4. Down by the Water
A full moon lit their path, but Maitimo remained watchful to ensure that Findekáno did not misstep himself in his intoxicated state. He realized belatedly that he had walked them in the direction of the pools. Their original intent, before Findekáno had begun to feel so ill, had been to find somewhere to bathe.
“How are you feeling now? Shall we go back to your tent so you can rest?”
“Not normal but no longer sick. You wanted to bathe. I can manage that, if you like.”
“We don’t have to if you would rather not. You don’t really need a bath tonight. But my hair is the type to capture and hold onto the smoke of the bonfires and the cooking fires as well. It must smell like a combination of the aftermath of a forest fire and roast deer.”
“Love your wild hair.” Findekáno wound his arms around Maitimo’s neck, nuzzling the skin behind his ear, face buried in his hair. “Yes. Wood smoke and meat grease. But I’m not complaining.”
“You don’t complain when I show up covered in the dust of road, smelling like horse sweat, and haven’t bathed in days.”
”Aww. Pitiful creature. Let’s go clean you up, because if we do not, I know that you will not cease whinging about it.” Findekáno pointed. “Look. I see lights ahead. Apparently we are not the only ones who thought of a bath.”
“Are you sure that you are up to dealing with company?”
“You can trust me. I promise to hold my tongue." Findekáno's blatantly tongue-in-cheek declaration caused Maitimo to roll his eyes, earning him a playful shove.
"Not likely we will know anyone in any case," Findekáno said. "These woods are crawling with strangers.”
“I was worried less of what anyone else might think than how you feel. Do I appear that inconsiderate to you?”
“No. I was only tweaking you for hustling me out of Macalaure’s tent so fast. I was awful in there, wasn’t I?”
Maitimo did not answer, but smiled and tightened his grip on Findekáno’s hand.
As they drew closer, the lights they had seen through the trees were revealed to be lanterns suspended here and there among the lower branches at the near side of one of the larger pools. The moonlight reflected off the surface. A few bathers stood in the shallow waters. On the bank some three dozen or so others gathered in small clusters, mostly lightly clad, bare, or girded only in towels.
Maitimo made out the figure of Findaráto, wearing a short, white chiton that showed his admirable legs to good effect, a towel thrown over one shoulder, shining and calm in the center of a group of three. If one could say that his cousin Artanis was magnificently beautiful, somewhat taller and broader of shoulder than the ideal of feminine beauty, then her oldest brother might contrastingly be described as her perfect male counterpart, marvelous of face and form and yet somewhat leaner and more refined than most Noldor, at least, would view as the archetype of a handsome male.
The scene of Findaráto and his companions, standing amid the groupings of scantily clad bathers, reminded Maitimo of an elegant stained-glass window in the palace of Finwë that depicted the awakening of the Quendi under stars alongside the waters of Cuiviénen. Accustomed as he was to Findaráto and his inclinations, he believed his cousin had no doubt charmed his new acquaintances and now listened to them with rapt attention, more than a little fascinated with the idea that he might find a way he could help them.
There was, however, an imperial quality to Findaráto’s beneficence that reminded him less of his open-hearted Uncle Arafinwë and more of Nolofinwë. He did not for a moment doubt Findaráto's good will but questioned how much his philanthropic view based itself upon ignorance of the methods the Sindar and the Nandor had developed to adapt to their environment and its threats. They all had much to learn.
Findekáno slipped his arm around Maitimo’s waist and whispered in his ear, “They make a pretty picture don’t they. You’re thinking of that window in the formal dining room, aren’t you?”
“I was,” he admitted, turning to Findekáno and softly kissing his lips. “I also thought of the first time I saw it. Atar carried me on his hip, so I could see above crowd. That was before even Macalaurë was born. I asked Atar if the first of the Quendi had awakened there clad in their nightclothes. He laughed and told me that he doubted that they had, but he suspected Indis wouldn’t enjoy her dinners looking up at bare breasts and dangling bits and pieces.”
“Ah, yes.” Findekáno grinned. “I can just imagine him saying that. That sounds exactly like Uncle Fëanáro as I like to remember him.”
Findaráto had spotted them and waved for them to come over. He stood with two unfamiliar Elves. The dark-haired one stood imposingly tall, broad of shoulder and chest, with a strong jaw and aquiline nose. The other, another of those rare silver-haired blonds, like Daeron, was slighter of build, with an ethereal face, tempered by a pointed chin, merry hazel eyes, and a mischievous smile.
“Finno, Russo.” Findaráto kissed them both in greeting. “This is Mablung of Doriath,” he said, touching the arm of the dark one, “And Malgalad, one of the chieftains of the Nandor. These are my cousins, Nelyafinwë Maitimo Feanárion and Prince Findekáno, heir to our High King Nolofinwë. Findekáno is one of the principle organizers of this convocation.”
