My Aragon Stories
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Father's Wish, A: 1. Chapter One
Disclaimer - To me, Tolkien is like one great big library. I'm just a library patron borrowing but not owning. Just a word of note: this is strictly an interpretation of Galadriel and Fëanor in Valinor. Don’t worry, they’ll be at each other’s throats soon.
Year 1365 of the Valian Years of the Trees, …approximately one hundred years before the creation of the Silmarils…
Fëanor was watching her discretely. She was lovely, of course, as all of Indis’s grandchildren were. But unlike them, she had caught his attention. It was her eyes, he decided. Her eyes that were not as young as they should have been were a piercing blue-gray, a hallmark of her Telerin origin. But she had the golden, shimmering hair of the Vanyar, as well as their fine features. And although she was still a girl, her height and build suggested that she would have a warrior's stature one day.
His lips twisted as he imagined his youngest brother with a warrior for a daughter. It was laughable. Finarfin wouldn’t be able to handle it, the spineless peacekeeper that he was.
Finwë, as noble and as wise as he ever was, for once failed to interpret the discord among his sons. He had tried to broach the topic with all three of them, but as usual, he only received a grunt from Fëanor, a nod from Fingolfin, and a smile from Finarfin. To rectify the deteriorating situation, Finwë, in what could only have been a mark of desperation, invited his entire family to his palace in Tirion. It was Finwë’s hope that a peaceful few weeks would cause the brothers to become friends again.
Fëanor, who loved his father beyond all reason, could not deny him this, even though he knew the effort was futile. He and Fingolfin would continue their subtle, silent war in attaining the loyalty of the Noldor, while Finarfin would pretend to be aloof from it, as he contemplated more serious, philosophical matters with his Vanyarin kindred.
His mind shifted to the present again. Currently the warrior daughter was watching all of the other children play. It almost seemed that she was aloof from their childishness. But he knew that wasn’t true because he could read the envy in her eyes when she watched them pass by her without a glance.
This was evident especially when she watched Aredhel. Fëanor allowed his eyes to shift to the only other niece he had. Aredhel was dark-haired and pale-skinned, the epitome of Noldorin beauty. But her wild temperament and almost reckless disdain of rules made her a great favorite among her brothers and cousins. Indeed, if Aredhel and Artanis stood side by side, one would automatically assume Aredhel was the stronger one. But if one looked more closely, he would be able to see the power in those piercing blue-gray eyes of Artanis. To Fëanor, Aredhel was insignificant. Finwë’s House would not be strengthened through her. But through Artanis…the question was, what would Artanis bring into the line?
His thoughts were interrupted by commotion coming from where the children were. He looked up to see Caranthir approaching Artanis with a smirk on his face. His eyes narrowing, Fëanor watched attentively.
“Are we not good enough for you, swan girl?” Typical Caranthir.
The girl’s face was composed as she only arched her brow. “Why ever would you think that?” Her tone of voice was cool and polite.
Carantir smirked again. “I suppose that’s what can only be expected from a Vanyar lover.”
Her cool expression melted to reveal one of outrage. Ahh, there is the firebrand. “Don’t insult the Vanyar!”
“The Vanyar are stooges of the Valar!” Artanis did not take this comment as her father had in previous years. Instead of walking away, Artanis jumped on Caranthir as her little fists began to hit him. Caranthir, not to be beaten by a girl, started hitting back, as their cousins formed a circle around them.
He settled back against a tree to watch. He would interfere only if it got too violent. After all, Artanis had to defend her grandmother’s honor.
No, not Artanis. Noble lady is not a good name for her. Nerwen, Man-maiden. She should have been born a man. He allowed his thoughts to swirl around in his head as they took root. Yes, Nerwen is what I will call her.
Artanis, oblivious to the interest she had generated in her fearsome uncle, only thought about the sneering face in front of her. Around them, their cousins and siblings watched on in surprise and admiration. They hadn’t known that little Artanis could fight like that.
