"Perhaps it's still too early for such a step."
Artanis shifted Maitimo's weight from her shoulder, letting his body rest again on the edge of the bed. Twenty days had passed since his arrival – twenty days, and now his bones were almost healed, in the quick way Eldarin limbs would. But he was yet weak, his feet uncertain on the floor. Impatiently, he smiled.
"Too late, you might say. Bear with me, cousin. I promise I shall be back on my own legs soon."
Artanis looked away quickly, on her lips a taut smile. No apologies could be offered for what had come to pass; the only bridge between them could be the retrieval of the strange, lopsided esteem that had once existed. It was a bridge Maitimo built with his every word, in his voice a shade of the teasing easiness that had once filled it; and Artanis accepted it but guardedly, at the bottom of her eyes the shadow that now never left them.
But she nodded. She could imagine the restlessness, the anguish of one forced to stay in bed.
"Take his other arm, Silmë. Let us try again."
I let my right arm slip around his chest, my hand pulling his left arm around my neck. Beneath the fingers I felt the new flesh that had begun once more to cover his bones, the ribs now again elastic, almost healed. Turning he smiled to me, apologetic. Then he looked away. He could not bear the thought of weighing thus on others.
The familiar brusqueness in Artanis' voice. Together we hove, dragging him up. His long body hunched, for we were shorter than him, his feet struggling to find a hold on the polished pavement. This time, his knees seemed to sustain him.
"As for the first part, we are here. Now try and move a step."
A moment of hesitation. I did not look at him, only at his still lean thigh beneath the edge of the short tunic he wore, at the way the muscles contracted, trying to remember a long since forgotten action. For a moment it seemed they would succeed; then his knees buckled, and only our support kept Maitimo from falling. His fingers dug into my neck as he strove to right himself. Under his breath, he swore.
There was a moment of silence before Artanis' voice, flat and merciless, came.
I closed my eyes.
She had warned us. Once the fever had gone, once the bones had been reset, and the wounds closed, the convalescence in bed would have been comparatively easy. A long wait for his body to mend itself, recuperate some of his strength. Until the moment would come to rise, and stride again into this life. Striding. At this moment, the most unconquerable of goals.
Maitimo said nothing. Just nodded, bracing himself for another try. The minutes slipped by, as his feet did before they eventually gained a foothold. His arm was heavy across my shoulders, his body leant against me. Stronger, yes. But not strong enough.
Those twenty days had been a land that had belonged to us alone. We found each other, reconciled to each other in the small gestures with which I attended to him, in the smiles with which he accepted them. In the knot our bodies entwined at night, when I carefully lay down beside him. Our kisses grew more daring as his conditions improved, his caresses heavier and warmer upon my back. Desire reborn in him as he bit my neck playfully, his left hand playing in my hair; until, out of ancient habit, his right arm would rise, as if his right hand could still join it.
Then he would remember; and he lay still as I covered his scarred skin with the light caress of my lips, erasing pain, erasing uncertainty. My voice a continuous, broken spell. It doesn't matter. It was easy to say. Harder to believe.
His brothers would come to visit him, without order, as fancy struck them. Macalaurë came most often – then I left them alone, withdrawing to the garden with a book, or embroidery. They had been close friends once; now their friendship they mended, careful stitches drawn over absence, betrayal, guilt. Day by day, Macalaurë would walk straighter, slowly regaining, with his brother's love, affection for himself. It was hope that it was sweet to watch as it grew; but from a distance. I respected his shame, did not intrude upon it.
Tyelkormo and Curufinwë came together, and only once. Embarrassment on the face of the first; the usual, careless arrogance on the features of the other. They dared ask what even I would not frame in words: how it had been. Maitimo had smiled a taut smile, offered no reply. No account of his pain I shall leave here; and perhaps to me alone, and to Findekáno, he said something of what had come to pass. A core of steel would those years be in his marred spirit; but a hidden one.
The twins came always with Carnistir. They would arrive, three horses without an escort, riding in without sounding of horns. Carnistir made no mystery of the dislike he still, as ever, nourished towards the house of Nolofinwë; coming like one who does not love what he is doing, but must. I remained in the room as he talked with Maitimo, their conversation easy, practical matters discussed with almost brutal realism. Carnistir treated his brother's convalescence like a common nuisance: something to wait out in impatient expectation of other things. He may no longer be king; he was still the head of the House of Fëanáro. As such, his responsibilities had not waned.
