2. Part 2
Where could Carnistir have gone off to? Maitimo wondered as he looked about the courtyard. He'd somehow found himself once again watching his youngest brothers while his mother was helping the strange boy Maitimo had found during his rebellious flight through the woods; it seemed there was no avoiding his apparent destiny as the family baby-sitter. One would think that with all the practice I've had, I'd be better at this by now, he thought ruefully as he quickly glanced about, hoping to spot his smallest brother. For someone who hadn't been walking very long, his youngest brother could move remarkably quickly. He'd only turned his back for a moment to help Tyelkormo retie his shoelaces, but when he'd turned around again little Carnistir was nowhere to be seen. The courtyard gate remained securely closed, and since the latch was too high for a toddler to reach, he could not have left the yard. That left only one possibility - he must have gone back inside the house. Sighing, Maitimo took his brother Tyelkormo's hand. "Let's go find our brother," he said, and the two of them returned inside.
As soon as they entered, they heard music - Makalaurë was practicing. Hoping that Carnistir would be attracted by the sound, Maitimo and Tyelkormo followed the sounds to the room where Makalaurë sat playing his harp. "Have you seen Carnistir?" Maitimo asked. "He managed to slip away from me a few minutes ago." Since his brother was playing undisturbed, Maitimo realized Carnistir couldn't have entered the room - peace, quiet, and the luxury of undisturbed concentration were in short supply wherever their energetic and inquisitive youngest brother was found - but perhaps Makalaurë might have noticed him scurrying past the entrance to the room, and could tell Maitimo which way he'd gone. Or perhaps not, Maitimo thought when he saw Makalaurë start, so intently focused on his music that he hadn't heard his brothers approaching. Tyelkormo dashed in and, taking advantage of his brother's surprise, began to pluck randomly on the harp strings.
"Stop that!" Makalaurë said crossly, "you're going to break it!" Chastened, Tyelkormo decided to turn his attentions towards the sheet music instead, randomly turning the pages and intently examining each one before throwing it on the floor. "No, don't, you're messing up the pages! Maitimo, make him stop!" Makalaurë pleaded, and Tyelkormo simultaneously shouted "I want to play, too! You're mean!" and started to punch his brother with his small fists. Sighing, Maitimo entered the room and grabbed his little brother's hands, scolding him gently - "No hitting, Tyelkormo, you know better." Tyelkormo appeared to consider this for a moment, then his face began to turn red and he started to howl. Maitimo picked him up to soothe him, then turned again to Makalaurë, who had begun collecting the scattered music from off the floor. "I asked you, Makalaurë, did you see Carnistir?" he repeated in a weary tone.
"No - he didn't come this way," Makalaurë finally answered. "Maybe he went to find Mother." And then he turned away and began again to play his harp.
Or maybe he's getting into who knows what mischief, Maitimo thought. Please, Manwë and Varda, don't let him break anything, or hurt himself, before I find him! "Why don't you stay here and sing songs with our brother, Tyelkormo?" he said brightly as he sat his now quiet little brother at Makalaurë's feet; when Makalaurë began to protest, Maitimo silenced him with a murderous glare. "You can amuse Tyelkormo while I look for Carnistir," he said firmly. "Be a good filit* and sing for him; I'll be back as soon as I've found Carnistir, and then I'll take them both back outside to play." And then he departed in search of their missing brother; as he left, Maitimo saw Tyelkormo once again reaching for the music pages.
To his surprise, when Maitimo finally found his littlest brother, Carnistir was not destroying anything; instead, he was happily playing with the strange boy Maitimo had found in the woods. Carnistir had managed to climb up onto Findekáno's couch, and was sitting on his chest, laughing as Findekáno tickled him, and playing with the older boy's braids. "I'm sorry, Findekáno," Maitimo apologized, "Carnistir slipped away from me; I won't let him bother you again, I promise."
"It's all right, Maitimo," Findekáno replied. "I was already awake when he came in, he didn't disturb me. And I was getting bored anyway. It must be fun, having so many brothers around."
"Sometimes it is," Maitimo replied, "but between watching them and helping Father at his forge, I feel like I never have any chance to go anywhere or do anything exciting. I wish I had a horse, like you do - I'd ride into Tirion, or go out into the countryside and explore. I get so tired of staying home!"
At the mention of his horse, a strange look crossed Findekáno's face; he quickly replied, "Your father is a smith, then? It must be interesting, being an apprentice - all I ever do is read about things, I never have the chance to actually make anything. What does he make?"
"All kinds of things - metalwork, and jewelry, and precious stones, and he helps my mother cast her pieces, she's a sculptor. It's hard work, helping him, and I'm not very skilled at it. But Father wants me to grow up to be a craftsman like himself. What are you going to do when you are grown, Findekáno?"
"I guess... I really don't know," Findekáno replied slowly. What am I going to do, if I can't go home? he thought for the first time. Maitimo's mother was right - I can't make it completely on my own yet. But I don't think she'll let me stay here. "I haven't decided yet - that's still a long way away. Breed horses, maybe, or become a forester, perhaps - something where I can be outdoors." Maybe I can go live in the woods - I can hunt, a little, I don't think I'd starve.
