Of my own family, there is good news. Turkáno has married and sired a daughter. He is an active member of my father’s court. His tastes, I suspect, are partial to his own gender, but he is one for appearances. Findekáno, I have lost hope of him becoming anything other than Russandol’s acolyte. He is valiant, but impulsive and too devoted to his cousin. Irissë, well, let me just say that I am grateful that her bedroom is not near mine. I have no idea why she doesn’t marry Tyelkormo if she likes him enough to share her bed with him on a daily basis.
Arafinwë is almost the king of Alqualondë. He loves the Teleri. I am glad that he stays away from the palace. It is easier to put up with Turkáno’s ‘wisetalk’(Irissë’s unrestrained, self-authored words are useful at times) than Arafinwë’s preaching. Findaráto has not yet married his sweetheart, I think he is waiting for Russandol to marry. As I have said before, Findaráto is a chivalrous elf. He obviously considers it bad manners to marry before his older cousins do. The rest of his siblings are not bothered by his views. They have all married except for Artanis. She remains immersed in lore and healing arts. Now, I could have used a daughter like that.
My half-brother’s family is falling apart terribly. Fëanáro is increasingly becoming sullen and rarely steps out of his forge. Russandol tries to take on the heir’s duties, the council debates and the army concerns. I know that I am not much helpful to him. My brother’s proximity is maddening me and I spend my days in wild carnal acts. Findekáno, being my faithful son, follows in my footsteps. I shudder to think that he might be bedding someone I have bedded or vice-versa. Macalaurë rarely stirs from his music and if he ever deigns to join us in court, he spends the time berating those who dare to question his beloved elder brother. Tyelkormo is with my daughter always. Atarinkë has married and sired a son. He is the one blessed with all the forge skills. Fëanáro dotes upon him. Carnistro, I think he was conceived during one of my brother’s and Nerdanel’s arguments. So dark-tempered is this nephew of mine. The twins are carefree souls of no use to court and forge.
“NOLOFINWË! Where is the list of ---” Fëanáro shouted as he strode into my room, I hastily pulled the coverlet on my naked form. I had been engaged in certain pleasurable activities and my partner was in the bath chamber. For a moment, I smiled wryly at my brother’s disregard for closed doors and privacy.
“Yes?” I tried to extricate my robe from the mess on the large bed hoping fervently that my partner would have the sense to leave through the door in my bath chamber.
“Why are you sleeping naked in the bed at noon?” His voice was incredulous, “Have you any sense of your duties?” He gestured with his hands dramatically, “We are princes and we must help father rule!”
“What has brought on this sudden realization?” I asked wearily, resigning myself to one of his periodic outbursts of enthusiasm, “Russandol has taken on my duties today. I am not well, Fëanáro, and thought to spend the day resting.”
“OH!” he asked concernedly, “What is wrong with you?” he came nearer, his eyes wide with honest worry.
My breathing hitched. He was, I noticed absently, clad in black silken robes that complemented his fair features and dark hair admirably. For once, he looked like a prince and not like the dishevelled smith. He seemed to be more worried by my increased breathing and solicitously placed a warm palm on my bare shoulder, squeezing it in sympathy.
“I will be all right.” I assured him; I had to get him out of the room as soon as I could before things became messy. Why hadn’t Russandol warned me that Fëanáro had decided to play the prince today?
My brother was becoming increasingly excited. He was in one of his moods. I sighed as he sat down on the bed and began looking me over in his intense way. I wish I had asked Artanis to teach me mindspeak. I needed Russandol to get his father away from me immediately.
“Nolofinwë,” Fëanáro was speaking forcefully, “I think I should examine you. I have some skill in healing.”
“I don’t want to waste your time, Fëanáro,” I said as sincerely as I could fake, “I will ask Russandol to examine me later.”
“Maitimo doesn’t have half my skill in healing,” Fëanáro said dismissively, “You deserve the best, and Nolofinwë, I am the best here.”
I resisted the urge to groan as he pulled the coverlet away. I was aroused unbearably. But knowing his customary naivety to all things that did not involve himself, I could only hope that he would ignore the reaction to his presence.
“Ah!” he peered down at me sympathetically and patted the aroused area with his right hand, “I think you are also missing your wife, Nolofinwë.”
“Fëanáro!” I hissed and made to slap his hand away.
He held my hand captive with his left hand firmly and stared into my eyes. I gulped and tried to look away. But his dark eyes were as hypnotic as a snake’s holding a bird thrall. I felt hunted. Fëanáro silent was as dangerous as Fëanáro eloquent.
He smiled sardonically and whispered, “I do not think that my touch would be repulsive to you when you have already been touched by far lesser elves.”
I closed my eyes, trying to ignore the hot tears of humiliation that threatened to escape me. Clearing my throat I said coldly, “I think you have employed your healing skills enough, Fëanáro. Now leave and let me be. What I choose to indulge in my own bedroom is not your concern.”
