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Of Yule Past by Talullah Red

Author name: Talullah Red
Recipient's name: Fades Into the West
Title: Of Yule Past
Rating: PG13
Request: “I would like a fic that examines reborn elves reminiscing about yuletide on Middle-earth (preferrably Finwë's brood)”
Beta: Jaiden_S
Summary: Finrod thinks of the past.



Aman, Second Age 321

Finrod looks at the sky of cloudless blue and smiles. Arien will be at her lowest today. There is still plenty to do, but he closes his eyes and basks in the pale light, taking a moment before resuming to his tasks, sitting in the low windowsill as he studies the room. The handrails and the windows are trimmed with fragrant evergreens. He has collected branches of yavannamíre, laden with their red berries, and arranged them in vases throughout the house. For over a month he has been gathering with the children after dinner, making ornaments with leaves, pines, paint, glue, old fabrics, yarn, anything, really, that will come in handy. Amarië despairs, but to him and the boys, everything looks festive and bright.

He has even felled a pine tree and meticulously chopped it. He would light the fragrant logs day and night but Amarië protests that it’s too hot to have fire inside the house. He has struck a deal and he is allowed to light it at night only. He does love Yule so, all the traditions, all the little things that mean nothing to Amarië but that she cheerfully tolerates. Well, not so cheerfully this year, when she is close to the term of their fifth.

The Vanyar may favour smaller families, but he is blessed that Amarië hated being an only child, and wants children, many, many children, and so shortly spaced too, like the women of the Edain. There is a running joke about catching up with Nerdanel… He wouldn’t mind, but Amarië seems to be growing more and more tired each time. Maybe this will be the last one, a golden girl. He has a name for her… Alatáriel. His law-brother will not mind, for sure, nor would his sister, if they ever meet again. And this land needs more Sindarin. People from overseas have come and more will follow, to return home, or find solace in a land they know only from tales, and not all will remain in Tol Eressëa.

The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg pervades the house. Ever since he returned, his old nanny keeps spoiling him, and she has spent the last few days baking fruit cakes and bullying around a varying number of people in the kitchen. He insisted on leading a simple life, to which only his father and Amarië acquiesced without protests, but no one ever forgets he is the son of the king, and that he was a king himself; and so, there is never lack of people coming in and out of his simple house at the edge of Tírion, happy to do all sorts of house tasks.

He is blessed for having such loyalty, when he feels that he may have let them down. So many Noldor that he failed to protect over the Sundering Sea… So many friends gone. But he is blessed to have been reborn so swiftly. And he is blessed that Amarië has waited, when he had, so foolishly, set her free. That Aegnor has returned… Maybe soon Angrod will too. And Father, still alive and wise, keeping them whole.

“Daddy!” Three golden whirlwinds run into the parlour, interrupting his thoughts, followed by a fourth, the quieter presence of his firstborn, now almost an adult. Just as well, he thinks, as they jump to his lap. Finrod laughs, buried in elfling, as the twins tickle him. From the corner of his eye, he spots his youngest trying reach a plate of ginger cookies by pulling the table towel. His eldest quickly saves the day and takes the three bundles of trouble away.

“Come, now, brothers, time for a bath before the party.”

The elflings protest but they are cajoled with the prospect of the party later on. In Aman, Yule is not a celebration for the adults. In fact, before he returned, Yule was a mere astronomical observance, nothing more than the day that Arien completed a cycle and started adjusting her chariot upwards in the sky again. The weather was so mild that fewer hours of light made little difference in the spirits or the seasons, really.

Not so in Beleriand. Soon after the first rising, Uncle Fingolfin had people tracking Arien’s path in the sky. It was with great joy that they saw that each day grew longer and each day she rose higher in the skies… until it all stopped and the days started growing shorter. Fear spread. Was this hope and comfort that was the sun meant to die out in the western seas one night? Would they be left in the darkness, alone with the enemy, once more? Then one bleak, cold day, it was announced: the sun had stayed longer in the sky, for a fraction of a moment only, but it had. Then another day, and another. Great joy and relief had been felt all around and the people had made merry for long, as warmth and light returned.

Then the sun had stopped rising in the skies, again. This time, there was less concern, but people were still afraid. It took them some three or four years to fully understand the oscillations in Arien’s celestial path, but when they did, it became a time for celebration. For twelve days, each year, people would prepare and excitement would build up, until there was the longest night, filled with food and drink, music and merriment. It was wonderful, to be carefree, for once. Sometimes food was scarce, but even then there was always something special. Honeyed pastries for the children, at least.

