Atar would not let them ride with him to Taniquetil, to beg before the Valar on his behalf. “You will not kneel before them like lesser beings, asking their mercy on a matter that should not even be theirs to decide,” he said. His voice was sharp, and they dared not challenge him.
But, after he departed yesterday, Maitimo went to Macalaurë’s bedroom, and they clasped their hands together and prayed to Manwë for their father. Maitimo had never prayed before and it felt strange to be throwing his thoughts willy-nilly into the air, expecting that they should drift into the proper ears and be heard. He might have laughed if the matter wasn’t so dire, if all of their fates were not leashed to it. As it was, he worried about his prayers being intercepted by the wrong person, whether accidentally or intentionally, so perhaps the prayers had not been heard at all. A heavy, sick feeling in his belly told him that--prayers or not--the answer would not be favorable.
Macalaurë’s hands in his were cold, and with their foreheads pressed together, Maitimo soon became aware that Macalaurë silently wept, and his tears were falling onto their hands. Maitimo prayed that Fëanáro be showed mercy for he knew that--should he be exiled--the rift between their House and the House of Nolofinwë would widen even further. Selfishly, he knew that his friendship with Findekáno, held together now only by the barest tatters of love, would fall into irreparable ruin. But Macalaurë, he knew, had different concerns. Maitimo broke the prayer early to hold his brother in his arms.
“How? How can they do this? Tear all of our lives apart? Where is their right?” Macalaurë whispered fiercely, his voice quaking.
“I know not, Macalaurë,” Maitimo answered, for indeed, it did defy explanation: How a family matter--or a Noldorin matter, at its greatest extent--had fallen past their grandfather to be decided by the Valar made no sense to him. Nor did it make sense that the wound carved between their families should be gouged further: This would heal nothing. Sleepless, Maitimo tossed restlessly in his bed at night, trying to make sense of it, for he had made his life believing that everything originated from some form of logic, that there was a reason--and a solution--for everything.
There were explanations, yes, but he did not wish to believe them.
Maitimo knew the reason Macalaurë wept, alone of their brothers and even their parents, for Macalaurë and Vingarië had been trying for years now to conceive a child without success, but Macalaurë had confessed just weeks prior--mere days before their father’s foolish aggression on the palace steps--that they both felt as though the moment was near. He’d whispered as though afraid of Fate, afraid of being robbed of this blessing, but his face had been bright with hope.
Now, he said in a voice so low that Maitimo could barely hear him: “How can I expect Vingarië to be happy in Formenos? And what kind of place is it to raise our child?”
Macalaurë’s half-Telerin wife Vingarië had followed her husband’s family to Formenos for many summers, and Maitimo knew that she was not happy there, in the cold, barren land, far from the sound and scent of the sea.
And so he held his trembling brother in his arms and made another prayer on Macalaurë’s behalf: When you punish our father, you punish all of us too. Manwë, please understand that Macalaurë does not deserve this. He is the gentlest of us, and always has he opposed the animosity between our family and Nolofinwë’s. If you cannot find mercy for our father, perhaps you could find it for Macalaurë?
Yet he knew, even then, that mercy was not theirs to have.
When the messenger arrives, Maitimo sends Macalaurë to deliver the parchment to their mother for Macalaurë can paint hope upon his face with naught but a smile, even when hope is not to be had.
Carnistir began pacing an hour prior but would speak to no one, not even Tyelkormo, who quickly grew frustrated with Carnistir’s taciturnity and disappeared into his bedroom. Ambarussa turned their faces at the same time, as though they might like to follow, but had not. They unfolded a gameboard between themselves and began moving the pieces, although they never declared what game they were playing and--as far as Maitimo could tell--it was bound by neither rules nor logic.
Macalaurë’s light footsteps on the stairs tell Maitimo that the message has been delivered. Now all there is to do is to wait.
Waiting: what a cruel fate. Maitimo sits on the chaise and attempts to assume a normal posture. Across the room from him, Curufinwë is doing a poor job of the same. The gold ring on his hand sparkles in the rich daylight spilling through the window. He has been married for only three years now, and his wife departed last night for her parents’ house and Curufinwë would say nothing about it.
Maitimo watches as Macalaurë stands at the bottom of the steps and draws a sigh, trying to smile but unable to muster the effort for the benefit of brothers who can see through the ruse. Instead, he goes to Curufinwë and sits beside him on the chaise, and Curufinwë puts his head on Macalaurë’s shoulder, like he used to do when they were all so much younger and they waited with an anticipation that seems silly now for their father to return from the forge and call, “What delights await me?” and they’d all run into the foyer, their words tumbling over each other in their eagerness to speak to him first.
Maitimo smiles at the memory and Carnistir stops pacing and smiles too.
“You know the answer, do you not, Carnistir?” says Curufinwë suddenly, and Carnistir smiles and says, “I sense it, yes, as do you, Curvo, if you would take but a moment to seek it.”
“What will become of us?” Curufinwë asks, and he looks to Maitimo, for Maitimo is the eldest and has always--after their father, of course--been trusted to have the answers.
“We will have to decide if we stay or go,” Maitimo replies, trying to keep his voice from shaking. Such decisions were supposed to have been left behind in the Outer Lands, were they not? The sundering of families, the departure from homes and places loved, of people loved--who knew that they went into much of the same, only forced now by the very beings who’d sworn to protect them?
“Is that even a question, Maitimo?” asks Curufinwë, and Maitimo, startled, meets his eyes. No, he thinks, I suppose it is not. Our father may have done many wrongs but never has he asked us to choose between allegiances, not as the Valar do now. And Maitimo knows then, no matter what the words printed upon the parchment in his mother’s hands upstairs, that he will abide with his father.