Mar 20, 2019 9:59 AM
Alicorn's Christmas present
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Maitimo makes no particular arrangements to speak with him, and that hurts. 

There are guards outside the door. He can ask the guards to take him places, if he wants, so it's not exactly confinement, but it halfway is and so it'll halfway kill him after long enough. It's causing irritability already. 

...technically, it is possible that he is irritated because Maitimo, who once he loved, who once he trusted, murdered his parents in the middle of the night and has not bothered to speak to him since, not for a week. That is the kind of thing that he can imagine causing irritation even in someone who isn't under house arrest and starting to itch under their skin from the not-quite-confinement. 

He tries to think through what Maitimo should have done instead. Come and apologized? He is inclined to think he would spit in his face but it's Maitimo, probably it wouldn't have gone like that, probably that conversation would have wound its way through all of the thousand minefields in front of it and ended with forgiveness. Maybe Maitimo hasn't come to talk to him in order to spare him that. 

Had him murdered too? It would have the advantage that he'd have less to explain to his father, and that he wouldn't be pacing this room in anxious anticipation that at any moment a civil war could break out and the guards at the door fall to hunting arrows and friends of his come gleefully to his rescue, handing him a weapon he could turn against Maitimo in the pursuit of his rightful vengeance. 

No, probably Maitimo's avoiding that somehow. It'd be unlike Maitimo to let that happen. If Maitimo thought he were a dangerous inspiration to his people he'd be dead, that's all there was to that. He was here only because it didn't matter and since it didn't matter Maitimo preferred him alive.

But not so they could talk.

 

 

Maitimo sends him a statement to climb the tower and read. It says that he is horrified that Melkor's machinations stirred so many to treason against their rightful King and their own family, and that this cannot be permitted to happen again. It says that Melkor would only have gone to such lengths to divide the Noldor if he knew that, united, they would destroy him. It says that only the decisive action of the King against traitors stopped this scheme in its tracks, and that for this all the Noldor must be grateful. It says that he swears his King his allegiance. 

"I want to talk with him."

       "You want to talk with who?"

"I want to talk with the King."

       "The King had a second message for if you asked to talk to him, do you want me to read it?"

"I - yes." 

       "Nolofinwion, I am grateful you appreciate the necessity of a united front. Your cooperation in this matter ensures the safety of your sister and brothers, who it would grieve me greatly to lose to Mandos."

"He said," Findekáno says, "to read that if I asked to talk to him?"

      "Yes."

"That's crueller than just saying it in the first place."

       "You shouldn't criticize the King," says the guard.

"I'm trying to understand."

        "I don't think he's making himself very difficult to understand."

 

He climbs the tower and reads the statement. 

 

By the end of the week he has a headache and his limbs sometimes shake involuntarily. "We're heading to Alqualondë," one of the guards says. 

"I want to see my cousin."

     "Your cousins will be required to remain here in Tirion." His full-cousins, she means, of course - Findaráto and Artanis and Angaráto and Aikanáro. 

"Ah," he says. "I'm coming with, though?"

     "The King doesn't think you're a traitor." She sounds a touch skeptical.

"I'm not." Nor were his full-cousins, so that couldn't have much to do with it. "I want to see the King my cousin."

     "I assume that if it's worth his time to talk to you, he will."

 

He doesn't. He secures them boats in Alqualondë, somehow. Findekáno hears it rumored that in exchange his full-cousins are now safe. They cross the sea and the guards outside his door are called away to join a fight and he opens his door, contemplates walking a few hundred feet, decides not to. He sits right outside his door so that the headache eases, and he sings. 

Two weeks later the guards are back. 

"Did we win?"

     "Of course."

"Are people dead?"

     She blinks at him disbelievingly. "Thousands of them."

"Can I - the names -"

     "Maybe later. The King wants you." 

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The King looks tired and lonely and oddly apprehensive but of course none of that is really information, nothing about Maitimo has ever really been information about anything but what he wants. When he sees him he can barely remember why he wanted to see him.

"Hello," the King says. "We're besieging Angband; the continent is safe. We just need to hold the siege, now, until we invent something that can kill him. Do you hate me?"

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" - yes," he says, half because it is true and half because the sentence felt like a clumsy manipulation towards the other answer and if he's here so that Maitimo can manipulate him he's at least going to have enough pride to make Maitimo try.

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But Maitimo half-smiles, instead, as if this was the answer he wanted, or at least the only answer he'd prepared the rest of the conversation for. "I knew you would. I knew you would but I thought very hard about it and this was the only move I was really sure of. I don't know if I can do it but if I can we'll win and - that really is the only thing that matters, I keep distrusting that thought and double-checking it and it keeps being right."

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"It doesn't sound quite right, but maybe that's just the person speaking."

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"I knew you'd hate me," he says plaintively, as if this absolves him of something.

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"It takes a real visionary to predict how people will feel about you when you murder their parents."

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"I'm sorry."

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Aren't you going to fix it, Maitimo?

 

He doesn't say that, barely even thinks it so it'll be a fraction harder for Maitimo to read it off his face. "Why didn't you let me talk to you sooner? Why did you send a threat for your guards to read if I asked?"

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"I was scared that I would make a mistake if I spoke to you. I was scared you'd just talk to me, permission or no, and then I'd - I love you, you know -"

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He flinches. He's angry, now, and he's embarrassed that he's only angry now. There are guards within earshot. Maitimo shouldn't have - what was he playing at - "I cared for you, once, too."

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Maitimo nods. 

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Fix it, you idiot, Maitimo, fix it - 

- why did he even want that -

 

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"You can go. Don't train an army, don't represent yourself as part of this government, don't tell the locals anything about what happened in Valinor, don't do anything that might make your precious loyalists think you'd welcome some news of a tragedy here. I will kill you. I will kill your family. Go away with Turukáno, he wants to found a city for civilians somewhere guarded so he can raise his baby away from the war. Don't - no, you can get married, but only have daughters, I don't want to wrangle more contestants for -"

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"Maitimo, what the fuck are you talking about - are you all right -"

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"Then - then maybe we should have this conversation sometime when you're all right."

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"That's a good idea. If everything goes well - if everything goes well then we'll win the war and then I will look you up and we can have this conversation again, all right?"

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"I swore you my allegiance."

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"Yes. And that's all - go away."

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"Your grace," he says, and turns, and leaves, and can't complete the calculation about what his face would look like if - if they'd merely been very good friends - so he mostly succeeds at keeping it rigidly indifferent until there's no one around and he can attempt instead to claw it off.

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Three hundred years pass. People worry about the King. They try not to, because it seems disrespectful. There's a rumor that he had a secret girlfriend who was among those killed in the fighting. It is hard to imagine why the King would have a secret girlfriend but it fits, otherwise. If it's so, he never gets over her, which everyone considers very romantic. 

 

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One day, an unconscious human covered in soot and blood appears spontaneously in the middle of a street.

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There is a team of people there who are not as surprised by this as by rights they ought to be; they close off the street, put him on something comfortable, towel off the soot and blood and move him inside. They tell the King, who is also not as surprised by this as by rights he ought to be.

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Eventually the human wakes up. Sits up, takes in his surroundings.

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The room he's in has stone walls and a soft bed and tapestries depicting happy people - some human, some not - playing. There's a tray of food. There's a little music box playing something remarkably pretty. 

It's a big room. It also has an empty space on the floor with a bucket of ash and one of pig's blood standing against the wall. 

At the door there's a woman, who stands when he wakes and murmurs something into the hallway. 

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