Dr. Wendell Ghast opened his eyes at the sound of a voice that he hadn't heard for a very long time indeed, and squinted against the dabbled sunlight of the overhead trees in order to get a clear look. "I thought your kind had long since abandoned these lands," he accused back, closing his eyes against the vision of ancient beauty that stood before him as he relaxed on a park bench. "And I would modernize your looks before one of Them sees you."
There was a low, feminine chuckle, and a rustle. "Is that better?"
He cracked his eyelids again, and then nodded and closed them again as he uncrossed and recrossed his stretched-out feet. "Much."
He didn't open them again even when he felt her sit down on the park bench next to him and tease one of the sparrows from his shoulder onto her fingers. "Are you not at least… curious?" she inquired eventually.
"Why should I be?" Wendell shook his head slowly, so as not to frighten any of his other little friends. "When you are ready, I am certain you will fill me in."
At a softly spoken word from her, all of his little friends took flight. He felt her turn toward him on the bench and tuck a shapely ankle, now more suitably protected by faded denim, beneath her. "One could get the impression that you are determined never to return to us."
He sighed and straightened, and then opened his eyes again to gaze at his Lady. "That is not the case…" he hedged. "It is just that I am still needed here far more than I am there. There is too much to do, and I am mostly alone now."
"If the Second-born have not yet learned to care for their own world…" she began.
"Hmph! What chance were they ever given to learn of the importance," he grumbled as he reached into a pocket for a handkerchief with which to wipe the dust from his glasses.
"How many Ages…"
"That is a good question," Wendell interrupted her boldly. "How many Ages did the First-born sit on their butts in their strongholds, deliberately withholding their knowledge and lore from the Second-born out of pride, or arrogance, or fear, or prejudice? And then, finally, when the last of the Dark Lord's protégés was defeated, the First-born quietly abandoned the Second-born to their own devices with barely a word of farewell. Tell me, what would one expect of poorly educated children turned loose in a candy store without the least guidance - especially when so many of them had been marred by the Fallen Ones before the end?"
She was silent for a long moment. "You have grown bitter, old friend."
"If I have, then I have good reason for it. I see the consequences of neglect and disregard every day." Wendell tucked his handkerchief back into the pocket of his sports jacket. "Enough of this. Tell me why you are here and be done with it, so that I can enjoy the end of my lunch break in peace."
"You do not believe that I would merely wish to visit?" Her tone sounded slightly hurt.
"After all this time? Frankly, no."
The soft intake of breath told him that not only had he startled her, but stung her as well. "Very well, then." Her voice hardened slightly. "You are summoned home, my servant; it is long since time you took your rest."
The astonished pause lengthened. "What did you say?"
"You heard me. No." He sighed. "You and your brothers and sisters do not need me, and my brothers and sisters do not need me either; no doubt you are the only one of all of them who actually misses me - except possibly Olórin. I am the Fool, remember? The Slow. The Dense. The Brown."
"You cannot remain here indefinitely, Aiwendil."
"I shall not." He rose and shrugged. "Like all strains of Ilúvatar's Song, my time will end eventually; but I have decided my ending will be found here. On this shore."
She rose as well; he had forgotten that she was taller than he. "But why, old friend?"
"You really do not understand, do you?"
She shook her head.
Wendell signed again. "Because someone needs to love this land, even if only in miniscule measure to the love showered upon the Western Lands and the ever-so-perfect Edhil chosen to live there; those who were coddled, wheedled, cajoled, coerced and convinced that they belong there and nowhere else - no matter what."
Those clear eyes, so filled with stars, gazed at him sadly. "You condemn us harshly."
He gazed back without fear. "By your inaction, your indifference, you condemn yourselves very effectively. You need no help from me." He spread his arms wide. "Look about you, Yavanna. The trees are still green on this side of the Sundering Sea - at least, in this little corner of the city. The birds still sing here, even as they try to find places to shelter their young in buildings made of stone and metal that replaced their past homes. The stars still shine, if one can get far enough away from the cities that the lights no longer overpower them.
"Someone needs to love this land, to take those who will listen by the hand and show them that they, too, have something very precious to love and protect. Now that the Edhil have abandoned them and the Belain have chosen to forget they even exist and both have faded out of memory and into myth and legend, the last Istar in Ennor will do what he can in the time that remains him to teach the Second-born to love the treasure that is their home. I serve Ilúvatar now, not you; and I serve Him best here."
"Doctor Ghast? Doctor Ghast!"
The two of them turned and looked down into the face of the small child who was trotting urgently across the sward toward them.
"Look! They cleaned the outside of my apartment building this morning with a hose, and look what they did!"
Carefully nestled in her hands were the wet and somewhat mangled remains of a nest - and one small sparrow chick cheeping its fear and loss weakly. The child held out the nest to Wendell. "I didn't know what to do, Doctor Ghast, and Mama didn't either, so she sent me to you. Can you do something?"
He gave a sharp glance at his companion, and then allowed a kind smile to spread across his face as he accepted the nest and its occupant into his much larger hand. "I believe I just might be able to help you, Elena. You are a kind child for thinking of helping the little one this way."
"Can I see it when it's better?" With bright eyes, the child bounced on her toes with her hands now tucked safely behind her.
Wendell bent at the waist until he was eye to eye with the girl. "Well, that depends on the little one, you see. If he is strong enough to survive, I am certain he will want to see you - to thank you for saving his life. Come find me in three weeks' time, and I will let you know."
"Okay. Thanks, Doctor Ghast! You're the greatest!" Much happier, the little girl cast a slightly confused but still very bright smile at the tall woman standing nearby before she trotted off.
Wendell looked from the bedraggled sparrow chick to the face of the one that, for so long, had commanded his every action. "Go back to Valinor, Yavanna. Enjoy your perfection - your rest. I have work to do." He turned on his heel and began walking quickly in the direction of the brownstone building at the very edge of the park that held his offices.
"Aiwendil," she called after him.
His steps slowed. Finally, with a deep sigh, he stopped and turned to face her again. "What?"
Hesitantly she walked toward him, her hands tucked into her pockets. But when she reached him, he saw her eyes were shining and smiling again. Were it not for the faded jeans, the tank top and the hoop earrings, she could have been standing in her husband's hall at the top of the mountain. "Could you use some help?"
A smile that briefly lifted the Ages of struggle and frustration from a timeless countenance bloomed on his face. "I would love some help!"
She caught his arm between her hands as they began to move in stride. "What puzzles me is why you have not contacted Celeborn - or Thranduil? Surely you knew that they remained behind, as you did, and for much the same reason…"
"You jest!" But his voice was eager, animated. For the first time in a very long time, he felt hope again; evidently not all the Belain had forgotten and abandoned him - or the land. And to think that even some Edhil remained...
Yavanna laughed; and the birds, ecstatic to hear the sound of her voice again, carried echoes of her humor to the farthest corners of the city. "Ah, Aiwendil! That is not all the news I bear for you, then… You knew that Alatar and Pallando went East; but did you know that while there, your brothers…"
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.