Title: The First Finwean Sandcastle Building Competition
Elements: Proverb prompt - Hatred is as blind as love.
Summary: During an extended family trip to Alqualondë, Turgon learns a thing or two about the making and breaking of fortresses, and Fingon spouts many proverbs in the name of brotherly comfort.
Author's Notes: Celegorm and Fingon are in the equivalent of our late teens; Caranthir - early teens, Turgon, Finrod & Curufin - precocious pre-tweens. Angrod is a toddler. *first-timer here; fingers crossed that I've fulfilled the theme*
Word Count: ~2100
"Why didn't you let me punch him?" Turgon demanded in a choked voice, wiping his tearful face with the back of his hand.
Fingon looked away, wincing. He was immune to his brother's tears when they were a consequence of childish tantrums, or even when they arose from some natural and unavoidable hurt, like skinned knees, but this--this raised his protective instincts, and he suddenly, irrationally, wished he could hug Turgon close and protect his youthful sensibilities from life's injustices.
He had been gone for a few moments only; just further down their stretch of beach, carrying baby Angrod on his hip as they sought out a few more pearls and gems for the sand castle they were building with Turgon and Finrod.
Fingon's brother and cousin were already proving to be ambitious builders, even at their tender age, and with his help, had managed to construct a reasonable imitation of Olwë's palace in Alqualondë--a tribute to both the Telerin king as well as their own grandfather, as they were both to be the judges in this impromptu competition upon the Swanhaven's white beaches. Fëanor's three youngest sons formed the rival team.
The sons of Fingolfin and Finarfin, for their part, had wrought plans for tall towers, vast gates, winding staircases leading up and down to multiple levels, and even balconies. Walls would be lined with seashells and opals, while pointed turrets would be dotted with pearls.
Turgon and Finrod hadn't been able to contain their excitement as their sand construction took place, chattering and chirping as they worked, eyes narrowed and lips pursed with as identical expressions of singular focus--not unlike what Fingon had seen grace his uncle Fëanor's face in the forge.
Indeed, Fingon had forgotten all about their cousins of the House of Fëanor--who had claimed a sand dune further up the beach as their construction site--until he had returned with Angrod, carrying a small bucket full of gems and pearls while his baby cousin clung tightly to him with an iron grip on his braids.
The sandcastle, as he'd left it, was still full of half-constructed towers and undecorated walls, but visibly getting somewhere. But the sandcastle he had returned to was, well... a mess of grit and scattered seashells. Fingon had not needed to wonder over long at this, because by the ruins, Turgon had been glaring down at Celegorm, Caranthir, and Curufin, fists clenched and face as red as the beetroots he hated so much. Caranthir's front had been entirely covered in sand; dark crown of hair, ruddy face, fancy tunic and rolled-up trousers and all.
Getting sandy on a beach while building sandcastles was hardly a strange thing, but given that Caranthir was almost coated in the stuff, while his brothers were conspicuously not (and wearing too-slick expressions, at that), Fingon couldn't help feeling suspicious.
"What's going on?" he had asked, frowning, as he set Angrod and the bucket down beside him.
"An accident," Celegorm had said smoothly; too smoothly for Fingon's liking. "You know what Carnistir's like, always tripping all over the place..."
Caranthir had sulked mightily at this assessment, something Fingon had noticed despite the mask of sand covering the younger one's face, and looked ready to protest. But Celegorm elbowed him in the ribs and Caranthir had clamped his mouth shut, scowling even harder.
"Liar! They did it on purpose, Finno! They wanted to ruin our sand castle!" Turgon had yelled then, his voice thick with unshed tears.
"Oh please," Curufin had piped up haughtily, sounding eerily similar to his father despite the higher, childish pitch of his voice. "It was pathetic enough before Carnistir fell on it. In fact, you should thank him--it looks better now!"
Turgon had shouted with rage, at that, and would have "fallen" on Curufin with his fists if Fingon hadn't leapt forward to restrain him. Behind him, he could hear Finrod shushing Angrod, who had apparently decided to join the would-be fight by kicking sand at Caranthir.
"Tyelko, take your brothers and get lost," Fingon had said, knowing enough about Fëanor's younger sons to guess that Caranthir's fall had not been as accidental as they tried to claim. Maedhros might have reined in their more conniving tendencies, if he had been around--but he was elsewhere in Aman, learning the ancient arts of combat from the people of Tulkas, as was Maglor, who was presently apprenticed to a musician in Valmar.