"Hey, Ingo," Findekáno said with warmth, before smiling and nodding to his companions, looking perfectly comfortable and not in the least inebriated. "Very pleased to make your acquaintance."
Maitimo greeted everyone as well. In process of clasping forearms and exchanging handshakes, Malgalad looked down at the leather glove and vambrace which Maitimo wore.
"So," Malgalad asked. "Then you must be the one-handed Noldo whose friend rescued him from the face of the cliffs of Thangorodrim?" Turning to Findekáno, he said, "And you must be his champion. I had half wondered if one should give any credence to the tale, or if it had been circulated by your people to impress us with the courage and heroism of their princes."
"Yes. That would be I." Maitimo smiled to relieve the anxiety for his reaction that he saw on the faces of Mablung and Findaráto. "One cannot underestimate the daring of Findekáno. For my part, a disastrous miscalculation cost the lives of my most trusted companions and landed me in the hands of Morgoth in the first place. Hardly something one would brag about."
"Humpf," Malgalad snorted. "Don't be modest. We all know the fortitude it must have taken to survive. I can see that your spirit burns strongly despite your ordeal. The Dark One must have seen that also and realizes that you now appear fell and terrible to his minions. Of course, both of you, having thwarted him, will be special targets of his malice."
"We already were," Findekáno volunteered. Findaráto widened his eyes in warning.
"Please make allowances for our friend's Malgalad's forthrightness. The Nandor place little value on courtly manners or discretion," Mablung said, affably enough to dispel any tone of criticism. "One learns to value him for his honesty, however."
Findaráto declared, "Nelyafinwë is always gracious, but is well accustomed to straight speaking. Findekáno, on the other hand, knows how to use pretty manners when he wants to, but is notorious for his bluntness. You are in good company here, Malgalad."
"Well, then, since I have no reputation for prudence to uphold either," Findekáno said. "I have something I am curious about. I wonder if you are familiar with the group of Nandor who performed the Deer Dance earlier tonight. Apparently, they gave me a potent drink which first made me sick as a dog and now appears to have greatly altered my perceptions."
Malgalad let loose with a whoop of laughter. "You have nothing to fear from their concoctions. They are harmless. I know those fellows well. They come from far to the east of me. They abide more closely by what they like to refer to as 'the old ways.' You should be feeling yourself again before morning. I expect you will want to sleep half of the day though. Fortunately for you, it is going to rain. So most of the meetings planned for tomorrow will be cancelled."
"Did they tell you it was a great honor to be offered a share of their magic drink?" Mablung asked, cocking an eyebrow in wry amusement.
"No, but Daeron did," Findekáno answered.
Mablung straightened in interest. "You've seen Daeron? I've been looking for him all evening."
"I do not think you will be seeing him tonight," Findekáno said. "He is holed up with Maitimo's brother, Macalaurë."
"They share an interest in music," Maitimo felt compelled to add.
"And other things," Findekáno said, in a completely matter of fact tone, followed by a wicked grin.
"You were warned," Findaráto said to Malgalad and Mablung, crossing his arms over his chest smugly.
"What kind of other things?" asked Malgalad.
Findekáno drew his eyebrows together, looking somber. "Of course, I can't tell you. They are of a private nature."
Malgalad laughed, slapping him on the back. Findaráto shook his head at Findekáno, unable to sustain the pretext of exasperation before chuckling.
"Ah, well." Maitimo sighed, throwing an arm across Findekáno's shoulders. "Before Findekáno got sick, we intended to go back to our tent to get some soap and towels. Do you think you could loan us that towel, Ingo? And might you have any soap?"
"There you have them, the pride of the Noldor, the two eldest sons among the grandchildren of Finwë, aside from me, of course," Findaráto said. "So . . ."
"So, they are a handsome pair. Not surprising they are the subject of so much talk," Mablung said.
The three men stared mesmerized as Findekáno unfastened Maitimo's tunic and leggings, before proceeding to strip. Maitimo easily shed his clothing using one hand. Only a shade taller than Findekáno, the appellation of well-formed one still fit Maitimo, despite his missing hand. They waded together into the shallow water. Findekáno looked up at Maitimo laughing, while tugging at his arm to pull him into the deeper water. Suddenly, Findekáno fell flailing into the water, apparently Maitimo had tripped him. Findekáno shot up out of the water, spitting and yelling, and tackled Maitimo. When Maitimo stood again, Findekáno gazed up into his face, arms draped around his shoulders. Findaráto knew as well as he knew his own name what would happen next. Nonetheless, he was surprised at the form it took.
