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Garden of Dreams and Memories 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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.

Dedication: for Círdan (the writer) with love. Happy birthday!

Author’s notes:
This is a sequel to "Sons of Twilight and Starlight" and deals with Eönwë’s return from Mandos. Inspired by a discussion about Mandos among fellow Silmfics writers. There will be another story, called "The Memory of War" between this one and "Sons of Twilight and Starlight", and an already existing epilogue, called "The Return of the Minstrel" closes this particular storyline.

My sincerest thanks to Finch for beta-reading.


~~~

[Valinor, somewhen near the end of the Third Age, after the Ring War]

Two whole Ages went on in the outside world, full of struggle and pain and the occasional moments of joy. There had been long periods of peace but also brutal wars; bitter defeats and some fruitless victories. Empires rose and fell, and the world was changed forever, and now Valinor was hidden beyond the bent Sea.

Of none of this, any tidings came into the timelessness of Mandos’ Halls.

Eönwë knew not how much time he had spent in the shadow of these dark Halls, for in Mandos, there is no time, no changes, only darkness and solitude – and memories.

That was what he had sought after the War of Wrath. He longed to be freed from his previous fana(1), made of the stained flesh of Arda Marred, to be healed from his pain, caused by the sight of the thousand bleeding wounds of Arda, many of those torn by his own hands.

He had fulfilled his destiny – he succeeded in beating Morgoth, capturing the Dark One and imprisoning him in the Void, beyond the Walls of the World. But Arda, that had become part of Morgoth’s flesh during the Dark Years, suffered severe wounds, too, and there was no way to make her whole again – not yet, not before time itself came to an end and Arda would be re-made through the Second Music.

Those memories had tormented Eönwë’s spirit for a long time, and his healing proceeded slowly. Among all those dark scenes, however, had been one single golden light that never darkened: the high spirit of the one that had taught him love and friendship and longing. The one he intended to return to.

Often had he in the dark solitude of Mandos’ Halls reflected upon their parting, and even more often did he think of the long-awaited moment of their reunion that might happen after the fate of his beloved had been fulfilled. And though his healing had finally begun to make some headway, he became restless all of a sudden again and felt the urge to get out of here.

He could simply leave in his true form, as a disembodied spirit, of course, but for the love of the one who had taught him to live as an incarnate being, he chose to return the same way the Elves did when they got released: through Irmo’s garden and in bodily form, even though for him it was but a shell that he draped around his true essence.

He changed not the outer form of his fana, either. He wanted to look the same as he did during the War of the Wrath. Back then, he had taken on an appearance that would be familiar to all his followers – that of a tall, dark-haired, bright-eyed warrior, whose skin had the slight golden hue of the Vanyar, but with the rounded ears of the Second-born. It seemed oddly out of place in Valinor, and yet, he could not bring himself to change it. This was the body – or its predecessor – that had shared that single, fleeting touch with the one he had come to love.

Oh, how he had longed to share more with him, to share every thing he had to offer! And yet, as he stepped out of the Halls into Irmo’s garden, he understood that it would have been a grave error. For no matter how much his spirit cherished the memory of that single touch, this new fana did not remember…

The immortal trees in the gardens of Lórien were blossoming as always as Eönwë slowly walked under them towards one of the fountains. The Sun-ship was just about to return, but Eönwë no longer yearned for its mistress, the radiant maiden Urwendi, whom he had once loved beyond measure. Yet Urwendi chose to become the mistress of the Sun instead, and now Eönwë was grateful for her choice that left him free to find a new love. One that would be for eternity.

As he walked upon the soft, evergreen grass, his new eyes adjusting to the golden light again, he detected a graceful figure sitting upon the rand of the fountain that was hewn of white marble in the likeness of a great seashell. It was the slender frame of a tall woman, clad in green and silvery grey, her ankle-long, raven-dark hair braided in Elven fashion and her brow adorned with a delicately-woven, thin mithril circlet.

Seeing Eönwë’s approach she rose to great him, and her eyes were grey as the winter sky in the Great Lands and bright as Varda’s stars, and Eönwë recognized her with a slight shiver of joy.

“Melian,” he said, startled by the sound of his own voice, for it sounded strange to him after such a long time of silence, “what are you doing here?”

“I live here,” the former Queen of Doriath replied. “I had lived in Lórien long ere I met Elwë; and I returned here after I had lost him. For one day, he, too, will leave the Halls of Mandos – and I shall be here, waiting.”

“You never left here ever since you came back to Aman!” Eönwë realised in wonder. “How long has it been?”

“Two whole Ages have passed in the Great Lands since you went voluntarily to Mandos’ Halls, and Arda itself has been changed forever,” said Melian gravely. “Should you cross the Sea again, you would find little that seemed familiar to your eyes. The last of the Eldar have left the shores of their Awakening and are expected to arrive in mere days. No-one but the Silvan folk remained in their birthplace by now.”

