4. Part 4
Following the twins’ return, life quickly seemed to settle back into its previous rhythms. But that was mere illusion, as Maitimo soon realized. Beneath the placid surface, a subtle tension persisted, partially displacing the quiet sorrow which had been the dominant note before. Fëanáro’s emotional remoteness and volatility remained unchanged; although he had initially paid more attention to the goings-on of the household, he soon retreated again into the refuge of his workshop. Maitimo found his father’s withdrawal a relief. Before his little brothers’ frightening disappearance, he had longed for a return to normalcy, and for their father to resume his old place of authority in their family. But Fëanáro’s heart now seemed to contain nothing but pain and anger and suspicion; the very air itself was so thick with tension when he was present that Maitimo wondered how it was even possible to breathe it. And his mood seemed infectious, for it was shared by Tyelkormo and Carnistir. They clearly resented being forced to supervise Ambarussa more closely following their youngest brothers’ wanderings, and had become harsh and quick to scold them. And not surprisingly, Ambarussa remained subdued following their return. Ironically, for all Fëanáro’s concerns, they seemed to have lost all interest in exploration, showing no inclinations to leave the household grounds, and indeed seldom willingly left their older brothers’ sides. Their uncharacteristic clinginess and lethargy had both Makalaurë and Maitimo concerned, but there seemed nothing the two eldest sons of Fëanáro could do to restore their littlest brothers’ ebullience. Things cannot continue on this way, Maitimo realized, but I do not know how to make everything right again. "I wish I were wiser, Makalaurë," he said to his brother one evening, after putting Ambarussa to bed. "Then I’d know what words to say to Father to make him listen to me for once! I’d know how to make him see our baby brothers’ unhappiness. But he refuses to acknowledge that anything’s wrong. And I don’t know how to change that."
"You can’t, Russandol," Makalaurë replied. "All you can do is what you’re doing now. We can’t force Father to listen to us, and reconcile with Mother. No one has ever forced Father to do anything he doesn’t want to do - and no one can! It’s just the way he is. You know that. Besides, Mother may not want to come back. We’ll just have to manage with Ambarussa as best we can. They’re young; surely they’ll eventually recover from this loss. They will probably forget Mother entirely in time," he concluded sadly.
"Will they, filit? Father never forgot his mother," Maitimo replied. "And he was so young when our real grandmother died, he couldn’t have many memories of her; Grandmother Indis was the only mother figure he ever really knew! Ambarussa are much older than Father was; I don’t think they will forget Mother at all. And I’m afraid, filit. They seem so listless and sad - might they waste away the way our Grandmother Míriel did?"
"Surely not!" Makalaurë said quickly, horrified. "Russandol, Father didn’t die when he lost his mother; neither will our baby brothers, I’m sure of that. Stop worrying so much!"
"I can’t, little brother; believe me, I wish I could! I wish I had your gift, to put my fears into a song and sing them all away. But I don’t, I have to live with them, and seeing Ambarussa behaving like this frightens me. And I don’t know what to do to help them!"
"Try helping yourself first," Makalaurë said firmly. "Why don’t you ride to Tirion tomorrow and visit Findekáno? He always manages to cheer you up. Tyelkormo and I can take care of things here. And Father won’t care if you go - he knows you always stay out of trouble, unlike our younger brothers. Go see Findekáno and have some fun, and see if you don’t feel the better for it afterwards."
"Perhaps you’re right, filit," Maitimo replied slowly. "It has been a long time since I’ve been to the city. Are you sure you don’t mind if I go?"
"Of course not, silly brother," Makalaurë said. "Would I have suggested it if I did? Just remember to bring back some sweets for everyone. And some bread! And eggs! And - "
"All right, filit, I’ll go!" Maitimo laughed. "And I promise I’ll return with enough treats to sate even your sweet tooth. Perhaps I will even be able to hire a bakerwoman while I’m there. Surely even Father must be getting tired of having no bread in the house!"
