Russandol, fondly called ‘Maitimo’ by us, stays in the palace and does not join his parents in their wanderings. I was his teacher in lore, riding, sparring and the affairs of the court. Occasionally father would tutor him. But after a few years, it became clear to us that he is a quick learner and can hold his own in any court. The relationship between him and me has evolved into an easy comradeship. We share the heir’s duties as the said heir is now in Aulë’s land learning new skills for his forge.
Of Russandol’s brothers, Macalaurë stays with us. He is an ardent admirer of his elder brother; it reminds me of my youthful fascination for Fëanáro. The younger siblings are with their parents.
Of late, I have been goaded by my mother and my father to make an alliance. It is necessary. Fëanáro had, as usual, cared for neither politics nor alliances when he married Nerdanel. So the onus was on me to make a worthy alliance to stabilize the fragile balance of the court.
My brother Arafinwë had already married Olwë’s daughter. His influence in my father’s court was steadily increasing. The courtiers trusted his gentle counsel more than they trusted father’s words. Fëanáro was a long absent heir. Russandol was not old enough to claim his privileges. And the fact that I had not married even when all my siblings had did not endear me to anyone.
I have nothing against marriage. So I have asked my parents to find me a bride. Whoever it is, I shall marry without question, it is my duty as a prince. Why then am I feeling terribly unhappy?
“What are you thinking of?” Russandol joined me on the balcony.
His rich, red hair was braided back into a single plait. Probably he had spent the day riding through the city with Macalaurë. I watched his long loose-limbed figure as he leant against the railings. Grey eyes stared at me half-amusedly. As I scrutinized his face, I could see only traces of Fëanáro. There was nothing of Nerdanel. Russandol seemed to take after my father more than any of us did. He brushed off dust from his deep blue robes and watched me expectantly.
“I must marry.” I shrugged as I turned fully towards him, “And I find now that I don’t feel much enthusiastic.”
“Have they found anyone?” he asked me, “The last I heard of this, Grandfather was trying for a Vanyarin woman.”
“Hmmm…” I mumbled. “He has a thing for Vanyarin women. However they don’t appeal to me, Russandol.”
He laughed at my crude comment and said good-humouredly, “I met cousin Findaráto at the market. He is in the throes of puppy love. He asked me for advice and he asked Macalaurë for a love poem.” Russandol rolled his eyes, “A girl of Olwë’s court it is. If you don’t hurry, Nolofinwë, your nephew might marry before you do. The rumour mills of Tirion will love it though.”
I groaned and said gloomily, “They have decided on Lady Anairë. All I am required to do is to make an appearance at my own wedding.”
“It must be true, for grandfather has asked me to summon father,” he said sympathetically, “My father is returning, this time for good. He has written to me asking me to ready a forge here. That is partly why I sought you now. My mother’s health weakens. Yet father wishes to have more children. You must speak to him.”
“I have no hold over him, Russandol.” I sighed, “I will talk to my father. Maybe he can make Fëanáro see sense.”
The wise grey eyes measured me carefully before he said, “You care for my father more than anyone else. It is not your fault that he chooses not to see. Marry her and may your union be blessed.”
“How did you know?” I asked amazed.
I was not afraid that he knew. I was confident that he would keep it a secret as long as I wished him to. Russandol, despite his sincere efforts to blend into our family, is different from the rest of us. He has an amazing sense of chivalry and discretion that will one day make him an excellent ruler. He is proud, but kind and just. And he has the patience of a saint which is needed to survive his unconventional parents. Macalaurë drowns himself in his music inhabiting a world that existed only to him. Carnistro, Tyelkormo and Atarinkë are souls that take after Fëanáro . Only Russandol is pragmatic and if I may admit it to myself, he is the true prince amongst us.
“I have watched you staring at Macalaurë,” Russandol said after a long pause, “I thought you were attracted to him.” I looked at him shock as he continued quietly, “Then I understood. Of us, only Macalaurë resembles father perfectly.”
