2. Small Vanities
Impatient to change out of his armor and wet clothing, Maedhros was able to break away from further discussions with Fingolfin, better continued clean and dry. After quick baths—Fingon and Maedhros had shared a tub of water in their bedroom—they hurriedly dressed for supper. The night before the festival was an important one, especially with so many guests who knew nothing of the observances. Fingolfin had said earlier with an air of mystery, 'All you need know will be revealed after supper.'
Erestor was to be housed for the visit in the large dressing room adjoining their bedroom, albeit with a strong oaken door that locked between the two rooms and with its own door opening into the hallway affording him some privacy. They would share the room that was considered Fingon's own within his father's household. A second smaller bedstead had been installed. When Fingon caught Maedhros examining it with a jaundiced eye, he laughed and pulled him into his arms.
"Appearances only," Fingon said. "You know how Atar feels about the appearance of propriety! Don't read judgment where it does not exist, and for certes do not worry an instant about a bed we will not use." After far too long sleeping on the ground, which was rocky, or damp, or both, and amongst a company of a few hundred men, Fingon's huge feather bed, behind locked doors, beckoned like an oasis in a desert.
"I know that sleeping with you in the Barad Eithel is an awkward proposition. He indulges us by arranging for us to share a room. It's just that I am a sentimental fool sometimes and wish things could be different." He sighed and stuck out his lower lip, knowing as soon as he did it that Fingon would react.
Fingon leaned in and nipped at the protruding pout, before pulling him into a lingering kiss. But politics, public and covert, awaited them in the Great Hall.
Maedhros finished dressing, after choosing a robe of deep green velvet. He worried, when it was too late to do anything about it, that it might be too gaudy. The green was dark enough not to be lurid, but the trim around the sleeves and neck was lavish, worked all in copper and gold thread; and there was a lot of it. He had brought the copper circlet he had received from his grandfather Mahtan at his coming-of-age fest. He rarely wore it, because it brought back such poignant memories, tending to make him maudlin, but it seemed a shame never to wear it since it suited him so well. Unsolicited, Erestor had insisted he bring it along with 'your new green robe' as soon as they had discussed visiting Eithel Sirion.
"Whoa!" Fingon said when he saw him dressed, obviously sincere in his admiration.
"Really?" Maedhros asked. "It's not too much?"
"Oh, no. Just right! This is not Himring Castle, where you can lurk about in the corners, wearing black leather or rawhide even, and still be indulged as everyone's favorite brooding hero! No. You have an obligation to look princely and be admired for it here."
"Well, if you put it that way . . . "
Fingon tackled him and pushed him onto the bed, straddling him. "I could eat you up you look so luscious."
"Káno! Take a little care. You'll destroy the effect before anyone gets to admire it. You've already mussed my hair."
"That's how you look best—wild hair, panting, pupils dilated. I know you really want me."
Maedhros was mildly annoyed that Fingon had deliberately aroused him; he did not relish going through an extended supper—actually, an entire evening with Fingolfin—with blue balls. Additionally, his new robes had been steamed and ironed by the High King's well-trained servants and he did not want them wrinkled. Still it was difficult not to respond to the open-mouthed kisses that Fingon was forcing upon him. He sighed into Fingon's mouth with a pathetic little whimper, ready to admit defeat and spoil his festival robes if it came to that. For well onto three weeks, they had slept close enough to touch, without carnal knowledge. Anyone's self-control would have reached its limits, especially when covered by a half-naked Fingon, freshly bathed and randy.
"Eeps!" squealed Erestor, after sticking his head around the adjoining door. "Well, I am sorry." His tone was filled with indignation, the farthest thing from apologetic. "You really should have latched the door!"
"You should knock! I latched the main door," said Fingon. "I'd assumed you'd have enough sense to knock."
A full out belly laugh overcame Maedhros, which gave him the opportunity to roll Fingon off him and sit up. "It's just as well. We should not keep everyone waiting and Findekáno still has to finish dressing."
"Fine, then," said Erestor, walking the rest of the way into the room. "I intended to tell you that everyone is waiting. Up you go, Finno." He stuck his hand out. "I'll help you dress. I am very good as a manservant. I've had a lot of practice."
