Fingon was delighted. “Oh, congratulations, my dear chaps! What a truly happy and unexpected occasion this is for us all!”
“Yes,” said Maedhros. “Unexpected indeed.” He was looking rather foreboding, but Fingon ignored him in favor of embracing them both.
“We must get you a wedding present - but what to get the Lords who have everything? I’d offer jewelry but Ingo hardly needs it - Horses? No, of course, I know the Ambarussa provides you with such fine stud… Land? I have a rather charming acreage by the Gap that I never use; it would be regifting but I’m sure Maglor wouldn’t mind. Or perhaps I could offer you some tax cuts on the upcoming fiscal year, ahahaha -”
“Yes,” said Caranthir. “We’ll take that.”
Others shared Maedhros’s attitude of surprise, to a degree that some might have found offensive.
“Settling for second best, Felagund?” said Curufin loudly, who looked furious but also like he was determined not to be. The result was a highly spasmodic sneer. “No, sorry, it would be third or fourth best, wouldn’t it?”
“Thank you for the fruit basket,” said Finrod graciously, while Caranthir smirked at his brother. “The, ah, giblets were an interesting touch.”
“Deer liver. It’s an aphrodisiac,” said Celegorm, who’d been watching them both intently. “Listen, I’ve been wondering, I can’t figure it out for the life of me, which of you - ”
“Settling,” repeated Curufin, in case they’d missed him the first several times. “Since you couldn’t get any better, I suppose.”
Celegorm shrugged. “I don’t even know which of you he’s talking to, but you should both probably be offended.”
“Don’t worry,” said Finrod. “We know.”
Galadriel alone exhibited little shock. “I hope you know what you’re getting into,” she said, handing over a stunning flower arrangement and a perfunctory kiss on the cheek for them both.
“Yes, yes, I know, he’s a Feanorion - ”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” said Galadriel, and took Caranthir by the arm to draw him around the garden. “Now listen, you’re going to want to get a soundproof bathroom. And double sinks, make a note of that, the way he hogs the basin… Say, as your sister-in-law do I get free financial advice? I ask not for me but for my husband, he’s invested in another set of racing stags, and I think they are just mules with antlers stuck on but he says they’re exotics…”
Turgon sent a congratulatory note by pigeon. It said only ‘You could have done worse.’
Maglor sent an almost identical one.
“On the whole,” said Finrod, smiling up at Caranthir, “I think we did fairly well.”
“Fairly well at what?”
“Telling our families about our betrothal, of course.”
Caranthir wiped his cheek dry. “Shh.”
Finrod coughed. “I mean, I am sure that Angrod will have opinions given your history, but -”
“Finrod,” said Caranthir, his voice ragged with exhaustion and fear. “Stop trying to speak, you fool.”
Finrod felt something wet at the corner of his mouth and Caranthir blotted it with a once white handkerchief. “Beloved?”
“Yes?” whispered Caranthir.
“I just realized. Oh dear.” Finrod stared up at him, eyes wide with concern. “We forgot to send an announcement to my parents,” he said, and coughed damply, spattering Caranthir’s chest with blood.
“Don’t worry,” said Caranthir, gathering him close and staring into the gathering darkness of the dim innkeep in which they’d sought shelter for the night. “Don’t worry,” he said, as Finrod raved on in his delusion, his voice eroded by violence and fever into a thin whisper, speaking of their wedding to the ghosts of their family dead; speaking to them as he did each time he relapsed, each time the lingering wolfsbane reopened his wounds and his torment. “It’s not too late to send a note.”