In eleven days, Glorfindel would be sentenced to die. That is, he would be if he were in Valmar. The sentencing would coincide with the day he turned fifty. The idea made him uncomfortable.
The number of things that were illegal in Valmar greatly exceeded the number of things that were illegal in Eithel Sirion. He had been surprised, for example, to learn that Eithel Sirion had no law against touching the bare hand of a married woman, or wearing hairstyles that were clearly above one's station, or consuming intoxicating substances in public places. There was an old law from Tirion days stating that two men must not lie together as a man and a woman do, but in Glorfindel's experience, it had never been applied. So he was uncertain as to what the punishment might be if one were arrested under this law. There was no corresponding law against two women. Nobody had ever explained why, but Glorfindel assumed it was because the ratio of women to men in the area was one to two or three at least, and any woman would have a difficult time effectively turning down the never-ending flow of marriage proposals from desperate soldiers. He then wondered if a new law had been passed in Tirion, where the ratio would surely be of a different leaning.
Valmar had laws prohibiting all manner of sexual conduct except between one man and one woman, and even this was limited to a strict set of decent acts that could be performed only after marriage. Punishments for lawbreaking ranged from monetary fines (for an indiscreet, unmarried man or for a married couple caught in an indecent position) to imprisonment or hard labour (for sexually adventurous, husbandless women or for anyone being untrue to a lawful spouse). Public whipping was reserved for the worst sorts of criminals and perverts with unnatural sexual desires (who prefer animals or individuals of their own gender). But the harshest punishments were handed down to those men who lay with other men and took the woman's part. For this most offensive and twisted act, they were awarded death, and their spirits were sent in shame to Mandos, where they could be properly judged for their wickedness before the eyes of the Valar.
So, had Glorfindel been in Valmar, he would be sentenced to die in eleven days, at which time he would have become an adult in all senses of the word and be held fully accountable for his actions under the law. At forty-nine he only deserved a good whipping, but at fifty he would have to die, either by drowning or burning. The specific method was determined by the judge on sentencing-day, depending on mood and personal preference. Neither sounded very appealing. However, he was uncertain of how he would be able to avoid this inevitable end.
He had no desire to remain in Eithel Sirion for the rest of his life. He had promised Amma that he would one day return to Valmar, and he would fulfil that promise if it took him twelve thousand years. It would do him no good to be sentenced to die at the moment of his glorious return. What a waste it would be to survive all that time only to be killed as a cirizel by Ingwë's zealous judges. Now the problem, as he saw it, was how to explain all of this to Fingon.
He turned over in bed to stare at Fingon's sleeping back in the dark of the room, and was at a loss for where to begin. "Finno?" he whispered. When no answer came, he spoke more clearly. "Finno?"
Fingon only grunted.
Taking a breath, Glorfindel quickly said, "I'll be fifty in eleven days."
"I know. You told me."
Glorfindel nodded, though he knew Fingon could not see him. "Being fifty is important in Valmar."
"Yes, I know that, too. I suppose it's also important here."
"In Valmar, certain things happen when you turn fifty."
With a rough sort of sound, Fingon turned himself over to face Glorfindel. "I know. You also told me that. Yesterday, and a few days before, and a few days before that, too. Are you trying to hint to me that you expect a particularly large present? If that be the case, you're better off just telling me outright what you want so I can get it for you, rather than repeating these vague hints. Because I honestly do not know what you mean here."
"Nothing," Glorfindel said quickly. "I was only saying. You needn't get me a very large present. That's not what happens in Valmar."
"I only meant that when you're fifty, you become an adult, and are expected to follow all the... all the laws and such."
Groaning, Fingon rubbed his hands over his face. "Is this something about one of Ingwë's preposterous and overbearing rules used to keep all citizens under his complete control?"
Glorfindel was silent for a long moment before answering, "Maybe."
"Then I don't want to hear it," said Fingon. "And you needn't worry about it. You're not in Valmar; therefore, it is impossible for any of Valmar's laws to touch you. Don't concern yourself with the irrelevant." He turned back to face the wall, and pulled the blankets up to his shoulder.
