A dreadfully belated birthday fic for Galad Estel: I hope you had a wonderful day, dear! :)

As ever, there are no words. My pen hovers over the sheet, a lone black bird above a snow-covered field, a field beautiful in its emptiness. I trace the runes in the air-Feanaro's runes-and make once again to place quill to paper, yet my hand stops itself. The pen hangs in the air, a lone black bird, frozen and dead.

What words are left to us, Finwë? cannot write even my husband's name; less, all that I ought to say. But are there words for him who chose his eldest at the last, chose Serinde's ghost over my own living arms? If there were words, would he deserve them?

I purse my lips and raise my head; a lock of golden hair falls into my face, faintly catching the silver Treelight pouring in through the window above my desk. The night grows late, but there is no sleep in me. Nonetheless I cannot sit here longer, keeping vigil over words unwritten. Another attempt, another failure. Another time, Finwë; another time, perhaps.

"Indis?" Nerdanel taps once (a hollow, lifeless tap) on my open door. "I see I am not waking you." I am relieved to hear a smile in her voice.

"Come in, daughter," I reply, scrambling to put away my sheet of stationery. It would do little good for her to see-

"Another attempt?" She has crossed the room to stand behind me; one calloused hand alights on my shoulder, the other on the page. There is only melancholy in her voice. "You know I will start it for you, whenever you wish. I would not see you so troubled."

"Thank you, dearest." I place my hand gingerly over hers on the desk, noting with chagrin how clean her jagged nails are, clean where they should be caked gray with the clay and stone and dust of her craft. "Yet you know I must do it myself, when the time comes."

"Will the time ever come?"

Her question dangles, and I glance up at her, smiling sadly. "I do not know," is my answer. "I do not know if there will ever be words fit to discuss what he has done." My voice catches against my will, emerges fragile as a porcelain doll. "What about yourself, Nerdanel? Will you and Fëanáro ever be reconciled?"

"Perhaps when he returns." She is weary. "Perhaps, if he has changed. Perhaps, if he will still have me. It is the reverse, between us, of your and the King's rift. It was my choice to remain behind, whereas it was Finwë's to go. Fëanáro bears little love toward those who will not stand by him."

"Or toward those who would, if he but let them." I rise from my seat, taking Nerdanel's hand to stand. "My sons have only ever sought his good." I smooth my skirt and sit down on the bed nearby, beckoning Nerdanel do likewise. She perches herself beside me, straightens the violet bedspread beneath her, and wraps her arms around her knees.

"He would refuse to believe that," she responds at last, quietly. "It was his victory, you know, when the King accompanied him. It will be his victory, too, if you and his father remain apart. This is all he ever wanted, what he has now: his father and his sons in the palm of his hand, a city of his own..."

"The only thing he lacks is the crown." Against my will, my tone grows caustic.

"And for that reason alone, I believe he will return when his banishment ends. To imagine Nolofinwe ruling, in even his father's stead, must chafe at the raw wound of his exile." Nerdanel folds her hands, shakes her head. "No, Indis, there will be no reconciliation for us, none that I can see. Yet should that sever you and the King?"

A forlorn silence settles over us as my response comes slowly. I take my daughter-in-law's hands in mine, trace the prominent blue veins with my thumbs. Looking her in the face, a pale, wan face framed with copper, I finally answer. "Not always," I whisper, but clear my throat to continue, "Only until one of us finds words."

"If you do not find words, will he?"

My eyes flit to my pen in its well, a lone black bird with its feet in dark blood, to the blank leaf of paper beneath it. Is it even for me to make amends? For me to outstretch the healing hand, I who have done no wrong? "Perhaps," I reflect, for the first time, "perhaps he will because I do not. Perhaps my silence will drive him to speak."

"What words, then, would you have him say? What would mend the rift between you?" Nerdanel squeezes my hands, then slips hers out from their clasp to gingerly caress my cheek.

"I would have him apologize." And the simple words tumble out, cracking as my mouth dries. "I would have him remember that Fëanáro is not his only son, that he is bound to Serinde no longer, and I would have him return to us." I sigh, an exhale like a falling feather. "But that is much to request of him to whom Fëanáro is life and breath."

She makes no real answer, merely purses her lips and places her arms around me in a firm embrace. "I am sorry," she breathes. "I am sorry."

I shut my eyes and permit silence to envelope us. Ah, Finwë- Inside I all but scream. Ah, Finwë, will you forever spurn my love? Will you forever forsake my light to chase a shadow? There are no words for him, no words but these, and they would avail nothing.

Tears prick my eyelids, threatening to spill out hot from beneath them. I swallow, inhale sharply. I will weep no more for Finwë; it has yet to do me good. I clasp Nerdanel tightly, then let my arms drop into my lap once more. "Thank you." The words splinter but do not break.