Disclaimer: All the characters belong to JRR Tolkien. Elemáinie and Narwasar belong to my beta reader, and friend, whom I thank for both the use of her characters, and for her patience! All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 10 and 12.)
“When the matter of Finwë and Indis arose he (Fëanor) was disturbed, and filled with anger and resentment, ……Míriel was condemned to remain for ever discarnate, so that he could never again visit her or speak with her, unless he himself should die. This grieved him, and he grudged the happiness of Finwë and Indis….”
( HoME 12. The Peoples of Middle Earth. `The Shibboleth of Fëanor’. )
The house of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.
The Lady Indis! Great friends were we at one time. She it was who offered me advice in the early years of my life in Tirion. She it was who aided me in my struggle to bring sanity into the escalating hatred that arose within our family. She it was who, being of high and noble lineage indeed, taught me the secret skill for the making of that coimas* which was my right and duty as Fëanáro’s wife; that `bread of life’ I was to serve him on our first day together as `one’. (He never knew that it was she who had taught me, and great would have been his distress had he so realised!)
I have not seen Indis for a great many years now, Adaneth. She retired with her daughter, Findis, to her own kindred, and grieves still for her loss. More rarely even than me has she visited Tirion since the days of darkness, and then but briefly to speak with her younger son, Arafinwë*, our King.
After the death of her husband, after the murder of Finwë, rather should I say, and the departure from Valinor of her beloved Nolofinwë* and her second daughter, Lalwendë, did Indis seek to be amongst her own kind again. She is a Vanya, (as I am sure you know!) one of the First Kindred of the Eldar and a daughter of the House of Ingwë. Long ages indeed have I held her in high esteem, though that was not at all to the liking of Fëanáro! Some thought as he, that the fate of the Noldor would have been more glorious had Finwë not chosen to re-marry, had Fëanáro and our sons remained the only line of descent of the King. But I am not so certain. Though indeed do I wish most strongly that my husband had not been forced to endure that which to him was an abomination, and a focus of ill-will that Morgoth came to so manipulate, yet do I hold that the Lady Indis was noble and kind, and that her children, were great, and for the most part, good! How did I come to know her so well, when Fëanáro wanted nothing but to be far from her, you ask? We were brides in the same house for a time, she and I; do you not see?
I think on occasions of that last time we were in the halls of Finwë’s house, Indis and I, and Anairë. After the darkening of Valinor it was, after the murder of Finwë, after that terrible Oath and the departure of nine tenths of the Noldor, following the lead of my lord! (Though in truth, most were following Nolofinwë!) Numbly, in my own anguish at the loss of all of my seven sons despite my pleading with Fëanáro, had I wandered the deserted, mist enshrouded, streets of our once fair city. My feet had led me ever upwards to the King’s house. And there, in that place that had once been a centre of life, of debate, of argument, of family, did I find Indis, resting upon the high seat that she had occupied as Finwë’s Queen. Her head was held high, and clear were her eyes, but unfocused, as her mind appeared to be elsewhere. In her hands did she clasp a deep blue cloak, one that had been her husband’s, and this did she raise absently to her cheek, as if she could still feel his warmth, sense him with her. I understood well what she did! Though she, like I, had lived apart from her lord in those last years of troubles, neither of us had done so due to lack of love. Yet now was Finwë beyond any reach of her fëa, any call to him that she could make. She did not weep; no tears then graced her beautiful face, nor dampened her golden hair; only silence there was, and pain!