"I doubt you’ll be able to find one who’ll be willing to come out here and put up with all of us, but if you do, I’ll be forever in your debt! Especially if she’s pretty! But don’t spend your whole day buying supplies and hiring servants, Russandol; you’re supposed to be having fun, remember that. And don’t try to tell me that shopping for all of us is fun! I may be younger than you are, but I’m not that naive."
"I promise you, Makalaurë, I’ll have fun. When I come back, I’ll probably be so relaxed you won’t recognize me! Thank you for the suggestion, filit. What would I do without you?"
"Brood," Makalaurë replied. "And fret. It’s what you’re best at, and that’s why Ilúvatar made you the oldest. But in His wisdom He knew you’d often take it too far, and so He gave you a much more sensible younger brother to balance things out."
"Sensible!" Maitimo sputtered. "You? The little boy who nearly drowned himself trying to sing underwater, because he’d heard that Lord Ossë and Lord Ulmo liked the music of the Teleri? The brother who thought that since birds sing, and they also fly, that he should be able to fly as well, since everyone told him he sang just like a bird? I almost didn’t catch you in time!"
"I was young!" Makalaurë protested. "It was an innocent mistake - why, anyone could have made it! And besides - you did catch me. It’s getting late. I think I’ll turn in now. Have fun in Tirion tomorrow, Maitimo."
"Thank you, filit. I will."
Makalaurë’s jests had briefly succeeded in raising Maitimo’s spirits, but as he walked down the long hallway to his own room, the sight of the locked door of his baby brothers’ room brought them low again. Makalaurë is right; I do need to take some time for myself, Maitimo thought, but that does nothing for Ambarussa. Somehow, I’ve got to find some way of helping them as well! May Irmo, Lord of Dreams and Visions, bless me with an answer soon!
To his surprise, his prayer was answered; he woke during the night with Makalaurë’s voice echoing in his mind - "No one has ever forced Father to do anything he doesn’t want to do - and no one can!" No one can? Not true, little brother, not true at all! Maitimo realized suddenly. There is someone who can force Father to act sensibly. But do I dare do this... Father, he knew, would be furious with him if he found out what he was planning to do. But what can he really do to me anymore? Maitimo thought. I’m of age now, and technically no longer under his complete authority. The worst he can do is disown me, and throw me out of the house - and would that be so bad, as things stand now? Not long ago I was thinking of leaving anyway. It’s worth the risk, for Ambarussa’s sake. Someone has to make him see reason! He shivered slightly; although he knew now what he needed to do, a part of him felt his actions would indeed be the betrayal that Fëanáro would surely regard them as if he ever learned of them. He will never know, Maitimo reassured himself. Father will never know. And I have to do this, for Ambarussa’s sake - and maybe even for his. I have no choice.
Maitimo left for Tirion early the next day, while the Treelight was still mingled, just before Laurelin began to wax. To Makalaurë’s surprise, his brother returned long before the day was out, seeming troubled and rather subdued. Even when you are supposed to be having fun, you still brood! he thought in exasperation. Did you have a fight with Findekáno? I wouldn’t think that possible! But Maitimo brushed off his younger brother’s inquiries, insisting that he’d had a wonderful time in Tirion and everything was fine.
Everything was most certainly not fine, Makalaurë soon realized with growing dismay. For his brother had not even looked for a bakerwoman, much less hired one, and had brought back no bread or eggs. Worst of all, Maitimo had also forgotten the sweets! So much for all my hopes, Makalaurë thought morosely. A full day of babysitting, not to mention browbeating Tyelkormo and Carnistir, and not even a single honeycake for my pains! I love you dearly, Maitimo, but some days you’re definitely more trouble than you’re worth.
