Nolofinwë walked among the Noldorin camp, making sure everybody was asleep. They would need the rest, he thought as he surveyed his people. Their eyes were glazed over and distant, reflecting the cold starlight above them. An uneasy shadow had fallen on every sleeping Elf’s face. None were sleeping with smiles.
They find no peace in sleep, he thought despairingly, they are troubled by thoughts that steal into dreams and become the stuff of nightmares. Distressed by the horror of the catastrophe at Alqualondë. Disturbed by the unknown and seemingly bleak future ahead, of the idea of living in a land unfamiliar and unprotected.
They decided to be exiled out of their own will
, said a voice in Nolofinwë’s mind. But he shook it off, knowing in his heart that a number of the Noldor still had doubts, even when they had come this far. He knew most of them had decided to leave rashly and too hastily, temporarily sparked by his half-brother’s fierce words. And I too, was one of the hasty
, he thought with slight regret.
He looked in the direction of the Fëanorian camp. A few low campfires were still burning there, the flickering light reflecting off crudely made tents. They would journey on in the morning, the camps and tents torn down as quickly as they were made, leaving no trace of the vast host but footprints in the sand…
He turned around and saw Anairë standing a little distance from their tent. She had been following him through the camp and he had been so lost in thought he had not heard her.
“It is cold, meldanya, go back inside,” he whispered and gestured for her to return to the tent.
“Why aren’t you inside as well? Is something amiss?” Anairë said, worry in her voice.
“No no, nothing is wrong,” Nolofinwë reassured her, “I was just checking that all was well. Come now, I will return with you.” He brought her back inside. They laid down again and he blew out their lamp before kissing her a goodnight. She was very still, and he was not sleepy at all. He knew she wasn’t either. A shadow of doubt was clouding her mind and he could not read her thoughts for she seemed to be hiding them from him.
“Anairë, is something the matter?”
She did not at first reply, so he asked her again, this time reaching out with his mind.
Meldanya, something is weighing on your heart. Will you tell me what troubles you?
Anairë sat up slowly, trying to see her husband in the darkness of the tent. He sat up as well. Something really was wrong, he could feel it.
“Meldanya?” he said quietly into the darkness. His eyes focussed some more and he could just see her silhouette against the tent fabric. Her head was bowed in doubt and grief.
“Nolofinwë…” she began in barely a whisper, “Do you love me?” This was an unexpected question. Why? She knew the answer, thought Nolofinwë, so why did she seem so upset?
“Of course I do, why do you doubt it?” he whispered, lifting a hand to the dark outline of her cheek. He felt tears. She was crying.
“Anairë?” he asked, very worried now. It is the general grief of exile
, he thought to himself, everybody must be going through this
But somehow, he felt there was more to her sorrow.
“Do you love me enough that you would forsake the journey?” she said quietly in a wet but hopeful voice.
The question struck Nolofinwë as absurd. Forsake the journey? Surely she is jesting- no, she cannot be… Ai Eru she must be very grieved to have come up with this…
But the question was real and Anairë’s pain was real. Nolofinwë struggled for an answer.
“Anairë…” he began quietly and uncertainly, “Anairë you know I cannot do that… Fëanáro, I promised him…” He took a deep breath and began again, more firmly, “We cannot forsake the journey. We are exiles now- what have we to turn back for? The Valar will not…”
“We will ask the Valar for mercy- they will listen.” Anairë cut in, more certainty in her voice.
“They will not forgive us. They hate us Anairë, we are dead to them.”
“That is what Fëanáro says. I don’t believe the Valar hate us. Journeying on into dark and unknown places is far too dangerous, Nolofinwë!”
“But we must journey on for pride and honour, to avenge our fallen King- my father! Anairë, we will find happiness beyond the Sea. Don’t you realise what we are doing? We are going for the opportunity of a lifetime! You and I will live as Lord and Lady, just as we were in Valinor!”
“But I don’t care for our status in society. Not as much as I care for the life and wellbeing of my family. The words of Mandos have struck me to the heart, and I realise we are leading ourselves to destruction! Please Nolofinwë…” her voice faded away and she was silent again.
Nolofinwë lit the lamp and the tent inside was bathed with a warm, golden glow. He looked at her face, reading her expressions. She looked up at him. Her grey eyes were full of sorrow and desperation, pleading with him silently. Tiny teardrops danced on her dark eyelashes as larger ones spilled down her cheeks. Nolofinwë reached out and gently wiped them away. He caressed her mind with his and tried to reason with her.
Anairë, please understand, I have no place here any longer. The Noldor are shamed here. Even if the Valar give us mercy, which they will not, how can we ever again face the Elves whose families we murdered and whose cities and ships we raped? We could never again go amongst them. We’d be shamed by them as well as the Fëanorians, never finding love in our own kin.
Anairë felt the embrace and message in her mind, and the gentle hand wiping away her tears. It made her want to cry all the more, but she answered his thoughts.
The Valar will forgive us, of this I am certain. She felt her husband’s frustration at this, yet she continued. I am also certain that in time, wounds will heal between us and the Teleri. Most of our people did not take part in the Kinslaying. Our kin will forgive us if the Valar will.
