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LET THE SONGBIRD SING: 7. A Tenuous Hold
- A TENUOUS HOLD
In the year 150, during the long siege of Angband, Maglor perceived that things had settled in the north into an uneasy sort of peace. He spoke to Maedhros about his feelings of restlessness and unease that he had left Daeron for too long without knowledge of his safety and whereabouts. The brothers stood together in a cold stone room of Maedhros' fortress. The sound of water could be heard dripping onto the floor somewhere nearby, no doubt coming from a fissure in the wall. Many cracks had appeared over the years when Morgoth created the earthquakes and volcanoes to rock the land.
"Have you not forgotten him by now?" Maedhros asked his brother rudely. He was feeling edgy, kept too busy and going many nights without sleep as he planned and strategized with Fingon on how best to hold Morgoth's armies at bay.
"No, I have not forgotten him!" Maglor shouted. "I am shocked and affronted by that question, Maitimo! How would you feel if you were in my place and Findekáno in Daeron's, and you had not seen each other for more than one hundred years? Would your love diminish, or would you believe that because he is your one true soulmate your love could last conceivably forever without sight or knowledge of each other?"
Maedhros then looked chagrined as he gazed at his brother in shame. "I am sorry I spoke so cruelly," he said. "But at this moment I am worried about the enemy's plans. There has not been much news from our scouts lately, but I sense that something is afoot in the north, and Findekáno has gone back to Hithlum. I worry for him as he travels on that journey. I advise you to wait a while, and if nothing happens within the next few months, then you can go."
It turned out that Maedhros was right to wait. Morgoth became active once again, and sent a host of Orcs to retrace the trails that Fingolfin had used when he came from the Helcaraxë, in an attempt to attack and occupy Hithlum. Fingon, however, had discovered the impending attack as he was returning to his home and with his own army he attacked Morgoth's forces with ferocious strength before they had reached his father's stronghold. He drove them westward to the sea, forcing them over the cliffs where they perished in the cold waters off Lammoth.
After that, Maedhros was shaken by the realization that Fingon could have been killed if the battle had turned against him. There had been no time to call other forces to his aid, and he and his men had fought the Orcs alone. That realization caused Maedhros to summon Maglor and tell him to go to Doriath and seek Daeron once again.
"You may go now while things are quiet here, or you may wait to be sure that our homes will be free from harm before you go, but I would advise you now to go and seek him, if you truly believe that to be with him is your destiny. I will tell you this, brother, that if I had lost Findekáno in his latest battle, I know not how I would face the remaining years left to me, no matter how many or how few. Go, brother, stay long, and I hope to see you again in a few years' time."
Now, on his first visit back to Doriath after one hundred and five years, Maglor came into the forested realm as if it were a new discovery to him. He found the River Celon, although the shape of the lands surrounding it had changed. There was much new growth of trees, and the river had grown wider and deeper, and Maglor had trouble finding Beleg's cabin. It had become overgrown with vines and overshadowed by the ever-growing trees of Doriath. Had he not been spotted by the wardens on the outskirts of the forest, he may not have found it.
"Hail, stranger." Maglor heard the voice of the warden before he saw him, and this Elf dropped suddenly from a talan to land in front of Maglor on the path. "Where are you headed?"
Maglor stared hard at the warrior standing before him. "Mablung?" he asked, pleased to see his old friend.
"Stars preserve us! You cannot be Maglor Fëanorion!" cried Mablung, peering at the tall, dark Elf with the severe countenance who stood before him. The two then broke into huge grins and embraced each other warmly.
"How long has it been since you were last here?" asked Mablung, tears of joy in his eyes.
"Too long," said Maglor. "Tell me of Daeron. How does he fare since my last visit?" Maglor was almost breathless with impatience to see his lover.
"He is well," replied Mablung. "Very well. He rarely ventures outside of the court these days, however. He has been occupying himself mostly with his songwriting and singing. I must tell you, Maglor that he has composed some of the best music that I have heard during these past years. You must ask him to sing and play for you."
Maglor was almost overcome with longing to see his lover once again, and clutched at his sword-hilt with white knuckles while shifting his weight from foot to foot as they talked. "Please, Mablung, would you do an old friend a great service and go to fetch him here? If it is all right with you, I shall await him in Beleg's cabin. And how is Beleg? Is he within?" Maglor spoke rapidly in his anxiety.
"I shall be pleased to fetch Daeron for you," replied Mablung. "And Beleg is well. He is here. He has not been traveling abroad as much these days, and he may be at home as we speak. Come. Let us go to the cabin and see." Mablung led an anxious Maglor back towards Beleg's house.
Beleg was indeed home, and he welcomed Maglor inside. The two warriors talked of various battles they each had fought and compared different defence strategies while Mablung sought out Daeron. When he reached Thingol's halls, Mablung found Daeron in the company of Lúthien. They sat in the great hall, Daeron with a harp upon his lap, and Lúthien listened intently to a sweet song that he sang and played for her. Both he and she appeared enraptured by each other, and Mablung felt a measure of sorrow for Maglor. It seemed Daeron had put that old relationship with the Goldin prince behind him and had embarked on a new one with Lúthien. Daeron had spent many hours in Mablung's company, lamenting the perceived loss of Maglor. He had been heartbroken for years and Mablung had soothed him back to a normal emotional state, and Lúthien had certainly helped also, giving him her friendship when he needed it most. Mablung took a deep breath, approached the two, and cleared his throat.
