My father has taken to walking unannounced into my chambers. I think he is finally realizing what a gem he has in this son! Russandol juggles his tasks; helping father in court, meetings, helping me in documenting lore, encouraging Findekáno with his harp, encouraging his brother with his music, and there are days when my half-brother drags him away to teach him the workings of the forge (those are the days when Russandol employs rather foul-mouthed curses that sends the nearest ladies fleeing away from him.) He visits his mother as much as he can, given his work schedule.
Now let me say why I am happy. One, my wife has left her Vanyarin lover for a Noldorin lover. I am pleased because even if she is cheating on me, I would rather it was a fellow Noldo. Two, Nerdanel has not returned and is not likely to return any time soon, the poor woman seems to have had enough of my brother. Cannot say I blame her. Three, Fëanáro and I am breaking all laws possible as he sneaks into my bedchamber every night and we indulge in unspeakably passionate acts.
My voice is gravely in the mornings as result of all the vociferous nightly doings. People were curious in the beginning, but now they have accepted it to be another oddity of a son of Finwë. Fëanáro himself has taken to wearing high collared robes and tunics even while he is in the forge. But of course, nobody would dare question him.
My only worry is the continued apprenticeship that he has with Melkor. I asked our father to ascertain if Manwë knows of this. Apparently the Vala does. Something is wrong. My brother is too easy to manipulate for all his wisdom and skill. I told Russandol, and succeeded in adding one more worry to his list.
I hear rumours of divisions in the Noldor lines. Something to do with Arafinwë who is telling anyone who has ears that Fëanáro is trying to get his half-brothers thrown out of court. I told Fëanáro to mend matters with Arafinwë before things get out of hand. But he laughed it off saying Arafinwë is all bark and no bite. What a magnificently idiotic elder brother I have! Half the Noldor nobles already believe Arafinwë, Russandol and father are worried about it. So am I. It might be better if Fëanáro could occasionally attend the court, but the pompous braggart will not.
If my elder brother is an egoist and my younger brother is an aspiring usurper, then what must I call Fëanáro’s five younger sons? For years, I had thought that my children were the worst anyone could have. Apparently I am wrong. Carnistro, Atarinkë, Tyelkormo and the twins, all of them have taken to heart Arafinwë’s slander. Possessing none of their eldest brother’s guile and talent, they have just stopped short of a street war with Arafinwë. This does nothing to help Fëanáro’s reputation.
Fëanáro’s schedule is simple and unvarying. In the morning, he goes to Melkor to learn of the secret something that he is so excited about. Then he returns and works with his younger sons in the forge. Sometimes he compels Russandol to join him there, but he has never been able to persuade Macalaurë to step in there. In the evening, he dines alone with father and then after the palace has retired, he creeps into my room.
I think only Russandol knows of our secret. Father knows that Fëanáro has taken a lover, but luckily the identity remains a mystery to him. When Fëanáro knew that his firstborn was the abetter in this conspiracy, his wrath was out of bounds. Russandol had sufficient warning though, and relocated hastily for a few days to his mother’s home. It seems Nerdanel has taken a lover too. But then I will never tell Fëanáro, who still remains hopeful for her return.
I am roused out of these deep musings by an insistent hand on my flanks. Smiling, I lay down my pen and turn to my side. A certain someone is staring at me with avid hunger.
“A moment, Nolofinwë”, Russandol knocked on my door even as I was being kissed by his father to half-asphyxiation.
Fëanáro cursed his son’s timing and bent over the bed to fish out his robes. The delectable view I had made me shiver in anticipation, but dutifully I went to the door and let a dishevelled, wet Russandol in.
“Where is he?” he asked wearily even before I could ask him why he was looking like a drowned dog. He seemed to have come straight from a drunken street brawl.
“Yes, Maitimo?” Fëanáro asked imperiously as he strode into the antechamber dressed immaculately in green robes, “Why are you dripping on your uncle’s rugs?”
