Beta: Many thanks to Fiondil for the Beta
Disclaimer: Playing in Tolkien's sandbox and making no money from it.
Weariness consumed her, yet she could not sleep. The emotions and the labor of the day left her drained and strangely empty after having dwelt so close in fëa with another. Childbirth always left her feeling like this. Her hands resting on her empty abdomen, she languidly watched her husband as he sat by the window awash in pale light. The glorious wonder in his eyes as he carefully, tenderly held their tiny son filled her heart with such joy. Yet tears slowly crept down her cheeks for she recalled a similar time long ago.
The struggle to bear her first son had been long and difficult. The baby was large and her untried muscles quickly wearied from the strain to bring him forth. Finwë stayed by her side, holding and comforting her through the many hours of pain and discomfort. His fear and doting care, ever present during the pregnancy, made him her constant companion until little Nolofinwë arrived. Now Finwë reclined confidently on a bench beside the window regarding their son by the silvery light of Telperion.
"He looks so much like Fëanáro did," he whispered as he stroked the babe's feathery black hair. "His beautiful face, his raven hair…" Then he looked over at Indis and smiled that incredible smile of his which always warmed her heart. "My beloved son has a younger brother."
Rising, he walked the few short steps to sit by her side, the baby tucked snugly in his arm. With his free hand, he smoothed the sweat-streaked hair away from her face. Then gently, his eyes brimming with love, he bent and kissed her lips.
"Thank you for this precious gift you have given me," he choked, his voice full of barely restrained emotion. "I love you so much, Please rest and grow strong again. I will care for our little one."
Then he kissed her forehead and moved back to the window to further look upon their new son.
Sometime later, she awakened to the sound of someone entering the dimly lit room. Too weary to move, she lay still watching, and listening to her husband's deep resonant voice as he spoke.
"Fëanáro, my dearest one. I am so glad you have come! Look at what has been added unto our noble house." Finwë arose and went to Fëanáro, carefully holding the sleeping baby in the crook of his arm. Shifting the baby gently, he held him up for Fëanáro to see more clearly.
"This is Nolofinwë. Is he not beautiful?" Finwë asked.
Fëanáro leaned forward the smallest amount to peer at the child, then made a noncommittal grunt of acknowledgement.
"He is wrinkled and fat," Fëanáro observed flatly.
Finwë looked up, steadily meeting Fëanáro's gaze. "He looks exactly like you did when you were born."
"But he is not like me nor will he ever be," Fëanáro responded, foresight briefly clouding his eyes.
"No. He is not like you," Finwë acknowledged, placing a reassuring hand on Fëanáro's shoulder. "There will never be another of our kind like you."
"Then why do you call him Nolo? Have I not pleased you with my studies? Have the great Mahtan and holy Aulë both not commended me on every work of my hands? Has Rúmil not said many times that I am the most gifted student of lore he has every taught?"
"Nolofinwë is my son and he will be great as well in his own right." Finwë's tone of voice brooked no argument.
Fëanáro looked away in silence for a time, then regarded his atar once again, his eyes filled with sorrow and fear. "Atar, why do you need more sons? Why do I not please you enough?"
Finwë sighed heavily, laying the tiny babe in the cradle, then turned to face Fëanáro full on. Lovingly, he cupped Fëanáro's fair face in his hands. "My precious, precious child, no atar could be more proud of a son than I am of you. Our house is great because of you, but it is greater still with every son added unto it. A great house needs many sons for it to remain strong. We are the rulers of a strong and fiercely proud people. Our house needs many sons to guide the Noldor. One day you will have sons of your own and you will understand this."
Fëanáro closed his eyes, lips pressed together and proud head bowed before nodding in silent acknowledgement. Finwë smiled in relief and bestowed a kiss on each of Fëanáro's eyes, then on his forehead before taking him into a firm embrace.
"Never fear that you will lose your place in my house or my heart," Finwë whispered though Indis could hear every word spoken in the stillness of the room. "Know that I will always love you best, my dearest one, my first born son."
