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Mul Haust

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Maeglin lowered his head, staring numbly at his feet, trembling and looking around. He felt as though the walls of Angband were closing in about him, suffocating him in his own thoughts, breaking his ribs with terror. Why am I not in a cell? He had expected to be thrown into the depths of the fortress, shackled to a wall and tortured until he revealed exactly what they wanted to know: an entrance to Gondolin, no doubt. If not that, then locked with the other slaves that kept the place running, forced to work the mines until he could walk no more. Slowly he turned, taking in the tiny, dark room. “Hello?” he whispered fearfully.

In the dark, something shifted. A bent creature stepped forward, bowing. “M-master,” it whispered. Thick dark hair tumbled over the creature’s face, surprisingly well kept considering his surroundings, and Maeglin suspected that if it straightened up the creature would tower over even his uncle Turgon.

But he tried not to think on that too hard, turning his back on the being. “I am not your master,” he said stiffly, staring pointedly at the wall.

“Apologies,” it rasped, still coming closer.

Get away from me! Maeglin grimaced. “Please,” he said. “I don’t need you.” It had to be some trick of Morgoth’s, sending the creature was not a favor, Maeglin was not a guest. He didn’t trust the being as far as he could throw him.

“I was commanded to serve you,” it whispered.

“I don’t need you!”

The creature whimpered and stepped away, sounding like a frightened animal. Maeglin watched as it turned toward the low fire, the only source of light in the room, and knelt. Soft light spilled across his features, across his worn face, and simple clothing, until finally it revealed something even stranger: pointed ears.

“Why- why you are an elf!” Maeglin gasped, pushing himself to his feet and moving closer in an attempt to get a better look.

The elf turned sad, blue eyes on him, frowning. “I am a thrall,” he whispered simply.

Maeglin knelt beside him, less repulsed than before, though still wary of what his intentions were, not trusting any servant of the dark lord, even an unwilling one. “What is your name?” he asked softly.

The elf frowned and whimpered, pulling away and shaking his head. Maeglin was reminded of the moles he had been so fond of as a elfling, they had pulled away from any lights, any noises, any unexpected movements. He responded in the same way he had with them, lowering his voice to make it as gentle as possible and slowing his movements.

“What are you called?” Maeglin repeated.

The elf cast him a quick glance, his lips turning into a pout for a moment, then straightening out again. “Mulhaust,” he whispered.

Maeglin winced, understanding what the words meant, he tilted his head, stuying the other for a moment before saying, “That’s not a name.”

“It’s what I am,” the elf murmured, a light shiver running through his thin frame. “And why I was sent to you, master.” He looked down and away, refusing to meet Maeglin’s eyes.

“You were sent to have sex with me?” The idea was so repulsive that Maeglin pulled away, lowering the hand that had reached for Mulhaust reassuringly. No. No. I only love her. They are mocking me.

Mulhaust nodded slowly.

“Well I don’t want you!” Maeglin stood, glaring, and stormed away, toward the other side of the cramped room.

Mulhaust was silent. Maeglin turned to see him standing and walking toward the door. “Where are you going?” he asked.

“To serve Master Mairon,” he replied. “Since I am not needed here.”

Maeglin shut his eyes, imagining the cruel Maia with poor Mulhaust. “Oh,” he whispered softly. “I’m sorry.”

Saying nothing Mulhaust merely nodded and turned for the door. Maeglin stood as he left, unable to shake the image of Sauron and the broken elf. “Wait!”

Mulhaust stopped and turned to look back at him. “My lord?”

The title sent shivers down Maeglin’s spine. He enjoyed the title, even here, coming from such a pitiful creature. “Come back,” he whispered, trying to sound firm and keep his voice from shaking.

Mulhaust returned, keeping his head down and focusing instead on his feet. “Yes master?”

Maeglin told himself that this was only to protect the other from Sauron, to stop the Maia from ripping him apart. The idea disgusted him, at least a little, he had never imagined himself with a male, only ever his cousin Idril.

“Come here,” he ordered, holding out his arms. When Mulhaust was in his reach he began carefully unlacing his tunic, keeping his hands from trembling. The elf’s body was covered in scars and fresh wounds, knotted and uneven. Maeglin rested his hand on the other’s shoulder for a moment before pushing his tunic off. He resisted the urge to run his hand along the marks, ever the curious elf that he was, to see what they felt like and how each one formed along Mulhaust’s muscles.

“Stand up straight and look at me.”

Mulhaust whimpered, but did as he was ordered, standing tall and unbending his back for the first time. “My lord,” he murmured. Maeglin gaped, alarmed by the sheer size of the slave. He had noticed previously that Mulhaust was tall, but not to what extent. He was, without a doubt, the tallest elf he had ever seen.

“Master Mairon says I am too tall,” Mulhaust croaked mournfully.

“You are very tall,” Maeglin replied, guiding the other to the rickety bed. He felt sick, nearly vomiting as the taller elf laid down on his stomach and went limp. I can’t do this. But I cannot let Sauron hurt him. Shaking Maeglin whispered, “I’ve never done this.”

Mulhaust turned to look at him curiously. “I have.” It was a simple fact, mentioned as calmly as Maeglin had once assured Rog that he had, in fact, been in a smithy before.

Maeglin didn’t doubt that. “Show me,” he ordered. Mulhaust nodded and pulled Maeglin into his lap, kissing him deeply. Maeglin choked for a moment, but soon closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy the kiss. Mulhaust pulled back and looked down at him, and for the first time Maeglin could see his face properly. Long, limp hair framed his face, hiding a strong jawline and blue eyes that must have been bright once.

He looked like his mother.

Feeling sick Maeglin pulled back, the realization of what he had almost allowed crashing over him, his justification seeming weak in light of Mulhaust’s resemblance to his mother “Stop!” he sobbed. “I-I can’t,” he whimpered. Mulhaust paused, turning his head and staring at Maeglin with concerned eyes, which only made him feel more revolted. “Get out!”

Mulhaust fled the room with a whimper, Maeglin curled into the bed and sobbed.

Later, he pulled the blanket over his head to muffle the screams.

Chapter Text

Maeglin turned his head slowly to look at the hunched shape in the corner of the room. “H-hello?” he called. Several days into his captivity, Maeglin felt he ought to have lost his mind long ago. It was the routine that kept him going, the ability to predict when one day faded into the next. Orcs visited him in the mornings, leering and shoving the pitiful rations at him, he barely had time to wolf it down before Sauron would enter, all taunts and cruelty. Some days the routine would be broken by Morgoth himself, and on those days Maeglin felt the most afraid and unclean. And after they left, without fail, his door would open and the tall slave would slip inside. “Mulhaust?”

There was a soft rustle of fabric, and the hulking form of Mulhaust came into view, eyebrows knit together with concern. “Master Mole?” He was becoming more trusting of Maeglin, since time and time again Maeglin refused to bed him. Though he never raised his voice to normal volume, it was higher than the pitiful whisper of the earlier days.

“Maeglin,” he corrected automatically, knowing it would have no effect. Mulhaust would call him what Sauron had told him to, and Sauron called him The Mole Prince. Though, he reflected, tis better than the other names; evil spawn, bastard child, and slut came easily to mind. Maeglin glanced up at Mulhaust and inwardly winced, wondering what other cruel names Sauron had devised for him, if Bed Slave was considered trivial enough to share.

Mulhaust blinked sadly. “Are you well?” There were times Maeglin couldn’t bear to look him in the eye, for as much as he looked like his mother, but there were instances – especially on days when Morgoth had visited – than leaning into the elf and weeping was all he wanted to do. If he closed his eyes and imagined it was Aredhel holding him, he never told the slave.

Blinking up at him the younger elf replied, “Do I seem it?” Indeed he wasn’t well. His body ached from the most recent torture, he was seeing double, and everything made him feel the urge to vomit. The slave had shrunk back at the question, hanging his head and twitching in fright, awaiting his punishment. “I’m not upset with you,” he promised. “Really I’m not.”

The other relaxed slightly and nodded. “Thank you, master.”

Mulhaust bounced on his feet nervously. “Might I assist you?” he asked.

Maeglin had learned by now what that question entailed, though he wasn’t certain why Sauron and Morgoth were so determined to give him someone to sleep with. The more he thought about how determined they had made poor Mulhaust to bed him, the more determined he became to never touch the other. They were up to something, and Maeglin wanted nothing to do with it. “No thank you, Mulhaust.” It was his usual response, and Mulhaust took it with the usual flicker of relief in his eyes.

The slave nodded, fidgeting and looking down at his feet. “Might I tend to your wounds?”

Maeglin perked up. That was not something that he had been offered before. “Oh?” he asked curiously.

Mulhaust nodded, sitting beside him and placing a warm hand on his shoulder, a friendly touch that Maeglin had come to crave. “Let me heal you,” he whispered.

Nodding Maeglin slid his shirt off, revealing the long line of cuts and whip lines from the day’s activities. Mulhaust hummed as he smeared something, a cream from a jar in his pocket, onto the wounds. He tensed at the initial burn, but soon relaxed into the touch, closing his eyes and remembering his mother tending to his wounds when he had been hurt at the forge.

Maeglin looked at him and frowned. “Mulhaust?” he asked. “You wouldn’t know how to get out would you?”

The slave paused in his ministrations and frowned. “Out?” he repeated.

“Of Angband.” Maeglin lowered his voice and looked around, well aware that, in Angband, the walls could very well have ears. “Escape.”

“There is nothing there,” Mulhaust said after a moment of thought. “Just emptiness.”

Maeglin sighed. “No. There’s life out there! Great cities and other elves!” Maeglin stared at Mulhaust pleadingly, trying to shake some amount of sense into him with his expressions. “Free elves!”

“Not for me.” The slave finished caring for Maeglin’s wounds and helped him back into his shirt, as gentle as ever despite his gigantic size. “Master says so.”

“He’s lying,” Maeglin breathed, gripping Mulhaust’s hand as it slipped his shirt into place. “I promise. Help me get out and I’ll take you with me!”

Mulhaust bit his lip. “If there are great cities of free elves, as you say, then they would not want me. I am not free.”

“My uncle would take you! He would give you your freedom, we do not keep slaves in Gondolin!” he insisted, nodding his head empathetically toward the door, even though he had no idea in which direction the hidden city lay. “I know he would. He is the ruler of a great and fair kingdom. Please.”

Mulhaust shook his head, his jaw tightening. “No. Nothing is out there. You are lying.” With a frustrated sigh he stood and stormed from the room. Maeglin watched him go sadly, wishing that he had not been subjected to so much torment that frustration was the only way he had to cope with thoughts of the outside world.

It was much later - Maeglin had learned to tell the passage of time by the hunger pangs in his stomach – when the door to his room opened and a giddy Maia entered, his golden hair sending specks of light across the room. You’re early, Maeglin wanted to say, knowing that it was not yet time for his usual torture. But he said nothing, knowing that any such words would only cause him more pain.

“My little mole, do you know what I hear?” Sauron asked, tipping his head and flashing Maeglin a grin that was all teeth, pointed sharply like a predator.

“What master?” he asked, trying not to spit the title in his anger.

“I hear,” he said slowly, brushing his fingers along the wall, watching the way the shadows were cast with absolute interest. “I hear that my little prince is not happy here, that he does not appreciate everything that I have done for him.”

Maeglin said nothing, not liking where the conversation was going at all.

Sauron knelt in front of him, reaching out to pet his fingers through Maeglin’s dark hair. “But you would not do that to me, would you?”

“Of course not master,” Maeglin lied easily.

He tutted, letting out a sigh. “Well, I suppose Mulhaust must have thought it amusing to lie to me, I suppose I will have to give him to my orcs for a few days until he straightens out.”

Maeglin froze, feeling as though someone had replaced all the blood in his veins with ice water. “M-mulhaust?” he asked slowly. “What do you mean, master?”

“Hmm?” Sauron raised an eyebrow. “Oh don’t you worry yourself my prince, I will send someone else to care for you while he is gone, but I am afraid he must learn his lesson in submission.”

The Maia straightened, turning slowly and stepping toward the door. Maeglin’s heart pounded in his chest as he struggled not to picture the slave he was becoming fond of being beaten or – worse yet – raped by the foul creatures.

“Wait!” he sobbed, launching himself off his knees and rushing toward Sauron. “It was me,” he gasped, “I begged him to help me escape.”

Sauron wasn’t even surprised, he merely tutted and said, “Then it is you who will face my wrath; both for wanting to leave and for your deception.”

Maeglin flinched, lowering his head and swallowing as he awaited the pain he had grown to expect.

When he next saw Mulhaust, sliding into his room as he did most evenings, Maeglin raged. “Get out!” he shouted, throwing his empty dinner plate at the other. “I hate you! Stay away from me!” He doubted even then that he meant his cruel words, but that did not stop them from tumbling out of his pain addled brain.

Mulhaust flinched, pulling back and bowing his head. “A thousand apologies,” he whispered, hurrying from the room before Maeglin could throw the cup in his hand.

 

 

Maeglin was losing track of time the next time he heard the soft footfalls entering his room. He could no longer remember how many beatings he had withstood, nor how many times Mulhaust had presented him with a meal and claimed it was his “evening rations.”

Angband was getting to him, twisting into his mind and leaving him with nothing but the memory of all the cruel acts that had been done to him. He looked up weakly as Mulhaust crept into the door, trying not to be noticed as had become his habbit ever since Maeglin had thrown the plate at him. Since that day they had exchanged only a few dozen words, most of which were nothing more than simple yes-no questions and muttered replies.

