8. The Children of Finwe
Feanor repeated the words spoken by Fingolfin, or who he had thought to be Fingolfin but now believed to be a play-acting spy. In that conversation by the eastern edge of Tirion, before the incident in the Hall of the King, Fingolfin had made lofty claims of being the true son and heir of Finwe, and he had threatened to displace Feanor with the aid of the Valar even as Miriel had been replaced in Finwe's heart.
Fingolfin, who had also been summoned, denied that he had spoken such words as reported by Feanor. Instead, he told the Valar of a different conversation with Feanor in his very house, in which Feanor announced with no uncertainty his plans to drive the children of Indis from Tuna and to extend his dominance from Tirion to the lands that lay beyond Aman.
For several moments, the Valar in the Ring of Doom remained bewildered and doubtful, for they did not know which of the Noldorin princes to believe. It was Feanor himself who revealed the root of the problem. He drew the Three Silmarils out from their crystal casket, and all those assembled saw in their minds the incident of which Feanor had spoken, the incident of which Fingolfin had spoken, and a third, simultaneous image of Melkor controlling from afar his dark servants in the guise of the Noldorin princes.
"This is the truth of the matter, for, as the Valar well know, the Light of the Silmarils is that of the Two Trees and is pure and cannot lie. Long have I believed that Melkor planted malice in the hearts of the Noldor, but he was pardoned by Manwe Sulimo, and so, since the Kings of the Eldar first spoke of the marring of the Noldor and were turned away, I knew that I could say nothing of this again until I had solid evidence of Melkor's evil designs. But now, his malice has been revealed in my very actions, for I drew a blade upon my own brother and threatened him. I have now a quarrel of my own with this Master of Lies, which will last to my life's end."
At this, Tulkas left the council to lay hands upon Melkor and bring him to judgment. The Valar discussed in silence amongst themselves the matter of the Noldor, and, at last, Mandos declared the Doom of the Valar: Feanor, who was not held guiltless, would be banished from Tirion for 12 years, during which time he would take counsel with himself. "But after that time," said Mandos, "this matter shall be set in peace and held redressed, if others will release thee."
"I will release my brother," Fingolfin said immediately.
But Feanor spoke no word in answer and stood silent before the Valar. Perhaps he was conversing with them in the mind as was their wont. Then Feanor turned and left the council and departed from Valmar.
Soon after the exile of Feanor, Maedhros came to the House of Earth. Fingolfin greeted him personally and led him to his study. Fingolfin's blue and silver raiment was as neat as ever, but there were a few stray strands in the thick brown braid that fell over his right shoulder. His eyes seemed shadowed, as if he'd endured many sleepless nights.
"I have heard that Feanaro will go into exile with his sons and his people," Fingolfin said with little preamble. "I did not wish for things to come to this."
"I know," Maedhros said. "I was there. I heard your words. But my father will not go into exile alone. He does not do this to further divide the Noldor. If he should leave even one of his followers in Tirion during his absence, he fears that violence will occur."
Fingolfin slammed his fist into his palm. "How did this come to pass? Are we such bad princes?"
"Nay, my Lord. It is the work of Morgoth, the Black Foe. Do not blame yourself needlessly. He is a Vala. Even the lesser Valar cannot hope to face him alone."
"You did not come here simply to console me, I trust."
"Nay, my Lord."
"Listen to me for a moment longer," Fingolfin said. "I do not know whom else I can turn to at this moment. Findis spends most of her time among the Vanyar, and Arafinwe is more often found in Alqualonde than Tirion. Irime is ever by my side, but she needs not face the hardships of princedom."
"Speak your mind, Arakano." Maedhros used Fingolfin's mother-name to create a sense of closeness between them. Unlike the sons of Feanor, Fingolfin rarely used aught but his father-name.
Fingolfin seemed surprised by Maedhros's choice of address but also seemed relieved. "When we were eleven, all the Vanyar came to Tirion to visit after having departed from our city for three coraldur. Before the Great Feast, we dined with High King Ingwe Ingweron and his family."
