Snow crunches underfoot. Then more than crunches, it swallows legs up to the knees, the trick of walking upon the icy mass does not work when it is this deep and distorted full of air pockets caused by wreckage and bodies.
There was never snow in Tirion.
Caranthir thinks this with dour bitterness but it is a passing thought and then he carries on, traversing the wreckage of twin avelanches, a whole settlement lost beneath his feet.
Celegorm is likely dead. He tries not to think that thought too loudly, heart twisting inside his chest. He glances at Huan, bedraggled and shivering but doggedly (hah!) sticking to his side rather than waiting with the men who are taking care of those they could locate and dig out.
This is your fault, the thought circles around him. Your fault. Your fault. Your fault. This is your doing. Because you were so selfish.
He grinds his teeth together and presses on, seeking the impossible sign his brother lives.
The trouble begins the night before Celegorm leaves with a letter that arrives inauspiciously late in the day from Himlad. Caranthir feels uneasy, he puts it down to inadequately cooked food until the seal catches his attention, white wax as had always been her calling card, breaking under Celegorm’s suddenly clumsy hands.
“It’s her,” his brother says and Caranthir, heart sinking, watches the way that Celegorm greedily devours the letter, fingers gripping paper so hard he dents it. “It really is her. She has left Turgon’s greedy hold and she is at Himlad now. I need to go. Where is my horse? Brother will-“
“It is dark,” Caranthir interrupts him, stomach twisted and sore and his tongue feeling heavy and tasting bitter, “do not be stupid. You cannot travel in the dark. And the worst of the weather is upon us. Wait until spring.”
Having his brother close was something he has swiftly become used to. He doesn’t want Celegorm to leave. When his brother arrived at the start of the season Caranthir expected only a quick trip but Celegorm lingered and now here they are with something new dragging his brother away. And it is the woman who disappeared and left him heartbroken without explanation.
Even in Valinor it was an irritating thing and something that could sour any conversation when brought up. Tyelkormo had been even more pathetic than Celegorm; the way that his brother could and would drop all business at any moment, would pay her debts at bordellos and wineries without a complaint, and allow their Uncle to place the blame on him for the whispers about Irissë’s reputation even as Irissë was in bed with another one of her lovers.
It was not Irissë’s many lovers and habits that had turned them against even the mention of her, Curufin and Caranthir especially, but her casual habit of using their brother; the smugness she had that when something went wrong, Tyelkormo would be there to take the blame and save her from the same mistakes or carelessness. Over and over.
It had reached a point that even Matimo had had arguments with Findekáno about her to the shock of the few that had known about it.
Their mother tells them not to curse when they are children. Words from the mouth came from the Elves first and therefore are not the device of the Valar. The Valar’s spoken language, rarely heard for it hurts both the ears and mind, was created after hearing the Eldar. Words from the mouth are therefore not under the proper controls that the world must be under. Words from the mouth must be used in respect.
They never hear her curse once. She practices what she preaches. She screams and hollars when something goes wrong, but never words from the mouth.
Their father is less circumspect but Caranthir respects their mother and never curses until now. He casts aspersions beneath his breath and hopes Irissë will disappear before Celegorm can set foot in his stronghold.
“In the morning then,” Celegorm is panting, panting like a dog held back from prey by only a leash, “at first light. Sorry to take my leave of your brother.”
“You are pathetic,” Caranthir snaps in reply, “which one of you is the bitch here? You or her? If she’s here to do something other than use you and spit out the bones again for us to find then she’ll wait until the snows melt.”
The table rocks with the force of Celegorm pushing up from it, rising hastily and angrily indeed and so they fight, they fight for a good hour then Celegorm storms out of the room and Caranthir fumes at the ruined meal they had been enjoying before the damned letters arrival.
He leaves and baths and prepares for bed angrily then finds his brother sitting on the edge of his matress. Celegorm is looking just as flushed and fresh from the bath as he, his temper stowed away, and instead he is wrapped up in a robe as prim as any ingénue.
“I don’t want to end this stay on such a bad note,” his brother’s arms open up and when Caranthir falls into them Celegorm’s legs are just as easily parted.
