We attacked as we said that we would, coming upon them at unawares in the dead of winter, our swords as cold and bright as the icicles draping the tree branches. The sea was nowhere near to record the pain and grief nor taste the blood and tears shed that day, but I knew that it knew, and it would remember.
I noticed that Curufin was missing when the fighting entered its third day and it became clear that we were winning-winning but yet to recover that for which we had come: the Silmaril. I had last seen him pursuing two of Dior's soldiers into a copse of trees but he had never emerged. I followed his footprints in the snow and into the trees, leaving behind my brothers arguing over the places the Silmaril might still be. Menegroth ran deep, many of its secrets still undelved. But I thought of Curufin-the only of us missing-his coldly rational voice absent from the discussion.
In the trees, my brother's bootprints were jumbled with the smaller prints of Dior's soldiers. The snow was pink with blood, and a dark trail led deeper into the forest. There were no bootprints: Whoever had made the trail had been crawling upon hands and knees.
Heart pounding, I followed it, wishing the blood to belong to someone else's brother, not mine. We had survived so much-so many battles, so much treachery, even the Nirnaeth Arnoediad-and none of us had fallen. Let it not be the death of a kinslayer for which my brother would be remembered.
But the body in the clearing, curled on its side, flesh turned as white as the snow melting in the spill of blood beneath it: It was Curufin.
I fell to my knees beside him and turned him onto his back. I was calling his name-screaming it-but no sound came from my lips; I was reaching for his mind as I had done so many times before, taking solace in his happiness where I had none, but I found it deserted, his last threads of thought being torn by the bitter wind cutting between the trees.
A tiny smile touched his lips. He knew me. I kissed the smile and tried to massage warmth back into the cold, stiff hands. A finger twitched, and it gave me hope. The pulse at his throat was weak and irregular, and I laughed bitterly at my predicament, for with each beat of his heart, more of his blood spilled into the snow. To wish for his heart to beat strong and healthy as it had for the whole of his life, I would hasten his death. To wish for the opposite-for his heart to stop and keep his blood in his body-I would do the same.
His gray eyes opened a sliver and met mine. Our father's eyes.
Just hold me, Carnistir, and don't let me die alone.
The blood leaving his wounds was no longer gushing forth but seeping slowly, carrying him to his fate, but my hand on his throat still found a pulse and the barest warmth of life.
I held him fast to life, my mind bound to his, and I didn't even hear the crunch of her footsteps in the snow behind me until she gasped, the involuntary cry of a little girl startled and suppressing a scream.
I would not turn my eyes from my brother but I knew who she was: Dior's daughter, a tiny thing with dark hair and huge gray eyes. Beautiful. Beautiful as her grandmother's song, as her grandmother. By the woolen cloak on her shoulders and the boots on her feet, I knew that she was escaping. Her mittened hands clasped something tightly, not wanting me to see, as she dashed past and disappeared into the woods. But she had no reason to fear. Beneath my fingers, my brother's pulse faltered, then throbbed again, and he held on to life and me with him. So long as the blood beat in my brother's veins, I would stay at his side, whether she carried a Silmaril or not.
My brother would not die alone.
Dusk fell. Curufin's heart gave a final feeble squeeze. The tears that had dropped onto his cheeks-fallen unnoticed from my eyes-had frozen there. He was gone.
The little girl's tracks in the snow: already erased by the wind. She-and the Silmaril-were gone too.
I curled beside my brother with my head on his chest. I waited. Behind me in the distance, the sea waited too, grown calm with anticipation, for it was only a matter of time now before the world changed and it found a new home.
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.