Finrod, however, was watching this with a horrified look on his face, but as he attempted to step into the circle, Celegorm reached out and stopped him. “If you interfere, Caranthir will hold it above her always.” So Finrod reluctantly stepped back. But the chaos had attracted other adults, and now both Fingolfin and Finarfin were running towards them across the vast expanse of Finwë’s lawn.
Fingolfin stepped inside the circle and pulled apart the two children. “What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.
No one spoke.
“Artanis, who started this?” asked Finarfin sternly.
“I did,” she said with a hint of pride. The corner of Fingolfin’s lips tugged up in the barest form of a smile while Finarfin looked just as horrified as Finrod. Without another word, he shooed the other children away.
Finarfin gave his daughter a disappointed glance. “Artanis, you must apologize to your cousin.”
Her jaw dropped open. Apologize for defending the honor of her grandmother? “Father, I can’t do that. He threw the first insult!”
“It doesn’t matter who started it. We are guests in my father’s home, and it was disrespectful of you to raise your hand against your cousin.”
She looked up pleadingly to Fingolfin. "But I thought you said it was important to defend your honor!” Fingolfin, unable to interfere in Finarfin’s discipline, only stayed silent, his gray eyes regretful. Artanis looked away, feeling very betrayed. But suddenly, she caught sight of a tall figure watching them. Fëanor. He was standing a little ways away under a tree, unnoticed in all the commotion. Caught by his fire-bright eyes, something in them caused defiance to flow through her. “No father, I won’t apologize.”
Finarfin’s eyes glinted. “Daughter, it is my command.” She gulped inaudibly. Finarfin never called her daughter unless he was truly upset with her. And since her father’s seldom-seen wrath was not something she wished to bring upon herself, she gave in.
“Fine. I am sorry Caranthir, for hitting you. And winning.” She threw that in with a smirk of her own, and then she walked away.
Later than evening, she made her way to the rooftops. When the lights of Telperion and Laurelin would mingle, it would be her favorite time of the day, and she always liked to be outside for it. But when she got to the roof, she saw that HE was already there. And although she had no way of knowing how, she knew that Fëanor could sense her presence. Artanis considered leaving, but then again, she wasn’t going to miss her favorite time of the day just because Fëanor got here first. Making up her mind, she walked over and stood near him. “Good evening, Uncle.”
“Good evening to you, Nerwen” he replied. She blinked at his use of her mother-name but did not remark on it. Instead, the two of them stood side by side, watching the light blend together. They were silent for a long while until Fëanor spoke again.
“I have heard that you are a great swimmer,” he said casually.
She inclined her head in acknowledgement of the compliment. “My mother’s people are seafarers.”
He gave her a sardonic glance. “The water must be in your blood, then.” He looked back toward the horizon. “I saw you two years ago, when I was in Alqualondë. You were racing against a rather unworthy challenger. Do you still compete?”
“Sometimes, when I have the time. But mostly I have my studies and lessons.” She quieted then, as she considered the situation. Here she was, having a conversation with Fëanor, of all Elves, about swimming. It was very bizarre.
His beautiful lips quirked into a smile. “Sounds very boring.”
“I was really good. No one beat me, not even my grandfather Olwë.” She felt strangely comfortable in his presence. She knew that her father and her Uncle Fingolfin did not have good relations with the son of Miriel, and she knew that Fëanor did not consider Finarfin and Fingolfin his true brothers. But none of this seemed to matter on the rooftop.
“Then I think you need more talented opponents.” The flash of pleasure that surged through her surprised her. After all, what did his approval have to do with anything? But she wasn’t able to deny that she was happy he thought so highly of her skill. He was Fëanor, after all.
He was speaking again. “I am sorry about this afternoon.”
She looked slightly confused. What did he have to do with it? “It was my fault, my lord. I was the one who began the fight with Caranthir.” She sighed in frustration. “My father says I need to control my temper, that I shouldn’t let it get the best of me.”
