Nerdanel's Story - Part 6 . Betrothals #2 (Revised)

( Disclaimer: all characters are JRR Tolkien's, or inspired by him. References are from The Silmarillion and HoME 10, 11 and 12.)


(This is a much revised version of the earlier submission)


"She (Nerdanel) also was firm of will, but she was slower and more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them."

(Morgoth's Ring. HoME 10. The Later Quenta Silmarillion.)


The House of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.

Nerdanel the Wise, they called me! Alas, I was not so wise in my words or in my deeds that day! I wished to be, of course, but long years it was before my wisdom was full grown! That day, that event, saw a great range of emotions that, in truth, I was too young to totally comprehend. Though, by nature, we Eldar, we Noldor behave with dignity, and with consideration, I had heard an affront to my person, and had reacted in the heat of anger, and from much disappointment! That Alcarin had no wish for my relationship with Fëanáro to further develop was obvious! Yet that lord was but one, and acting as if he spoke for many; as if he spoke for the Prince! And did I not know by then that, Fëanáro, he spoke for himself!

I learnt from that occasion though! For, from that incident forth, did I not desire, and greatly, to understand others before reacting to them or giving of my own view? And I promised myself that I would never again believe ill of Fëanáro from mere gossip; so close had I come, so I thought, to loosing his regard. But the heart of the matter, as you will undoubtedly have perceived, was my own vulnerability! Ai, you may think that none of our folk so suffered? I was not one to lack confidence, neither boldness; but I was the daughter of a smith (however exalted), and entertaining hope of being betrothed to the son of the King!

As I write of these early memories of mine, do I think again of the Lord Ecthelion! I ponder with fond memory of he who was loyal to Fëanáro, yet was to become one of the captains of Nolofinwë's* son, Turukáno*! And did that action not arise from, and cause, much grief in our house? Is the Ecthelion I speak of the same as Ecthelion of the Fountain, captain of Gondolin, you may wonder? Aye, it is he!

Ecthelion was one of the mightiest, the noblest of the lords of the Noldor. He was tall, and dark of hair; grey-eyed as with many of our folk. His voice, it was beautiful, in speech and in song, and it was in part his love of linguistics that made him such a close friend to Fëanáro in their youth. For a while did he oversee the school of Lambengolmor, or of the `Loremasters of Tongues' that Fëanáro founded in the Year of the Trees, 1261, though often was he to be found training our athletes in the arena. Ecthelion, himself, was one of the foremost of our athletes, excelling in those contests of strength and of speed that so delighted the Vala, Tulkas. He was a good friend to me from that day of misunderstandings forth, and strove hard to correct my first impression of him. A good and thoughtful friend to Fëanáro also was he, long into the days of whisperings, and lies and false counsel. Then did Fëanáro's darkening mood culminate in an incident that drove him forth, to pledge his allegiance to Nolofinwë, and earn my lord's wrath and condemnation in so doing. Sad days were they! Yet, was it not Ecthelion, in desperate defence of the secret city in the Hither Lands who brought down that Valaraukar*, Gothmog, whose fire was Fëanáro's last doom? Always have I thought that he was seeking to avenge his friend of old, who was lost to him!

Of Alcarin I believe you have already guessed much! I would not have you judge him ill, though; not as he had then judged me! He, also, was keen on the study of linguistics, and the study of the history of the Noldor, most particularly of his own kin! Clever and quick of thought, but immature was Alcarin then, and for many a year thereafter! His family were proud of their status, of how they served and advised the King, and he and his sire often rode out in the hunt with the highest of King Finwë's lords. Alcarin's family vexed me on many occasions over the following years, but this I will say of him; ever loyal to Fëanáro was he, and no craven. For he was one of those few to stand with my lord in the ring of shadow and flame that encircled them upon the confines of Dor Daedeloth, the land of Moringotho*, and there did he meet his end.

Neither Alcarin nor Ecthelion have, of yet, returned to us from the Halls of Awaiting! Though they, as with all the rebel Noldor, were banned from returning in bodily form to the Blessed Realm, yet did Manwë not sometimes overrule his own ordinances, being himself not bound by them? So has the Lord Glorfindel been long restored; aye, and some of the house of Arafinwë! Even others now walk among us again, and in joy and in the grace first bestowed upon the Eldar; though some do we -- do I -- still sadly miss!

