I. She stood alone for a long time after they were gone, battling her anger and her sorrow. It would be a long time waiting, and too little news, she knew. In fact, ultimately, it came too soon.
The world should have quaked, she thought, perfectly still as Arafinwë reached for her hands. No matter how gravely he had erred, the world should have trembled.
II. Her youngest died first.
Telvo had followed Pityo by only seconds into the world, but he had always been the gentlest of her sons, the most like her in nature. He'd lived the briefest time, and died first of all. The ships burned, and he burned with them.
Her beautiful red-haired boy. Ill-fated. She felt almost inconsolable.
III. Finrod returned with haunted, shadowed eyes and told her of a son who was lost, of treachery and a death too terrible to think on. She drew him into an embrace and whispered her apology to her nephew, who was always too good for the world.
"I will not mourn them when they fall," she said, in anger, and Finrod had sighed and turned his head away.
"I will, I think," he said quietly, and Nerdanel's heart twisted into knots.
IV. The next three fell like a hammerstroke, and she could only stare, gasping as if just hearing it knocked all the breath out of her lungs. All three dead, in one day – did they suffer? Who knew? – but they were all fallen, faded into the darkness. Celegorm who had been such a bright, living child, Curufin who had been so much like his father, and Caranthir, who she had loved dearly no matter how little he accepted it.
They said the ground in Doriath was turned muddy and red with all the blood. She didn't want to know, didn't want to feel. She went to Oromë's halls, and stroked the head of the great hound there, and wondered if he grieved.
All gone, forever.
V. Pityo died in the assault on the Havens.
She had thought she wouldn't be able to cry anymore, but she found them again for him. "Please," she remembered begging Fëanor, "Leave me my youngest sons, if nothing else. Let me have them, at least."
He had denied her, in his pride (arrogance) and glory, and they had left without looking back.
Pityo had died fighting, said the word; it had taken three elves to cut him down.
VI. Maedhros she didn't hear of for a long time.
She asked for word, often, of anyone she could find. But no one knew what had become of her two eldest sons. They were alive, they were dead – and it was a very long time before anyone could tell her.
When she knew what had happened, Nerdanel retreated into herself, her eyes closed and her face covered in her hands. Her firstborn, fallen like a star into fire and ash. Indis came and sat by her, but didn't try to make her speak. She knew better than that.
VII. Maglor, she waited even longer for.
No one knew. No one had seen him since the last Silmaril was flung into the sea. He had simply – vanished, as if into thin air. My son, my singer-son, where are you? She asked the stars, but no one knew. It was as though, after a long time, he had never existed, except in legend.
Her grandson perished, and vanished into the darkness. Her niece Galadriel came home, and knew no more than she did.
She closed her eyes and tried to accept that he was gone.
Nerdanel knew she never would.