He looked amused. “If you hit Caranthir, he undoubtedly deserved it.” Artanis felt better after hearing those words. If the father of that beast agreed with her, then she had no need to feel guilty. Fëanor continued. “Giving in does not always gain you respect. As a matter of fact, you can often gain respect by not backing down.”
“I wish my father would understand that.” Finarfin was too attached to the ideas of peace, and he always preferred to maintain harmony, a position that had often caused scorn from Fëanor and frustration from Fingolfin. “And I do apologize, for I was disrespectful to Grandfather.”
He waved her apology away. “Nerwen, there is no need to apologize. Your defiance wasn’t effective today because you were in a weak position, one with no options. After all, disobeying Finarfin and bringing shame to his name is certainly not a choice. But in better circumstances, with a stronger position, a well-managed display of rebellion may be quite successful.”
They stayed on the rooftops for a while longer, until Telperion was fully in bloom. Then Fëanor walked her to her rooms and bid her goodnight. But as Artanis rolled around in her bed later that night, she considered her uncle’s words. A well-managed display of rebellion may be quite successful… The words were slightly seditious, Artanis knew. But her heart hammered with the conviction that they were right.
As sleep began overtaking her senses, she dreamt of fire.
The next morning found Fëanor riding with his two brothers. Finwë had bluntly told all three of them to go outside and spend affectionate, brotherly time with each other. And who could refuse a request like that? So they decided to go riding around Tirion, as they had when they were younger. And if Fëanor were honest with himself, he would admit that Fingolfin and Finarfin were not that bad. It was just that it was difficult for him to see them as anything other than the Sons of Indis. Nevertheless, the three of them peacefully and uneventfully rode around Tirion. They spoke of their children and wives especially.
When Finarfin mentioned yesterday’s incident, Fëanor expected Finarfin’s outburst of pride over his daughter’s prowess. So he was incredibly surprised – and disappointed – to discover that it was an apology on the behalf of Artanis. “Artanis is impetuous at times, and she should have learned to control her temper by now.”
Fëanor didn’t accept his brother’s apology, and his respect for his brother dimmed for making it. Such a temper might have benefited Nerwen, but if Finarfin had his way, it would be trained out of her. In the end, she would be a doormat pacifist like her father. “Just as I have already told Nerwen, Caranthir deserved it.”
Fingolfin and Finarfin exchanged looks at the use of Artanis’s mother-name. But they did not comment on it. Fingolfin laughed instead. “I never knew little Artanis was so strong.”
Finarfin allowed himself a tiny smile. “Yes, she is surprisingly strong.” The subject shifted then, to other matters, but it never completely left the minds of either Finarfin or Fëanor.
After the events of yesterday, Artanis had become rather popular. All her cousins had taken greater interest in her, especially Fingon. He had decided that Artanis would learn sparring from him. Even Aredhel had spoken to her today. Eärwen had indulgently smiled at her daughter when she asked for permission to go riding with Celegorm and Turgon.
“So you have made friends, Artanis?” said her mother, the beautiful silver tresses framing a slender face. Many times Finarfin would call his wife a mermaid of the sea, so lovely was Eärwen.
She had answered carefully. “Yes, mother, I have.” But she didn’t tell her that the best time she had was talking with Fëanor. How Eärwen would react to that Artanis didn’t know.
But now, back at Finwë’s palace, she sought HIM.
She found him on the rooftop again, just as the light from the Two Trees was mingling.
He had been waiting for her, she knew. She couldn’t explain it, but she could feel it. “Good evening, Uncle.”
His voice was quiet and at peace. “And good evening to you, Nerwen.”
No words were exchanged as they stood in companionable silence, enjoying the time as Telperion came into brilliance. Then, just like last night, he escorted her back to her room and bade her goodnight.
