Voices in the Wilderness: 6. The Friend

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6. The Friend

Nearly three months passed before Findekáno rode once more to the house of Fëanáro; it had rained heavily during the night, and when he'd left the early morning air was misty and smelled of the damp earth. No one had stirred when he'd silently crept from out of the palace, and as he lead his horse through the cobbled streets of the city he'd moved as quietly as possible, careful not to awaken anyone lest he find himself saddled with unwanted questions or (far worse) unwanted companions. Now, as he galloped over the fields and meadows that lay between the city and the abandoned childhood home of his cousin and former friend, the sound of his horse's hoofbeats was muffled by the soft earth; no one would hear him passing. And for this Findekáno was desperately grateful. Everything in his life was in a tumult now, and he longed for silence and peace, and a chance to reflect.

He'd watched on that fateful morning as his grandfather rode off to join those people setting forth with Fëanáro into exile, and had seen Curufinwë and Makalaurë and their wives among the other departing Noldor, hauling their meager household goods through the crowded streets to join the growing assemblage milling on the northern outskirts of the town. But though he had looked hard, he had not spotted the person he had been hoping to behold - a tall, red-haired Elf - in the departing crowd. Maitimo must not have come to help his brothers with their moving after all, or if he had, Findekáno had somehow failed to see him. And then they were gone, and the curious onlookers had slowly returned to their homes and shops, leaving the streets empty, and Findekáno had finally found himself standing alone.

Life in Tirion had quickly returned to its normal rhythms for most; indeed, with the departure of the Fëanorian faction, the city soon found a peace that it had not known for many long years. But for Findekáno the changes had continued, bewildering in their speed. Heart aching with the loss of his dearest friend, and still stunned and confused by their final, horrible farewell the previous night, he'd slowly returned home only to find that it was soon to be his home no longer. His father Nolofinwë was now the ruler of the Noldor of Tirion, and as such his place was now in the king's empty palace; Findekáno was quickly forced to bid farewell to his childhood house, moving with his parents and his sister Írissë into the large, luxurious and foreboding (or so it seemed to Findekáno) royal dwelling beneath the mighty Mindon Eldaliéva. True, he could still visit his former home, for Turukáno and his wife Elenwë would soon be moving into it - but it would not be the same. His old room was slated to become the new baby's nursery; Turukáno planned to tear out the small pleasure garden where they had played as children in order to enlarge the adjacent kitchen plot, so Elenwë could grow more fresh flowers and fragrant herbs for their table. It might be the same house, Findekáno knew, but it would never be the same home.

He hated his new room at the palace, and his new role as his father's heir. He hated the way people treated him now - the way so many tried to use him to gain access to his father Nolofinwë. True, Findekáno had been a prince before, but that had been different somehow. As a mere grandchild of the King, and one born only from one of Finwë's younger sons at that, he had not been close enough to real power for those with ambitions to pay him any heed. He had been treated with deference and respect before. Now he was fawned over and flattered, and he never knew whether those who praised him did so honestly or because they had some ulterior motive. Save for his old friends, of course - at least Findekáno still knew where he stood with them, and he was profoundly grateful for that. But even his relationship with his friends had subtly changed.

For in the past, the time he had spent with them (and especially with his cousins Angaráto and Aikanáro) had been joyful. Their high spirits had always been the perfect foil for his own, and they had reveled in the freedom of the wide, untrammeled lands of Aman. Hunting wild boar in the thick forests, exploring the mountains, swimming in the sea, heedlessly racing their horses over the vast interior plains... Findekáno lived for such adventures. He knew he was no scholar; the outdoors alone called to his spirit, and it was under the unroofed sky where his heart rested most content. But no longer. For now when he journeyed with his younger cousins, he was constantly aware of the one who was gone from their company; they were now three, who once had been four. Angaráto and Aikanáro had also missed their cousin Maitimo at first, but he had not been as close to them as he was to Findekáno, and they quickly became accustomed to his absence. But for Findekáno, the silence where his older cousin's voice should have echoed and the space by his side which had once been filled by his lanky frame continually chafed his heart, and even the deep joy of wildness and freedom failed to expunge his cousin's ghost from his mind. And he'd slowly found, to his sorrow, that the sight of his younger cousins' happiness was only serving to deepen his own misery.

And so he now rode forth alone, returning to the place where his most cherished friendship had first begun, in the hopes that through this final act of pilgrimage he would somehow be able to make peace with its ending. It was at the house of Fëanáro where his deep bond with Maitimo had been born; it was there where Findekáno wished to mourn its death, and bid a silent, final farewell to his departed cousin.

Although Fëanáro and his sons had departed only a few weeks earlier, when Findekáno arrived at the familiar dwelling he found to his surprise it already felt long-abandoned. Weeds had sprouted thick and lush within the previously carefully tended courtyard plantings, and grass was already beginning to grow between the walkway paving stones. Even the house itself seemed somehow disheveled, for several windows were opened wide, and the heavy front door was ajar. Why bother to shut it, when there is no longer anything of value inside, and you have no plans to return? Findekáno thought morosely. For a moment he closed his eyes, blotting out the painful sight, remembering instead two small boys playing in this courtyard, and a pregnant woman standing on the steps - his first sight of Maitimo's home and family. But when he opened his eyes again, the happy vision faded, to be replaced by the desolate reality. Leaving his mare to graze on the overgrown vegetation, Findekáno dismounted and entered the house.

