6. In Need of a Wife
Credits and thanks: I received even more than the usual help from the awesome writers of the Lizard Council, who noted not only my usual plethora of typos, but also offered suggestions relating to language, vocabulary, and pacing. I'd like to thank Lilithlessfair, Ignoblebard, Elfscribe, Erulisse, Nelyo_Russandol, Hallbera, and particularly Pandemonium, who called my attention to some rough spots and greatly improved Fingolfin's POV. I made my final edits without passing it back to them, so if typos remain I am solely responsible.
* * * *
Maitimo awakened to the sound of a distant waterfall. He had fallen asleep with Findekáno stroking his hair away from his forehead and spouting soporific nonsense in a monotonous voice. Findekáno used a carefully conceived routine to prevent nightmares when he and Maitimo slept together. The truth was that Maitimo never had the nightmares when he was with Findekáno, unless they had gone to bed after a rip-roaring argument without making peace with one another.
With one arm slung possessively across Maitimo's waist and the other arm curled under his pillow like a child, Findekáno lay on his side facing him. Maitimo slipped from under that protective arm. Although he had probably slept for less than four hours, he did not feel tired. Some things provide the body and the spirit with more ease than sleep. He grinned, shaking his head at the memory of the night before.
After washing his face and cleaning his teeth, Maitimo threw some clothes on and stepped outside the tent. Although it was at least two hours after sunrise, the early warmth had not yet burned off all the dew. Along the edge of the field of scattered tents, Maitimo could see a faint golden haze at the grass line. A warm breeze from the other direction stirred his hair, carrying with it the scent of dark earth and green trees. Calming water sounds filled his ears: the rush of falls, the gurgle of streams, and the occasional splash in one of the pools of a water bird or small animal. Since Findekáno would sleep until early afternoon at least, Maitimo decided to seek out one of the pavilions serving food. He could eat breakfast and then look for Nolofinwë. He suspected that the need of an heir for Findekáno was still preying on his uncle's mind. He and Findekáno needed to make it clear that, although they shared his concern, any consideration of the question had to be on their terms, not those of Nolofinwë.
Maitimo passed the handful of tents nearest their own and then followed a path out of the open meadow, which led him back into a lightly wooded area. After a short walk, he jumped across a narrow stream at the edge of the next clearing where all of the communal tents and pavilions had been erected. Hearing someone approaching rapidly behind him, he turned to see his cousin Findaráto.
"Ingo, have you eaten?" Maitimo called out, stopping to wait. Meanwhile, he struggled to hold one end of a leather hair tie flat against his neck with his false hand, while he drew the other end through a loop in an attempt to catch his unruly hair into at least one thick tail. He had seriously considered cutting his hair short more than once, but his vanity and sheer stubbornness had overcome the impulse. He huffed in cynical amusement at the thought that he might have lost a hand, but he still had incomparable hair.
Catching up to him, Findaráto said, "I spotted you and tried to overtake you. I was going to eat now. Have you eaten yet?" He reached out to gather and twist Maitimo's heavy hair into a plait in the back. "Let me help you with that."
"Thank you. I'd appreciate it," Maitimo said, handing the tie to him with a sigh of resignation that he did not even try to control. He remembered how only a few years earlier he would not have allowed anyone, except Findekáno, Macalaurë, or his squire Erestor, to help him with his grooming. Following his own stream of consciousness, Maitimo said, "I haven't seen Erestor in two days, Findekáno's sleeping, and Macalaurë . . . Well, we told you about Macalaurë's adventures last night."
"Yes. We should discuss the situation regarding Macalaurë and this Daeron of Doriath at some point. I wonder what Uncle will think. Our relationship with Elwë's representatives could be a delicate one. It's not that I don't trust Macalaurë's judgment, but it is imperative that we talk among ourselves about the stance we intend to adopt with them rather than be sorry later." Findaráto gave a gentle tug on the braid he had made in Maitimo hair, testing its sturdiness. "The texture of your hair is so similar to mine. Impressive how well Káno is able to comb it for you. People with slippery, straight hair like his often find it impossible to deal with hair like ours. There. That should hold it."
