Chapter 1: May the Valar decide
New Imladris, 3rd year of the Fourth Age by Gondor reckoning
Valerie stopped her horse to have a good look at the small city that was under construction and smiled with pride. To her, this was her city. Everywhere she looked, houses were being build, strategically positioned around the main manor that would become Lord Elrond's residence. The vast mansion would eventually have two aisles, but for now, only the left wing was almost completed. Valerie had convinced the lord that it would be best to proceed in two phases, to allow the workers to build lodging for their lord and his guests, but also the house of the citizens. In a few years, once the majority of the elves had permanent lodging, they would build the second aisle. The plan was also to build a new royal talan in the nearby forest for Lady Galadriel, and many more telain for the Galadhrim that wanted to remain with their Lady and Lord, once Celeborn finally arrived in Valinor. The trees in the forest were nowhere near as big as the Mallorn trees of Lothlorien. There were some Mallyrn in Valinor, but none were close to the location of Lord Elrond's new realm. The construction of Lady Galadriel's little town was requiring many adjustments to their plan due to the characteristics of the forest.
The elves involved in the building of the city were living in a temporary camp. Lord Elrond was spending many days a week there, but every now and them would go to Tirion where Lady Celebrian was residing until their residence would be ready. Lady Celebrian, despite her best efforts, had not been able to live at the camp and was staying in town with Lady Galadriel. Thomas was staying with the ladies in Tirion, as their circle of friends were very fond of his music. Nimmel, Haldir's mother, was sharing her time between Tirion and the camp, and she was the one who was taking care of her grandchildren when Haldir, Valerie and Adam were busy in the new realm being built. Adam, now 18 years old and considered an adult, was following his ada like a shadow. But Oropher, Gil-galad, Finalfin and the twins were staying with Nimmel and visiting the site regularly.
The day before, Valerie had received a missive from her mother-in-law in which Nimmel had been hinting that Narwen was misbehaving and was in dire need of parental scolding. Valerie, who was already grateful that she could spend a lot of time on the construction site due to Nimmel's help had decided to take the matter in hand and had decided to keep Narwen with her for a few weeks. Narwen would miss her twin sister Norin, but she had missed her mother very much and had purposely made her grandmother's life a living hell to ensure she would be sent back to her parents. Punishment was worth it if it meant spending time with them.
Valerie had just arrived from Tirion, her daughter sitting in front of her on her horse, and Narwen screamed in delight when she saw the progress of the construction. That was when Valerie had stopped her horse to contemplate the project of her life. Yes, she really could be proud of their collective accomplishment of the past two years.
The ellyn working on the first houses after the main gate bowed when they saw the lady that was in charge of the construction site. Some of them smiled when they saw the little brat sitting in front of her mother. Narwen, at 5 years old, had quite a reputation already. Her pranks had been cataloged and were regularly mentioned by the workers during meals and around the evening bonfires.
Valerie dismounted, and guided her horse through the streets, stopping here and there to talk to the workers. She got to the main tent where the architect, Lord Eriston, was working on the plans of a house with Haldir. This residence had been the cause of many altercations between the two mates. It was being built for a lord living in Valimar who had decided to move in Elrond's new realm, and in one of the best locations at that. The size of this future house would make it one of the biggest homes of New Imladris. Why Haldir was helping an ellon she had never met to build a huge house was greatly annoying her, and she vocalized her displeasure regularly, even in front of Lord Eriston.
“Lady Valarie!” Lord Eriston yelped, rolling the plans in a hurry and putting them in a drawer of his desk, trying to avoid a fight. “We were expecting you much later!”
“Good morning, meleth nin – my love,” Haldir said with an angelic smile. He did not have time to continue when Narwen threw herself in his arms, and he caught her just before her head hit the side of the desk, avoiding the first catastrophe of the many to come in a regular day for his daughter.
His welcome to his youngest daughter was less pleasant, as she soon realized.
“Mae govannen, young Lady,” he said with a stern look as he put her back on her feet, not keeping her in his arms as she had expected. “I was extremely displeased to hear of your behavior in the past week.” Narwen was by far their less disciplined child, even beating Oropher with the abundance and severity of her pranks.
Lord Eriston watched the little elleth who was wearing leggings like her mother. Without a doubt, they used to belong to the young Lord Finalfin. He could understand why Lady Valarie was wearing leggings on the construction site, but her daughter?
Narwen suddenly looked at him with a frown. “I always tear my dresses when I play. This is why my naneth allows me to wear Finalfin's old leggings.”
An awkward silence followed, as Valerie glared at the architect. Lord Eriston cleared his throat, and deciding that escaping was the best option, he left the tent, mumbling that he would go see the progress of the flooring in the manor's second floor.
“This is just another thing that annoys people, Narwen,” Valerie told her daughter with severity. “An elleth like you should not be wearing ellon's clothing. But you give us no choice!” If only she was as reasonable as Norin! Valerie thought.
Narwen glared at her mother. “I am not Norin, and I will never be!” she declared with an outrage that was almost comical for one so young. On this last sentence, Narwen left the tent, eager to leave the adults that would never understand her.
“It is getting harder and harder to guard our thoughts around her,” Haldir said as he tried to comfort his mate. Narwen's mind reading capabilities were astounding, even greater than Lady Galadriel's.
“Can you imagine what it must feel like to hear all these thoughts around you at all times? And some being negative about yourself?” asked Valerie.
“Truthfully, Val, if she was behaving like a proper little elleth, she would only hear praises about her.”
“I know! What are we going to do with her?”
“Survive another 45 years before Elladan takes her off our hands!” Haldir said to make her smile.
“Are you sure he will still want her once he gets to know her?” she jested.
“If he is really her mate, then he will find a way to tame that wild elleth! After all, I tamed you, didn't I? I successfully domesticated the worst pig-head of all Middle Earth and Valinor.”
