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Kintsugi

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When the news had come to her that her sons had attacked their own kin in Doriath, Nerdanel had taken down the portraits, had bundled the figures and studies she had made through the years into the cellar, where she did not have to look at them and imagine either the blood on their hands, or the swords through their hearts.

When she heard what had happened to the Havens of Sirion, she drank an entire bottle of wine alone, and then went down to the cellar with a sledgehammer.

The figures of her two eldest sons were made of fine marble. They shattered into uncountably many pieces.

The war came, and eventually was over.  The Enemy that Fëanor and his sons had sworn vengeance against was thrust into the void, yet all of them were gone and would not return.

Anairë and Eärwen came to the house together to tell her the news about her grandson: his hope, his torment and his fall.  There was no reason not to weep for him, and so she did, and afterwards, she went into the cellar to find a figure of him to stand in the hall.

She was moving the figure when she almost tripped on a fragment lying on the floor. It was a right hand wrought in marble.

She picked it up carefully, and wept over it for a while, there in the quiet dark under the empty watching eyes.  

*****

Her news of Middle-earth now came mostly from Finrod, who was always gathering news of his exiled sister, from exiles returned and from the watchers of the Master-stone in the tower of Avallónë that looked out into the distant east.  

The days when there might have been news of her children were long gone, and she had not enquired in time. But Finrod insisted on bringing her the news anyway. He made good company, so she did not object, though it all seemed a very long way away.

At last he came to tell her that Gorthaur, who had tormented him, had been brought to ruin and that his sister was at long last free to come home.

And then, a little later, that Nerdanel’s last living son had returned to Aman.

Maglor came; they wept and talked for a very long time, and he went away again with Finrod. He did not look like any of the statues in the cellar any more.  He looked strange; still utterly familiar but he moved differently, and something in his eyes was worn as a rock that meets the thundering waves.

Nerdanel took a lamp and went down to the cellar, where she swept up myriad shards of marble carefully into a sack and then took them to her workroom to sort through.

It was not so much a matter of mending as of remaking: mixing the dust with a mithril mortar, strong, light and shining. Melding together the broken sculpture into something new with all her art and all her skill, reflecting the shadows she saw following Maglor’s footsteps, the worn darkness and the light in his eyes, the spirits broken and remade by war and oath.

On their heads she placed crowns of flowers, but in the single hand of Maedhros, there was a drawn sword.

Next time they visited, Maglor turned away and kept his back to the figures all the time that he was there.

But Elrond looked at them for a long time. “Yes,” he said in the end. “Yes, you have caught them there perfectly.”