Chapter 1: the Beloved “Valley”
It began long ago, far way in the long buried and forgotten west, in a land where elves road openly and proudly fought against the night; in a land of an elven lord and prince. The dwarves called this land Nargothrond and its liege lord they named Felagund, in the Dwarvish fashion. To the elves of Doriath he was Finrod, and to his own kin of the West he was called Findaráto. Beor the old called him Nom, meaning wise and to his one and only beloved he was Meldonya-beloved. He was loved by all who met him, for his charm and gentle nature softened many of his cousins’ hardened hearts. But none loved him more than a simple and humble Man; a descendant of Beor the old: Barahir.
The moment Finrod set eyes upon the Man he lost his heart to him, and likewise did Barahir feel when he stood before the beautiful and gentle elf. The Man was young and foolish but he knew in his heart of hearts that he would love no other with the same burning flame with which the elf brought from him. Yet Finrod knew that the man was yet young and may grow out of his love like he had seen many times in his race, but as Barahir grew so did his love and passion, though the burning desire to possess the golden elf faded leaving behind a gentle yet fierce yearning to belong to the other and he to him. Many of Finrod’s counselors warned their lord not to love him.
“His race is weak and they become frail and die easily,” they had said to him, “The man will grow old while you remain young. He may love you for your youth and beauty now, but once he is old and crippled by stiffness and age, he will curse you for It.” but their words had come too late to save his heart; for it was lost the moment Finrod set eye upon Barahir.
Finrod yearned to be with his beloved again and every moment away from him seemed to be a knife in his heart. But as the days and months passed Finrod’s love, though just as pure and strong for the Man, dimmed in his mind in favor of other things, and soon many years had passed since the two had seen each other. Though by fate they were reunited, their meeting brought with it a bitter sweetness: Barahir’s father, Bregor, was dying, and in his grief Barahir sought the comfort of the elves to help ease the pain of if his father’s passing. Finrod was kind and the moment they were alone Finrod bade Barahir to speak to him and share his pain instead of burying it within himself as Men were want to do. And so Barahir spoke and Finrod harkened to his words and found his love returning swiftly to his forethoughts. Likewise did Barahir find his love returning and the deep yearning for Finrod’s love and attention throbbed within him. But with his father’s passing comes the duty of heirs and marriage. The very thought of being cleaved to another besides his love, made him feel ill and for a moment he paused in his speaking and simply stared at his loosely clasped hands before him, his face paling at the thoughts that raced through his mind.
Worried that Barahir could be ill, Finrod knelt before him and took Barahir’s face in his hands; tilting it up to force him to look him in the eye.
‘It’s rougher than I remembered,’ came the unbidden to his mind. Then without realizing his thumbs began stroking the man’s cheeks, smoothing down the whiskers there. Warm hazel eyes met Finrod’s emerald green, and another thought came unbidden, ‘he has grown so handsome.’ Just when Finrod’s resolution was about to fail, Barahir took the elf’s hands in his own and kissed them. Barahir’s lips were chapped but soft against Finrod’s knuckles, and a smile whispered across the elder’s lips.
“Finrod, I know that my love for you may be a brief and passing thing, but know this: my love for you is no more weaker because it is brief; if anything it is stronger for it, and even though a fire is a brief and sudden thing, it’s warmth is no less welcome and its embers remain long after the flame is dead.” Barahir spoke with a wisdom that belied his age and race, and Finrod could not help the smile that came to his lips and the warmth of the Man’s hands calmed him.
“I do not think that your love is any weaker just because it is a brief and passing thing,” Finrod answered as he took his hands away to remove his ring. “I know it is strong and warm and even though you will one day die, the warmth and strength of that love will strengthen me when that dreaded day comes, but until them, here,” Finrod placed his ring on Barahir’s right forefinger, “as a symbol of my fealty and love to you, I give to you my ring and promise that I will come to your aid whenever you need it.”
Barahir was so touched by the gesture of love and devotion, his words nearly left him.
“You cannot give me this!” he said and went to remove the ring, but Finrod stayed his hand and smiled.
“It is mine to give to whom I will,” he said and brought Barahir’s hand to lay over Finrod’s heart, “like my heart.” Barahir leaned forward and kissed Finrod and the elf denied him nothing.
Soon their bodies were entangled with each other upon Finrod’s bed, lost in the throes of passion and love; Barahir peppered kisses all over Finrod’s body and Finrod moaned as his lust and want mounted.
