Summary: One night in the court of Gondolin as Maeglin explores a concept foreign to the goodly elves, that of slavery – from the owner’s perspective, of course.
Disclaimer: These characters and Middle-Earth are the copyright of the Tolkien estate and this fan fiction is not meant to infringe on that copyright in any way.
Story Warnings and Notes: DARKFIC. NC-17, slash, graphic sex, extra BDSM warning for an unsafe activity - – go to the end of the story if you want to be warned without plot spoilers.
Thank you to beta readers Aayesha and Suzana.
Maeglin strode into the feasting hall of Gondolin’s great Palace. The court dinners, held on the sacred day of Valanya, were inevitably a spectacle. Maeglin set himself up to be a fine part of it, clad in sweeping black and indigo with his favourite galvorn greaves. Maeglin’s main allies were flanking him. Preening Salgant and practical Aranwë were both tall and striking in their way, but each less handsome than he himself. He strode with them just long enough for all watching to understand that, should you cross Maeglin, both Salgant’s sharp tongue and the labours of Anghabar awaited you. Once they came among the banquet tables, he judiciously lengthened his stride to shed his associates. They would not be of use to him when he sat at the King’s high table.
Turgon’s canopied throne was empty, signaling that a looser etiquette might prevail that night. Maeglin was pleased. Instead of being locked in honour at Turgon’s right hand, he might sit where he pleased. He set his sights on the empty chair beside the city’s Princess, his cousin Idril, whom he appreciated far more than he should as her close kinsman. She was looking especially lovely tonight, her golden hair the perfect setting for her ivory face; a jewel among women, he thought. The idea of enjoying her beauty through the protracted meal sharpened all Maeglin’s appetites.
Just as Maeglin was sauntering to the seat beside Idril, someone he had neglected to notice in his proud progress claimed the chair. “The mortal – what’s his name – Tuor,” he grumbled.
Maeglin thought it a baleful fluke that had cast mortal Tuor up like flotsam at Gondolin’s gates, and Turgon’s law decreed Tuor could not leave. Maeglin despised mortals on principle, holding them to be corrupt, crude, and unnaturally lively. Considering this, Maeglin’s expression slid into a saturnine smile. This night, Tuor’s whiskered mug removed the pleasure of basking in Idril’s beauty, but she would be lovely and waiting forever, he believed. Tuor might be amusing in his crudeness.
Not changing his stride, Maeglin took the chair beside Tuor. “A fine autumn evening to you all. You sit high, mortal, for a guest at Turgon’s table.”
Idril said, “I happened to meet him in the library, and invited him to join us here.”
Maeglin forced a smile for her, wondering, What in Morgoth’s pits is she thinking? That the mortal is an actual person? It was like Idril, as beautiful as she was good, to get carried away with charity. Heartily, he said, “So, mortal. You have been in Gondolin nearly a year now?”
“Ten months, my lord. Soon I will see Gondolin amidst the snow again, as when I first beheld her.” Tuor smiled at the memory.
Maeglin allowed a waiting page to fill Tuor’s plate and cup before he said, “I know a little of your tale. It seems that the lands outside the Tumladen have definitely declined since I dwelt there. Tell me more about it.” He silenced himself efficiently by beginning on his own food.
Tuor took a modest sip of mead and began. “I would not say that the Green-Elves who fostered me through my childhood were any less than the most skilled Gondolindrim. Their lore was different, of course; all spoken word, and with much knowledge of herbs and healing and woodcraft. The mortals I dwelt with for some years after that were another story. But then, I was not amongst Brodda’s people of my own will.”
Maeglin, his interest piqued, asked, “Had the Green-Elves cast you out?” Idril, on the other side of Tuor, went white at the idea.
Tuor’s mouth twitched beneath his mustache. Giving Maeglin an owlish glance, he said, “No. Brodda’s people were a tribe of mortals called Easterlings. They had taken over the lands that had been ruled by Húrin.” Maeglin thought that he liked them already, and nodded. Tuor went on. “The Green-Elves decided to leave the darkening lands, but as we went, Brodda’s men attacked us. They took me captive, and Brodda enslaved me. I had just turned sixteen.”
Maeglin looked at Tuor in fascination. "So," he said, "You used to be a slave?" Tuor nodded gravely.
Maeglin hid his delight. “The only slaves I ever heard of were those elf-smiths and warriors taken thrall by Morgoth. A handful escaped, which is how we know of it. What arts did you have that made you so desirable as a slave?”
“A strong back for the fields, and having the yellow hair of my kin, was enough,” said Tuor, grimly. “They called those like us the Straw-Heads, and no-one with the face or bearing of the House of Hador could count on staying free. Others who did have arts, weaving or handcrafts, were hobbled or half-starved to keep them biddable. With my use being in my strength, at least I was fed.”