To his surprise, much of the furniture was still in place. I suppose they only had room enough to take the essential things; the heavy items had to be left behind so there would be enough space for the needed tools and supplies, he thought. But although most the trappings of a home were still in place, the essential spirit had gone, and the once-familiar rooms felt cold and silent despite their minimally changed outward appearance. As Findekáno roamed slowly through the house, he began to notice the small items that were missing - books, small sculptures and carvings, a favorite pillow, the cards and game pieces once stored in the parlor, a hunting trophy. Personal treasures, light enough to transport easily and far too dear to abandon. Maitimo's room, when he reached it, was as the others; the room held nothing of his friend inside it, despite the presence of the bed and simple wooden dresser which had remained behind. Through the window Findekáno glimpsed the weathered stone and slate roof of Fëanáro's workshop. In all his years of friendship with Maitimo, he had never ventured inside that place, and his friend had never spoken of his experiences there. That portion of his cousin's life remained a mystery. Perhaps it was there, in the dark heart of Maitimo's world, his place of secrets, where Findekáno needed to venture in order to finally set himself free.

As he walked from the house to the workshop, Findekáno found himself wondering how well he'd really understood his friend, for all the years they'd spent at one another's sides. I can scarcely remember the time before I met you, Maitimo, he said to himself. For most of our lives, we were as brothers - indeed, I held you closer in my heart than my real brother Turukáno. But on that night when we fought, when I heard you speaking so - I did not recognize you then. Was our closeness ever real? Or was the person I loved a mere illusion, a conjuration borne of childhood adoration and doomed to vanish when finally viewed with an adult's eye? Did I ever truly know you at all?

The doors to the workshop, unlike those of the house, were tightly shut. But they were not locked, and Findekáno was able to pull them open easily enough. He stepped inside the doorway, then stood for several minutes in the near-darkness waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dimness, for all of the windows were tightly shuttered, allowing only a few stray beams of light to enter here and there. Not knowing what he expected to find, or even if there was anything to find, but feeling in some strange way that this was important, he stood still, and he waited.

Gradually, as his eyes adjusted to the faint light, Findekáno began to see the outline of the shop. Benches now covered with a layer of fine dust. On the walls, racks for holding implements, all the slots empty. Several furnaces, cold, their bellies filled with ash. An anvil. A few scattered papers. A safe, the door thrown open. All ordinary; there was nothing here he could not have found in any crafter's shop in Tirion. If a dark fire had once filled this place, it too had fled. Findekáno slowly walked from furnace to bench to window, touching surfaces his friend must have touched many times, breathing the ash-scented air, a familiar scent he'd occasionally smell on his cousin's clothes or hair. But try as he might, Findekáno could sense nothing of Maitimo himself in this place. He is gone, he told himself fiercely. Accept it. He is gone, and will not be returning, and whatever might have been between us once is dead. And now it is time for me to put my memories of him aside. I will leave them here, in this muffled darkness, where they will be safe, and return home to Tirion, and it will be as though he never was. He turned around abruptly and half-ran to the door.

Surely what happened next was chance, and nothing more. Unfamiliar with the room, as Findekáno moved through the gloom his foot hit the edge of the anvil and he fell, landing hard on the stone floor. The fall left him briefly stunned, and he blinked hard, trying to clear his head, when he saw it glittering in the Treelight that poured in from the door, lying discarded only a few inches from his outstretched hand - a pendant? He reached over and grasped it, pulling it closer as he raised himself up off the floor and onto his knees.

Not a pendant, he saw, but a pin, such as might be used to fasten a cloak. It must have been dropped in the confusion of the move, thought Findekáno, and so been lost. And clearly it was but a minor item, one not valuable enough to warrant returning to find it. A falcon on the wing, with eyes of dark ruby, cast in burnished copper. Maitimo's favorite metal, Findekáno noted idly. Perhaps fashioned by his hand? I suppose I will never know... Drawing himself fully upright, he again headed for the doorway, this time more slowly. One fall per day was enough!

Falcons migrate, you know. Findekáno stopped, startled by the unexpected thought. Where had that come from? An lesson from his childhood, perhaps? Yes, he remembered it now; long ago, he and Maitimo had been out hunting with Oromë, and they had stopped to watch a peregrine streaking across the sky. The Vala was not an expert on birds, winged things being Manwë's province, but he knew far more of them then the two boys did, and Findekáno remembered him telling them that falcons migrate after they fledge. When the season of growth ended and the land began to rest, and the young birds' feathers were at last fully-formed and they were ready to begin honing their hunting skills to their peak, they flew far - only to return again in the end, wiser with experience, to begin their lives anew in the place from which they'd flown so swiftly.

It was with a lighter heart that Findekáno rode back at last to Tirion to take up his new responsibilities as the King's Heir. And later, if anyone thought the modest copper pin he favored to fasten his cloak was a bit too plain for one of his station in society, they did not comment on it.

Notes:

The names of the characters used in this story are all 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, and the second is the mother-name. The Sindarin equivalents of the names in this chapter are as follows:

Fëanáro - Fëanor

Maitimo (nicknamed Russandol) - Maedhros

Makalaurë - Maglor

Curufinwë - Curufin

Findekáno - Fingon

Turukáno - Turgon

Írissë - Aredhel

Nolofinwë - Fingolfin

Angaráto - Angrod

Aikanáro - Aegnor


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.

Story Information

Author: Ithilwen

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Time of the Trees

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/14/03

Original Post: 09/28/02

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