5 - Waiting

Nowë makes four promises to his brother. 500 words fixed length

Nowë had slumped under the willow longer than he could say. Long enough that his back was damp and stiff, and had sunk into the dirt like an ancient boulder. And long enough that Helluin had wheeled from its highest perch on the dome to behind the hills. But not long enough to be prepared when he heard that dreaded sound of Alwë's long gait. He did not want to look in his face. He'd already read what was there. He knew what would be said and from that he had fled hours before.

Alwë eased down beside him. Nowë felt him try to smile. The silver curtain of leaves, rippling from Alwë's wake, hid them from any eyes on the lakeshore.

"Hello, Fish," Alwë said. Nowë said nothing. "You amaze me, you know. This last season you and Elwë have sprouted, you both now tower over me. You will be marriageable soon! What's more, you are cleverer than me. You are quite fit to lead the family." Alwë paused, then continued firmly, "I leave soon to find our parents."

Nowë did not meet his brother's eyes. He said to a willow branch, "You won't find them."

"Your voices tell you that?"

Nowë nodded.

Alwë sighed. "I wish you wouldn't."

"I hear them. I can't help it."

He could spend star-wheel upon star-wheel sitting alone by the Cuiviénen, and often he did, listening as the waters talked of unfathomable doings and of distant places. He rarely understood. One thing he did understand was that from wherever the lost ones went they would not return.

His brother did not forbid the practice, but neither did he approve. It seemed too much like the fell whispers in the shadows reported by those who hunted far from the lake's sheltering shores. He voiced this view at his every chance.

Alwë was like that, paternal to his siblings' dismay. He was the first child of their father and mother, who themselves had never been children. They left on a time, seeking lost friends and never returning. Nowë was their youngest, a small scrap then, and same age as his brother Alwë's eldest son. He'd lived in his brother's house since, not so much his three nephews' uncle as their brother.

For the water's voices Alwë had no interest. He had a mind like stone, and a purpose he set there never quivered. He looked full at Nowë, but still Nowë refused to return the gaze.

"They went over the hills. I'll travel that way. You'll head the family til I return. Nowë." He seized his brother's chin and forced Nowë's eyes to finally meet his own. "You promise to look after them."


"And to not let Elwë or Olwë or Elmo follow."


"And to not follow either."


"Thank you." Alwë released him and flicked his hair. "I'm fond of you, Fish. Promise me one thing more. Don't marry that water."

"Ye-es." Nowë batted him off. "Be quick. I'll wait for you."

Of his four promises, Nowë broke three.