4. Chapter Three: The Truth.
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien´s.
Chapter Three: The Truth.
"Find the truth in lies,
("Thorn", by Blind Guardian, from "Nightfall in Middle Earth".
A week later, Eöl was back from Nogrod. As usual, he returned loaded with riches, such as heaps of gold, valuable jewellery, and other like payments that Dwarves gave him in exchange for the black galvorn fallen from the stars. These were things for which he had no use at all, being as he was isolated from the outside world and its trade relationships, but he treasured them nonetheless in his deep caves, after giving some to his wife and son as presents. This time, Aredhel got a gold necklace embellished with rubies, too heavy to be elegant, and "perhaps good for a stout, bearded Dwarf- maid", as she thought dismissively; while Maeglin received a collection of ornate daggers made in silver and steel.
At dinnertime, they sat at table together again. Eöl did not say a word about his journey, and nobody asked him, for they were used as well to his dislike for useless talking. Only when they rose he told Maeglin that he expected him to resume his work at the forge next day, before leaving with Aredhel by the hand.
" Oh, yes, of course he misses her." Eöl´s son found himself thinking with a sardonic smile, as they closed the door and he was left alone. It was really an irony. For all the time that Eöl had been away, he had tried to avoid Aredhel; now that his father was back, he wished desperately to be alone with her, to tell her something, to go there and...
Perhaps better not, his mind answered him. He knew what they were doing now.
But, why did he still want to? Why the need to... hear what he hated the most?
There was a self-destructive impulse motioning him to that door. He wanted to go, yet he wanted also to flee, into the forest maybe, if he could. What was the use of it? Why did he need to hear their lovemaking once again, to close his eyes and think about what would never happen, despairing one more time when he opened them?
But he was not able to resist any longer.
Minutes later, as Maeglin heard Aredhel´s moans, he could not help imagining that they were for him, and that she was embracing him and reaching her climax crying his name. His back was leaning against Eöl´s door, but he was aware no more of what he was doing. Maybe they heard him as well, for all he cared.
And then she came.
Crying nobody´s name.
When Maeglin opened his eyes and tried to wipe the sweat away from his fevered brow, alone again, he kept this seemingly unimportant fact in his mind, and wondered how he had not taken notice of it before.
Next day, Maeglin went to work at the forge again with his father and the other smiths. The requests made by the Dwarves had been so many that they were late already if they wanted to craft all those swords, axes, daggers, shields and armours for next year´s festival, when Eöl would have to bring them to Nogrod with him.
As a young boy, Maeglin had always been curious as to why his father needed to work so hard. It was only after hearing all that his mother told him about his grand-uncle Fëanor, that he had realised that Eöl simply loved his metalwork too much. The Dwarves were nothing but an excuse for him to lay hands on his treasured galvorn, and Maeglin had to admit it, the results were always worthy of his reputation. Even his mother, stubborn Aredhel, realised that her husband was better at the forging of weaponry than the Noldor, although, as she added immediately, "weapons were not everything".
Maybe because for Eöl they were.
Those idle thoughts crossed Maeglin´s mind while watching Eöl´s figure bend over the forge, with muscles in perfect tension and his movements careful and precise. The long whitish hair fell in disordered shreds on his back, and that face, half obscured by shadows, shone with a deep concentration that Maeglin himself was not experiencing, and never could have experienced in this place. For he knew, too, that he was never going to make with his own hands anything comparable to his father´s works. It was not a very difficult thing to predict, and he did not regret it much, for he never felt more than an occasional interest for them, and only dutifulness kept him working there, while for Eöl his crafts were his whole life.
And Aredhel his whole night, a bitter thought pressed his way past the others.
"You are careless". a voice behind his back hissed, startling him. Just in time, for the blade he was making had come near to being utterly spoiled.
"Thanks." Maeglin grumbled in return, as he corrected his mistake before Eöl could hear or see anything. He should stop thinking about his father, even for this kind of small matters. He should never think about his mother.
Especially about last night.
Maeglin hammered the blade to its full shape, and breathed heavily. He did not feel guilty for what he had done. If his father did not know what the word "decorum" meant- an invention of the Noldor, as he would have said-, and Aredhel had obviously forgotten it long time ago, how was he supposed to have learned to act otherwise? He had been hearing her cries since his early childhood, and he loathed them since then, the only moments in his life when he hated his mother. By the way, how strange that was.
He hated his mother, not his father.
Probably because it was she who cried.
"If you have finished, take the sword away from the fire."
"Ye...yes, of course, Father. I am sorry, Father."
Cursing himself for having surrendered at last to the most dangerous thread of thoughts, Maeglin did at once as he was ordered, so eagerly that he came close to burning his hands.
It seemed it was not his day at all.
But, why? Why did she never cry anybody´s name? That had stuck in his mind, seemingly for no purpose, but he was not able to discard it. Why had he never heard a word of love from his mother´s lips about her husband, and why then did she consent to make love with him again and again? When he was a child, sometimes he fancied he had laid a spell on her. Perhaps, it could be true.
All of a sudden, he was aware he had heard Eöl´s voice piercing his shattered thoughts.
Sure that this time he must have succeeded at last in angering him, Maeglin leaped to his side. But then, to his relief, he realised that it was not him his father was addressing now.