“Beloved,” he gasped as Barahir nipped at the sensitive flesh on his neck; working his way slowly towards his very sensitive ears, Barahir moaned in answer. “I know that when you father passes that you must marry and have heirs, but I cannot let you go without something to remind me that you loved me first and always.” Finrod moaned as Barahir sucked on the tip of his ear.
“And what would that be?” Barahir asked in a sensual deep whisper in the elf king’s ear.
“A child!” Finrod gasped out as Barahir found a very sensitive place. Barahir stopped to look at Finrod and Finrod looked up at his lover, and found a look of wonder and joy on his face. “Why did you stop?”
Barahir chuckled and began to prepare Finrod, slowly, to take him. Finrod caught his hand and brought it to the place where he wanted it; an opening behind his scrotum. Barahir raised his eyebrows in surprise, when his fingers found the wet heat of the opening. Finrod gasped and moaned with pleasure, his eyes rolling up into his head as sparks exploded all over his body from that place. Barahir grinned wolfishly and continued his slow torturous lovemaking to the golden elf beneath him.
Now, why, might you ask, am I telling you this tale? Well it is quite by fate and chance that I was there during this time to witness this love unfold; and when Finrod and Barahir parted with Bregor’s passing, Finrod’s hand rested over his womb and a tender smile lit his face. For Finrod sensed the brilliant light of the new soul being nurtured within him.
“I don’t want to leave you, Meldonya,” Barahir said when Finrod told him of the unborn child within him; but Finrod gave him a tender and loving smile.
“I know,” he said as he brought Barahir’s hand to his belly, “but you must. Think of our child and of your people. I will be safe here, and so will our baby. Worry not for me, beloved, I will be safe. We will be safe.” Barahir sighed and smiled weakly before he conceded that he must do his duty and thus he left, but heavy was his heart as he passed through the gates of Nargothrond; glancing back every so often to see the form of his lover until he was beyond his sight.
Months passed swiftly for the king of Nargothrond and soon a small swell could be seen in Finrod’s belly; and the council soon realized that their lord had ignored their wishes and was carrying the child of a mortal Man. This angered them and their hearts turned cold in their anger, and soon they turned to the two sons of Fëanor, who had taken residence in the halls after the fall of their own lands; and they conspired with them to have the child taken away from Finrod at birth. But the council misjudged the sons of Fëanor, for as heartless as they seemed to those around them, Curufin was a father and could never comply with those demands that would surely break Finrod’s heart. Celegorm, though hot headed, held some love for Finrod; for he had been good friends with his younger brothers who were now lost. Both cared about the happiness of their friends and family and thus tried to be kind when it came to matters of the heart.
Celegorm and Curufin knew how gentle hearted their cousin was, hence his involvement with Men, and both knew that if the council got their way, and the child was taken, Finrod would die from grief as sure as if he was struck with an arrow through his heart, if he thought that the child was dead. Thus they went to Finrod while he was in his private chambers and found him sewing, of all things, a blanket. The two stopped and looked about them and to their surprise found that Finrod had set up a small nursery in a corner of the room next to Finrod’s bed; a small cradle and a crib, and a changing station along with a dresser. In the cradle Curufin saw a small stuffed toy, and he found himself remembering how much he loved his own son, and how happy his wife was when she was pregnant with him. Memories came unbidden and he found himself smiling as he looked at the little stuffed animal toy.
“Brother,” he whispered to Celegorm and gave him a gentle nudge to look at the cradle. Celegorm swallowed hard, memories of little baby brothers and nephews coming to his mind, as he thought about what they would have to do. Celegorm nodded to his brother and loudly cleared his throat. Finrod looked up from his sewing and, when he saw who it was, he smiled. He sat aside his sewing and slowly stood. Celegorm’s eyes widened comically at the sight of Finrod’s very large belly. Finrod came forward and embraced his cousins, kissing their cheeks.
“My dear cousins,” he said happily, “What brings you here?” His smile was bright and welcoming; indeed his whole body glowed with the life he carried, as his hand rested on his burgeoning belly. But, when he saw the sad and grim faces of Celegorm and Curufin, his smile fell away into worry, and resignation. “What did they tell you to do?” he asked, knowing that they were there on the behest of the Council.
