4. Chapter 3: Union
Fingolfin ceased his nighttime wanderings after a time, and soon Anaire conceived again. After much discussion, and some regret, they decided that this would be their last child. According to custom, this was the time for husband and wife to move from the loving of the body to the loving of the spirit. So, with the trepidation of all new lovers, they began their explorations of this new kind of union.
They lay naked, unmoving, no barrier between them yet not touching. Fingolfin looked at his wife's body, so familiar, so perfect. He almost reached for her but, following custom, did not. Instead he met her eyes with his, and they began to breathe as one. Lying so close, their breaths were mingled, the warm air she exhaled filling his mouth. He could sense, rather than see, a window in his wife's dark eyes, an opening to the hidden places of her soul. Slowly he sent forth the tendrils of his mind, using only the soft force of his gaze, to gently pry it open. He felt her doing the same to him, both taking and taken at once. Her breathing came quickly, and hers matched it. Suddenly, the doors were open. He felt colours he could not have imagined, shapes that could not exist outside the contours of the heart. They laughed together, dancing through his soul and hers, each thought a caress of joy. Some rooms were still blocked to him. Although he knew he could go deeper in time, some places would always be closed, for not all the soul can be shared. Yet he rejoiced in what he saw, in what he felt, touched, tasted, sensed with another sense beyond all of these, in the beauty and sweetness he had always enjoyed in his wife, here deeper and sweeter than her most passionate embrace.
Finally they withdrew from each other. They said nothing, for there was nothing further that could be said, no further communication that could be shared. They only smiled, and drifted off to an exhausted but happy slumber.
As the months passed, Anaire seemed satisfied. More than satisfied, she glowed with a peaceful radiance. Fingolfin was also, most of the time. But sometimes he missed the loving of the flesh, and yearned for strong hands and claiming lips. He knew his brother was not content with the loving of the spirit, nor would he be. Nerdanel swelled with her fifth child, which was as many as Finwe had produced from both his wives. Sometimes in secret Fingolfin would touch himself, knowing it to be forbidden, thinking only of fire.
It was shortly after Aredhel was born that Maedhros came back. Fingolfin welcomed him in, and as they were sitting down Fingon appeared. He had grown taller since the last time Maedhros had seen him, and now reached almost to his father's shoulder. His dark hair was braided, or at least it looked like it had been that morning.
"Hello, Maedhros," Fingon said.
"You remember me," Maedhros responded, surprised.
"Of course," Fingon answered.
Fingolfin smiled. "He's been asking about you. We're glad you could come back. Is your father still angry?"
"Actually," Maedhros said, "I'm here on my father's errand. He says he wants to see you."
"Me?" Fingolfin's mouth went suddenly dry. "Now?"
"He said you could come any time. But I think he is expecting you now."
Fingolfin was standing before he knew it. Maedhros got up as well. "Why don't you stay?" Fingon asked him. "We could go to the lake."
Maedhros looked enquiringly at Fingolfin, who nodded his approval and ran out the door.
Fingolfin knew well the way to Feanor's house. He had been there many times on his nighttime journeys, each time wandering seemingly purposeless, almost surprised to find himself standing over the many-spired complex his brother had designed. This time, at his brother's summons, his feet sped him almost faster than his will.
Feanor was waiting in the great hall of his home. His hair was unbound and he wore the silver circlet of his rank as the heir of Finwe. He stood in the centre of the hall, alone.
"Son of Indis," Feanor said. Fingolfin could feel the fire in his brother's voice, the very fire he remembered.
"Brother," he answered.
Feanor stepped across the room in one motion and took his brother's hand in his. His hand was still hot, and burned Fingolfin's flesh. "Come," he said.
