Vairë the Weaver did not leave the Halls, they said, for always, always, she was at work, on her loom, spinning the threads of Time.
This, of course, was a pretty falsehood spread by the Eldar, one which Vairë did not quite understand. For History wove itself without her, Time spun out; she was merely the guide, untangling and smoothening out, plucking, here and there, threads which were out of order. And the second part too was incomprehensible—always? Time could be moved, gently, ever-so-little, but enough that there was no always, for, for the Weaver, there was no now.
The truth, she supposed, was much simpler. The Eldar did not know she walked among them except at the times of Great Councils, for when she walked without her brethren, she walked unclad.
Now, she passed through the gardens of Míriel the Broideress, who dwelt in her care, and whose passing she had regretted; her weavings had been rich, and a fëa of the Quendi unhoused could not weave.
Perhaps, she mused, Míriel could be taken to her Halls, and could learn the art of weaving History?
Vairë paused in her thought. What was that sound?
None visited Míriel’s gardens, for the Eldar were touched by a strange—grief, for she who was not gone from Arda. Yet there was the sound of a Firstborn speaking.
“You are beautiful, Finno, so beautiful.”
Her curiosity roused, Vairë followed the voice to a clearing through which a bubbling brook ran. Sprawled on the lush grass were two of Finwë’s grandsons.
Thee was one red-haired, his skin lighter than the dark brown of his cousin’s, which was closer to Vairë’s own coloring, half-bent over the blue-eyed one with gold woven into his black braids. The red-haired, Vairë knew, was Fëanáro’s son, the other Ñolofinwë’s.
The Histories had not spoken of this. Not yet, perhaps, their love was still new, and their bond still not made, the thread unwoven.
“I am yours forever, my Káno,” the red-haired one whispered, and dancing grey met brilliant blue. All was silent.
Vairë suddenly knew she was an intrusion, not part of this moment, and she turned, and fled back to the Halls.
Nelyo and Findekáno have been attached at the hip since Findekáno was a child, long years ago, and even now, with all the tensions that run between our families, they are as two halves of one whole. Their friendship will be sung about, indeed, has been sing about.
And, as always, it is they who keep some measure of peace in out families; I watch Nelyo and Findekáno engage their respective fathers in conversation, carefully keeping them away from each other.
Once, I resented Nelyo his skill in diplomacy and statecraft. It kept him away from home, and every moment not spent with us, his brothers, I thought then, was a waste. Now, having found talents of my own that lead me away from home, I see that he is born for this, and Findekáno too.
As I watch, tempers are calmed and pride soothed. Father’s anger disappears, as it so often does, in a flash of laughter which rings throughout the square.
“Practiced peacekeepers, are they not?”
My wife’s voice startles me; I turn, and sweep her into my arms. “Elinda! I did not see you. What are you doing here?”
“Watching Russandol and Findekáno. Jealous?” Her grey eyes sparkle and her perfect pink mouth curves into a teasing smile.
“Very,” I tell her, mock-sternly. Then, “But what are you doing here?”
“Visiting friends; Neniel and her wife have moved to a new house, and Neniel invited me to come see it.” Elinda’s voice drops at the word wife; there are those who would condemn relationships between those of the same gender as perverse, and they are—unpleasant to those of other opinions.
While I am not of that school of thought, I confess the thought of my wife and her former romantic interest churns my stomach. Elinda must see this on my face, for she laughs. “Come, Macalaure, that happened long before I knew you. We are good friends, so do not act like a jealous youth, love. It does not become you. And,” she adds, grinning at my scowl, “What are you doing here?”
“My violin is acting up dreadfully, and I heard one of Aquessë students is here, so I may not have to go to Alqualondë to get it fixed,” I say. My obsession with the finest violin-maker in Valinorë causes many difficulties, but her fine work is worth all that and besides. And that is not what had me lingering here. “But I got sidetracked.”
“Watching Russandol and Findekáno?” Elinda asks.
“Old memories, but, in effect, yes.”
My dear, beautiful wife does not tease me, but smiles a soft smile. “What they have is beautiful, is it not?”
It is a strange way of phrasing things, but, watching as Nelyo and Findekáno gravitate back towards each other like opposite sides of the magnets Father is so fond of experimenting with, I cannot help but agree.
I see their eyes meet, and almost-identical smiles light up their faces. They are radiant and beautiful together, almost as if they are in love.
They were summoned, to the Ring of Doom, and Vairë knew Manwë was angry. Swords had been drawn in the land of Aman; what should not have been done had come to pass.
Or so they said. But Manwë and Varda upheld the laws of Aman. Nienna and Ulmo loved, and grieved through that love. Vairë (and Námo, too, to and extent, but he judged, and judgment required involvement) saw the Music sing itself through the ages, and knew that what would be, would be.
