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Dreamwalkers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Dreamwalkers

Disclaimer: The characters, the context and the main plot belong to Professor Tolkien, whom I greatly admire. I’m only trying to fill in the gaps he so graciously left for us, fanfic writers, to have some fun.

Series/sequel: Ultimately, this will be a sequel to my as-yet unwritten Gildor story, “Born To Rule, Born Too Late”. My muse seems to delight in making me write the end of every arc first.

Dedication: This one is for JastaElf to make her feel better.

Author’s notes:
As to the former relationship between Gildor and Celebrimbor, see my stories “Seaside Conversations”, “Reflections of Past and Future” and “Seaside Conversations 2”. Reading these is not absolutely necessary to understand this one, but it might help.

Gildor Inglorion’s ancestry and his role as the Lord of Edhellond are entirely my creation, so are the individual members of his household and those of the Wandering Company. These elements are used in the same context in all my stories.

For the possible geography of Valinor, I have used Karen Fonstad’s “The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-earth”. Mistakes could have been caused by my inability to read a map properly.

My sincerest thanks to Erunyauve for her help with the Valarin names and to Jenn for the beta reading. All remaining mistakes are mine.


~~~

And when they had passed from the Shire, going about the south skirts of the White Downs, they came to the Far Downs, and to the Towers, and looked on the distant Sea; and so they rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey Havens in the long firth of Lune.

As they came to the Gates, Círdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed and said: “All is now ready.”

Then Círdan led them to the Havens, and there was a white ship lying, and upon the quay beside a great grey horse stood a figure robed all in white awaiting them. As he turned and came towards them Frodo saw that Gandalf now wore openly upon his hand the Third Ring, Narya the Great, and the stone upon it was red as fire. Then those who were to go were glad, for they knew that Gandalf also would take ship with them. […]

Then the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that […] the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise…

The Lord of the Rings, Book 3: The Return of the King, pp 377-378


* * * * * * * *

Joy filled the hearts of those who were on the white ship – except of one. Gildor Inglorion kept apart from the rest of the travellers during the whole journey. He even avoided the members of his own household and those of the Wandering Company who had chosen to go to the West with him – much to the sorrow of young Enedrion and little Nenmír. All his thoughts were focussed westward now, looking forward with fear and hope to the possible end of his long waiting.

Those of his people who had known him practically since his birth – first and foremost Istimor the wise, the seneschal of his house in Edhellond, or Dinithel, Istimor’s wife – were thoughtful enough to keep their distance and leave him enough breathing space. As they had always done when their Lord had been unavailable, Istimor and Dinithel took care of Gildor’s people along the journey. All could see that the heart of their Lord was far ahead already and dared not to disturb his solace.

Gandalf was the only one who did not hesitate to approach him, for until they reached the Blessed Realm, the wizard still felt some responsibility for the dwellers of Middle-earth; and aside from Lindir, who had showed little progress on the path of healing, Gildor was the one who caused him the most concern. For almost two Ages, the former Lord of Edhellond had lived for the day when he would finally reach Aman, and Gandalf feared what would happen, should Gildor’s hopes be torn asunder.

“You know, of course, that he might not have been released yet,” said the wizard softly. There was no need to elaborate. Although the Istari had not come to Middle-earth before the Third Age, Gandalf had talked enough with ancient Elves to know everything there was to know about Gildor.

“I do have the strong belief that he already is,” replied Gildor, his sea-hued eyes, otherwise so cold, strangely vulnerable in that fleeting moment of hope. “Sauron is defeated. The Ring has been destroyed. His debt is paid. And he has suffered enough to redeem himself for his mistakes.”

“Maybe so, but has he also been fully healed?” asked the wizard gently. “Elves tend to think of Mandos as a place of punishment; yet it is a place of healing as well. And it is not for you – or for me – to decide if and when someone is healed enough to bear the burden of life again.”

“And yet that is my hope,” said Gildor, “that upon my arrival, I shall be reunited with him who has had my heart in his keeping since the founding of Eregion.”

“Your hope may lead you to disappointment and to great sorrow,” Gandalf warned.

“It may,” Gildor agreed with a wry little smile. “But it is still better than having no hope at all.”

To that, the wizard had no answer, and thus they stood in the prow of the ship in silence for a long while. They had shared a few such conversations while crossing the Sea, yet these failed to convince Gildor to be more cautious with what he hoped for.

