Tindomerel: I couldn't help myself with the Tengwar! I love Fëanor's brilliant mind. =D Thanks for the review!


Chapter Four

Fëanor could not shake the image of Nerdanel from his head, no matter how hard he tried. And he wasn't too sure if he wanted to—though it would be better if the image he had was of a happier Nerdanel. He couldn't bear the thought of her being upset.

Casting a quick glance down the banquet table, he finally caught sight of her, sitting in between Fingolfin and a red-faced lord. He sighed. For once in his life, he was jealous of Fingolfin. His younger brother was allowed to sit wherever he wanted at feasts, whilst he was stuck here amid all the social climbers and, even worse, their daughters.

Right now, he was bored almost to tears and contemplating throwing himself from Taniquetil if only just to make his life more interesting. Fëanor always found himself affected by bizarre and irrational thoughts when he was this bored and annoyed.

Occasionally he would force a smile, simply because social propriety could not at this time be damned to the pits of Utumno as he desired, but looking as if he were actually enjoying himself was swiftly proving to be a task beyond accomplishment, even with his skills. He barely had the patience to restrain himself when Tasarië kept up that vapid chatter of hers or started touching him. She just did not seem to get the message! She kept placing a hand on his arm, or, once, even on top of his hand.

He stifled a sigh, with the gloomy thought that this ordeal would last for many more hours before he could finally collapse into bed and forget that this whole thing had happened. The worse thing was, he knew that he probably would not get the chance to speak to Nerdanel for the rest of the night.

Tasarië placed her delicate fingers upon his arm again, and Fëanor shot her a look. Seeing that she hadn't noticed his revulsion, he then proceeded to take his arm away and exaggeratedly wipe his nose against the length of his sleeve. The girl looked positively horrified but he ignored her, as well as some shocked onlookers, instead picking up his bowl of soup and draining its contents loudly.

Further down the table, Nerdanel had not noticed Fëanor's antics, only staring in horror at the number of gold cutlery pieces before her. Should she use the small spoon for the soup, or the big one? No, the big one was for dessert – or was that the fork?

Fingolfin seated next to her noticed the look of confusion on her face and leaning over he whispered, "Just work your way inwards." He gave her an encouraging smile.

She found herself smiling back, but it slipped when she noticed just how much his smile looked like Fëanor's. Surreptitiously she glanced in Fëanor's direction, seeing him looking rather uncomfortable while his pretty companion chattered away and sent him suggestive looks. It was somewhat cheering to see that he obviously did not appreciate her putting her hands all over him, but she wished she were the one sitting next to Fëanor instead.

"Nerdanel?" She quickly whipped around at the sound of Fingolfin's soft voice next to her, and felt a little embarrassed that she had not been paying attention. "Are you alright?"

"I am," she said, trying to sound as convincing as possible, but obviously not able to fool Fëanor's younger brother. With a quiet sigh she looked down at her hands, trying to hide the jealous tears that were threatening to well up in her eyes.

Fingolfin's hand slowly reached out and held both of hers. "I know how you feel about Fëanáro," he began before she interrupted him. Somehow she did not feel surprised.

"Am I really so transparent?" she sighed, wiping at her eyes.

He only smiled at her. "And I happen to also know how Fëanáro feels about you."

Nerdanel's head jerked up. "How can you be so sure?"

"Because," said Fingolfin gently, "all he ever thinks about is you. Maybe it took him a while to realise it, but it is the truth."

Disbelief and joy warred in her heart as his words sank in. She pushed away her plate, feeling as if her appetite had melted away. She couldn't remember Fëanor's ever having shown feelings more than friendship up till now…it was only now that the strange looks he sometimes gave her that made her shiver, or the way his hand brushed against hers seemingly by accident, came to mind so vividly.

And yet there were so many things that would prevent their ever being together. She looked away. "Even if that were true, Nolofinwë, princes do not belong with the daughters of craftsmen, however much I would like to think otherwise."

Fingolfin chuckled then. "Knowing Fëanáro, if he believes that the daughter of a craftsman is the only one worthy enough to belong at the side of a prince, he will make sure it happens. He does as he damned well pleases."

Nerdanel's lips lifted into a smile. Fingolfin exerted such a calming influence on her hurt spirit.

But it wasn't long before her stomach started to twist itself into knots again, because the musicians had arisen to tune their instruments, speaking to one another in that strange language that only musicians can comprehend. She had no hope that Fëanor would ask her to dance with him, and the very idea of having to watch him holding another young woman close made her blood boil. Her temper nigh matched Fëanor's when it wanted to.

It was custom for the Royal Family to sit and watch for the first few dances, and it was now that a lively tune had begun, involving intricate footwork and much passing of partners from one to the other. Nerdanel and Fingolfin both sat down for this one, laughing when Lord Autendil stumbled his way through the dance and still managed to maintain his pompous glare which he fixed on anyone who hesitantly attempted to correct his steps.

Had not Fëanor been sitting with his family on the dais, she might have almost forgotten him.

Despite his attempts to elude the grip of the insatiable girl, she was still persisting in a conversation, rather forced on the prince's part. Fëanor felt an overwhelming and rather savage desire to take the wine bottle sitting on the table and bring it down upon the unsuspecting Tasarië's head. Where was Nerdanel? He had not seen her for a long while, and the hurt look on her face the last time he saw her was haunting him.

