“When the matter of Finwe and Indis arose [Feanor] was disturbed, and filled with anger and resentment; though it is not recorded that he attended the Debate or paid heed to the reasons given for the judgement, or to its terms except in one point: that Miriel was condemned to remain for ever discarnate, so that he could never again visit her or speak with her, unless he himself should die. This grieved him, and he grudged the happiness of Finwe and Indis, and was unfriendly to their children, even before they were born.”
Something is burning.
The scent is sinking into the silks, the tapestries, the carpets, the silken curtains and beautiful things – the black smoke rising, not from the kitchens, not from any of the various functional or representational rooms, but from one of the balconies belonging to the actual royal dwelling, the master bedroom in the north wing; It is far too up in the intricate web of magnolia towers to be seen much from below, but the scent is pervasive.
Amid the vision of splendor that is the noontide of Valinor, the cover of soot is like a never-ending shriek of discord, like a string about to snap on the painstakingly crafted case of a handmade violin.
The following days, the ensuing rumor mill will be much worse than the fact, there was at most, a single ceramic dish’s worth of blaze kindled from a moderately sized heap of paper.
Trying to save as much as he could from the ashes, the king would find charred heaps of priceless notes –
It would be written of by some as an adolescent tantrum.
It would be considered by others an incident that should make generations of scholars weep while they peered over the preserved copies of the salvaged pages, trying to make out just a little more of the blackened pages while they marveled at the tantalizing insights in the clearly preserved snippets – but at the very bottom of the pile, down with the most blackened and reduced of papers, there was a volume that would take absolutely no effort to recognize, a blackened tome that, even as it was, was easily recognized as the latest edition of Tirion’s loremaster’s journal, featuring among many things a complete copy of the Statute of Finwe and Miriel as well as a transcript of the associated discussions of the Valar.
The wind should blow the ashes far across the famous town square of Tirion; The column of smoke would be seen all the way up to the highest reaches of the Mindon Eldalieva -
But near its bottom sat a malcontent youth on an ornate footstool, feeding bundles of pages to the fire as casually as one might throw breadcrumbs to the birds.
The king came past the curtains with all the jeweled clangor of someone who had not thought he would ever need to run again. Let no one doubt that a mortal would have got something caught in the long trail of his elaborate robes or stumbled on such intricate sleeves – but the king would not suffer to send any lesser servant, and so he comes rushing past the curtains, headdress and all.
Ring-laden, bangle-studded fingers keep the next stash of papers from going flying into the fire, frantically seek out the pale, slender fingers that were doing the throwing.
The King’s face is grave with pained concern. “Feanaro... What are you doing?”
“I’ve lost all interest in studying Valarin any longer.” said the prince, as if that were all the explanation you could ever need.
He has eyes the color of an overcast sky, and they remain transfixed on the flames, as if enamored with the way that he could watch the pages turn to ashes, and feel nothing.
“At least keep it somewhere – just in case. You might change your mind later, and wish you could continue-”
“I won’t.” said the prince.
It was not a loud exclamation, nor a proud, definitive decree, but the King did recognize that tone of finality; He knew better now than to insist, lest the next words out of the young one’s mouth be something like ‘that is my final word.’
He would not waste time expounding on the inappropriateness of setting a fire in one’s private chambers or on all the other options he would have had to get the offending documents removed from his chambers; It was not the first time they were having this argument, and for all of his occasional tactless, sanguine optimism, the king knew full well that this was not about the notes.
“...have you even read it? And I mean, truly read it, with an open mind, good faith and a willingness to understand the reasoning behind it?”
“I’ve understood all that I needed to understand. Even if it is the Valar, I need not suffer anyone to run their mouths at length about how my mother is a selfish, stubborn mule and my father a faithless lazy faint-heart!”
“I am the King. For better or worse, anything I do has an impact on the realm. That makes my character a legitimate matter of public discussion. I knew this and accepted it when I ascended the throne. The Valar too, know this, as it is even more true for them: You must consider that their decisions impact not just Tirion or even Valinor – they must consider the implications for all of Arda and everything in it, for their discussions would concern its very nature – which, in turn, makes this a document of concern to our loremasters, lawyers and theologians. They have to carefully weigh all sides of the matter, my character included. As a fellow ruler and seeker of truth, I must understand this, even if I stand by my point.”
