... thus endeth my attempt at writing a happy story.
Candles in Daylight
by Le Chat Noir
- Part 1
« Well. »
He had noticed the boy watching him for quite a while already, but had refrained from letting that awareness transpire. The child, leaning against the trunk of a tree, was maybe thirty years old –though one could never tell about children about that age: maturing came early or late depending on the individual; and first sight estimations were often found to be a very long way off– and though he apparently didn't seem to care much for staying hidden, didn't attempt to make himself known either.
Maedhros went on with the trimming of his tree. A little while before, a perplexed Celegorm had walked by with Huan fast on his heels, "off to get the rabid hound something to put in his bottomless pit of a stomach", as were his words; because Father had "kicked the hungry devil out of his workshop where it was apparently trying to breakfast on a leather apron." "One would have thought Oromë had taught the animal some manners," he had said, while the great dog innocently wagged an enthusiastic tail at his feet and watched the two brothers with his large warm brown guiltless eyes, "and by the way, do you know that there's a brat who's been standing there gawking at you for the past half of an hour?" Maedhros answered that yes, he knew, and would Celegorm please tell his yellow pet to stop drooling on his flowerbeds, because he had his doubts whether such a liquid would prove to be just the appropriate fertilizer.
Now his gardening was finished. One last time, he looked around his garden: it was a small garden, only maybe a twentieth of the total size of the park adjacent to the House of Fire. However, it was a space that belonged solely to himself, and he could grow in it whatever sort of plants pleased him. Father was a lover of roses, somehow. It had always rather puzzled the seven brothers, but, in the end, Maedhros thought, it couldn't be that very strange: what Fëanaro might see in the fine breed of flowers was not the naïve and obsolete symbol of love, but a strain of ancient aristocracy, reminders of times past, a burst of vivid passion from their display of rich and intense colours. That said, Maedhros had to admit to not sharing his father's tastes: the somewhat "fullness" of these flowers had the knack of setting him ill at ease before their imposing presence. At the moment, in his private garden, the cherry trees were in bloom.
In fact, as the boy was standing under one of those very trees, the upper part of his silhouette was partially hidden to Maedhros' view by the lower branches, dropping under the weight of the many white flowers. Feigning not to have seen him, the red-headed elf made his way towards the tree –which indeed stood in his way to the gate– and seemed genuinely interested in the action of taking off his gardening gloves. Upon seeing him approach, the boy started as if to sneak away, but unfortunately bumped his head against a branch lower than others in his precipitation; as if alerted by his unwilling groan, Maedhros' head snapped up, and caught the young intruder's guilty gaze.
"Well," he said, lifting the downcast branches with his hand that was free of gardening tools, bowing down to be able to look under them, "it seems like I have a visitor today."
The boy answered his smile with stubborn eyes, and silently rubbed his aching scalp, while his face proceeded to blush a bright red. Undaunted, Maedhros stepped forwards with a concerned expression. The boy wasn't anyone he knew, of that he was now sure. That was quite normal, he berated himself. He couldn't quite expect to keep track of every single child in the land.
"Does it hurt? Let me see."
The boy shook his head firmly but let himself be examined. Indeed, there was no harm done. If he was lucky enough, he wouldn't even get a bump.
As Maedhros was checking his head, the boy suddenly spoke up. "I'm almost grown-up now. They can't do anything to me if they find out I'm here." And he looked up to the older elf with such an air of defiance that Maedhros didn't even think to laugh.
"Why would they want to do anything?" he asked, taken aback, as they walked together out of the garden.
The boy hesitated.
"Father says you might be a bad influence." He suddenly looked a little embarrassed, and his cheeks flushed again. "But I don't believe him, of course."
The words upset Maedhros deeply; yet, at the same time, his heart went out to the child who said the truth while understanding its full awkwardness: a strange child who came to see him despite the fatherly bane, for a reason he did not yet phantom. To ease the boy's obvious awareness of having said something hurtful, he sent his little companion a surprised look. "Why, but you should always believe your father. We Fëanarioni are a ferocious bunch, and we come out after the Mingling of the Lights to eat sleeping little children in their beds."
This caused the boy to laugh, though weakly. "But of course that's not true," he said.
They walked in silence for some times.
"And you are Nelyafinwë, aren't you?"
"Why, yes, I do believe so." The eager spark that lit in the boy's eyes amused him, and now a wide grin spread over the boy's face.
"I saw you at the feast for the birth of your youngest brother. My father spoke with your father." He laughed. "Neither seemed to be very happy about it."
