Chapter Eight - 195th Cycle of the Trees, 1273


Life is so much happier now. I love, and I am loved in return, and my mind can reach out to my beloved and be soothed in stressful situations. This morning when I met Fëanáro in the street, I actually smiled at him in passing.

The expression on his face afterwards was priceless. I've never seen him as surprised before. He looked as if he thought I had lost my mind.

Will this elation wear off with time? Can it last? I don't know. As I said, I don't know much about love ... I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

But I should perhaps not reach out to her quite as often. She chastised me playfully this evening. "You only gave me four days to finish this, you know," she transferred to me. "If you keep disturbing me this much, it will be your own fault if I don't finish it on time!" But at the same time, my fëa could sense how much her fëa enjoyed the contact ...

Eru Allfather, again and again I praise you for the gift of love!

She made me relax during this morning's meeting as well. Oh yes - I forgot again. I'll put it in here instead.

Business Agenda for this morning's meeting: Findis' birthday party.
Attending: Father, Arafinwë, myself.
Proceedings: Decided on the seating order.
Meeting adjourned after one hour.

We discussed whether the seat next to mother or the seat next to Findis should be considered the place of honor, and whether - in light of recent events - it would be safer to offer one rather than the other to Maitimo. I was so much more comfortable about it than usual, because I knew I could reach out to Anairë when things became too tight. I did once or twice.

At least it really is Maitimo who will be coming. He can act civilly even to mother. But we expect Fëanáro to demand a full report from him when he gets home, so we want to ease things both for him and for ourselves.

I've gathered some reports for my own purposes as well. Unlike my sisters, my parents won't request of me to marry nobility. But I owe it to father to check that his daughter-in-law will come from a respectable family.

So I had some enquiries made yesterday. I didn't want to probe Anairë for more information about her family, so I asked my researchers to find out who had rented that particular booth at the market.

The reports came in today, and they are very satisfactory. Her father doesn't occupy any important position, but he is a skilled scribe, and well respected in his profession. Father should have no objections.

I tried to prepare them for the news this afternoon. I told them that I had commissioned a work of art for Findis for her birthday.

"The artist will bring it here herself the day after tomorrow," I said. "And I would like you to meet her."

It seemed that mother caught onto something right away.

"Her?" she asked. "Is she ... beautiful?"

I just stared at her. I couldn't tell. I haven't really noticed.

"She's lovely," I finally found my voice. "Her fëa is lovely."

The next moment I had mother's arms around me in a tight embrace. She didn't say any more, but her eyes shone.

"She's welcome," father said. "We would surely like to meet her."

I fear that things will not go as smoothly with my sisters. Perhaps Anairë isn't beautiful according to their standards. And she certainly is no princess or noble lady like they have been going on about. I won't tell them until after father and mother have met her, anyway.

Arafinwë, on the other hand, is a lot more sensible. When I got back to my rooms after talking to mother and father, he was waiting in my lounge.

"What was going on between you and Fëanáro today?" he demanded to know. "I was behind you in the city this morning - I don't think you even noticed - and I saw the look he shot you. Whatever have you done to make him react like that?"

I suddenly felt very sheepish.

"I smiled at him," I admitted.

"You what - ?" he asked, incredulously. "I've never known you to smile at Fëanáro in the streets - ever! What in the name of all that is precious did you do that for? If you did it to aggravate him, I'd rather you stopped smiling altogether. It's bad enough that you react the way you do to his insults - you really shouldn't retaliate with any of your own."

"I didn't do it to try to aggravate him," I said. "I was just in a good mood."

"Then who were you with last night to induce that?" he asked. "I've never seen you in a good mood whenever Fëanáro is around. How much did you have to drink? I can only see two reasons for your good mood - either intoxication or infatuation."

"I did not drink enough to get intoxicated last night," I said, feeling even more sheepish. My face was suddenly growing rather warm.

"Infatuated then!" he roared with laughter. "Oh, my dear brother, you really should blush more often! That color goes so well with your black hair!"

I pounced on him, and we wrestled with each other until I held his arms pinned to the floor. I'm a lot stronger than him, and he knows it.

He admitted defeat, and I released him. We got up again, both smiling.

"But you do admit infatuation, don't you?" he asked. "I've often wondered what maiden would be the first one to catch your fancy. Do tell me."

"I've admitted no such thing," I said. "And I'd rather not talk about it at all for the next three days, if you don't mind."

