Three Days of Drabble-Type Things
oloriel asked for Feanorians and also admitted to a recent fascination with Maedhros’s captivity in Angband. For me, this is an ongoing fascination, so I took this idea and ran with it. Though it might seem a bit odd of an addition to a collection of stories to be given as gifts for the holidays, I have written about the captivity of Maedhros from the strange perspective of Caranthir.
In my storyverse, Caranthir is able to sense the spirits and thoughts of others. I use this idea in “The Space between Hearts.”
The idea of using a black bar to represent a word was originally done (to the best of my knowledge) in a short story by Joyce Carol Oates.
This story is dark and disturbing and contains violent images. Sensitive and squeamish readers should tread with care.
The Space between Hearts
How did you forsake him? Your own king? Your own brother?
These questions were never asked outright. But we Noldor had gotten good at not being heard and yet hearing rumors borne upon the wind. I saw Nolofinwë’s people watching us in the days following our reunion, their lips set stern and silent. It was their eyes—their hearts—that asked it: How?
And I heard.
How then? Not easily. Least of all for me, Carnistir the Dark and Silent, whose blackened heart was said to have tipped the decision about Nelyo in favor of forsaking him to Morgoth’s cruelty.
The rumors were many and varied, and I heard them all: whispers of thoughts exploding in our wakes as we walked the streets at Nelyo’s bidding, greeting people over whom we no longer presided.
It was said that Tyelkormo had lusted for the crown and thought that with Nelyo removed, Macalaurë would be easily overthrown.
Or Macalaurë: he had sat long in agony and indecision, paralyzed by his own cowardice.
Or that I had reminded my brothers of our oath to the Silmarils and that we had made no such oath to Nelyo.
The truth, of course, is much different.
For what outsider knows what happens in the secret darkness between the hearts of kin?
It is said that we do not begin to remember until we are a year of age, yet I remember that Nelyo was the third to hold me after I was born. I remember that in the silver light of his spirit, there was never a need to cry.
I do not remember Amil or Atar. But I remember Nelyo.
His lips were warm against my forehead and a whisper—I love you—the words of which I did not understand. The meaning: I did.
I never measured my love for Nelyo in kisses and kindness, as most do. We rarely spoke but we knew. It was there, in the space between our hearts, where words dissolve and become meaningless.
In the days of his torment, I went to him every night. He was not hard to find, for I had known that silver light since the day of my birth. He was a beacon in the darkness of Angband. I went to him and watched as they burned him, whipped him, and broke his bones. I endured it with him, while the others slept.
He spoke to me sometimes.
The other prisoners thought him delusional: a king from over the sea who was tormented more than most, speaking in strange tongues to the empty air.
“I do not want you to see this. Me. Like this.” Legs grown thin and scarred, bound wrist and ankle, body naked, stretched and waiting. My thoughts reached for him, and I stood beside him. I would endure what he endured.
But I would not speak of it. Even to our brothers, though they asked with their eyes. The ████: it lived in the space between us.
For allie_meril is a quadrabble—exactly four hundred words—about Nerdanel. In this quadrabble, she gives her father the surprising news that she has gone away and married a high prince without first seeking his permission.
My father was not pleased; I could see it in the way he bustled around the workshop, keeping his hands busy and his eyes from meeting mine, as though afraid that the hands would betray him and tremble—or maybe strangle my young husband waiting outside—or that his eyes would show the depth of his disappointment in me.
But disappointed or not, it was too late: We were wed. Married with neither blessing nor permission, in the wilds of the forest between Tirion and Formenos with only the witness of Eru.
“The King—does he know that his firstborn son has taken a bride?” He was turning a mold in his hand, calloused thumb searching for imperfections along the surface. “Taken a bride without his blessing, like a heathen in the Dark Lands?”
The mold: cast to the table with a clatter. I winced.
Fëanáro had wished to come with me so that we could deliver the news to my father and his master, side by side. I had grown accustomed to having Fëanáro at my side in the past three years; grown accustomed to letting him be strong when I lacked the will. To letting him speak first. But this I had to do alone, to remember my strength as a woman and a daughter, not a wife.
“We had the blessing of Eru, Father. And we—I believe that that was enough.”
His gray eyes were cold as steel upon my flushed face. I could see him appraising my well-being and finding reason to fault Fëanáro. I kept my arms crossed over my body, lest he notice how I’d changed. His voice quavered on the brink of anger. “You have become proud, Daughter—like him—to think that you know the will of the One.”
“In this matter, Father, I do,” I whispered, and I waited for him to cast me forth from his workshop, to denounce me as his daughter for such blasphemous behavior.
But something interrupted us then: a thin cry that made us both turn to find Fëanáro at the door, gray eyes wide and voice reduced to a near-whisper. “I am sorry to interrupt. But he wants his mother.”
Passing to me little Nelyafinwë, who stopped crying at my touch and settled against my breast. My father’s eyes widened, and I knew that he understood. And never again would he question Eru’s blessing.
A long while ago, appoggiato won the Spot the Bad Pun contest that I’d had for a chapter in AMC. Her prize was a story of her choice, and she asked for a story about Maglor during the happier times of the Fëanorian family. I’ve still yet to write the story, but I offer four drabbles in the meantime about Maglor during one of the happier times of his childhood. (And I will one day actually finish the full story!)
From the Doors of Night
It was nearing my begetting day—within a fortnight, even—when my mother failed to rouse me for breakfast one morning, and I found her sitting at table, having sent my brother to his lessons with a banana and cup of milk. Her eyes were red. She looked weary.
“Where is Atar?” I asked, climbing on her lap. Her arms closed around me, but it was more reflexive than anything, like blinking when something came at your face.
“He has gone off.” Rubbing at her eyes suddenly and drying her fingers on her skirt when she thought I wasn’t looking.
“Where is Atar?” I asked Nelyo, who always worked at his books but worked more when Atar was “gone off.”
“Gone off,” he answered, and his face clenched in concentration.
“Gone off where?”
He sighed. “The Doors of Night. Be gone, Macalaurë. I am busy.”
I snuck Nelyo’s lorebooks and read about the Doors of Night. A black sea, it said, and darkness impenetrable. I thought of the darkness beyond the doors of my closet and shivered for Atar, who had scared away the blackness there once with a lantern—and the fear too. I hoped he’d taken enough lanterns.
The Doors of Night, I read in another book, are the only place where blackwood trees grow, producing wood of astonishing quality.
Atar came back and took something to his workshop and didn’t appear again for many days more. So it was like he was never back at all. Amil was still sullen and Nelyo still worked at his books, and I wondered what he’d brought. Certainly not blackwood. Atar didn’t care much for working with wood. Too easy, he said.
My begetting day drew nearer and nearer and then it was tomorrow. And it seemed that everyone had forgotten.
We had breakfast on my begetting day and were a family again. Even Atar came, though he looked tired from many days of ceaseless labor.
“Would you like to receive your gifts after breakfast?” he asked, and though he was exhausted, his eyes gleamed like adamant beneath dust so you know that—though dirtied—it is something you should treasure.
He hastened from the room, before I could answer, and returned with my gift: a harp made of blackwood brought back from the Doors of Night.
His eyes brighter than adamant, as though my joy had washed his exhaustion away.