The last refuge of the Valar lay south of the Mountains of Valinor. A vast garden, sprawling and twisting almost to the charred ruins of the White Tree, created a labyrinth of yewtrees, cedars, and pines. In the days of the two trees, Telperion cast its silver rays over the sleepy garden, lighting it strangely. Now the light of those days seemed caught in the very bark of the drowsy vegetation, slowly fading away as the years passed. A heavy mist swam through the air like a slow moving river, sweeping low over deep pools surrounded on all sides by low-boughed pines. On the vapor hung a heady fragrance, heavy with the weight of dreams.
Glowworms crept around the borders of
the pools, competing with the sparkling light of Varda's stars placed deep
within the water. At dusk
poppies glowed redly amongst those the Gods called fumellar the
flowers of sleep, and Lórien used them much in his enchantments.
Amidst all of this was set within a ring of shadowy cypress
towering high that deep vat Silindrin.
It lay in a bed of pearls, and its surface unbroken was shot with
silver flickerings, and the shadows of the trees lay on it, and the
Mountains of Valinor could see their faces mirrored there.
Other fountains flowed abundantly
throughout the Gardens, where many drew refreshment while listening to the
soft strains of sleepy nightingales, and the chorus of uncounted ainur.
At night, Estë the Gentle joined her voice to theirs, appearing on
the shores of the tree-shadowed lake Lórellin from the island she reposed
on during the day.*
Námo walked the shadowed paths slowly. Barring his own Halls, there was nowhere more familiar to him. Uncounted hours, years perhaps, had been spent here with his closest brother, though that was a bit of a misnomer since the cool Doomsman was not really close to anyone.
But Irmo's domain was not dissimilar
to Námo's own, and when appropriate, souls passed from Lórien to Mandos
and back as was necessary for them. They
permeated the air here, strengthening the otherworldliness of this place.
Mandos seemed haunted by its emptiness, but only because Elves
could not sense their dead, and the dead sensed nothing without direction.
But in Lórien there was a ghostly touch to the air, a sense of
being watched by unseen eyes. Strange
sounds would creep upon the subconscious, the temperature fluctuating as
though invisible hands passed over the unwary sojourner.
Námo had never noted such things
before. As a Vala he knew
exactly where each soul was, and could speak to them with ease.
He knew what they searched for, and sought to comfort and soothe
their restlessness. But now
their ghostly presence caused gooseflesh to form on his arms and
shoulders. He wasn't afraid
but he did note for the first time the chill effect the dead could cause,
even when occupied solely on their own affairs.
Námo knew this to be his fiancé's reaction to this place, not his
own, and he wondered anew at the strength of their bond that he could
physically respond to how Elladan would act if he were here.
The Judge of the Valar walked
leisurely through the tangled overgrown 'garden', looking at the familiar
world with new eyes. He
meandered leisurely, which was unlike him but he knew his brother would
not notice. Irmo had even
less sense of the passage of time than did Námo when in the Void.
He would not notice that Námo had not come directly to him after
making himself known as was his wont.
Not that Irmo would mind; his Garden was always open to his
brethren, though he jealously kept his Mirror to himself.
But he would probably be shocked if Námo came here for the same
recreation as his kin. The
thought amused the Doomsman and carried him forward to his brother.
Námo found him where he always was.
Irmo knelt, straight-backed at the shore of Silindrin.
After Melkor had stolen the light of the Trees, Irmo had sunk the
vat into the earth, half covered by a cave.
Curtains of waterfalls shielded the far south, obscuring the Mirror
from that direction. Curiously
the cypress trees surrounding everything cast no reflection on the silver
surface, so there were only stars and mountains trapped in the water.
Námo stepped beside his brother, for
once acknowledging the honor that he was allowed to stand before the
silver pond. But his more
practical side quickly reminded him that the three who had power enough to
overcome Irmo's barriers were the three he so graciously allowed in.
And of course, the DreamMaster could not continue in wedded bliss
if he barred his wife from his treasure.
Námo gazed into the Mirror, watching
the shadowy collage of images that blended and blurred, twisting the
reflection of the mountains into a surreal landscape of possibilities.
For that was Irmo's realm, the domain of dreams, of imagination and
creativity. Vairë wove
images of what was and what would be, but there was no room for
speculation in her work.
Irmo's Mirror was the opposite; it
defied reality, focusing solely on what-ifs and maybes.
