Warning: Character Death
Story Summary: Death is only another beginning for Fingon, for the prompt, "The End is the Beginning"
“At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. Then Gothmog hewed him with his black axe, and a white flame sprang up from the helm of Fingon as it was cloven. Thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood.”*
A bright light then darkness, or was it nothingness? Thought…there was thought? Was that what it was, the contours of light and darkness that expressed memory? Bright light. It was blinding, blinding. Pain, nothing but unimaginable pain, pain that shattered the gathered pieces he could recognize of himself. And again darkness: death, but not death. His fëa, yes that was it, his fëa, flickering like candlelight. And every time Fingon’s flame became weak, threatening to dissolve into black matter, a striking white blindness would consume him, inflicting pain: his moment of dying replayed over and over. He began to desire a true end, the utter lack of being, but that was not his fate, not the fate of the Doomed.
But out of mists of matter, a moment came to be, time cracked through into this strange void, and a voice called to him. It was then he remembered his name: Findekáno…Fingon. Astaldo. The Valiant. And for the first time since death Fingon felt a semblance of something, though it was unlike the body his fëa had dwelt in before its demise. Strange, Fingon thought--though stranger yet was the act of cohesive thought-- his body now seemed like something so alien and unnecessary. But was not Fingon supposed to mourn the loss of his body? Did not the Curse of Mandos pronounce: “There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you.”* Yet his body had been the canvas that expressed Fingon in life. It was the canvas on which Maedhros’ love was made manifest. It was better not to be reminded of that.
The voice called to him once more. The words made sense to Fingon, where only a moment ago they were like sounds with strange weight. “It is time,” the voice whispered, naming his father and mother, his grandparents. Time for what, Fingon asked, though he had no voice to ask. “It is time,” the voice repeated. It became obvious then to Fingon that he was in the Halls of Mandos. The Halls of Awakening he had heard them referred to in life, but there had been no awakening for him: only blinding light, pain, and the subsequent darkness. The voice spoke with more authority, “It is time for awakening. You have endured suffering in this darkness and now you must repent.”
From this time on, Fingon wandered the Halls, finding those who had perished, finding some he had wronged, and some that had wronged him. But never him, though he knew Maedhros too had passed into this world of spirits, felt the fire consume him when his Maedhros perished in his own fires. Strange, each of their fates ended through fire and each, in life, kindled by their own fires: Fingons’ like ice and Maedhros’ a smoldering flame.
Though healing came, it was not like Fingon imagined it for it was incomplete and to this he questioned the Valar’s intent. Why? The answer to that would later reveal itself to Fingon, but it was frustrating, even as a spirit, to navigate the unknowable intent of the Valar. Yet Fingon also began to understand that the Valar only had so much power in this process. Indeed much of the healing and the capacity for forgiveness lay within him. When Fingon came to this understanding his time in the Halls of Mandos came to a close. He would be released, remade, and reenter Elvenhome as one of the Reborn.
Fingon felt strange to be leaving the safety of Lórien. He had received instruction on what to expect, interacted with other elves there, but nothing could prepare him for what came next. It was like being born, but with a memory of a life that had been lived. Was this new life supposed to be burdened by his old life? For Fingon, he believed it was. He had met a few elves that had been remade who had found peace in the Halls and who went forth into Elvenhome a clean slate of sorts, but not Fingon, not for him, not for a kinslayer. That was something that he would always carry. “As it should be,” Fingon whispered to himself, finding himself falling into the routine of chastising himself.
Fingon took a few steps forward towards the moss-covered archway that lead to lands outside Lórien and towards Tirion. Fingon was not sure whom he would encounter, who had been reborn, and what awaited him. With each step Fingon took, questions flooded his mind. Where would he hold his memories of all that he had been in this new body? What distance would he keep from these memories? Where would he secret his voice, the memory of lover’s face? Where would all those years, all those dreams that were for not, where would he keep those in this new life? The questions became like daggers. Why had Fingon been remade? Was not Mandos a place for a fëa to sit in contemplation, but Fingon had done more than that, he had wandered. In both life and death there was movement to him, an energy of motion. Might that be what he was condemned to in life anew? Was that desire to see new lands in his youth now the torment that would follow him until the end of days? It was overwhelming. Fingon found himself doubling over, heaving, emptying the contents of his stomach. Feeling himself embodied evoked a strange consciousness, but one that was nevertheless relentless. Now time stretched out before Fingon, time made tangible. Time, that thing that had melted away in the Halls was once more before him. Time. The idea of living across the immensity of its span was too much to consider. Fingon now inhabited time and the idea of it terrified him. Fingon was on all fours, his breath coming abnormally. He could not yet control the terrifying ways his body reacted to emotion, to fear.