“They want to take the child once it is born,” Celegorm said, and was met with a sour look from his brother. “What?” Curufin gave him a pinched look in response.
“I thought we were going to break it to him gently?” Curufin said through grinding teeth. Celegorm shrugged his shoulders and looked back to Finrod, and found him as pale as death. Concerned for his cousin, Celegorm grasped Finrod’s shoulder and Curufin took the other. Once they were certain that he was not going to collapse, they gently led him to his bed so he could lie down. Finrod sat down and wrapped his arms around his belly, as he found himself close to tears; taking comfort in the babes flitting movements and light kicks. “Finrod,” Curufin said, his voice so tender and soft, that Finrod looked up at the two brothers. “Ingo, we don’t want to do this. It is your child,” He said, when Finrod’s face opened with shock. “I know you love him very much, and I know how soft hearted you can be with family, and loosing this child; having him ripped from your arms at birth, it would kill you. Contrary to popular belief, cousin, we are not heartless, and we don’t want you to suffer like that.” Finrod smiled at Curufin’s very rare show of gentleness that rarely showed its face since he lost his lands, and his position.
“But, Finrod, there is still a great danger with this child,” Celegorm said, and Finrod looked puzzled at his words. “A son of the house of Finwë, and of the house of Beor, could unite our peoples and as such the Enemy will see him as a threat. He would never see the houses of the Eldar and the Houses of the Edain unite through one person.” Finrod’s eyes became downcast, realizing his error, but found he could never regret it. “it might be best, cousin, if we have Avery get him as far away from here as possible, get him away from Morgoth, and the threat of death.” Finrod nodded in understanding but as he tightened his arms around his belly, he found tears gathering in his eyes.
“I understand,” he croaked, for that was all the sound that he could make as tears were shed at the thought of giving away his unborn baby.
“He will make sure that the child will have a very loving home and a family.” Finrod nodded and looked back at the blanket he had been embroidering for his son; a family tree of his son’s bloodlines, naming all of his ancestors by name and the date of their birth and death, all in Quenya, Tangwar script. He was almost done, all that was needed was the date of his son’s birth and he would swaddle his child in it (he had his suspicions of when the child was to be born based on his own foresight). “Have you named him?” Celegorm asked as he placed a gentle hand on Finrod’s belly. Finrod nodded, a bittersweet smile coming to his face as his own hand joined Celegorm’s.
“Imrathon,” Finrod said with a sad smile as he rubbed the swell of his belly.
“Valley,” Curufin mused with a smile, “’tis a good name.”
“Thank you,” Finrod smiled in return.
Suddenly the tears came and Curufin and Celegorm held him as he cried and shook with sorrow and grief. When they dried, Celegorm and Curufin left with promises to protect him and his child, and Finrod was alone in his sorrow. He stood from his bed and moved to his writing desk. Sitting down and pulling out a piece of parchment, he began to pen a letter to the people who would be the parents of his unborn child, and as he wrote the tears returned, threatening to ruin his ink-marks but he held them at bay until he had folded and sealed the letter with deep blue wax. His royal signet ring pressed into the cooling wax and left the seal of his house. It was risky to seal the letter as such but he wanted his child’s parents to know that their son, his son was royalty. After he set the letter aside, he let his head rest in his arms on the desk and the tears came. I would have given what little comfort if I could and as such it pained me to see him cry so, but as the tears came so did a vision of his son, at stages of his life; first as a babe in the cradle then a toddling child, and after an adolescent then a teen, and finally a young Man in his full strength, a playful smile on his lips and a light in his eyes. Finrod smiled then and laughed, as he placed a hand on his baby.
“You will be a star, my son,” he whispered, smiling through his tears, “a great hero. Let those enemies of yours who hear your name tremble in fear, for great will be your wrath against them.” Foresight was a rare gift to those that had it and for Finrod at this moment it was both a gift and a curse; as he sat in his tears and saw what would be with his son and never with the two of them together.
