The Far-Reaching Hand

A lost tale derived from the "Quenta Silmarillion", as translated from the Elven tongues by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Author's notes: Firstly, thanks loads and loads to Nemis and Ithilwen for insightful beta-reading!

Secondly, there's actually nothing in canon to support some events in this story, however as there's nothing to disprove them as well, I took the liberty of assuming they may have happened.

Thirdly, this story, chiefly with its motifs, compliments "My Father's Hands", though it's not directly related to it. The motif of the shaping and destroying hand is what I have found in the core of Feanor's story, and both fics came from my strange delight in exploring it

It stood in the outskirts of the city, reaching for the sky as if it sought to grab hold of the many stars and bring their fair radiance down the world below. It stood in the coming twilight, gold and red of the receding day, still and beautiful, as if removed from the world it stood upon, a piece of something greater, stranger. Something distant and awe-inspiring, not to be understood, merely gazed upon in realization of its greatness, ever knowing it cannot be bested.

Tall it stood a short walk from the white towers of Tirion the Fair, blazing in unholy light in the shifting shadows of sunset, a mighty hand carved in stone, striving upward. Around it was grass, flat earth, a thin road, there it stood in the middle of the peace and endless space, as far as the eye can see, down to the ocean and farther. Placed on an altar of sorts, a sleek stone sprouting from the ground, it cast a long shadow down on the greenery, obscuring the light of the fading sun from the lone figure standing there in the patch of darkness. A lone Quendi stood motionless, golden hair and silver garments denied the light to play on them. Silently he was gazing high upward at the hand, seeking to encompass it all with one gaze, as impossible as that may be.

The shadows lengthened. Wind rose, playing amid the tall stems of grass, sweeping sand and dust away to the sea. The light turned from gold to the shades of fire, cast in odd angles on the awesome hand. Another, smaller figure came along the trail, gazing not at the statue but at the Elf marveling at it. They were alike in face and body and in the melodious voices that sounded in a low greeting, tossed to the air to be caught at once by the wind.

"So it was true, and you are back," the newcomer said quietly. He came to stand side by side with the other Elf, his eyes avoiding the graceful stone, the graceful, unknowing stone, reaching to the sky, ever oblivious of their presence.

Slowly, at first in silence, came a nod in reply. At first, no words were needed.

He replied in a voice that had age in it, age not in body, not seeking to wear down what could not be worn. Heaviness of the soul it was, heaviness of sight, of having seen too much or perhaps known too much, or perhaps an inability to forget.

"You may say that," Fingolfin, once High King of the Noldor, told his younger brother. "You may say that I am back."

Sunlight sought to burst from behind the stone hand, rays of radiance glittering, reflecting off the polished surface. It was as if Anar herself has decided on some odd whim to come down from the sky and settle amid the outspread fingers and show its glow to Aman from within.

"Were you responsible for this?" Fingolfin asked suddenly.

Discomfort was evident as Finarfin shifted his gaze. He had constantly avoided the statue so far, avoiding the light in the process. His voice was lower yet, haunted, yet clear: "I was."

His brother nodded, once, in a slow, thoughtful way. "And is it for…?"

"Perhaps," Finarfin snapped back quickly, then looked away, then unwillingly upward to his older brother's eyes. He sighed darkly, his hands fled behind his back, fingers tangling and untangling in tension and guilt.

"In the city…" he whispered. "In the city, they call it the Hand of Feanor."

"I thought as much," Fingolfin simply replied.

There was no change in his stance, nor in his face. His eyes were devoid of expression, an empty, dark blue, not even with the glitter and liveliness of the endless sea.

He stepped forward, and he stroked the smooth stone with one hesitant hand, feeling the surface sleek and cool and unyielding. All day the sun shone on it and yet it would not warm. It was taller than him, reaching defiantly up, out, away.

It was perfect.

"He would have loved it," he said.

Finarfin laughed shortly without joy. "He loved nothing which was not of his own making."

"How wrong you are…" there was no sadness in the older Elf's voice, calling it sadness was not right. Nor was it joy, nor was it anything discernable, maybe regret, maybe.

"He would have loved it, its reach, its shadow… the way it clashes with the view… you understand him better than you think."

"I understood him," Finarfin corrected. "He is gone."

A smile abruptly played on Fingolfin's face, not grim, but not happy. Content, in a strange way, almost gloating. "From this land or from your mind?"

Finarfin gritted his teeth. Remaining still, of a sudden, had a cost.

"I do not seek to tease you, little brother," Fingolfin said softly, but he did not look back. All his attention still was on the stone. The sun was descending, swiftly disappearing behind it. Shadow was cast all around on the grass, shadow on the trail and on the sea in the horizon. Shadows crept down the towers in Tirion, far away. "I have spoken with him, you know."

Finarfin was taken aback despite himself. He took a step, just one step closer. "In the Halls?"

"In the Halls. I fear we had no choice. His was not the grace I was given."