Finrod was not sure when the custom of exchanging gifts had started. He knew it had been there from the very first years. Oh, the Mereth Aderthad! It had been then, of course, twenty years after the first time Arien had risen. Fingolfin had dreamt of the event as more than a celebration. It was meant to bring everyone together and it succeeded. That was unforgettable, Finrod thought as his smile widened. Bleak midwinter had a whole other meaning when there were so many accents and hairstyles and clothes and scents, all mixed together. Boys and girls let their eyes linger on what was different and many a mixed marriage resulted from that first encounter.

Diplomacy should have been first and foremost, and everyone had brought polite gifts – even Thingol had sent his own – but everyone was too busy having fun, trading, eating and playing. Grown elves, old elves, wise elves played like children, games of riddles and of run-and-tag. The nights were filled with revelry, fireside tales for the young ones, and then music and dancing. Ooh, Maglor and Daeron – first they had battled and then their music had blended, Daeron’s virtuosity counterpointed by Maglor’s vigor and inspiration.

The cousins were all there, and everyone was still alive, and the Oath had not become so ugly yet. Finrod remembered getting pissed drunk with Maedhros and Fingon, the three eldest of Finwë’s third generation, far from noble and steadfast leaders of their people but rather happy, filthy-mouthed drunkards. It had been Fingon’s fault, of course. Findekano could never let go without a prank and getting Maitimo drunk was his favorite. Finrod had left Maedhros’ tent to relieve himself by a tree but as he returned he had heard a sound kiss, the open-mouthed kind, and rustling, and he had figured that the boy play between the two had not died out in Aman.

The cold night air had sobered him enough. He felt sleepy but he searched for Galadriel. As he walked amidst the tents and the fires and the parties, searching for her golden mane, he saw Aegnor and Angrod wrestling, bare-chested, in the snow mud with Caranthir and Curufin. He sighed. What started off as mild cousin rivalry always ended badly. But even this, here, felt right. They were laughing, hair, faces, torsos caked in mud, their weapons far from sight and Aredhel goading them on, clearly dying to join in, Celegorm’s arm around her waist, telling more than his cousin realized.

Nearby, a group of children who should have gone to bed tried to make a battle of snow balls, but this year had been unusually warm and there was only a thin layer. They had a mud battle instead, happy and loud. Idril and Orodreth were now all grown up, adults by the normal reckoning, but they played with them, under Turgon’s watchful eye.

He had finally found Galadriel skulking in the shadow, with Beleg.

“That was all that he said?” he heard her ask.

Beleg handed her something that Finrod couldn’t see. “He asks that you return soon.”

Finrod smiled. His sister might protest as much as she wanted, but she had found her match under the trees of Doriath.

Later he had played cards with Amras, Amrod and Argon. He did not remember it being like this in Aman. Sure, there had been family gatherings, Grandfather made sure of that. And there had been friendships among the cousins. But not this, not this poignant and strong, and happy, as if the beginning of something good and new was being set, or maybe the opposite, the last good day to come for long.

There was never again a Yule feast such as that one, no, not even the ones in Nargothrond, when the walls seemed to glow golden with all the candles lit. It was safe and happy, and there was more abundance of food and presents but the family was not together. Celegorm and Curufin were not the same, their spirits increasingly darker. His brothers stayed away, mostly, and no one could draw Galadriel long enough from Doriath and her silver knight. The large, happy, loud family was gone, dispersed throughout Beleriand, some dead, some angry and silent…

Finrod returned to the present with Amarië’s hand gently pressing on his shoulder.

“Beloved.”

Finrod kissed her hand. “Coming.”

“No need. Everything is ready.” Amarië leaned down and kissed his forehead. He pulled her into his lap.

“I’m too big,” she protested.

“Never!” he laughed, as they almost toppled over.

“Thinking of the past?” she asked, after a moment.

“Yes. But the present is far better,” he quickly added. He knew that somewhere, deep down, his fondness for his life in Beleriand still stung Amarië.

Under his hand, a foot moved. “Ouch, don’t kick so hard, little girl,” he said laughing.

“What if it’s a boy?”

“It’s a girl. She kicks like my sister.”

Amarië smiled. “Everyone wants you happy. We love you, you know?”

Finrod kissed her. “I know, and I am.”