He takes him hard then gently, then falls asleep to Celegorm’s mumbled invitation to come visit. It’s been a while since the three of them, Curufin, Caranthir and Celegorm, enjoyed each other together. And since Curufin usually visits Caranthir alone he knows they have not bedded one another. There’s just too much violence between them in bed without Celegorm between them.
In the morning Caranthir wakes up quite content within a cavern of blankets and pillows, Celegorm half wrapped around him protectively. Dawn is only just breaking. Caranthir finds his cock is quite hard, and Celegorm is lax with sleep still and thus easy to manoeuvre onto his stomach, hips propped up by a pillow. There are only a few grumbles when the cold is let in, then a happy sigh as Caranthir retrieves the oil from where he left it and retucks the nest back into place. Caranthir sets his slick fingers between Celegorm’s lower cheeks, first stroking the tight pucker beneath then pushing insistently, working the ring of muscle with oil impatiently.
This early in the waking Celegorm doesn’t bother to fight or make any pretence at resistance. He relaxes, panting softly into the pillow he pulls to his mouth as Caranthir works two fingers in, knowing his brother’s limits, then four. It’s quick and messy, but Caranthir makes sure his cock is oiled from root to crown to make up for it.
Celegorm does not mind anyway. His mouth has gone slack and hungry when Caranthir manages to glimpse it, usually when Celegorm raises his head to stop himself from suffocating on the cushion. There is a moment’s contemplation of letting that hungry mouth work at him. He could twist his hands into the dark silver steel colour of the loosened hair flowing all around his brother’s head and hold Celegorm in place, but Caranthir declines the temptation. He has a goal in mind, his brother’s mouth would only distract him.
He straddles his brother’s buttocks, Caranthir’s thighs pressing Celegorm’s thighs together, and mounts Celegorm like that, his brother whimpering and bucking minutely at the angle and the way the position forces him to tighten around the intrusion. Caranthir shushes him, tone affectionate as he lays down against his brother’s back, smoothing his hands over Celegorm’s fisted in the sheets so he can unpick his brother’s fingers from the linen and twine their fingers together.
Then he starts to gently push. There’s little need for large thrusts this time of day, he’s lazy, and the position is more viable for this lazy rutting, allowing him to grind his hips in different directions and make Celegorm keen and sigh at the different angles. He pushes slowly up against the firm cushion of his brother’s buttocks, enjoying their smooth skin against his sack, enjoying the hiccupping little jerks of Celegorm’s hips.
It’s a softer way to draw out that aching pulsing heat that results in a climax and he barely speeds up, only pushes deeper till Celegorm groans in disbelief, unrelieved, to spend in and then relax again ontop of his brother. He doesn’t withdraw. It is morning. The first orgasm always comes quickly and true to form he does not soften in his brother and once the sensitivity has lessened he begins the slow fucking again.
Celegorm has come twice into the pillow under his hips by the time Caranthir is satisfied, what must have been near agonising hours later for his brother though Caranthir knows it’s the sort of Celegorm craves. The sun is fully up and heating the room almost unbearably and the smell in the room is not quite pleasant either with the sweat and the seed on their bodies. Caranthir tosses the cushion off the bed and makes a note to himself to add a bonus to the monthly wages of his laundry staff.
His brother is at first languid, dozing in the aftermath but soon enough reality comes back and Celegorm is angry, and his departure from the keep is haphazard and messy without any of the normal protocols and the halls still ringing from the argument that follows.
Now the accusations his brother laid on him are stingingly true. Selfish and greedy. Childish and petulant. If he had not delayed his brother’s departure Celegorm would likely have not tarried at the waystop within the now demolished village for a quick meal. No if Celegorm had left at first light like he had intended then the way station would have not been open yet for new comers. He would likely had pressed on and taken a break in his riding at a safer option or eaten from his supplies while in the saddle.
If Celegorm had not been so angry as to leave, exhausted and without a morning meal, he might not have been so hungry as to be tempted by the pathetic stews and hard breads usually found at waystations.
Beside him Huan whines softly again and Caranthir looks down at the dog who is becoming more and more slumped, each great paw lifting even more slowly than the last.
“I am sorry,” he says out loud and watches the words drift away from his mouth towards the unforgiving bright blue of the winter sky, putridly innocent blue. His eyes are stinging from the light that reflects off the snow that stretches endlessly all around him. It forms valleys and hills that were not there before, casting blue shadows that provide very little relief from the glare around.