Celegorm's smirk had flattened into an uglier expression, at Fingon's dimsmissal, but fortunately, he had the sense not to pursue a confrontation. Instead he had marched his brothers back to their own encampment up the beach, calling back, "Have fun with your sand pit, losers!"
More fortunately, when Fingon had glanced back at the tented pavilion where the adults were indulging in sparkling white wine and mature conversation, it seemed that their little incident had gone unnoticed. They definitely didn't need to get their parents and grandparents involved in this; Fingon had a difficult enough time convincing his father he could handle responsibilities without proving himself a poor baby-sitter.
Which brought him back to Turgon bawling that he was sure Curufin had deliberately tripped Caranthir and sent him flying into their sandcastle, their beautiful sandcastle they had worked so hard on, it wasn't fair, and why had Fingon stopped him from punching the smarmy-faced toad?
"Ango and I will collect more shells," Finrod spoke up, looking sadly at Turgon, and then the remnants of their hard work. Fingon guessed that Finrod had not seen what Turgon had, or perhaps had and was just more inclined to give their cousins the benefit of doubt.
"Great idea," Fingon said, with false brightness. "Why don't you both fetch more water while you're at it, we're going to need some if we want to re-build this thing..."
"What's the point?" Turgon asked angrily, flopping down to stare mournfully at the ruins of their would-be sand fortress.
"Well, baby brother, it isn't over until Námo speaks his Doom, as they say--or until Grandfathers Finwë and Olwë haved judged the winners, in our case. And we still have--" Fingon looked up and around at the light of Laurelin that bathed them, gauging how much time they had left. "At least an hour and a half left to build another one. I'd say that's enough time to make a good effort, wouldn't you?"
"It wouldn't be the same," Turgon hiccupped, voice muffled as he hugged his knees to his chin.
Fingon sat down beside him; wrapping an arm around his younger brother and pulling him close in a loose embrace. "Of course not, but so what? That other sandcastle was always going to be washed away, at any rate. All good things must come to an end, even in the Blessed Realm, and all that."
Turgon gave him a funny look. "Spouting proverbs doesn't make you wise, you know."
"No, but being your older brother does," Fingon replied cheerfully. "And you wouldn't believe how much more seriously adults take you after you've used one in conversation..."
Turgon huffed, just a little exhalation of breath, but his scowl seemed to lessen and for Fingon, that was enough.
"I still hate them," his brother said after a moment, turning his head to glare at their cousins further up the beach.
"You know what else they say? 'Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.' I heard that one from King Ingwë. Also, 'hatred is as blind as love'."
"What does that mean?" Turgon asked, wrinkling his nose.
"That someone who feels hatred cannot see the positive qualities of the person they hate," Fingon explained. "But I don't think you really hate our cousins--"
"Yes, them," Fingon agreed amicably. "They're not too bad, you know, mostly they're alright." He recalled how Celegorm had tormented him back in the days when Fingon was Fingolfin's first and only child and the other had been Fëanor's youngest, and amended his statement. "Or some of the time, anyway--" Honestly, the torment hadn't stopped when Caranthir had come around, or even Curufin; Fingon had just learned to ignore them. Something his temperamental baby brother hadn't learned yet. "Okay, no, they're pretty awful all of the time."
"Seriously!" But Turgon wriggled closer and rested his head on Fingon's shoulder. When he spoke again, after a while, it was with a touch of petulance, but no rancour. "So why didn't you let me hit Curufinwë?"
"Because you're taller and broader than him,"--people often commented on this, that Fingolfin and his sons seemed well on the way to developing mightier statures than Fëanor and his brood, with the exception perhaps of Maedhros--"And would have beat him down as easily as Caranistir crumbled our sandcastle. Honestly, that would have been a satisfying sight," Fingon admitted, "but what then? As Lady Nienna says, 'anger begins with madness and ends with regret.' Our cousins would've gone crying to their father, who would then yell at our father, Grandfather Finwë would try and fail to calm everyone down, our mothers and Grandmother Indis would become sad at all the fighting and then the barbeque would have been cut short and we'd all be sent up to our guest-rooms without desert. I don't know about you, but I was looking forward to some shaved ice."
