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"Say a Prayer or Two" by Fadesintothewest

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Story notes:
Originally written for B2Me. . The story, inspired by Maglor_20’s prompt, made me consider the power of the singer/songwriter. One such fellow traveler is Steve Earle. I dearly love some of his music and I absolutely love his song, “Ft. Worth Blues” (this is my favorite version of the song). Listening to that song inspired some of this tale here. Unbeta’d.
“Say a prayer or two”

Maglor walked the winding path up towards the imposing stone fortress on the Hill of Himring. Maglor’s people had survived a terrible defeat, only because they retreated to Maedhros’ mighty fortress. Maglor tried his best to offer hope to the survivors, but it felt empty. The emptiness seemed to torment him with each step he climbed. The chill wind, though it was spring, tore through his meager clothes, howling, singing, and jeering, for Maglor had lost his melody. He had no desire for song. Maglor welcomed the emptiness, welcomed the quiet that descended within him. It was a quiet suited for the despair and memory of the flames that took those loyal to him upon the Plains of Lothlann. It was a quiet that allowed him to relive the grim last stand upon what had been called Maglor’s gap. Maglor smiled grimly. Nothing had been his. Nothing was theirs as they had once believed. To be a lord of land and place was but a fool’s dream.

Upon reaching the gatehouse, Maglor heard a voice calling out a command that opened the small inner door that ran like a maze within the massive iron gate. A series of locks turned and clicked as Maglor made his way through the series of doors. Finally upon the other side, Maglor walked briskly through the busy lower outer courtyard, making his way towards the inner courtyard that contained the private halls he shared with Maedhros.

“My lord,” a young elf interrupted Maglor’s path. “Lord Maedhros sent me to let you know that the High King arrives on the morrow.

“Thank you,” Maglor responded curtly, dismissing the young elf, but the elf hesitated. Maglor raised his hand motioning for the young elf to hurry on with his missive.

The young elf paled, but hastily delivered the remainder of his message: “And he wishes to see you immediately for he has urgent matters to attend with you…my lord.”

With a nod of his head Maglor released the elf, who scurried away. Maglor did not wish to be so harsh, but he had room for little else but bitterness of late. This news raised Maglor’s ire. Why had Maedhros not mentioned sooner Fingon would be arriving? In fact no one around him had said a word of Fingon’s arrival, certainly under Maedhros’ orders, Maglor believed. This made Maglor’s blood boil. What Maedhros thought he could achieve with such subterfuge was ludicrous in Maglor’s mind. He cast his glance towards the stables. Some young men and women were busy cleaning them out, putting in new hay. Maglor turned his attention back to the courtyard. Elves were busily cleaning, decorating and raising the standards that would greet the King. Maglor harrumphed. He simply had not noticed, yet that did not lessen his anger with Maedhros for not telling him.

Maglor leapt up the stone stairs that lead to the narrow bridge that connected to the smaller part of the fortress on Himring. Maglor slowed his steps, knowing that Maedhros was most likely watching him from one of the towers that loomed over him and the plains to the north. Another set of iron gates opened in front of him. Maglor walked through the inner gatehouse without a word for the men that manned the secondary gates. The inner courtyard was abuzz with activity, certainly making ready for the King’s arrival. Many of the elves paused their work and bowed their heads as Maglor passed, but Maglor did not turn and greet them as was his custom. No one took his slight personally. All were aware of the anguish Maglor suffered and the anger Maglor reaped upon himself, though he had until this moment bore it with an icy aloofness.

Maglor threw open the iron doors emblazoned with the Star of Fëanor. The receiving room was empty save for the elf loading wood in the great hearth that separated the smaller receiving room from the Great Hall on the other side. Maglor wound his way up the interior stone stars that rounded the main quarters that comprised their House, finally throwing open the doors to the solar suite. There he found Maedhros, standing by the open window, watching the activities of the inner and outer courtyards visible below.

Maedhros did not turn to face Maglor. Maedhros greeted his brother, “You left a trail of fire in your wake. If I did not know better, I would think you were making your way up here to have my head, such is the foul look upon you.”

Ignoring Maedhros, Maglor spoke, his voice flat with annoyance: “Why did you not tell me Fingon arrives tomorrow?”

This time, Maedhros spun around to face his brother, wearing a sly grin that further enraged Maglor. “Previous to today I could barely manage a word or emotion out of you and now look at you,” Maedhros replied, his hand motioning towards Maglor who was wearing a trail on the woven rug.

Maglor stilled his steps. He was about to yell at Maedhros but instead bit his lip, bringing his hand over his mouth. Through gritted teeth he finally replied, “Perhaps, Maedhros, but you should have told me nonetheless.”

“I could have and might have, maybe should have,” Maedhros retorted, knowing his less than serious words would further provoke Maglor. “But that would have only made your mood darker, made you withdraw further.” Maedhros’ hand curled into a fist, his fingers digging into his palm. “You would have filled yourself with more worry, fretted about how you would tell your King you failed him.”

Maedhros’ words stung. Maglor sucked his breath in. “How dare you--“

“How dare I speak the blame you lay at your own feet?” Maedhros interrupted. “We both know you did not fail. The enemy was stronger. We both know that cursed gap had only a fool’s hope of being defended in the face of a powerful enemy. You,” Maedhros pointed at Maglor with his hand, “and your soldiers knew this to be the case. And yet you volunteered for the task.” Maedhros countenance softened, his voice softer. “Tis not failure brother. It is simply defeat. Something we suffer more than a fool.”

