Just a silly little story with the Sons of Fëanor as cuddly little elflings. For Kaz, because she wanted it. Please review if you read it.

~*~

Caranthir smiled with silent pride as he turned the page and gave the picture a brief derisory glance before concentrating on the words on the opposite page. During the last few months his Ammë had spent a little time each evening teaching him how to read, and sometimes writing little tales on sheets of parchment for him to read aloud. Today was the first time that he had read a proper book all by himself though.

The big black book had lived on the lowest shelf of the bookcase along with the chessboard and the spinning tops for as long as anyone could remember. It had many tales about the Valar in it and every other page had a big colourful picture on it. Grandfather had made it for Atar when he was as small as Curufin was now, but now Ammë read them tales from it before bed and on feast days. Sometimes Celegorm and Maglor would take it and lie on the rug in front of the fire and read the stories silently to themselves, and he had always wanted to join them but he had never been allowed. But they would have to now because he could read.

Feeling content, Caranthir sniffed in the warm smell of baking bread from the kitchen. It felt so safe here on the dark winter afternoons with everyone waiting for Atar to come home from the forge. It was warm in front of the fire and curled up in his mother's rocking chair with the book on his lap he did not think that he could feel any happier. He could hear Ammë moving around in the next room, preparing their dinner and there was music drifting down from the little room under the eaves where his big brother, Maglor liked to practice his harp.

Curufin, Caranthir's youngest brother was huddled on the rug, playing with some copper wire and glass beads that their father had given them. Everyone spoiled Curufin for he was the littlest, but to Caranthir's great satisfaction he would not be the youngest for long. Atar had said that there would soon be a new baby in the family, and Ammë was already too big to hug people properly.

Three pairs of boots in varying sizes were drying in front of the fire and wet capes and tunics were draped over the backs of the chairs. The three youngest of the sons of Fëanor had spent the afternoon jumping in puddles and splashing through the rain. Celegorm had gone to dry Huan, his puppy. Huan could make it rain indoors if he shook himself, but Ammë did not find it as funny as he and Curufin did.

Ammë had once said that there were quite enough small boys in the house, let alone pets, but then Oromë had given Huan to Celegorm for finding his brooch in the long grass by the river. Atar had let Celegorm keep Huan, but Maedhros said that he would not have done had he known how big the hound would grow. Huan was already nearly as big as his elfling owner, and he was not yet a year old.

"'Ranthir." Curufin scampered across the floor and scrambled up onto the cushions beside his brother. Both elflings could sit comfortably side by side in the large rocking chair, and if they both swung their legs in time they could make the heavy chair rock to-and-fro. "Look what I made!"

"Stop sitting on my cushions!" Caranthir poked Curufin in the ribs until the younger elfling squirmed into the smaller half of the chair, then examined his brother's handiwork with an air of disdain. "It is quite nice, I suppose."

Curufin had made a bracelet of red and orange beads and spirals of copper wire. It was shining and sparkling in the light from the fire.

"I like it!" Curufin slipped it onto his wrist and turned his arm from side to side with a proud expression. "I shall show Atar."

Caranthir scowled into the fire. Curufin's bracelet looked like a bracelet - it was almost as nice as the things that Ammë wore. Whenever he played with the scraps that Atar brought home he made horses - but they always looked more like a sleeping Huan than proud hunting horses.

"Girls wear bracelets." The words sounded horribly spiteful.

"I like bracelets." Curufin slid off the rocking chair and ran back to the scraps he had left on the floor and picked up more wire. "I like crowns too."

~*~

The door was flung open with a bang and a gust of cold damp air swept down the hallway and into the living room.

"Atar! Look!" Curufin had sped across the room, waving his bracelet proudly above his head before his father had even managed to take off his cloak. "Look what I made! Look!"

"Curufin!" Fëanor turned swiftly and caught the little boy just before he could fling his arms around his knees and lifted him onto his hip. "Let Atar get his boots off."

"Look what I made, Atar!" Curufin bounced in excitement and slipped the bracelet onto his wrist to wave violently inches from his father's face. "All by myself!"

Fëanor blinked twice and tried to focus on the bracelet.

"It is so pretty." Curufin said smugly, ceasing the waving to admire his handiwork more closely. "I picked out all the red ones."

Fëanor reached out and caught the thin wrist with more gentleness than many would have expected and looked hard at the trinket, jet-black brows drawing together in concentration. Curufin stayed silent for a few seconds, then pushed his wrist forward once more, demanding loudly, "See my bracelet!"