“Yes, this is fear,” Fingon muttered to himself, recognizing the disorienting sensation. But try as hard as he might, Fingon could not get himself to his feet. Each time he forced his body to stand, he was overcome with nausea that sent him back to his knees. Fingon felt hot tears of anger and frustration streaming down his face. Was he reborn only to be made to live on his knees? Oh the torment. “I deserve worse,” he whispered, admonishing himself, his voice raw from the contents that spilled from his stomach.
Fingon noticed the shadow of a figure approaching him. Looking up, Fingon uttered a cry of disbelief, “Father…” Sitting back on his legs Fingon felt an overwhelming joy wash over him. It was his father. His father was here for him. Another old emotion invading him but new all together.
“Findekáno,” Nolofinwë whispered as he fell to his knees embracing his son. “Findekáno,” Nolofinwë wept, also overcome with emotion. “Oh my son, my dearest son, it is you.” Nolofinwë traced Fingon’s face with his fingers, not quite believing that his son was returned to him.
“Father,” Fingon cried out falling into his father’s arms. But Fingon could say no more, his tears overcoming him.
Nolofinwë too was lost in his sorrow and joy, holding his son, breathing him in. It was him, his Findekáno. He breathed him in, his son’s smell, so familiar. Nolofinwë had worried if Findekáno would be alien to him. So much time had come between them, but all that time dissipated in an instant. Here was his son. He could feel the cries of his son reverberate in his chest, much like when he was a child when Fingon sought the comfort of his father’s arms. It was too much, too much to have been parted from Findekáno, and to have him again, the son he thought he’d never see again. The son that Nolofinwë believed to ever be departed from him was returned. Nolofinwë wept, his emotions spilling unchecked. Father and son embraced, sharing in release. And that is how Nolofinwë helped Findekáno come to life again, helped him purge a little of the sorrow and regret that plagued his son in death and in this new life.
Nolofinwë pulled back from his son, taking Findekáno’s face in his hands. “Let me look over you yonya,” Nolofinwë finally spoke, his voice breaking from the tears that still fell. Findekáno tentatively raised his hand to touch his father’s cheeks. Nolofinwë caught his son’s hand and brought it to his lips, kissing it. “I have missed you my son, I have mourned, and now I am complete.” Nolofinwë noticed the question that was betrayed in Findekáno’s bright blue eyes. “Yes son, complete,” he offered knowing Findekáno would not know who had been reborn.
Findekáno’s breath shuddered. Quietly and tentatively, he formed the shape and sound of names he had not uttered in ages: “Irissë?” Nolofinwë nodded affirmatively. “Turukáno and Arakáno?”
“Yes son, all returned. All waiting for you…”
Findekáno’s bright blue eyes widened in shock. Truly? He would be reunited with his family!
“It is time,” Nolofinwë urged his eldest, carefully helping his son stand. Findekáno was unsteady; his legs felt like the first day he inhabited his new body. “Lean on me,” Nolofinwë offered, taking his son’s weight on him. Findekáno was beautiful, maybe more beautiful than he remembered him. His body was hale and whole. He was tall and bright, his golden skin soft, and his dark hair long, unbound. But his mind, Findekáno’s mind was still yet young, though he carried memory. This, Nolofinwë understood, was a perilous balance the Reborn had to manage, and more so in his son. His beautiful son. To see him remade was like seeing the glory of the Noldor restored. Nolofinwë would once more nurture Findekáno, helping him close the circle between this new life and the last. Findekáno would be whole, this Nolofinwë silently promised himself and his son.