Maglor quieted. Maedhros words were true, of course. Yet he could not help but feel despair and guilt. Defeated, Maglor’s shoulder’s slumped, his head dropped, and the anger that held him tense dissipated. Maedhros took him in an embrace, which Maglor did not refuse. Maedhros filled him with a healing, soothing energy, making space for Maglor to consider Fingon. Stepping back, out of Maedhros’ embrace, Maglor looked over his brother. Surely Fingon’s coming caused an ache in his own brother’s heart, though their hearts were all full of pain and loss. “It is a bold and brave move Fingon takes, coming here,” Maglor spoke once more, his words tending to the pain outside himself.

Maedhros shook his head. “Ay, it is. He has visited hamlets and strongholds that yet stand and hold him king. And he has succeeded what he intended.”

“And what is that?” Maglor asked, searching his memory for the words that were spoken around him about the new King’s doings.

“He has inspired and filled our people with hope,” Maedhros answered, his voice tight with a strange edge.

“But foolish,” Maglor offered, guessing Maedhros’ thoughts on the matter.

“Foolish, yes,” Maedhros agreed, “and entirely necessary.”

This time Maglor was listening, his focus clearing. “And you like it not that Fingon must be a King with his throat so exposed.”

“I like it not,” Maedhros whispered, his gaze searching the grey eyes of Maglor. Maedhros smiled a small, sad smile. There was, a last, some clarity in Maglor, reflected in the clearing of the storms Maedhros saw in his eyes. At least, Maglor now heard Maedhros, understood the depth and emotion of words. Since the Dagor Bragollach and the retreat of Maglor’s forces to Himring, Maedhros had been hard pressed to break through his brother’s pain and rage. Leave it to Fingon’s coming to break through Maglor’s personal walls, Maedhros deliberated silently. Another small victory for the King, Maedhros thought to himself, though he did not like that Fingon’s dangerous travails were the source of the small light of hope taking root after the Battle of Sudden Flame.

Fingon made it his duty to journey as best he could to outposts and villages that made up the remnants of the Noldor that were still under the banner of the High King to offer solace and hope in spite of the black defeat suffered and the loss of Fingolfin. The Noldor knew Fingon well. They loved him deeply and sang of his valor. To have his presence among them in the wake of his own personal losses and the danger to him was testament to his courage. The Traveler King they called him for his travels were not without danger. And yet every time one of the King’s subjects spoke out, fearing for the King’s safety, urging Fingon to stay behind fortressed walls and not expose himself to danger, Fingon would answer: “Hear me my people. As your King such will not be my fate. Fear not. If death seeks me, there is only one place we shall meet, upon the battlefield. Nowhere else.” And the people heard him and believed him. Some remarked that in a strange way, Fingon was like Fëanor, their words power, but where Fëanor lost his path, Fingon led.

Maglor walked over to the window that faced the Plains of Lothlann, charred black by fire. His eyes scanned the devastation. Maedhros came and stood by Maglor. Both elves scanned far to the horizon, thinking of those lost on the plains, at the gap, grieving Aegnor and Angrod, their peoples. They too grieved Fingolfin, who like Fëanor, challenged the Gods and lost.

“A fool’s hope,” Maglor spoke, bitterness creeping back into his voice. Maedhros placed a hand upon his brother’s shoulder, unwilling to lose him back into his bitter, empty despair. Maglor turned to look up at his brother. Maedhros eyes were fixed upon the land. His grey eyes were a tempest of emotion, but Maglor knew that beneath that thinnest gossamer line, was a cauldron of hate and rage, which Maedhros kept in check. This Maedhros would loose upon the battlefield. He was a devastating figure, causing ally and enemy to cower alike. Maglor regretted his words. It was Maedhros’ never-ending hope that Morgoth be defeated. For Maedhros, for Maglor, there had to be more than just the Oath.

Sighing, Maglor turned his eyes back towards the devastation. “I see each of the faces of those dead when I close my eyes to sit in thought. I can hear the cries of their loved ones, husbands, wives, children and friends when they did not return. I feel it on my arm, though I am told I am fully healed.” Maglor rubbed his arm where the pain haunted him, reminding him of the fire that found a kink in his protective armor.

“Why do you not sing or play?” Maedhros spoke, broaching a subject that had caused a distancing between them.

Expecting this question, Maglor silently shook his head. “I cannot say why. It would be easy enough to say that the death of those under me has silenced my voice, quieted my hand, but there is more. And what that is I cannot say.” Maglor tore his gaze away from the plains.

Maedhros kept his eyes fixed on the North. Maglor turned and walked out of the room, leaving Maedhros to his vigil. It was all they had, a fool’s hope. At times it proved to be enough, Maedhros believed. Fingon had always said as much, shown him, that sometimes all it took was a fool’s hope to save them, to save him from death.


The full moon was high in the clear night sky, lighting the stone fortress of Himring hill. Maedhros woke with a start. Something outside of himself had disturbed his sleep. It was as if he had been sleeping, cocooned in shallow waters, when suddenly he was tumbled in waves that rolled in unexpectedly. Fingon! his mind cried out. Stumbling out of bed, Maedhros threw on a tunic and ran downstairs not caring his feet were bare.