And seated upon the floor, on the marble portrayal of the Great Journey on which Finwë had first led the Noldor to Valinor, did I see another. Nolofinwë’s wife — and for a short time, Queen in Tirion–the elegant and dignified Anairë, robed in white and silver-blue, her raven-black hair falling in long braids down her back and across her shoulders, sat with her head bowed. She too had lost husband and children on that terrible day, though her reasons for not accompanying her family were somewhat different to mine. Together in grief and in disbelief, were we three ladies of the Noldor! Together also in failure, I then thought. And the words long past, spoken to me by the Maia, Elemáinie, came to my mind in that time, words of how important was the role of the nissi, aye, even some of the Valiër in moderating, in calming their proud and sometimes headstrong lords. In this had we all failed, I concluded, and I had failed most of all! I sank to the floor opposite Anairë. My gown of red, specially chosen for the festival, for what I had believed would come to pass, billowed out around me where I sat, and almost in this lack of light did it seem as a pool of blood. I looked up to the wall at the back of the high hall at those brightly coloured, skilfully woven tapestries that bore the emblems of our family: of Finwë, of Fëanáro, of Nolofinwë and of Arafinwë! How long we sat there in silence I know not, for without the light of the Trees was the passing of time hard to measure! But the light was gone from us, and gone also were those who had been the light of our lives!
“I am not interested in your excuses! What I require is for you to follow my instructions. If you cannot manage that, then I would that you depart my presence, and now!” The commanding voice of Fëanáro resounded through the ornate, part open door and echoed down the mural-covered walls of the gallery towards me. Finwë’s friend and aid, Silwë departed the room with a most strained expression upon his face. That he found the King’s son difficult to deal with at times I well knew! But it now appeared that he had the unenviable task of communicating certain of Finwë’s wishes to Fëanáro.
“Tell my father I will speak with him in person, as I ever have, and not through you!”
Silwë hurried his pace, as a sound of something crashing to the floor also echoed down the gallery. The loyal friend of Finwë gave my companion and I a look of near despair as he approached us, heading for the stairs. “I am afraid my news has not left the Prince in the best of moods, my lady,” the silver gowned official bowed slightly, politely, and sympathetically to me in passing. I did not like the pity I saw for me in his eyes!
Ecthelion’s hand upon my arm steadied me somewhat, as I began to appreciate what others had meant when they spoke of the `strong willed, hot-tempered Prince’. Was I adequate for the task I had set myself, I considered then, and not for the last time!
“All will be well, Lady Nerdanel!” The calm mannered Ecthelion spoke softly to me. “Silwë has never been on Fëanáro’s list of `friends’, and often has there been misunderstandings between those two. With you will he be different; Prince Fëanáro will pay you heed!”
I wished I had Ecthelion’s confidence on the matter. As we walked up to the door, I could sense an atmosphere, a wall of almost impenetrable, brooding resentment. In the gardens at my home, when searching for Fëanáro after Tulcon’s betrothal, had I sensed him, his strength of will a real and present force of power. Now was that sensation intensified many fold! Ai, Fëanáro had such strength of will when he chose to exert it!
Ecthelion knocked loudly upon the door, but then he stepped back, leaving me feeling rather alone.
“What now?” Barely controlled was my betrothed’s rich and beautiful voice.
“It is I, my lord! I have come at your bidding” In earnest did I try to moderate my own tone, to a calming one, to one in a manner like unto my companion’s.
There was a pause, and I could hear movement in the room. Then Fëanáro spoke again, though more coolly.
” Nerdanel! Aye, come lady, I have been awaiting you!”
I had received Fëanáro’s message to `Come to him as soon as I might’, the previous day. The short information he had given about his father seeking a sundering of his first marriage and permission for a second marriage to Lady Indis filled me with apprehension. To seek to take a second wife was a thing unknown amongst the Eldar, though no other had been placed in Finwë’s situation at that time. But what Fëanáro knew, and I also knew well, was that should the Valar grant re-marriage to Finwë, they would almost certainly condemn Míriel to be discarnate forever, for it could not be permitted for an Elda to have two living spouses at the same time! (Such was the nature of our union, you realise!).
Fëanáro was asking me to go to him with some sense of urgency, though what I could do in the situation I knew not. I was not one of such import that I could offer challenge or debate, even if that were the correct thing to do. The Valar surely would know what was right, and if not, then could Manwë appeal to Iluvatar, to the All-Father himself! We should not interfere in this matter, Fëanáro and I, so I reasoned. But this I could do: I could be with him, I could listen and offer what comfort and advice he would take. I could take my place at his side rather than pursue my training at present. The visit to Aulë that I had hoped to make would have to wait.
