It was often said that my children took most after their father, long after all of them were gone, and always from those who hardly knew them; yet, had any of them known Fëanaro and I, they would have conceded to spreading lies.
Our first, three children were a perfect blend of the two of us, each in their own ways. Maitimo was tall like me, inherited the copper of my family, a voice like his grandfather’s Mathan, Fëanaro’s lips and nose. Macalaurë had his father slight build (for Fëanaro, who took after his father’s height, was always slender, even after years spent in the forge), my brown eyes, his father’s concentration and my more abstracts inspirations and, I was told, Miriel’s voice. Tyelkormo took his temper from him and his whole body from me: strong shoulders and arms, my jaw, my eyes, so that only his fair hair descended from his grandmother. All in all, there was much more from their paternal grandmother in each of my children than there ever was of Finwë.
Atarincë was different.
It was widely believed Fëanaro wanted many children, yet not many knew that he wasn’t keen to conceiving them. Not that he didn’t enjoy making love (he reveled in the union of our bodies and spirits) or that he didn’t want them, but he was ever afraid of the consequences, and would rather forfeit his own aspirations than risk my death in childbirth, as unlikely as it was. I, Nerdanel, was always the one who convinced him to try for another, even after Tyelkormo’s difficult birth, the only time when I was scared for my life.
Atarincë’s pregnancy was so easy, compared to bearing his big, tumultuous brother! I remember Fëanaro never leaving my side. He didn’t replace the apprentices who graduated. He surrendered his own works to come and labor on mine instead and, during the last weeks, when I was told by healers who refused to believe I felt very well to keep the bed, he moved to linguistics and drawing, and other pursuits that could be attended from our chambers. He was always here, with light but constant touches that sent warmth to my body; he, who slept sprawled all over the bed, curled against me, a hand on my belly, even when the flatness betrayed no child.
As the year went by and my belly rounded, I felt with a mother’s clarity that my child wasn’t taking much from me. It has been said that children draw on their mother’s spirit; that we, women, weaken with each child, until we can carry no more. Not so with Atarincë, who feed on my body, but never on my spirit, for his father (his father, who had this sole and only limitation: that of not having a womb to carry life in himself) gave more than he should have. Fëanaro it was who tired and dimmed, pouring his spirit into our child, all night long and every time he embraced me.
Fëanaro it was who collapsed at the birth, for even at the last moment he never stopped nourishing us. I was sore and tired, but the exhaustion went quickly and after three days of rest I was moving around and readying the boys’ packs, for my husband’s tiredness worried me, and I decided to send Maitimo, Macalaurë and Tyelkormo to live for some time an hour away, in my parent’s home.
And so I remained, alert and full of energy, alone with our sole servant, my baby son (my little spark of Fëanaro) and my ailing husband as he laid pale and slumbering in our bed, with Atarincë sleeping at his side. He stirred only when I took Atarincë away to feed or change, until he was strong enough to feed him himself from a bottle.
While Fëanaro’s “sickness” lasted, we had to endure Finwë in our life. We didn’t bar the door for the love of him, but I thought more than once that, king as he was, I should have. That a father should give so much to his child seemed unnatural to him (for were women not intended to carry and nourish children?), and seeing his firstborn bed ridden brought back Miriel’s painful memories. He brought healers to whom he forbid to speak of Fëanaro’s state, as if my husband was some kind of deviant who had brought this over himself and the kingdom couldn’t bear to hear about his divergent behavior, while Fëanaro listened to their silly counsels and nodded and threw all their medicine and counsels away as soon as they left our house.
“Three children we had before Atarincë, and never did we need anyone but your mother to counsel us! My father’s foolishness I can forgive, but theirs I cannot.”
Forgive he could, but endure, we couldn’t, and Finwë’s overbearing presence soon brought Fëanaro over the edge. I heard the shouting, terrible for the truth and cruelty in them, as Finwë once again hammered that fathers weren’t meant for such womanish nursing – Fëanaro snapping that without such misogynists, misguided nonsenses, noldorin women wouldn’t have to sacrifice their strength and mind and life to give birth.