He truly missed their conversations, missed having someone who cared about him and would listen to him whine and whimper about his condition without complaint. Mulhaust also seemed to be suffering from the strain, although, it was difficult to tell with him.

“Mole Prince?” Mulhaust whispered, stepping closer as Maeglin didn’t respond to his entrance. He reached out, hesitantly placing his hand on Maeglin’s shoulder.

Even the gentle touch brought fresh pain tearing through the abused flesh, and Maeglin let out a loud sob, finally lifting his head from the mattress. “She hates me,” he whispered to the slave. “Mulhaust she hates me.” The confused emotions inside Maeglin made him feel sick and lonely, and caused him to long for affection, even with the wrongness that came with Mulhaust’s forced care.

A rag seeped with cool water was laid on his back, and Mulhaust gently stroked his hair, running his fingers through the snarled curls as Aredhel had once done after Maeglin had been punished by his father for a near fatal mistake in the forge. “Shhhh, Lord Mole. I am certain she loves you.”

Maeglin blinked at him weakly. “You don’t even know who I’m talking about,” he sniffed, wiping his nose on his threadbare blanket.

“I am a slave,” Mulhaust said softly, his fingers catching in a knot in Maeglin’s hair, and pausing for a moment to work it out. “I hear a great many things. They forget I have ears.” He smiled sadly and tweaked Maeglin’s nose. “They speak of a young elf who loves a beautiful woman, a revolt in the mines, and a passage opened by a rockslide.” His eyes lit with something akin to hope. “Is there light outside?”

“Yes,” Maeglin replied, sitting upright and leaning into the larger elf for support. “Far too much of it, for us moles.” He tried hard not to think of the beautiful city he had left behind, or of the way the sun had felt when Turgon had taken him to the garden for a picnic. It was far easier to remember the times the sun had turned his skin red and itchy, causing Turgon to laugh when he thought his nephew wouldn’t notice, than to remember the happiness the sun had brought. He doubted he would ever see it - or Turgon, or Gondolin – ever again.

“Will you take me to it?” For a moment Maeglin thought he was hearing things, and looked up at Mulhaust with disbelief on his face. The other was so convinced by everything he had been told by Sauron and Melkor that Maeglin had eventually decided that he was never going to wish to leave. For a moment he thought this was a trick by Sauron, trying to get him to admit to another escape attempt, but something in the slave’s expression told him it was true.

Looking into Mulhaust’s eyes when they were so fiery, so alive with hope, Maeglin felt a familiar wrench in his gut. How much that spark looked like his mother, when she had spoken of running from Eol. Looking away, unable to bear the pain this would cause his companion, the elf whispered, “No. I cannot get us out of here.”

Mulhaust blinked in confusion, tilting his head. “But I know a passage,” he said stubbornly. “It goes out.”

Maeglin inhaled deeply and looked up. “Out?” he repeated slowly, certain that his ears must be playing tricks on him.

“Out,” Mulhaust assured him, taking ahold of Maeglin’s hand and tugging as though he thought they would go at that exact moment. “Take me to the sun. Please.”

“Take me to the passage. I will take you to the sun.”

Chapter Text

Maeglin frowned and glanced around the corner. “What about the guards?” he whispered. The excitement that had spread through him when Mulhaust had first suggested this passage was gone, replaced by a growing sense that they were truly doomed.

Mulhaust strode right past him, and up to the orc guards. Maeglin’s heart thudded in his chest. He’s betrayed me, he’s turning me in but for what? Will they feed him better if he catches me at something? With a jolt of clarity Maeglin realized that must be it. Mulhaust was always hungry, always nosing about for more food, picking at Maeglin’s food when he thought the other wasn’t paying attention. Oh Valar have mercy. How many times shall I fall for this?

Maeglin risked another glance around the corner at Mulhaust, watching as he spoke in guttural tones to them. Black speech. The strange foreign language was hard on Maeglin’s ears, he had not learned any of it, and had no way of knowing what was being discussed. The slave made wide, expansive gestures as he spoke, eyes frightened and rolling back. What have they done?

The orcs started toward Maeglin, and he closed his eyes, praying they would simply kill him and get it over with. Just as they reached the corner they stopped and vanished down a different passage. Mulhaust smiled. “I said there was another rock slide!” he said, pride glowing in his eyes. “They believed me. Did I do well?”

Maeglin gaped, and immediately shame that he had thought the other had betrayed him washed over him. “Yes,” he stuttered. “You tricked them? You tricked them! You’re brilliant.” There was something that told him that Mulhaust was too innocent to manage such a trick, so broken that he would never imagine lying for any personal gain.

The slave blushed, turning his head away and refusing to meet Maeglin’s eyes, as though he had not been praised in far too long. “You are too kind,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

“I’m not lying,” Maeglin promised. He knew first-hand how much it hurt to have someone compliment you, only to make you feel better, when it was so obvious they were lying. “We must hurry though. Before they realize what you’ve done.”

Mulhaust nodded, grabbing Maeglin’s hand and leading him through the maze of passages. “It is this way, Mole Prince, we are almost there.” They had just reached the hole opened by the rock slide when they heard shouting, calling them back. The orc guard had returned. A thousand curses in all the languages Maeglin knew sprang to mind, but he swallowed them down for fear of making noise and alerting the guards to their position.

“Oh no,” Maeglin whispered. “Mulhaust run.” The slave ignored him, producing a small knife, clearly taken from the kitchen, and waving it in front of himself.

“That’s not going to help us,” Maeglin whispered, grabbing for the slave’s shirt and attempting to pull him down the passage before they were followed.

Mulhaust flinched at the touch, looking over his shoulder. “Go,” he whispered.

Maeglin stared, unable to comprehend what the other was telling him. Surely you can’t be serious. He shook his head firmly. “Not without you,” he said.

“There are only two of them.”

“You cannot take them,” Maeglin whispered. “We can outrun them.”

Mulhaust shook his head. “Can’t run.”

Maeglin didn’t understand, but he didn’t have time to question the slave. The orcs were upon them, and something slid into his arm, ripping his shirt and sinking into the flesh. For a moment he was in shock, stumbling back. Then he caught himself, reminding himself he had felt worse, suffered worse, and that if he couldn’t fight his way through this he would fall right back into that.

He stomped on the orc’s unprotected foot, feeling the bones snap, then grabbed it to throw it over his shoulder, and it smashed to the floor. Mulhaust moved quickly, stabbing his small knife into his throat. Maeglin snatched up the creature’s sword and spun, slamming it into the chest of the other orc.

It was all over so quickly, Maeglin panted and leaned against the wall, sending prayers to the Valar, grateful that they had not yet forsaken them. “Mulhaust?”

The slave was bent double, panting and shaking, mumbling in Quenya. His hands swatted at the ground and he pleaded for his lost family, sobbing that he wanted his father and brothers. He’s gone mad. Maeglin grabbed him and shook his shoulder. “We have to move,” he whispered. “Please.” It was clear that something had snapped inside him, something that had been barely holding him together before. Now that it was gone – killing the orcs was something they could not undo, a final act of rebellion before their escape – he was falling apart.

Mulhaust looked up and nodded weakly. “I want father,” he whispered. “Father’s gone. Bring him home.”

Maeglin’s heart clenched. “He’s waiting for us,” he lied. “Okay? He’ll be outside, but we have to get to him.” Mulhaust would understand, he reasoned to himself, once the other was able to understand what was going on, he would have no reason to hold a grudge against Maeglin for his small lie.

Mulhaust looked up at him. “Truly?” he asked. “My father is there?” he whispered. “He’s waiting for me?”

Another nod, another lie. He was good at that. “Aye. He loves you.” His mind was made up, Mulhaust would travel to Gondolin with him, he didn’t know what he would do once they were there, or how he would explain the other’s presence, but he would take him to safety. It was the least he could do. Turgon would take care of him, Mulhaust certainly wasn’t sane enough to try to leave the city. He didn’t know what he would do if the slave went looking for his father, who, if Maeglin had to guess, given the lifespan of the Noldor, was probably dead.

“Come on.” Maeglin urged. “Let’s go.” Mulhaust nodded, standing and following Maeglin through the small passage. It grew smaller the farther they walked, and soon they were both stooped over, and a bit beyond that they had to crawl on their hands and knees. Maeglin was more used to the conditions – it was not unlike mines that he had visited; on the other hand, Mulhaust was larger, and grunting in pain periodically.

“Are you alright?” Maeglin whispered, reaching forward to place his hand on the other elf’s back.

“Uh huh.”

He sounded less than wonderful, voice scratchy and thick with dust, but Maeglin smiled and said. “Good.”

It was some time before he heard a soft shout, Mulhaust suddenly scrambling ahead of him, emitting wordless exclamations. “Quiet!” Maeglin hissed. Mulhaust didn’t listen, and suddenly he vanished, and Maeglin was nearly blinded by the light his shape had been blocking. He stumbled, falling forward onto his forearms, head snapping against the floor. Light! He scrambled forward, and then stopped. Too much light.

In the moments he remained still in the tunnel, crouched down with his face nearly on the ground he listened. His efforts paid off as he heard a strangled cry from outside, then a thud, as though someone had fallen to the ground.

“Mulhaust!”

 

Chapter Text

Maeglin scrambled out of the tunnel after Mulhaust. The slave had bent double, hands clamped over his eyes, moaning at the pain from the light. Maeglin winced too, but forced himself to crawl to Mulhaust's side, stroking his shoulder and murmuring, "It's alright, just relax and keep your eyes closed."

He ripped a long piece of cloth from the end of his tunic, and placed it over his friend's eyes, tying it into place as a rough blind fold. "Just relax and let me lead," he said, helping him to stand. "We have got to keep moving. Can you do that?"

Mulhaust nodded and straightened. "Your arm," he said slowly, seeming to just then remember that Maeglin had been injured in their fight with the orcs. "Are you well?" His hands moved blindly to Maeglin’s wounds, as they had done after his ‘meetings’ with Sauron for many weeks, but Maeglin caught his hand.

"It is fine," Maeglin promised. The pain in his arm could wait until they were farther from Angband. He would push through any amount of pain to avoid that torture again. Mulhaust nodded and stepped forward, then felt his leg shake and then give way. Maeglin caught him, pulled him to his feet, and wrapped his arm around his neck. "Let me lead." Though Mulhaust was taller, he was thinner and leaner, and Maeglin’s years of working in the forge paid off, allowing him to balance the weight and keep them both going.

They walked for hours, thankfully seeing no one, though Mulhaust was determinedly clutching his small knife, prepared to use it if he must. Maeglin wanted to keep going as long as possible, to put as much difference between himself and the mountain as possible, but when he felt his own knees begin to shake from overexertion, he said, "We need to stop."

Mulhaust nodded, and sat where he was standing. "Not there," Maeglin said, exasperated. "We need to find cover." He pulled Mulhaust to his feet, and half-carried, half-drug him to the cover of a large rock, which they could slip under. Mulhaust went to sleep almost immediately, snoring gently. Maeglin smiled and patted his shoulder. "Sleep well," he said, curling against him and closing his eyes, allowing himself to pretend that he was back at home with his mother, safe from all save his father’s wrath. At some point during the night Mulhaust curled around him, and by the time Maeglin awoke he was nearly suffocating beneath the other’s weight.

He awoke before Mulhaust, just as the sun was setting. They had walked through the evening, and a large part of the day, so it seemed that they had slept through the remainder of the day. Maeglin shook the other elf and waited for him to wake up. When he didn't so much as stir he huffed and looked away, wishing the other would just move. I could leave him.

Maeglin jumped, startled to have even thought such a thing. He was better than that, much better than that. Despite what Eol had often said about the unfaithfulness of the Noldor, Maeglin had found them to be a trustworthy and honorable people, and liked to think that he embodied the best of that. But if he left Mulhaust, the orcs might give up on following him, distracted by the other. He looked at his sleeping form. He was broken beyond repair, nothing Maeglin did would bring back his family, and the other would only be angry when he discovered he had been tricked into helping. Without Mulhaust tagging along, Maeglin could slip back into Gondolin, and pretend he had merely taken an extended trip to the mines and suffered a few bruises along the way. He stood and made to slip out of the shelter, seriously contemplating leaving him.

But he would never forgive himself. A last glance over his shoulder revealed Mulhast curled into a ball, his knuckles pressed against his lips, mumbling softly, once again seeming to be in the middle of a conversation with his family. Maeglin knelt beside him and shook him. "We need to move."

Mulhaust stirred, muttering softly in Quenya before dragging himself to his feet. "Of course Mole Prince."

Maeglin looked away, choked with guilt and glad Mulhaust could not see him because of the blindfold. He couldn't believe he had even thought about leaving the other elf unprotected and alone in the wastelands. "Mulhaust," he said as they walked. "I think it might be dark enough to remove the blindfold."

Mulhaust looked at him, seemingly confused. Maeglin pulled off the blindfold and smiled. "You're not exactly fluent in Sindarin, are you?"

The slave shook his head, but didn’t reply as he turned his head back and stared at the sky in wonder.

The language of the Sindar was Maeglin's native tongue, but if it was so difficult for Mulhaust to understand he was willing to use Quenya, which he had been forced to learn to understand the people of Gondolin. They had not spoken enough during their time in Angband for the language barrier to become apparent, but now that they needed to be able to communicate more quickly Maeglin switched to Quenya. "We can use this, if you like," he offered in Quenya.

