(Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Tolkien. Nothing is mine except for the mistakes.)
(A/N In the Silmarillion it is told how Feanor’s seven sons survive his death. In notes to ‘The Shibboleth of Fëanor’ (HoME 12), a different tale is told.)
With thanks to Ellfine for reading and encouragement, and to Vana Tuivana for her suggestions.
1497: The tent of the King of the Noldor. The edge of the Firth of Drengist
In the silver blue light of the crystals that illuminate my tent, my son’s hair appears as dark as his mood.
“Thou wouldst speak with me?”
The day before last it was set to its full glory, like unto his grandsire’s hair, by the flames from the burning ships. Copper-brown is the true colour, though under starlight, under lamplight one would know it not.
“I must know, my king,” says he, purposefully. “I must know – atar!”
We have not agreed on all matters of late, my eldest son and I. Nor are we likely to in the near future. Yet, despite his grievance, is his heart most loyal to me. Though he is not as Curufinwe, he is the son in whom the fire of my spirit burns strongest.
He keeps one hand upon the raised tent flap, as if unsure whether he wishes be in my presence. The action pleases me not at all! Ever am I decisive, so should he be – so is he most often. But I realise why he is here. I grip more firmly the pen with which I intend to make detailed recordings of what we have found – of this cold wasteland that lies between shore and mountain. Would that we were already pressing on. Would we were come against Moringotho now – while I, also, am in this darkest of moods. Yet it takes of time to move a host, even the Noldor. So we make camp this ‘day’ and seek to prepare for what lies ahead.
I give my son no reply. I need not explain my actions. All know not to speak to me of the matter.
But Nelyafinwe is not as all others.
“Atar! Didst thou know that Telufinwe intended to sail back to Valinor before flame was set to the ships?”
Though he dare face me, even he dare not openly speak the words – ‘Didst thou slay thine own son, believing him to be a traitor?’
I put down the pen, most carefully, most precisely. He knows he is risking my wrath, that my mood is fey, darker even than his. But still is he here, my firstborn, the chief of my captains. Only now he moves away from the entrance to stand boldly before the table at which I sit.
“Pityafinwe, he wanders as in a trance. He speaks not, even though I keep him close company. I only know what it is like to lose a brother – not one of the same mind and form. Yet my anguish is great enough!”
I feel great bitterness, and stand of a sudden, keeping my eyes on his face as I smash my fist heavily on the tabletop. He does not flinch, but draws of a deep breath.
“And I know what it is like to lose all that I love!”
Those words hurt him, I observe. I did not intend them to wound as deeply as they have. But I will not recant them. I know he suffers; they all do! They suffer not the least from guilt that they were away on a hunt to ease their restlessness, rather than at Formenos to defend of my father, of my jewels. Not that they alone could have prevailed against the enemy.
I have lost all that I loved. But I hardened my heart before we left the shores of Aman, that nothing again would pain me. Nothing taken from me, no further betrayal of my trust would ever pain me!
Silent is he, solemn grey eyes willing, nay, demanding that I end at least some of his agony. So we hold each other’s gaze – neither of us able to back down from the confrontation.
“I would know, atar,” he repeats softly, after a few moments. “That I can speak with conviction to Pityafinwe, and he understand he has lost not his sire as well as his twin to the flames.
Understand! A reminder of her Nelyafinwe can be, that he seeks to understand minds and hearts. So be it! He alone will I speak to of what transpired, and but once.
“Did I know that Telufinwe slept aboard the first ship I, myself, set torch to?” I spoke brusquely. “That, so distressed was he with all that had befallen, he wished to sail back to Valinor, to rejoin his mother and take refuge in her loyalty to the Valar?”
Had I known before I gave orders for all the ships to be burnt – had I even suspected? Or had I been so taken up in my hatred of Moringotho, of Nolofinwe that I had questioned not the mood of those who were around me?
“Nay and aye! Three sons had I with hair of bright copper-brown. Would that I still had all three!”
He nods. He accepts my words, or mayhap I have hidden not my pain as well as I believe.
“I understand, my king and father!” says he, and, with a bow of acknowledgement, departs.
Again do I take up my pen, and write…
Entry 1547. Of the burning of the ships and first camp.
What to say? My youngest son sought to betray me! He is dead, and at my own hand!
The things we had not yet brought ashore were of no importance. Nothing lost on the ships was irreplaceable given time, except for him, except for Telufinwe. I did not know he was still aboard that ship, Nerdanel! Ai; I did not know! Would that I could tell thee and know that thou didst understand!
– – – – –
Atar – Father
Curufinwe – Curufin
Moringotho – Morgoth
Nelyafinwe – Maedhros
Telufinwe – Amras
Pityafinwe – Amrod
Nolofinwe – Fingolfin
Note on the use of ‘Moringotho for Morgoth. While it is clear that Fëanor names the Vala Melkor as Morgoth in The Silmarillion, I often use ‘Moringotho’ instead. In ‘Morgoth’s Ring’ HoME 10, two other names are given as older variations. Moringotto is the one mentioned on pages 194 and 294 of the HarperCollins edition. Moringotho is mentioned just once, on page 294.