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Garden of Dreams and Memories 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1

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 WatcherChild with love. Happy birthday!

Author’s notes:
This is some sort of sequel to “Garden of Dreams and Memories”, and just like its predecessor, it deals with somebody being released from the halls of Mandos and the differences between Maian and Elven interpretation of incarnate life and death – and, before all else, love.

There is an awful lot of footnotes, because I decided to use the Valarin version of the names of the Valar (in case Ardalambion had one ready). It was an attempt to create atmosphere, as Melian was most likely think in the tongue of her own kin. Sorry if it makes reading more difficult.

The descriptions are based on the early Silmarillion draft in “The Lost Road” (HoME 5).

My sincerest thanks go to Finch for beta reading.


~~~

[Valinor, at a not closely determined time after the War of Wrath]

These gardens had once been her dwellings – the fairest of all places in the world, and filled with visions and dreams, sent by Lhuien(1), the Lord of Dreams and his wife, the pale Estë who walked not by day but slept on an island in the dark lake of Lórien, sending her dreams through the music of the falling waters that danced in the many fountains to the folk of Valinor.

Many were the spirits that dwelt in Lhuien’s garden, but most of them chose not to take on a fana and were therefore unknown even to the Elven-Wise, the Vanyar whom Mânawenűz(2) and his wife, the Star-kindler, loved most. Yet she who was later called Melian by her beloved one always wanted to bond with the world that had been born from the Great Music, and so she clad herself into the flesh of Eä. Others followed her lead, yet among all of Lhuien’s fair folk there were none more beautiful than she, no more wise, no more skilled in songs of magic and enchantment.

Even the Mâchanumâz(3) would leave their work, and the birds of Valinor their mirth, and the bells of Valmar were silent, and the fountains ceased to flow, when at the mingling of light Ibrînidhil(4) sang in the gardens of the Lord of Dreams. Nightingales went always with her, and she taught them their song. She loved the deep shadow of the trees, for she was akin, before the world was made, unto Pathânezel, and often strayed from Valinor on long journeys to the Great Lands, and there she filled the silence of the dawning earth with the voices of her birds.

Lonely and dark were the Great Lands in the starless light, after Melkor overthrew the Lamps and all things rested in the deep slumber of Pathânezel. For while the Lamps were still shining, growth began there, which now was halted because all was dark again. But already the oldest living things had arisen: In the Sea the great weeds, and on earth the shadow of dark trees. And beneath the trees small things faint and silent walked, and in the valleys of the night-clad hills there were dark creatures, old and strong.

The Ayanuműz(5) would not seek out these darkened lands. Only Arômęz(6) would often ride eastwards to hunt the monsters of Melkor; and at times Pathânezel(7) came, too, singing sorrowfully, for she was grieved at the darkness of Middle-earth and ill content that it was forsaken.

And Ibrînidhil would come with her all the time, for the dark and lonely forests called out to her heart to be filled with light and song. And she grew fond of these forests, despite their darkness, and left the Gardens of Lhuien to dwell under the trees. Grieved was her departure among the Ayanuműz, for greatly they missed her songs of enchantment and the mirth of her birds that had followed her into the Dark Lands, needing only the light of Aman upon her face.

And so it came that finally the Mâchanumâz listened to Pathânezel’s plea, and Varda’s heart was moved. Therefore she took the silver dew that dripped from Ibrînidhilpathânezel(8) and was hoarded in Valinor, and therewith she made the stars, strewing the unlit skies with these bright vessels, filled with silver flame. And Ibrîniđil, seeing their sparkling beauty, danced in joy among the now softly gleaming trees.

It was shortly after the opening of the first stars that Arômęz returned from one of his hunting trips in great hurry, his heart and his voice filled with love and wonder for the enchanting beauty of the Elder Children of Ilúvatar, whom he called Eldar, the Star-folk. He came upon them by chance? in his wandering, while they dwelt beside the starlit mere, Koivi-néni(9), the Water of Awakening, in the East of Middle-earth.

Hearing these tidings, Ibrînidhil felt the strong urge to see those wondrous creatures, whose coming not even the Mâchanumâz had foreseen, save mayhap Mânawenűz himself, to whom the secret thought of Ilúvatar was revealed in all matters that concern this world. So she left her earlier dwellings and wandered far off to the East, in a starlit wood that was later called Nan Elmoth, and from there she watched the Quendi (as they called themselves) on their long journey towards Valinor.

Their third kindred, who called themselves Lindar(10), the Singers, tarried long on their way, and Ibrînidhil listened to their sweet voices that were even more lovely than those of her nightingales, and she learned their fair tongue, and her love for them grew steadily. And just like Ošošai(11), she was saddened by the thought that all this beauty would be gone from the Great Lands, leaving them dark and empty once again – for not even the newborn stars could match the light in their eyes.