He led him, hand in hand, down winding darkened candle-lit stairs to a jewel-filled cavern. No torch brightened this treasury, yet the light of the jewels within it seemed like the very light of Telperion for brightness. Fingolfin watched silently as Feanor led him among the stones. One jewel seemed as if of crystal, lit from inside with a blue flame. The flame twitched, sending shadows in all directions. Fingolfin touched that gem, and the ones beside it, never letting go of his brother's hand. They were all bright, and warm to the touch. But nothing shines like Feanor, he thought, and nothing burns like his fire.
Finally his fingers came to rest on a green stone about half the length of his palm. At first it seemed dark, the hue of the sea as its waves crash in Telperion's light. But beneath his touch it shone, and seemed like the rays of Laurelin shining through the first leaves of spring. It was flawless, of course, all one colour, yet as Fingolfin looked at the stone it took on every hue of the forest, of the dark twig and the light grasses, of flower-branches bound in dark hair, mingled with a fire that burned on its own.
"Would you like it?" Feanor asked.
Fingolfin's hand froze.
"My son has spoken of you, and your family," Feanor continued. "I believe that when he fled to you that day there was a wisdom that guided his steps, although it is a wisdom that I do not understand. I would have a bond between the house of Feanor and the son of Indis."
"I have always desired peace with you, my brother," Fingolfin answered, looking from the stone to Feanor's eyes.
Feanor closed the narrow gap between them, and placed two fingers on his brother's lips. "Much have you desired of me, Son of Indis, but not peace. I would give you this stone."
Fingolfin had a sudden fear that this was a test, yet another test of Feanor's. He remembered the cliff, and almost falling. "Yes," he said.
The stone lay heavy on his chest where Feanor placed it. It shot rays of fire through his soul, into every breath of his flesh. Fingolfin felt a sudden strength in his hands, and in his limbs, and he met Feanor's gaze without turning aside. They touched hands, and returned to the entrance hall.
"I am not one for dinner parties and house guests," Feanor said, "but my sons may go to you if they wish it."
"And may I come back?" Fingolfin asked, touching the green stone above his heart.
"Not often," Feanor answered, "once, perhaps twice a year. But yes, you may return."
They touched hands once again, and Fingolfin set off. He walked slowly, feeling the weight of the stone on him. I bear a flame, he thought, I touch fire, and I burn. But even before he reached home, the heat of the stone burned less than the memory of his brother's touch on his lips.
Fingon came home much later. "What did you do at the lake all day?" Fingolfin asked him.
"We climbed over rocks and explored in the forest and threw acorns and met a salamander and talked to it," Fingon answered. "And Maedhros told me about his family. Can I go visit them?"
The thought of Feanor's hot hands on his son's young face made Fingolfin go suddenly cold. "I don't think so. But Maedhros can come here whenever he wants to. And he has younger brothers who are closer to your age."
"Good," Fingon said. "They can play with Turgon and Aredhel."
Fingolfin's mind was already working ahead. With the father that Maedhros and his brothers had, surely they could use another. The improbable affection that seemed to be developing between his impetuous son and Feanor's eldest could only help. He could imagine Feanor's sons in his household, warming it, bringing with them the very fire of their father. And, if his sons were present, would Feanor always stay so distant? A bond between our families, Fingolfin thought, touching the stone at his chest. But who is the binder, and who the bound? Or do we bind each other? And, once bound, is there any release?
Anaire noticed the stone, but as it was a gift from a brother she could not object. When he asked her to resume the loving of the body she consented, although she no longer took pleasure in it. Fingolfin's soul was becoming increasingly clouded with rooms he did not wish to share. Sometimes she touched the stone as he lay in her arms, and felt its heat, and wondered.
The green stone is none other than the Elessar the Elfstone, which according to HoME 11:176/7 was made by Feanor. Some of the description of it was taken from The Fellowship of the Ring p. 421. The blue-flamed lights were from 'Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin' in Unfinished Tales, Footnote 2. Many thanks to Finch for giving me these references. For more information on this stone and what became of it see the notes to chapter 4 of her story 'Under the Curse.'
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