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A Smear of Grey across the Sky

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It was a wet and grey morning, on which Fëanáro had decided to surrender himself to the dull task of reviewing his students essays. Mathan told him once it was not necessary for a craftsman to write songs about the work he created with his own hand.

“All what you needed are eyes to see it and hands to touch it,” he had lectured.

His opinion differed greatly.

What use was a fine piece of craftsmanship, if it could not be described in a letter to a buisness man? If you could not describe your intentions to a friend? What use was a great idea, when it vanished into forgetfulness? As result Fëanáro had insisted on one piece of paper for each creation made under his surveillance. A sketch and a few sentence about the meaning of the intended work was mandatory.

In his usual discerning manner, his quill scratched over the parchment. Hours into his tasked, Finwë's eldest realized once again that he rather preferred to argue with his sons than praising his students small steps of improvement. Of course, once in a while he encountered a young soul, who it was worth to consider the narrow-minded thinking in the beginning. His teaching aimed to widen a craft-man's horizon, but sometimes Fëanáro believed he had only been successful with his sons.

It simply brought him more joy to explore with Kanafinwë how to arrange and score his songs best into a written form than pretty necklaces made by too eager hands. Fondly Fëanáro remembered the day, when they had argued over a hymn and Kanafinwë screamed he would ride to the Taniquetil and demand of Manwë settle the argument himself to prove him wrong.

(That moment Fëanáro learned he named his son well, when the strong voice hollered through the house. Though there were more frightening things than small boys throwing a father-like tantrum.)

Thankfully a visit to Tirion's royal library had sufficed.

The sound of a door woke Fëanáro from his memories. Confused he rose to wander down the corridor. Of course it was most likely one of his children, but they were supposed to be occupied.

Nelyo currently resided in Tirion, serving the executive council for administerial lessons.

Kanó had promised to teach young Artanis her first song of power. Arafinwë had almost begged Fëanáro in his despair. Artanis had a sharp mind, but forgot the consequences of using her strength. At the thought Indis would expose her granddaughter the influence of the Ainur this early, he asked the best Noldorin singer for help. He has agreed, because it was a proven fact that neither the Valar nor the Maia could accurately assess the needs of a child, when they tended to be so young as currently Artanis was.

Silent but clumsy footsteps in the entrance hall made Fëanáro rule out Tyelkormo and Carnistir. This left Curufinwë, but Fëanáro had seen him enter the forge with a battle cry a few hours ago and hadn't seen him come out since then.

"One of the twins," Fëanáro asked himself. "They are supposed to be with Nerdanel and since when do they separate?"

Worried Fëanáro rushed down the hallway. He found Telvo alone near the door, trying to properly tuck away his muddy boots.

"Atar. Atar, I h've se'rch'd for yo'," the boy cried.

Fëanáro lifted small hysterical elfing into his arms. He wondered what had put his youngest in so much distress he forgot to use proper grammar.

"Yes, my son?" Telvo's lips quivered, he was obviously upset and deeply disturbed by something. By now Fëanáro had raised enough sons to distinguish between scratches and actual harm. "How can I help you?"

For son of King Finwë it was of great importance to be there for his children. At any time.

"N'na ..osn't veme." It was impossible to make up Telvo's butchered sentence, so Fëanáro let his son cling to him like a newborn and carried him back to the table he had been working on earlier.

Like always, ignoring the sniffing proved to be impossible, when Fëanáro sat down on his chair and rocked his youngest in his arms.

Nerdanel had often told him he worried to much, that boys would be bound to act up sometimes. Still Fëanáro had never been able to disregard even minor injuries. It was identical to plucking a harp string. When one of his children suffered from something, Fëanáro found himself stirring towards the source like trained dog.

Some joked that Nerdanel had only been able to bear seven sons, because Fëanáro sprung alerted from his bed every single time he heard the babe wailing, no matter if he had been in deepest slumber moments before.

He tended to take these comments as good natured compliments. They were the truth.

Fëanáro was physically unable to a blind eye on his children. He existed to fulfill needs like hunger, thirst, safety and self-esteem. The attention they gave him in return, was loved, but in its essence unneeded. His sons would be fine, they didn't need him as he lived to their happiness.

(Fëanáro wished he could deprive himself from requiring Finwë's devotion from time to time. It would make things easier for everyone.*)

After a few moments, when the fatherly embrace slowly began to work its magic, Feanor asked: "Will you now tell me what happened? I cannot help you fix what's wrong, if you don't tell me."

'Fix it' was usually word that got through his stubborn children. They had the internalized conviction their father could repair anything. So far he hadn't disappointed them, even if it had lead on occasion to him exploring new unexpected areas of expertise. Wood carving for example, when young Maitimo had insisted on getting a bed that he actually fit in.

So far the twins hadn't found their Ada-explore-this-for-me demand yet, but they were still very young and it would happen one day. All of his sons had come with something. With his luck he would have to take up pearl diving or something similar obscure. (Though anything was better than Tyelkormo's wish for puppy. Huan still hadn't stopped growing.)

"Naneth" Telvo spoke the word carefully, but looked at his father with conviction. "Naneth doesn't love me."

Fëanáro doubled back and shook his head incredulously.

