I was so angry at the Valar that I left the journey from Middle-earth to Valinor as late as I could. When Círdan told me that he was weary and needed to go home I agreed to make the journey. I was without enthusiasm, but my husband could take no more of living in Middle-earth. We alighted from the last ship and there were cries among the crowd that Oropher had returned. I smiled politely and then looked for the one person I hoped to see. How my heart broke when she was nowhere to be seen. I wondered why I came.
Walking down the gangplank, I saw my brother, Melpomaen, and his husband, Glorfindel, standing over to one side. How good it was to see them and my heart sang that we were reunited once again. Still, my attention was not complete; a piece of me looked and scanned the crowds in the vain hope that my little iell might be trying to make her way through the throng to meet her adas, but it was not to be.
Círdan put his arms around my shoulders. “Do not give up hope,” he whispered in my ear. “Maybe one day.”
“I fear it will be never,” I said softly, so only he could hear my pain. In reality, we both felt the same agony in our hearts and did not dare to hope; the inevitable disappointment would add yet another hammer blow to our anguish.
I remember when our daughter was born. She was Ereodan’s twin. As soon as she opened her sleepy eyes she shouted, “Ada!” and held her arms up to me. Then she asked me to name her Jeli.
“As in the dessert?” I asked, thinking that I was most amusing. She nodded that I was wrong and so I asked her what her proposed name meant.
“I don’t know,” she replied with a little twinkle sparkling in her beautiful blue eyes. “I just like the sound of it.”
Círdan laughed and said that it solved the problem of a name for her and she grinned at him. “Thank you,” she said sweetly.
What ada does not fall in love with his iell when he first looks upon her baby face? Círdan and I were no exception. We adored her. We adored all our children, but she completely melted our hearts. When she was unborn and still in my belly we feared that she would be awful after her birth, as some of her humour and language, inside my womb, was very coarse indeed. I cannot remember how often we threatened to give her and her twin, Ereodan, to the woodcutters before they were born. However, after her birth she was a sweet little girly elfling and her brother was very well behaved and a pleasure to be with. Cireolas did not behave himself as well as they did and we put it down to him not being a reborn elfling. He was learning for the first time what they already knew.
It was during their presentation to the Valar that Círdan and I were told by Nienna that Jeli would not be with us forever. She said that her fëa would be required to make the choice of who she wanted to be, our iell or the fiery High King she once was; to do that her fëa would have to be removed from her body.
“Please do not hurt her,” I said through my tears. Círdan was speechless and held onto me, his heart broken with grief for what was to come.
How we held ourselves I do not know. When they came back down from the sky, after being blessed by the Valar, we did not seek to dampen their laughter and giggles by showing them anything but happy faces.
Círdan and I talked and reasoned with each other that it may not be for years yet. We had no indication when she would be taken from us. I do not know if she ever remembered who she once was; she never talked about her former life and I did not encourage her to be anyone other than my sweet little iell. I was happy that she said nothing and desperately hoped that we had many years together before she would be gone.
It was the morning, after the happiness of her third birthday, when I walked into the bedroom she shared with her two brothers and found her lifeless and cold. My heart shattered and has never completely rebuilt since then. Her black curls framed her perfect face and her lips were still pink, but she was dead and nothing could reverse it. Neither of us expected her end to be so swift. I cursed the Valar for all the iniquities they had heaped upon our heads over the years; surely, this was the worst. I saw Círdan cry for the first time in many years. He hurried to my side after hearing my distress. Círdan picked Jeli up and held her close, telling her that he loved her and would always do so. I sobbed so hard that everything became a blur. My heart hurt with the torment of her loss. I loved her so much and now she was gone.
We held on to her for the next hour while the nanny took our two elflings away to wash them and answer their questions. We heard them being told through the bathroom door. She told them so gently and so nicely, saying that the Valar loved her so much they had taken her to live with them and they would see her again when they sailed.
“But I didn’t know she was going,” Ereodan said to her.