It was Irmo who gazed upon it and saw meaning, who applied the
theoretical to the practical of the moment.
Like a master vintner chooses the best grapes for the most superb
wine, Irmo chose those images best suited for a specific creature, crafted
them to fit, and sent them as dreams or visions.
He needed only the Doomsman's prophetic eyes to shape the future.
Námo had always been impressed that Irmo could turn such chaos
into a useful order. He had
never cared much for the Mirror, finding its power nonsensical and
unuseful. It was only Irmo's
skill, in Námo's mind, that had given it any justification for existence.
But now his thoughts spun anew as he watched the slowly drifting
images over the still face of water.
Elladan could imagine them together,
hope for an unreasonable chance that he might win the Doomsman's heart.
In Námo's experience with the dead, such illogical wishes only
caused pain and should therefore be avoided.
But Elladan's hope had come true, and Námo was beginning to
understand the value of hoping in vain, of having something to look
forward to, to strive for, even if it was never obtained.
He could feel a spark of Elladan's fire move within him that burned
with his fierce emotions, foremost his overwhelming joy that they were now
one. Námo could only shake
his head at what a rut he had been in and not even noticed.
He watched the water with more
fascination now, finally appreciating the purpose of possibilities.
It occurred to him that Irmo could not think of any of these
possibilities on his own, and how sad an idea that was.
No Valar pondered what could be.
They pondered what the truth of the future would be in those
few areas where their knowledge did not extend, they grieved over the
past, and looked at the present only as a stepping stone to tomorrow.
Only Oromë lived each day for itself.
Námo wondered if his brother dreamed, but he couldn't picture it.
However it did not seem like such a stretch to imagine the Hunter
sharing dreams with his husband, shedding his omniscience to fly on mental
wings while deep in sleep. Námo
was still adjusting to hearing Elladan's dreams, but so far he had felt
nothing unpleasant from them. They
seemed harmless enough, random and generally meaningless; the half-elf
remembered only half of them.
But though Elladan's dreams were gifts
from Irmo, the Vala of Dreams was not the only source of imagination.
For even as he crafted visions and sent them on their way, he also
shepherded the dreams and hopes that his maiar caught for him, pooling the
innate creativity of the younger races with his Mirror, something from
which it seemed to draw strength and inspiration.
But wishes and thoughts were too numerous for them all to be
caught; they were by nature wild and free, and Námo marveled anew at the
great wellspring that could create such abundance.
As Námo continued to gaze into the
Mirror, the images coalesced into the hazy shape of a woman, blurred along
the edges as if wrapped in mist. For
a moment she was still, as if painted there by an artist.
But slowly the outer lines shifted as if pulled by a nonexistent
ripple on the water's painted surface.
The woman moved gracefully with the current, spinning and gliding
to the music only she could hear.
Except. . .
Now that he thought about it, a faint
song echoed on the breeze. Námo
closed his eyes as the familiarly haunting melody played in his ears.
For all the fact that the Doomsman was incapable of imagining,
there was nothing restraining him from remembering, and memories could be
just as potent as any dream or vision.
In all of his long years, even before Time itself, only one thing
had ever truly haunted Námo.
It wasn't as though it had been a
surprise. He had known all
along that she would come in search of her dead lover, and he grieved with
her as he did all the others who suffered in his Halls.
Námo had known she would try to sway him, but that was not
unusual. Many did not wish to
give up living, and though it was hard to bear their anger and pain at
their deaths, at least their will to live gave hope that their souls might
be healed and they could be reborn, which was the ultimate success in the
But her petition . . .
He could still hear the haunting notes
in her song, feel the soul deep grief that was not solely her own.
It had not really even been sung for him, but rather was simply as
an outlet for a pain too deep to keep inside.
Námo had known too that her song would cause him to seek out Manwë,
but that did nothing to prepare him for the sheer depth of her music.
It resonated within him even to this day, like a bug beneath his
skin constantly crawling about, some places easier to ignore than others.
The Doomsman had never felt the
perfection of sorrow as he did in that moment, and it seemed to him then
that Eru had sent the embodiment of that emotion down from the heavens in
the hope of alleviating it from His children, the closest to a flight of
fancy the dark Vala had ever had. It
was still debatable in Námo's mind as to the effectiveness of his
Father's actions in this matter, but all strands had yet to be woven, and
he reserved judgment until he saw the Final Design.
