2. Chapter 2
Finrod decided to show himself rather than to leave. Come what may, Amarië had a right to know he was back. Slowly he walked towards them.
She recognised him at once, and quickly she stood, straightening, holding herself rigidly erect. Her companion also rose to his feet; he appeared to be quite young still. His eyes went wide when Amarië said, her voice not quite steady: 'Findaráto?'
Leaving a few steps between them, Finrod halted. 'Amarië.'
She looked from him to her companion, who eyed them both intently, almost avidly, his lips slightly parted. Something seemed to pass between the two, a silent message from mind to mind. Suddenly the younger Elf announced: 'I think I shall return home. No doubt you wish to speak in private.'
'We do,' was all she said, returning the piece of rock to him. He took it and left, glancing back twice before he melted into the woods.
They stared at each other for a while. 'Who is he?' Finrod finally asked, when she did not speak. If she felt guilty about anything, she hid it well. Her mind remained closed.
'Ingalaurë,' she replied, as if the name was the answer, and as it meant 'Gold on top', perhaps it was.
But he could not be sure. 'A kinsman of Ingwë?' he inquired. The Vanyarin King and his kin had always been beyond reproach. But true enough he had not been able to discern any taint in the soul of the younger Elf.
'He is, though not very close,' Amarië replied.
'You must have been furious at me, when you heard about the Curse of Mandos,' Finrod said after a renewed silence.
'I was aghast. I felt you had undone me. But...,' and she took a deep breath, 'the feeling passed.'
'Because you found a new love?'
'Because I found a new love.'
He could see that her eyes were brimming. She had not done it lightly, then, and if it had saved her from becoming embittered... 'How long did you wait?' he asked.
'It was a year after your departure that I first held him in my arms,' she replied, an edge to her voice now, as if she meant to pay him back the hurt.
Not long after the Curse, then. But as if this answer was all he needed, at that very instant the shadow inside him began to lift and he felt himself grow light again. 'Forgive me, Amarië,' he said. 'I wronged you. I was unworthy of you, and I accept the consequences.'
She shook her head. 'Some guilt is mutual. How perfect is a love that is willing to share the known world, but balks at the unknown? If I had followed you from the outset, I might have persuaded you to turn back after the Kinslaying. I will forgive you if you forgive me - and then, maybe, we can share the consequences.'
He smiled faintly. 'Maybe we can.'
'Will you follow me home, then?'
On their way there, they spoke about distant things, things that concerned the larger tapestries of history rather than their own private warp and weft. Amarië asked him if he had seen his parents yet, and he told her he had sought her out first. 'Do not let them wait much longer,' she told him, and Finrod nodded: it was undeniably good counsel.
The house at the edge of the trees was as modest as could be, but it had two gardens: a vegetable garden, and one filled with the most beautiful flowers. Briefly but proudly Amarië pointed at those she had cultivated; some of them had new and unusual colours, others had shapes Finrod had never seen before, and he was genuinely curious to learn how she had achieved this.
But not just yet. 'Where is Ingalaurë?' he asked when they entered the house and the younger Elf was not in the main room.
'In his workroom, probably,' Amarië answered.
'I would speak to him.' Finrod hesitated. 'Alone, if you do not mind.'
She eyed him steadily. 'Is there a reason why I should mind?'
Slightly amused, he shook his head. 'Not that I am aware of.'
He had already figured out what kind of workroom to expect, and he turned out to be right. It was the room of a stone-carver, or rather, a sculptor. A rare occupation for a Vanya, but being part Noldo Finrod felt immediately at home.
Ingalaurë was sitting on a stool, a soft glow about him, not unlike that of Isil in a summer night, though his hair seemed to reflect the light of Anar, and both mingled in his face. When Finrod entered he lifted his gaze from the piece of rock resting in his right palm, but he remained silent. Obviously, he waited for his visitor to speak first.
Finrod did not immediately do so. Instead, he looked about the room, his eyes taking in all the pieces of craftsmanship they saw. He knew himself to be the best of stone-carvers, and the pride he used to feel in the Dwarvish name Felagund, Hewer of Caves, had withstood all exercises in humility in Mandos's Halls; one does not play down a gift. And though he could see there were a few things this artist could learn from him, it was certainly not for lack of skill or talent. If, as he suspected, Ingalaurë was self-taught, his was a rare mastery indeed.
He picked up a half-finished statuette of a ferocious looking feline; only the front half of the beast had been freed from the chunk of black stone to leap at its absent prey. But then he saw that the animal could never be more finished than it was. The rest of its sinuous body was clearly visible in and even through the stone, seeming to stretch and move, for eyes perceptive enough to discern it. And those, he knew, were the eyes that mattered. 'Well done,' he said, turning towards the younger Elf.
Ingalaurë inclined his head in acknowledgement, a measured nod. 'Thank you.'
Finrod put down the feline to continue his inspection. Presently, his gaze fell on a small, stone bird sitting on a shelf slightly below eye-level. He took it in his hands. It was clearly the work of a child, and a none too patient child at that. 'Did you carve this when you were young?' he asked, though he knew the answer well enough.
