1. Living stone
She was carved out of the finest white marble. Every line of her being carefully chiselled and lovingly made, she was stunning as she stood upon the pedestal in the nude, wearing a coy smile, looking as if she would but now step off her pedestal and greet the two that watched her. One of the watchers gazed at her with grave admiration, the other with beaming pride and joy, the later was her creator: Curufinwë Atarince, fifth son of Nerdanel who stood beside him admiring his work.
"My son I…" Nerdanel could not voice her wonder, her delight.
Curufinwë smiled. "You need not speak mother, your delight in Alquawen is evident enough," he declared.
Nerdanel smiled and enveloped her son in a warm motherly embrace. "My son, they have given me the title of the greatest sculptor. Today I relinquish it to you. For though her eyes are made of stone, my eyes are constantly cheated and I think that she is alive."
Curufinwë tightened his arms ever so slightly around his beloved mother. "I only wish it were so," he said in a barely audible whisper. Nerdanel did not like what she heard.
"My dear husband, have you seen Curufinwë's newest sculpture?" enquired Nerdanel of Fëanaro.
Fëanaro looked up from his book and gazed at Nerdanel with undisguised surprise at the unexpected question, "You know I have. Curufinwë shows me all his works first and foremost," he reminded her in a voice laced with paternal affection and pride.
"What did you think of it?" she enquired, as she moved to sit upon his lap.
Fëanaro put his book away and encircled his wife's slender waist, "It is beautiful. Carved from living rock, it cheats the eye into believing that it is alive. It is a stunning piece of work, undoubtedly Curufinwë greatest work in stone to date."
"I would argue that it is Curufinwë greatest work whether in stone, metal, wood or glass," argued Nerdanel.
"Surely you jest!" exclaimed Fëanaro.
It was clear he was going to bring up all of Curufinwë's works and find some other that was greater, but Nerdanel had no intention to be drawn into such an argument. "Peace my love. I wish to speak with you regarding our son's attachment to his creation. Where you aware he has named her Alquawen?"
"So I am aware."
"Were you also aware that he wishes that she was alive?" wondered Nerdanel.
Fëanaro gave her a confused look. "So I am certain do many others when they carve a figure so beautiful and perfect. I myself have often wished that some of my sculptures would come to life. Just the other day I made a dog out of shining steel; my joy would have been great had it suddenly come alive and licked my face. I am certain you too have wished this now and again. Why are you so worried?"
"Because I fear that too much of his heart has been caught by his maiden he carved out of stone," Nerdanel confessed.
For a moment Fëanaro did not reply. Finally he whispered, "I shall speak to him."
She was perfect in every possible way. Her swan-white body was sculptured to perfection. She was beautiful and he loved her. Curufinwë circled his creation in awe and delight, now and again brushing her stone cold skin, wishing that it was warm, that she was warm. Many mingling of the lights of the two trees he had spent talking to her, calling her name, hoping against hope to call her to life. "My darling Alquawen, my heart belongs to you."
"I should hope not, for I desire many grandchildren and soon," came Fëanaro's voice from the doorway that led into Curufinwë's masonry.
"Father!" exclaimed Curufinwë, a deep red blush suffusing his cheeks. "I did not hear you approach."
"I am not surprised," said Fëanaro gravely, "for you seem to be doting on yon statue as if she were your heart's dear love."
Curufinwë did not reply. That was enough to make Fëanaro uneasy, "Is she?" he demanded in a voice that could not be disobeyed.
"Yes," whispered Curufinwë in a soft voice, his eyes fixed firmly to the ground, "There is no maiden in all of Aman fairer than my Alquawen. None other holds my interest as she does. I… I love her."
Fëanaro stood stock still, shocked speechless by his son's declaration. At length, Fëanaro walked to the statue. At its base lay more than one dress of costly material and fine design. Along with clothes were many pieces of jewellery, some of Curufinwë finest works. Fëanaro turned his gaze back to Curufinwë, whose deep blush now spread from the tips of his ears down to his toes. Fëanaro sighed, "My son, she is never going to turn to flesh and blood. She will always be a work of stone. Do not bind your heart so closely to a work of your own hand," he advised, "It will lead to no good save to loneliness and a bitter existence."
Curufinwë did not reply.
When Fëanaro had left, Curufinwë found himself sitting in front of Alquawen in a great gloom, his spirit heavy with depression. Fëanaro was right, his father was always right, and he was doomed to spend his life alone, for his heart was already bound irrevocably to the one whom he had fashioned. Curufinwë was not looking forward to spending all the days till the end of days alone, so he called to the One and said, "Great Eru, father of all, you are almighty. You can turn stone to flesh and give life to that which had no life. I beg of you, please grant my Alquawen life, so that I may take her for my wife. Please, O Great One, I do not wish to go through all the ages of the world in misery and loneliness."
Silence reigned and nothing happened. Curufinwë sighed and with a heavy heart turned from his creations, tears stinging his eyes.
"Curufinwë," called a silvery voice.
Curufinwë turned around sharply and gaped in wonder and awe as his Alquawen stepped off her pedestal and held out her hand, her living hand out to him, "Come to me, my love, for I am named your lover and wife."
Curufinwë, fifth son of Fëanaro, smiled brightly and did not hesitate to draw her into his arms, and from their love was born Celebrimbor, the maker of the rings of power.
Curufinwë = Curufin
Fëanaro = Feanor
Alquawen = Alqua means Swan and wen means woman. So Alquawen is Swan-woman or Swan-maiden.
Author's notes: Thanks goes to Lady Legrace for beta reading. This is inspired by the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Basically, Pygmalion was the King of Cyprus who was obsessed with a sculpture he made of a woman that he called Galatea. He loved this statue so much that he prayed to Aphrodite to grant it life, which she did, and so Galatea and Pygmalion got married and presumably lived happily ever after. In case you are wondering, no we are never told who Curufin's wife is. Please feed my muse aka Maglor, with feedback. Thank you.
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.