1. The Begetting of the Heir Apparent
The Begetting of the Heir Apparent to the House of Fëanáro
Nelyafinwë Maitimo [Maedhros]
The immensity of the ocean took Nerdanel's breath away. So far from the light of the trees the overcast sky had rendered the seascape in a palate of silvery slate, grey and white.
"Can you taste the salt in the air? Feel the wind? The freshness. There is something primal about all of it. Everyone should visit here. It's magical."
"Don't try to change the subject!" Fëanáro said. "I do completely understand why you might shy away from the idea, but I have thought about this a lot." He took her right hand and kissed the knuckles. A blush suffused his face, while he blinked at her with feigned modesty. She didn't buy his posture for a moment. This wasn't the first time they had discussed the question. It was the first time she had seen the sea. Instinctively tugging at her hand, she glanced away, but he only tightened his grip.
"Look at me, Nerdanel!"
She met his eyes unable to subdue her smirk. He was always so transparent.
Fëanáro stuck out his lower lip in a pout. "Trust me. Please, trust me! No man is more aware than I am of how much the conception and nurturing of a child can take from a woman. I promise you that I will give more of myself than others do. Not just of the strength of my fëa, which is actually quite strong, but of my heart as well. And I'll change his nappies and get up at night too. I promise!" Nerdanel had no doubt that if he said he would do such things he would.
"You're so sure it will be a 'he,'" she sniffed.
"Don't attempt to turn this into a debate about linguistics or gender equality either, sweetheart," he crooned to her.
Despite his placating tone, his eyes sparked with determination. But the unholy gleam also hid such endearing tenderness, need, and vulnerability. She wanted to cut the discussion short, to simply say, 'yes,' yet the desire to hear how he would argue his proposal this time held her back. And the thought of bearing a child to this matchless boy-man made her heart thump against her ribcage with pride and unseemly vanity. He is the first prince of the Noldor, the most brilliant of a generation, perhaps ever, and he wants me to bear his child! I should be thinking only that I will do it because I love him.
He cupped her breast, covering her lips with his own and inserting an impudent tongue into her mouth.
"Stop it!" Nerdanel laughed, pulling away again. "Let me think for a moment."
"I don't want you to think. I can hear your arguments already." He adopted a falsetto voice that made her giggle involuntarily: "'We're too young. We're still apprentices. What will people think?' I don't care about any of that."
"If I cared what people think or say would I even be traveling unwed with you now?"
"That's my girl!" He fumbled in his pocket. Look what I made for you before we left." He opened his hand. A golden ring rested on his palm, six stones flashed and winked at her cheekily. The ring, the settings, the stones themselves, white hot and glittering from within with a rainbow of colored lights, screamed of Fëanáro—outrageous, incomparable, and perfect.
"I'll take that now, thank you," she said grinning, holding out her hand toward him, inviting him to slip it onto her finger. "We can talk about the baby question later." She laughed aloud at her own boldness. He grabbed her and wrestled her to the ground and straddled her, but not before securing the ring on the middle finger of her right hand.
"Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart," he whispered, blowing into her ear and then sucking and biting on her ear lobe.
"Yes," she said. "You mad, foolish boy! Yes!"