Throughout all of the king’s careful, weary explanation, he saw that he was doing precious little to shift the sullen, defensive look from his son’s pristine features. His form stood hard and immovable in his father’s fretting arms.
At last, the king gave up, succumbing to a drawn, prolonged exhale that carried the exhaustion of many decades. “I know this is hard on you. Originally, I lead our people to the blessed realm so that our children yet to come would not need to know such sorrow. I wished to spare you of this, but in the end, I could not protect you, and for that, I am sorry. But as it stands, you are the only heir that I have, which makes you and your life a public concern as well.
I know that you’re a private person, and that it is not fair to expect you to compromise on that because of a choice that I made before you were even born; That is precisely why I feel so strongly that you should not be made to bear that burden all on your own.
As your father, I know that your heart is with your craft and your lore, and as king, I know well that I would not be doing my subjects a favor if I forced a man of your talents to waste his time at court – if you had younger siblings, you would could just simply leave the royal affairs to one of them. You would be free to focus on what you love, and you would not be expected to have children. You could withdraw from the public eye entirely, if that is what you wanted-”
“What?! Do you think I can’t do it? You think I’m not good enough?! Not suitable?! Is it because of what was said in that debate, or do you just not think me capable? Is it grandchildren that you want, and you think I can’t give them to you-?!”
“I want them more than anything, but first and foremost, my duty as your father is to respect your choice. And given… what happened, I can understand if-”
“I can give you grandchildren! As many as you want! You don’t need another wife for that. You’ve just got to give me a chance to find someone to help with that, unless you expect me to grow your heirs in a vat. I can be Crown Prince. I’ll prove it-”
The king expelled a deeply tired sigh. “It’s not about that, Feanaro.”
“Then what is it? Is mother so horrible a wife? What is it about us that you need recompense for? But I suppose it doesn’t matter. What’s done is done. You got your wish. They’ve decided that you should be compensated for being stuck with some tainted aberration in place of your only son!”
Now the ancient king never could stand to see his son in even the slightest bit of distress, and soon had seized the slender youth as close to his chest as he could, stroking his midnight hair like he did when he used to comfort him as an infant.
“Don’t you ever say that-” pleaded the king with no small amount of desperation of his own. “Please, Feanaro. You’re the light of my life. You’re all I have left in this world. Please-”
That was a sentimental exaggeration even then, for Finwe was king in a realm where even the servants and porters lived in bliss beyond compare; But in the end, his son could not rebuff the father whom he loved more than any of the priceless marvels he was yet to make, and ultimately, he relented just enough to allow himself to be fussed over and led away while the burning stash of notes was quietly extinguished and disappeared on his Majesty’s confidential orders.
It was deemed a pitch black omen when High Prince of Tirion was conspicuously absent from his father’s wedding feast, but those who had witnessed his departure were probably still in shock over what they had seen and heard earlier.
He had made no secret of where he was going, nay, he had declared it in broad daylight right to new Queen’s face, a deliberate, calculated maneuver dripping with caustic loathing.
“It says right here in this text. ‘Your body shall wither, and we shall not restore it to you’. I wish to be holding her hand when that happens, and I’ll do my best not think about whatever it is you might be doing.”
Never mind that the hand in question had been indistinguishable from cold, unmoving marble for the better part or forty years.
“Now you’ve done it! You’ve replaced me! You won’t need me anymore!”
The prince’s voice was defiant, perhaps even combative -
but he had his long white fingers clasped together and his forehead rested on his hands while his silken streaks of raven hair fell into his face.
The scarlet color of his robes only accentuated the contrast of ebony and ivory.
Beside him sat his father like a softer, milder mirror image, a picture of sanguine warmth rather than intemperate heat.
“I will never let anything come between us, come what may. I’ll tell you as many times as you’ll need to hear it: You’re the light of my life – all I have in this world.”
