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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

By the Light of Roses--Chapter Ten

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

By the Light of Roses--Chapter Ten

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In last week's chapter, we got Nerdanel's answer: She will not be joining her exiled family for Carnistir's begetting day feast. Fëanáro was understandably upset, as were his children, but by way of Terentaulë--Curufinwë's wife--we are led to understand that there is more to the story than that which Fëanáro likes his children to remember.

Eressetor continues to ponder leaving Formenos in light of a ghost from his past appearing nearby and threatening to ruin his somewhat-happy existence as a student of Fëanáro. Eressetor still greatly dreads that his master should find out his terrible secret, but yet, it never seems quite the right time to leave.

This week, we join Arda's Most Dysfunctional Family for the begetting day feast in honor of Carnistir, learn more about the odd and (I think) very cute Telvo, and watch as Eressetor gets understandably drunk and has a strange dream about Fëanáro...or does he?

Please remember that this story is rated for adults only for reasons of sexuality and mature themes and contains slash. And for those patiently waiting for smut (or for Fëanáro to make his move), it's imminent. My thanks to everyone who is reading along! As usual, all comments are welcomed.


By the Light of Roses
Chapter Ten

Wine and Roses


In the minutia of preparing for a feast, we gladly lost ourselves: bathing carefully and plaiting our hair, pressing our finest robes and fastidiously dressing, fastening jewels around our throats and wrists, slipping rings onto fingers stiff and adamantly not trembling. I opened my armoire door, pondered the trunk at its bottom, and whisked out my best robes without another thought. Not today. I could not leave today.

Maitimo had taken over the role of the father, inspecting each of his brothers in turn, answering their calls for help, his scarlet hair streaming like a banner behind him as he rushed hither and thither yet impeccable and gleaming when I met him at the bottom of the stairs—“Eressetor. You look well!”—his practiced decorum betrayed only by his tendency to twitch aside the drapes, checking the time by the degree of light. “Would you do me the favor,” he asked, “of keeping watch of the door, to greet arriving guests?” I nodded, wondering why—perhaps he was going to check on his father?—but dared not ask, but he must have seen the curious gleam in my eyes. “Even heirs to thrones and eldest sons need to break for the privy every now and again,” he said, and his voice was amused, and I smiled.

By the light outside, it was an hour before the first guests were supposed to arrive but the House of Fëanáro—even if more often than not in a tumult of chaos—liked to project an aura of perfection to outsiders. If someone arrived early, one of the House would be there to greet him, even if only the master’s apprentice.

Somewhere in the house, I thought, Fëanáro must have been readying himself for the evening ahead. His own son’s begetting day. The feast he had planned. He must.

A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts, and I went to answer it, opening the door to the surprising sight of the dark farmer—Telvo’s lover—standing on the other side, fist still raised as though he hadn’t expected to be answered. His robes were dark blue and ill-fitted: too tight in his broad shoulders and so snug across his chest that the fasteners were straining to hold the two edges of cloth together. He was unusually large, although he seemed to shrink a few inches upon seeing me, his shoulders bowing inward. His skin was swarthy from working in the heights of Laurelin’s hours; he gave off a strong odor of soap barely masking a smell of earth and onions. His face was indeed beautiful, and he was not much older than me: deep-set amber eyes and high cheekbones, a jaw that reminded me of a shovel and a mouth inclined to frown. Despite it all, he was still beautiful. When he spoke, his mouth didn’t move so much as fall open, his words tangling with each other in the same flustered, desperate way of the feet of a clumsy man instructed to dance.

“Oh,” he said upon seeing me, flinching and blushing. “I—Ambarussa—I…I was told to arrive early. By Ambarussa. Telvo.” His big, stub-fingered hand lifted to smooth back hair so tightly bound back from his face that the corners of his eyes were stretched, giving him an incongruous, exotic look.

“Well…come in?” I said, but from behind me came bounding footsteps upon the stairs: Telvo, dressed in golden-yellow robes, hair half-plaited and barefoot, having escaped Maitimo’s scrutiny, face stretched into a grin. “Nandolin!” he cried, and the farmer’s jaw fell open into an improbably beautiful smile and—as though I didn’t exist—they embraced.

Nandolin recovered his manners before Telvo and tugged from his arms. “Ah, yes,” said Telvo, turning to me. “Eressetor. This is Nandolin, my most beloved…friend.” His bright gray eyes glittered as though with a challenge, and I was reminded of the feral looks on the faces of those who competed in the King’s annual swordplay competition. “I don’t believe that you’ve exactly met.”

My hand was enveloped in Nandolin’s big, callused one. Telvo’s eyes never left my face.

“I-I’m charmed, Er-Eressetor,” stammered Nandolin, and the word was as incongruous to describe him as it would have been to call the hulking, shadowy house of Fëanáro “quaint.” His palm was dry and gritty as though with dirt, and I will admit that I was preoccupied with the idea that that hand—as broad as a salad plate with knuckles still dark with grime—had touched Telvo. Knew the porcelain skin beneath his clothes, even knew (I dared think!) the intimate insides of his body. I had seen it; I knew. Smirking, Telvo knew too. And that shovel-jaw, it had fallen open, the thick tongue incapable of speech had coaxed open Telvo’s china-doll lips, tasting him as no one else had. Coaxing ecstasy with those big hands from the proud, smirking Fëanorion, as easily as wringing out a towel.

Telvo’s hand alighted on Nandolin’s arm. “Dearest, you will help my father to set up the canopy in the back garden?” The two of them turned as though I’d faded from existence and walked down the hallway together, not touching but with only a hair’s breadth between them, and I heard Telvo remark, “Eressetor is my father’s apprentice. From Tirion. You know Ornisso, who stays on occasion in the city? They were friends, in days gone by. Or so I’ve heard.”

