Trials by Fire

Summary: One Elf's poor judgement in a moment of weakness led to a tragic, bloody, and drawn-out war against Morgoth Bauglir. What no one has asked, however, is where Curufinwë Fëanáro's road might have led had things been different.

Rating: A good healthy T for emotional angst and brushes with death. No explicit or graphic scenes or language, though, I promise. :)

Word Count: As of yet undetermined.

Translations: All Elven words will be Quenya, as no one knows Sindarin at this point in Valinor's history. Except for the basic words, mostly titles, that are repeated frequently, I'll provide an index at the end of each chapter.

A/N: A little about this story – it was written as a gift for one of my dearest friends, VCalien2015. She gave me the prompt about eight months ago, I think, which promptly made my muse go insane. It was supposed to be a one-shot, but I think I missed the mark by about 30K words. I blame you, meldanya! Anyway, this little prologue is a sneak peek of sorts. I'm not going to start posting the rest until it's complete, but please note that I am working on the story and will post the rest; I simply need to finish it. A conservative time estimate would be at the latest a month and a half from now; however, that could be too much or too little. I can't make any promises, aside from the fact that this will be completed!

Like all AU stories, Trials by Fire began with a question: what if?

What if Finwë Noldóran had not been killed in Formenos on the night of the Darkening?

In all likelihood, Fëanáro would never had descended into the madness he did following the death of his father. He would have never sworn the Oath, nor would he have initiated the slaughter at Alqualondë. Nolofinwë would not have crossed the Helcaraxë, and the descendants of Fëanáro, Nolofinwë, and Arafinwë would not have lost their lives in the long and fruitless war against Morgoth. Moreover, countless innocents would not have perished for a cause that ultimately proved to be in vain.

And above all, Curufinwë Fëanáro would have been remembered as the brilliant leader who guided his people through the darkness rather than the insane monster who led to their downfall.

In many ways, all the events of the First Age and beyond may be traced to Fëanáro's choices following the Darkening. Yet while reading the Silmarillion's opening chapters, my mind was always plagued by the question of what Middle Earth might have been like had better judgement prevailed in such a crucial moment. This is my attempt to answer that question, dear readers. Imagine for me, if you would—

What if?

Chapter One:

~ Fëanáro ~

Panic is a strange emotion. It empties the mind of all rational thought and robs one of one's ability to function. Even so, it can be one of the most destructive of all instinctive reactions, for the simple reason that no one is immune to it – not even the most iron-willed being to ever grace this earth.

Such is what I concluded when I first heard the news of my father's brush with death.

Death is something that is foreign to the Eldar. We are immortal beings, never meant to fade nor pass from this earth. It is logical, then, that I would have very little concept of what to do when the news of my father's grave condition reached me. I was told by many people afterwards that I had lost consciousness for several hours from pure shock upon hearing the ill news. I cannot say that my reaction was surprising; it was a well-known fact that I loved my father more than life itself. Yet upon my awakening, I discovered that my memory was no mere elven dream gone horribly amiss – it was indeed the truth.

And soon afterwards, my life was quite literally thrown into darkness and chaos from the tragic events that had occurred within a sole cycle of Telperion.

"Curufinwë Fëanáro Finwion, you cannot leave Tirion without the approval of the Valar, and that will be the end of it!"

I turned slowly and leveled the cruelest glare I could muster at my half-brother's slender form. Nolofinwë quailed slightly under my murderous gaze, but held his ground and his nerve. His tone softened, but lost none of its intensity and passion. "Fëanáro, you do not understand. Forget you not that it is also my father who is lying three feet from death in Formenos! I wish nothing more than to leave Tirion and ride straight to see Atar. But you must not leave the city until matters are settled and-"

"Be silent, Nolofinwë! Do not presume to tell me that I need the permission of anyone at all to go to Formenos! I care not for what the Valar decree. And I cannot help but believe that you do not care enough about our father to place him above your own overinflated sense of pride! I will leave ere the hour is out, mark my words!" I snapped, finishing my furious tirade. I turned from the small healing ward and began to walk down the grand marble hallway that was now lit only by candlelight.

Nolofinwë's cold voice stopped me ere I had gone a half-dozen paces. "I always knew you were foolhardy, but never did I believe that you were capable of such blatant stupidity!"

"'Stupidity!'" I repeated incredulously, my voice rising to a shriek. "Stupidity? Do you truly believe that I am the mentally deficient one here? Why should I trust the Valar like you do after it was their negligence that allowed Melkor to escape the Void and cause so much damage in the first place?"

My half-brother shook his head at me as if I were an errant elfling that was talking back to his or her parent. "You imbecile! Don't you realize that Aman would be wracked with war if the Valar had not overcome Melkor to begin with? Aye, they may have erred, but that does not make them untrustworthy."

"Of course you trust them!" I screamed back at him, bitterness lacing my tone. "They have promised you the throne, is that right? I am not too foolish to know that they would prefer you as regent rather than I, for you are far more compliant and yielding than I will ever be!"

"Ai Valar, Fëanáro, can you not understand that I do not desire to possess your right to the throne? Why can you not wrap your over-inflated head around that simple fact?!" Nolofinwë tossed back at me, his grey eyes boring into my own.

Briefly, I paused in my ire, considering for just a moment that he could be telling me the truth. I shook off my hesitation quickly. I would need to sort through my jumbled thoughts and emotions before I could be prepared to change my opinion on my half-brother so drastically. "Do not try to prevent me from leaving, perotorno," I spat. I turned away from him, heading towards the stables and my faithful mare, Órelissë.

Had I looked back as I left, I would have taken note of Nolofinwë's grieved expression, as well as the deep sorrow, and aye, sympathy, that lay in his gaze.

Words:

Perotorno: half-brother

So that's that! Please review, favorite, and follow if you liked it. More will come, I promise!

Eryn