The light of Laurelin was resplendent upon the tops of Túna. The great tree of the Elves, Galathilion, sparkled, towering in the center of the Great Square. The Palace, on the Western precipice of Túna was gifted with great vistas of the square below and the Noldor city of Tirion that spilled down like a fine netted silver necklace laden with pearls down the hill. Beyond the City, through the Pass of Calacirya, the waters of the Bay of Eldamar danced, catching the light of great tree of Laurelin. On this day, the clean ocean breeze, cleansed the tops of Túna, reminding the Noldor of their voyage to this side of the sea. The day promised to be auspicious.
Standing on the palace portico were two of the House of Finwë. Silence stretched between them as the bells rung from the palace towers, announcing the end of the court season, welcoming the time of respite and leisure. The two grandsons had spent their first season in court together. For one, it had been his first court season all together. For the other it had been his first season back in his grandfather’s court after some time spent away in the wild, uninhabited lands of Aman with his parents, Fëanáro and Nerdanel, and his gaggle of brothers that seemed to increase with every couple of seasons. The two, Maitimo and Findekáno, had become reacquainted over the long stretch of the season spent in court.
Indeed Maitimo had taken Findekáno under his wing, giving him advice, tutoring him on some of the more mundane but no less useful ways of life in court. They had struck up an easy friendship that replaced the one that had come before during Findekáno’s youth: the typical relationship between older and younger cousins, the young ones admiring their older kin. And always, Findekáno’s attention seemed to stand on an edge that bordered on inattention. Findekáno, though of age, was yet young, and his personality was of the sort that he had to work doubly hard to allow the stillness of discipline to seep in. And yet, Maitimo discovered that the stillness that he tried to instill in Findekáno was not entirely suited for Nolofinwë’s eldest. Findekáno, thus revealed a lesson to Maitimo he had not learned under the stern regard of Fëanáro: that there was discipline in motion, a quickness to the way that Findekáno made decisions that hinted at a thought process unlike that of his elder cousin. Neither grandson’s approach could alone be considered the best and most appropriate. Findekáno and Maitimo discovered that together they were a powerful team, their energies balancing one off the other.
On this day, Findekáno was fidgeting, anticipating the festivities that came with the end of the court season, and though he badly wanted to run off and prepare for the festivities that awaited him, he also did not want to leave his cousin’s company. Maitimo observed as Findekáno leaned over the stone railing, his loose hair billowing in the bursts of wind that would sweep up the imposing stairs of marble that led into the white stone portico of Finwë’s palace. Findekáno surveyed the preparations going on below, anticipating the night of laughter (and revelry) that would come with the soft, silver light of Telperion that embraced Tirion in shadow, unlike the bright, golden glow of Laurelin. Maitimo was struck by Findekáno’s beauty in that moment. From his perch on the stone railings, Maitimo took in his younger cousins profile: the strong jaw, the full, soft lips inherited from Anairë, the high cheekbones, typical of the House of Finwë. And though Findekáno did not inherit the aquiline nose of Finwë that so distinguished Fëanáro and Nolofinwë and Maitimo himself, Maitimo considered the nose Findekáno had to be just perfect for the face it adorned. Maitimo told himself that his appreciation of Findekáno was purely familial pride. Maitimo assured himself that he drank his cousin in, if only to give rightful place to Findekáno’s beauty.
Maitimo smiled to himself. Gone was the gangly youth who had adored Maitimo. Findekáno had grown into what many had referred to as his feminine looks. Maitimo thought this description of Findekáno absurd and perhaps the product of private jealousies. Beauty was greatly admired in Noldorin society and those that deviated from Noldor scripture of beauty were made quite aware of their transgression. Amanian society’s obsession with strict gender rules was absolutely ridiculous, but Maitimo had learned where to voice his assessment of dull Noldorin aesthetics less he bring more critique upon his father.
Findekáno had consequently been mocked as a child, some at the hands of Maitimo’s younger brothers though Tyelkormo was likewise chided for his feminine features. But like Findekáno, Tyelko had grown into himself, now considered quite the looker, even for one with hair as fair as Maitimo’s younger brother. Of course, not everyone could be perfect! While Maitimo was considered a standard of Noldorin beauty--pale skin, keen grey eyes, and tall--Findekáno too was beauty to behold as were most of the children and grandchildren of Finwë. Findekáno’s beauty was unusual, and though Maitimo’s beauty was spun into great tales told to affirm Noldorin superiority, Findekáno’s beauty was breathtaking in a different way, and whispered about nevertheless: it was dangerous and different; too much a reminder of the “wildness” of the early days, before the Elves journeyed to Aman. And that, to some of those Noldor who could not tolerate difference and challenges to the status quo, was a discomfort too large to celebrate.
