(Disclaimer; all characters are JRR Tolkien’s. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 10 and 12)
” — Curufin the crafty, who inherited most his father’s skill of hand; –“
( The Silmarillion. `Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië. )
The house of Curufinwë Fëanáro. Tirion. Seventh Age.
So clear was his voice as I awoke, that I almost expected him to be there! But dream it was! Not this time a dream of a vision; no dream of grief, of his or any other’s death, to leave me in a state of mourning. Rather, like unto that dream I had many months past, and of Ar-Feiniel*, for it began with her, and the plea to remember her.
As before, was I half awake, and half asleep, drifting between worlds, between consciousnesses, and I was thinking of that dark haired daughter of Nolofinwë* and Anairë, as it seemed to me she had so asked. Thought became dream, and I saw her, robed as ever in white and silver, sitting in our gardens, and laughing with much joy as Tyelkormo* explained his latest, and rather unsuccessful, (for him!), hunting venture. She could do better, so she told him, and he had offered to give her the opportunity to try and best him. Confident was my third son that she could not! He should not have been so confident, for was Ar-Feiniel not also a grandchild of King Finwë – tall and proud and beautiful, – and most resourceful! And her voice was as the music of the silver bells of Valmar, ringing in a day of festival. Yet as I watched the scene unfold, and with happy memory, her expression changed but slightly. I noticed her eyes alight on something – on someone – out of my view, and a knowing smile of recognition touched her lips. She turned her pale, oval, face to me, and it was she and I, alone again. The garden, and that lost son of mine faded from view, as if drawn behind the veil of a heavy waterfall. “Do not forget me!” she stated again, as a heartfelt wish, “For I do not forget thee, Lady! Nor do I forget he whom thou didst have, and that love of a kind to which I long aspired!”
I gasped; for the thought then struck me that I knew what she meant! Strange it was, that I had not ever realised before! I had known Ar-Feiniel well for some few years, and a visitor at our house, and sometimes at my father’s house had Nolofinwë’s daughter been! For had she not ridden in the forests with all of my sons, and with a deep and abiding love of them, most certainly of Tyelkormo. But her heart’s love did she always hold in check, for she said she would be free of spirit, and choose most carefully whom to espouse.
I understood now that it had been Fëanáro and I whom she had watched that day. Speaking and laughing together of plans anew, had we been, as we had walked through the gardens, heading for the scriptorium to pursue further study.
“Aye!” said she, a wistful smile upon her fair face. “That was the sort of love I wanted! And only with your family did I find such affection and such might go hand in hand! You had the devotion of one who valued you as friend and counsellor, as well as wife! So powerful, so fiery of heart was my father’s half-brother, yet did he allow you to restrain him when the need arose! This did I witness on occasion! How many neri would have so allowed, and they having far less need of tempering than he! Such regard did he long hold you in! Such freedom did you have, Lady Nerdanel!
I wondered briefly on what other relationships Ar-Feiniel had used to compare us with! From Indis’ words, and from my own observation did I know that Nolofinwë loved Anairë most dearly. Yet was Anairë a noble and pious lady, and most concerned with serving Varda, and with her household, and that it was pleasing to her lord! Though I liked her well, we are of a vastly different temper, she and I!
And freedom! I had great freedom as a child in my father’s house, and perhaps also with Fëanáro! Rare indeed had been his prohibitions, save regarding Indis, and always had he encouraged me in what I sought to do. But I thought, too, on how possessive he could be with me sometimes, as well as with his father. Could I not recall his words on our wedding day!
“I will not have any other that is mine taken from me!”
Never, until the days immediately before the first exile, did I resent him this, for I knew from whence it stemmed.
`You wanted a love like mine?’ I thought also on what had befallen Ar-Feiniel. Her marriage to the dark Elda, the Teler, Eöl, had been something of a mystery that was spoken of in hushed whispers amongst those who returned in the early Second Age. For was it not known that her husband had been the cause of her death! From what I had been told, there were some similarities in skill and mood between that Teler and my lord. Perhaps, I considered, she had hoped to find in him the companion I had found in Fëanáro? But nay! I shook my head, and smiled in turn. She who had departed Valinor knew what had become of my marriage! And even so, none there were, like unto Fëanáro! Never were there, or would there be, any like unto him!
