A while back, when I posted the last chapter of my novella “By the Light of Roses,” vana_tuivana asked me, “Won't you write a novel (or a short story at least) about Telvo and Nandolin and what happens to them?” One day, Vana, I will! But in the meanwhile, I hope that a quibble about how they met might make you happy.
“The Seedling” is a slash story. It is not graphic in any way, but anyone who has read “By the Light of Roses” knows that Telvo and Nandolin are definitely slashy. Please keep that in mind when choosing whether to read it.
The first time I saw him, I was riding around the bounds of my father’s lands. Once upon a time, I’d been led by the hand around Grandfather’s menagerie, and my father had stiffly explained that the animals paced from the misery of boredom. His twitching fingers betrayed that he might like to work loose the locks and set them free.
So I paced our lands, having long ago memorized every tree and rock. What else was there to do in exile? My brothers were preoccupied with their wives and lovers, with their so-called “purposes” in life—and none wanted much to do with me besides—and so I rode in circles until I began to see the ground wearing where my horse’s hooves had trod many times. My father was distracted in those days, and I dared not tempt myself with fellowship with other young Elves in the town. There was no one to free me.
Until this day.
Abruptly, I halted. He stood on the boundary of our land, staring as though awaiting an invitation to cross a threshold. He wore a dun-colored cloak that snapped in the brisk spring wind, and in his hands, he cradled a seedling. I looked at his back, his hip: In these lands, it is not uncommon to wear a bow or a sword whenever traveling out-of-doors, for the beasts here are not always allies, as they are in Valinor.
But he wore neither. I wore both.
I heeled my horse and cantered lightly towards him. It took a moment before he looked up to watch my approach, and I saw that he was large even for a Noldo, broad in the shoulder with a wide, plain face. One hand could span my entire face, I thought, but they were gentle as they cradled the seedling.
His eyes were pale golden-brown. My heart squeezed as they met mine and I stopped before him. I was a prince of the Noldor, the son of the lord of this land. But I could not convince myself to speak.
“Your earth here,” he said at last, “is beautiful.” So are you, I thought, but I could not bring myself to close my eyes to his face. And I should: My heart, it raced dangerously. The seedling was gnarled and half-dead. I saw that more than half of its branches had been pruned. “My tree, it will not grow in my land. But here—it might.”
I dismounted. I wondered, If I told him yes, and offered him my hand, would he take it?
I don’t dare!
But my quavering fingers were already stretching toward him. He shifted the seedling into one big hand and caught my hand; folded my fingers in his.
The days would pass, the tree’s roots were set in the ground, and its branches brushed with the first green of spring before I realized that I’d never told him yes. But the memory–the solidity—of my hand in his: He knew.
tarion_anarore's professed weakness is for Caranthir, preferably angsty Caranthir—as though there can really be any other! In this series of four drabbles, I consider the symbolic journey of Caranthir to the moment where he decides to take the Oath.
Memory of youth is blurred by the years, but I remember this: Atar’s hands on mine, showing me how to properly hold a hammer. I was making a gift for my mother, determined to do it on my own. Happiness: it was golden like the pendant that I sought to shape with my own hands.
Yet I perceived Atar’s happiness as well. Happiness that at last he had a son eager to follow him into the forge, whose tentative hammerfalls showed that I had a hint of talent.
I remember best: gold, happiness.
His warm hands on mine.
Atar adjusted my hands and nestled my little brother into them. He squawked, and I shifted uneasily.
“Atar, I’m going to drop him.”
Atar laughed. “You’re not going to drop him. Relax.” His warm hands rubbed my shoulders until I had no choice. I felt Atar’s contentment—another healthy son born—and relief as cool and pale as water. I relaxed into that feeling and my brother stopped whimpering.
“See? It’s natural for you. You will be a wonderful father someday, Carnistir.” His hands still cupped my shoulders. He trusts me, I realized, with his most precious blessings.
I heard my brothers laughing and realized my eyes were squeezed shut. Violently, I shook my head and clenched my lips shut as though the light—and I could sense it, even if I couldn’t see it blood red through my eyelids—would invade me if I let it. Fools! To think that we can own light! It will always be the other way around.
I could feel it thrumming in my hands with the same intimate mystery as feeling another’s heartbeat. My brother’s laughter was subsiding.
I won’t look!
His voice puzzled, disappointed.
I opened my eyes.
Now, I stand in a ring of torchlight, in a throng of people—my people—silent and awed. Afraid.
“Carnistir. Take it.”
Curufinwë is wrapping my hands around the hilt of my sword. For a moment, time has folded upon itself and I am small upon the knee of another Curufinwë—though he would ever be called Fëanáro—and they are his warm hands. I can do this. I can hold the hammer…and the hammer becomes the Silmaril becomes the sword, and there I am.
Standing before my father whose eyes—hands—I no longer know.
“Carnistir—are you ready?”