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THE DOOMSMAN

PART 6

Fields of white as far as the eye could see were scarcely interrupted by the house.  It was built of marble in shades of white so pure it outshone the surrounding, untouched snow and a blue so pale it almost looked gray.  Its roof was woven in ilwë, blue air, now set with Varda's stars.  The only other color to the whitewashed world came from the multitude of birds flittering about awaiting instructions, but they on the whole were tinted in shades of brown.

Here was the house of Manwë, from which he watched all that could be seen within the world.  Here was the house of Varda, from which she listened to all that could be heard within the world.  Here was Oiolossë, the utmost tower of Taniquentil.*

Námo stood out as an odd fixture, violently dark against the sharp white of the world.  He left no footprints as he approached the imposing building; none who could reach this height ever did.  It left a neglected air to the structure. 

Within there was but one room, a daunting throne room seemingly encompassing more than the space available to it.  The thrones themselves were as tall as the hall, crafted from gold and starlight.  Sitting within, resplendent in robes of water silk and moss velvet were the lord and lady themselves.  In another place, in the presence of the younger races, they might diminish themselves from their glory so as not to overwhelm. 

Such was not the case for Námo.  Nor did he diminish himself either.  There was hardly any need.  Here, in this hall, with only the sky above their heads, the Valar could return to their truest form.  Here they were as they had been in His first thought, mighty, beautiful, terrifying.  No words of Men or Elves could describe them here, no thought ever known to the younger races could ever encompass the entirety, the truth of the Valar.

Often times they are said to be but spirits, but thought and shadow are a better description of their inner being.  Their existence was not defined by a moment, a place, a history.  Ideas, understandings flow between them like water, ever changing but ever the same substance.  Their manner of communication was as secret and unknowable as they were, but to listen to the outermost thread of the exchange one might find something elves would be familiar with.

"Welcome brother," Varda's voice greeted, her tone sharp and cold like starlight yet comforting all the same.  Námo nodded to her.

"Indeed you are well come, brother," Manwë said, his voice like the roar of wind.  Námo murmured an appropriate salutation. 

"Has Vairë sought counsel with you?" Námo began without preamble. 

"It is your office to speak with us, not hers," Varda said gently, her spirit cool and foreign to the Doomsman.  He hesitated momentarily, studying the waves of energy flowing from the Valië. 

"But you know of what she has foreseen?" he asked, a note of respect in his aura. 

"We know only that which you bring before us," Manwë said solemnly.  His spirit was one Námo was familiar with, having often puzzled out the Mystery together.  His soul rippled with great power, a mere shadow of the One's least thought.

"Yet you also are not surprised," Námo said without any kind of emotional involvement.  But Varda heard more than others and she actually laughed.

"Do not fret so, brother.  I guarantee that when Tulkas and Aulë learn of your new destiny, they will be appropriately surprised and skeptical.  You will have an ample opportunity to defend your love."

Námo startled at her words, his energy waves momentarily disrupted.  "I did not-"

"Perhaps not," Varda interrupted smoothly.  "But it is obvious that you are still uneasy."

"Indeed, my lady speaks true.  Why else would you be here?" Manwë said.

"You are my lord and lady, and set as guardians of the One's creation.  Such a change as mine would be something of interest to you.  It is only polite that I tell you," Námo said.

"We thank you for your consideration, but it is hardly the main reason you have come, my brother," Manwë said. 

"You make it sound as though your marriage will impede your ability to do your work," Varda said, correctly interpreting the undercurrents of uncertainty in the Doomsman.  As much as was natural for him, Námo bristled at her suggestion.

"I would never do anything that would keep me from my purpose," he said, his tone tinged with ice.

"We have never doubted this," Manwë soothed.  "It is only a reflection of your own doubts that you see." 

"Perhaps I originally had some . . . reservations, but now so now.  I have mediated and come to accept the new turn in my destiny," Námo said calmly.

"But not completely," Manwë Súlimo responded with quiet dignity. 

"Your soul is in much turmoil," Varda said gently. 

"I am told such is normal for . . . my condition," the Doomsman said.  Varda pressed her lips together to keep from smiling.  Fortunately her husband commanded Námo's attention and he did not notice her amusement.

"Oromë told you this?" Manwë asked.  Námo nodded.

"He would know best," Varda said calmly.  "You are wise to seek his counsel.  Indeed, in this matter only he could advise you." An agreeing pulse flowed from Manwë.

Námo said nothing, his soul like a black hole to his lord and lady.  

Varda and Manwë glanced at each other.  "You do not agree with his advice?" the lady asked, a frown on her beautiful face.

"That which he says, it is beyond me," Námo said softly. 

"Yet the fault is not with him," Varda said.

