The first time is unplanned, unexpected, inexplicable. An accident, almost.
Neither one can say, really, just how it begins, or why, but begin it does. They might claim it is simply a matter of two old friends; cynical, lonely, too many nights alone in a cold bed, too few inhibitions after an evening of revelry and drinking. One is a father, widowed by cold and ice, the other a refugee, cast off by a lover’s insanity, forsaken by one driven mad by fire and blood and an insane oath.
Turukáno’s fine crystal glass is empty, all but for the half swallow of garish scarlet wine, dark as blood, that pools in the bottom. He reaches across the table for the bottle; his hand nudges the flame of the candle in a dish sitting between them. He is almost drunk, somewhere in that muddled neverland past the point of tipsy, but not yet deep in his cups, and his reaction is sluggish. As the pain registers, he hisses and curses, draws back, brings his hand to his mouth. Sucks on the fleshy meat just outside the palm, near the base of his little finger, where the skin is already blistered red and shiny.
Laurëfindë heaves himself out of the loveseat they have fallen into (the chairs are too high, too soft, and too far away from the table, the bottle must be kept within reach) and drops to the floor at Turukáno’s feet. Pulls the hand to himself and examines it, cooing drunken sentiments over the injured limb. Silly with liquor, he brings it to his mouth and kisses it. He turns it over and presses his lips to the palm.
He looks up at Turukáno, face creased with a slightly mocking grin, his eyes laughing and hazy with wine, and sees the tiny line between Turukáno's brow furrowed with thought as silver-grey eyes gaze solemnly back at him. Turukáno's lip is caught between strong white teeth, and he looks like he is thinking hard.
‘What is he pondering?’ Laurëfindë wonders, and the smug smirk of a moment before begins to fade.
Before he knows what is happening, Turukáno’s lips are on his, kissing him almost brutally, mashing against his teeth, and he is being pulled up off the floor, not completely onto the chair, but across Káno’s knees.
He can barely breathe, can barely think, has no time to wonder; all he is aware of is Turukáno’s kiss, Turukáno’s hands grappling at his waist and under his shirt, and the almost desperate heat that is quickly growing in his own loins.
He does not understand what is happening between them, does not really want to understand. Questions are for later, and he knows there will be many, but for now, Laurëfindë makes a point of not asking. It has been so long – too long – since he has been touched like this, and he knows it has been even longer for Turukáno, and he craves it, to have a lover’s hands on his skin, to feel the smooth, potent press of another virile body against his.
He opens to Káno’s kisses, returning them with the same open-mouthed desperation that possesses Káno. The ragged edge of a fingernail scratches his chest and he winces. Turukáno’s knee is digging into his stomach, pressing painfully into the ever-mounting heat growing between his thighs.
“Wait, Káno, stop,” he gasps, pulling out of Turukáno’s arms and rocking back onto his haunches.
Turukáno looks back at him through lust-glazed eyes that slowly regain their focus, and opens his mouth to speak.
Laurëfindë stills the apology that he knows is coming with a touch of his finger upon Káno’s lips. “The bed would be more comfortable for these poor old knees, I think.”
Turukáno’s face sags with relief, and he chuckles.
Laurëfindë pulls him up out of the chair and leads him to the bed, leaving a trail of discarded clothing behind. They fall into it together, a tangle of arms and legs and strapping bodies.
There is no struggle for dominance; Laurëfindë immediately rolls to his back and pulls Turukáno over him. Strong teeth nip at his neck, sword-roughened fingertips tweak and pull at his nipples, and his own hands are occupied, tangled in midnight hair and tracing heaving muscles.
Turukáno pulls away for a moment (no, no… come back!), there is a dull squeal of sticking wood as a drawer is opened, and moments later, Laurëfindë feels the blunt press of salve-slick fingers against his opening. Intuitively he knows there has been no one, male or female, in Káno’s bed since Elenwë’s death, and he experiences a momentary surge of panic. The rational part of his brain (there is one minute thread left, somewhere) has one cogent thought: “I hope he knows what he is doing.”
The alcohol haze is fading; he winces, eyes closed, at the long forgotten pleasure/pain as Turukáno hovers above him, cleaving him in twain, and he hears his own breath leave his mouth in a wheezy gasp.
And so it begins.
Turukáno has been standing at the window for a very long time. Silent. Detached, one might say, as he has often been since his return from the Vale of Sirion.
Laurëfindë pats the bed beside him. “Come to bed, Káno,” he says, his tone light and teasing. “What answers you seek from the stars surely should have come by now.”
What is it he sees, painted in the milky wash of the moon?
