Author note – Fëanor had to come back to Aman sometime, didn't he?.
Disclaimer – Tolkien & Co. are on loan to me.Many, many years after the last Elf set foot onto the Undying Lands…
All he could see was gray. Various shades of it. Slate gray, gray blue, gray black, pale gray. But in the end, it was all gray.
And to Fëanor this was perhaps the greatest punishment of all.
He who had loved color and brightness was denied it.
For seven thousand years he had dwelt in these halls of gray, and he had not asked to see something different. Three ages had come and gone. The Elves whom he had brought to Arda had returned. The Avari were finally reunited with their Eldar kindred. The race of Men, of which he had never seen, was now ruling what he had once declared his own domain.
Even now, he could feel the presence of Mandos swirling around him, comforting him and frightening him. Mandos was everywhere at once, and Fëanor knew that if he desired, he could speak with Mandos. But Fëanor had not spoken with him since he had arrived, indeed, not since he had heard Mandos utter the Doom of the Noldor on those fated shores of Alqualondë so many ages ago. Why change what had become a comfortable habit?
Indeed, he had not even sought out his own family. His sons had come and left, although some had stayed longer than others. Mandos had informed Fëanor that his eldest son had dwelt within the Halls for over three thousand years, in the hopes that he would see his father. Fingolfin his brother had sought him out, as well as Turgon his nephew.
Even his father had called to him.
But Fëanor had not responded. He had kept silent and stayed steadfast in his refusal to see them. Yet finally, a voice called to him, and for once, it roused him from his silence.
Fëanaro, Fëanaro, my son…It was Miriel. Miriel Serindë. His mother.
Blindly he ran through the gray haze towards the sweet voice. Running and seeking, calling and crying. "Mama! Mama! Where are you?" Had it been his imagination? In his depression, had he imagined her voice? But no, it was not so, for he heard her gentle laughter all around him. "Mama!" He fell to his knees. "Please don't leave me again." He became a little boy again, as he had been when his mother's spirit had forsaken her body.
I have never left you, Fëanaro. I have always been with you.
"You died, Mama." His shoulders were shaking.
Gentle laughter again. I am not dead, my son. I still live, but only here and in your heart. Think you that I would leave my only child?
"Oh Mama, I wish you had stayed. I wish I had your guidance."
You have always had my guidance, little one. But you chose not to listen to it. For has my presence not always been in your heart? He nodded sadly. Fëanaro, I have named you the spirit of fire, for I was foresighted in what you would become. Now again I have foresight, and I see that it is time you take on a new name.
He blinked. "A new name?"
Yes. Your inner fire has changed, my son.
Look for yourself. No longer does it consume you or those around you. Perhaps now you can use your heat to warm others who are cold?
Fëanor's eyes widened. "I want to stay here with you." He looked pleadingly around him. "Besides, Mama, this is my punishment, to remain here until the end of all things."
Miriel chuckled. Those that assign punishment can also grant pardon, my son. At Fëanor's stricken look, she added gently, Little one, you cannot hide here forever. Sooner or later you shall have to face those that you have hurt. You have parleyed here long enough, my son. It is time for you to move on.
"I do not wish to leave you!"
Suddenly Miriel's comforting presence was all around him, giving him strength and conveying love. I am still with you, my son. And here I shall be, should you ever wish to seek me out. And just as quickly as she had come, she disappeared.
"Mama!" For how long he had remained rooted to that spot he did not know, but after a while, Mandos came to him again. "It is time, son of Finwë. I shall lead you out myself."
Fëanor looked at the Vala uncertainly. "And where will I go?"
"Wherever your heart takes you, Fëanor." Suddenly, the grayness disappeared.
When he became aware again, his vision changed so radically that he was dizzy. The sudden bursts of color startled him, he that only had seen gray for most of his life. It took him only a moment to figure out where he was, for his memories of his happier life were undisturbed. "You have brought me to Tirion again," he murmured to Mandos. As he stood there, he became aware of his body again. For the first time, he felt the breeze on his face, the sun on his face. He even smelled the sharp scent of evergreen.
"No, Fëanor. It was you who desired to come here." Mandos looked down to him, a slight smile on his ageless face.
They were standing on a hill overlooking the city of white stone. But Fëanor could see that the city was empty. "Where is everyone?"