“Neither did I,” Cireolas said. I could hear them crying.
“Nobody knew she was going,” I told them both when they kissed her. It was so painful watching them say goodbye. After a couple of hours, we were told that all was ready for us in The Hall of Crystal Thrones. Before leaving the bedroom, Círdan bade me to cut several locks of her hair and put them aside. We would put the black curls into lockets as remembrances for those who loved her.
We proceeded to the Hall of Thrones and Círdan placed Jeli in her tiny white coffin, which had originally been the carpenter’s showpiece of his skill and not expected to hold anyone. The interior was inlaid and padded with white silks, sewn by the court seamstresses. Garlands of tiny white flowers and dark greenery surrounded the platform of the catafalque where her coffin lay. White and pink ribbons hung from the sides and I noticed that they had little teddies embroidered on them. Jeli wore her birthday dress from the day before and the tiny lace shoes studded with golden flowers that she chose herself. Four warriors, two at each end and two at either side, stood facing away from her. They wore the ceremonial uniform used when a member of the Royal Family dies. I do not know how we were able to carry on through that. The worst moment came when Círdan tucked her little teddy beside her and the lid was put on. She had lain in state for the rest of the day and a couple after. Thranduil and Merilnis, along with the rulers from the other elven realms, arrived by eagle. Now it was the evening and time to put her to rest.
We buried her in our private garden under the apple tree, the one that she said she would climb when she was big enough. We stood throughout the ceremony, while the representatives of the Valar offered prayers for her fëa. My adas stood either side of Círdan and me, their arms linked through ours so that we could stand and maintain our position. She was lowered into the ground and a slab of marble was placed over the top with her name on; the dates of her birth and death already inscribed. The stonemason later carved a sweet likeness of her face at the bottom, which we drew comfort from every evening when we visited her to say good night. She could not hear us but we thought, if nothing else, the Valar would know the value of what they had taken from us and how much we still loved her.
Still, that was many years ago. My two elflings grew into two strong elves. At no time could I allow myself to be anything but there for them; we knew the pain of loss and I could not bear for them to go through it again. Círdan and I agreed that any thoughts of sailing early, or even of fading, were not to be entertained. Not that I would have sailed early anyway after all the grievous insults the Valar had dealt us over the years.
“We have split Valinor into seven parts. Five of them are to be ruled by kings and one is to be ruled by a queen. All of you have proved your ability to rule; however, the seventh part is to be retained by the Valar. Although we hold ultimate rule over everywhere, how you run your kingdom is your own business.” Lord Manwë walked along the sea shore with Círdan and me. “You and Círdan were originally going to be rulers of your own kingdoms but your joint rule in Middle-earth has been so successful, we altered our plans somewhat.”
We said very little as both of us felt that here was immortality without any change, or even hope. Lord Manwë continued, “You must understand that we had to do the things we did, so that Eru’s song could be fulfilled. I recognise that we have hurt you deeply and wounded your hearts so badly that you carry an eternal grief around with you, but that will pass. You have my assurance on that.”
The Lord of Airs was greeted with disbelieving looks from both of us. He raised his arm. Out of the living rock rose a huge castle, the same as the one we left in Middle-earth. It was all rather sedate, no flying shards of displaced rock, or loud noise. The castle rose majestically, as if it had been waiting to make an appearance and was already built. “This is where you will both rule from,” he said and smiled. “Everything is as it was. We have left a small present in your rooms. On behalf of the Valar, and myself in particular, I apologise for how we were forced to treat you. May I say that I do not always agree with Eru’s edicts, but I would never dare to disobey them.” He waved his hand. “Go now. Go and explore.”
We walked to the castle. “I wonder what the present is; a welcome box of fruit perhaps,” Círdan said cynically. “Did you notice that he never apologised for the cruelties caused to you by his own temper?”
“Yes, I did, but we have received all the apologies we are ever going to get out of him.” We walked on to the bridge spanning the moat. “I think the present will be wine and chocolates, with a little card saying, ‘Welcome to your new home, Hugs the Valar xxx’.” I gave a bitter laugh and watched as the drawbridge rose.
