He is dead.
How could I not know? How could I not feel when the light was extinguished?
I cannot show my anguish, and there is not world enough to contain it. So I myself must contain it.
He abandoned us. They will say that the Doom came down upon him. They will say his death is the justice of the Valar. They will say he deserved to die.
They will say many things about him. Some of them will even be true. But they did not know him as I did. They did not step into his fire and rejoice in the burning. It is called a sin, and so it is. So it was. He made it a glory.
My people look to me and they must see a prince, a leader. They must not see a man breaking under grief that will never be assuaged, waiting for the touch of the flame, the smile in a pair of eyes like no others in this world.
They will say his acts were evil, that he defied the Valar. They will call him a madman and a murderer.
He was FŽanor.
My beautiful, beloved betrayer.
~ Fingon marched ahead of his host. Their strides were long and purposeful, their faces in the starlight glowed and their eyes were fierce. And fierce too, burned Fingon's heart with the bitterness of betrayal.
The years that he and Maedhros had loved so marvelously, so intensely had come to this: left stranded in Araman watching the ember glow in the east and knowing that the ships of the Teleri had gone up in flame. Abandoned. Forgotten?
Fingon hated what Maedhros had done, hated himself the more, for even betrayal could not quench the love he bore his cousin.
The terrible ice passage had given way to a flat, almost featureless tundra where pools of shallow water shone back at the sky and a chill wind blew from the east. Fingolfin's host turned south.
Turgon was blasted with grief at his wife's death, but Fingon had had to leave him to lead his own people. He had spoken quietly to his brother's companions, Glorfindel and Ecthelion, and they rode beside Turgon. Stars wheeled above, and there hung the Sickle, the mighty challenge to Morgoth and sign of his downfall.
Fingon suddenly paused. His father's host had halted and Fingolfin flung up a hand. A strange light was growing on the horizon, illuminating the blue-black sky, and all fell silent, wondering what this could portend. Slowly the light grew and cries of wonder rippled through the host.
"Perhaps the Valar have not forsaken us," whispered some-one close to Fingon. The shadows were deep black, but the Elves mail gleamed eerily.
''It is beautiful,'' Fingon murmured.
''Come!'' His father cried, and the host marched on.
Fingon rose from sleep.
His dreams were filled with dread and he clasped his right wrist, feeling a strange pain there. The same dream had assaulted him since setting foot on these Outer Lands. He saw Maedhros' face, stark with agony, heard his voice crying out, and would jerk awake, heart galloping in his ears. Maedhros...He must forget Maedhros, must hate him as deeply as he had loved him. What else was there? Each time he resolved this he swallowed a dreadful laugh, a mating of agony and fury. Love was not so easily relinquished. He wished it were.
Fingon was not the only one to suffer. Many had lost loved ones in the crossing of the ice, hearing them scream as they slipped into chasms of black water, over which the ice would clash like a trap.
He and Turgon had thrown themselves down the slope after ElenwŽ, Fingon held by Glorfindel and Ecthelion as he gripped his brother's wrist. Turgon stretched for his wife, who floundered below them. His hand caught hers and then the ice beneath her tipped down and she fell, wet arm and wrist slipping through Turgon's fingers, sleeve tearing. Turgon had hurled himself after her, screaming her name, and was hauled back, fighting like a fury.
Fingon must remember the treachery of the FŽanorions, nothing else, not his first sight of Maedhros, riding into the great ward, serpentine red hair glowing, lips curled in a smile.
"I belong to thee, Maitimo FŽanŠrion!" mocked his passionate young voice down the bright years.
He shook his head and then stopped, staring. A strange grey light lay over everything. He could see faint colors, which had been blanched under the the pallor of the moon. A hand came down on his shoulder and his father said: "Something comes." Then, "Wake!" he cried and signaled to his herald to blow on his trumpet.
In the strange gloaming the host assembled warily and watched as color blossomed across the world. The trumpets of Fingolfin rang out to greet the dawn, and his blue and silver banners unfurled.