It was a typical spring night where winter’s memory blankets the night in chill. For an elf, the chill was but a soft caress, no more. Maedhros felt the cool earth under his feet. The night was still. The guards were at their posts, but something pulled at the edges of Maedhros’ consciousness. His long legs led him up a tower at the edge of the inner courtyard. Taking multiple stairs in a single stride, Maedhros made quick work of reaching the battlement at the top. Guards standing duty curtly bowed to their Lord. “My Lord,” they greeted, waiting for their commander to speak.

Standing at a crenel Maedhros looked towards Himlad, formerly held by Celegorm and Curufin, to the southwest, south of the Pass of Aglon, the direction Fingon would surely be coming from. Fingon, as was his want, took the dangerous path of Iant Iaur, just north of the borders of Doriath and through Arossiach, the Fords of Aros. There was no more safe passage through what was formerly Dorthonion, Aegnor and Agnor’s realm, now overrun by Morgoth’s creatures. Anfauglith, the former green plains of Ard-galen were now too a wasteland, teaming with dark creatures. Knowing this, Fingon would have skirted these regions, keeping close to the border of Doriath, a road only the desperate or valiant took, it was said. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” Maedhros spoke, his voice almost a whisper. His guards retook their positions looking in the direction Maedhros did. Maedhros silently cursed Fingon’s stubbornness. There was no safe passage in Endórë.

“There!” one of the guards pointed out. Maedhros squinted in the direction his guard indicated. At first he could make nothing out, but then he saw a flag shimmer in the distance: a lone rider, a haste to their pace.

Maedhros ran down the tower and through the inner gatehouse to the outer courtyard. Repeating his earlier steps, he ran up a tower closest to the direction of the rider. All of Himring was abuzz with the warning of the coming rider. A soldier near Maedhros who used a spotting scope reported, “He bears the banner of the High King.”

“Does he call for aid?” Maedhros asked urgently, his body leaning out in the direction of the rider.

The rider was at a far distance even for elven sight. “No,” the soldier reported, twisting and turning the scope to help her elf eyes see clearer. The tension in the air was thick. Fingon was expected in the afternoon. A rider from Fingon’s escort at this time of night only meant something was wrong.

“Ready riders,” Maedhros commanded.

“Riders are ready, my lord. None of our scouts have signaled anything back to let us know that orcs or other foul beasts near us.”

Maedhros turned to the soldier who reported to him, “But none have signaled us to let us know that this rider was approaching.”

“He may have slipped between them, Lord,” the soldier answered, reminding Maedhros that the scouts’ numbers were fewer after the Dagor Bragollach. Maedhros nodded his head. “Have the riders depart and circle the approaching rider.” They would take no chance that this was not deceit.

The soldier signaled and the outer gatehouse opened to unleash the riders that merged into the night, their steeds black. Apprehensively they watched the riders gallop out, keeping an eye on the approaching rider. Seconds stretched to minutes. The silence that descended in Himring was palpable. The call had gone out for all to ready. Maglor appeared next to Maedhros, silently coming to stand next to him. Maglor too stretched his body out to look for the rider.

The first hour crept by slowly, painfully, the riders and Fingon’s rider disappearing behind the scattered hills that lay to the west of Himring. Knowing that his riders had met Fingon’s messenger made Maedhros’ increasingly anxious. He knew that in any moment the riders would appear between the dips of the hills, if indeed his riders were escorting the rider towards Himring.

“They return!” a soldier called out. Maedhros ran to the crenel. His hands grasping the stone border of the gap in the stonewall. Maedhros peered into the clear night. One of his riders had tied a bright yellow flag to the standard.

“Ready the healers!” Maedhros barked out.

Maglor came to stand behind Maedhros. “Easy brother. We know there are injured but none so serious we need to go to them yet.” Maedhros spun on his heels to face his brother.

“I am sending them out,” Maedhros growled.

“You are not,” Maglor countered, knowing Maedhros would never make a decision to endanger his men, a decision that was outside of the scope of information offered to them. “You know Fingon’s people would not offer yellow if it was more serious. When they are close enough we can go to them. But now we must wait.”

Maedhros curled his lip, angry with Maglor, but he did not send out the healers. Even without Maglor present, one of Maedhros’ men and women would have counseled the same, and Maedhros would have begrudgingly listened. Sending out horses now would not bring the injured back more quickly.

Time dragged until finally the riders approached the outer gatehouse. The large iron gates were thrown open and in clamored the horses. The messenger slid of his horse. Finding his feet on the ground, the messenger was about to kneel before Maedhros but Maedhros didn’t allow it. “On with it,” he directed impatiently.

“The King’s company rides but a few hours behind us. We were attacked and the King injured.” Maedhros impulsively grabbed the messenger by the collar, shaking him, “How serious are the King’s injuries!”

Maglor stepped in, “Maedhros release him.” Maedhros did as was asked, releasing the shaken messenger who quickly continued with his message before Maedhros had an opportunity to take hold of him once more.

“His injuries are serious, but not life threatening if--”

“--If?” Maedhros demanded, “Serious injuries? Explain yourself!”

“Allow him to finish his message and you just might have your questions answered,” Maglor intervened, grabbing Maedhros and pulling him away from the messenger.

The messenger looked from Maedhros to Maglor, settling on what seemed the calmer of the two to relay his message. “We are lucky the attack found us on this side of Arossiach. Any earlier and our King might not have survived, but our healers are confident that he will reach your healers in time.”

This answer did not suffice for Maedhros but Maglor had stood in front of him, indicating that he would witness no more of Maedhros mistreating the messenger.

