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9
Body politic

B2MeM Challenge:O67: Femslash: Women of the House of Finwë
Format: drabble series
Genre: Drama
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Revisionism run rampant. Not enough sleep. Mature themes.
Characters: Aredhel Ar-Feiniel (Írissë; Íreth in Sindarin), OFC, Turgon (Turukáno)
Pairings: Aredhel/OFC
Summary: Because you’ve never seen fire, until you’ve seen Pele blow. Or: the very revisionist history of Aredhel Ar-Feiniel in Middle-earth.


~~~

Body politic

Between the mountains and the seas, the Noldor settled, and opened the mountains to make Vinyamar above the tides. Írissë led parties hunting – for food, and to make maps. They searched out the land, and Turukáno made her his emissary to their neighbors.

“Gain their good will,” he ordered. “As strangers in Middle-earth, to survive unbloodied, we must have their friendship.”

“Our hands are bloody already, brother,” she reminded him.

“Then do nothing to stain them more! Írissë,” Turukano said urgently, “you know the stakes.”

“I do,” she answered, and sighed. “Very well – Írissë Ar-Feiniel will serve for her House.”


Then Írissë considered, and had hunting leathers fashioned – but pale as the tanner could make them.

“I will not go hidden,” she told her perplexed second. “I am an emissary, not a spy.”

Thus clad, bearing bow and her silver armlet, she went seeking the Sindar. Hawks circled high; no birds sang: the forest seemed empty, ‘til she found the deer.

They fled; she followed, sensing the shadows. Two arrows snapped past her head: the buck staggered, fell.

“Well shot,” she told the air.

“Perhaps,” the dun-clad hunter said. “What do you here, newcomer?”

“I have come to meet you.”


There were five of them, dark of hair, dark of eyes, dark of skin, and their speech was changed, though they understood her, and she them. They were pleased to have help with the carcass, and seemed content with her butchering.

They invited her to eat with them afterward, in a little clearing where shafts of sunlight lit the dark beneath the pines, and she learned all their names.

When afternoon came slanting in, all rose, and the Sindar took up the deer. But when Írissë would have left, Malgwen, the eldest, stayed her.

“I would speak more with you.”


But she would not have Írissë’s escort, and so she sent them to her brother, loath though they were to leave.

“They mistrust me,” Malgwen said.

“As you mistrust them,” Írissë answered.

“Some matters are not for all ears.”

“Thus your company has departed?”

“That deer must feed many. But I would speak with Araw’s daughter. “ Malgwen smiled at her surprise. “I saw the bracelet – you bear the Forester’s mark.”

“You know Oromë?”

“Of course!” Malgwen reached within her tunic, and pulled forth a carved pair of crossed bone horns, strung upon a leather braid. “See? We are sisters...”


After the Great Division, Elu’s host had sought a home. The Elves of Nevrast, who, like many, had left the great mass of Thingol’s people, remembered when the Starflood Path dimmed, when the sky lights grew faint and wavered. For malice lay upon the land: the Rider had gone, yet fell creatures harried them on their march, taking some here, some there.

In such dread times, the Forester had come to them, as ever he had, and brought them strength, and a double-share of his arts. Protector and teacher, they honored him, and gave sons and daughters to his ways…



And so they were sisters, unwittingly. What that meant, Írissë would learn, as the days and weeks passed. Malgwen met her on the heights above the city rising below, while Turukáno urged meeting and alliance, as swift as could be.

“Haste is not our way,” the Sinda would say, when Írissë brought such words to her.

“Our Enemy loves our division,” Írissë would press.

“And yet we endure,” came ever the answer. “Come hunt with me, sister.”

Thus Malgwen showed her all the ways around Vinyamar, and ran with her among the deer, yet never brought Írissë to her people.


Malgwen brought her one day to a great stream flowing from the mountains: from a height it fell into a rainbowed mist.

“We followed its song to this place.” Malgwen stared at the shimmering flow. “Before the Great Lights, we never knew music’s colors!”

“All is new under the Sun,” Írissë said. “What of the Twilight?”

“I mourn it. But,” said Malgwen, “this I love.”

“The Treelight died in Valinor, for we were riven – blind.” Írissë paused. “I would not see Middle-earth’s lights quenched.” The Sinda bowed her head. “Malgwen?”

“One more hunt, sister,” she urged. “Then I shall answer.”


We came west because the land we loved harrowed us: we lost, and its face changed, staining our memories. The Elder Three promised that across the Sea lay clean lands to grow us, and so we pulled up our roots and walked.

But Malice followed; doubt beset us: in pure lands without sorrow, what of our memories? Our dead? Are we not losing them, in leaving haunted lands?

O Bright Ones, did we err?