Without waiting for Maitimo to reappear, I fled for the stairs.
~oOo~

The festivities erupted that evening like a handful of confetti tossed into the air: innocuous and insubstantial at the beginning, mushrooming into a florid display that meandered long into the night. In the dining room—the chandelier alight with a thousand candles, the light of the room dancing and heaving as though the very air was aflame—the feast began, spilling into the outdoors beneath banners tousled by the wind. The table was laden with foods of all sorts: roasted beasts of every variety and a patchwork of fruits and vegetables of every color; there were two dozen different kinds of pies that—when cut open by the obliging cooks dressed in black with bright jewels at their throats—released a billow of aroma that mingled and spread throughout the house, leaking even into the outdoors and drawing even the most reluctant back for second helpings.

Outside, the festivities were lit by the stars and lamps strung high above our heads, encased in lanterns of colored glass that made colorful, hazy patches of light upon the stone floor. Tables ringed a dance floor filled with whirling couples before the feast was even underway for an hour; an ensemble of three black-clad Elves with eyes dark as pools of blue-black ink plucked at a harp, played at a flute, and beat upon a loose circle of drums: animal skins stretched tight over long-drained wine casks. As though cajoled by the festivities, even the air had forgotten to be cold; the wind smelled of wine and feasts; the music akin to the long-ago sound of wind and water beneath a sky lit only by stars.

Here, of course, we had also the Treelight: a silver haze to the south, creeping like a frost from the horizon as the night waxed, the music swelled, and the laughter drowned even the roar of the drums, destroying any illusion of sadness.

Fëanáro made his appearance, resplendent in dark robes trimmed in scarlet and gold, making his rounds of the guests with his father at his elbow where—I thought bitterly—his wife should be. His teeth were bared in a grin and laughter burst with alarming ease from his throat.

The sons of Fëanáro—except Telvo—spent most of the night with a long line of women parading through their arms. At last, the elusive betrothed of Pityo made an appearance: a beautiful golden-haired girl who tended to look belligerently bored if her fiancé wandered too far from her side. Carnistir—the guest of honor—was not off his feet all night, swiping wine goblets and hors d’oeuvres from the trays of passing waiters as he left the arms of one woman and was immediately tugged into the arms of another.

Telvo wandered at the edges of the party with Nandolin at his side, never touching but speaking with an intimate intensity that left room for no one else in his line of sight. Neither danced with anyone but neither did they show their affection…except for one occasion when I caught them eating plates of food together at the head table, Telvo filching nibbles of casserole from Nandolin’s plate.

At another time, I noticed Finwë dancing with a round of maidens—young girls humoring him, delighted by the bright joy in his eyes—and Fëanáro sitting sullenly, like something discarded, at the head table. At his elbow, Telvo leaned, whispering into his ear, both pairs of eyes fixed on me.

I looked away.

Mid-night came and a toast was made to Carnistir by Fëanáro with the stars glinting overhead as sharp and bright as razors, Telperion’s wan, mid-night light barely perceptible this far north. Outside the circle of lantern light, the night was frigid, the wind whipping the trees into restless fury, but wine, dance, and mirth kept winter’s chill at bay, and the party wound onward, into the night.

After the toast, I became aware that Fëanáro was missing. Finwë had settled into a discussion with the lords of Formenos at a table in the corner, near the shadows, and his son was nowhere to be seen.

Nor were Telvo and Nandolin.

I did not leave the party seeking them. I made excuses about the rising volume of the music making my head ache; I convinced myself that I needed air, away from the close heat of inebriated Elven bodies. I’d had very little wine, but I was not accustomed to it, and it was twisting my vision, making the images melt and stir together: a spray of Maitimo’s scarlet hair and a scintilla of light off a silver flute and Terentaulë’s green-clad figure winding with that of her husband as she kissed him like no one was watching. The roar of voices undercut by the throbbing music was as primitive as a heartbeat, the crowd squeezing and surging with the rhythm of my blood, exciting me in the same way that a beast is tantalized by the scent of pain and its own insatiable hunger into doing that which is known to be wrong.

I had to get away.

I was not seeking Fëanáro.

The cold wind outside the festivities slapped my face as though to rouse me before committing a regrettable act in my stupor, but I still burned deep inside, as subterranean fires will smolder for years unless the ground covering them—protecting them—is torn away and they are given relief.

I was not seeking Fëanáro. But I found him, upon the balcony overlooking his northern garden.

My footsteps were light—nearly silent—upon the ground, but he heard me anyway as I approached him overlooking the garden, where the shadows were the deepest, and upon dark twisting vines, strange flowers grew, as heavy and scarlet as beads of blood, with so sweet a scent that one became drunk and eventually sick upon breathing it, yet ever hungered for more. Upon the stone railing, he leaned on his elbows, overlooking the garden. His hair was coming unbound, slipping down his back. In the midnight darkness, it was as black as the sky beyond the stars, and I wondered if daring to dip my hand into it would be similarly like plunging into infinity; if I’d be unable to ever swim again to the surface.

He turned, and his face was a portrait of grief that became something else when he saw me. Or so I hoped to believe. “Eressetor…” a smile lighting upon his lips, his hand stretched toward me. “So you have similarly wearied of the festivities? Please, come and join me.”

I meant to turn and run away or at least make my excuses, but my disobedient, willful feet carried me in his direction until my arm was beneath his hand so warm that it burned even through the heavy robes and tunic I wore beneath, awakening skin beneath that had gone cold without me even realizing it. Shoulder to shoulder, we leaned against the balcony, with silence hanging between us that Fëanáro had once been eager for me to fill with words. Explain to me…. Tell me…. I stared out into the seething shadows of his strange gardens; the fat, red blossoms endured even in the bitterness of impending winter, so red that they seemed to glow faintly, little blushes in the darkness. I blinked hard.

Fëanáro did not see my reaction but he must have felt my shoulder stiffen against his. “My son Nelyo,” he said, “is nothing if not a genius in convincing things to bend to his will. People, horses, roses…he tells them to glow, to give light in the darkness, and they oblige.” Laughing in awe, as though he had not done the same—and more—in stone; as though he was not the father of Maitimo and so also to credit for his son’s prodigy.