“Look who is talking! How many times have I asked you to halt the construction of that house you are building against my will? You are using my best building materials, many workers who could work on the houses of the other citizens, you even monopolized the gardeners for a week to have a garden in the middle of the house, like this is some Roman domus!”
“But this is exactly what Eriston and I are doing. We drew the plans based on a drawing in one of your history books,” he informed her with a smile, knowing she would react to this information.
Valerie snorted, thinking she should have left the history books with Emily in Middle Earth. “I think you should stick with being a soldier and leave the construction management to me.”
“But if I do, you will build this house last, and my friend Ionor needs it soon. It is very important to him, and I want to accommodate him as much as possible.”
“Why soon? Your friend has a house in Tirion! Why you think this is an emergency is beyond me and makes me question your sani...” Valerie stopped, knowing she had been about to say something she would eventually regret. She took a deep breath, and looking at Haldir seriously, she decided to drop the matter. Obviously, Lord Eriston and Haldir would proceed with or without her help. “Haldir, I am tired of fighting about this house. I will never again say a word about it – and don’t you dare ask me for advice or help. This is your little project, I have a bigger fish to fry.”
“Thank you,” Haldir replied simply, happy to see that Valerie would let him do as he pleased. He understood that Valerie had been under a lot of pressure in the past two years, and it would be so for another year or so, before at least there were enough houses built to have most of the former Imladris elves and Galadhrim stop living with their Valinor relatives. The goal was to share houses for a few more years after that, as additional houses would be built at a slower rate in the following 5 years.
“What are you planning to do today?” he asked to change the subject.
“First, I have to find your daughter. Only the Valar know where she is right now. Then, I will go check the progress of the second watermill. I will go in the forest to see the telain that are being built. I think we will start the royal talan in 6 months. I also need to ensure that we will have enough white stones to complete the south wall of Lord Elrond's manor. I think I might have to go visit King Fingon soon to ask for more.”
“I will need more white stones for the doric columns of Ionor's house...” Haldir stopped when he saw Valerie's expression. “But I can wait a few weeks. You should bring Gil-galad with you when you visit King Fingon. They would be pleased to see their son.”
Valerie blanched at his words. It was still difficult for her to deal with the fact that in Valinor, some ellith were the real mothers of the sons she considered hers.
“Val... we have talked about this. You are the naneth of our children for now. And when they will have their past memories, they will still remember us and the half-century they spent with us. We will have to share the role. We cannot do anything else.”
“I know. You are right,” she said, putting her hand to her forehead as if she was fighting a headache. “I will bring Gil-galad when I visit King Fingon and Queen Faervel. Might as well bring Oropher too, these two hate to be apart. But do not ask me to go visit Lady Lithil on my way there!”
“I would never ask such a thing!” Haldir disliked Oropher's first mother as much as Valerie did.
“Look grandmother! I caught one!” Norin screamed in delight. Nimmel congratulated her, giving Norin a sweet kiss that the small elleth returned with obvious affection for her grandmother.
Nimmel watched her grandchildren for a little while, paying very little attention to the conversation around her. The Marchwarden's younger children were all playing nearby save for Narwen, who was spending a few days with her parents. Oropher, Gil-galad and Elros were playing that game called soccer, which they used to play in Lothlorien with their father and uncles. Norin had been trying to catch butterflies with a net for a while now, and her recent success had made her eager for another catch.
Nimmel caressed Norin's silky hair when the little elleth started having the absent look she always bore when she was having a vision of the future. The focus in her eyes came right back, and she told Lady Celebrian she would soon have visitors. Before the lady could ask about her future guests, Norin was already back to the rose bushes to try to catch other butterflies.
“Why am I not allowed to call you grandmother like everyone else?” Finalfin asked Nimmel, suddenly appearing beside her. Until then, he had been catching butterflies with Norin, and she had not noticed his approach.
Lady Celebrian and Lady Galadriel stopped chatting and looked at Nimmel and Finalfin. They all knew the question would be asked one day, it was just too soon for them to have come up with a decent answer. Lady Celebrian looked at her mother Galadriel, hoping she would find the right answer to that tricky question.
Nimmel had been happy to help her son and his mate while they assisted Lord Elrond in the building of New Imladris. After all, they were working for the greater good, and all the ladies around the table would benefit from new and comfortable homes because of their sacrifices. Taking care of their children was a great pleasure most of the time, even more so when Narwen was with her parents. Everyone loved the younger twin dearly, but she was such a handful for a female! Nimmel had developed a special relationship with each of her grandchildren, and was taking her role very seriously. But there was one of them with whom she could absolutely not develop a grandmother-granchild relationship with, and it was her own reborn mate, Finalfin.
She gave him the same tender care, the same attention, but she could not raise him, allow him to call her grandmother. How would he react when he grew older, and discovered he is in love with his grandmother? The situation was unpleasant at the least, border line incestuous if one was looking to bad mouth the Marchwarden's family. Nimmel envied Queen Tialyn, who did not have the burden of participating in the raising of her own mate Oropher.
Lady Celebrian took her hand, knowing the internal struggle of her long-time friend, while Finalfin started frowning when he realized the ellith were not answering his question. The 7 year-old did not think this was a difficult question. Why could he not call Nimmel grandmother like his brothers and sisters? Angry, he turned around, knowing he would ask his naneth the following week. The entire family would be visiting the construction site for a few days. His mother never sugarcoated the truth when he asked for real answers.
“Finalfin?” Lady Galadriel called. The young ellon was tempted to ignore her, but knew his ada would be mortified to hear of his conduct should his disrespectful behavior be reported to him. He slowly turned around and walked back to the bench were the three ladies were sitting under the shade of an oak.
“Yes, my Lady?”
“How would you like to call Nimmel?”
“Can you not think of another name?”
“I do not want another one,” he replied stubbornly. “I want to call her like my siblings are calling her!”
“But you could find a special name that only you would be allowed to use. Would you like that?”
“Only I would be using it?”
“And what if one of my brothers uses it too?”
“Then Nimmel will ask him to call her grandmother. The name would be just for you.”