They marched on, unwearied, until before them rose the threefold peaks of Thangordrim, black fangs against a dreary sky, and an obliterating hatred breathed upon them. But fire raged in Fingolfin's eyes as his host crossed Dor Daedeloth, and coming under the shadows of the mountain, they hammered upon vast doors of the Hells of Iron.
Far above, manacled to the rock, Maedhros heard them and cried out, but his voice was lost amid the clangor.
No answer came back from Angband, and when the noise died away Fingolfin, having assessed its strength, drew back, heading to the Mountains of Shadow, a barrier between the Elves and Angband. There they might rest - and meet FŽanor and his treacherous sons.
If Fingon was mauled by betrayal, Fingolfin was no less so. Fingon saw the fury in his father's blue-silver eyes, and at times the fine mouth would tighten as if in pain.
Reaching Mithrim, they saw the host of FŽanor encamped, and here they made ready for battle, but Maglor ordered that his people withdraw to the southern shore of the lake. In this place, at this time, he would not war with his kin, and he rode out and called in his rich voice, tempered with great sorrow, that FŽanor was dead, and Maedhros taken by Morgoth.
Fingolfin did not need telling. He had felt when his brother's fire, more perilous, more beautiful than anything in Aman, had passed from the world.
He looked up from polishing his sword and came to his feet.
''My friend?'' Turgon's face was frozen with grief, and anger spiked through Glorfindel again. They had trusted the FŽanorians to send the ships for them, and had watched the eastern sky burn red. But there was no returning to Aman. All of them had heard the Doom. The wrath of the Valar lay on the House of FŽanor, but they were not the only ones with blood on their hands.
And they had seen Angband. Until then, they had not fully grasped what Morgoth was capable of. But seeing the precipice that rose above battlements, towers crowned by the fuming vents of Thangorodrim, feeling the hatred which shouted at them like a wall, they did finally comprehend. This was the fortress of the mightiest Power Arda had ever known, and it exuded malice. They had seen the bodies of loathsome creatures, and known that FŽanor's warriors had surely met them. They were black of skin with clawed hands and enfanged mouths gaping. If some-one had wished to create a hideous mockery of the Elves, these things would have been the result.
''Hast thou seen Fingon?'' Turgon asked as the noxious vapors from Thangorodrim's giant vents seeped past the tent flaps. ''He is not in his own camp. Nor with our father.''
Glorfindel shook his head. ''Not since since he spoke to Maglor.''
''The news of Maedhros,'' Turgon said. ''He tried to blame him and hate him.'' A sad smile touched his mouth.
''I know.'' Glorfindel felt so many fresh facets of pain, and all held an edge like a bitter blade.
We were like children, he had said to Ecthelion on their march from the HelcaraxŽ. Here, we will drink the cup of love and hate to the bitterest dregs.
Fruits of the Kinslaying. The Oath...
The strange mists caused the brazier to burn with an unhealthy greenish tinge. Glorfindel laid a hand on Turgon's arm.
''I will find Ecthelion. We will look for Fingon.''
He buckled on his sword-belt and thrust the blade into its sheath, then walked out into the gloom, calling in his mind to his lover. The blue-white lamps of the Noldor gleamed through the murk, glossing the oily sheen on the lake. Glorfindel grimaced. There was a bitter tang to the water, like metal or ash.
Could I have swayed him?
He made me burn, offered me a choice. I rejected him...
"Well, well, a golden lion."
Glorfindel jerked upright, lips parting, and was thrust back by hands which were strong as reforged iron. He stared into eyes which seemed to open into a white and terrible inferno. Their very power of FŽanor's will held him motionless. Sleek black brows rose as those eyes moved over him.
"The time comes to an end, LaurŽfindŽ," he said. "Swear fealty to me and follow me."
