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If Wishes Were Horses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Chapter 1

This story takes place in Valinor; accordingly, I've chosen to use the characters' Quenya names, which are as follows:

Maitimo or Nelyafinwë - Maedhros
Makalaurë - Maglor
Tyelkormo - Celegorm
Carnistir - Caranthir
Findekáno - Fingon
Angaráto - Angrod
Aikanáro - Aegnor
Nolofinwë - Fingolfin
Arafinwë - Finarfin

For the meaning of the names, see the Author's Notes at the end of the story.

Disclaimer: The characters and settings are gratefully borrowed from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. I own nothing.


~~~

The young elf groaned slightly as he awakened from his quite unexpected nap. I never realized just how hard the ground is, he thought groggily. Maybe I should have listened to my father.

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. His father was eager for his eldest son to improve his horsemanship, after all, and how could Findekáno do that if he was limited to riding that placid pony he'd been given? And when his younger cousins Aikanáro and Angaráto dared him to ride his father's horse, he decided he couldn't let such a challenge go unanswered simply because his father had forbidden him to touch the animal - why, they'd think he was afraid! So he'd waited until his father was preoccupied with business, and then the three of them had sneaked out to the stables, and Findekáno had mounted the big black stallion. His cousins had been impressed. So was he - impressed by how big Stormcloud was, and how fresh. His pony was nothing like this powerful animal. He'd just decided enough was enough, and was ready to dismount, when the storm began; at the first clap of thunder the stallion had gone berserk, and Findekáno found himself clinging tightly to the terrified animal as it bolted from the courtyard and raced headlong into the woods surrounding the hill of Túna. As the rain fell, the horse's shiny black hide became slick and slippery, and when the frightened stallion leaped over a fallen log lying in the path, Findekáno felt himself sliding off. The last thing he remembered was thinking, Father is going to be so angry that I lost Stormcloud. Then his head had hit the log, and everything went black.

It's stopped raining, Findekáno noticed. I wonder how long I've been lying here? He was wet, and cold, and everything hurt. His head ached, and when he reached up with his hand, he felt a large knot where he'd struck the log. As he began to slowly sit up, Findekáno realized he had no idea of where he was. He'd become completely disoriented during that mad race through the trees and fields - why, he could be almost anywhere on Aman, he thought, dismayed. How far could a horse run without stopping? Findekáno had no idea. When he looked around, he saw no sign of Stormcloud, not that he'd dare to try riding that monster home anyway. He was probably going to have a long walk ahead of him, assuming he could figure out which direction to go in the first place. As he got to his knees, he felt dizzy, and had to lean against a tree for a moment to keep from blacking out. Then he tried to stand, and gasped at the sudden ferocious pain in his left ankle. He couldn't put any weight on that foot at all, much less walk. For the first time that day, Findekáno felt frightened. His parents might be looking for him, but no one knew where he was. How was he ever going to get home? He called out for help repeatedly, his voice increasingly desperate, but the only reply was the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. Slowly, he began to hop along on his good foot, but he was too dizzy to get very far before he fell over. When he called out again and received no answer, he gave in to his fear and began to cry.

*******

It's not fair! Maitimo raged. Why am I always the one who has to be responsible, just because I'm the oldest? I never have a chance to do anything just for myself - if I'm not helping Father at his forge, I'm watching Tyelkormo and Carnistir for Mother. Well, not today, he thought as he pushed his way past the wet and tangled foliage that partly obscured the narrow forest trail which lead to his favorite private haunt, one that he'd discovered while exploring with his brother Makalaurë long ago. As soon as he'd finished his work at the forge, he'd headed directly into the woods, heedless of the wet weather and ignoring his father's directive that he should return to the house to help their mother. Makalaurë can baby-sit for a change; I was watching him when I was his age, surely he should be capable of watching our two younger brothers for a few hours. For once, I'm going to do what I want to do; I don't care if I get into trouble for it later. He continued to fume silently as he pressed on through the silent woods towards his secret clearing.

