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Father's Wish, A: 2. Chapter Two
Year 1381 of the Valian Years of the Trees
"Mother, I don’t see why it’s necessary." The ever noble and wise Finarfin was beginning to sound like a petulant child. Indis had surprised him by suddenly arriving at his doorstep in Alqualondë with the demand that Artanis accompany her to Taniquetil.
Indis glared at her youngest — and most favorite — son. "She has had enough of a Noldorin and Telerin upbringing. Now it is time for her Vanyarin one. She does descend from Irinel of the Vanyar, sister to Ingwë herself," huffed Indis. "Just because her House is Noldor doesn’t mean she should forget her Vanyarin roots!"
He ran a weary hand through his golden hair. "Of course she shouldn’t forget her Vanyarin roots," he said calmly as he tried to pacify his mother. "Artanis should learn of all her heritage. But she can learn much of it from me." He gave his mother a pointed look. "After all, I know something of the Vanyar myself." That was an understatement. Before his marriage to the Telerin princess, he had dwelt among his mother’s kindred for quite awhile. It was there that his deep loyalty to the Valar took root, as well as his more pacifistic leanings. "Besides, why do you only want to take Artanis along? Why not any of my sons?"
His mother shrugged elegantly. "Because none of my other grandchildren have inherited anything of the Vanyar, other than Artanis and Finrod. And all Finrod has is golden hair." Indis picked at her skirt. "Artanis though, is something different." She looked back up. "Besides, Ingwë wishes to speak to her." At this, Finarfin raised his eyebrows. The High King wanted to speak to his daughter? The High King had never even seen her. What business would Ingwë have with Artanis? He must have let his suspicions show, for Indis patted his hand reassuringly. "Come now, little one. My uncle stopped eating little Noldorin princesses long before he reached Aman."
"Well, I suppose we could all make the trip up there," conceded Finarfin reluctantly.
At this Indis laughed. "I’m afraid that this invitation is extended to Artanis alone, although the rest of you would be welcome later."
"She can’t go by herself!" said Finarfin, the hints of panic beginning to appear on his face.
The queen rolled her eyes. "She’s going with me." She narrowed her eyes at her son. "Or don’t you trust me?"
He waved his hands in the air. "No, no, of course I trust you. You’re my mother! But Artanis has never gone anywhere without me. She won’t be able to handle this sudden separation."
The queen leaned back in her chair and gazed at her son with consideration. "Is it Artanis who won’t be able to handle the separation, or you?" When Finarfin didn’t answer, she continued. "You have held on to her long enough, my son. It is time she chose her own path now."
Finarfin’s blue eyes were anguished as he met the clear gaze of his mother. "She is so very dear to me. I am afraid that when she does choose a path, it will lie far away from mine."
"You can’t prevent her, if that is her fate," Indis reminded him gently. Finarfin nodded glumly. "Good," she said briskly. "Now summon my granddaughter." Finarfin rose and went to the balcony, and, after catching the eye of his daughter who was seated in the garden below, signaled her to come to up.
Artanis, of course, was very prompt, for she arrived within seconds. Seeing both her father and grandmother seated with grave expressions on their fair faces, she dipped into a polite curtsy. "Good afternoon, Father, Grandmother."
Indis held open her arms. "Is that how you greet your grandmother?" She gave Finarfin a mock glare. "What has your father been teaching you?" she demanded. With a smile of glee, Artanis ran into Indis’s outstretched arms.
"It is so very good to see you, Grandmother. We didn’t know you were to visit."
"Yes, she surprised me too," muttered Finarfin, the barest hints of sarcasm shading his words.
Indis gave Artanis a kiss on her brow. "I’m glad you didn’t inherit your father’s tendency to mutter. It is something that Finwë has unfortunately passed along." Both women shared slight smiles at that. "Now, the reason I came all the way down here is to see you, Artanis."
"Me?" asked Artanis curiously.
Indis nodded. "As I was telling your father, I think that perhaps it is time you accompanied me to Taniquetil." She smiled at her golden-haired grandchild.