Finally, the day came when the coast of Tol Eressëa emerged from the mist, and the long quays of Elvenhome’s haven beckoned to the travellers. There was quite a crowd gathering upon the white stone steps of Avallónë, and song and laughter filled the air, along with the sweet music of harps and seashell trumpets, for every time when a new ship arrived was a time of joy and festivity for the dwellers of the Lonely Island.

Most of the Elves who filled the quays were Noldor, of course, as they had the most hope of finding their kin aboard the incoming ships from Middle-earth, but Gildor could easily spot many of the silver-haired Teleri as well, and it was not hard for him to detect his own parents in one of the small groups of gold-tressed Vanyar. His parents – but not his sister. Nor could he see any redhead in the crowd, and he felt his heart grow heavy and cold with loss.

He disembarked from the ship, leaving behind Lindir and Erestor and even his own niece, hastening with long strides towards his parents. Inglor and Lintári greeted their long-lost son with a gentleness that Gildor found almost startling – it belonged to his youth that lay far beyond him, nearly forgotten. He asked about his sister and her husband and was relieved to hear that they had been just recently rehoused and were waiting for him and Aquiel in Inglor’s house, still a little uneasy dealing with too many people at once. He was also told that Finrod himself had been released from the Halls, but was still resting in Irmo’s gardens, not quite ready to fully return yet… and that Amarië still dwelt under Inglor’s roof, waiting for her beloved’s return.

Of a great many events and people had Gildor’s parents spoken – save the one he truly wanted to hear of. And thus, as they did not offer any tidings voluntarily, he was forced to ask, “What about Tyelperinquar?”

Inglor and Lintári exchanged worried looks. Rumours of their son’s obsession with the fiery smith had reached them during the recent Ages, through Elves who had chosen to sail to the West, rather than face the Shadow, but they had hoped that given enough time, Gildor would get over what they had taken to be an infatuation. Now they realised it was considerably more than that. His was a devotion they could not fight. And though Inglor once had been a friend of Celebrimbor’s, now his mood turned sad, for he had hoped for a wife and a family for his only son, and his heart almost broke seeing the sorrow and loneliness that the long millennia of waiting had written into Gildor’s face.

“Rumours say that he has been released,” Inglor finally said, “but no-one could confirm or deny it. ‘Tis said that he is hiding in Formenos, in Nerdanel’s care.”

Of course. Even after three whole Ages, who would approach the northern stronghold of Fëanor and his sons, where the spirit of fire had forged his rebellion against the Valar after his exile from Tirion, and where Finwë had been slain by Morgoth himself. Gildor was surprised that Nerdanel was still willing to live there – but it was probably the memories of happier times that kept her in her home of old. And as for Celebrimbor – where else should he have gone? He had known no other home in Valinor.

Nor had Gildor, born in Middle-earth, known a home here. Home, that was for him no longer the place where his parents dwelt. Home, that was where his heart dwelt.

“Then to Formenos I shall go,” he said, determined.

“Would you not like to rest in our home for a while first?” his mother asked. “Your sister has missed you greatly… and so have we.”

“Mother,” Gildor clenched his teeth in frustration, “do not try to hold me back, I beg you. Can you not see that I am not whole ‘til I can be reunited with the one whom my heart desires? I would like to spend time with you and Aglareth and her spouse – but do you not see that I must follow my heart, for I cannot deny it any longer? Please, let me go!”

His parents looked at each other in sorrow again; it seemed that their son had grown apart from them under the shadow that had lain upon Middle-earth for so long. There was no use trying to keep him against his will.

“There is a ship waiting for Mithrandir,” Inglor finally said; “for he must return to Aman without delay. If you ask him, he might allow you to accompany him on his last journey.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It turned out that Gandalf had no objections against Gildor’s company, and so they boarded the small ship together. Only two mariners accompanied them – aside from Shadowfax who would not be kept from Gandalf’s side – and barely were they aboard when a strong wind arose from the clear skies and drove them westwards. Gildor and the wizard stood in the prow once again, looking to the tall, white rocks of the Pelóri on the coastline of the Blessed Realm; and they were silent, their hearts full of expectation.

“And so all things have come back to beginning,” Gildor heard the wizard murmur softly after a while.

He looked at his companion and was startled to see that Mithrandir’s appearance was changing, subtly but noticeably. It seemed as if a thin veil of white light covered the wizard’s whole body. It wavered slightly, and for fleeting moments a different shape, a different face shone through his well-known features, as when one looked into the waters of the Dead Marches to see the faces of Elves and Men under the brook.