And there would be anger, and hate. For it was Melkor, since the beginning, who loved Light, and desired it, and denied that want, ever attempted to destroy it.
Once, Vairë had grieved. Once, long ago, even as the Valar counted Time, she had grieved for Melkor, and for the tale which would end in his downfall. Even as she saw the strands of History weaving themselves towards the end, some small part of her, the part of her which was Melkor’s sister, had grieved.
No more did that feeling rise within her. For Melkor had defiled Arien, and that had destroyed Ungoliantë.
Ungoliantë had come to Vairë, that day, feeling her lover’s anguish, but not knowing why. She had been desperate, for some of the Valar considered Arien’s and Ungoliantë’s love unclean and would not tell her the truth of Arien’s ravishment. And others—
Vairë had not showed her the tapestries. The sparsely-sketched-out tale had been enough.
And Ungoliantë’s anguished cry as she fled, never to return to Vairë’s Halls, had broken her pity for Melkor. From then on, she had not grieved.
And maybe, maybe she lied to herself. Maybe she had known this would destroy Ungoliantë. Maybe she had given up her role as Weaver for one moment them. But Vairë could not read her own nature, and this still tormented her. Maybe it had not been grief.
For the Weaver could not know grief. The spinning of Time did not need grief, and neither did the weaving of History. And now, in the Ring of Doom, Vairë could not summon that feeling as she stared down at Fëanáro.
His eyes flashed defiance as they spoke, but Vairë only half-listened as the other Valar unraveled his words and those of others, piecing together the lies (or half-truths, at least) of Melkor. She, however, needed no deduction. The tapestries had spoken.
But none asked her to verify the truth, so she did not speak. No, her eyes and ears had a different target—targets, in fact—who she had not seen since that long-ago stroll in the gardens.
The two she watched were stone-faced and silent except when called upon. They did not look at each other, even by accident. Fierce anger painted every line of their bodies as they knelt before the Valar.
And Vairë read the bond that stretched between them, now, the marriage-bond, but strangely, History still did not record it. The two were fated not to be.
Judgment was pronounced, and the Eldar dispersed. But even as the two turned to their fathers, Vairë saw their eyes meet, and soften, for a fleeting moment, blue and grey sparkling with love.
Then granite masks slid in place, and they walked away in opposite directions.
My brother thinks I do not know of him and Findekáno, though Elinda (oh my wife, how I miss her) did.
He is, however, a fool; the love he bears for Findekáno is in his eyes for all to see. I was blind, in Tirion, but not any longer. (Though, in my defense, I know he was not bonded until just after that terrible first moment in Court which led to Father’s exile.)
Now he stares at the sea, waiting, watching, as if his eyes could see even to Araman.
Father does not like this, does not like his eldest son’s fixation with the far-off hosts of Ñolofinwë. (Later, this will add to Nelyo’s burden. Now, all most of us can think of is Father’s rage.)
There is fire in his hands, and there are voices, Nelyo’s and Father’s. Anger, and hurt, and an age of love. And, for the first and last time, Nelyo stands against Father.
I do not.
Of course I do not. Treason of kin unto kin, the Valar said, and though I little believe their words, the risk cannot be taken. We have lost enough (oh Elinda). And Ñolofinwë’s betrayal would break Father, after the carefully-crafted, fragile bond that has newly grown between them. Findekáno’s betrayal would destroy Nelyo.
And there is the loss of the Silmarils and the Everlasting Dark to think of. Oh Nelyo, I grieve for you, but I cannot.
And so I obey Father.
There is fire on the ships, now, and in Nelyo’s eyes, and he watches, still and silent. His casual shrug as he moves my hand, placed there in apology or comfort I do not know, is chilling. When he turns his face to me, I do not recognize it.
That, truly, is the day Nelyo begins to fall.
Then there is a cry—“Ambarto! Where is Ambarto?”—and everything breaks, again.
In the skeins of History, the red thread and the blue thread would split here. Vairë saw the long march of Time, and the grief of the two houses which would unite them, yet keep their sons apart, one on Endórë, the other far away.
And she saw, too, the red-haired son of Fëanáro’s plea to the blue-eyed son of Ñolofinwë, and heard her brother Melkor’s curse, uttered in a tender voice: “You shall endure, fairest one, until love releases you. And, my dear Maitimo, love is not yours to take.”
The Music would go on, and this would be one more small grief in its long unraveling. This Vairë knew. And there were those, also, among her brethren who would deny this love and seek to prevent it. This also Vairë knew.
But she remembered that flash of blue eyes and grey, and the whispered “yours forever”.
Vairë gently unwound the Weavings a little, and entwined the blue and the red. Their fate may not be changed, but they would have one small chance.
And, on the cliffs of Thangorodrim, an arrow missed its mark.
When I duck into Nelyo’s pavilion, neither Nelyo nor Findekáno notice my entrance. Nelyo is collapsed on the floor, his arms and legs skewed at awkward angles, barely three steps away from the bed.
