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And So Say The Laws

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Do not lie with another’s spouse. Do not lie with your kin. Basic tenets of the Eldar, taught again and again, as new generations come of age.

The old, of course, need no reminder.

~

There is no time to realize what they are doing, no first flush of shame.

They wait, side by side, on the lush green mountains as Ingwë’s armies march past them with their shining armour and fluttering banner, returning victorious after a great battle.

They watch, and watch, and watch. (One must keep one’s sanity intact somehow, after all. Charades do as well as anything for distraction, and this, at least, has a hint of hope to it, for their children and grandchildren—or, at least, the few still alive and on the other side of the Sea—may still chose to return

[A fool’s hope is still a hope.])

The last shade of conquering kings pass through the Calacirya, and still they watch.

Clouds gather, rolling over the sky, covering the heavens with a deep grey shroud, and still, unblinking, they watch.

And when the sky pours forth its torrent, Indis and Nerdanel stare at each other for one bleak moment, turn, and walk away.

~

Rain does not fall in Valinor unless the Valar will it.

And so the festivities begin, the boisterous mirth of the revels in honour of the returned warriors (who had set up camp in Tirion instead of traveling to Valamar where the majority of the host dwelt) reaching the ears of the two watchers.

They do not spare the city a glance, turning, instead, through forsaken paths to their retreat.

Each shallow breath rings into the crispness of the quickly-falling night (for even the Valar dare not challenge Arien and Tilion), footsteps crunching on rocks and dead leaves as they flee higher, higher, higher.

~

When at last, they reach the thatched hut, there are no second thoughts.

Familiar hands reach for each other, capturing chapped, bitten-through lips and drawing bosom against bosom.

Somewhere in Mandos, two souls stir.

(It feels like it should be harder. It always does

[The truth is that they wish for what they do not need.])

~

When Nerdanel wakes the next morning, she finds Indis kneeling on the hard ground, muttering prayers—

“Forgive me for what I have done. Forgive me for what I have done. Forgive me for what I have done.”

She does not question it. Guilt, after all, is a hard thing to live with.

~

Do not lie with another’s spouse. Do not lie with your kin.

And what, Nerdanel thinks, does that make them? Sinners of the worst degree, if there be any truth in the old laws.

Do not lie with another’s spouse. Do not lie with your kin.

But they are sinners, all of them, and if they fall, she and Indis, they will fall together. That much, at least, love has taught them. And that much, at least, they love.