Most difficult do I find it to recall such memories, as they have that quality whereby they still pain me greatly; so alive, so evergreen are they! Alas, so many neri* and nissi* I knew, so many I loved did meet their doom, and in most fell manner in the Hither Lands! Yet face these thoughts I must, and, of late, have they not been ever more on the edges of my dreams? Aye, and with much of their potency of old!

****

Now the guests at my father's house had long since departed, as had Prince Fëanáro, and his companions. (Or so I then believed!) My parents, confused over what had transpired for me to so declare that I would never meet with the son of Finwë again, had removed themselves to the hall of our home, and I was alone with my thoughts. Unable was I to take any rest, for my own mind would but replay the earlier events, and on them only could I ponder! Seated then upon a bench put out for the betrothal and merrymaking, I gazed over the fields and orchards as the silver light of Telperion waxed full. And as my mind cooled, I began to wonder at what I had said, and at what I had done. For had I not dismissed two noble lords from my father's house, and then attempted, by my abruptness, to dismiss Fëanáro himself! Most unwise had been my reaction to what I had overheard!

I thought on how my heart had quickened when I had first known he had returned, after so long an absence! How surprised, and in the most pleasant of ways, I had felt when he had taken hold of my hand and so spoken to me: "Thou art truly more than any ordinary maid, Nerdanel, daughter of Urundil, servant of Aulë. Most pleasing do I find thy company to be!" How could I have insulted one whose words were fair, who spoke so promisingly? Most heavy did the heart of Nerdanel the Fool become in that moment!


From my seat in the garden, I could not but help overhear some of my parent's conversation, as my father paced to and fro in the long hall. That I had distressed them by my action, only added to my sense of consternation.

"So happy was she, and that the Prince was here! Whatever could it have been to turn her mood so?" Urundil was speaking more to himself than to my mother. "And he! To nigh run from this place as if he would remove all memory of her!"

"Most courteous was Prince Fëanáro; even in his leave taking! That it was unexpected did not make it an insult, husband!"

But Urundil, though he liked well Fëanáro, seemed to feel that in some way I had been slighted, and was fast becoming the defensive father. He heeded not my mother in that exchange. "Son of the King though he is, and highly esteemed by Aulë himself, if he has done aught to cause Nerdanel grief, words shall I have with him!"

Then did my mother laugh! "Peace, Urundil! Neither have done aught that a couple in love do not so do; though are both but young, little more than children, and lacking awareness of the subtleties of emotion upon themselves and upon each other!"

There was a silence, and her words sank deep into my heart, as well as, obviously, into my father's hearing!

"So! You are saying that she has made her choice? That we are to be united with the house of King Finwë?" Calmer was my father's tone, almost self-mocking, and that he had not fully realised what was behind either Fëanáro's prompt departure, nor my protestations!

"She has made her choice, even if she does not yet know it! And so has he, if you had but closely observed! Aye, if we leave them to their own devices, they will seek to wed!"

And they must have decided to go elsewhere in the house, for I heard both voices again, but most faintly, and that in a lighter, bantering, tone. Then all was again silent!


****

A couple in love!

I know not of a certainty how it is with the Younger Children of Ilúvatar. Some of those now returned from the Hither Lands do speak of their love, of that love which you may well know of, as something most special, and beautiful! (Does not the Lord Elrond speak most highly, and most poignantly of the race of Men; he being, in part, descended from their heroes of old?) Others do say that the love of the Second People has more taint of corruption to it, and is impermanent in nature! But I cannot believe that Ilúvatar, that Eru, would have made us so different in this respect! Mayhap you feel much the same as we, in such moments?