“Get up.” Findekáno stands over Nelyo, and I should be surprised by the venom he can inject into his tone, but I am not, not anymore.
“I cannot.” Maitimo’s voice is weak and hoarse, barely above a whispers. His eyes look too big for his face.
“Get up now,” Findekáno snaps. There is anger in his demeanor, and a casual observer would speak of Losgar, and Helcaraxë, but I know better. I know what my brother asks of Findekáno—
“I cannot,” Nelyo says, and Findekáno brings his face close to Nelyo’s, hisses, “Get up, Maitimo.”
Nelyo blanches at the old love name, and suddenly every line of his body is fierce. “Do not call me that!”
—and I can guess how much it takes out of Findekáno to give him this.
“Then get up.” Findekáno’s face is hard, unrelenting, as he spits the next word like a curse: “Maitimo.”
And Nelyo gets up. He sucks in a breath, and slowly, oh so slowly, his limbs unfold from underneath him. The raw pain on his face is not for my eyes, but even feeling like a voyeur, I cannot tear myself away from the sight of my brother rising from the ground.
It is enough for him to push everything away and give this much. It should be enough.
But Findekáno asks yet more. “Now come.” He takes a step backward. Nelyo stares at him, and, for a long moment, I think he will give up.
He does not. My brother, my brave, beautiful brother, takes one step. Then another.
Twice, he falls. Twice, agonizingly, they manage to force him back up. And through all this they so intent, so focused, on each other that they do not notice my presence.
I do not know how long it takes for Findekáno’s back to hit the cloth which serves at a wall; I do not know how long it takes for Nelyo to come to a shuddering halt in front of him. I do not even know how they fall into each other, into an embrace so complete that I cannot see where Nelyo ands and Findekáno begins.
Findekáno’s tears wet Nelyo’s tunic, and Nelyo’s breath comes in great, heaving gasps. When, at last, I think to clear my throat to announce my presence, neither look up.
In the Timeless Halls, of which the Halls of the Weaver were only a part, Vairë wove tapestries which spoke of grand designs, of loves which changed the world, while the world itself passed around her, making and breaking.
She gave no thought to the small hands—those were Vána’s and Nessa’s, and even Yavanna’s and Nienna’s, to an extent. It was they who made the world turn; she simply wove its story. Hers was not to judge, not to lend aid. She was the observer.
Save once. And that once she thought upon, and needed to know.
The two threads she wound together were small enough to be insignificant, and she knew it had not changed the Music, not really—
And yet. Yet she wanted to know of the fates of the fire and the ice she had seen. Not their deaths, but what came before.
But she would not violate their love, and ask them. She could not.
And so it was Ñolofinwë she approached, he who, in the new tongue of the East was called Fingolfin.
Ñolofinwë Arakáno Fingolfin.
She spoke to him in the language of his youth, and his fëa, wounded and ragged, started. Who is it?
It is the Weaver.
What do you want of me?
He was wary, and Vairë knew this was because of her presence, so rarely revealed to the Quendi. I wish to know how your son and Fëanáro’s have fared.
And immediately he flared, careless of his injuries, bright and fierce in the gloom of the Halls. WHAT DO YOU WANT OF THEM?
But he gave her no time to continue. Your kin have show their disgust at Russandol’s and Findekáno’s love enough. You do not know what they are. Who are you to scorn them?
I am not your enemy.
Ñolofinwë’s words were clear and hard: You lie.
I do not. Vairë deliberated for a moment. Then, I once stopped an arrow for them.
How do I believe you? The fires were dimmed, but the tone was still laden with suspicion.
Vairë had no words to assuage that suspicion, for she was not a creature of words. The images which drifted into her mind were what she communicated with, and she drew back the mental barriers the Eldar seemed to value so highly, and poured her thoughts to Ñolofinwë.
There was a long moment of silence (as it were) as he absorbed and contemplated what she gave him.
They were happy, for a while. Ñolofinwë’s words were soft, gentle, even, weighed with a strange emotion Vairë could not quite understand. Russo and Finno may deny this, but they were happy. Moringotto had torn the capacity for bodily love from Russo, but their soul-bond was strong and beautiful, and it was apparent, to me, at least, their love was deep, fated to last forever. It broke them both that Findekáno had to take a wife, even though Aralossë was one of the few who knew their truth. But even then, they were happy. As long as they have each other, they will be happy.
Vairë thought of the battle of rivers of blood and lakes of tears, and the banners trod into dust, and the whips of fire.
The Halls of Mandos were as a bubble in Time and Space, protected from the outside world, and fëar could not feel the ones they were bound to, here, to prevent problems from arising. So it was a tale Ñolofinwë could not know.
And this story Ñolofinwë would not know; a murmured thank you, and Vairë was gone.