Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, but the little toys they play with in this tale belong to me.
A/N: This is an offshoot of "Meet the Feanorians." Highly recommend that you read it first, else you won't understand or appreciate (or enjoy) Celegorm and Curufin's misery :).
Summary: A day in the life of Celegorm and Curufin's punishment in the weeks following Turgon's wedding fiasco. They learn the true meaning of penitence through chores such as guarding the Silmarils (collectively referred to as the White Menace) every night from dusk til dawn, and babysitting...
Just Before Dawn...
Curufin slumped against the cool marble of the bathroom wall, panting, his senses reeling in agony from the overpowering odor of various bathroom cleansers. One bathroom down, three to go. He groaned loudly as he willed the blob of jelly that was his aching body to stand up. He slapped the sodden floor mop back into its bucket and frowned. Where is Celegorm? he thought with great irritation, wiping his forehead with his already soiled shirt.
"SorryI'mlate!" came a hurried voice as an unusually 'wired' Celegorm literally ran into the room, almost slipping on the wet floor. "Heybrother," he said in one breath, his eyes wide and his hair seemingly standing on end. His face was curiously pink, as if from excessive sun exposure.
"Where have you been?" Curufin growled, putting his hands on his hips. "I had to slave over this bathroom all by myself because you decided to sleep in! Just for that, you get to clean the master bath! And you look terrible, your hair looks just like cousin Aegnor's!"
"Youdon'tunderstand," Celegorm stuttered, his eyes growing wider. "I had to spend all last night in that...d-dungeon, guarding the White Menace! I'm on no sleep, no sleep!" he exclaimed anxiously, gesturing for emphasis.
Curufin wrinkled his nose as he looked him up and down. "You look a little distressed."
"OhI'm distressed!" Celegorm retorted, putting his fingers to his temples. "You don't know what it's like in there! Things are creeping and crawling, and that bloody white light is burning my brain!" he squeaked, vigorously rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.
Curufin's face grew pale. "And tonight I'm on watch," he mumbled, leaning against the wall. "When is this going to end? Hasn't Father had enough fun at our expense?" he asked in despair.
"I don't know, but I do know I'll never again play such a prank...at least for a long while," Celegorm added, his lips briefly quirking into a devious smirk.
Curufin glared at him. "And then he'll surely kill us, you idiot. Come on, there's work to be done in the garden." He treaded heavily out of the room, dragging the mop bucket behind him.
"Work in the garden? What work?" Celegorm asked frantically as he followed closely behind.
Curufin rolled his eyes. "Remember when we were all sick the day after the wedding, and you told Caranthir that all the bathrooms were taken...?"
Celegorm's eyes threatened to pop out of his head. "But they were! And I was just trying to get rid of him, I didn't think he'd really..." his voice trailed off.
Curufin shot him a pointed glance. "Well, he did, and it's a big holy mess, and it's on Father's list so we have to clean it up!"
"Oh no," Celegorm muttered with dread as he snatched several pairs of disposable gloves from the hall closet.
Nearly an hour later...
Celegorm and Curufin staggered into the stables and fell atop anything that looked sturdy enough, gagging and light-headed from their 'ordeal' in the garden.
"I never thought that much...garbage could come out of a single elf," Curufin gasped, staring dazedly into the distance. He made a disgusted noise and retched again. "Good thing our next meal of gruel and water isn't for three more hours!"
Celegorm, still wide-eyed and pink-faced but only a tad less jittery, coughed and shot him a glare. "How can you think of food at a time like this? That stench is in my pores!" he exclaimed, pinching his nose.
