2. Cousins, Lovers and Conspirators
Findekáno left Maitimo in the care of Tadiel. As she had promised, he found an adjacent chamber with an open door, which held a small bathtub filled with water. The stone tub was large enough for a man to stretch out, but did not look as though it would comfortably hold two adults.
It reminded him of the bathtubs in Uncle Fëanáro's house, which had been of a similar size and had from time to time held up to four active boys or Nerdanel and Fëanáro. It was raised upon a tiled platform, apparently with the intention of making it convenient for a healer to bathe a weakened or injured patient. The light steam in the air indicated to Findekano that the water in the tub remained warm. He recognized articles of his own clothing folded upon a wooden set of shelves built into the plaster-covered wall, along with plenty of clean towels and light robes. His father or Turukáno must have arranged to have his clothing delivered here.
The building in which he found himself appeared to be one of the most finished of all of the permanent structures on this side of the lake. Findekáno suspected that it had been built by the Fëanorians for the purpose for which it was now used: as a house of healing for those injured in Morgoth's attack on their encampment at Lake Mithrim. A window set high on the wall of the bathing chamber opened onto an inner courtyard. He was unable to see out, but light flooded the room. The sound of honking geese and clucking chickens indicated that someone was feeding poultry not far from the building. The sound of children’s voices, talking and laughing, reached his ears. Stables, storage sheds, and some houses had been erected. Neat rows of tents, which stretched away from the lake, were being added to by the group of people he and his father had led here.
This was no Tirion on Tuna, nor would it ever be by any stretch of the most zealous imagination, but it was being quickly transformed into a long-term settlement. A bit farther along the edge of the lake lay a Sindarin village, while his cousins had moved around to the far side of lake, leaving their original encampment to the newcomers.
In the tiny rectangle of sky visible through the small window, he could see his father's blue and silver banner flapping smartly in the wind. However, since his half-cousins had seen to the construction of this building, each of the wooden shutters on the bathroom window was carved with a bold Fëanarion eight-pointed star. He grinned in amusement at the thought of this addition to the trimmings of any bathroom and particularly such a simple and rustic one. Knowing his family, he speculated that it would not be surprising to momentarily see the heraldry of his cousins of the house of Arafinwë propped up next to his father's flag. And, if that happened, no doubt his brother Turukáno would feel compelled to put up his own banner.
Smiling to himself, he mused that if Turukáno did that then he would add his distinct blue, white and silver emblem and perhaps conspire with Maitimo to trump them all by requesting that his brothers bring him the Fëanorion representation of a banner for the King of the Noldor. That should stir everyone up. He sniggered softly under his breath at the lunacy of it all. It is not funny, but tragic, but I have had far too little sleep. As soon as he is a bit better, Maitimo and I will find a way together to cut through all of this nonsense.
He turned his attention back to preparing for his bath. Findekáno’s neck, shoulders and lower back pained him. He had not bathed since he had returned from the cliffs near Angband. Late the day before, he had taken advantage of an opportunity to shed most of his outer garments and wash off the worst of the dust and blood which had covered him when he had arrived with Maitimo.
He tossed his leggings, light tunic and small clothes into a laundry basket near the door and lowered himself into the surprisingly hot water. Thinking he would not tarry long, despite the seduction of the steaming bath upon sore and over-strained muscles, he lay back and stretched his legs out fully, closing his eyes. Half-asleep, he let his mind roam unchecked over the events of the last crowded days since they had first arrived at this outpost by a lake in these Outer Lands, so far from where their journey had begun.
When he and his father had first prepared to meet with his half-cousins a fortnight or so earlier, a sense of foreboding had overwhelmed Findekáno. He wondered if Fëanáro and his seven sons might refuse to speak with them. By unspoken mutual agreement Findekáno, his father, his brother Turukáno, and his cousin Findaráto had groomed themselves carefully for the occasion. They would not appear before their estranged relatives shabby and beleaguered but regal and as the representatives of an organized force and the majority of their people.