My mother had been dismayed when I gave my parents the news. Taurlotë was a good friend of Míriel’s in their youth, and so was my mother much grieved at the turn of events.
“I understand Finwë’s distress at a lack of a life’s companion, at not bringing forth the number of children that he would will, but he could have waited some time yet!” My mother struggled to understand. “His haste; it speaks to me of lack of love on his part, though I know his love for Míriel was a great and glad thing while she lived.”
My Father had taken his favourite high backed chair at the table, his head in his hands as if in some great pain himself. He would not go back to his forge that day, for this news was grievous to him also.
“I understand what you say, Taurlotë, but it is our daughter I think of first in this. She will be marrying into a house that has sorrow upon sorrow, for Fëanáro will in no way take well to this decision of his father’s.” Urundil sighed deeply then. ” Finwë errs in his action, I deem, but then I have you by my side” He looked directly to my mother. “Unless you chose to desert me through death and never return, who am I to judge him? And Míriel, though she need depart at the time she did, apparently refuses to seek or accept healing, as Nerdanel informs us. It bespeaks a lack of love, to both her lord and to her son!”
“Both show disregard for Fëanáro!” I interjected strongly. “Though he is nigh full grown, and so responsible for his own choices and actions, both have allowed him to be in a position unique amongst our people. He will feel deserted by both!” (In this assumption I was in error, in that Fëanáro never openly showed any sense of feeling wronged by either parent, and ever did he esteem both highly. But at times, just on a few occasions when he was most unguarded, did I know the truth.)
Mayhap the Valar would deny Finwë’s request, I thought then. Or mayhap even if they did not, with time, with the passing of years and with children added unto us, would Fëanáro’s pain be subsumed in love and in joy again. He would know peace and wholeness, as surely Iluvatar had intended for the Eldar in allowing the Valar to bring us to Valinor!
I rode to Tirion as soon as Laurelin came into bloom, in the company of Narwasar, who was travelling to give help and advice on the building of a house on the outskirts of the city. His skill in stonework was near as great as my father’s own, and he was proud to give of his aid when required. The stalwart and taciturn Narwasar had forbore to make comment on the situation with Finwë, which he only knew in part anyway. He watched me closely, however; always my father’s good apprentice was he at heart, and loyal to a fault. To the gates of Tirion he had accompanied me, speaking of design and sculpting of items for my own use and delight in my new home. The house of Finwë was already filled with great treasures I had to inform him!
And so Ecthelion met with me as I walked into the city after loosing my horse. He had explained what he could of all that had transpired of late, and confirmed my suspicions that Fëanáro had argued with his father– a rare occurrence indeed– over his mother shortly before he had sought my company last. Also did Ecthelion tell me of the earlier meeting of Finwë and Indis, before Fëanáro was born, and of the love the Vanya had conceived even then for our King. For love of him had she chosen not to wed, and she had departed Tirion with her people to dwell at the feet of Manwë and Varda on Oiolossë. Never would it have occurred to her that she would have a second chance; that she could have, in the course of time, Finwë’s love in return. But love her it seemed he now did! And that was good news, surely! Aye, for Indis and Finwë it was. But less good for Míriel and her son, I considered! And now was I standing before the door of that son, of he whom I loved, and yet did I feel great misgiving at what was to come!
“Nerdanel!” His voice resounded through my thoughts, and I entered his room.
The heat of Fëanáro’s sudden temper was a fearsome thing, I came to understand, but it was his silent brooding, his ice, that I already perceived was the deeper problem. Like ice was he when I first entered that room, though he bowed courteously to me, and gestured for me to take a seat near the carved writing table he stood by. I had not been to his personal rooms before, and what I found then surprised me somewhat by its comparative simplicity. Few were the furnishing he had chosen to have, but each piece, each item when I looked more closely was something `special’, something gloriously crafted in its own manner. Besides the desk, which bore carvings of the Trees giving forth their light, were there four chairs, equally fine in workmanship, crafted from oak, and a closed chest with metal bindings and a seal that had been forged in the likeness of flames. A wooden candleholder in which many white gems were embedded was in one corner and upon the desk four silver candlesticks, for those times when the light of the Trees mingled and softened, and it was harder therefore to work.