Artanis felt eagerness well within her. "Yes, I would love to go." She had never been to Taniquetil before. It was said to be the most beautiful place in all of Aman. But then she looked up at her father guiltily, "That is, with Father’s permission, of course."
Finarfin looked like he was about to refuse, but after a quick glance in his mother’s direction, he nodded. "You have my blessing, my dear." He forced himself to smile at the joy on his daughter’s face.
Indis clapped her hands. "Excellent. Now I must consult with Eärwen about things Artanis will need to take with her." She rose and departed to seek her daughter-in-law.
Finarfin was left alone with Artanis. "Well, my dear, it appears that you finally get to meet your Vanyarin kindred."
"What are they like?" she asked with curiosity.
He considered this. "They are different from the Noldor and Teleri. Very close to the Maiar they are, and often they participate in the councils of the Valar." His eyes grew distant. "They know many things, the Vanyar. They are wise and just. And they are powerful." His voice had dropped to a whisper, and Artanis could hear the reverence in her father’s voice. His hazy eyes cleared as he focused on his daughter. "They remember the beginning, even though we have forgotten."
Artanis blinked. When she had asked her father what they were like, she had been hoping for more general information, not philosophical wonderings. But then again, this was Finarfin. “I will keep that in mind, Father.” She brightened. “I have to go tell Grandfather Olwë! We’ll miss out on our daily swimming practices, but that will give him time to get in shape.”
He almost spilled his drink. “Artanis, I wouldn’t say that within your grandfather’s hearing distance.”
“Yes, I’ll be careful of that, Father,” she promised solemnly. With one last smile, she bounded out of the room. Finarfin remained, as he stared unseeingly at the embroidered carpet at his feet.
One week later, Artanis stood in the lovely, airy halls of Taniquetil. Indis stood by her side, as she allowed her granddaughter to take stock of her surroundings. The journey to the mountain had been fun, if a bit tiring. Indis was an avid sportswoman, and while Artanis had no rivals in the water, on horseback was a completely different matter. But now, Artanis found that all her tiredness had vanished the moment she had set foot within the hallowed mountain. All around her, golden-haired Elves scurried to and fro, their laughs and smiles filling the large hallways.
The Vanyar were certainly different from their other kindred. Physically, they were taller and better built, even the women. Like Indis, they were strong of body. The slenderness so common in the Noldor and the Teleri were not evident, and for once, Artanis felt at home.
She felt a touch at her shoulder. “Come, Artanis. I will take you to my own home, where I lived before I wedded your grandfather.” Indis led her through several corridors until they emerged a large open area. There was a small pond in the middle. On the other side of the pond, a lovely white house was situated comfortably in the rock. As they approached the house, a smiling, golden-haired man ran out. Indis let go of Artanis’s hand and flew toward the man. They embraced and began talking quickly. Artanis stood to the side politely, as she waited to be introduced.
“Artanis, this is my father, Anthön. You saw him once, when you were very young.”
He smiled down at her kindly. “You probably don’t remember little one, but you poured hot soup onto my lap.”
Artanis’s face began to turn red. “I did that?”
“Oh, it was actually my fault. Irinel, my wife, warned me that you wouldn’t like that vegetable soup, but I insisted on feeding you anyway.” He chuckled at the memory, while Indis hid a smile behind her hand. He held out his hand. “Let me take you inside, Artanis. Irinel and I are pleased that you will be staying here with us. We’ve prepared a room for you, and we hope you find it comfortable.” Anthön led her and Indis inside, where three other golden-haired elves, one man and two women, awaited them.
One of the women ran toward the door and embraced Indis. “Daughter, could you be any slower in getting here?”
The other golden-haired woman laughed. “Irinel, she came early!” The elves began chattering with each other, and Artanis took the opportunity to examine the others. The one who had embraced Indis was Irinel, and it was obvious that they were mother and daughter. The other woman was similar in height, except she didn’t seem as sturdy as Indis or Irinel. The man was as golden-haired as his companions, except his eyes were a deep, piercing blue. Something about him made Artanis stare harder at him. He noticed her stare, and he threw a smile in her direction.