“There was nothing between your father and me,” I said steadily, “I was young and naïve. And he was a flame drawing me near. I will marry Lady Anairë and this conversation, my dear Russandol, will be a pleasantly amusing memory in a year’s time.”
So it was. I married Anairë in a ceremony of pomp and splendour. Between us, father, Russandol and I managed to persuade Fëanáro to permanently move into the palace with his children.
It was after Fëanáro had settled in the palace that we discovered the true extent of his passion and virility. The sounds from his bedchamber made even father blush. His nightly activities resulted in a slew of children in the palace. Arafinwë fathered four more children much to Findaráto’s dismay. And I managed three. Fëanáro, to all our amazement, did not announce another heir.
Let me describe our house now. Father is still devoted to Míriel Serindë’s memory. He is still besotted with his firstborn. If at all he shows his affection to anyone else, it is to Russandol, arguably the best work of his parents’ loins.
Fëanáro and Nerdanel are much occupied with their forge. Their three youngest sons aid them in this matter. There are many admiring disciples too. Fëanáro speaks with me, he is devoted to father, he dotes on his sons and avoids Arafinwë like the plague.
My sons get along well with all their cousins. But Findekáno has a strong attachment to Russandol. Of course, their age difference was exactly the same as the age difference between Fëanáro and I. Ironic, how things move in circles.
My daughter harbours a strong attachment to Tyelkormo. But she is as wilful as Fëanáro. So I will not speculate on her love life lest she marries a Vanyarin lad to just prove me wrong.
Of Arafinwë’s sons, Findaráto is Russandol’s kindred spirit. They are both gentle souls. Arafinwë’s younger sons are all Findekáno’s friends. Arafinwë’s daughter, Artanis, is a surprise. I think he adopted her, for she has none of his qualities.
Only Russandol, Macalaurë and Artanis remain unfettered by sordid love affairs. Russandol considers his duty to maintain a clean reputation. Macalaurë, I don’t think the lad has it in him to love anyone more than his music. Artanis says that she will marry only when it suits her fancy. Of course, all three use my illustrious example to shield themselves. Didn’t Nolofinwë marry late?
To make this family more interesting, Fëanáro and Nerdanel announced the birth of twin sons on the occasion of Findaráto’s engagement. Nerdanel seemed exhausted yet victorious as she stood beside her husband.
“He wants a daughter,” Russandol told me conversationally as we watched Findaráto tutor my sons, “And she wants no more.”
“Isn’t it embarrassing when they do this and you are given the next bedchamber?” I asked him indignantly, “They must stop.”
“Tell him.” Russandol asked seriously, “You are the only one he might listen to. Grandfather will not cross him. Please, Nolofinwë,” his eyes met mine, “She cannot bear him more children. I had sent for Lord Mahtan. He is here now with grandfather. You must tell father that she leaves immediately.”
Thus I found myself in my brother’s forge at a loss for words the next day. I cleared my throat and walked to his side. He was near the furnace, bent over his workdesk, studying an alloy. My dear self-absorbed brother had not even noticed that I was present.
For a moment, I admired the sight before me. He wore only a pair of cream leggings rolled up to his knees. The muscles rippled underneath his flawless skin as he moved his weight from one foot to the other. His dark hair was braided back severely allowing him greater freedom. Sweat glistened on his body and his leggings clung to his skin. I could see every detail of his thighs and higher up vividly.
Hesitantly I reached out to catch a drop of sweat making its way torturously down his spine. My touch made him mumble an inarticulate welcome. Not bothering to raise his head from his work, he snaked his arms backwards catching me unaware and he twisted his body with his lips partly open for instigating a kiss. When he saw me, he stiffened in shock. I did not hesitate as I moved forwards and captured his lips in a kiss I had till then only dreamt of.
It set me on fire. I did not know why my hands gripped his waist so hard, or why I was moaning into his open mouth, or why my tongue was chasing his tongue in a primal fashion. He gasped and pulled away. I was panting as he fell back on his work desk. My nostrils flared in desire as I stared at the picture he made. He seemed not to realize the implications and settled himself into a cross-legged position on the desk.