"Thank you. It feels so much better off my neck and shoulders."
" But aren't you worried about Erestor?" Findaráto asked. "Isn't he awfully young and attractive to be left on his own amidst this motley crowd?"
"Erestor was already nearly of age when he left Valinor. I granted him a few days of leisure. He's earned it. And, if negotiations turn serious, I will have to curtail his freedom if I need his skills as a scribe. He's conscientious and I work him hard. But you are right." Maitimo laughed. "He's probably found a partner by now. Truly, I don't think we have to worry over that young man. He can look after himself. He hides strength of character beneath the outward veneer of innocence and naïveté. Erestor, despite his appearance, is more predator than prey." He could not resist poking a bit at Ingo. "He is an eye-catching lad, bright, and loves men. Very particular about his partners, but he's far from abstemious. If you are interested, I could put in a word with him. I have no doubt he would be overjoyed at the idea of sleeping with you. He's told me that he's particularly attracted to Vanyarin blonds."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Ingo shrieked, before he realized that Maitimo was pulling his leg and started laughing. It was such a delight to stir up the noble, placid Findaráto.
The center of the encampment was a riot of color with flags and banners fluttering in the morning breeze. The larger tents and pavilions stretched out before them in straight lines across the field, appearing eerily quiet with a morning-after ambience compared to the boisterous festive mood of the previous night.
Findaráto pointed to a large yellow-sided pavilion. "Let's try the main commissary tent. I'm starving. I want more than bread and tea." He gave Maitimo a sly smile. "Everyone seems to be falling into bed with someone here. Except for me, of course. Not from any lack of looking on my part." He released a soft sigh. "And, no. I am not interested in randy young men like Erestor. I'd rather consider a brief encounter with a married man, temporarily separated from a spouse. Someone, who could understand my lack of availability. The mood of this convocation is not exactly what I had expected. Who knows? Perhaps I still have hope."
"Really?" Maitimo smiled at Findaráto, curious, but his kinsman avoided his glance. Findaráto had demonstrated an interest in Findekáno and him years earlier, but they had shied away from the idea at the time. More than once since then they had pondered whether they had been hasty or selfish to turn him away. It particularly troubled the affectionate and tactile Findekáno to think of Findaráto sleeping alone year after year. For his part, Maitimo found Findaráto surprisingly appealing physically but shrank from the idea of the possible complications of such an encounter.
Maitimo noted Findaráto's significant silence and hastened to fill it. "I am more aware than ever in the short time since we have been here how little we know of our neighbors. This should be an informative gathering, if nothing more." His stomach growled. "I'm really hungry. I barely ate anything last night, looking after Káno."
Findaráto remarked, "The whole atmosphere here reminds me less of a serious exercise in diplomacy and more like one of our reprehensible hunting trips organized by Turko in his youth." Both laughed at the memories of their not so innocent adventures in Valinor in less care-ridden days.
The lack of formality of the Pools of Ivrin gathering had struck Maitimo as well. The different cultures of Middle-earth impressed him as being much less stratified and constrained by conventions than even the Noldor, the least hide-bound of the Eldar in Aman. One of Nolofinwë's suggestions in advance of the conference had been that they should remain open-minded and allow the other communities to set the tone. The more crucial discussions of future military collaboration and sharing of intelligence could wait until the groups of far-flung peoples had an opportunity to mingle and assess one another.
"Even after all we have endured since leaving Aman, everyone still refers to those infamous hunting trips as the epitome of debauchery," said Findaráto.
"Artanis exaggerates," Maitimo grumbled. "I don't recall her ever turning down an invitation to join in one though."
Maitimo and Findaráto had joined a short queue inside the pavilion for food. The smells of freshly baked flat breads and roasting meat caused Maitimo's stomach to growl again. Two efficient Sindarin servers dished up portions of some sort of root vegetable sautéed with onions that smelled marvelous, a couple of generous slices of venison, and covered all of it with a huge circle of bread.