Straining his eyes he searched among the whirl of dancers, as well as those lurking around the tables in the hopes of more food being served. He found her easily—for no one could miss that bright red hair—sitting next to his half-brother.

Tasarië's last attempt at making conversation, accompanied by a few flirtatious comments, was the last straw. He stood up and was about to make his way down from the dais when he was yanked back by the fact that his tunic seemed to be attached to someone's hand. Annoyed, he turned around and looked into the face of an irate Indis.

"What do you think you are doing?" she gasped. Evidently she was horrified. But at this point, Fëanor did not care.

He jerked away from her grasp, ignoring the disturbing sound of expensive material tearing. "I am doing what I please, as I always have," he answered, in a surprisingly level tone given his rising irritation.

Indis spluttered. "But—but you—you cannot simply—you—"

"I assure you, I can, and I will, stepmother," he hissed, the famed fire of his spirit now leaping within him as he fixed a cold glare upon her. "The time has come for you to stop meddling in my affairs and stop trying to take the place of my mother, for you never can," he added angrily, perhaps a little too loudly, for a few people standing nearby backed away. "If I wish to dance with someone else, then I will, with or without your consent."

His younger brother Finarfin, only a boy, was grinning widely at all this and coughed to stifle a laugh. He found everything amusing.

"But she is only—" began Indis weakly, but Fëanor stopped her.

"Nerdanel? Aye, of an artisan's kin she is, but she is wise, clever, and the only one I will dance with. Ever."

She nearly arose to her feet then, her pretty features beginning to turn red with anger and bewilderment, but Finwë stopped her. "Leave him be," Fëanor heard him murmur quietly as he turned away to find Nerdanel. The only thing that stopped him this time was the rustling of skirts. He halted abruptly.

"You," he said coldly, whipping around to face Tasarië, "will remain here."

Her brown eyes flew open in horror. "But—"

"Good evening."

And with that he dashed off, leaving Tasarië speechless.

Where has she got to now? he thought as he searched for Nerdanel, surveying the throng once more before almost jogging around the hall. He slammed into a lord, who managed to look down his nose at the prince, despite the latter's being quite tall. A chair with a small girl seated upon it happened to be directly in his path; this he picked up and moved aside, the surprised child squealing atop of it.

He just arrived in time to hear Fingolfin saying, "I was wondering, Nerdanel, whether I may have the pleasure of—oof!"

Nerdanel jumped in surprise as Fëanor suddenly appeared out of nowhere, rudely shoving his brother aside in the process. Fingolfin was fortunately quick and saved himself from sprawling onto the floor by taking hold of the table next to him.

The Elf-maiden held her breath. With his raven hair flowing about him and his bright eyes flashing, Fëanor seemed to eclipse her and everything around her. No structure, however beautiful, could compare to the High Prince, the son of the King, at that moment.

With alacrity he took her hand, raced towards the doors and shoved both of them outside into the mingling gold and silver light.

"Fëanáro? What on earth are you—"

His lips covered hers as she found herself nearly pinned against the wall. It was brief, all too fleeting, and when he released her she could barely hold herself up, gripping tightly onto his tunic to prevent herself from falling. The fire in his eyes made her face heat up and her heart pounded madly against her ribcage.

"What are you doing?" she gasped breathlessly, finishing the question she had begun before being interrupted.

He grinned roguishly.

"Doing what I should have done a long time ago. Dreadful, isn't it?"

A half-hysterical giggle escaped her. "I should say so." His hands reached out and captured hers. Nerdanel looked away, both embarrassed and overjoyed. "Will the court not wish to—"

"The court," he said, "can go to Utumno. I am nearly of age and it will be I and no other who will decide what I will do with my life. I do not fancy a single one of those lords' daughters. Why don't you marry me instead?"

Now she really was shocked. Her eyes widening, she stepped backwards and realised that the wall of cold stone behind her was preventing her from moving anywhere. She felt dizzy and light-headed. Did Fëanor really just say what she thought he said? I am either dreaming or going mad, she thought in a panic. "I beg your pardon?" she finally managed to choke out.

"Answer the question."

"Fëanáro, you are drunk."

"Maybe I am. My question will remain the same. I want to know your answer."

She burst out laughing. Only minutes ago she was despairing that he would ever notice her feelings and now he was proposing. How typically Fëanor.

"What kind of proposal is this?" she giggled, wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve.

"An unusual one. Just say yes, will you?"

The sounds of whispering and stifled laughter came drifting from above, and Fëanor waved cordially at the crowd gathering at the windows of the servants' quarters.

Nerdanel smacked him in the arm. "You rogue! If it means that you will stop pestering me."

"Is that a yes, then?"

"Of course it is a yes. And what are you—" He placed a finger against her lips to silence her.

"Hush, Nerdanel. Can you not stop talking just once?"

And with that he tipped her face upwards and kissed her again, both of them paying no heed to the applause and cheering that came from the servants who leaned out of the windows above them.

The End

A/N: Thank you very much for all your comments. I appreciate all the advice and praise you have given me. And a big thank-you to every one who has read this story! :)