I really don't know what this is supposed to be. It just randomly leaped into my head after a conversation with Peregrin Took the Falcon and made me write it down. I'm just going to make this a one-shot for now, and maybe later I'll turn it into a full fic if people seem to be interested. Tell me what you think?
Cover photo belongs to Phobs, the most amazing Silmarillion artist ever.
It was too late. Tulkas Astoldo could hardly believe it. He had been too late. He was never late. Not for something like this. But no, he had been too late.
He had never forgotten his grudge against Melkor for putting all of his brethren's work to ruins, and now when his enemy ran away he dared to take his sister Nienna with him? Coward!
And so, with pleadings from Nàmo and Irmo still ringing in his ears, he had chased Melkor to Utumno, and finally broken in- to find that. That- that horror. That outrage.
Tulkas had not stopped to find Melkor, who was off cowering about somewhere. No, there had been no time. He had found his goal, and he went back to Irmo, not caring that he would probably never manage to break into Utumno again. How could he care, when he had found- that?
And now, now he saw, for the first time, against all hope, that he had been too late. When Irmo had managed to awaken Nienna, she could not shed her fana. She was stuck in a hroä. And when Irmo had studied his sister to see why, the inevitable, ugly truth had come to light.
After all, how can you get rid of a body if there is something growing inside of it that depends on you for its own life?
He was late. He, Tulkas Astoldo, was too... Late.
Nienna opened her eyes slowly, feeling sore and achy. That was a new sensation. Never before had she felt that way, and now- she found that it was not pleasant.
"Sister. Are you feeling alright?" The voice of her brother Irmo wafted into her ears, but for a moment she did not understand the words. Then it began to trickle into her mind, unwelcome, like tepid water seeping into a wound. Nienna closed her eyes. No, she was not alright. A tear leaked down her cheek.
"Tell me where it hurts, sister." Irmo pleaded softly, a gentle hand resting on her hair. Nienna flinched away from the hand. The hand pulled away, and there was a mournful silence.
"Please don't touch me." Nienna pleaded. "Please- please don't- it hurts- I can't-" and she burst into wracking sobs.
"Why?" She wailed. "Why, why Atar? It- it hurts, Atar! Why?" She wept, curling her fana into a tight knot that only made her hurt even worse.
"Nienna, please! Please, do not curl yourself!" Irmo sounded panicked, and in reply Nienna was shocked into uncurling and looking up at him through wide, frightful eyes.
"W-why?" She whispered. Irmo hung his head.
"I'm sorry, sister. I'm so sorry. I checked to see why you couldn't shed your fana, and... Atar..." He petered off uncomfortably. Nienna sat up with difficulty, ignoring the screams of protest from her hroä.
"What, Irmo? What?" She begged, clutching the edge of his robe. Irmo was her little brother, her youngest brother, but now- now she felt like she was the youngest.
"Your hroä, Nienna." Irmo whispered. "It- Atar allowed for-" he swallowed. "There is something... Growing inside, Nienna." He said, eyes trailing down to her stomach. Nienna's hands flew to her stomach in unconscious reply, homing her senses in on the status of this hroä.
She paled. There was a heartbeat, there. There. It pulsed almost unnoticeably but firmly, in an attempt to find life. There was something- there. There was a feeling of life pulsing from her stomach. Nienna turned white, and turned to look at her brother, whose face was strained with sorrow for her sake.
"He- I- we-" Nienna could not form her words, and color flooded her bloodless cheeks from overwhelming shame at the conclusion. "Irmo- Irmo- what do I do?" She whispered tremulously, shivering. Never in her life had she felt like this. It did not matter that she was a Vala- that was what was so wrong! A Vala cannot have this happen to them!
"Sister- maybe I should call our brother Manwë. Maybe- maybe he can tell you why Atar allowed this to happen." Irmo offered. Nienna shook. She was torn between saying 'yes' and 'no.' Yes, because she wanted- needed- to know, and no, because she was ashamed.
She felt dirty, tainted and filthy. She didn't want any of her brethren to know. She felt used and cheated. If they knew, surely they would reject her for what she now carried- something born of darkness. Her very essence shriveled at the thought.
"Y-yes. B-but only Manwë, please." She pleaded frantically, and was relieved to see Irmo nod at her, compassion and understanding suffusing her eyes. But not pity. And it comforted her somewhat, just a little bit, to know that her brother still loved her. Understood how she felt, somewhat. And still, even when he knew... He still loved her.