"It is the end of another yen. All the beautiful folk are celebrating the new year in Valmar." Mandos stroked Fëanor's black locks gently. "Will you not join them?"
He shook his head. "Not yet."
Mandos inclined his head. "If that is your wish. But now I must leave you, for you must journey on alone." Mandos withdrew, and Fëanor looked back to him but nodded his head slightly. With one last smile, Mandos disappeared.
Fëanor remained on the hill for a while longer. The last time he had been in Tirion, he had been in the courtyard shouting words of anger and vengeance. How could he return? But he was also the son of Finwë, and regardless of whatever else had happened over the years, he had not forgotten his pride, even if it was more subdued now. So with slow, hesitant steps, he made his way forth into the city.
His first stop was his own home. It was here he had brought home a radiant Nerdanel after their marriage. He still remembered her copper hair against the white sheets of their bed. He closed his eyes when he reached the foot of the stairs, imagining her walking down them, completely oblivious to the fact that he was standing at the bottom. Her brow would be knitted in concentration as she thought of whatever it was that was occupying her thoughts. But then he would reach out and grab her, and together they would dance as their sons watched on with gentle smiles.
He left the stairs and moved onto the music room. He could almost hear Maglor playing the harp, hear him strumming forth some melody, then stopping as he improvised it. He could hear Celegorm demanding that Maglor drop the harp and pick up a bow. Fëanor left the music room and headed to his study. There, Caranthir and Curufin would be arguing over who had better penmanship. Smiling to himself, Fëanor left the study and headed to the gardens behind his house. He passed by a rather simple fountain, but one he had been very proud of, for it had been his first work with stone. He imagined Amrod and Amras playing. Amrod would push Amras into the fountain, and when Amras held out a hand to be helped out, he would pull Amrod in as well. Chuckling, he passed by the fountain. Finally, he found himself at a small white gazebo. The last time he had been here was with Maedhros. He could picture himself now with his eldest son. They would be laughing and joking, as he teased Maedhros of the comely maidens and men that would be chasing his well-formed son.
He lingered at this house for a long while, allowing himself to remember the pleasant memories. But after a few hours, he made his way to his father's home. Finwë's halls still stood as they had in the Years of the Trees. Fëanor walked around the palace, but instead of entering through the door, he went around to the back. There, he found what he had forgotten. Along the sides of the wall was a trellis covered with vines. When he had been younger, he used to climb down from his window to meet with his friends. He and Ingil son of Ingwë had played together once. Ingil would come from Ingwë's towers, and he would throw rocks at Fëanor's window. One time, one of the rocks had actually hit Fëanor's head. Ingil had ended up muddy and wet that night. He sighed sadly as he remembered his friendship with Ingil. They had grown distance when they had grown older. Ingil was content to remain near the Valar, and he had even become very good friends with Fionwë son of Manwë and Telimektar son of Tulkas. But Fëanor had preferred to wander alone around Aman. And then he had become Mahtan's apprentice…
Still caught up in memories, he began climbing that trellis, and when he reached his window, he paused but then entered. His childhood room still remained as it once had. When Miriel had left, the empty palace had become unbearable. After he had reached maturity, he had rarely stayed here. The sight of Finwë playing with his younger two sons had hurt him, as well as the sight of Indis caught in his father's laughing embrace. It had taken him a long while to accept Indis and her family. He lay in his old bed for a while. Around his room lay various trinkets, his early experiments. Finally, he climbed back down the vines.
After many more hours of wandering, he finally ended up in front of Mindon-Eldaliéva. This had been Ingwë's tower when the Vanyar had still dwelt in Tirion. The tower was tall and white, and under it a tree grown from a seed of Telperion flourished. From the top a lamp sent forth a slender beam of light, and it could be seen from many miles away. It was a beautiful tower, and all who had entered it had been amazed by its beauty. But Fëanor only knew of its beauty secondhand, for he had never set foot inside Ingwë's tower.
As a child, he had both hated and feared the tower. His father had often pleaded with him to come, but Fëanor had always refused to enter Ingwë's tower. Indeed, even Ingil had often become exasperated, since he was always the one to go to Fëanor. But nothing, not even the Valar, had ever convinced Fëanor to enter Ingwë's lair. And while this had caused some speculation, Fëanor ignored it. Never did he answer the questions of why he avoided the most beautiful building of all the Elves.