Curufin wrinkled his nose and slowly, painfully, sat up on the bale of hay he'd crashed on. "It hardly smells much better in here. Which reminds me." He reached into his sweaty pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled up piece of paper. "Time to consult His Majesty's Royal Mandates," he quipped, looking down at the paper as Celegorm peered over his shoulder:
As part of your sentence, the following duties shall be fulfilled on a weekly basis for the next six months:
1. Janitorial cleaning - thrice weekly
2. Kitchen assistance and/or cleaning - daily
3. Stable cleaning - daily
4. Walk, feed and clean up after the hounds - daily
5. Forge maintenance - daily
6. Laundry - daily
7. Kanafinwe's music composition sessions - attend thrice weekly
8. Play dates with the twins - chaperone thrice weekly
9. Damage control in west-facing garden - SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT
10. TREASURY AND SILMARILS WATCH - NIGHTLY, shifts to be divided evenly between the two of you
"How are we doing?" Celegorm asked anxiously, unconsciously chewing on a few pieces of straw.
Curufin snorted and stuffed the paper back into his pocket. "We've only scratched the surface. Better get started on Mandate #3." They both groaned and trodded off towards the stalls.
Midday - Maglor's Quarters
Celegorm and Curufin stared blankly at the wall, slumped in the uncomfortable chairs as Maglor began to play the same melody again for what seemed like the millionth time:
"Thy wings of splendor lift me up, lift me up, lift me - Ah, no! That's not it! Again!" Maglor chastised himself aloud, shaking his head and preparing to string his harp once more. "It's actually quite pleasant to have an actual audience at one of my sessions. Most times I just play for myself and the birds," he remarked off-handedly, smiling over at his unresponsive brothers.
They continued staring dumbly past him, considerably weakened by boredom, exhaustion, and the fact that they hadn't had a decent meal in days. Maglor shrugged and cleared his throat, his fingers beginning to play:
"Thy wings of splendor lift me up, lift me up, lift me uuuuuuuuuup," he sang, his sickeningly sweet tenor echoing off of the walls. Curufin's eyes rolled back, and he tipped his head back and proceeded to bang it against the back wall. Celegorm covered his ears and squeezed his bulging eyes shut. Oblivious and clearly in his own little artist world, Maglor continued serenading his half-conscious audience, until at last the dam burst:
"Will you shut up and just SHAG the woman already!" Celegorm screamed and bolted from the chair, eyes bulging madly. "Bloody hell, Kano! It's been over two hours and you're still obsessing over the first verse! Father has probably made ten necklaces by now!"
Clearly shocked and offended, a huffy Maglor gave them a frosty glare. "I don't care for your language and demeanor, Tyelkormo," he replied coolly, carefully setting down his harp and making a show of rising to his feet. "Clearly neither of you have the taste and decorum required for music appreciation." He raised his chin and pointed a long finger at the door. "I'd like both of you to leave. Now."
Both brothers let out audible sighs of relief. "Thank Eru!" Curufin muttered as Celegorm pulled him out of his chair and they ran out of the room.
Mid-Afternoon - Twins' Play Date at the Beach
"Looky, Curufin!" A piercing, high-pitched child's voice snapped Curufin out of his daze.
He yelped and started from where he sat against a rock as a strange-looking doll was thrust in his face, banging the back of his head against the rock in the process. He stifled the urge to slug the elfling and rubbed his head gingerly. Up until now, he and Celegorm had been perfectly content to let the twins and their little friends tear up and down the beach, laughing and screaming at the top of their lungs. So much for a reprieve.
"Will you get that stupid thing out of my face!" Curufin snarled, still rubbing his head. "Go play."
Undismayed, Amrod yanked on his sleeve. "No, looky, Little Aule is saying 'hello Curufin!' Say 'hello Little Aule!'" he screeched, waving and shaking the doll in Curufin's face.
Curufin groaned and closed his eyes. He didn't have to look at the doll. He'd seen plenty of it ever since the twins had begun to talk. "My Little Aule" had been one of Grandfather Mahtan's ingenius creations. It was a 12-inch-tall replica of the great Vala, with poseable limbs, long copper hair, too-wide blue eyes, and wearing a huge permanent grin that gave him the creeps. Especially unsettling was the real, miniature silver hammer permanently lodged in the doll's hand. Naturally, Amras had wanted one too, and they carried them everywhere. In Curufin's view, no two toys had ever seen more use and abuse than these abominable creations. The only telling difference between the two was that the hair of Amras' doll was styled with half of it down and the rest pulled into a spiky pigtail.
