would you rather I wait until Monday?" he asked Fingon.

"It's fine to call anytime. I don't have any plans," Fingon wondered why he had said that, as if this guy cared if Fingon had plans or not.

The clerk smiled in response. "Yeah, same here. Just working this weekend." He bent down behind the counter and then handed a card to Fingon. "Here's my business card. Thanks for stopping by and sorry I didn't have what you wanted in stock."

Fingon took the card and looked down at it. Beleriand Books, Maedhros Finweon—owner, and then some phone numbers.

"What's your name?" Fingon asked the clerk. "Just so I know who to ask for when I call."

The clerk laughed. "That's me. I'm Maedhros. I own the store."

Fingon could feel his face heating up. "I'm sorry . . . I just . . ."

"You assumed I just worked here. No worries, happens all the time," Maedhros replied, an amused expression on his face.

"You just looked kind of young to own a bookstore—I thought you were my age . . ." Fingon stopped awkwardly, realizing he really wasn't helping with his words.

Maedhros smiled at him. "I like to think I'm still young," he said. "I'm twenty-nine."

"I'm twenty-five," Fingon said, belatedly realizing that Maedhros hadn't asked how old he was.

"Grad school?" Maedhros asked.

"Masters in Architecture at Cuivinen," Fingon replied.

Maedhros smile grew wider. "I graduated from Cuivinen too. Classics. Undergrad and PhD."

Fingon just nodded, his mind a blank.

"The usual response is 'so what's a PhD like you doing in a place like this?'" Maedhros said, raising one eyebrow at Fingon.

"Um, you like books?" Fingon answered awkwardly.

"Exactly," Maedhros smiled broadly again, making his whole face light up, especially his eyes, Fingon thought. "Academia was an option but when I unexpectedly came into some money last year I decided to do what I've wanted to do since I was a kid—own a bookstore. So here I am—owning a bookstore."

"It's a great bookstore," Fingon said. "Most used bookstores are cramped and small. This one makes me feel relaxed. I could stay here all day," Fingon inwardly groaned. He sounded so . . . ridiculous he finally decided, although pathetic would probably work just as well. He usually was so much better at conversation than this. He could chat with anyone, anytime, and now he was stumbling over his words and making completely inane comments.

"That's why I chose this space and designed the interior this way!" Maedhros said, placing his elbows on the counter and leaning forward slightly. "I could have had a store on the square—there's lots more traffic and walk-ins there—but the rent is high and the spaces are much smaller. I preferred being a bit off the main trail but with a better space." He looked around the bookstore, a satisfied expression on his face. "I make enough to pay the bills and I love coming to work every day. It's all good," he said, his eyes catching Fingon's again. "Except for not having your book, of course. I hate to disappoint a customer."

"I'm not disappointed," Fingon said, without thinking. He clutched Maedhros' card, flustered again. "I'll call you . . . I mean you'll call me when . . . if you find the book that is." What was with him today? He had basically lost the ability to string words together in a coherent sentence structure somehow.

"I'll call you if I find it. When I find it," Maedhros corrected himself.

"Call me either way," Fingon heard himself say. "Whether you find it or not, just so I know."

"I'll call." Maedhros gave him a lopsided smile and tapped the computer monitor. "I've got your number."

"Thanks again." Fingon stepped back from the counter he had been leaning against, nodded at Maedhros then headed out the shop door to the sidewalk. He carefully put the business card in his wallet, looked at his watch and started walking in the direction of the monorail station. Time to get home and get back to work on his project. He'd need to watch his caffeine intake. Beleriand Books served strong coffee—his heart was still racing from it.
End Notes:
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Chapter 2 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Maedhros watched Fingon leave, then turned back to the computer. He would find the book for him, if only for a chance to chat with him again.

He had finished his PhD last year, before opening Beleriand Books. Maedhros loved the store, the trips to the estate sales and garage sales looking for books, the conversations with the customers, the relaxed pace of the days at the store. He found he did miss the time with his fellow students, the camaraderie of his colleagues at Cuivinen and the social life though.

Truth be told he hadn't had much of a social life since deciding to open the bookstore. Months searching for a location, planning the layout, obtaining inventory, categorizing his collections, painting, trolling flea markets and yard sales for comfortable furniture—it had taken up a lot of his time but he didn't regret it.

Things had finally settled down a bit. He still took his inventory-finding expeditions but the bookstore was turning a small but steady profit each month. He didn't need to be there every day—he had employees and brothers enough to man the place but he liked it. He liked being there. He had created his ideal bookstore and it felt like home.

It would be nice to talk to somebody other than his family though. He kept in touch with his former professors, mostly by email. Almost all of his colleagues in the Classics program had scattered around the country, scrounging for the few positions available in academia or toiling away as adjunct professors halfway across the country.

Except for Azaghl. Azaghl had taken the adjunct position at Cuivinen that Maedhros had turned down when he decided to open the bookstore. Azaghl was busy—trying to impress as an adjunct in the hope of a permanent, tenure-track position, a baby girl at home and juggling Telchar's variable schedule as a nurse—all that left him very little time to spend with Maedhros.

Azaghl would come to the bookstore about once a month; they would grab coffee or lunch and it almost felt like old times, when they roomed together. He and Telchar would have Maedhros over for dinner once in a while, when Telchar wasn't working night shifts. Maedhros would babysit little Narvi and give them a night out here and there. He loved children, despite the fact that he had practically raised his six brothers. Narvi was such a quiet, easygoing child that Maedhros quite enjoyed watching her for them.

It was nice having his own place, even if he had to share it with Maglor and Tyelko. Maedhros liked living in Formenos but it was just far enough from Tirion that it was a bit of a hassle to go downtown just for dinner or a night out. Not that he had ever really gotten into the nightlife in Tirion anyway, even when he lived on campus or in the apartment he shared with Azaghl.

But he did miss the gatherings at his place, staying up late into the night having intelligent and sometimes fascinating conversations with his friends, the weekends playing Ultimate in the parks, heading to the bars to watch the games, seeing foreign films at the restored cinema downtown. He missed the events on campus too-concerts, visiting lecturers, watching Tyelko play hockey, the theater productions at Cuivinen and downtown. Formenos certainly had things to do-if you liked to shop, to eat, to go out on the lake. It was a great place for families with kids; he had loved the summers here at the lake house that he had now inherited from Grandfather. But with only one cinema and theater in the summers only, it didn't provide quite the same variety of entertainment as Tirion.

Maedhros didn't want to move back to Tirion. The commute was only a half hour with the monorail but still. He liked having the bookstore in Formenos. There were so many bookstores in downtown Tirion, used and new, that Maedhros was sure he would be struggling to pay the bills each month if he had opened the store there instead. Rents were higher than in Formenos too. No, it had been a great idea to open the store here. With the added ease of a house he owned nearby it had really been a perfect option.

Maedhros hadn't really made any friends in Formenos yet either. He had met some people since he had opened the store. His neighbors by the lake were all nice, mostly families with young children and a few retired couples, but they didn't have much in common other than where they lived. With the exception of some local shop owners, almost everyone who lived in Formenos actually worked in Tirion.

He had gotten to know many of the shop owners, meeting them at the gatherings the city business development council held periodically. Maedhros was the youngest one there by at least a decade and he knew they found him a little odd. They knew the story and many quickly realized he didn't actually have to work to make a living and the fact that he did, and seemed to enjoy it, puzzled them. They were polite and friendly but their interactions didn't go much beyond that. Others had openly expressed surprise he hadn't stayed in academia and were perplexed that he was "wasting" his education on a used bookstore. He didn't talk to those people at the gatherings much anymore.

As far as anything beyond friendship? It had been awhile since he had been interested in anyone that way, he had to admit.

Maedhros shook his head and turned back to his computer. He would find this book for Fingon and for less than the ridiculous 125 that Harrington's had it priced. This was the challenge he loved. He had a chance to convert a disappointed customer to a satisfied one. And to be honest, he was really looking forward to seeing Fingon again.
Chapter 3 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Fingon let himself into the apartment and groaned at the sight of his roommate and his brother sprawled in front of the television, snacks in various bowls around them and on the floor as well, both of them in the process of shouting at the screen.

He had already wasted too many hours today searching for that book in the store in Formenos. Well, not so much searching as enjoying the peace and quiet of the store itself and the conversation with the owner. He had work to do now though and there was certainly little peace and quiet to be had here.

He leaned against the doorframe and glared at Finrod and Turgon. "Seriously? You couldn't watch this at a bar?"

"It's Man U. versus Arsenal. No bar around here is going to show that!" Fingon's brother Turgon said, through a mouthful of popcorn.

"That's why we got my dad to pay for the premium cable, remember?" Fingon's roommate Finrod added.

"I've got to work on my project. I can't do that anywhere but here. Are you going to be here all night?" Fingon knew he sounded whiny but he really didn't care.

"It's Crystal Palace versus Manchester City after this, so yeah," Turgon answered.

"Haven't they already played these games today?" Fingon asked testily.

"Well, I wasn't going to get up at dawn o'clock to watch them," Turgon said, between sips of his beer. "So Finrod taped them and here we are."

"Fine," Fingon shook his head at them and went to his room. Days like this were the reason he had noise-cancelling headphones.

He was used to Turgon being irritating. Currently a senior at Cuivinen, Turgon's schedule was pretty light for the fall semester. He had his own place on campus, being a Resident Advisor, but he had taken to hanging out at their place with Finrod a lot more since school had started this year. Fingon hoped that would change next semester when his brother had an internship and more responsibility. It wasn't that he disliked Turgon; it was just irritating to have him around as a distraction so frequently.

Finrod was Finrod. He was in his second year of a Masters in Romance Languages and at the rate he was going it was likely going to take him years. He might study during the week, but weekends were a different story.

Not too many years ago Fingon would have joined them—for the game, for the bar scene, for a night on the town in Tirion. But architecture grad school was nothing like college. If he expected to land a job with any of Tirion's prestigious firms he needed to stay focused.

Hours later he pulled off his headphones and meandered into the kitchen. It was dark outside but the glow of the television lit the living room and he could hear Finrod and Turgon talking, their conversation occasionally punctuated by a shout.

He heated up some left over lasagna, inwardly thanking his mother for her intermittent food deliveries, and then he walked out to stand behind the sofa.

"Hey," Finrod said. "Join us? You done with your model building for the night?"

"I've done as much as I can," Fingon replied, sinking into the recliner next the sofa, plate on his lap.

"Beer?" Turgon asked, reaching down to the cooler on the floor next to him.

"May as well. I'm done for the night," Fingon replied, deftly catching the can Turgon tossed at him. He made a face as he looked at the label. "Went all out, didn't you?"

"Hey, it's beer. Not worth the extra cash for the microbrew, beer snob," Finrod said.

Fingon settled back with his mediocre beer. Despite his earlier annoyance with them he was glad to now relax in their company.

Finrod turned to him at the half. "Did you find the book you wanted at that bookstore?"

Fingon shook his head. "No, they didn't have it. I didn't think they would but the owner said he would check around and let me know if he finds a copy."

"Redhaired fellow with the glasses?" Finrod asked.

"Yeah."

"It's a nice store. Nice selection of books, nice layout, nice looking staff," Finrod replied, raising his eyebrows at Fingon.

Fingon felt his face grow warm and was suddenly relieved that the room was so dimly lit. "I liked the layout," he said neutrally. "They've got a lot of space. I'll bet the rent is a bitch that close to the square though."

Finrod laughed. "Oh, he's got no worries about money."

"Who?" asked Turgon.

"The owner. Maedhros Finwon," Finrod answered. "He's got cash to spare, especially after that settlement a few years ago."

"Settlement?" Fingon asked.

"Don't you remember the story? It's been a few years now but the settlement came out, what, two or three years ago? I think we were still in high school when the case was filed." Finrod reached for another beer as he spoke. "His grandfather owned Noldor Pharmaceuticals. He sold it around the time we were in high school and made heaps on it. Trust funds for all the grandkids, charitable donations all over the place, a wing at the med school named after him or something."

"So it's all trust fund money, then?" Turgon asked.

"Sure, some of it is. But soon after selling Finw was hit by a truck as he was crossing the street. Hit and run but there were plenty of witnesses and the driver was found. Finwe's son filed a wrongful death suit against the trucking company and when it was settled they got millions," Finrod answered. "Don't you guys remember this? It was on the news all the time. I thought your dad's firm was part of his legal team."

Fingon remembered now. They had been in high school and his father had rarely been home for weeks on end. He never talked about the case but the evening news and newspapers had been full of photos of Finw, his grieving family and Finw's furious son. So that was where the money came from for Maedhros to start the bookstore right out of his PhD program, Fingon realized.

"I talked to him the day I bought that Esperanto book," Finrod continued. "He opened the store with some of the settlement money the family got."

Turgon turned up the volume of the television again, as Manchester City returned to the pitch and their attention was focused on the game once more, the bookstore forgotten.
Chapter 4 by NelyafinweFeanorion
It was Wednesday by the time Maedhros had located a copy of "Beyond Habitat." He found it at a New York City used bookstore, in good condition, and he had paid $25 for it, a much better price than the one at Harrington's.

He was about to check the box for ground shipping in the order window on his computer but he stopped. Two-day was more expensive but it would get the book to his shop by the weekend. He knew Fingon was a grad student; he had mentioned it when he had told Maedhros about the price of the book online. He likely wouldn't have time to come to Formenos during the week but he likely wouldn't want the two-day shipping surcharge either.

He stared at the screen for a moment then checked the two-day box anyway. With the upgraded delivery the book would arrive Friday afternoon or with the Saturday morning deliveries, at the latest. This way Fingon might be able to pick up the book as soon as this weekend. He clicked through to the screen with Fingon's contact information, hesitated over the desk phone, then pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called on that instead.

It went to voicemail—not unexpected for a school day—but Maedhros felt a twinge of disappointment nonetheless. He left a message and his cell phone number for call back.

It was after five o'clock when Fingon got out of the studio Wednesday night. He had silenced his phone for class, as he always did. He checked it and found he had missed a call from his mother and an unknown number. He had a few texts from his sister, Aredhel. Her field hockey team from Elmoth College was going to be in Tirion to play Cuivinen the following weekend. Could she crash with him, rather than the hotel, and could he come to the game?

He clicked through his schedule and sent her an enthusiastic "Yes!" to both questions, putting the details of the game in his calendar.

Fingon missed Aredhel. He had hoped she would choose to follow him and Turgon at Cuivinen but she had liked Elmoth and his parents had liked the scholarship money there even more.

He couldn't wait to watch her play again. She had no fear and a no-holds barred style of play—fierce, aggressive, dominating. It was a joy to watch but nerve wracking as well—ever since she had broken her ankle playing in a high school match Fingon had found himself flinching each time she collided or took a hit. She had long ago stopped worrying about it herself but he still remembered seeing it happen.

He threw his drawing supplies into his messenger bag and left the classroom to walk to his apartment. There was a voicemail from the unknown number but he could listen to that at home.

Finrod had spread an astounding amount of books all over the dining room table and was immersed in French translation when Fingon arrived. Finrod nodded at him as he came in.

"I made pasta," Finrod said, motioning vaguely towards the kitchen.

"Great. Thanks. I'm starving."

"Yeah, I had an early day today and actually remembered you had studio tonight," Finrod said, regarding the table bleakly. "You'll have to eat in the kitchen though. I've not left any room here."

"No worries." Fingon headed to his room, dropped his bag and was soon settled in the kitchen with a large bowl of pesto pasta. He leaned back and clicked through his emails on his phone when he was done eating, his legs stretched out under the table. Another study group meeting next Tuesday night, a visiting lecturer next Thursday.

He noticed the voicemail he hadn't listened to yet but shoved his phone in his pocket and cleaned up his dishes, as well as the mess Finrod had left in the sink, before heading to his room again.

He kicked off his shoes, turned on some music and lay back on his bed, propped on his pillows, and hit the play icon on his voicemail.

"Hey, Fingon," said a vaguely familiar voice. "It's Maedhros from Beleriand Books." Fingon's hand gripped the phone a little tighter. "I found the book you wanted—it's due in from New York Saturday morning at the latest. Way better price than Harrington's, I promise. Head over anytime this weekend if you have time—we're open both days. If it's less of a hassle for me to ship it to you just let me know—I'll have to charge you for it but it's no problem to do. Let me know."

Fingon put the phone down and blinked. Aredhel wasn't coming until next weekend. It would still be much easier to have the book shipped to him, rather than spend half a day schlepping out to Formenos to pick it up this weekend.

But he wanted to pick it up. He wanted to go back to Beleriand Books and pick it up in person and not only to save on the shipping costs. He thought about those silver-gray eyes behind those tortoise-shell glasses. He could see that unusual shade of red hair, the light freckles over the bridge of Maedhros' nose.

"What the hell?" he said to himself, sitting up on the side of his bed. Why was he thinking of the guy's freckles? What was with him?

He picked up the phone to call Maedhros and tell him to just ship the damn book, he'd pay the surcharge. But he realized he had no idea how much the book was going to cost him in the first place and he really didn't want it shipped, did he?

He wanted to see Maedhros again. He was interested in talking to him, seeing him again, interested in him, period. It had been awhile since he had felt this way, since he had time to feel this way. He actually didn't have time to feel this way, he reminded himself—this was his last year in the program—he had to focus.

Fingon had an internship next semester, his senior project to finish, all sorts of applications to fill out, interviews to set up. He ran his hands through his hair. What the hell was wrong with him? He was just going to pick up a stupid book, not jump into a relationship. He was being an idiot.

He looked at his phone again. He would text Maedhros. That was a far better idea than calling. He had been a bumbling mess talking last weekend so texting was a far safer option. Decision made, he added the unknown number to his contacts and then sent a brief text telling Maedhros he would be there on Sunday.

It didn't take long for his phone to ping back with an answer.

"Looking forward to seeing you." Maedhros had texted. Yeah, Fingon was looking forward to it too.
Chapter 5 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Fingon got through the next few days and Sunday found him back on the monorail heading to Formenos. He didn't pause to look at any of the stores in the square this time but walked briskly straight to Beleriand Books.

Maedhros wasn't at the counter this time. A dark-haired clerk sat there, flicking through a stack of vinyl albums. He looked up as Fingon approached the desk.

"Can I help you?" he asked Fingon.

"I'm looking for Maedhros," Fingon said. "He's got a book he ordered for me."

"Sure. He's in back. I'll have someone get him." He slipped out from behind the counter and called over to one of two red-haired boys who were carrying boxes a few aisles over. "Amrod! Go find Maedhros in the back."

"I know he's in the back, Maglor. Who do you think is making us slog away, carting all these books in?" the redhead answered.

"Well, then go get him," the clerk—Maglor, Fingon corrected himself—said again.

"Why don't you go get him yourself?" the other redhead asked, walking by with a box full of books. "We're working."

"Because I'm manning the desk," Maglor growled. "Now one of you go get him, so we don't keep the customer waiting."

The redhead, Fingon wasn't sure if it was the one Maglor had addressed as Amrod or the other, rolled his eyes, sighed and dropped the box of books on the floor with a thud. "It's not enough always having Mae boss me around but now you're being just as big a pain in the ass, Mags," he said, as he turned to walk to the back of the store.