"You mean that your father will let you choose what you want to do?" Maitimo seemed surprised. "That must be hard - to have to make such a big decision on your own. Don't you worry that you'll make the wrong choice?"
"No. Why? My father says that it's a rare life path that has no turnings in it. If I don't like what I choose, I can change my mind and do something else later, after all."
"Maybe; I'm not sure that's always true, Findekáno. But I'm sure you'll find out what path is the right one for you," Maitimo replied. A sudden loud rumble of thunder shook the room, startling Carnistir, who began to cry. Reflexively, Maitimo reached out, but Findekáno began to gently tease the toddler, who was soon pulling on Findekáno's braids again. Maitimo turned and walked over to a nearby window. "It's starting to rain now," he said, peering up at the sky, "I don't think you'll be traveling home before tomorrow, it will be too wet. Do you want to play any games to pass the time before dinner?" Maitimo asked.
"What kind of games did you have in mind?" Findekáno replied.
"Well, there's a game I play with my brother Makalaurë, we call it Rivals; each player has a set of tokens, and the object is to position your tokens to control as much space as you can on the board..."
It had been a long day, and a not entirely successful one. The new material he had devised was transparent, hard, and appropriately refractive, but it was too brittle to be durable enough for gemstones. But Fëanáro knew that he was on the right track; with a little more experimentation, he was certain he could improve the substance, and then the gems he would be able to cast from it would be the envy of Aulë himself. He had reached the limits of what he could accomplish using purely natural materials, but that did not have to limit his creativity unless he chose to allow it to. And he did not so choose. No, it was not the struggle he was having with his experimental compounds that was troubling him; rather, it was the struggle he was having with his eldest son.
At first glance, there appeared to be nothing wrong. Maitimo had always been dutiful and willing, and so he remained. But more and more he seemed to lack a certain... spark. I remember when I first saw him, cradled in my wife's arms - how surprised I was at his red hair, he mused as he walked through the gentle rain towards the house, and a quiet evening with his family. I was certain then that his fëa would prove as fiery as his locks; how wrong time has proved me! Does my son take joy in anything? Increasingly, it seemed to Fëanáro that his son's fëa was more a dwindling coal, gradually cooling to ash, than a growing flame. Maitimo dutifully listened to his father and promptly carried out any instructions he was given, but showed no more than a faint glimmer of excitement; he never seemed to lose himself in the work in the way Fëanáro remembered himself doing during his apprenticeship with Mahtan. There was little enthusiasm in his quiet voice, or light in his eyes; the best Fëanáro could say about him was that he was a diligent pupil. And unlike his younger brother Makalaurë (who also seemed unexcited about learning Fëanáro's skills), it did not appear that Maitimo's lack of enthusiasm was do to the possession of a different gift. He appeared to show no great interest in or particular aptitude at anything, either art or scholarship. How could a grandson of the great Finwë be so mediocre, and so dull? He hardly seems a Noldo at all, Fëanáro thought sadly. What is to become of him?
He was still brooding over his strange oldest child when he entered the house. It was nearly time to begin preparing dinner, but he needed to wash the soot and grime of the forge away before he began the cooking, so he turned and began to head down the long hallway to the washroom. As he passes the doorway of the main sitting room, he heard laughter, and a stranger's voice. He turned, and beheld a surprising sight.
His son Maitimo was playing a board game with a strange, dark-haired boy; Carnistir lay napping on the floor next to them. It had been his son's laughter he had heard, Fëanáro realized; and now Maitimo was saying, "For someone who just learned this game today, you play really well! You almost won, you know. Do you want to try another round?" Maitimo's face, usually so expressionless, appeared animated for the first time in... Fëanáro realized he could not remember. How long has it been since I've seen my son smile so? Fëanáro wondered. There was an eagerness in Maitimo's voice that his father had not heard before. He almost seemed a different person. Was it possible that the strange boy had triggered this welcome transformation? Perhaps my son is lonely? Fëanáro mused. I had not considered that - he has his brothers for company, after all; but perhaps their companionship alone is not enough. Just because I was content to be solitary during my youth does not guarantee that my sons will feel the same way.
"Of course," the dark-haired youngster replied. "You don't think I'm going to let you boast about your victory! I'm going to keep playing until I can beat you; consider yourself warned. Now, how do we set up the board again?" "Like this," his son replied, and together the two boys began returning the pieces to the gameboard. While doing so, the dark-haired boy absently pushed his hair back, and for a second Fëanáro glimpsed his face. What he saw rooted him to the spot in shock. He knew that face!
A woman, a beautiful tall woman with golden hair, kneeling next to a dark-haired boy writing at a small desk, helping him with his letters; the boy, intent on his studies, absent-mindedly brushing his long, black hair away from his face. Nolofinwë, his father had named him, HIS father had named him, and Fëanáro, watching, had wished this rival for his father's love dead...