Mulhaust perked, and nodded. "Please, Mole Prince," he said.

Maeglin smiled and wrapped his arm around him. "Come along." They leaned on each other each other as they walked, too tired to carry on otherwise. "They should be following us."

Mulhaust frowned. "They don't expect escape," he said hesitantly. "So rare...." Once again Maeglin noticed the twinge in his eyes, proof that he was still uncertain that escape was their best bet. Something told him this was not Mulhaust’s first bid for freedom, but judging by his fear of it, it was the most successful (so far).

Maeglin had little doubt that their absence had been noted. He was an important prisoner, and Mulhaust seemed important, at least for Sauron's amusement. The fact that they were not being followed worried him more than he liked to admit.

Perhaps he shouldn't take the other back to Gondolin. Heading farther south, toward one of the known cities, might be better than risking exposing the hidden city. But Maeglin wanted to return home, and they already knew about what area the mine he had exited through was in, so if he went there and told his uncle to immediately seal the shaft they would be safe.
They traveled for days, sleeping lightly, pushing themselves until they collapsed, then sleeping until they woke and starting again. Within a few days they were low on food and water, but there was nothing in the wasteland that they could eat – even if there was food Maelgin would not have trusted it.

Mulhaust grew silent, some days he barely spoke to Maeglin, just stared up at the stars and the moon in wonder. When they slept Maeglin would often hear him crying or whispering in his sleep, as though he had nightmares, but had been 'trained' not to cry out. When that happened, Maeglin would curl against him and wrap him protectively in his arms, not letting go until he woke.

There was something altogether pitiful about the too-large elf, and something familiar as well. Under his sunken eyes and sunburnt face he still resembled Aredhel or Turgon, and sometimes, when Maeglin would awake curled against him, he would have to remind himself that it was not his mother or uncle, and that he was not safe at home.

It broke his heart each time, but each time he would force himself to shake away the memories and keep going. Soon the mountains around Gondolin rose into view, and Maeglin was able to scavenge a few berries and they found a stream to drink from and to clean their wounds. The injury to Maeglin's arm had become infected, and he was glad to have a chance to clean it out. Water seemed to be a novel idea for Mulhaust, who plunged in fully clothed. Maeglin sighed, made a mental note to keep him away from Ecthelion and his fountains, then waded in and pulled him out.

Maeglin was only wet to his ankles, but Mulhaust had gone completely underwater, and shivered all night. They moved the next morning, Mulhaust shooting untrustworthy looks at the water, as though he blamed it entirely for his chills. When he began to sneeze Maeglin began to panic. Elves weren't supposed to get sick, but he supposed the strain on his body, combined with sleeping in wet clothes, might have been a serious blow to his immune system. He sped them along, determined to reach the pass as quickly as they could.

They were – by Maeglin's estimate – less than a day from the mineshaft when the orcs caught them. They fell upon them with no warning, and Maeglin and Mulhaust had to begin running and throw themselves behind a rock to protect them from the sudden rain of arrows. Mulhaust curled into Maeglin, sobbing and shaking. "We should never have left," he whispered.

Maeglin hugged him, sinking to the ground and leaning against the rock. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "This is my fault. I- I made you bring me out."

A horn sounded, not an orc horn, but something different. Mulhaust's head snapped up. "Father," he said.  

Maeglin also recognized the sound, that of Turgon's men. He felt weak. They were going to be safe. "It's my uncle!" he cried with delight, shaking Mulhaust. "We'll be safe!"  

The battle was over in moments, the orcs slaughtered by the elven force, and Maeglin peeked over the rock as the sounds of battle died away. Penlod, the Marshal of Gondolin, was leading a troop of horsemen away from the battle sight. "Wait!" Maeglin shouted, while thinking that he wished it were anyone else. He lost his balance and stumbled to his knees, an action which only furthered his embarrassment as Penlod rode right up in front of him, leaving him a disheveled mess at the other’s feet.

The Lord of Gondolin didn’t seem at all startled to see Maeglin. "Well," he said. "If it isn't our errant little mole. Did you burrow too far from your mines, prince?"  

Maeglin was glad for the dust coating his face, Penlod wouldn't see him begin to turn red with anger. Penlod was not a cruel man, but he was suspicious of anyone who wasn't like him, and had always considered Maelgin to be odd and, as Maelgin had once overheard him say, 'not entirely trustworthy.'  

"Yes," he confessed. It was worth the confession, just to see the surprise on Penlod's face, clearly not having expected him to admit he had gone too far.   

Penlod quickly composed himself, hiding his shock with a scathingly reply, "So you admit you've broken a law?" A hint of amusement and satisfaction colored his voice, no doubt he had yet to notice Maeglin’s condition, because then even he would not be so rude.

Maeglin knew there were those would love nothing more than to see him get into trouble. They resented that Turgon was so willing to bend rules for his family, letting Aredhel leave and then return. No doubt Penlod would enjoy the thought of him spending a few days in the dungeons or (more humiliatingly) the stocks.  "Yes," he said. "I was taken prisoner by orcs after getting lost and leaving the wrong side of the mines. Someone should ensure that the mines are secure, rather than waste time with petty crimes."  

At the mention of Angband a flicker of pity crossed Penlod's face, but it hardened, and he replied. "I find myself inclined to believe you prince," he said, adding with a smile, "if you can prove it."  

Maeglin nearly retorted that it wasn't Penlod he would have to prove anything to, but instead he replied, "Certainly." Returning to the rock they had hidden behind, he stroked Mulhaust's hair in an attempt to calm him. Penlod’s harsh voice had only served to agitate him further, and he was staring at Maeglin in terror. "Don't worry, his bark is worse than his bite," he said, helping him to stand and move around the rock.   

Penlod paled at the sight of him, Mulhaust lurched and pulled back, crying out softly. Maeglin grabbed him and wrapped his arms around him, soothing him as he had grown used to doing. With his attention fixed on the frightened elf, he didn’t notice Penlod exchanging hurried words with one of his companions, or how they all shifted and watched with a mixture of unease and amazement. "Come on," he said, "your family is this way."  All too soon Mulhaust was going to learn that Maelglin was nothing better than a filthy liar, but until then the mention of his family was enough to get him over his panic.   

Penlod had been watching them and said, "This changes things. Give them horses."  

Mulhaust didn’t seem thrilled at the idea of getting on a horse, but Maeglin bribed him onto one and allowed the other to sit behind him and grab him tightly, not protesting when his ribs were nearly crushed.

Chapter Text

They reached the city gates at dusk, Penlod hurrying them through without a word. Mulhaust was hunched over, sobbing into Maeglin’s hair. When they stopped, Maeglin jumped down from the horse and turned to help him dismount, but before he could do anything Mulhaust simply allowed himself to go limp and slide sideways off the horse. Thankfully there was a guard near enough that he was able to assist Maeglin in catching him and lowering him gently to the ground so that he was not hurt. “What is it?” Maeglin asked after thanking their helper and sending him away to give his newfound friend space.

Mulhaust didn't reply, sniffling and running his fingers through his shaggy hair, grumbling to himself in Quenya about getting lost and how it was entirely not his fault. Maeglin straightened and sighed, turning to look over his shoulder to where Turgon was talking with Penlod. After one last glance at Mulhaust, who was now asking for his father again, he turned and moved toward his uncle, his walk slow out of both trepidation and pain. However, Turgon saw him coming and closed the gap between them, before Maeglin could process what was happening and decide if he was going to be shouted at or struck, Turgon grabbed him and crushed him in a tight embrace, not seeming to notice that his white robes were being stained by the filth caked on Maeglin’s body.

"Where have you been?" Turgon whispered frantically, moving back to look at Maeglin’s face, his hands tightly closed around Maeglin’s upper arms as though afraid he would vanish if he let go. "We've been worried sick."  

That was almost news to Maeglin. He could no longer remember if his fear and uncertainty of his relationship with his uncle had always existed, or if it was something invented by Sauron. Either way it brought tears to his eyes, as he the full horror of what he had experienced washed over him once again. Turgon made a soothing noise and loosened his grip, bringing a hand to cup Maeglin’s cheek reassuringly as the younger elf spluttered, "I was captured. Mu- my friend helped me to escape." Genuine concern shone in Turgon’s eyes, and Maeglin knew he was close to letting his emotions break through the walls he had built and letting everything – his confusion, fears, the horrors of what he had experienced, the guilt over his mother’s deaths, everything Sauron had said and done, his love for Idril – all come spilling out.  

But before Maeglin could break or Turgon question him further, Penlod broke in, "Friend?" he asked, an eyebrow raised. "What do you mean friend, do you not know-“ He stopped speaking, his mouth forming a soft 'o'.   

"Know what?" Turgon asked, his head turning slightly in the direction of the speaker, but his eyes never once leaving Maeglin’s face. That was something Maeglin would also like to know.   

"Who he is," Penlod said slowly, his eyes moving toward where Mulhaust was still talking to himself on the ground.

"Who whom is?" Turgon demanded.  

Penlod turned, gesturing to Mulhaust who made for an interesting picture, slumped by his horse, the confused stable hands having simply left him behind when they took the horses away. Turgon finally looked away from his nephew and slowly approached the other, leaning over him slightly to get a better look at their newest predicament. "Maeglin, please explain," he said with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.   

At the sound of his voice Mulhaust quieted and looked up, squinting against the sun to focus on the elven lord, his eyes glowing with sudden excitement. "Turukano?" he asked.  

Turgon froze. "Oh my valar," he whispered. Maeglin's eyebrows shot up, he had never heard his straight-laced uncle swearing before.   

Turgon dropped to his knees, grabbing Mulhaust and looking into his eyes. The elf stared back numbly, softly repeating, "Turukano, Turukano, Turukano..."  

It wasn’t immediately clear which of them was in a greater state of shock, so Penlod took charge. "Fetch him a healer!" Penlod shouted, grabbing Maeglin and pulling him inside by his shirt collar. "I will take care of the prince."  

He took Maeglin inside – practically dragging him – and hurried him up the stairs to the space that Maeglin had occupied before moving to his own home in the city. The rooms remained there, unused and left just the way they had been the day he moved out, in case he should ever want to stay there. It was a nice gesture on Turgon's part, assuring his nephew that there would always be a place for it, but Maeglin had never intended to stay there again. Penlod didn’t even ask where Maeglin wished to go, not seeming to care that he just wanted to be left alone to return to his followers and lick his wounds in peace.

Penlod pressed him into the bathing room, peeling off his shirt and frowning at his injuries. He stepped outside, caught a passing servant and sent them in search of supplies before returning to Maeglin's side. "Where did you find Arakano?"  

"Arakano?"  

"The elf you brought, your uncle, Arakano. Where did you find him?"  

"My what?" Uncle? Maeglin's uncles were dead. Fingon he had met (and attended his funeral), Argon, the youngest of Fingolfin's children, had died shortly after the crossing of the ice, at the Battle of the Lammoth, long before Maeglin was born.   

“That was your uncle, Arakano,” Penlod explained as he cleaned the wound on Maeglin’s arm. “Who did you think it was?”   

“Someone who needed help?” The answer made sense enough to Maeglin, but Penlod just shook his head in wonderment.

"You brought a stranger into our city, just because you liked him?" Penlod demanded, his grip on Maeglin's arm tightening.   

"Yes?"   

Penlod smacked his head, eliciting a yelp, "Ow!" Maeglin rubbed his head and glowered at the other.   

"You could have brought disaster to the city!"   

"He helped me escape. What would you have liked me to do, leave him?” Maeglin swallowed, trying not to think of how dangerously close he had come to doing just that, the first night when he almost left Mulhaust in the wilds by himself. “Would my uncle prefer that? "  

Penlod narrowed his eyes, glaring at the other mistrustfully. "While I am grateful that you found Lord Arakano, I must confess, I would prefer if you would decline to bring strangers into the city." He punctuated that command by pressing his fingers into the infected wound on Maeglin’s arm.

Maeglin didn’t reply, but did his best to swat away Penlod’s hands. “You need treated,” the knight snapped. At that time the servant returned with the supplies he had requested, and Penlod gave Maeglin something of a pitying glance.


 

Turgon sat beside his brother, stroking his hair as he slept. Argon had collapsed  as they tried to bring him inside, the toll of his journey causing his feet to slip out from under him. Ecthelion had been the only one to move quickly enough to catch him, then assisted Turgon in carrying him to healers.  Ecthelion had sat in the hall with him as Argon was cared for, remaining his silent comfort until he had been allowed to see his brother.  

He was, according to the healer, "in rough shape." Bandages crisscrossed his chest, covering any fresh wounds, but those that had already scarred over had been left as uncovered, angry, red lines. It took all of Turgon’s strength not to simply lay down beside his brother and hold him, his fear of injuring him holding him back.

Ecthelion brought up a supper for the king, then smiled and left him, promising that he would not be far if he was needed. Turgon barely ate, instead sitting and stroking his brother's messy hair. After sometime he fetched a comb and (sadly) a pair of scissors, and set about neatening him up as much as possible.

It was late into the night before Argon finally stirred, looking around slowly before asking, "Mole Prince?"  

Turgon, finished with his brother’s hair, had nearly drifted off to sleep, and had not noticed him sitting up until he spoke. He turned to look at his brother with a wide smile. "Arakano!"   