"I know you have," Fingon said with warmth. "And I appreciate that you look after him, more than I can express." He pointed across the room at a wine-colored robe of brushed silk, so muted in texture as to almost resemble the finest doe skin and bound at the wrists and the hem with a wide border of black and gold satin. "What do you think of the red one on the chair?"
Erestor's cheekiness never ceased to entertain both Maedhros and Fingon. The youthful courtier had decided some years earlier that complete frankness and a lack of obsequiousness was an excellent tactic to use when the intent was to keep Maedhros from ruminating or taking himself too seriously.
Maedhros was the first to admit that the method worked well. He knew Fingon also depended upon Erestor to keep an eye on him when their separations stretched to nearly a year at times. He was confident that Erestor often prevented him from falling into one of his periodic fits of melancholia. And, further, if he was unable to do so, Erestor would have no qualms about getting word to Fingon. Truth be told, Maedhros really did not mind that Fingon had recruited Erestor as his surrogate guardian his well-being. He felt comfortable with Erestor; he could squabble with him and boss him around in a manner he could never have done with any of his brothers or even Fingon.
"Oh, I do approve!" said Erestor. The attractive lad, despite his current passion for raven gear, was nothing if not a keen critic of fashion. If Erestor declared an outfit to be appropriate and attractive, then one could be assured that it was. "The two of you are going to eclipse King Ñolofinwë himself!"
"By the Valar, Eressetor," said Fingon. "Don't even think things like that around here. What if my brother heard you? This is Eithel Sirion!"
"And Master Eressetor has pretensions to being a diplomat," said Maedhros chuckling. "Anyway, even if we wanted to—which we definitely do not—Ñolvo has Finwë's crown and one cannot outshine that."
"I think the King liked me," Erestor said, waggling his eyebrows.
"Who wouldn't?" snorted Maedhros. "But, that is neither here nor there. Káno noted earlier that the personal is political in this environment. King Ñolofinwë will not let you get any closer to him. We live in an isolated environment in the North. We've grown accustomed to not expecting so many possible sources of internal conflict. It is frightening to me to think I need be reminded of diplomatic questions by Káno of all people."
"I was not expecting a relationship. Maybe a discreet tumble? He is a breathtaking man and does not strike me as the sort to ever allow himself a mistress."
"Listen. Not meaning to be harsh, but he looks at you and, for all your charm and beauty, sees a Fëanorian and a fanatical one at that. You would make a perfect spy, if you were not so obvious," Maedhros said. "He is also very observant of the mores handed down by the Valar. Although separated by time and distance, he would never betray his wife. And, further, has never to my knowledge shown the slightest interest in men. Lastly, you are much too young for him. My Uncle Ñolofinwë is very old for his age."
"I cannot believe I am forced to listen to the two of you debating Eressetor's chances of seducing my father! Listen," Fingon said, turning to face Erestor directly and holding him by the shoulders. "If you are looking for someone to flirt with, try Vorocanyon, captain of my horse archers. He is here for the festival. He is gorgeous and is neither a partisan of the group centered around my father, nor has he any interest in Turukáno's camp. Although loyal to me, he is as nearly as disinterested in politics as one can be in these circles," Fingon said. "And he definitely prefers young men."
"You and Turukáno have different 'camps' as you called them?"
"Oh, yes!" Maedhros injected. "And with profound theoretical and practical implications also. Oh, young Eressetor, I have been neglecting your education. I need to take you traveling with me more often."
"Thank you, both of you. I greatly appreciate the counsel," Erestor said with great solemnity. "What did you said his name was, Finno? Vorocanyon? What a name."
"Yes. That's him. Ginger-headed fellow, tall, amazing cheekbones."
"Ha! I can see how he meets your rather limited taste." Erestor gave a short bark of a laugh. "Fine. No more joking about the High King. And perhaps I will talk to your horse archer." He shook his head, laughing, before slapping Fingon on the back. "There. That is the last of those fiddly clasps. You're ready and you look gorgeous too."
Maedhros thought of saying that Erestor looked magnificent himself, but he hated to encourage him. And, his lush black velvet with the smallest amount of silver braid used for decorative detail around the neck and wrists might have suited Fingolfin or Finwë as mourning garb. But there was no arguing with Erestor, only a futile exercise with frustration at its end.
"Thank you, Eressetor." Fingon grinned. "Now, I am sure we are late for supper. Let's move sharply."
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.