And there have been, have there not, those few marriages between our peoples? It is said, that Arafinwë's son Aikanáro* will never return from the company of Mandos, for his heart's love was long since given, and to a mortal maid! I have heard, and since the Second Age of the love between Lúthien, and the mortal man, Beren; of the love of Turukáno's daughter, of Itarildë* for the mortal man, Tuor, who was fostered by Eldar! Since the Fourth Age has it been spoken in Tirion of the love of Arwen, granddaughter of Artanis*, and daughter of Lord Elrond, for another mortal man, Elessar! Such love risks much, and must face much anguish given the nature of things. So do I think that some, at least, of your people, know of what I speak, and of what I will later speak. Yet, in those days of bliss, did we think that love, once offered and accepted, it was forever! That lovers, though they may live apart for some time, would never be sundered from each other!

`A couple in love', had my mother said! Now did I then know well my own feelings, but of Fëanáro's heart I was still unsure!

****

Raising my head from my reverie, I turned to face the east side of our home, as, from the stillness of the courtyard, a lone figure approached me. He walked with the softest of tread upon the cobblestones, and then onto the grass, with even more stealth than is natural to our folk. Sombre of face was the red-cloaked Lord Ecthelion, as one deep in thought, yet at the same time apprehensive of what he would find!

"A word, if you would still be gracious enough to listen to such as I, Lady Nerdanel!" Quietly and considerately did he speak, and he made to bow.

"I thought you had left for Tirion, Lord Ecthelion, along with the Prince." Surprised was I at so beholding him then. For I had heard the horses depart shortly after Fëanáro had made his excuses to my father. I could not understand why Ecthelion was still there.

"Two horses it was that left, Lady!" he replied, but offered no further explanation as to where he had been in the meantime. Gesturing with a hand that he wished to walk in those very gardens that had been the earlier scene of my anguish, he smiled rather kindly. "I would speak with you, if you will! But I would rather we were not observed, nor overheard by any other!"

My mood had changed much since our earlier encounter, and I was of a mind to hear Ecthelion out, even perhaps to apologise for my own behaviour. Rising to my feet and smoothing out the folds of my russet gown, I nodded my agreement to his proposal, and followed him to a place that was shaded from the house and from nearby dwellings. As we walked to the edge of the gardens, and then continued through the lavender fields, the Lord Ecthelion spoke wisdom back into my mind, confirming my fears, and also giving me hope!

"Most grieved am I at this day's occurrences, and I hope, by your leave, to attempt to put right a little of that which has been damaged," he began, in a conciliatory tone. "We did not mean to offend you, Lady. Much was the wine talking, and of that I am sorely ashamed! Although Alcarin had partaken freely, I should have known better. I, at least, knew the import of why we were here!" Halting his stride, he turned to me, to make certain I paid him heed. "The words were from our own shallowness, Alcarin and I, and are no true reflection on Prince Fëanáro; neither on most of the folk of Tirion, I warrant!"

Calmer now, much due to the calm manner and tone of he who walked with me, I found I could listen and could put reasons to some part of my reactions. I signalled that we should walk on, as he had made a point of wanting privacy!

"I know I have not the beauty of those highborn ladies of whom you spoke, Lord Ecthelion. I have but to look in a mirror to confirm that! Mayhap the words you uttered stung because I know them to be true!" I ran a hand wistfully over the lavender, enjoying its fragrance (though it had not the most beautiful of flowers), as we approached the furthest edge of the field. "I know I have not the experience of life, nor the finesse of those ladies, but then I had not thought that Prince Fëanáro had seriously intended to ..." Lowering my head, I struggled to say the truth behind my shattered dream aloud. "Though I had hope, I did not seriously think he, who most surely has such choice of a future spouse, would want one such as I to be his wife!"

Ecthelion sighed, but smiled also at my words. He was my friend from that moment on! "I see! Then let us walk down to the stream and there sit awhile! Though I break a confidence and speak now against explicit instructions, I will tell you of that which may, I hope, give you better understanding of how matters are."

In my mind I could see still Fëanáro's look of perplexity and annoyance at my earlier manner. I had wanted to drive him away, so as not to be further humiliated! But then did I realise that I was no craven, and it was the power to be so humiliated, rather than Fëanáro, that I should have driven away! I needed to know the truth of his dreams! So we walked to the stream's edge, Ecthelion and I, though both remained silent in thought until we reached that place. As I was barefoot, I sat upon the grass and plunged my feet into the cool, rippling waters. The small, multihued, fish that swam freely in that stream scuttled to find shelter from my sudden intrusion into their world.