“But that’s not really true anymore now, is it? You are all that I have left in the world. You might be saying that now, but soon, you’ll have forgotten me, just like you’ve forgotten mother. You’ll put away all that reminds you of me, like I’m just another piece of old furniture that you don’t want to look at anymore-”
“I did not forget your mother. Believe me, not a single day goes by when I don’t think of her, and there’s no single thought of her that does not crush my heart with its weight. But she is not coming back, and there’s no amount of grieving I could do that could change this, nor will dwelling on the past.”
“Then how can you- how can you…!”
The king could not believe his eyes.
As long as he could remember, his son had always been rather precocious and acted older than his actual age; Compared to other children, the skill of his hands had always been finer, his speech more articulate, his need for attention, company or instruction far smaller.
Sure, there had been that brief stretch of years where he had been a somewhat clingy child, back when he still answered to a different name, and the King would treasure it forever, but for the most part, it had proved to be a fairly lonesome affair to be the father of a peerless prodigy.
At the time that the current King and Queen had had their fateful meeting on the slopes of the holy mountain, the prince had been traveling in the mountains all by himself. At the time, he had at least two revolutionary discoveries under his belt already: His letters, and the earliest of his lampstones. It was on account of those that he had been bestowed with his current title, for all that he insisted to wear his mother’s unkind prophecy like a badge of honor (surely, she would have reconsidered, if she had recovered, if she’d had more time…)
While his son was young, his father had devoted himself to his care above all, but at the time he considered remarriage, the prince had not seemed to need him very much anymore, absorbed as he was in his countless pursuits;
Now, the king was wondering if his son’s unique talent had not caused him to overestimate his maturity. Maybe it all could have gone different if the King had the time to prepare him, but the prince had returned a few days early from his excursion, and entered the palace by a path of ivy near an eastern-facing window as he sometimes did to avoid the fuss of being formally announced, only to find his father on a couch with a strange woman whom he’d thus far known as a sort of friend of the family, both of them wearing silver rings.
But back then, he had chiefly been angry and discontented, which he was often.
The king had not seen his son weep ever since he was a toddler, many decades in the past, but here he was, hot-faced and in tears, all because of the news that he would be receiving a younger sibling.
“Feanaro – this is good news. This is good.”
But the prince was inconsolable, despite the King’s best efforts.
“You know I tried to look after you on my own as best as I could, but I’ve had the duties of the crown to think about, and I had to do the work of two people with regards to you. I’ve taken many obligations upon myself and I don’t doubt that I’ve fallen short of all of them at times. But now I have someone to help me, and she could help me to look after you as well, if you only gave her a chance-”
“We were fine on our own. We managed just fine without anyone butting in. She cannot be here right now, but I already have a mother – the peerless Miriel Therinde, whose fine work is without equal. I am proud of her, and I don’t need a replacement.”
“There is no one who could replace her. That’s not what this is about….
I thought this would be good for you. You never got to meet them, but you’ve probably heard that King Olwe had two brothers once? Not just brothers – they must have had the largest family out of anyone at Cuivienen. I used to be quite envious of that, and I always thought that I wanted something like that for myself. I want it for you. When your new brother or sister is born, you’ll have someone you can always count on. Someone who is like you, and will always be there for you all throughout eternity.”
“Well that sounds just great.” the prince’s voice was probably colder and sharper than he meant for it to be, but he could not quite bring himself to hold back now. “Maybe when it’s my turn to have a child, I’ll consider giving them siblings. But as for me, it appears that your hopes are doomed to failure. I’m an only child, and thanks to that woman and the decree of the Valar, that’s what I’ll always be.”
It was only much, much later that the King at last made his way back to his pregnant wife.
He though her already asleep when he sat down beside her, but though he thought to have been as silent as he could, he soon felt her hands on his shoulder.
“Indis! Did I wake you-”
“It’s alright. I was waiting for you.”
Not for the last time, it had not occurred to him that she would.
“I’m sorry. I should have been with you on a day like this, to celebrate the auspicious news… and I suppose I should apologize for my son as well…”
But of course, she was mild and understanding, and reassuring with her touch.
“Don’t be too harsh on him, dear. I don’t blame him at all. You must consider that you and I will always remember Miriel no matter what we do, whether we dwell on it or not, but all he has to remember her by are her old things and old habits. I genuinely did not intend any insult by my speech, my intention was only to show my goodwill to your people, but if it’s a problem-”
“It’s not. I know how you meant it, and I appreciate it, just as I appreciate your patience with my son. You’re not doing anything wrong. Really, it’s just as your brother told me: I can’t afford to dwell on the past no more. Not when I have a city to rule, and our new child to worry about.”