* * * * * * *
The room was a marvel; the walls and floor were of finely polished semiprecious stones overlaid with delicate weavings, the cunningly crafted furnishings a testament to the supreme skills of the Noldoran artisans. Fëanáro had eyes for none of these things; his attention was given solely to the lone figure standing on the adjoining balcony, gazing out eastward at the distant sea. How long has it been since I was last here? he wondered. Surely it cannot be as long as that... But to his astonishment, he realized that it had indeed been many months since his last visit. For all his prodigious energies had slowly been sapped, first by the growing rift between himself and his wife, which he’d tried so hard to repair, and later by her loss. He’d not set foot outside his own household since Nerdanel’s departure, save to hunt for his missing sons. Shamefaced, he realized he’d become so wrapped up in his private sorrow that he’d forgotten his obligations; who knew how long it would have been before he would have again ventured here, had he not been summoned now?
His footsteps echoed softly as he walked across the stone floors, but the figure standing on the balcony did not turn to face him until Fëanáro was barely an arm’s length away. When he did, Fëanáro found himself staring as if into a mirror - for the brilliant grey eyes and raven-dark hair were nearly the same as his own. But the light in those eyes, though bright, was not so hot as Fëanáro’s own, but steadier and less foreboding, and the black hair was swept back by a silver circlet bearing glittering gemstones that almost rivaled the Silmarils in their beauty. Stones that had been cut by Fëanáro’s own hands, to adorn the brow of the one person he loved above all others living, the person whom he stood before now - his father Finwë, the King of their people. He dropped his head slightly, in respect. "Father, I have come as you requested. May I know the reason for your summons?"
"Do I need a reason to summon my favorite son to my side?" Finwë replied mildly. "But I have missed your company; you have been more than usually reclusive of late. Understandable, perhaps, but worrisome to me nonetheless. I grow concerned for you, Curufinwë Fëanáro."
"You need not be, Father," Fëanáro replied. "Do not distress yourself on my account, I beg you! I know I have been remiss in my duties towards you, for which I must apologize, but I am fine, truly."
"Are you? I have heard stories that lead me to believe otherwise. I have heard of no new objects of craft fashioned by your hands for many weeks; you have never taken such a respite from your work since you were first old enough to begin to learn the art of forging metals! Though you were never over-social, neither were you ever one to neglect those friends you do have, and yet you have visited no one in Tirion for a long time - save only for the briefest of necessary business trips, and most of those you have delegated to your own sons. And rumor has it that your wife has recently journeyed to her parents’ household, with no intention of ever returning. Is this rumor true, Fëanáro?"
Fëanáro made no reply, turning away slightly to avoid his father’s gaze; after a moment, Finwë sighed and placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. "I am sorry, son. Nerdanel was very dear to me, and she matched you well. I have never seen more joy in your eyes than on the day you two were wed. Is there truly no hope of salvaging your marriage?"
"Ask her, Father," Fëanáro responded, his voice rough. "For she will say nothing more to me. As for my part - if she wishes to depart, than I will not hinder her in her going. If there is a breech between us, it is of her making, and not of mine, and I will waste no more of my time in fruitless attempts to mend it. For my part, I would ask the Valar to sever our bond, were such a thing possible; but as it is not, I will turn from her as she has done from me, and remove all traces of her existence from my life. I need her not!"
"Perhaps you do not," Finwë replied softly, "although there is more pain in your voice than pride, I think. But you cannot banish Nerdanel so easily from your life, Fëanáro, regardless of whether you succeed in driving her shadow from your own heart. You are tied to her through your sons; do not make them your weapons in this battle with your wife, I beg you."
"My sons," Fëanaró said as he pulled away from his father’s touch, "need nothing of her! She was the one who chose to abandon them, as they can plainly see; only the youngest even notice her absence now, and soon she will fade from their hearts. Of that I am certain." He turned to face his father again, his eyes filled with angry fire, only to be startled at the sadness present in his father’s expression.
