2. The Mightiest Singer of the Noldor
The Mightiest Singer of the Noldor
Canafinwë Macalaurë [Maglor]
It wasn't hard for Nerdanel to decide to have a second child. Maitimo had been what is often described as a stereotypically easy baby. Perfect of face and form, born with a full head of that bright red hair, he cried little and walked and talked early. His charm and grace wooed everyone he met. The first three months had been difficult for Nerdanel, she despaired of her once flat abdomen turned spongy and her constantly leaking breasts. But Eldarin bodies are resilient and babies are eventually weaned. Fëanáro's face as he had watched her nursing Maitimo could have made up for a multitude of unpleasant changes and discomforts. Soon their life leveled out to the point that she returned to her work with a vigor and intensity of inspiration that rivaled that of her carefree youth. True to his word, Fëanor assumed a lion's share of the daily tasks involved in the care of the child. He had the advantage of requiring less sleep than her and being able to regain his concentration more quickly after interruptions.
The nights were cool in Formenos. The stars hung low in the sky and shone brighter there than in Valinor. The summer had almost run its course. The evenings already had begun to smell of the approaching autumn. Fëanáro had tucked Maitimo in for the night and took his accustomed place next to Nerdanel on the rustic glider on the porch of their rented cottage. Before the middle of the next summer their own house would be finished.
She had heard the elders say that nights at the end of summer press against the veil that separates the ordinary world of the senses and logic from the spirit world of possibilities. Nerdanel sometimes felt on nights such as that one that her ears were on the verge of opening to the strains of the mythical Music of the Ainur, the Music of Creation.
Fëanáro pulled her into an embrace. "Sometimes I wish that I were a true musician so I could memorialize moments like this. You hear it also don't you?"
The fine hairs stood up on Nerdanel's arms. "Hear what?" she asked startled.
Fëanáro held her face between his hands studying her with concern before kissing her on the nose. "You look like you saw a ghost. I was speaking of the sounds of the insects, the hooting of the barn owl, the wind in the hawthorns, old Sartisyar's hound wailing. What did you think I meant?"
"Never mind. I was remembering old ghost stories from across the sea that I heard told by Atar's iron workers when I was a child."
"Mahtan allowed you to listen to far too much nonsense as a child without countering it."
"Perhaps," she laughed. "My father is an excellent teacher in other areas, but he is not man of words. He pays no attention to speculative tales whether presented as history or simply entertaining nonsense. He assumes they are of as little interest to others as they are to him. But haven't you ever wondered if some folk tales may bear the seeds of forgotten truths?"
"Come to bed with me now and I will make you forget all about those old superstitions. I think I need to be reminded what you can do with that lovely mouth of yours."
Fëanáro was irresistible. The skin on his muscled arms felt velvety soft, his lips were generous, and the strength of his jaw line transformed his finely wrought features into an intoxicatingly masculine visage.
"Yes. Let's go to bed," Nerdanel said. "I was also wondering if you had given much thought to having a second child yet."
"I didn't think you would ever ask!"
"Quite so. I'm sure," she teased. "You are well known for your reticence."
"I know he'll be brilliant and beautiful," Fëanáro said smugly.
"Or she," Fëanáro quickly corrected.
Macalaurë moved later than Maitimo had. Nerdanel's first sense of the child she carried came to her in her dreams, at first as a gentle bittersweet melody which hovered on the borders of perception. She would awaken in the morning straining but unable to recall the tune. As time passed and the baby grew, the song took on the character of lush wave after wave of molten gold, full of force and volume.
One morning she told Fëanáro, "He is going to make magnificent music."
Fëanáro raised a skeptical eyebrow at her and replied, "The Noldor are not noteworthy as musicians."
"You play the harp beautifully," she huffed.
"Come on, Nerdanel! Even you in the earliest days of your infatuation with me could hardly have insisted I played well."
"You are so vain! You played well enough to woo me with your lovesick ballads."
"That wasn't hard!" He laughed and tried to tickle her, but she clamped her arms tight against her body. "Excuse the cliché, sweetheart, but you were an overripe plum begging to be plucked."
"Watch your tongue or there will be no plucking of any kind for you."
"No fair! I'm getting little enough of that already."
She punched him in his hard bicep. "It's not my fault that I fall asleep easily. He takes a lot out of me. I would not be that difficult to awaken when you finally deign to come to bed."
"Fine then. Remember you said that. I'll wake you up and pass along some of my strength to you tonight."
"Why wait for tonight?" she asked, opening her arms to him.
Nerdanel had no morning sickness during her second pregnancy and did not gain as much weight. She did worry he might be too small if she delivered him early. When they returned to Formenos the next spring, the healer there reassured her there was no reason to fear the infant would be born early and, in any case, he did not appear to be particularly small. When Macalaurë was born, he looked tiny to Nerdanel in comparison to Maitimo, but again the healer told her that he was of average weight and length for a Noldorin newborn. Unlike Maitimo's thick bright locks, Macalaurë had only a cap of the finest dark brown hair, nearly black. His features, like Maitimo's, resembled Fëanáro's, except his mouth was softer and less sharply etched, while his eyes instead of silver grey had the bluish cast of Finwë's eyes.
For the first three weeks, he slept folded in upon himself. She had to rouse him to nurse and constantly tap him on the bottom of his precious feet to keep him awake until she was sure he had ingested enough. When Macalaurë did wake up to the world around him, he demonstrated a lung capacity that would become legendary.