"But when after a year had passed Felagund wished to return to his own country, Bëor begged leave to come with him; and he remained in the service of the King of Nargothrond while his life lasted. In this way he got his name, Bëor, whereas his name before had been Balan..." - Chapter 17 of the Silmarillion, 'Of the Coming of Men into the West'
Bëor was silent, as they came close to the borders of Doriath. He had seemed in an agreeable mood when they left Estolad. His people – Baran's people, now, for leadership had been passed onto the eldest son, had seen them off in high spirits, and the time they'd had on the road – together, under the gaze of the stars, without any to gainsay them had been precious indeed.
And here was the first test. The people of Estolad had accepted their joining with open hearts and light jests – some of which had been vulgar enough to make Felagund blush – and then moved on to the next piece of gossip. To them it was apparently common enough, especially among widowers, and therefore nothing of particular note. It was true that other Elves had come to stay in Estolad, mostly out of curiosity; but keeping the nature of his relationship with Balan a secret 'for the moment', as he'd told himself, had been fairly easy. After all, it was most unlikely any of them would have even considered the possibility.
However, none of the visiting Elves had been as formidable or of such piercing insight as Melian the Maia and his own dear sister, Galadriel. Hiding anything from his sister had been impossible even in her youth, and now with the knowledge and secret teachings of the Maiar behind her gaze he doubted there were many in Arda to withstand her. Melian might respect his privacy, choose not to look, but Galadriel would see the change in him and wish to know the cause of it.
Upon her reaction much depended. The support of his sister in this matter would be crucial; however much subtlety was possible, sooner or later the true story would be known – secrets were not long held in Nargothrond, not secrets of this nature, at least.
The border loomed up ahead; the edge of the Girdle of Melian was visible as a sort of haze through the air, a shimmer that distorted the view beyond. He paused for a second, catching the eye of Bëor. "Perhaps we should rest for a short while, take the midday meal a little earlier."
Bëor regarded the border of Doriath with mixed feelings. There had been some of this realm who had visited Estolad, and they had been more courteous than many of the Nómin, and he had desired to ride to the homes of the Elves, to see how they were in their own lands. There was a large part of him that was glad to be going with Felagund, to meet his kin, to explore the wide world and the Elf-Kingdoms, to love him across all Arda – and in a variety of beds.
His gaze fell again upon his Nóm, his golden gift. So long had he watched him, hoping against hope, noting every detail, every slip of the tongue (though there were few of those), every long look (and many of these), every blush – although he'd had to learn to watch not the pale cheeks, which never reddened to betray dear Felagund, but the tips of those strange and beautiful ears, which always did. And when he'd decided that he'd seen enough to convince him of Felagund's desire, physical desire, at least, he'd taken action.
His mother had always told him, as a child, that he was too rash, too quick to decide and quicker still to act on his decisions. That it would bring him grievous trouble, and much sorrow. In this case he would have to disagree, at least in part, for 'twas his quick actions that had brought him much joy in this matter. But as for trouble...
Already nervous considering all the possible reactions of the Eldar to his relationship with Felagund, his mood had not improved upon noting Felagund's growing skittishness as they grew closer to Doriath. For perhaps the hundredth time in the past hour, the Elf shifted on his horse, running a hand over his head as if to check his braids, which, as usual, were exactly where they should be. Bëor smirked. There was only one way to mess up Felagund's hair, and it wasn't possible to do that on horseback. Or at least, probably not. His mind temporally distracted by the logistics of the thing, he examined Nóm once more, considering the possibilities.
"Perhaps we should rest for a short while, take the midday meal a little earlier."
Bëor nodded, eyes already examining the landscape for a suitable resting spot. Not the rest was needed, but the delay would be most welcome. Eating, however, was not on his mind as he watched his lover move around their chosen resting spot, in the cool shade of a tall tree, with that strange grace that belonged to the Nómin, and to his Nóm in particular. There was a different kind of hunger he wished to satisfy.
The hair first. When Felagund turned his back to rummage through the packs, looking for something, Bëor reached down and carefully removed the golden trinket holding the blonde locks captive and smiled to see them tumble loose and free. "There." he said softly. "That's much better." His Elf turned, the light shining in his eyes, and was obviously about to retort when Bëor kissed him.