If there is one thing that my brother is not, that is obedient. His eyes flashed in anger as he said scornfully, “I did not mean to pry, Nolofinwë. But all the same, I must say that it is disgusting.”
“FËANÁRO!” I shouted furiously and gripped his wrists in blind fury.
He snarled contemptuously and tried to wrest free from my iron grip. He was strong; in a normal duel with me he would have stood a chance. But now I was fuelled by desire, anger and humiliation, all the baser emotions. He struggled in vain to get his hands free, his eyes widening in surprise at my strength. His fierce efforts to get himself free simply enraged me. I have some recollection of launching myself on him. He fell back with a groan, bearing the weight of my body.
He opened his mouth to curse me, but I snarled and wildly clamped my lips over his. He struggled underneath me before falling limp. His eyes were half-closed and his nostrils were flared. The utter folly of my actions struck me then. Hastily, I pulled away from him taking a deep breath to calm myself.
His hands gripped my waist holding me in place. Arching upwards, he claimed my lips with a fire unmatchable. I could feel myself burning in his flame. I racked my brains for the reasons why I should not give in, but thinking was becoming increasingly unappealing as he diverted his lips to my eartips.
“Stop it!” I panted when he bent to press his lips to my neck, “Fëanáro, this is absurd. It is,” I halted, “Against the laws.”
“I have never cared for the law,” he murmured seductively running calloused fingers along my back while impatiently stripping off his robes with the other hand, “You started this, my foolish brother, and I will see it done, on my terms.”
He was everything I expected and more. Passionate, wild, unrestrained and feral. I am afraid that his unsuppressed cries of pain and pleasure reverberated through the entire palace. When he finally lay back, spent and satiated, I watched him in concern and fear. Somehow, he seemed vulnerable and younger. His eyes had none of their usual scorn and smugness. They were warm and uncertain as they regarded me.
“I never thought that you were inclined towards my own tastes;” I offered hesitantly, “Especially as you are devoted to your wife.”
“I love her,” he said simply, “but I have never felt so passionate while with her. I have never been so relaxed and exhausted after an act of coupling like I am now”. He gingerly rose to lean his upper torso against the head of the bed, “I feel thoroughly worked out, I imagine this is how a horse feels after a good ride.”
I smiled for his benefit and searched his eyes for a clue of what he was actually thinking. He loved her, I knew that. But I didn’t know how I would take it if he just discarded the entire thing as if it had not happened.
He seemed to be flustered by my intense scrutiny and raked a hand through his tousled hair. Clearing his throat, he picked up a clean robe from my wardrobe and slipped it on. He did not look back at me as he left, closing the door gently after him.
I groaned as I fell back upon my messed-up bed and threw a hand over my eyes in furious despair. What had I expected from my self-preserving brother?
Russandol said quietly, “I don’t know why you think that he will listen to my views on this matter.” He paused as if carefully thinking something over. “You do realize that it cannot be easily hushed if they know the truth.”
I nodded miserably and retired to my rooms. Fëanáro’s heady scent still lingered in the chamber. Of course, I thought, the torn robes he had left behind. Amusing how he had lost only a set of robes while I had lost the better part of my reputation.
The loud activities had brought the entire family to my door seeking an explanation. Russandol had tried to grant me some privacy. But father chided me before my own children and nephews saying that I had no discretion to indulge in such things in the daytime. Fëanáro had left for his forge in his usual sullen temper. Of course, nobody would suspect that he had been my partner.
Findekáno was sympathetic, (as he well should be given his own activities), he arranged for a warm bath to be drawn in my rooms and played his harp for me. Honestly, his skills at the harp are poor; I have no idea why Russandol encourages him. Turkáno had merely huffed indignantly and left. Of course, he has never been much appreciative of his parents. Irissë, I cringe to remember her words, she had virtually danced in glee. Apparently, the fact that I had been caught simply gave her the go-ahead for bolder experiments with Tyelkormo. I do hope that Fëanáro does not find them. He can be naively overprotective when it comes to his brood of sons.
It was Macalaurë’s reaction that surprised me. He is usually impervious to the court intrigues. I doubt that he would stir an inch even if his parents did the entire primal dance before his long nose. He is that uninterested. So it is shocking that after the family had left my room he came to my side and patted my shoulder in a gesture of support. Maybe Russandol had asked him to do that. Anyway I was so angry with Fëanáro that seeing his second son who resembled him so much just made me glare.
I have put the entire thing out of my mind and once more, I have returned to my father’s side in court. Now that both Russandol and I are present, there is less conflict at court. I do wish that Fëanáro never becomes king and that he directly abdicates in favour of my nephew if he ever does. Russandol will someday make a great ruler.
Arafinwë has returned to the palace from Alqualonde. This time, my wife has come with him. I wonder why. I do hope that it is not another conspiracy at court. But I fear it is. Nothing else would bring my younger brother away from the seaside city. Moreover, Findaráto is not with him. So definitely not a noble purpose. As for my wife, she told me quite frankly that she has a Vanyarin lover. Why am I not surprised?
