Not for her
Fire is a remarkable thing. As a child I could sit and watch a single flame burn upon its wicker for hours. It amazed me, the way it licked at the wax of the candle, how it burned all it touched. It could be calm, flickering shadows upon the walls. It could be providing with its light and warmth and had a sense of love and compassion. Fire was beautiful, far beautiful than many things I had ever seen. It was beautiful and yet it was dangerous with the potential to burn, burn all it touched and keep burning, spreading and devouring all in its way.
But though fire is a strong and intense thing there was one thing that amazed me ever so more as a child. It could not exist without air.
Without air, there can be no fire. One can have a candle and a wicker, but without air, there can be no flame.
Air too is a remarkable thing. It is all around us. It is one of the most important substances upon Arda, for without air we cannot breathe. Air is life-giving to every living thing. It cannot be seen but it can be felt, sensed. Air too is beautiful, in many ways, many which we take for granted so much.
She was beautiful. She was beautiful in other ways, beyond her physical attractiveness. Like air, I too took her for granted, not fully realising how much she sustained me. Only after I lost my wife did I truly see how important she was to me, not only she, but how important family was.
She was like that air, the oxygen which sustained the fire within me, kept it burning and alight, despite the heavy draughts of life which threatened to blow me away. She was that and so much more.
I watch your son and I see that she was the oxygen that kept his flame alight also. He is young and so much an image of her face, yet in his silence I see he is somewhat of same mood as you, though I think after this he would want to be far from you, even if you are his father.
Your wife is dead. Greatest sympathies I send to you, on behalf of all of Gondolin, nay not only Gondolin, on behalf of all the Noldor, that you should have to suffer such. Most saddened must you be Eöl, Dark Elf of Nan Elmoth, for no longer do you have a wife to have and to hold. A wife you have no longer for you to love in your deep, dark woods, for you to have more children with. No wife for you to show your new works to No wife have you to keep sundered from her kindred, to keep her sundered from traditions and customs she has known since birth, to keep her sundered from the sun and all else she loves.
I think it should be me who must tell you such grievous news.
“Idril,” I saw softly to my daughter. She too is here in the room sitting close to the bed where your wife, my sister, lies cold and pale--dead.
She turns her golden head and looks at me. There are tears in her eyes, glistening in the candlelight and a few rolling down her cheek.
Gently I wipe those tears away with my hand.
“I shall be back.”
My daughter struggles a smile and nods, looking back to the dead woman in the bed, the dead woman I used to love for her life.
I look to your son. He is silent as he sits watching the dead woman, sitting and watching without movement or word. So still he is, that if he were lying, perhaps he could look like the dead woman he watches.
My hand rests lightly upon his shoulder but he makes no movement.
“Lomion. I go to speak to your father,” I whisper.
I kiss Idril upon the head, looking to the dead woman a last time, and walk out of the room to tell you.
Your wife is dead.
I wonder how I am to tell you. Need I tell you though? Do you already know? Is your love for her and her love for you so great that you know already she is dead? Did you feel it the second her fёa departed from her body, just the way I did when it happened to my wife? Did you see through her eyes as she travelled to Mandos, did you feel her whispering her last goodbyes to you before she passed over the seas? Is this how you know her to be dead? Or is it because it was you who killed her that you know she is dead?
My sister is dead.
Perhaps Eöl you know what it is to feel such an intense anger for a person or a thing. You think or look at it and you feel the very blood in your veins boil, bubble and gurgle. There is a gnawing inside of you and there are voices inside your mind. Memories of events which never occurred arise in your mind and you think them to be true.
This anger you might have felt when you found your wife and son gone, upon arriving back to your house.
I open the door to the dungeon where you are and look upon you.
That feeling of intense hatred is what I feel when I see your face.
You are chained to the wall by shackles at your wrists and ankles, put there because of your resistance against the guard who brought you here. You look up from the floor to me. Your eyes are piercing, just as Lomion’s.
You look up from the floor to me and a smile comes to your lips, small, mocking, sneering and scornful.
Your wife is dead…and you know it.
I take another step into the room and your small smile yet spreads so your eyes glimmer maliciously in the darkness.
Your wife is dead, Eöl, and you smile.
