1. If Women Had Ruled Middle Earth
"Well, I can tell you one thing," Nerdanel lifted her eyebrows into delicate arches and spread a voluminous blue robe across her lap, catching the torn sleeve between finger and thumb. "If Feanor had made imitation Silmarils like I told him to, instead of flaunting the real ones every party we went to-- Eru help me, it was embarrassing-- then the whole thing wouldn't have started in the first place. Oh sure, they'll be safe in the vault on Formenos. I mean honestly, who in Valinor hadn't gone for the tour of Finwe's treasure chamber?"
Sitting next to her, gently swinging in gem-encrusted rocking chair, Nerdanel's mother-in-law paused to smooth the tablecloth she was embroidering and smiled pleasantly. "That boy was the death of me," Miriel said with a cluck of her tongue, expertly threading her needle. "Feanor never did what he was told. I have to admit that at times I'm a little relieved that most of his care was left to you and that poor young blonde thing Finwe took up with . . . Indis, that's it. Yes, you and poor Indis took the brunt of him," she laughed lightly, sending a condescending glance to her husband's second wife.
"Poor Indis," Indis muttered from the other side of Nerdanel, dropping her knitting needles to angrily rip back a flawed row. "Always poor Indis, just because her's was the favourite son. Nevermind that my Fingolfin engaged in single combat with Morgoth, or that Finarfin had the sense to stay in Valinor to be king . . . oh no, it's poor Indis, she never gave birth to a Spirit of Fire."
"What is it with blondes, anyway?" Nerdanel commented, her eyes turning to Galadriel, who was seated placidly across the circle, crocheting yards of white lace. "I don't know if I ever told you this before, but Feanor had some kind of fixation with your hair. He kept asking me why I didn't do mine like yours, like he thought that would make it look the same. And I was like, alright then, you let me know when you figure out a way to contain the light of Laurelin-- I didn't think he'd actually do it." She rolled her eyes. "And then with one look at you Celebrimbor started getting ideas . . . That boy is so much like his grandfather it scares me sometimes. Illuvatar knows we didn't need any more magical jewellery in Arda."
Luthien, who was showing Arwen once again how to make a robe and cloak out of one's own hair, spoke up, her mellifluous voice not even a little tainted by the displeasure implied in her words. "And people always that say that women are obsessed with jewellery! Everything was going perfectly fine when Beren and I were in Morgoth's chamber; Morgoth was under enchantment, and Beren-- after I woke him up-- had gotten a silmaril for my father. But then what does he do? He reaches for a second one! And things just went downhill from there." But then the face of the Most Beautiful Child to Ever Walk the Earth turned dreamy. "But it is very romantic, that he thought me worth more than one silmaril . . . and how he tried to protect me by going alone to Angbad, although of course I had to save him again . . . and the way he called me Tinuviel . . ." She sighed, a faint slip of perfumed breath.
"Will those two ever stop cooing about each other?" hissed Nerdanel to Indis before continuing in a louder voice, "Really Luthien, you need to stop. You only remind me what a creep my husband was."
Aredhel scoffed, lifting a slim white hand from the saddle blanket she was mending. "In the creepy husband department, I would think that I definitely take the prize."
"Point," Nerdanel admitted, looking up curiously at the wife of Eol. "I have to say, I was always wondered exactly why you married him."
Aredhel's face remained prim with Elven dignity for several moments. Then she emitted a low whistle. "Psychotic recluse or not, let's just say he could do more with his hands than forge swords. And here's another fine example of a husband not listening to his wife," she added, raising her head to peer at the elf-women on all sides of her. "I told him we had to use birth control. I wasn't about to have any child in that spooky place, much less the heir of someone they call Dark Elf. Oh, he assured me, he'd take care of it. What happens? I give birth to Demon-Spawn."
Idril shuddered, bending closer to her stitch work. "I'll say."
"And stubborn!" continued Aredhel, placing a hand on her hip. "Eru Almighty, you think being married to a Noldo would gradually diminish his little grudge against them. Twenty years and I still wasn't even allowed to speak of them!"
"Speaking of stubborn," interjected Elenwe, whose hands were speedily stitching a thick quilt. "Your brother, Aredhel, could not be matched in his measure. I died crossing the Helcaraxe, but did that stop Turgon from following the crowd to Middle-Earth? Oh no. Instead he went with the boys, and he fought his battles and he built his Hidden Kingdom." Her lips compressed bitterly. "Then he didn't want to leave his precious Gondolin. Nevermind that Morgoth was coming to destroy it. Nevermind that the Lord of the Waters was ordering him to leave. Nevermind that I was pining back in Valinor. Gondolin was all that mattered." Elenwe's eyes spilled over with tears, her slender shoulders trembling.
Galadriel reached over and patted her hand in comfort. "Celeborn was the same," the Lady of Light said in her eerily calm voice. "I sailed to the West alone while he stayed to fool around in Middle-Earth with Haldir and his brothers. But naturally, after spending almost three ages with him, I wasn't nearly so broken up about it."
