"You knew. You knew from the beginning."
Yes. I knew. From the beginning. I have always known.
"You knew, all this time, that the javelin's tip was poisoned. And you said nothing. You murdered her," he growls low through gritted teeth, trembling with fury, his eyes stormy with hatred. "Murderer. You murdered her."
I meet your brother's eyes. He calls me a murderer! What can he possibly understand? And of course there is no need to explain, no need for him to understand.
"So you now know how it feels, to see your kin die at another Elf's hands?" I ask simply.
His eyes go cold, and he takes a step back. Despite my aching heart, despite everything, I find myself smiling, just a little, as my taunt strikes its mark. So I can still be defiant. It is not much, my defiance, but it is the only thing left to me now.
The only thing except you, Aredhel.
You love me. You torture me.
Is this my triumph, then, or have I finally lost? I do not know, it is no longer possible to know. I have killed a high and proud princess of the Noldor, in vengeance, in defense of my world and my being. I have killed you, who love me. Is this victory or defeat? I am condemned; your brother believes it is justice for you, but the truth is not so, just the opposite. No, not justice, for I acknowledge not your justice; I care nothing for your laws. I feel only rage in this city of stone; before your brother I am still unbowed. I am condemned, not by him but by you. You. Everywhere and forever you. Even in death you. A forgone conclusion from the first moment I laid eyes upon you. Is this victory? Is this defeat?
Dawn is coming, putting the stars to flight, turning the eastern sky silvery white, dyeing it red with blood. With the new day comes new pain, for I feel you in its light. I feel your presence about me like a liquid fire; I feel your eyes burning me, I hear your voice crying to me. Are you here, Aredhel? Why do you linger here beside me, why do you remain now, when you refused to remain beside me before? Is it to torment me or to comfort me? Or am I only
imagining you here with me? Is it because you love me?
Oh you love me, Aredhel. You love me enough to plead for me at your own death, enough to bear my child in the starlit woods. Enough to condemn me. Enough to turn my victory to ashes, if I indeed ever had any victory at all. Oh Aredhel, why? Why did you not love me enough to abide by me?
You love me. You torture me with your love. Even in death you do not let me go. No, we are husband and wife, after all, bound for all eternity. Hating you does not change it; killing you does not change it. You will never let me go.
The sun is rising. The Noldorin city shines bright, its spires glittering like edges of swords. My son stands in the early light, beside your brother, already acknowledging him as king. In his heartlessness he takes after you. Does he not feel your presence? Flanked by guards, I begin my walk up the mountainside. My son follows us without a word.
"Cousin Maeglin?" A voice calls out, troubled and questioning. It is your brother's daughter.
My son stops, turning to her. "I will see my mother avenged," he replies, his voice cold and expressionless, but his face betrays a flash of emotion as his eyes meet hers. My faithless child is also weak, seduced at a glance by a daughter of the Noldor. In this weakness he takes after me. Does he not see that this is the city of the enemy? Does he not see my example before him?
She stands for a moment, hesitating, then runs to catch up with us. To the mountains, then, to the sheer walls of the city. You are with me now, tearing at me, embracing me, leading me to the high rocky cliffs. Are you here to see yourself avenged, Aredhel? Are you here to catch me as I fall? Are you here only in my imagination? Are you here to take my soul onwards, beyond?
The sun rises over the distant mountain peaks, illuminating the black cliffs, setting the city aflame. My son stands in silence. Yet I see now, I believe that he will avenge me, however unwillingly, treachrously.
"So you forsake your father and his kin, ill-gotten son! Here shall you fail of all your hopes, and here may you yet die the same death as I!"
He is silent, saying nothing. So all I have left now is you, my Aredhel, your torment and your love. Yet my voice is strong and proud, fearing no death. Have I lost? Have I won?
Am I utterly vanquished, or have I gained something of a victory, in the midst of my defeat? Does it matter? For you are my wife, after all. Bound for eternity. Even now you are with me. And you love me. You love me. All your brother's armies cannot change it. All your Lords of the West cannot change it. Your death and mine cannot change it. I will never let you go.
I stand at the edge of the precipice, the abyss beneath me, your voice all about me, the new sun before me. It rises blinding and white, cruel as knives, radiant as you.
For the first time in my life, I look defiantly and directly into the sun.
For the first time in my life, I find it beautiful.
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.