In Her Shadow
Warning: This is going to turn into a ghost story.
A whole box of chocolates for the beta reader, the most renowned and distinguished Lady Masterblott from the Land of Neverending Rain. Thanks for grammar revision and other comments.
Pháinetai moi kénos ísos theóisin
Émmen ónper, óttis enantíos tói
Isdanéi kai plásion adiphánei-
kaí geláisas iméroen, to´m´é mán
kardían én stéthesin eptoáisen
ós gár és s´ído brokhe, ós me phónai
Chapter One: Duality
The light, quenched...
Indis was nervous. The pangs in her stomach were becoming so persistent that she had to close her eyes to stop the call of the marble floor, which at each moment seemed closer to her gaze and farther from her own feet. She was feeling small and lonely, standing like that inside the great Noldorin stone building, yet the monstrosity of a half-suppressed something torturing her fëa still made her uncomfortable and afraid of herself, filling her belly with nausea.
The light, quenched..
"The Queen is waiting for you, Lady Indis."
The Vanya opened her eyes, and nodded politely with a smile before following the Noldo in front of her. It was not happening anywhere, she thought with momentary relief. All those things were only inside her head, and just like they did not show through the dense mask of her lovely calm face, they would never become real. It was like a nightmare, and long ago her brother had told her she did not have to be afraid of nightmares, since they were no more than deceiving visions that Elves born in Middle- Earth sometimes received as a reminder of the Shadow that had once tried to confuse them there.
The light, quenched..
But what, she wondered again rather desperately, what if the nightmare was not a distant remembrance of Middle- Earth at all? What if it happened in the Blessed Realm, inside her, and, at the same time, in front of her, too? If it was there?
"Greetings, Lady Indis", Queen Míriel said, approaching her from the window where she had been sitting while doing her needlework. The room was lighted with many lamps, and the great tapestries that hung from the walls gave it a feeling of homeliness, and yet of magnificence that she had not felt in any other palace of the Noldor before. It was Miriel herself who had woven those tapestries, some here and some in Middle Earth, she remembered.
Now, at the sudden sight of the Broideress’s delicate beauty, no little increased by the finery of her robes, the Vanya could not suppress a choke, and for a while she stayed motionless, helplessly gaping at her.
"Greetings, Queen Míriel", she managed to say at last, and Finwë´s wife nodded. Both came closer to bow slightly in respect, she for the Queen of the Noldor, and the nís in front of her for the High King´s sister, and kissed, drawing back to smilingly stare at each other in silence.
The light, quenched..
Indis breathed hard, and tried again to smother the strange feeling of nausea as she remembered the way in which she had always felt enthralled by that smile. That peculiar and mysterious slight curve in Míriel´s lips was what had seduced Finwë ,until he had lived for no one else than for her, so how could she? Yet she had been, since the first time she ever set eyes on her, as well as by the sparkle in the grey eyes that now glowed with a happiness softened by compassion, and she could do nothing to help it.
The light, quenched. That smile, gone. Her rival taken by Middle- Earth´s deep shadows, trapped in darkness, disappearing forever in a place where Finwë would never be able to follow her.
The Vanya suppressed a sob, and, in a moment, the Noldorin queen was at her side, embracing her with loving concern.
"Indis", she whispered. "I am so sorry..."
"I did not come to congratulate you earlier because... because..."
"I know", a sweet voice comforted her; soft black hair tickling her neck and warm flesh pressed against cold limbs. Without knowing why, Indis was able to feel grateful to her for a moment simply for being there, as a friend who could wipe her tears away, and not as the nís who had doomed her to stay unfulfilled since the moment she and the nér she loved had been pledged for eternity.
The nís that she saw dead and gone in the nightmare of her desire.
"How can I..." Indis tried to articulate. "How can my mind be so black and twisted... I should be happy for you!"
Slowly, Míriel drew back, following her with an intent gaze while her hands stroked the Vanya´s golden hair in soothing movements. She knew, yes. She had always known that the little sister of King Ingwë loved her betrothed with a child´s determination, and that she cried silently each time she saw them together, but her hopes that poor Indis would some day find her true love had so far remained unsatisfied.
