Family Affair, A: 1. Cousin Mine

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1. Cousin Mine

Author's note:
A few elements in this story are borrowed from other Silmarillion-based fics, by Deborah, finch, and Ithilwen in particular, though not exclusively. It is not certain that Nerdanel and Fëanor lived apart until after the time of his rebellion against the Valar. "Artanis" was one of Galadriel's names in Valinor; it was Celeborn who first called her "Alatáriel," a Telerin form which was rendered in Sindarin as "Galadriel," but that was many years after the time of this story.

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Maedhros stands before me. This must be a jest. Have none of the sons of Fëanor realized the unlove that lies between their father and me, beyond the general breach between our families? Fëanor once asked for a single hair from my head, saying that in it was the light of Telperion and Laurelin mingled in lasting form. But I saw that he was greedy to possess the light, not to delight in it, and I refused him. Since that moment we have not spoken if we could possibly help it.

Having refused the father, I now apparently have to refuse the sons, although this time it is more than a hair I am withholding. They are my kindred, my half-cousins, though not so close I could not wed one if I chose. Why do they seek my hand? Perhaps it is their father's idea. No, his pride would not suffer that. If anything I would think he would be angry if he knew his sons had pursued me. Maybe Nerdanel has had a hand in this. I'll have to ask her, sometime.

Amrod and Amras were the first. They knelt before me and offered themselves to me, declaiming in extravagant words their great adoration. I laughed, yes, and not as kindly as I might. They were so young, so apparently sincere. But if I accepted one, I would have to refuse the other - as I pointed out. Somehow neither had realized this consequence. Twins, they were not yet ready to separate their lives. With embarrassed apologies all around we parted.

Curufin sought me out at a time of festival. I was irritated that he should propose to wed without wooing first, and moreover he resembles his father too much for me to look upon him with any favor. He is clever, oh yes, and we studied together for a time under Aulë's tutelage. But a companion at the forge does not make one at the hearth. He need only look to his father and mother to see that.

Caranthir did court me, briefly. We hunted together a few times, danced together. But he is too hasty-tempered. When he missed a shot he broke the bow over his knee in anger. Not the man I should wed; my mother has warned me often enough about my own quick temper and hinted broadly that a man like my father, slow to wrath and quick to pardon, would be my best match. By the time Caranthir proposed I had long since decided to refuse him.

I really don't know what Celegorm was thinking. It has been quite clear for years that his true desire is for our cousin Aredhel; maybe she refused him and he thought to wed me instead to show that he was not really at her - lack of - mercy? Oh, I am spiteful. In any case it would have been a dreadful mistake, for both of us. I actually think he was relieved when I refused.

Maglor - now, Maglor I might have accepted, except that after refusing five of Fëanor's sons I was rather in the habit of it. He does have a beautiful voice, though he might be just a little too aware of it.

So, one by one my cousins have sought my hand. From youngest to eldest, it has been. And now Maedhros is here. But perhaps I am presuming too much - he has not spoken a word of marriage, yet, simply talking of this and that, of the unfortunate rift between the son of Míriel and the sons of Indis, which has been passed on to their children in turn.

"I know all this, cousin," I interrupt. "Why do you come to rehash the family history for me?"

He manages to look simultaneously sheepish and wary, an expression I never thought to see on anyone's face, much less Maedhros's.

"Well, you see - I wanted to bind up the branches of the family tree, and I hoped you might be willing to help me."

Forcing unhappy images of espaliered apricots out of my mind - I got quite enough of all that when I worked with Yavanna briefly, thank you very much - I ask him, "In what way?"

"Well, marriage, I think, might do it. Now don't be hasty - I know you don't love me. No more do I love you." He has the grace to look embarrassed at this admission. "But we could have a marriage of convenience, maybe?"

"Why on earth would I want to do that? And why would you want to do it, either? Out with it, cousin. There's something else going on here." I fix him with a stern glance. "Are you in love with someone wildly unsuitable? One of those Teleri maidens, maybe, and you want to marry me to hide it? No chance. Just tell your father and resign yourself to a lot of yelling. Grandfather will undoubtedly support you, after all the troubles he had with his wives."

He mumbles something.

"What?"

"It's not one of the Teleri girls," he repeats.

"Then who is it?" I say in exasperation.

He blushes and looks at the floor.

"Who? I warn you, Maedhros, now that you've let me know that there's something afoot, I will discover your little secret. I don't know how you thought you could get away with this, not with me. Give it up, cousin."

"Fingon," he says finally, under his breath.

Now that is something I didn't expect. Our mutual cousin – Fingolfin’s son. What am I going to do now? Chasing one of the Teleri would have been easy compared with this. I try to conceal my shock by asking acerbically, "And presumably Fingon feels the same?"

"Yes." He is trying to speak unemotionally, but the tender expression that passes over his face makes his attempt to conceal the depth of his feelings useless. If one of Fëanor's other sons had looked at me like that, I'd be Maedhros's sister-in-law already, let me tell you.

All right, so I have sympathy for his predicament. It has all the hallmarks of a great romance - the quarrel between the fathers, the need for secrecy, the profound emotion - plus, of course, the unfortunate fact that the two lovers are both male. Not good. But I still have no intention of marrying Maedhros just to help him out, even though before my quarrel with his father he was my favorite cousin.

"And just what was Fingon planning to do? There are only two granddaughters in Finwë's line, and he can hardly marry his sister."

"He was - we thought - well, if one of us were to marry you, it would matter less that the other remained unwedded. No one would suspect our attachment to each other in such a case." He attempts a smile. "I should have known better than to try to deceive you, cousin."

"Indeed. Let me think a moment."

He paces the room as I turn over possibilities in my mind. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any scheme better than the one I am rejecting.

"Does anyone else know of the situation?"

"I hope not." He winces.

"The trouble is that there is little I can do, really. I am not your sister, nor Fingon's, and I refuse to become wife to either of you in the circumstances. Anything I might do would be remarked upon and only draw more attention to you - exactly what you don't want. Have you considered talking to Nerdanel?" I inquire.

"My mother? She would kill me."

"Oh, I think not," I say, remembering a few conversations I have had with my aunt. "Anything that will irritate your father, I think she would support. And your attachment to Fingon would undoubtedly be something of which Fëanor would disapprove. Your parents are separated again, aren't they?"

He nods glumly.

"And after that wonderful example of marital bliss, you wanted to wed? Without even loving your proposed bride? By Varda's stars, Maedhros, be sensible. Go talk to Nerdanel. Maybe she can help you out. I can't, not now - if I think of anything I will tell you, of course. But I will keep your secret, cousin. I won't even let on to Fingon that I know - and don't you tell him that I do, either. All right?"

"All right, Artanis." He sketches a bow. "You know, you are oddly like my father."

"What!" I say in outrage. "I am nothing like him."

"Oh, I mean it as a compliment. Neither of you is easily deceived. Both of you can see straight to the heart of a problem, even if you cannot solve it immediately." He stands at the doorway, ready to leave. "And both of you speak your minds."

I sit, seething. Comparing me to Fëanor. Hah. Well, at least I've done with the last of my uncle's sons. I just hope that Fingon doesn't take it into his head to come dashing in with his own proposal before consulting with Maedhros. I have had enough proposed family togetherness to last me a long, long time.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Celandine Brandybuck

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Time of the Trees

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/25/03

Original Post: 08/07/02

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