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The Beginning of a Wonderful Friendship: 1. The Beginning of a Wonderful Friendship
"Celeborn, what are you doing? This is one of my favourite dances, as you know very well! If you know what is good for you, you will get your feet going! Do you hear me?"
He ignored her, still glowering at the King's two Noldorin guests of honour. At last, the man turned, apparently feeling the dagger glare aimed at a point directly between his shoulder blades.
Lúthien's eyes widened and then lightened up, admiring the fair and noble face now turned to them, his long golden hair slowly sliding over his shoulder, an elegant eyebrow raised in puzzled enquiry.
Lúthien blinked and blushed a little, but the Noldo - what was his name? Finrod? - merely bowed a perfunctory, if smiling, greeting in her direction before focusing his attention on Celeborn.
To her dismay, he was still glowering, his fists tense at his side. She nudged him, with not some little force, but to no avail. Only when... Finrod, yes... repeated his question, he unclenched his teeth to hiss, "Dark Elves?"
While Lúthien was still wondering whether this was meant as an insult to their guest or an explanation of Celeborn's obvious displeasure, the other's expression cleared, if still a trifle uncertain, and he nodded.
"Oh! Yes... I was just telling Nerwen that I very much admire the compositions for harp I have heard here in Beleriand. You use some very interesting tonal combinations and shadings that I have never come..."
"... What you said," interrupted Celeborn heatedly, nodding his head as if for emphasis, his silver locks flying wildly and sparking with the reflected light of the lamps, his voice nearly drowning out the music that signalled - much to Lúthien's annoyance - the starting of the dance, "was that you were surprised 'Dark Elves' had developed such sophisticated compositional skills!"
Unruffled by Celeborn's ire, Finrod nodded again, still smiling. "Well yes, that, too. I had always had the theory that much of the musical traditions in Aman had been enhanced and enriched by the proximity to..."
His sister, who had until now calmly watched this exchange with the blank face of diplomacy, burst into laughter, a surprisingly deep, mellow sound, smooth as honey.
"Finrod, you fool! What this nice gentleman here is trying to make clear to you is that you have put your foot in. Knee-deep!"
Her keen, bright eyes sparkling wickedly, she leant slightly forward, put her hand to one side of her mouth, and said in a confiding tone, "You must forgive my brother - sometimes he is a little slow on the uptake! But he makes up for it in charm and good looks!"
Lúthien joined in the laughter, her own silvery voice a harmonious counterpoint to Nerwen's.
When Celeborn did not join in, she looked again at her cousin, intending to chide him for being a spoilsport, but the reproach died on her lips as she noticed his expression.
Where before there had been anger at Finrod, it had now transformed to something completely different. And this time directed at his sister: at beautiful, spirited Nerwen.
The title is a variation of the final lines of "Casablanca": Humphrey Bogart to Claude Rains, "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"Now on a time Finrod and Galadriel his sister were the guests of Thingol their kinsman in Doriath." (Silm, Of the Return of the Noldor)
As to my use of "Nerwen", see UT, Part One, IV, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn: "Her mother-name was Nerwen ("man-maiden")." I imagine this was a name she did not like particularly, so Finrod introducing her to others by it might explain Galadriel's remarks...
Inspired by comments made by Elena Tiriel and Marta on HA.
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