"You love him, do you not?" Ecthelion asked of equal suddenness, taking me well off guard by his bold presumption. Not so bold of speech were any of my father's apprentices to me!

I knew, with annoyance, that my face had turned most red of colour, though in the light of Telperion would it notice less. But I could not give answer, not as then.

Again did Ecthelion sigh. "Aye! I behold by your face that you do!" he continued, without waiting on a reply. "Then listen to me, Lady, listen well! As you of certainty overheard Alcarin and I so speak, Fëanáro intends to ask you to be his bride, and that was the purpose of this visit."

"Nay, lord!" I interrupted him, seizing on something of which I could speak, without further betraying my heart. "He told me it was to bring me his mother's gift! That gift she promised me when I was little more than two years of age!" I withdrew my feet from the water's comfort, and made to stand, as if I would end such speculation. Though did I not want to talk and more of this matter!

Ecthelion smiled most knowingly. I thought then that he must have at least a sister, if not a lady of his own; so much did he seem to understand my mood! So much did he see through my demurring!

"Yes, Lady, and that!"

He sat down upon the grass beside me, making it most ill mannered of me to stand. Pointedly then did he speak. "Do you really care for the opinions of others, of Alcarin and myself, even of those in Tirion, when you have Fëanáro's high regard?"

I was fast coming to consider that, contrary to my first impression, Ecthelion's good opinion was one I would value. His reasoned hope did but confirm what I was already beginning to think!

"Fëanáro is my friend, I believe! And as such do I value his opinion. But this matter of seeking my father's skills, and not me; to seek me as his bride, if he does not love me in turn is not the way of our people! I will not yield my heart's love for less, though he offers me friendship, and status and opportunity! And I know not what to think!" My own words echoed in the air, yet I found myself questioning them. For a moment, both Ecthelion and I were lost in thought.

"Then what is this?" Ecthelion nigh snorted, breaking the silence, save of the fast running water, as he dismissed my comment. He cast a furtive glance around, and drew most close.

"Fëanáro crafts a sculpture of you that in his room even now! A gift it is to be, and for your parents. A reminder to them of the daughter he seeks to take from them!"

I made to protest that this proved not love, but he continued nonetheless.

"When you know him better, you will know how hard it is to tear him from the work of his hands. Far harder than usual has it been for me to tear him away from contemplation of that work of his hands! He speaks of you to me, of your skills and of your love of knowledge; aye, and also of the pleasure he has in your company; of travelling with you as his companion. And your hair! He speaks of that too, as a thing of beauty to him!"

At this last comment, Ecthelion smiled with a touch of embarrassment. He had my full attention then! "Prince Fëanáro buries himself in his works and his devices, but when the pain of memory of his mother, or disturbance at his father's discontent and recent thoughts grow too great, he rides out to the dwellings of the Aulenduri -- to you! For in you does he find affinity, and strength, and gentle counsel!"

"We are good friends!" But my whispered response was lacking conviction, for well did I see what Ecthelion was portraying. (Though was I also a little annoyed that Fëanáro did not seem to have taken my counsel concerning his father.)

"Ponder my words, Lady Nerdanel, rather than those excuses that seem to come so lightly to your mind! For I know Fëanáro's mood better than most, and I have not seen him behave so before! So focused and determined has he been to secure you as a permanent companion! He loves you, Lady; though he cannot speak of such matters easily, for love and grief are close fellows to him. Listen to him when he speaks to you later, I do beseech you, and you will know my words are true!"

"Later?" I was pulled abruptly from indulgence in the warm feelings that my train of thought had led me to. "But Fëanáro has gone! I dismissed him in anger, I have driven him away!" I rose to my feet, and Ecthelion did likewise. "How can it be that he will wish to speak with me again?"

My companion turned now in the direction of the house, and began to retrace our earlier steps. "I do not believe that you have driven him away; though you may well have surprised him! Fëanáro is steadfast in purpose, and his purpose is to have you to wife, Lady. He will like it not that his will has been defied, but also does he understand others more than many would suspect!"