So she followed them on their slow journey, and it happened that when the Lindar nearly reached the end of their way, she would – by chance or by fate, she knew not and asked not and cared not – meet him, who would change her fate ‘til the end of Arda and even beyond.

She was standing upon a glade open to the stars amid the shadows of her beloved trees, sharing sounds of mourning with her nightingales over the leaving of the beautiful Singers, when out he stepped from under the canopy of low, dark branches: a tall and graceful being, with long, silver hair and eyes like the stars at their very birth – a beauty beyond all else she had ever seen, among even her own divine kin.

The Quendi would tell later that she had laid a spell upon him to make him forsake his folk, yet that was not true. She could utter no word when he came to her and their eyes met for the first time, for her heart was so filled with love that it nearly burst. Then he took her hand, his strong, slender fingers, cool yet gentle in the everlasting, starlit night, and they were both cast into a dream and a long slumber, and there they remained for a very long time, and every one thought them lost.

Long and desperate had Elwë’s friends and kinsfolk sought for him, yet he was hidden from their eyes by a starlit mist, and there he stood, holding Ibrînidhil’s hand, while the stars measured out the courses of many Years, and the trees of Nan Elmoth grew tall and dark around them.

While they stood there, enchanted by the beauty of each other and the love that filled their hearts, Ullubôz(12) took all the Lindar who would embark upon the Lonely Isle and drew them over the depths of the Sea. And the friends of Elwë were left behind, and they called themselves, therefore, in their own tongue the Eglath, the Forsaken People. And they sought still for Elwë in sorrow. But it was not his doom ever to return to the Light of the Trees, greatly though he had desired it. For his union with Ibrînidhil had been foreseen in the First Music already, and seeing their great love Mânawenűz listened to his heart where the voice of Ilúvatar would speak to him, and Ibrînidhil was allowed to take on an incarnate form, not a raiment only as it was the wont of her kin, but with all the strength and weaknesses of a true incarnate being, as long as he remained in Middle-earth.

Thus when finally the enchantment fell away from them, Elwë looked at her and saw the undying light of Valinor in her face, and in that light he was content and never again did he yearn for the Light of the Trees. Long and full of wonder their years in Middle-earth were, first under the starlight, then – after the Trees had been slain and the world darkened again – under Athâraigas(13), the appointed heat and Phanaikelűth(14), the bright mirror, and Ibrînidhil laid her girdle of enchantment around the woods of Beleriand where she dwelt with Elwë. Every glance at him filled her heart with bliss, for he seemed like unto a lord of her own kin: fair and noble, tallest in stature of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a high doom was before him. For he became a King renowned, and she became his life-mate, his Queen and his counsellor, and their folk were all the Quendi of Beleriand. The Sindar those were named, the Grey-Elves, the Elves of the Twilight, and King Greymantle was he, Elu Thingol in the tongue of the Sindar. And his Queen he named Melian, and for the love of him Ibrînidhil accepted that name and wore it, indeed, even after she had returned to Valinor.

For indeed, her life come full circle after she had lost every one and every thing she had gained in the Great Lands – her beloved, who once again had fallen under the spell of the Light of the Trees, now captured in three bright Jewels; their daughter, the most beautiful of all Children of Ilúvatar that ever came to this world; the lands that she had protected for years uncounted, for after the passing of Elwë she could find no beauty nor joy in Middle-earth any more.

Sometimes she wondered if Elwë would expect her to remain there and continue his work – but without his bright spirit to fill them the caves of Menegroth were but an empty shell and seemed like a prison to her, and even her beloved forests seemed lifeless and hollow without his voice to murmur to her among the murmurs of the wind among the leaves. Not even Dior, whose spirit burned almost as bright as his grandsire’s could keep her in the darkening lands.

Ever since then, she had dwelt here again, in Lhuien’s gardens. But she sang no more, for her heart felt empty and her spirit weary, and there were times when she wondered if she would fade away in grief as Elves did. Seldom did she speak to any one, even the Rehoused Ones who left the Halls of Mandos through the Gardens. She saw the reawakening of Glorfindel the Golden, the very first of the Firstborn to ever return, and she spoke shortly to Finnôwenűz(15) after he ended his voluntary stay in the Halls, yet she spent most of the Ages gone by since her return alone. Lhuien and Estë avoided her tactfully, speaking to her in dreams only, and even that rarely enough, but she minded it not. She had come to understand that she had to share Elwë’s fate – as far as it was possible.

