Nemmireth sat up straight, untying her husband's arm while arranging the dress. Maglor frowned at the change in her attitude.
"Good evening" greeted the newcomer, leaving the bag behind the door before moving towards the dining room. "Please tell me you did not leave Curufinwë to cook."
Nemmireth did not dare raise her eyebrows in surprise at the way he pronounced his brother-in-law's name before remembering that her father-in-law had no chance to learn how the names of his children would change.
"Maedhros and Fingon are cooking", informed Maglor calmly. "Curufin is in the workshop."
"Still? And, why is Fingon helping your brother? He does not even know how to comb his hair alone."
"I'm certain that cooking meat with potatoes is nothing after having ruled the Noldor, faced a dragon, rescued his cousin from Thangorodrim and fought balrogs."
"Are you going to write a ballad?", Fëanor asked, with a sour tone.
Maglor watched him silently, not moving. Finally, Fëanor clicked his tongue and went out again.
"Why did you do that?" Nemmireth asked. "Don't look at me like that, Maglor Fëanorion: you provoked him. You told him those things on purpose."
"Sometimes we have to remember him the truth. He uses to forget it easily, you know?"
Fingolfin stopped with his hands in his pockets, watching the elf sitting on the edge of the dock. With a sigh, he started walking in his direction and stopped beside him.
"You live on the other side of the lake, remember?"
"I can see my house from here, so - yes, I remember it".
"Then, why don’t you stop coming to my side every night?"
"It's -an exchange", shrugged Fëanor and threw another stone into the lake. The rock drew circles until it almost reached the other shore. "Fingon spends all the time on my side, so I come to take his place."
Fingolfin pouted and sat down next to him, legs crossed.
"Unless you consider that my son is worth several members of your household, I don't see how it can be considered a fair exchange."
"I already have Celebrimbor and Celegorm living in my house. Caranthir and Finrod moved into Turgon's room until the wedding. And I have a feeling that when Finrod marries, I'll stay with your son as a tenant."
"All right. Now repeat it with more feeling", proposed Fëanor, observing him. "As if you really worried."
"I don’t have your histrionic ability: believe it or not, I did not rehearse in front of the mirror how to make Father feel guilty".
"Are you telling me that martyr's expression is natural?" The eldest was shocked.
Fingolfin pushed him by the shoulder and both burst into laughter.
"Now, really", said Fingolfin after a while, "what happened this time?"
Fëanor pretended to concentrate on the still waters, without answering. His brother observed him out of the corner of his eye and hit his shoulder with his. Only when he had repeated the gesture about three times, Fëanor sighed.
"I may have made some comment about your eldest son's lack of skills."
"Nothing that should surprise me coming from the progenitor of several geniuses", mocked Fingolfin. "What I don’t understand is how that threw you to my bank once more."
"Maybe Maglor has given me a history lesson."
"Which was much more impressive because he did it in front of his wife. Did you see that girl well? I have the impression that she could break at some point ..."
"I remember her perfectly: pretty, sweet green eyes, golden freckles ... very good with the bow ... she gets a dimple here when she smiles."
Fëanor turned to observe with a raised eyebrow how his younger brother was touching a point next to his mouth.
"I do not see how that served to face the armies of Morgoth. On the other hand, what the hell were you doing looking at my daughter-in-law's dimples?"
"She laughs often and, you may doubt it, but she is a very good fighter. She protected Himring once when Maedhros was in Hithlum. Her only fault is that she sings horrible; but she makes up for it with dancing. And with the dimple. Everyone loves people with dimples."
"You keep saying same stupid things. Anyone would think that being High King would have put some intelligence in that head of yours."
"Anyone would think that at this point you would have learned to hold your tongue and not provoke some of your children."
"Yes, anyone would think." He threw another stone to the lake. "You're right: everyone loves people with dimples. And in any case, one cannot choose who their children marry."
"Ah - I don't agree with that; but it takes us back to Fingon."
"And Maedhros." Fingolfin nodded. "We would both have wanted a much less complicated life for our children."
"One that did not include wars, torture, exile, death - kneeling in front of Manwë to request that he allow them to marry publicly."
"Or listen to a sermon by Finarfin. Do you have any idea how maddening can be to hear him speak with that accent, and that calmness, for hours?"
"No", denied Fëanor with an expression of horror. "Luckily I never enjoyed it."
"Of course: I had him whole for me."
They laughed again for a while.
"For the record", began Fëanor, "I do not complain about the relationship between Fingon and Maedhros. He is a good boy and he makes my son happy. It is just - it is the habit, you know?"
"I know. I threw Celegorm off the first time I found him in my house. Uh - I didn't kick Caranthir out because the boy barely speaks and is very good at taking care of children."
"Do you have kids?"
"When Turgon comes to visit, he brings the twins. How the hell did it occur to him to have children again? Twins! Did not anyone explain him that's hereditary in our family?"
"I suppose not."
Once again they were silent.
Fingolfin allowed himself to reflect on how easy it was now for them to spend time together, just sitting next to each other watching the lake. Of course that was the product of Mandos forcing them to fix their differences in the Timeless Halls. They had thousands of years for it.
"Do you remember when we stole the boat?" Fëanor said with a mischievous smile.
"You stole the boat. I was three feet: I couldn't steal a boat."
"You were the one with the idea of taking one of the telerin boats."
"You were the adult: you were supposed to have common sense."
"Oh! You wanted to see the stars in Tol Eressea!"
