Silmarillion Writers' Guild Five Things

Chapter 4. The Dark Finwë

Morifinwë Carnistir [Caranthir]  

Nerdanel sat at the kitchen table peeling potatoes. Without her even asking him, generous Maitimo had taken Tyelkormo and walked to the creek behind the house to read. Since her youngest had been an infant, he liked to nap near the sounds of birdsong, water running over the rocks in the creek bed, and the breezes rustling the trees above.

For the first time that day, Nerdanel had a moment of peace. She ought to have tried earlier to work on the lovely golden marble they had found the previous summer. She loved to stroke it; its satiny texture along with its color reminded her of Fëanáro's skin after a week at the seaside. But again another day had passed without her finding the time to touch it and she needed to think of food.

Just then, Fëanáro came in from the forge through the backdoor, radiating warmth and his own unique scent, a mixture of otherworldly ozone and newly cut grass. He looked at her like a child eyeing the dessert table at a feast.

"How are you feeling, sweetheart?" he asked, a small crease forming between his eyebrows, mostly likely caused by him sensing her less than blissful mood.

"Wonderful," she snapped and then wished she could take it back. She tried to hide her bone-aching weariness from him. "I'm sorry. I am just so tired." She had never felt like this after Maitimo or Macalaurë, but then neither of those pregnancies nor deliveries had been anything to compare with that of Tyelkormo. The length and complications of her labor had frightened both her and Fëanáro. But, although Tyelkormo had been a louder, angrier baby than either of them, he grew quickly, ran and climbed prodigiously, and had the appealing face of a porcelain doll framed by a cloud of loosely curling blond hair.

Fëanaro dropped to one knee in front of her, reaching out to take the paring knife from her hand and placing it upon the table. "Leave those for now. Why don't you try to rest while Nelyo is entertaining the baby. Where's Macalaurë? Can't he finish the potatoes?"

"He's in his room practicing. Can't you hear him? Anyway, don't be silly. He'd probably cut one of his precious fingers and we would never hear the end of it!" She was already smiling and her voice held none of the reproaching tone of her words. The sight of this incomparably attractive, maddeningly difficult man always touched her heart and stirred her spirits.

"We'll give him another year," Fëanáro said. "And then he'll have to do his part around here, just like everyone else. Wouldn't want him to be raised the way you claim I was. How did you put it once? 'Like a cross between a feral cat and a spoiled princeling.'"

"I said that? That doesn't sound like me. Maybe I indicated that I thought you might have been left alone too much and too often permitted to do exactly as you pleased."

He gave her a winsome smile. "You cannot imagine how beautiful you look sitting there with the light from the window catching your hair like that, all shining red and cooper. Come upstairs and take a bath with me."

Nerdanel didn't even respond to the 'beautiful' remark. She had finally accepted that, true or not, he believed it. By most who knew her, she would have never been characterized as beautiful. A select few might have considered her attractive in a non-conventional way, but for some reason Fëanáro did consider her beautiful. When she wrinkled her nose at his forge-soiled clothing and blackened hands, he grinned and reached up to cup her chin, turning her face to his. Experience told her that in the usual sequence of events she would soon be as grubby as he was.

"I'll rinse off before I get into the tub with you," he protested, like a boy unjustly accused of making a mess that he couldn't make right. Nerdanel laughed, already questioning why she had been feeling so miserable earlier. How he could still smell fresh and appealing while grime-covered and dripping with sweat never ceased to intrigue her. It was probably nothing more unusual than youth, good health, and an impressive genetic makeup, yet it remained one of the mysteries she would be pleased to spend their marriage exploring.

She kissed the inside of his wrist, so strong yet pale with its nearly translucent skin. Opening her lips, she could feel his pulse against her tongue.

"Oh!" he whispered. "I swear I am going to fuck you senseless."

"Good," she challenged.

They barely made it down the hall and onto their bed. Kicking off his heavy boots, Fëanáro ripped at her blouse; the cloth thin from too many washings all but disintegrated under his attack. She laughed aloud in sheer joy at how easy it had been for her to cause him to lose control so quickly and completely. She managed to undo the fastenings to her relatively new skirt before he damaged those. Thank, Eru, the sheets need to be changed, she thought. He's still filthy from the forge.