“Indis, you didn’t introduce us to your granddaughter!” Indis pulled Artanis over.
“You have already met my father, little one. This is my mother,” she said, pointing to Irinel. “And those two are my uncle and my aunt, Ingwë and Suriya.”
The High King and the High Queen! She gulped inaudibly and she stammered, “It is an honor.”
Ingwë placed a hand on her shoulder. “All you alright, child? You have gone pale.”
“I’m a bit overwhelmed, High King.” This elicited chuckles from the others in the room.
The king nodded solemnly. “Yes, my sister has that effect. She often overwhelms me as well.” An apple flew in the king’s direction. Ingwë caught it and presented it to Artanis. “And what is this ‘High King’ nonsense? I am a grandfather of sorts, but you may call me Ingwë if you wish.”
Ingwë was too familiar for her, so she decided to stick with grandfather. “Grandfather then.” Ingwë smiled broadly and led her to a small dining room, where a meal was laid out. All sat down as Anthön went to get a dish from the stove. The king patted the seat beside him, indicating that Artanis should sit at his side. “My brother-in-law has cooked the evening meal for us.” He leaned down and whispered in her ear conspiratorially. “It has been a while since he has last stepped into the kitchen, so if something tastes funny, don’t let it show.”
“I heard that!” came an indignant voice from the kitchen. Anthön stepped out bearing a bowl of some sort of stew. “When was the last time you cooked, Brother?” Anthön rolled his eyes at Artanis. “Since he sits on the throne all day, he rarely does domestic duties anymore.”
The king threw a challenging glance in his direction. “I’m sure I can still cook better than you.” Anthön still looked disbelieving, so Ingwë continued. “We can resolve this easily. We’ll have a cooking contest tomorrow – and Artanis can be the judge!”
“You have to be at court tomorrow,” Suriya reminded him pointedly.
The king waved that away. “I can take a day off.”
Irinel smirked. “You can’t take a day off. You’re king.”
“I am High King. If I take a day off, who is going to order me otherwise?”
Artanis listed to the banter incredulously. In all her dreams, she had never imagined Ingwë and his family acting so…silly. And from their attitudes, this seemed like a common occurrence. Chuckling softly to herself, she applied herself to her meal. And regardless of what Ingwë had said, the meal was very delicious, if a bit spicy. Indis, on the other hand, ate like a person starved.
“Don’t they feed you down in Tirion?” laughed the Vanyar queen.
Anthön shook his head sadly. “Those Noldor have delicate tastebuds. Although the Teleri are even worse. They cannot stomach any peppers.”
The king kept piling more food onto Artanis’s plate. “Eat up, little one. You are too skinny. By the time you leave, you will be more healthy.” Artanis stared at the high pile of food on her plate. She did not think she could stomach it but Ingwë reassured her. “Don not worry. You will manage, even if the food could be better.” This was said with a mock-sneer thrown in his brother-in-law’s direction.
Halfway through the meal, Ingwë asked about Finarfin. “How is he doing? It has been many years since I beheld your father last.”
“He is well.”
Indis interrupted. “And completely worried. He did not want to part with Artanis.”
Irinel chuckled. “All fathers are the same.” She turned toward Artanis. “When you get back, tell your father you fell in love and wish to get married as soon as possible. He will be horrified and will go into a fit of panic.”
Suriya nodded in agreement. “Fathers of daughters need a swift kick every now and then.”
“I never had to go through that, since I only have a son.” Ingwë looked pleased with himself.
“Who ended up marrying a Maia, the Fire-maiden, no less!” finished Indis.
Anthön narrowed his eyes at the king. “Anyway, even though you did not have a daughter, you certainly had no problem harassing all the young men who tried to court Indis, and later on, your granddaughter Meril.”
“I did not harass them!” When all the others looked at him skeptically, Ingwë hurried to defend himself. “I was only looking out for their better interests.” Next to him, unable to hold back her mirth, Artanis gave into it, dissolving into laughter at the table.