The remaining days passed thusly, with both Artanis and Fëanor spending the mornings and afternoons occupied with family. But each evening, when Laurelin was waning and Telperion was waxing, they would spend it together. It was an unspoken agreement, one that neither would ever admit to having. She had lost all nervousness in his presence, and she found that she could speak to him about many things. He was very well learned, and he would listen carefully when Artanis spouted forth numerous complaints, especially about the differences in the linguistics of the Teleri and the Noldor. But, as always, their favorite subject was swimming. He seemed very interested in her passion for it, and this made her glad, for her parents certainly never evinced as much interest in it.
At times, she found it disturbing how easy it was for her to tell Fëanor everything. She could locate no single thing in their conversations that explained their unusual rapport. It was just there, with no words to describe it. It fed and nourished her ravenous spirit, and it gave her a sense of belonging and comradeship.
Unfortunately, the day of her impending departure was looming closer on her horizon. Fëanor had bluntly told her that the only reason he had stayed as long as he had was simply because he found her intriguing.
Strange, that Fëanor found her intriguing. But as was Fëanor's style, he hadn't told her why. And as was her style, she hadn't asked. Yet she found that she was beginning to understand his unspoken thoughts, to hear the hidden meanings in his words. It was a powerful ability that she had picked up, one only shared by Nerdanel, and previously, Miriel.
Thus, on the day before she would be leaving for Alqualondë, she hunted out Fëanor long before their appointed meeting time. She found him in Finwë's library, browsing through a rather worn book. She crept in quietly and stood near the doorway, watching him as he attainted the deepest level of concentration. It was a remarkable sight. The fire from the hearth seemed to embrace him, as its lights flickered in his dark hair. His eyes were feverishly bright as they regarded the manuscript that was clenched in his hands. How long she stood there she did not know, but time had stopped for her. She was concentrating just as hard on Fëanor, except she was studying him while he was studying the book.
But soon he did sense her presence, and she watched as awareness came back to Fëanor. The transformation was incredible. Now he was normal again, not some sort of demigod of fire.
Fëanor is not normal, a voice whispered in her head. He is almost god-like. She shook off these thoughts as she greeted him. "I am sorry to have disturbed your solitude, Uncle."
He gave her a smile that almost seemed feral in the firelight. "If you had disturbed me, you would have known it." He beckoned her forward, to the seat in front of his. "Perhaps you can give me your opinion.” His long fingers gestured to the manuscript in his hand. “Tell me, what is this?”
“A treatise, written from the days when there was no societal order, during the early days of the Eldar.” A rather obvious question.
He shook his head, however. “I was not referring to the subject matter, but the manner in which it was written.”
Artanis nodded in understanding. “It is written in the script that Rumíl himself devised. Our written language.” She sought to understand what his point was.
“Yes, and it is quite brilliant. Imagine, having to devise written language. A most difficult task.” His dark eyes probed her in that fearsome way of his.
“But you are unhappy with it. You dislike its imperfections.”
Fëanor looked back down to the book. “Rumíl’s work is good, but it is not flawless. There is always room for improvement.” He stroked the page under his hand. “Knowledge is the greatest treasure that we have. It is our responsibility to ensure that it is preserved properly. Rumil’s script leaves too much room for possible misinterpretations. If the words for duck and seabird are confused, then will history not be altered in our understanding of it?” Artanis nodded but kept silent, as she watched the long fingers stroke the letters of the book. “And if history is altered, it shall become a lie.”
Fëanor was looking to debate this point. She would comply with his wishes then. “But we are Eldar. History remains in our memories.”
He waved that point away. “Memory is deceptive, Nerwen. It changes with time. As we go through life, we pick up more perceptions, and our views on certain events and ideas change. Our judgment becomes colored, and when we do remember, our mind colors our memories, showing us only what we want to remember.”
“But then could it also not be argued that someone who transcribes history writes with bias? No matter how precise the language is?” She had hit a point, she knew, because he regarded her more thoughtfully now, his eyes displaying some measure of respect.
“A good rebuttal, Nerwen. I expected no less from you.” He gave her a slight smile. “But in answer to your question, yes, a historian’s writing can never be completely impartial. But we can strive for it by improving what faults we can.” He rose and placed the book back on the shelf. “Come, Nerwen. I believe they are serving the evening meal about now.”
