Nerdanel did not know why she had gone there.
Everything in that house screamed Fëanàro's name, and Nolofinwë, kind as he was, only added to her disquiet – the set of his hands, the curve of his jaw, the way he walked made him look too much like his half-brother. It disturbed her.
He is not his brother, she reminded herself, and tried to ignore a nagging thought that said 'I wish he was! I wish he was!'
They talked softly, polite nothings that somehow feared to grow any louder. The house was full of whispered anger and muttered oaths, and Nerdanel felt that in the darkness they would grow and swell, and engulf any who dared to dwell here.
The cry was loud; the voice was familiar, yet odd in a certain quality of tone.
"Excuse me for a moment," Fingolfin said then, rising. "I must see what Fëanàro wants."
Fingolfin sighed, and looked down.
"You were not meant to know," he said finally. "I feared – I feared it would only hurt you more."
"Let me see him," Nerdanel said, imperiously. "If I could survive the news of his death, I can survive the news of his living, surely?"
Fingolfin nodded, led the way, and it took a conscious effort for Nerdanel to prevent herself from running after him. As it was she walked a little too-fast, eager and striving to hide the fact.
She saw him – and choked back what could have been a gasp, or a laugh, or a sob.
"I tried to warn you," Fingolfin whispered. "At least give me that."
"Nolofinwë!" exclaimed child-Fëanàro, looking up with eager eyes. "I just – "
He stopped, looking up at Nerdanel, who shivered a little, involuntarily.
So much the same. Dark hair, bright-shining eyes, same chin, same proud face. But young, so young.
Like, and yet unlike.
"Who are you?" he asked her. Abrupt, direct. She wondered if her Fëanàro had been the same when he was a child.
He is a child, she reminded herself.
He was looking up at her, expectantly, with the cool calmness of intelligent, patient youth.
"I am Nerdanel," she said. "I – I know you are Fëanàro."
Nerdanel did not know whether to feel pleased or sad. Pleased, because he did not have waking memories of terrible things to haunt him. Sad, because he did not have the pleasant memories, either.
His eyes shifted, from Nerdanel to his half-brother, and then settled on her again.
"You have lovely hair, Nerdanel," he said, and Nerdanel wondered whether the man the boy had been was dead, or whether he was merely asleep within.
She remembered when he – no, not he – had said that to her first, but it had not been here, in this house of stone and dust; it had been in the forge, with the fires roaring, and the clanging of hot tools about them.
The tools were cold now, and the hand that had wielded them was too small to do so again, yet.
That had been a different Fëanàro, she reflected bitterly – ay, and a different Nerdanel.
He was always the older.
It was difficult for her to reconcile the memory of the man with the grave face and serious eyes to this child with the unraveling braids and sticky smear of honey on his chin.
Abruptly, she turned and left the room, not quite running, but with a sense of swift urgency, rounding the corner in a whirl of coppery hair and white dress.
Fëanor looked at the empty doorframe for long moments, and then at Fingolfin.
"I should like to see her again," he said thoughtfully. "Will I, do you think, Nolofinwë?"
"I think you will," Fingolfin replied, pity in his glance.
That night, in his bed, Fëanor dreamt of light, and song, and a red-haired maiden at a great feast; then he saw fire, and ships, and blood, and he cried in his sleep.
Some liberties have been taken with canon, though this is not quite AU.
I'm taking a break from humor right now, but I'm not above begging for reviews - so, please, please review. Elves are hard for me, and I want to know what this is like.
If my esteemed audience likes, there will be a continuation to this - I have three chapters totally in mind.