The banter continued into the night, and Artanis completely forgot about home.
The next day, Ingwë led Artanis on a tour of Taniquetil. He showed her the throne room, the gardens, and he even took her to Manwë and Varda’s house, at the very top of the mountain. The Valar had been very kind to Artanis, especially Manwë. He extracted a promise out of Artanis to go riding with him one day. But the best part of the day had been the Snow Lake, a large lake at the base of the mountain. It was called the Snow Lake because the glaciers that melted on Taniquetil’s peak fed the lake. She spent a peaceful afternoon swimming in the cool waters. In the evening, the king introduced her to his two grandsons, Ethilian and Severn. They were younger than she was, but already they were taller and stronger. Feeling pity at Artanis’s inexperience with sports other than swimming, they promised to teach her.
She continued thusly for a month, spending her days swimming and riding with the other Vanyar her age. They seemed content to welcome her among them, and while their speech was more ancient than the Quenya she was used to, she managed well enough. Ingwë taught her much about ruling, and Suriya taught Artanis dancing and music. However, her most influential teacher was actually Arien, Ingil’s wife. She appeared one day at Irinel’s house with the request that Artanis visit the Gardens of Vaná with her.
Arien was very tall, taller than Elven woman were wont. She had dark-hair, and her eyes were dark as well, although they were fire-bright. Her skin was golden-hued like her Vanyarin husband, very unlike the other Maiar, whose visages were much paler. They would stroll in the Gardens, where Arien and Ingil dwelt. Here, Arien would collect the dews of Laurelin – indeed, she was the only one who could do so, as Laurelin was very hot. “I have the ability to withstand great heat and fire,” she had explained to Artanis.
The Fire-maiden instructed Artanis in the arts of magic and enchantment. “Although you don’t have any Maiar blood, you will find that you still have the ability to form more basic magic.”
Arien was generally a cheerful, kind person, but when Melian’s name would be mentioned in conversation, Arien would grow sad. Artanis had asked whether they were sisters, and Arien had given her a rather confusing explanation. “The Maiar are similar to the Valar in that we are all creations of Eru’s thoughts. There are no true siblings. Indeed, although Vaná and Yavanná are sisters, they are only sisters because they chose to be sisters. In a similar way, Melian and I are sisters. And I miss her very much. But she has chosen to bond with an Elf, just as I have. The only difference is that Ingil is here, while Elwë Singollo is on Arda.” The subject had become too depressing for Arien, and so Artanis had hurriedly changed the subject.
When she returned to Taniquetil, she found many letters waiting for her. Most were from Finarfin, although her mother had sent her a few, as well as some of her brothers. She spent an entire day composing replies. When she came to Finarfin’s letters, she wrote very gingerly, as she didn’t want to admit that she was having that good of a time. When she finally did have free time, she spent her time exploring the area around Taniquetil. During one of her many wanderings, she came across a spring, hidden in the deep forest. She would come here once a day, as it was very secluded and private.
But one day, she went there only to find that someone else was already there. Slightly irritated that someone had found her secret spot, she approached the spring – only to discover that the person happened to be a very golden Vanyarin male bathing. Generally, Elves didn’t care about nudity, but Artanis had never seen a nude man before. Which was why, in her hurry to flee, she tripped over a tree’s surfaced root. The noise caused the other elf is turn in surprise, which caused him to lose his footing on the rock he was standing on and fall backwards into the water.
When Artanis looked up, the elf – still nude – was looking down at her with concern. “Are you alright?”
Standing up with as much dignity as she could muster, she nodded. “I am very well, thank you.” Brushing her skirt free of leaves, she inclined her head. “I am sorry to intrude. If you will excuse me, I will leave you to your bathing.”
“Wait,” he said as he grabbed a hold of her hand. “No need to run away. You can use this spring too.” He grinned at her, and she was startled to see that his eyes were a bright, piercing green – an uncommon color not only in the Vanyar, but in the Noldor and Teleri as well. “Besides, you look like a good conversationalist.”