Though the Vanyar had chosen to return to a simpler life upon the plains and in the woods of Valinor, they had appeared to be very great, almost as legends to a young Maedhros. Ingwe dwelt at the foot of Taniquetil itself, and there was a great light in his face that was only enhanced by his golden hair and tall stature. His white raiment was adorn with crystal dust that shimmered like stars. About his left wrist had been thin bracelets of the purest gold. A golden circlet was set upon his noble brow, whereas Finwe wore a circlet of silver. Ingwe ascended the crystal stairs of Tirion with his wife by his side like a king returning to take his kingship. At the time, Maedhros had been in awe of the royal procession.
"I remember," Maedhros said at last.
"They are my mother's kin, and I am related to them by blood," Fingolfin said. "Yet, even when Ingwe called me sister-son, I did not feel the part. Findis the White has the golden hair of the Vanyar, but I have Finwe's brown hair, and, because of that, I felt that I did not belong to the Holy Elves." Maedhros smiled wryly at that, for his red hair was rare among all three kindreds of Elves, but, in his youth, he had desired the raven-dark hair of his father or at least the inconspicuous dark brown of Fingolfin. "When I was with Ingil, Ingwiel, and Ingwion, I felt small and out of place. I wished that you could've been with me, for at least then I would not be alone in my difference. Fortunately, Arafinwe was not yet born or I might have felt even more awkward than I already did. I was grateful when Feanaro came with you to put me to bed." There was a touch of sorrow in Fingolfin's smile. "Isn't that a horrible thing to say? They are my cousins, yet I did not want to spend one second more with them."
"I believe it is a natural feeling," Maedhros said. "Children wish to feel as if they belong, and Ingwe's sons are much older than you and had already long reached their maturity by then."
"Indeed they had." Fingolfin's eyes softened. "You held Feanaro's left hand, and I held his right. We walked together to our quarters in the House of Finwe, and Feanaro tucked me into bed and kissed me on the forehead before he and you left me."
"Afterwards, he took me to my room and did the same," Maedhros said. "I asked him where Mother was, and he told me that she was still busy with the Ladies of Ingwe's court. He bade me to sleep and took up a tray of fine crystal sculptures that he'd left in my room. I asked him if he intended to give them to the sons of Ingwe. He said yes. I begged him to let me keep one, and so he let me choose one. I chose the peacock, for I loved the play of lights in the crystalline tail feathers. He left, and, moments later, I heard the shattering of glass."
"I don't know if you saw me, but I saw you peering out of your door," Fingolfin said.
"I didn't notice," Maedhros said. "I was trying to keep the door from opening too widely."
"He stood there in shock, and I remember that he looked to his hands with surprise. I don't think he meant to drop the tray."
"No, I don't believe so either."
"He blinked back the tears several times, but, at last, the tears escaped down his fair cheeks. He crouched by his broken crafts and cried like a boy." Fingolfin paused a moment to compose himself. "At that moment, I remember thinking, he's only 32. He's not even an adult yet."
Maedhros had begun to understand his uncle's point before he'd even finished the story, for though he had not thought about that incident for years, that memory was ever etched in his mind. Feanor had been fair of face and noble in bearing. To see that masterful image of his father crying, with beautiful raven forelocks becoming disheveled as his hands covered his face or wiped at his eyes, was a shock. It was something that he would have done, not Feanor. Feanor had always been the kind to drink his wine so carefully that it did not stain his lips or to face the breeze and turn such that his hair never flew into his face. Maedhros looked at Fingolfin with a new perspective. They had not played together much as children, but there were some experiences that they shared because of their age alone that Maedhros could not share with his brothers.
"He's only 21 years older than us, isn't he?" said Maedhros. Fingolfin was older than Finarfin by 40 years, and Maedhros was older than all but Maglor by more than 21 years. Fingolfin nodded and seemed unsurprised that Maedhros was so quick to comprehend the situation. "That time, I think he must have been envious of the sons of Ingwe."
"Do you?" said Fingolfin. "His fire is greater than theirs combined, and he was as tall as them though he had not yet reached full maturity of body. They had nothing for him to envy, whereas I felt still small in their company."
"They had and still have a complete and seemingly blissful family, whereas his birth lay such a weariness upon his mother that she desired life no longer," Maedhros said.
