In Her Shadow
2. Deep in the Shadows.
Numberless thanks to Lady Masterblott and to Finch for beta and comments. I´ve tried to make things slightly clearer.
Note about family names: Atar, atarinya: father. Amma is supposed to be an hypothetical form of the Vanyarin "mother".
Another Note about Findis: She´s the eldest of Finwë´s daughters, and her name appears in HoME.
Chapter Two: Deep in the shadows.
"See you tomorrow."
"Until tomorrow, my King."
Biding farewell to the last counsellors who had followed him, Finwë turned back, and began to walk through the long palace corridors with his arms full of scrolls. He felt glad, but very tired after a particularly hard day of working on construction plans. From the first to the second mingling of the Two Lights, they had been immersed in endless discussions about the new city expansion, and those activities had nostalgically reminded him of how big the city had seemed to them when they had first planned and built it, after their arrival in Valinor. They had been so few, then! Not as few as the Vanyar, perhaps, but still very few compared to their actual numbers, and for that he rejoiced, for he saw in the increase of their numbers a sign of the happiness and prosperity of his people. Besides, he could not deny that he liked to have to plan and to construct so many buildings, halls, palaces and avenues, and that sometimes , ashamed though he was to confess it, he felt like a little child with a new toy.
You always want to do everything yourself, do you not, Finwë? he thought, ruefully. As Indis says, it seems as if you did it for fun, and the worst is that she is completely right!
Smiling to himself, the King of the Noldor opened the door to the room in which he had his private desk, and rushed inside to drop the scrolls on the table before meeting his family. It was quite a dark and chilly place, that room, very unlike the beautiful chambers of Indis the Vanya where he was being expected at this very hour, and he did not deny he wanted to be gone as soon as he could. He wanted so much to warm his hands over a good fire!
However, as he went inside, he perceived a dim light in the opposite side of the room, and that made him stop for a moment, surprised. How strange. Nobody ever went there apart from his wife or himself, except for cleaning and tidying purposes, and that would happen only in the morning. Who on Arda could have lighted that candle? Had he perhaps forgotten...?
Just when he was starting to voice the question, Finwë felt a faint tugging on his right leg, and looked down. Two tiny hands encircled it, two eager arms, and there was a little golden- haired child staring at him with scared, imploring eyes.
"Findis!" he cried, astonished. Immediately, he knelt down in front of her, and pulled her into his embrace.
"Atar", she muttered, embracing him in turn. She was trembling slightly in her nightgown, for it was cold in this part of the palace, and her eyelids were red and swollen. With no slight shock, Finwë realised that she had been crying for some time there, waiting for him in the light of the nearly burnt-down candle.
"What is the matter, my dear?" he asked, stroking her soft masses of Vanyarin golden hair. "What are you doing here?"
Finwë´s little daughter shivered again, and then looked down to the floor, resting her head on her father´s chest. Somehow, she could manage to swallow her distress in a truly heroic effort for such a young elfling, managing to form the necessary words to let him know what had happened.
"´Tis Amma", she whispered, "She is acting strange..."
* * * * * * * * *
About five minutes later, Finwë pushed aside the door of his firstborn´s chambers, and, feeling himself watched in puzzlement by a pair of grey eyes from behind the covers of a very old book, he left the younger child sitting on the edge of Fëanaro´s bed.
"Atarinya..." his son began, but he cut him short, the tone in his voice betraying a hint of anxiousness.
"Take care of her, Fëanaro. I will be back soon."
"But I am studying!" Fëanaro protested, staring uneasily at the curled up form of his little half-sister. Finwë did not even answer, he simply left and closed the door behind his back. She would be well there, in the care of her brother, he thought, on his way to his wife’s chambers. Even if it was true that Fëanaro used to make faces at Indis´s daughter when he and her mother were present, and claimed that he could not play with that boring little Vanyarin girl, Finwe knew that they could be very well together when left alone, as they would be now. Besides, he had more important matters to care about, matters that had left him more than worried.
What could be happening to Indis?
* * * * * *
It was night; always night in that land she remembered. Glimmering far away, in the dome of heaven, only the silvery light of the stars fell over the little girl´s golden hair as she ran, past the village and past the first unknown trees, to throw herself in the waiting arms of a dark-haired figure who was smiling at her.
"Indis" Everything that Míriel carried with her; clothes, furs and sewing tools, was scattered to the ground when she lifted the girl up. They embraced for a long while, gladly, feeling their irregular breaths as their eyes beamed with happiness at the sight of each other.
"Oh, my, Indis, you have grown indeed! I think you outgrew already everything I brought for you.", the Noldo said at last, when she put her down. Both began to collect Míriel´s things together, and were soon helped by other Vanyar who had arrived, to greet the skilled Noldo who came from the shadows as every once in a while, to sew and mend their clothes in exchange for their food. They were happy, and sang songs because she had come back to them, but the girl just tightened her grip on her friend’s hand.
Míriel was loved there, though not as much by anyone as by Indis, direct descendant of the First Awakened One and princess of her people. It was the child who took her by the hand in front of the others and asked her for songs and stories of the Noldor, and many a time they had entered the dark forest holding each other’s hands, for Indis was never afraid when Míriel was with her. Even in those distant days, when the shadows had been deep and the land wild and untrodden, they had gone to many places together, far from safety, song, and laughter, before the child had grown up and sad events had thrown a shadow over both nísi that would last forever.