"Thank Eru. Real food," Maitimo observed with great satisfaction. "I still wonder how we survived our youths without any of us suffering grave bodily injury. What were our parents thinking?"
Findaráto said, "Our parents were probably happy to have some peace and quiet at home for themselves. Actually, none of them believed that anything bad could happen there. Probably thought that Turko's beloved Oromë would keep an eye on the lot of us. I'm sure they didn't realize that Turko was busier tupping Irissë than hunting."
Aware that no strangers could understand their conversation, the cousins continued reminiscing.
Maitimo could not hold back a guffaw at the memory of pulling Tyelkormo aside dozens of times to warn him to no avail. "Seriously, if Nolofinwë had been aware of everything that went on, Turko would have been in more danger of physical harm from him than anything we might have stumbled upon in the forests in Valinor. But we did lead a charmed life, nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises, and a couple of near disasters."
"Ai, poor Nolofinwë! At least you were principled enough to keep your hands off Findekáno until he was a little older."
"I was grave and proper for my age, wasn't I? I believed I had an example to set for the rest of you. But I can't take all the credit for my self-control. Káno didn't throw himself at me the way Irissë pursued Turko."
They saw that Nolofinwë had secured himself a place at a long table near the center of the mess. He sat alone, a stack of papers at one elbow and an empty plate at the other, lifting a large cup of steaming tea to his lips and blowing on it.
* * * *
Although he had only arrived at the Pools of Ivrin some three days earlier, Nolofinwë had already established a routine. After bathing each morning, he dressed, walked to the main commissary tent and settled himself at the same table. Nolofinwë would then eat and observe, using the pretense of paperwork to ward off unwanted visitors. The majority of the participants in this gathering availed themselves of this same facility, the largest of the communal dining areas. He learned interesting things about alliances and affinities by observing the diners. When he spotted Maitimo and Findaráto, plates in hand, walking in his direction he lowered his mug and signaled for them to join him.
"Perfect," Nolofinwë said as they took their seats. "You are the two I had most wished to encounter this morning. I had hoped my eldest son might be with you." He raised his eyebrows at Maitimo, in what he hoped would provoke a straightforward explanation of the rumors he had heard of Findekáno's lapse of judgment with certain wilder elements of the Nandor the night before.
"Sorry, uncle. He had a bit too much to drink last night," Maitimo said. Findaráto snorted with good-natured amusement. "All right then!" Maitimo said, shaking his head at his half-cousin. "The truth is that a shaman of the Deer Tribe of the Nandor drugged him. He is fine now. Sleeping it off. Kept me awake most of the night."
Maitimo gave him a challenging grin, as if daring him to express his disapproval of their sleeping arrangements. Nolofinwë had no interest in doing that. His sympathy with Maitimo had been aroused by the thought he had put into another subject that he hoped to raise with him before the end of the convocation. He had decided that he would discuss with both Maitimo and Findekáno his conviction that, as next in the line of succession, his son would have to give thought to producing an heir. Too many self-proclaimed petty kings among the scattered Noldor increased the necessity of an indisputably clear and universally accepted line of succession for their High King. Findekáno was a perfect heir from the prospective of popularity and respect among the disparate factions of the Noldor, but his childlessness and the lack of a wife could become a drawback in the future. And any son he produced would have to be born of a consort who would be both officially recognized and accepted by their people. The product of a casual dalliance would not be at all suitable either.
"Should Finno be seen by a healer?" Nolofinwë asked. He was certain that if such attention had been required Maitimo would have handled it already, but he hoped the inquiry conveyed his irritation without making it explicit.
Maitimo responded, struggling to control a grin. "We spoke with Daeron of Doriath, Elwë Singollo's chief scribe and advisor. He is familiar with these peoples and their practices, has actually ingested the substance before himself, and recovered with no ill effects. He assured us it's harmless once one sleeps it off."