How dare you think of laundry, he shot back at her, when you know I'm dying for you! He took her hand and placed it upon himself. She melted at the comfortable girth and the familiar long, elegant shape, granite hard yet heartwrenchingly smooth under her palm.

"Nerdanel. Sweetheart. Oh, Eru. Nerdanel! I didn't ask you this time."

"Ask me?" she inquired, shuddering with desire, truly puzzled. By then she was nearly blinded by his red heat.

"Are you sure you want this?" he asked. Then she understood. He insisted upon a response because he sensed, as she did when she thought about it, that if they came together at that moment, with her utter openness to him and his desperate need, they would indeed conceive another child.

"Yes. Yes. Yes," she pled. It would seem wrong to even begin to think otherwise. Pure sensation turned into hazy images and light, and her head filled with a roar like the ocean. It might have been a minute or an hour before she heard him cry out.

When they came back to themselves a bit, the sheets felt damp, twisted and tangled beneath them. The breeze, cool against heated flesh, came in through the open door from their bedroom onto the courtyard.

"Well, that was different," he said, uncharacteristically quiet.

"Poor child. I fear he will be a strange, ungentle one conceived in such a fit of lust."

"Poor little dark one," Fëanáro responded, recovering enough to sound pleased with himself again.

"I can't bring myself to regret it," she sighed. "There are many sides to love."

He laughed. "You surprise me."

"How so? Don't you think that making a new life is always rather selfish and presumptuous? We made Maitimo out of pure youthful exuberance. Just because we could."

Fëanáro raised himself on one elbow and looked down upon her. His handsome face gleamed pale and luminescent in the mingling of the lights, a bright circle of color on the crest of each charmingly sculpted cheek bone.

"But we conceived your Macalaurë out of pure, sweet love for one another and our joy in the perfection of our firstborn."

"You see! Pride. Pride and self-satisfaction at our earlier creation."

"No, if that were true, it would apply accurately to our Turko, our wild nature boy. Remember how we were drunk with pride the night of that infamous begetting feast for Nelyo? After listening to so many compliments over the accomplishments of our first two."

"Perhaps that is where our little fair one gets his temper and impatience."

"Don't talk like that, Nerdanel. Reminds me of those old wives' tales. The ones where a woman trips on an old cat and her child is born with green, slanting, feline eyes! Such backwardness."

The seriousness of his tone in scolding her made her giggle. "At the risk of carrying these analogies too far, I will predict that this one, made in flaming red passion, will be ruddy of complexion like my father or me."

"I still say dark," Fëanáro insisted. "Perhaps I'll call him Morifinwë."

She could not control the impulse to contradict him. "Bright reddish cheeks. I'll call him Carnistir."

"Ah ha, Nerdanel! So you admit this one is a male child. What happened to your idealism?"

Before she could respond, they heard the kitchen door clatter shut across the courtyard—Maitimo returning with Tyelkormo. Reality slammed against Nerdanel as sharply as the door against its frame.

"I ought fix that door," Fëanáro said, stretching and yawning.

"Oh, no. What will we feed them for dinner? There is nothing but half a pot of raw potatoes. Probably turning black already."

"I covered them with water before we came upstairs." It was maddening how Fëanáro could do things like that without her even noticing. She thought not for the first time what a poor housewife she was.

Fëanáro grinned at her. "You're a wonderful artist though. Don't worry about dinner. We can eat cold ham with bread and butter. And we still have that hideously iced sticky cake that Indis sent home with me yesterday when I left the city. Turko will love that."

"He'll never go to sleep tonight after eating something that sweet. And what will we tell Maitimo?"

"We could tell him that we made another brother for him. He's old enough to understand such things."

"I hope not."

"You hope in vain. I caught him flirting with a girl, at least five years older than him, in Tirion yesterday. With a great deal of success I might add."

"I fear we have taken on too much," Nerdanel groaned.

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Chapter Note: I was even more aware than I have been in previous chapters that I ought to give inspirational credit to Dawn Felagund's Another Man's Cage. My story would, however, be AU for reasons of significant differences in characterization and my propensity to abide by the rather fanciful fanon that elves conceive children at will. Thanks to IgnobleBard for the Beta read and to the Lizard Council for ongoing encouragement.

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