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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

"Rekindling" for ladyelleth

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

"Rekindling" for ladyelleth

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silmarils

This story was written for Elleth, who asked for "Feanor and Nerdanel meet again during the end of the world ... [and] seeing something more action-packed would be nice."

It is probably indicative of the sort of writer that I am that I was more worried about the second part than the first!

The request is pretty indicative of the summary: After ages of estrangement during which Nerdanel has finally found peace, she is summoned to Tirion to meet the request of one she never thought she'd see again.

There is some very mild sexuality and violence in this story, but nothing that shouldn't make it suitable for most audiences.




For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest. It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their like; and if I must break them, I shall break my heart, and I shall be slain.

Rekindling

Gently, Nerdanel patted the soil into place around the base of the sapling. Behind her, two rows of identical small trees stretched along either side of the path leading up to the cottage. Now, they were spaced ridiculously far apart, given their size, but in short time, they would be tall, strong oaks with trunks so thick that she couldn't wrap her arms around them. This was the last of them, and the smallest. Its tender green leaves were only barely unfurled, and even the Yavannildi had been uncertain if it would live or not.

Nerdanel smiled as she touched one of the nascent leaves, curled small and tight like a little green fist. It would live.

She hummed as she worked. Fëanáro used to laugh at her habit of singing to plants as she worked over them, but for all his purported skill in his garden, it had taken Nerdanel's touch to bring forth roses with petals thick as velvet and pumpkins so large that three of their sons could sit upon them. The memory startled her. She had taught herself not to remember him--slowly and painfully taught herself--over the ages. But she smiled at the recollection, and her song turned brighter, and if she was not mistaken, one of the tender green leaves uncurled ever so slightly.

She stood and brushed the dirt from her hands and surveyed her work. Her cottage was back far from the road where she might find peace for her work without interruption from the voices of passersby and the rattle of their wagons, but since she had come here so many years ago, she'd longed to walk the path in the shade beneath trees.

In a time long before, there'd been such a path leading from the road to house of her father, and messengers had galloped along it constantly, bringing her parents new commissions. But between the departure of one and the arrival of another, Fëanáro would sneak up the path and beneath her bedroom window and steal her away for a few joyful moments. The shadows had stretched long as they'd raced down the path beneath the trees, hand in hand, for Ezellohar was to the north of her father's house and the shadows kept constant. When the next messenger would come clattering up the path, Fëanáro would pull her into the shadows, pressing her against one of the trees, and they'd kissed until they both had been breathless.

This new light--Vása--was different. The shadows were always changing and sometimes nonexistent entirely. The light was fiercer than that of Laurelin and would burn Nerdanel's skin red if she was not careful. Still, if she closed her eyes and waited for a cloud to pass across the face of Vása, she could imagine that Fëanáro might catch her hand and pull her down the path, whispering, "Quickly, Nerdanel! Hurry!" and she might again taste his kiss as she had not in ages.

Eyes closed, savoring the memory, she could even hear the noise of hoofbeats coming up the path--a messenger! Another commission or Atar, or maybe Amil this time! She waited for Fëanáro to seize her away behind a tree. She waited--

A spray of stone and a frightened whinny interrupted her fantasy. Her eyes flew open, and she found herself staring at a martingale crossing the broad chest of a bay horse pulled back at the last moment by its wide-eyed rider. They'd come upon her so quickly that she'd almost been trampled, lost in what she thought was a memory. Swiftly, the rider dismounted. "My Lady," he was saying, but she was suspended between terror and revelry, unable to comprehend his presence. Her gaze flew to the shadows of the trees, half-expecting to find Fëanáro there, his eyes bright with mischief in the clotted darkness. But the trees were still small--they cast no appreciable shadows--and Fëanáro--

Fëanáro was dead.

"What is wrong with me?" she whispered, ignoring the messenger, whose lips were moving in urgent shapes but whose voice was unable to penetrate the strange haze that cloaked her suddenly. "I have not thought on him in years, and now, it is as though I believe that he is--"

She stopped.

He is alive.

"--he is alive," the messenger was saying. "Quickly, my lady, you must hurry. We haven't much time, and he has demanded to see you before he will--" The messenger cleared his throat. "Before he does it."

