“There’s Finrod,” said Turgon, chin tucked against his shoulder as he turned his face but not his straining arms. “Governing himself.”
Fingolfin almost laughed, surprised as he ever was by his second son’s perception. Shrewd but blunt—that was Turgon, and in a way, Fingolfin supposed that the boy (the man) might have been a portrait of himself, had he half of Turgon’s fortitude.
More soberly, he added to that, Half of Fingon’s.
“He has lately gone to Maedhros,” Fingolfin answered, fitting a woodchip in the cleft of two stones. Fingon had not yet acted on his plan, and if he was inclined to do so with Fingolfin outside the fort—which seemed unlikely, given that Fingolfin had received the confidence—Aredhel would be nearby. Fingolfin had left her playing with the children. “Turgon, if you do not wish to stay and listen to his account…”
It was Turgon’s turn to hide half a laugh behind a sigh. He set the weighty stone into its place. “Father, I’m not deaf. I hear of Maedhros at every turn, from everybody.” He paused, dusting his hands against his trousers, then rubbing them against each other as if they ached. Doubtless they did; his work had been tireless. Fingolfin had assisted him for no more than an hour, and already, he was weary. Turgon said,
“I’ll not visit him, and I’ll thank anyone for keeping off my back about that, but I’ve work yet to do on this here wall, until that lantern needs changing.”
“Good of you,” Fingolfin managed.
Sure enough, Finrod came to join them. The rays of lantern-light touched the beads in his hair, when he drew close.
“Uncle,” he said. “Turgon.”
“I hope you found some supper,” said Fingolfin.
“Not yet—it is not past eight. There’ll be a scrap or two left, I’ve no doubt.”
In the wan yellow glow, he had Finarfin’s rare look of displeasure etched over his features.
Fingolfin missed his younger brother fiercely, sometimes, when he looked upon his son. But only when that son was himself in turmoil. When Finrod was strong, or kind, or merry, Fingolfin felt his brother’s shining smile like the sun upon his back.
Finrod glanced swiftly at Turgon, and then at his uncle, and said, “I asked Maedhros for an account of our present security. Or the lack of it.”
“And?” Turgon asked.
“He told me he did not think an attack was coming.” Finrod had heard more than that, Fingolfin guessed, but was loath to speak of it.
“I had a conversation much the same,” Fingolfin said. “He answered me differently, I own.”
Finrod started. “You did not speak of this.”
Fingolfin turned his gaze from one to the other. Two faces, there were, intelligent and keen, though otherwise quite at variance.
“He is afraid,” Fingolfin said at last. “Sore afraid. I did not speak of his warnings to me, such as they were, because…because I am stilling pondering our place here. Our plight, and what can be done for it. After Maedhros told me a little of our enemies, I spoke to Turgon of the wall, and Finrod, you have told me what there is to learn from the trading town. We are watchful. Mithrim is watchful. And Maedhros is yet an invalid, burdened by terrible hurts. I suppose I decided without knowing, that he could not be our guide.”
Turgon’s jaw worked. He was holding words back; Fingolfin could anticipate them, unspoken though they remained.
Deserved hurts, thought Turgon, behind that solid brow and jaw.
Finrod sighed. “I said too much, too soon. Asked too much.”
“Much is required of us,” Fingolfin said. “And none more than Maedhros. We shall have a hundred conversations, I expect, before we have one that settles us, one that puts us to rights.”
(Fingon believes in something greater than this, greater than trial and error.)
(His father is sore afraid.)