Russandol nervously eyed the deep bite on his father’s throat that even the high collar could not hide. Taking a deep breath, he continued, “The twins pushed me into the lake near the forge.”
“And why would they do that?” Fëanáro asked bored.
“Because I was eavesdropping on them”, Russandol replied promptly.
Fëanáro raised an eyebrow saying, “Really, Maitimo, it is too much to expect that I must sort out these sibling rivalries.”
“What were they talking of?” I asked hastily before Russandol lost his temper. He was rather near the breaking point.
“Carnistro and Tyelkormo have ridden out for mother’s home”, Russandol said quietly, “They bear news.”
“What news?” I asked tremulously, dread forming in the pit of my stomach.
Russandol sighed and glanced at his father who seemed rooted to the very spot. He opened his mouth, but closed it again.
“What news?” I asked again, not sure if I wished to hear the answer. There have been only countable instances in my life when I wanted to die. This was one of those instances.
The door opened and Arafinwë burst in, behind him were a weeping Irissë, a distraught Findekáno and a shocked Turkáno. Fëanáro cleared his throat and moved a few paces towards his firstborn instinctively.
“So it is true”, Arafinwë whispered in pure shock, “Nolofinwë! You have been bedding him!”
I could see the expressions on my children’s features. It made me want to evaporate into the air then and there.
“I do think that it was a better choice than bedding children younger than your own offspring”, Fëanáro said sarcastically.
My half-brother’s brilliantly pawky sense of sarcasm is at its peak whenever he meets my full brother. In this case, it was a terrible low-hit. Arafinwë’s penchant for bedding youth barely into their majority was one of the reasons why he had moved to Alqualondë. But I didn’t think that this reminder was likely to endear Fëanáro to our younger brother right now. Predictably Arafinwë turned a magnificent shade of puce.
“You whore!” he said through clenched teeth, I made sure not to look at Fëanáro then, “You have corrupted my dear brother!” (I was rather impressed by this little speech. How nice of him to defend his immoral brother.)
“You are perhaps unaware that your saintly brother has bedded the entire Noldorin host before we came to this arrangement”, Fëanáro said coldly.
Russandol said softly but firmly, “Findekáno, Turkáno, Irissë, please leave the room and find the rest of our cousins. I will come there soon”, as soon my children obeyed with eager alacrity and shut the door behind them Russandol turned to Arafinwë saying, “Come, uncle, you are overwrought from your journey.”
“This is not the last of our meetings, Fëanáro!” Arafinwë said angrily before following his nephew out of the room, he pointed to the large bitemark which I had left on Fëanáro’s neck, “And make sure that you do something about that before you are summoned to court tomorrow.”
I went to the door and locked it after them before turning to face Fëanáro. He met my gaze boldly, but I could see him shivering uncontrollably. Well, it was not everyday that you are called a bodyseller by your own brother before your son. Knowing Fëanáro, he would adamantly stand there all day content to stare at me. So, I walked to him and embraced him tightly, giving him the reassurance that he so badly craved for.
He said quietly, “I must go to my sons, Nolofinwë. And you must go to your children. We cannot let our actions dishonour them.”
“Father, Nolofinwë”, Russandol entered through the side-door followed by Findekáno.
I hastily moved away trying not to meet Findekáno’s eyes. Interesting how I could meet my nephew’s eyes while I had been embarrassed by my children’s presence when we were caught. Findekáno came to my side and squeezed my hand clumsily. I met his eyes gratefully. Perhaps all the time he has spent in following Russandol is not wasted.
“Maitimo”, Fëanáro said softly, “I am sorry.”
“Father”, Russandol knelt before Fëanáro and clasped his father’s hands, “I have an idea. You must do as I say if you are to prevent this from spreading about. Grandfather knows, but he is eager to protect you both.”
“Tell us, Russandol”, I said weakly, “Anything that does not involve the Vanyar.”
Findekáno chuckled at my poor humour, but Fëanáro smiled and raised his son to his feet whispering, “You deserve a better father.”
I had to agree. Though I did not say so fearing my brother’s wrath. Russandol deserved a normal family.