"Sorry," Maglor said to Fingon. "I don't know why Maedhros thought it was a good idea to have the twins help out on weekends. They're more trouble than help."

"Are they related to you?" Fingon asked.

"They're my brothers. Maedhros' and mine," Maglor explained.

"You're Maedhros' brother? So do you own the bookstore too?"

Maglor laughed. "No, this is all Mae's deal. I just help out for the extra cash and to keep the vinyl organized. My name's Maglor"

"I'm Fingon," Fingon replied. "So you're only here part-time."

"Yeah, I'm in grad school at Cuivinen," Maglor answered.

"I am too. Architecture."

"So you've got no life!" Maglor laughed again. "They work you guys hard. I'm in the Music program—Composition and Performance."

"They must work you guys just as hard," Fingon said.

"I'm in my last year. All I'm doing this semester is polishing up the piece I composed for my Masters performance and looking for a real job when I graduate," Maglor said.

"Are you telling Fingon what a lazy ass you are?" Fingon turned at the sound of Maedhros' voice behind him. Maedhros looked much like he had the previous week—glasses, man-bun, dark brown sweater this time, and a very amused expression on his face.

Maglor rolled his eyes. "Shut up, Maedhros. It's just an extra semester, not a whole year."

"So far. Thanks for covering, Maglor-I've got the desk. You can go hide back in the music section," Maedhros squeezed his brother's shoulder affectionately and Maglor grinned up at him before heading to the back of the store.

Maedhros turned his full attention to Fingon now, a smile on his face. "I found the book in New York. It came in yesterday." He moved behind the counter and pulled the book from a low shelf. "It's in pretty good condition, just a few creases in the dust jacket, but the rest of it is in good shape." Maedhros leaned across the counter to hand the book to Fingon.

"I don't care what it looks like. I just wanted to read it. My professor said it was ground-breaking work in urban design when it came out, a very personal work, and I've wanted to read it ever since he mentioned it."

"Is urban design your ultimate goal?" Maedhros asked.

"In a way. I'd like to work primarily on urban design, but focusing on sustainable architecture, " Fingon replied, grateful to have completed a coherent sentence. He looked down at the book in his hand and flipped through the pages. It really was in good condition. He hoped it wasn't going to be too expensive. He would hate to have put Maedhros to all the trouble if he couldn't afford it.

"How much do I owe you?" he asked Maedhros.

"It was twenty-five to buy plus the shipping. Let's say thirty dollars," Maedhros said, choosing not to mention the two-day shipping that had run him a bit more or the fact that he was actually taking a small loss with this price.

"Really?" Fingon asked. "I'm sure the shipping cost more than five dollars so you can't even be breaking even on it."

Maedhros rested his elbows on the counter and leaned towards Fingon, his chin resting on his left hand. "How about you treat me to a cup of coffee and we call it even?"

Fingon felt his mouth drop open and he scrambled to shut it quickly. "Yes, I'd like that," he said, then groaned internally at how eager he sounded. He reached for his wallet and fumbled for the cash. "Here, let me pay you first." He handed Maedhros the thirty dollars in cash and felt a warm flush on his face as Maedhros' hand touched his as he took the money.

Maedhros stashed the money in the drawer, then grabbed his jacket from below the desk before he stepped out from behind the counter to stand near Fingon. "Let's go." He nodded toward the door of the bookstore.


"Not the coffee shop here?" Fingon asked curiously.

"No, let's get out of here. There's a great little coffee place right on the square." He shrugged into his leather jacket and gently tapped Fingon on the shoulder. "Maglor!" Maedhros called out.

Maglor came to the center of the store. "Yeah, what's up?"

"You're on desk. I'm going out for a bit," Maedhros replied, tilting his head at the counter. "Make sure the twins don't make a mess of the science fiction shelves. I sorted everything before I boxed it but you know how they are."

Maglor sighed. "I know." He looked at Fingon and raised an eyebrow. "Have fun."

Maedhros gently tapped Fingon's shoulder again and made his way to the doors. He turned to look at Fingon over his shoulder, a smile on his face. "Are you coming?"

Fingon nodded and followed him onto the sidewalk, hands jammed into his pockets, the book safely tucked into his messenger bag and his heart racing. He was not going to look at his watch. Most of his work was done, the last train was in two hours, and he deserved a little time off. He smiled back at Maedhros as he stepped beside him.
End Notes:
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Chapter 6 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Maedhros opened the door. The coffee shop was unique, Fingon had to admit. Artwork hung on all the walls and sculpture pieces were scattered between the tables. A girl was seated on a small riser near the counter, playing her guitar. The walls were painted an icy blue and the ceiling a much darker midnight shade with glittering stars embedded in it.

They ordered and then Maedhros steered them to a booth near the back. Fingon settled into the plush, sapphire blue banquette across from Maedhros, his hands wrapped around his steaming coffee mug.

They were silent for a few moments, soaking up the warmth.

"So your brothers work for you?" Fingon asked.

Maedhros leaned back, resting his head against the banquette behind him. "Just a few of them. I have six, you know."

"Six!" Fingon exclaimed.

"Six. Maglor and the twins are at the store part time. Maglor does a great job for me with the vinyl. He finds all kinds of albums at sales and he knows so much about the music. It's rare that a customer leaves the music section empty handed." Maedhros took a sip of his coffee. "I only have him on weekends though, due to school."

"And the twins?" Fingon asked.

Maedhros sighed. "They work for me mainly because my mother wants them out of the house for a few hours on weekends but they need supervision. They get into a fair amount of mischief on their own." He took another sip of coffee and then added "My brother Moryo is still in college at Cuivinen—he's getting a degree in Accounting so he does the books for me."

Fingon did the quick math in his head. "And the other two?"

"Curvo's at Cuivinen as well—studying Chemical Engineering. Tyelko works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the hockey team—also at Cuivienen."

"So he's out of school then too," Fingon said, somewhat unnecessarily.

"Got his Athletic Training degree two years ago and then got certified for strength and conditioning. He played hockey at Cuivinen so he had the contacts there," Maedhros said.

"My sister is in the Athletic Training program at Elmoth. She plays field hockey for them."

"Sounds like she and Tyelko would get along," Maedhros replied.

"Maybe we should get them together," Fingon said, with a laugh.
"Aredhel usually scares her boyfriends off."

"Tyelko keeps falling for girls who are totally wrong for him—these quiet, ethereal types who look like the wind will knock them over or serious, artistic ones that totally confuse him."

Fingon laughed again. "Aredhel is the same. She finds these bookish types who have no idea about or interest in sports or these brooding ones who just exude doom and gloom."

"Sounds like we should get them together over winter break. Is she coming home then?" Maedhros asked.

"She'll actually be here next weekend," Fingon said, his pulse quickening a bit as he contemplated his next words. "She's got a field hockey match at Cuivinen but she's staying with me." He swallowed and then just kept on talking. "You could come watch the match if you like, with your brother, and maybe we could get dinner after?" He had said it. He hadn't stumbled over the words and now it was out there between them.

"What day?" Maedhros asked, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

"Next Saturday. At two. Match should be over by four. She'll need to clean up, obviously, but we could head out to dinner after that." Fingon spoke casually but his pulse had not slowed down, if anything it was speeding up.

Maedhros looked up and met Fingon's eyes. "I'd like that. I'll text Tyelko to see if he's free. Maglor should be able to cover for me at the store or even Moryo."

"Great," Fingon was tapped out of words, now that he had succeeded in scheduling another meeting with Maedhros. It had been awhile since he had felt so exhilarated in someone's presence. It was nerve-wracking but in a good way.

"So, I've told you about my brothers and you've told me about your sister. It is just the two of you?" Maedhros leaned forward over his coffee.

"No, I've got two brothers. Turgon is a senior at Cuivinen-Ethics and Public Policy. He was thinking of law school but that's on hold for now. I think he's hoping his internship next semester gets him a job." Fingon took a sip of coffee and continued. "Argon is a senior in high school. He's brilliant-wants to study medicine but hasn't decided where he's going to go for undergrad yet."

"Everyone in my family went to Cuivinen," Maedhros said. "Even my parents."

"Mine too. Aredhel is the first to go away to school," Fingon replied.

"I'm just hoping the twins get in," Maedhros said, shaking his head.
"They aren't exactly the most studious."

"They usually count the legacy factor, though. You've had enough family go there so I'm sure they will take them."

"It helps that my dad is on the Board. At least I hope it helps," Maedhros looked down at his coffee again.

"I think . . . " Fingon started. "I think my dad knows your dad."

"Really? How?"

"He's a partner at Mithrim and Hithlum. I think they worked on a case for your dad," Fingon said.

Maedhros face went very still and Fingon noticed his hands were white-knuckled as they tightly gripped his coffee mug.

"For my grandfather's wrongful death suit," Maedhros said, his voice very even and very low.

Fingon felt like an idiot for bringing it up. "I'm sorry. I never should have brought it up. It was a stupid thing to say. I'm so sorry."

"No, it's fine. Everyone knows the story and we're grateful to the firm for handling it so well," He paused and looked up at Fingon. "It was just a rough time for us."

"I'm sorry," Fingon repeated, berating himself for mentioning it. Couldn't he have found anything else to talk about?

Maedhros reached across the table and put his hand over Fingon's. "Don't worry about it. It's in the past and you didn't mean anything by it. I know that."

Fingon's hand tingled where Maedhros' skin touched his own. He looked down at Maedhros' hand as it lay over his. Hardly breathing and surprised at himself for doing it, he slowly lifted his fingers off the table and intertwined them with Maedhros' coffee-warmed ones, giving his hand a quick squeeze.

Maedhros leaned further forward and a slow smile came across his face as he gently squeezed Fingon's hand back. Neither one pulled away and they stayed that way for a minute, blue eyes meeting silver-gray ones.

Maedhros broke the silence but not the handhold. "Do you want to go for a walk around the square?" He tilted his head as he spoke.

"I'm fine here, I think," Fingon said, squeezing Maedhros' hand again.

"There's also a lovely park by the river. It's quite peaceful there," Maedhros said, his thumb rubbing lightly over Fingon's.

Fingon tilted his head in an unconscious imitation of Maedhros. The town square was definitely not as intriguing as sitting in the coffee shop holding Maedhros' hand, but the river walk was a different story.

"I like that idea better. I haven't been to the river walk for years."

"Then let's go," Maedhros said. "We won't have too many of these nice fall days left, now that it's November."

Fingon shivered. He hated the cold winters, ever since he had fallen into the lake years ago while ice-skating with his family. His father had pulled him out and his mother had wrapped herself around him for warmth but he had never forgotten the frigid blue world below the ice as he had plunged in, when the ice had unexpectedly cracked under his feet.

He had clawed at the edge of the ice, unable to get a grip, shards breaking under his frantic fingers. His heavy winter clothes had dragged at him, preventing him from being able to keep his head fully above the water. It had been such a relief to feel his father's strong hands gripping him and pulling him out but he would never forget the chill as he lay sodden and heaving on the ice.

The hospital had warmed him and declared him unharmed, not even frostbitten, but it had been a long time before he could look at the frozen lake or think of the pleasant side of winter. He hadn't skated since then.

All this ran through his mind and he almost forgot he was sitting at a table in a warm coffee shop. He shivered again and pulled his attention back to Maedhros, who was looking at him with a concerned expression.

"Are you all right? I think you drifted away from me for a moment there. Is it too cold?" Maedhros asked, the concern apparent in his voice. "We can stay here, where it's warm."

Fingon smiled at him, banishing the thoughts of the ice as he looked at Maedhros. "No, it's fine. I'd like to see the river and the park. You just got me thinking about winter. It's not my favorite season."

"Understood. I feel the same way. But really, it's fine if you'd rather stay here. It's your day off—I don't want to make it miserable for you." Maedhros had a crease on his forehead that Fingon wanted to reach out and smooth away.

"Seriously, I want to go. " He pulled his hand reluctantly from Maedhros' to stand and put his jacket on. "Show me this park of yours."
Chapter 7 by NelyafinweFeanorion
The river walk was only a few blocks away. It was almost as nice a day as the previous Saturday, when Fingon had first found Beleriand Books. Had it really only been a week, he wondered.

As they walked, they spoke about how much Formenos had changed over the years. Fingon learned that Maedhros had spent many summers in Formenos; his family had a lake house on the outskirts of town. Maedhros lived there now, with Maglor and Tyelko. Moryo and Curvo were in the dorms at Cuivinen and Amrod and Amras, the twins, lived with their parents in Tirion.

The family still came to the lake in the summer, mostly on weekends but occasionally they would take a whole week to be together there, like they used to years ago.

Maedhros and Fingon reached the river walk and took the path along the river until they reached the small park. Benches were set up facing the river and Maedhros moved towards one and sat down, motioning Fingon to sit next to him.

The river sparkled and glinted in the light of the late afternoon sun. Fingon leaned back, enjoying the sound of the water and the peace of this little park. The sun was setting so the colors in the sky were mingling orange, pink and shades of purple ahead of him. It was lovely.

They sat side by side in silence, but it was a comfortable silence. Fingon didn't feel the need to say anything. He was just content with the view, the quiet and the company.

He didn't know how much time had passed, as they sat together by the river, the shadows growing and the water becoming dark as the sun shifted position. The wind picked up and Fingon gave another small, involuntary shiver as it gusted around them and ruffled his hair.

"Are you cold?" Maedhros asked, shifting closer to Fingon on the bench.

"Not really," Fingon answered, shifting himself closer to Maedhros in turn. His hands were in his pockets but for some reason he pulled them out and rubbed them together briskly.

"You are cold," Maedhros stated, moving even closer. Their legs were next to each other, their thighs just touching now. It felt right, Fingon thought.

"Just my hands," Fingon finally confessed. "But it's lovely out here. I don't want to leave quite yet."

"It will get a lot colder in a few minutes when the sun goes down," Maedhros warned, casually reaching for Fingon's hand and grasping it with his own. Maedhros' hand was so warm—it surprised Fingon.

He interlaced his fingers with Maedhros' and put his other hand back in his pocket. "We can go when the sun sets," he said.

The wind picked up as the sun sank down across the river. "Let's go, before you freeze." Maedhros said, pulling Fingon up by his hand as he stood. He kept hold of Fingon's hand as they walked in the dim light, back to the square.

They stopped at the street leading to Beleriand Books. "I've got to get to the monorail station," Fingon said. Maedhros hurriedly looked at his watch and frowned at Fingon.

"It's Sunday," Maedhros said. "I'm so sorry. I didn't even think. I made you miss your train! The four o'clock is the last one on Sundays."

Fingon's eyes widened. "Shit," he said. "I've got to get back." He looked around the square. "Is there a bus or a taxi or something?" How could he have forgotten about catching the train? He realized he hadn't checked his watch in hours and even the setting sun hadn't triggered thoughts of the train. "Shit," he said again, dropping Maedhros' hand and looking at his watch. "It's 5:15 now."

"I'll drive you home," Maedhros said.

"No, really I can't let you do that," Fingon protested. "It's such a hassle for you."

"It's not a big deal. I drive to my parents place in Tirion all the time. Seriously. It's my fault you missed your train. The least I can do is drive you home."

"Thanks," Fingon said, relief flooding through him.

"I'm parked by the store, " Maedhros said, looking at his watch again. "Maglor will have closed up already. Let me just text him that I'm running you home." He bent his head to text and Fingon looked at his profile in the light of the streetlamps. His hair looked darker but his face, even shadowed, looked paler, almost as if he were carved from marble.

Maedhros' phone pinged back almost instantly. He grimaced as he texted back. "He said the twins just left. He offered to call them to head this way and pick you up, but I told him not to bother," He looked at Fingon, the light highlighting his face now. "I'd still have taken you home myself, even if they were here. I wouldn't trust them with you. They're terrible drivers." Maedhros' eyes softened as he looked at Fingon and he touched his shoulder as he had earlier in the day. "Follow me."

They walked past Beleriand Books to the small parking lot down the street. Only one car was left in the lot. "This is it," Maedhros said, clicking his key fob to unlock the dark green Subaru. "Sorry, It's a complete mess," he said, lifting a box of books from the passenger seat and motioning to Fingon to open the back door for him. More boxes were already stacked in the back seat and in the trunk as well. "Sorry, " Maedhros repeated. "I went to a couple of sales Friday and never got around to taking the boxes in the store." He bent down and grabbed some loose papers from the floor of the passenger side and tossed them in the back, then moved out of the way so Fingon could sit.

The drive to Tirion took more than half an hour but it seemed like no time to Fingon before they were pulling up in front of his building.

"This ok?" Maedhros asked, double-parking his car.

"It's perfect. Listen thanks so much for everything—for finding the book, for the afternoon and for driving me home." Fingon turned to look at Maedhros. "Really, I had a great time."

"I did too," Maedhros said, leaning towards Fingon. His phone pinged again and he pulled it out to check it. He looked at Fingon with a huge grin. "Tyelko's free next Saturday and he would love to come to the match."

"Great. So it's a date." The words were barely out of Fingon's mouth when he realized what he had said and how stupid it sounded. "I mean hopefully we can set up a date—for Aredhel and your brother," He tried to recover, knowing it was pretty hopeless at this point.

Maedhros was still smiling. "It's a date works for me," he said, his silver eyes looking at Fingon intently.

Fingon held his gaze, not saying anything to ruin this perfect moment. Eventually he put his hand on the door handle and stepped out of the car. He bent down to look at Maedhros one last time. "I'll see you Saturday then. I'll text you this week about time and place. Thanks again. For everything. I think I still owe you another coffee for the shipping on the book."

"I'll take you up on that," Maedhros said as Fingon stepped back to shut the door. He stood on the street for a moment, a ridiculous urge coming over him to wave as Maedhros' car pulled away, but he kept it under control and turned to his building and resolutely walked in without looking back.

Maedhros glanced up at his rearview mirror and saw Fingon enter the building. He turned the corner to head back to Formenos. It was going to be a long week. Saturday couldn't come quickly enough.
Chapter 8 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Maedhros came home to Tyelko and Maglor watching football in the darkened living room. Maglor looked up as Maedhros entered and pointedly looked at his watch. "That may be your longest coffee break ever." He raised his eyebrows at Maedhros and looked particularly amused. "I might have to tell the boss to dock your pay."

"The least I could do was drive him home after he missed his train," Maedhros said, sinking down into the sofa next to his brother.

"It was your longest coffee break on record, even before you drove him home," Maglor stated, looking at Maedhros appraisingly.

"It was nice to have some intelligent conversation for a change," Maedhros bumped Maglor's shoulder.

"Did your 'intelligent conversation' get you any action, Mae, or are you still in your interminable dry spell?" Tyelko asked.

"Shut up, Tyelko," Maedhros said.

"I'll take that as a 'no' then. How could I forget—you never put out on a first date anyway." Tyelko gave him a huge grin and dodged the pillow Maedhros threw across the room at him.

"Did you two make any dinner or are you subsisting on beer again tonight?" Maedhros asked.

"The twin terrors brought bountiful bowls of Mom's food," Maglor said. "It's in the frig. At least what's left of it."

