Disclaimer: All characters are JRR Tolkien’s. Motamë and Serewen are my character in this section. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 10 and 12
“Also the Eldar say that in the begetting, and still more in the bearing of children, greater share and strength of their being, in mind and in body, goes forth than in the making of mortal children.”
(HoME 10. Morgoth’s Ring. `The Later Quenta Silmarillion’.)
The house of Curufinwë Fëanáro. Tirion. Seventh Age
Seven sons did I bear him! Seven sons have I lost these many Ages! The records show that Fëanáro was renowned as the father of seven sons, and with the usual bias of later writers against anything female, say little if anything about me! Mighty though he was, he could not have brought forth any sons at all without my collaboration! Now it is true that in the begetting of children, the neri put forth a great share of their strength, of their mind and body, but the greater share of strength is required in the bearing, and in the bringing to birth of a child, and of necessity are the nissi the ones who give most of themselves.
I remember the feeling, being aware of my energy for life passing into the hröa of our unborn children. And Fëanáro also was aware of the draining of strength, though he made light of it, as though it taxed him not! But also did the fëa of the yet unborn draw nourishment from both parents, directly from me, of course, and in equal, though mediated form from him, and through the bond of our own fëar. So it was, that during the years of the children we were rarely apart, and that for but short periods.
Those years, those nigh a hundred* years, were ones of great joy for me. Here it was, in this house in Tirion, that much of our lives were led at that time, though also did we roam throughout Valinor as soon as our sons were old enough to travel. And often were we guests in the halls of Aulë.
When I think of the passing of strength into my children, I think most often on the birth of Curvo*. Our fifth son nigh consumed me, and nearly was I lost to Fëanáro and our children, even as Míriel had been lost! In memory, that day is as clear to me as yesterday!
It was in Yavië of the Year of the Trees, 1261! I had been working on a sculpture of Serewen, and wanted it to reflect her likeness as well as most of my works reflected the likenesses of my family and friends. By then did I have a reputation as a sculptress of uncanny skill. My works were so lifelike that, if they knew not my art, friends would speak to them as if they had life! But this crafting was difficult, mostly because I was large with child, and found I tired more easily than I had with the four sons I had already brought forth. Fëanáro spent much time with me in the last months, giving of his strength of fëa to support and sustain me, but we both knew that this child would be a little different. This child was going to be more like him than any of the others!
On that particular day had he ridden forth to my father’s house. They were working together on ideas, on early plans for improving upon Urundil’s device for observing the stars, and also had my father begun to teach my husband in earnest of all the skills of Aulë in metalwork. (Those skills he would, in time, feel the need to so abuse by the crafting of swords!) Only recently had it seemed that Fëanáro had finished with his work on developing the alphabetic script, the Tengwar, and now was he looking for new challenges, for new things to craft again. He would not have left me had he known that day I was to give birth. Always had he been with me. But this child was indeed to be like him, and was strong and eager for life. Too eager to be born was Curvo!
Alone was I when the first pains, the first pangs of birth gripped me. I was not ready, not for twelve days or more did I expect this child to seek the light! So gripped was I with a sudden weakness that all I could do was cry out. Carnistir*, who was by then fourteen* years old, and Makalaurë* came running to my workroom in haste.
I remember Carnistir reaching me, just as the strength in my legs failed. He carried me back to the house, through the open windows of my study and up the marble staircase to my room, while I dug my fingers into his arms in agony. Too quick, the child was coming in too much haste!
“Fëanáro! I need thee!” I had called to my husband in fëa, though my mind was already hazed and unfocused, so that I knew not at the time if he had heard. Carnistir was shouting for Maitimo* to ride out to my parent’s house; Makalaurë had run to fetch the midwife, to fetch Serewen or Arnónë, or Mötamë! He would fetch anyone he could, for though they knew well what was to happen, none of my sons would have wished to aid the birthing of a younger sibling. Then so strong was my pain that, for a time, I remembered no more!