Parchment, quills and ink, and several half rolled manuscripts that looked as if they contained items of law lay also upon that desk. I made guess that he had been searching for any word, any finding of the Wise that he could use to his or his mother’s advantage should the need arise. On the centre of the plain, white floor, lay the fragments of that sculpture he had but a few moments ago chosen to destroy. Not good enough, it would have been, not quite how he had envisaged it, and in that present temper, he would not choose to persevere with that which displeased him. But the heart of the room was a single tapestry, which hung upon the wall opposite the windows. Magnificent in detail, with intricate patterns and designs of creatures and of trees was that creation that could only have been the work of Míriel. A flame of many complex tones and variations was there at its centre, and as one looked, it seemed alive and to move and twist as a living fire would, seeking to consume that around it or maybe just to spread it’s light. Surrounding that central flame there were others, paler, white fire and silver and copper, and seven of those did I count. (Foresighted indeed was Míriel, to see shadows of that future which I as then had no knowledge of.)
Although I would rather have stood before him in his present mood, I took the offered seat as a sign of compliance, and sat very upright, folding my hands upon my lap and composing myself for what would follow.
“I received your letter, Fëanáro. I know what has come to pass,” said I. “I know that you must be pained at this time!” Closely did I watch his expression, his movements for any sign that would help me understand him better.
He did not reply, but stared at me with those piercing eyes that I found so compelling, as if he was in an inner struggle over even my presence. I had at the start of our relationship promised myself I would not be quailed by his mood, but would speak to him of my thoughts gently, as a true friend, and to this would I hold.
“My lord! I have come at your bidding!” I repeated firmly. His head snapped up at my words, and his eyes narrowed, though I was not making any argument or challenge. “You wrote that you had need of me! Most willing am I to be of help, but you must speak with me of this matter, rather than leave me to guess your need!”
“Leave you to guess! Why Nerdanel, what is there for you to guess? I would have your company at this time, rather than that of fools, that is all!” he replied.
But it was not all, and well did I know it! “Have you not thought to discuss this matter further with your father, to tell him how you feel?” I suggested, knowing what dangerous ground I trod upon in mentioning Finwë.
“He is led astray!” Fëanáro cried instantly, and then did the fires of his heart burn suddenly strong. “He knows what is right, what is and what is not fitting for any of our people, and yet he chooses to go against all of that, against the essence of what it is to be Eldar! This Vanya, she leads him astray!”
At least I had gleaned a response, and now was he moving in body as well as in speech, pacing the floor back and forth in his restlessness and his inability to see a way forward. ” I have spoken with him, but he will heed not my words. And it is not for a son to command his sire and his King, but it is wrong, this which he seeks to do! It is a great wrong to my mother!”
I watched him, and I understood that his anguish was as much for the loss he believed would occur in his relationship with his father (though he still loved him most dearly!) as for what would happen to his mother.
“Does Finwë truly love this Lady Indis?” I asked, sensitive to the probable response.
“So he says!”
“But not as he loved your mother?”
Fëanáro halted his pacing, and turned to face me. Anger and anguish contested in his emotions and were made plain in his expression. ” He loves my mother still, as do I!” And then, with a great effort, did he manage to compose himself further. “Nerdanel, though a wedded couple may choose to dwell apart for a space, each to pursue their own interests or gifts, yet do they remain wed. Unless my mother chooses never to return, until the end of time, then the bond of marriage still exists. Marriage is once and it is for ever!”
Now did I know of his need of me, though he would speak it not. And I would speak for him in this matter. I rose from the seat and moved to stand before him, to reach up and tenderly caress his cheek.
“I understand! You are right in that this is the way of our people.” Gently did I push back a stray tendril of hair from his shoulder. “Never will I leave thee, my love! Though I may ask of thee to visit family and friends and Aulë himself, yet ever will I be at thy side when thou dost wish.”
(I had meant to show him that, unlike Míriel, unlike Finwë, my love for him would come first to me, that I would not do to him what they had, but alas, was my promise to be in vain. Even for immortal Elves, to promise forever is folly!)