"Before he does what?" she asked, but she already knew. Tremors shivered down the lengths of her limbs, and nausea twisted her stomach. No, they could not. They would not. They would not widow me twice! The thought was irrational and something that he might have said, in the mad years before she had left him for good, when like the fey Avari of lore who read the future in the spread of silt in the bottom of a river-sifter, he believed that each misfortune was caused by the Valar and each drop of happiness a cause for triumph against them. She stumbled away from the messenger, clutching her stomach, almost kicking over the sapling that she had just planted.

Strong hands gripped her shoulders from behind, guiding and steadying her. "My lady. We do not yet know how this will end. Come. We haven't much time." Seemingly unable to do anything else, she followed him, mounting behind him on the horse. As they turned from the path to the road, she glanced back at the trees she'd just finished planting. If they would grow as tall and strong as she'd hoped, she realized suddenly that she would never know it, for they would grow tall without her.

~oOo~

Halfway to their destination--Taniquetil? Ezellohar?--Rána sailed into the sky. Ever the Wayward, it was not unknown for him to rise from one horizon while Vása dropped into another, but today, he rose too quickly. Vása was simmering into the west, her bottom barely dropped over the edge of the earth, and he was arcing higher and higher in the sky already. Nerdanel watched over her shoulder as they galloped. The mourning face etched upon Rána--scars from the assault of Moringotto, so long ago--was unchanged and familiar. Nerdanel often gazed upon it when Rána suffered to linger in her window on sleepless nights. He weeps for us. For me. For Fëanáro, she often thought, and when it rained, she sometimes pretended that the rain was his tears, at last reaching them from the heavens.

He was directly overhead now, the mourning face leering down at them, and she thought suddenly and irrationally: Quick! Get to the trees! As though the messenger heard her--or maybe shared in her fear--he reined the horse toward a fork in the road that passed through the forest, the longer route to Tirion, she knew. She and Fëanáro had taken it often on their way home from their travels before they'd been married and Nelyo had been born.

When they crashed into the open again--Tirion rearing up in front of them, always too large to be at first believed--Rána was gone and Vása hung halfway beneath the cusp of the earth. Tirion loomed larger and larger. The horse was panting but urged faster and faster by the messenger. Nerdanel gripped his shoulders, fingernails turning into his flesh, but if he noted it, then he raised no protest. Ahead of them, guards were throwing open the gates to Tirion. Her world was the noise of haste and an inexplicable panic that sent her blood roaring through her body and made her want to hide her face against the messenger's back.

But she did not.

She looked back, to the western horizon, where Vása dipped lower and lower into the night, and she saw Rána there, racing much too fast now, passing briefly as a black shape against the golden face of Vása, leaving a fierce corona like during the rare eclipse she had stood outside to witness (and though cautioned not to look directly, she always did, she was used to it by now, the wife of Fëanáro), but the shadow did not pass; it grew larger and larger until the light was all but blotted out and then--

The flash of Rána crashing into Vása made the sky light up white and all shadows were momentarily obliterated; all stood stark and naked in the light, its true form revealed. Gates flew past on either side of them. Nerdanel did not hear them slam shut but neither did she hear her own screams, but she felt them in her throat.

Then: darkness.

~oOo~

Slowly, Fëanáro uncurled each finger on his hand. Knotted them again into a fist. Flexed each in turn. They moved as he expected and required, without any of the pain that had sometimes afflicted him at the end of his life. (Though he'd never spoken of it, even to Curufinwë.) They'd even restored his calluses.

He had to admit: They'd done good work.

They'd shuttered the windows tightly so that he wouldn't "have to see," they'd said. See what? Why, the inferior light, of course. Vása. Rána. All that was left of the Trees save his Silm--but he was curious. His father-in-law had led the projects; or so the whisper had come to him in Mandos.

The familiar noise of battle still reached him, though, despite shuttered windows, despite being locked high in Mindon Eldaliéva like a princess in a child's bedtime tale. He could hear the dull, angry roar of many thousand voices crying out in rage and pain. The clash of weapons. The rending of flesh. He'd wanted to fight. He'd curled his fist around the leg of a chair and pretended that it was the handle of a sword. I can still fight. Defend my homeland against … him. Spitting in his thoughts, a shower of neural impulses that had Varda immediately reply with the violet scent of soothing thoughts.

