Disclaimer: I own nothing and no-one within -- not that I don't wish to. If I owned Olorin I could perhaps convince him to help me with my final English paper (how much do you think he knows about Ibsen and the Well-made Play?) If I owned the Lady Nienna she would probably be of little help on my paper -- but at least she would listen to me if I were to break down crying over it. Do not sue me, I have no lawyer and the only pre-Law I know spends half her time skipping class.
A/N: Let it be known that, having fulfilled as best I can the applicable Laws from Philosopher at Large's "Keep These X" (Which can be found here: www.oddlots.digitalspace.net ) and having pondered long over my dog-eared copies of The Silmarillion and the Trilogy;

And, whereas this plot bunny swore upon the fuzzy cottontails of its fathers to plague me until this fic was written;

In an attempt to get a little peace I have now set forth this paltry tale.
The quotes at the beginning are taken from The Silmarillion, 1977 paperback Ballantine edition; pg. 21-2 and 25 and The Two Towers, 1977 paperback Ballantine edition; pg. 135.

Thanks to Aralanthiriel,for the little nudge (via the Hidden Archives Forum) that helped me get up the guts to post this.
And with all that said, may it also be noted that I thrive on well-meaning feedback.

Thank you. On to the fic!
Of Fallen Angels and Second Chances
"Mightier than Estë is Nienna, sister of the Fëanturi; she dwells alone. She is acquainted with grief, and mourns for every wound Arda has suffered in the marring of Melkor . . . . She goes . . . to the halls of Mandos, which are near her own; and all those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom."

"Wisest of the Maiar was Olorin . . . . His ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience."

--- The Valaquenta
"Naked I was sent back -- for a brief time, until my task was done."

--- The Two Towers
In the Halls of Mandos, among the tapestries woven by Vairë who is Lady of that house, there walks often a Lady of such beauty that no mortal words may describe her. Hers is a high and terrible beauty, tempered with such great sorrow that all who look on her may no more be unchanged, but are ever touched to their core by the sight. Nienna she is called, the Lady of Sorrows, sister of Irmo Lord of Lórien and of Námo (called Mandos), keeper of the Houses of the Dead. Often she visits the house of her brother, the Halls of Mandos, and there keeps counsel with the spirits of the slain; and it is written that those who dwell in Mandos weep to her, and she bears with them in their griefs.

Now once when the world was yet young and wild, and while the Firstborn still walked abroad in Arda, Nienna arose and went forth from her own house into the Halls of Mandos. Walking there she followed the great tapestries of Vairë from their beginnings as they spread out among the halls, and the story of Arda was unfurled before her from its first day forward.

At last Nienna stood where the tapestry was yet new-made and the panel which Vairë her sister-in-law had just completed was newly-hung. Standing before the panel she beheld a figure who studied the figures and forms of the tapestry, and she saw that he mourned what he beheld. Then she looked to the panel, and saw that it told of the Fellowship of the Ring, and of the journey from Imladris to Moria, and of the betrayal and death of Boromir son of Denethor. With the Ringbearer's flight and the breaking of the Company the panel ended, and Nienna knew why the figure mourned. She put out her hand to touch his shoulder, and in a voice tempered with the sorrow of many ages she said,

"You are troubled, Olorin."

The Maia turned to her, and his brow was furrowed with deep care. He bowed. "My Lady."

"Will you not tell me your sorrows?" Nienna led him to a stone bench and drew him down to sit beside her, smoothing the grey skirts of her robes. "For you have walked long among the Children, and have borne many cares on your shoulders, dear Olorin; yet of those most recent you are most mindful." Her gaze crossed to the new-made panel. "Tell me . . . of the Fellowship."

Olorin sighed. "There is much that has befallen them, Lady, yet only one thing to tell -- that I have failed them, and my task is left unfinished, and I fear for that which shall befall them now."

"Have you failed, Olorin?" The fair voice was gentle, like a caress.

"My Lady, you know that I have." Olorin's voice trembled with shame, his eyes fixed on his folded hands. "I was sent to protect them, to guide the young ones safely through and to counsel them in their dark hour. But . . . ." He shook his head sadly, "I was unequal to my task."