Huan whines again.
He hopes it had been painless. Perhaps just a wave of white and then nothing. He hopes that perhaps his brother hit his head or was lucky enough to have his neck snapped and did not have to suffocate beneath the pressure of the white beneath his feet. This is not the first avalanche that has happened in this region on the border between their lands. He has pulled out bodies, their rib cages crushed by how the settling snow had closed in around them like stone girdles.
Huan has laid down, the picture of misery and defeat. Caranthir walks a few steps away but the dog does not move, only stares at him sadly. He walks back, lies down, and presses his face against the great hound’s side like he did when he was a child and the world was being unfair. There is a familiar sigh and a great muzzle presses against his shoulder.
He lies there a while, closing his eyes against the glare that makes his eyes ache from the front to the back of his skull. His clothes are thick and Huan is warm, the cold bothers him not for a while and he lets his mind torture him with how his brothers will react.
Maedhros will go blankfaced and he will go on another campaign to rid his lands of orcs once more.
Maglor will go silent and likely he will join Maedhros in his hunts.
Curufin will blame him. Curufin will hound him and abuse him and blame him and it will be the truth.
The twins will cry. Celegorm has always been their favourite and they’ve never bothered to hide it. The twins will cry and that will be the worst of it.
As the image of the twins’ faces, twisted in pain and wet with tears, flashes through his imagination his head goes from warmly propped up to being half buried in the snow.
Huan darts away into the white rippling landscape, his howl ringing like a bell. Caranthir, cheek cold and slightly stunned, follows the noise. Huan runs sideways across the raised landscape, jumping over mounds and stumbling over his own long legs till he stops by an inconspicuous dips and begins to dig.
Heart in his throat Carathir runs over and begins to dig along side but eventually it is clear who is superior at the job and Huan knocks him away with a gentle shove of his muzzle then continues to plow through the snow, leaving Caranthir to wait to see if it is his brother’s body he pulls out or Celegorm in spirit as well as flesh.
“-d boy Huan. Good boy.”
Ten minutes later he pulls his brother, mumbling and reaching for his hound, from the snow and holds him close. Celegorm’s eyes are shot red and his skin is blue, he mumbles to Huan and grips the beast up against Caranthir’s back, hands knotted into warm fur.
Caranthir holds him, lets the wind blow past them with a angry whistle and then wraps his cloak over Celegorm’s shaking body and tucks him even closer to his chest, pressing his face against a chilled cold neck.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers into his brother’s mumbling and is surprised when the noise dies away abruptly. He feels Celegorm turn his head, and sluggish muscles tense beneath his cheek, but only briefly. Celegorm just does not have the energy to get angry it seems. His brother instead slumps and shakes his head minutely, letting Caranthir raise him up to his feet, one hand twisting into Caranthir’s tunic and the other still attached to Huan.
“Stay with me till the winter is over,” Caranthir takes a step forward, figures out the best way to move his brother without daring to abuse Celegorm’s pride in lifting him and begins to trace his footsteps back to find his Men.
“Irissë waits for me,” Celegorm is facing towards the way that Himlad lies and his gaze is longing.
“”You won’t be making it anytime soon, be serious,” Caranthir squeezes tighter, “be sensible too, the pass is blocked now, this snow is impossible. Your horse would drown in it and I don’t fancy you wish to make the entire journey on foot.”
He can keep Celegorm easily for the winter, he had already calculated it so. He can keep his brother occupied with the hunting hounds and the tasks that he knows his brother loves. And at night he can have his brother there, in his bed, and while it won’t be the same it will be some kind of compensation for the fact that when it came to the decision of who went with who, Curufin cheated.
Come Spring perhaps he’ll be able to find a reason to keep his brother here even longer.
And he knows it will be while until he no longer needs the physical proof that his brother is here. At that thought he hugs him tighter, and Celegorm sighs. He’ll do anything, Caranthir thinks, all the tricks a younger brother learns against his elder and he’ll use all his miniscule wiles, to keep Celegorm here.
“You are right,” Celegorm at last agrees, face longing but hand tight in Huan’s ruff and his other arm around Caranthir’s shoulder, he lets himself be lead away to the emergency camp.