Argon turned his head slowly, not meeting Turgon's gaze but looking at the ground. Turgon reached out to place his hand on his shoulder, only to have his brother cry out and pull back. "Arakano?" he asked.  

Argon shook his head. "Where is the Mole Prince?" he asked again, fear filling his eyes.

That was the reason that Maeglin was shaken awake by a rather disgruntled Ecthelion and taken downstairs to placate his uncles, one of whom had crawled as far from the other as he could get, hiding in the corner and sniffling. When Maeglin entered Turgon made a helpless gesture in Argon's direction, and Maeglin hurried across the room to kneel beside him.   

Argon looked up at Maeglin, his dark eyes glittering with tears. "Where's my father, Mole Prince?" he whispered. “You promised me my father.”

Maeglin's stomach clenched. Behind him Turgon gasped.  

Chapter Text

"Where's my father?" Argon repeated, eyes locked on Maeglin. "You promised."    

Turgon was suddenly beside Maeglin, reaching a hand for Argon. "Arakano," he said, "do you recognize me?" Argon stared at him blankly, clearly uninterested.

"This is your brother," Maeglin said, shaking. He had feared that his promise would come back to haunt him, but never imagined this. Rather than just having to confess that he had lied, Turgon was now going to suffer for his stupidity, no one wanted to be reminded that their father was dead.  

Argon looked at his nephew, dark eyes shining with determination. "I don't want my brother," he said. Turgon winced.   

"Please," Maeglin whispered, reaching out for Maeglin, only to have his hand roughly batted away. "Just calm down, M-Arakano."   

Argon sobbed out loud. "You promised," he said, his voice rising.  

"I- I," Maeglin stuttered. It would have been easier, he reflected, if Argon was not his uncle. It would have been easier if there was no connection. He wouldn't have minded so much, breaking his heart in that case.  

"Go," Turgon said softly, glancing sideways at Maeglin. "I can take care of him. You need to rest."  Despite the gentleness in his voice, no doubt maintained to keep Argon calm, there was definite hurt in his eyes, and perhaps a glimmer of anger.   

Maeglin nodded. He didn't need to be told twice, and left the room as quickly as he could . Once in the hall he leaned on the wall, panting softly.   

"Is something the matter?"  

He turned and felt his heart skip. Idril. Maeglin glanced at his feet, trying hard not to allow himself to picture the scenes Sauron had shown him of her. "I think he'll be okay," he said evasively. He didn't want to speak with her, surprisingly. So instead he said, "I need sleep. P- perhaps I will see you tomorrow."   

Maeglin brushed past her, leaving her standing in surprise. He shoved his way into his room, trembling. The gut wrenching memory of seeing Argon's face and realize how much he looked like his mother had broken his heart. He couldn't hurt Argon any more than he could hurt his mother, and Idril.... Idril he wanted nothing to do with anymore.    

He slumped into his blankets, pulling the blanket over his head as he struggled with the guilt that he had nearly condemned his own uncle to a horrible fate.    


 

Once Maeglin had left, Turgon held his hands out for his brother, palms up and fingers spread. "Arakano," he said softly. "Take my hands." Argon remained frozen, crammed into the corner with frightened eyes trained on Turgon. "Please."  

Slowly Argon extended his hands, placing his hands against his brothers. Beneath the skin, Turgon could feel a slight tremor.  "Thilio, thilio dinu nîn," he sang softly, pulling his brother gently from the corner. "Iston man i eneth lîn?"   

Argon followed him slowly, allowing himself to be led across the room and to the bed, where Turgon gently tucked him in. Even though he had been greatly distressed by Maeglin's visit, it seemed to have – in the long run – calmed him down, as though it had promised to Argon that he was safe. "Am-dhorthol or amar mîn, e ch, menel-vir, síloch dîn."   

Argon relaxed, and, after a moment's pause, he finished the song in a cracking voice, "Thilio, thilio dinu nîn, i ston man i eneth lîn ?" Unfortunately, even the fleeting memory of their mother's  lullaby  was not enough  to distract him from what he wanted entirely. Just as Turgon thought that the worst of it was over he asked, "Where's my father?"  

It was no use pretending anymore. Turgon cradled him closer, patting his cheek, and replied, "I'm afraid our father passed away."  

"Oh." Argon took the news better than expected, staring up at Turgon curiously. There was something not quite right with his face; his eyes were hollow and lacked the mischievous glimmer that Turgon remembered, and his bones were more prominent, skin and muscles faded away by hunger. He coughed and took a deep breath, Turgon rubbing his chest to soothe him. "Are you certain?"  

Turgon blinked, swallowing tears as he remembered his father's corpse , brought to them by the eagle. "Yes," he whispered.   

"Master Melkor said he had him," Argon said after a moment, closing his eyes and leaning into Turgon's side. “He said if I didn’t let Master Mairon play with me they would play with father instead.”

Turgon stroked his hair, swallowing his disgust and trying not to dwell on the implications of Argon’s words. "I promise you're safe," he said, patting his hair. "Alright? The Mole Prince and I will protect you."   

Argon nodded, looking up at Turgon and then sitting up with a groan. "I wanted to thank you," he said.  

"You don't need to," Turgon promised with a sad smile. He was convinced now that Argon didn't know who he was, but was only acting out of trust for Maeglin, or perhaps his memories were so suppressed that he remembered them only in his subconscious.   

Argon’s eyebrows knotted together. "You should always say thank you," he said blankly, reaching out to place his hand on Turgon's shoulder. Quicker than Turgon could process Argon pulled him closer and pressed their lips together.   

Turgon gasped and pulled back. "Stop!" he gasped. "I don't- I don't want-" The implications of “playing” with “master mairon” were suddenly made very clear, and took a moment to swallow his revulsion. 

"I'm sorry," Argon whispered, pulling back and tucking his chin against his chest. Turgon pulled him closer, patting his back.   

"No," he whispered. "Don't be sorry, you didn't know better."  

"I didn't?" Argon repeated.  

Turgon sighed and rubbed his back, rocking him gently. "No, and it's not your fault. You're still living by Melkor's rules, but you're free now, and you just need to rest, alright? We can help you understand how to fit in, I promise."   

"Promise?"   

"Promise," he repeated, managing to lay Argon down and encourage him to sleep. Argon did sleep, fitfully, but he slept. Turgon remained sitting upright, leaned on the bed, his mind whirring with everything that had happened. It was a blessing, Argon's return, he loved his little brother dearly, but the thought of what he had dealt with the past few centuries almost made him wish he had died.   

He stroked Argon's hair, now cropped short. "I'd never wish you ill little brother, but I wish you hadn't lived through this." Turgon grabbed a pillow, and shoved his face against it to muffle his sobs as he finally allowed his emotions to come tumbling out. It wasn't fair. Wasn’t it bad enough that his cousin Maedhros had endured what he had? Did Melkor have to take innocent Arakano as well?

Glorfindel arrived shortly before dawn. Turgon was still seated on the bed beside Argon, no longer weeping, but holding the pillow to his chest and staring blankly at the far wall. The Lord of the House of the Golden Flower sighed when he saw him, and cleared his throat.

“Your  Majesty !" he whispered, remaining quiet so he would not wake Argon,  bowing low and theatrically. "I've come to relieve you of your duty!"   

Turgon wanted to protest that he needed to stay beside his brother, but before his sluggish brain could form a protest, Glorfindel was already beside him and gently pulling him from the bed. "If it is not outside of my bounds," he remarked, a glimmer of amusement in his eyes, "I'd say the king is in need of beauty sleep."   

Turgon had no doubt that he was, but he still wanted to stay with Argon.  Glorindel wasn't giving up, pushing Turgon toward the door as he chattered on, "I can certainly be trusted with the wee lad," he said in an terrible mockery of Penlod's deep voice. "Keeping him out of trouble can't be too difficult. He's of fine, well-mannered stock.  Well-behaved, just like his brother, I'm certain," he said with a wink.  

That brought a hint of a smile to Turgon's face. "Thank you," he said softly as he was pushed out the door. 

"Anytime," Glorfindel whispered, sounding serious for the first time that day.  


 

Maeglin slept fitfully, a fact that did not help his mood when Turgon knocked on his door at the crack of dawn. "Come in!" he called, forcing himself out of bed and to stumble along to the door. He opened it and peered out. "Yes uncle?" he asked sleepily. Turgon stepped inside, looking around the cramped room with tired eyes. "Have you slept?"  

Turgon's eyes descended on his nephew, as angry as they were tired. "No," he said sharply. Maeglin recoiled, Turgon didn't get mad for no reason. "I've spent the night explaining to my little brother that our father is, in fact, not among the living. Now he's convinced he needs to go, 'where ada went.' "  

Maeglin felt sick, turning his back on his uncle and crossing the room. "I didn't know who he was," he said softly.   

"So you told him, what, exactly?" Turgon demanded.  

"I said I could take him to his father. He was frightened, I thought he would stay!" Maeglin explained. "I didn't know he was your brother I -" he stopped and looked at Turgon, visibly distraught. "I'm sorry."  

Turgon looked back at his nephew for a long moment, then suddenly stepped forward and grabbed him, pulling him into a tight hug. "Thank you Maeglin, thank you for bringing my brother back to me," he said quietly.   

Maeglin froze, unused to, and not overly fond of, physical contact. "You're welcome, Uncle," he said softly, burying his face in his shoulder and accepting the hug.  

They stayed like that, leaned against one another, for some time, largely because they were both too tired to move. Turgon finally broke away, and smiled at him sadly. "I'm going to rest now. I should have already asked, but, are you well?"   

Maeglin nodded. "Yes, I am," he said. "I promise."   

Turgon relaxed and nodded.  "Good," he said, smiling and nodding sleepily as he headed for the door.  

Maeglin watched him go, then turned and dug through the room, finding clean clothes to tug on. He forced a brush through his hair, and pulled then pulled it into a bun before heading out the door, aware he still looked terrible.   

Glorfindel was seated beside Argon's bed, turned so that the sun fell directly onto the pages of his book. He looked up and smiled a greeting as Maeglin entered. "Before you ask, no I've not eaten any good books recently," he said with a wink.   

Maeglin shook his head and pointedly ignored him, moving to sit beside Argon. "How is he?" he asked after a moment.   

"Tired," Glorfindel replied. "You look tired as well, you should rest."  

Maeglin glared at him. He wanted to like the Lord of the Golden Flower, but it was difficult to like someone, when every time he looked at him he remembered that he had assisted in throwing his father off the city walls. Glorfindel watched him for a moment as he sat, before sighing  and returning to what he was reading.  

 "Is there nothing more they can do for him?"  

"I'm certain they've done everything they can," Glorfindel replied. "So just relax and let the healers-"  

"They're not doing enough!" Maeglin burst out.   

At the sudden noise they both turned and looked at Argon, afraid he would wake. When he didn't stir Glorfindel hissed, "Keep your voice down!"   

"Make me!" Maeglin shot back.   

Glorfindel snapped his book shut. "Maeglin you are going to wake him," he said quietly. "Please, leave and calm down."   

Maeglin knew it had nothing to do with Argon, rather it was Glofindel's presence that was upsetting him, but he stood and stormed from the room, resisting the temptation to slam the door, instead shutting it quietly.  

Chapter Text

Maeglin stormed outside, the cool morning hair feeling strange against his skin. He had forgotten how it felt to be cool, to not feel as though he was burning up from the heat of Angband. And it was nice to be alone, truly alone. In his room in Angband after Sauron and Melkor and even Mulhaust had left, he had always felt as though someone’s eyes were on him, as though they were watching him and waiting for him to slip up.

He sunk to his knees, leaning against the railing and closing his eyes. His life was a mess. Maeglin had thought – hoped more likely – that everything would go back to normal once he returned from his captivity, instead it seemed that everything was worse. It seemed that everyone stopped and stared at him, or leaned to whisper to one another when his back was turned.

Or perhaps not, maybe he just hadn't noticed it before. Being in Angband had given him a new perspective, a new approach to life. He noticed more about the people around him, no longer glossing over them and labeling them as unimportant. Now he realized he had been foolish, blinded by his obsession with Idril and unable to truly see anything else. If he had looked closer, he might have realized that their stares and whispers were masking concern and worry, but he was not ready to see that much, not yet.

Nothing else had ever mattered before, only ever Idril.

"What does it matter now," he whispered to himself, staring across the city as the sun rose. "It's far too late to change anything." With the sunrise came pain, but it was not the pain of torment, but something different, something sweeter and more welcome.

With a sigh he rose to his feet, and slowly ambled down the hall. He passed Argon's room and his own, wandering out of the Tower of the King with only a single thought in his head; to get as far away from his family as he could.

The halls of his own home were welcomingly dark and quiet. No one questioned him as he moved through them, going into his own suite and shutting the door securely, moving a bolt through the latch, and then going into his bathing chamber and starting the water.

It was scalding when he stepped in, and he welcomed it, letting his skin pucker and turn red. The heat was a welcome reminder that he was still alive, that he existed and could feel anything he wished, not just the pain in his heart. He sobbed and disappeared under water for a long moment. As the hot water scalded his face he wondered what would happen if he didn't surface. He wouldn't need to listen to his uncle's shouting, or Argon crying. There would be no more guilt when he looked at Idril, or confusion and anger toward Tuor. No more worrying about what people were saying when he turned his back.

