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Tales of Thanksgiving: A Drabble Collection: 3. Effortless
"Effortless" was written for Angelica. Earlier this year, we had a conversation about my character of Maedhros (Nelyo) in my stories Another Man's Cage and "Essecarmë" and his quiet strength that I have tried to capture in these stories. While Maedhros has done his share of noble deeds, equally important-and probably more difficult-was the task of reuniting the Noldor and playing damage control for his little brothers.
Yet the conundrum always arises that what is most skillfully done seems to be most easily done. This series of four drabbles explores this idea, from the point of view of Maglor.
For readers unfamiliar with my other stories, Vingarië is Maglor's wife.
I. The Father
On the day that Nelyo told our father that he would no longer study lore but would serve as a court page in Tirion, Tyelkormo and I pressed our ears to my bedroom wall-adjacent to our father's study-and listened, fists clenched, cringing in anticipation of the explosion that must surely come.
It did not.
Nelyo rode back to Tirion, and for a long while, Fëanáro would not speak against him, though surely, he must have believed that he'd been betrayed. The air was heavy and hard to breathe around him, but he did not speak out against Nelyo.
II. The Minstrel
As one of the best musicians in Tirion, I played in the halls and homes of the most respected of the Eldar. Nelyo came when he could, but the life of a page is simple and arduous, and he hadn't much time to spare for joy.
I was miffed, though, because my skill was rarely praised as loudly as the others. Vingarië laughed at my offense. "My dear, that is because your music is so effortless in its joy that we forget to marvel. We forget that such beauty is a gift and not simply the way of the world."
III. The Diplomat
Nelyo ascended, as did I, each in our own station. He was one of Grandfather's councilors, and his work was easy, I often thought: much walking-about in gardens and fancy suppers with lords. And smiling. Always smiling. Whereas I came home late each night, reeking of sweat, my voice raw, and my fingertips tender from the harpstrings.
"Do you practice smiling," I would tease, "in front of mirrors? To be good at what you do?" For I was slightly sickened by his success, even as he was unfailingly proud of mine.
Though he never came to hear me play anymore.
IV. The Brother
I came home one night and found Nelyo in my music room, waiting by a guttering fire with a glass of wine pressed to his forehead. "I am exhausted," he whispered. "Our father-"
Then he stopped. And smiled.
"But no mind that, little brother," he said. "I am exhausted, and all that I wish is to fall asleep to the sound of your singing, as I used to do when we were young."
Despite his exhaustion, his eyes were bright; his face untroubled.
And I knew that whatever darkened his heart would not be permitted to yet darken mine.
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