Findekáno had taken the trouble to plait the golden cords that had become an identifying style for him into his near-black braids. He blushed at his thought of how, in a more frivolous time, he had admired the look of them and even more had appreciated that Maitimo fancied his hair done in that way. Clad in cloaks of dark and lighter blues, wearing ornate, bejeweled swords and crowned with the gleaming diadems that identified them as offspring of the House of Finwë and High Princes of the Noldor, with heads held high and shoulders back, adopting a uniformly noble stance that would have made Fëanáro himself proud, they strode into their kinsmen’s encampment.
When they approached the open area near the center of the settlement, made up largely of tents and scattered, newly-constructed, provisional and permanent buildings, they were met by Macalaurë and his five younger brothers. Only Macalaurë looked at all like himself. He alone transmitted a sense of purpose and strength, with his jaw firmly set and wide-set grey eyes bright and clear. Tyelkormo, looking bravely handsome as ever with the wind lifting his golden blond locks, appeared nonetheless sourly depressed. Curvo seemed reserved and wary, nearly without affect, while Carnistir appeared to be in agony, unable to stand still, and more than a little crazed. Pityo and Telvo, thin-faced and hollow-eyed, reminded Findekáno of the orphaned children he had helped shepherd across the ice. These two were not, however, children but fell and unpredictable warriors, as much the sons of Fëanáro and as bound by his cursed oath as any of their older brothers.
Findekáno immediately spotted something terribly off about the entire reunion. Each of his cousins approached him and, although reluctant to meet his eyes, embraced first him, then his father and finally his brother and his cousin. Findekáno and his family had come expecting to meet in formal parley but were surprised that the Fëanorians did appear to regard the conference as a political engagement, but remained affectionate and familial in their greetings.
Nolofinwë spoke first. “Where is your father? Where is Nelyafinwë?”
“Atar fell,” Macalaurë said, his voice steady and his chin held high, although his sensitive lips trembled as he squinted and blinked his bright, grey eyes in an unconscious attempt to prevent tears from falling. “He was slain during our first battle by Gothmog, the Lord of Balrogs.” Nolofinwë released a strangled sound from deep within his throat.
He reached forward and clutched Macalaurë by his upper arms and touched his forehead against that of his nephew. Findekáno leaned in close as well, ready to embrace Macalaurë when Nolofinwë released him. He heard his father whisper into Macalaurë’s ear, “I am sorry, nephew. But, Nelyafinwë? Where is your brother Nelyafinwë?” Findekáno thought he detected fear, as well as regret, in his father’s voice.
There was a long silence, and Findekáno grew colder with each passing second. It was broken at last by Macalaurë, half-yelling and half-sobbing, his glorious voice heart-wrenchingly hoarse with agony. "Lost!" he said. "Morgoth claims to hold him as a hostage, but actually detains him as the bait to draw our people into his trap and destroy us all and you as well."
Findekáno heard an anguished, near-feral scream; he felt its harsh and sharp echo in his ears before he realized that it was his own. Turukáno folded Findekáno into his arms and held him tightly, painfully so. Findaráto moved in closer to stroke Findekáno's braids clumsily, whispering, "Shhh, Findekáno, shhh..."
Through the frantic pounding of blood in his ears, Findekáno heard Macalaurë, "I am sorry, Uncle Nolofinwë. I did not handle that well. As soon I as recognized the four of you, the dread of telling Káno weighed me down. I could find no proper or gentle way to do it."
Tyelkormo appeared at Findekáno's side, kissing him again roughly yet affectionately on the cheek while shoving a heavy, ornate goblet in front of his face. The sharp scent and fumes of some inelegantly distilled drink made his eyes water. "Just a swallow, Káno. It will help. Then we will tell you everything," Tyelkormo pleaded.
“Thank you,” Findekáno said, taking the drink from Tyelkormo. With the sudden pain of a slash to the gut, he comprehended the dire facts of Maitimo's situation. He felt as though he could only remain standing for a moment before gravity drew him down to the ground. Somehow, instead of crumpling, a sudden bolt of strength shot through him, holding him upright.