The king had asked his daughter to wait for him on the divan in his study, and that was exactly where he should find her, sitting primly in her spot in her neat, white and gold dress.
The more she grew, the more she she seemed to be maturing into a pallette-swapped miniature of her mother or perhaps, her somewhat more serious maternal uncle, all the same fair, noble features with but a slight difference in the coloration of her eyes.
The closest he could say when pressed to present a resemblance was that his older children had both turned out reserved.
But it was unthinkable to imagine that Feanor would just ever quietly wait on his seat with no questions, no backtalk, no bored attempts to occupy himself somehow.
There was no risk of Findis ever wandering off – she was already such a responsible, well-bred girl. Sometimes, the king found it hard to believe that she was truly his daughter.
And yet he had been dreading this conversation.
“Findis dear, I have something to tell you.”
She calmly looked up at him.
“What is it, dear father?”
“Your mother and I, we had been thinking that now is probably the right time, and so we decided...- Well, the point is that you will be having a little brother.”
The king realized abruptly that he had been bracing for an impact that never came.
“Oh, that’s wonderful news father!”
The girl was measured and serene even in her elation.
“Do you already know for certain that they shall be a boy?”
“Well, no, but your mother seems sure nonetheless, and mothers can sometimes tell such things.”
“When shall he arrive?”
“In about a year, I expect.”
“That’s delightful! That’s quite enough time to get all sorts of playthings ready for him.”
Though he should by all means have no reason, the King was still on edge, and struggled to summon forth his usual eagerness.
“But you do know that it does take a while until you can play with them whenever a new child is born, right? I’m afraid that he might not be much fun at first, until he masters walking and talking and all such things. And because he will be very little at first and require much help, it may be that your mother and I will have a little less time to spend at first-”
But the rosy-cheeked princess seemed unperturbed:
“That’s fine. After all, it was probably my turn when I was very little, right? And I’m a bigger now than I used to be.”
“Well, I’m glad you understand… but there’s something I need you to know no matter what, okay? Something we want you to remember always. We still love you just the same, and we always will. Even if we’ll need some more time for your new brother, I don’t ever want you to think that we love you any less for it.”
“But why would I ever think that, father?” asked the princess, regarding her father with large, innocent eyes.
“No reason. I just wanted to make really, really sure that you know that, because it’s very, very important. Once your new brother gets to be older, we’ll have more time for you again, and if you ever want to have some special alone time with Mama and Papa, just let us know, and we will definitely make time for you.”
Princess Findis nodded dutifully.
The king considered the small girl for a moment, sitting meekly with her hands in her lap.
“And if you ever have another question about this, or if there’s every any other importand thing you wish to tell us, please don’t hesitate to tell us.”
For a moment, Finwe dared not to believe that it had gone so smoothly, but then, her eyes darted to the side.
“...can it be anything?”
She smiled shyly, not unlike her mother’s mirthful manner.
“Can I help to pick out some adorable little garments for him?”
At this point, the king could no longer resist the temptation to ruffle her hair.
“Of course you can, dear.”
He bestowed an affectionate caress upon her forehead.
“I’m sure you’ll make a splendid big sister, Findis.”
For the most part, Indis had accounted herself lucky with regards to her husband, at least at first.
Eager of face and thoughtful-eyed, handsome in looks and eloquent in speech, he was generally marvelous company.
There was much joy and laughter in their shared home, much pleasant, stimulating discourse to be had – king or no king, he was very involved with the children and often showered them with exuberant affection. They were wanted, beloved, dolefully desired children, and while they were young, Indis felt like all her dreams had come true.
On account of having helped out with her nephew, she was by no means a complete novice to the challenges of child-rearing, but it was reassuring how he already knew exactly how everything worked, how it was all done – when Findis was born, he’d gone and explained to the newly-minted mother exactly how to hold her.