No one else would have to deal with him either. Turgon would be without his damaged and deranged nephew, free to focus on his brother, Idril would not feel the need to hide from him, and- that was it. There was no one else he impacted. Before he could make his choice and open his mouth, before he could let the water flow into his lungs, he registered – dimly – that someone was banging on his door.

Maeglin slipped above the water and listened. "Maeglin?" a soft voice called. It sounded like Turgon. Maeglin ignored him and slid down into the water again, then paused. If he went under, if he allowed himself to die, then what would happen? Turgon would get into his room eventually and find him. Turgon who had never been anything but kind, who had spoiled and nurtured Maeglin even as he screamed and threw tantrums, shutting him out. Turgon who had lost so much already.

Maeglin jumped out of the water, grabbing a robe and shouting, "Coming uncle!"

He hurried from the bathing chambers and wrenched open the door. Turgon stared at his nephew who was shaking from his realizations and still dripping wet from his bath. "Is this a bad time?"

"No!" Maeglin shuttered to think what he might have done if Turgon had not entered when he did, and he smiled brightly – perhaps too brightly. He swallowed his smile, looking away, unable to meet the kind eyes of his kinsman.

Turgon chuckled and shook his head. "Finish your bath nephew," he said, giving him a gentle push.

"I will be fine." Maeglin couldn’t stomach the thought of reentering the bath, unsure of what he would do, so instead he dashed into the bathing chamber, pulled on a fresh set of clothes, and struggled to towel his hair. Like his father, Maeglin's hair was uncooperative and stringy, something he was never happy to wrestle with, which often led to braiding it and leaving it for days.

He stepped out of the room and smiled at Turgon, who had made himself comfortable in his sitting room. "May I help you, uncle?" he asked.

"I wanted to take a walk and get some fresh air."

Usually when Turgon – or anyone for that matter – wanted 'fresh air' the last place they would go was Maeglin's dark home which had no grand gardens or fountains. Though it suited someone who had spent his adolescence under the trees, seeing only starlight, it was claustrophobic for those more used to the sun and who had known the Light of the Trees. "Oh?"

Turgon’s eyes turned on him, his face still kind – their earlier spat seemingly forgotten – and it was with a mixture of concern and apprehension that he asked, "I found myself wondering how you got to Angband."

"Oh." Maeglin stared at him for a moment, licking his lips nervously.

"How did you get out of the city?" There was almost certainly disappointment in his voice then, Maeglin knew that Turgon felt strongly about his beliefs that they were safest within the hidden city, and knew he had broken laws.

He thought for a long moment before replying, his words coming out uncertainly. It was not so easy to lie to Turgon as it had been to tell the same lie to Penlod, "I was lost in the mines, I wandered outside, and before I knew it I was overcome by orcs.” He couldn’t meet Turgon’s eyes, instead focusing his attention on the sleeve of his tunic, picking at a loose thread.

Turgon raised an eyebrow. "What were you doing so deep in the mines?"

"Hiding." He hadn't meant to say it, but it spilled out anyway. "I don't think anyone here likes me." That was a new realization, but he knew that telling Turgon the truth about what he had been hiding from would be much, much worse.

The elven king's face softened. "Oh?" he asked. "What do you mean, Maeglin?"

Maeglin regretted his words, not wanting to answer any more questions. “People see me as the son of my mother’s murderer,” he said after a moment, eyes adverted. He almost didn’t notice Turgon stand and step closer, his hands reaching out for Maeglin.

“You are Eol’s son,” Turgon said, stopping in front of his nearly cowering nephew. “Just as you are Aredhel’s son, and,” he paused, moving his hand to cup Maeglin’s chin. “Just as I like to think of you as my own son.” He tipped Maeglin’s head back, meeting the shorter elf’s eyes.
“Does that bother you?”

Maeglin’s throat nearly constricted at the kind words, he couldn’t think of a proper way to respond, and instead he nearly launched himself into Turgon’s arms and hid his face in the king’s shoulder, mumbling softly in a mixture of Sindarin and Quenya. Turgon held him tightly, stroking his dark hair. “Whatever Sauron did to you,” he said, tucking Maeglin’s dampe head under his chin. “Whatever I and my people may have inadvertently done to you, please, let me amend it.”

Maeglin couldn’t find any words, it had been far too long since anyone had held him so lovingly, and he latched onto his uncle’s kindness and sagged into him, his exhaustion finally catching up with him he sagged and would have fallen if not for Turgon. Carefully the king led his nephew to his bed, guiding him to lay on his back and let his blankets be drawn around him. A part of Maeglin desperately wanted to protest the babyish treatment – only a few months before he knew he would have thrown a fit to be coddled in such a manner – but he welcomed Turgon’s affection, and it was with a sinking heart that he mumbled, “You should check on your brother.”

Turgon hummed, stroking wet hair out of Maeglin’s eyes. “Nay,” he objected, “Arakano has others who can watch over him, I shall stay with you.”

The kindness caused Maeglin to choke, tears coming more rapidly now, and Turgon brushed them away and hushed him. “Sleep well my nephew.”

Chapter Text

Argon’s healing was not a fast thing, nor was it an easy one.

His body, of course, healed quickly. That was the elven way, they seldom remained injured for long, and within a few days of his arrival he was on his feet and puttering about the Tower of the King.

That caused more problems than it solved, unfortunately.

Ever since the incident in his bathing chambers (Maeglin refused to call it a suicide attempt, he tried not to think of it at all in fact), the Lord of the House of the Mole had been spending as little time in his house as possible. That meant that he found himself often being the one in charge of Argon, since the former slave still didn’t seem to trust anyone else. Turgon, in particular, seemed unwelcome, as somehow in Argon’s confused mind he had taken the fact that Turgon had told him about their father’s death and turned that to mean that Turgon was somehow responsible for it.

Turgon had barely managed to spend more than a few minutes in a room with Argon before the other was worked into a panic.

It was after one such incident when Turgon had had the idea to invite himself to an afternoon tea with Maeglin and Argon, that the youngest Lord of Gondolin found himself sitting in a dark room with his uncle pressed into his side. Maeglin stroked Argon’s hair and silently thanked the Valar that no one could see them, because he was certain they made for an amusing picture. Argon stood at least a foot and a half taller than Maeglin, and he was starting to gain weight, which made the sight of him curled into Maeglin for protection amusing at the least.

“It’s alright,” Maeglin lied, stroking his hair, “he didn’t mean anything by it.”

“I want father,” Argon whimpered.

“Your father is dead.” It was turning into something of a mantra that Maeglin found himself bored with repeating.

Good morning Argon, your father is dead.

It’s time for tea, your father is dead.

Have a pastry, your father is dead.

Please take a bath, your father is dead.

Let the healer see your wounds, your father is dead.

Don’t bite your niece, your father is dead.

It’s just a sleeping-draught, your father is dead.

If he hadn’t grown so fond of his uncle, Maeglin wasn’t sure he could have handled it. Many had offered to assist him - many who, Argon should have felt comfortable with since he had known them for many years before his capture - but he only accepted his Mole Prince.

Argon seemed to consider it, then made an unusual request. “I want Finno.”

Maeglin found himself unsure of how to respond. Finno was, most likely, a reference to Findekano, Argon and Turgon’s eldest brother (of course, giving their family’s naming habits there could be another Finno he wasn’t aware of). But, unfortunately, that family member was as dead as their father, and Maeglin foresaw himself adding another mantra to his daily routine.

“Findekano is dead.” He couldn’t think of a way to sugar coat it.

Thankfully, Argon either didn’t fully understand or had been expecting it. “Oh.” They sat in silence a moment more, Argon’s tremors - brought about by Turgon’s visit - finally beginning to subside. Finally, he asked, “Who isn’t dead?”

An interesting question. Maeglin sighed, once again wishing there was someone else - anyone else - who could answer it. “Of your siblings? It’s only you and Turgon.” It was easier to phrase it that way, rather than have to say his mother’s name. “Of our cousins? I’ve lost count.”

It wasn’t entirely true, Maeglin was more or less aware of which of the line of Finwe was still around, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to sit and talk it through. If he did, they were liable to end up sitting there all day, going through everyone's sorry ends.

“Kanofinwe?”

It took several moments for Maeglin’s brain to recall who exactly Kanofinwe was. Finally, it snapped into place, recalling the strange and otherworldly second son of Feanor that he had met in passing years before at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. That Feanorian, he was fairly certain, had survived the Feanorians recent attack on Doriath. Not that he was going to explain Doriath and the kinslayings to Argon. Nor for anything in the world.

“He’s not here.”

“Alive?”

“Yes, but not here.”

“I want him.”

Damn it. He should have just lied and said he was dead.


“I’ve made a mistake.”

Turgon looked up at his nephew, standing in the door to his office. The king raised an eyebrow, looking almost terrified to hear what this ‘mistake’ could possibly be. “What kind of mistake?” he asked hesitantly.

Maeglin had managed to leave Argon with Glorfindel, the only other person in all of Gondolin that Argon would tolerate for more than a few minutes. “He wants to see Maglor Feanorian.”

To his credit, Turgon didn’t look surprised, just exasperated. “He always liked that damnable minstrel.”

Maeglin had always gotten the opinion that Turgon hadn’t liked the Sons of Feanor, even before they had gotten news of the attack on Doriath. He had gotten that idea after having Turgon physically pull him away from Amrod and Amras when they had met, his uncle muttering under his breath about traitors and burning boats.

So hearing of Argon’s newest fascination was no doubt causing him frustration. “Well,” Maeglin said, searching for a positive side, “He hasn’t asked for his father in a few hours.” That had to be a record, but it still didn’t seem to relax Turgon, who was staring at his desk with a scowl.

Maeglin couldn’t imagine how frustrating this must be for Turgon. His brother was finally asking for something they could physically give him, but it wasn’t something that was feasible. And, to top it all off, he was now crying for one of Turgon’s least favorite relatives while still refusing to see his brother.

The only thing Maeglin supposed that would upset Turgon more, was if Argon had asked for Sauron or Morgoth, but at least that could have been blamed on his trauma and captivity. No, asking for Maglor was a huge slap in the face.

“Well,” Turgon said heavily, “I suppose we could send a raven.”

Maeglin wasn’t prepared for that. In fact, he might have been less surprised if Turgon had suggested attempting to bring Fingolfin back from the dead. Gondolin seldom sent birds to contact anyone, as anything could lead to Morgoth finding the hidden city and breaching its defenses. Sending a bird to a Feanorian was complete and utter madness.

“A raven?” Maeglin asked weakly.

“Yes.” Turgon rubbed his temples. “It would be difficult to explain all of this in a letter, but our relatives deserve to hear of Ara’s rescue and perhaps it will get his mind off other things.”

Ah. So allowing Argon to write to Maglor was meant to distract him from asking anymore about their father. It seemed like a start, even if Maeglin still didn’t think it was a good idea.

“We shall send letters to everyone, I suppose, letting them know. We shall ask Maglor to write something back, although I’ll have to think of a way to make it clear that he’s not to expect it to become a regular occurrence.”

Bullshit. Maeglin thought, looking at his uncle. He could already see Turgon’s strict rules breaking down. If Argon wanted to write a letter to Maglor every day for the rest of his life, he had no doubt that Turgon would allow it. 

After helping Turgon to pen letters to their surviving cousins (and by help, it had been more of a matter of reminding him who was dead or not) Maeglin returned to Argon and Glorfindel.

The two were sitting in absolute silence in Maeglin’s rooms in the Tower of the King (Turgon had given Argon his own rooms, but the prince seemed only interested in Maeglin’s).

“I’ve promised to teach him how to play chess,” Glorfindel said brightly as Maeglin entered. As Argon neither supported or refuted the claim, so Maeglin could only assume it was genuine. Of course, Maeglin highly doubted that Argon had never played chess before, but that was a point he didn’t feel like attempting to make.

“That will be fun,” Maeglin offered, trying to sound cheerful.

Argon didn’t respond, still staring at the far wall.

Maeglin sighed, “Thank you Glorfindel. I can manage him from here.”

Chapter Text

It had been a lie. He hadn’t been able to manage Argon.

His uncle was walking in circles in Maeglin’s room, screaming, and ignoring all attempts to calm him. Maeglin had finally given up, not even knowing what had set him off, and sunk to the ground.

The screaming was doing nothing to help Maeglin, who suddenly found himself back in Angband, listening to Sauron ‘play’ with Mulhaust in the next room. His stomach rolled and Maeglin clamped his hands over his ears, squeezing his eyes shut and attempting to block everything out.

‘My little mole,’  Sauron purred, stroking Maeglin’s hair out of his face. ‘Do you understand now?’

Maeglin couldn’t recall what he was meant to recall. All he knew was that his body felt as though it were on fire (had Sauron set him on fire? He was no longer sure) and that his wrists were bound above his head. Blood trickled down his stomach.

‘H-help,’ he whimpered.

‘Shhh,’ the Maia soothed, pressing a kiss to his forehead. ‘It’s all right, it’s not your fault. Your uncle has been so cruel to you, hasn’t he? All he cares for is his little brother, and he’s forgotten that you’re traumatized as well.’

Maeglin’s mind twisted in confusion. How did Sauron know what was happening in Gondolin? That was after he escaped. Or had his escape been a fantasy? Or was Sauron in his mind?

‘You’re just a means to an end for him,’ Sauron purred, his hands wandering across Maeglin’s abused body, his talons sinking into the flesh. ‘Just a caregiver for poor Arakano.’