“How many others are injured?” Maglor questioned the tired messenger.

“Ten of our company of twenty.”

“Twenty men are all you have?” Maedhros exclaimed, unbelieving that Fingon traveled with such a small number. “Did any perish?” he asked, his anger making him appear taller, more ominous.

“None perished my lord,” the messenger replied, his eyes focusing upon Maedhros.

“Enough,” Maglor interjected, indicating that one of Maedhros’ seconds take the messenger and more calmly interrogate him. “Ready the healing rooms and make sure we are ready for whatever injuries we need to treat,” Maglor directed at the same time he pushed Maedhros towards the inner gatehouse. “You and I must also prepare.”

Maedhros grunted, remembering he was in but a tunic, linen sleeping trousers, and bare feet. Now they would wait, and withstand the agonizing passage of time that would bring Fingon to them.


Maedhros paced the length of the Great Hall, his soft steps echoing in the large, empty room. “Lucky the attack was near Arossiach,” Maedhros muttered his anger not diminished. “What does this tell you brother?” Maedhros hissed. “Had Fingon been attacked on the other side, on the Old Bridge, could we count on Doriath’s aid?”

Maglor had passed the same thoughts in his mind. Would Thingol’s borders stayed closed to the Noldorin High King in a time of need? Maglor was not sure, and he was glad they had not tested this scenario. He did not voice his agreement, choosing for peace. Maedhros was a ball of nervous energy, understandably so. Instead Maglor quietly companioned Maedhros, the hours crawling by, teasing, merciless, or so it appeared.

At last dawn approached. The King’s company was in sight. Though Maedhros had greatly desired to have Fingon in sight, it did little to assuage his anxiety and fear when they appeared. It only brought greater grief as the full extent of the company’s injuries were revealed.

Maedhros watched the company approach. Fingon rode with one of his guards, who held him securely against him, Fingon’s horse trailing behind, empty of a rider. Fingon was leaning back, his eyes closed. His arm was wrapped close to his body, a bandage around his head. Blood stained the fabric of his clothes. Fingon was not the only one, but Maedhros had only eyes for him. One of the healers used the sighting scope to call out detailed orders, assessing the injuries from what he could see and what was being signed back to him by Fingon’s escort.

As the company drew closer, Maedhros readied his mount. He had become as efficient as one with two hands. Readied, he order the gates opened. Surrounded by the other riders, they flew down the hill that lacked any sort of large path. Elven horses were surefooted requiring no such paths on the steep terrain. Down the steep sides they galloped seemingly plunging over the hillside until the ground leveled. The elven steeds bred from the horses that came on the ships from Aman could run at a brutal pace for a more sustained period of time and so Maedhros pushed them to reach Fingon.

Maedhros pulled up next to the guard that carried Fingon. “Can he be moved?” Maedhros asked, his eyes scanning over every inch of Fingon visible to him. “My horse is fresh and I can get him back quickly,” Maedhros said aloud what Fingon’s guard already knew.

The guard nodded his head. Those most serious that could be moved onto the fresher horses were quickly and carefully lifted from one rider to another. Maedhros carefully took hold of Fingon, who was unconscious from a blow to the head. Fingon’s limp body fell back onto Maedhros. Maedhros adjusted himself on the horse, wrapping his arm around Fingon, securing him close to him. With his hand he took hold of the simple reins, pulling back on the horse that shifted beneath, her energy shifting into nervous dancing that Maedhros had to still. Maedhros was at once anxious and relieved: anxious because of the extent of Fingon’s injuries and relieved that he now had him next to him. The King’s horses were all tired, their gait becoming increasingly choppy. Maedhros horse would run fast and smooth, a much better end of journey for Fingon and his injuries.

A group of riders from Himring stayed to add numbers to the remainder of Fingon’s company that would more slowly make their way to Himring. The other riders took off swiftly with their injured companions. Upon reaching Himring Hill, Maedhros slowed his horse, allowing the horse to gingerly pick her path up the steep hill. At last the great gatehouse stood before them, its iron gates open to the returning riders. As the horses clamored into the courtyard, a flurry of activity surrounded them. Maedhros carefully handed Fingon into the waiting arms of healers who then carefully placed their King on a litter. Maedhros slid off his horse, his eyes trailing after Fingon. Soon he would be by his side, but in this moment, he had to make sure others were equally attended to.


Maedhros paced the length of Fingon’s bed, watching as the King slept. There was a nasty gash on his forehead where Fingon had taken the blow. The bleeding and swelling had been great, and as Fingon’s healers initially feared, his skull was fractured. But fortunately the blow to the head had not required the healers to crack open his skill and relieve pressure. Time was now needed for Fingon’s healing. Maedhros thanked Eru that Fingon had a thick, strong skull that had met many hard falls and blows and withstood them. He was thick skulled in other ways, Maedhros fumed. He was angry that Fingon had taken such a risk, but risk was all there was in these times they lived. Though Maedhros understood it, he cursed it nonetheless.