Then my mood was broken, and again I realised the futility of talking with a dream. Ar-Feiniel’s fëa resided yet with Námo Mandos, and could not depart his halls save Manwë granted her release. Though some had returned from those halls in recent Ages, (Had not Findaráto* been long returned, and in the last Age, Angaráto*, his brother, also! Did Findaráto and Amárië, his Vanya wife, not live now in peace and in much solitude in the Gardens of Lórien!), was there not always a will to return, as well as a resolution of past deeds! I thought not that, as with my family, return had been withheld, but could think of no reason for her to return either! At that thought did she also fade from my view, but the sense of presence that then came to be with me, following her departure, was not one I could easily dismiss.
I sat up with a start, in my bed, in my room of old in Tirion. And I believed myself to be fully awake!
“Nerdanel!” said he, with but the faintest touch of hope, “Àna apsenë!”* Then no more. Yet in three words did it seem all of Eä was renewed for me! It had to be a dream, did it not! For he had most surely been referred to Eru, * and was to remain in the Halls of Awaiting until the End!
So, now awake in truth, do I ponder that soon I must depart Tirion, and travel on those last leagues of my journey, to the Gardens of Lórien. For as my father once spoke, so shall I do! Therein shall I lay myself upon the soft grass, and seek release from my grief, for I have but deluded myself with the happier memories of which I write. This last Age, this Seventh Age, has brought little comfort to me, and, since the return of all those who sought the West, offers no future end to my sorrow. Tired am I, who was once so strong! But first must I recall memories of Curvo, and of Ambarussa, and then I can begin the final part of the tale that I intend to write. Long have I demurred at such, for I know the grief I will feel in its reliving, and, to my shame, seek to avoid it! But no craven have I ever been; I can indulge myself in memories of the golden years no longer, and write of the dark days I must if my heart is to ever be at peace. That account must I retell of how Moringotho* so twisted Fëanáro’s perception, so aimed his spite and his lies at the one whose skill he envied, that there was naught I could do to hold my husband to me, or to my counsel. Like unto the smallest corner of a triangle was I, though fight I most certainly did to keep those whom I loved; whom I love still. Yet was I but a nís, and he who sought to destroy my husband, a Vala!
Write I must, that I may yet wrench back even the smallest of victories for my lord, though he will know not what I have attempted until the End! What can he know, who it is said may walk no more amongst his kin! No forgiveness will there be for my family it has always been said, and always have I believed that to be the truth. For it is not thought that any of them sought forgiveness, save some rumours alone have there been, of Makalaurë, and, that mayhap the actions of Ambarussa the younger speak loudly of his shame of the Oath and the Kinslaying!
No forgiveness will there be! But that dream, those three words! And Fëanáro; he had said `Nerdanel, forgive me!’
Curufinwë the crafty, the skilled, the son of his father! Not only like unto Fëanáro in appearance was Curufinwë, but like him in mood also. By two years of age was Curvo showing forth much of his father’s skills of hand and of word. By five years was he a challenge to my father in works of hand, and had surpassed almost all of the Aulenduri! That fifth born son of ours, brought to birth at such a dear cost to me, showed promise of crafting and linguistic skills beyond any of his brothers. Other skills also did Curvo possess, and some that were rare indeed!
In high spirits had I been that day we rode out to the dwellings of the Aulenduri, Makalaurë, Curvo and I. It was the first time I had left Tirion since the birth of our fifth son, the first I had felt again of sufficient strength of fëa and hröa to embrace sweet life with delight, and be about my crafting with a will. Now my father had plans of working upon building an aqueduct to bring water from one of the many mountain streams across the hillside on the western edge of the Calacirya, to a clearing amidst the blue firs. A fountain and pool, he intended to build there, and with the aid of Narwasar and his apprentices, to provide refreshment unto travellers along that way. But also, as with all creations, did my father intend to so design the aqueduct that it would blend most harmoniously with the tall trees it would needs pass through. A fine and pleasing design was Urundil working upon, and he had sought my aid in sculpting and carving, in features to enhance the work. (Though did I think he and my mother wished mostly to see me, and well again! Both were heartfelt glad that I had not succeeded in departing this existence, as had the Lady Míriel so few years after giving birth. Both held mixed feelings towards he who was my husband, for siring such a child as Curvo upon me, and then for giving so much of himself over this half-year to restore me from my weakness.)
