Silmarillion Writers' Guild Five Things

Chapter 3. The Night They Begat The Fair Woodsman

Turkafinwë Tyelkormo [Celegorm]  

The festivities for Nelyafinwë Maitimo's 30th begetting day could not be compared to any children's party before or after it. Finwë had demanded the privilege of hosting a celebration that year in the Great Hall of Tirion. After a pretense of reluctance, Fëanáro agreed, ostensibly to please his father. Nerdanel knew better. Fëanáro believed that Maitimo deserved an appropriately grand party for his special day. He had named him Nelyafinwë for a reason—a blatant announcement to his brothers and the rest of their people that he considered his first son to be the third Finwë, outranked by only his father and himself. Finwë's begetting day celebration for his oldest grandchild would be more than a simple show of affection. It would be interpreted as a political statement by all of the Noldor

Fëanáro's announcement to Nerdanel that he intended to tell Indis he wanted final approval of the guest list resulted in a minor ruckus. It took Nerdanel three painful days to convince him just how rude and ungrateful that would be. 

Early in their marriage, Nerdanel discovered the necessity of their attendance at significant courtly functions seemed to coincide with her own projects. This time was no exception. She struggled to finish a dozen sculpted columns for the front of the new library in the center of Tirion, not far from Finwë's palace. That same month, Fëanáro took to arriving late to dinner every night and returning to the forge in the evenings for a couple of hours. Although, as a matter of course, Fëanáro normally found ample time to spend with his family, and concerned himself equally with the daily affairs of their children. Still, it sometimes appeared to Nerdanel that any time she worked under extraordinary pressure, her husband's work suddenly overwhelmed him as well.

Neither Nerdanel nor Fëanáro had completely recovered from the stress of her last rush to finish the library portico when they found the great day upon them. They arrived with the boys, happy if tired, at Finwë's palace to discover the main hall had not been festooned with the streamers and the multi-colored globes filled with hot air considered a requirement for children's parties in Tirion in those days, but had been transformed into a forest wonderland of greenery, blossoms and soft winking lights. 

Maitimo and Macalaurë gasped when they entered the Hall. It resembled a magical woodland glade. A quartet of musicians played lively music of fifes and drums, harking back in style and cadence to an earlier less sophisticated period in the history of the Noldor. Findis had done an admirable job of conveying an ambience of gaiety and mimicking the early days of her adopted people. Nerdanel felt as though they had paused for a rustic festival amidst a fantastical grove in the middle of their elders' long march west to the sea.  

"This is amazing!" Macalaurë piped. Maitimo simply whistled softly under his breath. 

"It's beautiful," Fëanáro agreed. "We have to go express our gratitude to Indis immediately," he said with urgency to Nerdanel, as though it were she not he who might have trouble doing that. 

Finwë opened the celebrations with a short speech filled with pride in his first grandson's beauty and accomplishments in both scholarship and athletics.  

Maitimo accepted Finwë's congratulations with a charming combination of self-aware grace and modesty. "I wish to express my gratitude to everyone who came here to night to help me celebrate my begetting day. I am not so young as to fail to understand that the honor you have shown me is due to your abiding affection and fealty to my grandfather King Finwë, the tested and accepted leader of our great people, and to my own father Prince Fëanáro as his heir. I thank all of you from the bottom of heart for making me incidentally most happy. I have little to offer my people yet, but I vow to dedicate my life to serving you in every way that I can."

Blushing lightly, his clear grey eyes shining, his serious voice and his choice of words fit the occasion. Maitimo sounded and looked older than his years, a picture perfect image of a gallant young prince.

Fëanáro then introduced Macalaurë, explaining that his younger son would play a piece of music that he had composed in honor of his brother's begetting day. 

Women cooed and men smiled long-sufferingly as Finwë lifted tiny Macalaurë right up onto the main banquet table. Nerdanel could all but hear them thinking, 'Cursed nobles who make you pay for your dinner by listening to the results of their offspring's music lessons.' The young musician held a child-sized harp commissioned by his father from the most skilled craftsman of this type of instrument among the Vanyar. 

