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The Steel  by Aldwen

Later, as the golden light of Laurelin is dimming but Telperion’s silver glow is growing brighter, I sit on the balcony, overgrown with blossoming vines. The fragrance of flowers fills the air, birds sing in the trees, and faint stars shimmer above through the veil of Treelight. Peace settles in my heart. I am glad I travelled to Formenos.

Suddenly there are steps and voices in the garden below. I can clearly see them from my place, both eldest sons of Fëanáro, as they sit down on a stone bench, enclosed by blooming roses. Curiosity, sparked by the exchange between the brothers during the meal, overcomes my embarrassment at eavesdropping, and I remain quietly sitting on the balcony, hidden, as I hope, by the carpet of creepers.

“Where have you been, Maitimo?” asks Makalaurë.

“There…” his brother replies with an uncertain wave of his hand. His voice is quiet, dreamy. “On the plains beyond the woodland. There the Treelight is faint, and stars glow large and bright in a sky of blue velvet. Their reflections fall in countless clear pools and shimmer on the surface of small rivulets that wind their way towards the lake. Cold and sweet are the waters of those streams, and the reeds on the waterside whisper tales of endless journeys, of searching and of finding.”

Maitimo falls silent, his gaze remote, his mind obviously still in the place from where he has just returned.

“It sounds like a beautiful place,” Makalaurë says after a while of silence, seemingly enchanted by his brother’s words. “Were you alone?” His voice is slightly teasing now.

“I…” Maitimo turns towards him abruptly, then sighs and shakes his head. “No. I was not alone.”

Makalaurë smiles. “I am glad you could share this beauty with someone… you love,” he says gently.

Embarrassment dawns on Maitimo’s face. “Does everyone know then?”

“Everyone, save the children and our parents,” replies Makalaurë. “Fear not, we shall keep your secret until you are yourself ready to reveal it.” He adds reassuringly, seeing the dismayed look in his brother’s eyes. “Even though we do not understand the secrecy from your part.”

“If I only knew she would be welcomed with kindness.” Maitimo lowers his head. “I do not speak of you, Makalaurë, or any of our brothers, or our mother. But… father loves the Vanyar little. He has spoken scornfully of Ingwë, their King. So…”

He falls silent with a sigh. Makalaurë rests his hand on his brother’s shoulder.

“Father may love the Vanyar little, but he loves you,” he says earnestly. “I cannot think of any reason why he would stand in the way of your happiness, Maitimo. Speak with him, and you shall see.”

Maitimo looks up at him and smiles uncertainly.

“I so wish to be with her,” he says after a while of silence. “To walk beside her, to see her beloved face whenever I wake. We wandered the starlit plains, brother, so far that the Treelight was distant and dim, but the stars of Varda shone bright and clear above our heads. The grass was long and soft, and golden flowers swayed on slender stems. Their blossoms I twined in her hair, and then we lay side by side in the grass and watched the sky. Yet I think I looked at her more than I looked at the stars.”

His words are quiet, but they come swiftly; his voice trembles a little, and I see his eyes shining in the growing silver light. He falls silent for a while, then speaks again hesitantly.

“Tell me, Makalaurë… how is it? How is it… to be wed?”

“Ai, Maitimo, how do I tell you that?” Makalaurë laughs, taking his brother’s hands. “For us, it has been like two themes intertwined in the same music, like verse and melody woven in the same song. It is surely something else for Curufinwë and Sílwen. Something different for Amil and Atar. It will be something other for you both.”

“I wish to learn that.” Maitimo’s voice is little more than a whisper.

“Very well.” Makalaurë rises from the bench and resolutely pulls his brother to his feet. “Then go speak with father. He should be in the smithy. I heard him say he would still work after the meal.”

Maitimo makes a few steps after him, but then stops abruptly, as if grasping the full meaning of his brother’s words in that moment.

“Makalaurë, no!” A slight note of terror enters his voice. “I cannot speak with him now!”

“Why not?” Makalaurë calmly asks.

“For… I have not thought of what to say…! Of the right words to convince him!”

“You need no other words than those you spoke to me,” replies Makalaurë. “Were you to tell him just that or even a part of that, the look on your face would be enough. This is as good a chance as any. Come, I shall accompany you to the smithy. Or…” He looks at his elder brother with narrowed eyes. “Is she not worth the effort?”

Maitimo accepts the challenge. He pulls himself straighter, and determination flickers in his gaze.

“Oh, she is,” he says firmly. “She most certainly is.”

With sure steps he leaves the garden, and his brother follows him. But ere disappearing behind the bend of the path, Makalaurë rises his face towards my balcony and sets his finger against his lips in a warning of silence. Then he smiles and waves his hand. Apparently, the cover of vines has not provided enough concealment.

I rise, enter the room and sit down on the bed fighting embarrassment and a faint sense of bitterness. I should feel joy for the happiness of my friend’s child. And yet, Maitimo’s words, the look in his eyes, the tremor in his voice… All that brings to my memory my own feelings but a short while ago. The silver glow welling through the window is dazzling, and I close my eyes. After a while I realize that my cheeks are wet with tears. I lay down and press my face into the pillow.

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