"Findekáno is too reckless," said Nolofinwë, sighing that his complaint had grown feeble with fruitless repetition.
"He would argue spontaneous perhaps," said Maitimo, with resignation. "However one wishes to describe his audacity, he's loved for it and incredibly lucky as well. This time he managed to find himself named the true friend and an honorary elder of a tribe of the Nandor who are reclusive and bristly even with most of the Sindar. I am sure before the end of the day Káno will be citing it as a masterful stroke of diplomacy."
A rumble of distant thunder caused both Maitimo and Findaráto to pause, forks in the air.
Nolofinwë said, "Here comes the predicted storm. The wise men of the Sindar of the north have advised me the rain will be heavy and last most of the day."
"We heard the same from other sources," said Findaráto.
"What can either of you tell me about Daeron and Mablung of Doriath?" Nolofinwë asked. "I met them briefly and they were less than forthcoming with me. A lot of polite words about friendship couched in deliberately personal terms, as though they did not want me to read any official position into them. I suspect they have little to no authority to negotiate, only to gather information about us and report back to Elwë."
"We spent a couple of hours chatting with Mablung," Findaráto volunteered. "An interesting fellow. I would not say he appears secretive by nature. Seems an outward-looking type and well-traveled, as he claims Daeron is also. But you are right. Their king wants information and appears to have instructed them to offer as little as possible in return. I still believe that my earlier plan of going directly to Elu Thingol in Doriath," pronouncing the Sindarin name perfectly if with some effort, "is our best prospect for learning anything significant about the man or his intentions."
Nolofinwë restrained a laugh at how evident from the heat that rushed to color Findaráto's cheeks was his eagerness to race off to discover the mythical, no doubt wildly embellished, wonders of Elwë's hidden refuge. With a barely suppressed smile pulling at his lips, Nolofinwë said, "You'll have your chance, Ingo. But, for the moment, we must learn what we can from the representatives that Elwë has sent us. What did you discover about these fellows last night?"
Findaráto explained, "Mablung's the muscle and Daeron is the brains of the pairing. Not to say that Mablung is not intelligent, but his specialization is arms and defense as one of the captains of Doriath's border guard. While Daeron is Thingol's chief scribe and a trusted counselor, second only to a kinsman of Thingol whom they refer to as Prince Celeborn. You might have heard of Daeron's reputation as an artist. There are those who have heard both musicians play and sing who would claim Daeron is actually as good or better than our treasured Macalaurë."
"Ah, interesting. So what did you personally think of the musical counselor?" asked Nolofinwë.
Findaráto laughed silently, his shoulders twitching as he glanced at Maitimo. "You'll have to ask Nelyafinwë. I did not meet him or speak with him."
"But you did?" Nolofinwë asked, turning to Maitimo. Apparently, he was going to have to pry loose every bit of information about the night before.
"Ah, well, yes. I did. Káno wasn't feeling well, we stopped at my tent to get some water, and inadvertently barged in upon Daeron and Macalaurë there. They weren't expecting visitors. It seemed that Daeron intended to spend the night. With Macalaurë. We didn't stay long."
Nolofinwë laughed despite his concern for relations between the Noldor and the Sindar of Doriath. One had to see the humor in the situation. "Brilliant. So Thingol's lore master is sleeping with one of my nephews and was introduced to my son and heir while he was in an advanced state of inebriation. We are off to an impressive start for diplomatic relations between our peoples."
"Could be worse," said Findaráto. "They probably have lowered their guard against us somewhat now. Finno was not in a chatting mood. Ah, a bit uninhibited even for him in his manner . . . . but not giving away any state secrets. Aside from being more openly affectionate with Nelyo than would have been considered strictly proper in Tirion--less noticeable here by far--he kept to himself."