He was nearly halfway there when he noticed the muffled sounds. He paused for a minute, listening intently. I could have sworn that I heard someone crying, Maitimo thought, but that isn't possible; no one comes this way except for me and Makalaurë, and he's back home. It's just more proof that I've been spending too much time with my little brothers; I'm starting to imagine them wailing wherever I go! He'd just begun to walk again when the sounds resumed, slightly louder this time. It was someone crying! Curious, Maitimo left the trail and began to move quietly through the damp woods in the direction of the noise.

*******

Findekáno froze when he heard the very faint rustling sounds. Something was moving towards him! There were no dangerous animals in the woods surrounding Túna, but that was not necessarily true of the rest of Aman, and he had no idea where he was. What if it was a boar, or (worse yet) a predator? With his bad ankle, he was unable to run or climb to safety, and he had no weapons with which to defend himself. He choked off his sobs and became silent, desperately hoping that whatever menacing creature was approaching would decide to move in another direction, but he had no such luck; the rustling steadily increased in volume, and he began to shake. Then suddenly the bushes parted slightly, and Findekáno saw a quite unexpected creature step out onto the path where he lay.

It was an elf, not too much older than he was, a tall boy with reddish hair. The stranger walked quickly over to Findekáno's side and knelt next to him. "I thought I heard someone crying," the strange boy said. "Are you all right? What are you doing here?"

"I... I fell from my horse, and hurt my leg," Findekáno replied, embarrassed. "I can't walk."

"Well, let me see if I can find your horse; I'll help you mount, and then you won't need to walk on your bad leg," the boy replied. He began to stand up, looking around, and Findekáno was forced to admit, "Don't waste your time. My horse is gone - he ran away." Even if Stormcloud is somewhere nearby, I can't ride him, and when this boy sees that, he'll know he's not my horse, Findekáno thought. I'll look like a fool - or a stupid child. The red-haired boy stood still for a moment, thinking. "I suppose I'd better go get some help. Where do you live? I'll go and get your parents, and -"

"No!" Findekáno responded urgently, the image of his angry father springing forth vividly in his mind. When the other boy gave him a quizzical stare, he continued more calmly, "It's... It's too far to walk." And I don't know where I am in any case, he thought to himself.

"Well, in that case, I'll go and get my father, and he can carry you." Findekáno was mortified at the thought of being carried like a baby. " No... I mean, you don't need to bother him. I think if I could lean on you, I'd be able to manage - I wouldn't need to put any weight on my leg that way."

"I suppose we could try that, if you like," the tall boy replied. "Which leg did you hurt? I'll need to be on that side."

"The left one," Findekáno replied. The boy moved to Findekáno's left side and said, "Put your arm around my shoulders, and I'll try to help you up." Findekáno gasped when he inadvertently stepped on his left foot, but then he was standing again, weight on his right foot, leaning against the strange boy, who now asked, "Which way do we go to get to your house?" Findekáno looked down, embarrassed again; after a moment, he finally admitted, "I don't know - I'm lost."

"How did you end up here, then - did you just go riding aimlessly around the countryside?" the red-headed boy asked, but Findekáno did not reply. "I suppose it doesn't matter," the boy finally said. "We'll go to my home instead; it's not too far from here, and we'll figure out where you live later. What's your name?"

"Findekáno. What's yours?"

"Maitimo," the boy replied. "Well, let's go. We'll go slowly; let me know if you need to stop and rest."

"I won't need to rest," Findekáno responded firmly; then the two of them set off slowly through the woods.

*******

Maitimo's home, Findekáno noticed, was more like a palace - very large and built of stone, with two good-sized towers, and surrounded by several outbuildings. It sat atop a small hill, and in the distance, the city of Tirion could be glimpsed through the trees. As they entered the front courtyard, Findekáno saw two dark-haired boys wrestling together on the ground. When they spotted Findekáno and his companion, they broke off their play. The older boy ran up to greet them, but the younger one stood still, staring wide-eyed at the stranger.

"Maitimo! Who is this?" the boy, who appeared to be slightly younger than Findekáno, asked breathlessly. "How did you meet him? Mother is going to be angry with you - you were supposed to help her this afternoon, she wanted you to help teach Tyelkormo his letters."