"Valar!" Findaráto swore. "He goes too far."
Findekáno suddenly had jumped up and grabbed Maitimo around the waist with his legs, causing Maitimo to stagger and almost lose his balance. When Maitimo opened his mouth to protest, Findekáno silenced him with a hard kiss. Even from where Findaráto stood, the effect upon Maitimo of Findekáno's antics was noticeable.
Mablung laughed softly, and Malgalad commented laconically, "No doubt it is partly an effect of the mushroom elixir. I would add that it is also confirmation of the rumors you heard about them, Mablung."
"I would not worry if I were you," Mablung said, looking at Findaráto. "There are few of your countrymen left in this area now. The Sindar and, particularly, the Nandor take a much more relaxed attitude toward such behavior than your people do."
By then, Maitimo had persuaded Findekáno to stand upon his own feet and begin to soap his hair for him.
"Fine," Findaráto said, shaking his head in bemusement. "Please tell me about your king. I had hoped that he might travel here at my Uncle Nolofinwë's invitation. He is my kinsman as well. My mother is the daughter of his brother King Olwë of the Teleri in Aman."
"Thingol has not ventured out of Doriath since he withdrew after the battle against Morgoth in East Beleriand. He discourages others of our people from leaving the area protected by Melian's magic. I was pleased when he asked Daeron and I to bring greetings to this gathering."
Mablung's tone and choice of words subtly indicated to Findaráto that he might not entirely agree with Thingol's defensive posture, when the peoples of Middle-earth outside of his borders were faced with little other choice than an eventual head-on confrontation.
In the midst of all the talking, tiring of sorting out the disparate cadences and accents of the Sindarin, which was the common language they shared, Maitimo’s concentration began to drift. He would have been fascinated, completely engaged with the opportunity to learn about the experiences and problems of so many geographically scattered groupings, if he had not been preoccupied with Findekáno, who seemed to have wandered away from their discussion. He reached out with his mind and sensed an amused, ‘Look behind you, silly,’ reminiscent in tone of the rich tenor of Findekáno’s corporeal voice. Findekáno was definitely still under the throes of the drug, far from insensible, but as Maitimo's brothers were wont to say, ‘feeling no pain.’
Maitimo turned and spotted him some distance away. He stood observing a group of young Sindar who chatted nearby, while combing and braiding one another’s wet hair. Findekáno watched them, leaning against a tree, arms folded across his chest, a faraway smile on his face. His pale skin, marmoreal from that distance, glowing in the moonlight, emphasized his handsomeness. Yet no one appeared to be paying Findekáno any mind. Maitimo wondered how anyone could see him and take their eyes away. He caught Findekáno’s gaze and read there an unsolicited response, ‘Because I’m yours,’ followed by a sinful smile.
Realizing that Findaráto had said something to him that he had entirely missed, Maitimo squeezed his cousin’s bicep and mumbled, “I’m sorry. I was distracted. I’ll be right back.”
“Bring him back with you,” Findaráto called after him, smirking.
Maitimo fetched Findekáno and kept him close within their circle. At last, Mablung and Malgalad excused themselves, followed shortly thereafter by Findaráto.
Findekáno supported himself by hanging his arms heavily over Maitimo's shoulders from behind, pressing his pelvis against his backside. He brought his lips close to Maitimo's ear. “I have a small problem,” he whispered.
“Yes. I suppose we should be going back to your tent now. This all must have been a little overwhelming in your condition. Oh, by the way, your problem doesn’t seem so small.”
“I thought you’d never notice. Take me home," Findekáno said.
Realizing that the aphrodisiacal qualities of the Nandorin potion had by then completely taken hold of Findekáno, Maitimo could not restrain his own eagerness to seek the shelter of their tent and close out the rest of the world. They walked as quickly through the woods as they could, with arms entwined about one another’s waists, while stumbling over unseen roots and stones in their path, and stopping every few feet to exchange breathless kisses.
When they finally made their way into the tent, they collapsed onto the mattress on the ground. Maitimo tore at Findekáno’s clothing, while his partner laughed approvingly at his uncharacteristic haste. Maitimo felt Findekáno’s euphoric frenzy nearly as keenly as if he had ingested the drug himself.
“Tell me how you want it.” Maitimo begged of Findekáno, his voice shaky, his heart pounding in his ears.
“Like I usually do,” he said, his voice languorous and seductive. “Only this time, no matter how I try to provoke you, take it slowly, very slowly.”
”Oh, yes,” Maitimo moaned, caressing Findekáno’s warm, supple flesh, familiar but forever new.