Nolofinwë grunted. He reluctantly envisioned Findekáno whispering in Maitimo's ear and smiling adoringly at his lover. "Findekáno will be Findekáno, I suppose," he said. "In any case, someone will need to speak with Macalaurë about the danger of loose pillow talk." He sighed to think that he had believed Macalaurë was the least likely of all his nephews to involve himself in any sort of scandalous entanglements. Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, and no less of an irritant, was the standoffishness of his own second son Turukáno, stiff and proper beyond sufferance, looking down his nose at their presumptive allies.
"I'll talk to Macalaurë," Maitimo said. "Trust me, Uncle, they were not talking politics last night."
"Yes, it could be worse, I suppose," Nolofinwë said. "I am sure Macalaurë understands the necessity for discretion."
Maitimo and Findaráto did not appear to be listening, with their eyes fixed upon the entrance to the pavilion behind him.
"Look who is here," Maitimo said smiling.
"Well, who?" Nolofinwë asked.
"Uncle," Findaráto said with a chuckle, "Don't be so imperious. Turn around and look for yourself."
Ignoring Findaráto's teasing of Nolofinwë, Maitimo said, "It's Pilimor and Tadiel, the healers from Lake Mithrim." Nolofinwë was pleased that they had taken his suggestion to travel to Ivrin after all.
"Uncle?" Maitimo interrupted his self-congratulatory musing. "I'd like you to spend some time with Tadiel while we are here."
"Oh, dear," Findaráto said shaking his head in consternation.
"What?" Nolofinwë demanded.
"Maitimo has decided that Findekáno needs an heir," said Findaráto.
"So, you are prepared to accept that?" Nolofinwë asked Maitimo.
"More gladly than my brothers accept the idea of Turukáno serving as high king if something should happen to you and Káno." Maitimo chuckled uncomfortably.
"The idea is madness," Findaráto insisted. "It's simply wrong. I don't care what they say about Tadiel liking them and Maitimo saying he could live with the situation."
Nolofinwë realized that the topic had been subjected to heated discussion among the three cousins, that probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to him he thought. None of them remained political novices. He had expected that Findaráto would support him and it would be Maitimo he would have to convince. Nolofinwë was surprised but pleased that idea that Findekáno needed an heir had been considered by Nelyafinwë. Findaráto certainly would have understood as well if he were not such an idealist.
Maitimo grunted and shrugged his shoulders at Findaráto, who reacted. "Doesn't matter that she has told you that she has had her heart broken and doesn't expect to love again. She is still young. We've all suffered from unrequited loves in our youths."
Maitimo responded to Findaráto, biting off each word with an obvious effort at restraint. "I think you underestimate the lady. She does like me and adores Kano. We are fond of her as well. It is not as though it would be a cold, heartless relationship. You don't know her as well as we do."
Findaráto harrumphed. "And you've never been married."
"Neither have you," said Maitimo.
"Near enough to know it's not so simple."
Nolofinwë had heard enough of the difference of attitude between Maitimo and Findaráto. Maitimo had experience at making difficult decision, for good and ill. Findaráto's high-minded impracticality was a known quality. He interrupted to ask, "And what does Findekáno think?"
"He's willing to consider it at least. I told him that I think that we . . . that is he and I . . . could still . . . ah . . . remain close." Maitimo blushed to roots of his scarlet hair.
Nolofinwë couldn't make eye contact with Findaráto who had straightened his back and clenched his jaw. No doubt Findaráto believed, and rightly so, that Findekáno would hear the arguments about the responsibilities of leadership and the good of the Noldor being presented by his lover and his father and accept the proposition unenthusiastically.
"I'd consider the match with favor also," Nolofinwë said. "She's a sensible, competent woman, of noble blood. Related to Thingol on the distaff side I've heard. I think people would accept her."
Maitimo nodded in an affable way, looking past Nolofinwë again toward the front of the pavilion. " Pilimor and Tadiel are walking in this direction now. May I ask them to join us?"
"Yes. Please do," said Nolofinwë. He caught Maitimo's clear grey eyes for an instant and realized his nephew could read him like an open book. He wished not for the first time that he had more of his younger and older brothers' capacity for mind touch.