Fingon’s shoulder had also been dislocated and had been put back in place soon after the skirmish. The same shoulder had been sliced by a sword. The blood loss from this and other wounds had worried Fingon’s healers as they made haste to reach Himring. Fingon’s shoulder was now cleaned, bandaged and immobilized and the bleeding stopped. Maedhros’ eyes traveled down the length of Fingon’s bruised body. The arrow, which had glanced off another elf’s armor had not pierced too deeply, making extraction easy. It would be a painful injury to heal from and Fingon would be a less than cooperative patient. There was good news, at least in Maedhros’ mind: he would have Fingon for longer than expected. He would nurse him back to health, and hopefully talk some sense into Fingon, to be more careful with his life. He could no longer afford to be the hero riding off into the reaches of the night to meet the enemy head on. At least not yet, Maedhros concluded.

The picture painted by Fingon’s guard and advisors was grim. They had been waylaid by orcs that came down from Ladros. That the orcs had evaded Maedhros’ scouts near the Pass of Aglon was worrying. Maedhros tried to reassure himself that all was not bad: the orcs were a small group and were smart enough to observe the timing and movement of his scouts, which revealed a gap in Maedhros’ defenses that was quickly redressed. At least Morgoth knew that he could not take the pass again by force, not yet. But Maedhros could not help but take full responsibility for the failure that led to Fingon’s attack.

The group of orcs that attacked Fingon was easily double the number of men and women in Fingon’s escort, Maedhros was told. Fingon’s company wore no open signs of who they were, but word had most likely reached Morgoth of the new High King’s travels. Surely Morgoth had sent out small bands to track Fingon down. While Fingon was not the only company of Noldor traveling Beleriand, these orcs happened upon the right one. It wasn’t clear whether the orcs had recognized Fingon, but the fight had been brutal. A first group of orcs that attacked Fingon’s company was easily taken down by arrows but a secondary group advanced from a different direction, shooting arrows upon Fingon’s company. The elves had no choice but to shield themselves and wait for the larger number of enemy to meet them directly. Several of the company took arrows in the legs, including Fingon. While their light armor greaves offered protection to the leg, the orcs managed to pierce some while other arrows glanced off, striking the unprotected calf. Thus hobbled the company met the orcs.

The battle was fierce, the elves quickly gaining the upper hand. But in saving one of his captain’s lives, Fingon was unarmed. Swordless, Fingon had to revert to tackling and sprinting out of the way of the crude orc swords. It was in this moment that members of Fingon’s company erred: the orcs noticed the desperation of some of the elves to reach Fingon, indicating that he was the leader of the group. The orcs were able to separate Fingon from the other elves, but only two of the enemy could they release to go after Fingon so fierce was the onslaught by the elves. Fingon succeeded in unarming one of the orcs and then the second, but in doing so the distance between he and his people grew. An orc managed to grab Fingon’s arm, allowing the other time to pick up a sword and charge at Fingon. Using all his strength, Fingon threw the orc that held him in the path of the sword meant to impale him. The impaled orc did not release Fingon, his injury further enraging the damned creature. The other orc tackled Fingon, trying to snap the King’s neck, but Fingon had time enough to throw his hands up as shields around his neck.

Pressed between the two creatures, Fingon used his waning strength to exert pressure on the sword impaling the creature that held him from the back. As Fingon pressed against the sword with his shoulder it sliced open a gaping wound in the orc at a cost to Fingon, slicing his own shoulder. This allowed Fingon more room to peel off the other orc’s hands from around his neck. Released for a second, Fingon threw himself away from the orcs, but in doing so Fingon was caught by the arm, which was ripped behind him as he was thrown to the ground face down. Desperate, the orcs realized the elves were swiftly advancing on them. The uninjured orc in one final desperate move smashed Fingon’s head with his armor-plated arm sending Fingon into a state of unconsciousness. This was the last thing the orc managed to do as its head was lopped off. The other orc was similarly ended.

The healer in charge interrupted Maedhros thoughts. “My lord, please sit or take your pacing out of the healing rooms. You are unnerving many of our patients and some of our healers.” Maedhros opened his mouth, but decided silence and sitting would be a better course of action. Maedhros knew well enough not to tangle with the elder healer.

Sitting next to Fingon, Maedhros opted for holding his hand. At this Fingon, stirred. Maedhros sat up expectantly, his gaze focused upon Fingon’s closed eyes. After a while Fingon’s eyes fluttered open, but the light of the room blinded him, causing him to turn away from the light. The movement prompted Fingon’s head to throb, which triggered a bout of nausea. The healer was ready at Fingon’s side with a receptacle. Fingon turned over, heaving into the bucket offered by the healer, but in moving Fingon was beset by the pain of his other injuries.

After a moment, Fingon collected himself enough to drink water offered to him. Able to focus on figures close to him, Fingon managed a small smile, croaking out, “Maedhros.”

Maedhros gently laid his hand upon Fingon’s cheek. “I am here.”

Fingon closed his eyes, bringing his good hand over Maedhros’ hand. “Good,” he whispered. Maedhros leaned over and ghosted a kiss on Fingon’s lips. His eyes were bright with unshed tears. The men and women present in the room did their best to pretend indifference to the intimacy shared between Maedhros and their King.


A month had passed since Fingon had been brought to Himring. While his injuries were not well enough for travel, Fingon had surprised even the healers with the speed of his recovery. It was not a surprise for Fingon as Maedhros poured healing energy into him, willing him quickly back to health. Though Maedhros would warn Fingon that he could not get well too quick or else their time together would draw too soon to an end. Fingon would remind Maedhros that neither the healer that was part of Fingon’s company nor Maedhros’ head healer would release the King before the textbook time for such a battery of injuries. And so they settled into an unexpected time together, unrushed by the fear that too soon, Fingon would depart. That time was not yet upon them.