"Right," sighed Glorfindel. There was nothing else to be said. He would be sentenced to death after all. "Sorry, Finno. Good night."
That there would be a grand party in eight days' time had nothing to do with Glorfindel's milestone. Fingolfin's second son, Fingon's younger brother, was travelling from the eastern coast with his daughter and a large entourage. The party was on their account; that evening's play as well. Glorfindel found himself annoyed by the mere idea of these two events: the party because he had not been invited, and the play because he would be forced to perform in it.
He looked down at his costume, looked at his reflection in the mirror, and dropped his head into his hands.
Oropher punched his shoulder. "Don't. You'll ruin your makeup."
"I look like a girl."
"That's good, isn't it? You're supposed to be Indis. Indis is a girl."
"I look like my mother! What if I had a bit less black on my eyes, and no lip colour, and here, my hair is too-"
"No," said Oropher. "I'm in charge of getting you dressed and ready. You look full nice, so stop fussing. You make a good Indis."
Sighing, Glorfindel looked again at his silvery reflection. At a glance, the face of the sister he had never had stared back at him. He frowned. The ghost sister frowned back, looking pouty and coy. "I hate this play," he said.
"So do I. Not because you're Indis, but because it's boring. Golodhren plays are always boring, about historic events. Can't they ever think of new stories?"
"I'd probably still have to be a girl, even if the play were about something completely made up."
"Probably," said Oropher. "But you make a fair girl. I'd nob you if I didn't know you were a boy."
"Right. Can we speak on something else?"
Oropher shrugged. "Sure. I can talk about anything." He glanced about the room, clearly searching for anything to inspire a conversation, until his gaze fell on three girls hemming costumes at the next table. With a sly grin, he leaned toward Glorfindel and said, just loudly enough to be overheard, "How many Golodhren pricks does it take to deflower a maiden?"
Two of the girls looked over to him, immediately curious, the third ducked her head modestly, and Glorfindel groaned. "I don't think I want to know."
"Just one, of course," Oropher answered, smirking. "But she might not notice."
"Oh, that's very funny," said Glorfindel as the girls laughed. "Did you spend all day thinking of that, or did you hear it from somebody cleverer?"
"It's a well known fact, isn't it? The Golodhrim have small birds. Everyone knows that. One of them was to lie with one of these fair girls here," and he nodded in their direction, "the girls would only be disappointed."
The girl with the blue shawl smirked. "And we wouldn't if we went with you?"
"Of course not," said Oropher, and he raised his hand to touch the opposite shoulder. "I do solemnly swear that I would leave you unable to get out of bed for nine days. Any Golodhren fellow and you'd be up and at your mending while he was still asleep."
"I had two marriage proposals from Golodhren soldiers this summer," said the second girl. "Would've said yes, too, if they hadn't stank like old brandy. First good one that asks me, I'm marrying him. I don't care if he got no prick at all; I want a husband with money. Not some lolly tower boy."
"You'll be sorry on your wedding night is all I say." Leaning back in his seat, he made a rude gesture with his hands before turning once again to Glorfindel. "Really, have you noticed at all? They do have small birds."
"I hadn't noticed, no," said Glorfindel.
"Is Fingon's big or small?"
"Would you say it's big or small? Small?"
"I can't believe you want to know..." Hissing, he shook his head. "Entirely normal, neither bigger nor smaller than any other I've seen."
"Bigger or smaller than yours?"
Oropher winked at the girls. "Just asking. Maybe you have a small Golodhren prick. Like the King. His is so small, it's barely the size of my thumb."
"Really?" Glorfindel said tersely. "I would have thought he'd have a very large member. Since it does such an excellent job of filling that oversized mouth of yours."
In the second it took the girls at the table to howl with laughter, Oropher's face turned a brilliant shade of pink. "Shut up," he muttered, and slid so low into his chair he nearly fell off.