'Not I,' said Ingalaurë. 'But it is my favourite piece.' His mouth worked as if he wanted to say more, but he seemed to change his mind.
Shaking his head, Finrod put the bird back. 'I have made far better things since.' He took a deep breath . 'Did your mother find this in my room in Tirion?'
The implication of his words took three heartbeats to sink in. Then, Ingalaurë rose abruptly, upsetting his stool. The uncertainty on his face vanished, but he did not step forward to close the distance between them. 'So she told you?'
'She said something that tore the veil from my eyes.' No gift more precious than life - both the second life and the first, that of the newly born... For one supposed to have been instructed in Mandos's Halls he had been as dense as the woods of Oromë, Finrod mused, but he was not so witless that he did not know how long a pregnancy lasted. It was a year after your departure that I first held him in my arms, Amarië had said. Not a lover, but the infant that was his son.
A son who visibly yearned to shed his reserves towards his father but who would not do so unless one more thing was said. It was considered bad if a wedded pair were sundered during the bearing of a child, or while the first years of its childhood lasted, or both, as was the case here. He guessed now that Amarië's kin had looked askance at her, that she had withdrawn to this place in order to avoid embarrassment and maybe even cold shoulders. But both of them were responsible for this sundering; in a fateful mixture of concert and discord they had robbed their son of his father and his rightful place among his kin. The account between mother and son was no doubt settled by now; the other one was still open.
'Ingalaurë,' Finrod said, 'I deeply regret that I was not there when you were carried, born and raised, and for withholding from you what should have been yours.'
'Having no father was hard, at times,' his son said gravely. 'Especially when they called you a Kinslayer. I never believed you were. Still, you were not there to reassure me.'
'Whatever I did, or did not, I was not innocent. What I need and beg for, is your forgiveness.' But while he said it Finrod smiled, suddenly aware that he would be able to take every blame, suffer every reproach, and still rejoice in his new-found blessing, his new-found love. This had to be the reason why Mandos the Justice had set him free: not for any merit of his own, whatever he might have done - but to give love its due.
His son seemed to see something remarkable in him, for his eyes went wide.
'Have I sprouted wings?' Finrod inquired, mildly curious.
Ingalaurë shook his had in wonderment. 'No. But you looked...' He chuckled. 'For a moment, I thought you shone like the sun.'
'That, Annafinwë, must have been a reflection.'
'Why do you call me Annafinwë?'
'Do not tell me you never wanted a father-name,' Finrod replied.
His son did not answer, nor did he speak any words of forgiveness, but it was enough that of the two of them, he was the first to held out his arms.
Later, they sat side by side on a bench in the garden, Amarië and he.
'Why did you chose to conceive?' he asked quietly.
'Because it would have been pressure. I wanted you to stay of your own accord,' she replied equally softly. 'But if you were going to leave, and I could not stop you by mere pleading, I wanted to cherish something of you that was more than a fair memory.'
'Did I make life very difficult for you by leaving?' Finrod asked her. 'Have you been very lonely?'
She was silent for a while before she answered: 'They shunned me, blaming me for bearing a child to a Kinslayer - for that was how they saw you, even though you did not lift a finger agains your mother's people.'
'I will have to set things right with your kin, then.'
She smiled. 'That can wait. As for loneliness... I have a son in my house, haven't I? And I have a... friend who visits me occasionally. He has taught Ingalaurë much, or your son might not have turned out like he did.'
'A friend?' He chuckled. 'You mean Olórin?'
'You met him?'
'He put me onto the right track.'
'Yes,' Amarië said pensively. 'He has a way of doing that.'
A renewed, peaceful silence filled the garden, and the evening scent of flowers enveloped them.
'Finrod,' she began, 'there is much you have to tell me, but what I am most curious about is... does a second body feel different in any way?'
They had shifted position on the bench, faces turned towards each other like mirror images.
Finrod thought for a while. 'It would be easier to tell,' he replied finally, 'if I remembered exactly how the first one felt.'
Amarië's eyes sparkled. 'I have a good memory,' she said. 'Do you want me to aid yours?'
It was not really a question, of course. And so, instead of replying, Finrod gathered her into his arms.
For Elvish pregnancy, childbearing and - rearing, also see HoMe, Volume 10, Laws and customs among the Eldar.
As for Finrod having a son: this may seem uncanonical, but in The Parentage of Gil-galad (Shibboleth of Fëanor, HoMe, Volume 12, The Peoples of Middle-earth, pp. 349-361) I found the remark: 'Finrod left his wife in Valinor and had no children in exile,' a sentence dating back to 1965. Now if Finrod had no children at all in either Middle-earth or Valinor, the addition 'in exile' seems superfluous. That's why I felt justified to attribute at least one son to him. And I prefer this version, in which he doesn't discover the existence of his offspring until he returns from the Halls of Mandos, to a more disturbing one which would make him leave not just a wife but an entire family in order to follow Fëanor to Middle-earth.
The Quenya name Ingalaurë becomes Inglor in Sindarin. As Inglorion means 'son of Inglor', perhaps this sheds some light on the identity of Gildor Inglorion from The Lord of the Rings...
Anna, finally, means 'gift'.
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