There was music, and dancing under the light of Telperion. Uncles Curufinwë and Nolofinwë had not quarrelled (yet, though clearly the lack bothered them), his cousins were surprisingly good company… And the wine, Findarato decided, oh, the wine was particularly fine. Not a single shadow on that feast, and yet…
“Is that your brother,” he asked?
(Makalaurë bore his usual air of elegant nonchalance, but Findarato suspected him of, well, sharing his opinion about the wine, while being enough of a man of taste to test his judgement repeatedly and thoroughly. With comparisons. His gaze did not exactly follow Findarato’s.)
“Facing the wall,” Findarato said.
“Oh. Yes, that must be him.”
“Do you think he’s… enjoying himself?”
“I suppose those feasts can be… stressful. I’ve been dreading the moment when uncle Nolofinwë and your father…”
“Attempt to maim each other and deafen the rest of us in the process? Me too. But don’t worry about Moryo; he makes a point of never enjoying himself. I think it’s a matter of principle with him.”
Findarato sat silently, and Makalaurë smirked at his younger brother, or rather at where he assumed his younger brother was.
“I should go to him,” Findarato said at last.
“Oh, you don’t have to.”
“Doesn’t look too happy.”
“Yes,” sighed Makalaurë. “I assume the wall is bored out of its mind. Mortar. I wouldn’t blame it if it decided to crumble out of spite; my brother’s sulking has that effect.”
“I meant Moryo.”
“I had an inkling. Still, I hoped you might have more sense than that.”
“It’s fine. I like him.”
Makalaurë’s laughter followed him as he made his way to Moryo.
“Good evening, Moryo.”
They said his cousin was not subtle. Yet he was managed to say one thing and imply the exact opposite with great skill. Perhaps subtlety was not the word. Then he was silent: jaw locked, black hair braided tight. Findarato, observing him, found himself counting seconds and wondering how long exactly it was possible to frown without interruption. Very long, apparently.
“Do you remember the last time we cousins all were together?”
“You and I were twelve.”
“We had great fun.”
“Turko and Kano tied you hand and foot and dragged you through the garden.”
“They meant well.”
“Down the well.”
“They meant to take you down the well.”
“Oh. Is this why father was so angry at your brothers, then?”
“And why my father was angry at yours.”
“And then uncle Nolofinwë got involved. I remember now; it was a very lively day. I thought we might all be deafened.”
“I can almost hear it again,” Moryo said grimly.
Findarato listened to the sounds that drifted above the noise of conversation, and dancing, and Kano’s energetic singing… increasingly energetic, really, as though to mask something else…
“I don’t think it’s your memory, Moryo.”
Some plate crashed to the ground and there was more shouting, and still Kano sang louder and louder and with more false cheer.
“What do you say you and I go somewhere else, cousin?” Findarato asked.
To his surprise, Moryo agreed.
If only by contrast with the gardens in which the feast was held, the rest of Finwë’s palace seemed wonderfully quiet. Telperion’s light, filtering through tall arched windows, flickered across the walls. The two cousins sped down mostly empty corridors; Findarato didn’t exactly where they were going.
Perhaps they hadn’t been the first to think of leaving. In a small courtyard FFindarato caught sight of Nelyo and Findekano, lying on their backs in the semi-darkness, each head pillowed by the other’s arm. Findarato heard their laughter, but not what they were saying; beside, he didn’t have the opportunity to listen and make himself known: Moryo had either not noticed them, or he had and he was doing his best to get as far away from them as possible. His footsteps rang as he strode; Findarato wondered if he was really trying to quicken his pace, or if that was his way of showing disapproval. Besides, Moryo seemed to be muttering to himself.
Findarato caught up with his cousin.
“I think we can stop now,” he said. “Whatever they decide to fight about, I think the conflagration won’t reach us there. We’re pretty much alone.”
Moryo smiled grimly. Put his scowl upside down.
“Not alone”, he said. “Just in case they do find us after all and want our opinion.”
There in his hand was a bottle of wine.
Findarato wondered why he had expected wine to mellow Moryo’s temper. Clearly he was wrong. Moryo was equally angry. It just took him longer to explain why.
“My mother says… it’s just like her experiments. She experiments, my mother, you know. With chemicals. And things. Makes her things prettier. The things she makes.” (And his father one of the most renowned lambëgolmor.) “Blew off half her workshop one time. Incompatible stuffs. Well, she says my father and Nolofinwë are just like that. Except worse. Because her chemicals didn’t spend the whole of the following week explaining to her exactly why, in detail, obsessively, every single sigh and slight and glance that meant they were absolutely right to blow up like that. They’re terrible, our fathers.”
I can’t begin to think why she would tell you that, Findarato thought, head lolling. He slipped an arm around Moryo’s shoulders. Oh, he liked Moryo. It wasn’t even the wine. He liked everyone and Moryo liked noone. What a fine pair they’d make.
Moryo shrugged it off.
“I don’t need that. I dont like you.”
See? Findarato thought. I knew it. Perfect pair. He smiled fondly.
“Well..” Moryo scrunched up his face in thought. Apparently, under their inebriated circumstances, such deep thinking required strenuous motion. His mouth went in search of his nose, his chin went in the other direction, and his brows furrowed deeper than ever. Very endearing. He must have been quite handsome, his cousin, Findarato decided, because something that almost resembled disappointment mingled with fond mirth in him. But Moryo had found his reason.
“You’re so… likeable. It’s disgusting.”
Findarato smiled charmingly. Or possibly idiotically. Somehow the effort required to smile propelled him in Moryo’s direction, and he found himself tilting towards his cousin’s flushed face.
“Oh yes. Everyone likes you. Very kind. You like everyone. I believe it. So I can’t even dislike you properly in good conscience. Revolting. Don’t deny it. Spent a lot of time thinking about it.”
“You dislike me because you like me?”
Moryo seemed to think hard. His face seemed to want to go in two directions at once, perhaps in imitation of his brain. Findarato tilted further and further. He wondered where he’d end up.
On Moryo’s lips, thought Findarato. That’s where I’m ending up. He drew out his arm to brace himself, but somehow ended up wrapping himself about Moryo.
Fists bunched in his tunic and a red, flushed face above his own, a body pressing him into a bench.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Moryo was growling.
“Said you liked me. Disliked me. Spent a lot of time worrying.”
“I have to make sure. Son of a loremaster and all that.”
“So stop it.”
Findarato did not know exactly what he was supposed to stop, and so did not. He would have smiled, however. probably, but Moryo was clearly opposed to that as well, considering the ferocious manner in which he was then putting Findarato's mouth to other use. A very contrary man, but Findarato was nothing if not compliant, Besides, Moryo's objections, whatever they were, seemed to be unravelling at an alarming rate, as were the lacings on Findarato's tunic; and in the long bitter fight of Moryo against himself, the part that did not completely loathe Findarato appeared to be winning one victory. That would do.