Out from under the porch Turgon crawled, covered in dirt and cobwebs. “Where is he?” He scrambled to stand up and raced past his mother in time to grab little Argon out of the arms of Melkor. “You are never leaving my sight again, if I can help it,” he vowed. The baby, wholly unaware of having been in any danger, gurgled appreciatively and clung to the front of Turgon’s tunic.
“Where did you find him?” asked a very grateful Anaire.
Melkor gazed long upon Turgon holding his brother before he answered. “He was just inside the woods. It looked as if he tottered off and then fell asleep from all the excitement.”
“That would be amazing, as he does not walk yet,” announced Feanor, who was just coming up the garden path with Maedhros and Fingon behind him. He stopped only when he reached Melkor and crossed his arms over his chest. “I suppose next you might tell me he flew the distance.”
“No. I would have assumed then that he had crawled – which would make even more sense as to why the poor dear was asleep.” Melkor looked quite hurt at the accusation Feanor had made, and Finwe stepped in to keep the peace.
“Our thanks to you, Melkor, for your aid to us. Please, join us in our celebration. It is not much of a reward, but it is what little we might offer.”
Fingolfin plucked Argon from Turgon’s arms before the fallen Vala could answer. “Excuse us, but we are going home. Turgon, gather your things,” instructed Fingolfin.
“Yes, father,” answered Turgon dutifully.
“Fingon, you as well,” added Fingolfin. “Do not argue with me here.”
“Do not be so hasty to leave, my son,” said Finwe. “Perhaps it would be better to talk things out here, on neutral ground.”
“What sort of things?” asked Melkor curiously.
Feanor narrowed his eyes. “Nothing that concerns you.”
Again, Melkor feigned insult. “I was merely worried over your family’s wellbeing.”
“We beg your pardon, your lordship; merely a trivial matter between my sons which bears no impact upon anyone else but those parties already involved.” Finwe gave his sons a look that dared them to dispute him.
“I see,” came the hissed response from Melkor, who caught sight of Maedhros and Fingon standing very close and holding onto one another’s hand. He regained his calm tone again quickly. “I wish you luck in sorting things out. As for myself, I have business to attend to.”
“Consider the invitation open, Lord Melkor, to return as you wish,” Finwe insisted.
“Thank you,” he replied. “I shall remember that.”
Finwe now turned to Feanor and Fingolfin, who were exchanging glares and sizing one another up. “Quit that,” whispered Finwe. “I will not have you acting thus with everyone watching. Look at your sister – she is beside herself!” Some distance from them, Faniel was huddled against the gazebo, shaking nervously as she watched them. “Consider her delicate nature, shake hands, and get into that house where we can discuss this matter like civilized people.”
There was no doubt that Feanor was not fond of most of his half-siblings, but Faniel had taken a liking to him, and he to her, despite their difference in parentage. He smiled to her, a look to give her confidence that indeed everything would be alright. She was a rather fragile creature, and Feanor had once remarked that he still would have been mean to her when she was a child as he had been to the rest of his half-siblings, but it would have been like kicking a puppy to do so, and even he was not so cruel.
Fingolfin had the same fondness for their sister, and he took a minute to walk to her and show her that Argon was well. She took hold of the baby and snuggled him while Fingolfin walked back to the house. “Let us go, then.” He herded Fingon and Maedhros up the porch steps and into the house. Feanor and Finwe trailed not far behind.
Once they were inside, all of them made their way down the hall until they reached the library at the other end of the house. The library was Finwe’s favorite spot to hold meetings. There were not many books in it, but the collection he had was magnificent and rivaled many of the public libraries in Valinor.
Maedhros brought Fingon with him to one of the couches, where they sat down together, challenging anyone to separate them. Finwe took up residence in his chair near the fireplace, while Fingolfin stood at the window. Feanor smirked at the defensive position his brother had taken up, and casually shut and locked the doors.
“I would like, if I may, to make a suggestion.” Feanor sat down next to Fingon and put his arm around his nephew. “Perhaps what your son needs is a little time to find himself. How old were we when we were thrust into the world? I married young; you married younger than I. Now, we protect our children behind high walls and in houses of stone. Maybe they need some time on their own.”
“Might I remind you that all of your sons are still living under your roof?” Fingolfin shook his head. “You were probably the one putting these ideas into his head in the first place.”
“You were the one who decided he should learn to be a gymnast at such a young age,” mumbled Feanor.
“What was that?” demanded FIngolfin, but FInwe was standing up now as well.
“Neither of you are to ‘blame’ for this; you both know that the will of Eru is not something which can be halted.” Finwe turned his attention upon the pair sitting together. “This is a difficult path you have chosen.”
