by Lara
June 2003

This is an amateur effort and not intended to infringe on the rights of J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien or any other copyright holder. No monetary profit is being made.

Warnings: m/f implied, m/m hinted at. Silmarillion knowledge would be helpful for this story to make sense.

A little nihilist experiment in answer to Finch's birthday challenge. :-)

A big thank you to CC for checking this and for pointing out the problems. If it weren't for her, much confusion would be the result fo this story.

"You summoned me, Lord?"

"I did. It has been long since you responded to my call and entered the Halls, and your time here is coming to an end."

"Yes, Lord. It has been long."

"This knowledge does not appear to bring you joy."

"No, Lord."

"Does memory still haunt you despite the efforts made to heal and console you?"

"The cold will never leave me. But that is not what saddens me."

"Do you not wish to return to your kin? They all have accepted to be rehoused, and they are waiting for you."

"They all walk among the living again?"

"They do."

"I was hoping that they would not have to wait for long."

"They have waited as long as it was necessary for them to be corrected, healed and soothed so they could rejoice in life once more. Their pain has been taken away so they may once more live freely and without the suffering they have experienced. You shall feel the same once your fëa and your hröa have been reunited."

"Will the memory of death leave me? Even now I feel the cold of the Ice."

"Memories define you, and therefore they cannot be taken away, only gentled and distanced. You shall remember, yet not as clearly as you do now, with your fëa still mourning the loss of its hröa to the Ice. Such recollections are bearable, and many have been rehoused who recoiled in fear when they thought of their death. They accepted it once they wandered among the living again, and the memory does not haunt them, just as it would not haunt you."

"I understand, Lord."

"Which choice will be yours? Your time here is over. There is nothing more that can be done to comfort or teach you. I deem you to be ready to leave my Halls if it is your wish."

"I do not wish so."

"You refuse?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Understand that this decision is not to be made lightly. It shall bind you until the end of Arda and maybe beyond, until times I cannot see."

"I know. I have thought long on this. And it is what I must do."

"There is much to your choice that is unusual and strange. Few reject the offer of being rehoused when their kin is waiting already and there is a certainty that they will not suffer loneliness."

"Will I be denied, Lord?"

"Do not fear this. Your fëa will not be forced into a hröa again if it is not your will that it should happen. I am here to hear your choice and speak your doom, and what I shall decree is what you wish for. It is not my place to question your reasons, but I wish to understand what moves you to this so I might comfort others when they find themselves in your position."

"It is difficult to explain."

"I ask that you try. A refusal to be rehoused is a sign of Arda Marred, and if we shall ever succeed in healing such grief, understanding must come first."

"I see, Lord. I wish for my husband to be free from our union."

"He has never spoken of a yearning to be released from marriage while he dwelt in my Halls. Why would you desire to free him from something he does not struggle against?"

"He does not struggle. But I know that he would be happier if he were free."

"Explain yourself, if your reasons can be expressed with words."

"Yes, Lord. I will try... He would welcome my return. I am certain."

"And yet you intend to linger in my Halls until the end of Arda draws near."

"It is out of love that I elect to remain here."

"But it lies in the nature of love to return to the one for whom such is felt."

"Your words are wise, Lord. But love also means to try and do what is best for the other."

"And it is your belief that it shall be best for him if you withdraw from his life and never again rejoin him?"

"Yes. It gives him freedom to follow his own love."

"Yet he has bound himself to you in marriage. Does this not imply that he feels love for you?"

"Love... I do not know. He was my friend. And he was willing and happy to marry. Just like I was. But he did not love me like one loves a wife. Or like I loved him, and still do."

"A strange reason for disunion this seems to me. It is saddening that in Arda Marred marriage not always is a bond of mutual love, but it is a matter of free will, and both of you have deemed it a good choice."

"Had I known then what I know now, I might have made a different decision."

"You speak in riddles."

"Forgive me, Lord."

"Explain your reasoning so I can understand your thoughts and your conclusions. You say you love him, and you know that you cannot change your mind about being joined to him in marriage. And yet you think differently about it now?"

