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Chapter 1: The Dawning

by jenni

At the awakening of a new day, the 100th since his rescue by his cousin Fingon from the torture and mutilation he had suffered at the hands of Morgoth, Maedhros awoke in bed in Fingon’s tent at Mithrim. His eyelids were glued together and he was cold. Despite this, he felt a film of perspiration covering his body. He moved each of his limbs to assess their functioning ability. Relieved, he felt that they were stiff and sore, but he was able to move them at least, and he was content that the Dark Lord had not broken them. Around his right hand he felt a cloth of some kind. He tried to lift it to where he could see it through his eyelids, but could not see more than a haze.

A compress being held to his forehead and the caress of fingers upon his shoulder startled him. Then, to his right, a voice spoke.

“Can you hear me, Nelyfinwë, Son of Fëanaro?” the voice asked in a voice like honey. He nodded his head toward the sounds that soothed him. He tried to speak in return, but only a rasp emerged from his throat.

“Eyes,” he managed to croak. He moved his head back and forth trying to clear the stuff from his throat.

“Here. No. Let me wash them,” the voice uttered. The sensation of a cloth soaked in water mixed with herbs bathed his eyes and wiped away the crust encasing his eyelashes and the glue that held his lids together.

“Try again,” said the voice.

He opened his eyes. He saw a maiden kneeling at his bedside, smiling down at him with eyes of turquoise. He looked at her in wonder.

“Who are you?” he rasped, but she had moved away and did not hear him.

In a moment she was back with a basin of water and some cloths and bandages.

“Are you a handmaiden of Findekáno’s?” he asked, after she had given him a sip of water from a skin lying on the ground beside the bed.

She nodded, and a ringlet of gold fell over her shoulder as she bent over, smiling at him again, and then she began to lower the sheet that covered his healing form.

“What – what are you doing?” he almost shouted at her.

“It is to prepare you for your bath,” she spoke in tones like a dulcimer. “I have been doing this for you every morning since you were first brought here.”

“Every morning? You have seen my – my –“ he faltered.

“Seen, touched, and cleaned,” she said, matter-of-fact, but averting her eyes from his lest he notice her amusement. She wrung out a washing cloth and began to wipe his chest in strokes as gentle as a kitten’s. When she turned to look at him his face was quite flushed. He looked away from her and noticed his bandaged hand. Seeing it, he remembered being hanged by his wrist from the cliff, and being rescued by his cousin. He lifted up his arm, trying to assess its weight compared to the other.

“Is it - ?” he began, and the maiden nursing him placed two fingers upon his lips.

“Shhh,” She spoke. “Gone, yes.”

Anger started to rise in him, and he tried to get up. A pain pierced his forehead, causing him to fall back onto the pillows.

“How shall I - ?” he began, and was hushed by the nurse, her face held close to his own.

“You will learn to do everything with the other,” she said. “Fight with your sword, eat, relieve yourself, do everything,” she said with confidence.

“But I cannot –“

“Yes. You can. You will be stronger than you were,” she smiled at him.

“Where is Findekáno?” he asked, willing himself to give up the conversation.

“Findekáno will be here in a moment. He is meeting with Nolofinwë as we speak,” she replied, tending to his bath once more. She pulled the covers down over his thighs to his knees, and began sponging his stomach and below it, his genitals.

“I do not appear as I did once,” he muttered with a tinge of pink in his cheeks.

“So I hear,” she murmured, “although to me your beauty is like that of a sunset.”

He turned to look at her in surprise at her words. She was candid.

“Who are you? What is your name?” he asked.

“I am Amaurea,” she replied. “Think of me as heralding the dawn of your new life.” And she smiled at him once more, lighting up his new day with a brilliance to rival the sun.