“I promise!” Nimmel replied for Lady Galadriel. The idea was so simple. How could she have not thought about it earlier?
“Tell me, what was your first thought when you saw Nimmel upon your arrival in Valinor? When you saw her on the quay?” inquired Lady Galadriel.
Celebrian and Nimmel wondered where the Lady was going with this.
Finalfin did not hesitate. “I thought she was very small for an adult. She is much smaller than Nana and Emily. Smaller than you and Lady Celebrian. Smaller than aunt Nellethiel and aunt Allison, even smaller than...”
“We got the point, my child!” interrupted Galadriel with a laugh. Celebrian had been more successful in hiding her merriment, while Nimmel had blushed violently. She now knew where Lady Galadriel was going.
“Does this inspire you any name for Nimmel, Finalfin?”
“You mean a name reflecting the fact that she is so small?” the ellon inquired. Nimmel groaned, hiding her face behind her delicate hands.
“It could be an idea,” continued Galadriel. “But if you do not like it...”
“I love it!” Finalfin interrupted. “Nimmel? Could I call you Ella – small? Please?”
Nimmel shuddered when she heard the familiar pet name. Finalfin had called her Ella since the day of their betrothal. He had liked to tease her that way, to outline their significant difference in height. It had quickly become a term of endearment, one she had been missing for many centuries. Many people had thought her pet name hilarious after seeing her mate and the three sons she had given him. All four of them tall and strong while she was so small and delicate.
“Yes, Finalfin, you can call me Ella. I would really like that.”
“It is settled then,” Lady Galadriel decided. “I think your sister caught another butterfly.”
Finalfin turned around and started running toward Norin who had caught a blue butterfly this time, still near the rose bushes.
“Finalfin?” the Lady called again. “I would have you know, penneth - young one, that I never sugarcoat my answers either,” Lady Galadriel added with a smile.
Finalfin blushed. How could anyone live in peace with Lady Galadriel and Narwen around, reading their thoughts at all times?
“Queen Tialyn and Lady Lithil are here to see you, Lady Celebrian,” a servant announced, entering the garden. The interruption saved Finalfin from having to explain his former thought to the ellith who were watching him.
“I was not expecting their visit!” Lady Celebrian said. She was glad to see Tialyn. Lady Lithil was a totally different matter.
“Will you be receiving them, my Lady?” the servant inquired.
“Of course! Please bring them to my boudoir. Will you be joining me?” she asked her mother and her dear friend Nimmel.
“I have to stay with the children,” Nimmel replied, happy to have a good excuse not to spend the afternoon with Lithil. “They might need me... Norin is very young... She could get hurt...”
“Hurt catching butterflies?” asked Lady Galadriel, who wished she had an excuse, but not finding one that would be as easily accepted by their guests. She had no choice but to receive the visitors with her daughter.
Mother and daughter left the garden while Nimmel turned her attention back to her grandchildren. Their presence had enlighten her life, and was helping her cope with the fact that her sons Orophin and Rumil and their wives were still living in Middle Earth.
“You seem distracted, grandmother,” a low voice said behind her. Nimmel smiled at the ellon who sat down beside her on the bench, his red hair shining brightly under the sun. She was amazed to see that every biological child that Valerie had carried had inherited her hair color. This fiery color was very unusual in Valinor, and she knew her grandchildren would be turning heads with their good looks.
“Thomas, I thought you were practicing your cello?” Thomas had brought back many musical instruments from his world, and had become an extraordinary cello player. The ladies of Tirion enjoyed tremendously the concerts he organized once a week. Elves were coming from all over Valinor to listen to his music and the strange instruments he was mastering.
“I was, until I heard voices in Lady Celebrian's boudoir. Lady Lithil is here, so I escaped by the back door and decided to join you! What excuse have you found to avoid her presence?” He gave her a kiss on the cheek while she patted his back. Thomas was not as strongly built as Adam, who had the strength of a trained warrior.
“I must watch the children.”
“I could watch them for you if you wish to go with the other ladies,” he teased.
“Absolutely not, now that I have another grandchild to be with! We have not spoken in days!”
“I was busy, I guess.” Thomas was teaching violin to many elves, and had made many minstrel friends in Tirion. “Norin's harp was delivered this morning. She will no longer have to play with mine! It was way too big for her!”
“She looked so small beside that immense instrument!” Nimmel laughed.
Thomas was learning with a harpist friend, and he had caught Norin trying to play with his instrument a few months earlier. They all had been amazed at her extraordinary musical talent.
“I had hoped Narwen would also develop an interest in music.”
“Oh Thomas, our Narwen does not have enough patience to apply herself to mastering a musical instrument,” Nimmel sighed. “I hope she will find some leisure activities that she will like.”
“She will, grandmother, she will. She is a tormented little soul who needs to be loved unconditionally. We need to give her time...”
Thomas was interrupted by the voice of Queen Tialyn who was entering the garden at a fast pace.
“Nimmel! There you are! Oh, Thomas! How nice to see you! I wanted to tell you how I enjoyed your last cello concert. This symphony was amazing!”
“It is the Cello Concerto from Robert Schumann,” Thomas replied.
“I will miss your concerts when you move to New Imladris.” Being done with the formalities, Tialyn turned her eyes to the playing children, following Oropher's every move.
“Is there a reason why you decided to join us in the garden?” Nimmel asked with a smirk, touching Tialyn's hand to get her attention back.
“Actually, my mother-in-law and Lady Celebrian are having an argument again. She is getting impatient. She wants to get Oropher back as soon as possible.”
“My mother will never allow that. The last time someone tried to take Oropher from her, kin slaying was barely avoided,” Thomas replied.
“Who tried to take him from her?” asked Nimmel.
“King Thranduil of Mirkwood.”
“I beg your pardon? My son tried to get Oropher's custody?” Tialyn was outraged when Thomas describe her son's behavior years ago in Lothlorien, when he had plotted to kidnap a newborn Oropher.