It was all very touching, as long as you didn’t spend too hard about why exactly it was that he knew all this already. Of course, there were times where the shadow of melancholy was quite evident in his eyes, even when he held their children in his arms, but Indis was here for him, and she loved being the source of his joy.
She took charge of the forgotten gardens, rearranged the stale decorations and filled the walls with mirth and song.
It was only that next to their latest family portrait, there would be a large, dramatic painting of a sour-faced youth hanging in the ballroom. It was only that he had other obligations – no, not the city, as much as everyone in it and their dog might have fancied themselves a critic. She’d been involved in matters of rulership since her brother was the chieftain of a small band of hunter-gatherers rather than the crowned king of an advanced, utopian realm.
The problem was his son.
His mother had been an old friend of hers in her youth, and so she had always assumed that any children they would have would grow up playing together.
Instead, Findis and her dear Arakano knew him only as an unfriendly stranger who would drop in unannounced, treat their mother with unforgivable rudeness, shoo them out of various rooms in their very own home, and monopolize their father’s attention for a week or so before departing whence he came like he was just a strange dream.
They learned swiftly that they mustn’t touch his things.
“Feanaro dear. Won’t you come eat something?”
The crown prince of Tirion took just one, single look at the lovingly set table, the uncertain pair of children and the gentle but sad smile of the queen before he irrevocably made up his mind.
The cherry on the cake, for him, was that lady of the house was once again expecting and had only grown more radiant for it, as if the entire intricate, messy process of producing new life had only been a pleasant dream for her.
“Later, perhaps. I don’t have much of an appetite right now, besides, I have work to do.”
He seemed just about ready to turn and leave, and what's more, his words were probably just some transparent excuse to abscond from their presence. Though he did not know it, the King and Queen were thinking exactly the same thing, feeling the exact same memories tugging at their souls, considering a fallen friend who had this habit of forgetting everything and anything around her when she’d get absorbed in concentration, dinner included – and how that had just been a kooky, scattered trait of hers, untill-
The queen diligently strung together some tragic semblance of the same caring smile she’d give her children, knowing well that she would likely see no thanks for it: “Are you sure you won’t at least try a little?”
Indis did not understand anything about what went on beyond these impenetrable silver eyes. Sometimes, though she was ashamed to admit it, she found something startling about the depth and intensity of disdain she found directed at herself.
The king’s smile was stained with sadness; At last, it was he who caved.
“...would you perhaps be more at ease if it was just the two of us? Perhaps somewhere in the old north wing? I so wish to hear more about your apprenticeship.”
“In the stained glass room, like old times?”
“If that’s what you want, dear. You know that you’re the light of my life.”
“Eeeeeh?!” no sooner that the king announced his decision did a tiny voice rise up in confused protestation. “But father was supposed to be having dinner with us today! I was looking forward to it!” The younger prince was pouting unabashed. His older sister might have turned out mild-mannered, but the young son of Indis was a whole different creature, taking much more after his father’s people in temperament and looks, and most certainly not given to any sort of meekness.
The King shot his wife an apologetic look, but she just nodded with a smile, choosing to conceal any cares she might have felt. She had already reached out her arms to gently guide her son back into his seat. “It’s alright, Arakano. Your father and your brother have not been able to see much of each other ever since he’s left for his apprenticeship. We shall let them have a little time to themselves. Perhaps we shall play a little music together after dinner. ”
The boy was not satisfied at all. “But why! Why can’t we just all sit together, at just one table? We don’t mind if you sit with us, and splitting up is just stupid!”
The response was immediate, and razor-sharp.
“Why?! Why?! Well, why do you think. I came here thinking to see my father, whom I love more than anything in the world, but it appears that I shall not be allowed as much as a single moment of peace with him, because you’re here. You and your ilk have already chased me from my father’s house as it is. What more could you possibly want?!”
To accentuate the last sentence, the elder prince slammed his hand upon the table, summoning the clangor of the shaking plates like some wrathful deity would call forth thunder on a stormy night, stunning all present into silence.
Then he left like a plume of smoke escaping through a window that had just been opened.
The king scampered after him with almost comedic immediacy.
Left in the room, Indis began the thankless work of comforting her startled daughter and persuading her still-fuming son to go fetch the harps.
Though they had been hard at work at their studies, both siblings looked at once past the edge of the table.