"Excuse me," he said quietly. Daeron and Lúthien both turned their heads toward him. Lúthien's expression was one of affectionate amusement, but Daeron looked almost dazed by her beauty. "My lady Lúthien, it is a pleasure to see you on such a lovely day," said Mablung. "Please excuse my interruption of your meeting. But friend Daeron, may I please speak with you a moment?" Daeron's expression changed to one of curiosity. He put down his harp, stood, and reached down to pick up Lúthien's hand to place a kiss. Then he walked swiftly toward Mablung.
"What is it, my friend?" he asked, his eyes wide with curiosity and his eyebrows raised in anticipation.
"Are you able to come with me now to Beleg's cabin?" Mablung asked softly but with an urgent tone in his voice. "I will explain on the way why I ask this of you now."
The tone of Mablung's voice, which was one of breathless urgency, made Daeron's stomach lurch. A feeling of dread had arisen in his gut. "What is it? Is it something terrible?" he asked. "Why do you speak with such urgency?"
"No, it is good news I bring, not bad, I promise you," Mablung replied. "Please come, Daeron. Come. Be quick. I shall tell you what it is when we are out of earshot of the King's halls. We shall go to the stables for horses, and ride fast to the cabin."
After the two had saddled their horses, Mablung suggested that they ride only for a few miles before dismounting so that he could explain before they reached their destination why he had rushed Daeron away from Lúthien. After galloping through the thick forest on dark paths, and when they had stopped and were standing on the roadway, Mablung took Daeron's hands in his. "I have news for you," he said, while Daeron's eyes grew wide with trepidation. "I have news of an old friend."
This meant only one thing to Daeron. "Is it Maglor?" he asked, his throat becoming dry and his voice faltering. "Is he – is he harmed? Is he alive?"
Mablung laughed and enveloped Daeron in a hug. "Oh, Daeron, do not look so worried!" He laughed, and then released him. "He is here," he said.
Daeron, startled, took a step back. His knees grew weak, almost making him stumble as he clutched at his horse's dangling reins. "Here?" he asked in wonder.
"Yes. He waits for you in Beleg's cabin," said Mablung. "Do you not wish to see him?"
Daeron was stunned and could only stand still a few minutes. Then a look of distress crossed his face and he covered it with his hands and began to sob. "Where has he been?" he cried when he could speak. "Why has he waited so long to come?"
Mablung took him by the hand. "Come," he said softly. "You can ask him that question yourself when you see him." He helped Daeron to climb back up onto his mount.
The two Elves galloped on toward the forest's edge. When they finally reached the cabin at daylight's end, Mablung said, "Please tell Beleg to come outside, and we will leave you and Maglor alone for the rest of the night. He and I can stay on my talan."
"I would advise you to stay here," said Daeron, wiping tears away from his face as he stood before the house. "It may be that I shall be coming right back out again."
Mablung smiled at that statement. "We shall see," he said. "Go now, and reacquaint yourself with your prince."
Daeron slowly climbed the steps and knocked hesitantly on the front door. Presently, Beleg came out, grinned at Daeron, and joined Mablung on the path. Daeron stepped into the cabin.
The sight that greeted him was the back of Maglor's head as he sat upon the sofa before the fire. The room was warm from a new fire raging in the grate. Light from Beleg's few candles lit the room, but there were long shadows cast in the early evening as the sky became dark. Little of the remaining sunlight came in through the windows. Daeron stood just inside the door and stared at the back of the once-familiar head. Maglor's hair was the shade of black shot with red highlights that Daeron remembered stroking with loving hands. It was braided into one long plait down his back. Daeron could not see how long his hair had grown, as the end of the plait was hidden. Tears began again to stream down Daeron's face; he could not control his emotions as he took a few hesitant steps forward.
"Maglor?" he asked plaintively, his musical voice breaking upon the name. The Noldo stood up slowly and turned to look at Daeron. He was tall, very tall. Daeron had forgotten how tall he was. He looked well. He was heavily muscled now, possessing a true soldier's body. Daeron could not see his face clearly for his own tears and the shadows in the room, and over the distance between them. He raised trembling hands to his face and hastily tried to wipe his eyes to better see Maglor. Then the tall Noldo came from behind the sofa and moved swiftly toward him.
When Maglor came to a stop before him, Daeron looked up and stared long into his beloved's face. It was as familiar to him as if the last time he had seen him had been yesterday, and yet seeing it anew like this after so many years, Daeron could appreciate the Noldo's beauty even more. Maglor's dark grey eyes flashed at Daeron with a look of intense affection and longing. His lips twitched as if he did not know what to say. His expression was one of profound loss and sorrow, but mixed with joy as well. He raised a hand and placed it tenderly against Daeron's cheek, and brushed away the wet drops that clung to his soft, smooth skin. Then he spoke in a familiar deep baritone voice; it was like dark velvet, Daeron thought.
