(Disclaimer: All the characters are JRR Tolkien’s. None are mine except for Serewen, Alcarin, Tiriniel, Artuiel, Mötamë and Tulcon, who are inspired by my reading of Tolkien anyway. Ondoriel and Narwasar are my beta’s characters. All references are from The Silmarillion, and HoME 1, 10, 11 and 12)
“For Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind, in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and in subtlety alike, of all the Children of Iluvatar, and a bright flame was in him.”
(The Silmarillion. `Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor’.)
The house of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.
I draw near to the end of this part of my tale. Soon will we move on, you and I, Adaneth. Soon shall we travel up to Tirion. But before we go, I would contemplate a little more my childhood home, my home for so many of the ages after the exile! And in those intervening years, often did my sons visit this place. They loved the freedom, the space to ride out. They loved, for the most part, their grandparents, and some learnt much from my father.
“Too like unto that fox, Urundil, are my sons at times!” Fëanáro would state with a hint of disapproval, when Maitimo or either Ambarussa spent overly long at metalwork with their grandsire, for they liked greatly to work with copper, as did he. The `Urioni’*, did Fëanáro sometimes call them!
`Surely you mean Nárioni*’, I had protested, for though they were, all three, `sons of flame’ for their colouring, they were most certainly his sons. One had only to look at the features of the twins to see their father! (Maitimo, I grant, was more like unto me in many respects of appearance, save he had great beauty, in my eyes at least!)
“So should they be! But I know of what I speak!” Fëanáro would respond, pleased that I had risen to his bait. For long was he distressed with me over my naming of our twins; at my naming them both `Ambarussa’*, and then of my name of foresight, (for I had said when he begged for their names to be different that one should be `Umbarto’, which means `fated’, though I did know not then which of the twins was to carry that doom!) and often would he devise other more `appropriate’ names for them to vex me for making him so plead!
Now upon the plains of Valinor, to the south of Valmar, lie the golden cornfields of Yavanna, from whence comes much of the grain for the making of bread, and for the making of coimas *. By ancient law, this is the prerogative of the nissi only, and then only the noblest of those, the Queens and high ladies, at that! Yet many Noldor in the lands around Tirion grow some crops of their own for general use. So it was that further along the cleft of the Calacirya to my father’s house was a large cornfield. The twins loved playing in that field, and with their colouring, and choice of clothing, it was sometimes difficult to see then amongst the stalks until they moved, usually in some game of `ambush’ of their elder brothers!
A memory I have now of Makalaurë*, tall and dark of hair, striding through that field in something of a hurry. On his shoulders he bore the laughing Artuiel, one of the young friends and companions of my twins. She, and Ondoriel, her elder by but a little, both loved to play with the copper-brown haired twins, but also did they seem to enjoy the attention of my two eldest sons, who were as their own `elder brothers’ on some occasions. Now Artuiel would have happily ridden on Makalaurë’s shoulders for many an hour, and this for her was a particularly good game. The usual course was that she would disappear with the twins; they would be `lost’, (as if that would happen in the Calacirya!)–and Makalaurë, and sometimes Maitimo would needs find them. But the twins would always lay ambush! And so it was on this day! I remember her voice, a voice of a carefree child, urging Makalaurë to `run’, as blunted wooded shafts shot over the corn and not a few bounced off my dodging second son as his youngest brothers launched their attack, or as they saw it, the rescue of their playmate! The dark haired, bright eyed Artuiel hooted with delight, until an `arrow’ struck her leg, and then her voice rose in chastisement to her friends.
Ever the hunters, Ambarussa (as they called each other, though would Fëanáro alone insist on calling the younger, Ambarto!!) stood forth then, bows lowered, and apologetic expressions upon their faces. Both at that age still spoke almost as one. “Sorry, Artuiel!” They would both have rather ridden out to visit Oromë’s halls with Tyelkormo*, whom they admired greatly. But it was Makalaurë who spent most time with them when they were young. And often were the watchful eyes of their eldest brother upon them. (The difference in the ages of my son’s was not overly great for Eldar, though would nine hundred and ninety-seven years between the birth of Maitimo and that of the twins sound much to the ears of your folk, Adaneth! For our sons were born between the years of 1210 and 1307, and three of our sons did I bear before Fëanáro began his work on devising those letters that afterwards bore his name. It is strange, you may think that far closer were Fëanáro and Maitimo in age than Maitimo and his youngest brothers! But then what is age to immortal Elves?)
