I’ve been going on a reading binge of all your Tolkien Women fics, and I cannot stop thinking about Indis. As a consequence I’ve created a headcanon that hurts my heart and I am going to inflict it upon you because this is clearly your fault.
Indis is one of those people just meant to be a parent, it fits her so well everyone knew it was just a matter of time before she became one. And once she gets married she tries so hard to be there for Feanor despite her own grief, but he won’t let her in. She has her kids and everyone congratulates her on having four (four!!) wonderful children, but in her heart she has five. Because Feanor might not have let her into his heart, but she certainly let him into hers, and she will always think of him as her eldest son.
It will haunt her to the end of all days and beyond, that he was always her son but she could never truly be his mother, and on her bad days she thinks that every catastrophe and death of the first age can be laid at her feet for not succeeding in the one thing everyone said was her speciality.
Okay, so a) fuck you, b) fuck you, c) fuck you. This story is basically just saying that, only in more euphemistic terms, anon.
Once, there were three: a woman with fair hair, a man with fair eyes, a woman with fair skin.
The woman with fair skin is captured and taken by the Dark One to his fortress, where she languishes for long weeks in grief and agony. She is not turned, even as those captured alongside her become evil beings, twisted and gruesome and cruel. Melkor wonders why this woman- this limpid-eyed, weeping girl- can withstand what no other has managed.
He does not get the chance to find out.
The woman with fair hair storms Utumno. She drags her sister out alongside whoever is left of their people. But the fair-skinned woman collapses only a few days’ from the chill of Utumno, and she shows her sister the secret she expended all her fea upon: a child, a fair-haired, fair-eyed, fair-skinned girl.
Intyale the Fair-Haired buries her sister Indis in a cave of glittering light. Then she takes the child down to her people, and she bids her brother, fair-eyed Ingwe, to watch their niece. Indis he names her, for the mother she will never know, and he raises her as his own daughter, this girl who bears the brightest things of all his family.
She is the daughter of all three of them. Of Indis the Slain, and Intyale the Bright-Speared, and Ingwe the Grand. Indis bears one woman’s name and another woman’s steadiness and a man’s strength. She is the princess of the Vanyar. She will always be that.
She will always remember how desperately her mother fought to keep her alive. Hidden in Utumno, chanting song after song of hiding and cleaving and darkness, straining for one more moment- one more moment- to keep the little babe at her breast alive- defying Melkor himself-
The Vanyar suffer the greatest of the losses to the Dark One before ever Orome comes to them. They- none of them, not from the eldest down to the youngest child- will ever trust Melkor ever again.
She was born in grief.
The Doom that Namo places- it is shocking, it is pitiless, it is cruel. But then Alqualonde still rings with the laments of the Teleri. But then, Finwe is dead. Melkor has taken not just one from Indis’ life.
She was born in grief, and, as one by one her children too learn that taste, she wonders: Perhaps the doom is my own.
When she is very young, she asks Intyale: What did I get from my mother?
And Intyale- this, Indis remembers very, very well- had paused, and considered, and then said, Her silence.
From Indis her mother, she receives silence. From Ingwe, she receives the knowledge of ruling and leadership. From Intyale-
-from Intyale, she receives the strength of will to remain unbowed.
Indis loves Miriel with the kind of love of a calf for its mother: overwhelmingly, adoringly, all-consumingly. She spends hours with Miriel, learning to weave those tapestries, hands tangled in thread of silk and cotton and wool, eyes affixed to the wall just as often as she watches the silver spirals of Miriel’s hair.
The Noldor tend to craft to show their passion for the world, but Indis has nothing of that: she is a fair dancer, a well-versed scholar, a singer of surpassing talent. None of them call to her more than the rest.
She aids Miriel often, now that the building of Tirion is almost complete. Indis enjoys sitting with her and with Finwe, sipping a salty-hot tea as the light changes from gold to silver; she often falls asleep there, slumped over in her chair, and returns only at the second Mingling to Ingwe’s abode.