“Gandalf,” he said, frightened, “what is happening to you?”

The wizard smiled in a detached manner as if his mind were elsewhere already.

“My fana is about to break down, my friend,” he answered simply. “I’ll have shed it completely ere I set foot to the Blessed Realm. I am returning home and shall not bring any baggage from Arda Marred with me. Not even this body.”

“Your fana…” due to his heritage and the position he had held in Middle-earth for two Ages, Gildor of course was well aware of the true nature of the Istari. But knowledge was one thing; seeing the process with his own eyes a completely different one.”

The wizard nodded. “Yes. As I told Bilbo once – it seems a lifetime ago now – I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me. But I am also much more than Gandalf… or Mithrandir, as the Elves have known me. My labours in Middle-earth have come to an end. Life comes full circle for me. ‘Tis time for me to become Olórin again.”

To that, Gildor had no answer, thus he remained silent and watched with fearful amazement the changes under that thin veil. It seemed to him as if the contours of the wizard’s face had become blurred and white light was leaking along its lines. Yet the Maia held his outer shell together by sheer willpower, for he knew that not even the white ships of the Teleri would withstand the sudden dissolution of his fana. He would have to let go of it slowly… after he left the ship.

“What will you do, once you have shed your body?” asked Gildor quietly, when the Maia finally brought his shape under his strong will.

Gandalf – Olórin – smiled again, and his smile was full of longing. “I shall return to Irmo’s gardens and rest. Shadowfax will bring you to Formenos faster than any other horse would,” he added. “Once you are there, simply set him free; he will find his kin near Oromë’s wide wooden halls on his own.”

Gildor wanted to thank him, but the Maia only smiled. “All is well. Shadowfax needs the company of his own kin, and I would not be able to bring him to them.”

About an hour later, the ship finally touched the land – not in Alqualondë as those regularly sailing between Valinor and Tol Eressëa usually did, but in a small bay in the south, hidden from all eyes. A gangplank was laid down so they could walk to the land. Gildor led Shadowfax to safety and looked back to the Maia invitingly, waiting for him to follow them.

But Olórin remained standing on the plank, his whole form transparent now like a crystal phial filled with white light. And he was not old and wrinkled anymore but tall and ageless and so very beautiful with his long white hair and deep, dark eyes that it almost hurt to look at him. His shape began to simply melt away, turning into pure light – and then, all of a sudden, he was gone.

“Finally, he shed the outer shell that had imprisoned him for a very long time,” one of the mariners said, and Gildor understood that they were not Elves as he had first thought, but lesser spirits, Súruli perhaps, wearing a temporary fana so that they could fulfil their duty to Olórin. “You should go now, too,” the mariner added. “You still have a long ride before you.”

Gildor spoke his thanks to the mariners who only nodded and put the small ship out to sea again, vanishing from his eyes very quickly. He then mounted Shadowfax and rode on northwards, to Formenos, fear and hope warring in his heart.

The mariner had been right – it was a long way for someone already weary from a journey, across woods of Oromë and the pastures of Yavanna, behind the great cites of Tirion and Valmar itself. Full of beauty and wonder were all these places, but Gildor had no eyes for them, not now. He was driven by the need to reach Formenos as soon as he could.

Fortunately, Shadowfax carried him easily, as if he did not weigh more than little Nenmír, and thus they reached the tall, forbidding walls of Formenos at high noon. There Gildor set Shadowfax free, as promised, and the tireless meara turned around at once and galloped away, eager to finally meet the others of his kind.

Gildor stood for a very long time outside the house in which his beloved had been born. It seemed silent and empty like a seashell washed onto the land – the fiery spirits that had once lived in its halls were gone. For the first time, Gildor felt doubt creeping into his heart. By what right had he come here, disturbing the solitude of those who wanted to be left alone with their sorrow and pain?

Saddened, he turned away from the fortress, ready to leave again. Maybe his parents had been right. Maybe it would be better to spend some time with them and wait for Celebrimbor to come to him… if he ever would. Maybe he should not have released Shadowfax yet. Maybe he should have asked the meara to bring him back to Tirion, where some of the returned Elves dwelt, his own family among them. It would be a long journey on foot, and he was weary to the bone already. But he had been the Lord of the Wandering Company once; he would manage.

