6. Chapter Five: No Regret.
Chapter Five: No Regret.
Disclaimer: the characters are Tolkien´s.
The weeks after the confrontation between Maeglin and Eöl passed slowly and painfully for everyone in Nan Elmoth. The whole affair was becoming unbearable, for while their hate and mistrust for each other appeared to be increasing with every moment they were together, still none of them voiced his feelings, and that only could result in a kind of tension as sharp as the edge of a knife.
"Yes. Is there any problem?"
It is all my fault, Aredhel decided once again, shaking her head at the now familiar sight of her son entering her chambers. In her life, she had never been used to feel truly guilty about anything, but, this time, those words were all she could think of. Even as she had to take the brunt of the rift between her husband and her son alone.
"No, Lómion, not for me, but what about your father? He could be waiting for you."
"Waiting for me? You jest. "Rage dwelled in Maeglin´s gaze, perhaps also a little regret. "It was he who sent me away. I am not needed at the forge, he says. May I stay here, by your side?"
"Of course, son" Aredhel answered, doing her best to appear as cheerful as she could. "You know I am always delighted to have such a handsome young man to keep me company! But, tell me, what happened that I did miss?"
"Nothing." Nervous, Maeglin went to take a chair, and then he returned for another before he was aware of what he was doing. "I did not cross his will or try to displease him. Yet, he hates me."
And you hate him not, Aredhel thought bitterly. That was well and, after all, what had she expected? To make him despise someone who never did him any harm, who loved him in his own way, his own father! It seemed clear to her that Maeglin was only momentarily furious with Eöl for what he had done to his mother, but it was not likely that it would last. She was now willing, wasn´t she?
Soon enough, he will want to reconcile with his father, she told herself. And, as he knows his soft spot only too well, everything will be fine again. All grudges had an end, even Nan Elmoth´s truly long ones.
"I believe you underrated his power to see behind your words and actions, dear." she began, already resigned to lose this time. "He saw you had something against him, and that is why he is in a foul mood. Why don´t you apologise...?
"Are you mad?" Maeglin suddenly leapt, his eyes flickering in anger. At a slow pace, he came near to her chair and knelt at her side, meeting her gaze with ardour. "You do not understand. You think I am nothing more than a temperamental youngster with a whim, but you should know me better. Because I love you. Because I desire you, that is why."
His hands clasped his mother´s tightly, demandingly, just like his father had done so many times since the day he had forced her against her will. However, as Aredhel was about to snap at him, she could see his piercing eyes, and she was deeply moved. No, not like his father. He was hungry, but even more fearful of her rejection, unable to hurt her in the least.
Worship, not just lust. She had been so wrong about him.
"Mother" Maeglin tried to continue in a steady tone, covering his too long denied anticipation. "it is because of my love of you, my need of you! that I will do anything you wish. If you say that you want me to leave my father, gladly I will do so, for this would mean going away from the man who possesses you. Oh, my lady, my love, let us go! Once, you promised we were going to be free, and I can help you to fulfil your promise now."
Aredhel´s body began to shake. Worried, Maeglin stood up to hold her in his arms, and discovered that his mother was sobbing without tears, as he never had seen her do before.
This scared him.
"Do not...Mother, I am so sorry!" he cried. "I was teasing you."
"No." she answered, surprising him with her quick recovery. With a powerful gesture, she took his hands away and stood up, defiant and proud, and she seemed to grow as tall as she had been before the life of feigning and humiliation shrank her to the size of a mortal woman. "You were speaking the truth, Lómion son of Aredhel, and I am sorry for having wronged you with my suppositions. We will go together."
Unable to believe what he had just heard, Maeglin stared at her.
"I will guide you to Gondolin, wasn´t this your wish? Now, you are a fine man" she looked appreciatively at her son" and it is time to think that I have tarried for too long in this place."
And she walked away, leaving him in turmoil.