Smiling, Glorfindel picked up his veil and wrapped it over his carefully plaited hair to let the fringed end fall behind his shoulder. It made him look more like Amma than ever. With a grunt, he pulled it off. "I don't see why you don't have to be in this horrid play."
Oropher narrowed his eyes and opened his mouth, as if preparing to say something sharp to Glorfindel in return, but had no chance; at the tiring-room door, a great commotion sounded. The buzz of quiet conversation turned to a roar of panic as actors and dressers alike stumbled and collided, snatching up pots of makeup or searching for missing costume pieces amid the mess of garments carelessly strewn across the properties table. Fingon had arrived. Glorfindel supposed he was there to announce that final rehearsal would start straight away, but whatever he said was lost in the din of shouting.
Fingon hardly looked like himself, dressed as he was in a surcoat and cape of bright purple trimmed with gold. His hair was loose, and he carried a silver staff. This staff, apart from being the symbol of kingship, also acted as a convenient tool for prodding stagehands out of the way as he worked his way back to where Glorfindel and Oropher sat. Oropher slipped quietly over to the girls' table. Glorfindel put his veil back on.
"Are you prepared?" Fingon asked. "The herald from Vinyamar arrived not long ago, announcing that my brother's caravan will be here before sunset. This is our last rehearsal before we perform properly tonight. Have you learned those lines at the opening of act three that gave you such trouble yesterday?"
"How fair the sky," Glorfindel recited, "to honour me with stars unnumbered of her joyous gaze: pure in truth and harmony to each of Eru's blessed songs. But still, I say, this light is faint, when shines it contrasting to the radiance within my dearest love. He only and no other is brightest to mine eyes, for with this sight I look upon not only outward beauty manifest, but purest spirit by magnificence clad: he is now the light of the world to me, and I to him."
Fingon nodded. "Better. Much better. It will help if you understand the rhythm of the lines. Purest spirit clad in magnificence does not have the same rhythm as purest spirit by magnificence clad. This is why every word must be correct. If one line fails, the metre is put off, and a wrong sound comes up. Purest spirit by magnificence clad. Speak carefully."
With a strangled sound of frustration, Glorfindel squirmed in his chair. He had to sit on his hands to keep from rubbing his eyes, which were starting to sting from the greasy paint around his lashes and the smoky lamps around the mirrors. "I'm no good at this," he said. "We both know I'm going to forget my lines and ruin everything, or say the wrong word and ruin everything, or falter in the dance and ruin everything. You should write me out of the play while you still have time."
"I can't do that," said Fingon. "The play is The Predestined Love of Finwë and Indis. You are Indis. There cannot be a play about the predestined love of Finwë and nothing. Finwë alone is not a play."
"What about Finwë and Míriel?"
"You know full well that Míriel is dead before the opening of act one, and her role is performed by a long pillow covered with a sheet. There also cannot be a play about the predestined love of Finwë and a long pillow."
"Why not?" Glorfindel asked. "You're Finwë. I think you could choose to fall in love with whatever you fancy. Indis is dull. Perhaps this play could be about the love of Finwë and Varda. That's what Sindarin plays do, you know; they make up new stories. It doesn't always have to be historically accurate."
"Varda is played by the same boy who does Fëanáro. I don't believe it would be appropriate to stage a love affair with my son." Pausing, Fingon picked up three jewelled clips from the table, and fastened them to Glorfindel's veil. "Besides," he continued, "you are already in your Indis costume. And it would only confuse the other players if I replaced you with a pillow, and make the dance sequence very awkward. For the greater good, you must perform. Now stand up and follow me. We'll set a bad example if we're late to the stage."
The last thing Turgon wished to do after sitting on a horse all day was to sit on a wooden chair and watch a play, but he was too well-mannered to say so. In truth, he had been expecting a more traditional welcome. A grand entrance with banners and trumpets and a full banquet had been on his mind for days.