Maedhros had filled Fingon in on all the small details that had transpired following the Dagor Bragollach, the types of details not shared in official letters. Fingon too had shared his fears and insecurities with Maedhros, another type of healing that had aided Fingon’s body grow in strength. But there was also a sadness in their hearts for they grieved the loss of loved ones, of war, and of the ever-present Doom.

In that time, Maglor too had spent much time with Fingon, though the two had spoken little, preferring a comfortable silence, until one late night when Fingon found his dreams were ill companions for sleep. Maglor discovered Fingon had escaped to a battlement. Maglor lent silent company to his cousin, the two watching the stars circle on their path in the black night.

“Grieving finds me when I am still,” Fingon spoke breaking the quiet between them. “So I came here, where the stillness of the air, the utter border of our North makes me pause. I cannot run from it here.” Fingon smiled bitterly, “though I try.”

Maglor nodded his head, coming to stand next to Fingon. Together they surveyed the lands. Unlike the fire of Maedhros’ grey eyes, Fingon’s blue eyes reflected an iciness that chilled Maglor. Elemental beings, Maglor mused.

“Maedhros tells me you have lost your will to sing,” Fingon spoke once more, choosing to speak of a subject they had not yet touched upon in Fingon’s recovery.

Maglor frowned. He was not sure whether he liked Maedhros sharing this with Fingon, but then again, Maedhros and Fingon kept nothing from each other. Deciding he wished not speak on the matter, Maglor changed the subject of conversation. “It is strange that the elements of Endórë have wedded themselves to each of you.”

Fingon turned his attention towards Maglor, a single eyebrow raised. Of course Maglor was changing the subject, but Fingon did not object.

Maglor continued, “My brother is fire and you are ice.” It was too simple an observation, yet it held some truth.

“And you are water,” Fingon added, “which is why music is integral to you for in that substance do we not hear the very Song of creation?”

Maglor smiled ruefully. Fingon had turned his words back towards him. He could not escape Fingon’s questions. And certainly, the way Fingon pinned him with his gaze, let Maglor know that this was more than a brotherly conversation, he was speaking as the King. Maglor shrugged his shoulders. “I do not know why, Fingon.”

Fingon reached out and squeezed Maglor’s shoulder. Much time had passed between the innocence of Valinor and the weariness of the current time. It was an innocence that betrayed them, that made them believe they could master the elements, become the masters of knowledge. Endórë humbled them of such thoughts. Fingon let out a snort. “Oh strange days!” he exclaimed. The King disappeared and standing upon the battlement was now Fingon. Sliding down the stone surface, Fingon inelegantly sat down, his injuries more than a nuisance. He was tired, had been driving himself hard prior to his coming to Himring. Running his hand through his hair and over his face, Fingon moaned, his body aching from the hard travels and his assorted injuries. Maglor also slid down, sitting next to Fingon.

“I sent them away Maglor, and my heart cannot bear it,” Fingon shared, fingers tugging at loose threads on his tunic.[1] While Fingon and Maedhros had discussed much, this was one topic he did not want to burden Maedhros with.

“Maedhros told me you made the decision to send Lindirë and Ereinion to Cirdan when Angband released its fires.” [2]

Fingon nodded, “I did and I have seen them twice in all this time. My life is no longer mine. I’ve had to forfeit my family, Maglor.” His wife and son had returned for his coronation, but had been swiftly taken back to the Havens. Hithlum was no longer safe. Not for the King’s heir, a title Fingon wished away on several occasions.

“And what does Lindirë say? What does she think?” Maglor asked knowing Fingon’s wife was a woman with her own heart and mind. Theirs had been named a marriage of convenience that produced the needed heir, but Maglor and Maedhros knew it to be more than that.

“She understands it Maglor,” Fingon murmured, “but she is so damn stubborn that she swears she will return and fight for that is her peoples way.”

“How long will she stay with Ereinion?”

“As much as she deems necessary. Her mother who is battle worn will soon travel to meet them in the Havens. Artanáro loves her and will not feel abandoned so she writes me.”

“And you feel you abandoned him, don’t you Fingon,” Maglor observed.

“How could I not? It is not advised to not have a child in war time?” Fingon observed. “But not for the King’s heir, not for the King? War or not, a King must have his heirs. Duty is a mighty arrogant mistress.” Fingon leaned his head back upon the cold stone, his eyes closed. He needed sleep but his dreams drove it away. He carried a weary heart.

Maglor watched Fingon closely. He was worn down, much too soon, Maglor thought to himself, but there was no other space for the King but to be that. “I too felt my father abandoned me,” Maglor whispered, naming the unspeakable hurt Fingon bore, one that also haunted Maglor.

Fingon’s eyes shot open, turning to look at Maglor.

“Why he charged into that fight with but a few men, I do not know,” Maglor continued. “At times I think I have come to peace with his rash decision, but other times I find myself cursing him,” he admitted.

Fingon smiled bitterly. “In the end, our fathers were more blood than not. I do not understand why my father despaired so.”

Maglor’s face reflected Fingon’s emotions. “Will we succumb to such ends?” Maglor questioned aloud.

“Aye, I often find myself remembering I am my father’s son,” Fingon admitted. “But it does not make it hurt less.” Fingon turned his eyes back towards the moon. “I take some comfort knowing that Artanáro is watching the same moon in this moment.”

Maglor turned his eyes towards the moon, “Your lady reveres the moon.”

