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Full Brothers in Blood
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Full Brothers in Blood

Turukáno sat near the window of his room writing a composition to show his tutor at his next lesson. His short fingers gripped the quill tightly as he struggled to form the tengwar elegantly and perfectly the way his older brother did. Hot, still air pressed down upon him and perspiration threatened to mar the clean parchment upon which he labored. Physical lassitude and mental inertia made the work slow-going.

The scent of roses assailed his nose and the sound of birdsong reached his ears, yet the boy would not allow himself to be tempted. Still his head involuntarily jerked up at the unexpected sound of the open laugh of his brother Findekáno and the earnest, strained look passed from his flushed childish face. Turukáno pushed his chair away from the desk, pleased and suddenly filled with energy. He quickly tidied the sheets of parchment and placed a book atop them so they would not be carried to the floor by the slight breeze that lifted the gauzy curtains at the window. I will go downstairs and see what Findekáno is doing home so early, he thought. Just then he heard a braying laugh and a second familiar voice: Tyelkormo.

Loud thumps on the staircase just outside his door signaled that long legs encased in heavy boots took the steep steps two at time. More strident laughter from Tyelkormo followed some unintelligible words spoken in a confident, conspiratorial tone that Turukáno recognized as one Findekáno often adopted when telling a joke or an amusing story. The door to Findekáno's room slammed shut with an echoing crack. The voices and the laughter, muffled after that, continued.

With his brow furrowing in disappointment bordering upon anger, Turukáno lifted the book off the pieces of parchment on his desk, picked up his quill again and dully resumed the work on his essay.

* * * *

By the time Anairë sought out her youngest son, Laurelin had already begun to wane. She quietly opened the door to his room. Despite the circulation of some air through the open window the small chamber was stifling.

She smiled to herself at his typical diligence when she noticed his essay, not required until late the following afternoon, clean and finished upon his desk. Turukáno himself, sound asleep, stretched upon his stomach across his bed, small boots neatly aligned beside it. A few fine strands of dark hair had pulled loose from his tight braids and clung damply to heat-reddened cheeks. Even in repose, the boy clenched his fists tensely and his pretty mouth formed a tight pout. She had not the heart to wake him yet. Leaving the door wide open, she left to find his brother and his cousin to tell them to change for dinner.

The door to Findekáno's room stood open. The desire for privacy usually paramount at their age had been abandoned in recognition of the few days of real heat Tirion labored under each year at this time. Tyelkormo sat on the sill of the open window, bare feet dangling and tousled dark blond locks glowing in the Tree-light. A shirtless Findekáno sprawled languidly upon the bed, dropping a book on its far side in a failed attempt at concealment when he spotted his mother in the doorway.

Anairë wrinkled her nose at the odor of horse, boots, and distinctively male perspiration. Discarded clothing, books, rolls of parchment, and random small bits and pieces of riding tack crowded every corner and surface.

Findekáno grinned. "Amil! Sorry about the mess."

"What happened to the curtains?"

"Oh, those." Findekáno glanced at the curtains tossed in a rumbled pile upon the floor. The brightness of her eldest son's smile unleashed the full measure of his formidable charm in her direction. "It was hot as blazes in here. We took them down to get more air. I'll fix them later."

"I seriously doubt that you will. What were the two of you reading?"

"Ai, sweet Amil. I don't think you really want to know."

Anairë shook her head in resignation. Sometimes one has to choose when to engage and when to retreat. "I sent a message to Nerdanel that you will be staying for dinner, Tyelkormo. Your grandfather and grandmother will be joining us. There is just enough time for both of you to bathe. You stink. Dress properly too. You know how Indis feels about that." Her voice softened a bit. "It's much cooler downstairs."

"We are at your service, my lady," Findekáno said, the subservient acquiescence of his response overridden by his teasing smirk and a wink at Tyelkormo.

Anairë sighed and gave into a smile that conceded defeat. Her firstborn knew how to play her like a maestro. "Would you please wake your brother in time to see that he is presentable for dinner as well?"

* * * *

Turukáno became aware of a firm hand shaking him on the shoulder. "Wake up, big fellow. You have to get dressed for dinner. Amil asked me to look in on you."

Findekáno's scent was that of a freshly starched summer robe and his usual soap, which made Turukáno think of the sea, nothing like the baby scent of the soap that his mother still made him use. Sluggish with sleep, Turukáno struggled to consciousness. His brother's eyes reminded him of those of his grandmother Indis, but brighter and a far richer blue in color.

