Three Golden Strands of Hair
Golden was the light about him in the waxing of Laurelin, the Golden Tree of Valinor. The dew from its leaves and flowers shone with golden light from within, and amidst the soft and steady light of Laurelin flew many brighter drops of light.
As he peered into the brilliance of the tree, he saw a lady beneath the spreading yellow branches and dew. Her raiment was white that dazzled and shone in the eyes of those who beheld it.
He walked closer, and against the light of the trunk of Laurelin, he saw tresses of gold that swung and flew as the lady danced and skipped upon the grass, and its gold was as rich as the dazzling brilliance of the Golden Tree, and he knew then that it was Artanis, for she alone in the whole of Aman possessed hair of such beauty.
Yet, as he watched, three jewels floated above Laurelin and Telperion, and the light that shone forth from them were unsullied and clean, and it was as if they shared the light of the Two Trees and returned it in greater proportions.
Artanis's hair was lifted and three golden strands were plucked from her head, and they floated before the three jewels--their light flowing with one another--ere the hair disappeared.
The sky then darkened, and for the first time in long ages, there was night and darkness. Artanis was gone, and the Two Trees lay lifeless, their silver and gold gone from their veins.
And on the darkness came the face of Fëanáro, the Spirit of Fire, and his countenance was fey as the three jewels floated above him. And the face of Melkor appeared, and it was dark and terrible, and he wore a helm with many peaks of sharpness upon it, though he knew not how he knew that was Melkor.
Then Fëanáro opened his mouth as if in a great shout, and he was no more, and Melkor reached out to take the three jewels.
The sky became red, and the grass and the Two Trees were soaked by it.
Finrod awoke, and glanced about, and saw that he was still in Lórien, the garden of the Vala Irmo. He had fallen asleep, and regretted it, for his kind dreamt but rarely, and their dreams oft carried portents.
Artanis was still dancing upon the grass before him, and as he rose and called to her, another figure came into sight, fair-skinned and dark-haired. He frowned.
Artanis halted, and as she saw who had hailed her, a small frown creased her brow as well, though she curtsied. "Lord Fëanáro." Her eyes then glanced to his. "Finrod, brother. Come and greet our uncle."
Finrod moved from beneath the tree, and his chest was tight. They were loath to call Fëanáro by the title of a relative, and the eldest son of Finwë had done naught to hide his contempt for the children of Finarfin and Fingolfin.
"Lord Fëanáro. What chance has brought you here to look for my sister?"
Fëanor nodded to Finrod ere he turned his attention to Artanis. His voice was smooth and even as he spoke, and they did not hear the contempt that usually filled it for the houses of Finarfin and Fingolfin.
"They have said that your hair is likened to the richness and brilliance of the Golden Tree, and I see now that it is true." He smiled--though it bore no warmth--for he had not seen his nephews or niece for long, and he was glad that when he saw them again, at least one of them had beauty that he could use.
"Aye," Artanis answered carefully. "That is what they say."
Fëanor's eyes glanced briefly to Finrod. "Lady, I will not play with words here: I wish for three strands of your hair."
Finrod's heart was heavy as he asked: "What do you wish to do with them, Lord?"
"To keep and preserve their beauty in jewels and stones that I may admire the light of Laurelin." He looked at Artanis. "Will you give me what I asked for?" And in his voice returned a trace of contempt, that what he demanded, she would give, for she was his niece, younger than he, and she was but another tool in his work.
Artanis's grey eyes flashed, but Finrod placed his hand on hers. "Lord, give us but a moment to speak between ourselves." He pulled his sister away. "Artanis," he said in a low voice, "I dreamt only just, of three golden strands of hair from you. Do not deny it to him."
She spoke low as well. "Brother, I will not be a tool that he can use at need in his craft. I am--we are--of the line of the High King of the Noldor, as he is. He holds no rank above us."
Finrod watched as his sister walked from him and stood before Fëanor, and said loudly: "Three hair you ask of me, Lord, and that I must refuse, for my hair is as precious to me as your stones are to you."
Fëanor's dark eyes burnt then with a wrath that would have quailed many, but Artanis met his eyes firmly. "You will give me what I want!"
"Nay, I have no need or wish to."
They were locked for a moment in a contest of wills, but Fëanor growled then, and stormed away.
Artanis watched his departure for a moment ere se came to take Finrod's hand, smiling brightly. "Let us return home, brother."
Finrod graced his sister with a smile, but the dream remained with him, and in his heart, he knew that the doom of many had begun.