Part Two: The Fate of Huan
The mingled lights of Telperion and Laurelin shone off the lean bodies of the hounds, and glinted on the hair of my brother Tyelkormo as he spoke to his newest hunter, Huan. It was Huan's first hunt today, and Tyelkormo had spoken ceaselessly of nothing else for days, until both Carnistir and Father had told him to hold his tongue, they had heard enough about our family's disgrace, the endless fountain of drool. Father had even said that perhaps Lord Oromë had given him to Tyelkormo in the desire to bring shame to him and our family, and that anyone who would raise such a beast was not one to be trusted. I heartily agreed with him on the last part, but what I had not told him was that the gift of Huan would have been out of a desire to shame me and not Tyelkormo. As far as I was concerned, that was something no one was ever going to find out either.
There was only one who could tell otherwise, and that person would be joining us for our hunt, which would begin as the last lights of Telperion faded from the star-strewn sky, and the silver light of Laurelin shone unrivaled over the verdant landscape: the great hunter and lord of the Valar, Oromë.
Tyelkormo and I would run our hounds today, along withboth Ambarussas and many others. I hoped Oromë would not realize that Huan did not follow my horn, but my brother's. It was possible, as there were so many hounds, that he would not even realize Huan was there. . .
I ran my hand over my hair. No, Huan had a way of making himself noticed.
I started to smooth my hair again, but forced myself to stop and turned to check the girth on my mount. Carnistir had smugly told me that was an anxious gesture of mine, and since then I had tried to break the custom.
But not all was unfavorable for me. Carnistir would not be here to notice my habits. He had broken off from the hunt at the last minute, pleading a tryst with a maiden, but I knew he was courting no maiden, and had a trivial suspicion that he simply wanted nothing to do with Huan. Perhaps because the oversized Huan had placed his great, muddy paws on Carnistir's shoulders, enveloping his face with slime, and pushing him into the fountain in the courtyard. After watching Tyelkormo forcibly restrain his brother from throttling the lovable hound who "only wanted to play 'fetch,'" it was no great wonder that the LadyLúrënen was no longer interested in Carnistir's quite amiable company.
I smiled at the memory, ran my hand over my hair, and turned to check the saddle girth for the eleventh time.
Yes, it was still tight.
My horse turned to look at me as if I had taken leave of my senses. I smiled reassuringly.
"Hail, son of Fëanáro!" A voice boomed behind me.
I jumped in spite of myself and spun around. I already knew who it was, and I was half-convinced he bellowed like that because he found secret mirth in startling others.
No, more than half-convinced.
Gathering my scattered thoughts, I bowed civilly, and tucked a few wayward strands of hair behind my ear as I straightened.
"Well met, my lord Oromë," I said, wincing inwardly as I did so. I should not have said "my," simply "Lord Oromë." That I had done otherwise was a sign that my thoughts were not as well collected as I might have wished. Also, that no, the coming night was not going to improve upon the day.
"Well met indeed, Curufinwë," Oromë roared jovially. A little too jovially for my liking. He had walked up without my notice (as I was somewhat distracted), and was now a good deal closer than I liked, standing beside his horse.
I stood firm, refusing to cover my ears, and responded, "We are honored by the company of so great a hunter."
There. That was true enough. I had said nothing about "pleased."
But he seemed to sense something peculiar about my words, and he watched me wordlessly,as if waiting for me to say more. I positioned an affable grin on my face that was as close an approximation of his as I could devise, and tried to think of an appropriate way to phrase my bothersome request, all the while feeling a considerable amount of envy towards the absent Carnistir. I had found Valar were nearly impossible to divert, and harder to comprehend.
And this particular Vala did not trust me, liking me little more than I liked him. I reminded him too much of Father, I believe. He, for his part, was maddeningly shrewd, and I found his company extremely demanding.
"Er," I began.
He nodded encouragingly.
"Uh," I continued, and tugged on the side braid of my hair. This was not going well. He was looking at me decidedly askance.
"Is aught wrong, young Curufinwë?" He asked tolerantly, in a tone that I found rather condescending and quite irritating.
"No!" I snapped, too quickly.
"Ah." His brow cleared. "That is good. I feared something had happened to Huan."
With difficulty I quelled the hysterical giggle that I could feel rising up in my throat.
"Oh. Is that so? How strange." I flattened my hair firmly with my hand and nodded wisely. "Not a premonition, I hope?"
"Nothing of the sort," he answered cheerfully, looking around at the various people and animals milling about, many of whom had by now noticed the arrival of Lord Oromë, and greeted him with bows, smiles, and much yipping.
"But where is the hound?" He asked, turning back to me.
"Hound? Ah. The hound." All my former eloquence seemed to have returned. "That hound. He is with his pack. I am sure you know how difficult he is to contain, so he is running around. Exercising. Drooling. Playing with his friends. Nipping at horses. All that."
"Oh, yes!" The Vala-lord boomed happily. "He is such a nice dog."
"Of course. To be sure. A very nice puppy." I agreed, trying to edge away absently while he rubbed the floppy ears of one of his energetic hounds who were milling about his feet as we spoke.
At my words, he turned to face me fully, and there was no twinkle of merriment in his eyes, but grave concern.
"Are you unwell, young Curufinwë?"