This is what they all forget about Miriel’s death: it was slow.
Slow and lingering and painless. She had dignity unto the end. Finwe clutched her hand until it could not be held. Little Feanaro is the only person in all of Aman, they say, who has lost his mother.
Indis bites her tongue until it bleeds, and does not speak.
Intyale dies upon the hills of the Ered Luin. Indis is still young in those days, not quite an adult and not quite a child. Three children are gamboling near the water, and there is- something. Not quite something, but not quite nothing either. Intyale realizes before anyone else, and flings herself forwards, bare-handed.
The water boar is driven backwards into the river. Indis grabs the children. Two maiar run, grasp the situation, calm the boar down with songs. Intyale emerges from the river dripping.
She collapses upon the sand, and Indis is there in heartbeats: Intyale is the only mother she remembers, distant and proud though she may be. When she dares to let her eyes drift to Intyale’s chest, everything tightens up inside of her. Her mother is rent open, from breast to belly.
“No,” says Intyale, and reaches up, and grips Indis’ chin tighter than she ought to be able to, so close to death’s door. “Look at me, little one. We are more than our flesh.”
“You are dying,” whispers Indis, trembling.
“Yes,” says Intyale bluntly. “Call for Ingwe.”
Not for the maiar, who might save her. And not for the Valar either. Intyale has given up: Indis doesn’t realize this until later, but her mother- her aunt- would not have called for Ingwe had she not been determined to join the sister she watched fall.
Intyale forces Ingwe to swear to care for Indis as he would his own daughters. Then she asks for her spear, and to be burned until even her bones show no ash. She tells everyone who her sparse belongings must go to. And then, fingers clutching the bone-spear, she dies.
(Feanor, too, burns. Half her family burns to death, Feanor and Fingolfin and Fingon and Turgon and Maedhros and- and- and-
That fire is not of Finwe alone. Fire can be taught to catch, and Feanor never burned quite so brightly to anyone else as he did for Indis and her usurpation of his sainted mother. No: the fire is Indis’ inheritance, and Indis’ gift.)
Intyale does not tell anyone who her bone-spear should be given to. Indis finds herself holding onto it, and somehow never lets go.
This is what they forget: Miriel was the first to die in the peace of Valinor.
The second is Finwe.
Feanaro has lost his mother, but Indis will become that mother if he will allow it. She would wish for nothing more. Of course she wishes for nothing more.
But he does not.
Indis watches him when he does not realize. She can see it- the grief, the loneliness. He is a little boy, and Finwe is not half the father he would wish to be, and there are impossible things in this world that Indis wants- her mother, her Miriel, her peace- but most of all she just wants little Feanaro to be happy, to know happiness and joy and trust in it instead of fearing the joy will turn cold and dead in his arms.
Miriel had been- quickly angered.
So had Finwe. So do most of the Noldor. Indis is patient enough not to pay much attention to it.
Well. She is patient.
Miriel had been easily provoked into greatness. A few insults, a carefree comment- Miriel would sit at her loom and weave, something ever-greater and ever-better. Even now, the finest gown in Indis’ keep is one that she received from Miriel the day after she spent hours insulting Miriel’s taste in fabric.
Indis would have done that to her in those awful weeks after Feanaro’s death. She would’ve gone in and insulted Miriel to within an inch of her life, made her so breathless with rage that Miriel would have levitated out of her bed to strike Indis about the face.
But Este’s healers- called in when the labor lasted for more than two days- refused to hear of it, and Indis could only watch as Finwe’s face went whiter by the hour and all they heard from the sickroom were little Feanaro’s wails and the healers’ murmurs. She obeys the Valar: she watches Miriel fade into Lorien, and never return.
Little Feanaro is all that’s left of Miriel.
She is certain that he’s very much like her, too.
Feanaro thinks that his dislike of Indis comes from her marriage to his father. Perhaps the dislike deepened into hatred then; Indis does not know. What she does know- for she’s ensured it- is that Feanaro hated her well before her marriage.