People often told him that he and Findekáno looked alike. Although it pleased and flattered Turukáno to hear that, he still largely dismissed such remarks, reading into them his own judgment. They also undoubtedly believe that I will never be as handsome. I'm pale and he is tanned. He is livelier and, of course, smarter too, and his eyes are a darker blue than any I have seen.

Happy for his brother's attention, Turukáno smiled and, searching for anything to say that would hold his interest, blurted out, "Grandmother Indis and Grandfather Finwë are coming for dinner."

"So Amil told me. Let's get you washed up and changed."

"Will you braid my hair like yours?"

"Absolutely. Now hop up. We don't have much time," Findekáno said.

Just then Turukáno spotted Tyelkormo lounging against the doorframe. He was dressed in a pale bluish grey dress tunic belonging to Findekáno. Tyelkormo's casual grace, honey-colored hair, and the way the color of the tunic matched his eyes, made it look as though it had been tailored especially for him.

"Oh, he's still here," Turukáno said, aware of how rude he sounded, but still not awake enough to tidy up his tone. Every time he thought he was going to do something with Findekáno one of those creatures showed up.

"Turno!" Findekáno snapped, sounding less angry than appalled and surprised. Turukáno scrunched up his face, shut his eyes, and flinched.

"Awww, Káno. Leave him alone. You surely remember Carnistir at his age. Hey, Turukáno," Tyelkormo said. The crinkling around his eyes and his infuriating smile indicated that he not only took no offense at Turukáno's deliberate lack of courtesy, but actually found it amusing. Then Tyelkormo let loose with one of his hideous donkey-braying laughs.

Irritated with himself for upsetting Findekáno, Turukáno couldn't decide whether he wanted to try and make peace by grinning and saying "hey" to Tyelkormo in that informal, self-assured way of the Fëanorian brothers, or simply kick the smug know-it-all in the shins.

Turukáno drew a labored breath and, sneaking a look at Findekáno out of the corner of his eye, said, "Good afternoon, Tyelkormo. Are you staying for dinner tonight?"

Tyelkormo didn't bray like a donkey that time; he shrieked like a monkey. And Findekáno joined him with a series of repulsive, coughing guffaws.

"Fine, Turno," Findekáno said, walking to the wardrobe and throwing the door open, still laughing. "Let's see what you have in here that Amil will think is elegant enough for Indis and not too hot for a wretched night like tonight."

* * * *

Finally, Turukáno, after enduring a sponge bath under Findekáno's supervision, had been deemed to be suitably attired and ready for dinner. After an energetic, but good-natured, argument about whether the front parlor would be cooler than the steps in front of the house, Tyelkormo and Findekáno had gone outside to wait for Indis and Finwë on the veranda.

Turukáno slipped down into a sitting position on the inside staircase when he heard his mother's and father's soft voices coming from the dining room. Anairë was probably doing her habitual final inspection of the table settings.

He didn't consider that he was actually eavesdropping yet, just resting, when he heard Nolofinwë ask in a long-suffering tone, "He's still here?"

"For shame, Nolofinwë. He's just a boy," Anairë said, with a light, teasing laugh that clearly indicated that she was not really upset with her husband. "I asked him to stay for dinner. I thought Finwë would enjoy seeing him. He always complains that he doesn't see enough of Fëanaro's children and, when he does see them, he doesn't get to spend much time with any single one of them."

"You are a kind and thoughtful woman. Would that I had your patience."

Turukáno recognized that he had passed the point of accidentally over hearing and had entered into the morally reprehensible area of spying. He had been told dozens of times that listening to other's private conversations was unacceptable behavior, sneaky and dishonest. But the day had been a disaster already: he had irritated Findekáno and insulted Tyelkormo; little impulse remained to try to be good.

Anyway, he wanted to hear more as soon as he heard his father ask the same question of Anaire that he had asked of Findekáno, with the same resentful tone. Only silence followed. A lack of words that made Turukáno think if he looked he would find that his parents were kissing.

Nolofinwë spoke next. "Where is Tyelkormo's sullen sidekick?"

"That is mean, Nolofinwë. Carnistir is not deliberately sullen. Just quiet and eccentric. He can be amiable enough on his own. He does not do well in crowds." His mother still did not sound in the least angry with his father, although she had called him mean. Adults could be confusing and hard to read.

"Poor Carnistir. A distinct disadvantage living in Fëanáro's house I would say. Between his sons, his apprentices and those of Nerdanel, I cannot imagine how Fëanáro gets anything done." Nolofinwë's voice had a low, sarcastic tone.

Anaire laughed. "He seems to manage to accomplish a quite a bit."

"I just said you were kind." Nolofinwë laughed also. "I guess I spoke too soon." Turukáno listened carefully, but there were no more words for several minutes. Another of those kissing silences? he wondered.