"I see. I had thought that he'd found his creations imperfect, yet what child of 32 could have crafted such lovely crystal sculptures?"
"Perhaps that also played a part in his sorrow," Maedhros said.
"What ever became of the crystal peacock?"
"The next morning, I told my father that I didn't want it anymore. I think he might have given it to Ingil."
Fingolfin shook his head. "I should have been more aware. If I felt awkward about my mother's kin, I can only imagine how he must have felt in the company of the children of his father's second wife. Perhaps a part of me was aware of such things, for I was all too ready to believe the lies of Mel-"
"Morgoth," Maedhros interrupted. "Do not speak the name of the Dark Lord. He is a Vala and can come among us unseen."
"Very well." Fingolfin began anew. "I did not think that I believed the evil whisperings that Morgoth had planted among the Noldor, but as soon as Feanaro, or the fell servant in the semblance of Feanaro, came to me and declared that he had little love for the children of Indis, I believed him all too readily. I do not believe that I am any less marred than Feanaro. I see the evil that is within myself and understand all too well why he drew his sword on me. If things had been but a little different, I might have done the same.
"Morgoth has spent much of his energies corrupting my brother and me. I do not believe the same is true for you. When and if more dire times come, neither Feanaro nor I should be trusted to be fair-minded. You and I are the same age, but you are less marred than I. Though neither Feanaro nor I may be willing, at such a dark time, you must be the one to lead the Noldor. Do you understand?"
Maedhros took his uncle's hand and kissed it. "I hear you, Nolofinwe, and I will obey your wish. My father has expressed these same sentiments. I pray that I will have the strength to lead our people if such dire circumstances arise."
"When they arise," Fingolfin amended. "But you did not come to listen to me talk to you as if I were far older and wiser. Let me have Findekano called."
"Nay, my Lord, I did not come to see him," Maedhros said. "I came on an errand for my father. He wishes to speak to all the children of Finwe and their children as well."
The children of Finwe and their children rarely traveled together. They did so only for great festivals held at Taniquetil. Maedhros had delivered Feanor's message to Findis, Fingolfin, Irime, and Finarfin, and all the children of Indis had chosen to hear what the child of Miriel had to say. When they and their children came to the House of Fire, sure-footed horses had been readied, and Feanor had led them and his seven sons deep into the Pelori Mountains by winding paths. Then Feanor ordered the torches extinguished.
All about them was darkness, for here even the Light of the Two Trees did not shine. The night sky was clear, yet there were no stars to be seen. The air seemed too thin to breathe, and though it was not cold, Maedhros felt himself shudder. Feanor had before spoken to his sons of Darkness that was not the mere lack of Light, Darkness that was born of malice with the ability to strangle the very will. This was not it, yet Maedhros and his brothers had been warned that, one day, they would face such Darkness. This lightlessness was kind in comparison.
After a moment, Feanor's clear voice came out of the stillness. "Do you ever wonder, children of Finwe, why you were born?" From the very intonation of his words, Maedhros knew that his father was speaking to the children of Indis and their children. "If I'd truly wanted, I could have prevented my father's second marriage," and though there was no malice in his voice, the darkness made Feanor's words seem eerie. "Many believe that I paid no heed to the debate that took place among the Valar because I did not attend, but that is not true." He did not speak many moments, and Maedhros found himself wishing for the eerie sound of Feanor's voice, for they were compelled to stay silent in the darkness until the Spirit of Fire had finished his say. "I was 15 and at the time yet unwed. Yay, if I'd so desired it, Finwe would not have married Indis, and you would not have been born. Can any father deny a motherless child when he has not yet reached maturity? But one night, I told my father that I wished for him to wed Indis, for I knew that he desired yet more children. I had heard the words of Namo, Lord of Mandos, ere he passed judgment upon my mother, and I told Finwe that I would not disapprove if the Valar allowed him to remarry."
Maedhros heard Feanor draw out the strange, imperfect sphere that he'd packed earlier. A trinket from childhood, Feanor had said as his hands had moved without thought to where the crystal was imperfect. It flashed for a brief moment so that the ghostly face of Feanor was lit by its soft glow but quickly plunged them into darkness once more.