A light flickered in front of her; it was a candle. Míriel was behind her, she could feel it, but it was not comfort she brought now, and she could not hold her by the hand any longer.
The light, quenched..
Indis covered her face with her hands, and started to weep desperately.
* * * * *
What could have happened to Indis? Finwë wondered, for the thousandth time in the last five minutes. "Acting strange" had been Findis´s first explanation, though later she had added that her mother had started by muttering incomprehensible things and looking over her shoulder as if someone was haunting her, and had ended by locking the door of her bedchamber, where she would not let anyone come in. Alone with her, for, following the custom, all the maids had already been dismissed, her daughter had been terrified, and so had gone to wait for him at his desk, trusting that her Atar would know what to do.
And the truth was that he did not know, at all.
Finwë sighed deeply, and slowed his pace in order to think more clearly. In their years of marriage, since his beloved first wife had left forever and her former best friend had come to him to fill the unbearable gap in his heart and household, Indis had always been the most wise and understanding, the most calm and considerate of all the nísi he had known. She was always smiling, singing, and never lost her patience at anything, sometimes even helping him to restrain his impetuousness with her Vanyarin wisdom. What could possibly have happened? Why was Findis shivering, staying away from her mother and unwilling to return to her? What could have been the reason for Indis’ sudden...outburst?
He had never given much thought to those things, because in the morning he kissed her before leaving and she embraced him with a warm smile. He had almost forgotten those nights, soon after their wedding, but now the memories were slowly returning to his mind and he recalled his wife clutching his arm in the bed, and staring at the darkness with wide frightened eyes, as if someone was haunting her. A nightmare, she had said afterwards. She had been deeply shaken at the strange and unexpected death of her friend, even after such a long time, and Finwë could understand that, for he himself knew very well that he would never be able to forget a single moment spent with Míriel, and that his curse would be to see everything in his mind, from her sparkling eyes when they first had made love to her vacant expression when he was trying desperately to summon her fëa back to him, and this for all the rest of his immortal life. Indis suffered too, though she showed her affliction through those strange nightmares, and they lasted only until the birth of their daughter eased their pain.
But, were they really gone?
Finwë did not know why, but he was beginning to fear that the latest events could have something to do with what he had just remembered. Those had been the only times that Indis had shown some kind of deep irrational emotion, and her grief had been the cause. She had felt threatened, and apparently so she was now, only that she was fully awake, and that worried him even more. Could it be that she was going mad?
Could it be?
When he arrived in front of Indis´s doors, he found them effectively closed, but nobody hindered him from the inside when he tried to open them. His wife was there, gazing at the window, and his first impulse was to rush in immediately and go to her; yet his mind told him he should be very careful not to frighten her even more, and so he slowed his pace.
"Indis" he called while approaching her gently, tentatively. The Vanya turned her head, and, recognizing him, she smiled.
She was pale. So very pale. Finwë could not help staring at her for a moment, his face full of worries, and when she noticed it, he saw that her hands began to shake slightly too, clutching the folds of her dress.
"I...where is my daughter?" she asked in a strange voice. Her husband made an attempt to walk to her side, considering it a good sign that she did not retreat backwards, distressed as she obviously was.
"She is playing with my son. They are having fun together, do not worry. Indis..."
A muffled shriek interrupted his words. Indis turned away again, and her hands continued to tremble.
"Indis..." Finwë repeated, carefully. As she had turned her back on him, he was able to arrive at her side, and trap her in his embrace. Indis whimpered, but she did not back away.
"Ssssh" he whispered in her ear. "Do not fear. Please, Indis, calm your fear and look at me. She loved you as she did love me, as much as I do love you, and she said she wanted you to be happy. Do you remember her words? Tell me, do you remember them, Indis?"
"I..I.. Yes." the Vanya whispered, while she forced her limbs to relax under his caresses. Gradually, little by little, her nervousness diminished, and she surrendered to his calming embrace leaning back on him, though only when she was able to look into his eyes he would accept that all trace of madness had gone away from her. The crisis had passed; it was his success.
"Forgive me. I do not know what..." she began, but he made her stop.
"Do not worry, dear, I understand. Wait for me here; I will return after putting Findis to bed."
Worried again, Finwë turned to look at her once more, but, to his relief, he saw that her countenance showed nothing strange this time. It was only her usual gentle firmness, and his heart could slow its pace.
"I will go, Finwë. Wait for me."
The king of the Noldor bowed his head then, and smiled.
* * * * * * *
When Indis arrived in Fëanaro´s bedchamber, she found that Findis had already fallen asleep, her thumb in her mouth, while her half- brother was reading out a book of tales to her. As usual, she did her best to ignore the cold glance of her stepson when she picked the child from his bed, and wished him a good night’s sleep, as motherly as she could act towards a son who was not hers and did not want to be such. Then, she took Findis to her own bedchamber, covered her little body with the sheets, and kissed her forehead softly before walking out and closing the door behind her back.
"Please, do not scare her!" she implored to the thin raven- haired figure who was lurking there, hiding deep in the shadows of the corridor.
But she got no answer.
(To be continued)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.