Title: The Vision
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize as Tolkein's. Anything you don't recognize is probably mine.
A/N: A sequel to Faith. I havent really figured out where I'm going with this. This could turn into a full story, or just a series of one-shots (which is basically the same as a story, I guess, except a bit more open-ended haha). It could probably stand on its own, but if you haven't read Faith you might be a little confused. Anyway, it is what it is. Enjoy!
ellon - male elf
ellyn - male elves
elleth - female elf
ellith - female elves
They were lying on the roof of his flet and staring up at the stars that just peaked through the thick branches and velvety leaves overhead. He had returned from the border to find she was not asleep in bed, and knew immediately where to find her. She was not surprised when he joined her, even though she hadn't heard him approach. She was expecting him. He sat down wordlessly and stretched out beside her, lacing his fingers together and resting them behind his head.
"You're awake," he remarked. She turned and smiled tenderly at him.
"And you're in need of a bath"
He laughed, and she felt contentment wash over her at the sound of his rich voice. She returned her gaze to the stars overhead
"And here I was hoping you would be pleased to see me," he teased. He moved to get up again. "I shall bathe then, if it so pleases my lady."
She took his hand in hers as he sat up and looked at him sympathetically.
"Stay. I've missed you. I wouldn't see you gone so soon."
He smiled lazily and returned to his position beside her. That sat in silence for some time before he turned to look at her again.
"You are tired," he said. It was not a question, but rather a statement of what, even in the dim moonlight, he could easily discern.
"I haven't been sleeping well," she admitted. He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off. "You don't need to worry. It isn't anything important."
He rolled on his side, propping himself up on one elbow. With his other hand, he cupped her cheek softly.
"I would know what keeps my love from sleeping soundly while I'm away." He waited patiently as she debated what to say next.
"I have… I've had more dreams lately," she said evasively.
"Not good ones, I presume," he stated. She sighed and looked away, a frown marring her features.
"No." He waited for her to elaborate, but she did not.
"What is it you dream of?"
"Dreams of the past."
"Those have not gone away?" he asked.
"They had, at least for a while. The things I dream of now aren't as bad as they were at first. I seem to be past the worst of it." She paused, and for a moment he thought she might say more, but she did not.
"These are not the dreams that give you trouble," he stated. She sighed. What she was about to say sounded absolutely crazy, even in her own head. There was no way to explain without it sounding like she was utterly delusional.
She hesitated before speaking again.
"There are some dreams that…I don't think are mine." Her frown deepened. "I know the others technically aren't either, but those at least have a tangible source. One I'm aware of. But these are different. They're from another person all together. Someone who feels completely unrelated to me."
She knew it sounded ridiculous to say such a thing, and now, having said it, she felt almost embarrassed to admit to being troubled by such a thing, particularly when considering the atrocities she'd faced in the past. Dreams that weren't her own. Ha! Of all the absurd things to say! Of course they were hers. Who else's could they be?
"Have you spoken with the Lady Galadriel?" he asked. She felt relieved that he did not laugh immediately.
"I have. She was cryptic as usual. She won't tell me what it is I'm seeing. She says they'll pass in time. It's part of… adjusting, or some other ridiculous thing like that."
"It would be my guess that 'ridiculous' things come with the territory…" he replied. "You cannot expect to assume the power you have with no consequences. History is too closely tied to your new abilities. It surprises me you don't have more dreams than you do."
"These are different," she said. "They have nothing to do with-"
"Well no, I won't say that," she corrected. "It doesn't seem like they have anything to do with the other dreams I've had. They feel different."
And they did. The dreams she was used to were not nearly as tranquil. She would dream of battles in which she channeled unfathomable streams of power. The ground beneath her feet would tremble and the earth would lay scorched where she had stood. She could feel the soil between her toes turn to dust and see the frost begin to form in places where she'd drawn power too heavily. The sky would blacken and when she reached her limit, calling what she could just barely contain, a silence would follow. It was as though cotton blocked her ears, allowing the screeching and crashing sounds of battle to escape her. And from this center of calm, she could act as the breaker of armies. She was the eye of a terrible storm, an uncontrollable tempest.