Eönwë felt the old sorrow tightening his chest again. So that was what made him so restless at the end of his time in Mandos’ Halls. He felt the coming of his beloved… but also the changes that slowly, inevitably came over the world.

“So all the pain and destruction we were forced to cause in order to defeat Morgoth was for naught, after all,” he murmured sadly. “Arda could not be healed, and all the Elves who so proudly chose to remain east of the Sea finally were forced to come to us, after all.”

“Most of those who refused to hearken your summons are dead,” Melian answered, and a shadow fell upon her face; even after two Ages, she could not make her peace with the concept of death. “Only a handful of them survived – the one you are waiting for is among them.”

“That I know,” Eönwë smiled. “Even in the Halls, I would have felt his presence. And he is not so easy to kill any more. He is almost one of us.”

“Just as you are almost one of them – like myself,” said Melian thoughtfully. “Having spent more than three Ages in this incarnation made me bond with my fana in ways no Maia was supposed to be bound. ’Tis no more a mere shell for me – ’tis now part of who I am. A dangerous thing, I deem. For was it not part of Morgoth’s evil, and that of his servants, to bond themselves permanently to the flesh of Arda, in order to enslave it? Were you not forced to wound the world itself to weaken him?”

Eönwë nodded. This all was very true, and if not for Glorfindel, he would have turned mad in the Great Lands during the decades of war. Still, it surprised him that the thought had accured to Melian, too, who fought no war, led no warriors, took no lives – only protected the realm of her beloved with the power that lived in her.

“And yet, you have not changed your fana,” he said. “’Tis the same one you wore when you met Elwë for the first time; and you have worn it ever since.”

“I have,” Melian agreed, “and I have done so for the very reason you just mentioned. This was the form that Elwë saw, and he loved it at the first sight, long ere he came to know the spirit that housed in that shell. Yet as we grew closer and closer, our spirits, too, merged in the union of the forms they wore, and I came to understand how different the hröar of the incarnates are from our mere shells. And I understood this, too: if I wanted to truly share with the one I have chosen, I could not simply shed this form and take on a new one. For this flesh has kept the memories of all that we have shared in the long years of our love, and when Elwë is released and clad in new flesh, mine shall be the only one that still remembers.”

“Would it not be better for you to remake your fana, too?” Eönwë asked. “That way you would be on equal ground.”

“Nay,” Melian shook her head, “for would I do that, then all that we had once shared would truly be lost. And mayhap when we are reunited in both body and spirit, the memories can become more vivid for Elwë, too. Almost real.”

“Almost,” Eönwë repeated sadly. He knew first hand what a difference that could make – even though his own loss was naught compared with that of Elwë, who, once re-embodied, would have to accept the loss of hundreds of years worth of memories. Oh, surely, he still would remember his former life – with the same detachment Glorfindel remembered his. Memories of the spirit, but not those of the flesh.

“Almost,” Melian said again, slowly. “This is the price of death. It changes those who experience it in ways we cannot imagine.”

“Glorfindel liked to say that death was a powerful experience,” Eönwë remarked with a forced smile. Melian shrugged.

“If anyone, he should know. They say, he was the first one to be released. But he is different. He was sent back to life early, and with a purpose. In order to fulfil this purpose, he has been changed and brought closer to our own kin. This shall not happen again, I was told. And indeed, all the others who have returned since then, are more or less their own selves.”

“Does it make my path easier or more difficult?” Eönwë jested half-heartedly. The grey eyes of the Lady of Doriath looked at him gravely as if she would read his heart with ease, and Eönwë thought of Elwë and how he had fallen under the spell of those eyes.

“That I cannot say,” she answered. “’Tis something you shall have to find out… very soon. Yet I believe you will have the time to pay your respects to someone else first. A long way it is from Lórien’s garden to Taniquetil; still, I think you ought to go there. The Elder King has waited for your return long and patiently.”

“Your words are wise,” Eönwë admitted. “I think I shall walk through the night – I wish not to meet many people, not yet. And what do you intend to do?”

“I shall be waiting,” Melian replied simply, “the same way I have been waiting for all these Ages. One day my patience shall come to fruition. Go now. You have but a short time to do what has to be done. When you return, I shall still be here.”

She kissed Eönwë on the cheek, in the manner of an older sister that she in a sense was to him, for the two of them belonged to the mightiest of the Maiar, and there were now only a few of them, after so many had fallen into darkness. Then Eönwë turned to the east and began his long way to the Taniquetil to pay his respects to Manwë and Varda, while Melian continued her lonely watch, waiting for Elwë’s return and walking in the dreams of past and future.

~Here endeth this tale~

~~~

End notes:
(1) The corporeal form of a Vala or a Maia.


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