Beyond Canon

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Story Notes:
For ParadifeLoft. Beta reader: Lalaith Raina Request: aromantic themes, complex interpersonal feelings/relationships, political concerns, relationship anarchy themes (optional)

His father was pacing the room when his uncle opened the door and directed him in. It had been years since he had truly felt like a child and under his father’s scrutiny.

No, not his father’s scrutiny. His uncle. It was always his uncle. The words came from his father’s mouth, but they were from his uncle’s mind.

“What exactly do you think you are doing?” The angry words issued forth the moment the door was closed.

“Sit.” His uncle jabbed a slender finger through the air at a hard, wooden bench, and Celebrimbor sat.

“Father, you must excuse my inability to answer. I must know what you refer t—“


Celebrimbor shut his mouth and swallowed hard. To his father, it was a full admission.

“You are the only youthful heir to the greatest house,” spat out Curufin. “I have not spent years of my life protecting you so that you can throw away your heritage!”

There was an elongated pause, and Celebrimbor realized that his reaction was being scrutinized by his father and his uncle. There were the obvious answers: Admittance or Denial. He could dispute the phrasing, dispute even the purpose of the accusation, and why it had to be an accusation.

Celebrimbor rarely went for the obvious. A question for a question. “Have you been following me?”

Curufin began to shake his head, but Celegorm cut him off impatiently. “You do realize how important you are, do you not? Your father and I are trying our best to undo the damage your Uncle Maedhros did in handing your birthright over to Finarfin and his children,” snarled Celegorm. “We are trying to make this right, and you might as well have us bowing before them!”

“Those children are your cousins, father,” Celebrimbor attempted to reason.

“Half-cousins,” shouted both Celegorm and Curufin. Celebrimbor snapped his mouth shut. “What you are doing is unacceptable,” hissed Celegorm. “It will stop.”

“Perhaps you might tell me just what it is that displeases you so,” answered Celebrimbor after several minutes. “Is it my personal choices, or that my personal choices reflect the choice that Uncle Maedhros made to be with Fingon?”

“It is the inexcusable flippancy you display in choosing, not a partner, but partners,” sneered Celegorm before his brother could answer. “It is the flagrant displays of affection you shower upon mere acquaintances. It is how you flirt, laugh, touch, grope, and spend the night with more people than I can count on my hand!”

“So the number of “partners” bothers you.”


“Not my obvious preference for males over—“

“That, too!” Celegorm slammed his fist against the wall. “Everything! Your disrespect is evident by your words now. Have you no shame for your actions? Have you no care for your father?” he shouted, pointing with great flourish to his brother. Curufin stood aside, arms crossed and face somber, with obvious refusal to look at his son.

“The only defense I have,” Celebrimbor finally said, “is that I find it all irrelevant while we stand here in Nargothrond!”

“Nargothrond will be ours,” vowed Curufin in a low voice.

“How is that solving anything? All I have seen throughout the years is an ever-widening rift between those who should be allies.” Celebrimbor rose up, his gaze upon his father. “What would you do – begin civil war against your cousin?”

“Half-cousin,” Celegorm once again reminded his nephew. “There are simpler ways to dethrone a King.”

Celebrimbor shook his head. “I wish no part in these plans. You seek to use the threat of disowning me to comply with your wishes, to aid you in your ‘cause’. I am through. I will not allow you that power any longer. I choose to be disowned – to disown you first.”

“What?” hissed Celegorm.

“You cannot do that!” argued Curufin.

“And why not?” Celebrimbor circled around the bench and placed his hand upon the back so that he could lean forward. “Why should you hold all power over me? You have needed me as much as I have needed you – possibly more,” he realized. “You would use me to make claim for lands which, from the perspective of the Sindar, never belonged to you in the first place. I am done. For my part, I can survive on my own. I have lodging here, and a trade to make myself of use.”

“We are family!” shouted Curufin with some amount of desperation. “Surely, blood is thicker. You must think of your lineage.”

“I do. I think of it every day. How can I forget? One of you is constantly reminding me. The oath, the oath, the oath – curse that bloody oath! I took no such oath – I know not Feanor! This man – this beast, this liar and thief who was my grandfather – I would wish for one moment it would not be remembered that I was of his kin!” Celebrimbor found from the looks he was being given that he had gained momentum, and so continued. “I can survive. Without deception or malice or greed, I can survive. Do what you feel you must, but I shall play no part in it. Call me son if it so pleases you, but I shall decline to call you father.”