Their younger brothers sat in a corner in silence as they discussed, on them the silence that I had learnt to know. They seldom spoke. Time and pain had made their features sharper, their likeness even more accentuated, like statues carved in the same rock. They were adults now; and yet a boyishness remained to their faces, a quality of unconscious innocence that was disturbing more than tender. Like children, they seemed to retain a complete lack of knowledge of the distinction of good and evil.
They would only go near the bed when, exhausted all conversation, Carnistir would rise, proposing to me a stroll in the garden. We closed the door behind us, leaving them in that strange limbo, a room where time did not pass, a sheltered place in the tumult of the world; and then I saw the twins eagerly leaning forward, and a smile painted on Maitimo's lips. The youngest of the Fëanárions lived enclosed in a world whose laws they alone knew: a world which Carnistir respected, and which Maitimo's affection alone could penetrate.
As for Morifinwë, the Dark as his father had seen fit to call him, in that odd twist of time where we all lived, a misshapen sympathy flourished between us; a strange understanding, born of the lack of judgment that now came to colour our mutual words. He no longer scoffed at me. I did no longer wonder at him. Together, we waited; for our lord to heal, and our lives, that the flaming strength of a Balrog had once left stranded in an unknown land, to take again their rightful shape.
On such a road, the uncertain steps now Maitimo moved were but the first.
His fingers tightened upon my skin. I put all my strength in keeping him upright.
The afternoon unraveled itself slowly, every inch of floor trodden a new, small victory in the face of pain, recovery a path shrouded in mists that an hesitatant wind was beginning to lift. We had reached the upholstered stool against the opposite wall; and here, carefully, Artanis laid him down to sit.
"Not a small progress, for the first day. Tomorrow we shall try again."
Beyond her shoulders, the sunset painted the glass panels of the window red. Maitimo looked at her, on his lips a struggling smile.
"I thank you. You are very patient."
She shrugged, briskness a sharp quality to her words.
"I only do what I must. Now rest." She turned, as if to go, lingering only one moment on the threshold. "Silmë, before you come down to dinner, I would like to see you in the garden."
I nodded, and she left, closing the door behind her with a dull sound.
Maitimo met my eyes, a shade of tired triumph in them.
"A good six foot I walked through this room. Indeed, soon I shall be measuring Middle-earth with my steps."
"Do not belittle what you have accomplished. Every long voyage …"
"…begins with the smallest trait. Yes, I know the old adage of the wandering Elves. And yet this is a journey I would like to have already left behind."
He sighed. I knelt by his knee, my fingers tracing swirls and paths upon the back of his left hand. He lowered his eyes on me, and without looking up to him I knew he was smiling.
"Temptress. Your touch evokes desires my broken body is not yet ready to follow with deeds."
Lowering my lashes, I pretended innocence.
"Why, my lord, I cannot imagine what I could possibly be doing to deserve such a censure."
My fingertips climbed the angular curve of his arm, sliding on the linen of his tunic; finding its unbuttoned collar, and loosening it. A shiver ran through his skin as I found the hollow at the base of his throat. He leant forward, as much as his still aching ribs would allow; and my lips met his, a lingering touch as my right arm encircled his waist.
It was but unwillingly that we detached.
"One day, Silmë, I shall give you back this sweet torment moment by moment."
"I shall wait for it."
Our eyes met briefly, the ancient, playful challenge back in them. Healing was a tide that every day brought back small nuggets of a happier past; just like its winds revealed clearly that some things could never be found again. But living this stolen moments was a gentle life, a sheltered repose ere the harshness of the world claimed us back.
His fingers twined among my hair, and I listened to the subdued music of his breath as he lay back against the wall, in the air the expectation of the words he was framing. When they came, they did not surprise me.
"I have spoken with my uncle today."
"Yes. I habe seen him."
Nolofinwë had walked quickly, like one relieved of a great burden, as he walked away from his nephew's chamber. He had met me as I came, a light nod all his greeting, as if his mind were taken in the mesh of glad thoughts he would not relinquish. Now I looked up to my betrothed, waiting for him to speak.
"We have agreed that it would be unwise for the House of Fëanáro and the House of Nolofinwë to dwell this close. Mithrim is not a vast land; truly, one might say, a land far too small for the animosity that is contained in it."
"I thought your relinquishing the crown had soothed many a spirit."