Then did Maitimo himself come into view, at the furthest reach of the golden cornfield. He appeared to be struggling somewhat to encourage a very stubborn Ondoriel to either run for cover, or take the proffered ride upon his shoulders. Even from that distance could I see the brown-haired daughter of Narwasar clenching her fists into balls, and placing them on her hips. Both twins had also noticed Maitimo’s dilemma with their friend, and they plunged back into the corn — silent and deadly they thought they were! — though I am sure Maitimo knew well of their approach.
Makalaurë crossed the edge of the orchard, and came to stand at my side in the lower gardens. The slightly dishevelled Artuiel was still holding tight to her `rescuer’.
“Lady and mother!” He bowed slightly, and raised his hands to help his charge alight, and set her feet upon the ground. “I wonder why it is that the twins do not have the standard of behaviour of their elder brothers at times?”
“They behave as their brothers have encouraged and indulged them to!” I retorted, to this son who was often one closest to me. “And in overindulging, you are a chief culprit!
Makalaurë smiled, knowing my words were true. Ever was he indulgent of the young!
Artuiel had been looking up at me, and now she caught my attention, and presented me with a red flower. “Lady Nerdanel!” She curtsied briefly, smiled again, and then ran off to find her parents. She took after Mötamë rather than Tulcon, I always thought!
Now did loud-voiced complaints echo across the field, as it was Maitimo’s turn to be the hunters’ focus. He was swatting at the arrows with one hand, and appeared to be dragging the protesting Ondoriel with the other.
“Why does he not just let her be?” My second son speculated. “Ondoriel is not one for this sort of game of late, as is Artuiel. She is more studious, more like you, mother!” (And in some ways was Ondoriel much like me. Though even then my mind was more on why she protested so at Maitimo’s touch!)”She is too much for you to handle, Russendol. Give up!” Makalaurë shouted encouragingly. Maitimo did just that, and raised his hands and walked on, with Ondoriel voluntarily in tow. And his youngest brothers tackled him from the side, bringing their `prey’ to the ground by their stealth!
Golden days they were!
Did I pity him, you ask? Nay, in no way did I ever pity Fëanáro! Never would I have shamed him so! But always did I seek to understand the minds of others, and his most of all. I grieved with him, for his anguish at his loss, as indeed did many in years to come. In later days did those who beheld his pain as he lay in the dust, at hearing Maitimo’s message, in the Ring of Doom, forgive much of him. Again must I remind you, Adaneth, that we knew nothing of death. For those who experience the losses of others can in some manner come to terms with their own loss when such happens with more fortitude. Not so with my lord, for he alone at that time in Lórien was at loss of his mother and facing the prospect of his father’s second marriage.
I grieved with Fëanáro, and I grieved and mourned for him in due course; but never did I pity him, for that would have implied I had a superiority to him that truly, I never felt I had. How could one feel superior to he who would become the `mightiest of all the Children of Iluvatar?’
I had at first intended to rush to him when I heard his cry, but then had I restrained myself out of concern least I humiliate him. Fëanáro’s grief for his mother was a private matter. I should have returned to that spot whereupon the Maia had been speaking with me, but instead did I move slowly forward, to within a close range of my betrothed. I would not look to where he was, but I wished to be nearer to him, to reassure him of my presence.
We hardly ever heard the sound of tears at that time, for there was little to cry over in Aman. No death, no illness, no loss! A few childhood `accidents’ and some arguments, and that occasional thwarting in love, of course there were these; but they were rare and mostly tears soon turned again to joy. Never had I thought to hear Fëanáro cry!
I heard his voice also, quietly imploring his mother to reject her chosen doom, to return to life in her hröa.
“Finwë seeks to wed again, though he loves her not as he loves you! Please, mother, I beg of you to come back to us now, least you never be allowed to return! Least I may never visit nor speak with you again”
There was no possible answer, for Míriel’s fëa was long departed. I thought he knew that there would be no response, though the earnestness of his plea would have melted stone! Yet there was something even then in Fëanáro that made him trust to his own might more than perhaps he should. Did he have the arrogance to think he could will her back to life? Nay, he was not so foolish as that.
“Ai, Mother!” he called, one last time, with a mixture of longing and grief that echoed through the silver trees, that still she did not respond, not even to him.