Then he left. Celebrimbor was not about to allow either the chance for rebuttal. He opened the door, walked out, and closed it behind him as if he had not just given up his birthright. There were two paths before him, hewn into the stone. Left would take him into a common area; right, to other private rooms. He chose right, and considered his options. He could return to his own quarters, but it was very likely he would be followed there in a short time. There were also many other options – he had always been quick to befriend others, and once a connection was made, his was always the understanding of openness and mutual enjoyment. Many whom he had formed relationships with found this refreshing in a world where nearly everyone believed in a strict hierarchy of all things. Possibly, more than anyone, it was appreciated by Edrahil, whose room he had just passed by.

Up from the path he had come, Celebrimbor picked up the sound of a door slamming, and of two pairs of feet briskly walking down the passage. He did not fancy the thought of being cornered, nor did he wish to run away like some angry child. Instead, he took what time he had and risked that at this hour Edrahil should be home, and had likely not yet bolted his door.

Once within, Celebrimbor found a glow in the room that spoke of Edrahil’s presence before he saw the seneschal reclined upon his bed. Edrahil lifted his head and tilted it, yet said nothing as Celebrimbor slid the bolt in place and fumbled to lock the door as well. He looked as if he might come and assist, but Celebrimbor managed to secure the door just as someone pounded on it from the other side.

“I know you are in there!” came the muffled call from the other side as Celebrimbor backed up. A fist pounded once more on the door. Celebrimbor turned his head and gave Edrahil a look of sincerest apology. Edrahil gave something of a shrug and returned to the book he was reading.

Celebrimbor looked around, as he often did, always interested in his surroundings. He had been in Edrahil’s room many times before; each time, Celebrimbor was curious about how little it changed. The banging on the door continued, and Celebrimbor retreated in further, what little he could.

None of the rooms in Nargothrond were very large; he had been spoiled on account of being of the line of Finwe, and enjoyed a suite of two rooms. Even Edrahil, right hand of the King, lived in a small space. There was a bed, of course, and two slender shelves for books. The dressers were thin as well, yet tall, making use of the space in the best way possible. A desk was close to the door, a cabinet where Celebrimbor knew Edrahil stored his armor, bow, knives, and sword, and a single chair, wide enough that one could lounge in it with their legs over one side. This was usually where Celebrimbor found Edrahil.

Despite their being two book shelves, there were only seventeen books – five on the top shelf of one, and the rest on the second shelf of the other. The rest of the shelves neatly stored other necessities – a bottle of dark liquor, two mugs, candles of assorted sizes, a carved wooden box where Celebrimbor knew Edrahil’s circlet of office was tucked away, and on the bottom of one shelf, a small harp in a case, suitable for travel. The desk was clear, paper and quills no doubt neatly stored in one of the two drawers. There were no unneeded statues or carvings, nothing sentimental what-so-ever. The only adornment upon the walls was a work made of thin pieces of copper and tin, with representations of the Valar overlapping one another.

Of all those whom Celebrimbor spent time with, time which to others would be classified as intimate, Edrahil was the most difficult to figure out, and the easiest to please. It had taken far less time for Celebrimbor to gain invitation to Edrahil’s bed, and yet, initial attempts at any sort of romantic notions had been met with indifference from Edrahil.

Celebrimbor recalled the gifts he had brought to Edrahil the day after he awoke in the older Elf’s bed. Edrahil accepted them awkwardly, had never reciprocated, and never spoke of them again. It would have deterred Celebrimbor from further contact, had Edrahil not called upon him three days later at the forges and invited him, without any prelude, to spend the night with him whenever he wished.

And that was why, while Celebrimbor knew he had at least three other options down the hallway had he wanted to escape into someone else’s rooms, that it was easiest to come here. He could not say that he liked Edrahil any more or any less than anyone else he called friend, whether he had been within their chambers and their bed or not. He could however state that Edrahil would ask the fewest questions, require the least explanation, and would, above all, not think that since it was his room Celebrimbor was in right now that he was somehow placed higher in importance than anyone else in Celebrimbor’s life.

He did have some inkling he may have been slightly higher than the two Elves pounding on the door at that moment demanding entrance.