"My Lord...!" Glorfindel's voice was strengthless. He was overwhelmed. FŽanor was too potent, and that charisma had never been turned full on him before. He had only caught the flying edges of it. And that had been enough.
"My fealty is to Turgon, my lord." The heat, the desire in that gaze reached into him.
"Thou doth follow Turgon. Thou art not sworn to him; I know this!" FŽanor straddled him in one swift motion. "I have watched thee for a long time, LaurŽfindŽ Los'lůriol, watched how thine eyes have devoured Ecthelion, yet thou art not lovers."
Glorfindel pushed himself up, met the hard body and was forced down, tried to sink further into the bed to retreat from the fire coming alive over him, within him. Fury gave his limbs strength, his blow caught FŽanor on the jaw.
"The Golden Flower should not be thine emblem." It was a deep growl and the return blow was a kiss. Glorfindel had kissed Ecthelion, but both drew back from more. They did not have secrets from one another, but the Laws were adamant that two males did not love. It frustrated him, sparring with Ecthelion often became rough on both sides as both sought to vent the passion that they would not give rein to.
But this kiss invaded his blood. It was delivered with the expertise of a craftsman and the power of a warrior, and he was drowning, being pushed under an ocean of fire which scalded, stopped his breath...
Glorfindel greeted Ecthelion with a strained smile.
''Turgon searches for his brother; no-one has seen him since we camped. He is not with Fingolfin.'' He turned his head toward where the FŽanorians' had removed. That was Maglor's doing, surely, for he had seen the eagerness to clash on the faces of Caranthir, always swift of temper, and Celegorm and Curufin, hands on their sword-hilts. Maglor, whom ever acted as a bulwark to Maedhros, now lead the brothers, and had enforced his will.
''I saw Fingon's face after he spoke with Maglor,'' he said. So many sorrows. They abandoned us. Yet treachery cannot kill love - does anything? Even death?
''He should be with his people. I wondered if he might have gone to speak with Maglor again. I told Turgon we would look for him.''
He thought of Angband and what dwelt within, the demons of fire spoken of by Maglor, the slain miscreatures they had seen...His mind spun and circled back to FŽanor. It seemed wrong, impossible that he was dead.
Glorfindel turned at the regard on his back and saw FŽanor. In the nebulous gloom his eyes burned like radiant gems. There was madness in them, and bitterest grief.
Come with me.
He felt the will there, the strength augmented by anguish.
Swear to me.
Then they were breast to breast in the dark, FŽanor pulsed with a wild heat which challenged the cold.
"I cannot, my lord," Glorfindel hissed. "I have sworn my service and that of my House, to Turgon."
"To the Void with Turgon! I need such as thou with me, I have chosen thee!"
Their eyes met. Glorfindel's were wide and as he did not speak, as the fogs swirled past, FŽanor jerked him close, his kiss flame and fury, the chill banished by its potency.
"Under Turgon I follow thee, but I will not be forsworn." He paused, feeling himself hard as a lance, lips swollen by the kiss. "I fear what thou wilt bring down on us. We have already killed for thee! Thou wilt take those who love thee to doom, and care nothing for it!"
He could not read the expression which crossed the beautiful, feral face at that moment. FŽanor turned away with a swirl of his long cloak.
"Then remember me. Remember what thou didst deny thyself. Once I have claimed something it is always mine!"
Glorfindel's heart was charred at the edges, stained in blood, for something had been done which could not be undone. He thought not only of the slaying of the Teleri, but of his own savage unions with FŽanor, which he could no more resist than cease to breathe. He was cold now that the diamond flame had gone, cold as the somber sea which sighed on the shores.
Remember? Was he likely to forget, he thought bitterly. He would remember the touch of the Spirit of Fire all the Ages of the world.†
And he wondered, for a long time, at the white patterns burned into the palms of FŽanor's hands. The Silmarilli had burned him, but not harmed him. It was as if in hallowing them, Yavannah had tried to take from them the spirit which had created them.
And could not. ~