fadesintothewes (fadesintothewes) wrote in silwritersguild,


Title: Stargazing
Author: Fadesintothewest
Rating: General
Warnings: None
Summary: Posted for the International Day of Fanswork Challenge for prompt 39: A lesson learned. Fingon teaches his son about the stars. This chapter is from another story that wasn't necessarily all Silmfic and is not posted on SWG. I thought this fit the prompt perfectly so I decided to share it here.

“Atto, why do you look at the stars like that?

“Because stars are memory,”

Artanáro looked back up the stars, his mouth set in a thin line, standing on his tiptoes [1]. Fingon looked down at his son who was doggedly trying to listen to the song of the white glow above. Fingon laughed quietly, which earned him a glare from Artanáro who was trying his best to understand the tales the stars were supposed to be telling. Fingon cast his gaze back up to the night sky filled with the brilliance of the eleni. “You see the Valacirca,” Fingon pointed to a cluster of stars, returning to his earlier star gazing lesson before he drifted into memory.

“The Sickle of the Valar,” Artanáro repeated, identifying the constellation, “though it looks much more like a big ladle to me, but I like the Nandorin name better.” [2]

Fingon chuckled. Artanáro was a forthright child. “And what name is that?” Fingon inquired knowing the name.

“Big Bear,” Artanáro offered without taking his sight from the cluster of stars, “though the Big Bear has more stars than the Sickle.” Artanáro was an observant young elf, loved to learn, especially of the natural world, and he was tactile like his father, not wanting to just learn but to do and see and be a part of what unfolded around him.

“See the star at the beginning of the handle of the ladle?” Fingon continued his lesson, using Artanáro’s name for the Sickle. Artanáro shook his head, naming “Elemmírë,” one of the check stars of the Sickle, easily identifiable by all who looked to the night skies for guidance. Artanáro directed his attention to his father for a moment, “Why are we not using a telescope atto? Wouldn’t it make it easier to see them closer?” Though elf sight was far-reaching elven ingenuity desired for a more intimate glimpse of the stars. While many dispute its origins, the telescope was indeed an invention of Maedhros who used dwarven technology to create a device that allowed him to peer into the deep recesses of the universe [3].

“Of course it would yonya, but you will not always have a telescope out with you in the wilds will you?” Fingon replied, smoothing his son’s hair. “And a telescope will not aid us in what we endeavor to at this moment.”

“And what is that atto?”

“Why how to tell time of course!” Fingon answered looking up at the stars. “Have you noticed how Elemmírë has shifted her position as the hours pass?”

Artanáro nodded his head. “She moves the same distance every hour, like the distance you showed me on the triangle you drew earlier today.”

“Exactly,” Fingon replied, “and knowing this you can mark the passing of time.” The two stayed observing the night sky, Artanáro repeating the individual names of the stars that made up the Sickle: Nénar, Luinil, Megrez... The hours came and went, the stars moving on their slow path across the skies. Fingon continued his time telling lesson. “Do you see Nénar?” Fingon asked, knowing Nénar had disappeared behind the mountains in the distance.

“No,” Artanáro answered, turning to look at Fingon an excited smile on his face, “And the timing is the same for Luinil to hide as it will be for Megrez.”

“That’s very astute of you,” Fingon answered. “In this way too you can also mark time, observing the Ladle dip behind the cleft of the Mountain, noting which of the Ladle’s stars have disappeared,” Fingon paused, picking Artanáro up in his arms, leaning in close to breath in the scent of his son. “I like your idea of a ladle,” Fingon offered thoughtfully, looking back at the Sickle disappearing behind the cleft. It was these moments that Fingon committed to the stars, reverent of the time he shared with his son, knowing this too, like all he knew, was coming to an end. The High King understood Doom. At times he regretted bringing Artanáro into the world to suffer its darkness and the doom he and his kinsmen had wrought. Fingon had hoped that his child would be spared the damnation of his people, but alas, such desires were entirely foolish. Yet, he could not imagine a world without Artanáro in it. Fingon understood a father’s love was entirely selfish.