Makalaurë had wished to accompany me on that visit, for it had been long since he had spoken with my parents, and ever did he enjoy so doing. Most fond was he of Urundil and Taurlotë, and of the different audience he had amongst the Aulenduri for his music. He would spend much time with my mother, talking of her interests, and of the use of plants and herbs she grew, and sometimes would he participate in whatever sports the apprentices indulged themselves in. Unlike Carnistir, Makalaurë did not always have to win every contest, though mostly he did! He also enjoyed wandering the valley and hills around that collection of homes and forges in a manner as I had done in my early youth, and in so doing had `chanced’ upon his father!
But Makalaurë, whatever excuse he gave, was there to keep watch over me. He was there for my support, if I so needed it! Though I believed I needed it not, right glad was I always of his company! Would that I had it now!
Curvo had not wanted to come! Far rather would he have stayed in Tirion with Fëanáro, and sought to observe his father’s latest works. In this habit had Fëanáro indulged him more than he would have done the others. Mayhap he indulged Curvo far more than he should have! For to my husband, it was as if Curvo was himself again as a child, and then as a youth, learning from his sire, and loving him unreservedly and beyond all. In many ways was this so, but Curvo, although he was most like Fëanáro, and to become more like unto him as he grew, was yet not him! Devoted though our fifth son was, it was Maitimo I believe who loved his father most! (It was Maitimo whom I was to much later observe pursuing his father, in the greatest of haste and distress, fearing that Fëanáro might slay himself after hearing what had befallen Finwë and the Silmarili at Formenos!)
But on that particular occasion had Fëanáro insisted that his beloved son went with me, and spent some little time getting to better know his grandparents, and practice his skills of hand with Urundil! Was not Fëanáro planning to spend much time working upon his latest device, his stone in which things afar could be viewed as if close, (that device he had first envisaged while working with my father upon that gem with which to observe the stars!) and to show it to his father, to King Finwë the following day?! My lord wanted time alone, and time with Finwë; and meant to have it, he said. Curvo had stood in silence at his father’s command, and answered not! Nor had he spoken to any of us, until the departure. Then he had run to his father, and though still silent, had attempted to embrace him. Fëanáro was never the most demonstrative of parents, but he was more tactile than many of the Noldor, and he loved well his sons, and always sought to encourage and support us all. So did he allow and return the embrace, and with much feeling. And did not Fëanáro then speak to Curvo as we crossed over the bridge, and headed for the gates that he would see to it that Tyelkormo stopped at my parent’s house when he rode forth a few days later. At that, a slight smile graced us all, and Curvo was no longer in a mood to ponder his misfortune. That Tyelkormo would have no objections to riding out with this younger brother, (Curvo was just then over half a year old!), and would doubtlessly take him for a few days into the forests, I had already known. I wondered then how Curvo had so managed to persuade one who had shown little interest in Carnistir, that he should be allowed to partake of his company! But the relationship between Tyelkormo and Curvo was to develop into a most strong bond, that perhaps I should have done something to discourage!
Now it came to pass that, the second day after our arrival at my parent’s house, I had been in my father’s workroom, hair bound back, sleeves rolled up, and seated at a bench upon which lay several designs I was considering for embellishing the aqueduct. I had felt a little weaker at that time than I had the previous day, and found I was still tiring more easily than I hoped. But no matter, thought I! I would take my time, and work but steadily. Nothing there was in my father’s house to tax me overly, and soon enough would I be reunited with my husband. It came to my mind then to give form to Uinen for my design, to the Lady of the Seas, and to use statues of her likeness, and forms inspired by her, of wave and foam and weeds of the streams and waters. And I reflected upon how it was said of her that she could lay calm upon the oceans, restraining the wildness of her spouse, Ossë! Such thoughts had brought a smile to my face, thinking on how appropriate it was that I should devote a work of mine to such a Lady! Then, arrow sharp, a directed thought was in my mind!
Only two days had it been since we had departed Tirion, yet was my spouse, my lord calling unto me!
`Thou art well, Lady??’
Ever since Curvo’s birth had Fëanáro kept close watch on me. That he had feared to lose me, as his mother had been lost I knew! I had also feared I would be lost! But since that most difficult of births a special closeness had developed, not only between Curvo and his father, but also between his father and I. Almost did it become for us as it was at the dawn of our love. To realise that loss of the other was possible, if most unlikely, put intensity in our relationship that few, save Finwë, could have then understood.
“Aye, my Lord!” I returned my own thought with pleasure along that slender thread of union. “I work upon designs as my father wishes!”
“Thou hast tired thyself already!” But then his tone of rebuke softened. I could `feel’ his smile, his sudden change of humour over some matter, as he continued, and dryly.