Ah Findekáno!!!, Maitimo mused, freely drinking in his cousin who was caught up in his own thoughts, to see the world through your youthful eyes! Findekáno inherited the golden, sun-kissed skin and bright blue eyes from Indis, typical of some of the Vanyar. Findekáno’s hair, which was justly renowned among the Noldor, was the deepest shade of black, falling like a thick silk to his waste, the typical Noldorin twist absent from the weight of his hair. Maitimo on the other hand had hair atypical of any elf, deep dark hues of red and fiery brown, undulating and wild. For this, and perhaps because he was Fëanáro’s eldest and thus the most eligible bachelor after the marriage of Arafinwë and Eärwen, Maitimo was spoken of as the most handsome of the Noldor. Certainly, Maitimo lived up me to the name Nerdanel bestowed upon him. Granted, Maitimo was tall and strong, there would be others that would be taller than he, though Turukáno was but an adolescent, he was already the height of Arafinwë.
Such silly things that mattered to the Noldor, Maitimo considered, such vain and trivial silly things to measure one against the other. So often Maitimo was told, depending on the folk: “Nolofinwë stands but mere inches shorter…or… But Maitimo is taller than Nolofinwë!!” Despite the fact that Findekáno was the same height as his father and both were considered elves of considerable height, Maitimo’s height was used as a sort of bragging right by those followers of Fëanáro-for followers there were of each of the sons and daughters of Finwë. While some were vocationed to the children of Finwë, others chose their alignment on philosophical and political grounds.
Maitimo was struck by a thought in that moment: what truly was the reason for his own personal defense of Findekáno’s beauty? Turning to study the Great Square below them, Maitimo watched as a pavilion was erected and green Fëanorian lamps were hung from the smaller trees that lined the Square. Maitimo frowned. The idea that Findekáno would partake in the festivities below was somehow distasteful. Maitimo rubbished the feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. In fact, Maitimo made up his mind in that moment that he would personally escort Findekáno to the festivities and introduce him to some of the young women who sought Maitimo’s company. Of course Findekáno could not be an innocent, a subject not broached between the two until that moment.
“Findekáno what do you know about love?” Maitimo asked his cousin who was surreptitiously eyeing a number of maidens walking the Great Square below. Maitimo was surprised by the words that seemed to tumble out of his mouth on their own accord. He wanted to broach the subject, but not so boldly.
Findekáno turned to face Maitimo, his bright blue eyes focusing intensely on the grey ones that stared back. “Now, of all days you ask me this?” Findekáno responded, amused by Maitimo’s outburst.
Maitimo quieted the stutter that threatened to embarrass him, replacing it with his usual confidence: “Oh, ‘tis something about the feel of the day.” Maitimo returned his gaze to the activities below, not admitting to himself that looking too directly at Findekáno was unnerving. “I ask because you have successfully finished your first court season and unlike your coming of age, your status as a proper and desirable heir is come of age.”
“Oh,” Findekáno’s eyes widened, with a not so subtle hint of amusement. “I assume you mean to tell me that I must be more circumspect with my desires this eve, that I cannot be as carefree with my attentions?”
Maitimo shook his head in agreement, while silently considering Findekáno’s revelation. “Your attentions are now more meaningful,” Maitimo spoke, his voice more cautious. Turning to face Findekáno once more, Maitimo continued, “I have been gone for a number of seasons and have not heard you earned a reputation while I was away.”
Findekáno laughed, in that large, open way of his, his deep voice resounding in his chest. “A reputation?” Findekáno scoffed, “Námo’s balls, Maitimo! You well know that we have the privilege of pursuing and fulfilling our desires without having much in the way of gossip ruin our good name!” Findekáno slapped Maitimo’s back, “Cousin, I know only too well that you were expert in this.”
“And how do you know this?” Maitimo demanded, pulling out a handkerchief to blot away the sweat along his brow.
“Why Lalwen of course! She took me aside and let me in on the dirty little secrets of our family.” Maitimo’s mouth was agape but Findekáno simply gifted his cousin a dimpled smile, continuing, “Oh Nelyo, come now, do not act so offended. You, like me, like all of Finwë’s heirs, were so advised, though I do think I had the best person advise me on the subject.” Findekáno could barely contain the laughter that threatened to spill forth.
“No, certainly not,” Maitimo replied, dismayed that Findekáno was making light of the matter. “I was not so lucky to have Lalwen guide me in these matters.” Lalwen was known to be brash and outspoken, one of the few who dared openly trespass against Noldorin social attitudes, and but a few years older than Maitimo. “But now the time has come for you to hear the advice that is proper for who you are in this moment” Maitimo spoke, annoyance straining his voice. “Or tell me, has Lalwen also advised you during this time?” Maitimo retorted, put out by the thought that Lalwen and Findekáno had spoken behind his back. Just moments earlier, Maitimo was sure he had Findekáno’s full confidence. Now he was not so sure.
Findekáno grew serious. He did not mean to upset his cousin. “Of course not Maitimo,” Findekáno soothed, wrapping his arm around his cousin’s broad shoulders. Maitimo had to restrain the urge to shiver. “I apologize if my careless words upset you. I thought only to make light of the silly standards and protocols we are held to.”