Suddenly his hands were no longer bound, he couldn’t recall if they ever had been in the first place, but Maeglin struck out, slapping Sauron and throwing him back. ‘Let me go!’

Turgon fell back across the floor, his face red where Maeglin had struck him. Argon was no longer there, someone must have led him out, leaving only Maeglin and his king. It took a moment for Maeglin to even realize what he had done, to comprehend that the man he had struck hadn’t been his tormentor.

“Maeglin-”

“Uncle I-” he didn’t know what to say, instead he raced past Turgon and fled the room.

Maeglin fled the Tower of the King, stumbling outside into Gondolin’s blinding sunlight. He still couldn’t believe what he’d done. Turgon’s shocked and betrayed face loomed in front of him.

“No. No. No. No. No. No.” Words spilled out of his mouth unbidden as he stumbled across the courtyard, having no idea of where he was going. He couldn’t stay in the Tower, that was certain, and returning to the House of the Mole would just make it easier for Turgon to find him. He stumbled, unable to walk straight, no doubt appearing drunk to any who might be watching.

“Maeglin.” The voice broke through his thoughts and he spun abruptly to find himself face to face with Idril. There was an unusual level of concern in her face, and she had a slight frown on her lips. Earendil was perched on her hip, but Tuor was nowhere in sight.

“Maegil!” Earendil shrieked excitedly, holding out his arms and trying to wriggle his way to his cousin.

Maeglin shrunk back, but Idril tightened her grip on her son anyway. “Maeglin you look terrible,” she said after a moment.

They hadn’t spoken more than a handful of words since Maeglin’s return, he felt sick every time he looked at her, remembering Sauron’s words and promises, remembering the visions he had been shown of her.

He couldn’t even remember if he had loved her before Morgoth, or if that was all an invention of the fallen Vala.

“I- I-” What was there to say? I dreamed of raping you? I just attacked your father? I wanted to kill your husband and child? I’m beginning to think I’m still in Angband?

“I need to go.” He turned and made to run, but Idril’s voice called him back.

“Maeglin please.” He looked over his shoulder to see her peering at him, eyes full of concern. He was surer than ever that this was all a dream and he was going to wake back up in Angband because Idril should not look concerned about him. “You’ve not been yourself.”

“Maegil!” Earendil tried again, managing to wiggle out of his mother’s arms and run to Maeglin. He wrapped his arms around the elf’s leg and giggled, grinning up at him. Maeglin just looked down at him in shock, not able to remember the last time he had had contact with a child.

“Maeglin,” Idril began. He didn’t wait for her to tell him to get away from Earendil, instead, he detached the boy from his leg as gently as possible and fled.

He stumbled into the House of the Mole, shoving past anyone who tried to speak to him, making it into his office and shutting the door behind himself, locking it. Of course, if someone came to arrest him for striking the king, a lock wouldn’t keep them out.

The walls of his office were filled with clutter, much of it gifts he had made with the intention of wooing Idril. Suddenly he couldn’t look at it, and grabbed the nearest glass sculpture, throwing it across the room where it shattered on the floor.

It was not just the gifts for Idril that were met with his confused rage, by the time one of his confused servants had run for help, located Turgon, and returned with him, he had destroyed nearly everything in the room.


Turgon rushed up the steps to Maeglin’s study two at a time. Judging by the looks on the faces around him, the crashing had not stopped when Maeglin’s page had run to get him. He grabbed the door handle and rattled it, but it didn’t budge. “Does one of you not have a key?” he demanded, looking at the gathered crowd. It seemed none of them did, but someone finally hurried off to look for one.

Turgon rattled the door. “Maeglin, please let me in,” he said. There was still no sound from the other side, and somehow that was worse than if Maeglin had still been destroying things.

He turned to his audience, suddenly having the feeling that they were intruding on what was about to become a very personal moment, and ordered, “Out, all of you. Let no one on this floor unless they have a key.”

His face must have been something truly fierce because the hall cleared almost immediately. Turgon leaned against the door, struggling to hear any sign of his nephew on the other side. “Maeglin I am not upset with you,” he said, recalling the terror on Maeglin’s face after he had struck him. “I want to help you, but I cannot do that if this door is closed.”

There was still no sound. “Please, just give me a sign you’re alive in there.”

“He won’t get out of my head,” came a weak voice, closer to the door than Turgon had been expecting. Maeglin must be leaned almost against it. “I’m still there, aren’t I?”

Turgon allowed his voice to lower, no longer feeling the need to shout to be heard now that he knew how close Maeglin was. “No,” he promised. “You are in Gondolin, you are safe.”

“How do I know that?”

“If I were he, what would I have done when you slapped me?”

The door opened and Maeglin was standing in front of him. “Thrown me to the orcs to play with,” he whispered.

The smith was a mess, his hair frizzing around his face, his clothes rumpled. But the room behind him was in chaos, there was hardly an object there that wasn’t smashed, only the furniture seemed to have been left untouched. At least Maeglin seemed unharmed.

Turgon stood and stepped into the wrecked room after Maeglin. “You are not in Angband,” he promised softly. “You are in Gondolin. You are safe.”

The change was immediate. Maeglin exploded, “How do I know that?!” He stumbled back, staggering back from Turgon. “How do I know this isn’t an illusion. You- you- you were him!” A sob erupted from Maeglin’s chest and he crashed to his knees. “When I struck you,” he whispered, “You were him and I was there.”

Turgon slowly stepped toward him, maneuvering around the mess Maeglin had created of his study. He knelt on the floor in front of Maeglin but made no attempt to touch him. “Maeglin, I am as real as you are, that I promise you.”

“How do I know that?” he whispered, looking up at Turgon. “How can I be sure?”

Turgon seemed felt, then reached out and placed his hand on top of Maeglin’s. “Do you trust me?” he asked softly. He already hated himself for what he was about to offer but knew that he would hate himself more if he did not try.

“Yes,” Maeglin replied without hesitating.

“When Maitimo came back from Angband, he thought much the same as you. That it must be some cruel trick of Morgoth. My brother found… a way to circumvent his thoughts.”

Maeglin leaned forward, desperate. “How?” he demanded, grabbing his uncle’s hand. “Tell me.”

Turgon seemed oddly hesitant. “I will if you promise me something.”

“Anything.”

“Maeglin.” Turgon reached up and cupped his nephew’s chin, forcing him to meet his eyes. “Make me a promise that you will not attempt this on your own. You may come to me at any time, but do not try this alone.”

“What is it?”

“Look me in the eyes and promise me.”

Maeglin nodded frantically. “I promise uncle. I won’t try it without you, just help me!”

Turgon nodded. “Alright, stand up.” He gently helped Maeglin to his feet, leading him his desk. Although most of the desk’s contents were already on the floor, Turgon brushed the rest of it aside and pushed Maeglin to sit on it.

“Give me your hand,” he said softly. Maeglin held out his hand expectantly, and Turgon removed a jeweled brooch from his tunic, twisting it so that he could study the point of the pin. “Promise me you won’t do this alone, Maeglin.”

“I promise,” he sobbed. “Just do it!”

“Look me in the eyes.” When Maeglin had, Turgon pricked the pin into the tip of Maeglin’s finger, removing it just as quickly. “Did you feel that?”

Maeglin nodded.

He pricked him again. “Tell me Maeglin, can you feel pain in a dream?”

“No,” he whispered, staring into Turgon’s face intently as the pin plunged into his finger again.

“Then you see that I am real?”

“Yes.” Then, “do it again.”

Instead, Turgon closed the pin and put it into his pocket. “Not now.”

“But-”

“Maeglin,” he kept his voice firm but kind. “Let us eat supper first, and then we can do this again.”

“But-”

“Maeglin.”

Maeglin nodded. “You promise?”

“I meant it when I said I would anything within my power to aid you. This is well within my power.” Even if the thought of it sickened him.

Maeglin nodded, then slowly began to survey the mess around them, as though seeing it for the first time. “I- I should clean this.”

“It will all be here in a few days,” Turgon promised. “Now, I know you have been spending much of your time in the tower, but until we have this-” he tapped Maeglin’s forehead - “more under control, I would like you to stay in the tower so I may be closer to you. Can you do that for me?”

Maeglin seemed hesitant to agree, so Turgon said, “My brother is not your responsibility, it was unfair of me to put that on you. I knew from the moment I found the two of you earlier that it had been a mistake. I accept full responsibility for that, so please, trust me.”

Maeglin tilted his head and whispered, “Prick me.”

Instead, Turgon pinched the soft flesh at the back of Maeglin’s neck, digging his nails into the tender skin. That seemed to content Maeglin and he stood. “I will come with you.”

Chapter Text

Turgon kept his word, and Maeglin saw nothing of Argon when they returned to the Tower of the King. The king kept them separate, sending servants with food to Maeglin’s room, along with a letter that promised he would check in on him later, once he was certain that Argon was settled.

In fact, Maeglin did not see a sign of anyone until the moon had already risen and he was sitting on his balcony, enjoying the familiarity. He had grown up in the moonlight, and at times Gondolin's almost worship of the sun was too much. “I thought you might be asleep,” Turgon said as he entered.

“I was waiting for you,” Maeglin replied.

“I was hoping you might be asleep.” Maeglin wasn’t surprised. Turgon hadn’t seemed to enjoy pricking Maeglin’s fingers, even if it had barely drawn any blood and had only served to help him.

Turgon sat beside him, carefully wrapping one around Maeglin. It was an unexpected embrace, the smith was still not certain what he felt about his new found closeness with his uncle. Before his time in Angband he could not have imagined allowing Turgon to hold him, but now, he leaned into the touch.

“We weren’t the only elves,” Maeglin said after a moment.

“I know,” Turgon said.

“I left them.”

“They were not your responsibility.”

“The only reason I saved Mul- Argon was because I needed him.”

Turgon didn’t comment on that, instead, he asked, “What is that name?” Maglin tilted his head in confusion and Turgon repeated his question, “You’ve done it several times now, you start to call Arakano something and then you change your mind.”

“You don’t want to know.”

“I do.”

“It is what Sauron called him,” Maeglin said, picking nervously at a thread in his tunic. He did not see Turgon taking well to Sauron’s nickname for his brother. “Mul Haust.”

The king was silent for a moment as he processed what Maeglin had said, but eventually, he simply said, “I believe I have a promise to keep to you. Give me your hand, if you wish.”

Maeglin held out his palm immediately.


Argon didn’t take well to having Maeglin taken from him.

He did not sleep the first night, pacing his room and whining loudly as Turgon followed after him, sending prayers to the Valar that at least Argon wasn’t yelling for him to leave yet.

“I don’t want Turukano!” he yelled. It was his new favorite sentence.

“Ara, please,” Turgon whispered, following after him and attempting to guide his younger brother back to bed. It didn’t help that Argon was several inches taller than him.

Argon just screamed, a loud, endless wail, then he dropped to the ground and started sobbing. Turgon approached him slowly, kneeling beside him and resting a tentative hand on his back. “Ara?”

“Want Mole Prince,” he whispered.

“Mole Prince needs to take care of himself, Ara,” Turgon murmured, stroking his brother’s hair.

“Mul Haust takes care of Mole Prince.”

There it was, the name Maeglin had called Argon by. Despite the fact that he’d already heard it from his nephew, he was still shocked to hear it from his brother.

“You don’t have to,” Turgon promised. “You can take care of yourself, now Arakano.”

“Mul Haust takes care of Mole Prince. Master Mairon takes care of Mul Haust.” It took several moments for Turgon to place the name. Maedhros, he recalled, had used it, screaming in the night. Fingon had explained that Mairon was the name that Sauron preferred to call himself.

Turgon bit back a frown. “Master Mairon hurt you, do you understand that? Master Mairon took you away from us.”

Argon just looked at him with hollow eyes and shook his head, pulling away and resuming his pacing, albeit in silence that time. Turgon wondered if it made him a monster to think it might have been kinder if Argon had died.


“I do not want you to feel pressure.” At the sound of his uncle's voice, Maeglin looked up from the book he had been reading. “However, Kanofinwe’s response has arrived and I thought you might wish to hear it.”

Maeglin didn’t respond immediately, and Turgon quickly added, “You do not have to, Arakano is not your responsibility, I merely wished to make the offer.

“I will come.”

There was a raven waiting in Turgon’s office, perched on his windowsill with a single letter clutched in its beak.

It was, to their surprise, addressed to Turgon rather than his brother.

Turgon flipped it open and read it, growing visibly more frustrated the further through it he got. Maeglin desperately wanted to ask what was in it, but thankfully Turgon answered his unspoken question and read the letter aloud,

Dearest King,” he read, in what was a poor mockery of Maglor’s musical voice. “I must confess, when I first saw your letter I was confused, for why would you be writing to me. Perhaps, I told myself, you were offering me condolences for the deaths of my brothers, since you, too know what it is like to lose a sibling.” At that Turgon snorted, and for a moment Maeglin feared he wouldn’t continue. But he did continue, although there was even more anger in his voice than before. “But nay, I said to myself, it seems far more likely that you are writing to gloat and to tell us they deserved this end.” 

At that Turgon stopped, taking several deep breaths, saying a few choice curse words that Maeglin was startled he even knew, and grumbled, “That would have been the truth of it.”