"Many; but not all. If the princes of the Noldor fill their mouths with praise, the rank and file of my uncle's warriors still looks askance at those across the lake. And them I could not blame, even if I would."
"Surely time could help?"
"Time." He laughed, his new bitterness tainting his words. "Time is a powerful word, but one that has no meaning for those who mourn forever."
He looked at me, as if hoping I could deny his words. But he was right; and to his glance I could return nothing, but a small nod.
"No, this new world we have claimed is far too great, far too complex for us to waste time brooding upon each other's faults." He spoke with the strength, the assurance of one who has long thought, and now has come to a long-sought conclusion. "Our only path is to leave this place."
He looked at me now, waiting for the words I would speak. Thus Maitimo had taken his counsels of late: debating them only with himself, and only after they had become sharp and defined revealing their pattern, and his decision. The torment of his thralldom had cleared his mind of superfluous scruples, it had filled his resolve with the burn of its steel.
"I see the trail of your thoughts, and undoubtedly you are right. But where were you thinking of leading us?"
The last word I chose carefully, letting it slip off my tongue with false carelessness. My lot was now truly and irrevocably cast. I did not look at him, but felt his eyes upon the nape of my neck.
"In the North," he said slowly, "To the marches surrounding the plains of Ard-galen. The Enemy must be closely watched, and for such a duty the House of Fëanáro has the strength and the hatred. I would not entrust such a watch to anyone else."
"The North…" I rose, looking out the window. The sunset faded gently as night approached, like a rich fabric that is folded in a canvas of opaque black. "The mountains and the hills. Have you already chosen a place for your abode?"
"Carnistir has long scouted those lands. He tells me of a solitary hill, Himring it is called, that would be fit place whence to guard the lands. For himself he would choose to dwell near another lake. They are cold lands, and shrouded in dark forests. But my brothers are not easily swayed by difficult places, and it is time that they had their own lordship."
"Himring," I repeated the name, harsh consonants, narrow vocals in my mouth. " 'The Ever Cold'." I turned, smiling. "It is fortunate that I shall have somebody with whom to share my sleep for warmth."
The resigned scolding in his voice. His hand offered to me, like a soothing gift,
"I would not make such a dreary place your house as a bride. I would rather you still dwelt with your cousins, until this menace has passed."
He must see the hard line in which my jaw was set, he must see the refusal in my eyes.
"I would not be for long. The war – "
"The war. I have seen the war the Elves are leading, I have seen the skirmishes they call battles. And I see that they are but small things, things not fit to bring a swift triumph, but rather bitterness distilled and hidden in many meaningless glories."
"You speak the truth. And such a war I shall not lead, but instead strive for our lot to be cast in one place and time. But such work is grim, and dark. I am broken yet, and already my mind must turn to new bloodshed. It is not a destiny I would share with you; it is not an evil that I would see tainting you. No flowers shall grow in Himring, no flowers but those which wreath the tombs of the fallen. I would rather think you here, waiting for me. I would rather you did not see this new stain upon my spirit." He laughed, a mirthless sound, like rock that is broken by many strokes. "A worry to be laughed at, for one whose soul is already black."
I turned to him then, the harshness now written, a deep scar, on his beloved face. His eyes were empty; or perhaps full of something I could not yet read. I did not return to him, but stood by the window, my voice made of stone.
"I wish you would trust me to take the burden of this decision. You talk of a grim fate; but such a fate we all took upon ourselves when we left Aman with massacre and shame, and no other destiny can be wrought for the Noldor in Middle-earth. You speak of a taint from which you would preserve me; and I shall tell you then that you cannot defend me from something which has already touched me. None of us can escape the weight of this war; whether we dwell on blood-stained, warmthless Himring or on the shores of Mithrim made gentle by newborn flowers."
He looked at me then, and it was as if he saw me for the first time.
"I thought that I alone had changed, in this long time that has kept us apart. But now I see that your spirit has hardened, even if differently than mine has."
"I know now what it is to lose. And I have learnt which price I would pay to avoid it."
I went to him then, kneeling by his side to look him in the eye, taking his hand in mine.
"You do not force me upon this path; I choose it for myself. It is my right, and my own fault."
"I doubt not your strength of will, but rather fear for what you may be forced to witness. It is not the war alone that I dread. The Oath shall not sleep forever." For a long moment he looked at me, for a long moment memories of Alqualondë, of Helcaraxë vibrated in the air, making it chilly. "The tribute of blood has not been paid in full, and Nàmo's Doom is far from being fulfilled. If you were wed to me ere these things showed themselves in their naked sorrow, then no other choice would you have but feel in your spirit the wounds that mine shall receive, even if you would avoid it. And I would not bind you with such a chain."
