(Arafinwë’s Palace in Tirion)
On an evening two months after her arrival in Tirion, Indis sat with her two living children, and two of her four living grandchildren. Upon his restoration to life, Turgon had joined Elenwë, who dwelled with her kin in Valmar. Idril and Tuor also spent much of their time in Valmar with her parents, but all four had come to Tirion to greet Artanis and Elrond. Indis savored the delicious joy of the reunions and first meetings that occurred in the royal palace in Tirion. Save the joy she had felt at the births of each of her children, Indis could not recall ever feeling so happy in that house.
After Elrond had been in Tirion for six weeks, in the delighted bosom of his extended family, he had retreated with Celebrian to a seaside cottage for some time alone after their long separation. Celebrian’s happiness at having her husband at her side once more had been tainted by sadness, upon learning that she would never again see her beloved daughter. Soon after Elrond and Celebrian departed, Turgon and Elenwë returned to Valmar, with Idril and Tuor.
So Indis sat that evening in the company of Arafin and Eärwen, Artanis – Galadriel, Indis reminded herself – Findaráto and Amarië, and Findis. Eärwen perched on a window-seat, behind Galadriel’s cushioned stool, as she lovingly combed and braided her daughter’s beautiful tresses. Findaráto, whom Indis often called by his mother-name, Ingoldo, somewhat absently strummed a small harp, with Amarïe sitting close to him on the same bench. Findis sat in the far corner of the room, gazing out a window to look over the city at twilight. Arafinwë was seated at a small table, reading a letter.
Her family. At least, what remained of it. Would she ever see Nolofinwë again? What of her beautiful daughter, Lalwen, or Lalwen’s brave, noble son? What of bold Fingon, or willful Aredhel, who had inherited her grandmother’s penchant for wandering alone? What of Angrod and Aegnor?
What of her husband? Would she ever see Finwë again? … Did she want to?
Indis shook her head. Findaráto had been restored to life, as had Turgon (and Elenwë, too), but two of her children, and four of her grandchildren remained in Námo’s hall. Another grandson remained in the East, perhaps never to return to Aman.
Anairë had been waiting for three ages for Nolofinwë to return to her. Indis’s son had not turned to evil when alive, yet for some reason Námo did not deem him ready to return to life. Was that because nothing had been resolved in his absence, so that he would be returning to the same problems that had plagued him in his earlier life?
Fëanáro was gone too, but never forgotten. Finwë, who had never taken up a weapon against any of the Eldar, and had been murdered by one of the Valar’s own, still remained in Námo’s hall. Because, even in death, he would not be separated from his best-loved son? Indis could only guess.
But if so, could that unhappy knowledge doom poor Nolofin to remain unhoused as well, if he could never be reconciled to his father’s preference for his half-brother? Indis did not know that, either, but it was a troubling possibility.
Indis stared out the window at the evening sky, lost in thought. Findis had long ago guessed that the break between her parents involved more than Finwë’s reactive support of Fëanáro, but mother and daughter had never spoken of it. Though they were very close and shared many of their thoughts with each other, Finwë’s desertion of his wife, his death, and his prolonged stay in Mandos had never been discussed between them.
Indis suspected that this issue lay behind Findis’s own choice to never wed, despite the interest that many elves, both Vanyar and Noldor, had shown over the years. This too Indis had never discussed with her daughter. No uncomfortable questions … just resignation and hurts tended in silence.
Indis closed her eyes, and let her most painful memory emerge into full consciousness. She had stormed after Finwë into their bedroom, as he was preparing to follow Fëanáro into exile. She was outraged, seething, “you would rather let Fëanáro tear apart your family and your people, and incur the wrath of the Valar themselves, than to tell your son what any sane person would know already – that his mother was too selfish and too careless of her responsibilities to stay with him, and with you? Nolofin is not to blame for Fëanáro’s woes, nor am I, yet you have allowed his hatred for me and for our children to fester to the point where he has threatened our son’s life! And you worry that Manwë has unkinged you? I cannot fathom such cowardice in you! I cannot believe you are taking the side of that arrogant, hateful brat over your other children, who have never been anything but loyal and kind to you and to our people!”
Finwë had regarded her sadly, and hesitated before responding. “I have never tried to correct Fëanáro’s beliefs about his mother, because I could never lie to my son. But I also cannot bear to tell him the truth."
"What are you saying ..." Indis had replied hotly, but Finwë interrupted her quietly.
“I must ask your forgiveness, my love, for so many things. I have not made this easy for you, or for our children. But when you ask me to tell Fëanáro the truth about why Míriel refused to return to life, why she agreed to remain in Mandos, you do not know what truth you are asking me to tell. For in fact, it was not Míriel’s wish to stay forever within those halls. In time she would have returned to life.”