As the music spun around him, Námo's
natural honesty made him wonder about the irony that now he was wedding a
descendant of the only creature for whom he had petitioned a change to its
very nature. Had he
subconsciously sensed this fate then?
If he had, it made his actions then far more self-serving than they
had otherwise been, a thought he was uncomfortable with.
Nor was he comfortable thinking that had he not, Elladan would
never have been born and he would never have known him.
But the Doomsman's reflection of the
matter was cut short.
"Always the same,"
Irmo said unexpectedly, his voice a lazy drawl. Námo turned to look at his brother. The Vala of Dreams looked at him through glazed eyes
half-lidded with the weight of sleep.
He had silver-white hair that fell like a waterfall behind him,
accentuating his absurdly tall ears.
And though his robes were always perfectly pressed, he gave off the
air of something dusty and rarely used.
He seldom moved, and when he did it was with a slowness even the
Ents would marvel at, as if his limbs were too heavy for him.
"Does it never tire you to
always brood on the same thing?" Irmo asked, his eyes rolling
back into his head before popping open again.
"The lessons Lúthian Tinúviel
taught are well worth remembering," Námo replied coolly, as he
always did. This was not a
new conversation of theirs.
They lapsed into silence.
Námo continued to look in the Mirror, waiting for Irmo's
attention. It might have been
hours later by Elvish reckoning when Irmo shifted his chin in the
"Something is different,"
he thought, eyes closed. Námo
turned his attention from the Mirror to his brother but otherwise did not
react to the statement. He
watched as the DreamMaster's baby face wrinkled into an unaccustomed
"Something is different with
you," Irmo clarified, cocking his head further as he listened to
the illusive strands of the Doomsman's song.
Námo bore the scrutiny unmoved.
"Indeed," the other Vala said, his eyes opening
and pinning his brother with a hard stare.
"Something very different."
There was a hard edge to his tone.
Námo cocked his own head to the side as he listened in turn to
Irmo's soul. It felt almost
hostile, which startled the Doomsman.
He had not known his brother capable of such an emotion.
He watched, as if distanced from himself, as Irmo slowly got to his
feet. Námo wondered if he
should be alarmed. Irmo narrowed his eyes, for once sharp with attention, as he
scrutinized every part of the Doomsman.
Despite his unease at the odd behavior
his brother was exhibiting, Námo did not hide himself, but nor did he
leave himself bare. He kept
quiet, his soul as shielded as it ever was, but only for his own comfort.
"I see a new chord linked
deeply with your own, a new . . . bond."
The moment he said the words, the realization hitting him, Irmo's
eyes went comically wide. "You
have bonded again?" the DreamMaster demanded, looking completely
torn by what to feel. Námo
caught a whirlwind from Irmo's usually sleepy spirit: incredulousness, a
hint of doubt, anger, surprise. The
Doomsman said nothing immediately, waiting for the storm to calm enough
that his usually level-headed brother would really listen to him.
Frustration crept into Irmo's chord,
but it was a familiar emotion to them both. Irmo was touched by his realm, and it had shaped him.
The incongruity between Lórien and Mandos was small but deep
enough to often cause miscommunication of deep understanding leading to
rousing debate. The familiar
annoyance calmed the other emotions in Irmo, pushing them to the wayside
to be easily recalled as necessary.
"I have bonded," Námo
finally conceded, as calm and collected as ever. Though he had no love of conflict, the anchor of Eladan's
spirit steadied him against the unusual, where only familiarity should
reign. It was something that
in the past the Doomsman had never dealt well with however good he was at
Irmo let out an exasperated sigh.
"To whom?" he demanded.
"Elladan, son of Elrond," Námo replied with grace. Irmo looked at him stunned, mouth hanging ungainly, eyes wide, posture frozen in mid-motion. It took him quite a while to regain his wits to respond.
"You would marry him solely
because he dreams of you?" the DreamMaster finally said.
It should not have surprised Námo that Irmo saw this in his own
light of dreams and visions before any practical realism, but Námo was
too astonished to think of it.
"He dreams of me?" he
questioned, having heard nothing like that since their bonding.
True, Elladan often thought of him, as he did the half-elf, but he
had seen no dreams. Irmo
opened his mouth to respond but was preempted.
"What is this ruckus?"
a tinkling voice asked, rich with amusement.
A rustle of leaves heralded the Valië of Healing.
Estë floated forward, a dream herself, the sleepy world a little
sharper for her presence. Neither Námo nor Irmo were surprised by her appearance here,
knowing that the slightest discord between them would call to her.