The pace quickened as my companion seemed in a hurry now to be gone. "Two horses left earlier, Alcarin's and mine! Prince Fëanáro is still here, though he took himself off to walk awhile, and to consider your behaviour! Angry he was, of course, and dismissed Alcarin and I back to Tirion. But I had to turn back, to try and ensure that you no longer held those misconceptions we gave you. I need to know that any decision you make is not one influenced by what was thoughtlessly said!"

At the edge of the lavender fields Ecthelion halted. "Most like it is that the Prince is yet in these woods or fields, and I would not have him see me so speaking with you. Little pleased would he be at my interference in his concerns."

"Then here shall we part, and I will take a further walk of my own, my Lord! And with far more to think on! Much do I thank you for your honesty, and for your concern for me!" said I.

Ecthelion bowed briefly his farewell. "My concern is for Fëanáro's happiness as well as for yours, my Lady! Now will I take my leave as quietly as I may, but think you well on all I have said! Mayhap I will be among those welcoming you to Tirion ere long!" And with those words, the Lord Ecthelion departed, blending back into the shadows at the east side of the house as best he could.


I would not return to the house yet awhile. Nor would I make deliberate search for Fëanáro, I then determined! Much as I wanted to meet with him, to hear from his own lips his thoughts on what had happened, aye, and even face whatever rebuke he may chose to give; yet had I hope that he would speak with me, and that when he chose. Most quiet it was, save for a slight breeze that had blown some of the blossom off of the trees in the orchard. After Tulcon and Mötamë's betrothal, had all the guests retired to their own homes, or the homes of close kin. Not often did so many of us partake of rest at the same time, for we did not sleep but every third or fourth day, and oft would my father work for five days or more when pursuing a particular thought in crafting! So it was that rarely was the forge unattended! At first had I thought to go and sit in that place where I normally went for advice, but I needed to think of my own considerations, and without dwelling overmuch upon my father's words. So did I make a path of my own, through the cornfields, and away from the dwellings of the Aulenduri to the edge of the foothills, as if I would be about my wanderings again!

As I passed the stream for the second time that day, I found I remembered many a happy time in my early childhood playing thereabouts! And had my father not been most protective of me then? Had not Urundil always set at least one of his apprentices to keep watch over the jewel of his house, that she come to no hurt at all? I remembered words I had with Narwasar that I could care for myself, and of challenging Tulcon to contest with staff, to prove the point! Ai! But it was in my mind that those days were almost over! Already, if I followed my heart, was I grown! I had not crossed the stream, as I so intended, when the breeze, which had been but gentle, picked up in force. Some of the blossom from the orchard was swept up, almost in a small funnel of white and of red. And it moved to the east! Now did we not say, those who lived at the edge of the Calacirya, that such winds from the West to the East were but Oromë or Yavanna, and them seeking again the Hither Lands, that they were not forsaken? So did my thoughts turn to the Queen of the Earth, and the Giver of Fruits!

`The affinity of fëar* is a sacred matter' I heard her voice again in my mind. `And will thou follow not where love leads?"

"Aye, Lady!" I thought in return. "If I can chance upon him again, will I follow!" And then was the sense of her presence most real, and I could smell the fresh fragrance of flowers, and see light as of gold, falling upon the corn. In that moment did I have the first, and only, vision before Maitimo was brought to birth! And it was, I would later realise, of him! A copper-brown haired child running through these very fields, I beheld; then a full-grown nér, and riding towards Tirion upon a white horse, as a crowd of folk gathered upon the terraces in wonder and amazement! Then did I have little concept of whom I beheld; and to this day do I know not what it meant! Never, to my knowledge, did Maitimo so ride into Tirion that so many gathered to watch his arrival!

`And a new star there shall be; though not of Varda's hand, and light for the healing of Arda marred! Look to the star, the sign of the Valar's favour!" So did that that sense of presence pass, and leave me wondering greatly, and that this was concerned with Fëanáro!

No mood after that was I in to wander far, but I walked again the fields and the woods, and to the orchard nigh the house. As if my feet knew now the way to follow it was; and soon enough did I behold, standing under an apple tree near the edge of the orchard, the raven-haired, blue-cloaked form of he whom I sought!