Then Nolofinwë spoke. "I invited Russandol to come by when he finishes the project he is working on. I told him not to worry if he is late. We don't need to hold dinner for him. He can catch up with us when he arrives. At least Russandol knows how to behave in a social setting."

Normally, Turukáno would have been disturbed to hear that Nelyafinwë would be visiting. This time he relished his feeling of spitefulness. Tyelkormo had taken Findekáno's attention totally away from him, but once Nelyafinwë arrived, he knew his brother would be completely fixed upon their oldest cousin. Turukáno jumped to his feet and raced for the front door. He would tell them and see how Tyelkormo reacted to that.

Bursting out the door to find the older boys sitting on the steps, Turukáno announced, unable to keep the triumph out of his voice. "Russandol is coming for dinner too."

Instead of looking disappointed, a big smile lit up Tyelkormo's handsome face. Tyelkormo the fair they call him, Turukáno thought sourly.

"Nelyo's coming. Excellent," his cousin responded. Turukáno nursed his disappointment that, once again, nothing seemed to ruffle Tyelkormo.

"Wonderful," said Findekáno. "Here's Grandfather's coach now. Be a good lad. Run and tell Amil they have arrived."

* * * *

The sound of the warm, booming tones of Finwë's voice echoed even through the closed door, as Turukáno listened. He had resumed his position in the stairwell after informing Anairë that his grandparents had arrived.

Indis, Finwë, Findekáno and Tyelkormo entered the house together. Finwë held Tyelkormo close to his chest with his arm around his shoulders, kissing him on cheek and ruffling his hair in a manner that might have been appropriate with a much younger child. Instead of reacting as Turukáno would have expected, with pride in his age and bristling at being treated like a baby, his usually swaggering cousin looked up at his grandfather with a beatific look of contentment and utter adoration.

Indis smiled at her husband's demonstrative expression of affection. Turukáno noted to himself that his mother had been right again: Finwë clearly delighted in finding his Feanárion grandson present. Turukáno grudgingly admitted to himself that good grandfathers were supposed to love all of their grandchildren, even the nasty, ill-mannered ones. And Finwë was definitely the best grandfather anyone could have.

Upon spotting Turukáno on the stairs, Finwë let go of Tyelkormo and held out his arms to the boy. "Turno, come give your old haru a kiss."

Although not as tall, his grandfather was more broadly built than either Nolofinwë or Fëanáro. Finwë was nothing if not strong. He grabbed Turukáno and tossed him in the air. Turukáno could not resist a childish squeal of pleasure, only in the aftermath thinking he was much too old for such treatment. Turukáno's father and mother came out of the dining room to greet their guests. Finwë moved to shift Turukáno to his hip, as if to carry him like a child of half his age, instead of putting him back on his feet. Suddenly Turukáno felt embarrassed and squirmed free.

"Atar, Amil," Nolofinwë said, beaming at his parents as though he were a child, embracing his father in a bear hug and kissing his mother on both cheeks. Turukáno controlled his facial expression but inwardly cringed, thinking his entire family, save himself perhaps, were far too obvious in revealing of their emotions.

* * * *

Findekáno observed that his mother had set a beautiful table. Only their finest tableware and best crystal glassware had been used. No artificial blue lights were ever lit in their dining room. His father always said he preferred to eat by the natural light of candles, that food did not look at all appetizing in a sickly blue light. There were times that Findekáno nearly burst with wanting to remark to his father that even simple family dinners at Uncle Fëanáro's house were eaten under candlelight as well. He knew it would irk Nolofinwë to no end to hear that Fëanáro liked to make the exact same point, emphasizing he had created those lights for a different purpose entirely.

That night all the tall windows in the dining room had been opened wide and the curtains pulled back fully. The mingling of the lights had mitigated the worst of the heat of the day. The cooler silver light of Telperion as it waxed and Laurelin waned would only help. Grandfather Finwë looked contented and happy and, consequently, Grandmother Indis was in fine spirits as well. Findekáno felt a novel tenderness at how his rowdy cousin had turned polite and affectionate under Finwë's gaze. Even his father looked relaxed.

Turukáno's small face, however, had settled back into an ill-tempered scowl. Findekáno wondered what his little brother had to be upset about: his much praised younger brother, who comforted his mother by his industry and neatness and who caused his father to sigh with relief at finally having an obedient and malleable son.

"Amil, please, may I skip the seafood?" Turukáno asked. Findekáno was amused that his little brother seemed not to realize that despite his polite words the tone of his thin, high voice and the twitch of his upper lip revealed his disgust.

