1. Sundered Fates
Location: somewhere in Beleriand.
The last time we met he did not know it would be a final farewell. I thought I did. The farewell was final, though other than I foresaw, for my eyes were blind to the weavings of fate and my ears strangely deaf to the music of Eä.
We met in the great army camp in a world that had died, both of us leaving a brother behind in a tent: mine pondering the doom we would meet, his pondering the choice they would have to make, though I did not know it at the time. In our meeting, chance and fate intertwined, for though he was not seeking me, I sought him, yet it was he who found me while I stole a moment's glance at the sky, where the brightest jewel of all stars lit the gathering dusk.
He came up soundlessly behind me, but I sensed his presence, familiar as it had grown during the years he was in my care. Turning, I looked into his eyes. They were on a level with mine, for he had grown up; long gone were the days when I used to kneel to him as if he were already the king he was to become one day, instead of a small child.
He smiled. 'Atarinya,' he said, in the tongue I taught him when he was young, one that most of his newfound friends would or could not speak.
'Senya,' I replied, attempting to match the way his lips curved upward, though I do not think I succeeded.
'Out for a stroll, too, to watch the stars come out?' he asked.
How tell one who has been as a son to you that your feet are set on the road towards death? After I had decided that it had to be said, I had rehearsed all possible ways to say it, yet now I dreaded to speak of it. 'Yes,' I replied, 'and one in particular.'
He gazed up like I had done before, nodding. 'The star of hope renewed.' His youthful face shone with the hallowed light of our fathers, his father as well as mine. A strange thought, yet true, as I was ready to admit at last. If only it could have linked us together as sons of the light.
'Hope for you,' I said. 'Not for me.'
'But surely there is, now! The Enemy has been defeated and will not rise again. There is mercy to be found with his vanquishers; you may yet be able to return to the lands of your birth, to be granted - '
I shook my head, for I did not wish him to say the impossible aloud. He was speaking of the hope that was looking up, not of the hope against all hope called 'estel', the hope that I needed but was unable to grasp, because it was too high up in the heavens for me, whose road curved downward. How could he know that it was too late, that I had yielded to my brother, and that tonight would see our final descent into lasting darkness. 'You go on my behalf, senya. Cross the Sea for me. Watch the wonders I counted for naught when I was young, and unlike you a fool who chose wrongly.'
The hissing sound of his sudden intake of breath met my ears. 'What makes you think I will make the right choice?' The vehemence in his voice was that of one who is battling doubt.
'Of what choice do you speak?' I asked, astonished.
Now it was his turn to hesitate. 'The choice what to do with my... life.' The way he said it, the word could just as well have been death. But fool that I still was, even then, I did not see his meaning. Around and above us, dusk was turning to gloom, and Gil-estel, the Star of Hope was slowly sailing towards the rim of the night. One I loved like a son was slipping away from me, yet I failed to understand, for was I not the one who would slip away soon? Blind and deaf - and by choice. 'Will you cross the Sea for me?' I repeated anxiously.
'Will you sing a song for me?' He averted his face.
That was when I mistakenly thought that he saw my meaning, that he knew what I tried to tell him without having the heart to say it in so many words.
'Yes,' I replied, 'but not here, for it will be for your ears alone - though if your brother were here, my song would be for him as well.'
'Have you no song entirely for me?' he asked. 'Though I am much like him, I am and will be my own man.'
And I, caught in the web of my own preoccupations, still failed to understand, musing only that I was unlike my brother and yet not my own. I pointed west. 'Of course I have, senya. Let us seek the shore; I would have the waves accompany me.'
The beach was deserted, and we sat down at the foot of an outcrop of rock that barred our view of the camp. We could pretend to be alone in the world, and I sang as if we were, for him and for myself: a song both hymn and dirge, filled with life for him and death for me, joy for him and sorrow for me, light for him and darkness for me. And the surf surged for him and crashed down for me and listening to my song he seemed enchanted, enraptured and carried away.
When I finished we sat for a while in silence, until he turned towards me, kissed me on the brow and rose. 'Thank you, atarinya,' he said before he walked away.
We shall never meet again.
How could I have known that he would take everything for himself: both life and death, joy and sorrow, light and even darkness? For he would choose mortality, the Gift and Doom of Man that was all of these; why did I have to be blind and deaf to the signs? He took all of my song for himself, leaving nothing for me. And now he is gone from the world.
But I am still here; against my expectations I was not killed that night, nor did I kill myself like my brother did - yet I am not truly alive, too empty to feel either joy or sorrow, wrapped in the quiet twilight of fading, and waiting to be unmade in the End.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.