We are both condemned to live
Welcome to where time stands still
Noone leaves and noone ever will
Blood Tears, Blind Guardian
"I still don't understand why we must bow to the king of the 'bright-eyes’.”
Beleg Cuthálion narrowed his eyes slightly, shaking his head imperceptibly.
Youth. Humans always seemed too young - even those like Túrin who had grown up among elves.
"Tar-Fëanáro is the most powerful of the Elven Lords on this earth," the Sinda explained for the twentieth time since they left Menegroth a week ago. “To him and his people we owe the peace we enjoy and the end of darkness in our kingdoms.”
Túrin scowled at his teacher and lover's back.
"Thingol is also king. King of the Sindar. I don't understand why he should bow to another ...”
"Turin," Beleg interrupted calmly once more, "remember that we came as Thingol's ambassadors to the King of the Gelydh. You will behave like the prince that you are and offer King Fëanáro the best image of you.”
"I will not embarrass you in front of the 'bright-eyes'," the young human huffed. “I'm not a child anymore. You don't have to talk to me like that.”
"I know very well that you are no longer a child," the elf smiled, stopping without warning to turn in front of him.
Túrin stopped dead and Beleg grabbed him by the chin to force him to look at him. The look of the guard conveyed so many feelings that the young man blushed and licking his lips, he claimed:
“Don’t do that.”
“Don’t look at me like that. We are at the gates of that king's castle and you want me to behave properly, right?”
"Okay," Beleg laughed, contenting himself stroking his partner's lower lip with his thumb. “We will soon be back home and you will not have to take care of yourself for an image to maintain. Although I don't think the king of the Gelydh bothers our relationship: one of his sons is married to a human and your father himself was once a hunting partner for one of his nephews.”
"My father does not speak of it," recalled Túrin thoughtfully. “I don't think he liked the court of...”
"It's the most impressive place in the world, so I can't imagine why he wouldn't have liked it," the elf shrugged as he walked back toward the white stone bridge.
"Is it really that impressive? More than the Menegroth rooms that the dwarves decorated for Thingol?”
“More. Much more.”
Suddenly, Beleg stopped and turning in front of the young human, he took him by the shoulder to say to him, with sudden seriousness:
“You can admire everything in the Court of Fëanáro. You can sigh with rapture for the beauty of their sons, adore on your knees the beauty of his nieces, faint with the laughter of Fingon the Brave, cry for Maglor’s music -You can admire and covet everything; but never –never! look up at the High Prince. Do you understand, Túrin?”
"Is that prince so breath-taking?" Túrin scoffed.
“Never mind. You just pretend that he doesn't exist.”
Túrin raised his eyebrows at Beleg's insistence, but at last he nodded and resumed his way.
Túrin had forgotten everything Beleg told him about behaving like the prince he was. Mouth ajar and head thrown back, he gazed up at the tall columns covered in gold and gems. The floor was made of obsidian slabs that returned the reflection of those present and diamond and garnet lamps hung from the ceiling, coloring the room with a thousand lights.
But if shining was the place where the court of the western elves met, the lord of them all was more so.
When the human's eyes were fixed on the King of the Gelydh, it was impossible for them to move away from him. Fëanáro was more beautiful than the words could describe -beautiful ... and wild, like the fire that falls from the sky and devours everything. His raven-like hair fell in lively waves, interwoven with diamond chains that glittered between the folds of his purple robe. On his forehead, above the eyes like silver mirrors, the seven-pointed star shone, a gold so red that it seemed to be made of solid fire.
Túrin stared at him in awe. This was the elf who had led all his people away from the Valar’s prison, the one who had confronted the Dark God and ripped off the iron crown with the silmarils from his head, before cutting him to pieces and burning his body. This was the elf who had cleansed the lands of the horrors of Utumno and Angband with fire and iron. This was the Lord of Endor.
All the kings - humans, elves and dwarves - bowed to Fëanáro and now Túrin understood why.
"Welcome, Beleg Cuthálion of Menegroth. We are pleased with your presence in our house.”
Fëanáro's voice was like all of him: fire, silk and steel.
"The pleasure is all mine, my lord," replied Beleg, bowing. “Thingol sends his regards and his daughter's through my mouth.”
Fëanáro nodded and his gaze lingered for a second on the stunned Sinda’s companion.