Irmo left to find Manwë, and Nienna wrapped arms around herself, shivering. "Oh Atar. Please, I don't understand. Why? How is this happening? Why did he-" she swallowed bile. "How is this possible? What good could this possibly do!?" She cried out, too weak to even sob. Her weak hroä was shaking with cold, but she felt as though she was burning, from the inside out.
Manwë came in to find her thus, shivering and weeping silently to herself, obviously wracked with pain. He was immediately at her side, draping a blanket around her shoulders but careful not to touch her in any form or fasion.
Nienna looked up at him, and her eyes begged him for answers. Those beautiful, deep blue eyes framed by white-streaked charcoal locks screamed in horror and pain, seeking answers to put her demons to rest. Manwë sat, grieving in his heart for this sister of his.
"Nienna." His throat clogged. In respect for their sister, all of the Valar had incarnated as well. "First, please know, sister, that we all still love you." He looked down at his fingers, fair and tangled into knots. "And secondly, please accept my apology. I should have known better. I shouldn't have let this happen- I feel so guilty, Nienna. I saw how he favored you... He was my-" but Manwë could not finish. He swallowed heavily and took a deep breath, plowing on.
"Atar- Atar says that... This was in the third theme that was sung." His voice was hoarse, scratching against his throat in protest against saying such words. Nienna's betrayed eyes bored into him, burning holes in him as she hung on to every word.
"He wanted- he wanted to fix what... Melkor had done wrong-" Manwë didn't miss the flinch Nienna gave at the name- "so Atar decided to give him one more gift, to see if His errant son would receive it this time, or reject it as he did the last." He finished, suddenly realizing how shallow it sounded, even to his own ears. Shallow and hollow.
Nienna lay down, face pallid. "Thank you." She whispered, her eyes closing again in physical and emotional exhaustion. "Forgive me, Atar," she whispered, "but I have lost the faith... I cannot find it in me any longer... Forgive me." Her weak voice cracked, and she said no more.
Manwë stayed by her side, watching over this sister of his with a heavy heart, pleading for their Atar to help their sister. He was marginally comforted, when a feeling of love and reassurance swept through him from above.
Atar always had a plan. Nothing that happened was not part of His ultimate conspiracy of love for His children. They would just have to trust. And help Nienna to keep the faith.
Nienna sat down, absently rubbing her stomach as she murmured under her breath. Just because she had healed of her physical wounds didn't mean that she was healed of her emotional scars. But Irmo had been helping her, and all of her brethren had been so supportive.
She had lost the faith in the beginning, she admitted. But then, Atar had come to her, and had given her words to remember that helped her. Every time she felt herself sinking into a black hole of depression, she would remember the words, and remember that her brethren still loved her and did not think the worst of her for what had happened.
The only thing was the life that was now in her stomach. It was a sore point of controversy between the Valar, and much contention cropped up on account of it. Some worried that it would take after its father. Others argued that it would not, if Atar Himself had allowed for it to happen.
As it grew within her, so did the discord. In all other things the Valar could agree, but not this. And yet, Atar said nothing. All He said was that when it came into their world, they would know. And so they waited, to Nienna's added shame.
She took a deep breath. "What he intended for evil, Atar shall turn into good. I am always loved." She told herself firmly, and then attempted to stand.
It was difficult to do almost anything, now, after six months of her stomach getting larger. The bulge was prominent now, and Nienna wondered if it was possible for her hroä to be ripped in half. It didn't really help that Irmo didn't think so.
But above all her brethren, Nàmo was her comfort. He reassured her that he loved her, that he would love the little life that was within her, that he would welcome it into this world with joy at what Atar had wrought from what was intended to be evil. He comforted her, understood her, and she was forever grateful to him.
And indeed, she had found some small, tiny measure of joy in feeling the heartbeat, firm and strong, under her fingertips. Even though she knew that every time she would look at it she would think of its father, she found herself loving it nonetheless, eagerly waiting to welcome it into the world that they had created.
As the months slowly passed, Nienna began to wonder what to name this little piece of life. She went to Irmo and Manwë and Nàmo, and their spouses, and she asked them. Manwë offered a few names to consider, as did the others. But Nàmo did not speak.
"Nàmo?" She asked softly, and her younger brother looked at her with a thoughtful look on his face.
"Melkor was known as 'the one who comes in might.'" He mused. "He was bright and great among us, gifted beyond all of us. Therefore, if it is a girl..." He suddenly gave her a small smile.
"Feärillë." He suggested. "Spirit of Brilliance. And if a boy, Faelon, the Just."