As Maitimo took Findekáno as he desired, their mind-to-mind connection seemed stronger than it ever had been and Findekáno's filters virtually non-existent. Maitimo became acutely aware of a fascination on the part of Findekáno of his own fight against despair and his small but determined hope to find a way through the labyrinth of confusion and pride that had led their people into the situation in which they now found themselves.
After Maitimo had rolled off to one side, he brushed the hair from Findekáno's brow and studied him.
"Please, love, do not glorify the darkness within me or my ability to endure suffering. My willingness to fulfill my oath is a necessity, not a virtue. It cannot be foresworn. I need you to be my beacon in this dark night of my fëa. Although the Valar may have cursed and abandoned me, my one hope is that your love for me might signify that the One, who is wiser and stronger than they are, also could look upon me and offer mercy."
"Whatever," Findekáno said, his shrug bristling with ill-disguised impatience, before he wrinkled his nose in an expression of impudent indulgence and pulled him into a bear hug. "Hey, chin up. We can do this. And, yes, I do admire you excessively. You will not talk me out of that."
Maitimo attacked him again with a desire that flooded him like strong wine, possibly rooted in what he could discern of the effects upon Findekáno of the Nandorin potion. His mouth covered those delicious red lips, while Findekáno twisted under him, breathing into his ear, "I love you. I love you so."
All in all the effect of the drug upon Findekáno appeared only to make him more himself, but, for once, able to relent and relax, to enjoy the drawing out of their passion. His usual nervous energy subdued and quieted. Maitimo tried not to feel disloyal that this felt more in tune with his own propensity.
Sensing and laughing at his scruples, Findekáno said, "No guilt. Enjoy me this way while you can."
Findekáno finally came again, harsh and sudden. Maitimo looked down and saw Findekáno’s thick and heavy erection still hard, rock hard, jutting from a nest of dampened black curls, twitching slightly. If one did not know better one could scarcely believe that he had just spilled.
“I wish you could see your face now,” Findekáno muttered, the amusement in his voice transparent. "You look positively discouraged."
Maitimo looked up at him laughing unsteadily. Findekáno’s own visage shone transcendentally stunning in the dim candlelight, cheeks flaming, pupils dilated, black saucers with a narrow sapphire blue border.
“But you are still unsatisfied. I am sorry.”
“For what? You just brought me off for the second, no, the third time. You are a little mad, you know. You are so competitive. Lie down next to me. Let me hold you. Just rest.” Findekáno pulled him into his arms, stroking his back while making soothing noises. “Face it; you are not going to win tonight. It is the potion in the drink.”
“I do not know what you mean by winning or competitive.”
“You know exactly what I mean. Your attitude of: ‘Must keep the boy happy. I owe him so much.’ Screw me blind and senseless, until I cannot not remember my name and have made myself hoarse screaming. Then you walk around the next day, all quiet and smug, while your brothers make jokes about how noisy I am, telling yourself that you are the one who did that, always can do it.”
”I thought you liked it?” Maitimo felt his energy returning. A grin pulled at the muscles around his mouth. Maybe Findekáno was right. Maybe he was competitive. He could not deny there was something forever compelling about reducing that ball of energy to a puddle of mush, gloriously abandoned and yielding, and afterwards watching Findekáno’s eyelids dropping over those questing blue eyes, holding him while he slept, and, yes, most of all, knowing that no one else ever would do that to him.
”Do like it. But you have clearly had enough for tonight.”
“Don’t count your chickens, Káno.”
Findekáno laughed, cocky, challenging, but when Maitimo swiftly leaned over him and took him in his mouth, he gasped, “Eru in Eä, Maitimo.”
Looking up at Findekáno over the pale skin of his chest glistening with perspiration, Maitimo smiled, or as nearly as one could under the circumstances. He wondered for moment at how the ever-restless Findekáno was the one who brought him peace, who simultaneously calmed and strengthened him. He could not underestimate his debt to Findekáno but this had nothing to do with gratitude. This was pure self-indulgence and completely without guilt.
Soft pants from Findekáno slowed gradually, as he recovered from the initial shock of Maitimo’s sudden onslaught.
“Stop. Too much. On your back now. I want this one to be for you,” Findekáno ordered.
Maitimo followed his directions, but not before saying, “Káno, you get the strangest ideas. It is always for me.”
Names: Sindarin - Quenya
Fingon - Findekáno, Káno, Finno
Maedhros - Maitimo, Nelyafinwë, Nelyo, Russandol
Fëanor - Fëanáro
Finarfin - Arafinwë
Maglor - Macalaurë
Finarfin – Arafinwë
Fingolfin – Nolofinwë
Finrod Felagund - Findaráto/Ingo
I would like to thank IgnobleBard for the Beta and, of the Lizard Council writers group, Moreth for reading and Pandemonium for extremely useful nit-picks.
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.