“Too hot to hunt, too hot to go to the market, and that means it is time for a family game!” Aredhel looked as if she was containing enough excitement for herself and all of her brothers, for they exhibited none.
“I was really hoping it was time to go melt in the creek.” Turgon was sitting in the chair their father normally sat in. His feet were propped up on the footstool; the dog, normally kept outside, had flopped underneath, likely hoping that the extra shadow from the furniture would keep him cooler.
“We would have to walk to the creek,” Argon reminded him.
Turgon grunted. “I already declared this a walking free day. Maybe someone can roll me down to the creek.”
“I declared it a heat-free day, but my edicts carry little weight.” Fingon sat up and stretched. The damp cloth which had been covering his forehead plopped down onto his lap. He picked it up folded it into quarters before he set it onto a table containing his now empty glass of water and a bowl of fresh fruit from the garden.
“The creek is mostly mud right now,” Aredhel told them in the practical voice she had picked up from their mother. “Until it rains again, there is no sense in going down there, unless you are one of the hogs.”
“What are we playing?” Fingon was now twisting his hair, braids and all, into some sort of a mess on the top of his head. He did nothing to pin it up. Instead, he leaned back slowly, and it mostly stayed in place when his head was against the back of the couch where he had taken up residence.
Aredhel opened the box in her lap. “Truths and Tales.”
Turgon rolled his eyes at Fingon. Fingon yawned. Argon actually looked interested. “Have I played this one before?”
“No,” his brothers echoed. “Some of the questions are highly suggestive,” added Turgon.
“Only if you make them that way,” Aredhel scolded.
“Makes it more fun that way,” answered Fingon.
Argon sat up a little straighter. “Do I finally get to hear the stories about you and Cousin Maedhros?” A common phrase in the house, every time young Argon questioned something said at the dinner table about his brother and cousin was ‘when you get older’.
Turgon snickered as Fingon opened one eye and focused his scrutiny on his youngest sibling. “Who wants to play cribbage instead?” he asked.
“We cannot do that. Father still needs to make us a board for more than three players.” Aredhel shuffled the cards that were in the box. “Besides, this game is only... inappropriate when you and Turgon make it that way.”
“At your service,” said Turgon proudly while Fingon laughed.
“I still need to know how to play,” piped up Argon.
“Oh, yes. The rules. The gamekeeper selects a card and reads it, and picks someone to answer the question. That person chooses to either tell the truth or tell a tale. Then everyone needs to decide if it is the truth or not. Once everyone picks, truth or tale, the person reveals which it is. Those who got it right win a point. The person who just played then becomes the gamekeeper, and the game continues like that. The winner is the first person to reach ten points.”
“And that never happens.” Turgon accepted the pile of cards Aredhel handed to him. “Someone always walks off in a huff before we can finish.”
Fingon took the cards given to him, and once his sister’s back was turned, gestured that it was always Aredhel who left the games unfinished.
Argon nodded and arranged his cards neatly on his lap. “Who keeps score?”
“I do,” stated Aredhel firmly. “Fingon cheats and Turgon forgets several rounds in.”
“No, I just think keeping score is a waste of time.” Turgon shuffled his cards for want of something to do.
Aredhel sat back down. “I am still going to keep score,” she said firmly. “The first question goes to Turgon.”
“No surprise there,” commented Fingon.
“Because you always make the answers dirty,” Aredhel snapped.
Turgon used his cards to hold in front of his mouth. Argon sat beside him, and Turgon said to his younger brother in a hushed tone, “And so it begins.”
“Turgon, what is the worst nightmare you ever had?”
“Well, there was this one where I was stuck in a room playing a game with my siblings because it was unbearably hot outside,” he began.
“Truth,” announced Fingon rather immediately as Aredhel sighed.
“Come on, Turgon,” insisited Aredhel. “Just sitting doing nothing is far worse.”
“I can tell you about my worst nightmare,” offered Argon. “I have it all the time. Everything is really cold, and mother is gone, and people keep disappearing. We all keep on walking, because everything will be better at the end, but then, everything just stops, and I am all alone.”
Fingon sat up slowly and looked alarmed. “You know people do not just disappear. Has Celegorm been telling you stories about the Teleri that turned back again?”
Argon shook his head. “Celegorm’s stories are much worse than that.”
“I am going to hurt that boy some day,” promised Fingon despite Aredhel’s pouting.
“Alright, alright,” interrupted Turgon. He sat up, too, one hand held up to keep the peace. “Worst nightmare.” He took a moment to contemplate. “It had to do with father. I remember being trapped somewhere and he was far away. He was hurt, but none of us was there to help him. I always wake up before the dream ends.”
Fingon nodded as Turgon finished speaking. “Truth.” He even reached out and squeezed Turgon’s shoulder comfortingly.
Aredhel frowned. “Yes, truth. This game is getting off to a lovely start,” she said with a scowl. “Argon? Truth or Tale?”
“Uhm... truth, I guess.” Argon began to flip through the cards to find the more uplifting ones.
Turgon nodded. “Well, you asked the question, Aredhel.”
“It was on the top of my pile.”
“That is why I cheat,” shot back Fingon as he fanned his out to read over them.
Turgon gave his own sigh, heavy with exasperation. “Fingon, dear Fingon.”
“Yes, that is I.”
“Alright. Your question, sir.” Turgon cleared his throat. “You have the opportunity to be any animal you wish.”
“Not just today, when we would all pick trout or something.”
“The trout are probably hot today, too,” said Argon.
Turgon nodded. “Quite. So, Fingon, what animal would you assume the identity of and why?”
Fingon pressed his hands together, thumbs beneath his chin, and considered the question. “Does Maedhros get to be the same animal?”