Slowly the two walked towards the archway. Nolofinwë felt Findekáno tense as they crossed the threshold. “Yonya, I am here, and I will lead you for as long as you need,” Nolofinwë quietly spoke, tightening his grip around his son’s waist. The look on Findekáno’s face reminded Nolofinwë of when Findekáno was a young, impressionable boy, and he first experienced the death of something he loved. The death of Nolofinwë’s horse had unleashed a torrent of emotions and fear in his little son, fear and unease that he saw in his son once more. Fingon’s rebirth would be the hardest for all of them. Though all had much to repent for, Fingon carried the heaviest burden, not only because of the deeds of his previous life, but also because of all of them, Fingon would bear his on his skin. Those bright, intense, blue eyes were haunting, yet Nolofinwe stood resolute against those memories. His son would have joy once more, his bright, beautiful boy.
Findekáno feared that he was not deserving of rebirth and that just maybe, crossing the border of the sacred gardens, he would find that his rebirth had been but another test for his spirit. Would he suddenly find himself in the void, that place of blackness in the Halls of Mandos. Would he hear the Doomsman’s voice uttering, “Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains.”* Fingon physically recoiled from crossing the borders between the gardens of Lorien and Eldamar.
Feeling his son’s resistance, Nolofinwë whispered, sharing a confident look with his son, urging him on: “My son, you are returned to me and I will return you to yourself. Trust in me.” Findekáno turned to look at his father, look for guidance in those eyes that in his other life reflected comfort and strength. The look of utter trust on Findekáno’s face nearly shattered Nolofinwë. It was the same face of that little boy that so long ago listened to his father’s comforting words that quieted his tears and allowed him to trust in the world around him. Together they crossed that imaginary line that divided Findekáno’s past from what awaited him.
Findekáno’s body did not dissipate. He felt the strangling disquiet he carried release as he crossed the threshold. Findekáno felt strength return to his legs, but he continued to lean into his father, his father’s arm wrapped securely around him. Findekáno might not need his father’s help to walk, but he needed his support in many other ways. They walked in companionable silence until they made their way to Nolofinwë’s horse.
“Are you ready?” Nolofinwë asked his son who surveyed the horse with open astonishment.
Findekáno turned to look at his father and nodded. Grabbing the horse’s mane, Findekáno found memory returning to guide his body, and with the nudge from Nolofinwë, Findekáno was on the horse. The feel of the horse’s muscles twitching beneath him, the rise and fall of its breath, and the horse shaking its head were like a different form of speech, a different way of being that Findekáno remembered. He remembered his love for horses; his time with his father before the Doom out in the pastures, watching as the horses ran and kicked, frolicking in pure joy. Findekáno reached his hand down to his father.
Nolofinwë took his son’s hand and pulled himself up behind Findekáno. “Are you ready?”
Findekáno focused on the strength and pulsating life of the horse beneath him. What awaited him was indescribable. How would he feel seeing his mother? Anairë, he had come to not conjure that name. Had his parents reconciled? In mere moments he might be before her. His father had made no mention of her. “Atto,” Findekáno’s voice quivered, “What of ama?” Findekáno felt his father’s hand drift over to his shoulder.
“She is waiting for you, my son, though…” Nolofinwë’s voice dropped off, causing Findekáno to turn to look at his father. Sensing Findekáno’s anxiety, Nolofinwë continued, “She is afraid Findekáno.”
“Afraid?” Findekáno repeated. “Afraid to see me?” Behind his voice was a little boy’s fear, the fear that his mother would reject him after all.
“Afraid you will not want to see her,” Nolofinwë countered his son’s thoughts. “She fears that after all you went through you will reject her.”
“I see,” Findekáno replied softly. Truly, how did he feel about his mother?
Nolofinwë, having had to meet these uncertainties with all his children and indeed himself, assured his son: “It took time, yonya, but your siblings and I have reconciled with your mother and she with us. You have time, Findekáno, and she has a mother’s love.”
“A mother’s love,” Findekáno repeated, turning back and raising his eyes towards the city of Tirion that loomed ahead in the distance. “To new beginnings,” Findekáno whispered. Nolofinwë nudged the horse with his foot and they began their journey towards Tirion, away from his son’s death and towards a new life.
*From The Silmarillion
This story was inspired by another story I wrote for Slashy Valentine posted on AO3 in which I, for the first time, wrote about death, the Halls of Mandos, and rebirth. In that story it centered on Curufin. When I read the prompt new beginnings, I figured I’d try Fingon’s, though this is only a first shot, and I’ll probably revisit this many times. The title is taken from the “End is the Beginning” prompt in the Silmarillion Writer’s Guild