Findekáno leaned gladly upon Turukáno, mindful he could help his brother heal his own abraded spirit by permitting him to give back some of the support he had received in those dark days on the ice. Findekáno realized that Turukáno did not want to be forced to look into the faces of their half-cousins lest they could read that he unwillingly pitied or even still loved them. Turukáno still nurtured the anger that flared strongly within him. He did not yet desire to temper his bitterness with sympathy for any of Fëanáro's sons.
As Findekáno began to accept that Morgoth truly did hold Maitimo as his prisoner, he realized that all of his cousin's closest comrades must have died. Many of them--craftsmen, tradesmen and young lords--came from around the outlying areas of Valinor, while others, including clerks, scholars and loremasters, hailed from Tirion itself, companions of Findekáno from his youth. But all had turned warriors in support of their quest and now to a man had been cut down and vanquished in a single day.
Those who comprised the flower of young Noldor who had left Aman shared few things in common except that, from wherever they had drifted to join Prince Nelyafinwë’s closest circle, they had been the best, the most brilliant and the boldest. Findekáno had been a notable member of this circle at one time, respected in his own right and envied for his intimacy and closeness with their natural leader. Some knew that the Princes Nelyafinwë and Findekáno--the heirs of King Finwë’s eldest sons--were more than simply the best of friends and half-cousins, but closer in a kinship of shared dreams and discarded prejudices than blood alone could ever have made them. Together they were the architects of a philosophy and a mode of behavior that enabled the vast majority of the Noldor to accept Fëanáro’s logic of seeking freedom and independence from the Valar and follow him to the ends of the Earth.
Findekáno, for his part, had loved well many of those who had been murdered defending Maitimo on that last sally. He had long considered them his peers and friends. When Maitimo had left Tirion for Formenos with his grandfather, many of them had followed him there. Some scorned Findekáno for lagging behind, for visiting Formenos too infrequently, or for holding back his complete allegiance.
At first, Maitimo had defended Findekáno until he finally grew impatient, and the heat of the furor and mistrust between the two factions of the Noldor ignited into total conflagration. Maitimo told Findekano that he hated him and Findekano called Maitimo mad. "As mad as your father," he had said, when he first saw in Fëanáro the heroic flaw that would lead all of them to their doom.
Choking on the rough drink that Tyelkormo had given him and managing to stand upright by clutching hard onto Turukáno, Findekáno pulled himself together enough to ask his cousin, “What happened to Maitimo’s men?”
“Nelyo insisted on negotiating with Morgoth when he offered us a Silmaril,” Tyelkormo said.
Macalaurë released a hefty sigh and, shaking his head, interrupted his brother, “He did not intend to deal with Morgoth, Silmaril or not, but he believed he could deceive him into thinking that he wished to do so.”
Tyelkormo stuck out his lower lip and shrugged, “That was not what I meant to imply. My point was that because Morgoth offered a Silmaril, Nelyo thought that he might believe that we would consider talking. Nelyo armed his whole company of close friends and compatriots, thinking to surprise Morgoth’s parley.”
“Instead,” Macalaurë said, his voice growing husky with emotion and his eyes wilder by the moment, “Morgoth’s forces ambushed their company. Nelyo and his guards resisted fiercely. They battled on after they lost their horses, after their spears had broken. They hacked away with short swords and knives, and, at last, those remaining fought with their bare hands. Finally, Nelyo was taken alive and brought to Angband. All the rest were slain and left to rot on the plain in front of the peaks of Thangorodrim. One badly injured elf crawled from beneath the piles of corpses and found his way back to us to tell the story.”
“And then?” Findekáno asked. He heard his own voice level and calm in his ears; he felt surprisingly numb.
“Morgoth sent emissaries. He says that they hold Nelyo as a hostage. He claims he will release him, if we abandon our war, return across the Sea, or at least leave Beleriand entirely and pull out far into the South. Of course, if we did that he would only send us our brother’s lifeless body, if that,” Macalaurë said.