From the shadows came a trill of laughter—a rippling glissando played upon silver bells—as though the roses saw humor in my doubt, in my surprise. As though they’d known all along that in the House of Fëanáro, nothing was considered impossible.

“They are strange,” I whispered, “but somehow…beautiful.” I shivered in memory of the laughter; the roses seemed to glow darker. “I have never seen their like before.”

“I grow them only here. Nelyo was proud of them—he created them when we still lived in Tirion—and he offered freely his gifts to all of the Noldor, but none would take them. They shrunk from them, saying that they were too strange and unnatural. Aberrant. So I planted them in the north, where the light serves a purpose beyond the mere delight of spoiled lords who scoff at what they do not understand.

“Nelyo…he was hurt by the rejection. He did not say as much, but he would never come here, to this garden, and he gave up his work with roses...until the exile. He has resumed, to my great joy, in the time that his brothers leave spare for him.” In a voice as low as the whisper of the wind in the trees, Fëanáro continued, “It is strange, the blessings that we have found in exile.”

From the depthless shadows between the roses came another trill of laugher, and Telvo emerged, hand-in-hand with Nandolin.

I stiffened and waited for Fëanáro’s shock and outrage. His youngest son had his arms twined around the neck of the broad-shouldered farmer; their foreheads were pressed together, noses bumping, then their lips joining, seeking, parting to allow tongues to twine, Telvo’s fingers digging into his lover’s dark tresses. Nandolin was pushing Telvo backward to collide with a tree framed on either side by blushing roses that illuminated thick, awkward fingers quick adept with undoing the elaborate ties on Telvo’s robes, then a sliver of pale skin widening as heavy cloth was pushed aside, kisses raining upon tender flesh and leaving a stain of bruises rising in their wake like droplets of dark wine.

Fëanáro nudged my arm. “We should go and should not watch this.”

I found myself in his study as though transported there by magic, blinking in confusion at the roaring fire that made my skin tingle and burn; the room tilted and then righted itself by slow degrees. I had not drunken much at the party but my mind was sluggish and drowsy as though I’d had a bottle of wine to myself. The roses, I thought, remembering their heady scent that still seemed to linger inside my senses. No, that was wine, a burble of liquid like laughter, being poured by Fëanáro into two glasses, one for each of us. He’d removed his robes and was wearing only a short-sleeved tunic and a pair of breeches, both black, both silk, clinging to the planes of his body and caressed by the writhing firelight, the silk bound so close to his skin that the fire seemed to arise—not from reflection—from his flesh itself.

“No…” I muttered, pressing fingers to a forehead that expected to ache but was still heady, intoxicated, not knowing what I denied. My skin was burning now in the warmth of the fire, frozen flesh at last brought to life. Fëanáro was sitting opposite me, but he did not ask me to speak. He was drinking deeply of his wine, and I was close enough to see his throat working, to see how his lips were reddened by it and the way his tongue darted out to lick it away. He grinned. “Drink your wine, Eressetor.”

I meant to refuse, but my hand lifted the glass to my lips and my tongue—intoxicated by a taste that exploded like ecstasy inside my mouth—twisted into the protestation, “But Telvo….”

Words billowing from my mouth, beyond my conscious control. I clicked my jaw shut.

Fëanáro was sipping his wine again, his eyes keen on mine. “What about Telvo?”

“You…you know?” I waited for the words to reverse themselves, for something new—filled with scorn to which a father by rights should be entitled—for surely his approval was imagined, a dream. But his words poured forth with the liquid ease of wine from an uncorked bottle, and like wine, I let them soak my senses. I became drunk on them; like inebriation, I let them release strange conflicting emotions: delight, worship, rage.

“Of course I know,” he said. “I’ve known since my son was a young boy that he fancied other males over women.” Hesitating, smirking—“This surprises you?” For a moment reverting to the cynical, scornful master who had the power to cow me, I rebelled in an explosion of words that I didn’t recognize as mine—for surely they did not generate in my thoughts—until I heard my voice rippling upon the air: “But—but it is perversion!” Thinking of the son with his arms around the father, always touching, nuzzling, with the comfortable affection of a lover. Dully, a realization bloomed, as strange and slightly repulsive as the fat, glowing blooms on the rosebushes outside. “And you…you—with them?”

I waited for Fëanáro’s eyes to glint like light on steel, but they did not. He laughed and drank again of his wine. “Me? Eressetor, Telvo is my son, and Telvo is also happily married!” His mirth frothy and effusing the room. The connection—Telvo and marriage—was not for my enfeebled mind to make. I boggled; shook my head, as though awakening and trying to clear the last clinging strands of sleep from my brain.

“M-married?”

“Yes! Married!” he cried joyfully. “Telvo has been married since shortly after our exile. He and Nandolin followed all of the ‘traditions’ dictated by our people. Nandolin asked my permission, and I gave it. They had a year-long betrothal and a ceremony like that of any other couple. They have rings that I made for them, though they can rarely wear them because of the scorn of others. The questions of others where love is never answer enough. They even both kept their virginity until the night of their marriage, then bonded each other in Telvo’s bed. In that,” he smirked, “they were keeping more to tradition than any of my other sons, who have collectively tried to impregnate half of Tirion and much of Formenos as well.” He laughed.

The room was swiveling around me. I wondered if I would fall to the ground in a faint. My blood was pounding in my ears as though seeking escape. I thought of Telvo, of his eyes on mine. The contentment of one wedded is supposed to be obvious there. Always, I had believed that I could perceive it in the eyes and voices of my parents, on those of Fëanáro’s sons who were wed. Fëanáro himself, even, though I tried not to hear, and though it was torn by anguish. But Telvo….

