I see you lying on the bed, your face drawn, eyes tightly shut. A rich coverlet is pulled over your chest; its deep russet hue makes you seem even paler. Your shoulder wound has been dressed and bound, skilfully but to no avail, for you are dying of the poison.
I see you in a vision or dream, myself unseen, a silent and disembodied spirit hovering above you. Above your deathbed. I see your black hair spilling over the pillows, spilling over the edge of the bed. Each one of your breaths comes laboured and slow, ragged with pain. Do you feel me, Aredhel?
If you love me, you would have sensed my presence.
Our son is kneeling by the bed, motionless, his dark head bowed, holding one of your hands in his. The scent of herbs fills the room. To no avail. The only light comes from scattered candles at the other end of the room, muted and flickering. Your light, too, is dimmed, flickering, about to be extinguished. It no longer blinds me, as I gaze down upon you.
So I have killed you, at long last. I have finally gained possession of you, gained a victory over you, for you will never hurt me or leave me again. You will never turn from me again, never be restless again, never betray me again.
Yet though my own hands were the ones that steeped the javelin in poison, it comes as a shock to me, to see you like this: surrounded by shadows, clouded by torments. Vanquished and dying. I never imagined that such a thing could be possible.
Oh Aredhel, if you love me you would have stayed by my side.
This is my victory over you. I have finally killed you, avenging my people and myself. It will end now. Never again. Yet I feel not nearly enough exultation, far too little triumph. Even while dying, you pull me irresistably, a shimmering pale flame, about to go out. Even now, I am so weak that I only wish to embrace you in my arms.
You are so beautiful even while dying, my Aredhel.
This is my victory over you.
A healer comes silently to the bedside, touching your forehead, taking your other hand for the pulse. It is not of much use now.
"I do not understand..." Our son's voice, forlorn and fearful. He is looking up now. Though he is treacherous and a fool, unworthy of me, I feel a slight twinge of pity for him. "It was only a little while ago that...it was only a flesh wound..."
"The javelin's tip was poisoned. We learned of it too late."
"You said that she would heal!"
My son's voice fills with panic. No, Aredhel, you will not heal. It is too late for that. Never again.
The door opens, and your brother enters, his yellow-haired daughter slipping in quietly after him. You stir a little on the bed, your breath catching. How is it, oh Aredhel my own wife, that you sense his presence but not mine?
Your Noldorin niece turns to Maeglin beside the bed, and touches him on the arm, barely. At that touch my son breaks into tears. In addition to being heartless he is weak as well, accepting the enemy's pity. Your brother reaches for your pale hand, lifts it slowly, bends his lips to it. I take some bitter satisfaction in his anguish.
With an effort you open your eyes, but those once so brilliant eyes see nothing, they are unfocused now, dark with pain, the pupils already dilated. You turn you head, very slighly, almost imperceptably, in Maeglin's direction.
"He shall be as a son to me, and as a brother to Idril," your brother answers, voice low, trying to reassure. "Have no fear, dearest little sister, try to become well..."
No! He is my son, and he shall not abide here in the city of my enemy! Even while dying, you wish to estrange my son, to take me from him! Not this place, not the murderers of my kin, never! He is my son!
Heedless of my voiceless cries, you close your eyes once more in relief, sinking back. A long moment passes, all is silent, except for the faint sound of your laboured breathing. "Brother..." finally you whisper, nearly inaudibly.
Again, though mine were the hands that brough this to pass, it comes as a shock to hear your voice. How much has it changed, in so short a time! Hoarse and constricted, each syllable is barely squeezed out, and you struggle in agony. "Brother..." you whisper, "my husband..."
"He will not escape justice," his voice is harsh now. "You will be avenged, for everything, everything that he did to you, everything that you endured from him."
Everything that you endured from me! Oh Aredhel, even while dying, you would be injust! You are the one who stole my stars, usurped my forest, my Middle-earth. You are the one who seduced me and ensnared me. You are the one who never let me go, Aredhel!
"No...my husband...do not harm him..."
My heart stops.
He is silent.
"It was not...he did not...promise me, do not harm him..."
Oh Aredhel, why? Can it be that you wish to imprison me here forever? Can it be that you wish to deny me even my death? Can it be that you love me?
Your brother is silent. He says nothing.
"Promise me!" Suddenly your eyes fly open, in this instant dimmed no longer, clouded no longer, but feverishly bright, fierce, more brilliant than ever, looking straight at me, through me, piercing me, transfixing me. Then with a terrible heaving gasp, you fall away from me. The room spins. I hear Maeglin cry out, see the healers rush forward, see your brother held back by his daughter. The room spins about me, dissolving--
You love me, Aredhel! You do love me after all! You love me!
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.