She looked uncomfortable. “I generally would not mind, except I have not yet developed the habit of conversing with naked people.” This was said a bit defensively.
He flashed her another disarming grin. “Habits come from experiences.” He examined her more closely. “Actually, you look very young. Not yet reached your majority?” Receiving a nod from Artanis, he nodded in understanding. “Oh, well, I understand. Sorry,” he said unsympathetically. “Just give me a minute to dress myself, and then you can converse with me.” He withdrew to the edge of the spring, where he had left his clothes.
Alone again, she slapped her forehead with her hand. How embarrassing! He will probably turn out to be a friend of someone I know. Worse yet, a friend of Finrod. She would never hear the end of it from Finrod. And Finarfin! She flinched when she thought of what her father would say.
A rustling to her side alerted her to the approach of the elf again, except this time he was fully dressed. “Still waiting for me, good! I was afraid you would have left!” He began to lead her onto a path that would take them back to Taniquetil. “I have not seen you around before, and your hair is not exactly the standard golden color. Who are you?”
“I am Artanis, a granddaughter of Indis.” The elf smirked, ever so slightly, but she caught it just the same.
“You are Finrod’s sister?” Oh Valar! I was right! Curse me for my prediction! She nodded. “I am Glorfindel, a friend of Finrod and Turgon.”
She flinched. Although she had never met Glorfindel, she had heard the name many times from Finrod. “You are Vanyar?” she asked, in an effort to hide her mortification.
He nodded, as he wrung out his golden hair. “The breeze will dry it,” he said absently. Focusing on her again, he continued. “Not fully Vanyar, but more Vanyar that you.” At her confused look, he elaborated. “My father is Vanyar, but my mother is Noldor.”
“That is most unusual. Men of the Vanyar rarely marry outside their own kind.” This was certainly true, for although many Noldorin men had taken Vanyar wives, only one Vanya man had ever taken a Noldorin bride – the parents of Ar-Kaliel, a famed huntress and a good friend to Maedhros. Which probably meant –
“Oh yes,” he said cheerfully, as he correctly interpreted her thoughts. “I am Ar-Kaliel’s younger brother.” Ai, could this get any worse? “And it certainly is a good thing that I ran into you, for I actually was going to seek you out tonight.” He flashed a sly look at her. “Although I would have been fully dressed when you met me.” He playfully tugged on some of her hair. “I’ll be accompanying you back to Alqualondë at the end of next week!” It always gets worse, she decided.
The following week approached swiftly, and Artanis began looking forward to being home. Thanks to Ethilian, she now had many more sparring skills, and under Ingwë’s own guidance, her skill with the bow improved greatly. Now it would be easier when she fought with her brothers.
Indis chose to remain behind with her family a while longer. Content with allowing Glorfindel to take her back home, Indis kissed her granddaughter goodbye, with only a warning to beware of Glorfindel’s charming personality. The high king came to say goodbye as well, and as a parting gift, he presented Artanis with a bow - made from the bark of a yew tree, as Ingwë had told her proudly.
The journey home was more fun than she imagined, as Glorfindel turned out to be a charming companion. Although he never mentioned the incident at the spring again, she saw the twinkle in his green eyes any time he would glance at her. It was a fortunate thing that she was under her majority, or else the journey home would have taken much longer.
When they did arrive at Alqualondë, it was to a small party. Finarfin and Finrod had bounded out of the house, eagerly embracing her. Glorfindel was welcomed similarly, and he was invited to stay for an extended visit. But he declined the invitation, only staying one night before continuing on to Tirion. As he had explained to a dejected Finrod, Glorfindel's own family was awaiting him.
After the merry Vanya left, life settled down once again in Alqualondë, as Artanis went back to her old life of swimming, studying, and fighting with her brothers.
Seven years later, Artanis finally reached her majority, and as was tradition among the Eldar, her parents threw a large party in her honor. Now fifty, she would now be regarded as an adult, and for the most part, her life was her own now. She could take lovers if she wished, or she could even get married. But for Artanis, none of these was as important as the ability to chose a mentor - one who would become her personal teacher as she slid into her new role as an adult.