The things she accomplished in those dreams! It was beyond anything she could have imagined on her own. And when her foes were vanquished, she would awaken to find her sheets burned to cinders. She would be quivering with barely contained energy, a power that felt as though it was boiling beneath her skin, ready to burst forth at any moment. For a time it was so bad that he dare not sleep with her at night. He would always awake to new burns along his arms and across his chest from laying too close. Eventually she took to sleeping on the floors out of pity for the poor elleth who made her bed linens. A large, blackened oval in the polish of the wood was the only scar left behind to show that anything had ever happened.
These new dreams were different. They were peaceful and light. The sky was never dark. In fact, she could not recall ever seeing a more vibrant sky. The home she lived in was so unlike Lorien. He had built it for her, she knew. Her whole family, to be more exact, but she liked to imagine that it was crafted for her exclusively, that he had labored over every small detail to make it take a form he knew would be pleasing to her. She knew this was not true though, because he barely knew her in these dreams. When they first began to come to her, he knew nothing of her at all, and this was what upset her most.
He stirred her from her thoughts
"Do you awake to any… surprises when you have these dreams?" he asked. She shook her head.
"They aren't those kinds of dreams. The things I see are different. The places are different but, of this world I think. Everything is too untouched for it to be home."
He smiled ruefully.
"I would hope that by now you consider Lorien to be home," he said. She smiled tenderly and reached up to touch his face.
"You know I do, but I'll always think of where I came from as home as well. My first home anyway. And things there are so different and industrial. The place I'm dreaming of is somewhere in middle Earth, I just don't know when or where, and I don't recognize enough of the people to place when this is happening."
"How do you know it is happening at all?" he asked. "It's possible that this is no more than a dream. You know, the kind the undisturbed and untroubled have," he teased. She pursed her lips and scowled.
"Shut up. Don't make fun of my maladjusted nature. I've started to expect every dream to have some kind of meaning these days. You would be just as disoriented if you saw all the things I do."
"Then tell me," he said. "Tell me what it is you see."
She sighed and looked away. There was a short silence before she began to speak.
"Often I see you. I see you everywhere in these dreams, even when you aren't really there. It's as though I'm looking for you half the time, but I don't know it's you I'm looking for. And I see me" she added after a moment. "But, I'm not myself. I look different. I look like you actually," she said with a laugh.
"Male?" he teased. She rolled her eyes.
"No, elven. I think we're in Valinor. That's the only place I can think of that would make sense."
"Imladris perhaps? Or maybe Mirkwood," he suggested. She shook her head.
"No, I've seen pictures of Imladris, and I've seen enough of Mirkwood to know that that's definitely not where I am in these dreams. The place isn't what worries me. What bothers me more is that I don't know you. Not at all. Half the time I don't even know your name. And you…"
"You're reluctant to be near me. Sometimes you avoid me as though my presence pains you or reminds you too much of something else," she said with a puzzled frown. "And even if I don't wake up with my bits of my room on fire, I wake up just as miserable," she said. He smiled and lightly kissed her.
"Then surely these dreams are of no significance, for how could being near you ever cause me pain?" he asked. "Especially when considering that being away causes me such grief."
She sighed and looked away.
"I don't know. They feel real – real enough to confuse me anyway."
"Well," he began, "you needn't worry such things should ever come to pass. We may well go to Valinor some day, but I have no intention of parting from you, nor do I intend to let you forget me." He kissed her again, lingering this time.
"Oh? And how would you go about ensuring such a thing?" she asked mischievously. He kissed her again.
"Easily enough," he replied haughtily.
"Not when you smell like an orc," she retorted, wrinkling her nose. His kiss was deep this time, and passionate. She did not push him away but welcomed his touch, pulling him closer to her. He laughed softly and briefly pulled back.
