5. A House Is Not A Home
- A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME
The year 22 was a time of peace for the Noldor and other Elves of Beleriand. While their leaguers kept Morgoth at bay, it was with a heart full of joyful anticipation that Maglor set out upon his fast steed with a contingent of soldiers from his ward. No worries of attack clouded their thoughts. They rode toward the meeting place that Maglor had arranged with Daeron during the glorious days of Mereth Aderthad.
Maglor's men followed him along the Greater River Gelion until they came to Little Gelion, where they left him to travel the rest of the distance on his own. It was winter, the ides of February, but the cold weather did not bother Maglor. He was heated with an inner fire. Daeron's face remained etched, unforgotten, in his memory. Although it took more than a month for him to reach the eastern edge of the forest of Nan Elmoth, the time passed quickly for him. He concerned himself with the daily travails of the traveler, trying to ride at least 60 miles a day, building a campfire, pitching a tent and hunting or fishing for food. Water was plentiful from the river and small lakes in the area.
Finally, on the bright morning of March 20th of the First Age 22, Maglor arrived at the appointed place, galloping toward the forest with his heart pounding in his chest at the first sight of Nan Elmoth's tall trees. He rode along the eastern edge of the forest until he reached the River Celon, then turned and rode back the way he had come. He kept this up for three days, riding along the eastern edge of the forest, looking for Daeron.
The weather had turned from winter into spring. Maglor watched as songbirds chased each other through the skies in random patterns as they mated, delighting in their lust, oblivious to possible danger. Light rains washed away the vestiges of snow that lay in the shady hollows in the fields. Tips of green poked through the reviving grass as tiny spring bulbs began to sprout their slender leaves. It was a glorious place to be, but Maglor paced in fevered hope and dread that Daeron would not come.
But on the afternoon of March 23rd, Maglor sat on a log at the edge of the Celon, drawing patterns with his bare toes in the sand, watching as the water lapped against his feet and washed away his pictures. He had disrobed to his under-leggings and laid his sword down nearby, and was considering whether or not to take a swim in the cold water when he heard the sound of hooves faintly, from far away. Quickly he jumped to his feet. His heart was racing as he peered into the distance across the river to the northwest. He picked up his sword, though he did not think that this rider would be an enemy, riding alone as he was.
Gradually he adjusted his vision and waited until the figure came closer. It was unmistakably a lone rider on horseback and an Elf by the sound of the hooves pounding assuredly and swiftly into the ground. The horse bore a light weight upon its back. As the figure drew closer, Maglor could see that it was an Elf. His heart lurched and his eyes began to fill with tears of joy. He could see familiar light-brown hair billowing out behind the rider, although it was much longer than Maglor remembered. Still, he knew it was Daeron, though he could not yet see his face. He dropped his sword and plunged into the river, swimming to the other side as fast as he could.
The water was cold, and he could not move as quickly as he would have liked, but he swam with powerful, relentless strokes. The rider reached the far bank while Maglor was only halfway across. Daeron urged his horse on, into the river. When he reached Maglor he flung himself off of the horse and splashed into the icy-cold water, crying out in delight and from the cold that rose up around him. Maglor, treading water, grasped Daeron around the waist and pulled him to his chest, burying his face in his lover's shoulder and bursting into tears of joy.
Daeron, laughing delightedly, managed to gasp, "Come, let us get out of this frigid water," though it was difficult to speak as Maglor kept trying to kiss him. Finally the two emerged from the river soaked and shivering but Maglor, with both of his arms still around Daeron, lifted him up into the air.
"Let me look at you!" he cried. "Your hair has grown longer!" Daeron still wore his hair unbound except for two thin braids at each side that were pulled back behind his head and tied with a black ribbon. At the Pools of Ivrin his hair had been chest-length but now it fell to his waist sleek and straight. His hazel eyes still shone brightly. He was a little sturdier than before, and not as thin.
"Have you become a warrior?" Maglor asked incredulously as he felt the strength in Daeron's arm. "You have developed some fine muscles."
Daeron laughed. "Yes, I have learned to use a sword," he said. "Mablung and Beleg have taught me well. Come and I will take you to the house that Beleg has given us to use."
"My horse and my gear, not to mention my weapons, are on the other side of the river," protested Maglor. "I shall have to cross back over to get them."
"Let us both ride across on my horse," suggested Daeron, "lest we both wear ourselves down by swimming. I would like you to retain all of your strength for when we are together in Beleg's cabin." And he laughed, the sound a delight to Maglor's ears, starved as they had been for two years for Daeron's beautiful voice.
Daeron called to his horse and both Elves leapt onto its back, Maglor assuming the position behind Daeron. He boldly pressed himself into the younger Elf, delighting in the sensation of the familiar yet long-missed warmth and welcome feel of Daeron's body. He sighed, his own body quivering with delight, and clasped Daeron around the chest. His hands caressed the now hard muscles and his head bent over Daeron's shoulder, pressing kisses into his neck.
"Ai, Maglor, you will have me undone if you keep doing that!" cried Daeron, pushing himself back against Maglor's yearning flesh. He urged his horse on through the water and when they reached the opposite bank, Maglor jumped down first and pulled Daeron down onto the sand. "No, Maglor!" Daeron cried. "I want our first time after so long to be in the cabin! I have set it up so beautifully for you!"