`Get thyself changed out of thy working garb, and into something more fitting for partaking of a meal. Tell that fox, thy father, that I will dine with thy family at the end of this day!’
That was all. He did not remain for a confirmation of his wishes. He had spoken, and in such cases, so would I do! Ever to the point was he in such thought. It was enough of a touch for him to know that, while I was not yet of my old strength, I suffered no lapse of will to live!
So, with a sigh, did I push to one side my early plans and sketches, and I made some haste unto the house. I looked into the forge as I passed and noticed that my father was there with Curvo and three others who had their backs turned to the door. Urundil was talking with great patience to his grandson, who looked decidedly sullen, almost as Carnistir had as a child. I hoped then that, if Curvo were bored, he would have the manners and grace not to show such.
“Father! My Lord bids me tell you he will here for the late meal this day!”
My Father halted his lecture, and nodded, and Curvo turned to look to me, a satisfied grin lighting his small face.
`Aye, little one!’ I thought! `Thy father misses thee too!’
Crossing the courtyard, I noticed Makalaurë with my mother, walking in the gardens, and called to them that we were to have a visitor.
“Already do we have a visitor, Nerdanel. For Curumo* is in the forge with your father and Curvo as we speak!” Taurlotë replied, gathering up fruit from the bushes and placing what she had collected in the deep white bowl held by my second son.
Curumo! So one of those with his back turned towards me had been that most powerful of Aulë’s people! Strange that I had not sensed his presence, for I had known the Maia from my early childhood, and had found much amusement in his company, in his show of works of creation and his devices. Ever considerate of me, had he been, often taking appearance as one of us so as to more easily converse and explain matters; in form, tall and dark of hair, with a thin face and deep, dark eyes was he often! Mayhap I had other matters on my mind that had prevented me from so noticing him, and yet must he also have been pre-occupied at that moment not to greet me! I wondered then at what news or instruction he had brought from Aulë, for of a certainty, Curumo did not travel from Aulë’s Halls but for a festival, or on matters of import.
“Two visitors then, Mother!” I commented nonchalantly, and Makalaurë raised his head from examining blueberries, a slight smile touching his face as he realised who I meant. Always in those days did Fëanáro’s presence seem to draw us, wife and sons alike, as if he were our very source of light and power, our life itself!
I had called to the kitchen as I passed through the outer hall of the house, to those nissi who gave my mother assistance in preparation of food. Then I turned to the stairs and found that I nigh raced up them to my room, as I had so done as a child. A feeling of anticipation at what that day would bring had taken hold of me in a manner the highborn Ladies of Tirion may well have considered inappropriate! But I was at my home of old, I was planning to work at something I delighted in, my sons were about me, and a visitor of interest we had! And Fëanáro was soon to be with us! Almost as a young maid again did I feel at that thought, and I was not surprised to notice warmth and colour flooding my cheeks, as it had not for very many a year. I knew not then quite why I felt so, what power or persuasion was upon me that I was suddenly so uplifted in fëa. Then, as I entered my room to seek refreshment and that change of attire, did I notice upon the white covers of my bed a single sprig of wildflower.
“Finwion! Never did I think thou would use the might of thy thoughts to beguile me so!” I protested aloud, in mock annoyance! But, as he walked back into the room himself, and from the small balcony to the west, he knew well that I was far from annoyed!
Much later it was, and past time for preparation of food when I, freshly attired in a gown of white and with that copper girdle that Aulë had long ago gifted me clasped around my waist, entered the main hall of my father’s house. I apologised to my mother for my lack of assistance, though did she then have other help, and not just that of the nissi, but of Makalaurë also. Fëanáro was engrossed in a conversation with Narwasar in the far corner of the room, though he caught my eye, and bowed slightly to me. Again did my face flush to the colour of my hair, and he had achieved his aim! So did he return to his conversation.
Now did my father and that Maia guest of ours enter the room, with Curvo but a few steps behind them, and ready we were for the meal to begin. But Curvo I noticed was still of a most sullen apearance!
“Come now, indyo*, tell us all of the skill you have learnt this day!” Urundil made light of his grandson’s mood, as he took seat to the left of the table head. (My father gave honour to my husband in such manner, though of right should Fëanáro have sat in the place of honoured guest rather than the place of master of the house!)
But Curvo shook his head, and spoke forth softly, though with respect. “Much of your teachings have I to consider, Grandfather. I would ask your leave to speak not at this time!”
