My Aragon Stories
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Father's Wish, A: 4. Chapter Four
One week after the death of Finwë and the darkening of Valinor.
In the graceful sea palace at Alqualondë, Finarfin sat in a dark room, brooding, as the world around him crumbled. Half of his household was scurrying around, as they sought to occupy their minds in order to distract themselves from the grief of Finwë’s death. The rest had collapsed into fits of weeping, as if their tears would bring back the beloved king.
But Finarfin brooded.
In a distant plane of his mind, he found it odd to sit in the darkness. After all, he had never really seen it before. For once, the cheery lights of Laurelin or the soothing beams of Telperion were not there to shine down upon him. Now, only stars illuminated the island, as well as the lamps the Eldar had rarely before lit.
Finarfin missed the Trees.
After all, it was easier to miss the Trees than to miss his father. Because if he thought of his father too long, Finarfin would weep. He would weep with sadness, with bitterness, and with anger. All directed at his eldest brother.
And Finarfin would not grant him that victory. Because all his life, Fëanor had spent much energy in making his youngest brother learn to accept wrath as a natural feeling. And all his life, Finarfin had denied it.
Tomorrow he would have to make the journey to Tirion. Fëanor had called a gathering of all Noldor, and although he was still exiled by Manwë’s decree, he had called it in Tirion. As if a command of the Valar would ever stop Fëanor, thought Finarfin darkly.
Far away, in the Vanyar palace on Taniquetil, Artanis was seated in front of Ingwë. The high king had commanded her presence a few days before, and Artanis had hurriedly left Tirion in order to comply with Ingwë’s command. Right now, the golden-haired king was looking at her gravely. For once, the merriment that had always been present around him was gone. “I have summoned you here because I wish for your counsel regarding Fëanor.”
“I am hardly adequate counsel, Grandfather Ingwë. My father or Uncle Fingolfin, or perhaps even Nerdanel would be more suitable.” She met the eyes of the king squarely – not as easy thing to do, because his eyes were even more piercing than Fëanor’s.
He shook his head. His golden hair swishing around him elegantly. “I disagree, Artanis. Because of all people, Fëanor held you in highest regard, after his parents and wife.” Noticing the stubborn look that came into her eyes, he gave her a hard look. “I am not asking you to divulge information that was told to you in confidence, because that is a breach of trust. But I need to know what Fëanor will do now.”
She relaxed slightly. Now that she knew she was not going to be pressured to reveal all she knew, she relented with the king’s request. “Of all creatures, Fëanor hates Melkor the most. And since Melkor is responsible for the death of his father and the theft of the Silmarils, Fëanor will do anything to take revenge and recover his creations.” She took a deep breath. “Fëanor will pursue Melkor even into Arda.”
Ingwë hissed. “Fëanor has always spoken of going to Arda, and now he has an opportunity. And I fear that most of the Noldor will welcome it.” He looked at Artanis pointedly. “Is it a safe assumption to assume you will also be following?”
She only shrugged.
In Tirion, Turgon and Elenwë sat on a bench as they watched their daughter Idril play on the lawn of their house. Since it was technically morning, they had eaten a light breakfast, although both had felt uncomfortable in the strange darkness. Their daughter was currently dancing under the starlight, something she had never been able to do before. Because Telperion had been lit during the night, the light of the stars was always muted in Valinor, unless one went to places where the light of the Two Trees never reached.
Elenwë snuggled in her husband’s embrace. By nature, Turgon was a silent man, not given to much emotion. And although he seemed to be his normal self, she knew how troubled and saddened he was by the recent events. “I had hoped that when Idril married, it would have been under the Two Trees.” His voice was muted.
“Pah! You would never let her marry!” she said, in an effort to keep the situation light. It had some effect, because the corners of his mouth rose in that slight smile that she suspected only she could ever see. But before he could make an adequate response, Idril’s squeal of delight caught their attention. They looked up to see a tall, handsome, golden-haired Elf approaching their house. Before he could even make it to the lawn, Idril launched herself into his arms.
Glorfindel laughed, the tinkling sound filling the garden. Elenwë sent a silent prayer of thanks to whoever had sent Glorfindel their way, because now Turgon was bounding over to his friend. Smiling to herself, she followed, although at a less rapid pace. After many boisterous greetings on all their parts, they went toward the house, with Idril currently attached to Glorfindel’s leg.
Once inside, Turgon hurriedly made some tea while Elenwë laid out some fruits on the table. When Glorfindel protested, Elenwë shushed him. “If you will not partake of our hospitality, I will never speak to you again.” Being threatened by Elenwë was no small thing, so Glorfidel ate quite generously – with Idril still attached to his leg. But the Vanya made no move to displace the little Elfin child and seemed quite content to have her there.