She felt pity for her. Pity, and that was what tortured Indis the most.
The light, quenched. The smile, gone. I have seen her dead, and I rejoiced, but she does not rejoice when she sees me dying.
Indis drew back as well and tried to compose herself, wiping the tears from her eyes. It was all so..unfair. She was not a monster, was she? She loved Míriel, and the older nís had always been so good to her!
More than she probably deserved.
"Míriel" she said, and her cheeks flushed deeply. For a moment, her gaze rested upon the tapestries, the lamplight, the warm fire, and then her host´s face. "Forgive me, but I will not visit you again. The mere sight of you stirs feelings inside me I would like to smother as soon as I could... feelings that make me feel ashamed as well as frightened, but, please, know that I love you and that you will always be my friend."
To her surprise, Finwë´s wife blushed too, until the colour of her cheeks matched hers in intensity. When she finally found the strength to answer, she could not do so without stammering, as if it was her who should be ashamed instead of Indis.
"Thank... thank you. I... I did not want... I did not expect... I am sure ´tis not easy for you, to be here, and I will deliver to him your congratulations... If you allow me."
Indis nodded, trying to hide her pain at Miriel´s words.
"I would be very grateful if you did. ´Tis true, I mean it."
"Come with me."
With exquisite gentleness, Míriel took her distressed companion’s hand, and ushered her out of the chamber. Neither of them said a word as they crossed the long stone corridors, walking together for the last time, for both were wrapped in a deep silence that spoke better than a thousand words about painful understanding. Even when they parted outside, under the mingled light of the Two Trees, they did not speak, just kiss and give each other a lingering glance before turning away.
The light, quenched...
* * *
That same night, Indis dreamed she was in that palace chamber once more, looking at the intricate patterns of the tapestries; but it was Finwë who held her by the hand now. They were joyfully married, she did not know how, and wanted to kiss, but, when they turned to gaze with tenderness into each other´s eyes, all of a sudden, she found it was a thin frail hand she held in hers, and saw the figure of Míriel piercing her with a grieving stare.
The light, quenched...
* * * * * * * * *
Indis never visited Míriel again. She felt too afraid of her own visions, and seriously believed for a while that the Shadow of Middle- Earth was trying to get inside her to twist her mind and turn her into a monster, so she tried to find oblivion singing together with her people at the slopes of Taniquetil. Except for her brother, nobody else perceived her sadness; and she was so intent in making him believe she had forgotten Finwë and Míriel that Ingwë thought she would eventually heal and find her matching fëa at last; even if he sometimes worried still and tried to overrule her fierce resistance to bring her to the Valar. But she never went. She was not a part of the Shadow, she was a bright Vanya as the others, and she delighted in her song, laughing and inventing melodies that were all new; leading the choir, alone. Above all, she loved to sing, to sing until she truly felt she was forgetting.
But the day the news reached her about the child Míriel and Finwë had been gifted with, Indis the singer dreamed again. And some months after that, when Ingwë told her that the Queen of the Noldor, exhausted from the painful delivery of her son Fëanaro, had left Finwë to rest for a while in the gardens of the Vala Irmo, she shuddered, and afterwards wondered why.
(To be continued)
*Translation (I´m no translator, so if you prefer to look in a book, you will find many better versions): "He seems to me the like of the gods, this man who is now sitting in front of you, listening to your sweet voice at your side while you talk to him; and to your gentle laugh that, I swear it to you, has made my heart leap inside my breast, because if only I look at you I am not able to utter a word any longer. (...)"
Note on names: Fëanaro is Fëanor´s Quenya mothername, and "Broideress" is Míriel´s surname (Serindë).
Note on characters: My Indis is Ingwë´s sister, though Tolkien left us with two possibilities: sister and niece, I preferred the first. And my Míriel is dark- haired, because I always pictured her with the same hair colour as her son, and I don´t like silver for her.( Besides, among the Noldor..?)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.