No, not Nolofinwë, Fëanáro realized, as the shock wore off and he remembered where and when he was. Not my half-brother, but his son. For the boy had inherited his father's face. How did my half-brother's son find his way here? And how am I going to tell Maitimo that he cannot associate with him? For Fëanáro had no intention of allowing close ties with his father Finwë's other family. Indeed, when he had moved his own family outside Tirion to this isolated area following the birth of Carnistir, it was only in part so that both he and Nerdanel could have the quiet and privacy needed for their creative work. He had also intended to put distance between his children and the families of Nolofinwë and Arafinwë; between the legitimate heir of the Noldoran king and those other offspring, the fruits of his father's betrayal of his wife Míriel through his so-called "second marriage". I will not have my son befriending the grandchild of Indis! The boy will be sent back to his father, and things will return to normal.
He must have made some sound, for suddenly both children stopped what they had been doing and were staring at him. Fëanáro willed his face into a neutral expression and entered the room, forcing himself to say, "Hello, son. What is our guest's name?"
"Father!" Maitimo replied brightly. "This is Findekáno. He fell off his horse and hurt his leg, and he can't walk, and he doesn't know the way home anyway, so he's staying with us for a while, Mother said it's all right, and he's been helping me watch Carnistir, and we've been playing Rivals, and he's an awfully good player even though he only learned the game today. Findekáno, this is my father, he's the best craftsman in the world, you should see all the things he can make..." "That's enough, Maitimo," Fëanáro interrupted gently, "you'd best get cleaned up for dinner; it will be ready soon. Where is your mother? I need to speak with her."
"I don't know; in her studio, I guess," Maitimo replied. "Will we have enough time to play another game of Rivals before dinner is ready? Findekáno thinks he can beat me in a rematch." "And I will, too!" Findekáno replied, grinning. "Can I eat dinner in here with Findekáno, Father? He can't come to the table, not without help, because he can't walk, and Mother wants him to stay off his leg anyway. Is it all right if I stay and keep him company?" Maitimo asked.
"No, I think not..." Fëanáro began to say, but his son's sudden downcast expression brought him up short. After a brief pause, he resumed. "Perhaps, Maitimo, if your mother approves, and if Findekáno wishes your company. Go get cleaned up, and then you can come back to your game; you can always finish it after you eat, if necessary." And then he left his son in the company of his half-brother's child, and went in search of his wife.
He found her where his son had suggested she would be, in her studio. She was working on a clay model in preparation, Fëanáro supposed, for casting another sculpture. When he came closer, he realized that she was sculpting the two boys, his son and his half-brother's child, intent on their play, heads bent over the gameboard that sat between them. "Nerdanel..." he began to say, but she cut him off.
"Husband, today was a fortunate day for our oldest son. Have you seen how he glows in the presence of his new friend? I think they will share a soul bond, those two," she said as she continued to shape the clay. "I heard you speaking to them. What do you think of Findekáno?"
"He is the son of my half-brother Nolofinwë," Fëanáro replied quietly; and at those words his wife finally looked up to face him, a troubled expression on her face. After a long moment of silence, she replied, "I suspected he might be; I thought I remembered that name, and there is a family resemblance. But does it matter whose son he is?"
"Yes," Fëanáro replied firmly. "I will not have my children associating with my half-brothers' get, even -"
"Even if it brings life to Maitimo's fëa?" she interrupted. "My love," she continued, "look at your son while he is with Findekáno. When was the last time you saw him so happy? And you would deny him that happiness, solely because you disapprove of the parentage of his friend? Findekáno is not Nolofinwë, and he did not choose his father."
"That does not matter," Fëanáro replied firmly. "His father is who he is, and I do not wish my children to be forming ties with Nolofinwë's family."
"The ties are there already, whether you wish to admit that or not," Nerdanel replied equally firmly. "Our sons have half-cousins, and your disapproval of that fact does not negate its truth. Would you allow your old pain to get in the way of your children's happiness, my love? I believe you are a better person than that."
Could she be right? Fëanáro found himself wondering. Would breaking the bond that appears to be forming between my son and Nolofinwë's truly hurt Maitimo? And even if it does, would that be so terrible? Surely he would quickly recover from it - he's only known the boy for a day, after all! But he remembered the glow he'd just witnessed on his son's face, and the lightness in his voice, and suddenly he found himself reluctant to forbid the friendship. I complained that my son lacked joy in life. If an association with Nolofinwë's family provides that joy, is not my discomfort a fair price to pay in trade?
"I will consider your words," he said slowly, troubled. Nerdanel arose and embraced him. "I know you will make the right decision in the end," she replied. "We need to send word to your half-brother, to let him know his son is here, and safe. Findekáno would not tell me his parents' names, I suspect he is hiding from something, and I was reluctant to send word until I was sure my guess was correct."
"I will send a messenger when Laurelin next waxes; by then the storm will probably have stopped, and my half-brother will not have to carry his son home in the rain," Fëanáro replied.
(To Be Continued)
*filit - Quenya for "little bird"; an affectionate nickname Maedhros has given his brother Maglor.
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.