After eating, he quickly gave them an update on his family. “Both my father and my mother have returned to Taniquetil, even though my mother will probably be the only Noldo there. My sister is divided, because she too wants to go back to Taniquetil, but she wants to remain because of her friendship with Maedhros and Maglor.”
“Ar-Kaliel has always been torn between her heritage,” remarked Elenwë. “But she certainly has the fierce heart of the Noldor, even if it conflicts with her Vanyarin loyalty for the Valar.”
Turgon looked at his friend closely. “And what of you, my friend?”
“I am as I always was.” A typical noncommittal response from Glorfindel.
Elenwë’s eyes were twinkling in the mischievous way of the Vanyar. “I think you need companionship.”
“Are you offering?” asked Glorfindel, a responding twinkle in his own eyes.
She patted the seat next to her enticingly, but Turgon placed a hand on Glorfindel’s shoulder. “Accepting that invitation could be painful for you.” Now Turgon’s eyes were twinkling as well.
Elenwë laughed and then kissed her husband passionately. Glorfindel sighed and covered the inquisitive eyes of Idril. “I shall have to settle for being second best in your heart, Elenwë.”
“Not second best! Third best! Mama loves me next after Papa!” The voice was Idril’s, slightly muffled because Glorfindel was still covering her eyes. Finally becoming free, she gazed at her parents with wide eyes. “They do that a lot, when they think I’m not looking.” Her parents broke apart, laughing again.
Another exaggerated sigh from Glorfindel. “It appears that I shall have to be lonely then.”
Idril climbed onto his lap. “You can marry me if you want.”
“Glorfindel, you are dangerous to have around my family,” growled Turgon, although the twinkle hadn’t left his eyes. “First you try to seduce my wife, and now my daughter!”
“What can I do? It is no fault of mine that I was born so appealing,” he sniffed. Turgon threw him a pointed look. Laughing, Glorfindel held up his hands. “Besides, I currently am involved in the seduction of your cousin.”
Turgon grinned. “Make sure you never say it like that in front of Finrod. He would be obliged to defend the honor of his sister.” Turgon looked at his friend more closely. “Besides, why haven’t you two married yet?” Elenwë rolled her eyes at Turgon’s bluntness, but Glorfindel seemed to take no offense.
“It is something that has not yet come up in discussion.” His words made Elenwë consider him more closely. Deciding that nothing could be accomplished with Turgon and Idril around, she sent them to clean the dining area.
After they left, Elenwë sat next to Glorfindel. “What is wrong, friend?”
He sighed, except this time it was heartfelt. “Artanis has been troubled, as of late. She finds herself pulled by both her father and Fëanor. I am hesitant to say anything because it would add to her burdens.”
“Why would this be a burden? I would think it would be something of a relief.” Her eyes were shrewd.
Glorfindel hesitated slightly. "And I do not know the depth of her feelings for me."
Elenwë nodded thoughtfully. "And during these troubled times, you can hardly have discuss such things." She patted his knee reassuringly. "If I were you, I would wait until things become more normal, and then you both should speak of the future."
"Your words are rooted in much wisdom, friend Elenwë." He stretched. "I will allow things to remain as they are...for now."
The next day, Glorfindel was pleased to see that his sister had chosen to remain behind in Tirion. Ar-Kaliel was tall and very strong – indeed, she was known as the Huntress, for her skills in that area were unparalleled. But as imposing as a presence she was, her Vanyarin nature had given her a gentle spirit and a reverence for the Valar. She was never described as beautiful, but she was very arresting and attractive in her own way. She had the same green eyes as Glorfindel, although her hair was a rich golden-brown, a trademark feature of their Noldorin mother.
Both brother and sister were cheerful by nature, and so they arranged to have a picnic the day before the gathering of the Noldor would take place. Invited were Maedhros and Maglor, as well as Artanis and Meril-i-turinqi, the granddaughter of Ingwë and Maglor's beloved. The six of them had a rather merry feast, although the shadow was as ever on their horizon. But Ar-Kaliel, who also shared Glorfindel's mischief, spent most of her time teasing Maglor and Meril, mostly in an effort to keep their sadness at bay.
"If you two have any children, think what hellions they will be!" Poking Maglor in the shoulder, she continued, "And what will these two gentle folk do, with such hellish offspring?"