"We see that you bring company this time. Your partner?”
"That's right, Your Majesty. Let me introduce you to Túrin, son of Húrin and Morwen, godson of Thingol and my mate.”
The Hig King frowned slightly as he studied the young human.
"Húrin ...?" He repeated. “We know that name -Ah, Turukáno's friend, isn't it, mírya?” He asked, turning in the direction of the person next to him.
Until then, Túrin had been so absorbed in the king that he had not even noticed the second throne, so close to Fëanáro’s that it seemed its shadow. However, the instant the young man followed the king's gaze, he could no longer help but see the elf sitting next to him.
My jewel. Fëanáro had called it 'my jewel' in his language and he was right.
Alabaster skin, sapphire and silver eyes, hair like ink with stars strewn ... The elf gleamed as if he were covered in diamond dust.
Túrin understood that this was the High Prince that Beleg spoke of and knew at that moment that he could not fulfill the request of his friend and lover.
Fëanáro had taken the elf's hand in his and laced his fingers as his gaze swept over the prince's motionless features.
“So he is!” He smiled after a few seconds, with exquisite tenderness. “The human boy who accompanied little Turukáno to the mountains. His son is already a man and is the mate of Beleg Cúthalion. Have we decided that we like the boy then?” Laughter welled up from the king's lips and with his free hand, he gently touched his partner's chin to turn his head towards him. “Of course we will treat him well: I know how much you like Beleg and how much you like your children's friends.”
Leaning towards him, Fëanáro pressed a soft kiss to the prince's lips and turned his attention to the guests.
"Nolvo and I are pleased to meet you, Túrin son of Húrin," he announced cheerfully. “We will have a banquet tonight. To celebrate the presence of old and new friends in our home. Cáno!” He called one of his children. “Take our guests to their rooms and see that everything is prepared. And let your cousin know: Nolvo is eager to hear his favorite son sing.”
Túrin waited for the prince to retire, reiterating the joy of having them at home and the time when they would be expected in the great hall to turn to Beleg.
“Beleg!” He exclaimed with a puzzled expression. “The High Prince ...!”
“Quite!” Beleg ordered, covering his mouth with one hand and bending down to hug him, he murmured in his ear. “He hears everything. He sees everything. We will talk when we have left the castle, when we are beyond the Menegroth border.”
In the human's eyes, the banquet was actually a party.
Maglor and Fingon sang together, and Túrin listened with his mouth open as the ‘dragon hunter’ had the voice of the Ainur themselves, second only to the talent of his cousin. He saw the princesses of the Gelydh dancing, beautiful and different. In their eyes, Aredhel and Galadriel were much more attractive than Lúthien's divine beauty because these princesses had fought and bled as their brothers and husbands did.
Beside him, Beleg was telling him the name of each of those present and since Túrin had heard the exploits of each, he could not help but feel that he was sitting among legends. Of the king's sons, neither Caranthir, lord of Thargelion and husband of Queen Haleth, nor the younger sons were found in the palace. Of his nephews, all the sons of the High Prince and Lord Finrod with his siblings were there.
But every moment, the human's gaze shifted to the figure sitting next to the king.
The High Prince was motionless. He had no food or drink and kept his head down, staring at the table. Fëanáro drank for both of them, and as the night wore on, the occasions when he gently kissed the prince's cheek or ear became more frequent.
Túrin knew the fire that burned in the king's eyes when he looked at his companion. Beleg had looked at him like this hundreds of times since he reached adulthood - although never with that note of despair and savagery that lit Fëanáro's gaze.
It was well past midnight when Túrin left the room to find where to relieve his bladder. Elves seemed to have no needs or were better at containing them than mere mortals.
Walking slightly hesitantly, the young man walked down the hall trying to clearly remember the path they would take to the banquet hall. At some point he had lost sight of Beleg when he discussed the advantages of the bow used by the green elves with Prince Celegorm. Nor was he an infant who needed to be watched all the time. He could very well find the rooms assigned to them. He knew by heart the forests that were once under the protection of Queen Melian: he was not going to get lost in a castle...
The sound made him stop in the middle of the corridor. Disoriented, he spun around in the dim light, watching the curtains shaken by the night breeze. The sound was repeated and this time, Túrin identified it for what it was: a moan.
