'The border is longing: When both have fallen in love but still haven't said anything.'
Mountains surround the vast land. They are easily spotted in the distance where they looks like watchtowers, except for the north where grey fog governs and swallows everything that lives there. It's an easy place to get lost in. As Nolofinwë enters the camp, a collection of tents cobbled together like usual when his brother travels, he concedes that while he's not lost, he isn't sure of his exact location.
"I've yet to see one of your children, Fëanáro. Please inform me what has happened that I encounter you alone," are the first words Nolofinwë speaks when he dismounts. "It's an usual event for me to visit you and not have one of your sons glaring at me before I even lay eyes on you."
The journey has been horrible from the start. The weather is unkind beyond the mountains and the cold clings to his body, reminding him of the Helcaraxë. The lack of the Fëanorionnath flocking him at his arrival is distorting. At least one of the Sons is always around, watching him like a hawk reading to hack his eyes out if he makes a wrong move.
Perhaps Fëanáro is kind enough to answer his questions though it's unlikely.
A soldier takes the horse reins and leads it away, leaving the Highking and his brother alone to exchange greetings in privacy. Nolofinwë notices that the image they present is vastly different from what used to be. Gone are the flashy colours they wore in the courts of Tirion, the exchange of sharp taunts every time the met turned into a silent mutual acknowledgement and even the famous animosity is a relict of the past. Now the Highking of the Noldor and his brother are mirror images of each other. Blood and death cut away the trivialities until the essential core of their kinship became undeniable. For both of them and everyone else.
"They're around," Fëanáro answers.
His eyes grace Nolofinwë only for a short time. The movement is far too quick for a proper greeting between two souls who spend the last year apart.
"Will I get to greet them?" Nolofinwë asks and moves to sit down beside his brother. The armor slows his motions to a settled pace. "I've people who're desperate for news."
Fëanáro keeps staring into the distance, his gaze penetrating the fog that surrounds them. Nolofinwë fights the urge to ask what Fëanáro sees beyond it. For he knows that the land is mostly empty besides the soldiers gathered in the only camp in the north. Burned grass, swallow hills and graves make up the rest.
Feet dig into the wet dirt while calloused hands are curled around a heavy sword. Nolofinwë is so used the image he finds his memories where his brother doesn't carry a blade disturbing. His gaze lingers on the blade. On the first glance it's seems simple, lacking the usual ornaments and jewels. Among his people it would cause for talk, a high ranking individual without an ounce of gold on his weapon. For his brother, it fits because unsheathed the sword the most reliable light source around here since it channels Fëanáro fëa.
On occasion Nolofinwë sees a bright light flashing in the distance, penetrating the grey clouds and declaring that Fëanáro is at war again. Enough reason to worry through sleepless nights.
"You can tell Findekáno that Nelyo is well," Fëanáro informs his brother.
Despite his short spoken sentences and his offish behavior Nolofinwë sighs in relief. It's useless to ask how Fëanáro knows. Nolofinwë stopped wondering awhile ago but the news will make his son happy. There's a moment of silence where Nolofinwë wants to ask about Fëanáro himself but he dismisses it. As long as his children are fine, Fëanáro rarely shows reason for concern.
"Thanks," Nolofinwë says on behalf of his son and ducks his head. Yet he can't do it quickly enough to hide the soft smile curling around his lips.
Fëanáro turns his head towards his brother, sensing the underlaying joy. Speeches are rarely needed with their minds attuned to each other. Recent developments were enough for him to drop any pretense that it hasn't always been this case. Though now the mutual animosity is gone. While Finwë lived Fëanáro found it difficult to be around his brother while his hate matched his own. Thously he avoided Nolofinwë as much as he was allowed to, back in Aman.
Fëanáro knows that the avoidance only added to Nolofinwë's hurt and anger. In order not to repeat past mistakes he speaks up again.
"Tell your son to be confident," Nolofinwë is told. Fëanáro phrases his words like an order though through the fledgling mental connection they nurse the words turn soft. "I await Nelyafinwë's return with the same longing as he does but I do not doubt my child. He'll return unharmed from his journey. I'll inform your son of Nelyafinwë's arrival when the day comes."
"I appreciate it."
Nolofinwë's words are honest and deeply grateful. The attempt to rebuild their relationship is young and in part Nolofinwë is relief he can't give a more coherent reply than a low response. The unfamiliar surroundings add to his comfortableness. So far away from home he's less certain of his courage - and his standing with his brother. Nolofinwë cannot claim to have the same confidence as his brother - who never lies when speaking the truth is an option.
It was his first degree as Highking of the Noldor.
No more lies, the Noldor's majesty had ordered in a clear cutting voice after he had been crowned on the battlefield, surrounded by death and victory.