“His eyes,” I whispered, “I have never seen—”

“People see what they wish to see, Eressetor. No one wishes to acknowledge my son’s ‘non-traditional’ marriage. So they do not. No one speaks of it; no one sees. In my eyes, they claim to see evidence of my marriage, of a bond with a woman who has not loved me in years, who has repudiated me in public and in her heart. But in Telvo’s eyes, they see nothing. Because the nature of his marriage does not fit their narrow idea of what constitutes love. ‘How can he love another male?’ they say. Because he does. Because it is both his nature and his choice.

“So none recognize his marriage. They look past it. None of his family sent gifts for his wedding, even his own mother. That which exists between Telvo and Nandolin simply does not exist to them.

“But Eru…Eru recognized the bond and gave them leave to be wed. Yet others believe their authority greater in the matter, that their arbitrary rules coined for a purpose that we no longer need—multiplying our people, creating heirs in case of their eventual demise—exceeds Eru’s own wishes in the matter.”

Fëanáro rose from his chair and began pacing. Color rose into his pale face, brought on by wine and frustration. He stopped to pour himself more wine; finished it in a hasty gulp. I fidgeted in my chair and fervently wished that I had never wandered away from the party.

But if he accepted such aberrance in his own son….

I opened my mouth and spoke before my better sense could convince me to do otherwise. “Master, you asked me once why I chose to come here, and I think that I should tell you. There was a boy named—” My voice broke on the name: Ornisso. Ornisso, the name of my ignominy, who has haunted my dreams and my waking thoughts since the day I first beheld his freckled face and duplicitous green eyes; Ornisso beneath my hands and mouth, unlocking ecstasy I hadn’t believed possible. Unlocking love that I hadn’t believed could be wrung from a wizened heart like mine. Ornisso, who could be replaced by only one other.

Fëanáro.

“Ornisso.” To hear the name, suddenly, in Fëanáro’s voice stung me like a slap to the face. The room reeled, and I nearly toppled out of the chair. Had my thoughts been so clear upon my face? I feared that I might be sick. Fëanáro came to my chair and knelt beside me; there was a very pale reflection of me in the deep black centers of his eyes. “Eressetor, do not look so shocked.” His wine glass was nudged to my mouth, still warm from his lips. I drank; I drank wine and I drank him, I thought, deliriously. He was an under-taste now, beneath the wine: the sharp taste of ozone after a close-falling lightning strike. The taste of him dazzled like fireflies behind my eyes. “Shortly after receiving your letter asking to come here, I wrote to my half-brother in Tirion. We like to play a ruse, that we are friends,” he said sardonically, “so that he feels better about my exile and so that I can tell my wife honestly that I am seeking retribution for what I have done. So we correspond, every week, of our false joy. I knew your father’s name, for he had always made a point of making himself my enemy. And allying himself—in turn—with my half-brother. So I mentioned your interest in an apprenticeship with me; I will admit that it was intended to wound him, that his ‘most loyal’ subject in fact had an only-son who sought me. Naturally, he wrote back and cautioned me about you, saying that you and this ‘Ornisso’ of his had been caught in an act of ‘unclean fornication,’ that you had been dismissed from his service because he suspected that his precious Ornisso could never had had a hand in it. Ornisso had to be disciplined, of course, to give an appearance of justice, so he was sent to an apprenticeship in the north. ‘I suspect that your Eressetor is seeking Ornisso,’ he wrote, and I wrote back that I doubted it—since Ornisso’s appointment is one hundred leagues west of Formenos—and that I had decided to take you as an apprentice. I heard no more from Nolofinwë on the subject.”

The room lurched and I tipped into Fëanáro’s arms. I opened my mouth to speak, to defend myself as I had become accustomed to doing. The tired words hung, ever-ready, upon my tongue, ready to tumble forth in a jumble of denials and protestations. My head fell against his shoulder; his hair whispered across my face, and I felt safer than I had even in the early days in my father’s home, before my parents separated, before I had ever heard the name “Ornisso” and my father remained aloof of me, still believing his son to be normal, when I could still convince myself that I would be normal, that adulthood would see me married, with a son and a career as a loremaster. And happy.

My lips writhed but no sound came out, as though I could no longer protest what I knew to be true.

I was aberrant.

Softly, Fëanáro’s fingers alighted on my lips. “Hush,” he whispered, and he cradled me in his arms like I was his own child. My hand rose to touch him—to pull him closer? or push him away?—and the feel of his tunic was as silken as warm water.

I had come here because of Ornisso. To escape Ornisso. Hadn’t I?

Tears coursed down my face, pattered on his bare arms.

“I no more believe that you chose to come to me because of your ex-lover,” said Fëanáro, “than you should believe that I brought you here because I knew that you loved other males. We chose each other for a different reason, Eressetor.”

Around a throat tight with tears, I managed, “What reason?” and he whispered, “That is not for us to know,” tilting my face to his and kissing my mouth, as I’d never been kissed before, with a gentle passion like a warm hearth on a cold night. He tasted of wine, and I parted my lips to drink of him; I tasted his lips with my tongue and found that they easily parted as though he was as eager to taste me as I was him; our tongues entwined between us and someone moaned—which of us, I would never know—and he pulled me from my chair and to the floor, to lie upon the thick, luxuriant carpet that depicted the Music of the Ainur, to lie beside him, our hearts pounding in frenzied unison and our bodies crossing the innocent distance that Ornisso and I had always been careful to keep: arms wrapping shoulders, chest pressing chest, belly against belly, and hips pressing hips.

He broke the kiss first, though barely; his lips were so near to mine that I could still feel their warmth, our breaths mingled between us.

This cannot be real. Cannot.

There was a throbbing heat in my groin that would not be quelled by kisses alone. But I dared not hope for that; I dared not hope for anything but to awaken in my own bed and discover that this was all a dream.

His body stretched beside mine, his hand upon the small of my back, my buttocks, burning me through my heavy, despicable robes.