Already he had set himself on the road when a soft voice called his name uncertainly from behind. He turned and saw a tall figure approaching slowly from within the house. It was an Elf, very pale and breathtakingly beautiful, his long hair spilling down his white robes like liquid fire, but his deep blue eyes were gentle and maybe a little frightened. And there was a confused, almost shy air about him – he was like a child who had not quite managed the art of walking and speaking on his own yet.

Gildor felt his chest tightening, torn between fear and joy – at least the other had recognized him and still remembered his name.

“Tyelpe…” he murmured, his voice trembling, “you have been released at last…”

The Elf with his lost lover’s appearance tilted his head to one side. He came slowly closer. A slim, long-fingered hand reached out hesitantly, touching Gildor’s face, and Gildor had to keep himself from flinching, for that hand was strangely cool, despite Valinor’s eternal summer.

“You have… changed,” decided Celebrimbor. The fact seemed to frighten him.

“I have grown older, melme,” whispered Gildor. “It has been more than five thousand years. I had almost given up hope that I would see you again. I have fought wars and faced the Darkness uncounted times while you were in the Halls – those were long and lonely years.”

A shy, almost childlike wonder shone in the blue eyes, and Celebrimbor’s thumb touched Gildor’s lips in a hesitant caress. “You have waited for me?”

Gildor leaned into that slight touch longingly. “I have.”

Celebrimbor shook his head in confusion. “Why? We were not… promised…”

“True. But I still do love you, just as I loved you in my youth,” Gildor dared to capture that cool hand with his warm one. “Would you still have me?”

His heart almost shattered to pieces, seeing Celebrimbor’s hesitation.

“I still can feel the echoes of the bond between us,” Celebrimbor finally answered, “but everything is so… confusing. ‘Tis less than a week that I have been released… I am still learning the use of my hröa again. More than five thousand years as a disembodied spirit have…”

“… changed you,” finished Gildor for him bitterly. “You do not remember what we shared anymore.”

“I do remember,” Celebrimbor touched his lips with a light caress again. “I just need time to reconnect with my own memories. I have barely begun to learn who I was… who I am… and what I should do with this second life I have been granted.”

“And will I ever have a place in this new life of yours?” asked Gildor, the pain in his chest so sharp he could barely breathe.

“You already have one,” said Celebrimbor, stepping closer and cradling his face in both hands. “I can feel your fire warming me… I am not so cold now that you are with me again. Will you stay? I know not if I can ever give you what you have dreamed of for five thousand years. But perhaps what I can give will be enough.”

He touched his lips to Gildor’s in a chaste gesture of fondness rather than passion, then let him go with a soft sight.

“I am weary,” he murmured, and Gildor felt that sharp pain again, seeing him wandering off aimlessly. This meek creature might have his lover’s beauty, but he completely lacked the fire that once had been Celebrimbor’s very spirit.

“He is still very confused,” said a deep, almost rough voice behind them. “It will take time for him to become himself again. But he will, eventually.”

Gildor turned and his sharp glance fell on someone who looked like a very big and strong, bearded man – but most obviously was not. That grave face was too ageless to belong to even the most ancient Elf, and the thick, russet beard and heavy bones gave him a certain… Dwarvish air. The sleeves rolled up to reveal strong arms and the leather apron covering his chest and thighs made it easy to guess who he was in truth , and Gildor bowed deeply.

“Lord Aulë… I did not expect to meet you in person, here of all places.”

The Vala shrugged. “Why not? His family has been close to me from the beginning. I was here the day he was born, and now that he has been released, the very first of the whole family, I felt an obligation to be here again.’

“What is wrong with him?” asked Gildor anxiously. “Can you not help him?”

Aulë shook his head in sorrow. “Nay, he must find his own way back to life. No-one can help him in that – save perhaps you.”

“Me?” said Gildor in surprise. “I could barely reach him. What ails him anyway? Why is he so…”

“Confused,” said Aulë. “He is confused. They all are, so early after the rehousing. But with him, there is more amiss. He has been released too early. His healing was not yet complete.”

“Then why did Mandos release him at all?” There was a slight accusation in Gildor’s voice, but Aulë took no offence.

“For you,” he answered with a smile. “Tyelperinquar is not the only one who needs healing; you have been damaged badly, too. Yet neither of you can heal without the other, so strongly are your fëar bound to each other. Thus Námo took the risk of releasing your lover before his time, for you must walk the same path to heal; and you must walk it together.”

“Which path is that? Where will it lead us?”