"That's about the only thing those two are good for—food delivery," Tyelko grumbled.

"They have been somewhat more surly lately," Maglor agreed.

"Surly?" Tyelko interjected. "They're assholes."

Maedhros rolled his eyes and sighed. "You were just as mouthy at that age, Tyelko. You all were."

"I was never 'mouthy,'" Maglor disputed.

"No, you were just all emo and gloom," Tyelko said. "Valar above, you were depressing as hell to be around."

"You weren't much better," Maglor said testily. "I wasn't the one who punched a hole in my bedroom wall."

"You didn't have to share a room with Moryo," Tyelko retorted. "Not all of us were lucky enough to room with Saint Maedhros. Moryo was a little shit."

Maedhros stood up. "I'm going to get some dinner." He could hear them continue to bicker as he made his way to the kitchen. Neither one would give on this topic and he wasn't in the mood to launch into a detailed discussion of what pains in the ass they both had been. And still were.

He settled in the relative quiet of the kitchen with a plateful of his mother's food and tuned out the voices down the hall.

He loved his brothers. Fiercely. Loyally. Completely. But that didn't mean they didn't irritate him fairly consistently. Annoying as they were, he had to admit it was still better than living alone. Even though Maglor and Tyelko got on each other's nerves and were fairly vocal about it, they were still good company. Most of the time. Even quarrelling brothers were better than being alone, especially out here on the lake, away from the relative bustle of downtown Formenos.

Maedhros absentmindedly washed and dried his dishes, his mind going back to those quiet moments by the river earlier in the day. It had been comfortable, sitting with Fingon, even when they weren't speaking. There was just something very soothing about him—like a cool breeze on a hot day.

Maedhros had felt the attraction when he had first locked eyes with Fingon. Even though he was sure they had never met before—there was no way he could ever forget a face like Fingon's—there was a magnetism about him yet still a comfortable familiarity as well.

It had been a long time since Maedhros had bothered to follow up on an attraction like this. Tyelko's joke about his long dry spell was far more accurate than he liked to admit. He couldn't really recall feeling anything quite like this before, so instantaneous.

It was not like he had never been in a relationship before. But nothing serious, nothing long term, nothing that had the ease of his interaction with Fingon. He could still almost feel the cool touch of Fingon's fingers interlaced with his own.

He had not expected that when he had reached out to reassure Fingon at the coffee shop. He had certainly felt the attraction and was fairly sure it was mutual but he had never expected such a swift confirmation of it.

He had surprised himself later, when he had taken Fingon's chilled hand by the river. He was not usually so demonstrative or so bold, so soon. He would need to be a bit more controlled Saturday, with Tyelko and Fingon's sister around. Even though he had been exhilarated when Fingon had referred to it as a date, he knew this was supposed to be about Tyelko and Aredhel . . . at least on the surface.

Maybe the time together Saturday would give Maedhros an indication if there was potential for another time—one that focused on the two of them instead. He certainly hoped so.

__________________________________________________________________

It was Friday afternoon and Fingon was finally done with classes. He had just dropped his bag on the floor by his bed when a text alert sounded from his phone. It was Turgon.

TURGON: "U going to Arry's match tomorrow?"

FINGON: "Yes. She's staying here after."

TURGON: "Why not mom and dad's?"

FINGON: "Argon interview at Eldamar for accelerated MD program. Mom and Dad going with him."

TURGON: "He'll ace it. Match at 2?"

FINGON: "Yes. Done by 4. You going to show up?"

TURGON: "Yeah. Can't hang out after. Have a DATE."

FINGON: "You? Seriously?"

TURGON: "Shut up. It's one more date than you've had this year."

FINGON: "I'm too busy to date. What's your excuse."

TURGON: "Liar."

FINGON: "Shut up."

TURGON: "C U tomorrow."

Fingon put the phone down. Technically, it was not a date. He had just invited Maedhros to the match so that Aredhel could meet his brother. Tulco? Tyelko? Whatever his name was. He and Maedhros were just going to be there to facilitate the meeting and monitor the results. That's all.

But he had referred to it as a date and Maedhros hadn't seemed to mind, he told himself. Fingon lay back on his bed and looked at the ceiling fan. He should probably figure out exactly what he was feeling before tomorrow. He didn't want another afternoon of stumbling conversation.

So was it a date? More importantly-did he want it to be a date?

He most certainly did. He couldn't recall ever feeling such an instant connection. He had dated in high school and college, nothing serious, nothing long lasting, nothing that really meant all that much to him.

It was pleasant to have a companion, someone to talk to, confide in, someone to hold, someone who could hold him; but even the sexual relationships he had previously experienced had not brought this rush of exhilaration, this feeling of such easy familiarity and, he hated to admit, this level of utter awkwardness on his part. Awkward was not a word people usually associated with him.

He was undeniably physically attracted to Maedhros but it was more than that. Despite his temporary lapses into incoherence in his presence, it wasn't actually Maedhros that made him uncomfortable—it was the intensity of his reaction to Maedhros that was throwing him off.

Fingon knew this wasn't the best time for him to be contemplating starting a relationship. But if there was any chance of a relationship with Maedhros then he really didn't give a damn about the timing, did he? Sorting out his feelings had been easier than he had expected. He wanted this.

He sat up and grabbed his phone. He should text Maedhros the details for tomorrow. Text or call? Definitely text, he decided. It was still the safer option. He quickly sent a text, detailing time and place and asking if Maedhros had any preferences for where they should go to dinner.

The reply came back moments later, along with the suggestion of a Mediterranean restaurant that Fingon was familiar with—it was just down the street from his apartment.

He made an online reservation at the restaurant and sent the confirmation link to Maedhros. Tirion could get busy on Saturday nights—best to plan ahead. He lay back and stared at his ceiling fan again. Tomorrow couldn't come soon enough.
Chapter 9 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Chapter 9

Fingon sat in the bleachers watching the Elmoth players warm up. Today was definitely typical November weather. The sky was gray, a thick, low layer of clouds hanging over the fields and a brisk wind blowing. He had gone back and forth about a hat but was now glad he had worn it, as well as the scarf and gloves. The wind was making his eyes water. He tugged the hat further down over his ears.

There wasn't much of a crowd yet so there were no human barriers to the wind. He hoped Turgon would show up soon. As if on cue Turgon appeared, climbing the bleachers to reach him.

"Hey," Turgon said.

"Hey," Fingon replied.

"Shit, it's cold," Turgon said, jamming his hands in his pockets as he sat next to Fingon.

"Why aren't you wearing a hat?" Fingon asked.

"Valar above, Fingon, you sound just like Mom when you say stuff like that, you know?"

"It's a valid question," Fingon retorted.

"I told you. I have a date. I'm not going to go on a date with hat head," Turgon snapped.

"Well, it's not like she's going on a date with your hair," Fingon said. Turgon rolled his eyes and stared at the pitch.

"Who did you get to actually agree to go on a date with you?" Fingon asked.

"One more person than agreed to go on a date with you," Turgon said.

Not really accurate, Fingon thought but left it unsaid. "Shut up, Turko, it's a simple question."

"Fine. Elenw. She's the RA on the floor above mine. She's an art student so her hours are weird but I've been talking to her at the RA meetings and decided to ask her out," Turgon replied, his cheeks taking on a flush that did not seem to be related to the wind.

"You really like her," Fingon knew his brother well. Turgon was a romantic under his flippant talk. When he fell for someone he usually fell hard.

"Well, of course I like her. Why would I ask her out if I didn't like her?"

Fingon shrugged. "You know what I mean."

Turgon narrowed his eyes and then let his shoulders sag as he looked at Fingon earnestly. "I really do like her. A lot."

Fingon leaned into his shoulder. "Then I hope it goes well tonight. What's the plan?"

"Safe bet. Dinner and a movie. I went conservative."

"Good move. You going to come over tomorrow?" Fingon asked.

"Yeah. I thought I'd stop by and see Aredhel before she leaves. When's her flight?"

"I think she said one. You can grab breakfast with us." Fingon gave him a sidelong look. "You can tell us how your date went and I can tell you if Aredhel's set-up went well."

"What set-up?" Turgon asked curiously.

"The guy from the bookstore is bringing his brother to the game to meet Aredhel. He sounds like just her type." Fingon confided.

Turgon gave him an appraising look. "I thought you just met this bookstore guy that one time. How did setting up a date for Aredhel come up?"

Fingon could feel a flush coming on his face. "Just happened to chat about siblings with him when I went to pick up that book last weekend. His brother seemed to have a lot in common with Aredhel so it seemed like a good idea at the time."

"So his brother's not all emo with nerd glasses?" Turgon scoffed.

"No, idiot. He sounds nothing like her usual type, which is why I thought it might be a good idea. From his description he sounds just like Aredhel," Fingon replied.

"Seriously? There are guys that might actually be compatible with Arry? I'm almost frightened," Turgon said.

"Shut up. Here they come." Fingon had spotted Maedhros' unique shade of red hair in the growing crowd. Maedhros was scanning the bleachers so Fingon stood up and tried to catch his eye. He knew Maedhros had spotted him when a huge grin spread across his face and he nodded at Fingon, motioning to his stocky, fair-haired companion to follow him. That must be the brother, Fingon thought.

"Hey," Maedhros greeted him as they reached Fingon's bleacher. He sat next to Fingon, his tall frame providing an excellent temporary wind block. "Fingon, this is my brother, Tyelko." The blonde had seated himself next to Maedhros and now leaned forward to grin at Fingon, his long hair whipped by the wind into a bright halo around him.

"Hey, thanks for the invite." Tyelko said.

"Thanks for braving the cold," Fingon replied. "This is my brother, Turgon," Fingon nodded to his left where Turgon was seated. "Turgon meet Maedhros and Tyelko. Maedhros owns that bookstore Finrod's been raving about." Turgon nodded at the brothers.

"I'm crushed," Maedhros said drily, as he turned to look at Fingon, his silver eyes shining down at him. "I found your book for you, at a great price I might add, and you're not raving about my bookstore?"

"I suppose my 5-star review on yelp wasn't good enough?" Fingon answered, grinning back at Maedhros and shifting slightly closer to him on the bleachers, so their shoulders just brushed.

Maedhros laughed and almost imperceptibly shifted closer to Fingon, their knees just touching. Fingon felt warmer already.

"You should have worn a hat," he said to Maedhros. "It's going to get even colder."

Maedhros gave him a slow smile. "I think I'll be warm enough with you here . . ." he paused as Fingon's eyes widened, "to buy me that coffee you still owe me," he finished, the amused expression Fingon was finding he was becoming quite familiar with on Maedhros' face again.

They looked at each other, the rest of the crowd dimming into the background as Fingon's view narrowed down to just those silver eyes, until the shrill whistle of the referee starting the match dragged his attention away from Maedhros' face.

"Which one is your sister?" Tyelko asked.

"Number 23 for Elmoth," Fingon answered. They watched in silence for a few moments as Aredhel blocked a shot on goal by the other team and then bulldozed her way past several of Cuivinen's defenders.

"She's a beast," Tyelko said appreciatively.

Turgon laughed. "No question."

Cuivinen never had a chance. Elmoth dominated and four o'clock found the four of them standing near the sidelines to congratulate Aredhel on her team's annihilation of Cuivinen.

She spotted them and headed over, tackling Fingon and enveloping him in a huge, sweaty, smelly hug. "Finno!"

He lifted her up and spun her around, setting her down so she could greet Turgon, who having witnessed her bear hug, stepped back and paused her enthusiasm with an arm thrown in front of him.

"What the hell, Turko?" Aredhel said, batting his arm away and hugging him anyway, reaching a hand to mess up his hair.

"Now you've done it!" Fingon laughed, as Turgon scowled and beat her hand away from his head. "Turko has a date tonight—don't get him all sweaty or mess up his hair!"

Aredhel turned her grinning face to Turgon. "A date! Is that why you're ditching me tonight, Turko?" She punched his arm affectionately.

Turgon had the grace to look uncomfortable. "Really, Arry, if I could have changed it to tomorrow I would but I just asked her out and . . ."

"Oh, shut up, Turko," Aredhel went on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "You're so cute when you are crushing hard. Have fun, be good and I'll see you tomorrow?"

Turgon gingerly hugged her back. "Tomorrow, promise." He nodded at Fingon and the rest, then headed to the parking lot.

"These your friends, Finno?" Aredhel asked, turning her attention to Maedhros and Tyelko. Fingon was gratified to see Tyelko was grinning at Aredhel.

"My friend Maedhros and his brother, Tyelko." He turned to them and nodded at his sister. "Meet Aredhel."

"Great match," Maedhros said. "You destroyed Cuivinen."

"You were fierce!" Tyelko added.

Aredhel grinned back at both of them. "It was nice to smack them down. Just because we're a smaller school doesn't mean we're a weaker team."

"Bad idea to dismiss any team, just because of school size. Elmoth has great teams," Tyelko said. "I remember playing their hockey team."

"Who do you play for?" Aredhel asked.

"Cuivinen," Tyelko answered. "Well, I did. I'm the strength and conditioning coach now."

Aredhel looked ready to follow up with another comment but Fingon broke in. "Hey, sorry to interrupt your conversation, but are you ready to go, Arry? It's freezing out here."

"Oh. Yeah, let me get my gear. I'll be right back," She ran off, returning moments later with her bag.

Fingon put his arm around her shoulders. "Let's get you to my place so you can clean up. You are rank!"
Chapter 10 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Chapter 10

Even though Fingon's apartment was not far from campus he was still grateful for Maedhros' offer to drive them all there after the match, as the weather had become even colder and the wind had picked up.

"Is there going to be room for all of us?" Fingon teased, as they walked to the parking lot.

"I made a point of cleaning the car out," Maedhros confessed, with a laugh. They had ended up walking next to each other, as Aredhel had followed up on her questioning of Tyelko about his job. It took all his effort not to reach out for Fingon's hand as they walked but this wasn't the time or place.

There was no sign of Finrod when they reached the warmth of Fingon's apartment, which did not surprise Fingon in the least, knowing how his roommate liked to spend his free time. Aredhel disappeared to shower while he, Maedhros and Tyelko sat in the living room, watching a game on the television as they waited, and drinking the craft beer Fingon had bought for the occasion. He had made quite sure Finrod had known it was off limits for him.

Fingon settled himself on the recliner, leaving the sofa to Maedhros and Tyelko. He had to remind himself this was for Aredhel and Tyelko but he couldn't keep his eyes from straying to gaze at Maedhros.

The brothers shared few similarities, he decided, other than in facial structure. Tyelko was solid and muscular, close to Fingon in height but much broader in the shoulders. He had clear grey eyes and a mane of wavy, silvery-blond hair that brushed his shoulders. If Maedhros hadn't introduced Tyeko as his brother Fingon might not have made the connection that they were related.

Aredhel appeared in what Fingon regarded as record time for her. She perched on the arm of Fingon's recliner, ruffling his dark hair affectionately. "I'm starving," she said.

"Then let's go. I've got reservations at the place just down the street." He looked at Maedhros. "You have such a good parking spot and the restaurant is so close, why don't we just walk to dinner?"

They made their way down the street, Aredhel arm in arm with Fingon this time, her black hair blowing around her face and her blue eyes sparkling at him as she spoke.

He had missed her. Even though the age difference was larger than the one he had with Turgon, he and Aredhel had always had the closest bond. He would cover for her with their parents, pick her up when she had been partying too hard in high school or had gotten herself into awkward situations. He was her sounding board during her frequent relationship ups and downs with the string of boyfriends she had through the years.

She made him laugh-with her stories, her jokes, her irrepressible spirit, and her irreverent outlook on just about everything. It was good to have her at his side again.

They sat next to each other in the booth at the restaurant as well, Aredhel sliding in across from Tyelko and Fingon across from Maedhros. That suited Fingon just fine. Dinner was lively. He had been right; Aredhel and Tyelko were kindred spirits, exchanging stories, banter and laughs all through dinner with some humorous additions from Maedhros at times.

Fingon took another chance to look across the table at Maedhros when Tyelko launched into a story about a hockey road trip that had Aredhel laughing. Maedhros met his eyes and gave him a grin. He took a quick look at his brother and then winked at Fingon.

"Seems you were right," he said, leaning forward, his voice pitched so low as to not be overheard by the other two.

"So it seems," Fingon replied, just as quietly.

"How is the book?"

Fingon groaned. "I've only managed to read a few chapters. This week has been so blasted busy. I really like what I've read so far." Fingon paused, a thoughtful expression on his face, before he continued. "It's a book about architecture but it's also about community and culture and how that plays a role in creating spaces."

Maedhros nodded at him. "I scanned a bit of it when it arrived," he said. "It seemed more autobiographical and focusing on abstract ideas about architecture rather than textbook discussion."

"Exactly," Fingon replied. "It's fascinating that this is about a Masters thesis project." He tilted his head at Maedhros. "I'm working on my final project now for my Masters and it's interesting to read his thoughts as he went through the process of actually building the structure he designed for that."

Aredhel snorted as she overheard Fingon, her attention on him now. "Don't get him started talking to you about his project," she admonished Maedhros. "He'll never stop talking! He starts going off about 'concepts being actualized' and 'social architecture' and then he's completely incomprehensible." She smiled fondly at Fingon's outraged expression and put her head on his shoulder. "It's adorably dorky, but I love you anyway," she said, smiling up at him.

"So what am I allowed to talk about?" Fingon inquired.

"What are we going to do after dinner?" Aredhel answered. "You can talk about that."

Fingon looked at her blankly. He hadn't thought about any plans for after dinner. He wasn't much for the Tirion night scene anymore-that was Finrod's specialty. He wracked his brain trying to think of anything Finrod might have mentioned recently but nothing came to mind.

"Maedhros?" he asked. "Any ideas?"

"I'm so out of the Tirion loop anymore," Maedhros said, echoing Fingon's thoughts.

"Not that you were ever really into it anyway, Mae," Tyelko pointed out. "Let me think," Tyelko said, his fingers drumming on the table. He looked at his watch and then narrowed his eyes at Aredhel. "How old are you?"

"Twenty," she said, coolly staring back at him. "But I have ID that says I'm twenty-two," she added confidently, kicking Fingon under the table as he started to speak, so he contented himself with glaring at her instead.

Tyelko shook his head. "No, bad idea. The bouncers around here are pretty slick."

Maedhros made a funny sound, half laugh and half snort, as Tyelko scowled at him. "Tyelko would know first hand," Maedhros explained. "He's been tossed out of enough bars and clubs around here."

"Shut up, Mae," Tyelko frowned at his older brother and turned back to Aredhel. "There are some great all-ages clubs so don't bother with the fake ID." He gave Maedhros another sharp look and then continued. "But it's way too early to hit the clubs. We have a few hours to kill until then."

"We could go back to my place," Fingon offered, with a swift look at Maedhros.

"Boring," Aredhel interrupted. "Seriously, Finno, that's lame."

Maedhros gave Fingon a wry but sympathetic look as Aredhel turned her attention back to Tyelko. "Come on, Tyelko. Think of something fun."

But it was Maedhros who spoke up. "There are a few coffee houses and artsy pubs up on Nevrast Avenue. They have live music on weekends or we could see what's playing at the Campus Film Board?"