His love that would shield me even from myself. But it was too late now, and even if it had not been, I would not have looked back. And now I saw with clarity the only way in which his doubts would be solved, in which we could be together past his guilt and his worry. When I spoke, my voice was low, but uncracked.
"Do not bind me, then. Here I renew my promise to you; and here to it I add a clause. That we shall be joined in marriage only when this peril has passed, and this world has become one where our spirits be united in joy to spark new life. Until then I shall follow you, your betrothed in the face of the Elves, and bound to you by my own free choice, by my own uncoerced will. For I would not have you believe that my love to you is to me a duty that I must fulfill."
When my voice died his eyes met mine, seeing in them, finally, a promise I would not take back. A promise no power in Arda would break. The last of the dreams we had brought from Aman had withered. Now what bound us was a bond we had forged in blood and fire, and one infinitely different, infinitely stronger than the one we had once woven in graceful words, many years before in the Light of the Trees. Through all that had come, we had changed. But we had not lost ourselves, nor the fiery trace that our love had been.
When eventually he answered me, his words were made of the same steel.
"Your promise I accept. Even as I promise to you that what is in my power to be worthy of such a pledge I shall do; and that my spirit belongs to you until the breaking of this Earth. And beyond."
Immortality echoes in the promises the Elves make. But this we already knew. And no other words were needed in the darkness that eventually fell in the chamber unlit by any lamps; the future a seal impressed with unknown colours upon the final choice that spelt its rules on the touch of his lips on mine.
When I reached the garden Artanis sat alone by the fountain, her fingertips skimming the water, a light touch she embroidered on its mirroring surface. Her hair fell unbound from her careless braid, its long waves opalescent in the azure light of the candles lit in alabaster bowls. At the sound of my approaching steps she looked sideways, her head tilted, an animal listening for what the night may have brought.
I sat down on the grass by her, embracing my knees, my chin resting upon them. She paused a long moment before speaking, as if tasting the air, the unspoken things suspended among us.
"A decision was taken."
"You shall not abandon him again, that much was always clear."
"Truly it is so. But I shall not be wed to him. Not yet."
"A wise decision."
In the darkness, I smiled.
"Can you really hope for me to go back on my choices?"
In the darkness, quietly, she laughed.
"Truly, no. But fate has ways of surprising us."
I turned to her, guessing her face, pearly in the halflight.
"Such platitudes you utter this evening, Artanis. You surprise me."
"I surprise myself." Silently she slipped down from the fountain, kneeling by me. "He shall heal fast, even if he cannot yet believe it himself. Today he showed strength."
"Yes. But also a will darker than I had hoped for."
"Still you shall stand by him."
"It ceased to be a choice long ago."
Artanis snorted, like a horse when it is impatient.
"Now who it is that utters platitudes?" For a long moment she was silent, before saying: "Today a message came for me from Doriath. Queen Melian invites me to dwell with her."
Elu Thingol had founded in Middle-earth the only kingdom we could recognize as such with his Maiarin queen; a spirit of great power, and akin to Artanis. Such an invitation was easy to foresee.
"You should go. Soon I shall leave for the North."
Detached my words, the acknowledgement of the place where, after years so long and brief, our roads parted. But while we did not look at each other our hands met, grasping each other with strength.
"Yes, I shall. On the day the Fëanárions shall depart, I will go my way."
Still without looking at each other, for a long time we lingered in the shadow of the garden, our hands locked.
The afternoon unraveled its warmth like a ring of gold through the skies, a path of hot wind tracing its way among the scattered clouds on our last day in Mithrim. The grass had grown tall on the edge of the lake – a soft carpet beneath our feet as we reached the flat rock where once Artanis had sat, her voice full of darkness, and hatred. But now her eyes were intent, fixed upon Maitimo's long legs, that cut a path through the lawn without hesitation. Her hand hovered at his elbow, ready to grasp him should he fall; but it was with a measure of elegance that he finished his stroll, eventually sitting down on the rock.
He said nothing, but looked up to her, the trace of a satisfied smile on his lips. She looked at me – exasperation in her own irises, and for a moment, as the Sun painted gilded tales upon the ground, it could have been a happy moment in Aman, many lifetimes before. But then our eyes turned again to Maitimo, to the smooth, rounded end that his stump had become as it healed; and the weight of Middle-earth fell again, and fully, upon our shoulders.
