Maeglin wants to claim that isn't such a thing as instinctive knowledge of who your family is. He didn't feel a thing when he met Turgon for the first time. His uncle was just another elf with an expensive robe and a shiny crown on his head. Similar it was with Idril. When they first met, Maeglin only saw the beautiful woman greeting him with a smile. Not a potential cosuin. Hence the trouble he got in and for a long time he didn't want to see it differently.
Family was a difficult subject in Gondolin and Maeglin never truly connected with the Noldor living there.
So it takes him by surprise when he opens the door of his house to a short knock and looks into the face of an elf who resembles him enough to be his brother. A shiver runs down Maeglin's spine and his nails scrape against the wood of the door as he sways a little from the sensation blooming inside his chest. Just looking into the grey eyes of the other elf does something funny to his stomach.
It's not desire. Maeglin knows that feeling well enough.
No, this runs deeper. Slips past his heart and sinks into his spirit instead. It feels like someone is cradling his soul with gentle hands and soothing noises.
"Who are you?" Maeglin asks. He's proud that his voice doesn't break. "What do you want?"
"My name is Nolofinwë," the dark-haired elf offers his name, meeting Maeglin's sharp with with softness and patience.
It takes Maeglin a moment to recognize the name. Not because he never heard the name before, rather the opposite. His uncle never stopped talking about his father, filling Gondolin's halls with reference to the Highking. Especially after the eagle came, carrying the bloody half-rotten thing that looks nothing like the person in front of him.
Maeglin's mind is reeling, stuttering, refusing to connect the offered name with the label stuck in his head.
A single words leaves his mouth.
"Grandfather," he whispers and for a single moment that's all what exists.
Until Maeglin remembers who he is. What he has done. And who is standing in front of him. Not just his mother's father but the Highking of the Noldor as well. The elf who battled Morgoth himself. And he, Maeglin, ... He can't finish the thought. Like always his breath just stops when he tries, when his thoughts wander towards those particular time. Funny how he's fine with remembering his death, Gondolin burning and Glorfindel pushing Eöl over the cliff but not that. Never that. So shame mingles with fear ... and Maeglin runs.
For a second he just stares at his grandfather before he turns around and leaves the house through the back, running past the sanctuary of his forge towards the woods. Maeglin isn't sure where his legs are going to carry him but away seems to be the best option now. Especially since he can hear his grandfather behind him.
"Wait," he hears Fingolfin shouting. "Lómion, wait. Please!"
Perhaps it's the use of his mother name or the unexpected desperation in his grandfather's voice. But Maeglin stops running, just at the edge of the tree line ready dive into the canopy and hide in the shadows until he's alone again. Living here completely by himself does get a bit lonely sometimes but it's still better than meeting all the hateful eyes on the street.
Yet his grandfather's grey eyes don't spit hate. Or judgement.
Instead Fingolfin is standing in the clearing, a few feet between them with his hands raised. Maeglin knows that stance is usually used on frightened animals but a large part of his brain doesn't care. It's flight or fight ... and the last is out. He isn't in the best shape, just a few years out of Mandos and ... he has spend most of his life in safety. His strength always lay in using his words, strategy and strength acquired through the heavy lifting in the mines.
"Lómion, please. I'm not going to hurt you," Fingolfin says again and moves a little bit closer. "I'm not here to exact vengeance upon you. Even if that's what you think you deserve. I promise I won't do anything you're not comfortable with, okay? But please don't run."
Strangely Maeglin believes him. Perhaps it's the prickling against his skin, the familiarity. The fact that Maeglin never met someone who felt so much like him. Sharp. With edges. Though Maeglin doesn't know if it was his childhood in Tirion, his Kingship or the Helcaraxë that made his grandfather that way. Looking into the grey eyes Maeglin wonders how many people are even aware of the the edges. Not many, he guesses.
For Turgon and Idril have none. Fingon ... is a dark pool. Beautiful but with depths that can kill you. Maeglin always wondered where the thorns came from that his mother possessed. It seems he found that answer at least.
What other answers does his grandfather possess?
Maeglin relaxes and studies Fingolfin like a metal he wishes to form, wonders what secrets he could tell. Secrets and stories Turgon never managed to share, all close lipped. Too traumatised to open up and help his nephew. Yet also too afraid to let him ago. Maeglin knows his uncle meant well, means well, but back in Gondolin it wasn't enough. Barely enough in Gondolin where he struggles with the image of being Eöl's son. At night the lack of love and empathy always came back. Insomnia nightmares ... Maeglin spend many, many nights in the forge using hammer and anvil in order to beat unwanted memories, desires and fears into submission. Or at least, back into the dark recesses of his mind where they belonged.