"Nor with you," Manwë reassured.

"If you came here seeking legitimization, the best you may receive is our own acceptance of your destiny.  But you should trust yourself before us.  If you came here seeking advice, the best we have to give is to seek out our brother Oromë.  He knows this destiny better than anyone," the Valië said.

"You are lucky to have his guidance.  He had no such direction to help him find his way, and it is great kindness on his part that he should open himself in order to aid you.  Not many others would do so," Manwë said. 

Námo nodded solemnly.

"As ever your wisdom shines brightly," he said calmly, knowing his audience was completed.  He bowed formally and then disappeared. 

The lord and lady remained silent for a long moment, each keeping their thoughts to themselves as was their wont after any interview with their peers. 

"You did not foresee this?" Varda broke the silence.

"This is the last thing I could ever conceive," her husband responded.  Knowing him as she did, Varda picked up on the subtle amusement flowing through him. 

"I should like to know exactly what advice Oromë has given our brother that he is so wary."

"Perhaps we should summon him," Manwë suggested.

"An excellent suggestion, my lord."

******

The sun's seeming mercilessness had driven Elladan and Námo into the shade of the woods.  As Námo never had any idea how to spend time relaxingly, it was once again up to the half-elf to decide what to do and where to go.  He chose a quiet walk on a seldom-used path that's heavy overgrowth provided constant shade. 

They strolled slowly, talking quietly in an attempt to learn more about each other.  Or rather Elladan was talking; Námo remained mysteriously aloof. 

"So that's how Elrohir and I managed to escape from the orc encampment and get home.  So we're actually very accomplished warriors.  The orcs you saw were, well, they weren't normal."

"I have never questioned your abilities as a warrior.  Indeed my brother speaks highly of your skills."

"Oh . . . well that's good," Elladan said.  They walked side by side, but neither looked at the other.  Námo's gaze remained steadfastly forward, though perhaps it would be better to say that he kept his attention inward.  Elladan's eyes were restless, darting in every direction, settling on nothing. 

"So, um, I was wondering . . ." the half-elf began quietly, his focus now on his feet.  "You talked about binding souls . . . when did you want to do that?" he asked hesitantly.

"It is already done," Námo said, a hint of surprise coloring his voice.

"It is?" Elladan asked incredulously, his head whipping around to scrutinize his partner.  The Doomsman also stopped and turned to give the conversation his complete attention.

"Of course it is.  We are meant to be with one another, which means our souls were bound to one another long before either of our conceptions.  Such is the way of the One's creations; He made two from one thus there is no unity until the souls find each other."

"But a Man may live happily with a spouse even after his first died," Elladan said.

"The gifts of Men are strange to us.  I do not know if they have soulmates as Elves do.  Ilúvatar keeps much about them secret."

"But I'm part Man, so maybe it isn't like you think."

"But you chose the elven kindred and so will follow their fate.  It was obviously Ilúvatar's will from the beginning if He bound your soul to mine."

"Or maybe He didn't know what would happen which was why He never told you of your destiny," Elladan said nonchalantly.  The half-elf knew this was a sure-fire way to get under the Vala's skin.

"I highly doubt that, though I realize it is difficult for you to appreciate the depth of his understanding," Námo said with what was obviously supposed to be generosity.  Elladan looked away, hiding his smirk.

"Oh, I'm sure that's it.  Anyway . . . you're sure that we're already bound."

"Yes, of course.  You have already acknowledged the bond within yourself; surely you feel it.  Why do you ask?"

"Oh, I was wondering about a wedding."

"A wedding?" Námo asked, clearly startled.  "Do you want such a thing?" He tried to peer into Elladan's eyes, but the half-elf ducked his head and would not be seen.  A delicate blush spread to his eartips. 

"Well, I thought maybe mom would want one.  Besides, it's very unusual to just show up and say you're married without any kind of ceremony."

"Of course.  That is the way of elven courtship, is it not?  Forgive me for not remembering," Námo said with a negligent air.  "What were you thinking of?"

"Oh, nothing really.  I don't really want a wedding.  Just wanted to be sure you didn't either," Elladan said quickly.  Námo gave him a suspicious look.

"I find I am persuaded that a wedding may indeed be an appropriate action at this time," he said slowly, clearly weighing his words with care.  "Again I have thought only of my own kind.  Among my kindred, we are married, but among yours, we are not.  It was arrogant of me to presume that the way of my people would outweigh your own."

Elladan startled at these words, looking vaguely troubled.  "Er, well, it's really alright.  You don't need to take it so hard.  It was just a thought."

"Indeed a very relevant thought, and you have not answered my question.  What would you want in way of a wedding?"