A long walk it was, across fields and through the lower gardens; a walk of measured step, as though time mattered not, and to the orchard. I would not run, nor do aught that would show me for a lesser sort! Daughter of Urundil was I, and of Taurlotë, who had been a friend of Queen Míriel! Fëanáro was uncommonly still, and but raised his head from his own contemplations as I approached.

"You have come to your senses, then, Nerdanel?"

So saying, he leant back against the trunk of the broad apple tree, arms folded across his chest in a manner that suggested he had not found pleasure in so waiting! Most softened was his voice, yet it held a hint of sarcasm, as if he would have issue with me!

"I have come to explain, Prince Fëanáro!!" said I in apologetic tone.

"No need!" he replied, but his eyes flashed fire, and I knew that my earlier manner had offended, or in some way wounded him!

"Ecthelion told me of all that befell when you came upon he and Alcarin. I have dismissed them both back to Tirion for their lack of discretion and courtesy in your father's house, and at a betrothal! But you should not have attempted to so dismiss me, Lady! That is not for any but my father to so do!"

I raised my chin, determined to put that mishap, that one mar upon our relationship to rest! "It will not happen again, my Lord! My parents raised me to be bold, but not to be discourteous. I will neither dishonour you, nor them, again!"

Moment after moment passed. He explained no further, nor did he look away from my face. What strangeness was it, that feeling between us, almost as if out fëar* were already as one!

"And tell me; do you in truth prefer the company of those finer neri, your father's apprentices, or of the Teler, Gaerion?" So cutting did those words sound, and reported back to me. I closed my eyes in embarrassment at memory of my outburst!

"Though I said as much, was it in anger! You know it is not truth, Fëanáro!"

Then did the flame in his blue-grey eyes subside, and the slightest of smiles touch his lips. I knew my fate was decided.

"You think I wish to use you to win your father's good will. That I find you displeasing in appearance, but, for the sake of his skill, will overlook that for the gain to be made," he stated bluntly.

"That is what I overheard. But no longer do I believe it of you!"

He smiled dryly, and nodded curt acknowledgement of my words. "And I believe not that you prefer another's company to mine! Shall we trust each other, then?"

Now those arrogant words lit my face with much amusement, and that all seemed resolved with but little effort, despite my concerns,

"Aye, my Lord! We shall trust each other, henceforth!"

I waited for him to continue; though with much effort did I restrain my own thoughts. Determined was I not to be overbold in this situation, but I moved closer to him without even thinking!

"Some of what you heard from Alcarin is true," he persisted, standing straight again, and moving, in turn, closer to me; only an arms length away was he. "I do value your father's skills highly, and I do wish to learn what I can from him! And from you also would I learn, Nerdanel! You heard Alcarin say he thought I should look to a daughter of a noble house, most probably meaning to his sister. But why would I do that, when I can look to one who is beloved of Aulë, one who not only is a daughter of the Aulenduri, but fast on her way to becoming one of their number by her own skill and volition?"

"You spend time with me because of Aulë!" I exclaimed, stepping back a pace. But now had I listened well to him, and most pleased was I that he would learn from me!

"Aye, that is part of it, and you do not seem to understand that my words are meant as a complement to you!" Fëanáro persisted in all seriousness. "But neither your father nor Aulë are what this visit of mine was meant to be about, and well you know it! I told you, did I not, and upon my arrival that I had brought you my mother's promised gift!"

This sudden turn of conversation to the gift puzzled me somewhat, for surely we had moved onto matters most intimate? But mayhap he would speak of the gift first? I knew how much he thought of his mother! "There was no need for a gift! The Queen had far more important matters to think about in those last days than of I!"

"You are wrong!" he cut in sharply. Again was there fire in his eyes, and also in his voice. "She thought often of you in those days; of the daughter of her friend in whom she saw much promise. That sculpture she asked of you to make; a purpose did she have in so asking. Did my mother not wish to see your skill of creation, so that she could better know its creator! And she liked well what she saw!" He paused, as if remembering the conversation with her. "And then she gave your work to me to consider; to reflect upon! `So free of thought, so different to the others is this little maid,' she said. And she need say no more, for I knew her intent."