Maedhros was always ready to tease his favorite brother. "And they certainly will be hellish! After all, our father bears Fëanor as his mother name, and fiery he certainly is! And Meril, well, her own mother is Arien, the fire-maiden herself!"
"Just wait until you get married, the both of you! If our children will be as bad as you say, I am almost afraid to imagine what either of yours will be like!" Meril said this laughingly, her own golden voice always a nice accompaniment to Maglor's.
Ar-Kaliel waved that comment away. "Perhaps when Maedhros gets married, there will be much cause for alarm. But if I ever marry – and this unlikely, since I love nothing more than the forests – my children will be perfect."
"Only if they take after your husband, whoever that unlucky man may be," interjected her brother.
Maglor smirked. "Perhaps you should stick to the forests, my dear huntress."
"I certainly intend to! Only my mother keeps interfering with my plans!" Ar-Kaliel turned to Artanis, who had so far remained quiet. "What do you think, Swan Princess?" This was Artanis's unofficial nickname within the group, kindly given to her by Glorfindel and advertised by Maedhros.
"I think –" she began, her eyes beginning to sparkle.
Glorfindel scooted to sit next to her. "Yes, what do you think?"
She shoved him playfully. "I think that –"
"What do you think, meleth?" She blinked at his calling her such a private name in front of everyone, but she found that she was pleased by his obvious declaration of intimacy.
She tapped Glorfindel's nose. "I think that if I ever have children with you, they will probably be the bane of the island, with you as the father!"
The others howled with laughter, but Glorfindel leaned back and regarded her with passion in his green eyes, his expression one of pleased delight at Artanis's own declaration. Suddenly he reached out and kissed her, which caused the others to laugh even more. "Glorfindel, no need to conceive those children now!" breathed out Maedhros, in between peals of laughter.
Meril sniffed. "I say the sooner they start, the better." She gave them all a haughty look. "Noldor are more slow at making such things happen."
"Are you trying to say that you and Maglor have already started?" asked Ar-Kaliel, her eyes wide in mock amazement.
Meril leaned forward and gave the huntress a cool look. "I will only say that trial runs are in effect."
Maglor blushed furiously at this while his brother patted him sympathetically on the shoulder. "The Vanyar are more liberal when it comes to these things – nay, when it comes to all things. It would be best if you got used to it, little brother." Maedhros looked toward Artanis and Glorfindel, still completely immersed in their own private world. "In both words and actions."
Far away from the merriment of the little group, three brothers stood in Finwë's study. No words were exchanged, but the air of hostility remained thick enough to be mistaken for Ungoliant's own lair in Avathar.
All three had a strange relationship with one another. Fëanor and Fingolfin disliked each other for purely political reasons. Indeed, had either of them been born to different families, they most likely would have been friends. But the hostility between Fëanor and Finarfin was on a more personal level. Both brothers were on opposite sides of almost every issue, and they argued endlessly, with neither one of them ever conceding defeat. And between Fingolfin and Finarfin there was a coolness that was due to distance and a lack of interest toward each other.
But these quarrels appeared in adulthood. As children, all three had been on good terms. Although he had tried to hide his affection for Fingolfin and especially for Finarfin, Fëanor delighted in teaching them and playing with them. And both Fingolfin and Finarfin had always been in awe of their eldest brother, and both had willingly followed Fëanor almost everywhere.
But as they grew older, the realities of their positions began to hit them. Suddenly the word brother was replaced by half-brother, and when any of them said mother, they were careful to refer to Indis, or in Fëanor's case, to Miriel.
Fëanor grew bitter over the fact that Indis had enough strength to bear two children while Miriel had not had enough for one. Fingolfin grew angry at the fact that although his mother was the queen, Fëanor would always be Finwë's heir. Finarfin, ignored in the silent war between his elder brothers, simply distanced himself from them and went instead to Taniquetil. And over the years, these grievances had only multiplied, until now all three of them were completely blinded by them.
Fingolfin broke the silence. "Why have you called this meeting, Fëanor?"
"My father the king is dead. Now certain issues need to be addressed." Neither Fingolfin nor Finarfin missed the fact that Fëanor had said my father instead of our father. And both were shocked when Fëanor sat down in Finwë's chair, a chair that had never before been occupied by any save the king.
"And perhaps you would be kind enough to tell us in advance?" requested Fingolfin, his civility at odds with the anger on his face.
Fëanor's eyes glittered. "Now that the king is dead, the kingship falls to me. I am now lord of the Noldor, and we must recover the Silmarils and avenge Finwë's death."