Well, until Morgoth coaxed them out of him. One by one. Bringing them into the light of the Silmarils glowing on that iron crown of his. Far and unreachable for Maeglin, just like the idea of safety, rescue and forgiveness.
But he's here now, isn't he? On behalf of Lord Námo and Lord Manwë himself.
"What do you want?" Maeglin finally asks and forces himself to relax, chastising himself for trying to run.
Hasn't his mother proven that running solves nothing? Nothing ever at all? Best to get over whatever his grandfather has to say to him.
Fingolfin seems to be surprised, didn't expect such a quick response.
"I wanted to meet you," Fingolfin confesses.
His words are barely above a whisper and there's disbelief in his voice. His eyes are drinking in Maeglin's frame,. He's not even blinking - as if he feared his grandson could vanish if he lets him out of his sight.
"Meet me...?" Maeglin drawls, suspicious. He crosses his arms over his chest when he asks, "Why?"
For most people it seemed enough to know that he existed. His name was just as cursed as the Fëanorian's. Hell, there were pretty ladies who discussed at tea if the Kinslayers were more horrible than the Traitor. Which Maeglin knew from the one disastrous time where he tried to visit Idril at her home. Which he is never going to do again.
But his grandfather's answer is something completely different.
"I wanted to meet my grandson," Fingolfin croaks and dares to step closer. The Highking looks desperate, extending his hands but hesitating to touch Maeglin. "I never actually ... I didn't know, Lómion. Please, believe me that I never knew of you. I had to learn about your existence from Irissë in Mandos."
"The King never ...," Maeglin is so baffled at the revelation that he doesn't notice how his grandfather is almost standing in front of him. "Turgon never actually told you about me?"
The question is more pointed at himself than Fingolfin because he has spend more time with his uncle. The expression that flickers across Fingolfin's face shows pain - and regret. While Maeglin never knew anything else, he wonders what it is like to have a son just to have him vanish in the mountains, never to return.
"I didn't ignore out of choice, Lómion. Please don't think that I was too ashamed of your linage to contact you," Fingolfin tells him. Then, slowly to give Maeglin the time to pull away, Fingolfin puts his hands on his grandson's shoulders. "No matter what happened between your mother and your father, I'd have welcomed you with open arms, had I known of your existence. I'd have taken you with me and raised you as my own."
Maeglin's breath hitches, dangerously so. The words go straight to his head, pushing into a dark, dark corner because ... Turgon lied. Maeglin always assumed that his uncle contacted his father, informed him of Maeglin's existence at least. Yet ... why didn't he?
He mouthes the question, helpless in the face of the turmoil inside his chest.
"My son confessed he feared losing you as well," Fingolfin answers, having spoken to Turgon about this already. He didn't like what he heard. "He knew that nothing could keep me from seeing you, at least once, if I received just a single letter mentioning a child of Irissë. Just as he knew that I'd have taken you to Barad Eithel."
His grandfather is speaking in fairy tales. Speaks of taking Maeglin to places where he has never been. Never got to see no matter how much he asked and begged his uncle. All lost because of a ... lie. His life, his horrid, unhappy life in Gondolin ... was based upon his assumption that the Highking wanted nothing to do with the illegitimate - according to the laws the Noldor lived by - son of his wayward daughter and a murderer.
Maeglin registers that he's pulled into a hug, that strong arms wrap around him to press him against his grandfather's chest like a child. Yet he doesn't struggle. Can't. Not when closing his eyes and burying his face in Fingolfin's neck is the first thing that feels good ever since he stepped out of Mandos tender care.
"Heir?" Maeglin repeats the word after a while, not sure if he heard right.
Fingolfin sighs, holds his grandson close and rests his chin on the top of Maeglin's head.
"Perhaps you were never told but you were born over hundred years before Findekáno had Ereinion."
The former Highking of the Noldor states this as a matter of fact so Maeglin doesn't question it. Cut of from the world as Gondolin was, Idril probably only learned of her cousin after she fled the burning city. That he's supposed to be even older than the famous Gil-galad makes his head swim.
His grandfather confirms Maeglin's rising dread.
"Had your mother made it to Barad Eithel or had Turgon written to me about you at least, you've been heir to the crown after my eldest since be both know that nothing could've forced the King of Gondolin out of his city."
Maeglin can't suppress the sniffle rising in his chest. Tears gather in his eyes because the revelation hurts. Would it be appropriate to mourn the loss of a life he never got around to live? Or would it be too arrogant? He a traitor to his kind. Has been accused of being a willing servant of Morgoth - nononono, please, please, please, no! - no matter that he can still trace the scars the Dark Valar left on him.
