‘Maitimo, Maitimo, I missed you! Did you miss me?’
He looks quite startled at the question. I feel a lump rise in my throat.
‘You didn’t, did you?’
‘You’re jumping to conclusions, Findekano’, he says, quietly.
It doesn’t take me long to work out that although he looks positively dazzling—all decked out in finery for the all-royal occasion—he is feeling very uncomfortable, for reasons that have little to do with me. I guess another incident happened, as my mother calls them, one of those incidents that never get discussed. But nevertheless…!
He knows I’m disappointed. At dinner, he passes me the salt and an apologetic look.
‘…and then naturally Ecthelion had to take him up on it and—Maitimo, why are you smiling like that?’
‘I did miss you, Findekano. I missed you a great deal.’
‘Maitimo, it’s taken you a whole day to answer that question!’
‘I know. Sometimes I’m a little slow. Is it too late now?’
He’s looking as if he thinks that might really be the case. Sometimes, he is a little strange. How could it be too late?
‘Of course it isn’t!’
He’s wearing his plain copper circlet today. He is good-looking enough to carry off wearing his father’s handiwork, but I think he looks even better without half the contents of a jewellery shop in his hair.
He laughs as I pull him down the street.
He’s only just reached the bottom of the steps when suddenly he stops and starts dashing up them again. There’s something he’s forgotten to pack? No. We’ve made our farewells already, but here he comes, swooping down to pull me into one last hug.
‘Sometimes I’m just a little slow, cousin’, he whispers. ‘Remember, will you?’
I hadn’t realized it bothered him still.
‘I will, Maitimo!’, I promise.
Over his shoulder, I see Uncle Feanaro impatiently tapping his foot at the bottom of the stair. So maybe it’s not entirely noble of me—but for once it is not me who is being kept waiting.
It feels good.