Indis closed her eyes to the sight before her and turned away.
This time it would not happen that way, she desperately hoped and prayed. She did not believe she could endure strife in her house yet again. Not after all she had been through before. Cowed by these thoughts, she buried her face in her pillow so her husband would not see and cried herself to sleep.
Deep in the night, she awoke when someone entered the room. Stirring in her bed just enough to see him enter, and stride rapidly to her husband and baby, she choked back silent tears. It was happening all over again…
Cautiously, with an economy of movement so as not to disturb the sleeping child, her husband rose from his seat to greet their visitor.
"Meet your half-brother," her husband whispered, carefully holding the baby within easy view.
"My brother… my little brother… I…I had not thought …May I please hold him?"
Amidst much fussing over swaddling, shushing unnecessary noises, and supporting the tiny head, her husband carefully placed the baby in the awaiting arms.
A few moments later her husband chuckled in quiet amusement. "By the Valar, you are as deeply stricken as am I," he gently scolded as he reached up and brushed away tears from Big Brother's awestruck face.
"There is naught I can say in my own defense," came the helpless reply.
"Where is your wife? I would have thought that she would be here with you?"
"I had a dream that the baby would arrive sooner than anticipated. I rode hard to be here as soon I could and my horse is faster than hers."
"Arafinwë Finwion! I am ashamed of you for abandoning your wife on the road so you could be here first!"
"My guards are with her!" Arafinwë replied clearly affronted. "At least the ones whose horses are slower than mine."
"You are truly besotted with the idea of having a younger brother."
"That is what Eärwen said – and many of the members of our entourage agreed as well. My guards were placing wagers on how long it would take me to grow impatient and leave them behind. The captain won of course, which is why he is captain. He knows me well enough to be able to keep up with my "fancies and whims" as he calls them."
Arafinwë bent and kissed the baby's golden brow. Nudging a little hand with his finger, he smiled when the baby wrapped it in its pudgy fist.
"So, how long have you fancied having a little brother?"
"In truth, I have longed for one most of my life and was forced to content myself with sharing Eärwen's little brother with her. Now I have one of my own. And he is so beautiful! And strong, too! He has a good solid grip. I…where ARE my manners?"
"Probably back on the road with your wife. I do not think their horses could keep up with yours either."
Flushed with embarrassment, Arafinwë turned his proud face away. Taking a few deep breaths, he straightened his back, then turned and bowed, clutching the child close.
"Lord Huoro," he formally stated despite the obvious warm amusement in his voice. "I wish to congratulate you and my dearest amillë on the birth of your first child. A great house needs many sons. May you be blessed with many more children added unto yours."
"Thank you very much. I am deeply honored, your Majesty," Huoro humbly replied with an elegant bow of his own, before awkwardly embracing Arafinwë around the baby.
"Though she never admitted it," he spoke quietly in Arafinwë's ear. "I know in my heart that Indis feared how you would react to the birth of our first son." Huoro clapped him on the back then withdrew.
Arafinwë kissed the baby again, whispering in awe, "I just met him and already I love him. How could I not? I can see my sons in his face, but he has your eyes." Looking up he grinned sheepishly. "I am so sorry. Forgive me, Huoro. I am selfish and have kept you from your son in your first hours together."
Tenderly, albeit reluctantly, he surrendered the baby to its atar.
"I need to tell my amillë how much I love her and how proud I am to be blessed with the brother the two of you have given me."
Huoro grabbed his arm to stay him. "Arafinwë, the labor was long and difficult for her – for us both. Please, let her rest for now, and you can tell her when she awakens."
Arafinwë nodded. "Yes, yes of course, I should let her rest. May I please sit with you for the remainder of the night and help watch over him?"
Huoro smiled brightly. "I would be delighted."
Tears of joyous relief softly soaked Indis' pillow as she drifted off to sleep once again, her heart rejoicing with every weary beat.
Atar – father
Amillë - mother