Then was there silence. True silence I mean, for even the nightingale’s song had ceased and the soft breeze that had swayed the leaves on the trees was stilled. I could not move, though I should have returned to the place Fëanáro had left me at. That time that was ages, and yet no time at all was about me and I could not move my limbs at my own will, as sometimes happens in dream. I thought again on Míriel, and upon the gift I had made for her; a likeness of her that contained as much of sweet life as I could pour into it. A likeness of her as I wished she could now be!
I did not even notice that the air had grown heavier, that the sky was just a little darker, but then a shadow fell upon me as Fëanáro looked down on where I sat.
“So, lady, now you know!” I could not look to him, for still did I have that lack of control over my body that, to even raise my head was an effort. “Now you know the extent of my weakness,” he whispered hoarsely.
“It is not a weakness to love, Fëanáro! It is not weakness to want your mother to be as she was!” Tears were there in my own eyes, though more for him than for Míriel.
I do not think he heard my comment, but stood, still looking down upon me, and as I turned at last my face to look to him, did I see the fire in his eyes was burning but very low.
“Nerdanel,” he said then, reaching down to raise me to my feet. The power in his touch brought life and movement back to me. ” Do not thou ever leave me so!” and he wrapped his arms about me in a desperate embrace.
We never spoke again of that day. We never spoke of his tears, nor did I tell him of my meeting with Elemáinie. And from that point forth did Fëanáro seem resigned to his mother’s fate. No interest did he show in the long Debate of the Valar that did indeed result in Míriel being condemned to remain discarnate, for Finwë’s bereavement was considered unjust, and his marriage to Indis was sanctioned. But the resentment against Indis remained and slowly did it fester as a wound in the heart of my lord. Unjust was he in this, but I who had known Míriel briefly, and knew the depth of Fëanáro’s pain, understood and endeavoured to lessen the effect of the first such grief upon an Elda.
I returned with him to Tirion for a space, as I wished to be close, for him to speak with me of what was transpiring if he chose, but he chose to bury himself in his works again at that time. That he could create things of such beauty with those slender, dexterous fingers of his, gave him solace, and a sense of mastery over matters, in contrast to how he felt about his father’s actions. At that time did he seem busy about the making of objects of beauty that would be of use in a household, everyday items, but ones so elegantly wrought that they were treasures nonetheless. For several such days did I much seek the company of Serewen and Ecthelion, though never did I speak to them or to others of what had come to pass in the Gardens of Lórien! I did however ponder much upon the words spoken to me by Elemainie, that seemed to have lodged in my mind as a branch swept downstream by swiftly flowing water may yet lodge upon a bank and not be moved. “I have been thinking on how I may govern the tendency for Fëanáro’s heart to burn too hotly once we are wed!” I had announced to them.
Ecthelion almost choked on the wine he was drinking and Serewen laughed! `You will not govern Fëanáro’ she had replied, still laughing, and then in a more hushed tone, she added ` and I wonder much that you would even seek to!”
She had not truly understood me, but the wise Ecthelion arched his brows in a questioning manner, for he knew of what I spoke.
Eventually did I make my way to the forge wherein Fëanáro worked, ever alone! He turned sharply as I entered, but seeing it was I, and no others, did he sigh and put down that design upon which he had been working.
“Why this sudden haste, my lord? Why this need to be so productive?” I moved to stand beside him, and gently lay a hand upon his arm. More would I have done then, but I was not sure what `more’ he was able to accept.
He lay down the quill he had held, and sat back upon the seat, stretching out his arms to ease the tension in his shoulders. “We will have need of such in our home, lady! Or are we to eat and drink and entertain others from the floor?”
“Is there not enough in the house already?” I questioned with some perplexity. But he looked wryly at me.
“We have nothing in our house! We have no house as yet, for I will not have us abide here with my father’s new bride to be, for any longer than is necessary!”
So I was to have my wish of a place of our own, but not in a manner that I would have chosen. “You would have us look for somewhere to build, Fëanáro?” I was still confused, for the building of a house must surely come before the creation of artefacts to place within.
He looked again at the work that lay before him. Many pages of notes and outlines of designs there were. “Rúmil’s letters are too disorganised for clarity. At some point will I need to improve upon them!”