But on his arrival, he had been greeted by a very small party consisting of his father and a handful of captains in service of the crown. A small meal of cold foods had followed in the salon. There would be a proper hot supper after the play, but for the time being Turgon had to make do with bread and cheese. The unpleasant unexpectedness of the situation did not put him in a good mood. Furthermore, he was upset that Fingon was nowhere to be seen. Fingolfin had explained that Fingon was occupied by his final preparations at the stage site, but Turgon still felt strongly that his brother should at least have taken a moment to greet him. He had travelled all the way from the seaside, after all.
Now, as he sat in the straight-backed wooden chair assigned him, he was beginning to wish that he could simply skip the play and even the hot supper altogether, and go straight to bed. It had been a long day of bouncing in a hard saddle under a hot sun. He was tired, sore, and in a foul mood. But he would sooner cut his own ears off than let anyone know this. So he sat with a safely neutral face while angrily clenching and twisting his toes inside his shoes, where nobody could see.
Idril, at least, seemed happy. She had been given a summary of the play and its acts, written in Fingon's own hand on fine paper, and she discussed it aloud. "Look, Atya!" she said. "It says there will be a dance in act two, and songs in act three, and then a wedding in act four! I do look forward to seeing those. Do you suppose the bride will wear yellow or green? I hope green. And I hope the dance is pretty. I love watching dances." Idril sat on Turgon's left side. On her left were the captains of Vinyamar all in a line, so placed to prevent her from coming into contact with any of the rough characters of Eithel Sirion. This was one of Turgon's chief worries, and why he had wished to leave Idril safely at home with her aunt. Unfortunately, she had expressed a very loud desire to see her grandfather and uncle Fingon. And Idril usually ended up having her own way in these matters.
"How long will the play be, I wonder?" she continued. "And do you think they will have real girls or just boys dressed up like girls as usual? I'd like to see real girls for once. Even if he is wearing a pretty green gown, the wedding won't be nearly as nice if it's a boy marrying Taror Finno."
He had only kept one side of his mind on Idril's chatter as he glanced around the makeshift outdoor stage, but these words caught full hold of his attention, and he snapped his head back to look at her. "What? What do you mean, a boy marrying Findekáno?"
"In the play, Atya," Idril said patiently. "It's a play about Finwë and Indis. Taror Finno wrote it. He's playing as Finwë, and Finwë marries Indis in act four. I was just thinking it would be nice if a girl were playing as Indis. I think I could do it."
"Don't hold too much hope," said Turgon; "knowing your Taror Finno, it will indeed be a boy in a frock that he marries." His voice came across harsher than intended, and Idril blinked in surprise at the bitterness of his words. Inwardly, Turgon kicked himself. "I mean," he said more calmly, "it is not proper for young ladies to be on the stage where everyone can stare at them. It is better for boys to pretend. Findekáno knows this, so he will have put boys in his play."
Idril stuck out her lower lip in a dangerous pout. "I'd be a better Indis than any silly boy."
"I know, Plum Blossom, but it wouldn't be polite."
On Turgon's right side sat his father, who had been given a second synopsis paper, though this one was neither as detailed nor as carefully written as Idril's. Turgon was about to ask if the play was meant to start soon when a sudden music arose from the benches to the left of the stage. It was a low sort of music, as one might hear on a sad occasion, and it coaxed a player in grey from behind the curtains.
"The Queen is dead," said the player, which made Turgon frown. The first player on stage was supposed to be a narrator, welcoming the audience and summarising the story, not acting as if he were part of it. Everyone knew this; it was tradition.
Idril smiled at the player and clasped her hands together. "Oh, good!"
"Ere two days did she lie in a white way beneath fair boughs in the garden of Lórien, held fast by weariness, but no longer; the spirit at last hath her body fled. Wherefore came this shift of fortune, to cast a shadow upon our King and rend the pure bliss of this land? None yet can say. A failing of the world and marring of the age: we are all stricken by a heaviness in malice wrought. How changed is this life! We who once delighted in a humming note or simple star now find but grey sorrow. It is an evil time upon us. Our beloved Queen is dead."