Still, Artanis nodded, and when she spoke her voice was assured.
"You are as well as I can make you, Nelyafinwë. Your convalescence is over."
"I feel as if but the easiest part lay behind me, cousin; but for what you have done, I thank you."
She bent her neck briefly, acknowledging his thanks but curtly. Another twenty days of exercise had restored to Maitimo the faculty of walking; and if he had lingered in Mithrim, loath of compromising his healing by unnecessary moves, from the stool where he had insisted on sitting every morning as soon as he woke he had given clear orders. Across the lake what had been the camp of the Fëanárions was but an empty palisade; and at dawn we would ride forth to lead them on their march North. In my room the remains of five years of life waiting without hope for this moment had been already packed.
"Where you walk, soon you shall run. And where you write, perhaps one day you shall fight again."
No worry had ever blunted the cutting touch of Artanis' truths; and without regard she looked to Maitimo, penetrating his unspoken worry with the ice of her eyes. He held her glare; his smile now disappeared.
"You always saw farther than common Elven eyes could, Nerwen; and your words give me hope. I would thank you for this, too; but there is a bitterness in your voice that tells me that you are not pleased of what of my future you can guess."
I looked away then; knowing my cousin and friend too well not to imagine what she would say now.
"Your words and your deeds shall always have two edges, son of Fëanáro; and so shall your sword do, when again you shall be able to brandish it. One day its cut may sever again what ties this time you have spent here may have mended."
Clouds gathered in his eyes; and stepping forward I sought to dispel them.
"But still that day must be far, and never the future was clear, even to those whom, like Artanis, could fathom a measure of its depth. Let this last day be devoted to friendship, and healing."
Heavy was the blanket of the words that had been pronounced, like a veil dulling the light of the Sun; but Artanis straightened at my plead, and only then I saw that her shoulders were bent as she spoke, as if she were herself weighed down by what of the future she could guess. She took a brisk step towards the lake, turning her back on us; and Maitimo took my hand, his touch offering me a consolation he could not himself feel.
And in my mind I looked for words that could bring again light to that forsaken moment, a moment marred by dread and regret, and by the bitterness of the farewells that we would have to utter. But then a light pace, a gentle swishing among the grass broke the silence where only the slow coming of the small waves could be heard, and a voice called to us in greeting.
"Artanis, Silmë. Maitimo."
As one we turned to see Findekáno coming to us across the grass.
Since the night when I had guessed, as if in a dream, his shape across the threshold, I had not seen him again, for he had fled my presence; and sometimes Maitimo would tell me that he had come to see him, in hours when he knew me to be elsewhere, whiling away time with Artanis in the peace of Nolofinwë's gardens. Such an absence had hurt me like an undeserved scorn; and secretly I had asked myself whether again his reasonless grudge had been awakened from its sleep.
Nothing I had said of it, for it would seem ungrateful to lament such a thing, when the one I loved the most had been given back to me beyond all hope. But still, when sleep was late in coming to me, I would lie looking at the ceiling where shadows played, and ask myself how it could be that my friend I lost every time my love was with me. And Artanis' words, words from another life, came to taunt me; and the suspect that had come to me that night in the stables would make itself known once more.
Until my spirit would grow tired of such a sterile hunt, of such a pursuit for pain; and closing my eyes I would listen to Maitimo's heart beat, and joy would fill me slowly, singing me to sleep, with the slow rhythm of his breath.
But now all doubts were erased, and a glad confusion took hold of me as Findekáno strode through the tall grass, on his lips the blossom of the smile that had once lit his eyes, when our days sparkled of continuous joys.
"Your last day. Mithrim shall soon be a different and a drearier place."
"It would have been a day I would not have seen, had it not been for you, my friend."
Findekáno took Maitimo's hand, and came to his side as instinctively I drew away. For too radiant was their friendship, and in my confusion at my cousin I would not stand there. But Fino turned to me, and if in his glance I could not find again the brotherly love that had once lit them, still his eyes were full of a subdued affection, the gentle caring that he had shown on the shores of Aman long before.
"Silmë. I wish you every happiness for your life in Himring. And may your wait be short."
Common words; but he uttered them as if in his eyes they acquired new and deeper meanings. And I nodded my acknowledgement; any word of thanks dying upon my lips.
