“So,” Tindomiel said hopefully, looking around at all three of her kinsmen, “we don’t actually have to mention that part about me being your security to my parents, right? I mean, especially not my dad...”
Glancing from one child to the other, Carnistir noticed Anairon looked a little taken aback.
He looked to his cousin – to the cousin he knew best, that was – and found that Aikanaro didn’t appear to be following the conversation at all, simply staring up into the sky with a bemused look on his face. From his attitude, it was entirely possible he hadn’t even registered Tindomiel’s words at all.
While Carnistir would be the first to admit that he and his uncle Arafinwë’s younger sons clashed as often as not, he still cared about his cousin, and he found his current behavior somewhat worrying.
One problem at a time.
Also, being a grown-up was shaping up to be just as much non-fun in this life as it had been in the last one.
“We will absolutely be mentioning that part to your parents,” he said firmly. “I doubt I would appreciate another adult covering up something so significant about my child if I were in your father’s place.”
Tindomiel’s shoulders sagged, and Carnistir now wondered what the girl had been used to in Endorë that such a request seemed in any way reasonable to her.
“Erestor wouldn’t have done anything so risky in the first place,” she muttered mulishly.
“Who is Erestor?” Carnistir asked, keeping a watchful eye on Aiko.
“Your son!” Tindomiel snapped, crossing her arms and glaring at him.
He had named his only child Mírifinwë, neatly combining his grandparents’ names with a meaning that conveyed his feelings about the child he’d already known at the time of his birth would have to be sent to Círdan for his own protection. It had also been pleasantly similar to his own name – much as that had amused his wife, who’d had a good laugh at the idea that he would name his son Mírifinwë Morifinwion until he had loftily informed her he had thought Carnistirion sounded better.
While he’d had to leave his boy nameless at the Falas – it would be useless trying to spare his son the shame and judgement that would be his lot as a child of the House of Fëanor with a name that clearly marked him as such – he had expected that Círdan or whichever of his people ended up fostering the child would give him a sensible name. A good name. A name that didn’t rub it in that he’d been abandoned.
“Who gave him such an awful name?” he asked distractedly, trying to squash down the painful questions the name raised. “Nevermind. Not important right now.”
He could see the girl ready to explode at him, and for all her face was entirely Aunt Anairë, her attitude was more like Tyelko or Aryo. (He doubted she’d appreciate the comparison. To Tyelko, at least. He had no idea what she knew or thought about Uncle Nolo’s youngest son. Second youngest. Blast. This was going to be confusing.)
Fortunately, he had a slightly more together cousin present.
“Tinwë,” Anairon interrupted quietly before she could actually let fly.
He nodded toward Aikanaro, and she visibly deflated.
“What’s wrong with him?” she asked in an anxious undertone. “He wasn’t like this when I talked to him in the Halls before.”
“Did you warn him you meant to return him to living?” Carnistir asked, recalling some of Ambarussa and Irissë’s ‘plans’, not to mention Tyelko’s. The girl clearly hadn’t inherited Artanis’ natural tendency to think things through before acting.
She shook her head.
“No, I didn’t want him to start arguing about why he should stay in there meditating on love and loss or whatever else he’s been doing with his time while refusing to return.”
Carnistir took a deep breath. Given some of his own mistakes, this one was minor by comparison. And it involved restoring life, not taking it. The child’s heart was in the right place, even if the method had been too abrupt.
“Aikanaro?” he asked gently. “Aiko!”
The two young ones seemed to realize it would be better to let him take the lead.
He had to repeat his cousin’s name several more times before he got any response.
“Moryo?” Aiko replied, sounding confused. “Where are we? How did we get here?”
“We are in Aman, Aiko, somewhere in the northwest. As for how, that’s a question for Tindomiel, if she feels like explaining,” he replied.
She had the grace to blush.
“I brought you out of the Halls,” she said, as if that explained anything at all. “Back to the living. Your parents and brother and sister miss you, you know.”