If the truth were to be told, Fëanor himself did not know. He only knew that something about Ingwë's ancient blue eyes had frightened him while at the same time entrancing him. The most ancient of all Elves had a way of piercing the heart, and Fëanor had always been afraid of what Ingwë would find in his. Even when Ingwë and the Vanyar had left Tirion of Taniquetil, Fëanor did not enter the tower. Finwë himself did not occupy it, for he proclaimed that only to the High King was this honor permitted.
That had also angered the young Fëanor. He had disliked his father's deference to Ingwë. To his young mind, Finwë was the best king of all. What had Ingwë done to be High King? Just because he was the first to awaken did not make him the highest. Fëanor had once asked his father why he submitted to Ingwë's rule. Finwë had replied that of all the Elves, Ingwë knew best of their needs, even the needs of the king of the Noldor. Hearing this had not appeased Fëanor.
But now, after so many years, Mindon-Eldaliéva stood there still, as noble and graceful as ever. Except this time, the tower was calling to him, beckoning him to enter. And so it was with hesitant steps that he entered the place that he had avoided so studiously in the past.
Once he pushed open the doors of oak, he was greeted with the sight of a wide hallway, with sunlight coming in from the large windows. Flowers were placed here and there. The architecture was amazing, and Fëanor saw what had amazed all the others. But instead of exploring, he felt himself pulled down the long hallway of glass. As he was walking, he paused suddenly in front of a large painting. It was of Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë. The three of them stood under the Two Trees. Why had he never heard of this painting before? For this alone he would have braved the very pits of Angband.
"That is a bit drastic, don't you think?" asked a voice behind him. The words were in High Quenya, and it took Fëanor a moment to understand it. Fëanor turned suddenly to behold Ingwë himself. He was the same as ever, with his golden hair surrounding him like a halo. His blue eyes were still as wise, and his smile was still as mysterious. The only thing was that instead of being attired in his customary robes of white, he was wearing breeches and a tunic of leather, resembling the warrior he had been before the Eldar had arrived in Aman.
"Aren't you supposed to be at a festival?" Fëanor blurted.
Ingwë laughed. "I have been present at that festival for more years that you can even imagine. Surely if I miss one it will be pardoned?"
Fëanor shrugged. "I would not know. I never went to one before." He examined the king more closely. "What are you doing here? I thought you did not live here anymore."
"To be honest with you, this is my first time here in many millennia," said the king. He then gestured toward a room off to the side. "Come inside and sup with me. I expect you are hungry." Belatedly, Fëanor realized he was hungry. After all, he hadn't eaten in over seven thousand years. He followed the ancient king inside. "Thankfully, I still haven't forgotten how to cook!" This caused Fëanor to blink. He had never imagined the High King cooking. "Oh yes," laughed Ingwë, reading Fëanor's thoughts. "I wasn't born into kingship, you know. The first thing I did when I awoke on the ancient shores was to make myself a meal. Although," said he as his blue eyes twinkled, "it was not as good tasting as what I make now!"
Unwittingly, a snort of laughter emerged from Fëanor. He helped Ingwë prepare the table. The king brought out a cart laden with good-smelling food. Venison, ripe tomatoes, and Limpë had always been the favorite food of the Vanyar. Ingwë must have been the one to introduce their obsession with it.
Ingwë's eyes were twinkling again. Yes, he had been the one to introduce it.
Silently the two men helped themselves to the meal. Fëanor ate ravenously, for his stomach had been empty for quite some time. As was tradition among the Vanyar, the host served the food. Ingwë kept Fëanor's plate and glass filled at all times. This custom among the Vanyar had not taken root among the Noldor and Teleri, although some considered it a misfortune. For the Vanyar were as ever humble, and they never forgot their days alone under the stars, where all had to do work. Apparently this idea still remained, even among the High King.
Finally, when the meal was over, Ingwë looked at Fëanor contemplatively. Finally, the king spoke. "The reason I am here is that I have been waiting for you for a long time now."
"You were waiting for me, my lord?"
Ingwë scoffed good-naturedly. "You never addressed me as such when you were alive before, why start now?" Fëanor only stared at him in response. "Fëanor, you have tarried long in the Halls of Mandos."
