FindarŠto and FindekŠno were walking the Great Square joining the throng of elves of Tirion that were walking the paths of the Great Square. It was a bright lovely day, like most days in the Blessed Lands. Galathilion the White Tree, flanked by the Mindon, the great tower of IngwŽ, stood bright and tall. The cousins made quite the pair: one golden haired, the other raven, both tall, clearly sons of the House of FinwŽ. They circled the square deep in conversation, ignoring the giggles and whispers of groups of maidens that passed them as they made their way in the opposite direction.
Indeed it was a favored pastime of the mostly Noldor populace of Tirion to flock to the Great Square on certain High Days, dressed in elegant yet casually charming wear and walk around the Great Square. Families would take little ones and enjoy the puppeteers that would set up stages at different points of the Square. Food vendors appeared selling the latest favorites of the city folk. Others offered their wares to those interested in silken handkerchiefs, arts and crafts, jewelry fashionable amongst the young of Tirion, books, and more. Down the marbled steps that led away from the Great Square were a series of intimate amphitheaters and during the High Days the great crowds of Tirion could sit and watch musicians and playwrights perform their latest creations. It was a sight to behold, full of color, laughter, and life—an endeavor wholly Noldorin.
Young elves took the opportunity to meet with lovers and sneak a glance or share a smile with one’s object of affection, or in the case of FindarŠto and FindekŠno, sigh with the greatest sentiment of unrequited love for it was known that these two Lords were not to be bothered. FindarŠto, for his part, was in love with AmariŽ, daughter of a noble Vanyarin family that dwelt in Tirion as part of FinwŽ’s courts, ambassadors of the High King IngwŽ. But those elves a little bit older, not prone to the tender love struck ways of those nearing or just passed their majority walked the square with more confident airs, looking for different types of pastimes, more mischievous in nature. Thus FindekŠno, for his part, was not interested in catching the attention of love struck maidens fresh from the lavish parties that celebrated their coming of age. He was interested in something of a different sort.
“Tell me cousin, when are you going to find that special someone?” FindarŠto spoke, with not a hint of amusement, though the twinkle in his eyes said otherwise.
FindekŠno groaned, “Not you too. My atto and amil have been badgering me of late. What is it with the lot of you!”
FindarŠto turned to study FindekŠno’s reaction. FindekŠno was running his hand through his hair, his other hand extended into the air punctuating his words, and his bright blue eyes were wide with exasperation, as he went through his well-rehearsed list of why he had not married. FindarŠto, sensing FindekŠno wasn’t going to let up, came around him putting his hands on his shoulders forcing FindekŠno to an abrupt stop, forcing FindekŠno to focus on the golden haired elf’s face that was a mere inches from his.
“Cousin, it was in jest. I only meant to elicit a bit of colour from you, but what I have gotten is a litany!”
FindekŠno’s face relaxed as he stared at his cousin, the twinkle in FindarŠto’s eyes brighter. “No, what I sense here is Arafinwion deviousness,” FindekŠno chuckled. “You seek to divert my attention from a deeper cause. I am no maiden Ingo,” referring to his cousin by a shortened version of his mother name, “you cannot offer me sweet words with one hand and with the other seek your true will.” FindekŠno lifted his chin in a show of playful defiance. The cousins always tried to get a rise out of each other.
FindarŠto dropped his hands from FindekŠno’s shoulders, laughing merrily. “Astaldo, of course you see through my words,” likewise using FindekŠno’s mother name. The two resumed walking the circuitous paths of the Great Square. “It was a transparent attempt on my part,” FindarŠto continued, with a casual shrug.
“So then, what is it you really want to ask me Ingo?” FindekŠno astutely guessed.
The color now rose to FindarŠto’s cheeks, as he begged his cousin, “FindekŠno you must say yes.” FindarŠto’s face contorted to reveal the look of one who was bound to an ill-fated love, his lips pouting, eyes pleading with his cousin.
“Stop with your supplications cousin,” FindekŠno slapped FindarŠto on the arm. “You are a charmer, but your allure will go no further here,” FindekŠno offered, a sly grin gracing his handsome face.
FindarŠto offered him a cheeky grin in return. “Well then I’ll come to it, but you still cannot say no. I need you to come with me and AmariŽ to the shows tonight.”
“No!” FindekŠno immediately exclaimed. “I will not be your minder. You are both adults. FindarŠto you live on your own. AmariŽ stays with you there.”
FindarŠto was now truly quite distraught. “I know,” he groaned, “but she has just returned from Taniquetil. You would not believe how challenging her parents make it for us to court. Their damn Vanyarin codes of behavior are ludicrous, ludicrous!” FindarŠto’s eyes were now storming. “AmariŽ has never been to the late shows and I want to take her there so badly,” FindarŠto implored his older cousin.