“If you were so strong, how did they keep you a slave? Surely you could have escaped any time,” said Maeglin, with a curl of his lip.
Idril leaned over to address her cousin. “He did escape, Maeglin; he is here with us now,” she interjected.
Vexed at Idril defending Tuor, even as he was delighted she was listening to the mortal’s humbling confession, Maeglin changed tack. “Never before have I heard that any of the Speaking Folk could enslave those of the same kind. Is it Morgoth’s influence that leads mortals to enthrall each other, their corruption?” Unconscious of any insult to his own kind, Tuor agreed. Maeglin pressed a new question. “Among them, then, what is the difference between a free mortal and a slave?”
Tuor explained. “There are free men, there are tame beasts, and slaves fall in between. I was expected to follow orders like a thinking man, but not to think too far. Brodda would lend me out and bid me to labour for others, as if I was a favoured ox. He might have sold me, if he wished, like any other property.”
“It sounds as if he owned you,” Maeglin observed.
Tuor stayed stolid. “Yes; that was it exactly.”
“Were you treated like beasts in every way, save for your understanding?” Maeglin set down his fork and cleaned his table-knife.
Tuor swallowed his mouthful and said, “It sounds as if you have heard tales from other thralls. For it was so. Ill-kept beasts at that, beaten and bedded in fetid straw.”
Maeglin had not heard such tales, or paid them much heed, but he had spent many a time warmed by dark dreams of power. Listening to Tuor, Maeglin’s eyes smouldered. “Did they make you wear chains?”
“When I was not labouring, yes. Fortunately, I rarely had an idle moment.” Tuor sighed, deeply. “And this, as you said, was mortals acting so to other mortals. Having lived through it, I hold it the most terrible sign of our weakness to evil, that such a thing can be.”
“It certainly sounds like an efficient way of managing your enemies,” Maeglin mulled.
Idril’s cool voice interjected, “It all sounds terrible. Won’t you tell us how you did escape, Tuor?”
Finally, Tuor coloured with shame. “My lady. It was – harsh. I would not mention such things here, in your fair company.”
Maeglin said, “Indeed. Surely to escape such vile bondage would have taken something even more vile. Let us not spoil our appetites further.” Maeglin turned away, finding Tuor’s calmness uninspiring. Certainly he must have kept some of his slave’s nature, if he could endure being grilled in public like that. Maeglin never thought for a moment that such seeming acquiescence might have hidden Tuor’s wits, enabling his survival and escape from thralldom. Looking away, he missed the warm glance that Idril gave to Tuor, and her shy, sympathetic touch upon Tuor’s hand.
As he finished his wine, Maeglin considered the novel ideas Tuor had brought up, then looked elsewhere in the hall for amusement. His friend Salgant was still upright, he saw, and flirting with surprising success. Maeglin was instantly spiked with rivalry. He glanced about the hall to see who he could gain for an evening’s company.
There, at the next table down, and much easier on Maeglin’s eyes than Tuor had been, was the dark-eyed, silver-haired gallant who had warmed Maeglin’s bed last winter. If discreet, such liaisons were allowed by Elvish mores. Maeglin caught his eye and saw him glance back. Very deliberately, while holding that gaze, Maeglin took a long sip of his crimson wine. Those velvety eyes were still locked to Maeglin when he touched his tongue to his lips, briefly, to catch a stray drop. Then Maeglin smiled, slightly. The other elf-man’s face warmed like a snow-slope touched by the sunrise, and he shifted in his seat, ready to come near at the next gesture.
That easy? thought Maeglin.
With a slight frown, he shook his head.
Not watching to see the fair elf-man’s expression crumple, he stood. “I will away, my fair cousin. Sweetmeats are not to my taste tonight, after our mortal friend’s tales, and I have much work to do.”
“You always do,” Idril observed.
Maeglin gave Tuor a sardonic nod. “Enjoy your freedom, such as it can be for a mortal in Gondolin.” With that, he strode around the table and down off the dais. His feet upon the main floor, he called, openly, “Aranwë! Come with me. I want to talk to you.” Maeglin did not miss it when a few people smiled crisply, and others began to whisper to each other. Salgant paused to pout, seeing Maeglin’s other companion favoured, though he whispered to his companion, “Fair dame, I would never do such, openly or in my own chambers, I assure you; ladies only…” For Aranwë was not only second only to Maeglin as a smith; off and on, he too warmed Maeglin’s bed.