"Well, abandoning you for battle and brotherhood I can understand," Elwing's quiet wail came from the other side of Galadriel. "But I got stuck with a mama's-boy. Earendil left me under attack at Sirion to find his parents! His parents!" Her eyes were wide with disbelief, her hands fluttering. She glanced to her left. "No offence intended Idril, and I know he's the Blessed and the Evening Star and the messenger who saved Elves and Men and all that, but really, can you imagine how humiliating it was for me? 'Why isn't your husband with you, Elwing?' 'Oh, he's out looking for his mother and father, but he should be back soon.' "
"At least he was trying to save someone," Finduilus stared hard at her loom as she yanked a needle through. "Between Gwindor and Mormegil-- that is, Turin-- you think someone would have been around to keep me from being carried off by Orcs. Instead Turin was busy having a staring contest with a Dragon, and Gwindor, oh he was all jealous because I was spending more time with Turin-- I mean really, how long do they expect us to wait for them? I'd thought him dead for years. Then suddenly he shows up and I'm supposed to forsake all others?" She looked around for support and was met with ten solemn Elven faces.
Her face clouded. "What?" she asked. "Oh, I suppose you think I should have chosen Gwindor. But Turin seemed so, I don't know, alive, and coarse, and Gwindor was so . . . Oh, Men and Elves are all the same," she cried out, swiping at her eyes with her hand.
"No, no, dear," Miriel said softly. "Elves don't marry their sisters."
"But cousins! Cousins!" Finduilas defended wildly, jerking her thumb to point at Idril. "Just ask her! Ask her about that twisted boy Maeglin . . ."
Elenwe gasped, her stricken face turning to her daughter. "Idril? Maeglin! You didn't!"
Idril's face was indignant. "I never had any thoughts of marrying him! It was all his idea--"
"Besides," interrupted Nerdanel. "He had a very disturbing childhood."
"Oh no, we're not starting on this topic again," Aredhel dropped her sewing as her voice grew heated. "And you're one to speak of disturbing childhoods, considering you had the most dysfunctional family in history, including seven sons who swore an oath to make war on everyone in order to get a few jewels back!"
Nerdanel straightened up, her mouth open. "Well excuse them for staying loyal to their father, unlike certain other Elves I could mention."
Aredhel stood up menacingly, but Galadriel put a soothing hand on her arm to guide her back to her seat. "Now, now, my ladies," she said. "We all had our difficulties in life."
"Sure, you can talk," Aredhel muttered. "You never had any sons."
Luthien bestowed a smile upon both angered parties to make peace before speaking pleasantly to Arwen, "You don't have much to say today, Undomiel."
Arwen, her face serene, continued her neat, practised little stitches in a soft black material. "Of course not," she said. "Aragorn is perfect."
"So is Tuor," said Idril, and the two shared a smug, conspiratorial look of Elves who wed with Edain.
Celebrian, who up until now had been quietly enjoying listening to the others' conversations, suddenly took a deep breath and burst out, "I just don't understand it!"
The other women looked up at her outburst in shock.
The distressed lady jumped up from her chair, one slender arm gesturing around the circle. "Luthien Tinuviel! Arwen Undomiel! Idril Celebrindal! Aredhel Ar-Feniel! Finduilas Faelivrin! Miriel Serinde!" Then she pointed at herself. "Celebrian, daughter of Celeborn. Celebrian, wife of Elrond. Is that all I am to them? I can be so much more!"
"Of course you can, and you are," asserted her mother enthusiastically.
"Don't you talk!" Celebrian whirled on her. "You get a name from everyone you meet, Miss Artanis-Nerwen-Altariel-Galadriel!"
Arwen looked worriedly at her mother. "Father just wasn't the poetic type," she attempted to reason with her.
Idril Celebrindal sniffed. "And really Celebrian, being named after your feet isn't that much of a thrill."
Miriel frowned also. "I was only called 'Broideress.' There's nothing to brag about in that."
"Ah hah! Ah hah!" Finduilas nodded triumphantly, grabbing Miriel's arm. "It was Gwindor who named me Faelivrin, 'gleam of the sun on the pools of Ivrin.' I suppose that's why you think I should have loved him, isn't it? Turin happened to think my name was good enough!"
Elwing put an arm around Celebrian's shoulders and steered her daughter-in-law back to her chair. "I also was not given another name. But Celebrian, you are Silver Queen. Elwing, Star Spray. Do we need anything else?"
Finduilas snickered. Luthien nodded at Celebrian in encouragement. Idril began examining her feet.
"Besides," Aredhel added. "It was only my brother that called me Ar-Feniel. From Eol I only got--" she deepened her voice. " 'Hervess*! Where is my sword? Hervess! Where is my son? Hervess! Where have you gone?' "
Idril laughed, seconding, "I was called Celebrindal by my father. Tuor probably didn't even know what it meant."
The women tittered amongst themselves for a moment. Finally, Nerdanel once more claimed attention.
"For all our complaints," she said. "We didn't really do too badly for husbands. After all, there is one who got much, much worse."
There was a moment of respectful silence.
"Goldberry," said Miriel in a hushed voice. "Poor soul."
"I hear she's been shut up in solitary."
"Even Mandos can't get through to her."
"She just keeps screaming something about 'merry dol' and ringing a 'dong dillo . . .' "
* Hervess = Wife
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.