Do your dead dwell in that stainless place? Is it stainless? What silence dwells in your eyes? What has your land made you, that you return?


“One more hunt? What more should you slay, Írissë? Or why will she not come down, and if it is food she desires, she may take from our stores,” her brother, vexed, demanded.

“It has been a moon’s cycle – that is not long.”

Turukáno snorted. “In Valinor, in our lives, ‘tis not long. But in the world, sister, matters move swiftly – Moringotto moves swiftly, and we need allies.”

“And I shall claim them,” she assured him. “When the time is right.”

Come dusk, Malgwen greeted her beyond the walls. “Sister Íreth! Bare your knife – See! The stars are going out!”


The stars are going out: they are dim tonight, and cast a sickly light, as through murky waters.

The forest is unquiet: Írissë feels its fear. Something is abroad – something Malgwen knows. She has, perhaps, been seeking it on all their journeys. Whatever – it has come. Írissë grips her bow, lengthens her stride to match the shadow that is Malgwen running hart-swift beside her.

That nightshade dread opens in a toothy, snapping maw. Malgwen howls; Írissë looses. Something shrieks, dizzyingly, and bony fingers rake her flesh – white heat pain!

But Írissë has seen Treelight: star-like she rises, and lets free wrath…


She calls to Oromë, and names the beast, which turns from Malgwen, and gapes teeth at her. But she has her sword from Valinor, and she is no battle-virgin. Írissë hurls her curse upon it, follows words with steel. She dodges claws, feels its curse drape her – but what matter? Can such match Mandos's Curse? Írissë pins her enemy to the earth.

The beast thrashes wildly, its form shifting desperately, but she has it paled on the point of her sword, and now Malgwen flings herself upon it, stabs – and stabs again, viciously, ‘til at last the thing lies still.


Death, though, does not appease: snarling, Malgwen slits its stomach open, buries her hands in the guts.

“Malgwen,” Írissë rebukes, but her sister cries triumph. In shaking hand she lifts two small, white symbols – Oromë’s sign, mark of fallen brothers or sisters. Malgwen throws her head back and keens.

Once done, she rises, staggers to Írissë, and they look upon each other in clean starlight: Malgwen with blood in her hair, her face and arms gore-slicked, Írissë with a growing stain upon her, beginning to shake. Arms open; they fall into ecstatic, panting embrace – alive, alive, we all can live!


‘Tis a mile to any river. They make their hunched, hurting way there, collapse upon the bank. Malgwen plunges head and body beneath the current, comes up sopping.

Írissë peels blood-sticky leather off, hisses as it pulls at wounds, shakily laves water over them.

“Let me,” Malgwen says. When claw-gouged flesh is clean and bandages wound safely round, Malgwen takes her sister’s face in her hands and looks long.

“You are unscarred,” she says finally, wonderingly. Írissë nods wearily. “But the balan cursed you!” Wide-eyed, Malgwen brushes a thumb over Írissë’s cheek, then presses brow to brow: “Thou marvel, Aredhel!”


In Vinyamar, a king paces restlessly, brooding upon dark mountains.

In forest’s hidden depths, the elders tell the journey-stories anew, and wait on other words.

Between them lie oceans, and a cleaner night to lie in.


“This is not the Sindarin way,” Malgwen breathes against the hollow of her lover’s throat.

“Nor the Noldorin,” Írissë murmurs. “But ‘tis – ai! Mind the scrapes! – our way.”

A groping way, as befits Oromë’s daughters, freighted with memory and the weight of other wills, opaque as flesh, yet they must forge a path…

Írissë groans; Malgwen gasps, and all the night falls silent.


“Will you come to Vinyamar?” Írissë asks later.

“To meet your brother?”

“He much desires it.”

Malgwen sighs softly. “I shall come.” Then, heart-stopping words: “I had first to learn who you are.”

“Have you?” Írissë whispers.

Malgwen lifts her head in hot-eyed gaze, dark hair falling soft upon Írissë’s breasts. “The balan’s malice has maimed even Araw’s children. You stood, and its curse broke upon you!”

“I bear scars, Malgwen,” protests uneasy conscience.

“But no further marks,” Malgwen insists. “My people must learn such grace!”

Irony is cruel – like duty. Írissë shuts her eyes.

“Then be welcome in Vinyamar.”

~~~

Thus ends the extremely revisionist early history of Aredhel. I refuse to believe that the only things we can say of Aredhel are that she only wears white and silver (I think not) and is sort of naïve about the world outside Gondolin. Didn’t she live outside of Gondolin for most of her existence? And hunt with the boys in Valinor? And kin-slay, cross an ice floe, and help build up a city?

Yeah, I thought so. Turgon needs to get over the fact that his sister will sleep with women for political ends and because, well, sometimes that’s what happens after you slay demons together – a point to bear ever in mind, slash-fans. ;-)

“You’ve never seen fire, until you’ve seen Pele blow.” - Line borrowed from Muhammed, my friend by Tori Amos.


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