"That was the length of my punishment," said Fëanor uneasily.
Ingwë looked at him gently. "You chose the length of your punishment. Had you wished, you could have been released much sooner. Tell me, Fëanor, why you chose not to greet your family in Mandos?"
Fëanor looked away. "I did not want to see them."
"Why? Are they not of your blood? Did you not love them?"
"Of course I loved them! I still love them!" Fëanor cried out. "But I was afraid."
Ingwë looked curious. "Afraid?"
Fëanor did not meet his eyes. "Yes, afraid." Sighing softly, he took a sip of his wine. "It was I who created this mess. I who estranged my wife, killed my father, and dragged my sons on such a foolish quest. It was I who led my people into ruin."
"No, Fëanor. Your only fault is that you allowed Melkor to enter your heart, even if you did not know it." Ingwë reached over and stroked Fëanor's black hair. "I watched as Melkor wove his lies around you, and I tried to tell you. For although you may not believe it, you are as dear to me as a son." Ingwë looked very sad. "It was I who first looked upon your father when we awoke. I taught him things, and he was to me a younger brother. Happily did I embrace you when you were born, and with great joy did I watch you grow in skill and intelligence. It was to my great sadness when you allowed the blackness to enter your heart." Ingwë looked away. "I even began to fear you."
Fëanor looked amazed. The High King fear him? Ingwë nodded. "Yes, it is true. For never has one of the Firstborn ever achieved your mastery in skill, and never shall there be one who is your equal. And it was my own fear that caused blackness to enter MY heart."
"Your heart isn't black, Ingwë! It is white, white like the snow!"
Ingwë shook his head sadly. "That kind of purity is only for Eru. Even the Valar make mistakes." A rueful smile. "And I am certainly no Valar." The king stood and went to stand in front of the fire. "Fear is a deceitful word, one that discriminates against its own meaning. It is something whose core escapes both the practitioner and the victim." He turned to look at Fëanor again. "You and I, we were caught in this web of fear. I feared you and Melkor, you feared Melkor and me, and Melkor feared the both of us. A nice triangle."
Fëanor considered this carefully. If Ingwë's heart had also been touched…did that mean that he himself was not wholly responsible? Ingwë nodded. "No, you are not wholly responsible. For some of the blame I bear, although Melkor bears most of it."
"What exactly did you do?"
Ingwë chewed on a carrot slice. "The sundering of the Vanyar from the Noldor and Teleri was my fault. It was I who encouraged my people to isolate themselves in Valinor. I was responsible for the breach in our cultures, which later led to the mistrust between our kindred." He sighed. "After watching you fall under the influence of Melkor, instead of coming to you and helping you fight that shadow, I ran away from it. I was afraid."
"You were afraid?" The High King was never supposed to be afraid.
Ingwë chuckled as he heard Fëanor's thoughts. "Not even the High King can escape from fear. But I understood the heart of my fear, and I defeated it. Fear is a dangerous thing. Often it makes people go backward when they should be going forward." Ingwë looked grave. "Why did you go to Arda? To become king?"
"No! I went because I had to avenge my father and regain my Silmarils!"
"Do you still want those Silmarils?" Strangely, Fëanor did not. The Silmarils only evoked the barest of feelings inside him now. "Then why did you go to Arda?"
"For vengeance!" He looked at Ingwë pleadingly. "Don't you understand the need for revenge, for justice? That savage command that closes one's mind to all else but the need to avenge, to reclaim what has been stolen?"
"But what was the price of your vengeance?" asked the king softly. Fëanor became silent. The price had been too high. His father, his wife, his sons, his people...so many had been caught in the web.
A strange look crossed Fëanor's face. "Vengeance was my only driving imperative at the time. I forsook everything for it. Everything," he whispered.
"Then you must get it back."
So it was that Fëanor son of Finwë accompanied Ingwë to Valmar. They came to a promontory that overlooked the city of the Valar. It was filled with people of all races. Valar, Maiar, Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri, Sindar, and Avari danced in the streets of Valmar. Currently Oromë, Arien, and Olwë were trying to out-dance each other, and Oromë was clearly not succeeding. In another part of the city he saw a beautiful dark-haired woman dancing with a golden-haired Sindarin lord. Ingwë, noticing his interest, pointed them out. "She is my granddaughter, the daughter of Ingil and Arien. The man with her is Thranduil, who was a woodland king on Middle-Earth. He is also her son-in-law."