“I did not raise him to do such a thing! Wait until he sails! He will wish he never showed up on these shores!” she spat angrily.
Queen Tialyn stopped when shouts started being heard near them. Lady Galadriel swiftly entered the garden, infuriated like no one had witnessed yet in Valinor. Inside the house, Lady Celebrian's shouts could still be heard.
“Tialyn?” called Lady Galadriel. “Your mother-in-law has been asked to leave this house. I am afraid we must ask you to make a choice this very minute.”
“But we just arrived!” Tialyn said with a frown. She was nowhere near done speaking with Nimmel and Thomas. She wanted to hear all these things about her son and her grandson Legolas that Valerie seemed to have forgotten to tell her. Her red-head friend would hear about it!
“Tialyn!” cried Celebrian as she entered the garden. On the door step, a glaring Lady Lithil was standing, waiting for Tialyn. “Tialyn, were you aware of what Lady Lithil has done?”
Queen Tialyn turned to her mother-in-law with a questioning look. “What have you done?” she asked with worry, understanding the gravity of the situation when looking at Lady Celebrian and Lady Galadriel.
“Lady Lithil went to see the Valar and requested Oropher's custody! They have listened to her arguments, and a hearing has been scheduled for next week in Valimar to discuss it with Valarie and Haldir!” cried Celebrian. “Please Tialyn, please tell me you did not participate in that!”
Nimmel turned to face Tialyn, feeling betrayed. Thomas stood and went to play with the children, making sure none of them realized what was happening but he kept listening nevertheless. Once Lady Lithil had gotten out of the house, he would rush to New Imladris to inform his parents.
“She did not,” Lady Galadriel confirmed, reading the outrage in Tialyn's mind. “But Tialyn, you must immediately make a choice. In this matter, you cannot remain neutral. Either you decide to support Valarie and Haldir, or you support your mother-in-law.”
“We are leaving, Tialyn! Hurry up!” Lady Lithil called with a cold voice from the doorway, sure that Queen Tialyn would support her. After all, why would she not raise Oropher with her? The child was her mate, and would benefit to be raise by his mate.
“Actually, I think I will stay, Mother,” Tialyn replied to her mother-in-law. “I have always tolerated your capricious character, your constant criticism of my actions and your intrusions in my personal life, but no more! Two years past, you moved into my home, but today, I am asking you to move out of my manor at your earliest convenience and leave my people in peace.” Queen Tialyn had a house in Tirion, but also had a royal talan in a woodland realm in the Woods of Oromė, south of Tirion. She was spending more than half her time ruling this small realm until her husband or son could take over.
“You cannot ask me to leave! I am the mother of the King of Greenwood!”
Queen Tialyn stood slowly, fury clear on her face, but when she spoke, her voice was tightly controlled.
“May I remind you that you have no birth rights over the woodland people? Oropher became king because of his hard work and the trust our people had in him. He founded the dynasty in Greenwood. And I am his queen, mother of the current king of Eryn Lasgalen, and grandmother of its prince. I ruled the realm in Middle Earth for centuries, and helped Thranduil after the death of my mate. Furthermore, I have ruled the woodland realm of Valinor since my arrival. What had you done for our people other than be a nuisance?”
Lady Lithil was speechless. Generally, Tialyn had always let her do what she wanted, even abuse of her authority without doing more than raise an eyebrow when she went too far. This was a rare show of independence. But Lady Lithil was convinced she was right, and that eventually Tialyn would realize it. Oropher belonged with her.
“I will find a new home when Oropher will live with me. I will forget what you just told me and allow you to visit him frequently. You are not yourself, Tialyn.”
“On the contrary, I am more myself than I have ever been. I have tolerated you for centuries, hoping that Oropher would be glad that we get along well and that he could forget the poor excuse for a childhood you gave him the first time around. I have been sitting on the fence for too long, living in frustration and anger. This is over. I will fight you on that point, Lithil. I will attend the hearing, and let the Valar know that I fully support Lady Valarie. And may the Valar be with you when Oropher is mature and discovers that you tried to separate him from his second family. There will be consequences, heed my words.”
“I will win!” screamed Lithil.
“No, you will not,” Tialyn replied with confidence, sitting back on the bench gracefully. “Now go!” she dismissed with a wave of her hand.
“I will not send the carriage back for you,” threatened her angry mother-in-law.
“Queen Tialyn, you can live with us until Lady Lithil has found a new home,” Lady Celebrian graciously offered, now standing behind Tialyn, her hands on the queen's shoulders.
“Thank you, I accept your proposal.”
Lady Lithil snorted disdainfully, and with one last look at her son Oropher, oblivious to the commotion, she left the garden.
The hearing was taking place in Valimar, at the castle of the Vala Tulkas, the greatest warrior of the world. Valerie was not even noticing all the weapons and armors in the hallways as they were walking to the hall where the Valar were waiting for them. Haldir was holding her arm, supporting his trembling mate. Lord Elrond, Lady Celebrian and Lady Galadriel were walking in the front, while Queen Tialyn, Nimmel and Adam were following behind. Thomas had remained in the courtyard with their other children. Valerie and Haldir had still not told their youngest sons about their rebirth and did not want to alarm them by explaining that Lady Lithil was trying to get custody of Oropher.
They arrived in front of huge wooden doors, and a chamberlain asked them to wait while he advised the Valar of their arrival. Near a window, also waiting to be introduced, was Lady Lithil. She was wearing a black dress, and the effect of this darkness on her white skin and blond hair was quite dramatic. She ignored Tialyn's salutation and went back to looking at the courtyard where her son was playing with his enemy of old and now brother, Gil-galad. She snorted. She would stop this madness soon enough.
The chamberlain came back, and told them the Valar were ready to receive them. Additional chairs had been brought, as more elves than anticipated would be in attendance, the ellon informed them, looking at all the ladies and lords that were there to support the Marchwarden and his wife.