Though she was always attuned to any ill emotion, Estë was most
sensitive here. She knew
every resonance in Lórien so that she could better find any soul in
trouble. So, it was no
surprise to see her. But as
she moved forward, they were simply stunned to see Vairë behind her.
"We have a guest,"
Estë said needlessly but with decorum.
She smiled her gentle smile, but it faltered when both Irmo and Námo
continued to simply stare at her. Frowning,
she glanced between the two of them and Vairë.
"Is aught alright?" she asked, now scrutinizing
their earlier discord seriously where before she had simply dismissed it
as just another argument spawned from their different viewpoints.
Irmo seemed to shake himself like a
wet dog. He had studied Vairë
with the same scrutiny as her former husband, and she bore it with equal
grace as he did. But the
DreamMaster could see nothing different in her, save perhaps her song had
settled some. He considered
that perhaps she did not know about Námo's bond, and he opened his mind
to gently break the news to her but her words stopped him.
"My Lord Námo, are you well?"
she asked, floating closer to him.
"I am, my Lady," Námo
responded quietly, his whole aura shuttered and blank.
"And Lord Elladan?"
"He is very well,"
the Doomsman said, and there was a brief flash of contentment to pulse
through him that only Vairë caught.
She smiled beautifully.
"I am glad.
I had heard there were . . . some difficulties?" she said,
her tone turning the query into a neutral question that left it completely
up to him to answer or ignore as he saw fit.
Námo betrayed no unease, and it was possible that he felt none;
Vairë could not tell. She hoped that it was the case, since she knew how much her
former husband hated personal conversations.
"There were," Námo
confirmed, even as his spirit drew closer to himself, shrouding it from
the other Valar's gazes. "But
it seems that most are now passed."
"Good," Vairë said,
her spirit pulsing with honest happiness. Irmo watched the exchange with shock while Estë continued to
divide her attention between what seemed like a perfectly normal
conversation between Námo and Vairë, and her husband's continuing odd
A sudden flash of unusual humor
rippled through Vairë, and her expression turned bemused.
"I had also heard that you are now to reside with our
"He offered," Námo
said, with a hint of defense in his posture. Vairë laughed, a sound so unusual for her that the other
three looked on in pleased astonishment.
"I can imagine," she
said with good humor. "I
think it will do you good to live among the living. Oromë is, as ever, wise in the course of such things."
"Wait," Irmo suddenly
interjected. Vairë and Námo
turned to look at him, and he seemed for a moment lost by the sudden
expected expressions, but he rallied his thoughts quickly. "You know?" he demanded, feeling as if the
world had tilted and he was struggling to find his footing. Estë could feel his distress, and it distressed her in turn
but she remained baffled by what was going on.
Vairë's expression turned gentle, as
if she could understand her brother's confusion.
"I do know. Indeed,
it was I who saw it to fruition."
There was a note of accomplishment and pride in her tone, and Námo
felt another flash of embarrassment, still unsure what to make of Vairë's
ready acceptance of everything.
Irmo looked even more shocked than
before at that revelation, and seemed completely unable to respond.
Unable to tolerate her mate's continuing distress, Estë demanded,
"What is going on? What are you speaking of?"
Vairë and Námo exchanged a look,
silently debating on what to tell her.
"Námo has bonded with the half-elf Elladan," Irmo
said, looking as if someone else was speaking through him and his mind was
elsewhere. The Valië of
Healing blinked before giving the Doomsman the shrewdest look he had ever
seen her give. Mentally he
sighed, resigning himself to getting this look quite often.
Estë was completely silent for a very
long time, and not even Námo could read her spirit.
It was a long moment, in which the waterfalls behind them fell into
the rivers cradling the Mirror between them with a steady splash of
unnatural sound, before the small Valië turned her attention to Vairë.
Námo watched as Vairë's soul met Estë's halfway.
It was something he had seen the Valier do before, and he wondered
at it, at the way the women of their order communicated so much more
intimately than did the men.
"Oh," Estë said at
length. "You are
happy then?" she questioned, turning her focus abruptly back to
Námo blinked at the sudden shift, but
replied calmly. "I am."
Estë turned to Vairë.
"And you? This does not bother you?"
"I am perfectly happy that my
husband has finally found his other half, his true other half,"
she replied openly, her soul seeming to support her statement.