(“I expected better of you,” says Indis, once.
Feanaro is three years old. His eyes are Miriel’s in shape and size and beauty. Indis, determinedly, does not flinch.
“I’m just doing with Rumil taught me!” he exclaims.
“In Valmar,” says Indis, “children learn their letters by the time they turn a year old.”
Feanaro flushes red. “I don’t like these letters. They don’t make sense.”
“Then make your own,” says Indis, careful not to let sympathy seep into her voice.
She does not smile when the news percolates through Valinor of Feanor’s Tengwar. She does not smile, but oh, oh: how she wants to!)
This is what they do not see: Feanaro is young, and while fire is forever dangerous, while fire is forever alluring, it is too easy, far too easy, to stamp it out. Especially when it is young. Especially when it is small.
Indis would have been the shelter to that little flame if he would have allowed it. But he will not, so all she can do is throw fuel onto the fire. Chaff and dross and dried straw: insults and backhanded compliments and petty slights. If Feanaro will not let her protect him, then she will build him so high that none will ever be able to strike him down.
(Letting him die was never an option.)
Finwe dies, and they leave, and then Feanaro dies, and then Findis disappears, and then Nolofinwe dies, and then Arafinwe comes to her, for the first time since his father’s body burned in Tirion’s courtyard.
“We have been given leave to go to Beleriand,” says Arafinwe quietly, solemnly. “Morgoth shall be defeated and thrown into the Void. The Vanyar shall all come, by King Ingwe’s decree.”
“Is there something you wish to ask me, then?” asks Indis gently.
Arafinwe swallows, one reflexive jump of his throat. “Will you join me?”
Indis rises. Steps away. Goes to her bedroom and plucks it from the wall, and returns in time to see her darling son’s shoulder slump with frustration.
“I will not,” she says. Arafinwe jumps, startled. Indis steps closer to him and presses the bone-spear into his palms. “I will not return, Arafinwe, to that land. Already it has taken much from me. I will not offer it more.”
“Take this,” says Indis. “It is your grandmother’s.”
Surprise glitters in his pale eyes. “I have a sword.”
“This has already held off Morgoth once,” says Indis. “There are tales that will never be told, of the courage of the elves that never saw the Blessed Isles. Intyale Bright-Speared was your grandmother named, and well-named was she! This spear held Morgoth back long enough to release prisoners in the depths of Utumno before ever Orome saw us, long enough to let Intyale’s sister flee. Long enough for Intyale’s sister to hand the child in her arms over to Intyale.
“The sister’s name is Indis,” says Indis. “I was that child. I was named for her.”
Arafinwe stares at her. “You speak so rarely of them.”
“I’ve no desire to relive tragedy for the rest of my life,” says Indis flatly. “Now come. You’ll need to learn how to use that, if you wish to hold Morgoth hostage!”
Perhaps she began this, when she chose this path.
Perhaps she could have averted this.
But Indis is the daughter of Intyale, and it will be her bone-spear held to Morgoth’s throat at the end of this awful, deathful road, and if nothing else- if nothing else- she has the will to remain unbowed, this girl born in the shadow of Utumno, this woman who watched all those around her fall as wheat before a scythe, this mother who would rather her children loathe her than die, this daughter who has lost both mothers and knows, bitterly, the whole of that unfathomable loss.
That is what she tells Feanor, finally, when he returns to life.
There is something thoughtful in his gaze. He nods, and returns, a week later, and when she blithely tells him that his sons have inherited his monotonous fashion sense, Feanor flushes, and then pauses, and then says, carefully, “I’d rather it be monotonous than Finarfin’s gaudiness,” and Indis drinks her tea- salty-hot, just as she likes it- and she says, smiling, “I am glad you can be taught.”
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i find it pretty fascinating how in the harem!au fingon is less obivously pissed off about everything but does help his kids+idril+finrod escape (and do they ever end up rescuing him?) and in the servant!au he is obviously not happy abt the horrors of his life but he doesn't quite do anything as big/drastic. also i cant help but think that they wouldnt get along very well bc they wouldnt understand each other?