They have never spoken of that first night together, and Laurëfindë has yet to discover why. Why to many questions: what led Turukáno to seduce him in the first place, why that night in particular, why Turukáno will not speak of it, why Laurëfindë himself will not seek answers to the questions that plague his mind. Questions lead to answers, answers lead to lies, and lies to regrets, and so he believes it better to simply never question. It just is.
They are not “in love,” or so they tell one another, simply two old friends brought together by mutual need – to ease a lonely heart, to warm chilly feet on a frigid winter night, to quench the fire that sometimes burns in a body too long accustomed to solitude.
But Laurëfindë knows differently. Somewhere through the years, he has come to love this proud, willful Elf. It is a love that will never be requited, this he knows, but even a one-sided love is enough for him, though it means Turukáno will never acknowledge him openly. He despises himself for it, but all Káno needs to do is quirk his finger, and Laurëfindë comes running like a bitch in heat.
Turukáno stands at the window for a moment longer, gazing out at the indigo canvas of the sky, and finally sighs. He strides to the door and rattles the lock, checking that the bolt is securely thrown.
There is a slightly wistful tone to that sigh, Laurëfindë thinks, and wonders at it.
“Locked, Káno. I did it myself, when we came in,” he says patiently.
After all this time, Turukáno will still not openly reveal their relationship to his daughter, and they must go through this charade each time Laurëfindë stays over. Idril is a maid full-grown, and would surely not begrudge her father companionship (Laurëfindë suspects that she knows, anyway), but he recognizes Turukáno’s hesitancy. It cannot be easy to rule a kingdom, he justifies, where every move is scrutinized and would-be usurpers lurk around every corner, and so he does not take exception.
The bed dips under Turukáno’s weight, and Laurëfindë rolls toward his lover, almost by rote sliding to his back in the center of the bed. Turukáno has never, not once, offered to play the scabbard to Laurëfindë’s steel. This, too, is simply the way it is between them. Again, Laurëfindë will not ask, will not risk the precarious balance they have established.
He moans with quiet desire as Káno kisses him, touches him in all those right, familiar places. He parts his thighs willingly, makes a small groan of urgency as strong fingers slick with salve enter him, spreading the greasy unguent deeply in his body, hisses faintly between his teeth as Turukáno breeches him as he has so many times before.
Yet, this time, there is something alien about their lovemaking.
At one point, Laurëfindë opens his eyes and sees Turukáno’s keen silver-grey eyes gazing down at him. Not at him, precisely, but through him, past him, and somewhere far beyond, to a place where neither of them exist.
He nips sharply at Turukáno’s neck, and when his lover’s eyes widen and regain their focus, looking down at him with ill-concealed surprise, he offers a tiny smile. “Remember me?”
“Sorry,” Káno murmurs, kisses him lightly, and applies himself to his task, in earnest, this time.
Even in the midst of such familiar sensations, even as his breathing quickens and his loins tighten, even when Turukáno trembles and gasps above him, and yes, even as he feels the hot flow of Káno’s seed within him, he senses that his lover is holding something back. There is remoteness about his loving. Turukáno is physically there, but Laurëfindë has the distinct sense that his mind is only partly in the moment.
When it is over, and Laurëfindë lies among the blankets, sated and drowsing, his mind already wandering half an acre into the deep of Lórien’s gardens, Turukáno curls on his side and begins to talk. His ardor cooled, his lust slaked, this is Turukáno’s custom. Sex, then talk.
It comes in a great rush of words. He has been blessed by the Lord of the Waters, Káno says, with a dream. Not simply a dream, but a vision. A city of marvelous beauty, hidden deep within the mountains of Beleriand, and reminiscent, he says, of the great stone city of Tirion.
“I have seen it in my mind, as vivid as daylight, Laurëfindë,” he says breathlessly, rising nude from the bed to pace around his chambers, his dark hair streaming behind him, a
cloak of darkest silk against the feeble light of the moon. “Her soaring spires and the sun glinting upon the mountains, and a palace whose beauty rivals that of the greatest of the Lords of the West. Can you imagine it?”
Oh yes, Laurëfindë can well imagine it. He is fully awake now, and has rolled to his side, still entangled in the sheets stained and fragrant with the piquant scent of their loving, and is watching Turukáno pace around the room. He remembers well the great city of Tirion, radiant against the peaks of the Pelóri, with ramparts and stairways so white that they hurt the eyes to look upon them. But still, he does not understand. It seems to Laurëfindë that in the past few years, he has made an art out of not understanding.
“But to what purpose?” he asks finally, idly fingering a tassel of the coverlet. “Vinyamar is your city, Káno, founded by your dreams, by your hands. Your people love you. Is that not enough?”
“Nay!” Turukáno barks, rounding on him, and there is a gleam in his eye. “Nay,” he repeated, more softly. “It will never be enough. Never. They owe me, Laurëfindë.”