I closed my eyes. Tightly. Better to awaken now, before I fell prone to delusion of dreams, before I awakened in painful disappointment, unfulfilled. He stroked my back through my clothes, rippling along the bones of my spine, eliciting a shiver like a scale played fast upon harp strings; his lips roamed my face, kissing my cheeks and the tip of my nose, pressing to each eyelid in turn, making them squeeze shut tighter.

A heartbeat: and time had changed again, moving forward without me. I was lifting my head sodden with the ache of inebriation from the silken carpet. And he was gone.

He was standing at the fireplace, hands braced against the mantle, staring into the tousled flames as if seeking answers, his unbound hair spilling over his shoulders and swaying in the direction of the fire, as though seeking to drag him forward and headfirst into the flames. His silk tunic and breeches gleamed faintly, fitting the contours of his body—the long lines of his back, his firmly rounded backside—like a thin sheen of oil.

Beside me, the chair: had I tumbled from it, succumbing to the wine and roses, the kisses and caresses but a dream? My arousal strained against the bonds of clothing—tight-fitted undergarments and heavy robes—and made a shameful mound at my groin. If he turned, he would see and know. Blood heated my face and my arousal first twitched then withered at the thought. He would know.

Had it all been a dream?


I stood on trembling knees and the room reeled, giving me the same vertiginous feeling as standing with my feet in the surf and staring at the horizon, the water rushing over my feet and creating the illusion of sliding into the sea. I pitched forward, caught myself with a hand to the floor, the room dipping as though the floor had suddenly opened beneath me. My hair had been torn from its plaits; the fine velvet of my robes, crushed and wrinkled. My eyes felt swollen, the corners grainy with what felt like dirt but I knew to be mucus, yet I dared not trust relinquishing my grip upon the floor to wipe it away.

A strong hand gripped my arm and hauled me to my feet. “Come, Eressetor. You have had too much wine and you need your bed.” A floor passed beneath my feet—was I walking? My leaden legs lacked the strength to lift themselves, but there were steps, falling away beneath me and a progression of doors shut tightly on either side like secrets kept.
~oOo~

I awakened in my bed, the heavy quilt piled atop me. I was sweating beneath the bedclothes even as my hands—lying neatly atop the quilt—trembled with the cold.

A dream!

I did not remember coming here, only shards of a dream, bizarre and phantasmagoric, of the dusky glow of roses, music swirling at my back, and the burning heat of lips upon mine.

Ornisso? No. Fëanáro.

Outside, the feast had finally broken, and the night was filled with shadows and silence so deep that it seemed to possess a texture: that of quickmud, viscous and unrelenting, rising to grip first my ankles, then my calves, slipping like a lover’s caress to my thighs to bind my waist and press upon my chest, snaking around my throat and into my open mouth, silencing even my breathless protests until it—the silence—was again complete and I was demolished.

Upon the silence, my shame exploded, and I closed my eyes. If I had been able to will Fëanáro into the place of dreams, then why did my shame remain persistently solid? Real? Why couldn’t this also be a dream; this abashment lashed to my ankle like a leaden weight, holding me in this place that I longed to escape and yet could not, this place with steep sides into which—whenever I dared crawl forward—I was only dragged back again?

Fëanáro! My own master! Fallen onto the floor like a sack of grain, possibly writhing there, moaning, in my florid, shameful dreams. In my mind, I saw Fëanáro at my awakening, stretching toward the fire with his back turned modestly to me, leaving me in the privacy of fantasy. What if I had cried out loud? What if I had touched him as he doubtlessly tried to rouse me, spoken my passions to him? My awful secret? I feared that I had; I remembered a conversation about Ornisso and Telvo, who had been bound in his lover’s arms in the strange garden in my dreams like pale prey. The words were as clear as drumbeats against the inside of my skull, becoming slippery as soon as I began to tighten my grip upon the memory, as mischievously furtive as an eel darting between my fingers.

What had I done?

Hot tears scalded my numb cheeks, pooling in my ears, but I dared not give voice to my sobs; I dared not rend the silence. Around me, the house slept, with nary a breath or a rustle of movement to betray the presence of others, a portent of my fate: to live alone, a shame and a failure, mistrustful in the company of others.

Fëanáro’s lips upon mine: Had that been a dream? Did I dare to hope?

I turned my face into the pillow to subdue my sobs. I knew what I had to do. Come the morning, I would pack and leave.
~oOo~

I was not summoned for the mandatory minute-long breakfast and I awoke to scalding daylight pouring between drapes that I—in my inebriated weariness last night—had failed to close, the house around me rattling with the same insistent cacophony as a gourd filled with stones and shaken to make noise.

Memory rushed upon me then, crushing me: of my error the night before, of what might or might not have been a dream but most certainly had been a mistake. I pinched my eyes shut—less against the piercing light than the shame—my blood pounding with little fists along the length of my body in a frenzy of humiliation. I would have liked to allow it to explode forth; I would like to be born on the wind, to the Halls of Mandos, to let the Valar fix me and make me right and whole. I would like to be reborn, to start again, in a world where “Eressetor” was but a memory eroding with time as rock beneath swift-running waters.

I rose from bed, expecting the sodden pain of a hangover, but my head was clear, my eyes not wincing even in the sharp midday light. My heart hammered with healthy—albeit terrified—vigor, propelling me to my armoire to select clothes for the day and to finally perform the action that I had prolonged avoiding: dragging my trunk from the bottom of the armoire and to the floor with a hearty bang that was lost amid the commotion in the house but seemed a worthy punctuation to this day, this moment: the moment when aberration began to again define me.

With a slow, shuddering exhale, I rose and smoothed my rumpled nightclothes with trembling hands, pondering the trunk that now lay upon the floor, waiting to be unhinged and opened, packed again with the things that I’d once laid so carefully within, so full of hope for this apprenticeship. For escape. Only to find myself more tightly bound by my aberration here than I’d even been at home. I’d tried…and failed.

With a sharp intake of breath meant to be fortifying, I bent and unlatched the trunk, letting the lid fall open. I would bury my hopes in there.