He glanced briefly at the Lady. Nothing could be seen in those terrible eyes, save only the quiet, sorrowful patience they always held. Olorin turned his gaze away. "For a greater servant, a wiser counselor, would surely have seen what lay in the heart of Boromir. A more powerful warrior might have survived the journey through Moria, and seen the Company safely on their path. Had I but done so . . . ." The Maia's grey eyes rested on two small figures in the tapestry. "Then surely the small ones would not have had to face Mordor alone. Surely the Fellowship would not now be scattered -- two captured, one fallen, and . . . ." His gaze fell once again. "One failed."

Nienna's white hand rested gently on his own. "*Failed*? Ah, Olorin." The musical sorrow of her voice was tinged with what might have been amusement. "Did not Yavanna and I *fail* to keep the Two Trees alive?"

"What?" Olorin's eyes widened as he looked up. "*No*, My Lady. Surely that was no failure . . . ."

"A failure it was, Olorin. I say it, without shame; for surely all my tears and the songs of Yavanna failed to keep the Trees from death."

"But had that not happened, My Lady . . ." Olorin began.

"There would be no Sun, nor any Moon," Nienna nodded, "And what evil might then have multiplied in the darkness that covered Arda? Would not the Quest of the Ring be more difficult in the dark?"

"My Lady Nienna . . ." Olorin paused, then continued, "Surely these things are not the same . . . ."

"They are all in the Music, Olorin." She turned to look over the tapestry. Her gaze rested on the fallen form of Boromir, then moved to linger on the depiction of another fall -- a grey-clad figure locked in combat with a creature of nightmare and shadow.

Olorin, too, focused on the scene. Tears shimmered in his eyes as Nienna continued to speak.

"All the failings and fears, every sorrow that Eru's Children -- and we, too -- have known . . . all is in the Music, Olorin. Even we may not know all that the Music holds, for Eru alone knows that. But," The Lady's eyes rested tenderly on the Maia. "Can you not take comfort in the knowledge that He knows, and that He guides our ways?"

Olorin closed his eyes. "I can, My Lady. But," He added softly, "My task is still undone. I have left them." His eyes opened suddenly and he rose quickly, stepping close to the tapestry. He stood for a long time, staring searchingly at the figures pictured there. "They are so young, My Lady. Even Legolas is young in his race. That such children must go on alone . . . that is more than I can bear."

"You have loved them." Nienna said simply. "It is always unbearable to leave what one loves."

"If only I could go back . . ." The Maia reached out to gently touch his own woven image.

"That is nothing to speak of now." Nienna said quietly. "For you have fought a great battle, and your wounds are but partly-healed. Rest is what you need, Olorin."

"But . . ."

"Rest." The word was both command and caress.

Olorin let his hand drop from the tapestry and nodded. "Yes, My Lady." He bowed and turned to go, but Nienna's voice stopped him.

"You did well, Olorin. None could do better."

He half-turned and bowed again. "Thank you, My Lady."

And he was gone.

Nienna turned and surveyed the panel once again, letting her slim fingers rest where Olorin's hand had been a moment earlier. Tears traced their paths down the cheeks of the Lady of Sorrows, and in a voice that mourned for the hurts of ages she said
"The White has turned, arraying himself with false rainbows. The battle rages, and the Children seek counsel. There must be a light to guide their paths, lest they stumble and fall into darkness."

She pulled the grey hood of her cloak over her head, murmuring

"There shall be a White light to guide them."

She would go to her brother, Mandos, and after that to Manwë. Olorin would need rest and healing -- Estë's gifts. Forgetfulness and instruction he would need as well, if he was to return to Arda once more. Olorin had forgotten things -- useful things -- during the time he had spent among the Children. Things he would have to remember. And -- Nienna glanced at the tapestry -- there were some things it was better he *not* remember. Sorrows it would be better to erase.

Nienna touched the tapestry once more, this time tracing the figure of a fallen man who had been bested by an Evil stronger than himself. Tears once again wet her cheeks as she wept for Boromir, for the breaking of the Fellowship, for the great evil that threatened the Children.

But before the tears were dried the Lady of Sorrows turned and left the hall.

There was much to be done.

A/N: What, you don't really think the Valar were *completely* idle while the events of the Trilogy were going on, do ya? Well, if you do, feel free to tell me so -- or to raise any other points, questions or comments (have I mentioned that I thrive on feedback? *:innocent grin:*).