But thankfully, he again continued reading from the letter, after taking a deeper than needed drink from his wine, “But no, your letter was far worse than even I could imagine (and it is worth nothing I have a far greater imagination than you).” By that point, Maeglin found himself wondering who was more pissed off, the letter writer or its recipient.

For you found it in yourself to insult not only my intelligence but yours as well. Why you thought I would believe my dearest cousin to still be alive is quite beyond me, but what perplexes me even farther is why you thought I would write to him.” The more he read, the redder Turgon’s face became until Maeglin found himself worrying that his uncle was going to self combust just as Maglor’s father had done. “Was that your aim? To set me up as a fool, writing letters to a dead man for you and your court to mock? Are you so bored in that jeweled cage you call a city?” Insulting Gondolin seemed to have been a breaking point, and Turgon stopped reading altogether, taking several deep breaths before throwing the letter to Maeglin for the prince to finish it.

Maeglin grabbed it immediately, his eyes scanning to find the point where Turgon had left off.

I do hope that this absurd show has brought you some measure of joy, as it has brought me anything but. You should count yourself as lucky that Ambarussa discovered this letter and brought it to me before Maitimo could read it, as I am certain that he would have been more devastated by your cruelty than I.

How you could even have imagined suggesting to him that he and Ara could have been held captive together and only he escaped? I doubt very much that his soul could have survived it, and you would have had to count yourself a kinslayer alongside us.

Maeglin let out a whistle, slightly impressed by the level of anger and animosity Maglor had managed to work himself up into. Whoever had suggested he was the kindest, most even-tempered son of Feanor ought to read his correspondence.

I understand it is custom to sign correspondence by wishing the reader to have a good day, however, I find myself unable to do so. Please send your daughter and nephew my regards, provided they were not involved in this scheme of yours.

Yours in animosity, Kanafinwe.

He set the letter aside and looked up at Turgon, his mouth slightly agape. The king had taken the opportunity to pour himself a glass of wine, which he was drinking with a scowl. “At least my nephew still speaks to me,” he pointed out haughtily.

Chapter Text

To Maeglin’s surprise, Idril had agreed to write Maglor, imploring him to see reason and accept that Argon was truly alive. After that, Maeglin agreed to send his own letter, even though he’d only met the minstrel once.

“Do you suppose Ara can write?” Maeglin asked as Turgon flicked a pen, watching it roll across his desk.

“He knew how to once,” Turgon said after a moment. “I cannot say if he is capable now.”

“Perhaps he could write to Maglor.”

Turgon frowned. It was clear he had little interest in exchanging any sort of correspondence with the kinslayers, but, as usual, his love for Argon won out. “I suppose we could try, although I doubt it would do much good.”

“It is worth the risk, don’t you think?”

Argon, as it turned out, could write, more or less. His handwriting was, frankly, atrocious, and it took him several attempts to say what he wanted, but with Maeglin’s insistence, he managed something that passed as a note. It wasn’t formal correspondence, but it would do.

Maeglin had agreed to help with the letter, and it was the first time he had seen Argon since before he had fled the Tower of the King for his own home, and predictably Argon had latched on straight away. It seemed like he wasn’t ever going to let go, clutching Maeglin’s sleeve in his hand.

Turgon had offered to take Argon, but the king had looked so exhausted that Maeglin had just shaken his head and leaned against Argon.

According to Turgon, they’d both fallen asleep like that, and slept almost the entire night. It was, by Maeglin’s reckoning, the first time he’d managed to sleep through the night since Angband.

A small victory, but it had delighted Turgon to no end.

That started their habit of meeting in the evenings. Maeglin was left to his own devices during the day (although he usually trailed after Turgon, not having anything better to do and not wanting to be by himself if another of his ’episodes’ happened). Turgon still coaxed him through his fears, even though Maeglin was fairly certain that the finger pricking pained the king more than it did him.

Argon spent the days with the healers (who he was finally learning to tolerate) and then in the evenings the three would sit together in Turgon’s sitting room. It wasn’t exactly a warm or fuzzy family time, more often than not, they didn’t speak, but it was something and it meant not being alone.

Sometimes Maeglin and Turgon played chess, but Maeglin hated it because, even though he was terrible (not having ever played as a child) he still managed to win every game. Turgon insisted he wasn’t letting him win, but the king was a terrible liar.

Oddly enough, despite how uneasy he still felt around her, Maeglin’s favorite evenings were the ones when Idril joined them. She would bring along Tuor (who ignored Maeglin and the smith returned the favor) and Earendil. The child fascinated Argon, although none of them were sure why, and he would follow along after him with huge eyes, crawling on all fours to make himself nearer to the child’s height.


It had been nearly a week, and Maglor was still fuming.

Amrod and Amras hadn’t read Turgon’s entire letter, but they’d read enough (and listened to enough of Maglor’s grumbling) to understand some of what was going on. But there was not much they could do, as Maglor swept about Amon Ereb in a huff, glaring at anyone who dared to get too close.

Maedhros had even picked up on it, tried to bribe him out of his pacing and frustration with some of their limited supply of sweets, but he had simply told him to give the candies to Ambarussa instead, then resumed his pacing and grumbling.

He’d always liked Arakano.

There’d been something about him that was genuinely enjoyable, and so whenever Maedhros had gone off to Tirion to visit Fingon, Maglor had tagged along to see the younger son of Fingolfin. He’d been one of the few that Maglor had ever had the paitence to teach, and even though he’d never been very good at it, Maglor hadn’t minded listening to his pitiful attempts (and perhaps that was why he’d liked him, because when Maglor had winced and complained that Argon’s flute playing gave him a headache, the younger had just laughed and then played louder).

They hadn’t even bothered to tell him about Argon’s death.

Of course, when Fingolfin’s ragged band had finally reached Maglor, they had had a lot of other things to say to one another, few of which had been nice, but no one had ever told him where Argon was. They’d left him to figure it out for himself.

At first, Maglor had thought Argon was just ignoring him, and that was why he never saw the younger elf when he visited Fingolfin to discuss policy (playing at being king, Turgon had called it). But then Fingon had gone and rescued Maedhros and everything had turned upside down and still there had been no sign of Argon.

It was Finrod who had finally broken the news to him, when Maglor had pulled himself away from his brother’s sickbed, wanting nothing more than to crawl into his own bed and sleep. The minstrel had brushed by Finrod, too tired to walk straight, and had asked the other to give his regards to Argon.

Finrod had gone very pale when he’d said that, and for several moments he had done nothing but stare at Maglor in shock.

When he’d finally broken the news, Maglor had just sat down, not even caring that he was in the middle of a hallway.

It had taken both Celegorm and Curufin to get him back to his own room, but the next morning he had drug himself out of bed and erased all thoughts of Argon from his mind. People learned quickly not to bring the other up around him, after he’d nearly stabbed Curufin.

So no, he was not happy with Turgon.

Not at all.

Maglor stomped into his room, throwing off his cloak and debating if they had enough firewood to justify using some for his own room. He tried not to claim the perks of being a prince too often, but he was chilled to the bone from scouting in the rain. To his surprise, there was already a fire flickering in the hearth.

“You look horrid,” Maedhros observed from where he was sprawled across Maglor’s bed as though he owned it. 

“I am cold, Maitimo,” he snapped.

“And hateful.”

“And tired.”

“And a theif.” That made Maglor pause, and he turned to look at Maedhros with a raised eyebrow. His elder brother’s face revealed nothing, instead he just stared back calmly.

“A thief?” Maglor repeated.

“Yes, of my mail I am told.”

Oh. That. Maglor shook his head. “Trust me, Maitimo, you are better off for not having read it.”

“Because you prefer to pretend Arakano never existed?”

Maglor’s heart skipped a beat. “How-” he shook his head. “I burned that letter,” he said, more to himself than anyone else.

“But not these three.” Maedhros tossed him a bundle and Maglor deftly caught it before it could hit the floor. “All addressed to you. I hope you won’t mind that I read them, since you’ve so clearly read mine.”

“It was addressed to us both,” Maglor argued, but his voice sounded weak, even to him.

“And yet it seems that your excuse was that it might upset me, when you are the one who has lost himself.”

“What do they say?” Maglor asked after a long pause.

“Why don’t you read them?”

“I have no interest in more of Turgon’s lies.”

Maedhros finally stood, but he didn’t face Maglor, instead, he turned to look at the fire. “They’re not lies,” he said.

“Arakano couldn’t be-”

“I saw him.” Maedhros’ voice was soft, almost silent. “In Angband, Kano. I saw him and I told myself it was false.”

Chapter Text

Turukano,

I apologize for my brother having stolen my correspondence, but I assure you he meant well and promises it shan’t happen in the future (I have my doubts as to the truth of his promise, however, but I will keep an eye on him).

As for the matter of your brother, I am gladdened to hear he is alive, although sorrowful that it came to this. And for my brother, he’s agreed to write and been shut up in his room most of the day (Ambarussa tells me he is alternating between sulking and writing, which, to be fair, is how he is most of the time and it is his most productive state).

Maeglin tried admirably not to laugh.

But even with as hard as he tried, he didn’t succeed, a snort bursting out of his lips before he’d even finished the letter. It wasn’t just that Maedhros’ descriptions of Maglor as a sulking child were amusing (they were) or that he was relieved that they were finally getting somewhere with the Feanorians (he was), but mostly it had to do with the look on Turgon’s face.

It was clear that dealing with the Feanorians was stretching him to his absolute limit, and yet, somehow, he just ended up looking constipated.

“I am glad one of us is enjoying himself,” Turgon grumbled.

Maeglin began, “You got what you wanted-”

“I got what Argon wanted,” Turgon corrected.

“Either way, you still seem mad about it.” Turgon, in his opinion, ought to be pleased. Instead, he just seemed more irritated than ever.

“Is it too much to ask for one day to pass where nothing goes horribly amiss?” Maeglin didn’t see what was going amiss, but he supposed that had more to do with the fact that Turgon was hiding things from him.

“So why aren’t you happy about it?”

“I just-” Turgon swept his hand, knocking a tray off his desk.

The metal clattered to the ground while the papers that had been in it drifted around lazily. Several swirled toward the fire. Without a second thought, Maeglin stepped forward to grab them. He pulled one from the fire, intending to pat out the flames and save what he could of it.

But that wasn’t what happened.

Instead, he sat, perfectly still and transfixed, watching as the fire ate away at the paper, moving closer to his fingers. Turgon was saying something, but he wasn’t aware of it at all. A hand rested on his shoulder, and his logical mind said it was most likely Turgon, after all, his fingers were beginning to burn. But the other part of his mind said it wasn’t Turgon at all.

“What is it, dear?” Sauron cooed, resting his hand on Maeglin’s shoulder. “Are you remembering the truth now?”

“Stop,” Maeglin pleaded.

“You’re not with them, you know that, my mole prince. Gondolin doesn’t want you.”

No. They didn’t. Gondolin had made it quite clear that they had no interest in Maeglin. (Hadn’t they?)

“S-stop.”

Sauron was stroking his cheek, fingers like talons ghosting over Maeglin’s pale flesh. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want any of it. “Shhhh,” the Maia murmured. “You’re safe here.”

He was laying on his back on the floor.

The burning papers were gone, but there was a different kind of pain in his hand. A softer pain. Smaller. Pinpricks.

Maeglin forced his eyes open, finding himself staring up at Turgon’s concerned face. “Lomion!” he gasped, looking relieved.

Maeglin tried to rub his face, but his hand was firmly clamped in Turgon’s. That explained the pain. The Noldor King had a pin in one hand, the other wrapped around Maeglin’s wrist.

“I-”

“You’re safe,” Turgon promised, pulling Maeglin into a crushing hug.

Maeglin wasn’t so sure, but he let himself be hugged anyway. “I was there,” he whispered once he’d found his voice. “Sau- he used to burn me. I thought-”

“Shhhh.”

No! He wanted to shout. Listen to me! He needed to talk about the weight in his chest, but Turgon seemed to want him to be quiet. Argon was the loud, screaming one, Maeglin, on the other hand, was supposed to be the good, quiet traumatized elf. But he remained silent, leaning into the comfort he was offered.

“D-don’t go,” he pleaded, ashamed of himself for how pitiful he sounded.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Turgon replied, rubbing his back.

“Prick me again.” Turgon hesitated so Maeglin whispered, “Please?”

The other relented, sighing softly. “Very well, give me your hand.”

Turgon pulled back, taking Maeglin’s offered hand. Only the knowledge that he was getting what he wanted kept Maeglin from pulling back into Turgon, from begging for more touch. He’d rather have the pain.

When the needle poked into the tip of his finger, Maeglin had to grab his wrist with his other hand to stop himself from thrusting his hand upwards to drive more pain into it. He wanted - needed - the needle to go deeper, all the way to the bone.

Maybe then he wouldn’t smell Angband anymore. 


Turgon hated hurting Maeglin. Even if it settled him, helped him fight whatever demons from Angband still haunted him, he hated every second of it.

“What is it?” Glorfindel asked, his voice surprisingly serious. Turgon hadn’t told his friend what was going on, simply barged into his home as though he’d been invited.

He’d needed to get out of the Tower, away from Maeglin and Argon. He loved them, but at times they were too much.

Glorfindel, to his credit, had greeted him warmly and invited him in for a drink, pouring more wine than either of them needed, and offering him a willing ear.

But Turgon couldn’t admit to what he’d done. He felt sick merely thinking about it, and couldn’t imagine that Glorfindel would approve of him hurting Maeglin. He didn’t approve of himself hurting Maeglin.