Nay, you have a more important function, Fëanáro. Stars throbbed in the backdrop of her thoughts, numerous and dizzying.

To immolate yourself. To die. For good. None of the halls of Mandos; no chance for return, not this time. It is what you have dreaded since you made them: that someone would discover the secret to destroy them and would destroy you, utterly and entirely. Yes, they have saved you across the ages for that, just that purpose.

He flexed his hand again, perfect in its construction from his neatly trimmed fingernails (not nearly as filthy as they had been in his life) and his smith's calluses and his strength that--if he squeezed his fist--might actually have been greater than he remembered. He wondered why they'd taken the time on a body bent for destruction.

He waited for the familiar, sour knot of anxiety to unwrap itself in his stomach. There was so much cause for fear. He'd known that. All of his brave words and brash deeds had been but a posturing to stave off the fear, the way that a wild animal will not approach if it senses one does not fear it, even when that animal is certainly the stronger. He'd feared so many things. He'd feared his impetuosity and unwisdom. He'd feared heartbreak. Pain. He'd feared Moringotto and the Valar and his own kin. He'd feared the loss of his treasure. His Silmarils. He'd feared death--his own--and more than that, loss and the deaths of those whom he loved. He'd feared that most of all.

But, it seemed, no longer.

What have you done to me? This one was directed at Námo. Fëanáro felt a smile slither across his thoughts, cold as the belly of a snake. Námo's eyes were green like poison, and they made Fëanáro wince when they fell upon him. Námo waited for it. Fëanáro straightened his shoulders, determined not to give him the satisfaction. You have changed me somehow.

Nonsense, Curufinwë. That name! Something wormed in Fëanáro's mind, buried deep by the ages in Mandos. You have worked hard during your ages with Me. You have lost your fear for all but one thing, and that one thing is what gives you the impetus to even consider what you will do today.

Spirits are indomitable. That was Vairë the Weaver. She spoke rarely, Fëanáro had learned, but rather collected the best thoughts of the others and wrought them into logic that trickled cold and clear as water into his mind. You know that, Fëanáro. We have done nothing to your spirit because we can do nothing to your--

He bristled, and even Vairë could not penetrate past the silver barbs that he gleamed sharp as steel. Maybe Manwë or Varda and maybe Irmo but only Námo would dare. Not my spirit. My thoughts. They are changed. My thoughts and my spirit are different entities. Do not forget that I am not one of the usual ignoramuses with which you usually surround yourselves. Thoughts are composed of chemicals, and those you can easily alter--

But we would not. Irmo: his voice a length of blue silk unspooling; his presence a haze of light pulsing gently in the darkness. Why do you continue to advocate conspiracy, Fëanáro, in lieu of believing that your newfound strength comes from you and the hard work you have done over the ages?

Perhaps you have bled me of pride as well as everything else, came Fëanáro's reply, and he felt the scratch of Námo's displeasure but the whisper of Irmo's laughter. He felt mild satisfaction at both.

No matter, said Vairë. She is arrived.

And then they were there with their corporeal presences and speaking in actual voices, coming up the stairs of the tower. Námo manifested in a corner of Fëanáro's chamber, his gray robes stiff and hung on him like marble, unsmiling, with his hands clasped at his waist. Fëanáro heard Irmo's soothing voice preparing Nerdanel for what her long-estranged husband would look like and sound like and be like--"His ages with us have healed him of the many injuries done to him, and you might find him milder-tempered than you recall"--and Varda's clear, bright voice reminding her that this was a joyful day for both of them. "You must have missed him terribly!"

Her voice, her familiar voice, in the same place where his own thoughts arrived: Actually, I made myself forget him. "Of course I did."

And there she was.

He must have lurched to his feet because he heard the chair topple behind him. She wore a blue dress that was too tight in the chest and shoulders and dirty at the knees from kneeling in the dirt and her hair was twisted into a fraying knot and, in that moment, the breath was choked from his chest, and it was as he'd been for the ages in Mandos, for he had forgotten her beauty; gladly, he had forsaken memory of his love for her.