"Me too," Turgon echoed. "With honeyed fruits--"
"And berry syrup," Fingon added enthusiastically, dreaming now of the cool, granular texture of the crushed, flavoured ice and all its toppings, melting pleasantly upon his tongue.
"And sugared nuts--"
"And orange jelly!" they both finished together, laughing and elbowing each other. Fingon took the opportunity to ruffle his brother's unbound hair and Turgon returned the favour by yanking one of his braids. This led into a playful scuffle, which ended with them both almost as sandy as Caranthir had been earlier.
"I suppose you are kind of wise," Turgon puffed, as they settled down again, half-heartedly attempting to brush each other off.
"He who rescues desert remains wisest," Turgon mock-recited with a grin. After a moment, he shuffled on his knees to the fallen sandcastle, and began gathering their building implements, which had been left scattered in the aftermath of the destruction.
"Ñolmë will enable you to devise the recipe for desert, kurwë will help you to create it, but only common sense will ensure you eat it," Fingon replied, cheered by his brother's improved mood. He joined Turgon by the shapeless sand left in Caranthir's wake, and began to pat it into a large mound. They could level the rest of it out later. "So sayeth Findekáno, son of Ñolofinwë."
Turgon smirked. "That doesn't even make sense."
"Whatever. Everyone's a critic. But hey, look! Findaráto and Angaráto are back, and with more construction materials from what I can see." Fingon waved his golden-haired cousins over, Finrod carrying two laden pails while Angrod tottered behind him, carrying glittering diamonds in his tiny cupped hands. "Took you long enough, cousins!"
"Ango was distracted by the waves," Finrod said apologetically, setting down his dual burdens next to the gems Fingon had collected earlier. One of his buckets was filled to the brim with water, while the other held a mix of pebbles and seashells. He turned to Turgon with a shy smile. "Are you okay, Turno?"
Turgon smiled back at his best friend before crouching down to pick up a stray offset spatula. "I'll be better once we kick their puny butts," he said, pointing up the beach at their rivals. "We don't have a lot of time, but I've got a much better idea for our second sandcastle. It'll be set on a hill midst a moat--"
"Oh, we can burrow some caves in the hill below," Finrod exclaimed excitedly, picking up a spade.
"And the hill will go round in seven levels, each with a different gate!"
"How about a fountain next to the main building?" Fingon suggested, doubting they had time to enact most of these ambitious plans, but nonetheless relieved that his brother was throwing himself back into the task with renewed vigour. As much as it galled him to let Celegorm and his younger brothers get away with yet another bout of mischief, he had long since learned that trying to make them accountable for anything usually never worked, especially if Fëanor was anywhere in the vicinity. Better, really, for Turgon to channel his frustrations in more productive ways.
"Bridge," chirped little Angrod, who had taken it upon himself to flatten the plain of sand around their would-be hill.
"Very good, Ango!" Finrod said delightedly, hugging his little brother.
"Yes, good! The bridge can lead into a tunnel!" Turgon agreed enthusiastically. "And we'll dedicate the whole thing to Lord Ulmo! Oh, and can we use your pocket square for our banner, Finno? And we'll need a palisade too! A fence of twigs in case those pigs we call cousins return; as they say in Tirion, 'good fences make good neighbours'..."
Ñolmë = knowledge/philosophy (a la the sciences); kurwë = technical skill.
Ñolo was the stem of words referring to wisdom... but not in the sense 'sagacity, sound judgement (founded on experience and sufficient knowledge)'; 'Knowledge' would be nearer, or 'Philosophy' in its older applications which included Science. Ñolmë [a department of wisdom (science etc.)] was thus distinct from Kurwë 'technical skill and invention'...
- The Shibboleth of Fëanor, Peoples of Middle-earth, History of Middle-earth Vol. 12
A more skilled writer than me would have better incorporated these Tolkienesque ideas of "wisdom" into this story themed around wisdom... I've probably misused them here, as it is. :P
Supposedly the beaches of Alqualondë were covered in gemstones (gifted by the Noldor) and pearls, which sounds very fanciful but IMO perfectly in tune with the supposed idyllic & fantastical nature of the Blessed Realm, so I ran with it here.
I also decided that the East facing slopes of the Pelóri receive less of the Treelight and so have a decent amount of snow. In my head, the Teleri sometimes harvest this snow for frozen treats. If that seems terribly implausible, let's just hand-wave it as Elvish magic. ;)