He took a few steps toward the half-open door and leaned his head on one shoulder to take a look. He blinked, stunned.
The music came to him like a distant echo, only a background noise for the hoarse moans and the broken phrases in the language of the Gelydh that left the lips of the king. With dilated pupils, Túrin watched the sway of the bodies between the pale silk curtains. He watched how Fëanáro leaned down to claim the prince's mouth in an anxious kiss, how one hand tangled his black hair while the other held his lover's leg around his waist. He watched the thrusts lift the High Prince's hips from the bed, arching his slender, naked body. He stared in fascination at the contrast between Fëanáro's tanned skin and Nolofinwë's “ethereal” white flesh. He watched as the king arched back, his ecstasy roaring before collapsing into a mess of dark hair and trembling gasps.
He remained motionless, absorbed in the beauty of what he had just seen.
After a few moments, the king sat up and took the prince by the hands to help him sit down.
"Sit down, my gem," he ordered softly.
Slowly, Fëanáro combed the straight hair of the motionless prince with his fingers. Something caught his attention and stopped the movement of his hands. He pushed his hair back, stripping his neck, and the long, carefully cooked scar was visible. The king's fingers ran over the stitches, noting that some had skipped during the heat of his passion.
"I'm sorry, my precious," he said anxiously. “I'll take care of this right now. I'll fix you right away, mírya.”
Túrin's eyes widened at the sight of the huge scar. It was impossible for anyone to survive an injury like that.
Frightened, he stepped back and nearly screamed when he collided with something. A hand covered his mouth and the person behind him dragged him away from the door.
Túrin allowed himself to be carried away and only when the music became the main noise again, his captor stopped and forced him to face him.
"Pr-prince F-Fingon ... Your Highness ...”
"My uncle is jealous of his privacy," Nolofinwë's son pointed out softly, his blue eyes dull. “And jealous of those who can see my father's beauty.”
"My lord, I don't ..."
"I know you saw nothing, young Túrin," Fingon smiled. “Go back to Beleg. He's been looking for you for the last few minutes.”
Fingon watched from the window in the tower as the guests crossed the bridge. For a moment, he wished he could leave the palace too, go back to the woods, lose himself in the fever of the hunt, get drunk in the frenzy of the fight until the world was all red, with no light other than that of his blade.
He remembered the day it all ended, the day Fëanáro pierced Morgoth's chest with his sword, he reached into his chest to rip out his heart. He remembered the joy that lit his uncle's face when he finally recovered the silmarils. He remembered everyone's horror and bewilderment when Fëanáro reduced his precious gems to dust.
"I'm going to get him back," his uncle had promised Fingon with an insane sparkle in his eyes before kissing him on the mouth.
It was the last time that Fingon felt Fëanáro's lips and it was the day that Morgoth's reign ended to begin Fëanáro's. And Nolofinwë’s.
He turned away from the window and went to the king's chambers.
He found Fëanáro on his knees next to Fingolfin, sewing the neck with a fine silver needle.
"It is getting harder and harder to keep stitches," the king complained with impatience that was not reflected in his precise gestures.
"Maybe it's the material," Fingon suggested, unchanged.
"Your sister wove these strands herself."
"Maybe the problem is where the material comes from."
"Is an elf maiden's hair not good enough?"
Fingon shrugged as he sat on the bed next to his father and rested his head on his shoulder.
"They lasted longer when she wove them with the hair of the Maiar."
"There are no maiar in Endor," Fëanáro reminded him and gave the last stitch.
Fingon looked up at him, his blue eyes unchanged.
"But there is a princess with Maiarin blood in her veins. Thingol just sent his regards, but he has not yet paid tribute.”
Fëanáro stared at him in surprise for a few seconds before smiling broadly. Extending a hand, he stroked his nephew's cheek.
"We are so glad you are with us, Findekáno," he said gently.
"And I to be with you both," replied the younger as he took the king's hand and pressed his lips to the burned palm.
Fingon raised his head and turning to his father, pressed a kiss to the corner of his still mouth.
"He's so beautiful," he muttered, absorbed. “Our jewel.”
Fëanáro leaned forward until he rested his forehead on Fingolfin's and with his eyes closed said:
"You understand me, Findekáno. Only you can understand my love.”