Nienna looked at her little brother, remembering who and what he was. He had built the halls of Mandos in anticipation of what was to be their purpose. He had grown from the innocent brother she had helped to raise into this- a being of wisdom and power that was a brand different from her own. Her brother was the comforter of souls.
And for the first in a long time, Nienna managed a genuine smile, untainted with sorrow. "Yes. Feärillë or Faelon." She agreed, and the Valar rejoiced when the name was announced to them.
The Maia had been equally as joyful, amazed at this new miracle that Atar had wrought. Tiutalion, Nienna's head Maia, had been a help that Nienna greatly appreciated.
But all too soon, the time came when Nienna, in her hroä, could no longer stand without help from someone, mostly Tiutalion. Manwë sent Olòrin to help her as well, many times, and Irmo sent Melyanna.
Irmo was becoming worried. Nienna was so fragile, and the little life inside her was sapping much of her strength, so much so that often her Maia would have to lend her theirs for her to stay awake to do duties. He was constantly at her side, now, trying to help his sister through the trying time. Thank Atar that He had been helping Irmo to know what was normal and what was not.
And then one day, Nienna could not get up. Pain wracked her stomach, and the sheets underneath her were wet. Irmo came, as did Estë, and the battle for Nienna and the child began.
The other Valar sat outside the room of their sister in anxiousness, awaiting to hear the verdict of Irmo, wincing at the screams that issued from underneath the door. Nàmo was the only one that looked calm, though they who knew him best could tell that he was the most worried of them all for his sister.
It took hours. Nearly a day. And then the screams stopped, and an hour later Estë opened the door with a weary smile, motioning them to come, a finger to her lips. The Valar filed in quietly, sitting down next to their sister's bed and looking at her in wonder.
Nienna sat up in the bed, using her hroä to feed the little child that was clutching a lock of her mother's hair. Her charcoal hair streaked with white was matted and sticky, spread like a broken halo around the pale, wan face, blankets covering her delicate frame. Wearied, joyful, pained, and questioningly fearful eyes looked up at them with their deep blue color, and held out the child to Manwë.
Manwë took the little bundle, wrapped in a blanket, and gasped as he looked down at his niece. That face- he knew that face well. Very well. Too well, even. Black hair fell down in straight locks around the perfect little face, skin pale and beautiful. The contours of the face were angular but well balanced, and dark lashes swept across the creamy cheeks. When those eyes opened, Manwë could only stare.
Those eyes were Nienna's, deep and blue, but they were also her father's eyes, piercing and discerning, dark with mystery. Manwë reached up a finger to run it down the little cheek, that face that mirrored her father's. A tiny hand reached up and grasped his finger, and a happy coo escaped the small lips.
"Greetings, little Feärillë." Manwë murmured, and the babe kicked him in reply. Several of the Valar stifled smiles at the happy show of defiant fondness, and Manwë chuckled. Nienna looked relieved.
"You are just like your parents. Welcome to our family, Feärillë. Your uncle Manwë loves you." Manwë added, bending down to place a kiss upon the white brow. Feärillë gurgled in happiness, small noises bubbling from her lips.
Manwë handed her down to his wife, and each Vala began to greet their new family member. Nienna's eyes welled with tears at the show of acceptance from her brethren, and Manwë smiled at her reassuringly.
Nàmo held Feärillë last, looking down at his niece with a hesitant, awed look on his face. The baby stopped giggling, looking up at the dark Vala's face with a sober look and a puzzled blink. Nàmo's face fell at the lack of greeting, but then a hand reached up and placed itself on his cheek. There was a questioning noise from the little one, and the pudgy fingers moved to the firm lips.
Nàmo smiled slightly. "Yes, Feärillë. I am your uncle Nàmo who- who loves you very much." He replied shyly, reaching up to touch the small fingers. There was a happy burble, and then Nàmo was gifted with a tiny hiccup. Nàmo chuckled, as did the rest of the Valar.
Tulkas, who had been one of the ones to worry about the child being like her father, sighed and looked at Nienna. "Atar was right, Nienna. I know now. She is precious, and we will love her for who she is."
Nienna gave him a tremulous, grateful smile. "Thank you." She whispered, and wept. Feärillë fell asleep in her uncle Nàmo's arms, and was graced with fond smiles from them all.
Then Aulë chuckled. "Well. What will the Maiar think?" He speculated, and there was tearful laughter all around.
And Nienna knew. Atar had turned what was meant for evil into something good beyond her dreams.