"As Míriel faded from your heart?" Finwë’s response, though gentle, quenched Fëanáro’s anger as suddenly as a gust of wind blows out a candle flame. "I once thought the same. Míriel had left me forever, and surely my young son, who after all had never known his mother, would warm to my new bride. His grief would eventually fade, and he would become content. But despite everything I could do, you steadfastly rejected every overture Indis made to you, clinging instead to the memory of the woman who’d abandoned you in favor of Mandos’ Halls. Even the name you’ve chosen to be called by is the one she gifted you with - and a constant reminder to me of my folly."
"If you could cling so to Míriel," Finwë continued, "who as a houseless fëa was indeed lost to you, than how much more desperately might your own sons cling to their mother Nerdanel, who is not dead but merely absent? I have heard about my young grandsons’ recent wanderings, and their reason for them. And I have also heard rumors that you are now keeping them confined rather than permit them to see their mother. Fëanáro, can you not understand their pain?"
"I will not lose my sons to her!" Fëanáro insisted, and Finwë winced inwardly at the anguish he heard now in his beloved son’s voice.
"If you lose their love, Fëanáro, it will only be because you allow your anger to drive them away. Nerdanel cannot steal away your sons’ affection for you, any more than you can force them to stop loving her. A child’s love for his father is far too deeply rooted to be torn out so easily. You will lose nothing by allowing them to go to her."
"So is this why you have called me here today - to order me to give up my sons to Nerdanel?" Fëanáro’s voice nearly broke as he uttered the last few words. How can my own father betray me so? he thought in despair. Must I now lose everyone I love? To his horror, he felt tears welling up in his eyes - whether of sorrow or of rage, he was not certain - and he quickly turned and retreated from the balcony into the relative darkness of the room. He’d hoped he would be able to reach the door and escape before his father could utter the words which would rip out his heart, but Finwë caught him before he was halfway across the room. Escape denied, he was forced by his father’s strong grip, and his authority as King, to remain and hear him out.
"Fëanáro, how could you think I would do such a thing?" Finwë said. "I did not call you here to take sides in your quarrel with your wife. You are my son, and I love you; your marriage is not mine to interfere with, although I wish with all my heart that you could reconcile with Nerdanel, if only for your sake, for I know how much you loved her once. But I will not stand idly by while my grandsons’ hearts are shredded by their parents’ folly. And I believe you are too loving a father to wish upon your sons the same scars you bear yourself. All I ask of you is that you let them visit her, should they wish it. Will you do that?"
"Do I have a choice?" Fëanáro replied sadly.
"Of course you have a choice! And I know in the end you will make the right one. Fëanáro, there are already too many broken hearts in our family now; do you wish to see yet another generation suffer? It grieves me to cause you such pain, son, and I would not have done so but for my grandsons’ sake. And also yours, that you might not alienate them from you in your grief. Fëanáro, oh, Fëanáro, I am so sorry..."
As his father tried to soothe him, Fëanáro suddenly felt something give way inside him, and the control he’d been struggling to retain melted away. Unable at the last to stop his tears, he let himself be drawn into his father’s arms, and Finwë held him quietly while he finally wept.
(To Be Continued)
The names used in this story are Quenya, and their meanings can be found in the essay "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", published in The Peoples of Middle Earth (History of Middle Earth, vol. 12). When more than one name is listed for a character, the first name is the father-name, the second is the mother-name, and the third is an epessë (a nickname). The names are as follows:
Curufinwë Fëanáro - Fëanor
Nelyafinwë Maitimo Russandol - Maedhros
Kanafinwë Makalaurë - Maglor
Turkafinwë Tyelkormo - Celegorm
Morifinwë Carnistir - Caranthir
Curufinwë Atarinkë - Curufin
Pityafinwë Ambarussa - Amrod
Telufinwë Ambarussa - Amras
Findekáno - Fingon
Turukáno - Turgon
Írissë - Aredhel
Nolofinwë - Fingolfin
Arafinwë - Finarfin
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.