Edrahil closed his book and listened for a while. He slowly shook his head as he heard some of the things that Celegorm was snarling at the door. The book was placed aside, and he propped himself up with one arm, his cheek resting against his palm. The Feanorian Brothers were easily tuned out, and he turned his gaze upon Celebrimbor, who was no doubt counting the volumes on the shelves, wondering why there was not a full dozen. Edrahil picked up with his free hand the tome he had been reading and tossed it gently to the foot of the bed. Celebrimbor turned, smiled, picked up the book, and put it back in place on the shelf.

Celebrimbor’s fingers traced along the spine of the book, and then trailed down to the next shelf where the liquor and the mugs sat. He settled his fingertips on one of them, and then looked behind to Edrahil, who gave a nod. Celebrimbor opened the bottle and tipped it to fill each mug with not more than of mouthful of the dark liquid before it was put away and the brandy filled mugs were brought to the bed. Outside, the pounding had ceased, but Celegorm was still on a tirade.

Edrahil sat up and downed his drink in one gulp, while Celebrimbor sipped his and sighed. The seneschal stretched and got up from the bed. He set the empty mug upon the desk and removed from the drawers everything he would need to write a letter. Edrahil remained standing as he began to write, leaving Celebrimbor to sit on the bed, where he sipped his drink and tried not to listen to the words his uncle was spewing. Edrahil finished his writing quickly, put everything away, and then folded the letter without sealing it before he took it to the door and slid it underneath.

The shouting suddenly stopped. There was a long pause, an irritated kick to the bottom of the door, a bit of shuffling, and silence. Edrahil walked the few steps back to the bed, where he placed his hands on Celebrimbor’s shoulders, leaned down, and bit at Celebrimbor’s neck.

Celebrimbor gasped and almost dropped the now-empty mug from his hand. There was a nip at his jaw, then another bite to his neck, harder, and the mug was pulled away from him and set on the floor. Celebrimbor’s fingers kneaded the blanket covering the bed as he closed his eyes and felt Edrahil begin to undress him. Teeth sunk into his skin again, his bared shoulder this time. They rarely kissed, and when they did, Celebrimbor knew it was for his benefit. They rarely cuddled, and again, Celebrimbor knew it was something that Edrahil had no interest in. For Celebrimbor's sake, he knew later that night that Edrahil would allow him to nuzzle his chest before they fell asleep.

Even these activities would have been given up by Celebrimbor for the enjoyment they had together. Was it love? Celebrimbor was still uncertain if he could really name it that, and he preferred not to ask Edrahil – best to leave it a mystery with the rest of him. For Celebrimbor’s part, he could not deny that it was satisfying, and he was certain, to be given the freedom to come here any night he chose, that it was mutually satisfying. What difference did it make then that he could not define it? Whatever other thoughts he might have had concerning his relationship with Edrahil were pushed away as he found himself lying naked with Edrahil looking down upon him.

There were no words exchanged, no nods, and no questioning looks. Edrahil slid his hand behind Celebrimbor’s knee and pulled it to the side. It was what they both wanted – no, it was what they both needed. Celebrimbor bent his legs, closed his eyes, arched his back. In such times as these, once air, water, food, and safety were provided, it was not love that they needed. Edrahil grunted, frowned, sat back on his haunches and grasped Celebrimbor’s hip, encouraging him to roll over. It was, for now, purely physical. Celebrimbor rested his head on his arms, used the pillow to muffle his sudden outcry. Perhaps if there was time, if there was a future, then they might have considered love. Edrahil leaned down, melded against Celebrimbor, and sunk his teeth back into the younger Elf’s shoulder, drawing blood. For now, they needed this, needed each other, for the future was always a constant doubt.

* * *

Curufin paced while Celegorm continued to stare at the door, the mangled letter in one fist. “It has been an hour at the least – he will not be out until morning,” declared Curufin as his steps took him within range to whisper to his brother.

Celegorm gave a sharp nod, and then turned to take to the stone stairs which would lead to their quarters. Curufin followed. The paper in Celegorm’s hand was uncrumpled, read over again. “I have a thought,” mused Celegorm as he crushed the letter once more. Curufin raised a brow, but remained silent. Celegorm approached one of the torches that lined the passage and burned the letter. “Perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone.”
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