“I see. And we cannot attack?” Findekáno asked. “You say that you met them once in battle and vanquished them. Now you have our strength behind you as well.”
Macalaurë, pulled Findekáno from Turukáno’s embrace and into his own arms. He led him a few steps away from the others and answered softly, barely above a whisper. “That was a surprise, when they knew not our strength, and included all of Nelyo’s men, our most cohesive force. Kano, look behind you. Look at your own brother, at your father, even Findaráto. Will they follow you again so soon after all that has happened?”
“No. You are right. We are not ready. We must sit down and talk. I need to go and fetch Artanis, and Angaráto and Aikanáro as well. They have always been ready to stand with me,” Findekáno said, speaking more quickly now not bothering to keep his voice low and yet still aware that his heart sat like a cold lump of iron in his chest.
“I am so sorry, Káno. I realize you have not yet had time to absorb all of this…”
“No! Ai, Macalaurë. We must do something. What are we to do?”
Macalaurë held Findekáno close with both arms full around him and, raising his head, spoke directly over his cousin’s shoulder to Nolofinwë, “Uncle, you should know that Nelyo fought bitterly with Atar to return for all of you. It seemed that they would split our ranks again and blood would be shed. But Nelyo refused to assault Atar directly and turned his back and walked away. Atar burned the ships. They barely spoke again.”
“My brother…” Nolofinwë began, shaking his head in profound sorrow. “It was too late for my brother by then. I hope it is not too late for you, nephew.”
Findekáno jerked his head up from where he had allowed it to fall to rest upon Makalaurë’s shoulder and chest and, turned to face his father, brother and cousin Findaráto. “Too late! We all have to look ahead of us--not behind us or it will be too late--not just for us but for all of the peoples born East of the Sea. We must fight Morgoth together or we will fall to him separately, one by one,” he shouted.
The expressions of Nolofinwë, Findaráto and Turukano looked spiritless and flat, as did that of Macalaurë. Findekáno’s other five Fëanorion half-cousins appeared just as dull and, additionally, sullenly despairing. Then, Findekáno knew. Of course, Macalaurë could not send the remainder of his troops to almost certain annihilation on the implausible hope they might even locate Maitimo, much less have any real likelihood of rescuing him. And, by himself, he could not organize his father’s followers to back them up before it was too late. Then a sudden flash of inspiration overcame Findekáno. I will go alone!
He had. And, against all common sense or logic, he had succeeded. Maitimo was here again with him and it seemed that he would heal.
Voices from the adjoining room carried into the bathing chamber through the half-open door. Maitimo sounded animated and the young woman Tadiel comfortable with him and quick to laugh at his quips. So like Maitimo to seek to make the healer’s assistant feel at ease when he is the patient and the one in need of cosseting.
Findekáno heard Maitimo say to Tadiel, “You want me to drink this?” At the lilting upturn of his cousin’s voice, he could imagine the slight wrinkling of Maitimo’s elegant nose at the scent of something that he found far from appealing.
“Just a little,” she said. “It is important to for you to consume as much liquid as you can if you want to recover.” A soft, inaudible complaint was greeted by a sound of assent from Tadiel. Clearly Findekáno need not worry. His cousin was in good hands. He relaxed into the warmth of the water and allowed his mind to wander. The first waves of soothing lethargy were soon replaced by the nagging ruminations that had become routine for him.
That last night in Tirion still played out in Findekáno’s mind with nightmarish regularity. Despite all the harsh words that had been spoken and the long and bitter nights of trading accusations and insults--which had begun well before the exile of Fëanáro to Formenos--nothing could have prepared him for the finality and rapidity of those sudden, irreversible decisions that they had all made that fateful night.