The half-elf shrugged, once again moving along the path.  "I don't know.  Suppose I liked what father's was like.  Erestor says it was real short, weren't that many people there.  I'd like that.  Short and simple.  Of course, Elrohir's wasn't like that, but then . . . well, Arwen's not here to make a fuss, is she?" he said softly. 

Námo glanced at his companion, feeling the pulse of sorrow and regret wash over him.  "Surely, your mother would like to see a grand wedding as she missed both of your siblings' ceremonies," he said hesitantly, wondering if his comment would soothe Elladan or make him feel worse.  Celebrían's attack was not unknown to the dark Vala nor the extreme reaction the twins had had to it.

Elladan did not respond at first, and Námo found he could not read his companion at all.  It was a jarring experience for him.  He was used to the dead, who had no flesh to hide themselves in.  Since the Valar can see beneath the flesh to the soul underneath, Námo had always assumed that it would be no different to study the subtle shift of spiritual waves in the living.  But that was not the case.  Perhaps it was the flesh, perhaps it was that they were not in his Halls, or perhaps the state of living was such that it controlled the soul differently than when they were dead, but Námo found Elladan was completely beyond him in this moment.

"Yeah, you're probably right.  Mother would be crushed if I didn't have a wedding.  It'd be the only one she'd get to attend," Elladan said, ripping Námo from his thoughts.  "Of course that means she'll be far worse than Arwen ever was."

Despite the heavy tone in which the words were said, Námo could hear the undercurrent of relief and joy in his companion.  It left him rather confused. 

"Perhaps you should leave the arrangements to her then, if it is to be for her that such a ceremony is held," Námo murmured, glancing at the half-elf.

"Sure.  There isn't anything you'd want, um, to have done at the wedding, is there?" Elladan asked.

"I can think of nothing," the Doomsman said solemnly.

"Well, alright.  I'll tell mother about it . . . but maybe in a few days," the half-elf added hesitantly, glancing at his companion with a look of uncertainty.  Námo returned his look, sensing some of his unrest.  It was still too soon for the half-elf.

"Yes, in a few days."

******

"This was such a lovely idea, Elrond," Celebrían said, sipping lemonade.

"Yes, I'm glad you finally finished this gazebo," Glorfindel added, refilling his own glass.

"Well, it's much too hot to do anything else," the half-elf responded, stretching out his long legs under the table.  The three old friends sat companionably around an intimate table built into the floor of the small gazebo.  The structure was painted in shades of blue with a flimsy roof that kept out the sun.  It was built on the water's edge, catching some of the cooler air.

"Where's Tauron?" Celebrían asked.

"He was summoned by one of his kin," Elrond answered smoothly.  "He should be back any time now."

"Do you know which of his kin?" Glorfindel asked lazily.

"It was Elbereth who summoned him, but that may mean nothing.  Tauron has told me she will often intervene between their kin.  I have no idea why."

"Best to remain ignorant," Celebrían said, patting his arm companionably.

"Indeed," a new voice entered into the conversation.  The three looked up to see Oromë climbing the few steps into the gazebo, Ronyo nipping at his heels. 

"Hello, beloved," Elrond said, accepting the quick kiss to his cheek from his husband before the larger man sat beside him.  A loose arm wrapped around his shoulders, but they did not lean together as it was too hot to be too close.

Glorfindel and Celebrían greeted the Vala kindly and Tauron nodded in response.  They all paused, listening to the large splash as Ronyo leapt into the river to cool himself off.

"So what did Elbereth want?" Celebrían asked curiously.  She could see a twinkle of amusement in the Hunter's cat-eyes.  Since Elrond had come to the Blessed Lands and they had all moved into Oromë's home, Celebrían had learned to read the Vala almost as well as she could her own husband.

"My lord and lady have just had a most interesting conversation with my brother Námo," Oromë said, taking Elrond's glass from his hand and sipping from it. 

"Námo?" Glorfindel asked warily.  He remembered the dark lord from his own days in Mandos.

Celebrían frowned.  "What has that to do with you?" she asked.

Oromë glanced at his husband and they exchanged a significant look.  Seeing it, Celebrían's eyes narrowed with suspicion.

"Well, in truth it does not have to do so much with me as it does Elladan," Oromë said slowly.

"Elladan!" Celebrían squeaked.

"It's not what you think," Elrond quickly said, knowing what his wife was thinking.

"No, indeed," Oromë quickly soothed, looking chagrined.  Gently he placed a comforting hand on Celebrían's slim arm.  "Nothing bad will happen to Elladan.  In fact something very wonderful is going to happen." 

Celebrían's frown deepened as she glanced questioningly at the Vala.  "What do you mean?"

"Well," Oromë began, once again looking to his husband for support.  "It seems that Námo and Elladan are destined for one another."