“I have found a place that is most suitable!” he stated with his usual decisiveness, and looked up at me now from where he sat. ” A place far enough away from here that I may not see my father’s wife often, neither any children she brings forth!”
I was little pleased at his resolution upon a location without even seeking my thoughts, but I was coming to know him better, and was not completely surprised. Also, at his mention of Finwë having other children, did a new thought come into my mind.I understood well his need to be away from there..
“I trust your choice of a place to build is a good one, my lord!” said I, with as sweet a tone as I could manage. Although he was quick and subtle of thought, Fëanáro was never as perceptive to the moods of other’s as was I, and I do not believe he even thought his action was inconsiderate. He would have chosen well, and would expect me to be pleased with it!
“It is good land on which to build, and you shall have a clear view to the west, to your family’s dwellings, least you should miss them!” said he, with at least a gesture towards consideration of me. “I will walk there with you latter.” Turning to the notes again, he pushed the parchment in my direction. ” I have laid out the plans I wish to follow, the dimensions and style of the rooms—“
Then I saw how tired he was. He had taken no rest since our return, and probably none for a few days prior to that! Even he was tired at times, and he was still very young then and nowhere near his full strength.
“I would be of help, if you would allow me!” I enquired in a softened tone. “For there would seem too much work here, and I can forge household items and leave you free to plan further?”
For a few moments he sat in thought, considering my offer. “Some things can be done by your father and other of the Aulenduri, if they will. Even so, a house cannot be built in a day!” Far away now were his thoughts, bright eyes clouded with weariness. Then a new thought crossed his mind, and he was focused again, eyes narrowing and an almost mischievous look upon his face “But you, lady, work with me now! Let me see some of that skill with metal of which your father so boasts!”
He rose to his feet and took my hand, leading me over to the forge itself where he had been working earlier.
“A cup was I thinking of making next. Something simple to give me space to think further on the house. But now it is in my thoughts we should work on this together, for it is to be our wedding cup!”
I knew I had not Fëanáro’s skill of hand, but I knew also that I would not dishonour my father, or myself, by demonstrating some skill of my own. I nodded assent to him, and braided my thick hair swiftly, tying it back in one long plat. And I took up one of the leather aprons, and bound it about me. The gauntlets I looked at, but with dismay saw they would be overlarge for my small hands. He laughed then. “We will work together!”
So we spent time that day working with copper, heating the metal to cherry red, and cooling and heating again, until we had beaten and moulded that which was in our minds into actuality. And at that point where my father had taught me, did I sing into the making that echo of the Music, the faintest of echoes of the power to sub-create that was given unto those devoted to Aulë. I sang my love of Arda, and of life, and of family, and my wishes for blessings upon us both and upon those who at any time did drink from that vessel.
Fëanáro had stood back then, arms folded, to watch me. That he poured his thoughts and his will into what he created I had no doubt, even if he had not been taught so to do by Aulë or one of the Aulenduri. But I do not think he had ever seen another so do with song before, and one who had the best training.
As I finished the final touches to the design of what had been in my thoughts, did my betrothed take up my hands, and lean forwards to kiss my brow. “Show me, Nerdanel!” said he, “Show me how you do this thing!”
I remembered the words of Aulë upon my last visit to his house. I recalled his wishes that my father taught Fëanáro all that the Prince wished and that Aulë himself would not withhold his aid. That there was no wrong in me showing my future husband the little I knew of the lore of metalwork, I was certain.
So for many days did we work together, making cups and platters and candleholders and many basic things. But always did we seek to make them beautiful, and for my part did I give thanks in all I did to Aulë, and to the one who had given me such skills. We delighted in our work, and it was as if we were away from all others again, as if we were exploring in the hills. Only now did we explore each other’s skills in crafting, and in the working together and pouring out of our thoughts, did we find even greater affinity of fëa. And I was happy.
Those days of joy passed too swiftly for my liking and all too soon it seemed, Finwë had returned. There was ultimately no help for it. We must needs meet with Finwë’s intended second bride, and that at their betrothal, in his house. As soon as the Valar had declared Finwë free to wed, did he return to Tirion with his lady. (He had been in Valmar for much time, though he had not been permitted to attend the Debate.) Indis the Fair, she was called, and no empty title was that. Tall and slender was she, but full of strength and joy in life. Her hair of gold seemed almost as if it were lit by Laurelin, and it fell in unbound waves to her waist. Serene was her countenance and clear her eyes. In all aspects was she one `in love’, one `in hope’, and so delighted was she to have her love for Finwë at last returned. Her musical voice was sweet and a joy to the ear, and she spoke with warmth and consideration. That others may not rejoice with her perhaps had not occurred to her at that time.