Finarfin broke out into laughter. "The king may be dead, but you are an unworthy successor!" He stepped closer, his voice menacing. "I know what you are going to do. You will try to convince our people to leave Valinor, to go to Middle Earth." Finarfin slammed his fist down on the table. "And I won't have it!"
"You won't have it! Who are you, to deny this?" He rose and began to walk toward Finarfin, his voice now as menacing as Finarfin's had been. "I am Fëanor, the son of Finwë and his true wife, Miriel Perindë." He continued to stalk Finarfin across the room. "I am the eldest of the princes of the Noldor, and by law, I am now king." His face now only inches away from Finarfin's, he whispered cruelly, "So you can have it, and you will have it." His eyes burned into Finarfin's blue ones.
But Finarfin had never feared Fëanor, and he did not now. Snarling back with equal anger, he shoved Fëanor away. "Finwë would never have allowed it! To do so would go against his wishes!"
Fëanor rolled his eyes. "Finwë never planned to be murdered by Morgoth, so I hardly think that is a valid argument."
"Chasing after Morgoth to avenge Finwë's death is acceptable! But for the Silmarils! You cannot expect that our people will die for those blasted jewels of yours!" This was Fingolfin, still standing next to the desk.
Fëanor turned his head to look at his other brother. "Do not ever call them that again," he threatened.
"Yes, do not, Fingolfin. After all, blasted jewels is too good of a name for those damned pieces of rock!"
A resounding slap echoed throughout the room, as Finarfin lay sprawled on the floor, a red hand mark on his cheek. Fëanor stood above him, his eyes still glittering. Within a second, Finarfin stood and hit his brother back, just as hard.
But instead of being angry, Fëanor only laughed. "Well, well, well. It appears that you have betrayed your lofty, Vanyarin ideals. Perhaps we are more alike than you know."
Staring at his hand in shock, since he had never hit anyone before, Finarfin said nothing. Instead Fingolfin responded for him. "You two can never be alike," he hissed.
"I beg your pardon, but I disagree." Fëanor stepped forward and cupped Finarfin's face in his hands and tenderly kissed the place he himself had hurt only moments ago. "We both love Nerwen."
Finarfin's head snapped up. "Do not bring my daughter into this!"
Fëanor released him and strolled back towards the desk. "Why should I not? She is what all of this is about, is it not?" he asked as he pointed to the identical red handprint on his own cheek. "After all, normally you do not show any interest in your own people anyway. You sit in Alqualondë and go fishing with those spineless Teleri, or you prattle on about the evils of anger with your Vanyarin idiots." Fëanor banged the desk with his hand. "But never have you evinced the slightest interest in your father's people! So forgive me if I find it hard to believe that you are now so suddenly concerned with their welfare!"
"Even if he is not, I am," growled Fingolfin. "And I cannot support you in this, Fëanor! Going to Middle Earth – it is simply mad!"
"How is it mad? We are prisoners here, o brother mine." Fëanor began to look frustrated. "We were born free on those ancient shores! But here we are in shackles!"
Finarfin glared at him. "The Valar brought us here to protect us from Melkor and his evil creatures."
Fëanor pointedly ignored him. "They make laws at their own will, and then they expect us to obey them! Who are they, to tell us how we must live! We are Eldar, the Quendi! We do not live by another's leave!"
"Fëanor, such words are treasonous! Dishonorable!" shouted Finarfin.
"Dishonorable? In whose eyes? Yours? The Vanyar's? The Valar's?" Fëanor shook his head. Finarfin tried to respond, but his voice was drowned out by Fëanor's. "Arda was meant to be our dominion. And I say we go back to it, to become our own masters! We are little more than servants here, but there, we would rule."
"You are wrong," protested Finarfin mutely.
Fëanor looked at his youngest brother, his eyes filled with pity and perhaps tenderness. "Am I?"
Finarfin looked to Fingolfin and saw that he too believed in some of the words of Fëanor. And in that moment, Finarfin knew that he had lost.
The next day was perhaps a day too terrible for all parties to be involved. Fëanor had claimed lordship of the Noldor, although many preferred Fingolfin as their king. But regardless of the technicalities, most Noldor were quite willing to leave Valinor.
Artanis had stood to the side as Fëanor and his sons had sworn their irrevocable oath. So moved was she by the moment that she too would have sworn the oath, if not for the tiny bit of caution within her. Fingolfin had argued against his brother, but each subsequent protest had grown weaker as Fëanor's orations had only grown stronger. Finarfin too had argued, but it was too no avail. And so now Fingolfin was obliged to follow Fëanor into Arda, since he too swore an oath to follow Fëanor, so very long ago at the feet of Manwë. Finarfin also agreed to go, but only because his children were.