“Who owes you?”
Turukáno huffs and resumes his pacing. “I do not expect you to understand.”
Laurëfindë struggles free of the bedding and crosses the floor swiftly. He grasps Turukáno’s arm, holding him in place, and forces his lover to meet his beseeching gaze. “Then help me, Káno. Help me. Explain it to me.”
“The Valar, ‘findë. Elenwë died, and they could have stopped it. They should have stopped Fëanáro, but they did not, and she died. They owe me.”
Laurëfindë winces. After what they have just done, for Turukáno to bring up the memory of his dead wife is terribly callow, but then, tact has never been a trait his lover cultivated.
More troubling is the lack of empathy in Turukáno’s words. For the moment, Káno seems to have forgotten that Laurëfindë, too, was forsaken, left behind on the shores of Alqualondë, watching in despair and fury as his own lover sailed away in the swan-ships. Laurëfindë lost his own mother and a brother to the Ice, as well, but in his umbrage, Turukáno seems to have conveniently forgotten these salient points.
“And Ulmo showed you a city, to what end?”
Laurëfindë’s tone is somewhat snide; his own intellect is certainly not lacking, but he feels, at the moment, like a somewhat slow-witted child, having his lessons explained to him by a particularly impatient teacher.
As a refuge from the Dark Lord, Turukáno says; he is to take his people, all who will follow, and lead them to a hidden city delved deep within the hills, far beyond the reach of Morgoth and his spies. “And there we shall abide in peace for many a year, and though he will search, never shall he find us.” Turukáno speaks with absolute certainty.
Laurëfindë holds him at arms’ length and searches Turukáno’s face. “Could not even Ulmo’s judgment be wrong? Would it not be better to work toward cohesion than separation? To heal the strife between the races of the Eldar, and stand together against the Deceiver’s evil?”
Turukáno shakes his head, and suddenly his demeanor changes. “It is amends, Laurëfindë. The Valar have given me a great gift, and I will not squander it,” he says softly. He lifts his hand and cups the strong curve of Laurëfindë’s jaw with his hand, and kisses him gently.
“Come with me, Laurëfindë.”
Laurëfindë finds it difficult to think, with Turukáno’s hands slowly mapping his body, and his breathing quickens. He shudders, conflicted.
“Come with me,” Turukáno says again, softly against his ear, his breath a faint flutter that sends a blaze of heat straight to Laurëfindë’s groin. “Please.”
Laurëfindë closes his eyes in surrender, as Turukáno’s tongue begins to trace the curve of his ear. To protest is useless - Laurëfindë has never had the might to refuse Turukáno anything. He hears his own voice, sounding very far away.
"From the Blessed Realm I followed you, through blood and smoke and cold, and for love of you, here too so shall I go, though my heart bids me caution."
He realizes as he says the word that he has never before mentioned love, but Turukáno does not seem to notice.
“Ah, my golden one,” he says breathlessly, and kisses Laurëfindë again, “your loyalty will not go unrewarded.”
Laurëfindë lets himself be led back to bed and lowered smoothly to the sheets. Turukáno’s ardor this time is ample compensation for the last. His confession has been cathartic, and within moments, he has used all his considerable talents to reduce Laurëfindë to a quavering, quaking mess.
Yet, even caught in the throes of passion as he is, Laurëfindë discerns the fervent gleam of fanaticism in his lover’s eyes, and a chill of foreboding goose-walks up his spine.
Ondolindë, 510 F.A.
The stench of burning is bitter, and the city is aflame. Ash chokes him, and Laurëfindë gags; the heat sears his lungs, his eyes sting from the smoke and his own tears, his throat is raw from screaming out his anguish and fury. He is drenched in blood and sweat, and he has witnessed, horror-struck, the massacre of his dearest friends.
Ecthelion, valiant and true, and doughty Rog of the Hammer of Wrath, and Duilin of the swift arrow, and many more, all fallen, all victims of treachery and pride.
Aye, pride. It is the greatest before a fall, the wise have long said, and this adage has proven itself true. Turukáno’s pride and vanity have been the ruin of the city, and now, it is too late. The jewel of Tumladen is destroyed.
Morgoth has come.
Turukáno throws his crown and the great sword Glamdring to the ground and stands, terrible in his despair, his anguished cry echoing from the top of the tower of the king: “Evil have I brought upon the Flower of the Plain, in despite of Ulmo, and now he leaveth it to wither in the fire. Lo! hope is no more in my heart for my city of loveliness, but the children of the Noldoli shall not be worsted for ever.”*
For Laurëfindë, there is once more blood and smoke. And cold.
~*~*~ finis ~*~*~