Many Journeys - Ficlet: The Office and the Instrument
 
Many Journeys: Elleth's Fanfic and Fanart
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Many Journeys
In her youth she [Nerdanel] loved to travel far from the dwellings of the Noldor, either beside the Sea or in the hills; and thus she and Fëanor had met and were companions in many journeys.
(J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth's Ring)

December 2015
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Many Journeys: Elleth's Fanfic and Fanart [userpic]
Ficlet: The Office and the Instrument

For B2MeM 2011, Day Four: "There would be no one to frighten you if you refused to be afraid." (Ghandi)

Maglor and Curufin debate kingship, politics, and Maedhros' fate.





The Office and the Instrument

Curufinwë has a habit of entering without pausing to knock. Instead he sidles into Makalaurë's dark room, rustles through a pile of papers on the floor outside the circle of light from the desk, and sneers at what his brother calls creative chaos. He places a crown on the desk, plain and largely unadorned excepting the flowing tengwar that spell out Makalaurë Noldóran.

Makalaurë, slumped in his chair and seemingly asleep with his head on the desk looks up then, and Curufinwë starts back to see his eyes bloodshot, his goblet toppling, and the liquid pooling by his brother's hand. He fishes for the cup and sets it upright again, rescues a few sheets of symphonies and laments from soaking themselves full of red wine, and nudges the crown toward Makalaurë's face.

"You shouldn't drink. They count on you," he admonishes, and his lips twist into something not quite a snarl, an expression he knows to be too reminiscent of their father for comfort. Makalaurë drains the dregs of his wine and grimaces. He doesn't say a word, and the silence is more unsettling than all the rest.

"I made your crown," Curufinwë ventures and pushes it toward his brother's face. A glimpse of lamplight reflects off a flaw in the polished metal, and Curufinwë frowns. They have not yet set up a fully functional forge again, and he lacks the tools to work to his usual standards, but doubts that his brother will ever notice. He is not a smith, nor very vain, nor keen on the office. "Try it on to see if the headband fits," he continues. It is like talking to a wall; Makalaurë neither moves nor speaks; only his eyes follow Curufinwë as he begins pacing, one-two-three, turn, one-two-three. The study is tiny, and oppressive like a jail.

"Wear the damn crown," he says at one.

"No," says Makalaurë at two.

"Do it!" Curufinwë says at three.

He turns. One-two-three.

"Are you frightened of it? It is only forged gold. You might as well be frightened of your name."

"No," Makalaurë says when Curufinwë turns again. "And you are giving me a headache."

"Wear the crown and I shall leave you alone."

"Why are you so insistent, brother?"

"I hate wasting work on anyone."

"Ah. You should have made it for Nelyo, then. Not me."

"Nelyo is dead. I do not work for dead men."

Makalaurë sits up straight and pushes the hair from his face. He might as well wear a bitter smile, but the light-and-shadow from the lamp shape it into a terribly bright-eyed orc-grimace. "No?" he says. "But you are aware that Father also died."

"What is your point?" Curufinwë snaps. He knows that Makalaurë and his idiotically calm voice are deliberately provoking him, even upsetting him. It is only the return for his own deliberate provocation, but it stings all the same.

"My point? Is that Nelyo is alive, and I will not hear you slander that belief." Makalaurë's voice remains calm, still, seemingly effortless, but Curufinwë has spent too much time with his minstrel-brother to know what force is necessary to produce these words and acknowledge the implications.

"Slander it? Have you considered what he would suffer, if he were not dead?" And therefore cannot be alive, is the unspoken continuation of that thought.

"I have been drinking to try to drown those very thoughts," Makalaurë says finally, heavily. "And yet - he lives, and that is all that counts."

"His suffering counts for nothing? Caring. Very kind." Curufinwë does not even bother to hide his feelings beneath his usual veneer of righteous, unflappable cold.

Makalaurë contemplates this, and lets silence settle before he speaks again. "Do you recall the song I made about Father?" he asks.

Curufinwë nods. Now he believes he understands what Makalaurë is working towards and stops pacing to rest his hands on the desk. "It glorified his end. You seek the same for Nelyo."

"Yes - and no. He is in Angamando, where he is suffering for our sake and cause, and defying Moringotto in any way he can. And he will live precisely because he is too valuable for either Moringotto or us to kill."

"And you mean by that?" Curufinwë's eyebrows are rising. It is easy to believe his brother is drunk and not talking sense, but now there is an iron-clad determination beneath Makalaurë's words that drives precisely at a point, like the twang of a harpstring - or a well-placed hammerstroke.

"With Nelyo styled a martyr and suffering for our sake, the people have someone to project their fears on and draw strength from. He will be afraid for our sake so they need not be, and it will teach them respect of Moringotto. I want the people aware; I do not want them paralyzed. They cannot be frightened if they have the option of refusing to be afraid."

"What if Moringotto will treat with us again? If he offers to free Nelyo in exchange for our removal from Mithrim?"

"He will only betray us, and you would be a fool to assume otherwise, and more foolish yet to believe that I would willingly enter into any bargain with the Enemy."

"If he dies?"

Makalaurë winces, and for a moment his voice sounds all too brittle, and Curufinwë remembers that they were brothers once, not merely an office and an instrument. "He will have died for our cause. We will make it so," Makalaurë says.

"If Nelyo flees?"

"I will beg his forgiveness and understanding, and can only hope he grants it."

"You have already decided that you will make no rescue effort."

"I cannot, without risking too much, and that is another reason for you to stop admonishing me for drinking."

Curufinwë can feel his expression relax into something more akin to pity. Understanding, perhaps. He walks to the door, boots thumping on the wooden floor. "Wear the crown, Makalaurë," he says again. "You already are King, whether you wish it or not."

Chapter End Notes:

Quenya terms:

Curufinwë - Curufin

Makalaurë - Maglor

Nelyo - Maedhros (a short form of his father-name; Nelyafinwë)

Noldóran - previously a title of Finwë; it simply means King of the Noldor.

Angamando - Angband

Moringotto - Morgoth

Comments

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