Exodus of the Noldor
by Writing Gecko
Arafinwe leaned his hands against the balcony’s rail, feeling a sudden and unprecedented urge to fling himself over the edge to certain death. Perhaps in Mandos, he reflected glumly, he could find a measure of peace. And then he would be with Finwë again, and no longer be the one to answer for his half-brother’s mistakes.
Before the exile, he hadn’t had a half-brother in his reckoning, only two full brothers.
“I am not certain that is meant to support your weight my friend.” Arafinwe turned sharply at the voice, having already made up his mind to shout and rage at whomever had dared to invade his privacy – was he not allowed even a moment of peace anymore? – but at the sight of the speaker he quelled his anger, instead bowing his head in greeting.
Aulë, the maker, and great friend of the Noldor, waved away his formalities, and before Arafinwe could decide how he should host the Vala – everything was more complex when one was the High King, life had been much simpler when he was just Finwe’s strange youngest son – Aulë dropped to his knees and ran a weathered hand along the base of the rail, where it had begun to slip free of the wooden floor. “It seems the bolts have been stripped,” he mused, as though they were the best of friends and it was a perfectly normal conversation. “Of course, this palace is ancient, even by the reckoning of your people.”
“It is older than I,” Arafinwe finally found his voice, and sunk to the floor beside the Vala. He had never been one for metal work – not like the other – but watching Aulë is a good enough distraction.
The Vala pulls a set of tools from his belt, Arafinwe supposes he should not be surprised that he is always prepared for his craft, and sets about removing the broken bolts, passing them to Arafinwe, and setting new ones. He works in silence, the clink of his tools the only noise that is heard about the sounds of nature.
“Fëanáro has chosen to destroy the Swan Ships,” he said after many moments. “And Nolofinwe has chosen to travel north and cross the Helcaraxe.”
Arafinwe’s chest tightened, he knew little of the lands beyond the shores of Valinor, but he had heard tales of the Grinding Ice, and knew that it was the very last place he would wish for anyone to go. “And my children?” he whispered, fearing the response.
“They have chosen to accompany him.”
Numbly he nodded, wondering how many of them – if any – will survive the perilous journey, and felt tempted, neither for the first time or the last, to cast aside the crown and the desperate court he had set up to follow his children. As if hearing his thoughts, Aulë slowly said, “Although the Doom shall be brought down upon them, I do believe we shall see them again. I have faith enough in that.”
Arafinwe nodded quietly, watching the Ainu finish his work. “How shall we go on?”
Aulë pushed against the railing, leaning back and surveying his work. “Stubbornly,” he said after a moment, a smile almost touching his lips.