“My apologies,” he offered with a slight crimsoning of his cheeks, “I thought you were not who you are.”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at his flowery line. It was obvious that he was stunned speechless by the passion. Whenever he is shocked, he covers up by this ornate nonsensical language. Right then, he was shocked to have mistaken me for Nerdanel. He didn’t realise that I, on my part, had done it deliberately. He could be so blind, my brother.
“I came to speak of your wife”, I said more calmly than I felt, “Her father has asked us to let her stay under his roof until she is recovered from this latest birth.”
“Who is he to say that?” Fëanáro asked incredulously, “If I can make seven sons with her, then I can certainly take care of her!”
“Father has given him permission to fetch her away,” I said in a reasonable voice, “Surely, as her father, he has the right to see to her wellbeing.”
“I cannot stay parted from her even a night!” Fëanáro spluttered angrily, “I would turn into a mad wreck! I need her.”
“Really, Fëanáro,” I smiled amusedly at his passionate anger, “You know that partings merely increase love!”
“You speak as if you have experience,” he said imperiously, “And yet the way you frequent the taverns and rejoice in male company hardly speaks of your love for Anairë, does it?”
“My brother,” I laughed, it was amusing that he had observed atleast something about me, “I did not marry her for love.”
“Why would you marry without love?” his brows were knitted together in honest bewilderment.
“I have had to do things like this all my life, Fëanáro. That is because you always take the easy way out. As a crown prince, it was your duty to marry a suitable lady of high lineage. You cared nothing and married for love. So I was left to exchange vows with a woman I don’t love.” I sighed at his confused expression. “Father has always let you have your way, Fëanáro. Your freedom is brought by the toils of your firstborn and I. We shoulder your duties. And we certainly don’t have the liberty to marry whom we love.”
“You should have told me!” he exclaimed ashen-faced, “I thought you loved her! I did not know! That is why you were so late in marrying, you loved someone else.”
“Finally Fëanáro, you see me”, I muttered angrily, “Now I came here to tell you that Mahtan will take his daughter away for a while. You might want to make your farewells to her.”
I met Russandol after Nerdanel’s departure. Fëanáro was being coddled by our father who simply could not stand to see his beloved son unhappy. Macalaurë was talking earnestly to Artanis. I wondered briefly what the two cold fish were discussing. Turkáno and Irissë were feeding the pigeons. Findekáno was standing near the fountain, playing random tunes on his harp, and staring soulfully at Russandol.
“Your son must marry,” Russandol whispered to me as we walked away into a more secluded corner, “The situation is deplorable. He is my favourite cousin and my best friend. But I have never felt passion for him. I have tried to feel lust for him, but I cannot.”
“Marriage won’t help matters, Russandol,” I said convinced, “I should know, having tried it. And it is better you don’t feel desire for Findekáno. Fëanáro will have all our hides.”
“What did father say to unnerve you so?” he asked me sympathetically, “You look ‘spooked’ as Irissë might say.”
“We kissed.” I confessed quietly. Somehow talking to Russandol was like talking to a healer. He could make me be at ease and he was a wise, unbiased counsellor. I wish he returned Findekáno’s love. There was nobody more worthy of my son. Right now, he tacitly kept silent knowing that would make me less flustered.
“He thought I was Nerdanel. I thought my secret was out. He, being the blind fool that he is, predictably refused to see what was before his very nose.” I rubbed my temples in disgust, “I was lucky! If he had realized!”
“I cannot judge,” Russandol said quietly, “He is my father and you are my foster-father in almost all senses. For now, why don’t you retire? I will make our excuses and send one of your friends to your chambers. Your children are all occupied. And Lady Anairë is in her father’s house. Go on, I will manage this.”
I obeyed him with alacrity. He does not condemn people. That is what I admire in him the most. A part of me was still warm; he had called me his foster-father! I think it was then that I realized that I loved him more than I loved my own children. Well, there is the fact that none of my children would volunteer to find a bedpartner for me.
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.