She followed him out, considering the words and the man who had spoken them. Fëanor would be undertaking the change of language himself, from what she had been able to glean from the conversation. Was there nothing he could not do? As they strode down a well-lit hallway, they passed by a large mirror in the wall. She sighed internally as she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. Among the predominantly dark-haired Noldor, she stood out like a vegetable in a basket of fruits. Yet again she found herself wishing for Aredhel’s dark looks. Unconsciously, she began to braid her hair while walking.
“You should leave it down, Nerwen. It would be unfortunate to hide such beautiful hair.” Fëanor looked down at her in mid-stride.
“Do you really think it’s beautiful?”
“I consider you lovely.”
Lovely. Warmth filled her as she turned the word over in her mind. Fëanor didn’t lie to her, just as she didn’t lie to him. If he said she was lovely, then she was. And she had never been lovely before. “Thank you, Uncle.”
Fëanor shook his head. “There is no need to thank me. I am simply stating a fact, not giving praise.” Artanis smiled ruefully. Leave it to Fëanor to put it like that.
Surprisingly, Fëanor could still be astonished, the jaded cynic that he was. Little Nerwen had cleverly debated with him, with as much skill as her father had years before. Apparently Finarfin had passed along whatever few good qualities he had to his daughter. It was a shame she would probably end up living in Taniquetil as a secluded philosopher. Finarfin would be happy, at any rate.
And although Fëanor would be reluctant to admit it to anyone, even to his father and wife, he was fond of the little princess. He conceded that it was a sort of detached fondness, something like an academic fascination, but it was still fondness. He definitely would not be admitting it anytime soon. Yet the princess had warmed her way into his company, and he did not feel her presence as an intrusion in his solitude.
And when he had said that Nerwen was lovely, he had meant it. He did not desire her in any way, except perhaps in the way a parent would a child, or a teacher would a student, to protect and raise her in his own image. He had always regretted the fact that no girl-child had blessed his line. Not a day would pass by that Fëanor wouldn’t think of his mother, and he had hoped that perhaps the visage of his mother would continue on. And while he loved his sons greatly, well, none of them even remotely looked like Miriel. None had even inherited her personality, save Maglor, whose gentleness was reminiscent of Miriel’s.
He found it odd, then, that Nerwen, who in no way shared any blood with Miriel, so resembled her, in temperament if not in looks. His mother and niece shared the same quiet firmness, the strong, capable hands, and the ability to pierce the hearts of others.
He sipped from the glass of cool water in his hands. As he stood in the balcony of his room, his thoughts shifted to another room in another wing of the palace. It was the room of his childhood, the place that he had grown up in. He closed his eyes as memories of his mother assaulted his mind. Miriel, coming in to wake him up. Miriel, coming in to kiss his hurts away. Miriel, playing with him. Miriel, helping him with his penmanship. Miriel, Miriel, Miriel…He remembered that he had hidden some of his mother’s possessions under his bed after she had forsaken her body. That box still remained there. Perhaps he should pay a visit to his old room, a place he had not been to in many years.
Fëanor set the glass on a table and slipped on a pair of shoes. But just as he was about to leave, Nerdanel slipped into the room, and once again, as he had for the many years he had been married to her, he simply sighed at the sight of her.
All thoughts of Miriel, his room, the box, and Nerwen vanished.
They left for Alqualondë early in the morning. And while part of Artanis was glad to be returning home, another part of her would miss Tirion, would miss Fëanor. He had solemnly kissed her goodbye and had only told her to never give up her swimming. She had just as solemnly promised not too. Finarfin, on the other hand, was unabashedly relieved at the fact that they would be leaving Tirion behind. And although he had not explicitly said so, he was glad that they were leaving Fëanor behind as well.
During the ride, Finarfin called his daughter toward the back of the procession. “Come ride with me, Artanis. I would have some words with you.”
She obeyed and trotted back to her father, leaving behind Aegnor. “Yes, Father?”