As he finished his speech, four more grey players stepped onto the stage. They carried a bier between them, draped in a white sheet and garlanded with flowers. The narrator spoke again. "Here is the body of Míriel, wife of Finwë, her spirit newly fled from its house. It will not fail, but lie unaltered through the gentle will of Irmo's hand."
"Here is her body," said the porters, taking turns to speak. "We carry nothing more."
"Fair in life and fair in death, but strangely touched and strange to see."
"Míriel she is no more. An empty hold for the life now far from us."
"Our Queen in memory only. We carry the past."
What happened next was so unexpected that Turgon found himself suddenly clutching Idril's arm to protect her from the outburst. Behind the curtain, someone had started shouting in the worst way.
"I will not! I will not! By what vile deceit doest thou play, to rob me of my final right by her?!"
"Calm thyself, my boy," said a second voice; "the deed is done and her destiny sealed. The cries of none can wake the dead. Calm thyself."
"I will not!"
Roughly, the curtains parted, and a boy dressed in red and white ran to where the porters had set the bier. "Leave her be!" he told them. "Ye will not take my mother from me, vultures! Leave her, and get you out of this place! It is the land of my family; none but I and my father will touch foot to ground here! Away! By right of birth, I alone have authority to govern her care. I shall attend and carry her, unhindered by your clumsy hands and wooden feet, careless as wind and rain! Go!"
The porters exited then, and the narrator, leaving Fëanor alone on the stage. He had fallen to his knees by Míriel's draped body. "Mother," he said quietly. "My mother... The lively spark hath fled for light unknown. Here we are left but with the cold and hollow shell. What good to me, a familiar body robbed of its familiar warmth? A mirror in mockery only. Her shape remaineth unaltered while breath and thought have gone. Shall I still love her, then, if to love her be to recklessly cling to shards devoid of hope? Is this shadow so unkind to coax the bitterness of a son's love abandoned and a mother's caress forgot? This I cannot do. Be she near or far, quick or gone, the burning star lieth ever within me. From her I gained the gift of the world; so too from me now shall she gain remembrance everlasting. I am her son, to vow now that I will honour the name of Míriel even in days unforeseeable at the utter ending of time, when all will know me for my devotion to her. My mother, too soon lost in cruel twists of Arda Marred..."
At this, he lowered his head to touch the bier, and let out a long, mournful wail. It grew into a howl, so terribly desperate as he clenched his fists and pulled at his hair, channelling all his pain and fury into sound and violence. Turgon shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I do not like this play," he whispered to his father. "It is much too realistic."
But the following segment improved. Finwë, wearing proper purple and gold, appeared onstage to calm his son. He spoke a scene of mourning with Fëanor, followed by a long and sad soliloquy on the loss of his wife. He then pled his sorrow to the council of Valar, who took the form of masked and white-robed players on stilts. And when it was proclaimed that he would be given a chance to remarry, there was a brief exchange with two Vanyar. Turgon supposed they were Vanyar by the way they had false plaits of yellow wool showing from under their hoods. The end of this scene marked the end of act one, with Finwë invited to the palace of Ingwë on Oiolossë to recreate his spirit.
"This is all rather condensed, don't you think?" Fingolfin asked as he applauded with the crowd. "Findekáno is taking some startling liberties with the historical timeline..."
Turgon made a vague sort of hand gesture. "He is. But you must think, Atar: do you want this play to go on forever, relying on accurate history? No, I think shorter is nicer. Gets to the point more quickly. It's been nice and quick so far. I hope the other acts are the same."
"I just want to see the dance and the wedding," said Idril. "I hope we don't have to wait too long for-"
Her words were cut short by a crash of tambourines and the rolling music of pipes and harps. Around the stage, torches erupted in a sequence of flares, brilliantly illuminating the dancers as they whirled into place. All dressed in yellow and green, they were meant to be six Vanyarin girls, with hair and faces neatly hidden under veils. Idril grinned and clapped to see them.
"Lovely!" she sighed. "Look at the pretty gowns!"