Months passed by and the farther into the year it went, the larger Finrod’s belly grew. Soon the child’s gentle fluttering movement turned into strong kicks and turns. Every time Finrod felt his son turn and move, Finrod would gasp and his hands would fly to his belly to feel the movement. Months passed all to quickly for the elven king and the year was soon drawing to a close, but a new year was about to begin and with it new life. The year was 430 of the First Age, and it was the first month of the year. For Finrod this month passed all too swiftly and the second was about to begin. Finrod felt that the time was drawing near, thus he spent whatever time he could alone sewing the last of the embroidery on his baby’s blanket, and singing softly songs of Power and protection around his unborn child. It seemed to most that Finrod had returned to his old worships, for every night his cousins would find him on his knees by his bed; his head bent in prayer, and his face reddened with tears. The two of them would go to his side and help him into bed but not before hearing his plea for his son’s safety and protection. On one of these nights Celebrimbor found him instead of his father and uncle and soon after Finrod was abed, Celebrimbor sat outside the door to the King’s bedchambers sobbing and holding himself until his father found him and brought him to bed. This went on for nights on end, but on the 4 and 20th day of the first month something else happened. It was the wee hours of the morning just after midnight, when Finrod was found: his waters had broken and his labor had begun.
For a while Finrod was able to bear through the contractions without a sound, for they had come without warning whilst he was in prayer; but soon his low moans could be heard outside his chambers. A maid passing by in those wee hours heard him cry out in pain and then whimper with the aftershocks. Knowing it could be only the babe, she sent for the sons of Fëanor and the midwife that had been observing the pregnancy. When the Fëanárion’s and the midwife arrived Finrod was kneeling on the floor by his bed, where his water had broken, as he gripped the bed covers and moaned in pain. Curufin rushed to his side and Finrod leaned into his embrace.
“Telyacormo, help me get him onto the bed,” Curufin ordered, and Celegorm wrapped his arms around Finrod’s back and pulled him to his feet; but as he did so Finrod gasped out and screamed. “Finrod, what’s wrong?” Curufin asked, and Finrod gripped both their arms in a vice like grip. “Ingo?” Worry tinted Curufin’s voice for the first time, fearing that the babe and Finrod might not make it. Finrod gasped and grit his teeth as the two brothers slowly pulled him onto the bed. He groaned as they pulled pillows up behind him to support his back, and he let his legs fall open wide to relieve the building pressure there. The Midwife, who was silently giving orders to the maid to heat water and bring warm clean towels, now knelt on the bed before Finrod, and pulled up his robe to check how far he was. Finrod gasped and gripped his belly as a contraction forced a groan from his lips. The midwife checked the opening and found it not only fully dilated but also she felt the briefest of touch from the babes head on her finger tip, not more than a knuckles length in, as the contraction waxed.
“I can feel the baby’s head, my lords,” She said and Finrod groaned as a contraction began to build again, just on the heels of the former one. Suddenly Finrod felt an uncontrollable urge building within his belly.
“I… I need,” Finrod groaned and gasped as he sat bolt upright, his mouth open in a scream, when he realized what the urge was. “I need to PUSH!” Finrod gasped out and bore down with the contraction. Finrod let out a strangled sound, akin to that of a wounded animal scream swallowed by a groan. Celegorm suddenly leapt up onto the bed and slid behind Finrod supporting his back and holding his hand.
“You’re doing so well, Ingo,” Celegorm praised, encouraging him to continue. Curufin was beginning to smile, his eyes lit up with wonder and joy as he remembered his own son’s birth. The midwife positioned her hands to ease the babe’s head from the opening, when Finrod suddenly threw his head back in an open mouthed scream. Startled the two Fëanárion’s looked back to the midwife who smiled at their looks of fright.
“It’s crowning,” she said as she slowly eased the skin of the opening around the baby’s head. Curufin smiled wide and bright, his eyes lit with excitement, and Celegorm smiled back as Finrod stopped pushing for a moment to gasp for breath. He sagged in to Celegorm’s arms for a moment before he gathered his strength and, bowing his head to his chest, he pushed with all his might. Finrod felt weak and he looked nothing like the elven King he was known to be; his once silken hair that had been compared to spun gold and silver threads was now dull and lank, with none of the sheen it normally had; and it was plastered to his body and forehead with sweat. His whole body was glistening with perspiration as his night robe was clinging to his skin as if he had emerged from his bath in them.
Finrod opened his mouth in a strangled scream as the child slowly, but surely, eased into the world. Finrod stopped pushing and sagged into his cousin’s arms, gasping deeply for breath. He let out a weak whine and sagged even further into Celegorm’s chest. His legs shook from the excursion and his whole body quivered like an over worked horse.