Tyelko made a face. "Maglor loves those coffee shops but it's usually some weird folk music scene."

"Not always," Maedhros said. "Maglor usually finds the more unique options, I'll admit, but most just have acoustic guitar or local bands playing. It's that Avallone place Maglor likes so much and we can certainly avoid that one."

Tyelko had his phone out and was tapping at the screen. He looked up with a huge grin. "Film Board was a brainstorm, Maedhros. They're showing Holy Grail tonight!"

"You mean Monty Python's Holy Grail?" Aredhel clarified.

"What other one is there?" Tyelko asked, perplexed.

"I'm in!" Aredhel said.

Maedhros leaned across the table to Fingon. "It's a family favorite."

"Ours too," Fingon said. "Sounds perfect."

They spilled out of the campus cinema a few hours later, still reciting lines from the movie to each other and laughing as they stood in the street together.

"Where to now, Tyelko?" Aredhel asked, having relieved Fingon of his activity planning duties. She leaned over Tyelko's arm as he scrolled through his phone.

Fingon stepped closer to Maedhros. To his regret he had not managed to sit next to Maedhros in the theater, Aredhel and Tyelko having seated themselves between their respective brothers.

"I hadn't seen that movie in awhile," he said to Maedhros.

"You seem to have remembered it fairly well," Maedhros responded.

"Seems we share an obsession with it," Fingon said.

"Nargothrond!" Tyelko exclaimed.

"What's that?" Aredhel asked.

"It's this club I've been wanting to check out," Tyelko answered. "It's in the warehouse district. They've made it look like an underground cave. It's supposed to have multiple dance floors, set up in different caverns." He looked up from his phone. "It's all-ages but it's a bit of a haul from here."

"Finrod's been going on and on about that place," Fingon added. "It's closer to downtown."

"I'll drive," Maedhros said. "I've no need to drink tonight-I'll be the designated driver."

"I can always drive us home," Aredhel offered. "No drinking for me-underage and in season."

"Let's go then!" Tyelko said, with a grin.

Nargothrond lived up to its reputation. Fingon found the walls were rough in texture and actually looked like stone, with glittery pebbles embedded here and there to look like gems. Archways, painted to look like carved stone, separated the various caverns from each other. Fake torches were set in the walls to provide light, additional illumination being provided by the colored dance floors lighting up below their feet.

He humored his sister by dancing with her when they first got there but she soon switched to dancing with Tyelko and he was free to stand near a darkened alcove with Maedhros and simply people watch. As usual for the Tirion clubs, it was too loud to indulge in any meaningful conversation but for now he was content to be near Maedhros and periodically make eye contact that left him a little breathless.

They had moved to stand shoulder to shoulder, watching the dance floor when they weren't smiling at each other, occasionally catching sight of Aredhel's white sweater and Tyelko's wild hair. Maedhros put his hand on Fingon's shoulder and Fingon looked up just as Maedhros leaned down to speak to him. Their faces were very close and Fingon could feel Maedhros' exhaled breath as he leaned close to Fingon's ear.

"Our plan seems to be working well," Maedhros shouted. Fingon nodded, the height difference between them too much for him to reach Maedhros' ear to respond and their faces were far too close now for him to risk turning his head. Maedhros straightened up again but his hand lingered on Fingon's shoulder and Fingon felt himself lean towards him, shifting until his body was touching Maedhros' side. Maedhros slid his hand to Fingon's other shoulder and Fingon moved closer still, their bodies next to each other, a tingle going down Fingon's spine at the contact. They were in the relative dark of the alcove so he allowed himself to relax into the warmth of Maedhros next to him. Fingon saw Maedhros smile as he darted a quick look at him and Maedhros' hand gently gripped Fingon's shoulder.

It wasn't long before Aredhel signaled to Fingon from across the dance floor and made her way over towards them. Maedhros shifted slightly away from him at her approach and dropped his hand to Fingon's back.

"I'm hot-going outside to get some air. I'll be right back," she bellowed in Fingon's ear, giving his arm a squeeze. Fingon followed her with his eyes, as Maedhros moved close to him again once she was gone, and he noted Tyelko walking out after her.

Aredhel felt the cool night air on her flushed face and took a deep breath before she tapped the shoulder of a girl near her. "Got a spare?" she asked, motioning to the girl's cigarette.

The girl nodded and handed her one, lighting it for her before moving on. Tyelko found Aredhel a moment later, leaning against the cold brick wall, cigarette in her hand.

"Don't you know those are bad for you?" he asked her, as he sauntered up and leaned his shoulder against the wall, facing her.

Aredhel shrugged. "One or two aren't going to kill me," she said, taking a drag.

"Can I bum one from you?" Tyelko asked.

"Sorry, I bummed this one myself." She looked around but the girl was already gone. "I'll share what's left?" she offered.

"Deal," Tyelko said, taking it from her hand and putting it to his mouth.

"This dance club is great," Aredhel said. "I'll have to come back here over Winter Break."

"Yeah, this is my first time but I wouldn't mind coming here again." He handed the cigarette back and moved closer to her.

Aredhel looked up at him. It was time to figure out exactly what was going on tonight, she thought. "I don't think your brother is too into me," she said to Tyelko, watching him closely.

Tyelko looked at her in surprise. "Is he supposed to be?"

"Well, I got the idea Fingon was setting me up with a friend of his," she explained. "And he seems to be the friend, because you hadn't met Fingon before today. But he's older than I expected, which kind of surprised me," she continued, with a sidelong look at Tyelko. "Not that he isn't hot . . . " She gave Tyelko an appraising look. "He seems more interested in Fingon anyway."

Tyelko moved away from the wall and frowned down at Aredhel.

"What?" she asked. "Sorry, I know he's your brother . . ."

"It was actually me they were setting up with you," Tyelko said stiffly.

Aredhel's eyes widened and she gave him a brilliant smile. She'd given him an out and he hadn't taken it. And he hadn't denied his brother's interest in Fingon either.

This was working out far better than she had expected. "Well, that's all right then." She tossed the cigarette to the ground and crushed it under her boot heel before grabbing him by his shirt and pulling him down towards her and kissing him. "I like that idea better," she said as she pulled back to look up at him. Tyelko found his heart racing and his face breaking into a huge smile of his own.

"I'm glad you prefer this option," he said, bending down to kiss her in turn, his arms going around her. They paused to take a breath and Aredhel linked her arm in his.

"Dance with me again?" She looked up at him.

"I thought you'd never ask," he replied, as they made their way back inside the club.
Chapter 11 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Chapter 11

The seating arrangements had definitely changed for the ride back from Nargothrond. Aredhel and Tyelko commandeered the back seat and Fingon found himself in the passenger seat next to Maedhros.

Maedhros periodically glanced in the rear-view mirror but made no comment on the muffled conversation, laughter and periodic silences that emanated from the back of the Subaru, other than to catch Fingon's eye and raise his eyebrows.

"You want to come up and get some coffee for the road?" Fingon asked.

"No, thanks. I'll be fine," Maedhros replied, regretting the words once he said them. But it would just be awkward, with Tyelko and Aredhel around, when he would rather just be alone with Fingon, he thought. Best to just go home. "I've got to work tomorrow," he said, as an excuse.

Fingon nodded, at a loss as to what else to say. They were nearing his apartment and he was drawing a blank as to how to set up another time to be with Maedhros.

Maedhros was drawing a similar blank, to his frustration. They were now only a few blocks from Fingon's place. The traffic light ahead turned red and for once he was grateful for the temporary delay.

"I'll be in town next week . . ." he began.

"I've got a crazy week but . . ." Fingon said at the same time.

They looked at each other and Maedhros continued. "Don't worry about it. I remember how the last weeks before break are."

"No, I didn't mean to cut you off," Fingon said. "I do have a crazy, busy week but what I meant was . . . if you are around . . . it's always good to have a reason to take a break." He looked at Maedhros with an apologetic shrug that made Maedhros wish they were alone so he could lean in and kiss him.

Maedhros kept his voice steady as he replied. "I don't want to bother you or distract you from your work," he said very carefully.

"You won't. I'd be more distracted if you didn't call I think," Fingon admitted. "I'm sure I'll need to take a break at some point and I can't think of a better reason to."

The car horn beeping behind them brought their attention to the fact that the light had changed to green.

Maedhros double-parked in front of Fingon's building. He turned the full intensity of his silver gaze on Fingon, his face very serious. "I'll text you but you must not hesitate to tell me if you are busy. We can always get together another time, over break, when things are more settled down."

"I'll tell you if it's not a good time," Fingon agreed, matching his gaze to Maedhros', his eyes taking on a smoldering look. "But I will find the time, so don't stop trying."

Maedhros nodded and his sudden smile made Fingon's chest feel warm. "All right then. I'll talk to you this week," he said. Fingon reached his fingertips out to lightly touch Maedhros' forearm before he stepped out of the car.

He knocked on the backseat passenger window. "Let's go, Aredhel."

"We should do this again," Aredhel said to Tyelko, making her way out of the car, Tyelko following closely behind her. "I'll be back in a few weeks."

"I'll call you," Tyelko said, as she gave him a hug and smiled up at him brightly.

"I'd like that," Aredhel said, moving to take her brother's arm as Tyelko slid into the front seat recently vacated by Fingon.

Fingon and Aredhel watched the Subaru drive away until it disappeared around a corner and was lost to sight.

Maedhros pulled away once Tyelko was safely belted in. He gave his brother a quick, appraising look. Tyelko had a very satisfied expression on his face and his eyes lit up as he turned towards Maedhros.

"Never thought I'd be thanking you for a set-up, Mae," he said.

"Didn't think I'd ever find someone who could tolerate you long enough for one," Maedhros replied. "Although from what I saw in the rearview mirror it was a bit more than tolerating you."

Tyelko's smile only grew wider at Maedhros' words. "I can't wait to see her again," he said, failing to respond to Maedhros' teasing for once. "The team's at Elmoth next week," he continued. "I'll try to catch up with her when I'm there."

"She'll be back at break," Maedhros said.

Tyelko frowned. "It sucks that I have away games over Winter Break." He gave Maedhros a sidelong glance. "Usually I'm glad for an excuse to get away from all that family time with you assholes."

"The feeling's mutual," Maedhros said drily.

Tyelko laughed and they drove in silence for a time.

"Fingon seems nice," Tyelko said.

"He does," Maedhros said, noncommittally.

"Aredhel thought you were into him," Tyelko added, watching Maedhros closely.

"Did she?" Maedhros could tell Tyelko had turned to look at him but he kept his own eyes fixed on the road ahead.

"I told her I thought Fingon was way more into you." Tyelko was gratified to see he had Maedhros' attention, as Maedhros shot him a quick, curious look.

But all Maedhros said was "Did you?" in that same steady tone of voice.

Tyelko wasn't going to give up that easily. "I'm totally grateful for the set-up to meet Aredhel, Mae," he said. "But I think next time you guys might have more fun if it's just the two of you." Tyelko studied his brother's face.

Maedhros' eyes widened but he didn't turn to look at Tyelko or say anything right away.

"I'll keep that in mind, Tyelko," he finally responded.

"You don't always have to do things for other people, Mae. Do something that makes you happy for once," Tyelko said, closing his eyes and leaning back in his seat.

______________________________________________

Fingon set up the pillows and extra blankets on the sofa for Aredhel and after saying goodnight to her he made his way to his own room.

It had been a good idea to introduce Tyelko to Aredhel he thought, as he got ready for bed himself. It would have been nice to spend more time talking to Maedhros but he really didn't have much to complain about. If all went well he'd be seeing him in a few days.

He did not expect to find Aredhel, wrapped in a blanket and seated on his bed, on his return from the bathroom a few minutes later.

"What are you doing?" he asked. "The sofa's pretty comfortable, I thought."

"Oh, come on, Finno. Seriously? You're just going to dump me out there on the sofa, by myself?" She grinned up at him. "We're not going to stay up and talk?"

Fingon smiled at the memories that came. Aredhel had often come into his room to talk—after games, after parties, after dates—to download her impressions and frustrations to him, when he had lived at home and later when he would stay there over summer and winter breaks.

He stretched out on the bed next to her and she snuggled up to him, her head on his shoulder and his arm around her. "So tell me about it . . ."

She launched into her usual joking recap of the night but then looked up at him with a serious expression. "Thanks, Finno."

"For what?"

"For this," she said, waving her arm vaguely around the room. "For tonight. For finding a guy I might actually really like."

"Lucky guess," Fingon said. "I just went on Maedhros' description of him and the fact that he sounded nothing like any of your previous boyfriends—ow!" he exclaimed as she kicked his leg. He smiled down at her and rested his cheek on her dark hair. "I'm glad you had fun. You want to see him again?"

"I'd like to," she answered. "He'll be at Elmoth next week and then I'll be home for Thanksgiving. Winter Break is only a few weeks after that. I'm sure we'll try and hook up." She swatted Fingon as he sat up suddenly, an affronted look on his face. "Not like that, you dumbass!" She glared at him until he settled back on the pillows again. "Just get together. I've no intention of sleeping with him right away."

"I should hope not," Fingon said with a frown.

"Seriously, Fingon, you sound just like Mom," Aredhel complained.

"That's the second time today someone has said that to me," Fingon said irritably.

"You need to get out and have some fun, Finno. You're getting all stodgy and serious, like Mom and Dad."

"I am trying to finish my Masters degree. I am not getting stodgy. I'm just focused," Fingon grumbled.

She sat up and looked at him thoughtfully. "When are you going to see Maedhros again?"

"What?!"

"You heard me. When are you going to see Maedhros again?" She made a dismissive gesture as he sat up and tried to speak. "Shut up, Finno. I saw the way he looked at you." She smiled and touched his arm. "And how you looked at him."

Fingon fell back on the pillows and exhaled loudly, staring at the ceiling.

"Maybe this week," he finally admitted.

"Good," Aredhel put her head back on his shoulder. Fingon put his arm around her and she was soon asleep.

It took him a while longer to do the same.

_____________________________________________

He saw the text message from Maedhros after his Wednesday studio.

MAEDHROS: Hey, I'll be in Tirion Friday. Any chance you're free? I'll be done close to 4. No worries if you're not.

Fingon scrolled through his phone calendar and went through his to-do list mentally. If he used the upcoming weekend to work on his project and the Thanksgiving weekend for job applications he would be mostly caught up. Certainly a Friday night outing would be a good way to relax before a weekend slogging on his project, wouldn't it?

FINGON: Done with class by 4 Friday. No other plans. Where do you want to meet?

MAEDHROS: Do you have time for dinner? If not, we can just grab coffee again.

Fingon paused over his phone. He had no plans for Friday night. The possibility of a whole evening alone with Maedhros made him smile.

FINGON: Dinner sounds great.

MAEDHROS: I can pick you up at your place. I'll be near there.

Fingon paused again. Would Finrod be home Friday night? He had barely seen him last weekend, but that wasn't unusual for Finrod. He always seemed to have plans. He shook his head. He'd have to ask. He never knew anymore if Finrod was going to be out or not, with this new girlfriend he had, but he was certain that he did not want any possibility of Finrod tagging along to dinner. No matter. He could deal with Finrod, whatever his plans were.

FINGON: Sounds good. See you Friday.

___________________________________________________

Maedhros shifted the boxes of books into the trunk of his car. The meeting had taken longer than he expected. The retired Art History professor had parted with a number of books in great condition. There was the possibility of more books in storage but that was a trip for another day. He certainly wasn't going to complain about opportunities to come to Tirion.

He scanned his watch. He had texted Fingon earlier and confirmed he would be at his place by 5.

He had wracked his brain thinking of what to plan for the evening. The weather had turned snowy earlier in the week so his idea of walking through the sculpture park was a bust. It was too cold and it would now be too late. Even with the sculpture park lighting he did not want to be there at dusk or once the sun went down.

Dinner was easy but he really wanted something concrete to suggest for after. If he had some of Fingon's time he wasn't going to waste it by calling it a night too early.

Even though Nargothrond had been fun, tonight Maedhros wanted to be in a place where he could actually talk to Fingon and not be drowned out by the music. The idea of sitting next to Fingon in a movie theater was appealing but he was more interested in getting to know him better, rather than just watching a movie with him.

He had finally broken down and gone to Maglor for advice the night before.

"You want to know about the places on Nevrast?" Maglor asked, giving Maedhros a dubious look. "Are you asking academically or are you trying to make conversation to distract me from something or are you actually considering going out and having a good time for a change, Maedhros?"

Maedhros frowned at Maglor. "Maybe I'm just interested in hearing about the clubs on Nevrast."

"You've never been interested when I've talked about them before." Maglor was eyeing his brother intently. "Why the sudden interest?"

"I'm just curious, all right? Thinking of trying something different for a change," Maedhros said defensively.

"Something different. That doesn't sound like you at all, Mae. You're a creature of habit." Maglor narrowed his eyes at Maedhros. "Are you going to see that guy from the bookstore again?"

Maedhros rubbed his right shoulder absently, something Maglor knew he did when he was stressed. "Maybe," he admitted.

Maglor grinned. "Good," he said and then launched into a painstakingly detailed analysis of the clubs on Nevrast.

Maedhros shut the trunk of the Subaru, brushed the loose strands of his hair back with his hands and pushed his glasses up. He was nervous, he realized. Excited but still nervous. He really wanted this more than he expected.

He sat in the drivers seat and pulled out his phone. A few taps later he clicked the reservation box. They would try the Indian restaurant and then find that Avallon club on Nevrast Avenue that Maglor liked so much.

________________________________________________

this story is also posted on archive of own own under the same author name-my friend cinemairon did some spectacular illustrations of the characters for chapters 1 and 5 that are worth a look! I can't seem to post them here.
Chapter 12 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Chapter 12

Fingon was home just after four o'clock. He saw Finrod's coat hanging on the hook by the door as he placed his next to it. Confirmation of his roommate's presence came when he walked down the hall to his room and heard Finrod's singing over the sounds of the shower.

Fingon looked at his watch. No point in showering now if Maedhros was coming for him at five. Finrod was likely to be in there for a while. Despite his irritation with Finrod's timing he had to smile; his roommate was obviously in a good mood, judging by the volume and song selections emanating from the bathroom. Finrod did have an exceptional voice, even with the poor acoustics their bathroom provided.

He considered and rejected two shirts before finally deciding what to wear. A quick glance in the mirror confirmed he was long overdue for a haircut—his dark curls were sticking up and out haphazardly despite his best efforts to subdue them. He gave up.

Fingon leaned on the wall in the hallway, waiting for Finrod. He had made sure to mention his plans to his roommate the night before and thought he had made it abundantly clear that Finrod was not welcome to tag along tonight, but reiterating that point wouldn't hurt.

It was 4:30 before Finrod appeared, startled at the sight of Fingon loitering in their hallway.

"Hey!" Finrod grinned. "Didn't hear you come in." A towel was wrapped around his waist and his golden hair lay in damp curls on his shoulders as he regarded Fingon. "Oh shit!" His eyes widened in realization. "Tonight's the date with Maedhros, right?" He shook his head apologetically, spraying water droplets on the walls and on Fingon. "I totally forgot. Sorry for hogging the shower." He shrugged. "It's free now."

