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Displaying linked object fields in related lists

I have two custom objects, Meeting and Attendee, related with a link object, Attendance.
Meeting is the "master" and Attendance the "detail", with a lookup relationship to Attendee.
Attendee has "First Name" and "Last Name" fields that I want to appear in the Attendance
related list under a Meeting. However, in the Attendance page layout under Meeting,
I can only choose the Attendee "Name" standard field, which is an auto number.
I need to have separate first and last names for Attendee, and want to avoid putting
Attendee in the "detail" just so I can see the Attendee's first and last name in the related
list under Meeting. An Attendee can go to several meetings, so it's a many to many

What am I missing, or is this a limitation of using link objects?

This is a limit on using junction objects.
One workaround is to also store first and last name on the junction object, so you can expose them on the related list.
I am not sure from where are you creating the attendance record (from meeting or attendee) but if from the latter you can have a custom "add" button on attendee that invokes a new attendance page and primes the first and last name fields through the URL with the respective attendees first and last name.
The only downside is if the attendee changes their first or last name, the junction object information will be out of sync. But that is probably an edge case.