“My sister is in Endorë,” Aikanaro said, sounding not quite wholly present.
“No, she’s in Tirion,” Anairon told him gently. “With your parents. At least, she was when we left the city. But she’s definitely not in Endorë. Not anymore.”
Aiko appeared to focus properly on the two youngsters for the first time.
“Aryo?” he asked uncertainly, looking at Anairon’s face.
“No, this is Aryo’s little brother,” Carnistir broke in. “Anairon.”
“Oh,” Aiko said. He paused for a moment, then asked, “what do we call him?”
Given how quickly Anairon clapped a hand over Tindomiel’s mouth, she must have had several interesting suggestions at the ready. Carnistir made a mental note to ask her later, when she’d gotten over the urge to do damage to him on his son’s behalf.
“I don’t know,” Carnistir replied. “I just met him a few minutes before you did. He only recently came of age, born after Uncle Nolo left the Halls.”
“These two grew up by themselves?” Aiko asked, looking upset.
“Actually, I wasn’t born in Aman,” Tindomiel clarified. “I only sailed with my parents after Sauron was defeated for keeps.”
Carnistir suppressed another sigh. He could see that Aiko was even more distressed at the idea of their youngest cousin growing up alone. Two children on opposite sides of the Sea was so much less than they had known as grandsons of Finwë.
“We’re the same age, though,” Anairon told them. “She was begotten at the same time as me, just on the other side of the Sea.”
“She is not your sister?”
Anairon looked to Tindomiel, who had an expression of consternation on her face.
“No,” she said firmly. “I have two brothers of my own, you don’t need to borrow me any. I’m Tindomiel Celebríaniel, remember? Galadriel’s granddaughter – your grandniece!”
“Galadriel…” Aiko murmured, sounding confused.
Carnistir was beginning to wonder if his cousin’s disorientation was entirely due to lack of warning about leaving the Halls, or if he had been paying attention to anything beyond his love and loss of Andreth since his death.
He himself had long hoped to hear something, anything, of his son. Without that to focus on, and his brothers looking after him, he might well have been just as out of it as Aiko…
No, that wasn’t true. His brothers wouldn’t have allowed it. But Ingo hadn’t stayed to take care of Aiko, and Ango hadn’t been able to do it alone. Artë had never come to the Halls. He wondered what she would have to say to her granddaughter.
“Artanis decided she preferred the name her husband gave her, remember?” Carnistir prodded. “She married Celeborn of Doriath.”
Aiko nodded uncertainly.
“I did not know they had children,” he said, peering intently at Tindomiel.
Carnistir decided this was an encouraging sign.
“One child,” Tindomiel corrected. “Celebrían. My mother.”
Now that she finally had his full attention, Aiko seemed keen to place her properly.
“And who is your father?” he asked, his voice growing more certain.
“Elrond Eärendilion,” Tindomiel answered, looking relieved that the conversation seemed to be improving.
“Elrond is the grandson of Itarillë,” Anairon put in. “I do not think Eärendil her son was begotten before your death, cousin.”
No, he hadn’t been. There hadn’t been any half-elven in Arda at the time of the Sudden Flame – at least, not that anyone knew of. Then again, it was probably best to leave the whole issue of the half-elven until Aiko was more firmly in the world. And perhaps it would be fair to give Ingo fair warning first. He rather doubted Aiko was going to be happy with his older brother when he discovered just how many peredhil there were.
Come to that, Aiko might be a little upset with him when he figured out the connection Tindomiel had already made.
Carnistir was just about to suggest they sit down and eat something when two younger girls came pelting out of the nearby grove, one blonde, the other with blazing red hair.
“You did it – wait, you brought two of them!” the one in the lead said excitedly.
Her companion yelped and pulled her back the second her eyes lit on Carnistir. He had apparently been recognized. It didn’t bode well for how his return to Tirion was going to go – or his reunion with his extended family, for that matter.
“Tinu, are you crazy?” she demanded.