Fingon the Valiant, High-King of the Noldor in Exile, Finrod Felagund, Orodreth, Aegnor and Angrod, sons of Arafinwё, Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin and Amrod and Amras, sons of Fёanor. Can you imagine all these Noldor princes and kings of their own realms Eöl? Can you imagine what would become of you were they all here to see you? They all loved your wife dearly. I doubt you would smile if you saw their faces when they hear news of her death.
Yet perhaps I alone could relieve you of that smile.
Without a word my fist meets by chance with the side of your face with inexplicable force.
The smile does vanish from your face and quickly. You glare up at me.
“Compliments from the sons of Finwё,” I say to you, somewhat quietly, but the menace unconcealed.
I find myself pacing up and down in front of you, for it is all I can do in my silent fury.
“My King, I beg you, no matter what should happen to me ere the sun rises this morn, do not slay Eöl who is my husband and the father of my child. Remember that he too is your brother now by marriage and to kill him would be to do kinslay again. For the sake of your sister, till the unmaking of Arda, keep him in your dungeons as prisoner and law breaker or if you will, release him back to his smithy in Nan Elmoth, but I beg this only of you, to slay him not and let not his hands come upon my son.”
Do not kill you Eöl, Dark Elf? How can I not? After this second and most wounding pain you have borne me, how can I find the will within myself to keep you alive? Surely were I to keep you alive, I would be begging for another wound. Yea I would be, but I have promised her, your wife, the dead woman in the bed. I have promised her that you shall not be slain and I have promised to hold to that promise as one may hold to an oath. I have promised and I am not one to break promises made, yet how can I do as she asks of me?
“How is my wife?”
I turn and look at you. Your voice is mocking to my ears and I see by the glimmer in your eyes what your intent is.
You strike your mark perfectly.
Before I can control myself or think of my actions I have already drawn my sword upon you and I hold it to your neck.
I am not normally one to be so rash in action, but my hate and anger for you is too great to deny the want within me to kill you.
“You do not deserve to name her your wife,” I growl to you.
“Nay, she did not deserve to be named my wife.”
The edge of my blade is sharp and it cuts a narrow stream at the side of your neck. Red liquid seeps over and dribbles down the blade and your neck.
She did not deserve to be named my wife. Is that so Eöl? Then why is it you suffered to take her to your home?
“Speak carefully, lord of carrion, ere my hand by chance slips and my sword beheads you,” I whisper through gritted teeth.
Why your wife and my daughter begged mercy from me, on your behalf before, I do not know. But they are not here to beg mercy for you know Dark Elf. I am not one who is quick to anger, yet when I am, I am more fell than many would think me to be. I am tolerant, but for you no longer do I hold any tolerance, nor any mercy.
Though I hold you at my swords edge, still you look to me and the blade mockingly, challengingly. You know I have promised not to harm you. You know and you stare at me challengingly, egging me to break the promise I made to her upon her deathbed.
Do you want me to kill you Dark Elf? Do you want me to forsake my promise and give into my instincts? Do you want me to strip you of what little you have, take your son as my own and teach him all our ways, have him grow to be a true Noldo and disown any heritage taken from you? Do you want me to have you killed before all of Gondolin as a criminal, a slayer of our kinswoman and the snatcher of our princess?
I look into your eyes, dark, malicious and challenging.
And yes, how I would gladly disown this promise I have made, which I knew I would rue as soon as I had let those words spill from my lips. How sweet revenge would be, to see he who has stolen from me one of the only women whom I love, dying before me, begging himself for my mercy. My mighty sword would gleam red in the torchlight with your blood and the death of my beloved would be avenged.
Fingon would do it. The sons of Fёanor would gladly slaughter you to avenge the death of their High Princess. Oh, how Caranthir the Dark and Curufin the Crafty, most malicious of Fёanor’s sons, would revel at the chance to slaughter you, did they know what you have done. Many of the Noldor would see to it that your head be dislodged from your body. So why should I not kill you? None know of my promise and the one whom I made it to is now dead. Turgon the Wise I am called among the Noldor and to me now, wise it seems to have your death come about. Yea, very wise.
You grit your teeth as in my musing I slide the blade of my sword along the crevice I have cut in your neck. The sting of the silver blade which was wrought in the Blessed Realm is irritating for you, I see, not so much painful, but annoying and gnawing, like a fly in the night. My sword is light and I feel in small vibrations the blade cut every fibre as I slide it along the crevice, deepening it, slicing your skin and letting the blood trickle down my sword, like sap from a bleeding tree.
“Tell me Dark Elf, why I should save your life,” I say softly.