A voice, deep and terrible, filled the air. "Aule named Feanor the greatest of the Eldar, and in potency that is true. But I say unto you that the children of Indis shall be great, and the Tale of Arda more glorious because of their coming. And from them shall spring things so fair that no tears shall dim their beauty; in those being the Valar, and the Kindreds both of Elves and of Men that are to come shall all have part, and in those deeds they shall rejoice. So that long hence when all that here is, and seemeth yet fair and impregnable, shall nonetheless have faded and passed away, the Light of Aman shall not wholly cease among the free peoples of Arda until the End. When he that shall be called Earendil setteth foot upon the shores of Aman, ye shall remember my words. In that hour ye will not say that the Statute of Justice hath borne fruit only in death; and the griefs that shall come ye shall weigh in balance, and they shall not seem too heavy compared with the rising of the light when Valinor groweth dim."
When the recorded voice of Namo had delivered his final judgment, Feanor drew out the Three Silmarils, and their Light brought hope and courage to those assembled. He looked to Findis, Fingolfin, Irime, and Finarfin each in turn. "Did you know that our father also had a father, and that our grandfather's name was Maidros?" At that, Maedhros remembered, for a brief moment, being a mere baby and looking up to his father and mother as they sought for a name to suit him. He'd heard that name, Maidros, but his parents had rejected it. "And our father had a brother named Bruithwir. But when I question any of the elders concerning the arising of the Elves and their journeys, I am told, 'A darkness lies behind us, and we have turned our backs upon it, and we do not desire to return thither even in thought.' That is why you have heard nothing of our family history, though Finwe is not of the Unbegotten, and it was with much effort that I discovered what little I have.
"Before the Eldar reached Aman, the world was not safe for them. It was dark and dangerous, and, as you have yourselves seen, at times, even the stars did not shine. I am not so foresighted as some would believe, but the words of Namo, Lord of Mandos, have never left me since I first heard them. He said the Light of Valinor would dim. Did he mean this metaphorically or literally? I do not know. Already, we have seen the first darkening of Eldamar, and it was of my doing, for, provoked by Morgoth's sinister whispers, I drew my sword upon my own brother. Mandos spoke of the Tale of Arda, not of Aman alone, and if the Valar will now chase the Black Foe from Valinor, what will become of the lands without, where Finwe was born, where the Light of the Two Trees does not shine?
"Forty years ago, I made the Silmarils with the hope of someday aiding our kin in the Outer Lands. My dream still holds true, now more than ever as I quake at the thought of the evil that Morgoth may do upon those who are unprotected by the Valar. The Silmarils are still too young though and are unready to take their place in the History of Arda. We are not so young. I have long told my sons that they will protect Arda, but now I know that my family cannot do this alone. I have been banished for 12 years, and rightly so for the wrong that I have done to my brother Nolofinwe, but I do not regret it. I was angered beyond reason by the lies of the Morgoth, and now his malice has been revealed. Tulkas has been sent to capture him, and the Noldor are at last free from the thralldom of the Master of Lies. It was of that thralldom that I spoke when I stood before the Valar, and I was most strongly marred by the designs of the Dark Lord; my actions have proved it to be so.
"But he is gone now. Let the breach in the Noldor at last be healed. I will go north into exile with my sons and will cure my people of the dark thoughts planted in them, and I beg that the children of Indis do the same during our leave. Once we are again united, then will the Noldor take their place beside the Valar and march with Tulkas to the aid of our long sundered kin in Middle-earth."
Fingolfin spoke then, "I hear you, Feanaro, Spirit of Fire, and at last I understand your mind. My siblings and I and our children will do our part to heal the marring of Arda so that the words of Mandos will be proven true, that the children of Indis shall also be great and the Tale of Arda more glorious because of our coming. And when the time of your exile comes to an end, then I will hold the matter between us fully redressed and will gladly release you, my brother."
"Arakano speaks for us all," said Findis. "Your absence and that of your sons will seem too long, but when you return, Tirion will be more glorious than before."
"Thank you." Feanor looked to each of the childrend of Indis and to each of their children in turn. "I am proud to be part of such a family. Finwe was not mistaken in wedding Indis as his second wife. The deeds that we shall together do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda."
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.