Outside my chamber, there was a shout and feet pounding on the stairs, laughter intentionally loud to chase away the silence—and then a loud knock upon my chamber door that made me flinch as though I’d been struck.

I called for the person to enter, and Telvo’s head poked into the room. “Ah, Eressetor! You are awake!” Slipping through the door and nudging it shut behind him with his heel. He wore a wrinkled red tunic and tan breeches with bright blue patches at the knees; his reddish hair was a rumpled mess held back from his face with a strip of leather. He was patting his pockets; his tunic seemed to be full of them. “Forsaken shirts! Atar had them made with pockets for quills and other notions, never expecting that we would lose—ah!” Quick fingers extracted that for which he’d been looking. “Here!” A folded slip of paper, jabbed in my direction, his body already inclining toward the door and escape. I watched my pale quavering hand extend to take it; heard myself mutter what must have been gratitude.

Like a bright fish darting into a haze of murk to escape a predator’s gaze, he disappeared through the door as though he’d never been, the only evidence of his presence his faint, lingering scent of musk—and earth and onions.

Something strange about his hand, I thought, offering the note to me. I turned the paper over in my hands and closed my eyes to recall the memory: a spark of gold upon his finger, quick as a wink, then shoved back into his pocket.

A wedding band.

Trembling fingers unfolded the note, but it was not Telvo’s handwriting, as I’d expected, nor Ornisso’s, as I’d feared. It was Fëanáro’s.

Eressetor, meet me behind the forge for a walk; I wish to speak with you.
-F


The paper fluttered from my fingers, tumbling once, to lie facedown inside the trunk.
  • O____o *wibble*

    I should be able to say something more profound, but I'm not. So I'll just say that I loved this chapter (although it made me wibble a lot, but out of sympathy for the characters). It was really gripping, and I kind of slipped into the same excited and disbelieving dream-like feeling as Eressetor (if that makes /any/ sense and doesn't just sound stupid.) Poor confused elf!
    • It does make sense, and actually, that was the effect I was trying to create, so you just made me squee! :^D I was hoping that by the end, readers would maybe even question the reality of everything that Eressetor had witnessed, feel the same foreboding as he does a little too.

      But thanks so much for reading, and I'm glad that you enjoyed this chapter. It is really a turning point in the story.
  • Maitimo bred glow-in-the-dark roses? Pretty, I guess, and certainly to be expected from a romantic such as himself. All the same, they do seem like somewhat irritating things to have in one's garden, and I'm sure they'd attract moths.

    And that birthday party! I had to laugh a little at the idea that old workaholic, depressed Fëanor, prince in exile, famously dour of temper when Elves who are not related to him (and many that are) come around, has to throw at least six of these bashes every year, more if he's including the daughters-in-law and the grandkid.

    You imply that Nerdanel was not too thrilled at Telvo's choice of mate. I wonder if that might be part of the reason that she ended up leaving.

    Eressetor continues to be dense. Wouldn't know acceptance if it got him drunk and kissed him thoroughly.
    • Pretty, I guess, and certainly to be expected from a romantic such as himself. All the same, they do seem like somewhat irritating things to have in one's garden, and I'm sure they'd attract moths.

      Glow-in-the-dark intoxicating roses. So I guess they draw moths and winos.

      I had to laugh a little at the idea that old workaholic, depressed Fëanor, prince in exile, famously dour of temper when Elves who are not related to him (and many that are) come around, has to throw at least six of these bashes every year, more if he's including the daughters-in-law and the grandkid.

      *snerk* Yes, I can't see him being keen on this idea. He misses most of their begetting days, though; this is the first he's had in a while, and I'm 90% sure that he only did it to try to manipulate his wife in coming into exile with him. I don't know for sure, but knowing Feanaro....

      You imply that Nerdanel was not too thrilled at Telvo's choice of mate. I wonder if that might be part of the reason that she ended up leaving.

      I really don't know how she feels about it. Strange as that may sound. But the only person to really talk about her feelings about her youngest's sexual orientation (and choice in mates) is Feanor, and I don't exactly trust him. I think he's got the kids convinced, though, or at least Telvo. Sneaky, manipulative guy, that Feanor.

      I can't really see Nerdanel as being displeased. I can see Feanor sending her an announcement two days before the wedding, then saying all wide-eyed and innocent to Telvo, "Look, your own mother didn't send you a gift! How awful!" and then playing the role of the loving father/victim with great aplomb.

      And I think that Nerdanel has more to do with her sons than Feanor knows, she just doesn't involve him. I don't blame her.
      • Glow-in-the-dark, intoxicating roses. Mmm, yes, just what I want in my garden. Let's see, I'll plant them right between the poison ivy and the pachysandra.

        I bet Telvo sat down and told Nerdanel long before he ever spoke to Fëanor. He seems to have inherited his father's sneakiness. That would be quite a coup, for Nerdanel to find out first, and then neither one of them ever quite "got around" to telling Fëanor. So Nerdanel has her peace, Fëanor gets to feel like the big hero, Sticking Up For The Underdog, and Telvo knows something that Daddy doesn't know. Fun for the whole family.
        • Yeah, that sounds like a pretty probable situation in the House of Feanor....
          • I also notice that Fëanor, despite his pretty speeches and his crafting of wedding rings, hasn't put quite all of his money where his mouth is. Vingarië and Terentaulë live in his family, with those of his sons to whom they are wed. I notice that Nandolin does not. Given Fëanor's determination to do what he sees is right, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it, I find that omission significant.
            • It certainly would be! Eressetor shares your doubts, and I believe it is next week's chapter in which he asks Feanaro that very question. As it turns out, it is Nandolin's and Telvo's choice, for a variety of convoluted reasons as one might expect from a Feanorian.
  • Ok, now that is just unfair. I want the next chapter now.

    *Aaaaand, it's back to short comments.*

    This is my reward for having all my homework done! (And, should I have been in class for the past hour? Nah...)
    • Oh, bad Tarion! I was going to offer to send you the remaining chapters, but since you're missing class, I can't encourage that.