“Indeed she does,” Fingon smiled, his eyes fixing on a memory beyond the moon.

“And yet here you are,” Maglor added, “your life’s greatest love but a few steps away.”

Fingon allowed himself a soft smile. That Maedhros was close, indeed that he would in a few hours feel him, breath him in, was the medicine Fingon needed.

“Ironic,” Maglor continued, “that the type of love you and Maedhros share is one suited for war.”

Fingon held his finger up to make a point: “That is what I always told my father. There was no need for marriage, for an heir. And I knew then that this thing,” Fingon waved his hands over his head, “this crown that haunted me then and now weighs upon me spoke louder than my father’s own wishes for me. But,” Fingon clarified, “I do not regret the birth of my son, though I do despair for him.”

“Maybe our father’s despaired for us?” Maglor whispered, thinking of those others of their family who had died or were beyond reach in other ways. Maglor did not mention Turgon or Aredhel. Now was not the time for that. Watching Fingon look up with great reverence at the moon, a reflection of a father’s love for his son, moved something in Maglor. Tears welled up in his eyes. Somehow Maglor found permission to weep for his own losses, for the personal tragedies that touched his soul, and for the loss of a father who had been greater than life itself. A dam was broken within and the tears came, claiming him, a surge powerful and full of unchecked emotion.

Fingon brought Maglor into his arms. He did not wish away his tears or try to soothe them away. Quietly, Fingon cried with him, their tears an offering to the clear light of the moon that shone brightly in the night sky. Maybe it was the enchantment that Fingon’s wife whispered to the moon, or the prayer or two Maedhros offered up to its light. Perhaps it was the way little Ereinion tried to hold the moon between his fingers, asking his mother whether he could trap the moon and make his father come to him. This cannot be known, but what is certain, is that tears are a salve and a prayer of their own.


Fingon hunched over the parchment, his fingers tracing the notations on the page. In but a few days he would be leaving Himring. In these last few days, Fingon tried his best to come to terms with the ghosts that haunted him, but he also made it his mission to bring song back to Maglor, who Fingon believed was beginning to face the unspoken hurts that haunted him.

Softly Fingon hummed a melody to himself, repeating the melody, a shift in tone here, and a change in the meter there. Maglor observed him, curious as to what had consumed Fingon’s time this afternoon. It must be important. Normally Fingon and Maedhros dared not depart one another’s side for each knew their time with each other was drawing to a close. “What melody do you sing?” Maglor asked, compelled by curiosity.

“Oh,” Fingon sat up straight, startled out of his task. “I was trying to figure out a melody for these verses that I wrote down on paper last night,” Fingon answered, turning back to face the notes written hastily on the paper. “Though I like the melody, it lacks a certain…” Fingon’s voice dropped off. His attention returned to the notes once more. At least that is the appearance Fingon offered Maglor.

“Maybe I can help,” Maglor offered tentatively, unsure of whether Fingon wanted his help and if he could, wanted to offer it.

Wasting no time and not allowing Maglor to retreat his words, Fingon answered, “Yes, please! That would be most helpful.”

Maglor paused, before he took a step towards Fingon. Breathing out, Maglor gave in, “I guess…I guess I can help.”

Fingon moved over on the bench, making room for Maglor. Maglor sat next to Fingon who pushed the sheet of music he had been working on towards Maglor. Maglor’s eyes caught sight of the musical notations on the page. They were sparse, but the melody was moving. Maglor’s eyes grew wide. “Fingon, these are good bones.” Maglor hummed the tune, his eyes closed in concentration. “I like the movement you evoke, but it seems unsure. Should the melody evoke urgency or would you like it to slow down and hold on to notes?” In a matter of seconds, Maglor had plunged down into the place he had kept his music sequestered.

Fingon carefully observed Maglor, hoping to elicit such a response, but Fingon was also genuinely interested in his song. “The melody is about a journey, though I do not want the music to evoke literal movement. More like a life’s journey. This is why I can’t decide whether I should break the melody here of if it should diminish. I thought a tritone could convey this journey. Or maybe I would be better served by an augmented fourth, augmented sixth, and augmented ninth above a bass note? Though I suspect on the harp I could achieve this by resolving the 7 note and the flat 3rd…” Fingon knew what ideas would make Maglor, if not already swimming in song, dive deeply into that part of him that pulled and molded matter into song.

Maglor started composing, using Fingon’s notes to build a story. After a few moments of feverish notation, Maglor looked up and pushed the sheet over to Fingon. “How’s this?” Maglor asked.

Fingon looked over the simple changes Maglor made. It was perfect. Brilliant and beautiful.

“Will you sing me the words that accompanies this melody?” Maglor asked, crossing the room to sit by his harp.

“I,” Fingon hesitated; always embarrassed to sing in front of Maglor, though Fingon’s voice was regarded as beautiful. But compared to Maglor’s…

“Please,” Maglor begged, his eyes alight with excitement. “I greatly desire to hear this.”

Fingon cleared his throat, truly more an act to settle his nerves. “Keep in mind, I chose simple words. Its just a simple little thing.”

Maglor waved him on impatiently.

“Very well, here goes it:

A traveler, the journey yet told
the end of the road is not known
The river’s waters clear and cold
carrying away the sadness sown

Red leaves, once young now old
His autumn’s heart sings alone
Words and hearts may be bold
yet forlorn winter chills the bone

Springtime lights the fields with gold
Warming the skin of the still stone
Summer comes like a hero bold
the lives we share together grown

A traveler, the journey yet told
the end of the road is not known
Seasons pass and our time is sold
a traveler departs, the road his throne.”