"It's fine," Fingon replied. "No time now." He narrowed his eyes at Finrod. "You are going out, right?"

"Yeah, yeah. I am." Finrod tilted his head and gave Fingon a mischievous look. "But not 'til later. I thought I'd stick around to meet your friend."

Fingon groaned. "Seriously? No. I'll go wait for him downstairs." He glared at Finrod. "I'm not going to have you hovering around like my mother."

Finrod laughed. "I won't hover. I just want to say hi. I am responsible for you meeting him, you know." Finrod walked to his bedroom door and looked over his shoulder at Fingon. "And I should probably make sure to tell him not to break your heart." He grinned at Fingon's outraged look and ran into his room, slamming the door shut behind him.

It was probably better to wait downstairs anyway, Fingon thought, as he stepped out of the apartment twenty minutes later. This way Maedhros wouldn't have to find a place to park.

He rocked up and down on his toes, waiting for Maedhros on the sidewalk in front of his building. It was colder than when he had walked home an hour ago and the snowfall had picked up considerably. He was beginning to regret not wearing a hat when the green Subaru pulled up.

Maedhros was surprised to see Fingon waiting on the sidewalk. He pulled up and opened the passenger window. "You must be freezing!" he said as Fingon pulled open the door and sat in the passenger seat.

Fingon turned to him with a smile and Maedhros' breath caught at the sight of him. Melting snowflakes were scattered in his dark hair and caught on his eyelashes. He was flushed from the cold but his blue eyes were sparkling as they met Maedhros' own. He was stunning. Maedhros blinked at him and realized he had missed whatever it was Fingon had just said.

"Sorry?" he said, with an effort to get the word out.

"No, don't worry about it. You weren't late. I just wanted to get out of the apartment and I didn't want you to have to find a parking spot," Fingon replied, running a hand through those raven curls and sending droplets of water scattering.

"Thanks," Maedhros said, realizing one-word answers were about all he could manage at the moment.

"What's the plan?" Fingon asked, as Maedhros pulled out into the road.

Plan. What was the plan? Maedhros had come up with a plan. He distinctly remembered doing just that but his mind was a bit of a blank right now.

"Dinner," he finally managed, continuing the one-word answer theme. That's right, he said to himself. Dinner. Then Nevrast Avenue. That was the plan. He took a few breaths and then turned to Fingon with a smile. "I hope you like Indian food. I thought we could try this new Indian place. It got a stellar write-up a few weeks ago."

"Sounds great," Fingon said, settling back into the seat.

The restaurant lived up to its review and Maedhros found himself relaxing at the ease and comfort of his interaction with Fingon.

Fingon, finding a receptive audience in Maedhros, went into greater detail about his Masters project. He was used to his family and friends' eyes glazing over when he got into too deep a discourse about his project. But far from Maedhros' eyes glazing over, he was actually providing insightful questions and observations that made Fingon even more eager to discuss his own thoughts.

Maedhros felt a warm flush of gratitude as he listened to Fingon talk. It seemed they had finally gotten over the awkward phase and were getting more comfortable in each other's presence. At least as long as one of them didn't have snowflakes artfully dusting his hair, he admitted to himself.

He reveled in the passion Fingon had for his work and watched contentedly as Fingon's eyes glowed and his hands seemed to speak as he gestured to punctuate his words. Maedhros was surprised, when he looked down at his watch, to find they had been talking over dinner for almost three hours.

"What do you say to checking out the music scene over on Nevrast?" Maedhros asked.

"I'd like that," Fingon replied. "You going to trust your brother's recommendations or are we just winging it?"

"I was thinking the quieter places might be better, even if it is weird folk music," Maedhros leaned across the table. "I'd like to be able to keep talking to you and not have to be in competition with the music."

Fingon smiled back at him. "I'm all for that."

It seemed very natural for Maedhros to take Fingon's hand in his as they walked to the car. It was a short walk—Maedhros was very particular about where he parked and they were close to the restaurant.

"Nevrast isn't too far from here," Fingon said as they neared the car. "I don't mind walking." He squeezed Maedhros' hand and moved just a little closer to him.

Tempting as it was to keep holding Fingon's hand, Maedhros preferred to drive. "It's cold," he pointed out, knowing that would likely be enough reason for driving. "And it will get even colder later." He unlocked the car and with a shrug, Fingon got in.

The Nevrast parking situation was far from ideal. Maedhros couldn't find a space near Avallon on his first pass and he wasn't interested in parking in the pay lots in the darker, less vibrant stretch of the street. Fingon pointed the lots out but Maedhros just shook his head and went around the block again.

After two more turns around the block, Fingon gave him a puzzled look. "I don't mind a bit of walk. Promise I'm not that bad about the cold, really," Fingon said.

Maedhros gave him a tight little smile and turned the corner again.

"There's some down that side street," Fingon pointed out. Maedhros looked at the dark side street, with the alleyways from behind the bars and clubs opening on to it, and he shook his head.

"We'll find something," he assured Fingon.

It took about ten more minutes and four more passes in front of Avallon before a spot near the club opened up and Maedhros finally parked the car.

Avallon definitely had an artsy vibe. It was dark and warm. Tapestries hung along the walls and curved booths hugged the edges of the space. Tables were scattered in the large central area with gossamer-thin ribbons hanging from the ceiling, almost making each booth and table its own island in the dim light. A stage ran along the back wall and Fingon could see musicians setting up.

Maedhros pulled him towards one the vacant, curved booths along the far wall, deep maroon cushions surrounded by the nearly translucent, iridescent ribbons hanging down around it. As he sank into the decadently soft cushions, Fingon decided it was more of a sofa than a booth. Maedhros slid in next to him, his legs stretched alongside Fingon's and their shoulders pressed closely together.

The music was a folk type but not loud enough to make Fingon need to raise his voice to speak. It wasn't long before Maedhros' arm went around his shoulders and Fingon leaned in to his solid warmth. His head was just at a level with Maedhros' shoulder so he let his head relax there, feeling Maedhros' fingers squeeze his shoulder lightly.

Maedhros felt Fingon's head drop onto his shoulder and it was as if a puzzle piece had clicked into place. It fit. From their ankles to their shoulders they were pressed together and Maedhros could not recall the last time he felt this content.

All he had to do was turn his head and his lips would be skimming Fingon's hair. Did he dare? His eyes scanned around them but in the dim light and with the ribbon curtains the tables were shadowed and indistinct, as theirs likely was to others.

He was not usually physically demonstrative in public, certainly not this early in a relationship. Was this a relationship, he asked himself. He breathed in the scent of Fingon's hair, felt the soft brush of those dark curls on his cheek and the warm solidity of his body next to him. Yes, this was a relationship, one that Maedhros wanted, desperately.

Fingon felt Maedhros tilt his head down to rest on his own and he looked up at him, just as Maedhros looked down. Their faces were so close Fingon could feel Maedhros' breath and his silver eyes filled his vision.

It was only the matter of a minor shift in his position and Fingon brushed his lips against Maedhros'. Fingon felt and heard Maedhros' indrawn breath of surprise but Maedhros did not draw back. Instead Fingon felt the soft touch of Maedhros' lips grow firmer on his own in response. His hand moved to the back of Fingon's head, his fingers buried in Fingon's hair, their lips moving over each other questioningly at first and then with more intensity.

Maedhros finally pulled back, pupils dilated in his silver eyes and his breath coming in a soft huff that Fingon thought might be a laugh. He met his gaze with a smile of his own, his face warming at the look in Maedhros' eyes.

Fingon gently traced Maedhros' jaw line with a finger and dropped his head back on Maedhros' shoulder with a soft exhalation, and a shift closer to his chest. Maedhros rested his cheek on Fingon's hair, his arm around him again, and Fingon turned his head up to whisper "I don't think I realized I was searching for you until I found you."

A warm glow centered in Maedhros' chest at his words, as he realized Fingon had verbalized exactly what he was also feeling. He gazed down at Fingon and whispered back "I didn't realize I wanted to be found."

Maedhros gripped his shoulder tightly and Fingon felt his lips and warm breath in his hair. He couldn't remember ever feeling this content.

They had walked into Avalonn hand in hand, but when they left Maedhros had his arm around Fingon's shoulders and Fingon's arm was curved around Maedhros' waist.

They held hands in the car as Maedhros drove back to Fingon's apartment, Maedhros keeping his eyes on the road but unable to keep from looking over to smile at Fingon, as he leaned back in the seat, looking at Maedhros with his eyes half-closed.

"You want to come upstairs?" Fingon asked, as Maedhros pulled into a parking spot near Fingon's building.

It was tempting. In fact, it was more than tempting. There was nothing Maedhros wanted more at that moment than to follow Fingon into his apartment, to run his fingers through his hair, touch his body, feel his lips on his again.

But it was late. Fingon had a lot of work to do over the weekend. He couldn't guarantee, even to himself, that he would want to leave at all once he was in Fingon's apartment. And staying over wasn't a good idea. No, it was best to end the night here, keep from distracting Fingon further and make more solid plans to see each other again.

"It's not that complicated a question, Maedhros," Fingon said, his smile a little hesitant and Maedhros saw a small crease on his forehead.

"There is nothing in this world that I want more right now than to follow you upstairs," Maedhros said, his voice husky and low with emotion. "But I don't know that I'd want to leave," he confessed, rubbing his thumb over the back of Fingon's hand. "You need to work on your project this weekend and I've promised myself that I will not be a distraction to you. It's better if I just go home."

Fingon's smile faded and was replaced by a look so vulnerable and disappointed that Maedhros reached out and gently stroked his cheek, then curved his hand around Fingon's head as he leaned in to kiss him.

This was not as gentle or tentative as it had been at Avallon. His mouth moved over Fingon's, his lips insistent and he felt Fingon's lips part under his own. The sensation of his tongue on Fingon's sent a shock down his spine. It was heat, sweetness, a pull of intensity that made his head spin, so he closed his eyes and let himself fall into the sensation. Fingon's hands threaded through his hair, pulling him even closer, his mouth matching Maedhros' intensity.

It took every effort for Maedhros to pull back, his breath coming quickly and his heart pounding. There was warmth flooding from his chest to his groin.

"I don't want you to leave," Fingon whispered against his lips, his eyes so close that Maedhros could see the silver glints scattered in the blue.

"I don't want to go," Maedhros whispered back. "But if I don't go now, I won't go at all." He pressed his forehead to Fingon's. "We have all the time in the world. Don't let me distract you. I can't stay. Not now. I'd never forgive myself." His eyes were locked on Fingon's, the emotion having made him reveal more than he intended. "When you have the time, I will be there." His fingers briefly tightened in Fingon's hair then he leaned back slowly, his hands sliding from Fingon's hair to lightly run down his arms until his fingers intertwined with Fingon's.

Fingon sighed. "You're right. I know . . . it's just . . . I . . ." he paused and looked at Maedhros.

"I'll call you every day until I see you again," Maedhros promised.

Fingon nodded, leaned forward to give him another breathless kiss and then, decision made, opened the door to step out of the car. He leaned down to look at Maedhros. "I'll hold you to that," he said, then shut the car door. He walked to his apartment building entrance, raising his hand in farewell before entering the building.

________________________________________

The house was dark by the time Maedhros drove back from Tirion. Tyelko's door was shut and there was no light coming from his room. Maedhros walked by Maglor's room; the door was also shut but he could hear music playing softly and a stream of light was visible under the door. He hesitated for a moment, then walked to his own room.

"You're back early," Maglor said, leaning against the frame of Maedhros' doorway, moments later. "Did you go to Avallon?"

"We did. It was nicer than I expected. The layout is funky but I liked it," Maedhros replied, kicking his shoes off and sitting on his bed.

"Who was playing? Was it Daeron?" Maglor asked.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Maedhros said, a hint of color rising on his cheeks. "I didn't really pay any attention."

Maglor studied him. "You had a good time, then?"

"I did."

"I didn't expect you back so early," Maglor repeated. "With the weather, I thought you might stay there for the night . . ."

Maehdros looked at him, his face stern now. "You know better than that, Maglor. You know I couldn't stay there."

"Don't you think it's time you talked to him about that?" Maglor said, frowning at his brother. "It's bound to come up, if you keep seeing each other."

"We've only seen each other a few times," Maedhros said. "It's not an issue."

"It will be soon enough," Maglor sat next to Maedhros on the bed. "If you keep seeing him, he's going to wonder why you won't stay."

Maedhros crossed his arms, rested them on his knees and looked at the floor. "I'll figure it out, Maglor." He stared at the floor for a moment before speaking again. "It's stupid and I thought I'd be over it by now."

Maglor put his arm on Maedhros' shoulder. "I still think you should tell him. It's not as big a deal as you make it out to be, Mae. I can't even remember the last time you had one of those nightmares. Maybe it is finally getting better."

"There's no knowing what I'd do, waking up in a strange place. I'm not going to risk it."

Maglor looked at his brother and then leaned his head on Maedhros' shoulder. "I know. But don't wait too long to talk to him about it. He's going to wonder if it's something he's said or done, soon enough."

"I know," Maedhros whispered.
End Notes:
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Chapter 13 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Chapter 13

TYELKO: Hey

AREDHEL: Hey

TYELKO: I'll be there this weekend for the game. You around?

AREDHEL: Yeah. When?

TYELKO: Get in late Saturday night. Game 1pm Sunday. Leave at 6. Breakfast? Want to come to the game?

AREDHEL: Can I do both?

TYELKO: Hell yeah! I can meet at 10. Where?

AREDHEL: Celon Caf. It's near campus and short walk to rink.

TYELKO: C U Sunday!

_______________________________________________

She could see Tyelko standing in front of Celon as she walked up. The wind was blowing his hair all around his face. A face that lit up as he caught sight of her and she felt herself lifted up in a hug that made her laugh. He was so warm and solid.

"I'm glad you were free. I thought you might have other plans," Tyelko said, as he put her down and smiled at her, his arms still around her waist.

"Season's over so my schedule opened up." She took his arm as they walked into the caf. "Now it's just getting ready for finals."

He grimaced. "Exercise Phys and Stats finals sucked."

"I like Exercise Phys. It's Stats that kills me," Aredhel admitted.

Breakfast felt like it went by so quickly that Tyelko was surprised to look at his watch and see that it was almost noon. "I've got to get to the rink," he said apologetically. "You want to come with me or meet me there?"

"Don't you have to be with the team during the game?"

He shook his head and she was momentarily mesmerized by the fall of his golden hair on his shoulders. "No, I'm just strength and conditioning—nothing to do during games. I just help out with the equipment and being an ATC I can help out if there are any injuries." He smiled at her. "I just have to be able to get out on the ice if anyone gets hurt. You can sit with me rink side."

The caf was walking distance from the rink. Tyelko took Aredhel's hand as they walked. "You doing the family thing for Thanksgiving?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'll be home Wednesday," she answered. "You?"

"No games so I'll be around." He gave her a quick look. "You think you'll have any time to get together?"

She squeezed his hand. "I'd like to try. I fly back Sunday. We usually stay home and avoid the Friday craziness but maybe we can get together Saturday?"

"I'd like that," Tyelko said.

"I get back the 12th for Winter Break. I'll be home for over a month," Aredhel said.

Tyelko frowned. "I've got some travel days with the team over Winter Break," he admitted. "Will you be in Tirion the whole time?"

"Yeah, we're staying home. Dad had talked about taking us somewhere warm but my little brother is still in high school, so he doesn't get as much time off," she said.

"Yeah, we usually stay home. My younger brothers are still in high school too." His face took on a thoughtful look. "We used to all spend Christmas in Formenos when my grandfather was alive, but we haven't done that in awhile."

"I was hoping for a tropical vacation to Alqualond but now I'm glad we're staying home after all," Aredhel squeezed Tyelko's hand and smiled up at him.

It was a close match but Cuivinen won in the end. Aredhel waited near the locker room for Tyelko to finish checking on his players.

He spotted her as he came out the locker room door. He took both her hands in his. "The bus leaves in half an hour so I don't have much time. I could walk you back to your place if it's close?"

"No, don't worry about walking me home. You'd have to run right back here to catch your bus. We can stay here." She gave him a grin and pulled him down another long corridor and then up a flight of stairs.

They found themselves in an empty hallway, behind the scoreboard. Tyelko looked around. "Where are we going?"

"Nowhere," Aredhel said, moving closer to him. "I didn't think you wanted to hang out by the locker room."

"You were right. I like this a lot better," Tyelko pulled Aredhel to him and put his arms around her. "I wish I had more time. I've been thinking about you all week." He smiled as her hands went behind his neck and her fingers ran through his hair.

"I like that you wear it down," she said.

He bent his head and kissed her, lightly at first, and then as she responded he intensified his efforts, pulling her body close to his.

She smelled like lemongrass—fresh, clean, exotic. He deepened the kiss and felt her lips part. She tasted of mint and the sensation made heat flare through him.

Aredhel pulled back first, leaving Tyelko breathing heavily and with jeans that suddenly felt way too tight.

"You probably need to go catch your bus," she said.

"Yeah," Tyelko nodded but didn't move.

"You know how to get back to the locker room from here?" Aredhel asked, with a smile.

"Yeah." He still didn't step away from her. "Aredhel—when you're home over Winter Break-I really want to see you again." His grey eyes looked at her intently. "For a real date."

"I'd like that too." She reached up and gave him a soft kiss and hugged him close.

He closed his eyes and pressed his face into her hair, breathing her in, before reluctantly stepping back. "Try to see you next week?"

"Next week," she said and walked down the corridor away from him, giving him a bold look over her shoulder before she turned the corner and disappeared from sight.

_______________________________________________

It was late afternoon Sunday and Fingon had been at his desk for most of the day. There was a tap on his half-open door and as he turned Finrod's face appeared around the door's edge.

"Hey, you been working all day?" Finrod asked.

Fingon looked at his watch. "Since about nine, I guess."

"You ready for a break? Grab some dinner?" Finrod asked. "I don't really feel like cooking," he admitted.

Fingon stood up and rolled his neck, stretching his shoulders back. "That sounds great. I am all for taking a break."

They stood on the street outside their apartment building a few moments later, snow falling around them. Fingon pulled his hat down over his ears and zipped his coat collar up. "Where to?"

"Mediterranean place down the street or should we go to Taeglin's?" Finrod asked.

"Taeglin's is closer," Fingon replied.

They were soon seated at a booth in the pub. "So how's the project going? I assume that's what you've been working on all weekend?" Finrod asked.

"I'm getting pretty close," Fingon replied. "I'll be able to submit it the week after Thanksgiving, I think. How about you? You haven't been around much this weekend."

Finrod leaned back and smiled. "I spent most of it at Amarie's."

"Do I get to meet her sometime or are you avoiding me on purpose?" Fingon asked.

"I could ask you the same question. Maybe you can meet her when I get to meet Maedhros," Finrod grinned.

"You've met Maedhros," Fingon pointed out.

"Not officially," Finrod stated. "How was your date Friday?" Finrod asked. "That's what—your third one?"

"What?"

"Friday night. Third date. You've seen him three weekends in a row, by my count," Finrod ticked off the numbers with his fingers. "Friday night, last weekend with Aredhel, and the time you missed your train. That's three."

