4. Chapter 4
"Sister?" a gentle voice queried softly beside her. "Nerdanel?"
She started, looked up, and saw her brother-in-law Fingolfin peering into her face.
"What are you doing here, sister?" Concern was written over his features.
Nerdanel only shook her head, in a daze of sorrow. They were standing in a side street. The light of torches and lamps flitted past in the hands of running people, and excited cries reverberated down the road.
"Where are you going?" her brother-in-law asked again, gently.
It took her a second to actually understand the question. What was she doing here? Where was she going? Home?
"Back, I suppose..." she managed to answer at last, "to my father's house...."
Seeing her dazed and exhausted state, Fingolfin insisted on accompanying her to Mahtan's house. Nerdanel made some faint attempts at protesting, wishing to be alone, but he overruled her gently yet firmly. Nevertheless, as they walked through the city, she felt some sense of reason return, penetrating her earlier panic, and was grateful for his calming presence.
"What will you do, brother?" she finally asked in a fairly steady voice, after they had walked for a while in silence.
They halted for a moment. "He is my king and elder brother." Fingolfin's reply was quiet, without any trace of tremor or hesitation. "Where he leads, I will follow."
"But you know in your heart that this is folly. He will lead the Noldor to ruin and to the shadow," Nerdanel said wearily. "But you are wiser than this, brother. Tell him not to go. Do not follow his madness."
It was Fingolfin's turn to shake his head in sadness. "He is determined, and will not listen. And there are times when love must overrule wisdom." Seeing her start at his words, he managed a rueful smile. "And I will try to help him, perhaps to temper him."
They went on, passing the rest of the way without words. As they approached Mahtan's door, Arinthir rushed up, flushed with excitement.
"Lady Nerdanel! Have you heard? Lord Fëanor--rather, the King now--spoke and told us so much!" But then a shadow fell across his fair face. "Master Mahtan is very much angry and grieved, Lady Nerdanel."
"Arinthir, stop and consider your actions, before they cannot be unmade." Nerdanel looked at the young Elf, hardly more than a boy. Yet he appeared changed, grown up somehow, since she last left the house. Was it really only hours ago?
Arinthir met her gaze with determination. "We go to avenge our King, and to win back the Jewels, in Middle-earth--and there will be great need for warriors. And good smiths," he answered proudly.
Fingolfin stepped forward quietly from the shadows behind her. Arinthir's eyes widened. "Lord Fingolfin! But you spoke against him--" he left the question hanging in the air.
"I will go forth with our people, young one."
A bright gleam of wild admiration kindled in the youth's eyes, and he drew himself up like a soldier. "Lord Fingolfin," he breathed.
But Fingolfin turned his eyes away from the other's radiant gaze, and Nerdanel touched the young Elf's arm softly. "Think before your actions, Arinthir, and do not forget the Valar's love," she whispered as they went past him.
They found the house ablaze with lights and abuzz with activity. Most of the household, especially the younger people, were already making preparations for the march. Even in front of the house, Nerdanel could hear the bellows of the forge in full roar, for the first time since the Darkness had fallen. But Mahtan, the master of the house, stood angry and anguished, alone by a window, staring out in the direction of the western mountains in the distance.
At the sight of Fingolfin a scowl came upon his face. "What are you doing here instead of following your brother?" he growled.
"Father, please," Nerdanel implored. She felt so tired. "Lord Fingolfin argued against him for hours...."
Her father glowered silently, as Fingolfin turned to her in farewell. "Is there anything, sister, that you wish to tell him?" He asked.
"Tell him not to go."
Fingolfin only shook his head, and did not reply. After a moment, he reached out and pressed her hand gently. As he did so, he noticed the smear of dried blood on her hand, and looked up in question, but she returned his gaze, her eyes refusing to answer.
Another moment passed, and he gave her a slight smile. "We shall meet again, sister," he said simply, and started to walk away.
He turned around at the door. Nerdanel stood in the middle of the room, her face impassive. But her voice trembled with emotion.
"Tell him that I love him, and I shall plead before the High Ones for him, and for our sons. For all of us."
Fingolfin paused, then nodded and passed from the room in silence. At last, Nerdanel turned to her father, swaying a little upon her feet. "Oh father...."
In an instant he was beside her, as she broke down weeping in his arms. "Do not leave me, father...."
"I will never leave you, my daughter," he whispered, holding his broken-winged child in a tight embrace, supporting her.
All around them, preparations for departure 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.