      ...

      :^D

      Just kidding!

      (Finrod claims it's "back to short because you've had enough long from [him]." That doesn't make too much sense to me, but he's been in last year's medieval mead in the fridge, so I'm not surprised....)
      • Oh, bad Tarion! I was going to offer to send you the remaining chapters, but since you're missing class, I can't encourage that.

        *undignified squeak* Hey, I missed class because it was POURING. :P

        Finrod claims it's "back to short because you've had enough long from [him]." That doesn't make too much sense to me, but he's been in last year's medieval mead in the fridge, so I'm not surprised....

        Um, what? No. (Doesn't that imply that - had what he is trying to imply actually occurred - he's inadequate? That I got bored? >:P) Really, Finrod you whore, make up your mind.
        • I think he's trying to say that he's long and you had enough "long" from him and so went back to "short"....

          I know. It doesn't make much sense to me either, but he was waving the bottle of mead around and ranting at the curtains, so I just typed what he said....

          So do you want the whole story or not? >:^]
  • The connection—Telvo and marriage—was not for my enfeebled mind to make.

    I'm with Eressetor on this one. I wouldn't have guessed they were married, and I fully blame the six older brothers for my sense of disbelief.

    Back in chapter 4 when all the brothers were in the library …..

    Telvo came in then with the brusque gait of one with a purpose, disappearing amid the bookshelves. Tyelkormo nudged Curufinwë and suppressed a smile. “What about you, Telvo?” he called. “Do your lovers respond with ‘abandon,’ as Curufinwë calls it?”

    Pityo’s face, meanwhile, had flushed scarlet, and he’d lifted himself to a sitting position. Tyelkormo and Curufinwë had grown uncomfortable; Macalaurë picked at his cuticles as though he’d never heard a word of the exchange. “He shames us,” said Pityo through clenched teeth, but Macalaurë hushed him with a flitting glance in my direction. “He is our brother. We love him, regardless.”


    How big of you Macalaure. If Feanor can't even get his own sons to accept and respect Telvo's marriage, I see little hope in the population as a whole - or even in part. I’m thoroughly disgusted with the bunch of them.
    • That's kind of how I feel against certain people right now too. I suppose I took it out on the Feanorions....

      I wonder which of the brothers went to Telvo's wedding. Or maybe Feanor made them. I kind of see all of them warming up to the idea...except Curufinwe and Pityo, ironic perhaps, since Curufinwe is more like his man-snogging father and Pityo and Telvo are supposed to be a good deal alike.
      • Curufinwe is more like his man-snogging father

        *snort* For some reason, "man-snogging" father made me dissolve into a fit of giggles.

        Sure, Curufin might not see eye to eye with this one at this point of the story... but later, in Beleriand... when Celegorm and he are are together 24/7... Bwah! Evol bunny! *tries to run away*
  • Eee, I love Nandolin in this chapter: so adorably awkward, awww. And hey now, he and Telvo are married? Wow. I love that Eressetor realizes at the end that Telvo is wearing a wedding ring, though how sad that they can rarely wear them because of the scorn of others. And it is the sweetest thing in the world that they were both virgins until their marriage. And people say that gay men are promiscuous. Psh. Flipping social stereotypes on their heads, much? :-)

    Carnistir—the guest of honor—was not off his feet all night, swiping wine goblets and hors d’oeuvres from the trays of passing waiters as he left the arms of one woman and was immediately tugged into the arms of another.

    ...and one of those women was named Alissa, correct? Please?!

    People see what they wish to see, Eressetor. No one wishes to acknowledge my son’s ‘non-traditional’ marriage. So they do not. No one speaks of it; no one sees. In my eyes, they claim to see evidence of my marriage, of a bond with a woman who has not loved me in years, who has repudiated me in public and in her heart. But in Telvo’s eyes, they see nothing. Because the nature of his marriage does not fit their narrow idea of what constitutes love.

    I love that idea -- that you will only see the marriage-thing in someone's eyes if you expect it to be there, and not if you don't. (I think it's Charles de Lint who has a similar idea in his urban fantasy novels.) Just... GUH, Dawn. You make it sound so infuriatingly real.

    He was standing at the fireplace, hands braced against the mantle, staring into the tousled flames as if seeking answers, his unbound hair spilling over his shoulders and swaying in the direction of the fire, as though seeking to drag him forward and headfirst into the flames. His silk tunic and breeches gleamed faintly, fitting the contours of his body—the long lines of his back, his firmly rounded backside—like a thin sheen of oil.

    I'm not normally a Feanor-luster, but... he couldn't be more gorgeous than right here. Beautiful descriptions.

    I loved this chapter. Like Eressetor, I have no idea how much of it was a dream and what was really real (but I'm hoping it was real, because OMG true love). Can't wait for more of the deliciousness next week! :-D
    • Eee, I love Nandolin in this chapter: so adorably awkward, awww.

      :^D Nandolin is such fun! I swear, I would take just about any of my OMCs. (Vorondil in AMC....) Of course, they all demand their own stories, but my answer is always "no." ;)

      And it is the sweetest thing in the world that they were both virgins until their marriage. And people say that gay men are promiscuous. Psh. Flipping social stereotypes on their heads, much? :-)

      Yes, I am afraid that I am certainly guilty of this in this story. :) I think that it would be legitimate criticism made against it certainly, and I have to say that this is one detail written from--as they say--the heart, simply because it frustrates me to no end to see the stereotypes stuck on gay people. Nrgh.

      Sometimes, when Feanor is talking, it is really Dawn Felagund talking.... ;)

      ...and one of those women was named Alissa, correct? Please?!

      Of course! Did I forget that detail? (And before she pokes me, one of the others was Unsung Heroine, yes. And Tarion. Sheesh, I have a lot of Carni fans on my flist! :^P)

      I love that idea -- that you will only see the marriage-thing in someone's eyes if you expect it to be there, and not if you don't.