For now, I shall put it out of my mind and spar with Findekáno. It is Russandol’s elegant solution to keep both me and my firstborn away from the pleasures of the flesh. I wonder if my dear nephew knows of the allures of the flesh. He is a staunch abstainer. He occasionally indulges in trivial fireside affairs but I am sure that he has never done the full blown act. (Findekáno told me this confidential information, he should know as he stalks his cousin everywhere.)
I returned to my chambers after a long argument with Arafinwë, who accused me of infidelity (apparently, he has made this discovery only now), of not being a model parent to my children (as if Irissë would have listened to me anyway), of being Fëanáro’s acolyte (if poor Arafinwë knew of the actual extent of my devotion, he would be scandalized) , of being Russandol’s staunchest supporter (that is one of the few things I am proud of being) and finally of not being a worthy descendant of Finwe (I refrained chivalrously from mentioning that I looked truly Noldorin while he took after our Vanyarin mother).
I was about to dive into my bed and summon sleep when my sharp nose picked up a familiar scent. I walked to the mantelpiece and found a scroll tied up with a strip of leather. I looked at it for a moment as if it would suddenly turn into a snake and strike out at me viciously. Then I ran out of my rooms calling for Russandol.
Together we stared down at the scroll. Then finally I nodded at him. He smiled at me nervously and picked it up. Clearing his throat once, he began to read out the letter in his melodious voice.
I wished to tell you that I regret (I am sure that I cringed here, for Russandol paused and placed his palm on my hand) having left your rooms in such haste that day. I was overwhelmed by what had happened. I understand that our family has rebuked you; half the condemnation should have been mine to bear. I wish that you would accept my sincere regrets.
“Well?” I asked the world in general as my companion scrolled back the letter.
“This is the closest my father has come to an apology, I daresay, and I am inclined to preserve this scroll for eternity,” Russandol met my eyes as he continued in a more solemn tone, “What will you do?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged. “Seeing him again will just make matters worse. I turn into this unrecognizable carnal brute when I am alone with him.”
“Not seeing him is a mistake.” Russandol sighed, “You know as well as I how much it would have cost him to write this apology.”
He was right. My brother had brought himself down from his lofty pedestal for the first time in his life.
I found him in the forge standing melancholically near the furnace. The firelight played on his face unflatteringly. Taking a deep breath, I entered and walked to stand beside him. He looked up at me in mild surprise before redirecting his eyes to the furnace again.
I was about to start talking when he said quietly, “Melkor has offered to teach me how to harness a living force in a non-living object. After much consideration I have agreed to be his pupil.”
“I don’t think you should go to him, brother.” I said uncomfortably, all my instincts on the alert. Melkor seemed to be reformed, but I have never been able to trust the old blackguard.
“I don’t think I should either.” He shrugged. “But I am curious, no, I am thirsty to know that. And Manwë will not teach me. I asked him if he opposed the idea of Melkor teaching me the same. Manwë said it was fine. I have no choice. My work is all I have, Nolofinwë. I am a poor son, a poorer husband and the poorest father. Of course, I am the worst half-brother. Family is not my strength, my work is my life.”
His unexpected and unusual words caught me by surprise. Such humble statements are not his signature style. They suit our modest nephew Findaráto better.
“I think you are a fine son; Father dotes on you. He has always loved you the most,” I pointed out, “And your sons have all stood by you always. So you have done well in raising them. I don’t think that my children will unanimously ever support me. Indeed their main goal in life seems to be rebelling against me. I have always considered you a full brother in heart.” I decided to modify this statement because he was staring rather disbelievingly at me. “I mean, ultimately, this family loves you.”
“Arafinwë hates me.” He remarked as he turned to face the fire.
“He hates me too, if that is any consolation to you.” I offered sincerely.
“Nolofinwë, you have a better reason to hate me than he does,” Fëanáro said quietly, “Perhaps you do hate me.”
“Do you hate me?” I asked him softly, averting my eyes to the fire, “I cannot and I probably never will hate you. Desiring you and being concerned about you, despite anything you do, seems to be a permanent fixture in my character.”
“I asked myself the same question over and over again,” he said slowly, “And I find that only you have ever succeeded in calming my fire. I love my wife, but I have never found peace in her arms. The short while when you held me then,” he faltered consciously, “that was the first time that I felt a measure of tranquillity.”
His vulnerability as he finished his confession, the sight is etched into my mind. I know that he is arrogant and intolerable. I know that he will always love his work and our father the most, then his wife and children. Only whatever he could spare after that would be mine. But still, I could not bear to lose that paltry leaving. I am not the ‘wise’ child of Finwe as my name says. I am a fool, for I am willing to do anything for my half-brother. And despicably, I don’t regret being such a fool.
Moving forward, I wrapped my arms around him. He stiffened, but relaxed considerably resting his head against my shoulder. After a few silent moments, he raised his face and kissed me fervently. We have sinned against law and soul, there is no going back.