It calmed Turgon to know that Idril, at least, was enjoying herself. For her sake, he could try to do the same. He shifted to be more comfortable in his seat and fixed his gaze on the stage. The dancers had arranged themselves into a line, and were executing some very complicated movements with their feet and arms. It looked fully Vanyarin to him. He recalled a memory from long ago, when he had seen such a dance performed. It had been at his wedding. Elenwë and her cousins had danced that way. Elenwë had stepped those steps.
Even fifty years on, it still made his heart sick to think her name. Little Elenwë, who stood only as high as his upper arm, who was too shy to speak words like 'breast' or 'naked', who dutifully obeyed everything he said without question (even when he gave her contradictory nonsense directions just to see if she would refuse the request, which she never did), and who loved nothing better than to spoil Idril terribly with gifts and treats at every opportunity. This was the same Elenwë who grew too tired and weak on the ice. Despite her fear and loneliness and despair at leaving her family, she obediently followed him, as he knew she would, and he was powerless to change the progression of fate. He could only worry to himself as he felt her frail body grow even more insubstantial every time they shivered together on their thin mattress in a thinner tent.
If he unfocused his eyes, he could imagine it was Elenwë and her cousins dancing again. He leaned back, suddenly lacking the will even to hold his head up, and let himself sink weakly down into his chair.
"Atya?" Idril whispered. Her hand was on his. He had not even noticed the touch.
He strained to give her a reassuring smile. "I'm fine, Itarillincya. Only tired."
In return she said nothing, but frowned slightly, and shifted to hold protectively onto his arm with her head resting against his shoulder. He dropped his own head to lie on hers, his cheek against her hair.
"Does the play make you sad?" she asked.
"No," he said. "It only makes me remember."
Somewhere in the back of his mind, though he would never say so aloud, he was halfway certain that Fingon had included this Vanyarin dance just to torment him. Worse still, it was working. His eyes began to play tricks. The veil of the dancer in front, loosely fastened at the start of the dance, had slipped back to reveal the gleam of golden hair. It was neither pale Sindarin silver nor a crude yellow wig, but true gold. Turgon blinked. A moment later the dancer had pulled her veil back into place, but it slipped again at the next turn. And so Turgon found himself mesmerised, not by the dance, but by the curious puzzle presented to him in trying to discern whether the dancer was in fact Vanyarin or if he simply had too frivolous an imagination. He had never been overly imaginative before. Nor had he ever seen such a hair colour in Hithlum, other than on the heads of his daughter and cousins. It was perplexing.
The music came to a peak and five of the dancers took low poses on the floor, leaving the golden-haired girl to continue on her own. She wove between the seated few, clapping out the rhythm of her steps, until she had danced a full pattern and come back to the front of the stage. There, she carefully unpinned her slipping veil, and let the rest of her hair fall free. The lack of an awed gasp from the audience made Turgon certain he was imagining things. Had Fingon been able to somehow discover a Vanyarin girl for his play, everyone watching would have cheered at the miracle. Instead they sat, mildly entertained, as the girl who was clearly Indis gestured for her dancers to stand.
Leaning toward his father, Turgon very quietly asked, "Who is that?"
"Laurefindil," Fingolfin whispered. "He is retainer to Findekáno"
Turgon sat back as feelings of both relief and disappointment rolled through his chest. Of course the player was a Vanyarin boy; he could see it now with a mind unclouded by wishful thoughts. A boy, not a girl. The nose was a bit long, and the jaw somewhat wide, and the eyes a little deep. Then the boy spoke, and the illusion was betrayed entirely by a voice that strained too much to sound light in an unnaturally higher pitch.
"On greensward here, beyond the reach of judging eyes and laws at hand, behold: a site for freedom frivolous and mirth without a guiding word. Here awhile will we stay, unbonded by decorum proper as it ruleth minds of gold, for dance and play more suited to our light desires. I shed my fetters; so, alike, shall ye." With a dismissive flick of the arm, she tossed aside her veil and let it fall in a crumple on the stage floor.
"But mistress," spoke one of the dancers, "what shall we do, if we be seen?"