"It is nice. . . very fine." Fëanor mused, rubbing a finger over a rough join in the smooth wire. His youngest son had a talent with his hands, that was certain, and his skill with such small things was far greater than could be expected for one his age. "After your bath, Atar shall show you how to make this hold better."

Curufin's frown matched his father's exactly as his eyes followed the larger pointing finger, then he nodded slowly and squirmed around to entwine his arms around his father's neck. The bracelet had kept breaking, but he had not known how to mend it himself.

"Easy," Fëanor coughed as he wiped his damp boots on the matting and reached up to unfasten both his brooch and youngest son's death grip, "Not so tight, little one."

Bored of waiting for his father and younger brother to come in and notice what he was doing, Caranthir stretched out his legs and pointed his feet as much as he could. He could just see his bare toes over the top of his big book. Soon his Atar would turn and see him reading it all by himself and he'd be just as proud of him as he was of Curufin.

Ammë had left her mending bag out on the bench. There was one of Maedhros' shirts there and lots of socks and Curufin's red tunic. There were also some bundles of yarn to knit hats and sleep-shirts for the baby. The nice lady that had come to sell the yarn had smiled at Ammë and shown her threads in pinks and purples of the same shades as wildflowers, and Ammë had smiled too, but then had sighed and said that she had better get plain yarn.

Atar and Curufin had finished playing rough and tumble games by now, and soon they would be heading through to the living room. Normally he would have run with his little brother to greet his father, and they both would have jumped on his back and demanded rides, but today he wanted his father to notice how grown up he was. Maybe Atar would even hold him on his lap and let him read out loud to him as he had done with Celegorm when he had first read by himself. Barely able to contain his smile, Caranthir wiggled his toes in anticipation and waited.

The door opened once more, but Fëanor passed right by his young son - if he noticed the elfling struggling with a book that he had once enjoyed as a tiny child he was too busy laughing with Curufin to comment. He dropped a squealing elfling down onto the cushions, placed his gloves on a table and headed towards the kitchen in search of his wife.

Hurt by this lack of attention, Caranthir squirmed into a sitting position to make himself more noticeable. Perhaps his father had thought that it was Maglor, or at least Celegorm, behind such a big book.

"Atar!" Caranthir popped up from behind the pages to smile proudly at his father.

"Greetings, Caranthir." Fëanor turned to smile rather wearily at his son's cheerful shout. The boy's cheeks were rather pink and his eyes were bright. "Do not sit too close to the fire. It is too hot for you."

~*~

"Maedhros?" Caranthir hovered in the open doorway to his brother's room, watching as the eldest of the sons of Fëanor finished writing a letter to his cousin. Ever since his begetting day Maedhros had been making people knock before coming into his room. He had begun leaving the top button of his shirt undone too, and blushed whenever the girl who helped at the silk shop smiled at him.

"What do you want?" Maedhros said roughly, turning in his chair to watch his little brother hop from foot to foot. Lately Caranthir had taken to following him around wherever he went and copying everything he did. Although it was rather flattering to have someone who looked up to you as if you were one of the Valar, it was annoying at times.

Ammë had sent him up to remind his brothers to wash their faces and hands before dinner, but Maedhros looked perfectly tidy, and Caranthir was sure that he would not mind talking to him instead.

"It will soon be dinner time." Caranthir said cagily, scampering across the room to his brother's side.

Maedhros sighed, quickly deducing his brother's plan, and spoke warily, "What is Celegorm doing?"

"He is feeding Huan." Caranthir stood on tiptoes to try and see what his brother was doing. Celegorm never wanted help looking after Huan. He would never even let anyone else throw sticks or play with Huan in the stream. Sometimes he thought that Celegorm liked Huan better than him, but he told Ammë she always shook her head and said that she was sure that he did not.

"Again?" Maedhros' eyebrows rose upward and then he grinned broadly. Maedhros was good at wiggling his eyebrows and Maglor could make his ears move. Caranthir and Celegorm could not make anything jiggle even a little however hard they tried. "Is that dog always hungry?"

"I. . ." Caranthir touched the tip of his tongue to his upper lip as he thought, and finally nodded seriously. "I think so, Maedhros."

The elfling sounded so serious and lonely that Maedhros grabbed him with both hands and lifted him into his lap. It was difficult being one son out of five, and with the new baby there would be even less attention for the little ones.

"We have a few minutes yet. Have I ever shown you how to screech like an owl?"

~*~