The wooden doors were opened, and Valerie and Haldir followed the others. Valerie looked around wildly, searching for the living gods that could take away one of her children. The hall was vast, with immense windows enlightening the room. There were tapestries between each windows, wonderful and delicate creations of the Valier, the female gods. Each tapestry was representing an event that had taken place in Valinor or in Middle Earth. As they walked to the end of the hall, Valerie wondered how could the Valier have depicted the Middle Earth scenes if they had not been present. The only plausible answer was that they could see what was happening in Middle Earth even when they lived in Valinor.
As they got near the end of the hall, they observed the 12 powerful beings that were sitting on thrones on a large pedestal. They all were extraordinarily beautiful, with their eyes full of wisdom and their skin shining under the sunlight coming through the windows. They were richly dressed in formal tunics and dresses. Valerie noticed that some of the living gods were holding hands, obviously the bonded ones. All the Valar were looking with great attention at the elves that were walking toward them.
“Manwe and Varda, the king and queen of the Valar, are not present,” whispered Lord Elrond to the elves behind him.
“Is that good or bad?” asked Haldir.
“I wish I could answer that,” the Lord of Imladris replied, puzzled. He had met a few of the Valar in the past 2 years, but never so many of them at the same time.
The group stopped right in front of the pedestal, and everyone bowed respectfully, waiting for the permission to rise again and take their seats.
“Lady Galadriel! Lord Elrond! Welcome to my home. It is a pleasure to see you again so soon after your last visit,” the Vala Tulkas said, greeting to two elves that stood in front of the group.
“They were here before?” asked another very tall Vala wearing a green armor. They recognized the King of the Sea.
“My dear Ulmo,” replied Lady Nessa, wife of Tulkas. “You would have known if you were leaving the sea and attending some of our meetings.”
All the female Valier except one laughed, gracefully hiding their smiles behind their perfect hands. The last one, Nienna, Lady of pity and mourning, seldom smiled, as she was constantly feeling the sadness of all elves living in both Middle Earth and Valinor. Lady Nienna caught Valerie's gaze, and held it for a while, reading her thoughts. Tears started falling on her ethereal features. Valerie started to cry when she realized that at least someone in this room understood the extent of her grief. Valerie had no hope that she could win this, and had ridden near Oropher all the way to Tulkas' castle, kissing him and holding him as frequently as possible, convinced he would leave with Lady Lithil after the hearing.
Their silent exchange did not go unnoticed, and all the Valar turned to watch Valerie who stepped back under their common gaze. Haldir held her closer while Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond slowly moved in front of the couple, trying to protect them from the Valar.
“Lord Elrond, Lady Galadriel, the reason behind your presence is now clear to all,” said another Vala, a dark-haired, very serious being. “But you cannot avoid discussing the case of the young ellyn I have released from my Halls.”
Valerie and Haldir realized this was Namo, the Doomsman Vala, responsible of the fėar of the dead elves until the time of their rebirth. No wonder this Vala looked stern. He and his sister Nienna had the worse faith of the Valar, in constant contact with the sadness of the dead and sorrowful living.
“My Lord Namo,” Lady Galadriel answered, “we are not here to avoid discussing the matter at hand, but to offer support to two of our people who are being unjustly trialed today.”
“Lady Galadriel, your opinion on the fairness of this hearing was not requested,” thundered Lord Ulmo, King of the sea.
“Please have a seat, all of you,” requested the Vala Nessa, breaking the tension. Lady Lithil sat on the left by herself while the others sat around Valerie and Haldir on the right. Behind them, the chamberlain that had introduced them apologized and asked if he could interrupt the hearing. When granted permission, he went to Lord Tulkas and spoke in his ear.
“Let them in,” the lord decided. A minute later, King Fingon and Queen Faervel entered the hall, and bowed in front of the Valar.
“My Ladies and Lords, my wife and I wanted to attend this hearing as we believe we are a party that has interest in this matter,” the first father of Gil-galad said.
“Granted,” Lord Tulkas simply said. “Please have a seat.”
Lady Lithil started to remove the shawl she had put on the chair near hers, but to her surprise, the king and queen went to sit behind Valerie. Queen Faervel even hugged Valerie's shoulder in a surprising show of support.
“Let's start,” decided Lord Ulmo.
For an hour, Lady Lithil went on and on about how she was Oropher's real mother and that the only reason why Valerie's body had been needed was that the Valar had wanted Oropher reborn in Middle Earth while she had already sailed to Valinor. Had she still been living in Middle Earth, she would have carried Oropher a second time. She attacked Valerie on every possible front, from the fact that she spent too much time managing the construction of New Imladris for Lord Elrond to the fact that Oropher could not be raised properly with so many siblings around. He was an ellon who needed exclusive care and love. Valerie paled when she heard that statement. Lady Lithil knew her son well indeed. She looked at Haldir for support, but his expression was worried also. Queen Tialyn whispered in their ears that she thought Oropher was very happy, and could cope with many siblings despite his need for exclusive love.
“And I would like to end my plea by expressing my opinion about this scandalous situation, in which Oropher and Gil-galad are not only being raised together, but are extremely close as far as I can tell. The two kings have always been enemies, and lost their lives on the same battlefield, disagreeing on the strategy to fight Sauron. It pains me immensely to see them interact together like that.”
Many Valar noticed the raised eyebrow of Lady Nienna, who did not seem to get vibes of sadness coming from Lady Lithil. But she did turn her head to the elleth who was raising said enemies, and saw her disbelief and hurt to have heard such a complaint.
“May I express my opinion on this very matter?” asked King Fingon.
“Please do,” allowed Lord Tulkas, and King Fingon stood and walked in front of the Valar.