“Finally, a sensible one,” Carnistir muttered.
The redhead glared at him, but the blonde intervened before she could say anything.
“I’m sure Tinu had a good reason for bringing back Cousin Morifinwë,” she said in a tone that was more hope than confidence.
“Of course I had a good reason!” Tindomiel huffed indignantly, looking insulted.
“Moryo, did your parents also have another child?” Aiko asked in confusion.
Tindomiel giggled, Anairon smiled, and the blonde stifled a snicker as the other girl’s glare swung from Carnistir to Aikanaro.
Carnistir easily forgave the ridiculous question, for while the blonde looked like enough to Lauro that he could not tell if she was his daughter or his much younger sister, the redhead would not look out of place at a gathering of his mother’s family.
“I doubt it, Aiko, my father is still in the Halls. And I can’t imagine Amil taking up with anyone else. Maybe she’s a cousin. My mother’s parents and their children all stayed behind.”
“Carnistir, Aikanaro, these are our cousins Tasariel and Califiriel,” Anairon said, his cautious tone indicating he fully expected fireworks at any moment.
“A star shines upon this hour,” Carnistir said politely to the two girls before raising an eyebrow at his youngest cousin. “Anairon, would you care to place them in the family tree for us? You gave them no ielessë.”
“Laurefindiel,” both girls replied in unison before Anairon could say a word.
Carnistir raised a brow at that – he was intensely curious to find out how Laurë came to have a flame-haired daughter. He sincerely hoped the girls weren’t his double cousins – that would be complicating the family tree a bit much even for the House of Finwë.
“And you were begotten in Aman, or Endorë?” Aiko asked.
“Endorë,” the blonde replied. “In Imladris, not long before the Ring War.”
“When did Lauro marry?” Carnistir asked, seating himself near the campfire.
He suspected the two girls would be more at their ease if he weren’t towering over them – Aiko didn’t seem to worry them nearly as much, but he rather hoped his cousin would sit also. He didn’t look overly steady on his feet. It would also be helpful if Tindomiel or Anairon would make clear which girl answered to which name.
“We hope he will marry soon,” the red-head said, her eyes sparking with mischief.
Her sister, Tindomiel, and Anairon had all protested.
“Ok, fine, no gossiping,” Tasariel pouted. “I don’t see why not, though, it’s all family here anyway!”
“Laurefindil of all people begot not one but two children outside of marriage?” Aiko spluttered in shock.
There was a fair bit of uncomfortable shifting around on the part of the younger folk, but Tindomiel’s face was flying warning flags. Remembering how protective Aunt Anairë could be, Carnistir decided it was possible the girl had more than just her looks from her several times great- grandmother.
“You can tell us the long story later,” Carnistir suggested quickly. “Perhaps we should all eat now, and you can tell us a bit about yourselves beyond merely who your parents are. We are all cousins, so it would seem reasonable to get to know each other.”
The girls looked as though they were speaking to each other silently, which was as good as confirmed when Aiko tsk’ed at them reprovingly – not only had the Arafinwions regularly been admonished for such behavior as elflings by both their father and Indis, Aiko was far more likely than Carnistir to be able to hear what the girls were saying to each other.
Califiriel flushed guiltily, but neither Tindomiel or Tasariel looked all that bothered. They did, however, sit.
The younger girls retrieved the potatoes that had been roasting in the ashes of the fire, while Tindomiel brought out bread, jam, and cold ham. Carnistir noticed that Tindomiel had initially reached for something else in her pack, but changed her mind after a furtive glance at Aikanaro.
Well, after three Ages, it was likely there were more than a few new things that would come as surprises to them. Carnistir was encouraged that the girl had sense enough to hold back. Aiko was already overwhelmed as it was. And if he was honest, he himself wasn’t prepared to have several ages of change dumped on him all at once.
Unless it had to do with his son, of course. When it came to Mírifinwë, he was willing to hear his entire life story in one night if any of these children knew enough of him to tell it.