Maitimo shrugged off Findekáno’s hand, standing straight, adopting a formal posture. “You have much to learn Findekáno. Making light of such serious matters is unbecoming a prince of the Noldor.” Findekáno’s mouth was now agape. Turning stiffly to face Findekáno, Maitimo concluded, “I shall escort you this evening as is my duty as your mentor. I will be by your father’s home at the mingling of the lights.” Maitimo raised an eyebrow, awaiting a response from Findekáno. Silently Maitimo was kicking himself for the tone he took with Findekáno.
Findekáno’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but his eyes narrowed revealing his irritation. “Of course Nelyo. I will await you at my father’s house.” Findekáno turned abruptly and noiselessly descended the stairs that led to the Great Square below. Maitimo watched as Findekáno made haste to leave, his brisk steps indicating his annoyance as he disappeared in the direction of the noble homes of Tirion. Maitimo chastised himself aloud: “What was that about Nelyo? What in Námo’s balls has come over you?”
Findekáno would have thrown the doors open to his father’s home had they not already been open, allowing the cool breeze to fill the home, so great was his annoyance with Maitimo. “What has gotten into him?” Findekáno whispered aloud to no one in particular.
“Gotten into who?” a male voice asked.
Findekáno peeked into the receiving room. His father was sitting, reading the day’s news and catching up on the last minute requests from unscrupulous nobles, most likely recently delivered. “Oh, Nelyo,” Findekáno answered, which truly caught his father’s attention.
Nolofinwë put down the papers he had been pouring over. “Have you and Nelyafinwë quarreled?” he inquired, trying to minimize the concern in his voice.
Findekáno threw himself on a couch next to Nolofinwë’s chair. Waiving his hand dismissively, Findekáno replied, “Its nothing father. Do not worry. I am not you and Nelyo is not his father.” The close friendship struck up between Findekáno and Maitimo was an issue of concern for their fathers, neither willing to disassociate their conflict to their sons.
Nolofinwë relaxed. “Then what is it?”
Findekáno thought about his answer for a moment. A smile broke out on his face. “Only that Nelyo is jealous that I take advice from Lalwen.”
Nolofinwë laughed. “Those two have always been at odds with one another.” Lalwen and Maitimo were close in age and never quite saw eye to eye on how to engage Noldorin politics. Lalwen always won out as she was the King’s daughter, and Maitimo--though he hated to admit it--was bothered that Lalwen had more sway in court than he.
“Of course they have!” Findekáno sprang up, “and I should have realized it when I was speaking with Maitimo.” Before exiting the receiving room, Findekáno turned back to face his father. “Do not wait up for me atto. I won’t be returning this evening.”
“No, I should think not,” Nolofinwë answered, his eyes once more scanning the pages on his lap. “But do take care Findekáno. I do not want word to get back to me that you have acted improperly.”
With his back turned to his father, Findekáno rolled his eyes. “No papa, you will have no such reports. I will be the picture of modesty and Noldorin decorum.” Findekáno flew up the stairs to his rooms. “You can count on it!” he yelled out to Nolofinwë who shook his head at his son. “I will count on it,” Nolofinwë answered, knowing Findekáno was out of ear shot.
Anairë appeared at the entrance of the receiving room, her head turned in the direction of Findekáno’s rooms. “I do worry Nolvo. Findekáno’s spirit reminds me too much of the impetuous and heady days of our people before we knew better.”
Nolofinwë grunted. “You mean before we agreed to come to Aman and adopt the asinine constraints of the Valar?”
“Nolofinwë!” Anairë chastised her husband. “I know you are in a rotten mood, but you sound like your brother!”
This elicited a snort from Nolofinwë. “I do don’t I?” Placing the papers aside, Nolofinwë rubbed his temples, keeping the headache at bay that threatened to take hold. “The end of court season is always rife with the most ridiculous politics. These fools spend their time pontificating during the season when they should be doing and come the close of the season they expect their silly requests be honored.” Nolofinwë sighed, looking at the stack of requests on the table. “And here I am, court season adjourned, but not for me!”
“No Nolofinwë, not for you.” Anairë walked to her husband, placing her hand on her husband’s forehead. “But soon enough. Before you know it you will have answered all the requests with a stern no. In the meantime drink this tea. It will keep that headache from materializing.”
Gladly, Nolofinwë accepted the cup from his wife. Returning his thoughts to Findekáno, he was thankful that Nelyo would accompany his eldest to the eve’s feasts. Nelyo would most certainly keep Findekáno in line. The last thing he needed now that Findekáno was finished with his first court season was some lurid story that some lord would hold over Nolofinwë and Finwë trying to blackmail them for some outrageous request, or worse a betrothal!
I'm an unabashed lover of Fingon and Maedhros, but Fingon is my main squeeze. Though this story is focused more on Maedhros, it allows me to go on and on about how wonderful Fingon is, cuz, well he really is!
Chapter end notes:
*I use the convention of day and night. The trees thus correspond: Laurelin-day and Telperion-night with the mingling akin to dawn and dusk.
Also I really dislike the Fingon is short stuff that has caught on in certain corners of the fandom.
Also I really dislike the Fingon is short stuff that has caught on in certain corners of the fandom.
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