"Just try a tiny portion of the crab salad," Anairë urged. "On such warm night I thought mostly cold food would be more pleasant."

"Everything looks lovely, Anairë. But I have learned that for most children, Arafinwë's being the exception, shellfish is an acquired taste. The boy won't starve if he eats only bread and butter for one night," Finwë said. Turukáno looked so thoroughly grateful and relieved that it took all of Findekáno's self-control to suppress a laugh.

Indis did laugh, a light, elegant tinkle of a laugh. "Oh, he can have some fruit with his bread and butter," she said gaily, offering her youngest grandson a perfectly ripe, golden pear. Turukáno blushed. "He is certainly is not starving. I think he is going to be as tall as Findekáno at least; already he is bigger than his brother was at his age. Remember what a frail child Findekáno was? I recall Anairë worrying if he did eat enough."

Tyelkormo snorted. "He was a pale little runt. I was a head taller than Findekáno and much heavier."

"You are still thick, Turko. Even if you are rather short." Findekáno shot Tyelkormo a fiendish grin, but his attention fixed upon Turukáno whose small face was tilted up and looking at him with an eager, surprised look, admiration transparent in his clear grey eyes.

"Hardly short and not thick, appropriately filled out," Tyelkormo said, with supreme confidence. "You, however, are as long and stringy as beanpole. At Turno's age, you were not only smaller than he is, but as timid as a motherless fawn."

"Well, you quickly cured me of that, didn't you? I still have the scars to prove it." Findekáno, looked not at Tyelkormo, but made contact with his brother's eyes, which widened in recognition of his attention. Turukáno managed a small, hopeful smile.

"Turno, however, is not shy. Upstairs, earlier today, he . . . " Findekáno kicked Tyelkormo under the table. Tyelkormo was a master at interpreting that secret code of adolescents and children everywhere, which probably dated to when their forbearers awoke beside the lake of Cuiviénen, Findekáno thought, relating to what might be too much information for their elders. Without so much as giving a sideways glance at Findekáno, Tyelkormo quickly adjusted his intended remarks. "Just today I noticed that Turno is not as shy as Findekáno once was."

The idle dinner table chat moved on to other matters, while Findekáno became increasingly aware that his little brother appeared less gloomy and even managed to enter into the conversation, going so far as to chuckle at a couple of Tyelkormo's cheeky quips.

* * * *

The lengthy supper, replete with mostly dull exchanges among the adults about things which held little or no interest for Turukáno, had finally drawn toward its longed for conclusion. He felt much better than he had earlier in the evening. Tyelkormo had avoided the perfect opportunity to tattle on him about how bad-mannered and offensive he had been earlier and Findekáno seemed aware of his existence, smiling at him and making little private jokes.

Turukáno looked forward to dessert being served after passing up the revolting cold boiled shrimp drowned in a nasty sauce that looked oily, smelled gingery and stung his eyes like pepper when he sniffed it. He shuddered at the memory of the sight alone of slimy oysters on the half shell. Just as the dishes from the main courses had been cleared, he heard a commotion in the hallway. The sound of one of the housemaids giggling flirtatiously and Nelyafinwë's low seductive voice drew everyone's attention away from their drinks and conversation.

"Russandol is here," Nolofinwë uselessly announced.

Turukáno's hard-won peace of mind left him. He had forgotten about Nelyafinwë: perfect, mannered, kind Nelyafinwë, his father's latest favorite among a long string of assistants at court, his grandfather's worthy eldest grandson and, last but not least of his offenses, Findekáno's idol.

Nelyafinwë entered the room, smiling and apologizing unnecessarily, greeting everyone warmly and being fussed over and cosseted by Anaire and Indis. Turukáno's mother rushed to call for a portion of the main course for Nelyafinwë, nearly colliding with a serving maid in the doorway who had second-guessed her request and already arrived carrying a well-filled plate. In Turukáno's opinion, if everyone loved Findekáno, they probably adored Nelyafinwë. He had all of Findekáno's virtues in excess, without the recklessness and streak of rebellion.

Nolofinwë cheerfully announced, "Take your time, Russandol. We will hold dessert until you are finished." Turukáno released a deep sigh of disappointment before he realized what he was doing.

Findekáno came to his rescue, however. "Maybe Turukáno could have his dessert now, while the rest of us have another glass of wine?" Findekáno said, jumping to his feet to get an unopened bottle from the sideboard.

"Yes," his mother answered. "But that will be the last glass for you and Tyelkormo."

