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LET THE SONGBIRD SING: 4. Leaving
Before daybreak the next morning, Maedhros and Fingon made their way silently to Maglor's tent through the dark camp. The soft sounds of sleeping Elves' breath was like the quiet rippling of the nearby lake. They were seeking privacy themselves before it became time to pack their belongings in preparation for the journey home.
Bending low, Maedhros flipped open the tent flap and crawled inside, followed closely by Fingon. But he stopped abruptly when he saw that Maglor and Daeron were sleeping together One of his brother's arms was wrapped around Daeron's waist, and Daeron's face was pressed into Maglor's hair.
Maedhros turned to Fingon and whispered, "Macalaurë and his Sindarin lover are in here. We cannot disturb them. We will have to come back later."
Fingon's face suddenly took on an expression of lascivious curiosity, although Maedhros could hardly see it in the moonlight. "No, let us go in! We can lie down and pretend to be sleeping!"
Maedhros looked shocked. "But why, love?" he asked.
"So that we can watch them if they awake and make love," Fingon replied. "Why do you think?" He could not suppress a leering laugh.
"I will do no such a thing to Macalaurë!" hissed Maedhros.
"Don't you want to see the Sinda in action?" asked Fingon. "I hear he is quite a little spitfire in bed."
Maedhros turned and pushed Fingon backwards out of the tent. He grabbed him by the collar of his cloak and dragged him out of earshot of Maglor. "Tell me where you heard this!" he cried, holding Fingon's face very close to his own. An angry light shone from his eyes. "I would not have my brother hear such slander."
"I was talking to the Sindarin warrior who accompanied Daeron here. Mablung," Fingon said firmly. "He tells me that our little minstrel is quite sought after in the Doriathren court. It seems that many Elves have been enchanted by his golden voice – both male and female – and by his pretty face. According to Mablung he has bedded quite a few of Elwë's nobles. Both male and female."
Maedhros let go of Fingon's collar and put his hand to his forehead. "What shall I do? I do not want Macalaurë to hear of this! Please promise me that you will not tell him, Findekáno. He is deeply in love with the little minstrel and I would not have him fall back into the melancholic condition he was in when we arrived. One of the many good things that has occurred here has been Macalaurë's falling in love with that Elf and his return to a somewhat normal level of happiness."
"Do not worry, my pet," Fingon replied warmly, placing a soothing touch on Maedhros's sleeve. "I shall not tell him. It is a good thing, perhaps, that we leave here today."
"Yes it is," Maedhros said grimly, rubbing his stump with his hand, "otherwise I may have had to give Mablung a good beating. But more importantly, if my brother will not be able to see his lover for many years, then there is slim chance that he will find out about Daeron's capriciousness." Fingon smiled and the two Elves slipped quietly in among the nearby dark trees so that they could spend some affectionate time together.
Later that afternoon, all of the participants and guests of the Mereth Aderthad had packed up their possessions. Some were preparing to leave, while others such as Fingolfin had already departed. Maglor and Daeron stood together forlornly beside Daeron's horse. Mablung sat astride his a few paces away, waiting for the two lovers to say their farewells. The morning was cool and crisp, and a breeze stirred Daeron's unbound hair, but Maglor's heavy dark braids remained as still as he.
Maglor, looking glum, stood stiff and unmoving. He was dressed entirely in black save for a pair of pale grey leggings, and the same soft grey colour was echoed in a trim of wolf's fur around the edges of his cloak. His face was paler than usual, an unearthly colour, strikingly terrifying in its whiteness. His lips were drawn and his hands were held inside his cloak so that he could hide their trembling.
Daeron was more relaxed, standing with one leg bent while he pack the last of his parchments into his saddlebag. He was taking all but one of the written songs home with him so that he could set them properly to music and then copy them out on new parchments. Maglor wanted to keep only one song. It was their first, "Hand in Hand." He said he wished to refine it at home and add some instrumentation to the finished piece.
"As I promised, I will bring the completed songs when we next meet," said Daeron, strapping up his bags. Then he turned to face Maglor and look him in the eyes.
"I want to come with you now," said Maglor in a voice as brittle with forlorn hope as the cold of a winter morning in Hithlum.
Daeron moved to stand next to Maglor. He placed his head upon the Noldo's chest, his arms entwined about Maglor's waist under the warm black cloak. He closed his eyes and listened to the sound of Maglor's heartbeat, and then began to hum an unusual tune.
"What are you doing?" Maglor asked in a soft whisper while stroking Daeron's hair.