* * * *
Findekáno felt a mixture of mud and grass squishing up between his toes, despite the protection of his heavy-soled sandals. Supporting Tadiel on either side, although she was perfectly capable of walking through the mud on her own, Maitimo and Findekáno wound their way around puddles and rivulets of water down the long walkway dividing the rows of tents leading to the first outcropping of trees. The afternoon had passed quickly. All formal meetings had been cancelled, ostensibly due to the thunder storms in the late morning and the steady rain of the early afternoon. Although Findekáno also guessed that the festivities of the night before had worn out most of the participants of the convocations, even the most intrepid of the Nandor.
The largest of the pavilions, the main commissary tent, had been filled all afternoon with people eating, drinking, playing cards and catching up with old friends. One thing had led to another after he had tracked Maitimo down there and here they were, on their way back to their tent with Tadiel. No one could argue that he and his two companions were wholly sober, but neither were they drunk. The rain had ended in the late afternoon ushering in a cool, misty early evening. A chilly breeze dispelled most of the effects of the spirits they had consumed earlier.
"Do you still want to come with us, or shall we walk you home?" Maitimo asked, his tone one of the courtly deference that would not have been out of place with a noble maid of Tirion. "Did you tell us where you are staying?"
Findekáno reflected that Tadiel was not one of the sheltered and feckless girls that Maitimo had once been notorious for pursuing in his youth. Although, she was easily as pretty of any of them. A good friend and ally, a grown Sindarin woman, she might have been carefully reared in Doriath, but certainly since leaving there had not led a sheltered life. She had treated men with grievous injuries, both physical and of the spirit, suffered in a long, dirty war--Maitimo himself in fact.
"I stayed with Mablung and Pilimor last night. I used my cousin Daeron's cot. I set up my own this morning before we left. Daeron never returned last night. I'm not in a hurry to go back there yet. I have nearly two months more to catch up with Mablung's and Daeron's gossip of home. And who knows if I will ever have an opportunity to corner the two of you like this again."
"We were thinking of more than just conversation," Findekáno warned.
Maitimo exhaled loudly and raised an eyebrow. They had not discussed if this was the right moment to raise the issue. But Findekáno figured that the longer they delayed the more he would dread it and the less willing he would be. It might indeed be now or never for him.
Tadiel laughed. "Your methods of seduction need a little refinement, Finno. That's hardly a romantic way to put it."
"Oh, I assure it will be though," Findekáno insisted solemnly. "Maitimo is an incorrigible romantic."
"And you? You are not romantic?" she asked. Eyes wide open with curiosity, she did look quite lovely.
"I can be, but hardly under the circumstances. I'm terrified. I've never been with a woman."
Maitimo choked. Tadiel laughed again. "Well, that is a challenge. But I've never been with two men. So I suppose that levels the playing field a little." She winked at Maitimo and lowered her voice, her breath ticklish against his ear, "We'll be gentle with you, sweet Finno."
"Cheeky wench! I feel I must tell you that I wouldn't be trying this if it weren't important." Findekáno paused and cleared his throat. "Matters of state, you know."
"Shut up, Kano. You're drunk," Maitimo growled, his voice thick with embarrassment warring against affection.
"Am not," Findekáno protested.
Tadiel giggled at them in the most endearing manner. Findekáno thought he might actually be able to manage this after all.
"I do understand now," Tadiel said, suddenly serious. "You need to know if you can bear to be with a woman before you consider marrying in order to produce an heir." She tightened her grip on Findekáno's arm, perhaps in reassurance. "And where does that leave Maitimo?"
"Well, it leaves him exactly where he has always been, the center of my universe," Findekáno said, feeling suddenly stubborn. "Maitimo's right. I am an idiot, aren't I?"
Maitimo shook his head. "Ai, Káno!"
"Not at all," Tadiel said. "It's an honor for me that you would trust me enough to share this with me. If you haven't noticed--I know Maitimo has--I am quite attracted to both of you."