Empty was her existence without him; empty, yet not lonely. For all her dreams were full of ghosts from their shared past – images of beloved ones and friends and foes who were mostly gone by now, too. Lúthien, dancing under the starlit trees… Beren, returning empty-handed, nay, without his hand entirely, and with a bitter shadow upon his face… Túrin, running off to his doom… Nellas, poor, sweet Nellas, begging her not to leave Doriath and their people unprotected… The bitter eyes of young Oropher, so alike those of his great-uncle(16), full of accusation… Their young children, clinging to Nellas, frightened, for their parents were, and though they understood not what was happening, they felt somehow that it was not good…

The fair, sun-tanned face of Beleg Cúthalion(17), offering to go after rebellious young Túrin, foresight failing him to see his own doom… though Ibrînidhil was certain that had Beleg known that he would not return, he would have gone nevertheless. Friendship between incarnates could at times be something akin to the devotion two Maiar felt towards each other.

Back then she failed to understand the strong ties that bound the Children of Ilúvatar to each other, no matter if those were the bonds of love or those of hatred. During her endless vigil sometimes she asked herself if the Lindar that had come to the Undying Lands ever forgave her for sundering them from Elwë and his people. She never felt strong enough to go to Alqualondë and face Olwë who had been burdened with leadership because of her. She suspected that some would call her a coward, yet she had been hiding ever since her return nevertheless.

Lhuien and Estë showed her much of what had happened during her absence from Valinor, and she was glad that she had not been here to witness the poisoning of the Two Trees, the first blood spilt upon the sacred soil of Aman, the destruction of the Singing Stone of Alqualondë. Times had been dark enough in the Great Lands, but at least her memories of the Blessed Realm had remained unspoiled.

For that was all that remained her: the memories. Aman in the light of Aţâraigas and Phanaikelűth was not the same as Aman in the light of the Two Trees had been, and the enchanted woods of Doriath that she had helped to protect for so long had broken down under the weight of the wrath of the Valar and were swallowed by the Sea. She had no home left, not on these shores, nor east? of the Sea. And even if Athâraphelűn(18) should be re-made, who knows if it would ever be the same? Both Finnôwenűz and his soul-bound, Glorfindel the Golden(19) had stated that naught could return from the death of its outer shell unchanged. The Spring of Athâraphelűn, even if there should be a new spring for these tormented lands, might never be the same, mayhap not even alike the first one. And thus all her hopes and labours might have been for nothing.

“No labour done in good hope is ever for nothing, even if we are not graced with enjoying its fruits,” a deep, melodious voice, not unlike the murmurs of the Great Ocean said behind her, as if answering her melancholic thoughts. Mayhap it really did. Stranger things were possible in Lhuien’s gardens.

She turned and saw a tall Elf approaching her. His long, whit robe was sewn with many sparkling pearls, so that he was shimmering in the twilight like a great pearl himself, and long and white was his hair as well – not silver like that of the nobles of the Lindar but snow-white, adorned only by a delicately-woven silver circlet, set with pearls. His eyes were deep blue and very bright, and his face beautiful even according to Elven measures, and so familiar it nearly broke her heart. For though she had only seen him from afar, back in the Great Lands a long, long time ago, she recognized him at once.

“Lord Olwë,” she murmured, rising from the rim of her favourite fountain, feeling strangely anxious. “You have come.”

“Long have I waited for you, Melian of Doriath, ever since you returned to Valinor,” the King of Alqualondë replied,” for I was eager to meet her who filled the heart of my brother with so much joy that he was ready to forsake the Light of the Trees that he so longed to see again. Yet you never came.”

“I believed not that I would be welcome,” she admitted quietly. Olwë raised a royal eyebrow in a hauntingly familiar manner.

“Why should we not welcome you, Lady?” We all had our bitter losses during the Ages, ‘tis true – yet few of those were our own mistakes, no matter what Lord Ossë might think,” he added with a small, ironic smile. “I wish you had trusted us enough to come. We could have shared our feelings and our memories and mayhap eased the pain of our hearts.”

“You have not come, either,” she pointed out. “Until now.”

“True, yet it was not my place to force my company upon you,” Olwë replied gravely, “for your kin is way above mine, despite him who binds us together, and it would have been inappropriate to do thusly. I only came now because I have been summoned.”

“Who summoned you?” she asked in wonder.

“Lady Estë called out to me in my dreams,” answered Olwë. “She told me I would be needed here today.”

“What for?” Ibrînidhil asked. The deep laughter of the King of the Lindar warmed her heart unexpectedly as Olwë pointed forward.

“For him.”

And as she followed the line of his outstretched arm, she saw someone who could be his mirror image, save the clothes and the long, silver hair that gleamed softly in the fading light of the evening. Someone with a beautiful though slightly confused face and eyes bright as the newborn stars. She looked at the newcomer, not quite able to trust her eyes just yet, and her heart quelled over with tears of joy.

Her long vigil was finally over. The one who meant everything to her was returning. There would be no more loneliness, and even though their losses might never cease hurting, they would have each other again, to share sorrows and joys once more, like they always did.

~Here endeth this tale~

