The Midhavens :: The Writing and Artwork of Dawn Felagund 


(skip foreword)

This story was written as part of my 2007 holiday gifts for Hannah, who wanted "an AU in which Fëanor outlives all of his children." The story wasn't the most cheerful for the holiday season, but it enjoyed remarkable success, and a lot of people really seemed to enjoy it. In fact, I was most pleasantly surprised when it was nominated for the 2008 Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards in the Genres: Alternate Universe: Angst/Tragedy category.

Just a reminder, if you missed it in the summary: This story does include a discussion of suicide. If you think you might be bothered by this, please take heed.

For What I Wait

I have filled the teacup to brimming, and I totter from the kitchen to the bedroom, trying not to slosh hot tea upon my hand. I blow gently upon it, to cool it, as I walk. He will drink it even if it scalds his mouth. He has done it before, groaning in pain, then drinking deeper until I must wrest the cup from him.

"Macalaurë," I call gently. We use the old tongue with each other, even in this new world where our people have been relegated to myth. I keep my ears covered with a hat when I go out of the house. The brightness of my eyes they attribute to sorrow; "Fëanor Full of Tears" they call me. But the tears were dried long ago, when I used to gaze upon Laurelin until my eyes were dry again. Laurelin is no more, and so I do not weep, else I might never stop.

Macalaurë curls upon his side in the bed. I have kept the fire high and piled him with furs and quilts, yet still he shivers. His skin has gone translucent, like my fingers might pass through it, like he might disappear and be marked only by the silent collapse of the bedclothes around him. Gray veins are too dark upon pale skin, surging with sluggish blood. The tea is cooled enough to drink, and so I help him to sit. Once upon a time, I might have traced my son's life upon the page as I might have plotted a mathematical equation: His birth at the nadir and his rise through wonder and grace and wisdom--on and on, he should have gone, his line stretched off the page. But unmarked by me, he began to falter and fall. What, then, was the apex, I wonder?

The Noldolantë.

That was my son's greatest achievement: to lament my deeds in such a way that even I almost wept and certainly regretted.

I will not think of it.

"Macalaurë, take your tea." Now, back nearly to the nadir again, he is as helpless as a child. I must fold his fingers around the cup and guide it to his lips. Tea dribbles down his chin; I have proffered it too quickly. I wipe his face. The other day, even, he wet in his bed, and showed no shame in it; I had not the heart to scold. His eyes are half-lidded, smoky glimmers beneath thick, dark lashes. "Do you even hear me?" I whisper. He hears me, yes--his eyelids flutter and his lips twitch--but he has forgotten how to speak and, certainly, to sing.

I remember when we came here, to this cottage by the sea, and he still fumbled melodies upon a lap harp, sitting on the rocks by the water. His voice had begun even then to lose its strength, but it was still lovely to hear. It trembled like moonlight on the water or stars beneath a haze or a body spent in passion. Is that his trouble? We are immortal, yes, but his life has contained more than any single person should have to endure, even across the whole of time.

Then, he'd sung of his brothers, or his mother left behind over the sea. I'd forced myself to listen. The people in this land sometimes scourge themselves under the pretense of purification. His voice was my scourge. When it ended--

My deeds are mine alone to bear.

It was a winter night when he spoke for the last time, bitterly cold with winds that howled as they tossed the trees and frenzied the sea. I might have turned for ten seconds--long enough to stoke the fire--and he was gone. When I found him, he was seated upon the rocks by the sea, barefoot, in naught but a nightshirt, hugging his knees to his chest. His harp lay, broken, on the rocks below. He rocked, and he sang. The wind thrashed harder, trying to take his voice from him, but his words would not be quelled. Long ago, I had learned that.

He sang of his brother, of my firstborn. Of Maedhros--that name, bitter upon my tongue. My forgiveness of Maedhros has been slow in arriving. Each of my sons died, at the least, in the promotion of our cause. But Maedhros: he took his own life. The life that I gave him; this I could not forget. It was akin to a gift rejected, tossed to the dirt and crushed beneath one's foot. Even when his feet had naught beneath him, Macalaurë had said, still he stood, suspended, just for a moment. Thinking how mad you'd be, likely. Laughing in that fey manner that made the hair on my arms stand on end, for it was oft-heard, familiar; it was my laugh.

But that night, on the rocks by the sea, he sang to the sky of his brother. He sang in Quenya, in a voice I had not heard since first he sang the Noldolantë.

Ere you left
For the dark places
'Tween the stars.

My mouth opened to call his name, but the wind took my voice.

I still linger.
For what I wait
Is a new star
In those dark places.
For what I wait
Is you.

I reached the rocks then and gathered him in my arms. His body was wracked with shivers, and his naked feet had long gone numb and would not support his weight. "Macalaurë, you fool!" I whispered as I carried him back to the house like a child.

And that was the last that he spoke.

He has finished his tea. I take the cup from his stiff fingers and kiss his forehead. "Macalaurë, you must live for me." Lips still warm with life move against his cold skin, but his eyes have long fallen shut, and he dreams. Of what? Of dark places?

Long I lay beside him, trying to rekindle his warmth, renew his life. Once I gave him life, why not again? Why should a parent be made to watch his child die when his own life blazes unchecked?

I think of Maedhros stepping from the precipice and lingering for just a moment upon the air. Macalaurë, he lingers.

Forgive me, Atar.

Torn from dreams, I hear porcelain shatter against the floor; the teacup tumbled from my hand as I slept. Macalaurë's cold body is still wrapped by mine. His face is turned into his pillow. I turn him upon his back, turn his face to mine, but neither breath nor song will ever again cross those lips.

The cold is biting and the wind is fierce. How have I come here? Naked feet are cut on the frozen ground, and I feel every cut. The snow melts where I walk.

I scream at the sky and the stars reel overhead. My scream is louder even than the whipping wind. It fills me. I seek all of the dark places. I seek all of the dark places, and two new stars that must be there. They must, they must.

He said he waited.

They must!

Where are they?

I still linger.
For what I wait
Is a new star
In those dark places.
For what I wait

Is you.

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