Halfway up the table leg was the adorable little head of a tiny girl in a small blue dress.
While the Noontide of Valinor lasted, Princess Irime Lalwende would be known as the most bubbly and cheerful of her siblings, much as her names would indicate. As the needs of politics and succession were considered resolved on account of her older siblings, she was brought into the world simply for the love and joy of it.
She would be known to ride through the hills of the Calacirya on her trusty steed Morne, and be described as described as having both her mother’s mirth and her father’s passion. Right now, however, tiny princess Lalwen was not looking particularly cheerful at all.
Instead, she was looking very, very confused, her large blue eyes full of question marks.
“There is something I don’t understand.”
“What is it, Lalwen?” her brother was quick to answer. He could not wait to help his darling little sister with whatever misfortune had dared to assail her, though he was thinking of something more like a nasty math problem or a tricky shoe lace.
Instead, the question she posed stunned the room into heavy silence, simple as though it was.
“Is Prince Curufinwe our brother?”
The little princess could not have missed the sudden awkward expressions, but she valiantly kept on explaining: “’Cause father says he is, but he just calls Mama her name, if he even talks to her... Besides, I went to say hello to him and called him ‘big brother’, he got really mad, and he said that he’s not my brother at all.”
At last, it was her brother – the one she was definitely sure of – who volunteered an answer:
“Father says that he is our brother, so he is.”
Even the little princess could sense that he had no desire to draw out the issue, but in her tiny heart was a mighty need to know:
“But then why would he say that he’s not?”
“Both are right.” explained Findis, raising her index-finger as if she were reciting some manner of lore. “He is both our brother and also not our brother. He’s fathers child, so he is, but he isn’t Mama’s son, so he’s also not.”
“But how can that be?”
“Father got special permission from the Valar.” said the young prince, still hoping to leave it at that. But the small princess had to misunderstand in the most heartbreaking manner:
“Wow! So the Valar made an extra special ruling just so Mama and Papa could have us?! That’s amazing! They must have thought we were pretty important!”
Her older sister practically cringed. “I really wouldn’t go around calling that ‘amazing’, you know...”
That’s when her brother’s reluctance turned into sudden alertness: “Don’t. Lalwen is still little.”
But Findis just shook her head.
“She’ll hear people talking sooner or later. Besides, we can hardly have her walking around out there, blabbering nonsense like that.”
By now, the younger princess was looking positively distressed:
“What do you mean?”
Findis leant back and sighed.
“Curufinwe originally had a different Mama, a lady who was with father before us. But she had to go away for some reason, and it seems that she could only have one child, so father decided to get a different Mama, our Mama. No one’s meant to do that, and no one has ever done that before. You either marry one person, or no one. Some consider that a very bad, indecent thing that he did. Even Lord Manwe thinks that he should never have done it. It was a wrongful act, of succumbing to the wrong in this world, and it has only served to beget further wrongness.
That’s why Curufinwe is all twisted like that. If we would go acting all selfish as he does, our mother would scold us. That’s why you’re supposed to have a Mama and a Papa.
He doesn’t, so nobody ever scolds him, so, he’s turned out all crooked.
But the Valar, in their infinite mercy, decided to look kindly upon our father in the time of his weakness. We would do well to remember that, and be grateful.”
Having had enough of the subject, she up and left in clear discomfort.
Like a drowning person seeking for land, Irime Lalwende looked to her remaining sibling.
“So we’re not really supposed to be here? And that’s why Curufinwe is always so mean to us?”
The younger prince looked her in the eyes, firmly grasping her little shoulders.
“Curufinwe is mean because he’s mean. He just is. There’s no reason at all. Mother has always been nice to him even though he goes out of his way to treat her bad. She is waay too nice. If he wanted, Curufinwe could share our Mama, and be our brother, just like that, no problem. He just doesn’t want to. As if being a big brother was so bad! I mean, maybe I was a little bit jealous when Ingoldo was born, but it was just a little bit, because I’m not a baby. Just think about it. Ingoldo is still an actual baby, and he’s already better behaved than Curufinwe is!