"Look, Amrod, it's Lord Ulmo!" Curufin exclaimed and pointed out to sea, hoping the child would take the bait and leave him in peace. He exhaled heavily with relief as Amrod turned and ran like the wind, homely doll in hand and howling like a banshee.
"That has to be the ugliest doll I have ever seen," Celegorm mused tiredly, shaking his head.
Curufin snorted derisively. "An odd remark coming from someone who had to be weaned off of his 'My Little Orome'," he smirked, laying his head back against the rock and closing his eyes. Celegorm shot him a dirty look and closed his eyes once more in an attempt to catch a few winks. Suddenly, someone began shaking his arm. He started and raised his head to glare down at the intruder. "What do you want?" he grumbled.
"Will you play Valar Queens with me?" asked a small, sweet voice. A tiny blond elfling wearing a pink dress and matching pink ribbons smiled up at him, holding out a lavishly dressed doll.
Celegorm waved her away. "No," he retorted, turning his head and closing his eyes.
Then something was shoved into his hand. "Good, you be Queen Yavanna and I'll be Queen Varda," came the energized command. Celegorm looked down at the doll in disgust and was tempted to fling it out to sea, but wisely decided against it. He let out a long-suffering sigh and set the doll down with a thud.
"'Good morning, Lady Yavanna, let's go for a walk!'" gushed the elfling, trotting the Varda doll happily along the sand. "Here, you have to make her walk," she instructed Celegorm, her tiny hand standing the doll up. "Come on, make her walk!" she whined when he sat motionless. Celegorm rolled his eyes and sighed again, at last making a feeble attempt. He heard stifled snickers coming from Curufin's direction, and he shot him a withering glare.
"No, not like that! Yavanna walks like this!" the girl chastised him in exasperation, again demonstrating with the Varda doll. Celegorm looked skyward. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered.
Curufin would have gladly made fun of his brother's situation, but he was distracted by the goings-on along the shoreline. He watched a little warily as the twins and their friends yelled and chased each other, play-fighting with sticks and the Little Aule dolls, their horseplay growing increasingly noisy and rough as the waves came in almost up to their waists. "Should they be playing so far out?" he wondered aloud.
"Who do you think you are - Mother?" Celegorm chided him, following his gaze to where the boys frolicked. "Nothing's going to happen, we're right here!"
As he spoke, one of the friends snatched Amrod's doll out of his hand and began play-fighting him with it. Amrod began shrieking anxiously, trying to grab the toy back from the elfling, who was several inches taller. Then the boy made an uncontrolled thrust with his arm, and the doll slipped from his grasp and sailed through the air, landing several feet away into the water with a splash, where it was quickly began sinking.
The brothers blinked in disbelief. The children stood frozen, their eyes and mouths wide. Poor Amrod's face was a study in frightening metamorphosis, his tiny features scrunching and contorting, his mouth opening in preparation for what was to come:
The plaintive wail was so piercingly loud it frightened away a small flock of gulls nearby. His face bright tomato red, tears streaming down, Amrod took another big breath and let loose another cry of grief, his little finger pointing pitifully out to sea: "MY LITTLE AULEEEEEE!"
"Well, play date's over," Celegorm muttered as the brothers staggered to their feet. "Curufin," he murmured worriedly, nodding his head toward Amras, who was chewing anxiously on his doll's hair . The twins were extremely alike when it came to sudden mood swings, and he hoped to stave off an all-out emotional meltdown.
"Too late," Curufin replied glumly, covering his ears and Celegorm doing the same. "Three...two...one..."
Now that both twins were screaming loud enough to shake the heavens, it motivated their brothers to action at last. "Well,...go get it," Curufin said, jutting his head toward the sea. Celegorm's jaw dropped in indignation.
"I'm not getting the stupid thing! You were watching them in the first place - you get it!" he exclaimed hotly.