"I also wanted to explore Araman and fly in an eagle!" As Fëanor observed him raising an eyebrow, Fingolfin tightened his lips before uttering a slight grunt. "Don’t. Say. It."
"Well, anyway, I took all the reprimands."
"Excuse me? I was locked in my room for a week. They brought me food on a tray!"
"They not only accused me of putting you in danger; but of having convinced you to blame yourself."
"I said it had been my idea" admitted Fingolfin. "Who ...?"
"Father. He said it was embarrassing to convince a child to carry the blame for my actions. As if it was possible to force you to do something at that time."
"Actually, you had it quite simple: whatever you asked of me, I would have done it."
This time, silence was longer, heavier. Fingolfin was beginning to regret what was said when Fëanor took the lead.
"We need a boat."
"Seriously?" His brother opened his eyes a lot, indicating the boat moored a few meters away from them.
"That is not a boat: it is a flagship", said the elder. "We would need a whole crew to navigate it! I mean a rowboat, small -only for two. It would be good for us to escape from all of them once in a while. And swim in the middle of the lake. The two of us alone."
"We can swim in the lake whenever we want. And if you want a boat so much, get one and put it on your side."
"There is not a dock on my side."
"Tell Curufin to build it."
"That - is a joke, right?"
"It depends. Are you laughing?"
"You have no sense of humor."
"No, what I have is a sense of survival. Curufin cannot 'build' things. Turgon builds things - cities."
"And Finrod. Finrod also builds cities. Only they do it at different levels. But Curufin is a genius: he can with a pier."
"Do you want to kill me? It is part of an elaborate plan in which you will not appear connected to my murder, it is not?"
"Nope. I would enjoy more if people recognize my homicidal talent."
"Not if I got rid of you first."
Fingolfin opened his mouth to speak and swallowed a mouthful of water when Fëanor's weight sank him into the icy water.
"Fool! What do you think you're doing?" he roared, coming afloat.
"Try to drown you, obviously", laughed Fëanor behind him and grabbed him by the shoulders to push him to the bottom.
For a few minutes, they fought under the water before emerging laughing and panting. Fingolfin pushed himself out of the water and held out a hand to his older brother, who accepted it with a grimace of disgust.
"You're a party pooper," Fëanor grumbled.
"In a little while, your son and mine will come round here to have a while of romanticism. I don’t want to interrupt their evening. And we need to change."
Fëanor wiped his hair vigorously, then shook his head like a horse. Fingolfin grimaced as he left a plate with slices of cheese and dried meat on the table.
"Always ready?" the eldest smiled, sitting down while taking a piece of meat.
"I'm supposed to hide here when there are too many people in my house", Fingolfin shrugged and filled two glasses of wine. "I like a little silence from time to time."
"Does it help you think?"
"It helps me not to think."
They ate in silence, exchanging glances each time they went for the same piece of cheese or for the same glass.
When Fingolfin got up to enliven the fire for the second time, Fëanor pouted.
"Stop doing that", he said. "I'm not cold, you know?"
"Sorry",Fingolfin snorted standing before the stove. "Sometimes I don’t know how warm the temperature is for others. I've been wearing summer clothes in full in winter and people look at me like I'm crazy, and it's just that I can’t feel the cold like them."
Fëanor wiped his hands on his napkin and rose to his feet. He put his arms around him from behind and rested his cheek on Fingolfin’s shoulder.
"Sometimes it is easy to believe that everything was a nightmare", he murmured.
"Everything that happened between some time after the liberation of Morgoth and our rebirth."
"We're not going to blame Morgoth alone, huh? My adulthood made you feel very bad."
"Your position in the Council shocked me. We already talked about this, didn't we? I remember it," he said, forcing Fingolfin to turn to face him. "We were in one of those inhospitable gray rooms, with nothing more furniture than you and me ... and Vairë's depressing tapestries."
"I remember it more colorful; but maybe it's my perception."
" We should camp one of these days."
"That too? You want a boat, that Curufin build you a dock ..."
"You want Curufin to build the dock", Fëanor reminded him.
" ... and now you want to go camping. What the hell is wrong with you?"
"There are too many people around all the time." He complained, going to sit in front of the stove.
"You had seven children. It's logical - You know what? There should be more people around you: one wife per son and two grandchildren per marriage."
Fëanor watched him with exaggerated consternation.
"I knew you were planning something against me, little traitor!"
"Little? I passed you in stature millennia ago, big brother", Fingolfin mocked, dropping by his side. "Speaking of family, are you going to Nerdanel’s exhibition? She sent invitations for everyone."
"It depends on whether I will receive more history lessons. I heard that Anairë will offer a dinner at the Palace of Arts. Are you invited?"
"I have to buy suitable clothes, according to Idril. When did my granddaughter become my personal stylist?"
"Idril. I do not see her often. Where is she?"
"She and Lómion live on the outskirts of Alqualondë, far from the rumors. My granddaughter does not take criticism well."
"She inherited it from her mother."
"Elenwë is a sun of person and Idril has Caranthir’s bad temper. How the hell did she inherit it?"
"Genetics. After all, both are cousins on the father's side. I guess some relative of dad had that wonderful character that later went through to my son and then to your granddaughter. Galadriel is the other who inherited that temper: she only conceals it with smiles. Do you remember when…?"
He fell silent when he realized that Fingolfin leaned against him with eyes closed. For a second, he was about to shake him, scolding him for falling asleep; but then a smile curved his mouth and gently, he moved his brother to put him on the carpet before the fire.