Only one woman ever died bringing a child in Valinor – his own. And so Finwë left our home with his judgmental behavior, his healers and herbs, anger on his face that would later turn into grief, while Fëanaro’s festered into a gnawing culpability, until they met again at Atarincë’s essecarmë and all was buried down in the face of Fëanaro’s complete recovery.
I named our child Atarincë (little father), even before he was born, for he was, truly, a shard of Fëanaro growing into his own person. Most children are privately named before birth by their father, for the sake of practicability, even if this name is often revealed to the public at the essecarmë, a few weeks or months after birth, while mother names may follow only years later. With Atarincë, as in much things, Fëanaro was ever more a mother than a father, and took months trying names after names until foreboding came and he settled for his own.
Some said, with little empathy, that Fëanaro named his fourth child Curufinwë as a show of arrogance, although he hesitated for a long time until it became evident for both of us that his child (always strapped to his chest until he was almost two years old, as if Fëanaro tried to fill the gap of not having carried him in his ever flat, empty belly) was almost a part of him, that part that Fëanaro had almost forfeited to bring him into this world.
It was said Atarincë was his favorite and that there was a companionship between them that never was between Fëanaro and his other children, but how couldn’t it be? For almost two years, my husband, weakened in body and mind, burdened also with the baby sleeping against his heart, spent all his time at his desk, sleeping or resting in the light of Laurelin, nursing our child in his arm in the old rocking chair I used to feed our other children in. For all his life he had been energetic, always crafting or running or arguing, and now his calmer state made his world smaller, concentrated on all of our children (not only Atarincë), until his little one was old enough to sit calmly in his workshop. From then on, until his death and apart from the Silmarils, Fëanaro always envisioned craft, lore and life with the other part of himself at his side.
Fëanaro could have lived happily with no more children at this point. Even after his recovery, he was never as eager, and I was usually the one to prompt our lovemaking. Carnistir was sired almost without him, for he gave only the spark that started the fire, and, still drained as he was after Atarincë’s birth, my husband lacked the strength of will to pour anything more of himself. Indeed, Carnistir is all mine: tall, broad shouldered, with a dark skin dotted with freckles, brown eyes, my voice.
I wanted more. Maitimo had grown into adulthood and moved in Tirion with Macalaurë, and their absence in the house awaken anew the desire to be a mother. Not so for Fëanaro. He was deep in his own studies at the time, in the lasts steps of completing the Silmarils, a task that brought him no joy but appeased somehow his anxieties. Eldarin mothers are believed to possess the gift of foresight, and though he never talked about such gifts (for fear of being labelled as womanish), I knew Fëanaro had developed them while he nursed Atarincë. He was starting to feel that Light would come to an end, even if he didn’t know it would. Had he known of later events, he would have forfeited Light for a world of eternal darkness rather than doom his sons, but such is foresight: the bits awarded to us never solve the whole equation.
The twins were all mine again, born almost against Fëanaro’s will, and though I would have readily tried for a daughter (or for a son; for I was tireless before the Darkening, and could have dreamed of many more), he refused. Enough. Even when all he did was sleep by my side, each child took a little bit of him away, from a part of him that Eru must have intended to depart with our babes, and his was wholly gone with the Silmarils, the last of his children.
With my husband’s refusal and the crafting of the Silmarils begun the estrangement – for in them he had poured what could have been our daughters, and I couldn’t forgive him for this theft; always had we been equals in craft and thoughts and strengths, and I resented him for leaving me with a craving for children that he had forfeited for Light. I resented him for bringing my sons (sons I had nursed with my soul with hardly any part of his) with him (sons he didn’t even want) and leaving me alone and bereft.
They called him many names as time passed. Mad, cruel, fell and fiery – but none will ever erase the memory of my husband, pale, exhausted, sleeping with his eyes closed for the first time of his life yet more peaceful than he ever was, his Little Father curled onto his side; and to those who pretend the Silmarils were the chef d’oeuvre of his life, its turning point and defining moment, I would say: how blind of you.