Nolofinwë sighed with frustration, “So you would have me turn our entire people around, most of whom do want to go into exile, and force them to beg mercy from the Valar? To admit defeat?”
“Nay husband, our people do not have to repent if they do not so wish,” Anairë said, “My concern is for you and for our children, whose hearts have also been turned by Fëanáro’s fiery words, but would also repent if their father advised them so. We will join the host of your brother Arafinwë who is doing the right thing by returning home.” There was hope in her voice, but Nolofinwë’s next words threatened to destroy it.
“Findekáno, Turukáno and Iressë have all made up their minds,” he said, “And I would not try to talk them into changing them. You and I both know when they have their minds made up it is folly to even try to make them think otherwise.” He continued before Anairë could say anything, “As for my brother, he has earned himself the scorn of the House of Fëanáro and will be forever sung of as treacherous and cowardly. I would not wish that fate upon my House as well.”
Anairë looked down and there was a long moment. When she spoke, her voice was still just above a whisper, yet it was louder than before, “I see where our sons and daughter got their stubbornness,” she laughed quietly and bitterly, then looked at Nolofinwë, “Their father’s mind is also impossible to change.” Her eyes now beheld a soft fieriness as she looked her lover straight in the eyes, telling him things he did not want to hear. The things he dreaded most.
Finally, he spoke, “But that stubbornness is also inherited from their mother. She has made up her mind, and it grieves me to the very core of my being. We have already lost so much Anairë, must we now lose each other?” There was a long, painful silence as both partners avoided each other’s gaze.
“You will return with Arafinwë on the morrow then.” His voice was now heavy, and laden with grief.
“And you will leave with Fëanáro.” Her voice was now an empty whisper. Tears filled her eyes again and Nolofinwë held him against her in a tight embrace, not wanting to let go, the tears threatening to overcome him as well.
Memories whirled through their minds. They shared those precious memories between them, each recalled with amazing clarity. The day they had met, the day they fell in love. Their blissful courtship and wedding under the immortal trees and skies of Aman. Every night of passion they remembered. The joyful birth of Findekáno, of Turukáno, of Aredhel, their children’s childhoods they remembered. The warm, reassuring presence of the other in bed. Laughter, tears, warm fires on stormy nights, warm whispers and soft kisses…
Anairë let herself go, and the tears flowed freely and rapidly, her body quietly trembling with each uncontrolled sob. She felt Nolofinwë bury his head in her dark hair and she felt the warm wetness of tears on her neck.
Nolofinwë thought to himself, I loathe to leave her, and yet I am bound by oath and allegiance to follow my fierce brother. If it were not for that ill-fated promise I made in front of the Valar. She will hate me for leading our children away.
He began to talk to her in his mind. Anairë, you must know and remember that I truly love you, but I cannot revoke my allegiance to Fëanáro. Please, meldanya, please reconsider…
It was a hopeless and desperate plea and he knew it. He broke their bond and beheld Anairë’s face, eyes running over every beloved detail, trying to forever preserve the memory though he knew he would never forget her. Suddenly she embraced him again, kissing him fiercely. He responded with just as much passion and they kissed, and kissed until it hurt.
She surrounded him with her mind, Whatever you asked of me I would have done willingly, but this one thing I cannot. Valinor is my home. I belong here. I was born here and this is all I have ever known. Were I to leave I would wither and fade, like everything else in the Mortal Lands. Though I am grieved, Valinor will give me hope again, and I will wait for you.
Their lips parted. “Promise me this,” she breathed, tears still running endlessly down, “Promise you’ll return to me, that we shall find joy in each other again.”
Nolofinwë hesitated. At the very least he should give her that hope, that reassurance. But he could not. “I cannot promise you anything…” he started, but she placed a finger on his lips.
“I will wait for you. For me there is always hope.” Then they said no more, and spent what seemed to be their last night together in each other’s arms.
At dawn the Noldor moved again, though with less numbers this time. The people of Arafinwë stood on a sea cliff in silent prayer and grief as they watched their beloved kin vanish out of sight. Anairë stood at the front of Arafinwë’s people, next to Arafinwë and his wife Eärwen, whose children had also decided to leave with Fëanáro.
She looked silently upon the exiled host and saw Nolofinwë tall and proud, noblest of the Noldorin princes, marching at the front of his people. She saw him turn around for a tiny moment and look back at her and the land of his birth. Then he marched forward again, and holding the blue and silver banner of his House high in the air he shouted an encouraging command to the exiles, who in turn cheered for their lord. Hope was restored for a while for them.
The remaining Noldor watched long after the last Elf had disappeared into the distance, their heads bowed in deep thought. Just as Anairë had finished a silent prayer, a thought came to her on the wind. It swirled around her, filling her mind with hope.
I vow we will meet again meldanya, before the end of Arda…
Anairë bowed her head and smiled, and sent a thought back over the cliffs to her beloved. I will wait for you, Nolofinwë son of Finwë, even if it be until the End…
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.