Maeglin made sure his path down took him past his rejected swain. Sure enough, as he strode by, a cool, musical voice asked him, “Maeglin. Just tell me why?”
Maeglin looked down with a smirk. His former leman wore the particular anguish of a beauty thrown over for someone whose charms were less apparent. Maeglin said simply, “I can talk to him.”
Then he went on. His vassal Aranwë suited his sharper mood tonight for many reasons. After the food for thought Tuor had given him at the feast, Maeglin ached to speak freely, and Aranwë was discreet and then some. Early in their acquaintance, he had sworn a powerful oath to keep Maeglin’s confidences. Some of those confidences were dark indeed.
Maeglin enjoyed how Aranwë kept his stoic demeanor as they left together, even as the air between them crackled like a waiting storm. Privately, he thought that after scrutinizing Tuor, Aranwë was better-favoured than he recalled. However, Maeglin paid no compliments. He left the silence to gather until the breaking point.
Aranwë broke it at last. “My lord. You wanted to talk?”
Eagerly, Maeglin said, “I certainly do.”
They had come to a crossing between two corridors. Aranwë paused. “Where shall we go, then?”
Maeglin spoke quietly, luring Aranwë closer. “My chambers. Come.” He turned on his heel, letting Aranwë follow him up the darkest of the four ways.
Over the centuries, the pair had spent many hours in Maeglin’s suite. At the beginning, their time had been spent between Maeglin’s young lusts and long discussions. Maeglin had drawn out all that Aranwë knew, to use for his own ends. Various rifts and reconciliations had followed, as well as shifts in powers and duties. Their recent separation had been less fraught than some in their past. Aranwë, evidently relieved to be Maeglin’s confidante again, said, “I have missed you, Maeglin. Have you been well?”
Maeglin said, “Well enough. I swear, the rank and file of Gondolin get duller every year.” He threw his luxurious cloak over a wooden chair, and sent his trailing over-robe to follow it. Winter in mountain-bound Gondolin called for more garments than Maeglin preferred, but he hated being cold even more, and endured them.
Aranwë, setting his own cloak aside, was more lightly dressed. Like many who had crossed the Helcaraxë, he felt Gondolin’s airs as temperate. He smiled indulgently at the clothes shed aside, and at Maeglin’s familiar grumble. “I do not think so, my lord; you used to say something very like, when you were a lad new-come to the city.” The memory made him say, with some longing and rue, “Is that why you have been absent from the circles of ansereg?”
Maeglin said, “No, I’ve just been busy. Besides, what has occurred to me is beyond ansereg.” He started to pace in excitement. “I had the most incredible conversation with the latest mortal tonight. Not that he was interesting himself, but something that happened to him was. The mortal used to be a thrall! Not a thrall of Morgoth, either, but enslaved by his own kind. You are older than I am, so you tell me; do Elves ever do this?”
“What? No, never,” Aranwë protested.
Maeglin paused before his courtyard window, looking at the people strolling by lamplight, several floors below. “Are you certain? Our word for “slave” had to come from somewhere. Myself, I like the idea. People to do whatever you say, when you say it. Think of how much could be done.”
Outraged, Aranwë cried, “Maeglin, no! Thralldom is wrong. How can you even think of instituting it? Not an Elf in Gondolin would stand for it.”
Maeglin frowned. “I hadn’t thought of that, the question of who would be enthralled. Very practical to remind me. We would have to have a war against some other Elves, or find some hapless Avari who’d be glad to trade their freedom for safety, with the world corrupted by Morgoth. If it was something like that, would it yet be wrong?”
“Yes, for they are people. Lords take subjects instead. That was how Turgon gained many folk in Nevrast. He offered them protection in exchange for their tithes, less remote than the guardianship of Doriath,” Aranwë said, somewhat calmer.
Maeglin snapped, “How is that different? When Turgon bade us go to war, we went, did we not? And when the Anghabar roster goes out, few there are who deny my will. Or yours.”
“It is different because…” Aranwë paused for thought. “Because it only takes part of people’s time, service, lives. It is more an exchange. At least, it is meant to be. Vassals serve for their own reasons; safety for some, admiration for others. Many, you have seen, care deeply for their lords.” He left his own reasons unspoken, but from his quiet pleasure at being chosen for this discreet debate, Maeglin could guess them. “But slaves give all. And not for fealty or love; only for power.”
Maeglin replied, “No, you’re wrong entirely, especially when you say ‘not for love’. We do have elves owning other elves, and for love at that. Marriage. If one is married for all time, as the laws of the Noldor hold, one is thereby owned by the other person.”
“That’s not what makes a marriage.”
Frowning again, Maeglin asked, “Then what does? Haven’t you always told me that you did whatever your wife asked of you, when she was alive?”