Indis laughed. "If we be seen? Who but we amid these fair hills walketh? There sit no searching eyes on yonder branch or stone, to see our peace. I say: here we are free from heavy thoughts and walls that words construct about our feet. Why should we turn our faces from the light of truth? In this place we have no fear of darkened minds pulled to narrow roads and thralls in blind obedience made."
"But were we in the city-" a dancer began.
"We are not," said Indis.
"But were your uncle here-" said another
"He is not."
"And were another to chance upon you unexpected?" asked a new voice.
Fingon-as-Finwë had slipped, silently unnoticed, into the shadow of a false tree at the side of the stage. As he stepped forward, the dancers shrieked and fled, clutching their veils and covering their faces. Only Indis remained. She watched him with a wisp of a smile.
"And who are ye, my lord?" she asked slowly.
"A traveller only, come up the way to Oiolossë from Tirion afar. Have ye no fear. To the favoured walls of Ingwë's golden house I shall pass, not to hinder nor impede you. But first to tell, my lady: why came ye here, skirting to this high, untended road, if sought ye privacy from casting eyes? We travellers are about."
"I am so informed."
"Informed by whom? And why, if informed, do ye linger still?"
"By mine uncle. And why? Earlier he did tell me how the king of Tirion is to come today by this road. At these words I was full resolved to find you here." She stepped closer, and lowered her head. "I know you by sight, my lord Finwë."
"That ye do," he answered. "And to consider now, I too can name the face before me: Indis daughter of Izeldë, who is sister to our King. Fair years have passed since last I saw you."
"The passing years are neither fair nor kind, when such a gap dividing standeth between each noble house."
"Ye speak high truth. The parting hath been too long."
"And I have paused too long," said Indis. "Here I came to dance, not loose words at nobles weary on the road. By Manwë's own grace, will ye stand you aside? I dance on this line."
Bowing, Finwë stood aside, and Indis began to dance. It was not the same pattern dance as before, but something slower and smoother: something sensual. The music came up softly and built in a gradual swell of hollow hand-drums and low pipes. Indis dipped and turned. She let her head fall back, golden hair swaying, but seemed always to keep the dangerous chain of eye contact with Finwë. No matter where she moved, her face was turned to him. She stepped farther, and nearer, and nearer still, until Finwë's arm shot out like a striking serpent to catch her around the waist. Indis said nothing, no affronted complaint or cry of surprise, but gave a lazy half smile. Her body was pressed flat against Finwë's. They began to dance together.
Finwë spoke then, some words on the enlightenment found in foreign travels, but Turgon refused to hear. He had ceased to care if he appeared offended or rude in front of the entire court of Hithlum; this play was a disgrace. It warped the noble truth of history into something wicked and self-serving. It abused the name of a great man for a shallow purpose. It displayed baseness, sin, and treachery for all to see.
With his arms crossed sullenly across his chest, Turgon lowered his head and looked down at his lap. He would not watch. He could not support such a thing. In the corner of his eye, he could see Fingolfin shift uncomfortably. The rustling of clothing on seats behind him confirmed that others watching felt the same way. But on his left, Idril sat still. She had slid so far forward in her chair that she was perched only on the edge, leaning as far as she could toward the stage as she watched eagerly. A hot whirl of rage at Fingon's audacity began to grow in Turgon's chest.
"Come, Itarillë," he whispered as he tugged at her arm. "I think we've seen enough of this play."
She swatted his hand away. "Shh. No. I like it so far."
"I know, and that is why I want you to come with me now."
"Atya, shh! I'm watching!"
"Itarillë..." Standing, he placed one hand on each of her shoulders to nudge her out of the chair.
"No!" she shouted. Immediately, Turgon could feel the gaze of many on him, as the rest of the audience turned to see the commotion. On stage, Fingon-Finwë and his boy-Indis faltered in their dance as they, too, looked to him and Idril. He returned Fingon's glance with an even stubbornness. He would not be made the fool to sit through this indecency. Then he raised his head, standing tall as he could, and quit the stage site with the eyes of all on his back.