"I would just ruin to your people as well," Maeglin finally says. "So perhaps it's best that we never met before. I could bring less harm and shame to your name this way."
"No, Lómion," Fingolfin protests. His voice is soft yet determined and with great care he embraced his grandson tighter, puts a hand on Maeglin's head as if he could protect him from all evil this way. "You wouldn't have. It was tragedy and Turukáno's failure that brought your here. Not yours."
"I'm a traitor. I betrayed Gondolin," Maeglin protests, voice wavering. Yet keeps burying his face in his grandfather's chest.
Fingolfin sees this as a good sign. He had feared for his grandson, fear for the state of his soul after he refused to meet his family when he was reborn. Long conversations with Turgon finally brought light to the matter and Fingolfin to the point where he grew angry at his son. Hiding a grandchild from him out of fear to lose him was one thing. Letting him bear the blame for events not under his control another.
Unbearable, in Fingolfin's eyes.
Since Lómion's shoulders won't stop shaking and his grandson keeps murmuring his perceived failures into Fingolfin's tunic, the former Highking to voice a secret very few have knowledge of.
"Did you know that your fate could've easily been my own?" Fingolfin whispers. Beneath his hands Lómion goes stiff, jerking his head upright to look at his grandfather with horror.
"What?" He mouthes. "But you ... never. You've never broken."
Fingolfin's answering laugh is hollow.
"When Morgoth finally brought me down, threw me to the cold earth he had no intention of letting me escape. I saw it in his eyes that he'd take into Angband to put me into chains and keep me on the bring of death. Forever. As punishment for challenging him. For daring to injure him. When I realized the fate he had in store for me I prayed, called to Manwë for the first time in centuries."
"The eagle brought you to Gondolin. I saw ... we all saw what was left of you," Maeglin comments only slowly processing what his grandfather was trying to tell him.
Fingolfin's eyes flicker, looking into the distance while he remembers his final moments, "I begged Manwë to take me away. I was ready to die, ready to accept any punishment for defying the Valar if they kept me out of Morgoth hands."
The former Highking swallows thickly as he forces himself to keep talking. So far only Thorondor, Manwë and Lord Mandos knew the truth of his final moments but for Maeglin, his poor tortured grandson he open his soul. As long as it helped his grandchild find peace he could bear to live through the memories again.
The words falling from Fingolfins's mouth are barely a whisper when starts talking again.
"I died up there. The last thing I remember is the claws around my body, taking me higher and higher while the cold numbed my pain. It may be not very heroic but in this moment I welcomed my end, choose death because I feared what Morgoth would do to me. Even when I drew my last breath I felt his hate and his anger focused on me, promising to find me and drag me into the dark until I'd bow before his feet."
"I know how that feels," Maeglin shudders. If he closes his eyes he can still feel the dark spirit pressing against his own, violating his mind. "He ... he took great pleasure in tormenting me personally. He hadn't a prisoner of Finwë's line ever since Maedhros escaped his clutches."
Fingolfin kisses the top of Maeglin's head because it's the only thing he can do right now to comfort his grandson. It'll forever weight on his soul that Lómion suffered a fate he narrowly escaped. Probably suffered because of his escape. Fingolfin can imagine Morgoth delight upon discovering Lómion's linage and taking his revenge out on the grandson of the Elf who challenged him.
"I'd have challenged him for you," Fingolfin says and let's his forehead rest against Lómion's. They are both capable of using mind speech but that's a line he won't cross just yet. Words will have to be enough for now.
When Maeglin's breath hitches and Fingolfin feels his grandson's fëa carefully pressing against his, it's reason enough to go on.
"I challenged Morgoth once and for a lesser reason than freeing my grandchild from his clutches. Please believe when I tell you that I would do it again, would never even hesitate to take your place if it meant to spare you the pain of suffering through his hand."
Fingolfin's words sound like a vow and for the first in a long time Maeglin believes. In his mind he sees himself in chains in Angband, begging for death and release when his grandfather's voice sounds through the air, offering an exchange. The Highking's life for that of his grandson.
Maeglin knows it didn't happen this way. But it brings him comfort nonetheless. For far too long his dreams were filled with darkness. It's nice to cling to a good one for a change. He holds onto is grandfather for a long time, fearing the warm feeling in his chest will go away if he breaks the embrace.
Finally, after an eternity, Maeglin asks, "Would you stay? Just a while?"
The request is a murmur, a whispered one and Maeglin feels ashamed for asking but Fingolfin's face lights up at the request.