He recalled the sky clouded with the smoke of countless smoldering torches and the scent of their oily fumes. He would never forget looking through eyes, bloodshot and itchy, upon Maitimo’s handsome, determined face illuminated in the red glow as he and each of his brothers drew their swords and, holding them aloft, joined in swearing their father’s oath. Beautiful and terrible they all had been in their fierce majesty. Findekáno had been enthralled and horrified in equal parts, as though seeing them as near-mythic in potency, forgetting for a moment that these fearsome seven had long been closer to him than his own brother.
With the urgent voice of his father and his Uncle Arafinwë 's quiet droning in the background, Findekáno had pushed his way through the crowd to reach Maitimo. Finally he had been able to grasp Maitimo’s arm. His cousin had turned to him, his jaw hard and lips set in a thin line, and said, “Káno, I know not if you love me still or if you have cast aside all memories of the friendship and the bond we shared, but surely your intellect will persuade you to follow us.”
Thinking back on it Findekáno often wondered if Maitimo could possibly have, for even a moment, thought that he might have considered taking their oath. He wondered what his reaction might have been to Maitimo if he had made a straightforward emotional appeal during that time of extreme crisis rather than trying to maintain his distance and argue logically.
"Fear not. We will come," Findekáno had answered.
"Who do you mean?"
"Atar, Turukáno, and I, of course."
Maitimo had clasped Findekáno's forearm firmly and actually broke into a boyish smile, saying, "Do not let Artanis and Findaráto or their brothers fall back. I know they want to come as well." It had been so long since he had seen Maitimo smile. How strange that the smile came under such circumstances.
"For certain. You may trust me to speak with all of our cousins." The surging crowd had separated them. It was the last time he had been close enough to Maitimo to talk to him, until two days ago when he had discovered him chained to the cliffs of Thangorodrim.
“My lord,” came the voice of Tadiel from the doorway. “Have you fallen asleep in your bath? You should dress and eat if you are to rest.”
Findekáno started fully alert. “Thank you, Tadiel,” he answered, climbing dripping out of the tub to towel off quickly, grab a robe, and return to Maitimo’s room. He was surprised to find that Maitimo was seated nearly fully upright on a newly made bed. His shoulders were covered with one of the used sheets and Tadiel had apparently just finished untangling and cutting the back of Maitimo's hair.
“There,” Tadiel said with a flourish. “Prince Findekáno, does my work meet with your satisfaction? It is a bit shorter than you may have wished. But I think it looks well. Your kinsman has magnificent hair, does he not? Please sit down, my lord, and eat something.”
The table held a selection of whole-grained bread and rolls, chunks of hard cheese, small pots filled with fresh cheese and butter, and a bowl of miniature red apples. A pot of tea, a pitcher of milk and a bowl of sugar sat next to two cups.
“His hair does look very well,” Findekáno said, smiling in the direction of Tadiel. “Did you drink? Are you able to eat anything yet?” he asked Maitimo.
“I had water and some broth; I just agreed to drink a cup of tea with you.” Maitimo grinned endearingly in the direction of the young woman. “In exchange for my cooperation, Tadiel has agreed to leave us alone to rest. There is a bed in the room next to this one where you can sleep if you wish. Or if you don’t mind, this bed is broad enough for two.”
“Mind? You would have to throw me out. I promised to look after you, at least until I know you are well and have seen your brothers,” Findekáno said. Looking in the direction of Tadiel, he added, “They can be overwhelming.”
“My only instructions are to leave the two of you in peace after I have seen that you are comfortable. We have been told to expect your brothers, my lord. Shall I show them in when they arrive or wait until you awaken?”
Maitimo laughed aloud. “It is clear that you have never seen or heard my brothers. There will be no chance of me sleeping once they have arrived.”
“Oh, you are wrong, my lord. Everyone in this area knows of your brothers—they are so many and so bold and handsome. But I am not afraid to put your welfare first. I can stand up to them if need be.” Tadiel gathered up the used sheet carefully from around Maitimo’s shoulders so as not to spill any of the clipped-off hair onto the bed or the floor.