“It’s nothing,” he lied.

Glorfindel snorted. “Nothing?” he asked, looking surprised. “My lord that is most concerning.”

Turgon was already wishing he’d gone to someone else. Anyone else. “Nothing is hardly concerning.”

“Quite the opposite, something is always happening, so if nothing is happening we must be concerned.”

“Damn you,” Turgon muttered, sipping from his wine.

Glorfindel seemed pleased with himself. “So what is it that’s bothering you, my lord? Since it is neither nothing or something.”

“What do you imagine it is?”

“Well you didn’t hear about yesterday, so I’d say either your brother or your nephew.”

“Didn’t hear about what?”

“Ecthelion was causing trouble with his fountains again,” Glorfindel replied, shrugging. “It is nothing to concern yourself over.”

Turgon chose to believe that, it was preferable to getting involved in whatever it was. “I received a letter from my cousins.”

“The Feanorians, judging by your face.”

“Yes, those ones.”

“Ah, perhaps we should shove them in Ecthelion’s fountain.”

Turgon almost liked that idea. “If only we didn’t need to bring them here to do it.”

“Perhaps we could send a particularly angry raven and train it to shit on their heads.” Glorfindel frowned thoughtfully. “Or merely tell them that Salgant is a more accomplished harpist than Macalaurie. That ought to do the trick.”

“They would sooner forgive the raven.”

“Too true.”

Turgon offered an idea of his own, enjoying the distraction, “Perhaps we could enchant a raven to sing to them.”

“Only if it sang Macalaure’s songs off key.”

“Loudly.”

“In the middle of the night.”

“And then shit on their heads.”

Both of them laughed. Turgon had to admit, it was a nice change of pace, laughing and joking with someone. He could almost pretend he wasn’t the king, that he didn’t have a younger brother and nephew who couldn’t be trusted to take care of themselves.

Almost, but not quite.

Before either of them could suggest another cruel prank to play on their cousins, there came the sound of commotion from downstairs. Loud voices echoed down the hall, then thundering footsteps.

Tuor burst into the room, looking slightly panicked. “We need you,” was all he said to Turgon.

Chapter Text

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Maeglin paced across his room, taking carefully measured steps, struggling to remind himself of where exactly he was.  Each step echoed loudly around the otherwise empty room, but it did little to soothe his fears.

Gondolin.

Tower of the King.

Gondolin.

Tower of the King.

He wasn’t in Angband. Not anymore. If he just kept saying that to himself, over and over, perhaps he’d start to believe it. Because, at the moment, he was having a hard time believing it.

Turgon had just left, after his latest break down, his uncle had stayed long enough to ensure that Maeglin was still breathing, then turned on his heel and strode away. Maeglin didn’t know where he’d gone and was too embarrassed to ask.

He didn’t need anyone to think he was needy or that he couldn’t take care of himself. He’d had enough of that when he’d first arrived in Gondolin, when he hadn’t spoken enough Quenya to even ask for a glass of water. He’d promised himself he’d never be that dependant on anyone ever again.

But here he was, pacing and waiting for Turgon to come back.

And for what? Why did he need his uncle? To prick his finger?

Maeglin could do that on his own.

Mind made up, he strode to his dresser, wrenching open drawers until he found a jeweled hairpin.

He carried his prize back to his bed, sitting in a patch of light where it streamed in from his balcony. In the light, the shine in the gems reminded him of something else entirely. It took him back to Angband, to the shine of Sauron’s eyes.

No, Maeglin thought fiercely. He wasn’t going to let his fear of Sauron keep driving him. He wasn’t in Angband, and he was going to prove it. 

Without wasting another moment, he plunged the needle into his hand. 


Taking care of her uncle was strange, but Idril didn’t mind it.

She remembered Argon, from before everything. He’d always been a fun person to be around, even if he’d always been headstrong and rushing into things (he’d been at the front of the battle when they’d thought he’d been slain). But watching him roll around on the floor with Earendil, it was almost possible to forget that he’d changed.

That was exactly the same way he’d played with her, throwing himself around, laughing and seeming to forget that he was frightfully tall. Then he’d do something to sharply remind her that everything had, in fact, changed.

“Want Mole Prince,” Argon mumbled to the floor, his face pressed into the carpet. She wasn’t sure when or how he’d ended up there, but he had and she simply went along with it.

Idril knelt beside him, resting one hand on his back. “I can get him for you if you’d like.”

“Want Mole Prince,” he repeated, his voice muffled.

“Wait here.” Idril stood, brushing off her long skirts. She nodded to Tuor, a sign for him to keep Earendil with him, then strode out of the room. Maeglin’s room was further into the Tower, and she slowly wove up the winding staircase, her skirts dragging on the ground as she walked.

His door was, predictably, shut tight, but Idril knocked determinedly. It felt strange, being the one banging on his door, wanting his attention, when for so many years it had been the other way around. But something had changed. Maeglin had changed during his time in Angband. He was no longer so obsessed with her, instead, he seemed to be ignoring her.

Which was fine and well, but Argon needed him. “Lomion?” she called, knocking more loudly. “Lomion, Arakano wants you.”

She knew he’d been avoiding Argon in spurts, but she hoped he would decide to come out. “Maeglin?”

He was in there, she was certain of it. There was no one else in the Tower that he could be, and if he had left he would have had to walk straight past where she had been with Argon and Earendil, and one of them would have noticed.

She tried the doorknob. Locked. Of course, a lock would only do so much. Idril fumbled for her belt, finally producing the correct key, and inserted it into the lock. She respected his privacy, of course, but first, she had to know he was alright. With everything he’d been through and with all of his strange outbursts, she felt her stomach knotting uncomfortably at the thought of him being alone.

“I’m going to open the door,” she said loudly before shoving on the door. It didn’t budge. She turned the knob again, verifying that it wasn’t locked.

Her blood ran cold. He’d barricaded the door.

“Cousin?” she shouted, shaking the door, doing her best to shove it open. Whatever he’d shoved against the door held firm.

Heart racing and with no other option, Idril turned and fled back down the steps. “Tuor get my father,” she shouted, bursting back into the sitting room. He looked up in surprise. She took a deep breath and lowered her voice before addressing her son, “Earendil, take Arakano and go down to the kitchens.” The cooks had a fondness for the young boy, they’d take care of him.

“Nana?” he asked, looking up at her, no doubt seeing the worry in her eyes.

“Go,” she said, grabbing Argon’s hand and pushing it toward Earendil’s praying to Este that he remained calm. The last thing she had the time to deal with was another meltdown.

Thankfully, Argon was easily bribed with sweets, and he let Earendil pull him out the door.

“Idril-” Tuor began.

“Get my father,” she begged. “If you see a servant or guard, on your way, send them to Maeglin’s room.”

“What-”

“I know something’s wrong, just go.”

Thankfully he went without any more difficulty, leaving Idril standing alone, panting slightly. Calm down. Think. She took a deep breath, then turned and hurried back to Maeglin’s room.

Whatever he’d barricaded the door with was heavy, but Idril was prepared for it. She sat on the ground, leaned her back against the door, and shoved into it with all her strength. It slid ever so slightly.

She shoved again and gained another precious inch.

After a few more shoves, at which point she was almost out of breath, Idril was able to peer into the room. “Lomion?” she called. The room was deserted, but the door to his balcony was open.

She shivered, remembering Eol’s final words, his warning that he and Maeglin would share the same fate. If he had jumped-

No, she shook her head. He couldn’t have. If he’d jumped someone would have found him, it would have been seen. They’d have told her. No, he had to still be in the room.

Gathering her breath, Idril shoved again and was finally able to widen the door enough to wiggle inside, ripping her skirt on the wardrobe he’d wedged against the door in the process. “Lomion?”

She stood, dusting off her skirt out of habit, then crept into the room. It was eerily quiet, and yet the bright light streaming in off the balcony was a direct contrast, leaving the room almost too cheerful. Having been in the House of the Mole, Idril knew Maeglin preferred darkness, which only made her more concerned. “Cousin?”

“I-Idril?”

She turned sharply at the voice, but still, she didn’t see him immediately. It was only after she looked a moment more that she saw another door, leading into either his bathing chamber or a closet. That seemed to be where the voice was coming from.

“I’m coming,” she said, adopting the soothing voice she used with Earendil and Argon. “Alright?”

“Shouldn’t,” was the weak response, so quiet that Tuor’s mortal ears wouldn’t have heard it if he had been there. But he wasn’t there, and Idril had elven hearing, so she easily tracked the sounds. Her senses picked up something else: the smell of blood.

Out of habit, she knocked on the door before pushing it open. “Don’t,” Maeglin whined, but she ignored his pleas, too concerned by what her nose was telling her.

Inside was a horror scene.

Maeglin was sprawled on the floor, propped against the tub, one arm dangling over the side. His sleeves were rolled back, and along his strange Avari tattoos ran fresh, red cuts, as though he’d traced them with a knife. Crismon blood dripped across the tile.

Idril was rooted to the ground in horror. “Lomion?” she asked softly. “What have you done?”

Maeglin’s head lolled slightly as he turned to look at her, his eyes narrowing as he struggled to focus. “I wanted you,” he said, spitting his words as though it was a battle to get them out through the pain and confusion. “They offered me you, in exchange for Gondolin.”

She didn’t have to ask who ‘they’ were, but Maeglin answered for her anyway, “Sauron said he could make you want me. Did- did I want you? I don’t remember if I did, or if he made that too.”

Finally, she was able to break out of her shock and stumble forward, crashing to her knees beside Maeglin. He blinked at her, not seeming fully aware of her presence. “I- I-”

“Shhh,” she soothed, taking the knife from Maeglin’s weak fingers with one hand, using the other to stroke his hair. His skin was horribly cold to the touch. “You’ve always wanted me Maeglin,” she told him, feeling a slight tinge of guilt at the horror on his face. “But I don’t blame you. You’ve never been… normal. But I do love you, in my own way. Just like I love Arakano or your mother.”

He nodded slowly, sluggish from the blood loss. “I-I’m in Gondolin.” It didn’t seem to be a question.

“Yes,” she whispered, using the knife to cut a strip from her already ruined skirts. Carefully she wound it around his arm, hoping to stop any more blood flow.

“I- I wasn’t sure.” He held up his other hand, staring at the blood with fascination. “But I am now.”

Idril caught his wrist, pulling it back and checking it for injuries. It seemed as though he’d only cut one arm, but she wanted to be sure.

“I h-hear him,” he whispered. “Make it stop.”

“I can’t,” she said, content that she’d bandaged all his wounds. After a moment’s consideration, she wrapped her arm around him, pulling him into an awkward hug. “It’s in your head Maeglin, I cannot make it stop, no matter how much I want to.”

Pressed close together, she became aware of his rapid heart rate, as though his body was struggling to make up for what it had lost. She took ahold of his injured arm and pressed, hoping to stop as much of the blood flow as possible. “Father is on his way.” He would know what to say.

But Maeglin moaned and tried to pull away. “N-no tell him. D-disappoint.”

“He’s not going to be disappointed,” she soothed, pulling him closer. It wasn’t a hard battle to win, Maeglin was too weak to do anything about it.

“B-broke promise,” Maeglin whimpered.

“Hush,” she told him sternly. “I will make sure he forgives you for whatever it is if it’s upsetting you this much.”

Maeglin nodded, leaning back into her finally. She stroked his hair and glanced toward the door, praying Turgon hurried.

Thankfully, it seemed Turgon still had the favor of at least one of the Valar, because within a few minutes she heard someone slam against the door, no doubt unable to fit through the gap she’d made.

Maeglin lurched at the sound, but Idril patted his shoulder. “I’ll be back,” she said, slipping out from under him and hurrying out of the bathing chambers.

Turgon was peering in past the door, already looking worried. When he saw Idril, her skirt torn and stained with Maeglin’s blood, he grew more worried.

“Everything is under control,” she said before he could start panicking.

“Under control?” he repeated in disbelief.

“What’s going on?” came Tuor’s voice from behind Turgon.

“Tuor Earendil and Arakano are in the kitchen, can you find them?” She might have managed to create a small peace with Maeglin, but dragging in Tuor, whom he had never liked, was asking for too much. “Please?”

She could hear him grumbling slightly, but he did as she asked. That left her only having to deal with Turgon.

Her father had managed to wedge the door open enough to slide in, but she grabbed his arm before he could hurry off to Maeglin.

“Wait,” she pleaded. “He’s hurt.”

“He hurt himself,” Turgon didn’t seem surprised, just distraught. “This is my fault, I put the idea in his head-”

“Father-”

“I need to speak with him.” He paused, then said, “Alone.”

Idril didn’t know what to do. A part of her wanted to wash her hands of the entire situation, but another part wanted nothing more than to hold onto Maeglin for the rest of time. “I know more about this than you do,” Turgon said softly. “I can help him.”

“Who are you trying to convince?” Idril asked, “Me or yourself?”

“I can help Maeglin,” he repeated.

She just nodded and stepped out of his way, watching as Turgon walked toward Maeglin’s bathing chambers. A part of her wanted to warn him about how bad Maeglin looked, but instead, she just said, “I promised him you wouldn’t be disappointed in him for breaking his promise.”

“Never,” Turgon promised. “I could never be disappointed in him.”

Idril nodded, turning toward the door. “I’ll fetch a healer.”