Devoured him, rather, curling his fingers in the hair that now flew free in the wind. Clung to him with all the force he could muster and ravished that fair mouth – and quick learner that he was, Felagund responded in kind, clever Elvish hands moving teasingly across Bëor's body – with the result that when they finally drew back, pausing for breath, Bëor was the one gasping for breath, longing for more, losing control.
Felagund smiled at him, the perfect picture of Elven serenity, his face betraying nothing but a challenge was in his eyes. This was not going according to plan. But while Felagund had many more years of experience than Bëor in most areas of life, this was one area in which Bëor had the upper hand.
He captured those sweet lips again, tracing a fingertip just around – but not quite touching – the pointed tip of Felagund's ear. As the kiss deepened, he allowed his hands to wander, but time after time they returned, quite of their own volition, to tangle in the silken locks. Despite meaningful wriggles from Felagund each time a hand passed near, he paid no further attention to the ears – he knew will the effect that would have, and it wasn't time for that quite yet.
For his part, Felagund was not idle, with busy hands and able tongue, and soon Bëor was inwardly gasping – Nóm was too quick a learner by half! And very clever at this game of theirs. Before he lost control completely, he tore his mouth away to nibble and lick at the base of the jaw line, moving steadily up until he captured the lobe of Felagund's ear, sucking gently. His hands moved lower, delving underneath the leggings to grip the hardness there, stroking with an insistent rhythm. Still Felagund made no noise, although the movements of his hands on Bëor lost some of their surety.
He pulled back, although his hands did not cease their movements. Felagund was beautiful in his passion, his hair in disarray, his eyes ablaze as though lit from within. For a moment Bëor was not sure whether he wanted to possess him or just worship him, but just then a word was let slip from those pale lips, a half-formed plea or perhaps a curse and Bëor could not even tell which. Possession won out, and Bëor brought them both tumbling to the soft grass, plotting to discover what other noises his beautiful Nóm could make.
The woods of Doriath were still, or at least appeared so, although Felagund knew their presence had not gone un-noticed. He had not as yet been able to spot any of the sentries, which vexed him a little. That may have been something to do with the fact that, as he and Bëor led their horses side by side along the narrow path, Bëor kept brushing his hand across the small of Felagund's back, and pretending to look innocent each time Felagund removed the hand, glaring at him in warning.
Soon enough, though, the sentries appeared in front of them, three with bows at the ready – and no doubt a few more in the trees, and their leader in front frowned at them. Although Felagund was kin to Thingol, and his sister dwelt within these lands and was much-loved, not all were always happy to see a Noldor lord at the borders of Doriath.
It was Bëor that he appeared most concerned about, and it took some arguing before it was agreed that they could at least go before Thingol, and let him decide if they would be permitted to stay. If Bëor noticed that there was an arrow or two pointed at his back at all times, he did not let it show; the suspicions of the sentries lessened somewhat, though, as they travelled towards Menegroth. Bëor told tall tales, and spoke of the legends of men, and like all the Quendi, their love of story and song was great. The tale of the fall of Amras in Estolad was a favourite, as many of the kindred of Thingol were unfriends with the sons of Fëanor.
Before the throne they came, Felagund and Bëor, but Melian had already spoken to Thingol before they arrived, and despite some suspicion, they were provided with quarters; shared rooms, so that, as Melian put it "Let the son of Finfarin stay close to the Atan, and be thus responsible for his actions." Felagund might have had other suspicions about the reasoning of the Queen of Doriath, but he kept quiet, bowing low and receiving a secretive smile from that lady. Luthien too, welcomed them warmly, although she was most probably innocent of the knowledge her mother had, and was simply fascinated by her first glimpse of the race of Men.
There were others who were not so warm in their welcome, principally Daeron. Felagund had never liked the Loremaster of Doriath, and the feeling was most obviously mutual. They retired quickly after the evening meal – and not a moment too soon, either. Daeron, as Bëor so charmingly put it was, 'making his fists itch'. Galadriel and Celeborn were visiting Celeborn's kin who lived along the river further west, and were not expected back until some time the following day.