"I wasn't watching them! You're the elder, you were supposed to be watching them!" Curufin shot back. "But no, you were too busy playing dress-up!" he sneered. "Besides, you owe me - I had to clean the downstairs bathroom all by myself this morning!"
"I don't owe you anything, Atarinke! I had to spend all last night locked up with The White Menace!" Celegorm shrieked. At that moment, Amrod and Amras came running over to them, and began tugging on the legs of Celegorm's pants, crying for him to go get the doll. As their cries grew louder and more intense, Celegorm looked up and said to the sky, "Kill me now." With one last, heavy sigh, he slowly bent down to roll up his trousers, his muscles aching greatly with the movement. "All right, all right!" he ground out, shooting Curufin his deadliest glare as he began the long walk out to sea. He shuddered as a thick rope of stinky seaweed wound itself around his ankle as he waded further and further out. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Tyelkormo...this is hell," he mumbled before ducking his head underwater.
Later That Evening...
The brothers stood motionless before the great iron door, neither of them saying a word. A look of terrible dread filled their eyes the longer they stood and stared at it. Finally, Curufin swallowed and spoke: "I don't want to spend the night in there."
Celegorm's eyes widened in horror. "You must, Father promised to lengthen our sentence if we are disobedient in the least."
Curufin's shoulders slumped as he exhaled heavily. "Ah, I'm so tired! How am I going to stay awake the next twelve hours!"
Celegorm's eyes glazed over in remembrance. "Oh, believe me, you won't fall asleep," he whispered, rubbing his eyes vigorously.
"Well, well," came a cheerful, taunting voice from behind, as did the sound of two pairs of footsteps. Cringing, the brothers slowly turned around to face them. "Hello, Maedhros," they mumbled, staring at the floor.
"Ah, 'tis so heartwarming to see our devoted servants preparing for another night of diligent treasury watch," Maedhros cooed sarcastically, smiling with great satisfaction. "Well, someone wants to give you something before you go. Go on, Ambarussa," he said softly, gently pushing a timid Amrod forward. The brothers' eyes widened in surprise: he was holding the rescued, sea-sodden Little Aule doll.
Amrod took his thumb out of his mouth and stepped forward. "Little Aule wants to spend the night with Curufin," he said in a small voice. "That way he won't be scared and all alone." Amrod then held the filthy doll out to Curufin and popped his thumb back in his mouth.
Curufin stared in disgust at the toy, which looked more hideous than ever after its earlier sea-dive. Dirty as it was, the psychotic eyes and plastered-on smile seemed brighter and more menacing than before. He paused and dared to look up. Celegorm had averted his eyes from the ugly thing, while Maedhros stood with his arms folded, grinning like a Cheshire cat. At last, Curufin cleared his throat and tried to flash a wan smile.
"Splendid," he droned, grasping the doll's arm between his thumb and forefinger. "I thank you, little brother." With that, he abruptly turned away and walked toward the iron door. "Pleasant dreams!" came Maedhros's mocking whisper before he and Amrod walked away. Curufin paused and turned to Celegorm one final time. "I'm going in," he muttered darkly. Celegorm gave a feeble wave, then quickly scurried down the hall. Taking a deep breath, Curufin turned the giant knob and pulled the heavy door open. The resulting assault of white light momentarily stymied him and he jerked his neck backwards in response. After letting his eyes adjust, he finally went in, shutting the treasury door behind him.
The hours dragged on as Curufin lay rigidly in the cavernous vault, wide-eyed and clutching his thin blanket. It was unearthly silent, and any sound that was made echoed off the soaring ceilings. His eyes darted frantically about as the eerily glowing light of the jewels, which radiated even from within their casket, cast strange and morbid shapes about the walls. Suddenly he thought he heard the slightest rustle.
"H-hello? Is someone there?" he whispered, daring to lift up his head. He nearly gasped; the Little Aule doll was missing from where he had thrown it atop a shelf!
"Little Aule?" Curufin whispered fearfully, pulling the blanket up to his chin. It was going to be a long night indeed.