And he was.

Dark had fallen as he had drifted into thought. As his children and the first guests arrived, he used what little magic he retained and lit all the fires and candles in the house with one thought, causing exclamations. The warm greetings, the small talk, bursts of laughter, the children running around, trying to peek into the presents, Amarië’s loving gaze, all grounded him in the present. This was his home.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
dreamflower02
Jan. 1st, 2015 08:26 pm (UTC)
Such warm and pleasant memories!
talullahred
Jan. 1st, 2015 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
keiliss
Jan. 1st, 2015 09:57 pm (UTC)
I love this, Tal. It's warm and bittersweet, with all those memories that will never die, all those things that happened when they were younger and still believed. It's the sort of one of a kind night you never forget, no matter what comes after. I liked seeing how different traditions and knowledge had grown up over the years,too, and decorating the house felt very real, a bringing home of something from another shore. But the thing I loved most? Seeing his future bright and happy with all those children and the woman he loves. I smiled all the way through this - I am so glad you got to write it!

(by the way, my first choice prompt, the one I missed? That was yours *g*)
talullahred
Jan. 1st, 2015 11:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, doll - your comment made my day. :)

I wish I had had more time to perfect it, add a few more details, polish the language, but I hope that it won't disappoint the recipient too much.

Ah! In the end the 'prompt dance' ended up being funny. I would have loved to see what you would have written for my prompt, but in the end I also got a great fic.

I'm dying to read yours. :D


blslarner
Jan. 2nd, 2015 06:38 am (UTC)
Poignant memories, and a fulfilling present. At least he does not need to choose one over the other--he has both to fill him.

I love this rendition of the reborn Finrod and the life he has built on the edges of Tirion, the children who fulfill him, the wife who keeps him grounded. If he is apart from his father's court, it is through choice.
talullahred
Jan. 2nd, 2015 08:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked it. I suspect that after the kids are all grown he'll gradually return to public life and help his father. ;)
curiouswombat
Jan. 2nd, 2015 12:00 pm (UTC)
I love both his reminiscences of Yule past and the idea of this new family of elflings learning how to celebrate Yule properly!
talullahred
Jan. 2nd, 2015 08:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked it!
rhapsody11
Jan. 2nd, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
I just really love how you completed the circle here for Finrod: with bittersweet memories from the past and his future with his five kids, his Amarië against all odds who waited for him still. *happy sigh*
talullahred
Jan. 2nd, 2015 09:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you, doll! So glad you liked the fic. :)

*hugs*
ladyelleth
Jan. 3rd, 2015 07:30 am (UTC)
I have such a weakness for post-canon fics and domesticity in that setting (don't get me started on Maglor and his wife, heh), and this was a beautiful story with just the right amount of wistfulness and sentimentality. I love your Amarië and the thought of both of them having a big family with a baby girl to make things perfect, especially if she turns out to be a little Galadriel herself. :)
talullahred
Jan. 4th, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you - I'm so happy that you liked it. :)
fadesintothewes
Jan. 5th, 2015 08:18 am (UTC)
Oh this was just beautiful and melancholy and happy, just as I love it. I am so luck that I received a notice from Archive of our own. I somehow didn't get notice of this, but I found the AO3 email in my spam folder. Needless to say, what a beautiful gift.

It is so lovely. Finrod's memories and his happiness in both his memories and current life that is so full of new life and joy. It is bittersweet the memories of a yule new found in Beleriand as you so beautifully describe. I really enjoyed that aspect, how you interpreted the creation of Yule as a holiday that was more than it used to be for the elves. The little snippets that hint at other stories that are yet to unfold is nicely done, so rich!

I especially love the end when Finrod uses his little bit of magic, as it should be!!!
talullahred
Jan. 5th, 2015 07:59 pm (UTC)
Hi again!

Thanks for commenting here too. I am really happy (and relived! lol) that you liked the fic. I noticed from your fics that we share a love for those Noldor, so I tried to mention everyone in the third generation. Also, Finrod deserved a happy ending so... :) I'm glad you liked both sides of the story. :)
kayleelupin
Jan. 6th, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC)
oh Tallulahred this is excellent :) I love Finrod's musings on Yules past, and his interaction with his children, and Amarie - the last paragraph is my absolute favourite though. It's almost like poetry, I think :)

Kaylee Arafinwiel
talullahred
Jan. 6th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I so happy you liked it! :)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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