"Those were not dates," Fingon corrected, annoyed to realize his face was getting warm.

"Oh, please!" Finrod leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, looking amused. "Come on, Fin. That set up for Aredhel was just a good excuse and you know it. And whatever you were doing the weekend before caused you to miss the last train from Formenos. It doesn't take that long to pick up a book." He raised an eyebrow at Fingon knowingly.

"It was just a cup of coffee," Fingon said.

"Date," Finrod replied. "Was there any physical contact?"

"Seriously, shut up," Fingon said, his cheeks heating up even more.

"So, I'll take that as a yes," Finrod smirked.

Fingon took a deep drink of his beer.

"So. Three dates," Finrod continued. "Are you going to see him this week?"

"I don't know. The holiday will make it kind of difficult, I think," Fingon admitted, then narrowed his eyes at Finrod.

"I think you should make the time," Finrod said, leaning forward now. "Don't you think?"

Fingon took another drink of his beer before replying. "Yeah, I do." He looked at his roommate. "I really like him," he admitted.

"I know."

"What do you mean, you know?" Fingon said irritably.

"I can just tell. I don't think I've ever seen you so flustered and defensive about anyone before," Finrod said. "You knew I was going to be out Friday night and the weather was crap. Why didn't you just have him stay over?"

Fingon looked at his beer. He glanced up at Finrod, who was looking at him with a puzzled expression. "I did ask him to stay over," he said finally.

"And he didn't?" Finrod asked, raising his eyebrows.

"No, he didn't," Fingon said, more sharply than he intended. "And he was right. I had a lot of work to get done this weekend. It's just really bad timing . . ." Fingon started to say.

"Shut up. There's no such thing as a good time or a bad time. If it's worth it, you make the time." Finrod shrugged at him and took a drink of his own beer, then looked at Fingon, with a frown. "Does he know you're really interested in him? I mean, maybe he thought you were just asking him up for a cup of coffee, to be nice, whatever, and didn't get that there might be more to it than that?" Finrod asked.

Fingon frowned in turn. He really didn't want to be having this conversation with Finrod but he had been a little surprised that Maedhros had not at least come up to the apartment, even if only for a little while. He exhaled and then said "I think I made it pretty clear what I meant."

"Did you kiss him?"

"Seriously, I do not want to be having this conversation with you," Fingon said.

"Who else are you going to have it with? Turgon? Please," Finrod leaned back and studied Fingon. "So, did you kiss him?"

"Yes."

"And?" Finrod asked.

"And what?"

"Was that it? Just a quick kiss and then good night or was it more intense than that? Do I seriously have to drag this out of you?" Finrod was leaning forward again, an intent expression on his face.

"It was . . . let's just say it was most definitely a mutual making out thing, ok?" Fingon said.

"Have you been telling him all this crap about how busy you are and how you have this hellish project and all that?" Finrod asked, narrowing his eyes at Fingon.

"What? Well, not like that, but yeah I told him about my project and all the shit I need to get done before break," Fingon replied. "What's your point?"

Finrod rolled his eyes. "So you're hot and heavy with the physical stuff but then at the same time you're pushing him away if you're harping on how busy you are," Finrod shook his head. "Seriously, Fin. It's like you're giving him mixed signals. You bitch about how little time you've had together, you have at least had some initial physical contact but then you lay the 'but I'm so busy' crap on him. He's going to feel like he's distracting you from your work if you keep talking like that." He leaned back and shook his head again. "Shit, I feel like I'm distracting you from your work half the time."

Was that it, Fingon wondered? Was it just that he had made it seem like he was too busy and Maedhros had taken it that seriously? He had kept saying he didn't want to distract Fingon. Blast it. Finrod was probably right, he thought.

Fingon ran his hands through his hair and looked at Finrod. "I have been talking about my work a fair amount," he admitted.

"Well, stop it," Finrod said. "Your project's done when? Like next week? Fin, you are the most obsessive person I know when it comes to this kind of stuff. There is no way you aren't on top of everything right now. Lay off the school talk with Maedhros. He's been through this, it's not like he doesn't get it. If you keep harping on it it's only going to make him feel bad."

"Fine. You're right."

"Of course I'm right. I wish you had let me meet him Friday night. I would have told him exactly what a dork you are about your work and to not listen to you when you bitch and moan about it." Finrod said.

"Oh, right, like that would have helped at all. You probably would have said something just like that—which is exactly why I met him out," Fingon retorted.

"Well, someone ought to set him straight and tell him that you are totally into him," Finrod said. "It would be better if you were the one who let him know that, but I'm perfectly happy to step in and help you out here."

"I don't need any help," Fingon growled.

"Good. Then that's settled. Shut up about the schoolwork. Let your heart lead and tell your brain to shut up," Finrod advised. "You need to get this guy in your bed and get yourself laid, so you can stop stressing out about everything," Finrod stated.

Fingon decided it was long past time to steer the conversation in a different direction. "So, speaking of your heart—what's the deal with Amarie?" he said. "Just having fun like usual or is there more to it?"

It was Finrod's turn to blush. "It's definitely fun but it's more than that," he confessed. "I've had a lot of relationships."

"I know," Fingon laughed. "And a lot of one-night stands."

"But seriously, Fin. This is different," Finrod leaned forward, his hands on the table, his face looking earnest and open. "Usually I'm always looking for the next thing, something else to grab my interest—even when I'm with someone." He shook his head. "But when I'm with her—I just want to focus on her. I don't want any distractions." He gave Fingon a shrug. "I haven't been to a club in weeks."

"Seriously? Where are you all the time then? You're barely home." Fingon was surprised. Finrod's weekends were usually all about the latest hot restaurant, club or dance bar.

"I've either been at her place or the library, or just dinner and a movie with Amarie," Finrod said.

"You must be serious about her then. I've never known you to pass on hitting the clubs," Fingon said.

"I know. It's crazy, but I'm happy, Fin," Finrod leaned back and took another sip of his beer. "And I'd say it's time for you to be too."
Chapter 14 by NelyafinweFeanorion
It had been Aredhel's suggestion. She had given Fingon a swift wink and then casually mentioned to their mother that they could spend the next day shopping in Formenos. Anair had loved the idea and so the three of them had found themselves driving to Formenos the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Turgon and Argon had stayed at home with Fingolfin, to shovel the snowy driveway and sidewalks and to find the Christmas decorations, so they could set up the tree when the three of them returned from their shopping expedition. Fingon was sure they would return to find his father and brothers sprawled in front of the television, yelling at the screen instead.

Fingon had not seen how this trip to Formenos was going to result in him spending any time with Maedhros or Aredhel any time with Tyelko, if they were supposed to be shopping with their mother.

He had been sitting on his bed, in his old room at home, wondering what exactly to text to Maedhros. He was interrupted by Aredhel coming in and hopping on his bed with him.

"So I've got it figured out," she said, in a low voice. "It's all squared away with Tyelko."

"Did he come to Elmoth?" Fingon asked.

"Yeah—we didn't have a lot of time but we got together before the hockey game," she said, leaning against the wall and stretching her legs out. "He and Maedhros are back in Formenos today. He said Maedhros would be at the bookstore all day."

"And Tyelko?" Fingon asked.

"I'll meet him downtown at some coffee shop. You'll go to the bookstore to find Maedhros," she replied.

"What about Mom?" Fingon asked. "We can't just ditch her."

"We aren't going to ditch her. Didn't you say you had some applications or something to work on?" she asked.

Fingon frowned. "Yeah, but what's that got to do with going to Formenos?"

Aredhel rolled her eyes. "It means after looking at a few stores with Mom, you go to the bookstore with your laptop and work using the free Wi-Fi."

"I don't know if they have free Wi-Fi at Beleriand," Fingon said.

"Seriously, Finno! Stop being an idiot. Who cares if they have free Wi-Fi? You aren't really going there to work." Aredhel gave him an exasperated look. "That's what we tell Mom," she said, enunciating slowly and clearly. "What you do once you get there is up to you." She raised her eyebrows at him. "But I hope it's something more exciting than those applications of yours!"

"Oh." Fingon blinked.

"I'm sure Maedhros would give you the Wi-Fi password if you really prefer to work on your laptop rather than work on him," Aredhel said drily. "Or maybe not," she added with a mischievous smile. "Maybe he's not as dense as you."

Fingon threw a pillow at her but he was smiling.

"What about you and Tyelko?" he asked.

"Well, obviously I can't shop for mom and she can't shop for me if we're together. We'll split up and I'll meet Tyelko for a bit," Aredhel explained.

"I feel kind of bad for Mom," Fingon said.

Aredhel threw the pillow back at him. "Finno, why do I even bother trying to help you with your lame love life?"

"I don't need any help," Fingon replied.

"Listen, if it makes you feel any better we can tell Mom about them on the drive over and introduce her to Tyelko and Maedhros," Aredhel said, with a gleam in her eyes, but her expression suddenly changed, becoming more thoughtful.

"What?" Fingon asked, noticing the change.

"Well, maybe it would be a good idea for Mom to meet them. Then she would know about them before Winter Break," Aredhel explained. "Then we could see them a bit more over break or even have them over?"

That was how Fingon found himself seated in one of the comfortable armchairs at Beleriand Books, working on applications with the free Wi-Fi, while he waited for Maedhros.

"Hey," Maedhros said, coming to sit on the arm of Fingon's chair. "Sorry, I had that appointment set up before I knew you were stopping by today." He looked apologetically at Fingon. "I'd promised to go through those books with him and didn't have a chance to reschedule."

"Don't worry about it. You're working and I can't expect you to just drop everything at the last minute." Fingon smiled up at him. "I'll take any spare minute you have but I don't want to disrupt your work day, especially not on the busiest shopping weekend of the year."

Maedhros put his hand of Fingon's shoulder. "You up for helping me move some books or are you still working?" Maedhros asked.

"Happy to help. Can I stash my laptop somewhere?" Fingon asked, closing his screen and putting his laptop in his messenger bag.

"My office. Follow me," Maedhros said. He followed Maedhros to the back of the store. Maedhros opened a door and ushered Fingon into a small room, dominated by a large desk. Bookshelves lined the walls and filing cabinets took up a section of the far wall. "You can leave your things here," Maedhros said, pointing to the desk.

Fingon dropped his bag and coat on the empty desk and looked around the space. "I somehow expected it to look like my old Art History professor's office," Fingon laughed. "Piles of books and papers untidily scattered around."

"It will look like that in a few weeks, when Moryo comes to do the year-end books with me and I pull out all the receipts and invoices," Maedhros admitted.

"It's a nice desk," Fingon said, running a finger over the smooth surface. "It's huge—I'm surprised you got it in here."

"It came in before we put up the drywall to make this an office," Maedhros said with a smile that didn't really reach his eyes. "It was my grandfather's." He reached out a hand to touch the desk. "I used to spend hours at this desk when I was little—sitting across from him drawing or doing homework, while he went over paperwork, or sitting under it when he went to meetings." Maedhros had a distant look in his eyes as he studied the desk. "Anyway, I wanted it here to remind me of him."

Fingon didn't say anything. He had come to realize how strong Maedhros' feelings for his deceased grandfather were. He walked over to the large glass window that made up the front of the office. "This looks like an editor's office in those old movies about newspapers," he said. "You can see what's going on in the store while you're still in here?"

"I'm not in here that often but I didn't want to shut myself completely away," Maedhros explained, coming to stand next to him. "It helps if people know I'm aware of what's going on and I think it makes me more accessible, if anyone needs me."

Fingon grinned at him as he moved to stand closer to Maedhros. "No privacy, though," he said, raising an eyebrow.

"Good point," Maedhros said, looking down at him with his silver eyes, an amused expression on his face now. "I'll have to get some blinds put up."

They were standing very close to each other, close enough that Fingon could feel Maedhros' exhalation and the warmth of his body just a fingerbreadth away from his own.

Maedhros leaned down. "You have no idea how much I am regretting that window right now."

Fingon laughed. "I am too." He reached out to gently place a hand on Maedhros' chest. "You had some boxes you wanted me to help you move?"

"Books," Maedhros replied. "They're at the front desk." He reached for Fingon's hand and grasped it in his. "This way," he said, pulling Fingon out of the office and shutting the door behind them.

He found himself following Maedhros into the storeroom a few moments later, a box of books in his hands. Maedhros led him to some empty shelves in the very back of the storeroom. Fingon placed the box on a shelf and turned around, bumping directly into Maedhros, who had silently moved to stand behind him.

Maedhros' arms went around him and he pulled him close. "There aren't any windows here," he whispered and bent his head down to brush Fingon's lips with his own. Fingon leaned into the kiss, his lips parting, his hands running down Maedhros' back to come to rest on his hips.

Maedhros' fingers tangled in his still-too-long hair and Fingon returned the kiss with growing intensity, his tongue sliding over Maedhros' own, the heat of Maedhros' body pressed to his.

His slid his hands under Maedhros' shirt, hearing and feeling the sudden intake of breath against his lips. He caught Maedhros' lips with his own again and let his fingers run up his back, feeling the smooth skin, so warm to touch.

Fingon could feel Maedhros getting hard through his jeans and he was responding similarly himself. He pressed himself even closer to him, rubbing against Maedhros' thigh. He hooked his fingers into Maedhros' waistband and then ran them forward to his abdomen, brushing the fly of his jeans, causing Maedhros to gasp and pull back.

"Not here," Maedhros choked out. "Someone could walk in." But Maedhros didn't step back, just tightened his grip in Fingon's hair and moved his lips over Fingon's again.

He obligingly moved his hands to Maedhros' back again, his attention focused on the sensation of Maedhros' lips, Maedhros' tongue, Maedhros' skin under his fingertips, and the progressive tightening in his own crotch.

The sound of a door opening and Maglor's voice saying "I think Maedhros is in the back," caused them to rapidly spring apart; when Maglor made his way to the back he found them both pulling books out of the boxes in front of them and placing them on the shelves.

Maglor narrowed his eyes, noticing Maedhros' untucked shirt and Fingon's disheveled hair. Good, he thought to himself silently and proceeded to tell them that Aredhel and Tyelko were waiting at the front desk.

They made their way to the front desk a few minutes later, Maedhros having tucked his shirt back in and Fingon having failed to notice the state of his hair. Tyelko caught sight of them first and raised his eyebrows at his brother, as a slow smile came across his face. Maedhros ignored him, focusing on greeting Aredhel instead.

"Hey, Maedhros," Aredhel said. "Finno. Mom's going to meet us at the coffee shop in a few minutes." She smiled up at Maedhros. "I think we should all go together. I'd like Mom to meet you both."

"Can you take a break, Maedhros?" Tyelko asked. "Or have you already taken one today?" he asked, eyeing his brother and Fingon suggestively.

Fingon felt his face get warm but kept his expression neutral.

"I'm sure Maglor can cover me for a bit," Maedhros said. "Let me get my coat and Fingon can get his things from my office."

Maglor was willing to cover for Maedhros. "Is this going to be like your last coffee break with Fingon?" he asked drily. "Just so I know what to expect."

"No," Fingon answered before Maedhros could, looking Maglor in the eyes confidently. "Aredhel and I need to get home soon, so he'll be back before closing this time."

Maedhros took Fingon's hand as they walked out of the store and made their way to the same coffee shop as last time. He hadn't noticed the name when he had been here before with Maedhros but he looked up to see it today—Himring.

Anair was at the counter ordering when they walked in and they all soon found themselves seated at a table near the front of the caf.

"I've heard such nice things about you both," Anair said politely, a small smile on her face as her eyes drifted to her children and her gaze intensified; Fingon had no doubts that she had instantly taken in the sight of Tyelko's arm around Aredhel and Fingon's hand in Maedhros' when they had walked into Himring. It was clear that there would be a lot of questions on the ride home, as neither of them had said all that much about their new 'friends' on the ride to Formenos.

Tyelko soon had Anair laughing with his stories and Maedhros caught her interest quickly, as she had dabbled in Classics years ago when she was at Cuivinen, before she had decided to major in Art History.

The time passed rapidly and soon Maedhros looked at his watch. "I probably should head back and relieve Maglor."

"I'd love to have a quick look at your bookstore, before we go," Anair said, standing to put her coat on. She looked at her watch in turn. "We've got a bit of time before we're expected back. You said you just got some new Art History books in, Maedhros?"
Chapter 15 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
My thanks to Cheekybeak for helping me get the focus right in this chapter.
Chapter 15

"Hey, don't forget I'm at Bor's wedding this weekend," Maedhros said, as he and Maglor cleaned up the kitchen after dinner.

Maglor looked at him wide-eyed. "I can't cover the store this weekend. I've got to go to the undergrad recitals."

"I know," Maedhros replied. "That's why I have Erestor there full-time. I need somebody consistently available when I have to go out of town or need a day away from the store. He’s fine working this weekend."

"You might have me full-time if I don't find a job," Maglor said, gloomily.

"You'll find something. Didn't that adjunct position open up for next fall?" Maedhros asked.

Maglor grimaced. "Yeah, but I don't know if I want to commit to a non-tenure track position." He sighed. "I haven't heard back from the Tirion Symphony either. I was hoping to get the position as assistant to the Music Director." He frowned at Maedhros. "So you may be stuck with me."

"You just interviewed with the Symphony a few weeks ago. I'm sure you'll hear back," Maedhros said soothingly. "But I'm not getting rid of Erestor, even if you don't find a job," he warned. "He's my right hand man--he's got a Library Science degree and he's worked in bookstores before. I pay him more than any library would because I can't afford to lose him."

"I know, I know. I'm no substitute for Erestor," Maglor agreed. "He may know what he's doing but he's far grumpier than he should be, for what you pay him."

"It's his job to be grumpy. He keeps my enthusiasm and crazy ideas in check," Maedhros smiled. "He's likely the reason the place is actually making money."

They worked in silence for a few moments.

"Oh crap!" Maedhros said, slamming his hand against the counter top.

"What?" Maglor asked.

"I've got to call Fingon. I told him we'd get together this weekend and I totally forgot to tell him I'd be out of town," Maedhros said, shaking his head.

Maglor leaned against the counter. "You tell him yet?"

Maedhros gave him a swift look. "Tell him what?"

"Maedhros. I saw you in the storeroom yesterday, you know. And even if I hadn't, it was pretty obvious that you weren't just filing books, from the looks of you both." Maglor said.

"What's your point, Maglor?"

"You know what my point is! Your relationship is progressing and you owe it to him to be honest about why you won't stay over at his place if he asks you to. By the look of things yesterday, it's pretty likely he's going to ask you to stay the next time you guys go out, if he hasn't asked already," Maglor said, watching his older brother intently.

The blush on Maedhros' face gave it away.

"He's asked you to stay over already," Maglor stated.

"Not in so many words, no," Maedhros answered, his face flushing even more.

"Which means he has and you're dodging it." Maglor crossed his arms and glared at his brother. "I know you like him. I don't think you want to hurt his feelings, even if it's unintentionally."

"It hasn't really come up and I will deal with it if it does," Maedhros snapped. "Thanks for your interest, but I think I can handle my own relationship."

"Suit yourself," Maglor said. "At least it won't be an issue this weekend if you're out of town."