My heart was pounding again; for he had drawn so close that I could feel his breath upon my cheek. Good memories had I of Queen Míriel, but I wondered now where his words were leading. His earlier conversation did I wish most strongly to pursue; and that matter of which Ecthelion had spoken. "Queen Míriel was kind to me!" was all I could utter.

"It was even so!" he continued, hardly pausing for breath. "And she bade me ensure you were offered a gift from her in return; something she had in mind, something most precious to her. This I do now. Behold thy gift, Nerdanel. It is before thee, if thou doest choose to accept it!"

With the utmost effort did I maintain my composure at his offer. Though I knew, I thrice knew, and from Aulë, and from Yavanna, and from the Lord Ecthelion, that this was my heart's desire, I was nigh overcome.

"You are my gift from your mother?" I asked in wonder; nay, astonishment!

An open smile of certainly lit his features. Did he entertain any doubt that I would accept him? Ai, he had no doubt!

"That is what I said!" Still no move did he make, neither toward nor away from me. "You asked earlier of the reason for my absence, and did I not reply that I had been pondering a matter of great import! I do not choose lightly she whom I wish to wed, nor without due care. No ordinary maid of the Noldor art thou, Nerdanel, for in thee do I find a companion of my fëa, and one who shares my heart's longings, and dreams. And if thou doest doubt my intentions yet, that they are without any honour, then there is this for thy consideration before thou givest me thy answer, yea or nay!"

Reaching out to take hold of both of my hands, he enclosed them firmly in his own; and the full might of those brilliant eyes was upon me. "My heart's love doest thou have, Lady!" he whispered. At the hearing of those words, and from his own lips, I was lost to him; my heart's love surrendered to the son of Finwë.

"Aye, Fëanáro!" I replied.

He looked for a moment perplexed. "Aye; thou doest accept my mother's gift?"

I shook my head, enjoying this game now I knew better his moves! "Aye; I love thee!"

And I was happy then; a joy so sharp, so exquisite, that it nigh robbed me of my breath and of my wits! I beheld him, the silver light shining upon his dark hair, and fair face, as the one I had always dreamt of; so much power to enchant me did he have, and did he use! He raised my hands to his lips; measured and controlled was that gesture.

"Let others say what they will about thee, and they shall have me to answer to! For my noble lady art thou, and my wife to be!"

With one hand, he withdrew something from his belt, and made to offer this second gift to me. In the shape of a silver circle it was, upon a fine wrought chain, and fashioned upon it was a single star of many rays; like unto the star embroidered on the red cloak he oft times wore!

"Better will I craft for thee hereafter! But do thou accept this gift, Nerdanel, as a token of the vow I will make thee in the presence of others!" I trembled as I bowed my head, pulling back my hair, so he could place that which he had made for me about my neck!

Then was I in his arms, and my world that had been, it was unmade forever!


****


And so it came to pass that Fëanáro had his way, and, early in the year 1184, my long- delayed first visit to Tirion was made. I rode forth from my father's house, to formally make that commitment which would, in time, unite the House of Urundil with the House of King Finwë. A dappled horse I sat upon, and I was robed in white, with Aulë's gift clasped about my waist, and a copper circlet, made by my father, upon my brow. As we approached the green hill of Túna, upon which the white marble and crystal city of the Noldor stood, Yavanna Kementári gifted me also. White blossoms (a reminder of her words, mayhap?) fell from the trees at the feet of our entourage, and became entwined in my hair. But the greatest gift, I believed at that time, was the one that Míriel had bequeathed to me; he for whom I had made the silver ring, carried on the fine chain he had gifted me, that was next my heart.

All years are Valinorian years.
Nolofinwë= Fingolfin
Turukáno = Turgon.
Moringotho = Morgoth
Valaraukar = Balrog.
Nerri = He-elves
Nissi = She-elves
Aikanáro = Aegnor
Arafinwe = Finarfin
Itarildë = Idril
Artanis = Galadriel
Fëar = Spirits

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