twoparted.htmlTEXTStMl%.>JM.~ When We Two Parted

When We Two Parted
by Jacynthe Demorae

Finrod Felagund, King of Nargothrond, rode north to receive report of the watch against Morgoth's forces. Or so he'd told his advisors, who were little pleased by their king risking his life and kingdom both. In truth, he went to join his brother Aegnor, called Aikanáro, the Sharp Flame. His Seeing had shown him how little time
remained for them, and he was loathe to waste any of it. In his heart, a forlorn hope still flickered and burned. Not all Seeings came to be, or so their sister Nerwen said. If, by any action he could spare his brother such a dark fate, he would take it.

"Finrod! A star shines on the hour of our meeting," Aegnor said, greeting him with a strong embrace. "Do you bring word from Nerwen?"

"She is called Galadriel, now," he corrected, returning his brother's embrace. "She remains with the court of Melian, under the tutelage of Thingol's queen."

He saw some of the tension fade from Aegnor's face. Melian's wardings had proven steadfast and strong. If any place in Middle-Earth could be called safe, it was the kingdom of Doriath. Now, with pleasantries retired, he would have to come to the point of this visit.

"I bring you word from another lady," Finrod said. "I bring you word from Andreth."

Aegnor's smile slipped, and the light in his eyes dimmed. His hands fell away and he stepped back. Without a word, he turned and walked away from the gathered riders. Finrod looked to the captain of his guard.

"See the others settled," Finrod said in a low voice before following after his brother. As he went, he undid the clasp of his cloak, bundling the garment over his arm.

He found Aegnor standing in a grove, not far from the road. His brother rested a hand on the rough trunk of a tree, staring up into the branches. Though they two stood alone, Finrod could sense a third presence: the flickering ghost-memory of Andreth. That elusive presence would stand between Aegnor and any maiden of their people,
barring the way. A clasp of hands, a day spent drinking in her voice. A kiss shared beside a pool in the evening. Small things, yet enough to snare Aegnor.

You are unkind, he chided himself. Honest love burned between Andreth and Aegnor, honest, but doomed. Neither had chosen this sorrow, it had struck them like lightning in the forest. He kept his eyes averted, not wishing his brother to read the brief flare of resentment.

"You speak that name in my hearing?" Aegnor asked, breaking the silence. "My grief sleeps, yet her name will wake it."

"I would not bring you more pain," Finrod said, "if her pain did not drive me to speak."

Aegnor turned to face him, eyes alight with anger. "You censure me for turning from her?"

Finrod shook his head. "Not I, brother. I know the reasons behind your decision, none better. Yet accounts between you and the adaneth remain unsettled. Because I love you both, I have come with her message."

"What is it, then?"

"She bade me tell you not to be reckless, not to seek danger past need."

The brothers shared a look of poignant knowledge. How many women had spoken such pleas to their warrior-men over the centuries? How many warriors had smiled, clasped their hands, but not replied?

Aegnor smiled, banishing the shadows. "She spoke of me... Tell me all! All that she said!"

They seated themselves on the cool grass beneath the tree. The twilight deepened around them as he spoke. Finrod told him of Andreth's grief and sorrows, and the disturbing tale of the first fate of the Secondborn. Aegnor rose to his feet and stood with his back to Finrod.

"You rekindle my heart, my brother. I long for day, for battle." He turned, and the fell fire he was named for blazed in his eyes. "And beyond all else, I long for her. Time has withered her, twisted the limbs that shone so fair and danced so freely. And yet
I would give much to hold her in my arms once more, to breathe in the scent of her hair..."

Aegnor's words woke his own hopeless memories. His beloved Amarië, safe in Valinor, but separated from him by a gulf almost as wide as the one that separated Aegnor and Andreth. Dispossesed I am, and even should I pass to Mandos, I would not be permitted to take her hand again.

"She is counted among the Wise, your Andreth, your Saelind," Finrod said, looking away from the hunger in his brother's eyes. Such yearning...such bitter, hopeless yearning.