And something slippery and cold uncoiled in his chest: fear. Námo's words echoed in his memory: You have lost your fear for all but one thing.

Irmo prattled on, but Nerdanel had stopped in the doorway. Her mouth worked in the way that Fëanáro knew meant that she was about to shout in anger or collapse into tears; in centuries of marriage, never had he learned to tell the difference. Her hands wrestled at her waist, and a single tear slipped down her cheek.

"Fëanáro," she whispered.

So high in the tower, it took only two strides from each to carry one to the other, and she was in his arms again, for the first time in ages uncounted, and memories long suppressed and willfully forgotten exploded and fluttered across his mind like handfuls of confetti, and he felt himself laughing with joy as he face was drenched with tears.

Nerdanel, my Nerdanel.

The Valar smiled, save Námo. Green eyes peering bright from the darkest places that remained in Fëanáro's mind, Námo warned, Hold her close. While you can.

~oOo~

The plain of Valinor was a wreckage of fallen bodies and twisted steel. We have won, thought Nerdanel numbly. Near to her, a fallen Elf stretched upon his belly, his eyes closed forever and his blood staining the earth red. His hand still gripped a sword unstained. Someone's mother, wife, child will receive terrible word tonight, she thought.

Fëanáro stood at her side, his hand loosely clasped in hers. His face was placid as he surveyed the same scene as she, but she could feel the tumult of his thoughts, and knew that one thousand memories of battles past were springing from the fertile ground of his mind. She stared into his face rather than look again at the battlefield. She did not have long before he would again be relegated to memory. Let that time last forever! she thought. Let each moment I have left with him traverse half the space to the end so that I always approach but never reach it. Let him have the honor of his sacrifice but let me keep my husband.

But it could not be done.

Maiar bearing the Silmarils from the earth and sea were coming forth, and Eärendil was sailing slowly from the firmament, a light of purity forgotten blazing upon his brow. It was almost time. At the center of the battlefield, the Two Trees twisted, remaining only as blackened husks. But not for long.

Nerdanel willed herself to hate them. Tears soaked her face.

My beloved. His kiss landed next to her ear and moved across her face, drying her tears. They had made him perfect, as she remembered from her first sight of him, before cares and fears and madness had lined his face; before his body had borne the scars of striving relentlessly toward perfection. His hands clasped her, massaging warmth into flesh gone cold.

How are you doing this? The words burst across her thoughts. He circled her with his arms, and she felt his breath tickle her ear.

"Because the only fear I have left in me is the fear of losing you."

Eärendil had unbound the Silmaril, and the Three lay waiting. Fëanáro kissed her one final time on the mouth--

No! Do not let this moment end! Let me hold him forever!

--and then he was gone.

Someone's wife will receive terrible word tonight. Silently, she wept.

Nerdanel perceived the rekindling of the Trees as a burst of red light through eyes squeezed shut and a scream of silence that was the ending of his thoughts in hers. The earth shivered beneath her feet, and the Pelóri were borne to the earth with a whisper. Light surged across the sea, touched the crests of the waves with gold, caressed each withered leaf and upturned, weary face long-deprived of it until all of Arda blazed within Eä as might--

"A Silmaril," she whispered.

She opened her eyes and waited for the wrench of grief that must surely come. But it did not.

He is here, with all of us, but most of all, with me.

She turned her palms to the sky and let Light erase the shadows of the lines upon them. She turned slowly and let Light wrap her. She breathed deeply and let air fill her lungs, sweeter than it had been in ages.

He holds my hand and keeps me close.

He fills my heart.




Author's Notes on Obscure Canon
As the idea of how the world ends, I cannot take credit. The idea belongs to Tolkien himself and was expressed as the Second Prophecy of Mandos in the early Quenta Silmarillion that is published now in HoMe 4: The Lost Road and Other Writings:

Thereafter shall Earth be broken and re-made, and the Silmarils shall be recovered out of Air and Earth and Sea; for Eärendel shall descend and surrender that flame which he hath had in keeping. Then Fëanor shall take the Three Jewels and bear them to Yavanna Palúrien; and she will break them and with their fire rekindle the Two Trees, and a great light shall come forth. And the Mountains of Valinor shall be leveled, so that the Light shall go out over all the world.

