1. Day 1: Strong Ties (Finarfin, Fingolfin, Feanor)
The voice of their brother made them both freeze on the spot. Arafinwe cast a hasty glance at Nolofinwe, hoping that he had not been taken by surprise quite as thoroughly as he; his brother's moods when it came to Curufinwe were always distressing to him, as they were to their father, and he truly wished that this day would not be marked by a fight between them. He turned round and smiled at Curufinwe, all the while regretting that the smile he did summon could not be more sincere.
I should try harder, if not for my own sake, at least for Father's. To Curufinwe, he said, "I thank you, brother. We have not announced it at large as yet, but we hold ourselves as quite betrothed. I am very happy."
"Do not thank me yet. I have not congratulated you."
The biting tone with which the line was delivered, more so than the words, took him aback. He had always tried to take what Curufinwe said less literally than he had heard it, but without time to ponder on the meaning, he could not see how to receive this speech other than with animosity. Nolofinwe saved him the trouble of crafting a reply.
"If you have nothing better to say, Feanaro, I suggest that you go away. Father is in quite a good mood, and I would not have you spoil it."
"Who is spoiling what?" Curufinwe asked with the mere raise of an eyebrow as he tried to appear collected, but Arafinwe saw that his jaw had tightened, trying to repress a sneer. "It is ever you who always spoils the mood of everything I start. I will congratulate Finarfin… during the handfasting."
"Surely that is not what you were going to say." Nolofinwe was becoming agitated; he could tell by the sharp intakes of breath he took between words. They had essayed at sharpness for so long that it took only a small spark to ignite their tempers. For once, Arafinwe was glad that always he had tried harder to control himself.
"Please," he said, advancing a step as if to put himself between his brothers. "Of course I can wait for the handfasting, Curufinwe. In truth, that is what makes a betrothal official, after all."
"Indeed," said Curufinwe. "I hope, for your sake, that your betrothed will be eager of its taking place. She has always seemed so… sedate. I am rather surprised that you would want for that in a wife, for all your quiet temper."
Arafinwe had to put a restraining hand on Nolofinwe before replying, "I think I understand why you would say that. Earwen is always as composed as her station requires of her. But I, who have seen her otherwise, can assure you that she is everything I could wish." Curufinwe's eyebrows went up at that, and his mouth gaped slightly. Surely, he had not expected such directness in his mild younger brother. "That she is willing to wed me should be indicative enough of her thinking of me in like terms. I would not wish to spend all the life we have ahead of us with someone I do not love as entirely as Earwen. That should satisfy you, I am sure." He said the last with such finality that it left no quarter for either of his brothers to misconstrue what he had said. Upset that he had just laid bare so much of himself to Curufinwe, he strove hard to smile once more, but could not do it. Just as well. I am in danger of turning the hypocrite. With a final, "Well met, brother," that left it unclear to whom it had been addressed, he strode down the hall and out into his mother's garden.
After a while, he felt steps following—the unmistakable fea of his brother.
"Well done, Arafinwe. That put him in his place."
"Well done?" He rounded on him sharply—more sharply than he should have, but the barriers with which he held his restraint in check had weakened and his emotions were too much in the surface for him to stop their course. "You almost make a scene, and within Father's hearing. After my announcing my betrothal to him! What were you thinking, Nolofinwe? For once, all I ask is that I have a day all to myself where I do not have to act as nursemaid to either of you."
His brother's eyes went wild at that.
"He was baiting you, brother. With your betrothed. Couldn't you see that?"
"Of course I saw it, but what could I do? Paying court to everything he says only serves to make him think that we care about it."
Silence met this. Nolofinwe would never admit to it, but he knew that he cared. They both cared, and always had. He did not know if it was because of the power of Curufinwe's smoldering personality, or the fact that his father loved him even mo—
"Forgive me, brother," he said, attempting to escape the train his thoughts had taken. "I should not have spoken as I did. You were only trying to help me."
Again, he knew that was not entirely true, but he was willing to overlook it for Nolofinwe's sake. He was so tired of fighting, and this day he was supposed to be happy.
Nolofinwe turned his back on him and fingered one of their Mother's plants: a velvety thing, quite bushy and flamboyant, but also rather blatant in its appeal.
"I will not allow him to do as he will in Father's house. He may be the eldest, but he is not the only son of Finwe. He would do well to remember it."
"Or else… what? Please, Nolofinwe. We have been learning how to make this fire for as long as I can remember. Sometimes—" he said, running a hand through his blond hair, a lasting inheritance of his Mother's, "Sometimes I wish I could take it all back. One day the fire will catch, and who knows but that not only ourselves will be burned by it? I cannot engage in squabbles anymore. I have Earwen to think about now. I have a family to protect."
Nolofinwe looked at him keenly for a while, and Arafinwe found it hard to endure that gaze. For a moment, Nolofinwe resembled their brother rather too much for his liking. Finally, Nolofinwe plucked a leaf from the bush and crumpled it in his fist. "Aye," he said. "The ties of family are stronger than fire."
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.