My eyes are not looking to yours, but they are settled at the crevice I ever so slowly slice deeper with each time I run the blade back and forth, severing one fibre at a time, letting you feel the full sting and annoyance. It would only take a little more strength for me to sever your whole neck within few seconds.
The blood slowly trickles down my blade, only a little which has managed to seep past the sharp, keen edge. How your blood glistens already in the torchlight, redder than the rubies of Eldamar or the jewelled fruit off a tree, wet and warm. Perhaps I could have you die with a poison as well, have you suffer the same slow, unbearing death she suffered.
You never saw how your wife died, did you Dark Elf. She was in pain, you know? Her pain was excruciating and yet she still thought of you, thought to save your life, despite that you were her slayer. In her suffering she told me not to harm you and yet here I am musing over how I should kill you.
But now you set this challenge before me, Dark Elf, asking if I would break this promise that you know I have made.
You knew how she loved you, did you not? If not you would not be looking at me this way. You would have me kill you and rue that I broke my promise, live in guilt and bitterness. You flaunt in my face the title as her husband and dare me to kill you. Kill you with my sword, my bare hands. Kill you myself and kill her promise, kill that memory of her within me, kill how she looked at me, placing her trust in my arms, surrendering her life, only because she had faith in me. Kill her last words.
And should I? Should I betray her and her promise?
I look up to your eyes, for you have not answered my question.
You are staring, but not at me. Your gaze reaches past my shoulder deep into the shadows behind me.
I turn my head and find Lomion standing there, watching every movement I make.
Did you ever love her Dark Elf? At least in the slightest bit, did you ever truly love her? She was beautiful wasn’t she? That was no doubt the reason why you held her captive in the first place, for her beauty. Did you think it to be fun to hold a High Princess for your own, to have her shun sunlight and her kin, to enjoy the sweet taste of her lips night after night? Did you think that she was no more than a woman and would never even dream of deserting you?
She was far more than what you would have thought of her at a first glance, I am sure you would have learned that well enough in your years together. She was perhaps more treacherous than even you are, but there was something more that she had that made her stronger, which you did not have.
She had love.
She had love for me, for her people. You stole her and in time she loved you. She loved you in your darkness, she loved you and your dark ways.
And now here in my midst stands the spawn of all ill things that had befallen after that day I set the bird free from the rainforest. Here stands the offspring of your seed, your lust, your darkness, your evil.
Here he stands and he is beautiful, far beautiful to possibly be from you, to be of your blood and your bone. He is not your son or the son of any Moriquendi. He is rather her son, of the royal line of Finwё, from the house of the Noldor in exile.
I look back to you.
And is he a reason why I should allow you to live? You are, after all his father.
‘…slay him not and let not his hands come upon my son.”
At least the last part of my promise I shall hold to her.
He needs you not, Dark Elf. Lomion needs nothing from you anymore. He has all his family here now in Gondolin. Here he will find all that he needs, all that he wants and no more will he need you as a father.
He is not a Sinda. He is a Noldo, my sister-son. I will name him the heir to my kingdom and I will treat him as my own son. He will grow to be a great, wise Lord of the Noldor, the same whom you despise so much and who despises you.
Yea, at least in part shall I hold my promise, for I shall take care of the dead woman’s child, your child. But you Dark Elf, you shall not live to see the next setting of the sun.
Ever so slowly, I let the blade of my sword free from the crevice of your skin and put it back in my scabbard, with your blood still upon it.
I look directly into your eyes and for the first time since she died, I smile. I smile to you, to myself, to the blood that drips down your neck. I smile at my foresight of what shall be.
“Come,” I say, my eyes looking dead into yours, with such precision that I am sure our black centres are aligned, “My son.” And with that I turn around and look to Maeglin, my smile dropping to a look of sombreness as I take him back outside your cell.
“Come, my son.”
This time it is I who hits the mark and as Maeglin walks before me out of the cell, looking back at you a last time before the door closes behind, I cannot help but let the edges of lips turn upwards with content. Your screams I hear in my ears and my heart beats to the rhythm of it, revelling in your anger that I have called your son mine and your knowledge that you will die, not the death of a warrior, but that of a murderer and that you will be forgotten, to me, to Gondolin, to your own son.
It is not for the love of my sister and for the safety of her son and my kingdom, that I kill you Dark Elf. It is for the sweetness of revenge.
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.