Artanis let her hand slip under my arm, and gentle came her voice when she said: "Come. Let us take this moment for friendship; ours, and theirs."
Away we walked by the edge of the lake, until we stopped by an upturned trunk; and here Artanis sat, looking into the distance. I turned: and by the rock Findekáno and Maitimo were conversing easily, laughter coming between them, however subdued. And I turned to my friend; my doubt and my confusion tearing at me, but this last hour was precious, and soon all thought of Fino had vanished from my mind.
For years longer than grief or joy Artanis and I had dwelt together, our secrets, our thoughts shared in the darkness before sleep, our friendship growing beyond sisterhood and kin, the only bond I could not betray, the only one that could have called me back when Fëanáro had forsaken us. Now another allegiance, another path brought me away; as she pursued a different life, a deeper knowledge with a queen of many secrets. No distance could sever our tie; but even a small distance would have been painful.
"One would have said we had grown long ago, and that our childhood is but a dream. But, Artanis, cousin and friend, truly I feel the last shred of my innocence shall leave me when I will be parted from you."
A thin smile spread upon her lips.
"Innocence. It was a sweet word to utter, when we still had a right to it."
Silence fell, for no words could fill the emptiness that would take our place tomorrow. New paths to forge; and on our own.
"I suppose it would be childish to ask you to write."
"Yes, it would. Already I know I shall borrow Tyelkormo's birds."
"You will be a nuisance of a sister-in-law."
"No worse that you would be. And not a sister-in-law, just yet."
She turned to me, and on her face was the light of the remembrance of better times, and the equal light of regret.
"Sometimes I have asked myself if something would have changed, had I not brought you to breakfast in that garden in Tirion, such a long time ago."
I strove to keep my smile; and failed.
"Must your thoughts always stray on such dark paths?"
"Dark you only call the paths you do not like; but if you would let my words come to their just conclusion, I would tell you that always, when I ask such a question, I answer myself that it would not have mattered. Our fates are decreed; and perhaps, if something had changed, to this day we would have come by other, even grimmer ways." She closed her eyes; as if savouring a bitter truth. "And then I tell myself that all of our light is but a drop of gladness we pay back with darkness and pain." Her eyelids lifted; and she turned to me, her face luminous. "But these are truths guessed as if through an opaque glass; and I cannot vouch for them."
"I have long since learnt to trust your truths; even the most opaque." I took her hand, and my voice was now urgent. "What do you see?"
Briefly, again her eyes were veiled; but a small smile was upon her lips. "I shall not lose you, however far. You shall not leave Maitimo, however high the price. And I shall find for myself peace; even if I do not yet know how, and already I can guess that it shall be of short duration." Her smile waned; but assured were her words. "Still, it is not a small thing to see. Much worse things I can guess; but to them, at least for a time, I can still close my eyes."
She looked at me then, a proud defiance in her eyes; and her face was terrible and frail, and her strength was a light that encompassed and surpassed the great beauty of her lineaments. I loved her then: sister, and friend, and conscience and counsel I would not deny, and mistrust I would yet win back.
Words rushed to my lips; words drowning each other as I knew the only thing that would tell them all. And I embraced her then; Artanis who seldom allowed such close contact. She embraced me back, the locking of our arms that told all that friends shall say when they part. That told all that we would not utter; for we were proud, and loath to pronounce a platitude.
When we detached, clouds had covered the Sun; a gray afternoon lay now on the grass, like a forgotten veil. And in silence we made our way back.
The morning that came out of a sleepless night was a cold farewell, a frosty bite on our cheeks as we mounted our horses in the courtyard. Mists shrouded the lake; mists enveloped the hoofs of Carnistir's horse, that waited for us outside the doors. Mists clung to the cloaks of Thingol's envoys that had come to escort Artanis away.
Mists; chilling tears ere they could be shed. Taking our minds to other things, filling with the simple desire of warmth the longing for those we left behind.
Mists: hiding my eyes as I looked to Artanis one last time, making softer her last, brisk nod, for all words had already been said.
Mists that could not dull out the coppery gold of Maitimo's hair; nor deafen my ears to the low call in his voice, as he pronounced my name. His only word as we lingered ere we came away. For in those mists he left behind his pain; and in those mists he sought to forge his new path.
Upon the threshold of his house Nolofinwë watched us go. And by his side his firstborn looked to us, a wordless farewell clad in sorrow upon his lips.