"I knew you would not turn me away," he teased. He kissed her again, caressing her face lightly with one hand. Her belly tingled with a familiar warmth and she reached her arms up towards him, tangling her hands in his hair. His lips moved along the line of her jaw and then slowly down her neck. She pressed herself against him and pulled him back up to kiss her. Their kiss was passionate this time and filled with a hunger that had been fueled by their long separation. He deftly untied the fastenings on the back of her gown. The neckline dipped below her shoulders. He stripped off his tunic and his lips were upon her again – her lips, her cheek, her ears and neck. She ran her hands through his hair, along the broad span of his shoulders. A quick pull undid the lacings of his leggings. He wrenched up the skirts of her dress and -
Vanwa awoke gasping. She pressed a hand to her heaving chest and was surprised to find she was bathed in sweat. Such vivid dreams she had been having! She'd now lost count of the number of times she had dreamt of the mysterious ellon. As always, she saw him through the woman's eyes, and as always, she wondered who he was. Who they both were, rather. Not once in any of her dreams had his name been spoken aloud, nor the woman's. Vanwa had easily surmised the two were lovers (for loving, as her mother called it, was all they ever seemed to be doing when she dreamed of them).
Usually her dreams took place in Lothlorien, though occasionally she found herself in places she could not identify. She presumed one location to be Imladris, though this assumption was based on rumors she had heard of how the Last Homely House once was. Other cities, she could not identify. They were too rustic, too unclean for elven lodgings, which only begged the question 'What in Arda were they doing there?'
The foreign woodlands they traveled to sparked her curiosity most. One dream looked suspiciously like Eryn Lasgalen, but then she had not actually been inside these woods, only down the Old Road that passed through its heart. The forest she dreamed of was also much too dark and foreboding to be Eryn Lasgalen. The trees weren't as inviting, thrumming with what felt like rage, and the shadows seemed drawn to the elves passing through as though they sought to swallow them whole. She could only conclude that the place she dreamed of was far away from Eryn Lasgalen.
She toyed with the idea that she dreamed of another time, maybe even another age, but her knowledge of history was shoddy at best. She had not told her parents of these dreams yet, but she sensed questions were coming. She spent more and more time in Lothlorien's library reading anything she could get her hands on. Unfortunately, little had been written of the Third Age. What had been put down in writing did not cover the major war that unfolded, the war that no one would tell her about. The war brought the darker half of the Third Age to a close and marked the start of the Fourth Age. Unfortunately, it was this war that interested Vanwa, because she was certain her dreams were connected to it. The ellon and the woman spoke so frequently of some great impending doom that she could only assume the War of the Ring was what they were referring to.
Vanwa was twice unfortunate because not only was little yet written of it, but few wanted to discuss and remember it. The Lady Galadriel insisted that Vanwa could come to her with any questions she might have, but Vanwa thought her to be too intimidating, and she was sure she would make an annoyance of herself if she were to ask every single question she had. She was also sure that a full and complete explanation would take days upon days of explanation, and it was her finding thus far that few people had the patience to tell such a tale, and few tales were ever told so completely anyway. Most things – most important things – were left unsaid, and she suspected that this great war was a war of secrets and deception. All wars were wars of violence, but this one… Too much was left unsaid for it to be merely a war of principle and territory.
Her thoughts returned again to the mysterious ellon she dreamed of. What was his role in all of this? What made him so important that she dreamed of him almost constantly now? And more importantly, what was it about this woman that made Vanwa always dream from her perspective? Vanwa puzzled at how it had come to pass that an ellon had taken a human woman to be his lover. She suspected there was something else to this woman, something that made her different. There were occasional allusions to something much larger that had happened. Something the young woman was capable of doing, something she was yet 'adjusting' to. Vanwa had briefly toyed with the idea that the woman was in fact a sorcerer of some kind, which would not make her a human but some other divine being. Was this what had caught the ellon's eye?
