The brothers' behaviour thoroughly unnerved Maglor—never before had he seen grown elves act in such a way; and yet, while their actions seemed childish, something deeper coursed within it, an arcane undercurrent the elder could not quite grasp, no matter how he called upon memories of the pair. Something had changed since he last saw them nigh on three centuries ago.
"Ai!" he muttered exasperatedly. "I do not understand…"
Curufin had seemed completely blasé about the whole affair, not even accompanying his brothers to the guest rooms appointed to Celegorm, withdrawing instead to Maglor's private gardens; or so Maglor had thought. However, when a message was sent to inform Curufin of his brother's stable condition, the boy had returned with a report of empty gardens and empty quarters; none had seen him for over an hour. He'd dismissed the boy out of a sense of embarrassment—he would hunt out Curufin himself later, once everything had been sorted out.
He'd dismissed all others from the chamber once the healers had finished—the Noldorin lord needed time to reconquer his mind. He didn't even know what exactly had transpired between Beren, his brothers, and 'that wench,' whoever that was. Celegorm had always been one to take up with other elves' women, but Maglor could not believe he would go in for a mortal's prize, not when he had the entire realm of his own race to patronize.
And then there was the matter of the 'bout' Curufin spoke of. Did a mortal actually best his brother? A base mortal, taking down one of the greatest elven swordsman alive? And why was Celegorm so wroth? He'd always been quick to anger, but to turn on his own brother with murder in his gaze…Needless to say, such was not Celegorm's wont. Perhaps, had Celegorm refused to help Curufin when he was beaten because of some earlier argument, and Curufin was taking vengeance?
Celegorm stirred in his sleep, and Maglor ceased pacing. The healers had said the elf would remain in a undisturbed sleep until tomorrow morning as the body healed itself, and yet Celegorm began tossing and turning, endangering himself of reopening the wound. Maglor moved to the bedside, brows knitting in concern. Seated next to his brother, he first checked the wound, then scrutinized the countenance—then the words came, a sudden explosion.
"Curyo! Cease! Curyo!" The fairest visage contracted in apparent pain as a scream tore from lips. "Curyo!" The writhing faded, decreased to a rocking discomfort; his brother's left leg seemed strangely heavy, as if dead. Fearful of an undetected injury, Maglor leaned over to take the covers from his naked form, intent on inspecting his leg.
An almost impossibly large scar danced from Celegorm's hip to his knee, now just barely visible after two, maybe three weeks healing. Maglor hesitantly traced its straight path down his brother's thigh, eyes wide in astonishment. It sounded as if Curufin had crafted this wound, though why or how, he could not even begin to fathom. Was this what had happened 'last time'? Could his younger brother actually have done such a thing? His mind reeled in shock, fumbling this newest piece of information for lack of capacity.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Maglor whirled to find Curufin in the doorway, gaze instantly searching out his older brother's.
"Beauty unsurpassed, I believe she called it," he continued. "In another month or so, it will be almost entirely invisible, except to those who know of its existence." Maglor continued to stare dumbly at his brother as Curufin sauntered his way to Celegorm's side, fingers falling lightly on the elf's bare thigh, tracing the flesh with unnerving blaséity. "It is a pity, really."
"A pity?" Maglor's voice rang cold and sharp in the large room. "A pity!" He seized Curufin's shoulder and forced his brother's gaze to meet his. "Atarinkë! You could have killed him! If the blade had found a vein—"
"I know," he sighed calmly. "Next time I shall be more acute in my aim. Maybe inner thigh, or the throat…"
"Curufinwë!" Maglor cried, shaking the other in his rage, "You cannot do this! You cannot continue to wound him! He is your brother!"
Mirth sprang to Curufin's eyes, dancing across his face as soft lips widened in a grin.
"Cold be hand and heart of stone, and cold be murderers far from home."
Maglor did not even attempt to control himself—he shook Curufin ruthlessly in attempt to knock some sense into his skull. "Atarinkë, please! You are not making sense! If you do not cease Turco will end up dead!"
Curufin's melodic laughter echoed about the room, mocking the concern etched on Maglor's face; Celegorm stirred restlessly in his sleep. The serpent turned to look at him amusedly only to be jostled back into meeting Maglor's gaze. "Atarinkë, what ails you?"
"They do not see what lies ahead when hope has faded, strength is dead."
A growl tore from Maglor's throat as something deep within him snapped, a dark coil of fear twisting in his stomach. A hand plowed across his brother's face.
Curufin merely continued to smile, thoroughly amused even as a large red print bloomed on his skin.
"Curufinwë, please! You are scaring me! What is wrong?"
The younger paused dramatically, a secretive twinkle stealing his gaze. "I'd tell you," he laughed, "but then I'd have to kill you." Maglor blanched as he realized Curufin would slay him indeed if he took a fancy to it. "You know, Canalaurë," he continued, "I'm hungry—all I've had for the past two weeks is lembas bread, and that gets to be dull after a while."
Pulling himself from Maglor's unsteady grip, he bent over, pressing a kiss to his brother's pale brow. Rising back up, some inner turmoil shoved its way to the surface, pressing fear and sorrow on his twisted face; turning suddenly, he fell into Maglor's hold. After several awkward seconds, the harper realized his brother was crying, sobs rocking the full form. Instantly his hold tightened, instinct driving all misgivings away; softly he stroked the raven hair, soothing Curufin as he often had in their Valinorian youth. What in all of Arda was going on?
"It's alright, Atarinkë…It will be alright." The murmurs seemed to have a positive effect; he continued. "What is wrong, my Curyo? Why will you not tell me? What has happened?"
"She should never have given it to me," Curufin choked, his voice muffled in Maglor's shoulder. "That witch…she should never…I do not want this…"
"What, Atarinkë? What do you not want?
"This," Curufin murmured. "…Why did she place it upon me? … Perhaps…perhaps she merely wished me to suffer…I did not want this…"
Maglor's brows furrowed in sudden anger—who was this woman, and how had she procured this behavior in his brother? "Atarinkë, what did she do to you? I swear by the One I'll kill her if she did aught to harm you…I swear I will hunt her down…"
A sudden burst of laughter slipped from Curufin's lips—not the twisted, maniacal laughter of a few moments ago, but the true, hearty laughter Maglor remembered from their youth. It was so akin to their father's.
Without another word Curufin withdrew, still laughing through his tearstained eyes, and Maglor watched helplessly as his brother sauntered to the door, tracing its elegant designs with fingers.
"Atarinkë," he began, taking several steps towards the figure. "Will you at least tell me the name of the woman?"
Curufin paused, seemingly delighted at the other's question. "Of course, brother." With a final glance over his shoulder, he nearly sang, "Tinúviel," then disappeared through the door, leaving a confused Maglor to unravel the puzzle.
"Tinúviel," he muttered, repeating Curufin's final word. "Nightingale…" He still did not know who the woman was—the only Nightingale he knew was Thingol's daughter. Surely Celegorm had not fallen for a royal of Doriath! "…Tinúviel…"
Celegorm stirred once more in his sleep, and Maglor resumed his position on the bed, folding the covers back over the dormant form. "Ai, Turco! I wish I knew what troubles him so…"
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.