“Yes, but that is far from thralldom.” Maeglin took warning from his vassal’s expression. Too many reminders of his past marriage, and Aranwë withdrew in guilt and unhappy memory. With his blood heated by his ideas about slavery and their crisp discussion, Maeglin wanted him for something else. “Typical of you, nonetheless. Since your pleasure is to serve, you can serve me this night. Get over here.” When he came forward, Maeglin banished everything but the moment by drawing him down into an imperious kiss. As he had expected, it was ardently returned.
Aranwë, familiar with what Maeglin liked, tilted his head, parted his mouth, and left it to Maeglin to plunge and probe. In the past, Maeglin had thought that part of Aranwë’s appeal came from his experience of marriage, not least because of his idea that, if he and Aranwë both liked women, then neither of them truly preferred other men. As Maeglin worked open Aranwë’s jacket and stripped it off, leaving thin linen, he wondered if it was not something more, the echo of ownership and claim in marriage that left its mark. Reaching up, he tightened his hand in the other elf’s cropped hair, wondering, could he own someone? Did he? He would learn, this night, how much of thralldom was to be found in his vassal’s service. Perhaps it could be expanded from there.
The thought kindled Maeglin. With a hiss of drawn breath, he pulled back and jerked his vassal’s head downwards. Aranwë fell to his knees immediately. Maeglin flung himself into the cloak-draped chair, kicking aside a small stool. “You haven’t forgotten. Good. Right here,” he said, snapping his fingers, pointing to the floor below him. Knowing his lord, Aranwë did not stand to do this. At this complete obedience, Maeglin’s harsh face was lit by the beginnings of a lustful smile.
Maeglin allowed his vassal to place strong hands on his velvet-clad knees. When the hands started to slide up his thighs, Maeglin stretched and flexed his right leg, placing the sole of his foot solidly against Aranwë’s shoulder. “Boots first,” he growled. It stoked Maeglin’s fires even more to see the lordly-looking smith turn his head, and eyes shut to close out his own shame, start to tongue Maeglin’s tall, black boots.
This was a secret pleasure. The first time Maeglin had asked for it, it had been a domineering whim, but the moment someone’s mouth had caressed his leather-clad foot, he had knotted his hands at the unexpected delight. He luxuriated in it now. Through the leather, the tongue laving him could be felt, warm and sliding, muted just enough, still so vivid that it felt like hot trails were being traced on the sensitive flesh beneath. It was enough to make him close his eyes, drinking in the touch he denied himself in other ways. He did not like to do this, for he would then miss the sight of this nigh-unbelievable submission.
“The other one,” Maeglin gasped, setting his left heel squarely against Aranwë’s chest. Aranwë scooped it towards his lowered face without looking up. Maeglin smiled, wondering what he was hiding. To find out, he braced himself against the chair, and hooked his right foot between Aranwë’s spread legs, to next press down directly on the other elf-man’s crotch. Aranwë groaned and rocked his shoulders back, even as Maeglin laughed to press his vassal’s hard shaft beneath the sole of his boot. “Have you gone hungry all this time? You ache for me so much that even this rouses you. You think I will use you for my lust next, do you not?”
Eyes still closed, Aranwë nodded. “Answer me!” Maeglin cried, pressing harder with his right foot.
Aranwë had been caught out in Maeglin’s mind-games before, so he replied, “As – as you will it, my lord.”
Maeglin’s smile tilted; he loved it when others showed they were being wary of him. “I am curious,” said Maeglin, speaking low. He shifted his foot to slide it under Aranwë’s crotch, like a shepherd’s hook, to draw him closer. When he had come close enough, Maeglin settled that foot on one of Aranwë’s thighs and leaned in. In the winter-cool room, Aranwë’s warmth started a handspan out from his body. Maeglin, roused hard himself, knew that his did, as well. Sliding a hand through the smith’s ruffled hair, Maeglin tightened the grip and drew Aranwë’s head back. “Look at me,” he breathed.
When Aranwë’s slate-grey eyes were staring deeply into his own, Maeglin, without needing to look, unsheathed his shirt-knife and he slashed down and across Aranwë’s broad chest.
Aranwë shouted, and unthinking, tried to twist his head out of Maeglin’s grip. Maeglin back-handed him with all the weight of the knife in one hand and slashed down again, and again, grinning fiercely to see the red blood rise. He punctured the base of Aranwë’s linen shirt and ripped up to expose the smith’s chest completely. Needing both hands to tear at the fabric, he let go. Shocked, Aranwë fairly leapt back.
“Get back here,” Maeglin growled.