"I am a perfect idiot. Help me out here, Maitimo. I'm afraid I've stuck my foot in it again."
The three of them had stopped dead in the middle of the path leading into the copse of trees through which they must pass to reach the meadow where Findekáno's tent had been pitched.
Maitimo took Tadiel's' chin in his hand, bending over to kiss her lightly on the mouth. "Perhaps Káno is right. We need to be straight forward with you. We had no intention of deceiving you. If we withheld any information from you it was by omission only and intended to be short-lived. The unvarnished truth is that the impetus to approach you in this way was a political one. But we could not have looked in your direction if we had not both already cared for you. And, yes, you are right. I'm aware of the mutual attraction between you and me. Like you said, I think together we can try to entice Findekáno gently. And if that doesn't work. Then that will have to be the end of it.
"I promised Káno I would do what I could to help, but he will be the one who marries and helps to raise a child. I also promised him that he and I would still, as we do now, spend as many months or weeks a year together as we are able. No one is asking you to marry Káno in the morning, just to spend some time with us. To see if you think you can even seriously consider the situation. I don't know what I am trying to say. . . . We've been talking about this for days, but not how we would explain to you. I realize it is not a very attractive proposition, but . . . "
Tadiel interrupted Maitimo. "I've had far worse proposals presented to me. And within the last two days even. Maybe we can talk a bit more over another drink. Or not talk. If you think that would work better. I suddenly feel as sober as I felt tipsy a few moments ago."
Tadiel extended her hand to Maitimo's mouth and touched his red, full lips with her fingertips. Findekáno felt a twist of jealousy accompanied by a surprising tinge of arousal. He took a deep breath, causing Tadiel to turn to him with a knowing look from under hooded eyes. "Do you have any wine in your tent, Finno?"
"Thank you for even considering this," Findekáno said, pulling on Tadiel's hand and beginning to walk again. He needed to try to regain some control of the situation or it could slide away from him all too easily. The tiny bones of her strong hand felt alien to him, but not at all repulsive. "Come along. You are a beautiful, generous woman. Let's just see what happens. I do have wine and Maitimo brought several bottles of an interesting distilled drink. Do remember that horrible rot gut that Tyelkormo used to make at Lake Mithrim?"
"You're not suggesting we drink any of that, I hope," Tadiel said, pretending to be aghast with horror. She rubbed a silken cheek against Findekáno's shoulder, bare in his sleeveless tunic. Her scent, that clean childish one that clings to some women throughout their lives, was not unpleasant either.
To be perfectly honest with himself, she appealed to him on some subconscious plane that he had never touched. He suspected her natural perfume would never drive him mad with desire like the heady musk of Maitimo. Still, he also had to admit that he liked the cast of the sharp fine bones of her heart-shaped face, the ethereal semi-transparency of the pale skin stretched over them.
Tadiel had always intrigued him. She reminded him of Maitimo in that she contained at her core the same type of strength coupled with intellectual acuity that hid a rare emotional openness and vulnerability. If there was a woman in the world who could arouse him physically, she might be the one. He could tell that Maitimo's response to her was totally different from his own, completely easy and unforced. He had always known that Maitimo's range of sexual preferences varied greatly from his own. Far from being something that had ever troubled him, Findekáno always had perceived that this fact made Maitimo loving him the way he did even more precious.
Findekáno said, "No, I wasn't suggesting the rotgut, I wanted to say that Turko's gotten much better in his experiments with different fruits and vegetables, over the last twenty years. The kind that Maitimo brought is distilled from grain and flavored with caraway seeds. It's strong, but it goes down smoothly."
Maitimo reached around Tadiel to ruffle Findekáno's hair. "I love you, Káno," he said.
Maedhros – Maitimo, Nelyafinwë, Nelyo
Fingon – Findekáno, Kano, Finno
Finrod – Findaráto, Ingo
Galadriel – Artanis
Aredhel – Irissë
Celegorm – Turko, Tyelkormo
Fingolfin – Nolofinwë
Maglor – Macalaurë
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.