Findekáno pulled the chair out from the table in front of the window and poured a cup of tea, looked to Maitimo and gestured in the direction of the sugar and cream pitcher. The sunlight glowed warmly on Maitimo's handsome, agreeable face, as he shrugged with indifferent amiability. Meanwhile, Tadiel had placed an additional oversized pillow behind Maitimo and reached forward to take the cup from Findekáno. Maitimo looked cozy and at peace with no outward manifestation of what he had just suffered and the difficulties he soon would face.
“Just another sip or two,” Tadiel said, her soft smile less shy than it had been a short while earlier.
Findekáno studied Maitimo, who seemed fascinatingly intense to him, from his wide mouth and full lips, which seemed made for passion, for love, to his large, fine eyes. But then all of Fëanáro’s sons affect one strongly. Although none have affected me in the way my Maitimo has.
Maitimo reached for the teacup with his left hand, as gracefully and easily as if it were completely natural and customary for him to do so. He took a large deliberate swig of the tea, grimacing as though he swallowed a bitter draught. Findekáno, by contrast, made a not entirely successful effort to control the haste with which he ate the roll and butter he had prepared for himself. Maitimo glanced up, catching his eye and smiled, as though he were completely aware of Findekáno’s thoughts on the troublesome mass of bread he had just so greedily stuffed into his mouth and was struggling to swallow without choking. Suddenly, Findekáno felt blissfully, inexplicably happy under Maitimo’s gaze.
Tadiel took Maitimo’s cup, helped him adjust from a semi-upright into a reclining position, and smoothed the light blanket over his arms and shoulders. “I am sure that is enough liquid for now. You look so much better already, one would hardly recognize you.” She quickly moved toward the door, turning to add, “Good morning, my lords. Rest well.” And she was gone.
“I suppose that we should talk before your brothers arrive,” Findekáno said, pausing to take another quick bite of an apple.
Maitimo’s eyes lit up with ill-concealed glee. “Perhaps you should finish eating first. It would unduly distress me to see you expire from asphyxiation by bread and butter after all that we have survived together over the last couple of days.”
“Extremely rude of me. Please forgive me. Although I hope by tomorrow you will begin to become interested in food yourself.”
“You are forgiven. I really have no choice but to put up with you. We apparently are stuck with one another yet again. I cannot picture your father and my brothers uniting of their own volition to solve even our most immediately pressing problems.”
“Ai, ‘tis true, beloved. But together we can make them listen.”
“Will you lie here with me?” Maitimo asked.
Findekáno quickly shed his robe and slipped under the sheet and blanket, wrapping his arms around Maitimo’s torso, taking care not to jostle his wounded arm and tender shoulder. “I love you so much,” he said.
“Not as much as I love you,” Maitimo answered.
“Don’t joke around with me. I am still recovering from the fear that I had lost you. You should be gentle with me.”
“I will be gentler of your feelings, if you agree to be a little less temperate with my body. Will you give me an earnest kiss?” Maitimo’s soft tone and teasing seductive words rendered Findekáno incapable of verbal response. A sharp intake of breath followed by a quick exhalation left Findekáno looking intensely into Maitimo’s quizzical and tender grey eyes as though he could find the resolution there to any question he had ever left unanswered.
“It nearly rips my heart out of my chest to hear you make that little huffing sound and then to look at you and see your pupils dilated with physical arousal. Do you have any idea how erotic you appear at this moment?” Maitimo asked.
“No. I know how I feel and that I can barely breathe. I know you make me want to laugh when you speak of dilated pupils and physical arousal when poets would write of eyes darkened by desire. I want to give you the kind of kiss you asked for.” Findekáno captured his lips to find they tasted of lightly sweetened tea and a much-loved wet warmth that he recalled as being distinctly Maitimo.
“Please, help me. I do not want to hurt you. You are not well yet,” Findekáno said.
“Do not be afraid. Just love me. You know how to touch me.”
“It would be easier for me if you would open your mind. Why do you hold back from that? What do you fear?” Findekáno asked.
