2. The Walls Will Serve II
They walked down to the springs of Little Gelion, the pair of them, in silence, Maedhros careful not to look at his cousin beside him. Even after three days, he still found himself reeling inwardly sometimes at the knowledge that he was loved, as if his head was unable to catch up with his emotions. If he cast too beseeching a look upon his cousin, he knew Fingon would be tempted to throw caution to the winds in his efforts to reassure him. He did not want reassurance at that price, did not even need reassurance at this point, really.
'Are you sure you are not cold?' Maedhros asked again, instead, without lifting his eyes from the path.
'No, no, I don't feel cold at all', Fingon answered.
He was grateful for the heavy cloak that Maedhros had insisted on draping around his him, but not because of the cold. The sun was out and, although the autumnal colours of the landscape left little doubt that winter would not be long in coming and the early morning hours might well bring frost tonight, the Marches looked friendly and bright in the light of noon. But the weight on his shoulders helped to remind him that he was Fingon, the High King of the Noldor, inspecting the water supply of the strategically important fortress of Himring and that said Fingon had better keep his hands to himself, under his cloak—even though it would have been all too easy to reach out and touch…
He stepped over the fragment of a rusted blade that lurked in a patch of grass. Surely, that ought to be enough to sober anyone up! They reached the cleft in the rock, stopped and regarded Little Gelion in its channel, running down to the culvert in the restored outer walls.
'The well in the inner fortress is drilled through the rock, but in fact, it is the same water, the water of Gelion, as well', explained Maedhros. 'During the siege, the Enemy tried to cut off our water supply as well, of course, just as they tried pretty much everything else… But they did not manage it.'
Fingon nodded, truly sober now.
Maedhros, as so often when they discussed the events of the Dagor Bragollach, felt a painful urge to apologize. His own people, the people of the Marches, regarded him as a hero, but in truth his reach had not been long enough even to defend them. To the others beyond, he had been able to offer no help at all, however much he wanted to. And he had wanted to, so much…
But, he discovered, apparently he did not wish to apologize for Himring. Maybe because the efforts of too many had gone into raising it—not only his own—maybe because there were too many whose lives its walls had preserved, at least for now, until the next attack…
'Himring served me well', he told Fingon, awkwardly. 'Its walls served us well…'
Fingon heard the urgency in his voice and woke up with a start from his own complex dream of love and royalty and guilt. For the last three days, he had not had attention for much else besides Maedhros and the fortress of Himring had been merely a backdrop to him. But however weary Fingon might be, after the Dagor Bragollach, he had not wearied of Middle-earth nor lost his appetite for the sight of it.
He turned and looked back the way they had come. Above them, the walls of Himring gleamed on the hill-top like an ornate crown. In the light of midday, it was easy to ignore the battle scars. Or maybe they just added to it all.
'It's beautiful', Fingon said with conviction.
Gelion bubbled at their feet, ever-changing, unchanging.