Fingon’s voice trailed off, the last words hanging in the thick air of the minstrel’s gallery, Maglor’s music room. Fingon dared not turn and look at Maglor, afraid what he would find there.

Silence, nothing but silence. Fingon’s cheeks began to burn with embarrassment. He was not used to failure. Fingon closed his eyes, readying himself to turn to face Maglor, but before he could offer his apologies for sharing a song so dull, Fingon heard Maglor’s breath shudder. Fingon turned towards Maglor who sat, his hands covering his face. This was not disappointment in Fingon’s song. Maglor was quietly sobbing into his hands.

Fingon jumped out of his chair, crossing the room to kneel in front of Maglor. Cautiously he reached his hands to gently remove Maglor’s hands from his face. Maglor shook his head, pulling away from Fingon, but Fingon would not allow it. Realizing that his stubborn cousin would not be dissuaded, Maglor brought his hands away from his face. Fingon did not release Maglor’s hands. Maglor sighed, as he observed the look of concern on Fingon.

“Was my song so poor?” Fingon joked, hoping to pull Maglor out the despondent state he had crashed into.

Maglor laughed in spite of himself. Fingon had a way to break through the darkness. “Oh no dearest cousin…my King,” Maglor answered, his voice dropping to a whisper with the last words. “My King,” he repeated, his hands grasping Fingon’s tightly.

Fingon sat back, startled by Maglor’s words. “We have always spoken our minds. Let not now be the hour this changes.”

Maglor shook his head in agreement. “It is just that your song, your beautiful, simple words, they remind me of your burden and make mine seem small. Trivial.”

Maglor waved away the words that started to tumble out of Fingon. “No hear me. I know what you would say. That my troubles are not trivial. I know this. Believe me, I know that the lives of those dead under my command are not trivial.” Bringing his eyes up from his lap, Maglor now looked at Fingon directly, willing him to hear him. “You have just come to us from the loss of your father, of Aegnor and Angrod. You have sent your son and wife to the Havens. You have travelled our lands far and wide to hear the same tale I would tell. And you have lost your own men and women. Men and women loyal to you. Yet here you are, kneeled before me, willing me, loving me out of my own darkness.”

Maglor clumsily dropped to his knee. “I pledged my allegiance to you when you were crowned. But here,” Maglor whispered, pointing to the ground of Himring, “I pledge my allegiance to you, my King, pledge my heart as far and deep as my Oath allows. Honestly. Here. Now.” The Oath had weighed on Maglor, made him feel craven for pledging in public an allegiance that could not fully be given to any person or title. The Oath tore him. For well Maglor knew that before him was a King that deserved his full love and loyalty, one honorable and valiant that put his people first.

Fingon picked Maglor’s arms up into an embrace. “Cousin in name, brother in heart. I know this. Though I do not love it, I must account for it.” Fingon exhaled, unwilling to name the Oath that too haunted him. Maglor shifted, sitting with his legs cross. They contemplated one another. Each understanding the other.

Slowly, Maglor stood to his feet, offering his hand to Fingon. Fingon reached out and Maglor helped him stand up. Wordlessly, Maglor sat and picked up his harp, indicating with a nod of his head that Fingon do the same. Fingon smiled, and took his place, sitting across the room from Maglor.

“Do you remember the accompanying melody I sketched out?” Maglor asked.

Fingon nodded, “I join you in the third measure. We play once through, and I sing the second time around.”

“Very well.” Maglor put his fingers to the harp strings and effortlessly stole beauty from them. Fingon accompanied Maglor, and together they wove a simple melody that resounded throughout the Halls of Himring and into the courtyards below. Fingon’s voice sang out, bright and clear, joined by the soft harmony lent by Maglor’s voice. And the song they spun told a tale, a simple tale that all who heard were familiar with:

A traveler, the journey yet told
the end of the road is not known
The river’s waters clear and cold
carrying away the sadness sown

Red leaves, once young now old
His autumn’s heart sings alone
Words and hearts may be bold
yet forlorn winter chills the bone

Springtime lights the fields with gold
Warming the skin of the still stone
Summer comes like a hero bold
the lives shared, together grown

A traveler, the journey yet told
the end of the road is not known
Seasons pass and our time is sold
a traveler departs, the road his throne.”

Below in the inner courtyard, Maedhros, along with the elves around him, paused their work and looked up towards where the beautiful music escaped its stone enclosure. A small smile appeared on Maedhros’ face. It was at once melancholy and joyful: the song they sung together, the music born from their harps, told of Fingon’s burden and the Doom that haunted them all, but it also spoke of hope. A hope that had reached Maglor, stealing--for a time--that beauty only Maglor could evoke, spinning enchantment from nothingness: his heart’s song. And maybe it was a fool’s hope, but that was enough for Maedhros, enough for him to say a prayer or two.

The End

Chapter end notes:

[1] A nod to Ziggy’s Legolas, who always nervously pulls at a thread in his tunic.

[2] I decided to use the same character I develop in another story, It was enough, as Fingon’s wife here. In that story I explore who was Fingon's wife? How does that mesh up with a Maedhros/Fingon narrative. I really do like The Silmarillion story of Gil-Galad as Fingon’s son, so there’s that too.