"I want you now," growled Maglor. The hardness of his arousal was evident as it strained against his thin, wet leggings.
"Ai! How can I resist you, big Goldion prince that you are?" cried Daeron. He sat up, pulling quickly at his clothing.
Maglor wanted to pounce upon the object of his desire, but instead he slowly lowered himself to his knees. He reached out to touch the Sinda's chest, feeling the once soft but now hard and well-defined muscle. He sighed and lowered his head to kiss Daeron, pushing his tongue between his lover's teeth so that he could explore the depths of the warm mouth. Silently, without a word, the two Elves made love, becoming familiar once again with each other's bodies and enjoying the exquisite feeling of being together at last. Afterward, they expressed their love again many times, lying in the sand, stroking hair and faces, wrapped together in each other's arms as furled leaf and flower, two separate entities yet one whole being. Then, feeling the cold, they got up, packed Maglor's things, and rode toward Beleg's cabin.
King Thingol had given Beleg some lands in the north of Doriath as befitted the warrior's station as a well-respected and important captain of the guard. These lands on the north marches were in a hilly part of the country, with deep valleys full of grey mist and rolling dark green hills covered in mossy forests of pine, birch and cedars. They looked northward over the darkly shadowed valley of Nan Dungortheb toward the mountain peaks of Ered Gorgoroth.
Beleg's house, much like Beleg himself, was strong and sturdy. It was built out of pine logs and partially embedded in the south side of a hill. That hid it from any enemy who potentially could approach it from over the mountains. Surrounding the house were many trees in which other Elves of the guard lived on talans, high among the branches where they were carefully hidden from the view of any approaching stranger. Daeron whistled a signal as they neared the trees to let his friends know they had arrived. All of the guards had agreed to keep it a secret that Daeron was bringing one of the Goldin and Fëanor's son at that, into Doriath. They had all agreed that Thingol and Melian must not find out.
The exterior of Beleg's house was of polished pine logs fitted impeccably together to form a rectangular building with two chimneys, one at either end, arising from the sloping tile roof. The red clay tiles were fashioned from the earth of the surrounding valley. From this soil sprung a myriad of roses, which grew well in the climate and area. The dormant vines of dark red climbing roses sprawled over the house itself and clung to the front porch posts, and later on in late spring their seductive aroma would linger long in the senses as one stepped over the threshold and entered the house.
Upon first stepping inside Daeron and Maglor came into a great room whose polished wood floors were covered in the soft, luxurious furs of wolves and bears. Upon the rough-paneled walls were mounted swords, spears, knives and the various bows that Beleg had used in the many battles he had fought and won in Beleriand. At one end of the great room was a magnificent fireplace, walled in the rich granite stone found in the area. Its wide hearth was of polished black marble, which created a warm place where Beleg could sit and talk with his many friends. On either side of the hearth were great black andirons, made by the King's smiths and presented to Beleg as a gift for the many years of service.
Suspended from the great stone fireplace wall above the mantel was a large portrait painted of Beleg by Thingol's chief portrait artist. Though it depicted him in full military regalia, the artist had caught the soft beauty of Beleg's character, in sharp contrast to his strong, powerful physique as it appeared in armour. Underneath that armour was a lithe and slim yet powerful body that had withstood many battles to remain unscathed. His kind green-grey gaze shone down benevolently upon viewers of his likeness and all who gazed upon it took note of the beauty of his eyes and the radiant gleam of his long and sleek black hair, which flowed free and unbound in the portrait and gave him a soft, young appearance.
Situated in front of the fireplace was a small grouping of chairs fashioned out of the ubiquitous pine wood of his house, but covered with soft cushions and furs for comfortable seating. There were several low tables for refreshments scattered, yet they looked as if they had never been used. There were no marks upon them; in fact, the only blemish on their highly polished surfaces was a fine coating of dust. Many cabinets of various sizes lined the room's perimeter, full of pottery and artifacts from Menegroth given to Beleg as gifts from the many people who loved and respected him. Placed on top of the cabinets were huge candle holders of black wrought iron in which sat candles ready to be lit once the room was occupied. Beleg was rarely home, however, and the loneliness of his house was palpable.
At the opposite end of the room was the door to Beleg's bedroom. Daeron turned its cold metal handle and entered. At the far end of that room was another fireplace which kept the room warm for sleeping. The bed was situated high up on a platform and was covered in soft white furs. There were eight black marble steps leading up to the top of the slab. Beleg thought that, in case the house was someday discovered and attacked by Orcs, having the bed so high would allow him to leap upon them from atop his platform before they had a chance to climb the steps. On his headboard was mounted a greatsword for the purpose of defence in the eventuality of an attack.
The bedroom was sparsely decorated, with only a ewer and basin sitting forlornly upon a small pine stand with empty rungs for towels. A creaking door on the wardrobe cabinet swung open noisily, and from its upper corner hung a fuzzy strand of cobweb that swayed back and forth as the cabinet door blew open and closed. Daeron bent down to start a small fire in the grate as Maglor, impressed by the simple magnificence of this house that Daeron had called a cabin, looked around in delight.