“And why not TurukŠno? He and ElenwŽ would most certainly join you?” FindekŠno replied. Finrod simply raised an elegant eyebrow in response, eliciting a snort from FindekŠno. “Of course, I know,” FindekŠno continued, “ElenwŽ has the same strictures upon her. I hear TurukŠno wailing about it. I always tell him, like I tell you, serves you both right for mixing up with those stiff backs.”
FindarŠto replied, “It is always an extreme with you FindekŠno. They are not all so bad. They can be insufferable but also delightful. Just look at my AmariŽ.”
“Yes and we both know what happens when a Vanya marries a Noldo, they become one of us, not the other way around. AmariŽ may be confined by Vanyarin dictates but the moment you marry, their customs dictate she is now of your House,” FindekŠno paused, FindarŠto saying nothing to contradict his cousin. FindekŠno continued, almost speaking to himself, “I will never understand why those damn stiff backs hold their women with such low regard. They take a gift and lock it up, the true nobility and strength left to wither, never to reckon the learning of skill, exploring the many paths of potential.”
“And we Noldor provide that for our women?” FindarŠto replied, in agreement with FindekŠno’s assessment of Vanyarin gender roles, but also aware of the limitations of his own people.
FindekŠno held up his hand in acquiescence. “It is true, we are not yet learned enough to offer women their rightful place, but we are debating it. Just in council the other day your sister and mine presented a most eloquent and successful petition to be allowed into trades heretofore closed to women, with the support of anammŽ [grandmother] no less.” The notion that Indis offered the women support was not lost on the two cousins.
FindarŠto smiled, a look of pride overtaking his countenance, “Yes, I heard, though I also caught wind from ÕrissŽ that you were very helpful offering them insights as to what the naysayers would most certainly counter with.”
FindekŠno blushed, “ÕrissŽ and Artanis have as much right to choose their own path as you or I do. If by my will, my heart, and my hand I can help them achieve that, then I will.” FindekŠno could be a rogue, but he was raised by strong women that imparted important lessons.
FindarŠto placed his arm around his cousin’s shoulders, embracing him as they walked. “Can you imagine IngwŽ’s surprise to hear from his representatives that his own sister lent her name to the petition?”
FindekŠno snorted, “Oh how I would love to see his face. Grandfather was just as surprised, but he voted in favor. Indeed most of our council agreed that it was time. Maitimo was there as representative of his father. I must say the scoundrel was most eloquent in his support of the bill.”
“Were you there FindekŠno?” FindarŠto asked.
“Yes, I was in the gallery. I was waiting for…” His voice dropped off.
“For the scoundrel?” FindarŠto easily guessed, provoking laughter from FindekŠno, though FindekŠno held his gaze ahead of him, offering no further words.
“Fine,” FindarŠto gave up, “we shall not speak of that. But please do say you will join us?”
FindekŠno chuckled, “I was going to ask why you have not cajoled my brother, but I know he would dare not cross ElenwŽ’s parents and dream of taking her to such a scandalous place.”
“Exactly,” FindarŠto replied. “TurukŠno was mortified with the mere thought of taking his beloved and risking the ire of her parents.” FindarŠto paused, looking for a way to say what he was thinking. “FindekŠno?”
FindekŠno’s interest was now piqued. He knew this tone of voice coming from FindarŠto, always thoughtful but to the point.
“You must speak with TurukŠno,” Finrod spoke more quietly. “He risks the ire of ElenwŽ. She is not like AmariŽ. I know they have just begun to see one another, but TurukŠno is behaving rather oddly.”
FindekŠno massaged his temple with his fingers, groaning, “Dearest brother, ready to fuck up another relationship before it has begun?” FindekŠno looked expectantly at FindarŠto. “And have you spoken to him about this. You two are close.”
FindarŠto sighed, “I tried, but you know how stubborn he is. Once he has set his way to something he thinks is right he does not move, like a damn boulder.”
FindekŠno laughed. He knew his brother’s stubbornness too well. FindekŠno had given up offering TurukŠno advice as he simply dismissed it. TurukŠno did not believe FindekŠno could offer any helpful advice, as he believed FindekŠno was more the consummate bachelor, while beloved of maidens, never one to explore one flower closely. The brothers were close in other regards, hunting and riding together, helping their father build their home in the country, along with ÕrissŽ, but when it came to matters of the heart, the divide was great. Only ÕrissŽ could bridge that space between the two.