It seemed like the very air itself stopped moving in that instant.  No birds sang, no insects buzzed, no trees rustled.  Not even the burble of the river or the slow strokes of Ronyo swimming.  And then:

"Hahahahahahahahaha*snort*hahahahahahahaha!" Glorfindel's face turned a bright scarlet as he struggled to draw breath around his helpless laughter.  He clutched his sides, losing his balance and sliding off his seat to the grass.

Celebrían huffed, any gravity to the situation completely lost.  "Are you quite through?" she demanded, which only caused Glorfindel to laugh harder.  Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared at the warrior. 

Oromë and Elrond watched the two with amusement.  But both quickly hid their smiles when Celebrían turned her glare on them.  "Now what's this about my baby and the Vala of the Dead?" Her phrasing caused another fit of giggles from the golden elf. 

"Námo is destined for Elladan in the same manner as I was destined for Elrond," Oromë said solemnly, sharing a loving look with his husband.

"When did this start?  How long have they been courting?" Celebrían demanded.

"Well . . ." the Vala began, looking a little uncomfortable.  "I guess you could say a little under a week ago." He looked to Elrond for confirmation.

"How would I know?  You only told me about it two days ago," the half-elf grumbled.

"A week!" Celebrían exploded.  "They've been courting for a week and already they know they're 'destined' for each other?"

"Dearest calm down," Elrond said gently, reaching over to lay a hand on her arm.  Instantly she sagged a little, her face relaxing slightly.  Then, realizing what had happened, she jerked her arm around and gave her husband a half-annoyed glare. 

"There is no reason to be alarmed," Oromë said soothingly, his voice as dark as a lion's purr.  "You can be assured that, despite the brief time they've been together, their love is true and they are indeed soulmates."

"No one can know that after a week; I don't care what you say," Celebrían said stubbornly.  Oromë opened his mouth to respond but was stayed by Elrond, who placed a hand on his corded forearm.

"You are absolutely correct, my dear, and I fear we have misrepresented what has happened here," the half-elf said quickly.  Celebrían gave her husband a suspicious look but let him continue uninterrupted.  "It is true that Mandos has only been courting Elladan for a few days, but their affection for each other has been plaguing both of them for several centuries."

"What do you mean?" the lady asked cautiously. 

"Námo was one of those who helped me rescue Elladan," Oromë said, a silent conversation going on between himself and his husband allowing them to know the direction the other was going in.  But Oromë was wary all the same.  Celebrían had been very distraught when she learned about Elrond and the twins' abductions.  It was still a rather painful topic for her, bringing back her own torture at the hands of orcs.

As expected Celebrían paled slightly, her whole demeanor shifting.  Elrond had spent a lot of time in the last few years coaxing her to health, but sometimes the constant support of her family was not enough and her old fears assailed her anew.  Even Glorfindel stopped chortling, sensing the tension in the air.  Elrond quickly continued, trying to divert his wife.

"Even right after their rescue, all Elladan could think about was Mandos.  And it has continued to be a source of distraction for him ever since."

"You mean that's why he's been so pale and quiet since he's been here?" Celebrían asked compassionately.  "I thought he was unhappy with Elrohir's marriage."

"No, nothing like that," Elrond reassured.  "I don't believe Elladan has ever had a problem with his brother's marriage.  If anything, Elrohir's happiness highlighted his own loneliness.  But now he has obtained the object of his affection.  We should be happy for him."

"Well, I suppose, when you put it that way.  But why hasn't he said anything to us?"

"Well it has only been a week.  But I'm sure we'll hear something soon.  You must admit, my love, Elladan is not known for taking things slow," Elrond said.  Celebrían smirked.

"No indeed.  But wait.  I thought Mandos was married already to . . . what was her name?"

"Vairë," Oromë supplied, feeling a little sorry for his sister.  Perhaps a more active role in the affairs of the younger races would gain her a little more respect.  "You needn't worry on that score.  Vairë has voluntarily given up her right to Námo, and even steered him in Elladan's direction."

"Really?  Hmm, I hope that does not mean there is something . . . wanting in my future son-in-law," Celebrían said, which caused another snort of laughter from Glorfindel.  A sharp look from his lady stopped him mid-snort, which caused much sputtering, coughing and hacking.

"I would not worry, my lady," Oromë said in his darkest purr.  "You will shape him up in no time."

"Indeed, Celebrían.  You'll sniff out the problems in a day and hammer the Lord of the Mandos into a perfect husband for your son," Glorfindel said, still a little breathless with mirth.  Celebrían snorted, but there was a light in her eyes that reminded Elrond of Galadriel at her most devious. 

Námo better watch out.

NEXT

        *Direct Quote from the Book of Lost Tales 1

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