"Yes. I have loved him ever since I have known him. And he has liked me. We were friends. After some years it seemed right that we should marry."

"As it is right and proper for the children of Iluvatar."

"His family welcomed me. Especially Indis. She was glad to see one of her grandchildren wed. And Fingolfin too was kind to me."

"So you are welcome in your husband's family, and he has married you freely and without coercion while there is love for him in your heart. I should consider such a constellation a fortunate one that carries much reason for joy for all."

"In my heart there is love. And in his too, but his love is not for me."

"Such is the tragedy of Arda Marred. It has often been attempted to find the reasons why such occurs, and there is hope that in Arda Remade it may be healed."

"But it cannot be healed now. I love him, and he loves another. And yet we are bound in marriage."

"So this is what prompts your decision, that he does not love you as a husband should love his wife?"

"He has always been honest with me. When he realized that he was fated to love another, we already had exchanged our vows. He told me, and he apologized."

"You do not seem to think it necessary for him to express his regret."

"Can he be blamed for love? He has been attentive towards me, and he has been my friend. A good father to our daughter. He gave me all I could wish for. I was content at his side."

"Content enough, it would appear, to follow him on his quest when many others who could claim mutual love abandoned their partners at the shore. It is difficult for us sometimes to understand the reasoning of the Children of Iluvatar, since your thoughts differ from our own."

"Perhaps I should have stayed behind. The one he loves left, and maybe it was selfish of me to go with them."

"It would not have made a difference, as you should well know. You have been married, and it is only right for the Eldar to have one mate. Even if you had stayed behind, your husband would not have been in a position where he could have acted upon his love for another. And I deem that he would not have done so, since loyalty runs strong in him, as does the knowledge of what is lawful and what is not."

"But he can do it now, if I forsake my chance for return. I can free him from our bond."

"I remind you that even if you choose to remain, you cannot know whether his love is returned. Your sacrifice may prove to be in vain, should the one who holds your husband's love not feel the same towards him."

"Maybe it will be futile. But I can give him hope at least."

"Why hope, when at the same time you withhold the comfort you could give by your presence?"

"Because he has suffered. He loved, and yet he knew that he must not because he was married to me. It has hurt him for so long. There is no hope for him that he can ever act upon his feelings. Not while his union with me holds true."

"And in refusing a hröa, you believe that you will ease his pain and comfort him for hurts long past?"

"He has questioned himself, whether what he felt was wrong. He thought that he was obliged to love me. That he was wrong to feel so for one whom he could not lawfully love. And that he was expected to set an example as a prince of our people."

"There is no law that would speak against their union if they both are not bound to another."

"No law, Lord, but custom. Our people do not look kindly upon matches that are not between male and female."

"Another concept which troubles my mind when I attempt to understand it. Iluvatar has not shown the fate of your kind to us in the Music, and while much is plain and clear to us which confounds you, there are times when the opposite sadly is true as well. Yet what you speak of brings even greater need for understanding to me. You say you wish to free him and allow him to be able to follow his heart, and yet you do not believe that he will be able to do so, since it would be contrary to your customs."

"I love him, and what is in my power to do for him, I wish to do. How can I make you understand, Lord?"

"I perceive that you cannot. And yet your determination to pursue the path you have chosen tells me much about the nature of your spirit and the devotion your heart can feel. I deem it to be a saddening choice, but also a choice true to the nature of Arda Marred and to the adjustments the Children of Iluvatar have made. So I shall ask once more, and this time I will accept your answer as binding. Do you wish to be rehoused and let the grievous separation of fëa and hröa be healed, or do you elect to remain in the Halls until time draws to an end?"

"I choose to remain."

"Then after the passing of ten years I shall pronounce your doom to all, and all your ties to the world of the living shall be severed, unless you find that your decision was in error and wish to reconsider until then."

"I accept, Lord. And I will not reconsider, because this is the way I must take."


The End


La Casa