Fingon nodded, wrapping his arms around his father and uncle in a desperate hug.
Maedhros remembered the day he lost Fingon. He remembered the day his cousin - his lover - turned away from him with rage in his eyes.
‘Do you want me to kill him?’ He had demanded in a hoarse, wheezing voice.
‘Finno, he's already…’
Fingon's roar had charged the air with power - lethal power.
‘You are a fool if you think I will let him go. You are a fool if you think you can replace him in my heart. You are jealous. Jealous of what we are willing to do for him. He's ours, Maitimo, and not even Mandos can take him away from us.’
Maedhros remembered the long weeks that followed the destruction of the Silmarils, the days when Fingon and Fëanáro did not eat, did not sleep ... they were only together with Fingolfin.
Maedhros recalled his horror upon discovering what his father and his cousin - his lover - had done, discovering why Fingolfin's lifeless skin now glowed as if it contained the light of the Trees.
Aredhel spun skillfully, without looking, softly singing the song of power that bound the strands and strengthened them. The silver hair retained traces of blood and skin at the far end, and the White Lady of the Noldor paused for a moment to cut the ends and toss the debris into the basket in which the still damp scalp rested.
She spun again without paying attention to the smell of blood. It was a scent she had learned to love in the past five hundred years. Sometimes she wondered how she could have lived without him in the beatitude of Aman.
She remembered the last day of light in Valinor. She remembered the party, the music, the songs, the glitter of the jewels… She remembered the fall of darkness, the arrival of her cousins announcing the death of Finwë and the flight of Morgoth. But above all, Aredhel remembered his father standing before the throne of Manwë, holding Fëanáro's hand, vowing to follow him.
She took another lock of silver hair and fastened them to the spinning wheel to continue spinning.
But more than light, Aredhel remembered Alqualondë.
Beleg stopped the horses at last and turned to look over his shoulder. The Gelydh's white castle loomed against the sky like a copy of the Halls of Mandos.
"We'll camp here tonight," he decided. “I need some rest. And you too”, he added, looking at the dark circles under his partner's gray eyes.
Túrin nodded silently.
A while later, sitting together by the firelight, the young human stared at the fire as he commented:
"It's strange, isn't it? The High Prince –he does not seem alive.”
The silence stretched endless. Finally, Beleg Cúthalion replied in a whisper:
Fingon stepped over the dead, plunging his boots into the swollen bodies, still bleeding. He did not stop until he reached his uncle.
Sitting on the ground, his face covered in blood, Fëanáro cradled his half-brother's body. With one hand, he held his head almost severed from the trunk by a deep gash as he sang a lullaby.
When Fingon came before him, Míriel's son looked up and smiled sweetly at him.
"Nolvo is tired," he reported in a complicit whisper. “We must heal his wounds and let him sleep. Will you help me dear?”
Fingon dropped the sword and knelt beside them. He put his hand on the cut on his father’s neck and smiled.
"We have to sew this before it starts to hurt."
The pain cuts my throat like lightning. I hear the screams, the voice that calls me. For a second, I forget where I am, what I do ... Then I feel the pull. I see the gray path that invites my soul, but something prevents me from advancing -What? Oh yes! Fëanáro. I must take care of Fëanáro. I cannot allow that mad brat to go to Endorë alone or he will be killed in the first battle.
I open my eyes and bewildered that I didn't move my eyelids. I see Findekáno bent over me, but I don't feel the weight of his hand on my body. Strangely, I try to move to see who is holding me, but then everything comes back ...
The teler jumping towards Fëanáro with the harpoon extended, the movement with which I intervene, the hook of the harpoon sinking in my throat -and pulling.
How is it possible? How is it possible that I’m still alive after ...?
Fëanáro's face leans over me to press a kiss to my mouth - a kiss I can feel not.
"His soul is still here," laughs Fëanáro, euphoric. “Everything is fine, Nolvo. I'm going to fix you.”
No! Nothing is right! I'm dead! I have to be dead!
Helpless, I perceive how Findekáno - also smiling with maddening sweetness - bandages my neck with a piece of his shirt.
I scream. I scream in despair ... imprisoned in my dead body.
They don't listen to me. Fëanáro presses a kiss on my mouth and whispers to me 'my jewel' as he would have done twenty years ago, in his bed.
Findekáno continues to smile.