"My beautiful Daeron," he whispered. "How I have longed to see your face again." He smiled joyfully. "Please do not tell me that you are angry with me and hate me for not keeping our last appointment."
Daeron's expression immediately changed to one of anger. He launched himself at Maglor's chest, peppering it with punches before clutching at Maglor's heavy robes. "Yes, I am angry!" he screamed and cursed. "You know not what you did to me, you damned lying, treacherous villain! I knew not whether you were dead or maimed, nor the reason why you would let me wait in agony for more than a hundred years wondering what had become of you!"
Maglor let Daeron rage on for several minutes before he clasped the Sinda's two arms in his strong hands and pulled him close. The minstrel's blows had not hurt Maglor in the least, and he had welcomed the onslaught, feeling that he deserved it for having betrayed his lover's trust. He clasped his hands around Daeron's slender back.
"Daeron," he whispered, his eyes veiled by his dark lashes as he gazed intently at the smaller Elf. "I never stopped loving you all these long years. I wanted to come yet could not, and I hoped every day that you still loved me."
Daeron whimpered and reached up with a shaking hand to stroke Maglor's wide, unlined forehead. "Yes, you stupid Elf. Yes, I do still love you." His voice was choked by sobs.
Maglor leaned down and kissed Daeron passionately on the mouth, letting his senses be filled again with the familiar scent and feel of his beautiful Sindarin minstrel.
The sensuous kiss had lasted several minutes, and Maglor became greatly aroused. He nibbled Daeron's ear and growled, "Come to bed with me now." His tone was urgent, desperate and needy.
"No," said Daeron.
"You have never said 'no' to me before," whispered Maglor with breath like hot wisps of steam against Daeron's sensitive lobe, causing his arousal to rage with desire. Maglor's hand slid swiftly down Daeron's stomach to lie against the hard bulge in his trousers, and he rubbed this with needy, exploring fingers. Daeron unsuccessfully tried to stifle a moan.
"N-n-nooo---Maglor----," he whispered.
"Come to bed," Maglor hissed while he fervently massaged the desirable appendage that he longed to possess with his mouth.
"You hurt me," whispered Daeron.
"I will make it better," Maglor replied. He licked the front of Daeron's neck, pausing over his larynx where he relished the vibrations coming from that most beautiful of voices. His one hand held Daeron to him by the small of his back, while the other began to undo the minstrel's clothing.
"Ai – no – Maglor – I am not ready," he cried.
Maglor dropped to his knees and swiftly untied the front of Daeron's trousers to release his hard arousal. "You look ready to me," he said before he took the evidence into his greedy mouth.
Daeron gasped and supported himself by putting his hands on Maglor's shoulders. He shuddered violently under Maglor's caresses and unsuccessfully tried to bite back a series of moans. Then Maglor grasped him around the knees and lifted him up, letting the top half of Daeron's body drape over his back. Carrying him into Beleg's bedroom, Maglor ascended the steps to the bed and set him down.
"Maglor, I told you no!" cried Daeron. Maglor sat beside him to undo his clothing. "Stop!" cried Daeron, but he lay lax and allowed Maglor to pull off everything he wore. When he was naked and trembling atop the bed, Daeron said, "I am not going to make love to you, nor let you do the same to me."
Maglor let his lascivious gaze wander over all of Daeron's body. "Gods, I had forgotten how beautiful you are," he said. My body burns as I yearn to master yours once again." He stood and began to undress, first removing his outer robe to reveal his splendid warrior's form in a plain but elegantly tailored shirt with red sash worn over tight black leggings and high leather boots. He removed the shirt and sash.
"I am not going to look at you," said Daeron, his chest heaving with desire. He watched closely as Maglor kicked off his boots and lowered his leggings. He stifled a gasp as he noted the changes in Maglor's physique. The Noldo was heavily muscled now, powerfully built, and had battle scars not yet faded on his otherwise smooth skin. Daeron reached out to touch them.
"You have suffered many wounds," he said in a sad voice.
Maglor sighed. "Now do you see why I could not come to you, even though I desired it more than anything in life? I needed to be there in Lothlann, helping to protect those lands, and ultimately yours, from Morgoth's assaults. I have my own army to maintain. This was indeed the first opportunity for me to get away. But now we may have several more years of peace. I shall be able to stay with you a long time."
"Oh my love," Daeron sighed. "I am sorry to have doubted you." He put his arms around Maglor's chest and pulled himself up to press against him. "But it was agony to be separated from you for so long." He kissed the top of Maglor's shoulder.
"Let us enjoy all the time we have together," Maglor said gravely, "because once I go back, it may be many years again before I will be able to return. But promise that you will always wait for me." He turned to gaze into Daeron's eyes as he stroked the side of his lover's face.
"I will always wait for you," sighed Daeron, and he reached up to claim Maglor's lips in a passionate kiss.
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