It was custom to announce this at the party, so she spent several days beforehand trying to decide whom she would choose. She made lists, received advice from people, and even researched Elven history in her attempt. But unfortunately, when it came down to it, no one really appealed to her.
The problem was that she did not know what direction she was headed in. If she were interested in song and dance, hunting, academics, philosophy, or craftsmanship, the choice would have been easy. But she didn't want to do any of those. As a last resort, she prayed to Lorien to give her a dream that would guide her in choosing. Lorien complied, and he gave her a vision of herself ruling large lands.
This only confused Artanis, for the lands she dreamt of were not any she had seen before. And her subjects - they were Elves whose race she could not identify. After several hours of meditation on the subject, she found herself as confused as before, and so she sought out Olwë.
"An unusual dream, especially for someone like you," he said after Artanis told him of her dream's content.
"What does it mean?"
He regarded her thoughtfully. "It could mean many things. But it seems to me that you want power, Granddaughter."
She considered this. "Power of what kind?"
"Only you can decide that," he told her cryptically. "But let me give you one piece of advice. There are many paths to power, and they lead to different places. Make sure you choose your path wisely."
Absorbing this, she withdrew once again to her debate on who her mentor should be. Ingwë was a possible choice, but she instinctively knew that the High King's path was not for her. Neither was her father's. And that left only one other choice - Fëanor.
Armed with this information, she made a trip to his forges. As Finarfin would have demanded to know why she would be going to see Fëanor, she told him instead that she was going to visit her uncle in Tirion. It was not exactly a lie, for she did plan to visit Fingolfin. It was just that she would see Fëanor first. And since she was only a few days shy of being fifty, she was allowed to travel alone.
Upon her arrival at his forges, which were a bit difficult to find, she immediately ran into Caranthir. Apparently he hadn't forgotten their fight so many years ago, because his only greeting was another sneer. "Here for another round, swan girl?"
"You wouldn't be up for it," she said breezily. "Now, I am here to see your father - where can I find him?"
Another voice interrupted – this one deeper and more pleasant. "Caranthir, find something else to do than harassing the lovely young women who arrive on our doorstep." It was Maedhros, and he was grinning in their direction. Caranthir glared at her one more time before walking away. "He hasn't forgiven you for humiliating him the last time we were all in Tirion together," remarked Maedhros when she approached.
"I suppose a truce was too much to hope for," she said in reply. "Anyway, I did not come to see Caranthir – that day is long in coming! – but I came to see your father."
His eyebrows raised, Maedhros only gave her an incredulous glance. "And what business does the Swan Princess have with my father?" he asked. But unlike Caranthir, he spoke without malice.
"I believe that is the Swan Princess's business alone," she returned loftily.
He grinned. "If you insist, I shall take you to him. But just a word of caution - he can get foul-tempered when he is working." As Maedhros led her inside the forge, she was caught by the atmosphere of the place – almost feverish. She listened with half a mind as Maedhros chattered on about random topics, but she was jolted back to reality when he mentioned Glorfindel. "I saw him a while ago, and he mentioned to me that he met a very beautiful swan princess while at Taniquetil." He waggled his eyebrows at her. "It didn't take me long to figure out who he was talking about."
"Oh, him," she squeaked out, too embarrassed to say more.
Maedhros poked her in the shoulder. "Yes, him. And he even told me how you both met. I think that is a wonderful way to begin any relationship."
Artanis wanted to sink into the ground. Finrod had teased her mercilessly over the years about that meeting, and now Maedhros would too. She ran through a list of rebuttals mentally, but thankfully, they had finally arrived at Fëanor's workspace.
Currently his back was to them, and after a glance in his direction, Maedhros took his leave of her. Taking a deep breath, Artanis approached her uncle. He must have sensed someone behind him, for he waved her away. "No, I don't want any food. Now leave me in peace!" he snapped.
"I will come at a better time, Uncle." She began backing out.
