Amras stopped sobbing and managed to struggle to his feet as soon as he heard his father curse and saw him stop just short of last porch step, instead of rushing forward to rescue them. Celegorm strolled around the side of house, still clad in Maedhros's good shirt, by then badly wrinkled and undone at neck.
Simultaneously, Nerdanel, sleepy-eyed but alert, popped out of the back door, pulling her robe more tightly closed over her ample bosom. "What was that all about?"
"Nothing," their father said. "The fucking hedgehogs woke them up."
"Fëanáro!" she said, with the pretense of being appalled, as though she never heard him use those kinds of words. "Watch your language in front of the children."
"I was merely being precise. Listen. They are still going at it." He paused long enough to allow the scuffling, squeaking hedgehogs to underscore his point. "I can scarcely believe they've grown up this far beyond the city limits and did not recognize the racket of hedgehogs mating."
Amras had gained control of his breathing, but needed further reassurance. "Atto, do you believe in ghosts?" He tried, but could not control the quaver in his voice.
"Of course not! I don't even want to know where you heard that claptrap." He gave a chilling glance in the direction of Celegorm. "March right up to your rooms. Not a sound out of you until well after the mingling of the lights." His father's eyes snapped, scarier than anything hidden in the shadows of the back garden. "I'm disappointed in both of you."
Nerdanel's voice, suddenly soft, held a regretful, slightly guilty undertone, like she might be somehow to blame for their father's ill humor. "Must you always be so dramatic, Fëanáro? Anyway, I think they've stopped now."
"It doesn't take them long at all, once they've finally made contact."
Amrod asked, "How do they do that anyway? Without hurting one another, I mean?"
"Much like the rest of us, I'd guess. They put up with the bad for the sake of the good part," Feanor answered. Nerdanel punched him on the arm. He grinned at her, but turned back to stare stonily at Celegorm.
"I have warned you before, Turkafinwë . . ."
"Uh, uh, um . . ." Celegorm brilliantly began. "About the boys . . . I can sleep in the tent for the rest of the night so they don't have to come inside." His throwaway tone belied a wide-eyed look of apology, directed at their father.
"Fine. I will hold you responsible for them."
Celegorm shrunk under his gaze, but lifted his chin in a pitiful imitation of bravado. "Whatever." Then he shrugged, apparently re-thinking his comment. "I mean, yes, sir. Uh, I will. I mean, thank you."
Nerdanel reached to ruffle Celegorm's tangled blond hair. "Thank you, Tyelkormo. That is such a good brother of you."
Amras restrained himself from rolling his eyes.
List of Quenya names and/or nicknames used:
Celegorm = Tyelkormo, Turko, Turkafinwë
Caranthir = Carnistir
Curufin = Curvo
Fëanor = Fëanáro
Fingon = Findekáno, Finno, Káno
Maedhros = Nelyo
Maglor = Macalaurë
I asked my LJ friends-list for advice on what might frighten children in the garden of a suburban household in the halcyon world of Valinor. I am most grateful to Esteliel for the suggestion of hedgehogs mating and ChaoticBinky for the howl of a wolf.
I also want to thank the short list of friends who read a Beta version of this story and encouraged me, especially for the corrections of Lissa and Jael.
The cartoon, of course:
Click on cartoon for larger version.
Finally, on hedgehogs mating, the actual act itself is the least of the noisy, scary part, it is the pursuit and circling of one another that result in the most hair-raising sounds. For those of you who have never heard or seen mating hedgehogs, courtesy of Moreth: hedgehogs doing it.
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.