He admired them for a while, until a flash of copper caught his eyes. Mahtan. His father-in-law. Did that mean Nerdanel was here as well? He looked to Ingwë for confirmation, and the king nodded. Fëanor looked again, and this time he easily found Nerdanel. Attired in a dress of green, she looked the same as she had when he had last seen her. To her side was Meril-i-Turinqi, Ingwë's other granddaughter. Next to Meril was an auburn-haired elf. Maglor!
"They are married now, Fëanor, and they have a daughter." Ingwë smiled gently.
"Daughter?" asked Fëanor with some confusion.
Ingwë smiled slightly. "Yes, a daughter. She is beautiful, and she takes after you." A grandchild. For the first time, a daughter had been born to his house. He closed his eyes as happiness swept through him.
"What is her name?"
"Lissilmë." It was a beautiful name. "But Maglor and Meril still wait for your blessings on their union," smiled Ingwë.
It took Fëanor awhile to work his tongue again. Finally, "What of my other sons? My father?" A pause, and then, "My wife?"
Ingwë snapped off a slender branch of the tree he was standing under. "They are all well. All are married now, except Caranthir. Finwë is fine, except he still grieves for his eldest and most beloved son." Ingwë flashed him a pointed look that Fëanor ignored. "And Nerdanel…well, Nerdanel is sad. She dwells on Tol Eressëa now, with Maglor and Meril. She misses you, Fëanor. Regardless of what has passed between the two of you, she still loves you. She has never stopped," murmured Ingwë as he answered Fëanor's unspoken question. Fëanor's shoulders shook slightly, and Ingwë, first and foremost a father, embraced him tenderly. And for the first time since he could remember, Fëanor wept. "My greatest mistake was thinking the Silmarils were the brightest jewels in all of the world. But how wrong I was, for my brightest jewels were my family."
When his sobs subsided, the king handed over the branch he had been holding. "The yew tree grows very slowly. It takes many centuries for it to reach full maturity, unlike so many of its other kindred. Its leaves are sharp and dark green, and its smell is intense. No Elf likes to climb the yew tree." Ingwë looked fondly at the tree. "But the yew tree is very strong, and it can weather many changes. The winds blow, the rain falls, yet the yew tree remains the same. The wood of the yew tree is very hardy. Indeed, it is the best wood for bows." The king patted the bark of the tree gently. "But who would know of these great qualities, when people cannot get past the layer of sharp leaves?" Fëanor ran his fingers over the branch. Even he could feel the strength of it. Ingwë continued, "It would be a shame if the yew tree faded into oblivion because people were not aware of the bark beneath the leaves."
Fëanor understood Ingwë's clever message. But doubt still filled him. "Perhaps a yew tree exists with nothing under its leaves."
"Then that tree would not be able to stand." Ingwë's eyes were glowing with a heavenly light. "But this tree," said Ingwë as he covered Fëanor's hand, still holding the branch, with his own, "is still standing. It would be a shame to see it wither." Ingwë pulled something out of his pocket. It was a carved wooden horse. However, its body was misshapen, its face was not done properly, and its legs were uneven.
Fëanor gasped slightly. He had forgotten about that little horse. It had been the first thing he had carved, when he had been very young. He had made it as a gift to the High King. "You still have it?" he asked uncertainly.
"Yes," said the king. "For out of all your works, this one still retains the warmth of you, when you were still full of hope and eagerness." Ingwë stroked the horse gently. "You were so shy when you gave it to me, and after you placed it in my hand, you hid behind your father's legs." The king chuckled at the memory. "Afterwards, you grew in skill, and everything your hands created was perfect. But this horse was not the horse of a mighty craftsman, or a learned scholar, or an amazing speaker. It was the horse of a little boy."
"I remember that it took me many days just to make that body," murmured Fëanor as long-forgotten memories assailed him.
Ingwë nodded. "Yes, your father told me how diligently you worked on it, so bent were you on pleasing the High King." He smiled softly. "But my greatest pleasure was simply having you give it to me. " Ingwë held out the horse to him. "Should this horse not go on to someone else now?"