So it was! We all sat at the long table, but Curvo made fast to his father’s side, to whisper something, but a few words to him. Both my husband and youngest son were silent for a long moment, as Urundil halted before giving thanks to Yavanna for the provisions granted us, and biding all to partake of the meal. In that moment, Curumo seated opposite to me, smiled most warmly.
“Well met again, Lady Nerdanel. I have missed your presence in the Halls of Aulë, for it does seem of recent years you do not seek me as you did as a child! Mayhap, with your lord’s permission, we could remedy that, and work on something anew once your crafting with your father is complete?”
I smiled in return, and at the thought of crafting with Curumo; and I was eager to know of the white robed Maia’s errand. Yet still so aware of the recent embrace of my lord was I, so bound in fëa to him, that I started, I almost jumped, at the sudden change in his mood, as I perceived he became as ice!
“Is something ailing you, Lady?” Curumo leant forward with concern at my change in demeanour.
“My wife is tired yet from pouring her own life and strength into the birth of our son, Curumo!” Fëanáro answered for me. “Yet do I have the ability to care for my own. For her, and for our children!” My husband had filled his goblet with limpë, and was holding the gaze of our other guest in no uncertain manner. He raised his drink, as a gesture, a toast.
“To Aulë! And to those of the Maiar who are ever the friends of my people!”
Most courteously had Fëanáro spoken, yet it was as a challenge! But why, and to what end I knew not in that moment.
“To Aulë and the Maiar!” the rest at that table echoed.
“To Aulë!” Curumo still smiled, but now at Fëanáro. Then his mood altered also, and he was about discussion with my father again.
“Guard your thoughts, Lady!”
Little did I feel like eating in that moment, for I was most concerned at what was happening. I watched as Curvo took his seat, between Makalaurë and I, and kept watch, under his long dark lashes, of this ‘other’ visitor.
“Though Curumo is a servant of Aulë, and a friend of yours, yet all may not be as it seems.” Fëanáro continued, speaking into my mind, and deftly cutting up a piece of fruit with his knife. “For Curvo likes not the Maia overmuch! Our son says that his voice is one of beguilement and that Curumo has heard talk, and would know much more of my latest work and if he could be of aid! Yet he speaks not directly to me! The Palantiri are not for him to know of, not unless and until I so wish!”
Little did I speak with Curumo that day, save for the exchange of a few more pleasantries and asking after others of the Maiar who were as my friends. He departed soon enough after the meal, though with another request that, at some time in the future we would craft together again, he and I. At that did my husband reply, and with much power in his voice.
“Nay, Curumo! I think not! For my wife is most dear to me and to our sons, and ill would I take it to be parted overlong from her. Elsewhere must you look for a companion in your work!”
And with a final farewell to my father, who still knew not exactly why Curumo had visited, the Maia departed.
Curvo indeed had much foresight, and that from me as well as from Fëanáro; though the power of mind and of conjuring images and persuasion with words, even as Curumo would do, did he inherit from his sire alone! Curumo was not then what he became in his appointment by the Valar to the Hither Lands, but always curious was he, and much of my lord’s creations!
On other occasions was Curvo to give warning from his heart that something felt not right unto him, and that skill would, in one instance, save even Fëanáro from suffering great harm! But that is another part of the story!
·Ar-Feiniel = Aredhel
·Nolofinwë = Fingolfin
·Tyelkormo = Celegorm
·Findaráto = Finrod
·Angaráto = Angrod. ( I am afraid I used Angrod, rather than Angaráto in the previous chapter! )
·In HoME 12 `Last Writings’ and the following footnote 8, it suggests that Manwë could delay the restoration of a fëa to life, if the fëa, while alive, had done evil deeds and refused to repent of them, or still harboured malice against any other person amongst the living. In the gravest cases (such as that of Fëanor) return was withheld and referred to the One.
·Moringotho = Morgoth
·Ana apsenë = Forgive me!
·Indyo = Grandson
·Curumo = Curunir = Saruman. I am not suggesting in any way that Curumo / Saruman is ‘evil’ at this point. I am trying to suggest that Curvo has some measure of ‘seeing’ into hearts,(as Fëanáro later has with Morgoth.) Curvo sees an inordinate interest in his father’s skills, and a being determined to find out more of what he wants to know. Also, I am implying that Curumo has certain character traits that he will later misuse, such as his power with words, his voice. Fëanáro also can use his voice, his choice of words to effect, as can Curvo.
( Sorry! Again, this is only the first part of the chapter.)