Fëanor turned and raised his brow. "Nerwen, this is an unexpected pleasure." He beckoned her back in. "Stay." He smiled at her ruefully. "Nerdanel will send over people to make sure I feed myself. Sometimes it becomes annoying."
Saying nothing, she settled down on a large wooden block. Fëanor sat across from her and regarded her curiously. "I was not expecting you, as Finarfin did not send word of your coming."
"My father did not send any word because he does not know I came here." If it were at all possible, Fëanor's brow shot up higher.
"And your father just let you travel alone?"
She shifted uncomfortably. "I told him that I was going to visit Uncle Fingolfin - and I plan to - but I wanted to come here first."
He grinned at her in that feral way of his. "It pleases me that I was at the top of your list." He poured each of them a glass of water. "So, why have you come? You are not the type to make meaningless social visits."
Pleased by his bluntness, she accepted the glass from him. "My birthday party is coming up soon, as I will be turning fifty."
"Ah, yes, your majority." He regarded her with those fiery eyes of his.
"You will come, won't you, Uncle Fëanor?"
He nodded. "Of course. But you did not come all the way here just to invite me, as flattering as the thought is."
Forcing herself not to look away, she continued. "I plan to take on a mentor, and it will be announced at the celebration. I have considered several mentors, but I have found that the only one I want is you, Uncle." That last bit came out breathlessly, and belatedly she realized that perhaps she should have taken more care when she phrased her request.
Leaning back on his makeshift seat, Fëanor stared at her silently. "Why?"
"I want to learn from you. Not of craftsmanship," she corrected hastily, "but of your views. I find them more fulfilling than all the others I have heard."
He narrowed his eyes at her. "And what did your father say?"
"I have not told him yet."
His lips quirked into a slight smile. "I think that he will not approve."
Keeping her voice firm, she answered, "It is not for him to approve. It will be the first decision I make as an adult, and he cannot interfere."
"I like that, Nerwen." He gave her an admiring glance. "You do not allow yourself to be washed away by the opinions of others." He leaned forward. "And I am most pleased to accept your request."
After stopping by Tirion to see Fingolfin, she returned home to find it frantic as the sea palace was being decorated. Finarfin was the busiest of all, scuttling back and forth as he directed the decoration of the gardens, the food that was going to be served, and the preparations of the ball room. Eärwen was busy as well, as many gifts began streaming into the palace. Ingwë had sent her two finely crafted daggers of the Vanyar warrior class, and Irinel had sent a shimmering, white dress made in the fashion of the Vanyar. It consisted of a long, belted skit that sat low on the hips, and a tight midriff-baring bodice. While Finarfin and Finrod had frowned at it, Artanis chose to wear it for her party. Fëanor had also sent his gift in advance - a set of jewelry made entirely of glass.
Yet Artanis cornered her parents the night before her party, in order to tell them her choice in advance, as it would be unfair for them to be unprepared tomorrow. "Father, Mother, I wanted to tell you my choice of a mentor."
Her mother smiled at her gently. "You do not need to tell us now, little one. Tomorrow will suffice." Her father nodded in agreement, his thoughts already caught up in planning for tomorrow.
"No!" she shouted. "You need to hear it now." Her parents stared at her curiously, surprised by her outburst. "My mentor will be Fëanor."
They stared at her in surprise. "Fëanor as in my brother Fëanor?" asked Finarfin.
"How many Fëanor's are there?" snapped Eärwen. She looked at her daughter closely. "Are you sure?" Receiving an affirmative nod from her daughter, Eärwen sighed. "The choice is yours to make."
Finarfin still stared at his daughter, disbelieving. "Artanis, do you want to be a metal-worker?"
"A jewel-smith? A scholar? A linguist?"
Artanis sighed in frustration. Finarfin was going to make this difficult. "No, none of those things."
Finarfin slammed his hand down on the table, causing both Artanis and Eärwen to jump back in surprise. "Then why are you taking Fëanor as your mentor?" he shouted.
"Because he can teach me other things."
He looked at her, his eyes hard. "He can teach you about rebellion, about disloyalty to the Valar. Is that what you wish to learn?"