__________________________________________


Maedhros sought the privacy of his room to call Fingon.

"I was just thinking of calling you," Fingon said, when he answered the phone. "I'm pretty much done for the night."

"How's the project?"

"It's basically finished. I officially turn it in Friday but it's as good as it's going to be," Fingon replied.

"How's your week?" Maedhros asked.

"Pretty much crap, with the other things I've left to the last minute so I could get this blasted project done," Fingon admitted, instantly regretting the words, as he remembered Finrod’s advice too late.

"I forgot to tell you I'm going to Brethil this weekend for a wedding," Maedhros said. "I'm leaving Friday and won't be back until Sunday." He paused and then continued, his tone apologetic. "I'm sorry I can't take you out Friday night to celebrate your project being done."

"Oh," Fingon was surprised how disappointed he was at Maedhros' words. He hadn't made definite plans with Maedhros this week but he had somehow assumed they would manage to see each other. Like they had the past four weeks, he realized.

"I'm sorry your week is so crazy," Maedhros' voice echoed Fingon's disappointment. "I'm sure there's no time for me to stop by before Friday?"

"No, really, it’s not actually that bad," Fingon amended, putting Maedhros on speakerphone and scrolling through his calendar. He clicked speakerphone back off and put the phone to his ear again. "I don't have studio Wednesday afternoon," he said. "I couldn't make it a late night but I'm free then. You'll be working though?"

"I've got a full-time guy I hired a few months ago, so I've got coverage. I could drive out at lunchtime?" Maedhros suggested.

"You always come up here. Why don't I take the train out to Formenos?" Fingon offered. "We can grab coffee if you have time, or I can help you in the storeroom again, if you like," he teased.

"I could always use your help in the storeroom," Maedhros laughed, but then his voice took on a more serious tone. "I don't always drive up there. You've got a tough week and I don't want you to take more time than you should, just to get out here. You have a lot more going on than I do."

"I could read on the train," Fingon said. "As long as I don't miss the last one back I should be fine."

"I can drive you back. Whatever time you need. Or I can drive up there. I'd rather do that than have you waste your time traveling out here," Maedhros said.

"Does your office have blinds yet?" Fingon asked.

"What?"

"Does your office have blinds yet?" Fingon repeated.

"Oh. No, not yet," Maedhros admitted.

"Fascinating as your storeroom is, I suppose it might work out better if you drive up. I'll be able to spend more time with you that way, rather than spend it on the train," Fingon replied. "Now, if your office had blinds I might have been tempted to make the trip."

"I'll get right on that. For future reference," Maedhros offered. "So I'll see you Wednesday around one. Your place?"

"Sounds good."

"Can't wait," Maedhros said.

"Me too," Fingon replied.

Fingon clicked the phone off. Next week was the last week of the semester. He would have a month off, with his internship starting the third week of January. There would be plenty of time to spend with Maedhros over break. He couldn't wait.

_______________________________________

Maedhros found a parking spot about a block away from Fingon's building. The snow had finally stopped but the wind had picked up. He made his way to the apartment building, turning his collar up and rewrapping his scarf as he walked.

He checked the number on the foyer mailboxes just to be sure and then made his way to the apartment door.

Fingon heard the knock, just as he checked his watch. One o'clock, right on time. He smiled as he made his way to the door, opened it and then just stared at Maedhros.

"Hey, there," Maedhros gave him a lopsided smile. He realized Maedhros probably had no idea how he looked, standing in the doorway, his face flushed by the cold, his glasses slightly misty, his brilliant red hair tumbling in disarray from the wind. Fingon registered the thought that he had never seen Maedhros with his hair down before. He was breathtaking.

"Come in," he stammered, moving back from the door to let Maedhros in, but unable to take his eyes off him. Blast it; must he always lose his ability to speak coherently when Maedhros looked particularly attractive? Which was basically all the time, he admitted, but this was beyond even his usual.

Maedhros made his way in, closing the door behind him and looking at Fingon curiously. He took his steamed-up glasses off and put them in his coat pocket. "Are you ok?" He suddenly looked alarmed. "It was today, right? I didn't text before I left, I was in a hurry to get on the road, to get here as soon as possible." Maedhros was frowning now. "Did you forget I was coming over?”

Fingon found his voice. "No, I remembered it was today." He couldn’t stop staring at him. He realized he had never seen Maedhros without his glasses either. "You really have no idea how you look right now, do you?"

Maedhros' expression was puzzled. "How I look?" he repeated. "That bad?" he said, with an embarrassed laugh. "I'll blame the wind."

Fingon moved closer to him, reached up to bury his hands in that hair and pulled Maedhros' face down to his own. "You haven't got a clue," he said as he tiptoed up to brush his lips to Maedhros', increasing the intensity of the kiss as his lips made contact.

Maedhros' arms came around him and pulled him closer, then moved to rest on the small of his back, his lips parting and his tongue finding the sweet warmth of Fingon's mouth. It was a few moments before he paused for a breath, looking down at Fingon, his silver eyes shining. "You have to tell me what warranted a greeting like this, because I need to know for next time."

Fingon ran his hands through Maedhros' hair and tilted his head, narrowing his eyes, as he looked him over. "Basically just show up at my door," Fingon said.

"Not buying it. I've shown up before and you've never done that," Maedhros said, pulling him closer and resting his forehead against Fingon's.

"I've never seen you with your hair down before," Fingon admitted, “Or without your glasses.” His eyes focused intently on Maedhros. "It . . . surprised me."

"Good surprise, I hope?" Maedhros said, leaning down to kiss him again.

Fingon came up for breath and answered "If you consider being rendered speechless a good surprise, then yes."

"Snowflakes," Maedhros said, with a grin.

"What?"

"The night I picked you up outside--you had snowflakes in your hair when you got in the car and I lost the ability to form a complete sentence. Didn't you notice?" Maedhros asked.

"Considering I've barely been able to string two words together coherently since I met you, I would have to say I didn't notice," Fingon replied.

"That was more than two words," Maedhros pointed out.

"This is one time I'm ok with not talking," Fingon said, capturing Maedhros' lips with his own again and maneuvering him onto the living room sofa.

Maedhros sat up briefly to toss off his coat and scarf and then his hands slipped under Fingon's shirt, the heat of them making his skin tingle. His lips and hands were on Fingon, on his hair, his face, his torso. Fingon buried his face in Maedhros' neck, his breath coming faster as hands tangled in his hair, his jeans feeling far too tight as he grew more aroused.

Fingon didn't register the sound of the door opening until he heard Finrod's exclamation of "Whoa, sorry!" and then the sound of the door slamming shut. He sat up quickly, his face scarlet, Maedhros hurriedly sitting up next to him.

Finrod was grinning at him from behind the sofa, a girl with long golden hair standing a few paces behind him. He looked from Fingon to Maedhros, an amused look on his face and then addressed Maedhros. "I'm Finrod, Fingon's roommate. We met a few weeks ago at your bookstore but I don't think we've been officially introduced. Nice to finally meet you."

"I'm Maedhros. Nice to meet you too," Maedhros said politely, his cheeks flushed.

Finrod turned his face to Fingon. "This is Amari," he said, pulling the girl forward.

"Hi," Amari said, "Finrod's talked so much about you, it's so nice to finally meet you."

Fingon gave her a tight smile. "Feeling's mutual," he said, keeping his voice smooth. He then proceeded to direct a glare at Finrod, as his roommate crossed his arms and rested them on the back of the sofa, continuing to look far more amused than the situation warranted, and apparently in no hurry to end their conversation.

"You home for the afternoon?" Fingon asked him.

"I am. You know Wednesday's my early day. I thought you'd be at studio 'til late," Finrod raised a questioning eyebrow at him.

"No studio this week," Fingon replied.

"Obviously not," Finrod said, continuing to look amused and making no effort to hide it.

"We were just heading out," Fingon said, standing up. Maedhros grabbed his coat and scarf from the floor and stood up as well.

"From the looks of you, I assumed you were staying in," Finrod said, the amusement fading, as a puzzled look replaced it.

"Plans change," Fingon said bluntly, continuing to glare at Finrod, willing him silently not to say any of the stupid things he had mentioned saying to Maedhros when they had discussed him at Taeglin’s.

Finrod straightened up and looked at Fingon intently. "Seriously, you don't need to go. Amari and I can just hang out in my room . . . "

Fingon could tell Amari and Maedhros were both uncomfortable now. He took a deep breath in and reminded himself that Finrod was used to being the only one home on Wednesdays. It was his early day and Fingon had neglected to tell him about his own cancelled studio and about Maedhros' plans to stop by.

He was irritated but it wasn't fair to take it out on Finrod. Or Amari for that matter. He should just get Maedhros out of here before Finrod decided to say something Fingon would regret.

Maedhros had put his coat on. Fingon reached out and grasped his hand. "Let's go, Maedhros."

"Fin," Finrod said, frowning now.

"Don't worry about it, Finrod. I forgot you come home early on Wednesdays. My fault." Fingon shook his head and shrugged at his roommate. "I'll see you later, ok. Nice to meet you, Amari. I'm not usually this crabby."

Amarie gave him a shy smile but didn't speak. Finrod was still frowning at him.

"Nice to meet you both," Maedhros said, as they headed to the door.

They made their way downstairs in silence, Fingon still holding Maedhros' hand. He stopped in the foyer and gave Fingon a look.

"What?" Fingon asked. "Listen, I'm sorry about that. I totally forgot he is usually home on Wednesdays. I never am, so it slipped my mind."

Maedhros continued to look at him, a small crease on his forehead.

"What?" Fingon repeated.

"Are you mad because you thought we would have the place to ourselves or are you embarrassed they walked in on us?"

"What?"

Maedhros asked his question again.

"I guess a bit of both but why does it matter?" Fingon asked.

"I'm just trying to figure out if you were embarrassed to be caught making out with me," Maedhros said.

"You're joking, right? All I want to be doing right now is making out with you, certainly more than arguing about it in my apartment foyer," Fingon replied. "It's not like you weren't embarrassed at the thought of someone walking in on us last weekend," Fingon pointed out.

"That was different," Maedhros said.

"How?"

"Because that's where I work, Fingon. I own the store," Maedhros sighed. "Because I would expect my employees to refrain from making out in my storeroom and it's a bit of a double standard if I don't."

"You were the one who started kissing me, if you recall," Fingon said, wondering how on earth they had gotten to the point of arguing. He regretted his words now that he had said them, as he saw the stricken look on Maedhros' face.

"You're right," Maedhros said. "I shouldn't have done that at work."

"Maedhros, stop. I don't want to be doing this. I don't want to be arguing with you about something like this when we have so little time to be together," Fingon was still holding Maedhros' hand and he squeezed it now for emphasis.


"I don't like it either, Fingon. But I need to know if you're embarrassed about this. About us."

"What are you talking about? Embarrassed about us?" Fingon was the confused one now. "Why would I be embarrassed about that?"

"You got pretty pissed off at your roommate for walking in on us. I've lived in a house with six brothers and very little privacy. I've lived in a dorm. So have you. I've had a roommate. So have you. I can't tell you how many times I've walked in on someone doing something like that. Or been walked in on myself. You bitch about it for a moment, you laugh it off and you take it somewhere more private," Maedhros frowned at Fingon. " So I'm just wondering if you're embarrassed because it's me. I’m just wondering what you’re so upset about?”

Fingon stared at him. "I am absolutely not embarrassed because it's you." He squeezed Maedhros' hand again and stepped closer to him. "I don't really know why I got so pissed off. Maybe because that's the second time it's happened in a week. Being interrupted by someone. And I hate it." He moved to put his arms around Maedhros, looking up at him, his face just inches away. "I hate distractions when I'm with you. I barely get to see you as it is, with school and your work, me here, you in Formenos."' He tightened his hold on Maedhros. "Because I never seem to have enough time with you. Alone. I know it will be better over Winter Break but with you gone this weekend and finals next week I'm not going to see you for a while. I know that sounds stupid but I've gotten used to seeing you every few days."

"It seemed like you were avoiding having me meet your roommate too."

"Seriously? Why would you think that?" Fingon asked. Had he been that obvious about avoiding Finrod? Maybe he had.

"He wasn't around that first time when Tyelko and I came over. You've been outside waiting for me rather than have me come in. You were ticked off when he came home today. I just wondered if there was some reason you didn't want me to meet him." Maedhros said, his silver eyes filling Fingon's vision.

"He's almost never around on weekends," Fingon countered. "And he was going to hover and say something stupid that day you came by, and I didn't want to deal with him so I just came downstairs." He had a frown of his own now. "I've invited you up more than once, when he was sure to be home and you've turned me down both times." He looked at Maedhros more intently now. "I could ask you why you never want to come over, after we go out. I made it pretty obvious I wanted you to--I asked you to stay and you chose not to. Why is that, Maedhros?"

"I've told you why," Maedhros said. "You've got a lot going on and I won't be a distraction."

"I think at this point in my life I'm capable of figuring out what is a distraction and what isn't. I wouldn't ask you if I thought it would interfere with my work. It wouldn't and I think I'm the better judge of that than you are," Fingon said, his brain reeling at the fact that they were really having a disagreement like this. "I don't want to argue with you," he said again, resting his head on Maedhros' shoulder. "I just want to be with you." He thought he had made that clear. He wouldn’t suggest it if he didn’t want it. Didn’t Maedhros see that?

Maedhros reached up and stroked Fingon's hair. "I think we need to talk this out." He kept his hand running through Fingon's hair. “I want to be with you too,” he whispered. “But not at the expense of your coursework.” Hadn’t Fingon repeatedly pointed out how busy he was? Maedhros was trying to be respectful of his time—he had a good idea how crazy this semester was for him—isn’t that what Fingon wanted him to do?

Fingon lifted his head from Maedhros’ shoulder and looked up at him. "Then let me make it clear, Maedhros. There is absolutely nothing about being with you that embarrasses me. There is nothing I want more than a chance to spend time with you. Trust me when I say I have the time.” Fingon tightened his arms around him. “I want this more than I've wanted anything," he admitted.

Maedhros stared down at Fingon. "I want this too," he said and bent his head to kiss him.

"What now?" Fingon asked, a few moments later, looking up at Maedhros. “Much as I like kissing you, I don’t want to stand in the foyer all afternoon.”

"We could go back upstairs . . ." Maedhros suggested.

"No, this is my time with you. I don’t want to waste it talking to Finrod. I'll talk to him later, when Amari isn't around and apologize. Not now.” He breathed in and then sighed. He wanted nothing more than to be somewhere alone with Maedhros but he really didn’t want to go back to the apartment right now. He didn’t need Finrod stepping in to ‘help’ him. Fingon had just told Maedhros how much he wanted this. He didn’t need Finrod to do it for him. “Since we’re down here, we may as well go out?” he said.

"May as well,” Maedhros agreed, perplexed again. He had just offered exactly what he thought Fingon wanted—to go upstairs and he had turned him down. He would just try and follow Fingon’s lead today—he didn’t really know what else to do.
Chapter 16 by NelyafinweFeanorion
Author's Notes:
sorry-angst is creeping in. These guys are just magnets for it.

A multitude of thanks/gratitude to cheekybeak for the amazing beta help on this chapter.
They ended up at Taeglin's, because it was close and neither one of them really had any better ideas. It was a much quieter meal than any they had shared before, both periodically getting lost in their thoughts.

Finrod had been right, Fingon thought. Maedhros had put a lot of stock in his comments about how busy he was and he was now regretting every single complaint he had made about his coursework. He thought he had just been venting but it seemed that Maedhros had taken it as a signal not to press Fingon for time. That wasn't what he wanted at all but how was he going to correct that impression?

Maedhros, however, was completely confused. He realized Fingon wanted more time with him, based on what he had said just now, but it seemed to contradict the fact that every time Maedhros asked him if he was free Fingon told him about all the work he had to do. Maedhros didn't want to pressure him for time. He couldn't help wanting more of it though and maybe that wasn't fair to Fingon right now.

Maedhros looked at him thoughtfully. Fingon had mentioned Maedhros coming over after dates. Was that how he wanted more time with him? Maglor might be right about that—maybe he was more upset about Maedhros turning him down than he had indicated. But that wasn't really a negotiable point. It was too risky to spend the night but maybe . . . maybe he could just go to his apartment for a little while sometime? Maedhros chewed his bottom lip. He would just have to make sure he didn't let himself fall asleep there.

He reached across the table and put his hand on Fingon's. As he had that first time at the coffee shop in Formenos, Fingon laced his fingers through Maedhros'.

"I'm sorry," Maedhros said.

"No, I'm the one who should apologize. To you and to Finrod too. I don't know why I snapped at him. Well, I do. I told you. I just hate anything that interferes with our time together," Fingon said. "I really can't wait for Winter Break."

"I'm sorry I'm out of town this weekend," Maedhros said.

"You shouldn't be. We both have commitments and plans that come up. I just hope we have more time once this semester is over."

"I intend to spend as much time as possible with you," Maedhros replied.

Fingon squeezed his fingers and gave him a tentative smile. "Well, we've had our first argument, I guess, and we survived it."

"It's definitely the first and even though I hope it's also the last, I know that's unrealistic," Maedhros said, looking thoughtful.

"Promise me this," Fingon said. "Keep doing what you did today—make me talk it out. I don't always do that and it ends up being a problem down the road."

Maedhros' forehead creased. "I do the same," he said slowly, his eyes clouded. "There are things I need to say but . . ."

"But what?"

"Nothing," Maedhros said, with a shake of his head. "I just meant I have a tendency to hold things in, not talk them out." It had been an opportunity to open up about the issue Maglor was hounding him about, but Maedhros just couldn't get himself to do it. He'd deal with it head-on if it came up again. He wasn't going to waste this time with Fingon on dreary subjects.

"You have to get back anytime in particular?" he asked Fingon, changing the subject.

"Not really. I have early class tomorrow and a few notes and schematics to review before then," Fingon replied. "I just need to make it an early night."

"What do you want to do for the rest of the afternoon then?" Maedhros asked.

"Just be with you."

Neither of them had felt like returning to Fingon's apartment after lunch. Maedhros briefly thought about driving out to Formenos. His brothers would both be out until dinnertime but they would waste an hour on the drive time there and back.

It was still too cold for the sculpture park. He didn't want to go to a movie. He just wanted to be somewhere with Fingon, preferably alone, but seeing as that wasn't an option he needed to think of something to do.

He found himself driving them to Sirion Mall. The parking lot was not as crowded as he expected, midweek likely being a slow time, even with the Christmas holiday a few weeks away.

"You done any Christmas shopping?" he asked Fingon.

"Actually none at all. I skipped out on the stores in Formenos last weekend to come to the bookstore, remember?" Fingon answered with a smile. It was back to his usual brilliant grin and Maedhros was grateful for that.

"I'm behind this year too," Maedhros said with a grimace. "Too many brothers to shop for," he explained.

They made their way through the mall, holding hands again. It had been a good idea to come here, Maedhros thought. It had lifted the mood and the seriousness of their conversation.

It was a few hours before they returned to the car, laden with bags.

"I should take you with me every time," Maedhros said. "You don't even know them all but you still had better ideas for my brothers than I did."