“I will be brief, contrary to Lady Lithil. It is true that my son Gil-galad and King Oropher never saw eye-to-eye, and all elves of Middle Earth had to live with the consequences of that feud. Queen Tialyn lost her mate, and King Thranduil became king of Greenwood without being ready for such a task, putting additional pressure on Queen Tialyn. I was already in the Halls of Mandos when my son died, but his death caused the dispersion of all the Noldorin elves, who were left without a king. Lord Elrond was forced to accept the ruling of the remaining Noldor without the title of king, and had to live with the weight of bearing Gil-galad's ring of power for centuries. Without their hate, Sauron could have been defeated much more quickly the second time he arose in Middle Earth. My wife and I share the opinion that having King Oropher and Gil-galad reborn in the same family and with such a small age difference was a good decision taken by the Valar, and we would like to express our gratitude to you.”
King Fingon had cleverly pointed out that Lady Lithil was questioning a decision that had been taken long ago by the same people that would make the decision today. The lady in question frowned, realizing too late the implications of her last argument.
“Queen Faervel, can you please tell us what you feel about Lady Valarie and Lord Haldir raising your son Gil-galad?” asked Lady Nessa.
The queen blanched. She could not lie to the Valar, and knew whatever she said would hurt the elleth who was the new naneth – mother- of her son. Her husband smiled encouragingly to her, and she stood to join him in front of the Valar.
“My son was reborn in the womb of another elleth, and like Lady Lithil, I understand the necessity of the decision that was made back then. It would not have been my first choice, obviously. I would have preferred to carry him again, and raise him from infancy to adulthood. But things did not happen that way, and I accept that. Lady Valarie brings my son to visit us as frequently as she can, and allows us to keep him for a few days, and that will have to be enough for now. Gil-galad does not remember us, and it is painful, but he cannot be blamed for it, nor can Lady Valarie and Lord Haldir. They love our son, and our son loves them. He is very happy, he is healthy, he loves all his brothers and sisters dearly and misses them when he visits us. Therefore, my husband and I have decided to allow Lady Valarie and Lord Haldir to keep raising our son until his majority. Once he becomes of age, he will remember us, and he will decide where he will live and with whom. It will be his decision to make.”
“Thank you, Lady Faervel, you have spoken with much wisdom and we are pleased with your candor,” Lady Nessa said. “Lady Lithil, there is one thing that Lady Faervel has expressed, and that I have not heard in your prior plea, and that is your love for your son. You have not conveyed, not even once, any feelings for young Oropher.”
“Of course I love my son,” dismissed Lady Lithil without emotions.
Lady Nessa looked at her for a long time, but Lady Lithil did not add anything. “I think I would like to hear Lord Haldir and Lady Valarie,” the female Vala decided. Many Valar nodded their agreement.
Haldir stood but remained near Valerie, holding her hand as they struggled to support each other at that crucial moment of the hearing.
“Years ago, you honored me by choosing me to be the mate of the woman that would be become the naneth of the elves you had deemed necessary to be reborn in Middle Earth. You have blessed Valerie and I with the greatest gifts by giving us Oropher, Gil-galad, Elros and my father Finalfin. We love them like our own twin daughters and Valerie's eldest children. We knew that when we sailed, there was a possibility that their parents would want to claim them back. We took the chance, hoping that the Valar had decided that we would raise them into adulthood. We might have been wrong...”
Valerie dissolved into tears, and Lady Nienna did the same. The Vala Namo, her brother, took her hand to comfort her while Adam engulfed his mother in a strong embrace from behind her. Lord Tulkas noticed this young half-elven ellon who had the body of an accomplished warrior like his ada. The warrior stared back at him, controlling his obvious anger while comforting his mother. Lord Tulkas held his gaze for a while, before turning his head back to Haldir who had continued his plea.
“My wife and I will submit to the will of the Valar. We believe we can raise our sons, but should the Valar decide to give them back to their rightful parents, we will... let them go without a fight,” the Marchwarden finished with a broken voice.
“I do not want custody of my brother Elros. He will remain with Lady Valarie and Lord Haldir,” declared Lord Elrond forcefully. Lady Celebrian took his hand, reminding him who he was speaking to. Lord Elrond blanched a little, but remained firm as he gazed at the Valar.
“We will leave Gil-galad with the Marchwarden and his wife,” declared King Fingon.
“And I think my husband should remain with them also,” added Nimmel, ensuring that everyone knew that Finalfin would be raised by Haldir and Valerie.
“Thank you,” mumbled Valerie to the people that had faith in them. But her tears kept rolling down her cheeks, despite the comfort that Adam and Haldir were trying to give her.
“You were given four children, it is only one you will lose. Why do you cry?” asked Lady Lithil to Valerie with a sneer.
“I love him,” Valerie cried even harder. “Each of my children is irreplaceable! They are not dolls to be passed around! They have feelings, and Oropher will be devastated to lose us, lose his brothers and sisters, especially Gil-galad! They are inseparable, and you want to take him away from everyone he loves!” she screamed to Oropher's mother.
“Calm down, meleth – my love,” Haldir hushed her. “Please! This is not helping...” He was startled when he felt the presence of a Vala near him. He turned around to see Lady Nienna the mourner standing in front of them. She knelt in front of Valerie, and took her face in her hands, reading in her fėa while both of them cried. The Vala removed her hands after a minute, and stared at Adam who was looking at her, in awe to be so close to a Vala. He did not find the strength to glare at her like he had done to Lord Tulkas.
“I think we should see the children in question,” requested Lord Ulmo. “Bring them in!”
Everyone remained silent while the chamberlain was getting the children that had been playing in the courtyard during the hearing. When they were introduced, Thomas was leading the twins while his little brothers were following them. The Valar watched the elflings as they made their way to their parents.
Thomas saw his parents' distress, and understood things were not going well. The twin ellith were slightly afraid, and for once, Narwen was behaving. Thomas led them in front of the Valar and they all bowed politely, and Valerie smiled through her tears to see her children behave appropriately in front of the Valar. There were not enough chairs for all the children. Haldir grabbed the twins and sat them on his lap, while Finalfin sat on Adam and Elros on Thomas. Gil-galad took a seat near Adam, leaving an empty chair for his brother Oropher. He smiled to King Fingon and Queen Faervel, who were always nice to him when they visited them. Oropher was frozen on the spot, worried to see the tears on his naneth's face.