“We will travel it together,” Maedhros said. “Both of us are aware of the consequences, but that does not matter.”
Finwe joined them, gently nudging Feanor from his spot. “Maybe it is easy now, with few knowing. Perhaps it will even be fine if your relatives know. Once word reaches others, however, you must realize that you will not have the support of all of your friends and acquaintances.”
“We do not even have the support of all of our family members,” Fingon pointed out, not daring to look in the direction of his father.
“That will change. This adjustment will take a little time for them, but they love you, and are your family.” Finwe took hold of their hands and held them tightly. “I would bless this bond, but I must know this is not some rebellious act.”
“Father, no!” Fingolfin approached and crouched down beside his father. “It should not be your decision; it should be mine, and Feanor’s, if we even allow it to go that far.”
“It should be their decision,” corrected Finwe.
“I agree,” piped up Feanor from the door, though the gaze upon his father was oddly cold and spiteful.
Fingolfin stood up, defeated. “What say you?” he asked as he looked down upon his son and his nephew.
Fingon and Maedhros exchanged uneasy looks. “Grandfather,” began Maedhros, “we both appreciate your gesture – and one day, I hope we shall come to seek your blessing. Right now, I think I speak for both of us, that this is much too new for us to make such a commitment.”
Fingolfin looked shocked at the declaration; Feanor, slightly angered, and Finwe, happily relieved. “That is wise of you both,” said their grandfather. “There is no need for you to rush into something. You may decide later that you have indeed made a mistake.” At the doorway, Feanor snorted angrily, but said nothing.
“But if that is the case, there should be no… whatever that was… in public,” said Fingolfin sharply. The couple bowed their heads simultaneously.
Finwe also nodded in agreement. “It might also be a good idea, as Feanor suggested, for a little, ah, nudging from the nest as it were.”
There was a knock on the door that paused the conversation. Feanor growled his sigh as he went to the door to answer it. It was Finarfin who stepped in. “We have a little problem,” remarked the golden haired brother nervously.
“Tell me about it,” said Fingolfin from across the room.
Finarfin stepped in and closed the door. “No, I fear it worse than that. Maedhros, Fingon... I need to speak to your fathers for a moment in private.”
Finwe gave his grandsons a nod and they stood up together and left the room. When the door closed again, Finarfin plopped down into his father’s chair. He was the only one of his siblings who dared do so or could get away with it. “You both might want to sit down,” warned Finarfin.
Feanor lowered himself onto the arm of the sofa as Fingolfin sat down where his son had been and leaned forward. “What could be worse than this, Finarfin?”
“If you think this little disturbance that Maedhros and Fingon caused was difficult for you, ask me where your daughter is.”
Fingolfin narrowed his eyes. “Where is Aredhel?”
“We think, in the midst of the confusion, she ran away.” Finarfin’s gaze flitted toward his eldest brother and he added, “With Celegorm.”
Fingolfin turned his head and glared at Feanor. “Just what is the problem with your sons, Feanor? I am of the mind they should all be gelded!”
“My sons are the trouble, are they? Did you ever think that maybe if you did not suffocate your children and lock them away like animals to be kept in cages that they might respect you a little more, or, heaven forbid, not run away?”
“This has never happened before,” argued Fingolfin as he stood up and headed for the door.
Feanor laughed and reached out to grasp his brother’s arm as he passed. Fingolfin tugged himself away. “Brother, listen, you are blind if you do not see it! What do you call it when your daughter goes hunting halfway across the land instead of simply going out into the woods behind your house? How many times has Fingon insisted upon staying at his team’s dormitory even when he was the only one there? Where does Turgon spend his free time, and why does someone so young have two occupations that take him away from home so much?”
“You want me to listen to you? You listen to me, brother,” answered Fingolfin with a snarl. “What my family does is of no concern to you. I will raise my children as I see fit.”
“And yet, you stab at me on how I raise mine,” Feanor reminded him. “What will upset you more is that I can actually answer the questions I asked you. I know more about your adult children than you do.”
“I highly doubt that,” snapped Fingolfin back, his hand on the knob of the door.
Feanor scratched the back of his head and smirked. “You are blind, Fingolfin.”
“Enough,” said Finwe quietly. “Finarfin, are you sure that Celegorm and Aredhel are missing? Perhaps they are in the garden, or somewhere in the house.”
“We looked for them,” answered Finarfin. “They went into the woods to help look for Argon, and never returned.”
“Maybe they are just still looking for him. Perhaps they did not know he was found?” suggested Finwe.
Finarfin shook his head. “Father, they were with Melkor when he found Argon. He said that when he turned, they were gone.”
All color drained from Feanor’s face, and he pushed Fingolfin aside as he opened the door and stormed down the hall and outside to confront his future foe.