Aranwë was visibly struggling with himself, now. Maeglin laughed softly, seeing him perplexed and terrified at such agony meted outside the circle of ansereg, without even the game of punishment. He asked, as Maeglin’s rejected lover had before, “My lord, this torment – so random – why?”
“I want to.” Maeglin held up the knife, glinting and stained, and waited. If he had spoken to a thrall, that, he felt, should have been enough reason.
Aranwë inhaled and straightened his back to proffer himself.
Maeglin took his time with the next few cuts, equally fearful in their randomness, before he felt sated. His hands were weakened by lust. After wreaking his own will like this, he was aching to spend, to force his climax from the mouth that would do anything he wanted. Certain of this, he wanted to see it. He wiped the knife clean upon his breeches (later, he would smile at the dark stain every time he saw it), sheathed it, and flung himself into the chair again. “Your mouth, again. And this time, it’s what you expected.” Aranwë was in such a state that it was cruel to make his trembling hands undo Maeglin’s garments, as Maeglin bid him.
Maeglin stretched back against the chair with a groan of relief. Hot inside his clothes, he clawed open the necklines of his garments, then braced his forearms against the chair to spear his cock down Aranwë’s throat. He wrapped one long leg around the kneeling elf-man’s shoulders, forcing him close without respite, mercilessly stabbing his considerable length into the soft start of his vassal’s throat. His breath rasped as his sensitive shaft felt Aranwë nearly choking. Greedily, Maeglin reached down and knotted his hands in Aranwë’s hair again, without heed for the other before him as a person beyond snarling, “Make it good, curse you, or I’ll beat you for it.” The thought of his cruelty and possession filled him utterly, swelled him until he spent. He came silently, as always, but he did not release Aranwë for a full minute. It took him that long to feel his shaft stop twitching after feeling Aranwë swallow his seed.
Withdrawn at last, Maeglin fell back panting, looking at the ceiling, He ordered, “Lace me back up.” His clothes restored, still flushed and sharp-eyed, Maeglin stood. Aranwë still waited on the floor. After one hungry glance, he remembered himself and looked down. Maeglin saw that his man was very pale. He had, somehow, shed the wreckage of his shirt when Maeglin had been self-absorbed.
Still feeling the blood pounding in his throat, Maeglin took a dark-dyed linen shirt out of his wardrobe and draped it over Aranwë’s shoulders. He did this with the same ease he used to sheathe his favourite knife, or put away something else he owned.
Aranwë looked up at him, touched. Hoarsely, he said, “Maeglin. I – I am glad I please you. You know I would give you all, vassal to beloved lord.”
Maeglin started, then all but cursed. His imagining had not been mirrored. He had failed to inspire a thrall’s fear and helplessness.
Flooded with bitterness, Maeglin turned on his heel. “You are right. There are no thralls in Gondolin. If you are my vassal true, give me the illusion of it, at least. Go.” He spared one glance back. “Do you understand me? Go!”
Aranwë stood, visibly stunned as he realized what Maeglin had been thinking all their time together. After a long silence, he bowed his head. He took his leave without speaking. Beneath his cloak, Maeglin’s shirt still draped around his shoulders and clinging to his wounds.
Maeglin exhaled. Even as it soothed him, this unresisting agreement to his whim made his chest ache and his hands twitch with longing. For an instant, he thought of calling Aranwë back, giddy at the idea of demanding a thousand things from him.
Maeglin decided not to. These things had to be balanced. Too much intimacy, and Aranwë would forget his place, and he, Maeglin, might neglect his own. Which was, as it should have been at the beginning of the night, at Idril’s side.
He smiled grimly to see that Aranwë had left his jacket. He would be back.
Outside the window, the night darkened swiftly with ill weather. Maeglin stayed where he stood for a very long time. He held on hungrily to that moment of superb power, and turned the paradox of his many desires. He savoured what had been his to claim in that hall, more than one of the city’s fair folk, the glances of fear and respect, his unquestioned rank, valuable because it ensured his place next to the fairest woman in the world. And, with bitter inevitability, he thought about what had not been his; Idril’s desire, the royal chair that had fallen empty, Tuor’s shame, his vassal as his unquestioned thrall.
Looking out into the blind night, Maeglin muttered, “I want everything.”
He saw his petulant expression in the glass, and forced himself severe again. A boy’s wish, to have everything; a man’s deed was to gain it. Curling his fists, alone in the cold night with his reflection, he murmured, “Somehow, I shall have it.” He nodded calmly to himself.
After all, unlike Tuor, he had time.
First posted January 15th, 2005. Please do not reproduce or repost this story without permission from the author.
Feedback or comments on this story are welcome - email Tyellas here.