“Well, I have put out the news both of you have fought badly. Tomorrow, one of you must go to court and complain of the other to grandfather. Then the other comes, you get into a verbal duel”, Russandol paused with a nervous look at us both, “It will be more convincing if you could come to a physical fight in the court. This will support Arafinwë’s idea of dividing the Noldor. But then, you can keep your private lives private.”
“You forgot to mention that one of them will be exiled”, Findekáno said cheerily.
Fëanáro stared at my son dubiously. I had to agree with his silent accusation, whatever did my son find so amusing in all of this? Verbal fight, all right. I could rehearse well and do it. Physical fight, not a good idea, with my obvious attraction for Fëanáro, it will not be surprising if I kiss him in the court. And exile, I took a deep breath, that was not my dream idea of a holiday.
“I will bring my sword”, Fëanáro said quietly, “And threaten you. Obviously our father will have to exile me then. Arafinwë can say whatever he likes.”
“I don’t want to leave the palace over this matter. Father will not want you to leave”, I said sincerely, “And I am sure that we can just stop short of getting exiled. It can be a brawl in the court.”
“We must do it properly if we are to convince the rest”, Fëanáro shrugged dismissively, “Maitimo, if I am exiled, will you visit me occasionally?”
“I plan on coming with you”, Russandol said incredulously, “Surely you are taking us with you!”
“Macalaurë loves Tirion”, Fëanáro said sadly, “I wouldn’t dare disrupt his routine by asking him to come with me.”
“If I come, he shall come”, Russandol said easily, trying not to notice Findekáno’s sullen look, “And of course, I must ask you to build a set of chambers for my favourite cousin too. Irissë might come too, she cannot stay apart from my brother, I daresay.”
Findekáno laughed and hugged his cousin so tightly that I began to be concerned about Russandol’s ribs. Then he rushed out of the room. Russandol smiled at us both, massaging his throat before saying lightly, “I will get working on tomorrow’s little drama then.”
“Maitimo”, Fëanáro halted him, “What about the rest of your brothers?”
Russandol hesitated before saying, “I can say that Macalaurë and I will follow you anywhere. I cannot answer for the rest of my siblings, father. I will send them to you as soon as they return.”
“Russandol must stay in Tirion”, I said quietly as Fëanáro paced the room, “He is needed to counter Arafinwë’s influence. You do realize that I cannot support you in any way after this brawl of ours arranged for tomorrow.”
“I don’t need to stoop to Arafinwë’s level!” Fëanáro bristled impatiently, “I will raise a new city with my sons and enjoy my exile.”
“Fëanáro”, I pleaded with him, foreboding rising in me, “Let Russandol stay here. And Macalaurë. Take the others with you. I will come with you myself if I could.”
The brawl went as planned per the script. It was so perfectly executed that even Arafinwë hastened to our side in shock when Fëanáro raised his sword to my neck. As the cold metal moved on my skin, I shuddered involuntarily. The fire in my elder brother’s eyes frightened me.
I bowed before Finwë, and without word or glance to Fëanor I went from the chamber. But Fëanor followed me, and at the door of the king's house he stayed me; and the point of his bright sword he set against my breast
“See, half-brother!” he said. “This is sharper than thy tongue. Try but once more to usurp my place and the love of my father, and maybe it will rid the Noldor of one who seeks to be the master of thralls.”
At the moment, I knew that all my forebodings were right. Melkor had worked his evil magic on my brother’s heart and played upon his fears. I barely remember Russandol stepping in between us and leading his father away.
Our father was shocked by the cruel display and pronounced exile for his firstborn. And declared that he would not be parted from his son come what may. His fervent words moved Fëanáro out of his stupor and he seemed shocked at what he had done. I resolved to speak with him, but he turned away from me and went to his younger sons. Macalaurë and Russandol were talking in low voices with my father. But he remained adamant to follow his beloved son to exile.
Thus it was that I found myself the unwilling and unprepared ruler of Tirion, High-City of the Noldor.
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