"My Andreth..." Aegnor repeated, a dry husk of a sound.

"Yours still," Finrod agreed, looking back at him. "She dwells alone, and calls no Man husband, though the winter of her life approaches."

Aegnor closed his eyes, let out a soft breath. "I would not have her go through this life alone--and yet I cannot deny I rejoice that no other has touched her, no Man lays claim to what I hold in my heart," he confessed.

Finrod frowned in disquiet. Such jealousy was unnatural to their kind. It held unpleasant echoes of Fëanor and his prideful and terrible oath. Not all love could be returned. Holding onto such one-sided emotion only weakened the fëa.

"How does your heart incline to Andreth?" Aegnor asked suddenly.

"With pity," Finrod answered promptly. "Pity, and compassion."

Aegnor gave him a searching look. "And anger, I think. Do you set the blame on her shoulders for the death that awaits me?"

Finrod caught his breath. He should have realized that Aegnor would have sensed his own dark fate. "Such a question I would expect from our sister."

"Nerwen sees much but speaks little, and I am the one who asks."

"You court Death as eagerly a man does a maid. Would you be so intent if you did not fear her death?" Finrod demanded.

"For love of you and our kin, for the honor of our father, I have stayed on. For Andreth...I pour the blood of our enemies upon the earth. Each one of Morgoth's servants that dies is one less to threaten her life and freedom," Aegnor finished. His fists clenched, and he stared in the direction of Thangorodrim.

Love is the midwife of vengeance, Finrod thought, looking on his brother in sorrow. Time stretched out between them, and the night closed around them. The stars shone brighter. Finrod could hear the voices of the guards, engaged in quiet conversation with his brother's riders. Aegnor tilted his head back, searching the sky until he found Borgil, the red star. Still looking up at the sky, he reached out and clasped Finrod's hand.

"The gifts of the One are not frivolous trinkets, to be hoarded or cast away," Aegnor said at last. "Beyond the grace given the Eldar and the Gift of Men is the gift of Love. To continue beyond her would be to spurn her gift, to render her sacrifice for naught. She has given all for me. Should I play the miser, and take all of her life and give nothing of my own?"

Finrod closed his eyes against the burning tears.

"Ah, King of Nargothrond, do not weep for me." Aegnor raised Finrod's hand, still clasped in his own, and kissed it.

"For whom should I save these tears, my brother, if not for you?"

"For the Firimar you love, who have been wounded so badly. For the Noldor, who may never again cross the sundering Sea. I am far beyond tears."

They sat together in silence. Almost all the words that needed speaking had been said, all save--

"I bade her wait," Finrod said in a rush. It was important, vital, that Aegnor knew of this request. "For you...and for me."

"Is such a thing possible for her?" Aegnor asked after a long, tense moment.

Finrod sighed. "I do not know, my brother. The Valar do not speak to us of what awaits the Secondborn beyond the circles of the world. Yet if there is a way, she will find it. I trust in her heart and in her courage."

Aegnor rose to his feet, filled with a restless energy. "Will she remember me? Mortal memory is a fragile thing, and we know nothing of what trials lie in the Land of the Lost."

"Why do we assume there must be trials?" Finrod asked thoughtfully. "Are we Firstborn so especially beloved that peace and joy are reserved only for us?"

Aegnor frowned at him in puzzlement.

"I have seen a vision of Arda Remade," Finrod said, his voice gentle. "And the Eldar, complete but not ended, might dwell with the Secondborn. There will come a time, my brother, when we may follow the Followers."

"But will she remember me?" Aegnor pressed.

Finrod read the fear in his brother's eyes. They were ever left behind, the Eldar who dared to love the brief, fierce Secondborn Children. They remained the same, where Men changed almost beyond recognition.

"Fëar are eternal, my brother. That which inclined you to her fire will remain, whether she is Housed or Houseless. I have looked into her aged eyes while she spoke your name." He reached out, taking his brother by the shoulders. "Oh, my brother...she will remember you."


Notes and translations.

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