He hesitated, but then, a slight smile lit his face, and I could observe again his eyes taking on a better humour. Putting an elegant, long-fingered hand to my waist, he drew me to him in a different, far more focused heat.
“No less would I expect of thee, lady. Though it is pleasing to hear thee so speak!”
Still had I not brought him to the place I wished. Though he wanted my love then, even more that that did he want the love of his parents. This I knew. I allowed him to embrace me, something that was still a new sensation, and one of great pleasure to me, but as he bent his head to brush my lips discreetly with his own, I raised a finger, and signalled for him to stop. “Take me to see your mother!” I asked him. ” Take me to where Queen Míriel lies, Fëanáro, for I desire to look upon her again before any more of what your father has set into action comes to pass!”
For the briefest of moments he seemed not to comprehend my words, or perhaps he was disconcerted by what must have seemed my change of heart, my reluctance for his touch. Then he stepped back slightly. ” Do you know what you ask of me, Nerdanel?”
“I do! For if Míriel will truly not return, I would see her now, before she may not return. As also would you, I deem!”
He paused in thought, but his hand was still light upon my waist. “Aye” he spoke again, ” I shall take you to the Gardens of Lórien, to where my mother lies as if in sleep. It seems you understand me, Nerdanel, better than I sometimes do myself!”
Then did he draw me to him again, and for a short time we indulged ourselves in that warmth, that well controlled passion, which was a fitting show of affection for a betrothed couple.
So once more were we companions on a journey, Fëanáro and I. This time we rode, for there was an element of haste about the matter, and we took no rest at all. Though Finwë had not been long gone to Valmar, we knew not how much time the Valar would ponder over his supplication. The Gardens of Lórien! Ah, Adaneth, now there is a place to visit. A land of peace and rest and of healing it is said! Enchanted are those gardens, for they occupy much space in Valinor from the far south to the edges of Valmar, and one can take many ages in wandering therein, or sometimes traverse the whole in no time at all! A land of dreams, you see, and all that is there seems as if in a dream. Full of mazes of yews, pines and great cedars, is Irmo Lórien’s abode, so that one could get lost there most easily. A place of gentle dusk-light it is, and even the halls of Irmo himself are lit but dimly. Sights and sounds of great comfort abound, and there are a very many pools that reflect back the stars of Varda as if the stars lay in their own depths. The fairest of all places it is said to be, and in truth that place has always been fair and joyful. Many spirits there are that inhabit those gardens, many lesser spirits, and many numbers of the Maiar also .It is a place to heal hurts, to be refreshed and free of weariness, and many do find an easing of their burdens that travel there. But Fëanáro’s burden was not such an easy one to lift.
He knew well the road to take, and we wound our way through lanes and hedgerows, to the sounds of nightingales’ sweet songs. At last did we come upon a place where, in the near distance a great wood of silver willows were set, and here did he say his mother’s hröa lay, attended by the maidens of Estë, so that it withered not. Fëanáro had been uncommonly quiet upon our travels, though not sullen or sunk in any despair. It was as if he were lost in memories of his own early childhood, and of his dreams of those days, for this place had a strange effect upon those that took sleep or recalled dreams there.
The closer we drew to where Míriel lay, the more I began to regret my suggestion, not for him, but for myself. Too personal, to poignant with emotion by far was this for Fëanáro to share. I started to understand why both he and Finwë had stopped visiting their loved one. So with compassionate and carefully chosen words did I encourage him to make those last steps alone. I would wait, said I, and seek wisdom and give forth prayer that the will of the Valar in the matter of Míriel may be made clear. He understood, he even smiled at my thoughtfulness, and then he left me to go to his mother’s side, for the last time in life was it to be.
And so it was that I sat, lost in thoughts of my own amongst the scent of night flowers and red glowing poppies, and I began to take my ease. I did not know what was best, for the matter with Finwë was a complicated one, and though by inclination would I side with my betrothed, yet was I not certain of the right course of action. My mind turned to how cold Fëanáro had seemed, and to how I would deal with such shows of mood in our life together. To say I was not concerned after that meeting in Tirion would be to lie, but I had meant what I said to him, and I intended full well to be at his side whenever he wished. As I contemplated further, a shimmering of light appeared, that was not of the glow-worms, neither of the stars and it seemed as if a presence was with me.