Though she was sure he was merely a dream, Vanwa already felt herself growing smitten with him, and growing dismayed that she was not some kind of sorceress. She felt incredibly foolish. He could not possibly exist. It was more likely he was some creation born of her newfound interest in ellyn. Her coming of age ceremony was no more than a month away, and in recent years she found that ellyn were no longer detestable at best, but rather appealing – exotic even. She, like other ellith her age, had taken to flirting and teasing and finding ways to make their gowns more revealing than what some might deem appropriate for ones their age. Her mother, noticing her daughter's change in behavior, had taken the time to awkwardly explain the process of intercourse to her. The conversation had been so uncomfortable, particularly given that Vanwa already knew the majority of what her mother told her. It seemed these days that all anyone spoke of was sex, having sex, and who had already experienced it for the first time. Vanwa had not yet found anyone who interested her in such a way. Perhaps she would find this ellon she dreamed of and then…
She dismissed the thought at once. The idea was ridiculous, not to mention impossible. She was also fairly certain her parents would not approve of one who was clearly so much older than her. Dismayed, she realized that an ellon so old would consider her to be merely a child. How many centuries had he lived to see? She could not yet count her hundredth year in Lorien, though she comforted herself with the knowledge that at least tomorrow she would be able to consider herself an adult. Tomorrow was her Begetting Day, and fifty was better than nothing. Fifty was no longer a child. Fifty was also still much too young for so proud and strong a warrior as the one she dreamed of. No, even if she could find him, she was certain naught would come of it. They would be ill-suited from the start.
This made her indignant. She was quite mature. Remarkably mature, in fact. Wise beyond her years, some might say. The ellon she dreamed of would be lucky to have one such as her, and she had plenty to offer. She was an adequate seamstress, quite the cook now that she'd learned not to burn everything, and her archery was coming along nicely in her opinion. That would surely impress someone like him. He would help her improve, using his warrior's expertise, and when they were done at the practice fields they would return home to share a meal. At night, he would tell her of the things he'd seen and allow her to comfort him and ease is suffering, because surely he suffered greatly, and in a way that only she could allay.
Vanwa sighed dejectedly. This was absurd. Now she was blatantly fantasizing and making up falsehoods to boost her self esteem. No such ellon existed, and no such ellon would come to her for comforting. She, who had barely seen anything of the world. Vanwa had only once been outside of Lothlorien, and was fool enough to think it made her worldly. Realistically, she was no more than a hatchling, deny it though she might, and no ellon would want her when they could have an elleth who was older than at least some of the saplings in the wood.
Vanwa rolled her eyes at her own foolishness. Now she was much too worked up to return to her reverie. All this time spent worrying over a dream. She felt like a child again. She pulled on a light robe and left her room. Her parents were asleep still – it was not even close to morning. All well-adjusted ellith were sleeping so that in the morning they would look refreshed and put-together. Vanwa supposed looking presentable was a lost cause at this point.
She pushed open the door leading to the balcony. It closed with a soft click behind her, and she made her way to the small bench nestled among her mother's numerous flowers and plants. She lay down on the bench, lacing her fingers behind her head and gazing up at the night sky. There had to be some way to rid herself of these dreams. She had been growing tired from so many nights where she slept poorly at best. Just yesterday, her mother had commented she looked more like a ghost than an elleth. Her mother had also made this remark in front of Hirion, who was picking up a dress for his mother and whose attention Vanwa had been hoping to catch. Her mother had a knack for dashing all of her hopes and dreams, it would seem, though her mother also thought Vanwa had too much of a taste for the dramatic and so had little regard for these fanciful "hopes and dreams".
Vanwa felt herself pouting and immediately trained her face to a more neutral expression. Mature ellith did not pout. They were dignified and patient and did not, as her mother put it, 'try to do too much living at once'. She couldn't help it though. Lately she felt like she was bursting at the seams with energy, with a need to explore all of Lorien and learn everything there was to know. She was filled with a pressing sense of urgency, a sense that time was running out. Odd, given her immortality, but undeniable given its persistence.
She fidgeted slightly and focused her attention on the stars twinkling above. She quickly found her favorites, and allowed their glow to soothe her. Vanwa felt herself began to slip into a tranquil reverie.