But immediately after the meeting, her father had disappeared, Finrod had gone to Amarië, and her other brothers were off preparing, thus leaving Artanis alone. She hunted out Glorfindel, and they had made love desperately in a hidden glen outside Tirion. Afterwards, they lay there silently, involved in their own thoughts.
"I am going to Middle Earth," said Artanis, breaking the nighttime silence. They were currently stretched out in the grass, her head comfortably resting on his chest.
He stroked her hair. "I know." Silence, and then, "I saw you stand with your cousins. Your father was most grievously hurt."
"I wish he would understand." Lightly placing a kiss on his chest, she wrapped her arms more tightly around him. "I wish he would see that I am not going because I hate the Valar but because I believe that we are a free people, and that we are deserving of our own lands."
Glorfindel stroked her back. "My sister is not going."
Artanis expelled a breath. "Ar-Kaliel is one of the greatest of the Noldor. It is a loss for us." She looked at the stars sadly. "Both Maedhros and Maglor will be saddened."
"Neither Meril nor Amarië is going either," interrupted Glorfindel. "Elenwë is, but that is partially because of Idril. And anyway, at heart Elenwë is truly one of the Noldor."
"My brother will be grieved."
Glorfindel laughed without any humor. "Finrod is with Amarië now. I imagine there is fierce argument between them. And as for Meril, she is Ingwë's granddaughter, and she is a Lady of Tol Eressëa. Even if she wanted to go, she would be unable to."
She rested her elbows on his chest and looked down at him. "What about you?"
He looked back at her with grave, green eyes. "I am half Vanyar, Artanis. Just the thought of leaving Valinor and my family fills me with despair." Artanis looked hurt and was about to move away, but Glorfindel caught a hold of her arm. "But, the thought of you leaving me is even more unbearable, as is the thought of being separated from Turgon and Finrod."
Artanis held her breath as she asked, "Does that mean – I mean, will you," She shook her head in frustration. "What I mean to ask –"
Glorfindel pulled her back into his arms. "Yes, meleth. I will be going with you."
Much later, Fëanor sat in the now empty courtyard in Tirion. He had just come back from seeing Nerdanel, and long was their fight, and bitter was their separation. He had sent his sons on various errands, but he himself was rooted to the spot he had shouted from only a few hours ago.
A slight movement caught his eyes. Looking more closely, he saw that it was Nerwen walking down one of the deserted streets. He waved his hand in the air, and once he got her attention, he beckoned her over.
When she did finally come to him, he saw that her face was flushed, and upon closer inspection, her lips were slightly bruised and there were light marks near her neck – the telltale signs of lovemaking. "I see your time was well spent."
She shrugged. "Better to spend it as I will now, since I may not have the opportunity later."
He chuckled. "That is a wise answer." He patted the space next to her. "I am pleased to see that you will be accompanying us to Middle Earth." He looked at her closely. "Your dreams will finally be fulfilled."
"Perhaps. Or perhaps not." They sat silently for a while until she spoke again. "Your wishes will be fulfilled too."
Fëanor shook his head. "Nay, they will not be - at least not until I get my Silmarils back and destroy Morgoth." Again they lapsed into silence. "Nerwen, give me a strand of your hair." Although he had asked her once before, he hoped now she would respond differently.
But she did not. "I cannot."
"One day you will."
She shrugged again. "Perhaps. Or perhaps not." And he marveled at her then, for she had refused him twice, for no reason other than her own stubbornness. Her hair was becoming an obsession for him because it was denied to him. But as was his nature, he would keep asking. And as was her nature, she would keep refusing. Someday, one of them would have to give in.
– On the language – The first versions of language among the Eldar used a P instead of a s. But over time, the Noldor adopted the s sound, while the Vanyar and Teleri retained the P sound. Fëanor, as a master linguist, insisted that P was actually correct, thereby at odds with the other Noldor, including Finwë himself. Fëanor's own mother, Miriel, used the P sound, and so in a way, it is conceivable that Fëanor was perhaps motivated also by that in his refusal to adhere to the s pronunciation. This is why Fëanor calls his mother Perindë, not Serindë. Galadriel herself used the s sound, and this was always a source of contention with them. (another note – someone pointed out to me that the symbol “P” is actually confusing. Unfortunately, I do not have any Elvish fonts, but the “P” is really a TH sound, not a P sound. So although I wrote Perindë, it’s really pronounced Therindë, although the symbol for the TH sound looks like a P.)
– There was a lot of talk in this chapter, but not much action. Next chapter, though, is the Kinslaying!
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