A King Unkinged (For the Love He Bore Feanor)
A single rider was coming up the road from the South—not fast, but not at a leisurely amble either. Tyelkormo, who was returning across the fields from a short hunting expedition, spotted the rider and stopped to look. Most places were south of Formenos, so the rider could hail from anywhere in Valinor, but the road south was also the road from Tirion.
It wasn't Irisse, though; of course it wasn't. She wasn't coming and, besides, she would not be riding at such a dignified pace. Nor would Findekano—and anyway Findekano wasn't going to come visiting either, even if Tyelkormo felt generous enough to want him to.
It could be some dignitary of a nearby town come to pay his respects to Tyelkormo's father, regardless of rumours from the south. Or maybe it was some follower of Feanaro's who had had affairs to arrange in Tirion before he was able to come north? As far as Tyelkormo knew, they weren't expecting anybody of that sort, but he wasn't Maitimo, he might very well not have picked up any mention of their name in the first place or not remember it now...
Tyelkormo looked over at Huan and took in his alert posture, his pricked ears, his intent gaze—all saying: someone really important. He looked again at the rider and froze. The rider came closer, poised tall and regally in his saddle, his mien sombre.
‘Grandfather,’ Tyelkormo mouthed silently, still thunderstruck, when the rider had come within speaking distance.
‘Turko,’ said Finwe, unsmiling. ‘Stop gaping. Go announce me to your father.’
Tyelkormo took off with all the haste he was named for, the deer he had shot bouncing on his back. Huan, as ever, loped along at his left.
By the time Finwe, continuing at his former pace, had reached the gate, Tyelkormo had alerted the household and Feanaro had come rushing to the door in stained work clothes, with no time or thought to change. Finwe rode into the courtyard and right up to the door without dismounting.
‘You came,’ said Feanaro, pale, clutching the doorpost. ’You came here, to Formenos!’
‘I did,’ Finwe agreed. ‘But don't imagine it means I'm pleased with you because I'm not.
And, no, I'm not pleased with your brother either, for precipitating that scene in the first place, and I've let Nolofinwe know in no uncertain terms. Who am I that my sons should wrangle over my love in public like dogs snarling and tumbling in the marketplace?! I can do without two sons of mine both waving their devotion to me about like flags while in fact they are both undermining my rule.
And neither am I pleased with the Valar for sending you here. They did not consult me beforehand and ignored me when I argued against it. They also ignored Ingwe when I asked him to speak for me.’
He raised his voice a little more, speaking clearly so that any of the household might hear him, including those who lurked behind.
‘But—Feanaro!—none of that excuses what you did. Do you hear me? It does not excuse it in the least. It does not excuse what you did, and what you did could have been so much worse if your brother had not kept his head.
You threatened a fellow subject of mine with deadly violence. You drew a weapon. You disrupted public order. You made a spectacle of yourself and of me and of your family.
And if Nolofinwe had reacted in any other way than he did—if he had not stood and taken it, whether it was in shock or because he managed to keep his temper—blood would have been spilt and it could well be not only yours or his that was spilt. Our people would have been fighting each other in the streets. There could have been deaths. There could have been kinslaying. It is no thanks at all to you, Feanaro, that that did not happen!
What were you thinking of, Feanaro? Were you thinking at all? What was going on in your head?
I am here. But I am not pleased with you at all.’
Feanaro bowed his head for a moment, almost meekly. Then he looked up again.
‘You came here to tell me that? Will you at least stay to rest, during Telperion's hours?’
‘Oh,’ said Finwe, finally dismounting. ‘I am here for the duration.’
Then he unbent, somewhat, and embraced his dumbfounded son.
Telperion's hours were much darker so far north, Finwe found. He could not rest for the thoughts churning in his head—memories of his last conversations with Nolofinwe and Indis, first impressions of the household at Formenos. Giving up on sleep as a lost cause, he found his way through lightless corridors to the kitchen and, glimpsing a red flicker through the doorway, realized that someone else was there before him. Maybe insomnia was a common problem in Formenos; it seemed not unlikely.
It turned out to be Maitimo. He had already fanned the embers on the hearth to a flame and stood, kettle in hand.