“Right art thou to feel trepidation at what lies before thee, Nerdanel, daughter of Urundil, and soon wife to Fëanáro!” spoke a clear, female voice. Strength and wisdom were in the sound, but its owner remained unseen.
Startled was I at this unexpected disturbance, yet not fearful. There was naught to fear in this place. “Who are you? Will you not show yourself!” I demanded, though with some respect and courtesy, for I knew not what form of spirit this was.
“Valiant thou art, and strong of will canst thou be,” the voice continued, ” but yet the Spirit of Fire, he is stronger by far. Thou wilt need to temper his flame and his spirit when thou espouseth him!”
No Valar was this, I, considered, since I knew the presence of the Great Ones from childhood. One of the Maiar then, was my companion! ” I will speak easier with you, servant of the Valar,” said I “if you in some way take a form I can address!”
So did the Maia Elemáinie first appear to me, and that initially as a shifting pattern of lights, and then as a woman in form like unto the Eldar, but strangely rounded were her ears, and hair of thick honey blonde was bound behind them. (Never had I seen one of your people, Adaneth. We knew not of the Atani, nor even that there would be other Children of Iluvatar at that time!) Tall of stature was she, taller than I at any rate. Her eyes were now stern and now merry, and upon the skin of her brow were tiny creases! Then again did she change, into one clad in spring-green; far younger, and fair of hair and face, though still did the stern eyes stare forth.
“A servant of the Fëanturi am I at this time, Nerdanel, and charged by them to speak what wisdom thou wilt hear. For my Lords are concerned that there is something about Fëanáro that is hidden from them, aye, even from Námo Mandos, in a manner they understand not. Yet Manwë himself has spoken that this son of Finwë is made the mightiest of all the Children of Iluvatar!”
I knew from Aulë of Fëanáro’s potential, his great skill, but those words took away my breath, and I struggled to comprehend them. “The mightiest—? Ai! Then why am I with him? I can in no way be a fitting consort for such a one!” (I had heard her words, Adaneth, but many years it was before I came to realise their full implications!)
Elemáinie’s sternness became moderated somewhat, as if she knew my feeling of inadequacy. “The path before thy future lord is one of greatness and glory,” she continued, ignoring my outburst, “but his mood doth at times work against him. This thou must have observed! It is so with many, in fact most of the neri of the Noldor and no few of the Valar and Maiar need to be governed by their spouses at times!”
I nodded, at last acknowledging the enormity of the task before me. ” I have heard of this from others, and well do I know the account of Uinen and Ossë!” I said. “Are you telling me I will have need to restrain Fëanáro, even as she did with her lord? If so, I doubt my strength to achieve much!”
“Indeed, will Fëanáro become great beyond the measure of the Eldar!” the Maia stated thoughtfully. I was reminded again of my very first impression of him, that time I had beheld him walking up out of the valley and for a few moments had I thought I beheld one such as her, a Maia! But Fëanáro, Elda he was!
“Think not so much on restraint as a force, rather as a mingling, like unto the softening of the light of the Trees! Both have their strength and power, but softer they are when as one, and in that lies power of a different kind!”
This I understood, though I had never seen such a marriage as she spoke of. My parents and the others of the Aulenduri had strong moods, but tempered them of their own will. Or did they?
“Already doest thou realise that wise counsel and gentleness do much to cool his fire, and this path is one thou may tread with confidence. I speak not of subservience, thou must understand, for that is as far from thy nature as from any of the Noldor. Mighty though he is, thou art not without great worth, and a fitting wife may thou well be! But look to thy own needs as well.”
Elemáinie never finished what she had to say. A sound I had never expected to hear rent the air! A strangled cry of grief, of despair it was, as Fëanáro wept for Míriel, who would heed him not.
coimas (Q) = lembas (S)
Arafinwë = Finarfin
Nolofinwë = Fingolfin