Aredhel, his mother, his only love had just arrived there, and she was standing in front of them.
"Well, you could be grateful for the drinks and food I bring to all of you." her clear voice rung in his ears. She was braiding her dark tresses distractedly with long fingers, and her breath was heavy. Maeglin immediately saw the reason for it; there was a great tray in the floor at her feet, with glasses full of water and juices for each one of them. "Eöl, I need somebody to help me with the rest. Surely there is at least one you could spare!"
Even before he himself knew what he was doing, Maeglin heard his own voice answering.
"I can go. I have finished with that sword, Father, may I?"
Eöl glanced sideways at him for a few moments, and he shrugged his shoulders.
"Yes, you may. To say the truth, you are not being very helpful today." he said, turning away as if the matter did not interest him anymore.
Aredhel only arched her eyebrows.
"What were you exactly doing?" she asked later, as they crossed the courtyard. "He did not seem very pleased with you."
"No, he was not."
Maeglin slowed his pace, and wiped the frozen sweat drops from his forehead with his hand. Having stepped from the heat of the forge into the chill of Nan Elmoth´s perpetual night, he felt numb and somewhat dizzy. "I was thinking too much."
"Thinking? Thinking about what?"
It was a simple question, asked by Aredhel as a clear consequence of what he had just said. However, as Maeglin´s mind was anything but clear, he was intensely startled, and, when his voice answered her, there was a bitterness in his tone he did not intend, an accusation he had never dared to utter before.
"Mostly about last night. Were you having a good time?"
Aredhel stiffened immediately, and stopped walking. In the ominous stillness that followed, only the rumour of the smithwork in the distant forge could be heard, together with the howling of the cold wind and the loud beating of Maeglin´s heart.
And, when the long expected answer came, it was not what he thought he was going to hear. Not at all.
"So you have asked at last." she whispered.
"Asked? Asked what?"
Shocked, Maeglin felt his dizziness crumble down. The figure in front of him was no longer the Aredhel he knew. She was an enigmatic, deadly serious figure with a cold spark in her eyes that he had never seen there before.
"Come with me! You are going to explain everything. Everything!" he yelled, grabbing her wrist and pulling her into the house with roughness. Once there, he forced her to sit on a chair and held his breath one second, two, three...
"What do you exactly want to know, Lómion?"
Aredhel was not frightened or furious; she did not even seem displeased. If all, she showed anticipation in her face, something Maeglin found to be even more distressing.
And, of course, he had to say it now. Aredhel´s very eyes were asking for it.
"Do you love him?"
"Did you ever love him?"
"Then " Maeglin swallowed hard. "why are you with him at all? Why do you two make love? Why are we here?"
As he was asking those questions, he realised belatedly that they were going to plunge her in some sort of distress, but he had not expected to see his mother´s whole countenance change. In fascination, he watched her lips curl in a cruel and bitter grin, and her eyes turn into fathomless pools of hatred.
"Do you really want to know?" she said in a voice that sent shivers down his spine." He raped me. He took me by force and kept me here for years and years, this is the reason. Are you satisfied, now?"
Somewhere within him Maeglin was barely aware that he should be angry, furious, and say something. There should have been an expression of the deepest shock in his eyes, he realised as Aredhel kept watching him with interest, but there was none. No, in his sharp glance the only thing to read was hunger, the yearning he had tried never to show before, and the longing to comfort her and to repay her at the same time. He wanted to ease her pain.
"What.. what would you have me do? I will do whatever you want...everything." he spoke at last, drawing even nearer to Aredhel, breathing the same air she breathed, heated with need.
But his mother sighed and closed her eyes, and, when she felt his lips in hers, she pulled him away with a sad smile.
"I want you to help me carry the food to the forge. And to never cross your father´s will in anything, do you hear?
"What?" Maeglin could not believe his ears. "You tell me this...what he did with you, and you expect everything to be as it was before? How will I look at his face again? I hate him, Mother! Why, oh, why didn´t you kill him then?"
"Because maybe he has a handful of followers while I am alone? " Aredhel bitterly teased. "Because he is stronger than me or you, and has a magic sword? Or, perhaps, because he is a sorcerer with powers only second to Thingol´s queen in Middle- Earth? No, my son, my dear Lómion, we cannot do this." Her voice had softened now, as she stroked him with tenderness and her tears began to flow. "To hide behind a perpetual mask...to try to feel what I do not feel, that is the only way! You must try, it will help me. I know you love me. I know I am not alone."
Unable to utter any answer, Maeglin embraced her tightly.
"One day, I promise we will be free." she went on, with the same soothing voice that she had used when he was a little child." We will escape from this place and we will see the Hidden City. You will be a great prince of the Noldor, and I will be at your side. Just wait a little longer... please."
Aredhel´s voice broke. Now, he felt, it was up to him. He had to say something.
"I will try to."
And so Maeglin got up, leaving her alone. He was forced to hide his feelings once more, even as he was sure now that they could not be denied. A day would arrive, as she had said, when everything would change.
One day, he thought, those selfsame feelings would change their lives forever.
(To be continued.)
galvorn: The name of Eöl´s metal, discovered and used by him alone. It came from the stars, a meteor probably.
Next chapter will be Eöl´s chapter...
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.