"Maybe it's because I don't know them," Fingon offered. "Blank slate so I can be more creative?" He moved closer to Maedhros and linked his arm, briefly resting his head on Maedhros' shoulder. "Thank you for doing this. I feel better now."

"Christmas spirit and all," Maedhros smiled. "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men and such."

"Home?" he asked, as they reached the car.

"No, not yet," Fingon said. He sat in the passenger seat and bent down over his phone. He looked up as Maedhros started the Subaru.

"Where to?" Maedhros asked.

"Head over to Taniquetil."

Maedhros parked near the summit of Taniquetil hill. The sun was setting as they got out of the car and walked to the cathedral there, the city of Tirion spread out before them from this height. They were alone at the balustrade that circled the cathedral courtyard. The wind whipped Maedhros' hair and the chill came through his coat. He was not surprised they were the only visitors.

There must have been a reason Fingon wanted to come here. He stayed silent, leaning his elbows on the stone wall, shoulder to shoulder with Fingon. As the wind picked up Fingon gave a small shiver that vibrated through Maedhros, so he put his arm around him and pulled him close.

Fingon leaned into him and then looked up, his eyes so close they filled Maedhros' vision. He leaned down to kiss Fingon softly, all the frustration from earlier draining out of him with the contact. Fingon gently kissed him back, and then pulled away to lean on his shoulder again.

"Aren't you cold?" Maedhros questioned.

"I am. But I just wanted to be someplace quiet and peaceful, alone with you," Fingon replied. He straightened up and tugged on Maedhros' arm. "Come on. Let's go inside."

They walked into the cathedral and Maedhros was surprised to hear chamber music being played.

"They have concerts on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons," Fingon whispered to him. "My grandmother used to bring me here when I was little. She lived just down the hill." He pulled Maedhros closer to the music, choosing a bench near the back. There were a few people scattered among the seats, but not more than half a dozen.

"I was fairly lively as a kid," Fingon breathed, pulling him down a little so his words could reach him. His breath wafted through Maedhros' hair and he shivered as Fingon's lips touched his ear while he spoke. "Grandmother would bring me here for the concerts. It was about the only way she could get me to sit still for more than a few minutes." He took Maedhros' hand in his own, his fingers chilly as they had been by the riverside weeks ago. "I come here sometimes, when I need to think or when I just want to let everything go and empty my mind." He leaned his head on Maedhros' shoulder and looked at the musicians, his body relaxing into Maedhros' side.

The tranquility washed over Maedhros as well. The music was Baroque in style but he couldn't place the composition. Maglor would have known right away but Maedhros wasn't as familiar. Even he could tell that the acoustics were phenomenal for such a big, open space. He felt himself relax, his free hand unclenching and his head dropping to rest on Fingon's.

The music continued. It must have been at least a half hour before the concert was complete and the cathedral grew silent. Fingon made no move to leave and Maedhros was content to follow his lead so he stayed still, holding his hand.

Eventually Fingon lifted his head and turned to smile at him. "Thank you for coming here with me," he said. "I don't drive Grandmother crazy with my rambunctiousness when I visit her anymore so she hasn't brought me here in years. But I come alone, when I need to; I've never brought anyone with me before."

"Thank you for sharing this with me," Maedhros said. "I can see why you find it calming. The whole atmosphere is so peaceful up here, quiet in a way that's different. But when you add the music . . . "

"Exactly," Fingon agreed. "The music takes it to a different level." He stood up. "Ready?"

"I suppose so, but I can see why you come here." Maedhros reluctantly stood as well.

They held hands in the car, on the way back to Fingon's apartment. Maedhros parked and turned to Fingon. "I've got no plans for the rest of the evening," he said. "I know you need an early night but I'd love to take you to dinner or whatever you have time to do."

"I don't want to go anywhere," Fingon said. "I don't care if Finrod's still at home. Just come upstairs with me and we can hang out—we really haven't gotten to do that at all." He squeezed Maedhros' hand. "I can always make dinner if we get hungry."

They made their way to the apartment and found it empty. There was a note taped to the refrigerator. "Sorry for earlier. Out with Amarie. I'll be back at 9 so you know and won't be surprised again—Finrod."

Fingon bit his lip as he read the note. Finrod rarely left him notes—it was usually to report some faulty appliance or plumbing issue around the house. They had a vague idea of each other's schedules but had never had to be this specific before.

He really couldn't ask for a better roommate, Fingon thought, as he opened the refrigerator to look over their options for dinner later. Finrod cooked, he cleaned up after himself—well, most of the time- -and he had been a solid friend to Fingon for years. It was impossible to stay irritated with him for long. He found he really wasn't irritated with him anymore. He had been annoyed at being interrupted and had convinced himself that Finrod was going to say something stupid. But that really wasn't fair to Finrod, was it? He wouldn't have said anything, Fingon realized. Finrod knew how important this relationship was to him.

Maedhros leaned on the counter, watching Fingon, seeing he was lost in thought as he stared into the refrigerator. He looked at his watch—it was almost seven o'clock. Two hours before Finrod came home. Maedhros thought it would be best if he left before his return. It would likely be less awkward that way.

"Fascinating food choices?" Maedhros asked.

Fingon shut the refrigerator door and grimaced at Maedhros. "No, it's mostly just leftovers." He reached up to open a cabinet. "I can always make pasta."

"I'm really not hungry."

"Neither am I," Fingon admitted. Was it too much to suggest going to his room? Should he suggest watching television? Why was it suddenly awkward, Fingon wondered, now that they were finally alone.

Maedhros sensed it too. He could tell Fingon was trying to decide something, from the expression on his face. "Should we see what's on TV?" Maedhros suggested. "Or do you need to get your reading done?"

"No, I don't need to get my reading done now," Fingon assured him. "I can do that later." He took Maedhros' hand, decision made. "Let's see what's on TV."

They sat down on the sofa in the living room, side by side, Maedhros' arm soon finding its way around Fingon's shoulders. He flipped through the channels, his head resting comfortably on Maedhros' shoulder. They finally settled on a cooking show, with Maedhros providing insightful commentary as they watched.

"I'm not sure I should have offered to make you dinner," Fingon said. "I can't make anything but pasta and from the way you're talking, you seem to be an expert cook."

"On the job experience," Maedhros said, with a laugh. "Comes from being the oldest of seven." He smiled down at Fingon. "Both my parents are excellent cooks but with their work they rarely found the time. Six brothers who were always hungry meant I often had to make dinner for them before Mom and Dad even came home." He laughed again. "There were a lot of failed experiments before I got good at it."

"I'm pathetic," Fingon admitted. "Finrod usually cooks. He's really good. He doesn't always have the time to be too complex but he does like to try some unusual things. I'm happy to have clean up duty. If we relied on my cooking skills we'd be eating spaghetti with sauce from a jar every day. Or carry-out." He shook his head at Maedhros. "I can't believe I volunteered to cook you dinner."

Maedhros grinned and then sat up, turning towards Fingon, his eyes shining with excitement. "You're done with classes next Friday right?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Come out to Formenos next weekend. We can spend the whole day together and I'll cook dinner for you. I haven't had a chance to be very creative recently. Tyelko and Maglor eat practically anything and my mom always sends food for us with the twins. I think she's forgotten how to cook for anything less than nine people."

Fingon grinned back at him. "I'd like that. A great way to start Winter Break—getting to spend a whole day with you."

They stared at each for a moment and then Maedhros leaned down to kiss Fingon. It wasn't like their earlier kiss on this sofa—this one was soft and slow but Fingon thought it was perfect. He slid his fingers into Maedhros' hair and leaned in. "Maybe we should go to my room," he whispered. "I've no interest in being interrupted again."

Maedhros leaned back to look at him, that small crease on his forehead again. "I should probably go before your roommate gets back, don't you think?"

"Why?" Fingon's stomach clenched. Was Maedhros going to leave again?

"I know you need to talk to him and I know you've got reading to do," Maedhros answered. "You don't want me here for that."

It was true. He didn't want to have a discussion with Finrod if Maedhros was around. That would be a disaster. Talking to Finrod could wait until morning.

Actually he had early class tomorrow, didn't he? Blast it. He could talk to Finrod tomorrow night then. But that didn't feel quite right either. He should clear the air, rather than wait. He owed Finrod that.

But didn't he owe himself some time with Maedhros?

"I don't have to talk to him tonight," Fingon decided. "I'd rather spend the time with you. I can talk to him tomorrow. Really."

Maedhros just looked at him.

"Maedhros. Please. I can talk to Finrod tomorrow. Tonight I just want to be with you."

"You need to talk to him," Maedhros said. "You don't want it to be hanging over you both."

Fingon frowned. "I think I can handle it, Maedhros. I've been friends with Finrod a long time." He narrowed his eyes at Maedhros. "I think you just don't want to stay. Again."

"It's not that at all," Maedhros protested. "You said I never come over but I'm here now, aren't I? We've had time, just the two of us today. I know you have things you need to do tonight, even if you're trying to convince me you don't."

"How can you be so conscientious all the time?" Fingon questioned. "You are so aware of my studies, my roommate, all the little things that I'm willing to let go."

"Occupational hazard," Maedhros gave him a shrug and a sad little smile. "Too many years keeping my brothers on schedule and balancing all their activities." His face grew more serious. "I've got an pretty accurate internal clock and a fairly low threshold for being a nag. Sorry."

"I appreciate the sentiment but I've got things under control. I told you before—I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't mean it." Fingon was getting frustrated and his tone was far sharper than he intended.

Maedhros looked at him, his face a little pale. "Right. Sorry. That was presumptuous of me. Obviously you can manage your own affairs." He nodded at Fingon. "Right. I should go."

"Maedhros, seriously? I just told you I'm not planning on talking to Finrod tonight and I really don't have that much to do for tomorrow," Fingon said, exasperated now. "I can get up early and do both in the morning."

Maedhros turned even paler, an expression of frustration briefly crossing his face. "I don't seem to be doing so well at this today," he said. "It seems I keep saying the wrong thing." He looked at Fingon, disappointment visible on his face. "I'm sorry. I really should just go. I don't want to argue with you."

Fingon stared at him. How had they gotten here again? Hadn't they talked this all out earlier? He wasn't going to give up this easily. "Maedhros, there must be some reason you don't want to hang out at my apartment. That's fine. Just tell me that. Don't make excuses for it."

If anything, Maedhros looked more distressed at Fingon's words. "That's not it, really it's not. It's not you, it's not your place, it's not your roommate. It's me. I just keep saying stupid things and I'm sorry." He stood, turned away from Fingon and grabbed his coat from the hook by the door. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I don't want to argue with you, Fingon. Believe me when I tell you I really care about you. I don't want to be someone who causes friction between you and your roommate or distracts you from your work." He shrugged into his coat. "I shouldn't have had you make time for me this week. It was selfish. I just wanted to see you before I left town." He put his hand on the doorknob.

"Don't say that, Maedhros. You didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do. Stop taking responsibility for things that aren't under your control." Fingon came to stand next to him, putting his hand on Maedhros' arm. He could feel the tension in it. He made an effort to soften his tone. "I really care about you. I don't know how to make that any clearer. This is important to me and there are things I am willing to sacrifice in the short term for it." He moved closer yet, reaching up to brush Maedhros' hair off his face. "Let me be responsible for myself, ok? I won't have you feeling guilty for my decisions." Fingon ran his hand gently down his arm, Maedhros closing his eyes at the touch. "I can't say I understand what's been going on with us today. But I know we'll figure it out. I'm not giving up on that."

Maedhros opened his eyes and squeezed Fingon's hand tightly. "You're not?"

"I'm not." He gave Maedhros a small smile and attempted to lighten the moment. "You've invited me to Formenos next weekend and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss out on one of your gourmet meals."

A ghost of a smile came over Maedhros' face and he grabbed Fingon into a tight embrace which surprised him with its intensity. "Thank you." His lips brushed Fingon's hair.

They held each other for a long moment, Fingon's face buried in Maedhros' neck, breathing him in. He could feel Maedhros' breath in his hair. He didn't want Maedhros to let him go.

"Will you stay?" Fingon whispered, daring to ask one more time.

He felt Maedhros' arms go rigid as Maedhros pulled back to look at him, his distress showing plainly on his face. A cold shiver of disappointment went through Fingon but he felt a flare of anger now too. He stepped back and looked up at Maedhros, his face expressionless. "Seems I can't change your mind," he said, unable to keep the emotion out of his voice. "Fine. I'm not going to beg you to stay."

The color drained out of Maedhros at his words. "I wouldn't expect you to," he whispered then he nodded once, wrenched open the door and took off down the stairs.

"Maedhros!" But he was gone. Fingon could hear the front door of the building slam shut as he leaned over the railing, trying to catch a glimpse of Maedhros.

What in the hell had just happened? He closed the door and leaned on it wearily. This was not how he had expected this night to end. He covered his face with his hands and took a few shaky deep breaths. It didn't really help. His heart was still racing, the queasy feeling in his stomach worse than before. He curled up on one end of the sofa, his arms tightly wrapped around his drawn up knees, his head resting on them.

It seemed he was going to have the time to talk to Finrod after all.
End Notes:
Art by Cinemairon.


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Chapter 17 by NelyafinweFeanorion
I'm not going to beg you to stay."

"I'm not going to beg you to stay."


The words repeated themselves as Maedhros made his way to his car. It took him two tries to get the key in the ignition, his hands shaking as he attempted to do it. He finally started the car; after briefly resting his head on the steering wheel and taking a few deep breaths to steady himself he pulled the car into the street and started the drive back to Formenos.

"I'm not going to beg you to stay."

Four years ago his father had said those exact words to his mother.

His home had never been a peaceful one. Maedhros' earliest memories, even before the tumult of numerous brothers, were punctuated by Fanor and Nerdanel's intermittent clashes.

His parents were both very passionate, intense, brilliant personalities. During the good times they fueled each other's creativity, spurred each other to new endeavors and showered each other with love and admiration.

In the not-so-good times the arguments raged, neither one willing to compromise easily. At first it was the tension that he felt, then the painful intensity of their raised voices, the simmering rage in the way they looked at each other. When he began to actually listen to what was said it all became so much worse. The brilliant intellect that blazed in their creativity turned destructive when they argued. Their words were razor sharp, the insults meant to cut and wound each other, with the unintended effect of devastating those who listened.

When he was very young he would run to Nerdanel, less daunting in her fury than his father, and beg her to stop, wrapping his arms around her legs and looking up at her with his tear-streaked face.

At first that tactic seemed to work and the arguments would come to an awkward stop. But there came a day when Nerdanel bent down, unwrapped his arms from her legs, and told him very clearly that she needed "to finish this discussion." Maedhros had retreated to his room, covering his ears to try to shut their voices out.

He never was able to completely stop intervening. His direct appeals were rarely heeded but with time he, and eventually his brothers, learned that they could sometimes deflect their parents' anger at each other by distraction.

A lamp knocked over "accidentally." A staged sibling altercation. A not-so-staged episode of anxiety-induced vomiting. Some things worked better then others.

As the family grew in number, the frequency and intensity of Fanor and Nerdanel's quarrels waxed and waned. So many times Maedhros would retreat to his bed, Maglor on one side and Tyelko on the other, both burrowing themselves into his sides, their hands over their ears and his arms protectively around them, as the arguments raged downstairs. Nerdanel's pregnancy with Moryo was plagued by near constant conflict between them.

Moryo, once he joined the household, proved to be a loud and often furious presence. Tyelko, at the time still very young himself, had questioned if Moryo was so loud and angry because of all the raised voices he had experienced when he was growing inside Nerdanel—perhaps that was all he knew to make himself heard? Tyelko's innocent question had resulted in complete silence at the dinner table.

Maedhros had noted his parents shocked expressions and for a time after the household was calmer—disagreements, when they occurred, were conducted in fierce whispers in his parents' bedroom, the garage or outside in the garden.

After the twins were born the conflicts were rarer, even if they were again far less contained. Hearing his parents argue still never failed to make Maedhros' stomach clench and his heart race, no matter how many times he had witnessed them do this.

It had gone on this way, periods of calm then paroxysms of conflict, for many years, even after Maedhros had moved out.

His grandfather's death had sent Fanor into a downward spiral of grief and fury. His anger was not directed at the family but it still permeated their lives. The conflicts with Nerdanel had calmed over the years but they reached an unexpected peak, four years after Finw's death.

He had thought himself fortunate at the time, being at Cuivienen and away from the house and his parents. He had not known about the letters until the summer weekend he had found himself at home, with all his siblings, soon after the end of the semester four years before.

All had seemed well until the morning the letter had arrived. In that moment, as his mother had read it with trembling hands, all the light and joy at having her boys around her had disappeared. The sound of her coffee cup crashing onto the tile floor had shattered the fragile peace of the morning. Nerdanel had been as white as the piece of paper she held.

Things had only gotten worse from there.

Within moments his parents had been at each other's throats and Maedhros' had felt his stomach clench as the all-too-familiar anxiety washed over him.

"I am done!" Nerdanel had cried. "I will not stay here and wait for something to happen. I am done, Fanor."

The letter contained threats . . . very specific threats against his family, his brothers, each and every one of them. The letters had become a regular occurrence. His family was under police protection and he had not even known.

"It's all related to the lawsuit over your grandfather's death." Fanor had explained. "We go to trial soon and these are intimidation tactics by Morgoth Industries to get me to back down."

"Intimidation tactics?" Maedhros had questioned his father. It all seemed far too detailed to just be a ploy.

"They don't stand a chance in court and they know it. They are not going to get me to back off. I owe it to my father to follow through on this." Fanor's eyes had darted defiantly to Nerdanel as he spoke. "They're trying to scare us and I was confident it wasn't working."

Nerdanel had ignored him and turned to Maedhros and Maglor. "You've got to come with us. It's not safe where you are," She had reached out to grip both their hands.

"Nerdanel," Fanor had said, sternly. "Stop trying to frighten them."

"Mom," Maedhros had exchanged a swift look with Maglor before he had spoken. "We're both crashing at Azaghl's for the summer. Our names aren't anywhere—we're paying him the cash to sublet, not the landlord." He had squeezed her hand reassuringly. "We'll be fine. We'll be careful, but we'll be fine."

"You don't need to go to Formenos with the boys," Fanor had said to her. "We are safe here, Nerdanel." He had reached out to put his hand on her shoulder and leaned in close. "I would never let anything happen to any of you. You are my life."

"I can't do it, Fanor. I can't stay here."

"That's what they want you to think. That's why they're doing this!" he had argued.

"You can't let it go, can you? It's more important than anything, isn't it? Making Morgoth pay?" Nerdanel had snapped.

"You know it's not the money! It's the principle. They killed my father, left him in the road, drove away and then tried to cover it up. He didn't deserve that."

"And I don't deserve this. Our sons are in danger and all you can think about is that lawsuit." She had shaken her head. "Our sons are more precious than your revenge."

"You don't have to go."

"You can't change my mind."

"I'm not going to beg you to stay."

She had given him a long look. "I wouldn't expect you to," she had said, walking away.

A quick kiss on Maedhros' cheek and a hug for Maglor and she was gone.

His parents had not spoken to each other again until they were in his hospital room six weeks later.
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