‘Grandfather?’ he offered, recognizing the arrival. ‘Would you like a tisane? I was about to make one for myself.’
‘I would be glad of it,’ said Finwe. ‘Thank you, Maitimo.’
Soon there was a strong scent of aromatic herbs from the tea pot. Maitimo poured two mugs, one for Finwe and one for himself. They sat down opposite to each other at the kitchen table—first Finwe and third—nursing their mugs of hot tea.
‘What is this?’ asked Finwe. ‘It seems a little unfamiliar.’
‘I've been sampling the local flora,’ said Maitimo. Maybe Finwe was failing to suppress faint signs of alarm, because Maitimo added, a little wryly: ‘Don't worry, Grandfather, the people around here have been drinking this mixture at least for a yen or two and it clearly hasn't harmed them at all.’
Maitimo's hands, cupping his mug, showed familiar ink stains. Finwe tried to take this as a good sign; he knew how much Maitimo had been missing the chance to do some quiet research, lately, in Tirion, undisturbed by politics. But his grandson's eyes were not those of someone who had been enjoying a welcome break from the pressures of society. He looked tired and haunted.
‘Maitimo,’ said Finwe, tackling the subject he was most concerned about at the moment, ‘how is Feanaro taking the discovery that it was Melkor's intrigues that were behind the disunity among our people and that it was Melkor who has been influencing his own recent behaviour? I could not tell, at the time, because of the confusion during the trial’—he deliberately did not use any less complimentary terms, for however angry he was himself about the proceedings, he did not want to encourage Feanaro any further in his uncooperative attitude towards the Valar and Maitimo was already too strongly influenced by his father in this, he thought—‘but neither could I make it out today. Feanaro seemed to be steering away from the subject when I tried to bring it up.’
‘Not well,’ said Maitimo, ‘although he has been refusing to speak plainly to me about it, but that itself is a bad sign. Sometimes, I believe, it makes him very angry and shames him and sometimes it makes him even more deeply afraid. But sometimes, by the way he speaks, he seems to forget about it entirely—as if he not only did not believe it, but as though the matter had never been raised. He just does not want to know at all...’
Finwe sighed heavily, and they sat in silence for a while.
‘Grandfather,’ began Maitimo hesitantly. ‘What Nolofinwe said... Do you really believe, as he claimed, that anyone who wants to leave Aman for Endore is personally disloyal to you and your judgement?’
Finwe did not answer immediately and did not meet his eyes.
‘He does feel we are failing to uphold his honour,’ thought Maitimo and his heart sank.
‘I suppose I did not tell you enough, all of you, those who were born in Aman’ said Finwe. ‘I know you have read much in our histories, Maitimo, and maybe you believe you know what Cuivienen and the march to the Sea was like.’ He looked past Maitimo into the darkness, and his voice grew louder and somewhat stern. ‘You do not. I assure you you do not.’
He became aware of Maitimo's distress, if not its extent, mistaking it for discomfort, and tried to speak more lightly: ‘Well, it is quite fortunate that all of that is now out of the question. After all, no one could want to go there now, with Melkor on the loose!’
At that, Maitimo opened his mouth as if to answer, but seemed to think better of it and said nothing, nothing at all.
The story uses Quenya names:Tyelkormo—Celegorm, Irisse—Aredhel, Fingon—Findekano, Feanaro—Feanor, Maitimo—Maedhros, Nolofinwe—Fingolfin. There is allusion to the literal meaning of Celegorm's name (hasty riser) and of Maedhros's father name (Nelyafinwe: third Finwe). "Endore" is the Quenya word for Middle-earth.
Time spans: 1 yen is equivalent in length to 144 (later) solar years.
The title is loosely based on two Silmarillion passages referring to Finwe.
About the Author
Himring has been writing Tolkien fan fiction since the winter of 2009. She mostly writes Silmarillion fan fiction, with a particular focus on the Sons of Fëanor, especially Maedhros and Maglor. Her main archive is at the Silmarillion Writers Guild. Her stories can also be found at Many Paths to Tread and Archive of Our Own (AO3), including those that are not Silmarillion-centred.