Time, Fingon thought of time, the banality of it, the marking of its passing the reminder of the inevitable descent of a once great people into the abyss. How he desired Artanáro would not be intimate with time, account for it, be marked by it. If only Artanáro could know the bliss of the timelessness that was Aman of old. But such thoughts were for not. Artanáro would never have existed in the supposed bliss of Aman. Fingon brought unrepentant memory to bear down on the wistful narrative of a supposed bliss that he had fallen into. Memory served Fingon well. He remembered.

Artanáro looked back up to the stars, a small wistful smile gracing his face. He enjoyed camping with his father. Since his grandfather had died, his father had little time for him. Artanáro sensed his father felt the same way, holding him close to him. Artanáro knew it had to do with the discussions his parents had about sending him away. Artanáro did not want to leave, but he understood, understood as best as a child understands that grows up under the constant shadow of war and death. Indeed, such a child’s mind is less child and more knowing of the world around him, and that is a tragedy for those who raise little ones under such circumstances.

Fingon whispered, his voice betraying a shadow of emotion. “You’ve seen the devices made by the Casari that mark time in twenty-four hour increments?” Fingon asked. Artanáro shook his head vigorously. He was fascinated with all things Casari. The dwarves were renowned craftspeople, inventing wondrous devices.

“While Elemmírë is visible in the night sky, we can also look to it to mark off the hour increments by its movement if you follow those angles I showed you earlier and judge the hour in the same way as the Casari clocks,” Fingon repeated himself, attempting to lift the fog of doubt that had descended on him. It seemed that all he loved was fated to extinguish itself like the stars that burned out in the skies above, never to shine again. The Sindar and other elves that did not complete the Journey held these stars high within their lore. They called them the faded lights, symbols of Arda’s end and the unknown end of the Quendi. A vision descended on Fingon in that moment of introspection: Artanáro, grown into adulthood, stood on a high plateau with a spear in his hand, the scene of battle before him. The symbol of the High King of the Noldor was emblazoned on Artanáro’s shield. Fingon’s breath shuddered. Though he did not have the foresight of Artanis, he was cursed with moments of foresight that held no promise. Fingon buried his face in his son’s hair, holding his son closer to him, hoping his son did not see him broken in sorrow.

Artanáro gently pried his father’s face away from him with his small hands. Fingon pulled back to observe this small child. Artanáro searched his face, wiping away his father’s tears. “I am not afraid of what the future holds Atto,” Artanáro’s brave little voice announced, wrapping his father’s braid around his hand. “Though we will be parted, I will see you again. Truly Atto I do not fear the future.”

“My love, my star,” Fingon responded, cupping his son’s face, looking reverently upon his little star. “You are my light.” Silently Fingon prayed, You are my promise. I will see you again. Fingon set Artanáro on the ground and sat on the cool grass, patting the spot next to him. “Now show me Wilwarin and I will show you how to tell time with the butterfly,” Fingon indicated, bringing Artanáro to sit in his lap explaining how the constellations above took different paths during the different seasons. The two stayed that way, talking, laughing looking at the night skies until the light of Anor touched their cheeks with the warmth of its light. A new dawn beckoned…

“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! We are not bound forever to the circles of this world, and beyond them is more than memory.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien

The end.


[1] I use Gil-Galad’s Quenya name thinking his father would, in private, speak Quenya to Gil-Galad, and thus use Gil-Galad’s Quenya name. Also, I am a firm Fingon is father of Gil-Galad kinda writer as I have lived with that version for so long. And I find it compels a richer narrative, more in line with what would have been expected of Fingon as High King,.

[2] The Sickle of the Valar, Valacirca is the Big Dipper [U.S.] or the Plough [U.K], part of the Ursa Major constellation referred to in many cultures as the Big Bear. Ursa Minor, or the Little Bear is the constellation with the Little Dipper.

[3] The names of the stars I borrow here are mostly in Quenya and I randomly assigned the names to correspond with the stars of the Big Dipper/Plough. Below are the Quenya names I used with their Western astronomical counterparts.
Nénar- Merak
Luinil- phecda
Megrez (actual star name/didn’t assign Quenya star name)

Tags: fingon, gil-galad, international fanworks day
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