"What makes you believe that, Telvo?" Any resemblance of ease vanished from his face. "Of course she loves you."

Telufinwë's possible thought of process horrified him. It reflected inner fears he never dared to voice aloud, but suffered from in the long hours his work kept him away from his family. Relief he found only in the ugly sensation that Telvo mentioned Nerdanel, not himself.

"She doesn't use my name!," his son cried now. Young as he was, he must have given this some thought already or his lips would have spun a tale of the actual event. Imaging that his sons had the time to delve on this subject enough to tell his father the problem straightforward, drove a shard into his heart.

Weighting his words, Fëanáro placed his hand on top of the tiny red curls. Nerdanel had been so proud to have children with her hair color again. She had seen as personal achievement, one Fëanáro hadn't been able to begrudge her. The lack of daughters had left her with the impression the boys hadn't inherited enough from her character.

"Which name?," asked Fëanáro to clarify. Even as a small elfing, his son already had many of it.

Having five elder brothers and too many cousins to count, nicknames were a given. If Telvo was confused about them, it could be a sign that he started to stick to one name in particular. A bit early to be sure yet, but elflings could be sensitive.

"Mine," the child said. "She only every calls me Ambarussa."

"I was under the impression you preferred that name?" Fëanáro asked carefully.

Most of his sons did, in fact prefer to be called by their mother names. Fëanáro didn't feel offended. It was custom the father name often stood for official events or strangers, you barely knew. Since mothers tended to pick up on the child's character, it was used by friends. Normally both names ended up being used equally. Fëanáro had never the impression he or Nerdanel had insisted on a specific one. Nor did they love their sons less for their choice.

(Nolofinwë's announcement at his coming of age celebration of favoring his father name to his mother's was rather famous, for instance.)

Amabrussa, of course, was a special case.

It was one subject he had stopped talking about after too many arguments with his wife. The issue had been dropped after many glares and a lot of bitterness between them. Actually he had still the feeling, his insistence upon naming each child still smouldered in Nerdanel's soul.

Her behavior towards him had remained frigid ever since that day. Or perhaps it was his imagination, because Nerdanel had asked for some time for herself. She usually did after childbirth and he respected her choice. But Nerdanel remained on her side of the bed, even with his promise he wouldn't ask for more children.

Did I pressure her, Fëanáro wondered. I wished to give her the daughter she wanted. Instead she got two more sons.

Deep down in his soul Fëanáro feared this time something had gone wrong, when they conceived the twins. Overall the boys were bright and healthy, but as a very public figure couldn't escape the rumors some citizens favoured: One mind in two bodies. The cleaved soul.**

He thought it superstition, due to the fact Telvo and Pityo were the only twins in Aman, but the fear remained he and Nerdanel had caused this. Was this the reason spouses stopped having children at some point? Because their spirits drifted apart and their desires didn't match close enough anymore to create a fëa?

"Ada," Telvo called and plucked at one of his fathers braids. "Ada, you are starring again."

The child thought naught of this. Every single of his brothers had confirmed this happened from time to time. Ada would vanish into his head and you would have to get his attention through physical contact.

Fëanáro blinked.

"I'm sorry," he said. "This is inexcusable for me, when I'm supposed to tend your worries."

Strangely it lifted Telvofinwë's spirits.

"I don't mind, Ada. It's okay." The small child had taking Fëanáro's silence as offer to snuggle with his father. Opportunities were seldom enough not to waste a single moment of it. "It's stupid anyway."

"Will you tell me nonetheless?" Fëanáro's words ended in a whisper, for a felt shame that his mind had wandered, when his son was in need of his attention. It happened more frequently in the last few years.***

The lack of Nerdanel's presence, I suppose.

His son confessed: "Well, it's not that I mind being called Ambarussa. But Naneth only calls me that. She keeps using one name for me and Pityo. I don't remember her dis ... dis ..." Telvo searched for the right word.

"Discern?," Fëanáro tried to help.

"Yes," the twin exclaimed. "Yesterday Naneth made clean up Pityo's mess, the day before Pityo had to sit in my lesson's, because I was late and today she did it again!"

Finally Fëanáro started to see, why his son had been so upset. Of course it didn't answer his new questions, but at least he knew what troubled his youngest.

"I'll talk to her", he promised. Even if he didn't look forward it. Nerdanel would accuse him of using a child's worry to prove he had been right. "Shall I stopp using Ambarussa? Are you more comfortable with Telufinwë? Or Ambarto?"

The little shoulders shrugged helplessly. "I don't know?," Telvo told him, shifting in his father's lap. "Usually Ambarussa is fine, but not always?"

"Not always", acknowledged Fëanáro. "Shall now go and search for your brother? I doubt you told your naneth were you ran off to."

Telvo shook his head and threw his arms around his father's neck.

"No, I wanna stay here!", he called out. "I told Pityo were I was going. If Naneth doesn't ask, it's her fault."

Fëanáro sighed.

“Alright,” he said and kept hugging his son. It was certainly preferable than talking to Nerdanel.

When Curufinwë emerged from the workshop later, he found his youngest brother still hugging his sleeping father. He was torn between telling Telvo he was old enough to sleep without in his vicinity and actually joining them. Had the chair been big enough, he probably would have.