Estë gave them both another shrewd look before suddenly smiling
"What!" Irmo demanded, an
explosion of sound that reverberated through the quiet of Lórien, and
disrupted the gentle song sung throughout.
Estë gave her mate a bemused look, her knowledge of him letting
her know exactly the trouble he had wrapping this around his head,
DreamMaster though he was. She
laid a soothing hand on his forearm, and he visibly relaxed at the touch.
Vairë and Námo shared another look
at Irmo's immediate response to his wife, and shared a pulse of sadness.
Though Estë was a Vala of Healing, and had perfected those arts to
subtleties beyond even Námo's capabilities to offer comfort to the dead,
her connection with Irmo was the only reason she could calm him so quickly
and so completely. It was
their bond which allowed them to communicate without actually
communicating, for her to tell him with a touch that she would explain
everything later, and that even though he was completely stunned, it made
sense to her so he needn't worry. It had never been so effortless between the Weaver and the
Doomsman, and was just another little sign they should have noticed
beforehand that they shared no marital bond.
"Since we are talking about
your bond, my Lord," Vairë began, distracting them both from
their melancholy. "I
have also heard that you are to have a wedding, and I thought to give you
your present early." She
held out a large box for him.
Her words garnered the attention of all present, and startled Námo. For a moment he was struck still with indecision, not knowing what the etiquette was in this situation, and the sheer surprise at the gift's existence at all. But he sensed both women giving him gentle permission, seeming to know that he could have no idea whether to accept and open now, or send it to Celebrían, who would gather gifts to be opened after the wedding.
With a steady hand, slowed by his continuing war of emotions, he took the box from his former wife's spider hands. He spared a thought that he had not seen it before, and wondered if he simply had not noticed or if she had called for it later, and why had he not felt her power to do so?
Both women watched him expectantly, clearly excited to see his reaction. Irmo too could not hide his curiosity. Námo carefully opened the box to reveal a neatly folded bolt of fabric. It was not just any fabric, but the Valar equivalent of velvet, far superior to anything of elvish craft. The Doomsman looked to Vairë for explanation.
"They are your wedding robes. Beneath is a set for Elladan. I know you will have had little time to choose something appropriate, and Lady Celebrían was unsure if you needed new robes or had a set equal to the occasion. I hope they are not too flashy for you," Vairë said, looking bemused again, as if she knew exactly how in over his head he was with the wedding.
Námo's mind boggled at the idea of Vairë and Celebrían talking, about his clothes no less. He firmly refused to think what else they might have talked of. He focused instead on the gift in his hands. The fabric on top was a deep blue, alike to Vairë's own raiment in that it was almost black in color. There was some gold thread too, but he could not appreciate the pattern while still folded. Gently he lifted the top folds to glimpse a lighter blue beneath.
Not sure what to say, he looked
helplessly between the three Valar watching him before mentally slapping
himself to regain control. "Thank
you," he said with quiet dignity, but distance as well.
Vairë and Estë shared an amused look.
"You are most welcome, my Lord,"
Vairë replied with equal grace. Námo
carefully replaced the cover of the box, and then looked at his brother.
"I trust you are now no longer
in need of my services," he said, giving a pointed look to the
silent Mirror at their feet. Irmo
glanced down at it, as if he had completely forgotten its existence.
"Um," he said, trying
to focus on his work but found he could not.
His own natural honesty made him admit that he was too
flabbergasted to send crafted visions, especially prophetic ones.
"I think not, brother.
Perhaps another time," he said.
Estë gave him a little squeeze in approval where she still held
Then, if you will excuse me, I bid you good eve," he said
a moment before disappearing. Vairë and Estë shared another smile.
"I too should be on my way,"
the Weaver said. Estë took
her hand before she could escape.
"You will seek me out soon,
will you not?" she asked, her eyes filled with concern.
Vairë gave her a sad smile.
"I tell you I am fine, and
happy for him," she said gently.
"Not all griefs are readily
apparent to us," Estë said with equal sensitivity.
The Weaver sighed, but squeezed the small hand holding hers.
"I think you are worried for
nothing, but I will honor your wishes. I will seek you out."
"Good," Estë said,
giving her sister a dazzling smile. Vairë
squeezed her hand again before letting go and following her former
Estë turned to find her husband staring blankly at the place where they had been. Her laughter filled the Gardens and brought delight to all who dwelled there.
|*The introductory paragraphs are a blend of Direct Quotes from the Book of Lost Tales 1 and my own writing|