The younger Elf surprised himself with the relief erupting into his voice. "Good."

"He thinks so, as well."

Darkness was spreading slowly, in small patches. Fingolfin's eyes, concealed in the shadows of statue and sunset, were set away from the light. Finarfin found he could no longer look anywhere without seeing the red taint of the fading day.

"It is ended, then," he found he was saying quietly. "So ends the tale of the Noldor, the folly of the Noldor, nothing left to remember it by."

"Save the Hand of Feanor," Fingolfin replied, but he was not truly speaking to his brother anymore. His gaze was elsewhere, elsewhen, in other lands, in other times and dreams. "I regret he cannot see this. This would be fitting, closure of sorts… a sure sign of his victory."

Finarfin narrowed blue eyes with a dangerous gleam to them. "Victory? His was no victory."

"His was a greater victory than you imagine, little brother," came the reply, shadowy and whispered, echoing in the silence of the open grassland, the hand a great form dark in the last rays of sunlight in a strange day.

Not long did Finarfin consider his reply. It tore out of him, angry and defiant. "A great victory, surely. Almost all our people are slain. His sons are dead, his poor wife… And did he regain his precious jewels? Not one, not a single one. All that he has left behind is ashes in the wind."

"Save the Hand of Feanor," Fingolfin said again.

"Yet I have created that."

"Have you indeed?"

Finarfin inhaled sharply. He stumbled away, looking down to the darkening earth.

"He won," Fingolfin said quietly. "He won, in the end. Have you not heard what they sing in Tirion by moonlight? Have you not heard…? The song is woven of the pride of the Noldor… of glory, valor, love and pain on distant shores… of Feanor Lightshaper, whose prideful song was sung… in ancient lands, in ancient days, when still the world was young. That they sing in Tirion, little brother, they sing of the many wondrous deeds of Feanor Lightshaper."

Finarfin's eyes grew wide. His voice broke. "They sing of you as well, and fairer were your deeds."

"Though we had both paid a price too terrible to count." The air was cooling slowly; the great stone hand became icy to the touch. Darker red fell upon the grass, upon the statue.

"Many tides have risen on the shores of Alqualonde," Finarfin managed to say at last.

Fingolfin looked down at last, down at his hands. "The tide can wash the blood away, then?"

"That is not what I have said!" The younger Elf at last erupted, throwing his hands up in the air in helpless, dark frustration. "But do you say the songs can wash it?"

"Not for me," the once King deadpanned. "Not for me."

"Then why for him?"

"Because he thought the price worthwhile."

At last Finarfin could take no more. He rushed forward, grabbed his brother's hand, tearing him away from the Hand. The sun plunged into the ocean, a beautiful ball of unleashed flame, painting the sky in one last blaze of glory. The two Elves sat on the grass before the statue, now none of them could avoid looking at it, seeing behind in the last light of day.

Silence overtook them, the wind was blowing, whistling among the tall grass. In the distance, the towers of Tirion were alight with candles in many windows, seeking to ease the dark. Soon they will return there, and the remaining Noldor of Aman would welcome their King, again given flesh. Some glory would be restored, some, at least by this.

"What do you mean…" Finarfin whispered, "worthwhile?"

Fingolfin's gaze clung to the light. "I mean precisely that. He thinks it was worthwhile, the darkness, the pain, the blood, for the songs. And he would think it more worthwhile yet for this beautiful thing, this beautiful, beautiful stone…"

The air caught in Finarfin's throat; he felt something sting in his eyes. He made no move to wipe them, no attempt to breathe.

But the tip of the sun could now be seen far away. The shadows settled upon the Hand in vast shapes, like holes in the stone, wounds in the cool gray flesh.

"Will you destroy it now?" The older Elf quietly asked.

Finarfin choked out: "I… cannot let them remember…"

"Can you not?" swiftly Fingolfin rose. He pulled his brother up, up to his feet. He unsheathed his long sword, thrusting it into the smaller hands. "Then destroy it, destroy it now, this beautiful stone, this far reaching hand, this work of art of yours. Destroy it, I am waiting."

The light disappeared fully behind the darkening horizon. The Hand stood stark against endless night sky, the distant lights of the towers of Tirion playing across it from afar.

Finarfin swung the sword high above his head, and crying out forced it down, down upon the Hand, but not upon the Hand, down on the altar, down to be shattered to slivers, scattered on the grass.

He breathed in, and fell to his knees.

"I can't…" he whispered. "Iluvatar help me, but I can't…"

Fingolfin stepped forward, settling down by his brother. Fondly he stroked the golden head, answering in a whisper, distant as the city lights.

"Then tell me, Finarfin… was this Hand meant to commemorate our brother… or everything that he was and we both cannot be?"

The last light of day was gone, the sky a black velvet woven with glittering gems. Finally, under the shadow of the Hand, as always it was, finally their tears came. And they sat there together in the darkness until the Morning Star rose up.