Macalaurë began to speak, taking his audience by surprise with the depth and fullness of his voice for one so young and small. "This is a song I wrote for Nelyo . . . ah, Nelyafinwë Maitimo, the best brother ever. I haven't written the words yet, so I will just sing 'la, la, la.' But the music is finished, but it doesn't work as well without the voice part. So, the 'la, la, la.' Sorry!" Good-natured laughter met his disarming grin, short of one front tooth.  

Fëanáro communicated to Nerdanel with mind touch, 'He'll show the wankers that he has no need of their indulgence.' She smiled, squeezing Fëanáro's hand.  

Macalaurë cleared his throat expectantly. "I need to tell you the story first. Nelyo said to run through it really fast so I don't bore you. It's about how Nelyafinwë, Atar and me went hunting. There is a lot of running through the forest and then I climb a tree. I fall and Nelyo catches me, but still I scrape my arm. It bleeds a lot and I am scared, but Nelyo holds me while Atar cleans it. That's all. The point is that I always feel safe with Nelyo. I hope you'll like the music as much as Nelyo did." 

Macalaurë played a stunning instrumental introduction on his miniature harp. Nerdanel could not hold back the tears which streamed down her face at the sound of his incomparable voice. She had heard Macalaurë sing countless times and knew his power well, but never before in any setting that equaled the acoustics of Finwë's Great Hall. When he finished, the crowd sat frozen in astonished silence. Maitimo rose to his feet first to applaud. Immediately, the entire crowd joined him. 

Macalaurë's song ended the official presentations and greetings. The surprised lad was hugged breathless by his older brother until both of his grandfathers and Indis had pried him from Maitimo's arms to squeeze him themselves. A smiling Arafinwë approached Nerdanel and Fëanáro with Eärwen, his pretty young Telerin betrothed, on his arm.

"The first of many great successes for our young warbler!" he said extending his hand to Macalaurë, who took it solemnly and shook it. 

"You truly are gifted. Perhaps you can study in the conservatory in Alqualondë some day," Eärwen said. "Maybe you will disprove the silly notion that only the Teleri or the Vanyar can produce great singers or musicians." 

"Thank you, Princess Eärwen," the boy said, suddenly shy. "Thank you, Uncle Arafinwë." 

"Splendid party, isn't it, Russandol," Arafinwë said ruffling Maitimo's curly hair, before turning to Fëanáro. "Listen up, before Ñolofinwë comes over. I have some rich gossip. Apparently, he and Anairë are trying to have a child. Seeing your two marvelous sons tonight should cause them to re-double their efforts. You know how competitive he is." 

"If Nerdanel would only agree, we could conclusively best Ñolofinwë by having another sooner." 

Arafinwë laughed and made a sweeping arm gesture encompassing the potted trees, some as tall as a man, the thick garlands of fresh ivy, the entire hall permeated with the smell of fir and the sweetish scent of wilting wild flowers. "I'd be cautious about conceiving one tonight after spending hours among all this. You might produce a fey, wild woodland creature rather than a Quendi." 

"How about it, love?" Fëanáro asked. "Want to make a little forester, a new friend for Oromë?"  

Maitimo cocked his head to one side, grinning at his mother, "I'd like another brother myself. But Arafinwë's prediction might mean that we end up with a squirrel instead." 

"Don't listen to Arafinwë." Nerdanel laughed. I do so love charming, fair-natured, feckless Arafinwë, she thought. 

"That sounds awfully like a 'yes' to me," Fëanáro insisted.  

"Hush!" Nerdanel said, while touching him mind-to-mind. You know it's 'yes.' 

Story Note: I am compressing the ages of the brothers a little for storytelling purposes (the differences in age between the oldest of Finwë's grandchildren and the youngest ones is far greater than I imply within this story).

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