He reached out for my mind, and I made myself unwilling to let him read my thoughts. He became very serious.

"Nolofinwë, if you're in real trouble with Fëanáro, I beg you to tell me," he said. "If you've done something to make him give you that look today, and you're to face the consequences in three days from now, I want to know well in advance. I'm willing to act as a go-between if you need one."

I felt like a whole flock of sheep.

"It's very good of you," I said. "But it's got nothing to do with Fëanáro. It's - oh, I'd better admit it then. You're right. It is about a maiden. But I'm not sure that infatuation is the right word for it. I always thought that that was about fancying someone and trying to work out whether it was anything serious or not. This is very different. The reason I asked you to wait for three days, is that the day after tomorrow, I'm taking her to meet father and mother. And I would have wanted them to be the first people to know."

"And I blew that?" Arafinwë said gently. "So this is the real thing, then? You just suddenly knew - like when father met mother? Love at first sight? A meeting of the fëar?"

"Not quite like that, but very similar," I admitted. "Look, I'll tell you more after she's met father and mother. And don't tell the girls."

He promised. Then something seemed to strike him.

"I wonder ..." he said. "Could it be that artist they said you had spoken to at the market the other day? I didn't take any notice then - you know how it is with us these days, if a maiden in the market is so nervous she takes more than her usual time to count our change, it is the news of the city for days. But might it be her? Making pottery and sculptures, they said."

"Statuettes rather than sculptures," I said. "And - yes, it's her. She's rather good at what she's doing."

"Then I hope the girls won't mind," he said. "They've been going on and on about princesses and noble ladies. And I take it from what was said, that this maiden is not a lady."

"Not yet," I said.

So now I have an appointment with Arafinwë for when Anairë has been presented to father and mother. Perhaps she can meet him as well, and tell him herself. Although I think that meeting father and mother will be enough for her in one day. There will be time for her later to meet my brother. And he will want to hear my version anyway.

Good night, my love. I'm sorry if I was disturbing you in your work. But I love you so. I'll try to be more patient. It will only be two days before I can see you again.

And hold your hands.


Never in my life have I worked so hard on one piece of pottery!

Yesterday I must have restarted Princess Findis's vase ten times before I got the shape that I wanted. Perhaps I am being a bit hard on myself, but I want it to be perfect. I want her to like it. I want him to like it, and to think well of me. And I want this gift to his sister to show him how much I love him.

Although I wonder if there is anything at all that could possibly do that, anything that I could ever give him that could begin to express my love for him. I still feel so entirely unworthy of him. I know that this was meant to be, even ordained by Ilúvatar, perhaps, but I cannot help but wonder if he is dissapointed that the I am but a poor Noldor maiden, instead of a lovely Vanyar or Telerin princess. He does not seem to be, yet still I wonder.

It is a strange feeling, no longer being alone. Solitude was a state I had always expected for myself, and I never thought I would experience the wonder of always having someone there to fall back on. Yesterday, when I was frustrated with my vase, thinking I should never get it right, I felt his touch, like soft, whispery comfort, and found the strength and calm I needed to begin again. He is there. He will always be there, a part of me, connected to my fëa, as if Eru had made our fëar as one. Perhaps that is what He did? Perhaps, at the beginning of time, each fëa was divided into two, and cast into Arda, and it is our purpose in life to find the other half? Perhaps it is a silly story in truth, but I must say that to me it feels true.

This afternoon, I was working dilligently in my studio when he reached out to me, and in our conversation, I could not help but laugh. I chastised him - only half meaning it - and his half-meant apology left me bubbling with joy and giggling softly.

Unfortunately, at that moment, Raimë entered my studio.

'Anairë?' she asked, the suprise evident in her voice. 'Were you laughing? You never laugh.'

She looked around the room as if expecting to find the cause. I reddened. I had hoped to stay quiet on the issue until I had a chance to bring him here myself. Otherwise, I feared my family would never believe me.

'I -' There really was no point in lying. 'I was,' I said, hoping my sister would leave it at that.

No such luck.

'Why?' she asked. 'I don't see anything particularly amusing about your vase. It is pretty, of course - all your vases are - but not funny.'

She came and sat on the corner of my work desk.

'Actually, you have been acting quite odd lately, all together. Will you not share your feelings with me, Anairë? We are sisters, and I like to think we are close. And I share everything with you.'