“Pfff, I do not care, yes, sure,” said Turgon as he assembled his cards on the footstool.
“Alright, in that case, I would be a fox. One of those little red ones with the sleek black paws. They are gorgeous creatures.” Fingon leaned back again and smiled. “We would have a cozy den, our little burrow, right on the outskirts of Tirion. We could wander through the gardens and play in the fountains of the elite who reside there. Best of all, Celegorm refuses to kill foxes, so, I would be safe.”
“Truth,” decided Turgon. Aredhel nodded. Argon narrowed his eyes and studied Fingon. “No. You are lying.”
“Damn. How can you know that?”
Argon looked very smug for one so young. “Point for me,” he informed his sister.
“Fingon has to tell us the truth first,” prodded Aredhel.
“A bird. Because—“
“—you want to fly. F—darn it all.” Turgon caught himself in time. “I should have known that. Shoot.”
“Argon, do you want to join in, or should I go to Aredhel?” asked Fingon.
“I think I understand how to play,” answered Argon.
Fingon plucked one of the cards from the hand he held. “Your question, whether you like it or not, is, if you could exchange places with someone for a full day, who would it be and why?”
“Hmm. Good question.” Argon slid down onto the floor to sit with the dog. “I think I would trade with father. He seems like he has a very interesting life, and then, he would also understand in my place how hard it is to be the little one all the time.”
“Truth. You realize that means you have to sleep with mother.” Fingon smirked.
Argon looked a little confused. “So? I used to sleep in their bed a lot.”
“Truth. Leave him alone, Fingon.” Aredhel gave her oldest brother a hard stare.
“He is just playing.” Turgon drummed his fingers. “Tale. Might as well go for it.”
“I was actually going to say Fingon, until he brought up the part about sleeping people, and I do not want to end up in bed with cousin Maedhros.” Argon frowned. “Maybe you, then, Turgon.”
Turgon was laughing delightedly, even as he was assaulted by Fingon, who unleashed an arsenal of pillows from the couch. “Yeah, laugh it up,” he scolded when he ran out of ammunition.
“Another point for Turgon,” announced Aredhel in an attempt to ignore the elder pair. “Argon, it is your turn.”
Argon nodded and picked up one of the cards without looking at it. “May I ask you a question, Aredhel?”
“Of course,” said Aredhel sweetly.
“The question is, if you had to get a tattoo, what would you get and where would it be?”
“A different question,” Aredhel said firmly.
“Oh.” Argon looked at the others uncertainly.
“She forgot to mention that she can change the rules whenever she wants,” said Fingon quickly.
Aredhel glared. “That is an inappropriate question to ask a lady.”
“What do I do with this question?” asked Argon as he held up the card.
“Ask someone else,” Turgon suggested.
Argon looked between his brothers. “Um... okay. Fingon, if you had to get a tattoo—“
“I heard.” Fingon licked his lips. “Well, I have one, so—“
“What?” Turgon looked incredulous. “When?”
“Last summer. I just thought, why not.” He gave a quirk of a smile. “A little something for Maedhros.”
“Where is it and what is it?” Aredhel questioned.
“Nothing fancy. Just a simple arrow, middle of my back, pointing downward.”
Argon looked to Turgon to explain.
“You cheeky bastard.” He tossed one of the pillows back at the chuckling Fingon.
“Fingon, that was crude!” Aredhel tossed her cards back into the box.
“Oh, come on. It was a joke. Besides, I expected you to believe me. You are the one who keeps saying that our cousin is very pretty but not all that smart.”
“There is no way he is smart if he is with you,” she shot back. She gathered up all of the cards from the others, closed the box and marched off with it under her arm. “I hate you all. I wish I had sisters.” Aredhel stormed off up the stairs.
“And that concludes our game.” Turgon propped his feet back up on the footstool again, and Fingon leaned back and closed his eyes once he replaced the cloth on his head.
It was quiet while Argon looked around and tried to decide what to do next. He finally cleared his throat and looked up at Fingon. “Fin, you never answered my question.”
“He has no tattoos, Argon. He was just trying to upset Aredhel.” Turgon noticed that one of his cards had fluttered to the floor, and he picked it up and excused himself to find Aredhel. The dog trotted off after him.
When the room was cleared of everyone except the eldest and the youngest, Fingon adjusted the cloth on his head and said softly, “Right hip. Gold ink, so it can barely be seen.”
Argon, who had taken to daydreaming, looked up. He was still sitting on the floor. “What?”
Fingon leaned forward and caught the cloth this time before it fell away on its own. “The tattoo I got last summer.” He listened for a moment, and then motioned for Argon to come closer as he reached to the hem of his trousers and rolled them down at the side. He pressed two fingers near a spot that Argon examined. “See, it starts right there,” he whispered.
Argon caught the image when he tilted his head. “Valiant,” he read. “Why that?”
“Maedhros,” replied Fingon with a smile as he covered it again. “It was his idea. He calls me that sometimes.”
“Who did it?”
“Maedhros.” A little color tinted Fingon’s cheeks. “No telling father. Or Aredhel. Or Turgon. Turgon tells Aredhel everything,” Fingon warned his brother.
“Can I tell mother?”
“Do not tell anyone,” said Fingon with a little laugh. He cleared his throat. “She knows, though. Mothers sort of figure everything out.”
“Well, I certainly hope Aredhel never becomes a mother, then. She would be dangerous.”
Fingon burst out laughing. “Nice. Good one.” He rubbed his chin. “We need to spend more time together,” he decided.
“We could create a united front against the other two.”
“Genius idea.” Fingon nodded. “We should start plotting.” He leaned back and put the cloth on his head. “As soon as it rains.”
Author's Chapter Notes:
Written for Nolofinwëan Week / all the kids