“I fear I am not prepared yet for you to know everything I have suffered. There are dark things I would not have you experience,” Maitimo answered.
“I know no other way of loving you.”
“Well then, if you wish, my valiant Findekáno. I can deny you nothing,” Maitimo inhaled softly and deeply, allowing the last barrier to shared consciousness slip away. A searing pain accompanied the healing balm of mutual acceptance and forgiveness. The joining of their fëar after the passage of so much time apart hurt more than Findekáno expected but not as much as Maitimo feared. Maitimo experienced the blinding snow, ice and death of the Helcaraxë and Findekáno learned of the terror, humiliation and pain of Angband. Grief for innocence lost expressed itself in touch and through silence with an eloquence beyond what might be conveyed with any spoken or written words.
Findekáno renewed their kiss, drawing upon all of the intimacy of two who have known one another long and well. When he pulled away again he could feel a bright joy that he was sure must have lit his face before Maitimo.
“You were right, of course.” Findekáno said. “I underestimated how much the torment you suffered would wound me. But now it is done and we are one again, without secrets, my love.” He felt for Maitimo with his right hand, as Maitimo reached for him with his left, and they each simultaneously gasped twin erections, hard as steel and soft as silk. Findekáno first began to stroke, to touch, to rediscover that sweet hröa once familiar and for a second time new.
But then Maitimo stretched to touch him, determined and relentless in his desire to please. Their minds linked so that Findekáno did not need to worry that Maitimo would injure himself in his efforts to bring him to completion. Repeating his name over and over again, Maitimo caressed Findekáno, kissed and nipped his neck, lips and shoulders and refused to relent until his cousin had spilled all over his hand and both of their bellies crying out, “I love you, Maitimo. Only and always you.”
“Always and forever, Káno.”
“I pledge myself to you, Nelyafinwë Maitimo Feanárion, until Arda is remade and beyond.”
“Careful, Findekáno…” Maitimo began tenderly.
Findekáno laughed aloud and silenced Maitimo with a vigorous kiss. “Oh, it’s much too late for caution on my part. I am as hopelessly besotted with you as ever and cannot consider dooms, cursed oaths or unruly brothers that are swept along in the wake of our love. I am yours and you are mine and it is just that straightforward for me.”
“Káno, you always want too much and go too far.”
“But that is why you love me and why I am able to love you. Do you think anyone else could have put up with you for even this long?”
“Ai, you are probably right. I think you have forgotten something though,” Maitimo said rubbing his still stiff organ against Findekáno’s thigh.
“Oh, no. I think that you have overexerted yourself and I really ought to permit you to rest until you are feeling much stronger.”
“Cheeky scoundrel,” Maitimo said, grabbing the back of Findekáno’s head with his left hand and pushing it forcefully downward.
Not to be outdone in boldness, Findekáno so swiftly enclosed Maitimo with his mouth that he was greeted with a yelp of surprise and joy. Findekáno was determined to spare neither tenderness nor skill in banishing all thoughts of lost time or sorrows endured since he had last handled Maitimo in such a way. When finally he brought Maitimo to climax, their shared consciousness revealed to him that its intensity rivaled anything they had heretofore achieved.
“Káno, how can one of such an enchanting mouth think to tease me about my purported artistry in love?”
“My motivation has never been higher, nor could the waiting have been more excruciating,” Findekáno said, with complete earnestness.
“There was no one during the years that we were apart? Not even when crossing the ice? You must have huddled together for warmth?”
“I was broken-hearted and only thought of you,” Findekáno said. “Oh, there was Findaráto, but that was only one time. No. Sorry. Twice.”
“Findaráto! You are joking, are you not?” Maitimo sounded thoroughly startled.
“Sorry, Maitimo. I truly do not have sufficient imagination to be able to invent that.” A shy grin turned into an embarrassed guffaw.
Maitimo smiled dangerously and, after swearing softly under his breath, said, “You certainly have more imagination than I do--to have approached him of all people.”