“There is only one place beside the Halls where a wounded spirit can heal,” said Aulë solemnly. “The two of you must go to Irmo’s gardens to rest. There, on an island of the tree-shadowed lake of Lórellin, sleeps Estë, the gentle, healer of hurts and weariness. There you are to lie and rest for a while, ‘til your hearts and fëar heal in the dreams Irmo will send you.”

“How long must we remain there?” asked Gildor, frightened by the very idea for a reason he could not quite fathom. Aulë sighed.

“I know not. As long as it takes for you to heal. Why are you so upset? ‘Tis a rare thing that anyone but the Ainur themselves is offered a rest under Estë’s care; ‘tis not a gift given easily.”

“Then why are we the ones to whom this gift is offered?” asked Gildor.

“I was not told the reason,” replied Aulë with a shrug, “as Irmo seldom holds counsel with anyone but his spouse. Maybe they decided that you have suffered enough – both of you. Or perhaps it was your never-wavering love that called out to their hearts. I cannot tell. All I know is that you must go at once. I shall show you the way.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Their steps seemed almost weightless when travelling in the company of the Vala; yet the way was rather long. The next day was almost over and twilight lay upon the Blessed Realm when they came to the borders of Lórien. They entered the beautiful maze of the gardens, and Aulë retreated, leaving them alone. After a moment, a tall figure clad in soft grey walked towards them under the fragrant trees. His face was pale, beautiful and ageless, his long hair like silver mist, his eyes wide and grey.

“So, you have come at last,” he said in a soft, musical voice that sounded like a light breeze among the tree-branches and yet was full of power beyond comprehension. He took their hands as if they were but small elflings, leading them deeper into the garden.

“Lord Irmo,” whispered Gildor in awe, and the Vala inclined his head with an elusive smile. “What will happen with us now?”

“You shall rest,” said Irmo gently. “Tyelperinquar needs to complete his healing.. and you, Gildor Inglorion, need to let go of the pain, guilt and bitterness that you have been hoarding during your whole life in Middle-earth.”

Gildor tried to protest, but the Vala silenced him with one long, meaningful look that reached to the bottom of his heart. Without further words, they walked through the gardens, ‘til they finally reached a lake that lay deep and quiet in the deepening shadow of tall, dark trees.

Out from among the trees the maidens of Estë came, took away Gildor’s clothes and clad him in a long robe of pure white – the robe of the dreamers. Then they led him and Celebrimbor down to the lake where a small white boat was floating upon the water. It looked like the barges of Lothlórien in Middle-earth, built like a swan, but there was no-one to wield the oars. When they stepped in with Irmo, the boat floated away from the bank on its own and brought them over the still, deep blue waters to an island in the middle of the lake.

It was completely dark now, only the light of the stars glittering above the lake, and the fragrance of the evergreen trees filled the warm air. Under the trees of the island, several resting places of soft moss and silky grass had been made, all arranged in a circle, save one that was in the middle. Upon this one, a pale Lady was sleeping; her hair long and dark like the night and her raiment grey. A few of the other resting places were occupied by white-robed dreamers – Gildor thought he recognized Olórin on the long, snow-white mane – but most of them were empty.

Irmo stooped to his Lady, lifter her hand, kissed it and called her by her true name, in the ancient and holy tongue of the Valar.

“Eššei(1), my heart, it is time to rise.”

The Lady Estë opened her eyes – large and dark and reflecting the stars like a mirror – and rose from her bed with a single, fluid move.

“Šebethšadhâz,(2)” she replied in the same manner, “you have come.”

“As I always have and as I always will,” said Irmo in gentle agreement. “I have brought the dreamers… and the gardens are waiting for their Lady.”

Estë smiled at him. “Then I shall return with you as always – after I have sent our dreamers to their rest.”

He took the hands of Gildor and Celebrimbor into her small, cool ones and led them to one of the resting places that had obviously been made for two, then kissed them on the brow.

“Lie down in darkness, dream, and listen to the whispers of a night that knows no fear,” she murmured gently. “You shall rise with the new day in the fullness of time. Rest now. There is nothing to fear in this place – only healing and peace.”

And the Lord of Edhellond and the Jewel-smith lay down indeed, side by side, finally united after so much pain and sorrow – and dreamt.

~ Finish ~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
End notes:
(1) Not a genuine Valarin word; I made it up following the example of Oššai or Ošošai for Ossë.
(2) The Valarin name for Irmo was created by the most knowledgeable Erunyauve and means Air-cloudy (borrowed a bit from Olofantur, Dream-cloud, one of the names of Lórien)

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