“Head’s birthed,” the midwife said, cradling the head in her hand. She looked up at Finrod’s weak and pale face. “Would you like to feel it?” she asked. Finrod nodded slightly and Celegorm helped guide his hand to the little head between his thighs. Curufin snick a look and found Finrod’s hand tenderly caressing the babe’s head. He looked back up and found that Finrod’s face had brightened as he ran his fingers over the delicate face of his unborn child, and it seemed to him as if the very touch of the babe’s form gave Finrod new strength to push on. Finrod brought his hand away and gripped Celegorm’s hand tightly, before he bore down with every ounce of strength he gathered. As the pressure mounted, Finrod struggled with his cries, trying to keep quiet in vain, and with his last drop of strength he pushed, but could not stop the scream that was rent from his throat. When it fell so too did Finrod, as limp as if the very life had been drained from him, as he gasped for breath; relieved that the pain was over. Finrod bent his every ounce of strength into his hearing as he listened for the first signs of life from his child, and he was not disappointed; for a small whimpering could be heard for a second before it rose in strength. That thin wailing of a newborn was a sweet as the music of Aman to his ears, and Finrod felt a smile pull across his lips and tears run down his face; so overcome with joy that he laughed through his tears. “My congratulations, my lord Finrod,” the Midwife said as she lay a squirming and crying bundle in his arms, “You have a son, and what a strong one too!” she laughed. Finrod pulled the child tightly into his arms and laid his cheek on the baby’s head, breathing in the smell of his baby’s skin. Drawing back he pulled a flap of cloth away from his baby and found his breath stolen from his body, as he gazed upon his newborn son. He had plastered wisps of sandy blond hair on his head and his eyes, now that they had opened, showed the promise of becoming a deep mossy green.
“Perfect!” Finrod breathed, tears running down his face. For a while he just stared at his little baby until he began to fuss and Finrod opened his robe to nurse his child for the first and the last time. Celegorm gently eased Finrod back onto the bed as he slipped out from behind him. Curufin was lost in the wonder of gazing at the newborn. He reached out his hand and rubbed a callused finger gently over the babe’s hand, and the baby grabbed on to it with surprising strength.
“The council will send someone here soon to take him,” Celegorm said as he stood. A light knock came at the door and Celegorm walked over and opened it.
A bittersweet smile found its home one Finrod’s face as he realized that he would lose his son very soon. Celegorm gestured the elf standing at the threshold to enter, and Finrod suddenly felt very lost. A golden haired Noldor stood before them, and Finrod realized with a jolt, that Avery indeed did look almost identical to Celegorm and Curufin’s father; save for the color of his hair and the shade of his eyes, they could have been twins. When Avery’s eyes found Finrod, a sudden feeling came over him telling him that his son would be happy and loved with the family Avery had found for him. Avery’s eyes went to the bundle in Finrod’s arms and a tender, but almost sad look came across his face. The Golden one crossed the chamber in steady swift strides. Imrathon had already finished nursing but Finrod still held him close, not wanting to lose his baby just yet. But Avery was gentle, yet insistent as he carefully lifted the child from Finrod’s arms; shushing his cries, and rocking him gently, when he began to fuss. Avery looked back at Finrod and gave him a sad smile, nodding his goodbye, before he turned and swiftly exited the room just as the pains returned, and Finrod had to deliver the afterbirth.
Just as Celegorm predicted the Council came and what they found was not what they expected; Finrod sobbing and crying into his cousins’ arms’. Two councilors were with the men and the sight of Finrod sobbing into his cousin’s arms was enough to give them guilt. As it turned out the pains that Finrod felt and thought were for the afterbirth, were actually for the twin, but the reason Finrod was sobbing was because the child was so weak that he took only a single breath before he died. They were identical, and it broke Finrod’s heart to not know where his child’s soul would go after his death and that his brother would never know of his twin.
“My lord,” started on councilor, as he stepped closer.
“Get out,” Finrod Whispered softly into Celegorm’s chest.
“Sire?” he asked in confusion, only for Finrod to round on him; lashing out in pain and grief, throwing a crystal goblet at them, only for it to miss and shatter on the door frame.
“GET OUT!” Finrod screeched through his tears. “Get out, and don’t you dare speak of this again!” with that the fight and anger seemed to drain out of him as his sagged into Celegorm and Curufin’s embrace and sobbed. The councilors and the men with them left in shame and regret, leaving Finrod to grieve with his Cousins alone.