“What makes you think I approached him? I am hurt that you would think I would go out of my way to seek comfort in anyone else.”
“Don’t be pedantic. Sought or accepted such comfort. The line is thin. Are you saying that he actually approached you?” Maitimo’s voice rose in disbelief, before he laughed outright.
“You are enjoying this tale much too much in entirely the wrong way.”
“I don’t particularly enjoy imagining you with someone else. But I am curious about Findaráto. What was he like?”
“He did not have your talent or my enthusiasm, but he did remind me of one small thing that I will share with you. All in all he is exactly as you might expect Findaráto to be: gracious and self-contained, very blond and quite beautiful.”
“That is not comforting to me. What must you see when you look at me now?”
“I see you--all the sides of you that I have known: one of my earliest teachers and mentors; the bold, handsome Nelyo of the nearly forgotten immature pranks and misbehavior of your youth; my one and only true love, my dearest friend, confidante and co-conspirator; today all of those parts join together to make up this battered and bruised King of the Noldor, who is above all else a triumphant survivor of Morgoth. Have I not followed you to the very ends of Arda?”
“But once you looked upon me and saw perfection or said you did,” Maitimo said, his tone carefully matter-of-fact yet containing a lost-boy poignancy that Findekáno remembered hearing in their youth, whenever his eldest cousin sensed he did not live up to the expectations of Fëanáro. Findekáno looked down at the once so familiar figure, overwhelmed by its uncharacteristic fragility, its alien angularity. Maitimo no longer reflected the perfect exquisiteness of form and face that he recollected, but nonetheless appeared magnificent to him, if stark and disturbing, like this heretofore unknown way of being.
“I probably did call you perfect with the absolute foolishness and certainty of the young. But that was wrong of me. For you were not perfect then and were never intended to be,” Findekáno said.
“Interesting that I wanted to be perfect for you and for my brothers, but one of the things that I loved most about you was that you never pretended to be without faults before me,” Maitimo answered.
“No one expected that of me,” Findekáno said laughing. “But of all the things I wished of you—love, loyalty, patience, tolerance, forgiveness—I never counted perfection among them. I observed at a very young age how the yearning for perfection haunted you and each of your brothers. Now you should at last be able to cast that notion aside. Cannot you finally see that the one even the Valar praised as the greatest of all the Children of Eru, the one you idolized and believed to be perfect, never was? Anyway, if any of the Valar had ever been kissed by you, they would have been forced to re-think that characterization.”
“I do adore your flattery and charming nonsense. I am quite certain you could seduce any Vala. But truly you do not find me repulsive to look upon now? With all of these scars and flaws?”
Findekáno could not resist running a hand down Maitimo’s leg, from hip to calf, long and pale, thinner now than it should be, but still so elegantly formed.
“The marred and imperfect body I see is no less beautiful to me than it was when I perceived it in its pristine state. Quite the opposite, in fact, I see evidence of endurance and courage, magnificent and appalling. You are far from perfect now, but splendid.”
“So, did you give yourself to Findaráto, or take him?” Maitimo asked, with a grin that would have appeared convincingly unserious to most but to Findekáno concealed hurt and insecurity behind the pretense of salacious curiosity.
Findekáno kissed him fiercely, after protesting in a harsh whisper, “Neither! Our relations, if one could call them that, consisted of some furtive touching, rubbing against one another and a few kisses. Be assured, there are some things I would only share with you, beloved. You are unassailable, first in my heart, no matter how long the separation or dark the circumstances.”
“Thank you,” Maitimo said. “Later, after we have slept, show me what he did that you wanted to share with me.”
“I can show you now.” Findekáno took Maitimo’s bottom lip between his teeth and pulled. “He did that to me. Remember how I used to do that to you? I had forgotten how much you liked that.”
Maitimo whispered, "Ai, do you see what you have done to me? Now I can’t sleep."
“I am sorry.”
“No. You are not. You are very greedy, Káno. You always have been.”
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.