Later, at night, Aredhel went to sleep beside Eöl. It was neither that she wanted to, nor that he wished that she did, but the White Lady refused to let her husband alone in such decisive days, fearing he might employ his loneliness to brood on dark thoughts and suspicions. Just the thought of what could be crossing his mind when he shut himself in his forge was enough to make Aredhel shudder.
Silently, she entered the room and peered around. There he was, sitting on the bed, hands on his knees and eyes fixed on the floor. No signs of harshness had appeared in his countenance yet, although Aredhel knew for sure that this would change the same moment that he felt her presence behind his back.
And he was suffering, she could perceive it. Even degraded monsters like him could suffer for the love of a son, it seemed, and even they could be hurt sometimes. Aredhel remembered how, as a baby, Lómion used to be scared of his father´s red eyes, and how Eöl cradled him for hours if necessary, until the child fell silent or asleep. What she felt when he did this, she could not tell for certain, but it was at first like an urge to take Lómion away, to quiet him herself, and then the need to leave them alone.
Not now, Aredhel´s mind warned her. There was no room for this kind of thoughts when she was about to leave him forever.
"Are you restless, husband mine?" she asked as she crawled near him, encircling his neck with her white arm. Eöl stiffened immediately under her touch, and pulled free of the unwelcome embrace.
"Still raging, I see." Aredhel muttered then, before turning away to look for a pillow where she could rest her head. "Well, is it my fault? Didn´t you know that children were difficult, most of all the nearly grown up ones? They love to be quarrelsome and question their elders, although what they really want is more attention."
"And that, of course, has much to do with my son´s sudden desire to see people whose names were never to be mentioned in my house." was Eöl´s bitter and accusing reply.
"Don´t be sarcastic! Yes, I was the one who told him about the Noldor. Is that so terrible? Did you want him to believe for all his life that I had fallen from the stars, poor lad?"
This was a reference to something that their son had effectively asked them when he was very young. She had never forgotten it, for it was the first time she had seen Eöl at difficulties while she stoically tried to suppress a laugh behind him .
"He´s anything except a fool, Eöl" she continued. "You know the prodigious way in which his eyes began developing as he grew...why, he can see inside me! It is always most embarrassing to tell him a lie, to say nothing about the fact that he is nearly an adult now."
Her husband was not listening to her any longer. He was clumsily removing his clothes, in a way that told Aredhel that he was nervous.
"What else did he ask you?"
"About my kin?" She pretended not to understand.
"No" he said, sitting next to her again. It was chilling at times, that directness of speech from someone who used to keep silent, but then, he seemed forced to say long sentences in few words. "About us."
"Oh, that!" Nonchalantly, Aredhel turned away to search for another pillow. She could never allow him to see how she choked inside, and so she assumed a mocking tone. "Is there anything which makes you feel ashamed?"
"No." was his answer, which she knew to be true. "But I must believe now that you have told him about your people´s laws. They are not Nan Elmoth´s laws."
So you think that maybe this is why Lómion hates you, Aredhel thought. And maybe you are right.
As if he had read her thoughts, Eöl grabbed her wrist with his hand, and began to press it painfully.
"Look at me!" he ordered, and Aredhel complied. What terrible eyes.
But the pain was still greater.
"You will never try to meddle in my relationship with my son again, do you hear? If I forgive him now, and then he defies my authority once more, I will know whose fault it is, and you will pay for it. My son is of the Teleri, and will be of the Teleri always, like me!
Like you? Nobody can be like you. Not even your son, or the Teleri, Aredhel sneered to herself, although she did not dare to voice it.
"I have heard you very well." she hissed instead. "Why do you always think I am trying to take Maeglin away from you? It´s childish! You know that neither I nor he would be here if I had not consented in the first place. And now, let me go! You are hurting me, and I want to sleep."
For the first time in the whole evening, Eöl did as he was asked. Curiously enough, he seemed placated, and Aredhel, whose faint feeling of pity for him had died just now, could come near and without remorse embrace him again.
(To be continued.)
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.