"I am composing a new melody based on your unique body sounds," said Daeron. He sniffed and inhaled Maglor's essence. The scent made him think of cold granite and limestone cliffs and vast white-capped waters. "You make me think of the sea. I don't know why," he said, "but it will help me to compose the music for your song. You know that you cannot come with me," he said suddenly. "If King Thingol does not lift his ban on the Goldin as we hope he will do now that the Mereth Aderthad has been a success, then you and I shall have to wait and meet at our planned place and time. I will do everything in my power to be there as we agreed. If you do not see me there then wait for me, for I shall come."
"Yes," said Maglor, breathing only in short gasps, on the verge of collapsing into tears. "At Nan Elmoth where the River Celon passes on the northern edge of the forest. On the twenty-third of March, the Year of the Sun 22. Two long years from now."
Daeron nodded then and tried to speak but could not. He could only hug Maglor more tightly, his breath coming in short sobs, his face pressed to his lover's chest as Maglor's arms encircled him and held him close. Maglor's hands began to move frantically, caressing over Daeron's hair and down his back, tracing the outlines of his head, his face and his spine.
Finally, Maglor broke the embrace and kissed Daeron tenderly on the lips, as he had at their first tryst. Daeron stopped sobbing for a moment, returned the kiss and then resumed sobbing quietly. "I love you, my sweet heart," Maglor whispered tenderly.
"I love you more than anything," cried Daeron and he kissed Maglor again before turning away. Maglor suppressed an urge to cry out something ridiculous like "Don't go! Come with me!" But he said nothing as Daeron sprang lightly onto his horse. The two Elves' glances met and both gazes were full of longing. Then Daeron cast a determined look at Mablung and said, "We should be off". Then he and Mablung rode swiftly toward the southeast. Daeron looked back once after he had ridden about sixty yards and saw the tall, black-clad figure of Maglor still standing in the same spot, staring back at him.
After a few minutes, Maedhros rode up to Maglor with his brother's horse's reins in his one hand and said softly, "Come now, Macalaurë. Our men and Findekáno's men await us. We must hasten."
Maglor sighed, his breath a puff of wispy steam in the brisk air, and turned to mount his horse. He cast one more longing glance back to the two Sindarin Elves, now just two small figures on the plain below Ivrin, as they trotted toward the banks of the River Teiglin.
After they had traveled all day without speaking, Mablung and Daeron came to a halt at a wooded area beside the river to make camp for the night. They built a fire and cooked fish that Mablung caught. He asked Daeron to sing, as he thought it might improve the minstrel's spirits and Daeron agreed. He thought that if he could let out some of his emotion in a song, it might work to soothe the ache in his heart. He felt as if he were suffering from an open wound, so raw was his hurt when he thought of Maglor.
After they had retired to the tent that Mablung had pitched earlier, Daeron lay down fully clothed and covered himself with his blankets. But Mablung stripped off all of his clothes and stood naked before Daeron. The minstrel glanced up at him and asked, "What are you doing, Mablung?" His voice sounded fatigued.
"Do you not wish some comfort?" asked the warrior, and he knelt down beside Daeron, lifted the corner of the blankets and made to lie down.
"No! How can you think of doing this?" Daeron cried angrily, and he turned his back on his friend.
"I meant only to help you to feel better, thinking to take your mind away from your loss for tonight," said Mablung.
"I understand and I thank you for thinking to help me," said Daeron, "but what you suggest is wrong and it offends me. Think also of your professed love for your own companion, Beleg, back at home and waiting for you to return. I am sure that it would not sit well with him if you lay with me."
"I am not sure, actually, if Beleg would care," sighed Mablung. He moved to the opposite end of the tent where he tucked himself in under his own blankets.
"Is he not your lover?" asked Daeron, glad of the opportunity to talk about someone else.
"Sometimes," Mablung replied, "but I am unsure of his commitment."
"It is important to know," said Daeron. "If I had not found love here then I may have taken up your offer. But as it is…" he sighed as he spoke, "I have now committed myself to Maglor. Shall I sing a song to encourage you to sleep?"
"Yes, my friend, I would like that," the warrior replied, and he closed his eyes. Daeron then began to sing a gentle lullaby in a quiet, melodic voice. Soon the two Elves drifted off to sleep.
Maedhros and Maglor rode with Fingon as far as the foothills of the Ered Wethrin before stopping. "We shall leave you here," said Maedhros to his cousin, giving him a smile.
"Farewell, beloved cousin," called Fingon. He then turned his horse to follow his men toward a mountain pass that would lead them into Mithrim. The cousins all raised their hands in farewell, and Maedhros and Maglor trotted away due east, following the mountain range back through safe marches until they arrived at Maedhros' home in Himlad.
"We have far to go," remarked Maedhros. "We shall not be home for months."
"I do not mind," said Maglor. "A visit with some of our other cousins as we pass through their realms may help to take my thoughts away from he whom I have lost." He sighed heavily.
Maedhros sighed too, at the thought that his brother's melancholy may have returned.
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