~~~

End notes:
(1) Earlier name for the Vala Irmo.
(2) The name of Manwë in the tongue of Valinor (according to the Ardalambion).
(3) The Aratari, the lead Valar (Valarin).
(4) Silver-flower in Valarin – an original name I chose for Melian. Not a genuine Tolkien invention.
(5) Ainur in Valarin (Not sure that the plural is correctly given, though).
(6) The Vala Oromë (Valarin).
(7) Tentative attempt to give Yavanna a Valarin name. Supposed meaning: “Leaf-green”.
(8) Valarin name of Telperion – it is supposed to mean “Silver-flower leaf-green”.
(9) A very early name for Cuiviénen.
(10) The Teleri, as they called themselves.
(11) Ossë (Valarin).
(12) Ulmo (Valarin).
(13) The Sun (Valarin).
(14) The Moon (Valarin).
(15) The feeble attempt to create a Valarin version of the name Fionwë (called Eönwë in the final scripts), the herald of Manwë. To his voluntary stay in Mandos see “Garden of Dreams and Memories, Part 1” and “Sons of Twilight and Starlight”.
(16) In my stories Oropher is the eldest son of Thingol’s brother, Elmö.
(17) Beleg was considered an Ilkorin Elf by Tolkien at some point. I simply assumed that Ilkorin Elves would tan. Feel free to disagree with me.
(18) “appointed dwelling” = Arda (Valarin)
(19) For further details see “Sons of Twilight and Starlight”.


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