Nolofinwë still remembers the speech that followed after these three little words. Every Noldor does. Those who witnessed the rebirth themselves would never forget how their Highking looked like after he pulled his sword out of the Black Enemy's burned corpse. Their Highking had burned that day. His spirit had touched the world, recognizing its struggle for freedom as his own and then freed Arda from the dark and evil God ruling the North.
Whatever doubt the Noldor had voiced until that day it died in their throats when their King, the Emperor, rose from his knees, his fëa magnificent and commanding.
Nolofinwë was the first to fall to his knees in reverence.
Unfortunately the Emperor, as the Noldor call him, has no ambitions to rule. With Morgoth ashes scattered into the winds he sees no need for it.
You are free, the Highking announced, gathering his sons behind him. You don't need me to govern your kingdoms.
Hearing the truth the Noldor had obeyed, thankful for the Emperor to use his powers more wise than they suspected. Most of them returned south and left the Fëanorionnath behind in the slopes of Angband. Since they're here on their own free will Nolofinwë imagines that they must be happy to a certain degree. Yet why his brother hasn't left the ruined and empty wilderness of Ard-galen behind is beyond him.
"Nólion," his brother says, the two syllables rolling of his tongue like honey and Nolofinwë's stomach lurched at sound of it.
Fëanáro only dropped suffix when he was being affectionate and the development of shortening his name is a recent one. It makes Nolofinwë's chest swell with pride. Every time Fëanáro calls him 'Nólion' it dawns him that he accomplished something he can be proud of. Like he finally passed a long outstanding test.
One truth that stands between them and that Nolofinwë can be sure of that finwë has long ceased to be father's name. It's a title, a formal one. The person attached to the name seems to be in the distant past now, rendered insignificant through Morgoth's defeat by Fëanáro. The Noldor are reborn. Future generations of Loremasters won't lay their focus on the lowest common denominator between them.
The man who sired them has almost faded entirely from their memories.
"Yes, brother?" Nolofinwë's chest trembles as he answers. Beleriand's cold and barren wasteland turns his breath into white clouds.
Their closeness makes him dizzy. While the cold air gives him goosebumps under his thick layers of clothing, Nolofinwë can still feel the heat of Fëanáro's body. Which should not be possible but Nolofinwë suspects that Fëanáro has more of it than before. His brother watches him, amused. He lets his emotions shine through enough that they color his eyes in a rich hue and the secretive smile around Fëanáro's mouth increases sense of longing cruising through Nolofinwë's limbs.
"Nólion, what am I to you?" Fëanáro asks and surprises him with that question.
Nolofinwë blinks once before he answers with hesitation, "You're the High King."
The open chuckle is a surprise. Nolofinwë's eyes grow wide at his brother's openness, his face featuring his amusement. Instinct and long years of experience make Nolofinwë steel himself for mockery, yet it never follows. Fëanáro radiates mirth and not aversion.
Nolofinwë finds it difficult to breath when his brother gets on his feet and draws himself to full height. Like this he could even tower over Nelyafinwë, he thinks. His mouth dries as Fëanáro bends down to him.
We both know that's not all I'm to you. Fëanáro's voice rings clear in his head and Nolofinwë suspects it's less because of his own shaky mental abilities.
"You're my High King," Nolofinwë corrects. His breath stutters again when hot fingers trail over his cold skin and something stirs in his pants.
Fëanáro's smile is mysterious. Nolofinwë's heart hammers against his chest and thinks it shouldn't be possible to look graceful in torn and dirty battle armor. They share a moment, staring into each others eyes and just as Nolofinwë thinks Fëanáro will end it, his brother leans down to kiss him. The touch of lips against his own is warm and soft. Nolofinwë melts when hands come up to cradle his face for his brother his less seductive than he expected. The grip of his fingers in his hair is demanding but not forceful.
When they finally part Nolofinwë is surprised that he hasn't been reduced to a frantic moving animal by now. Fëanáro always held to potential to do that to him.
"You're aren't ready yet," Fëanáro whispers into his ears after pulling Nolofinwë onto his feet who's heart is hammering too fast to voice the question - when?
As Fëanáro lets go of his brother and turns around to disappear between the tents fluttering in the wind, Nolofinwë suspects Fëanáro wouldn't give him a satisfying answer to the questions burning beneath his skin anyway. Nolofinwë remains frozen in his spot, his eyes fixed on his brothers back until Fëanáro looks over his shoulder. Breathing gets easier after that.
The Highking expects Nolofinwë to follow.
Hesitation is the first step. Caution the second. By the time Nolofinwë has caught up the his brother, all doubts are forgotten. Fëanáro walks in a pace Nolofinwë can match well aware that he doesn't have to. Together they walk in comfortable silence side by side. Though Fëanáro's shadow is bigger and longer than his own, Nolofinwë notices. He doesn't ask. Not even when he hears beasts growling in the distance.
"My sons return," is Fëanáro's only comment to the thundering sounds, smile blazing while he hides his hands deep into his pockets.
Nolofinwë doesn't understand but he loves his brother.