As for what happens to Fëanor after all of this transpires, so far as I know, there is no "canon" to say either way. I am taking him at his word in The Silmarillion, however: that to break the Silmarils, he would be slain.

  • Oh, nicely done! Nerdanel's ride to Tirion is very surreal and apocalyptic, the perfect prelude to what is to come. There is balm in the ending...it reminds me of the scene in V for Vendetta when Evie says "God is in the rain." Good of you to take Feanor seriously - I have always thought he meant he would die of grief, which is a bit melodramatic. To hear him speaking as the smith who knows the secrets of the jewels is much more fitting.
    • Thank you! :) I really, really enjoyed writing the apocalypse scene; it was a good chance to put my horror-writing skills to the test in fanfic!

      I can't claim originality in taking Feanor seriously about the effect that the destruction of the Silmarils would have on him. I've seen a few other authors write the same idea, including the belief (which I share) that part of what made the Silmarils so unique--and not able to be replicated--is that Feanor put some of himself into them, kind of like Sauron with the One Ring. Wind and Fire by elfscribe is probably the most recent example I've seen (and comes with my recommendation), but I also remember in ages past seeing a rekindling-of-the-trees story on, of all places, ff.net where Feanor also died in the process of giving light back to the world.

      It's always been an idea that I really like: that a character like Feanor who suffered and caused so much suffering could find redemption at the end.
      • I've seen a few other authors write the same idea, including the belief (which I share) that part of what made the Silmarils so unique--and not able to be replicated--is that Feanor put some of himself into them, kind of like Sauron with the One Ring.

        Rampaging Frodo and I were just discussing this concept a couple of days ago. Since he's the hapless victim of my first-pass hackery, he knows a good deal about my interpretation as pertains to the grafting of thought and will into a material object. In his ruminations, he wondered if Fëanor had integrated a part of himself into the Silmarilli, and thus destroying them would likewise destroy him. This launched into a truly nerdsome discussion about the nature of the Silmarilli and JRRT's theme of the possessiveness they triggered. Granted that this is colored by looking through my personal prism, but I see strong parallels between the Silmarilli and the Ring in a number of aspects. I tend to think such similarities were not an accident on JRRT's part.

        This is an extraordinary story. I'll undoubtedly yammer more about it on the SWG. :^)

        Edited at 2007-12-06 11:33 pm (UTC)
  • I seem to be alternating my reviews between SWG and LJ.

    This piece is very...I'm not sure there's a word. Bittersweet, I suppose, but more than that. Still, nicely written. I wish I could've found the peace Nerdanel did in this ficlet.

    I sure hope this comment doesn't sound totally stupid. I am feeling pretty stupid today.>_<
    • Nooo, please don't feel stupid! It makes perfect sense to me; I know that, in Nerdanel's shoes, I would not have found peace so easily. But the only reason I can justify it as not being completely OOC is that they are now in Arda Unmarred and so everyone is all happiness and sweetness anyway. ;)
      • Nah, it's that my brain is fried from school, so I'm never sure what is coming out of my mouth! ;)

        I think someone said something about this being Arda Marred is why we the readers don't feel the same peace. I like that theory.
  • Oh, I could not pass on reading this one while browsing your latest entries. What a beautiful gift and what a brave venture into a time that is so ambiguously called "the End of the World". I love how you showed us a not entirely changed Feanaro who still holds a grain of rebellion against the Valar. And his admission: "He'd feared so many things. He'd feared his impetuosity and unwisdom. He'd feared heartbreak. Pain. He'd feared Moringotto and the Valar and his own kin. He'd feared the loss of his treasure. His Silmarils. He'd feared death--his own--and more than that, loss and the deaths of those whom he loved. He'd feared that most of all." is impressive and quite sob-worthy.

    Even though the end should sadden me, because Feanaro as everyone knew him is no longer... it is actually comforting in a way... to have his fea fully merging with the light of creation that are the Silmarils. As Nerdnel says it, he is everywhere, in everything, bathing the world in light and warmth in a way he could not while confined by physical bonds.

    Either that, or I'm a hopeless, romantic Feanaro-lover. *grin*

    Lovely story. Thank you for writing and sharing it.
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