FindarŠto shrugged his shoulders, “I guess he will not hear it from either of us.” FindarŠto now looked at FindekŠno with a devilish grin, “ElenwŽ just wishes TurukŠno would take her into a nice meadow and take her. She’s rather bored and ready to offer up what she calls her ironic state of virginity.”
“And what, pray tell, does she mean by that?” FindekŠno asked, his eyes sparkling with merriment.
“I shouldn’t be sharing this with you,” FindarŠto winced, a bit embarrassed by his own need to gossip. “In fact AmariŽ would kill me as she was herself sworn to secrecy.”
“I’ll hear none of that,” FindekŠno hotly demanded, “out with it!”
“Fine, fine,” FindarŠto acquiesced a little too easily. “ElenwŽ just wants TurukŠno to fuck her brains out.”
FindekŠno had to stop walking as he doubled over with laughter, motioning for FindarŠto to finish his sordid tale.
“But your brother is so damn consumed with her Vanyarin honor and this and that nonsense that he is clueless.”
“Oh dear,” FindekŠno breathed, trying to regain self-control, “TurukŠno!! He can be so blind some times, my big oaf of a brother.” FindekŠno straightened, smoothing out the simple blue tunic he wore, very unlike those favored in Noldorin society. FindekŠno was a bit of a trailblazer, finding that fitting in was boring. He favored boldness and vision instead. Yet ironically FindekŠno was more committed to ideas and so consumed in working towards his visions that the thought of putting too much effort into appearance was secondary. As a result he received much push back and advice on how to represent his station. This chaffed FindekŠno, and he found that what he wore was like the first hammer strike in a rock, enough to get elves to rethink simple things before moving on to bigger issues. In that regard some said he was like FŽanŠro, but FindekŠno rebuked that comparison. If anything he was his father’s son, thinking about fomenting circumstances that would allow the Noldor to grow in ways that might not be perceived.
In fact, many of the maidens who wistfully cast their eyes his way saw a bit of a rebel who wore his hair with simple plaits, woven with striking threads of gold, but his hair otherwise loose. Other elves had discreetly started imitating his clothing, asking tailors to create the look so favored by one of their Noldorin princes. Fewer still were bold enough to mimic his hairstyle, all except the sons of FŽanŠro. It started a bit in jest, but the simplicity of it won them over and they too found the easiness of it appealing. It wasn’t that FindekŠno didn’t respect tradition, the meaning of the plaits of a house or deeds of valor. He just found that his generation had not done much to earn them. He felt they had become simply ornamental.
“Very well then, I will go with you,” FindekŠno declared, eliciting a hearty whistle of approval from FindarŠto.
“Excellent, then I will meet you at the amphitheaters at dusk?” FindarŠto replied, now dancing with excitement.
“I will be there,” FindekŠno offered, a knowing smirk on his face.
With that, FindarŠto departed, quickly making his way to his bachelor apartment. FindekŠno continued walking the Great Square, stopping to eat and talk to acquaintances here and there. He spied his mother perusing one of the vendor’s booths, speaking with her close friend and mother of FindarŠto, Ešrwen.
“Amil, onůnŽamil ,” FindekŠno greeted his mother and aunt.
“Yonya,” AnairŽ replied, kissing her son’s brow, “are you on your way home?”
“No ama, I was just enjoying the day. I will stay with you if you like,” FindekŠno added hopefully, feeling quite like the child needing his mother.
“Of course Astaldo!” AnairŽ answered, happy to spend time with her son.
“OnůnŽamil,” FindekŠno directed himself to Ešrwen, “I just left your son off at the southern steps. I am sure if he would have known you were here he would have joined us.”
Ešrwen laughed, “Indeed FindekŠno. I spied the two of you going on about Eru knows what!”
FindekŠno blushed, feeling more and more like a child being found out at something naughty. He buried his face in his mother’s arms, feeling comforted by the familiar smell of her.
AnairŽ patted his head, “Now look Ešrwen. You’ve made my FindekŠno cry.”
FindekŠno offered a muffled laugh, unwilling to tear himself away from his mother.
“As much as I am enjoying you leaning on me, I’d like to move on but you are quite heavy yonya,” AnairŽ giggled as FindekŠno was resting his weight on her.
Suddenly AnairŽ’s feet were off the ground, tightly held in FindekŠno’s arms. “Then I will carry you ama.”
“Put me down!” AnairŽ shrieked, her beautiful FindekŠno’s spirit a radiant star that inspired much brightness.
FindekŠno gently set his mother on his feet and offered Ešrwen if she too would like to be carried like the queens of exotic far off places. The three spent the remainder of the afternoon, exploring the Great Square, pausing to speak to the folk who came to them to offer traditional Noldorin greetings of reverence.