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Hador is drinking from a goblet Fingolfin remembers gifting the Edain ruler for his last birthday, and when Fingolfin plops into the chair besides Hador and stretches out his long legs under the table, the mortal man smiles and gestures to the full pitcher on the table. Exhausted but calm, Fingolfin reaches for the pitcher and an empty cup. Then he pauses. He recalls the fiascoes with mortal alcohol, that there had been unanticipated differences between mortal liquor and what an elf considered mildly intoxicating mead or wine, and eyes the liquid with suspicion. It is a pure opaque white; he does not immediately recognize it. “Forgive me, Hador. From your enthusiasm this is a refreshing drink, but what is it?”

“Milk,” Hador answers.

“Milk?” Fingolfin frowns. “Milk of what?”

“From a cow,” Hador says, and laughs.

Fingolfin halts his face from displaying any aghast reaction, or at least he hopes he has. “Directly from the animal? You do not ferment it, or let it cure?”

Hador makes the disgusted face Fingolfin stopped himself from making. “Elves drink soured milk? You are stranger than we thought.”

“No,” Fingolfin explains. “As my nephew explained, we kept and farmed cattle as well, even if we did not bring the animals with us when we came to Beleriand to war against Morgoth. It was not a specialty of the Noldor; most herds were tended by my mother’s kin, the Vanyar. They were raised for more than just meat - cheeses and yougurts we had aplenty. My wife’s family worked closely with Vanyar; I am familiar with their dishes. But the pure milk from the animal? I do not understand. One makes cheese from the milk, once it has set into whey and curds, as one makes bread and pottage from flour. It is much like setting dough to rise, needing an agent. And unlike bread, a deal of time. But you would not eat unground grains or straight flour.”

Hador laughs harder at this. “We eat cheese, too. But the milk alone is also very good to drink, if it is fresh, and especially if it has been chilled.”

Hesitantly Fingolfin calculates how insulted his friend would be if he does not attempt a glass, but is saved by the fortunous arrival of his son. Fingon makes a face to see his father sitting slouched next to the mortal, but Fingolfin calls him over. “Fingon! Come join us and try this new mortal drink!”

Fingon fidgets and mutters that he is not his cousin Finrod. Fingolfin knows his son does not understand the fuss and appeal of the mortals and is uncomfortable around them.

“A dare!” Hador says, smiling, and Fingolfin beams and would almost dare to kiss the mortal, if he was completely certain the mortal would not misunderstand because of some strange cultural taboo or something. The two people, Eldar and Edain, were still learning of another. But Fingon’s competitive and bold nature means a dare to his courage is the surest way to compel him, and to possibly gain his good favor.

Grinning broadly, Fingon pours the white liquid into a cup and gulps it down in one swift movement.

Fingolfin scrutinizes his son’s expression after he lowered the empty cup.


Fingon shrugs.