By Varnafindë and Findaráto

Chapter One:  167th Cycle of the Trees, 1273.


The soft light of Telperion surrounds me as I sit here in the silence of my chamber. The house has gone to bed, yet sleep still eludes me. Tomorrow my father has insisted that I attend the feast and ball at the home of King Finwë, and while he has stated repetitively that he wishes me to do so simply for my own pleasure, I know that he has an ulterior motive. Marriage. Father desperately wishes me to marry. I know that perhaps he thinks it strange for the youngest to marry before the eldest, but I do not have so very many years yet, and I have always promised myself I shall not marry unless I find love. Love! I do not even know if I am sure of what it is. The bards and loremasters sing of it, but is there any way to define it to one who has never experienced it? I know I love the feel of clay in my hands, and the way it bends to my desire. I love song, and the sound of the sea, and the stars that Varda Elentári has given us. I love my mother and father, and my sisters, and I love and revere the Valar only slightly less than I love and revere Eru Allfather. But yet from the poetry and ballads that I hear I suppose that love between ner and nís is something quite different indeed. A meeting of the fëar. A reflection of yourself in the very being of another. A trust that will never be betrayed. A friendship that is forever. Is it all these things? Or is it even more? Is love as transcendental and ultimately sublime as Eru himself who created it? A ballad by Makalaurë, dedicated to his wife, posited that it was only through love for her that the true glory of Eru became finally visible...

But what do I know of such things? My sister married well, and she is happy, but I do not know that she married for the deepest love. It was an advantageous marriage for both of them, and I know that they are fond of each other...but is that love? And if it is - or even if it is not - how shall I find love? I am a simple girl, not a princess to be swept off my feet like in Makalaurë's ballads.

But I shall go to King Finwë's ball tomorrow, and I shall try to do my best. I know that father worries for me. He thinks that I am lonely, and perhaps I am, although I rarely have trouble keeping myself busy, not with my clay and learning grandmother's secrets of healing. There is so much to learn in this world that my heart and mind are often full of it...perhaps that is why I have never had time for love?

Or perhaps it is because we are simple Noldor, and I am not particularly beautiful? Oh, I know I am not hideous, but I do not shine like the ladies I have seen at previous balls, or like my sister, who seemed to have a Light of Beauty within her.

Father has warned me not to set my sights too high - not to fall for someone who is above my reach. I have promised him that I will not, although I am not sure that I understand his warning. It is not impossible for a Prince of the Noldor to marry a girl like me - there are no rules against it. Lady Nerdanel was quite common indeed when Prince Fëanáro wed her so long ago. I am not Lady Nerdanel, and I do not expect such things, but I do not understand my father's fear on the matter. Perhaps he simply believes that I will be happier with someone lower, and I think perhaps I agree. I do not aspire for wealth or riches, but merely for happiness and love. A home to call my own and children would complete my hopes for myself.

For father's sake, I shall try to find that tomorrow, among the many Eldar who will be gathered at King Finwë's ball. And deep inside, I do so hope that I find it.


Business Agenda for this morning's meeting: Tomorrow's Ball.
Attending: Father, Arafinwë, myself.
Proceedings: Everything is under control. The kitchen staff have started their preparations, and the decorations are being set up. Arafinwë has compiled the list of dinner guests and passed it on to the toastmaster.
Meeting adjourned after an hour and a half.

When I read these notes, I find myself thinking that next time I read them, next decade or next century or whatever, I'm going to find the business part of them far less important than the personal section. What does it matter whether the dinner was under way well in advance or was scrambled together at the last minute? If there's some mishap, things will be better next time, and in a few years' time the mishap will be forgotten.

But I will want to know what I thought about our meetings. And what I thought about the Ball. My own point of view will be more important to look back to in the future. I will want to look back to the young man I was then (now), and compare it to the wise old man that I am now (then). If I ever become a wise old man.

Arafinwë says that he cannot see me as a very wise man, old or not so old. I'm too impetuous, he says. He should know. He's a wise man already, even with being so much younger than I. He is wise enough to stay out of quarrels. I am not.

I don't know why he is so much better than me at just letting our half-brother's insults go over our heads. It's due to his wisdom, probably ...

But I just cannot take it lying down! What right does Fëanáro have to question the decision of the Valar? Who does he think that he is? Who is he to say that it were better if my brother and I had never been born - if our mother had never married our father? And the names he calls her - I'm ashamed to write them down!

Father seems not to hear. Otherwise, wouldn't he take offense? It's his wife who is being insulted - and it's his own actions that are being criticized!

But Fëanáro is his favorite. Oh, I don't have a lot of problems with that. Even though he is, I know that father loves his other two sons as well. I don't feel unloved.

Other than by my half-brother.

I don't know when I first realised that he didn't love me - that he didn't even like me. I don't remember one particular occasion - I just seem to always have known. Father would play games with me, we could have fun - but when Fëanáro was around, and I asked him whether he would join us, he just snorted at me and walked away. I soon stopped asking.

But father has always tried to be fair - to some extent. If Fëanáro got the best - well, he is the oldest, isn't he? I suppose that accounts for something. And father has always made much of each of us, even of the girls. All the parties he's thrown for us, for one thing. I assume that's nice of him - objectively speaking.

Like tomorrow's Ball.

It's in honor of Findis on occasion of her birthday coming up soon. It's not a birthday party as such, those are usually just intimate family gatherings, and it's not even on her birthday - but she is the guest of honor, as we all are, one after another, once a year. Father has even given Balls on the occasion of the births of his grandchildren, but it seems he will leave it up to the parents how they will celebrate the birthdays of the next generation.

Of course, it's only Fëanáro who has given him any grandchildren so far. The rest of us haven't got married yet.

And that's the reason why I've begun to hate these Balls. Because I'm not desperate to marry - and the Balls are full of maidens who are. Who are desperate to marry me, particularly. Or who have parents who are desperate to have their daughters marry me.

The dinner is always for invited guests, while the Ball following it is open for everyone. And everyone comes - to search out me or my younger brother.

I hate being on display like that. And Arafinwë feels the same about it. We dread these affairs where the maidens flock around us, each of them strutting and displaying herself, hoping that tonight - just tonight - she might catch my eye for some serious business.

Of course, these Balls tend to become a meeting place in their own right. Many young couples met for the first time at one of father's Balls. When people cannot get the first prize, they settle for a lesser one.

I used to enjoy the parties given in my honor. I liked being the centre of attention, to make sure I shared a greeting or a few words with everyone present - to show my half-brother that he was not the only one who could have a way with words and catch people's interest.

But that was before I was old enough to be viewed as a possible match. Or rather a good catch.

Yes, objectively speaking it's nice of father to give tomorrow's Ball. I wish he would give less of them for a while, though, until Arafinwë and I have found our own wives in our own time and in peace. We try to avoid the Balls if we can, but it depends on the occasion. Usually, out of politeness, at least one of us should attend. Oh yes, the unlucky one is always ever so polite, welcoming the maidens, dancing one dance with as many of them as necessary. But we run off as soon as we've done our duty.

Tomorrow, with our sister being the guest of honor, we both have to be present. At least with two of us, there should be less for each of us to have to cover. It's a relief.

Ahead to Chapter 2

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