Maedhros was momentarily speechless. It had suddenly occurred to him that this child was no other than the prince Findekano himself. That feast he speaks of, for Pityanarë's birth… They had met before. He remembered the small toddler, who had not been two years of age then. Anairë and her son had been presented to Fëanaro's family, would it have been only for the simplest laws of courtesy: not ten words of cold politeness had been exchanged. Maybe Fingolfin's wife had longer conversed with Nerdanel, he couldn't recall. But he had been stayed by the look from the child's grey eyes, and remembered that he would have liked to talk to that mere baby, if only they had not been surrounded by an army of respectable lords and ladies, all friends of either their fathers; but it surprised him to no end that the young boy still had in mind that long past episode.
A rapid calculation made it clear that this had all happened forty-five years ago; he was bemused to discover that Fingolfin's eldest son was already forty-six years old, almost a grown adult indeed.
"And he was Turcafinwë, with his hound that Oromë himself gave him."
Maedhros nodded assent.
"No Vala ever gave me any present." Fingon looked at the sky wistfully. "They don't even talk to me much."
"But you are yet young."
The boy wrinkled his nose. "But I am not that young," he argued, "and your brother was even younger when…"
"For someone whose father believes us to be a bad influence," Maedhros cut him off, confused, "you certainly do know a lot about us."
Fingon shrugged, and smiled. "Father never talks about you, but we have servants who are very knowledgeable about such things."
The red-haired elf stopped dead in his tracks, well aware of the many incongruous rumours that ran about town concerning various more or less genuine happenings in the House of Fire. "Why, but that is called gossiping!" he exclaimed.
Almost immediately, he regretted his outburst, but it was too late: Fingon looked at him with an expression of incommensurable sadness and wounded pride.
"Well," he snapped briskly, "forgive me for trying to get to know my own cousins a bit better."
The older elf did not know what to say, and they continued walking alongside each other without talking.
"You know," Fingon said again after a while, "it must be wonderful to live with four brothers."
Maedhros smiled, amused again, and cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Well," the boy continued, "I have only one brother, and he cries all the time." "And I have to baby-sit him all the time," he added after a while.
The eldest Fëanarion laughed outright, and put a hand on the boy's shoulder in a gesture of commiseration. "Worry not, you will survive this ordeal," he remarked. "I babysat my way through four whining younger brothers, and see, I have not yet gone the way of Mandos' Halls!"
Fingon laughed also, but feebly. At that moment, despite his mirth, Maedhros felt immensely sorry for having only vaguely remembered the very existence of his younger cousin, and never attempted to know more about him after that feast where they had met for the first time; when apparently the other boy had been thinking of them everyday, even braving the word of his father to pay them a furtive, long desired visit.
A spontaneous thought suddenly flashed through his mind, and he spoke without even thinking.
"Would you like to meet my brothers?"
The young boy's eyes lit up. "Can I?" but at once a frown replaced the hopeful look on his face. "But no one must know I'm here."
It was however too late to disappoint the boy's expectations, and Maedhros smiled with more confidence than he actually had.
"I think you can trust my brothers for not running to your father and blurting everything out."
Fingon giggled at the idea.
"Well, you just saw Turco walk out, and today is Moryo's day at the forge," Maedhros added, "but I think I can lay my hands on Kano and Curvo for you."
"I heard that your brother Kanafinwë is the best musician to have ever been born," the boy spoke with eager voice. "Is it true?"
"Certainly," he assured with brotherly pride, "though filit will never admit to it himself. And if we're lucky enough," he winked, "you'll even get a chance to judge by yourself."
Findekano = Fingon
Fëanaro = Fëanor
Fëanarion = Son of Fëanor
Nelyafinwë = Maedhros
Kanafinwë = Kano = Maglor = filit
Turcafinwë = Turco = Celegorm
Moryo = Caranthir
Curvo = Pityanare = Curufin
Since the story takes place in Valinor, I thought it would be only logical for the characters to use their Quenya names in dialogues. However, to make it easier to understand for those who aren't familiar with these, the narrative keeps to the Sindarinized names. Filit and Pityanàre are nicknames for Maglor and Curufin that Maedhros employs, courtesy of Ithilwen; the first meaning "little bird" and the second "small flame".
I also supposed that the Fingolfian family had better things to do than cook or do house-chores; so servants aren't out of place? The Fëanorians can go without, I guess, since they have many more family members, who all need to be kept occupied somehow…