Indis started a bit, momentarily pulled out of the current of her memory, and again shook her head. Even after so many years, the pain of that conversation still stabbed at her heart, as if it were happening in that moment. She usually did not allow herself to dwell on it, but this time she closed her eyes and returned to the past.
Finwë had continued, “it did not seem that she would return to life when I visited her in Loríen, when I wept for her and called out to her. She seemed to be truly lost to me. I knew that her stubborn nature would keep her away the more I beseeched her. Yet … I could not help myself, I was so bereft without her at my side. I continued to beg her to return. … I was too consumed by my own turmoil and my worry for our son to think clearly, to see that I was actually pushing Míriel farther away by hounding her to return.
“Indis, it seemed impossible, for without her I was awash in grief and unable to contemplate carrying on with my own life, yet as long as I waited impatiently for her return, she would not come. …”
Indis had interrupted Finwë at that point. “Forgive me, my lord husband, but I am well aware of these facts, and this hardly seems like the right time to recount how pained you were when Míriel abandoned her life.”
“Yes, I know that you know all of this, and I beg for a bit of patience so that I can tell you in full what I should have told you long ago,” Finwë replied. With a short nod from Indis, he continued. “You also know that I wanted a family with many children so badly. I wanted to be a father, to teach my children and delight in them. I wanted a wife to share in my satisfaction. I wanted Fëanáro to have siblings. And I could not understand why Míriel was denying me this. She knew me so well, better than any other. She knew the inner workings of my heart and my desires. And she had shared them – or so I thought. I could not understand why she would leave me and our son.
“Fëanáro was growing quickly, and he was so bright and strong. He asked about his mother constantly and more than once he left the house determined to find her. I was convinced that Míriel must return immediately. But she did not.
“And then I met you, my dear, and somehow you reached through the fog of panic and pain that separated me from my brethren, and I felt hope for the first time since Míriel’s departure. I could have more children. Fëanáro could have a mother and brothers and sisters! You were so unlike Míriel, I knew that I need not fear that you would abandon your husband and child. I came quickly to love you, Indis, and you know that I do to this day. My grief eased a bit and my head cleared so that I saw a sure path before me, one that had been unthinkable before – to go forward without Míriel, to find happiness with another. With you, my love.”
This painful but familiar narrative was at the core of Indis and Finwë’s relationship, and it never failed to bring tears to both of their eyes. But this time Indis had remained dry-eyed, while Finwë, uncharacteristically, openly wept as he continued. “Do you remember when Manwë asked Míriel if she was willing to remain unhoused forever, so that you and I might wed?’”
“Yes,” Indis had answered, an increasing sense of unease rising within her. She resisted the urge to go to her husband’s side and offer comfort. “I could never forget that moment; I was filled with a dreadful anticipation, for it had seemed to me that any answer Míriel might give would bring some sadness to me.”
Finwë dropped his head into his hands, tears still freely flowing. “I had been able to sense when she entered the hall, and I sensed her weariness, but also the love and warmth that she still felt for me.
“‘Can you not be patient?’ she asked, to me alone.” Finwë faltered for a moment, before continuing. “And then Míriel discerned what was in my mind, my love for you, my plan to separate from her and join myself to you instead. In that instant I felt the warmth of her presence evaporate, and she cloaked her thoughts from me. She shut me out again, this time forever.”
Indis’s eyes were wide in dawning horror. “How could you? How could you go forward with your petition to the Valar knowing this?” she choked in a hoarse whisper.
Finwë was unable to meet Indis’s eyes as he continued. “At that moment I came very close to speaking up to rescind my petition, for I knew that in her hurt and her stubbornness Míriel would agree to something she did not want."
“And what of her love for you?” Indis’s voice was nearly inaudible.
At this Finwë raised his head, and mustered the courage to meet his wife's eyes. “Yes. You are correct, although I am so ashamed to admit this to you. Míriel abandoned her life forever, not just out of hurt and stubbornness, but also out of her love for me.”
Having revealed the worst, Finwë continued in a low voice, heavy with sadness. “But I did not speak up when I might have,” he said. “I had already argued so passionately for permission to wed you. Moreover, if I backed out there was no assurance that Míriel would ever return to life, and the Valar would not entertain a similar petition from me in the future.
“So I remained silent. And Míriel Serindë, my first love and my first wife, the mother of my first child, agreed to surrender her life so that I might continue mine with you. Until now I have never confessed this to anyone, not even you, my love. How could I ever admit this to Fëanáro?”
After she had stood frozen in shock for an endless moment, Indis found her voice again. “You cannot bear to lie to Fëanáro, but you did not hesitate to be dishonest with me! You have brought ruin and endless sorrow to your family, because you could not admit your weakness and betrayal of Míriel Serindë. It is well that you leave with Fëanáro, for I do not wish to see you again.”
With those bitter words, Indis had turned and left the room, before Finwë could reply. Two hours later he had departed Tirion, never to return.