A sharp yank woke her immediately. The wind rushed at her face and she looked back to find herself being pulled away from the balcony at an alarming speed. Her pulse quickened and she began to panic when she noticed that her body lay unmoving, sprawled against the cold floor while she, her spirit, was pulled away. Faster and faster until she was high above the Golden Wood. The stars grew closer and the wind whipped at her dress. An unseen force drew her higher into the night sky. Her clothes were stripped away, leaving her naked and exposed, and still she was pulled higher. The light of the stars grew almost unbearable and encompassed her completely. She opened her eyes to a blindingly bright nothingness, and felt an uncomfortable heat lick at her skin.
The woman from her dreams appeared before her, now in a world she had never seen before. She was a child now, playing in a field. Vanwa blinked and found the woman grown, garbed in the strangest clothing and carrying ominous looking objects with her. She was injured, thrown from some flying sort of carriage.
The visions came faster now. Lothlorien, Imladris, places Vanwa had never seen, places that were not of this world. People she could not recognize but knew she was meant to. Fire everywhere and so many deaths. Face after face passed before her, and she knew that as each person passed from her sight, they passed from this life altogether. Surely she would run out of people she knew. The faces passed by more quickly now – she could barely recognize each one. These, she knew, were people whose deaths she'd caused. Their nameless forms stretched out into the distance, their faces blank.
Thunder cracked overhead and lightning streaked the sky. The wind rushed at her face and she was sucked forward, the ground passing beneath her in a dizzying rush. She halted abruptly and felt the air forced from her lungs as though she'd been hit in the chest. She'd never seen anything so horrifying, so inexplicably awful. The earth was burned. Her palms were wet with blood, the same dark blood that soaked the ground below her. Elves and men alike were strewn across a barren plain, their faces contorted in expressions pain. And the ellon she dreamed of. The ellon she so adored. He was there too. His cheek was smeared with blood, his armor dented and battered. He was on his knees, staring entreatingly at the black sky. Thunder rumbled overhead and heartwrenching cry erupted from his lips as he clutched her lifeless form. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She struggled to run to him.
"I'm sorry!" she cried. Vanwa fell to her knees. "I'm so sorry! I did not want this for us!"
Vanwa tangled her hands in her hair, and leaned forward, the weight of her grief nearly pulled her to the ground. She opened her eyes to the same blinding emptiness she'd seen before. Vanwa wrapped her arms around her waist, as though holding herself together. She shivered, more aware of her nakedness in the cold night air. He walked towards her now. He wore a white undertunic and loosely fitting white breeches. He was barefoot and his silver-blond hair was unbound. Her tears continued as he drew closer. She had caused him so much suffering. She shook her head and opened her mouth to apologize.
"I'm so sorry," she sobbed. He smiled kindly.
"I didn't mean… I didn't want to-"
He cut her off.
"I know you didn't," he said. He held out his hand. "Come to me."
She hesitated and closed her eyes, allowing herself a moment to savor the sound of his voice. She reached out her hand.
"Come. Find me."
The wind rushed around her, lifting her long hair off the back of her neck.
"Come to me."
The wind grew louder, roaring in her ears. The same sucking sensation caused her to lurch backwards.
Vanwa opened her eyes and found herself staring into the sorrowful blue eyes of Lady Galadriel. The cold floor of the balcony pressed against her back and thighs, and she was sure a bruise was forming on the side of her forehead from when she fell off the bench. A cool breeze rustled the trees, and she knew from the chill she felt that she was sweating profusely. Her parents stood just behind where Galadriel knelt, her father protectively holding her mother. Their expressions were ones of fear and concern. Galadriel stroked Vanwa's hair fondly, an almost pitying look entering her eyes.
"At last, you have come of age," she said quietly, "and now you may find your true self, for you are a warrior reborn."
Vanwa lay trembling, trying to comprehend the magnitude of all that she had seen and been told. The wind picked up again, carrying with it a voice only she could hear.
Come to me. Find me. I am waiting for you.