Everything inside was as we had left it, but empty. All the furniture was the same, as was the decoration. “How can they be so callous?” Círdan asked in disgust. “We are supposed to be making a new start and they do this to us. What sort of sick bastards are they?”
I was weary of the Valar and their tricks and needed to rest. “Come on meleth,” I said taking his arm. “Let us go and see our rooms; it is not as though we do not know where they are.”
We walked into our bedroom, sat down on the bed, and held one another. There was nothing to indicate any present, certainly not that anything would undo the years of injustice the Valar had put us through. I just wondered why Lord Manwë had lied, that was all.
We were disillusioned and disheartened; we said nothing. My lips reached Círdan’s and we kissed, “I love you, whatever the future holds,” I told him and he said the same to me.
“Ada, look.” A happy voice said from behind me. “I know I wore this dress yesterday but I want to wear it again today.”
Jeli tugged at my sleeve and I looked at her with a stunned face. She jumped up onto my lap and touched my cheek with her tiny fingers. I held her tight, not daring to believe she was real. “Ada why are you crying, have you hurt yourself?” My dear, sweet child sat on my knee, unaware of our years of grief. I wanted to cry my joy to the firmament and broadcast the easing of the pain in our hearts to the whole of the continent.
“How old are you today?” Círdan asked and squeezed her little toes, trying to smile in spite of his watering eyes.
“I am three, Ada,” she said happily and held her fingers up to him. “Look three fingers means three years.”
Círdan leant over and kissed her cheek. He took her off me and held her in his arms and laughed as the tears fell down his cheeks. “I love you so much,” he said to her as he kissed her again.
We were having the conversation that we should have had with her all those years ago. She was taken by the Valar, to decide whether she wanted to be our little iell and live with us, or live as Fëanor again. She chose us and Fëanor does not exist now, nor will he ever do so. Jeli is ours and we have her forever and ever.
Jeli was the Valar’s gift and now everything is all right with our lives. Our hearts are healed and she is in wonder that everything has changed. Because she is so little, she does not fully understand and thinks that she went to sleep for a very long time. Needless to say, my family is overjoyed, as are her brothers. Ereodan-Ereinion rules the kingdom adjacent to ours and we are to journey there in two days. I am looking forward to seeing him again and watching him greet his twin sister for the first time in nearly two thousand years. We intend travelling to see Cireolas afterwards. He lives in King Elrond’s realm with his husband, Elrohir. Elrond tried his best to remain a Lord but the Valar would not hear of it. Watching Ereodan presenting his baby sister to the court and announcing that she is his twin should be a lot of fun, I cannot wait!
So that is how our hearts were mended and how the insults heaped upon us by the Valar, throughout the years we lived in Middle-earth, were resolved and forgotten. We set off in two days time but for now we are enjoying being with Jeli. Erestor and Legolas have made much fuss of her and Mel, who lives here with Glorfindel, has promised to make her a kite.
Jeli awoke this morning and tore joyfully into our bedroom at some unearthly hour of the morning. She climbed into our bed and settled between us. “Wake up adas,” she shouted, prodding us with her fingers. “It is a lovely morning and we could go swimming in the sea.” I put my arm around her and Círdan tickled her belly, so she screeched with laughter. “I know,” she said excitedly. “We could have a picnic and then we could do handstands against the big apple tree.”
All the sadness has gone and we have allowed joy back into our lives.
May it never leave.
Ziggy's enthusiasm for the Melpomaen Story Collection encouraged me to edit this quickly and post here; therefore, this story is dedicated to her :D
Disclaimer: I do not seek reward and applicable rights belong to the Tolkien estate.
Disclaimer: I do not seek reward and applicable rights belong to the Tolkien estate.
Please note. Cireolas is the eldest elfling. His brother and sister, Ereodan and Jeli, were born over a year later.