“Nana?” he asked. “Nana, what is going on? Why are you crying?” Instead of sitting beside Gil-galad, the 12 year old ellon walked around the lords and ladies, and stopped in front of his mother. “Why are you crying?” he whispered, and Valerie wiped her tears and gave him a courageous smile.
“Do not worry, my love, I am only a little exhausted. Sit down, sweetheart.”
“She thinks you will leave her,” stated Narwen quietly. She had had plenty of time to read the minds of the adults around her.
“No. I want to stay with you,” Oropher claimed, taking Valerie's hand in his, thinking Narwen meant that he would sit far away from his naneth instead of being taken away from her permanently. “Do not cry,” he pleaded, sorry to see she had started crying again. He was too old to sit on her lap in public, so he settled to stand beside her chair in the little space between Valerie's chair and Lady Galadriel's. The Lady did not seem to mind his presence.
Valerie was heartbroken. She knew her son was about to be taken away from her, and already imagined the tragic scene that would soon take place in the courtyard. She could see Oropher being dragged in Lady Lithil's carriage while screaming for her and Haldir. All her children crying, and herself pleading to everyone around them to let Oropher stay with her, ready to beg on her knees. Oropher was her son! Hers! How could anyone doubt that for even a second? Lady Nienna was watching with compassion, crying on her throne as she felt the same emotions that Valerie was.
Haldir held the twins closer to him, trying to regain some of his composure, but failing miserably.
“Young Oropher, would you mind coming closer to us? We would like to speak with you,” ordered Lord Tulkas.
“No, you do not mind?” tried to clarify the warrior Vala.
“I think it is pretty clear, Tulkas,” replied his wife Nessa. “The child does not want to come closer to talk to us,” she smirked.
“And why is that?” asked Lord Namo. He had released the fėa of Oropher more than 12 years before, and recalled the numerous conversations he had had with Oropher's spirit in the centuries preceding his release from his Halls. Oropher had a lot of character and very little patience.
“My Nana is crying because of you,” accused Oropher. “Even Ada is very unhappy. I do not want to talk to you, you will most certainly make me unhappy too.”
“See how impolite this child is?” asked Lady Lithil, happy that everyone had been witnessing Oropher's discourtesy.
Oropher turned his eyes to her and glared. “You are very impolite with my Naneth each time you meet her,” he pointed out, and Lady Lithil blushed. “You even called her a...”
“Nobody cares about what you have to say, child!” Lady Lithil interrupted him. “Be respectful with your elders!”
“Lady Lithil, please refrain from talking to my son in such a way,” Valerie calmly requested. “Oropher, please apologize to Lady Lithil.” The young ellon seemed about to argue, but thought it might not be a good idea to piss his mother in public.
“Lady Lithil, please excuse my behavior. I did not mean to be impolite, even if I meant everything I said.”
Every adult who knew him rolled their eyes, even Valerie. That would be the best apology Lady Lithil would get from the elfling.
“Oropher, Lord Tulkas and the other Valar need to speak to you, sweetheart,” Valerie whispered to her son. “Listen to me!” she insisted when he tried to interrupt her. “They just want a few words with you, and then you can come back here. Please, show some respect. These are the Valar, Oropher! We cannot disobey!”
“Fine, but I will not stay long,” replied Oropher.
“You will stay as long as they need you to,” Haldir told him sternly.
“Fine, Ada. I will,” Oropher sighed, and after giving a quick hug to his mother, he walked to the pedestal. He was asked to stand in front of the thrones, and many Valar stood to be closer to him. They spoke in very low voices, and no one could hear what they were asking Oropher. The elfling was answering their questions with confidence, and even smiled many times. After ten minutes that felt like hours to Valerie, Oropher was allowed to go back to his family.
“We will now make our decision,” Lord Ulmo said. “Would you kindly leave the hall while we discuss? We will call you back as soon as we reach an agreement.”
Everyone stood and bowed, and Valerie looked pleadingly at the Valar, especially the ones that had not said a word during the hearing. The Valar were absolutely impossible to read, except Lady Nienna who had felt the unhappiness of Valerie and Haldir during the hearing. Her tears had been difficult to miss.
Valerie was pacing in front of the door while Lady Lithil was watching her with a smirk.
“Thomas and Adam, can you please bring your brothers and sisters to play in the courtyard?” Nimmel asked. “I do not think they should be in attendance when the decision is announced...”
“Yes, grandmother,” the ellyn replied. The elflings followed them eagerly, having found nothing fun to do in this vast hall with many adults and many beautiful but intimidating beings that had been watching them.
After less than half an hour, the chamberlain came back to say that the Valar were ready to give them their verdict. Haldir took Valerie in her arms, holding her to both give her some courage and get some comfort from her.
“They took their decision quickly. Is that a good or bad thing?” he asked Lady Galadriel.
“It means that whatever was said in the hall, most of them had already taken their decision before we even started talking.”
The chamberlain opened the doors, and they all went to sit to their former chairs. Lord Ulmo stood, having been chosen to communicate the Valar's decision on the matter.
He did it succinctly. “We have decided that the elfling will remain with the Marchwarden and his wife. This decision is irrevocable.”
Valerie released the breath she had been holding. She threw her arms around Haldir's neck, incapable of speech. Haldir engulfed her in a constricting embrace. They remained as such, ignoring the people around them who were congratulating themselves.
Lady Lithil had remained seated, stunned. She had been convinced the Valar would recognize her rights as the first mother of Oropher! Frustrated, she stood and stiffly bowed to the Valar, and started to leave the hall.
“Lady Lithil?” called Valerie who had noticed her departure. Valerie left Haldir's embrace and walked to the elleth who was glaring at her.
“Lady Lithil, you will always be welcome to visit Oropher...” she started. She did not have time to finish her sentence, Oropher's mother snorted rather loudly.
“I refuse to spend more time in your presence. I am Oropher's rightful mother, and you will discover that once he comes of age and chooses me over you.” Lady Lithil turned around and left the hall, head high.