I stopped and stared. Was I unwell? Of course I was not unwell! I was merely trying to tell him something . . . and could not get up the nerve to do it, which was rather disgraceful. I was heartily glad my father was not witnessing my humiliation.
"No, Lord Oromë," I said, calmly and clearly enunciating every syllable and forcing my hands to still their ceaseless movement. "I am well. Huan is well. Tyelkormo is well. Carnistir is well. . ."
I fear I would have gone on to list my entire family, but at that moment the irrepressible Huan interrupted my half-crazed litany.
It was probably the only time at which I was glad to see him.
I found his actions rather pleasing also, as he leaped upon Oromë and began to do his best to cover him in slobber. That, at least, was one thing he was very good at. Oromë laughed his booming laugh and pushed him down.
Huan immediately sunk his teeth into one of his old master's boots and began tugging joyfully, wagging his tail furiously all the while.
I took a deep breath. I was going to have to tell Oromë before Tyelkormo did.
At that moment, a piercing whistle sounded from the other side of the company, and Huan immediately left Oromë's damaged boot and ran to his master.
Oromë's brow furrowed.
I clenched my teeth.
"It is not your horn that he follows," he said softly. It was not a question.
He stared at me curiously.
"Why not?" he boomed.
My mind raced frantically.
"BecauseHuantookaninstantlikingtoTyelkormo. Youknowhowheloves dogsandhowcouldIparttwofriendswhowereobviouslyfatedtohunttogether? Iamnotthatcold-hearted.IjusthadtogivehimtoTyelkormo."
Oromë blinked once and then spoke slowly as if speaking to a newly-born child. "Would you be so kind as to repeat that?"
If I could have glared at him, I would have, but since I thought it best not to antagonize Valar more than was obligatory, I had to content myself with slowly repeating my words. "Huan liked Tyelkormo as soon as he saw him. Tyelkormo is very fond of dogs, much more so than I am, and I believe Huan could sense that. Tyelkormo thought Huan was magnificent also, so since he was my brother, and you know how adorable Huan can be when he wants something, I graciously gave Huan to Tyelkormo. I thought they were fated to hunt together."
"I see." Oromë beamed at me. "You seem to have been right. Huan looks well-kept and happy.
I bowed as if I had something to do with that, and hoped Oromë did not realize he had just received the discreet version of events, unlikely though it was.
"I go to greet your brother now. Good hunting, young Curufinwë," he said, and in an instant, turned away and swung onto the back of his great horse, Nahar.
"Wait," I cried, all but panicked. He paused. Ai, but I hated this!
The breeze tousled my hair and I smoothed it out again before speaking. "I would be thankful if you do not inform Tyelkormo that you gave Huan to me. I did not tell him, for I did not want him to feel that the friendship between themwas any sort of an imposition upon me."
"If that is your wish," he agreed. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then his eyes twinkled. "I will not tell Nolofinwë either," he added, and wheeling Nahar, they cantered away from me.
I glared furiously at his retreating form. I entirely agreed with Father.
Valar are sly and manipulative. And Valar are not to be trusted!
Nolofinwë must have told him what had happened. My own family certainly would not have and he was the only other one who knew (at least, I hoped). I wondered how much he had understood of what I had left unsaid. It was not for many years afterwards, when my father congratulated me upon my quick thinking, that I realized the only person I had fooled was myself.
The nightmarish memory of the day Ireceived Huan was still firmly imprinted upon my mind.
My uncle Nolofinwë half carrying me into the courtyard of our home while I dragged Huan, who had his teeth firmly clenched around the lead of my uncle's horse, was too humiliating to ever forget or forgive. I was covered in dog slobber, dirt caked my face, and there was a new and unsightly gap in my upper row of teeth. A pair of round hoof prints adorned my back and my forehead, and a set of paw prints adorned the front of my tunic. Needless to say, I feel distinctly sorry for anyone left at the tender mercies of Huan the Hound, even for so brief a period asthe hour it had takenus to journey home.
But I fear Father did not feel very sorry for me when I was deposited before him, along with my uncle's annoyed request that my father look after me better, as I was evidently unable to take care of myself or my mongrels.
was largely, though not entirely accurate), but he was not in the mood to listen. I can see him now, glaring at my uncle from the top of the marble steps, with my mother and Maitimo standing in the background, she looking inclined to both laugh and to cry, and he nearly weeping with mirth.
Then he turned his terrible gaze upon me, and the struggling Huan in my arms.
"If it is not a mongrel," he enquired acerbically, "what is it?"
Looking around the courtyard, at the half-amused, half-mortified Nolofinwë, at the scandalized Carnistir, the evil, evil horse of Nolofinwë, and finally Tyelkormo's smirking face, I was seized with an inspiration.
Laughing inwardly, I picked up the gaping, slobbering, frantically scrambling, sad-excuse-for-a-miserable-mongrel called Huan and thrust it at Tyelkormo, saying, "It is a gift from Oromë!"
Ambarussa is the mother-name given to both twins Amrod and Amras.
Carnistir is Caranthir's mother-name.
Curufinwë is Curufin's father-name.
Fëanáro is Feänor's mother-name.
Maitimo is Maedhros' mother-name.
Nolofinwë is Fingolfin's father-name.
Tyelkormo is Celegorm's mother-name.
It is said in "The Silmarillion" that Oromë gave Huan to Celegorm but how is not described.