Bëor was filled with curiosity, asking questions of everyone and everything. He seemed most interested in hearing about Felagund's sister. "Galadriel is very wise, and very stubborn." Felagund laughed. "When we were young our mother would say she was more like another son than a daughter, feckless and troublesome." "And she is married, this sister of yours?" asked Bëor, through a mouthful of fruit. "Yes," sighed Felagund, "To Celeborn of Doriath." There was a short laugh from the Man, who had noticed the sigh. "And I take it you do not approve? You do not think him good enough for your sister?" "He is of a noble house, and is kind to her. But I do not understand why she chose him. She is filled with ambition and longs to rule; she stands proud among princes and kings and is counted as an equal among them. Nerwen, our mother called her, Man-Maiden, and well named was she. And yet she takes the name he gives her, Galadriel, given by Celeborn who is noble but quiet, and without ambition, who stands by her side but who will not further her cause. It is not his fault. Who could be good enough for her?" Bëor smiled. "You speak well, Nóm, but you are misled in your thinking. I have known women who are fonder of the hunt and keener with the sword than they are loving of the raising of children or skilled at needlecraft. Such a woman can not wed one as ambitious and restless and she; they would tear each other apart. From all I have heard your sister will prosper, and come to power in the proper time, and it is better than she has a husband that will love her for her strength, and not envy her for it." Felagund stared at Bëor, unbelieving. "When did you become so wise, my friend?" "When I started spending too much time with you." Bëor patted the bed he sat on, one of two in a room more usually intended for the hosting of messengers than for the use of Kings and leaders of Men. "Come, Nóm. Worry no more about your sister's choice in lovers, but instead help me find out if this bed of the Elves is as sturdy as it appears." Laughing and shaking his head, Felagund gladly did as he was told.
Galadriel sought him out as soon as she got back, after the mid-day meal. Bëor greeted her warmly, and then made himself scarce, escorted on a tour of Menegroth by a guard who at least was trying to appear relaxed in his presence.
"You look wonderful, as usual, sister." She laughed. "The visit was most restful, and Celeborn's kin seem fond of me. But I would rather hear about your adventures in the east than tell you the petty details of my travels." Somewhat cautiously Felagund gave an edited version of his meeting with the Atani and his time in Estolad. And Galadriel smiled and nodded and asked many questions. But at the end of it she frowned, leaning forward as to examine Felagund's face. "What is it that you are not telling me, dear brother? There is a light in your eyes; will you not tell me what put it there?" " 'Tis nothing, Nerwen. You must be imagining things." "Ah, but I know you better than that, Finrod. What are you hiding from me?" "No-one calls me Finrod anymore." "And no-one calls me Nerwen but you, and they have not done for many years. Do not try to lie to me, brother." Galadriel retorted, her voice rising in anger. Then she looked into Felagund's eyes again, and sighed, and her expression softened, and her voice, when she spoke again, was low and gentle. "It is love, is it not?" There was no other answer that could be given. "Yes." "Love you feel is forbidden, or else you would not hide it. But you needn't hide from your own sister. What ever form your love might take, I will greet it with gladness, and not sorrow or shame." "Look then, dear sister, for I have not the words to explain this to you." Felagund raised his eyes to hers, and there was a flicker in those blue orbs, an flash of power. His memories and thoughts laid bare, and a single word echoing in his mind, in her voice, an astonished Oh. She looked away then, and the blush could be seen on the tips of her ears. "I knew that love would come to you again, but this path was... unexpected. I do not know what to say, brother, other than I see it is love, and it is true." Gathering her skirts, she made to leave. "Going so soon, sister?" asked Felagund, sorrow in his tone. This time the blush reached her cheeks. "I was just going to find Celeborn. I need to talk to him – not about this," she added, seeing the expression on Felagund's face. "I just need to see him. I'll see you and... uh... Bëor... at supper." She left somewhat less gracefully than normal.
It took a few seconds for a possible reason why Galadriel would want to see her husband right now to come to Felagund's mind; once it had, he wished it would go away. Most definitely more information than he needed. That night at supper Bëor grinned at a somewhat dishevelled Galadriel, blushing a little under his gaze, and a dazed and confused, but happy looking Celeborn. "I don't know what you're talking about, Nóm," he said under his breath, helping himself to more of Thingol's best wine. "They look like a good match to me."
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Chapter notes: Summary: On the way back to Nargothrond, Felagund and Bëor both wonder about the reception they shall receive among the Elves. A stop in Doriath brings enlightenment, of a sort.