Short spaces of consciousness there were, interspaced by ones of unconsciousness. How could I be so weak? Never before had my strength failed me! My children were not normally born in a moment, but this felt as if a moment would be too long, so swiftly in succession were the contractions. Carnistir had laid me upon my bed, and had brought a bowl of cool, rose scented water to bathe my brow. His face held a look of strained disbelief. He was no coward, none of my sons were! But this was asking a lot of him. “You are doing well!” I managed to gasp to him, trying to be encouraging. Soon enough did Mötamë come hurrying to my aid. She lifted me up to support me in my efforts, and my fourth son stepped hastily back in some relief from the task he had feared would be his.
I heard softened voices around me, and speaking with much concern. I had thought `This must be death! This must be where Míriel has gone!’ Surely I was in the Gardens of Lórien at the least, for all was a dusk-light to my eyes. But then did the fragrance of the eglantine that grew outside of the windows reach me, and I knew I was still alive, and at home in Tirion. But the tiredness, Ai! No strength at all had I, and it seemed to me as if my body had been ripped apart. My child was already born, and instead of the expected joy, I had no longer the will to continue the labour of living.
So tired! I had drifted in and out of the cool, shadow-world, and each time did I wish the sooner to return to it. Only in that numbing darkness was the pain and weakness bearable. This had been so different to my other four children. Tired had I been in bringing them forth, but nothing like this!
Hushed words were again being spoken nearby, and I remember opening my eyes, and seeing the drawn expression on the face of Mötamë, as she tried to administer a potion that would aid my rest.
“Drink this, Lady! You need to sleep!”
Before I passed again into the shadows, I saw Makalaurë; now sitting to one side of my room, keeping silent vigil was he. ” We are here, Mother! Maitimo has gone to fetch father! All will be well!” He did not sound so convinced! His beautiful voice was haunted with concern, though he endeavoured for it not to show.
“The child? What has happened?” I whispered to him.
“He is well. He is strong. But you must rest, Lady mother!”
I tried to understand what my second son was saying, but too difficult it was, and the potion was having its soporific effect upon me.
Dream was I in, a dream of standing on a seashore, as in my childhood. But the sky was dull grey; the waters were dark and cold, and the waves upon the shore were tugging at my legs, pulling me forwards. So very tired was I.
Again could I hear voices. Maniel, the midwife it was, and her tone was raised, and in something of anguish!
“How can this be? She has had but little trouble with any of the others! Too strong is this child, too eager was he to be born, that he has done to her what her lord did to his mother!”
” Do not even say that!” Mötamë replied, ” The Lady Nerdanel will not seek release from this life!”
“My mother is strong! ” Makalaurë was now sitting beside me, holding onto my hand. Willing me his strength he was! But that was not for him to do! By the doorway did I see that Carnistir, and now also Tyelkormo*, kept watch. They thought I was going to languish, that I would not recover from my ordeal! They all thought they were to lose me! But no strength had I to speak to them, no hold on sweet life that I could even tell my sons I would be there for them on the morrow!
Again was I in the colourless world; the cold, deep waters were pulling at my legs and it seemed as if I were wading, knee deep. My body seemed so heavy, so tired was I; so cold!
And if I chose, I knew I could lay myself down on that water, and I would drift, and there would be no more pain.
“We must send again for help!” Carnistir was saying. “Tyelkormo, will you not ride forth to see what keeps our father?”
“Too late it is to reach Prince Fëanáro,” Mötamë sighed, ” Too long will it take for him to return from the dwellings of the Aulenduri!”
“Send for the Lady Serewen, and now! ” suggested the desperate Meniel, “Or better still, send for the Lady Indis. Ever were they friends, and she, if any, will know what to do!”
The darkness sought then to envelope me, but those last words had the effect of bringing aid, though not in the way Meniel had envisaged!
