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The Silence  by Aldwen

Even with hope it was neither swift, nor easy, and the light that the stars of Varda had rekindled in Nelyafinwë's eyes was faint and unsteady. His wounds healed, but the memory of torment and pain did not recede, if anything, it grew stronger. Yet my uncle bore it in silence. He never spoke of Angamando to anyone, not to his brothers, not to me or Aldanwë, and a cautious questioning my father and Tyelkormo once attempted at once threw him in rage.

"So you want to know what happens within the walls of Moringotto's fortress, my brothers?" His eyes glinted cold and hard. "Ask some Orc! You will learn nothing from me! I will not speak of that! I will not!"

Startled by his fierceness, they stammered some vague reply and left. I remained; the tasks that Aldanwë set for me oft kept me in the healers' tent for long whiles, and now too I could not leave amid my work despite I would have wanted to avoid witnessing my father being scolded by his eldest brother. There was awkward silence for a while, but then Nelyafinwë broke it.

"I regret, brother-son," he said, all anger now gone from his voice. "But there are things too evil to be spoken of. You would have nightmares, were you to know even a part of it."

"I already have nightmares, uncle." I shrugged my shoulders. "I have had them ever since we came here. Since Alqualondë. I am not questioning you," I added hastily, seeing him frown. "I merely… well, I merely want to say that you can speak to me, should you feel that it might help."

"Speaking will not erase the memories, Tyelperinquar," he quietly replied. "Nor will it make them less evil."

He then looked away and stared at the wall in silence, his eyes darkened. Grief and compassion smote me. From the sight of his injuries and tiny bits of his bearing I had put together some pieces of his captivity, enough to freeze my blood even without him speaking of that. Yet for my obstinacy I knew that I would never go back on my word. If he will speak, I will listen; and, indeed, could there be worse nightmares than those I already had?

A long while later Nelyafinwë turned towards me again.

"They say… they say that after I was brought back here, you broke into the healers' tent and refused to leave."

"Who says it?" I asked in surprise.

"Your father. Aldanwë too. But your father was the first to tell me that, and he was clearly proud that you did so."

I laughed, as warmth flooded my heart. For once, my father was proud of something I had done! But I did not want to deceive my uncle.

"That is not altogether how it was. I did not break into the tent. I entered calmly and only pushed Aldanwë aside when he stood in my way. But I apologized to him afterwards. And I did not refuse to go away. I asked leave to stay and to help and was granted that."

"Why did you stay? All my brothers, save Makalaurë, fled."

I shook my head.

"That too is true only in part. Aldanwë chased them out, for they were very distraught seeing you. The only difference between them and me is that they obeyed the healer's command at once while I did not."

"You did not. Why?" His deep grey eyes were questioning.

"I… I do not rightly know." I shrugged my shoulders and replied uncertainly. "I knew I had to stay. It seemed right. So, I stayed."

He looked at me long and closely, and his gaze was now sad.

"Some of your nightmares must be from that night."

"They are, but I do not care!" I shook my head fiercely.

A faint smile appeared on Nelyafinwë's lips.

"No, you certainly do not care." He agreed. Then he slowly reached out towards me. "Thank you, brother-son."

Deeply moved, I extended my hand too, and he lightly squeezed my fingers for a while, for less than a heartbeat, and yet I knew that this simple move must have taken great strength of will, far greater than his efforts to remain still and not recoil when someone touched him.

"Thank you, Tyelperinquar," he repeated, withdrawing his hand. "Thank you for staying." "I am glad I remained," I said. "But I was not the only one to aid Aldanwë then. Makalaurë was there, and Findekáno too, he stayed until next morning. He…" but then I fell silent as a shadow of anger passed over Nelyafinwë's face at the name of his cousin. With a sinking heart I recalled the words of our kinsman on that night – 'I wonder whether your uncle will thank me or curse me for bringing him back'. I feared the latter.

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