Fëanor gently took it from his hands and held it to his breast. "Yes, yes it should. To Maedhros." He suddenly wished then that he had given it to Maedhros earlier, to show his son that not even he was perfect. But then again, he used to believe that he was perfect. But this horse…this horse showed that he was not. And Maedhros, the son who had always striven to please him the most, would hopefully forgive him at least a little when he saw the horse. Perhaps…
"Why don't you give it to him? He is waiting for you, just as he has for the past many years."
Fëanor looked uncertain again. "Do you think he will want to see me?"
"He does, little one. He does." And the man that Fëanor had once both despised and admired smiled reassuringly at him as he held out his hand.
Fëanor looked at Ingwë's outstretched hand.
The dark road to vengeance had been traveled. It was time he took a different road now.
Yes, a different road with a different name.
He was Curufinwë again. Perhaps a new Curufinwë altogether.
- I can't believe that the Valar would keep Fëanor insides the Halls forever. I mean, isn't repentance important? And how can he repent if he never faces those whom he hurt? Certainly the Valar were known for mercy, and mercy is a part of justice, although it can be argued that facing his crimes is much harsher than simply living in the Halls of Mandos. In any case, I've always liked Fëanor. He is my most favorite Elf. There is so much to him and his family that I couldn't resist writing on his return to Valinor, because like Ingwë, I also have faith in the overall goodness of people. I totally think that Fëanor was never evil. He was just a poor guy who bore the brunt of Melkor's scheming.
- Some of this story contains some material from my other work in progress, Fortune, Fear, and Destiny. That one contains the stories of Finwë, Turgon, Glorfindel, Ingil, Gil-galad, Maglor, Thranduil, and Maedhros. Although it isn't necessary to read them to understand this story, it will explain why Maglor is married to Meril-i-Turinqi (She is the Queen of Tol Eressëa), why Nerdanel is with them, and other random facts like that.
- On the languages: The Vanyar spoke in High Quenya. The Lost Road explains the development of elven languages. While the Noldor changed their language, the Vanyar kept their ancient language, and it became the so-called "Elf-Latin." That is why Ingwë speaks it to Fëanor. And of course, Fëanor, as a master linguist, has little trouble understanding it.
- In The Shaping of Middle Earth, Tolkien writes of the "sons of the Valar," mentioning Fionwë as the son of Manwë and Telimektar as the son of Tulkas. He also mentions that the sons of the Valar went to war with Melkor at the end of the first age, and accompanying them were several Vanyar and some Noldor who had not gone into exile. The chieftain of these Vanyar warriors was Ingil, and they drove away the orcs from the shores of Beleriand. Then, Ingil and Telimektar chased Melkor into the sky so that the Valar could deal with him (Also in The Book of Lost Tales, II).
- Also in The Lost Road, it is stated that Ingwë was the first to awaken, followed by the Vanyar (called Lindar in the book). In all of Tolkien's books, it is stressed repeatedly that Ingwë was as ever held High King of all the Elves.
- Limpë is the "ambrosia" of the gods. The Elves on Tol Eressëa and Aman drink it. It was served by Meril-i-Turinqi's discretion to those not of the Eldar race (The Book of Lost Tales, I).
- Valmar was the city of the Valar and Maiar, as well as many of the Vanyar. Eldamar was the place of the Elves. Tirion was the first Elvish city, and it was on the Hill of Túna. The Tower of Ingwë, Mindon-Eldaliéva, was the highest structure in the city. In it was a lamp that could be seen by seafarers miles away, although few mortals have ever seen its light (The Lost Road, as well as The Book of Lost Tales I).
- When the Elves first arrived, Yavanna gave them two branches of Teleperion, one to Ingwë and one to Finwë. Ingwë's was planted under his tower. From this tree descended Celeborn, the White Tree of Tol Eressëa. Also, the White Tree of Numenor also comes from here.
- The Vanyar became sundered from the Noldor and Teleri when they moved to Taniquetil. But it grew even worse after the actions of the Noldor at Alqualondë.
- The bark of the yew tree was often used to make bows.
- Lissilmë – Quenya, meaining "Sweet starlight." Lissë means "sweet" while silmë means "starlight."
- Curufinwë – "Skilled Finwë," the father-name of Fëanor.