"Aunt Anaire, everything is wonderful. The sauce on the shrimp is better than any I have had even in Alqualonde," Nelyafinwë said, sounding completely sincere, ethusiastic even. Turukáno grimaced at the concept that he might actually like nauseating combinations of sea life drenched in weird spices. When Turukáno looked up at Nelyafinwë, his solemn gaze met glittering silver grey eyes alight with humor.

"Would you believe, Turno, that my brother Macalaurë once disliked seafood, before he studied music in Alqualonde and before he fell in love with half-Telerin girl," Nelyafinwë said. Turukáno almost frowned, but his curiosity overcame him.

"He likes that kind of food now?" Turukáno didn't understand why everyone thought his remark was so funny. Only Indis and Nelyafinwë did not laugh. But then Nelyafinwë never did anything that he thought might make anyone uncomfortable. One of the galling things about his red-headed cousin in Turukáno's opinion was that he was difficult to fault.

Indis gave him a gentle smile. "Do not let them upset you, Turno. They still tease me for not eating red meat and fowl." Meanwhile, his mother had summoned the serving maid and whispered a request. Turukáno pondered the possibilities of different puddings, but didn't want to get his hopes too high, only to have them dashed.

"Turukáno," Nelyafinwë said, a dazzling smile lighting up his face, his voice all slippery and too deliberately charming. "Just as I was leaving the city center I encountered the coach of Arafinwë and his family. They had only just returned from Alqualonde. Findaráto asked me to say hello to you for him. He said to tell you that he hopes to see you soon."

"Turno, I am going to the city center tomorrow," said Findekáno. " If you would like to come with me, we could stop and pick up Findaráto and the two of you could play in the main fountain together while I do what I need to do. It was full of squealing children today, most about your age, or a little younger or a bit older than you, and tomorrow will be another hot day."

Nolofinwë frowned, "Do you think that is safe? I mean to leave the two boys there alone?"

Tyelkormo and Findekáno both crudely choked with laughter and even smarmy Nelyafinwë grinned, before Findekáno replied. "Well, I suppose it is a little dangerous. It's well known that the underage sons and daughters of the numerous scribes and bureaucrats that work for you and Haru are slavering, child-eating beasts."

"Findekáno! Shame. Apologize to your father." Anaire nearly squeaked in her dismay. By that point Turukáno felt like his head was whipping back and forth between his mother, his father and Findekáno, like a weather vane in a high wind. He knew he was overreacting, as though the fate of his future happiness hung on the resolution of the dispute in his favor.

"I'm sorry, Atar," Findekáno said. "I was rude."

"I apologize, Uncle. We both were rude," Tyelkormo agreed.

Indis leaned over and patted Nolofinwë on the hand. "I'm sure they will be fine at the fountain. Arafinwë lets Findaráto walk there by himself."

Nolofinwë jerked his hand from beneath his mother's. "It will be a cold day in Tirion when I model my child-raising techniques on those of my feckless, light-minded brother. But if you think it is reasonable, Amil, then I am sure it is. You can go if you wish, Turukáno."

Turukáno heaved a deep sigh. "Thank you, Atar." Just then the serving maid leaned past Turukáno to place a dessert plate in front of him: one of Anairë's renowned apple tarts, topped with whipped vanilla cream and covered in a caramel sauce. Just when one thinks that life is truly miserable, things can turn around, Turukáno thought. An apple tart, a trip to the center with Findekáno, and wading and sailing boats in the fountain with Findaráto. What could be better?

"Thank you, Findekáno," Turukáno said, as an afterthought, yet truly grateful.

"Hey, think nothing of it," Findekáno responded, sounding absolutely Fëanorian in his nonchalance.

Well, one can't have everything, Turukáno mused, cautiously taking only a small bite of apple tart, careful not to dribble any down the front of his tunic.



Turgon - Turukáno, Turno
Fingon - Findekáno, Káno
Celegorm - Tyelkormo, Turko
Fingolfin - Nolofinwë
Maedhros - Nelyafinwë, Russandol, Nelyo
Fingon - Findaráto



~~~

End Notes:

The title, Full Brothers in Blood, is play on words based upon the remark of Fingolfin to Fëanor: "Half-brother in blood, full brother in heart will I be." Struck by the differences between Fingon and Turgon, it seems at times to me, although they are full brothers in blood, they appear even less than half-brothers in heart. Fingon manifests a temperament, which is democratic in its open-heartedness rather than exclusive. His younger brother may have felt that he did not receive enough of Fingon's love and attention. In this story Fingon seems to have no idea why Turgon is testy with him so much of the time. Add a little hero-worship and a touch of envy on the part of young Turgon and one might expect, if not a difficult relationship between the brothers later on in life, choices that varied widely.



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