Note: Inspired in large part by Ithilwen's beautiful and terrible Noldorlantë.
Eöl and Aredhel's relationship is difficult to read, and mine is only one of many possible interpretations, and only one part of the story. Since Eöl is depicted in this fic as a somewhat disturbed person, it would probably be best not to take his words completely at face value.
Great thanks to Nemis and Ithilwen for beta-reading!
In the Fire of the Sun
Chapter 1. Day
The javelin's tip was poisoned.
A simple sentence, a simple thing to say. The javelin's tip was poisoned. I repeat it in my mind, turn over the words. The javelin that pierced your shoulder, striking you to the ground. Poisoned. I hear myself say it in my own head, again and again. All I need is to say it out aloud, call the guards, speak it: "The javelin's tip was poisoned." And you will live, you will see the sun rise tomorrow, you will win.
If you love me, you would not have betrayed me.
White sunlight streams into the room from the single window high up in the wall, pooling onto the floor, forming a bright patch, framed by deep shadows. It lengthens slowly, inexorably, creeping ever eastwards, steadily, marking off the lines between the paving stones, one by one. Each inch of its movement brings you an inch closer to death.
The reflected glare from the white stones stings my eyes. Poisoned.
No. I will not speak. I will be silent. I cannot speak. All this must end: my love, my hate, my enchantment, my imprisonment. Everything. End. No More. And the only way I can end it, my Aredhel, is to kill you.
I thought I could at least deny you your pity. I thought I could at least deny you my son. At least die like a warrior in this accursed city. But you thwarted me, even my last attempt. As you have always done.
So now I sit here in this bare room, this cell, in a high tower of stone, your captive once more. Yet not entirely defeated, for the poison courses through your veins. You have saved our ungrateful child, but I no longer begrudge you this, for it is better this way, it is no longer he who matters. Oh Aredhel, my love, my life, my Noldorin bride, now I see it is you that I must kill. It is you. It has always been you. From the very beginning you. Forever and inescapably you.
Do you love me, Aredhel? If you do not, then why did you come to Nan Elmoth? Why did you come to me? If you do, then why did you scorn me and leave me? Why did you do this to me? How could you do this to me?
No, do not answer. Of course you would do this to me. You would betray me without a backward glance, because it is in your blood, it is what you are. You would kill me with no regrets at all, because it is what you did, you and your kin, at Alqualondë, at so many other places. And I knew. I have always known. That you were restless and ruthless, that this was the way of your people. I have always known. That nothing could hold you long, that you would leave me one day, and nothing I did to prevent it would be of any use at all. And I have always known that you distilled poison into our son's ears, drop by drop, tale by tale, making glory out of bloodshed, valour out of unjust pride. You found those ears ready and willing, for he is heartless, he takes after the Noldor, after you. Do not think that I did not know. Do not think that I did not hear all your words to him, for I heard you. I was hidden in the shadow of the moon, in the depth of the forest , where your cruel white blaze could not reach. I heard you.
Oh Aredhel, I should have killed you then, so that you would never leave.
The fiery sun in this stony place burns me. The javelin's tip. Poisoned. Like you poisoned our son. If I speak, then you will live. If I do not, then you will die, and so will I. The patch of light on the floor lengthens another inch.
Do you love me, Aredhel? If you love me, then why did you ruthlessly snatch away my world of stars, replacing it with your pale fire, and your deep black shadows? Why did you not let me be? Why did you invade my land, ensnare me in my own forest? I remember the first night you spent in Nan Elmoth, that moonless night. You slept exhausted in a clearing in the woods, bathed in starlight, for you could not find the way out. And I stole into the glade and looked upon you, drawn like a moth to your silvery flame. You were shivering a little in your dreams, in the breeze; the edge of your white dress fluttered. I should have killed you then, so that I could be free, but under the stars you looked almost innocent.
Even now I am still so weak as to turn these words over in my mind, imagining myself speaking them to the guards, to your brother. The javelin's tip was poisoned. But I will say nothing. I will be silent.
They say that I ensnared and seduced you, but the truth is the other way around, just the opposite. It was you who seduced me. It was you who never let me go. It was you. It has always been you. From the first moment you. Hopelessly you. Even now, you have pulled me along helplessly in your wake, uprooting me from my forest, into your city of stone. Where I sit in a cell staring at a square of white light on the ground, and hear a single sentence repeated over and over again in my head. The javelin's tip was poisoned. The javelin's tip was poisoned. I will be silent.
If you do not love me, then why did you come to Middle-earth? Why did you return my embrace in the enchanted woods? In those woods we were first joined, husband and wife, in the midst of a raging thunderstorm, in the flailing rain. You put your arms around me, pulling me down. Oh Aredhel, I should have killed you then, so that I would possess you forever. But all I could see was the lightning reflected in your eyes.
The light in the room softens, turning from white to gold. The patch of sun on the floor lengthens. Each inch eastward is an inch closer to death. Each moment I spend in silence is a moment closer to death. Poisoned. The javelin's tip. I know this, for mine were the hands that steeped it in poison.
For in our embraces I have felt your passion meeting mine, engulfing me in flames, setting me ablaze. How could you not love me? How could you love me? I have felt your pride and your scorn lashing me like firebrands every day. Every day you struggled against me, against everything I wished to give you, everything I have! I am your husband, Aredhel! But I see now, oh I do see, I understand now. Your passion and your pride: they are one and the same. What you are. Passionate. Proud. Pitiless. In your blood. That is why you came over the Ice to Middle-earth, to me and away from me. That is why you betrayed your kin and mine by the shores of Alqualondë. That is why you betrayed me.
Oh my beautiful Aredhel, I should have killed you the first moment I laid eyes upon you, to avenge my people.
The room darkens, twilight has come. Only a last reflected sliver of light remains on the eastern wall, its fire now dim. Do you love me, Aredhel?
And I will never learn the answer, because the javelin's tip was poisoned. But the light no longer hurts my eyes. Despite everything, I have made it end. You will never betray me again. For you see, Aredhel, my love, my wife and enemy, slayer of my kin, here in your city of stone, in your prison, I have finally found the strength to triumph over you.
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.