It was true, Raimë had been my confident, and I hers, since we were children. I sat back in my chair, fiddling with a piece of clay so that I did not have to look at her. I found myself embarassed. Would she believe me, or think that I had lost my mind entirely?

'I...I will tell you, Raimë. But you must promise not to tell mother or father. I must do that myself, in my own way, in my own time.'

Raimë looked at me, a bit concerned, and took my hand in hers.

'Sister, is all well? You are not in trouble, or hurt in any way?'

'No!' I nearly cried, for nothing could have been further from the truth. 'Not at all, my dear, dear sister! All is well. All is more than well.' I could feel my face brighten as I said the next words. 'Sister, I am in love!'

'In love!?' Riamë said in shock, before returning my smile and squeezing my hand. 'But - but this is wonderful! Oh, Anairë, who is he? You must tell me everything! All the details! Does he love you in return?'

'He does,' I said with a smile, answering the easiest question first. 'Oh, Raimë, he does!' I said, my voice breaking. 'He loves me, and it is almost too much for me to bear!'

At that point, I realized that I had held this inside far too long - even though it had only been a day. My heart ached to tell the world, to shout it from the rooftops of Tirion.

'Then I suppose I shall soon lose another sister,' she said. 'But I am happy for you.' She took my other hand, so that she was clasping them both. 'But you have told me nothing, not even his name.'

'It is difficult, sister...' I said slowly. 'He is...' I paused, wondering how to tell her, and figuring the direct way was the best. The words rushed out. 'It is Prince Nolofinwë, Raimë. I know you shall not believe me, but it is true, it is. I have not lost my mind. I spoke to him yesterday at the market and he loves me, our fëar met, Raimë, and he loves me!'

I do not think Raimë could have looked more suprised if I had told her I was marrying one of the Valar.

'Prince Nolofinwë,' she said, almost in shock. 'King Finwë's son?'

'The very one.'


'I have been asking myself the same question, Raimë, and I don't think there is a good answer for it. But what matters is that he loves me, and I love him, and I have never been so happy!'

Raimë looked at me, still trying to absorb the news, but her smile brightened as she realized that I was telling the truth. I opened my mind to her, and her eyes softened.

'It is true. With all the maidens in Aman swooning over him, my dear sister has won the heart of Prince Nolofinwë!'

With that, she dropped my hands and pulled me into a tight embrace, her joy evident as she wiped a tear away.

'I am so happy, Anairë. I was always so sad to see you alone, and so angry to hear the things father said. About how you would never find a husband, and always saying that you were not as pretty as your other sisters. This will show him, it will! It will show him how wrong he was. You must let me be there when he finds out.'

Raimë embraced me again, and tears started streaming down my cheeks.

'This is proof that often the greatest joy comes unlooked for, is it not?' I asked, wiping my eyes. 'Oh, look at me! A watering pot again!' After I dried my eyes, I took her hands again and squeezed them.

'The day after tomorrow I must go to his house and deliver this vase to him. It is for his sister, for her birthday. And I shall meet his parents. And I think then he will ask me to marry him.'

Raimë squealed and embraced me.

'But you mustn't tell mother and father, do you hear? You must promise. Swear it, Raimë. Swear you won't tell.'

'I promise it, Anairë. I understand why you want to tell them yourself, and I would never do such a thing to you. Have faith in your sister's love, dearest.'

I embraced her again, tightly.

'But for now, sister, I must finish my vase. I have scant time, as it is.'

She embraced me once more, and left the room, but I did not worry that she would tell father anything. I knew that she would not.

And now, it is time to sleep. Tomorrow I must finish the vase, for I must have it in the kiln to bake by early evening, if it is to be done in time. I think I shall worry the whole time, and I doubt I shall sleep at all tomorrow night. What if it cracks in the kiln? I do not know what I shall do! Perhaps I should have made a second, just in case?

I feel Nolofinwë's soft touch.

All will be well.

The day after tomorrow I shall see him again, in person, and know again for certain that this is not just a dream. A dream! I could never have dreamed anything so perfect.

Ah, my love, you did not disturb me. You could never disturb me. But yes, patience is a virtue that you lack to some extent, I fear. I have a deep sense of forboding that it will someday be your downfall. But enough of dark thoughts; they do not belong here tonight. Rest now, dearest love, and let the weight of the world from your shoulders. I shall always help you carry your burdens.

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