      I see this in real life, and that is where this came from. I look at cases where hospitals (for example) will not let a person visit a dying same-sex partner or the cemetery (in Massachusetts, I think?) that would not allow "beloved husband" to be engraved on the headstone of a man's departed husband...these people are so senselessly cruel, the only way I can explain it and maintain even a shred of respect and hope for humanity is to believe that these people simply do not want to see that the love between people of the same sex is the same as any other. I think of how devastated I would be in a situation where my husband was (Eru forbid) dying, and I would not be allowed to see him--or I was dying and he could not see me--and my heart breaks, and I cannot imagine denying someone in the same situation, no matter my moral opinion of their union. I suppose it's much the same as how people have committed atrocities against others--and continue to do so--by not wanting to see humanity in those different from them.

      Sorry, I got a bit rantish there. ;)

      I'm not normally a Feanor-luster, but... he couldn't be more gorgeous than right here.

      I'm not a Feanor-luster either.... *looks around suspiciously*

      Okay, yes, I think you can hear Dawn Felagund there too. ;) But to be fair to myself, I was writing it for Alina, who loves him even more than me, so I was writing it for her. Right. That's it.

      Like Eressetor, I have no idea how much of it was a dream and what was really real (but I'm hoping it was real, because OMG true love).

      Yay! That's exactly what I wanted! (Loves to confuse her readers, that Dawn Felagund. :^P) Next chapter is many, many more answers. (And smut too. Not that I think that anyone's reading this for such a base reason as hott m/m action. *looks around guiltily*)
    • (And before she pokes me, one of the others was Unsung Heroine, yes. And Tarion. Sheesh, I have a lot of Carni fans on my flist! :^P)

      Just imagine the tug-of-wars (or should that be tugs-of-war?) going on if all us Moryo-fanciers were there. "He's mine!" "You had him twice already!" "No, it's my turn!" ... Well, sharing is hard. :-D

      I suppose it's much the same as how people have committed atrocities against others--and continue to do so--by not wanting to see humanity in those different from them.

      It's so true. In everything from racism to religious persecution to sexism, it's always been about justifying your actions because the people you're treating badly are "less human" than you. People can be blinder than a sack of piglets and just as squealy. :-(

      Next chapter is many, many more answers.

      *biggest grin ever*

      And smut too. Not that I think that anyone's reading this for such a base reason as hott m/m action. *looks around guiltily*

      Of course not. In fact, your readers most likely only suffer through the smut because of the basic moral and philosophical ponderings which are espoused throughout the text.

      *sekrit squee*
    • I'm not a Feanor-luster either.... *looks around suspiciously*

      Noooo... you're noooot!... *rolls eyes*

      But to be fair to myself, I was writing it for Alina, who loves him even more than me, so I was writing it for her. Right. That's it.

      Alina does indeed love Feanor waaaay too much. (Don't let him know I said that!) And Alina read those particular descriptions over and over again until all you could have seen in her eyes were the black silk-covered curves of that magnificent body.

      Why is Alina talking about herself in 3rd person?
      • Because she and Dawn Felagund both have been hanging around Feanor too long, who has an annoying habit of talking about Feanor in the third person....

        :^P
        • Does he, now? Somehow, I think he would realize the ridiculousness of it and stop himself if he ever had such tendencies.

          However, did you notice that in his moving speeches, in the Silm, he always says "we", when, in many cases, it should be read "I", or "we", as in "me and my sons and those 100% loyal to me". The very fact that he goes aboard the ships with his sons and the part of the Noldor that follow him without question, is proof of this, methinks.
  • Ah... the chapters that I've been waiting for are finally coming. >;)

    His hair was coming unbound, slipping down his back. In the midnight darkness, it was as black as the sky beyond the stars, and I wondered if daring to dip my hand into it would be similarly like plunging into infinity; if I’d be unable to ever swim again to the surface.

    Mmm... this is not only an image that makes me sigh, awe-struck, but also a very original way to express such beauty. *loves*

    He’d removed his robes and was wearing only a short-sleeved tunic and a pair of breeches, both black, both silk, clinging to the planes of his body and caressed by the writhing firelight, the silk bound so close to his skin that the fire seemed to arise—not from reflection—from his flesh itself.

    *gulp* Feanaro, dressed in black, skin-tight silken clothes, with his dark hair flowing unbound... *swoons* What need is there for wine and intoxicating roses when his presence alone is enough to drive anyone mad with awe and lust. Honestly, I don't think my heart could take it if he actually existed and I could see him. I'd pass out in the spot.

    "And you…you—with them?”

    Now there's a thought... >;) Especially since you've been constantly teasing us with the closeness between Feanaro and his youngest son.

    We chose each other for a different reason, Eressetor.”

    Around a throat tight with tears, I managed, “What reason?” and he whispered, “That is not for us to know,”


    Nope, that's not for you to know. But, basically, there is a mighty and powerful Vala named Ann_arien who, with the help of her friend and co-conspirator, equally mighty and powerful Vala Dawn, plotted to bring the two of you together, in more ways than one! *rubs hands and grins*

    Is it too evol of me to say that I CANNOT WAIT for the next chapter?
    • Yes! Especially because you possess the whole story, and most of the poor saps reading here are following it week by week.

      >:^]]

      Isn't it just like me--a pompous tease--to wait until the very end of the story to introduce some smut into it? Especially when every week's posting contains a warning for...smut? That somehow never manifests??

      >:^D

      Well, in my defense, I am tempting you just like Eressetor was tempted by Feanor....

      But, basically, there is a mighty and powerful Vala named Ann_arien who, with the help of her friend and co-conspirator, equally mighty and powerful Vala Dawn, plotted to bring the two of you together, in more ways than one!

      Lol! I've always wondered if maybe writing a story makes the characters really come to life somewhere. Well, I'm about to make Eressetor one happy boy....
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