1. A Smile
That is the image I see before me. He sits at a wooden bench, metal fragments strewn about its surface yet it is not metal with which he toys but clay, he turns it, twists it, but what he is creating I am not privy to know. He is aware of my presence but his concentration is such that he does not acknowledge me and I know better than to speak.
Frustration builds, the shape is not forming, he picks up a tool and crushes a part of the clay. Two fingers, blunt, the nails bitten to the quick, I wince at the thought, I should have taught him not to do that, he pushes his fingers deep into the clay, manipulates it, twists it, turns it. A sigh, a grin, dark brows lift, the frustration is leaving. Long tapered fingers push through dark locks pulling more strands free from their braid.
“You know why we must go don’t you? You understand.”
The hand stops, hangs loose upon the table and the clay is removed from view. The face does not turn, stays riveted, stares sightless at the bench top.
“I know you lied and sent a kinsman to his doom."
The words are emotionless, statement and fact, the expression remains unchanged, fixed. I flinched, never before had I heard him speak in such a manner. Softly, quietly, tempered perhaps but never without emotion. Still he will not look upon me. His gaze fixed.
“We swore an oath.” What else can be said? The truth is the truth, I swore an oath long ago, is it my fault that my kinsman did not learn from our mistakes?
The reply is soft, quiet it breaks me from my musings. Anguished? No it cannot be, he never speaks so but then, nor does he speak without emotion.
“Pardon?” I can say no more, he does not speak in such a manner to me. Bemused, afraid, worried, I fear for him.
“You and your brothers may have sworn an oath; but I-” he turns now and looks upon me, stares, gazes unbrokenly upon me, to me, through me. I cannot break his red-hot gaze. “I didn’t. Nor shall I ever. Once was bad enough but you swore it twice, to ease a dying mans pain.”
Shock, pain the accusation hangs dangling, daring me to correct it. “Io-”
“Nay. I am wrong, you did not swear it twice but thrice! Thrice Adar! And in doing so you dethroned your cousin. Your own cousin who took you in after Himlad fell.”
Anger, burning, frustration it comes from him, drifts to me. How dare he speak to me in such a manner. Our kinsman was a fool. How dare he lecture me, he who raised him. How dare he look at me so. His hair unkempt, his finger nails bitten did I not teach him better? "Do not you lecture me-"
"And if I do not who shall?" His eyes burn, strangely bright, his speech is quick and barbed as always. Overlong did he spend time with my eldest brother. "Celegorm? Oh yes you follow all he says without question." I go to speak but my voice is curiously not present. I cannot speak. "Or Orodreth? Yes you respect Orodreth do you not Atarinya? Yes, oh yes you support him so much. So you would listen to him? Fool you are Atar! Fool!"
Child know you what you speak? I would strike you if I thought it would perhaps knock sense into that logic starved brain of yours. "Be quiet Tyelperinquar and learn to hold your tongue." I speak and yet the anger that I wish to direct at him is strangely absent. Tired I am, when did that happen? Just yesterday it seems he was but a small child that I had to hold onto, to comfort in his longing for his mother. When did he grow into this powerful man, this unkempt fiery man. When did I miss him growing up. When did we grow old?
"I will not hold my tongue Atarinya! Just because you were fifth born and learnt to hold yours from when you were young. Did you not teach me speech? Did you not tell me to speak my mind? To speak of my worries? I fear for you Atarinya, but you are a fool!"
I stand, I turn away. He has constructed shelves here, I run my fingers along their edges, smooth, so smooth, pine? I am not certain, carpentry was never my forte... I wonder who taught him? When did I miss it? Pain! I have found a splinter, I pull my finger away, I stare, they bleed. It must have gone in deep to bleed so. He waits for me to respond, his eyes they burn my back, I feel them. Red hot, fire. "And you are a fool Tyelperinquar to speak so." I do not turn. I cannot turn.
"Atar..." No anger? He has it banked. So much like his grandmother, my mother...Ammë ... Nerdanel...red-headed, beautiful, plain, freckled, ruddy. I have thought little of her. So much is he like...like her... She whose name I shall not speak, never shall I speak. Her hair like finely woven silk, tumbled, tidy, stretched, sardonic humour. Grey pools of fire, she too could bank her anger to unleash at will.
"Atar..." A hand it touches my shoulder, I start and stare. What else can be done? "I am what you taught me." I close my eyes, hands clenched into fists. I will not look upon him. "I am what you taught me."
I not remember getting older, when did he? Wasn't it yesterday when he was small? A sweet child, a perfect child, my sweet one, my perfect one, my perfect child. When did I stop being able to hold him in my arms? Is this great man my small child? Is this the babe I swore to protect with my last breath?
I turn, hold him, my child, my perfect child when did you grow? When did you stop being the small child I could lift away from danger? When did you stop being my little one who did delight in watching the flames leap high in the night sky? Their flickering illuminating your sculptured features. What happened to the babe who I could carry to bed and tell stories to? What happened to him?
Stiff, unyielding, he had not expected such a reaction fro me. Yet he stays, he does not move. Relaxing, sighing, arms, tentative, uncertain reach around me. Hold me. I hold him closer. How did I miss him growing up? Dark hair, sleek raven hair tickle my face from where he holds his head beneath my chin. This is my perfect child, my perfect one. The one thing which I have created that did not go awry. He is mine and yet he is not.
I hold him, I cannot let go, I do not wish to lose him again, but I will. I already have. I hold him. Be it for minutes or hours I know not. I hold him. Stroke his hair, fingers slide through his shabby, bright hair. I speak: "repudiate me."
Silence, he stirs: "What?"
"Orodreth will not bar you from remaining if you would do so." Truth. Idiot though my kinsman maybe, he likes my son and if he does as he is asked he may remain here, where it is safe. I would send him to Nogrod if I thought he would go.
"I cannot." Since when does he disobey me, this wild untried youth? Since when did he learn carpentry? Since when is he so stubborn? Since when did he become grown?
"Hold thy tongue and listen."
"Nay. You taught me well." He smiles, bright, cheerful, a smile is beautiful from him.
"So it would seem. But you will do as I say-"
"I will-" He cut me off from speech, I shall return the favour.
"You shall? Good. It is decided. Celegorm and I ride two days hence. You must repudiate me." He tenses in my arms, turns, stares; since when was he so tall?
"Atar I-" I will not let him finish, he must do this. How else will he be safe?
"You must!" I want to plead, I cannot, pride is my curse. I take his head in my hands, hold him, I watch him, disbelief, pride, anger, worry, fear...tears? "I do not wish harm to befall you my son. My only son. My most precious child." - Did I say that aloud?
"Atar..." Tears run rivers, coarse, rain, channels flow. I must have spoken aloud.
"You will do so." I hold him, tight, I must let go, I must, it will do neither of us good if I cannot. My son my precious child I wonder will you think of me while you are safe? "Or..." I pause, dare I say it? I hold him at arm length, can I do this? White skin tear stained, I kiss his forehead, breathe deep. Remember me my son, remember me. "Or I shall repudiate you."
Do not hate me. I drop my arms. Turn away. I cannot look upon him. I leave, breathe deep, close the door and walk away . No noise. I dare not turn.
“Yet neither bread nor rest would Orodreth grant to Celegorm and Curufin within his realm, and he swore that there would be little love between Nargothrond and the Sons of Fëanor thereafter.
‘Let it be so!’ Said Celegorm, and there was a light of menace in his eyes; but Curufin smiled … In that time Celebrimbor the son of Curufin repudiated the deeds of his father, and remained in Nargothrond.”
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.