“That will never happen,” whispered Tialyn in her ear. Valerie saw the queen's arms around her waist, and put her own hands on Tialyn's.
“I hope so. Did she move out of your home yet?”
“No. I think she was waiting to have Oropher under her charge. She would have then tried to convince me to live with them. By the way, I think the Valar are waiting to speak to you.”
Valerie went back to the others, and saw that the Valar were still sitting on their thrones.
“We would like to have a word with Lady Valarie,” declared Lady Nessa. Everyone stood and gave encouraging smiles to Valerie, before bowing to the Valar and leaving the room.
“We will wait for you in the courtyard,” whispered Haldir.
“Have everyone ready to leave as soon as I join you. I want to be gone from Valimar as soon as possible.”
“They will not change their minds, their decision is irrevocable,” Haldir reminded her.
“I do not care. I want to be as far as possible from this castle.”
“Fine, everyone will be on horseback when you join us,” he promised. He bowed to the Valar and left the room last, leaving Valerie alone with the living gods.
Valerie stood in front of them, intimidated by the analyzing gazes of the Valar.
“Valarie,” Lady Nessa eventually said. “It is very interesting to finally meet you in person. A long time ago, Vairė and myself were asked to find a woman who could eventually play an important role in Middle Earth.”
Valerie looked at the tall blond being who nodded to her. She knew Lady Vairė was the wife of Lord Namo, and lived in the Halls of Mandos. She was the talented Vala who created most of the tapestries that were hanging on the walls of the Valar's houses.
“Yes, Vairė is also in contact with the fėar of the fallen elves,” continued Lady Nessa. “We knew Sauron would rise again, and that we needed a new mother for many of the elves that were in Namo's care. We soon realized that we would need an exceptional woman, someone who could bring a different view of the world into ours. We enlarged our searches to your world, and looked at its future and the future of many women that had the potential to become the naneth of our reborn elves. We eventually selected you, Valarie. We then looked for unbounded ellyn in Middle Earth, searching for the male that would be the best mate for you. The Marchwarden of Lothlorien was the obvious choice, and we made sure that he remained single until your arrival. Tulkas and Namo selected the reborn elves that were in the Halls, and the prophecy was written and sent to Middle Earth to be found by Mithrandir. And... there you are.”
Valerie was speechless. Millennia ago, the Valar had seen the future of her world and selected her to become the mother described the prophecy? That seemed impossible. And why her and not someone else? Was she really that special?
“You are overwhelming her,” a Vala said. Valerie did not know who he was.
“I am Oromė,” the Vala answered her silent question. Oromė, the Huntsman of the Valar, the Lord of the forests.
“What about my sister?” Valerie suddenly asked. “Was she also part of the plan?”
“That came after,” replied Lady Vairė. “Glorfindel had spent centuries in the Halls, and he was reborn to serve the family of Lord Elrond. We had seen that your sister would be a good mate for him, but she was not mature enough when you first came to Middle Earth. We made sure that Glorfindel sustained an important injury at the battle of Elm's Deep to justify the need to bring him to your world during your last visit to your parents. If she had not been ready, he would have come back without her. He would have eventually found someone in Valinor. But Allison was ready for him...”
“Lady Valarie is eager to return to her family,” Lord Namo pointed out, interrupting his wife. The male Vala seemed to be slightly bored.
“Valarie, I felt your pain during the hearing,” Lady Nienna said. “We had all agreed millennia ago that you would be a good mother for the elflings. We have been surprised by Lady Lithil's request, and we had to hear her claim. King Oropher did not have a happy first childhood, and I cried many tears for him when he was an elfling. I was not willing to have him go through this a second time,” the Lady of Pity and Mourning said to Valerie.
“Now off you go, my child. You have a family to raise and a realm to build!” Lady Nessa continued.
Valerie knew this was the end of her audience. She bowed as low as she could. “Thank you, my Ladies and Lords. Thank you for choosing me for this important task, and thank you for allowing my husband and I to keep our reborn children. We are... very grateful and eternally indebted to you.”
She could not find anything else to say, but the gentle smiles on the faces of the Valar told her she had said the right thing, despite her lack of eloquence. She bowed one last time, turned around and walked swiftly to the doors. Once she was out of the hall, she started running, only stopping when she arrived in the courtyard. Everyone was on horseback, as promised by Haldir. Valerie jumped on her mare, and Haldir gave the departure signal.
They soon were on their way to New Imladris, and no one looked back when they left the courtyard of Lord Tulkas' castle.
Manwė King of the Valar and his wife Varda (Elbereth) Queen of the stars
Tulkas Champion of the Valar and his wife Nessa the Dancer (sister of Oromė)
Namo (Mandos) the Doomsman of the Valar and his wife Vairė the Weaver
Aulė the Smith and his wife Yavanna the Fruit-giver
Oromė the Huntsman and his wife Vana the Ever-young
Ulmo King of the Sea
Irmo Master of Dreams and his wife Estė, Healer of hurts and weariness
Nienna Lady of Pity and Mourning, sister of Namo and Irmo
I strongly recommend reading The Prophecy before reading its sequel. The first story describes how elven heroes were released from the Halls of Mandos to be reborn in the family of Haldir, Marchwarden of Lothlorien and his wife Valerie, a woman that came from another world to accomplish great deeds...
Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings and any of its characters.
Warnings: Alternate Universe, some content not suitable for minors.
Cast: mainly Haldir, Oropher, Ereinion Gil-galad, Elros, Elladan, Elrohir, Erestor, Legolas, Galadriel, Elrond, Celebrian and Glorfindel with a cast of original characters
Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings and any of its characters.
Warnings: Alternate Universe, some content not suitable for minors.
Cast: mainly Haldir, Oropher, Ereinion Gil-galad, Elros, Elladan, Elrohir, Erestor, Legolas, Galadriel, Elrond, Celebrian and Glorfindel with a cast of original characters