Disclaimer: The Silmarillion and all associated characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. This story makes no profit and no infringement is intended, only tribute.
Chapter One - Kindling a Spark
I first met Curufinwë Fëanáro when he came to the home of my father. I still remember him, despite all the years that have passed, as he was when I first saw him; hair tied back severely to keep it off his face, limbs long with the promise of future growth and yet somehow not ungainly even in their length, and that haughty smile that dared the world to challenge him.
His eyes, though... Telperion at his brightest could not rival the silver fire in those eyes once the passion in his heart was roused. He had such a way of looking at one, lips pursed, eyes measuring, as though his keen sight perceived flaws wherever his glance rested, as though these flaws angered and distressed a mind swift to imagine perfection.
I could not stand him. I shunned him, thinking him arrogant, acutely conscious of the notion that those bright eyes could not fail to note my difference.
I am not the fairest of our people; this I know, and have come to accept. Yet it was painful, in those days, to realise that any glances that came my way did so only for the hair my father bestowed upon me; coppery, like his own, like the most favoured metal-work from his hands.
The son of King Finwë came to us to learn, from my father, the art of coaxing metal into new and pleasing forms. It came so easily to him; rumours told me it was thus for all other skills to which he had turned his hand.
My preferred art lay with stone, rather than metal, and so I tolerated this high-born, aloof stranger, content to show my father the work I had accomplished and know that it was different, and could not be judged in competition with that of Fëanáro.
Then, however, he turned his thought to sculpture. At first, I felt a twinge of satisfaction unbecoming of me to see his first failures. And then, inevitably, he learned, and his work began to take on such vivid strength that I could hardly bear to look at it.
Oh, the day he chose unknowingly to sculpt from the same inspiration... I had been toiling over flowers, delicate and pink, carved from rose quartz. Fëanáro walked to the workroom, his eyes catching sight of the rose-bush, and he immediately commenced seeking to capture the delicacy of the flowers in stone.
I shattered two of my carved flowers, that day, in a bout of anger of which I'd not believed myself capable, upon seeing how his rose surpassed mine.
He left the rose outside the door to my room.
When I asked him why, he merely shrugged those already-broad shoulders, and told me, "You love the stone. You smile at beauty in it. I wanted to give you a little more of the world to smile at in the form you prefer."
So frank and honest; he stole the teeth of my envy without ever knowing it had existed. I did not stop competing in sculpture, but there was no anger to it, merely the knowledge that our striving pushed me further, driving me to excel until my father began presenting my work to others as tokens with the same pride as with which he gave his own work.
I remember finding him in tears of helpless rage after a visit home; he'd bit back all the things he'd wanted to say there, so that his father would not be hurt by his anger. He'd taken an axe, and gone to the woodpile to work off his fury; we had firewood ready to use for weeks afterwards.
In the end, I was the one who brought food out to him when he refused to come inside. I sat with him while he ate and listened to the confusing tangle of words as he vented – Fëanáro was usually so clear of speech, but misery seemed to drive his voice to a speed and intensity that seemed hard for him to deliver, and was even harder to understand when heard.
It was the second time his honesty softened my feelings regarding him, and his exhausted gratitude had felt strangely warm in contrast to the aloof manner I'd associated with him.
Was I not enough, that Atar needed them? Am I so hard to bear that he must soften his family with others? His questions as I led him inside still sound as clear in my mind as the day he spoke them.
I could find few words to ease the hectic gleam in his eyes. A tree needs water, soil, and light; it cannot live on just one, but all are precious and vital to it.
He told me once, much later, that those words had at times helped him step back from arguments with his half-siblings and step-mother, for Finwë's sake, but it was many years before I knew his gratitude or even that he had remembered my feeble attempt at advice.
We were friends, for a time, learning and working beside one another. I did not believe there could be more – how, when he was a High King's son who could have the pick of the fairest maidens of the court?
He went home, to learn of other matters, and returned to us again when he could. Each time he returned, growing rapidly to his full height and adult features, he was more beautiful to look upon. He reminded me of a slender dagger my father had once forged; it had been fair when cooled, but it had held a strange bright beauty of its own when white-hot during forging, shining until tears might sting one's eyes and veil the sight into a glowing haze of heat and light.
I should perhaps have known how Fëanáro would deliver his choice.
"Ride with me," he'd invited one afternoon, leaning on a doorframe casually.
"Anywhere. Everywhere. We could ride and ride and never stop."
I had laughed, and asked, "And when the horses tired?"
"We would run, or walk, or swim."
"And never turn for home?"
He had given me one of those bright, serious stares. "I would be at home no matter how long the journey, with you beside me."
Within three days we had announced that we were courting, and I scarcely dared pause and think lest it all be some strange dream or fancy. His kisses, though... they were no dream. I did not know what he saw in me; but I knew whenever he kissed me that he meant it.
The days of our betrothal were among the happiest of my life; kisses and caresses stolen in secret, his clever hands always contriving to fluster me and yet somehow not rumpling my clothing, leaving me to stand demure and innocent before others, only the flush on my cheeks remaining to be excused somehow.
They were among the happiest, but even they could not compare to the first days after we married. The glow of his spirit enfolding mine at night was beyond words, beyond joy, defying all description. I only know that I was dizzyingly happy, for we loved so brightly then.