"So why didn't you help our little brother with his letters, filit?" Maitimo asked. The younger boy shrugged and replied, "I tried, but I'm no good at that sort of thing. Besides, playing is more fun than reading." Maitimo laughed, then said, "Findekáno, this is my brother Makalaurë, and that," and he pointed at the smaller boy, who was still staring intently at them, "is my brother Tyelkormo. Makalaurë, this is Findekáno. He hurt himself falling off a horse. Please go inside and let Mother know we have a guest who needs her help."

Makalaurë ran over to the younger boy and took his hand, and they both went inside. Findekáno, still leaning on Maitimo, followed much more slowly. "So those are your brothers?" he said, and Maitimo nodded and replied, "Some of them." At Findekáno's startled look, he continued, " I have three brothers now. Makalaurë and Tyelkormo you've seen; Carnistir's just a baby yet, so he's with my mother. And soon another brother or sister will be added to our house. Mother and Father are hoping for a girl, but I think it's going to be a boy. Don't you have any siblings to play with?"

"One, a younger brother, but he's about your brother Tyelkormo's age; too little to do anything fun with," Findekáno replied. "Don't you get lonely?" Maitimo asked, and Findekáno said, "Well, I play with my cousins, and my friends from school." "I've never been to school," Maitimo said, a wistful tone in his voice, "our parents teach us instead." Before Findekáno could reply to this revelation, a tall woman came striding out the front door to meet them. She had reddish hair, almost the same color as Maitimo's, Findekáno noted, and was very pregnant. This must be Maitimo's mother, he realized, an observation confirmed when Maitimo said, "Mother! This is Findekáno; he fell off a horse and hurt his leg, and the horse ran away, so he can't get home. Can he stay here with us?"

"Of course, for a time, until we can contact his parents and take him home," the woman replied. "Hello, Findekáno. My name is Nerdanel. Let's get you inside so I can look at your leg."

Once inside, Findekáno found himself subjected to a thorough examination; he tried to be stoic, but had to bite his lip to keep from crying out when Maitimo's mother examined his ankle. "Well, it's not broken," she concluded, "but it's badly sprained. You're not going to be walking for a while. Let's get you out of these wet clothes and cleaned up, and you can rest while my husband goes for your parents. You can borrow some of Maitimo's things - they'll be a bit large, but at least you'll be dry." Almost before he knew what was happening, Findekáno found himself stripped, scrubbed, and dressed in warm, clean clothes. Nerdanel gave him a foul-tasting herbal concoction that helped with his headache as well as his aching ankle, and placed him on a comfortable couch close to a fireplace "where I can keep an eye on you," she said. Then she asked the question Findekáno had been dreading. "So tell me- who are your parents, and where do you live?"

Findekáno remembered how proud his father had been when he first received Stormcloud, who had been a gift from his own father Finwë, and how he'd been strictly forbidden to touch the animal, much less ride him. He could clearly picture his father's anger and grief upon discovering his beloved horse missing - and he couldn't bear the thought of telling his father Nolofinwë that Stormcloud's loss was his fault. I can't go home, not after what I've done, he realized sadly, and turned away from Nerdanel's gaze. "I don't have a home anymore," he replied sadly.

"You ran away?" Nerdanel asked gently; after a moment, Findekáno nodded yes. "Your mother and father are worried about you, I'm sure of that," she continued quietly. "I would be, if one of my sons was missing. Won't you tell me your parents' names, so I can talk to them and let them know you're safe?" When Findekáno shook his head no, she said, "You can stay here for a while, Findekáno, but eventually you're going to have to return to your home - you're still too young to be on your own yet. I don't know why you don't want to go back to your family, but I'm sure your parents miss you and want you to come home. Why don't you rest for a while now, and I'll talk to you again later - you might feel differently after you've had some sleep and are feeling better." She brushed his hair from his forehead gently, then covered him with a light blanket. "Rest now, Findekáno. I'll be nearby if you need me - just call, and I'll come." And then she left, and Findekáno realized that he was indeed sleepy. It must be those herbs, he thought, and then he fell into peaceful dreams.

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