“You will not send for the Lady Indis!” There was the sound of hurried footsteps upon the stairs, and a brisk stride down the gallery. I did not need to open my eyes to know what expression those in the room now bore. I need not open my eyes to know Fëanáro was already there! “I will not have that Vanya in my house! Go! Fetch more healers, fetch Serewen!” he instructed brusquely. “Now, be gone! Leave me with my lady!” There was a rush of departing footsteps, and then silence.
I felt his presence drawing closer to me. “Tell me what has happened, Nerdanel! Why are you afflicted so?”
“Our son is born, and in a hurry was he!” I whispered, as my husband sat beside me, and leant forwards in great concern. But too weary was I to say more. In fëa did I beg of him `Please, Fëanáro, let me be! Too late hast thou come to my aid!’ I began to drift again, into that welcoming ocean, but then the sharp command of his voice halted me.
” I will not lose you, lady! You will not desert me and our children!”
I stood in the water that now reached up to my waist, and longed most desperately to fall forwards into oblivion, into the care of Mandos! I dearly loved my family, but so consumed was my body and spirit that I cared not to live. Yet on the pale beach behind me, I knew he stood! I could feel his warmth, the fire of his spirit reaching out to me. He spoke directly into my thoughts, and with no small annoyance at my lack of response to him.
“If this is your will, Nerdanel, if this apathy is your answer to my presence, then I can walk away now! But should you choose life, lady, then understand; even if that cold darkness draws you unto itself, then will I follow to pull you from its grasp, and it will be a step to life or to death for both of us!”
I did not want to turn back, for I earnestly desired release, but so compelling was he that I had little choice.Though he had said `to life or to death for both of us’, the possibility of his own death could not have even touched his mind. So indeed did he mean that both of us would live!
“Nerdanel! Come back to me! I will not give up on you as my father did with my mother! I will not let you go! Come back into the light with me!”
And so, on that day, was his fire far stronger than the coolness of death. I could not have disobeyed his wishes; I could not have defied his will. Neither, in my right mind, did I wish to. I turned to him, and reached out to take hold of life again, and though the pain returned, the coldness was driven far away.
I had opened my eyes, and managed to murmur.” Help me, Finwion*, I am so weak!”
He held me to him, and with much gentleness as well as determination. For many hours did he sit thus, pouring his own strength and will into me, speaking with me of future plans, drawing me ever more into life. And then, when the others returned, when they brought my newborn son for me to nurse, he still remained. Fëanáro would not have let me go, and glad was I in future days of that!
“No more!” He had said to me on that day, as he held me, and smoothed my hair comfortingly. “No more children will I have thee bear. Five sons are enough, and more than many have brought forth!”
For a long time after that did we think that Curvo was to ever be our youngest, and to some extent may that account for why we both spoilt him! Curvo was to be the son most dear to Fëanáro’s heart! That son who nigh destroyed me was to be so like his father in form, and voice and skill, that Fëanáro gave him of his own name. At last did my lord think he had a child with whom he could experience the closeness he had known with his own father. (Though this was not to be! Indeed, had he so sought, that closeness would have better been found with Maitimo!) Though he loved all our sons, some did he understand better than others!
And I loved this son also, mayhap more than I should have! For was he not a lot younger than the others? Was he not so like his father that I named him Atarinkë*, and found there was little I could deny him!
So, from this event did I come the closest I ever would to understanding the death of Míriel! Though as I later pondered upon what had come to pass, did I realise that also were more questions raised than answered! And Fëanáro? He, too, must have wondered that his father had not been more successful in bringing his mother back fully to sweet life. Such thoughts must have pained him, and never did we truly speak of the matter!
·*Curvo = Curufin. For the most part I am using Curufin’s father name (Curufinwë, the same as Fëanor’s own name), as it says in HoME 12 that he alone of the sons preferred his father name to his mother name. Nerdanel had called him Atarinkë, meaning `little father’, because of his likeness to Fëanor.
Carnistir = Caranthir
Makalaurë = Maglor
Maitimo = Maedhros
Tyelkormo = Celegorm
Finwion = `son of Finwë’. Fëanor’s childhood name.