"Father, I will learn what he teaches me. As mother said, it is my choice." Finarfin's head snapped back, as if he had been slapped.
"You have made your decision then." Giving her a final look of betrayal, he silently departed the room.
Indeed, the decision had been made. The stream that had separated her from her father was now as wide as the Belegaer. And it could no longer be repaired.
The guests had taken Artanis's announcement with surprise, but none had remarked upon it otherwise. Fingolfin had sympathetically tried to comfort this brother, but Finarfin would have none of that. Indis had sternly instructed her child to be joyous on such a happy occasion, but he had refused. Instead, he had hunted out Fëanor and drew him to the balcony.
"Is this another one of your tricks, a sly manipulation?" Finarfin demanded.
Fëanor snapped back, "She came to me, not the other way around." The look of anger changed to one of triumph as he continued on, a sneer on his features. "Can't you stomach the fact that she prefers me to you? Are you jealous, little brother? Jealous that she wears the jewelry I gave her tonight, instead of the ones you did?"
Finarfin was silent, until, "I swear on the Valar, that if you hurt her, I will kill you." Fëanor's eyes widened slightly at hearing that. Finarfin had never made a threat even remotely violent before. His youngest brother stepped closer, for once looking menacing. "I will kill you," he repeated.
Fëanor stepped back, out of his brother's reach. "Swear on the Valar all you want, but the only one hurting Nerwen is you. You stifle her here in Alqualondë." Finarfin's eyes widened in outrage, but Fëanor would not allow him to speak. "Like any plant, she will die from a lack of sunlight, no matter how much you water her."
"And I suppose you will give her sunlight, your twisted kind." Finarfin's lips curled back.
Fëanor narrowed his eyes. "Better some than none."
"I would rather have her dead than turn out to be like you!"
"Would you?" Finarfin stepped back. "Would you?" Fëanor repeated softly. Then he laughed slightly, a sound that froze Finarfin's heart. "Fate will decide who Artanis turns out like. For her sake, I hope it isn't like you." With that, Fëanor turned and went back into the ball room. Finarfin remained a few moments before he also followed.
Below them, under the balcony, Artanis listened to this sadly. "You shouldn't overhear things like that." The voice came from behind her, and she turned to see Glorfindel standing there. He came closer. "When people eavesdrop on private conversations, they often hear things they should not."
"I am a pawn, a chess piece," said Artanis bitterly.
Her golden-haired companion nodded in agreement. "They are maneuvering you."
"I am not that important."
Glorfindel chuckled, the musical sound filling the garden. "I beg to disagree."
Her fingers traced the elaborate patterns on the railing. "I thought that it would stop, once I reached my majority."
His fingers traced the line of her jaw. "It only gets worse."
Her stomach fluttering, whether because of the conversation she had overheard or the fingers touching her face, she asked softly, "I wish they would stop."
"You can only outmaneuver them."
She turned to look at him closely. "Are you trying to maneuver me?"
He laughed. "The only place I would try to maneuver you is into my bedroom." He stepped back and raked her with a burning green glance. "The urge has only increased since we last met." She felt a thrill of pleasure at that fact. Since he had last seen her, she had grown to her full height, and she was taller than most Noldor and Teleri. Her build had firmed as well, and she resembled the Vanyar in everything except the hair.
Which Glorfindel was currently fingering. "This time, perhaps you should be the one without clothes." He held out his hand.
She considered this proposition seriously. Her father certainly would not like this, and neither would her brothers, or her cousins, and perhaps even Fëanor. But she wanted this, and that was what counted. It was her decision to make.
She placed her hand in his. "Perhaps I will."
- The characteristics of the Vanyar is based mostly on the descriptions in The Unfinished Tales, the “History of Galadriel and Celeborn” (..she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for the loremasters and athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth…”) and from the HoME, Book 4, the Shaping of Middle-Earth, “The Quenta” (…very tall was she [Idril], well nigh of a warrior’s stature, and her hair was a fountain of gold…).
- I refuse to believe Elves were chaste until they got married. No way.
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