“We have not had a chance to speak recently, you and I.” She felt a prickle of unease. “The past few days have been hectic, as we have all be preoccupied with other members of the family.” He turned his head to look at her. “But I thought to take this opportunity to claim your attention, for once we arrive at home, your grandfather will undoubtedly monopolize your time.” This was said ruefully, for Olwë had made no secret of the fact that he enjoyed his only granddaughter’s company the most.
She gave her father a slight smile but made no response. He continued on. “Artanis, I want you to know that your mother and I encourage you to meet and befriend with many types of people. It is important for you to learn the views of others in order to strengthen your own. But Artanis, you must be wary of some people more than others.”
“You mean Uncle Fëanor?” She looked at her father evenly.
Finarfin nodded. “Yes, Fëanor.” He halted his horse, and Artanis did the same. Finarfin reached over and clasped the smaller hands of his daughter. “Artanis, understand this: Fëanor is my brother, and I love him. But I do not like him. He is a dangerous man, attractive and charming. It is easy to be swept away by his demeanor.”
She squeezed Finarfin’s hands. “I know Father, but I will be careful.”
“No, Artanis.” For the first time that she could remember, Finarfin looked afraid. “Please, you must be extremely cautious when you deal with him. He will draw you in. He will win you. And then he will break your trust and hurt you.”
Artanis examined her father carefully. “Father, has he hurt…you?”
He smiled at her sadly. “In more ways than you can ever know.” His blue eyes regarded her own with an infinite grief that she knew she would never completely understand. He looks like a man who has already lost the battle. The voice that was speaking in her head was the treacherous one, and swiftly she silenced it.
She brought his hands to her lips and kissed them dutifully. “Father, I have heard your words, and I have taken them to heart.”
He patted her head. “I hope for both of our sakes that you keep them there.”
- Since this time period is vague in the Silmarillion and in the other books, I’ve tried to keep from having a lot of specific, factual details.
- However, I will point out that I have chosen to keep Orodreth as a son of Finarfin, which will later mean that Gil-galad will remain as the son of Fingon. I know that in canon it is stated that the original house of Finarfin was incorrect, and that Orodreth was really a grandson of Finarfin, but I’ve chosen to stay with what the Silmarillion says. Maybe one day….
- To be clear on the many names of our favorite Noldorin heroine, I’ll clarify. Artanis is her father-name, and it means “noble lady.” Nerwen is her mother-name, and it means “man-maiden.” The name that we are most familiar with, Galadriel, means “garlanded in radiance,” or some variation. However, Galadriel is really her epessë, an after-name bestowed upon her by Celeborn, who would be her lover later on. So it would be incorrect to have her addressed as Galadriel in Valinor, since that name hasn’t been created yet.
- Rumil created the first written language of the Elves, although Fëanor refined it greatly. I won’t go into the details now, but language would become a weapon between Galadriel and Fëanor.
- All Elven languages have a common root, but over time, each tribe developed their own dialects. The Vanyar retained the most ancient form of the language, High Quenya. The Noldor would also speak Quenya, but pronounciation was different, as well as certain linguistic elements. The Telerin tongue was different enough to be considered a separate language (it is stated in the Silmarillion that Finarfin had to learn the language of the Teleri). Sindarin is similar to the Telerin tongue (this is due to the fact that the Teleri tribe was together longer, since they left Middle-Earth last). Sindarin was spoken by the Telerin Elves who remained behind on Arda.
And an acknowledgment – I read a story a friend recommended to me a long time ago, and it detailed the relationship between Darth Vader and Princess Leia (I’m not really a Star Wars fan, but the story was very good). I can’t remember the name or the author, but when I decided to begin writing about Fëanor, I remembered it and used it for inspiration, as well as ideas to form my own relationship for Galadriel and Fëanor (as scary as it it to imagine, you can really make parallels between Fëanor and Darth Vader, and to a lesser extent, Galadriel and Princess Leia). So whoever you are, thank you for acting as my unwitting muse!
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