Harem AU Fingon doesn't actually feel that his life is that bad or his safety is ever threatened. Sure, he has to have painful or unpleasant sex sometimes, but that only takes a few hours a week. Most of the sex he has isn't his idea but is enjoyable, or is even sex that he initiates (with the other Bastards or the Princes). And even that doesn't take up all his time, so most of his day is his own. He can read, or play his harp, or exercise in the courtyard, or chat with the Princes or other Bastards, or lounge in the bath doing nothing at all. He can ask the servants to buy him books or games or new fancy clothes, and he'll usually get them. (Requests are written, so Feanor can review them and the Bastards can't conspire with the servants, but Feanor sees no reason for his harem to be unhappy.)
Sure, any activity that Fingon starts might be interrupted by one of the Feanorians sticking their cock in his face, or demanding he follow them to their bedroom, or just declaring they need a fourth person for cards and he's it. But it still seems like a very nice life to Fingon, especially with no other experience to compare it too.
As far as Harem!Fingon can tell, Gil-Galad is neurodivergent or something similar, and that's why Gil-Galad cares way more about sex than is "normal". It's very weird to him that Gil-Galad is so strongly opposed to sex on someone else's schedule. Like sure, it would be preferable to be a Prince and get to always refuse if you were in the middle of a project, but it's not that big a deal. It would also be preferable to eat cake every day, but Fingon wouldn't cut all ties with his family if he was told he'd never get cake again.
But arguing with someone that they shouldn't find something viscerally unpleasant doesn't work. (Fingon tried, a lot, in hopes that Gil-Galad could be persuaded to stay as part of the family.) Fingon thinks he would run away himself if Feanor said that he would no longer be allowed indoors except when being fucked, but Celegorm would hardly notice a difference. Gil-Galad cares a lot about this, even if his reasons don't make much sense to Fingon. And being a good parent means you give your kids what they need, regardless of how uncommon that need is.
Also, Harem!Fingon isn't scared of Feanor. Sure, Feanor will demand things, from sex to bearing a child to permanent rules about behavior. And if someone's dumb enough to disobey, Feanor will inflict pain. But all the Bastards belong to Feanor just as surely as the Princes do, and Feanor keeps his belongings in good condition. He'd never actually do any long term damage, and has probably even punished the Princes for harming the Bastards too much. (Caranthir was sent to bed without supper or sex the time he accidentally hit Argon too hard and fractured his collarbone.)
Servant AU Fingon by contrast has a life that is unpleasant from moment to moment. His entire day is dictated, and it's a mix of rape and mindless drudgery. He remembers a bit of a childhood before this, and even if he didn't he talks to the servants who work with him. They don't have to worry that if they skip sweeping an odd corner they'll be whipped. And they certainly aren't compelled to have sex with their uncle and cousins.
Servant!Fingon is also very aware that Feanor doesn't care about him at all. Feanor likes having Nolo around to flaunt his victory in front of. But Nolo's kids are mostly just dildos/cocksleeves, with the bonus that Nolo reacts entertainingly when Feanor does something new or unusually bad to them.
Servant!Fingon is 100% convinced that Feanor would kill him f he became too much trouble to keep prisoner. And then Fingon's family would be raped even more, as the sex that had been distributed among four of them is now only going three ways.
Not saying Servant!Fingon would never escape, but it would have to be something very very big.
The two of them would definitely not get along.
For one thing, Servant!Fingon has an incest taboo and Harem!Fingon doesn't, and I feel like Harem is going to suggest selfcest at some point in this discussion. Servant is not 100% opposed to the concept but saying "It will be even hotter than fucking Dad in front of a mirror" is not how you convince him.
For another, yes, they do not understand each other at all. Servant thinks that Harem is naive and brainwashed, willing to give up his entire life in exchange for a little temporary pleasure.
Harem thinks that Servant is stubborn to the point of idiocy, fighting back when there's no way of winning purely to claim points in his own head.
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