I had been concerned least Fëanáro’s wrath had returned that day, and he argue again with his father in the King’s own house. But it was his ice rather than his fire that was to the fore. He spoke politely, but little, and that in answer to his father or Indis’ questions. His eyes were darkened as he brooded upon what was before him, particularly at any words or gestures of love between the `couple’.
I had not met any of the Vanyar before, and many were guests in the halls of Finwë for that occasion. The First Kindred had lived for some time in Tirion in earlier days, and fast friends had they been with the Noldor; though since before my birth had our friendship become stronger with the Teleri. The tall, golden haired Elves impressed me greatly, but I knew not that I would wish to abide with them for long, for they were cool to our heat and contemplation to our activity. Yet generosity of fëa, and ease of nobility were in their demeanour, and they were all beautiful to behold.
I was introduced to Indis that day, and she smiled radiantly upon me and took my arm, looking to Finwë to excuse us for a few moments. So did we walk together upon the balustrade, and only for a few minutes indeed. But Indis called me `sister’, and said that she greatly looked forward to knowing me better. “We both will have much to learn in the ways of the House of Finwë in these coming years, that we may bring joy back into the lives of this father and son. Let us be friends and a support each for the other, Nerdanel” So different to Míriel was Indis, not only in form, but also in temperament, I observed!
Upon my return to the crowded hall, did I find Fëanáro had gone. Serewen gestured to me discreetly that Ecthelion had gone also, and in pursuit of him.
Alcarin was there with his family, mixing and speaking freely with Noldo and Vanya alike. That was the first I had seen of him since the day of Fëanáro’s proposal to me. He was polite to me, when he could avoid me no longer, though certainly no friend, as was Ecthelion. And his sister, Tiriniel was with him. That she was beautiful was unarguable, though compared to the likes of Indis and Serewen, her beauty was not outstanding. That she thought highly of herself, and low of me was obvious! No matter, thought I. Though I wondered at her interest in Fëanáro, and hoped that she was not grieved in a manner like unto Gaerion.
A busy day was that, and a day of conflicting emotions regarding Finwë’s betrothal to Indis. At the exchange of rings, had Finwë set the date for their marriage as early as seemed fit. A year to the day would they be wed. Ecthelion had returned by then with my own betrothed, both looked drawn, as if unkind words had been spoken. But I gathered it was by counsel that Ecthelion had prevailed upon Fëanáro to return, for in no way could he have forced him.
Then was the feasting and the dancing that went on for long hours. It was not every day that the King of the Noldor, and one who had awoken himself at Cuiviénen, became betrothed to a daughter of Ingwë’s House! At the end of that celebration, Fëanáro drew me to one side. “Would that we could wed now! I would have more distance of years between our marriage and that of my father!”
“Soon enough will we be wed, my lord!” I had spoke eagerly, for so I was. But to have a betrothal shorter than a year, and in a time with no danger, was unheard of. “Let us think on that, and on the home we will build, and the explorations and crafting we may yet undertake.”
Still did he frown. “You spoke with her!” Said he, almost as an accusation of disloyalty.
This time I took up his hand to my lips. “Thy father still loves thee greatly. And so do I, Finwion*!” I whispered to him. “For `son of Finwë’ thou art, and even should Indis bear thy father other sons, even should they be great and glorious, yet wilt thou be the greatest by far!” I thought on Elemáinie’s words as I spoke forth, and at the hearing of this, did Fëanáro’s `ice’ begin to melt.
” A word of foresight, my lady?” he asked, offering me his hand, so that he might escort me to the gardens.
“Nay! But it is truth, nonetheless!” I replied.
* Urion and Nárion both mean ‘son of fire or of flame’, I believe. ( Though I could well be wrong!) I am implying that Fëanor is likening his copper-brown haired sons to Urundil in appearance and in skill.
Makalaurë = Maglor
Maitimo = Maedhros
Ambarussa = Amrod and Amras
Tyelkormo = Celegorm
Finwion = ‘Son of Finwë’. One of Tolkien’s suggested names of Fëanor’s childhood.
coimas(Q) = lembas (S)