Amras and Amrod showed little interest in their food. Earlier that day, Fëanor had capitulated to relentless pressure from his youngest sons and agreed that they could erect a tent behind the house and sleep there. Now he watched them squirm in their seats, eager to leave the table and finish their preparations. Their older brothers taunted them about the hardships of sleeping in the rear garden under the light of Telperion, causing them to squeal like piglets in protest.
Under the best of circumstances, the noise at the supper table in the House of Fëanor could put anyone off their feed, even when the chicken did not taste like wood. Maedhros must have been distracted; his meals were usually better.
After swallowing exaggeratedly, as though he had read Fëanor's mind, Maglor said, "Hey, Nelyo, remember the time when Carnistir and Turko slept outside and Turko pissed his pants when the dreaded Sindi attacked their tent?"
"Wh-what's a Sindi?" Amras's voice cracked.
"Your Amil's mangy--ah, sorry, sweetheart--beloved old cat." Fëanor did not look at Nerdanel. Ignoring an impatient nudge against his knee, he turned away from her and kissed Amras on the cheek and pointed at his plate. "Eat."
"Died before you were born," Celegorm stated gleefully.
"Yep," Curufin added. "Found her down by the garden gate, stiff as board, fur all matted, her mouth . . ."
Maedhros interrupted, "We're eating, Curvo."
"Trying to," Caranthir said, with a mournful shake of his head. "You let the chicken dry out."
Maglor snorted. "He was arguing with Finno all afternoon." Maedhros glowered in response, faint lavender circles under his eyes and a persistent twitch in his jaw marring his perfect visage. Fëanor mused that being older and in love was not, as people claimed, any easier than being young and in love.
"Oh," Nerdanel said, in a sympathetic bleat, looking in the direction of her oldest son. "Is that why Findekáno didn't stay for supper?"
Maglor squirmed, obviously unable to resist asking, "Do you mean the chicken or the quarrel, Amil?"
"Pfft. Never mind," Nerdanel answered.
Fëanor reached across his wife for the gravy boat. Sawdust chicken might go down more easily with bread and drowned in gravy. Nerdanel shot him a murderous glance, as though he held sole responsibility for her sons' insensitivity and bad manners. He gave her his best attempt at an innocent smile, which worked as often as not.
She had stormed the forge earlier in the day to excoriate him. One of the most enchanting things about his lady wife was her extensive vocabulary, enriched by years spent in her father's workshop. With histrionic gestures that would have done proud any of the celebrated actors of the finest theaters in Tirion, she insisted that due to his rash promises to the twins she did not expect to get a wink of sleep that night and neither should he.
Her flushed cheeks, wild eyes, and bright tousled hair had stirred him. Fëanor thought the worst of it was over after he had backed her out of the forge, into the workshop, and had her right there on his desk. She stumbled back to the house, smiling and blushing like a girl, only to return a short while later enraged again. The boys had decided that her new counterpane would be the perfect size and weight for the body of their bloody tent. They ripped it off the marital bed, dragged the heavy, brocaded piece over the floor, down the stairs, out the door, and across the yard, nearly killing a chicken they accidentally caught in its folds.
He tried to console her by explaining that a little dust, dried leaves, and twigs could have caused no more than negligible damage to her latest, and exorbitantly expensive, attempt at home improvement. His efforts to repeat his previously successful method of calming her earned him nothing but a rude shove against a splintery doorjamb on her way out. Tolerance of his bad habits and bearing seven children, despite her frequent protests otherwise, had done nothing to diminish Nerdanel's strength of arm or character.
A remark from Celegorm, which caused both twins to scream at once, jolted Fëanor back into the present. Preoccupied as he had been with thoughts of Nerdanel, he had missed most of it.
" . . . and then you'll come running into the house, bawling like babies, wanting to sleep with Amil and Atar. Oh, the poor iddle boysies."
"Shut your trap and leave them alone," Maedhros said, making parental intervention unnecessary for the moment.
When the twins turned beet red like that and shrieked, they really did remind him of their mother. Fëanor could not resist reaching over to tenderly stroke the top of Nerdanel's hand.
"Don't worry, darling. When we've finished eating, I'll take a look at the tent and settle them in for the night."
She gave him a hint of a smile and a long-suffering sigh, before sticking her lower lip out in an alluring pout. "I'm sorry if I've been testy today, but I did have work I wanted to do this afternoon as well."
"I'll take them into the city with me tomorrow. Then you can have hours and hours to yourself."
Nerdanel leaned over to give him a peck on the cheek, along with a surreptitious squeeze on the thigh. He gave himself a mental pat on the back for his insightfulness.
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.