And don’t mind Findis. She’s just heard people saying cruel things about us, but they only say them because Curufinwe never shuts up. She’s read something in a book, back when she went to visit Uncle Ingwe… I think she just didn’t like being in a book. ”
“There’s a book with Findis in it?”
“There are books with you in them too. You’re a princess after all. So you can’t let that jerk Curufinwe get to you, or anyone else! If anyone says anything, just talk to me.
I’m not like Curufinwe. And I’m not scared of him, either.
I’m your big brother. A proper one. I will always protect you, and little Ingoldo, too. I will always help you, and I will always be on your side.
So if anyone so much as dares to talk bad behind your back, you come to me.
I’ll talk to father. I’ll do… something. I’ll pull Curufinwe's hair till he cries if I have to. I don’t care that he’s bigger than me, or that he’s ever so clever with his words so everyone believes his nonsense.
If I let them take away your precious smile, I would never forgive myself.”
Lalwen nodded at this, at the time, mostly because she felt she was supposed to do so.
The moment would only acquire its grand significance in retrospective.
“Is it true, though?”
“That we’re not supposed to be here.”
“You know, Mama told me once that she first met father when the whole city was still being built. And as far as I know, he only met Curufinwe’s Mama here in Valinor, so, probably, Mama actually saw him first. So who’s to say that he’s not the one who isn’t supposed to be here?”
“Do you really think that?”
So far in her young life, Princess Lalwen had only known the product of her father’s ill-fated first marriage as a nuisance and a ‘meanie’, as she would have put it at the time, but even so, the idea of wishing someone out of existence – especially someone she knew, especially someone who was ostensibly very important to her father – didn’t sit well with her at all, and it probably would have changed how she thought of the younger prince if he had answered ‘yes’.
Mercifully, her faith was rewarded when he shook his head instead.
“What’s the point? I mean, we’re both here. Both him, and us. That’s just how it is now. So why should be fight about what maybe happened or maybe didn’t happen? Fighting about what didn’t even happen is stupid. If it were up to me, we’d just all be friends. But he has to want it too.”
“That sounds sensible.” noted Lalwen.
“That’s because Mama said it to me sometime I was upset. Somehow, she always knows exactly what to say to make people happy.”
“His name is Nelyafinwe.”
It was remarkable that Indis’ smile only cracked a little.
Even the king’s composure could not measure up to the queen's as he received his first grandson into his arms:“I-... I’m honored.”
He was a grandfather now, but his wife was not yet a grandmother – and of course, she was not allowed to hold the baby.
Crown Prince Feanaro wore a shameless smirk of pride. Any exhaustion or worry he might have carried just moments earlier had melted of his countenance like wax.
There was very little that could have spoiled his visceral sense of victory today.
Eventually, the other royal children were brought to peer at the bassinet where their new nephew was sleeping. Mahtan the smith had crafted it himself as a gift for his daughter, but it was just a fortunate accident that the light fuzz on the baby’s head happened to match the old master’s taste for coppery sheens.
Princess Findis, now beginning to resemble a young woman in terms of shape, was now lifting up her youngest brother so he could peer in also. Prince Ingoldo did not talk much yet, but everyone in immediate family was convinced that he understood next to everything.
“Can you believe it, Findis? You’re like a real, actual auntie! You’re properly ancient now.”
“Silly goose. I’m your sister. If I’m an auntie, then so are you.”
“I think it’s worth it being an auntie though, if we get to have this cute baby around in return. He’s almost as cute as you!” said Lalwen, adressing her blond little brother, making sure to pat his head for emphasis.
“Ingoldo is still the cutest though.”
“Still, this one turned out pretty cute for being Curufinwe’s baby. Maybe he will be nice like Miss Nerdanel. She says we can call him ‘Maitimo’ by the way.”
“Gooogoo~” babbled the blond child meaningfully, squirming in his sister’s arms as if to address a clumsy wave at the marginally smaller baby.
The other son of Indis, now fourth in line of succession, was standing a bit further back, holding onto his mother’s robe with one hand.
“When I grow up, I’ll make it so that you get grandkids too. And Curufinwe won’t get to hold them. ” He turned up his little nose.
Indis thought that was very adorable and couldn’t help but smile.
“Mh, I don’t know. I’d be glad if he wanted to.”