1. Spring Cleaning
Ilmarin, Valian Year 1302 of the Years of the Trees
'Polish silver crockery.'
The sharp quill rasped savagely on the parchment. Tick.
'Really, darling, we should persuade Aulë to make us a set in mithril.'
'Well, it is not as if we truly eat, my beloved; we merely pretend to in front of the Children. I am sure there are better uses for such a precious substance.'
He winced when his wife pouted slightly. Clearly, that had been the wrong response.
'But you are right, Tintallenya,' he added hastily. 'I shall ask him at once. There is still plenty of time. The feast to celebrate spring with the Eldarin kings and their families is not until tomorrow at dusk.'
Varda nodded, pleased, and gazed back at her list.
'Prepare guest rooms.'
'I hope the Children are comfortable,' she said, a little anxiously. 'Last time I overheard Finwë complain of frostbitten toes and he also said something strange about frozen brass balls.'
She raised a perplexed eyebrow at him. Manwë sensed it was prudent to remain silent and just shook his head.
'Today, however, the fires are already roaring in his chambers,' she continued in a cheerful tone. 'Tonight he will find it impossible to move in bed under so many furry blankets.'
'Good,' agreed Manwë. 'What comes next?'
'Tidy the paper glider collection away from sight.'
Varda's hand hovered over the parchment, while she pierced Manwë with her severe azure glare.
'I have,' muttered her husband gloomily, 'burned them all.'
'Thank you for being so thoughtful, dear.'
The sweetness of her smile almost compensated for the loss of his favourite models. Fortunately, he could always make more gliders after the guests departed. Through painstaking trial and error he had almost perfected the design, optimised for longest flight.
'Dust cobwebs from glass chandeliers.' Varda looked up. 'That was also your task. Have you done it?'
'Yes, I have.' Tick. 'And this time I was more careful. No… accidents.'
'Last time it was no accident, dear, but plain carelessness. You blew so hard that all the crystal pendants fell down and shattered. It took my maids months to repair the damage. I almost had to beg Ilmarë not to leave me after that; Yavanna had already offered her a place in her household, can you imagine?'
'I am sorry, darling, but I could not help it. After all, I am the Lord of the Breath of Arda.'
'Yes, you are. I often think that you are too mighty for your own good. So strong…' Varda purred, and reached out with her hand.
'Erm, should we not carry on with your list?' Sometimes, Varda's sudden eagerness to rub their fanar together and make them both tingle was unnerving.
'You are right,' she sighed. 'Where were we? Oh, yes. Finish sewing new party gown.'
'The dress is utterly divine, Manwë dear,' she raved. 'With a train, and exactly twelve to the power of five stars sewn to the dark blue fabric, making a pattern of swirls on the neckline, hem and sleeves. My maids have excelled themselves, though I believe they need a rest from needlework for a few yéni, after this.'
When Manwë found himself fidgeting with the edge of his sleeve, he stopped. Varda always berated him if she realised she did not have his full attention.
'I am looking forward to seeing it on you, beloved,' he answered, feigning enthusiasm. He would wear the same as always, his snow white robes that were a pain to walk in. Speaking of which…
'Vanimelda, did you not say you wished to see the entrance to our halls cleared of snow?' he asked.
'Yes, I did. Between the impassable drifts and those two Maiar at the gates who seem to have a holly sapling up their backsides, I am not surprised we get so few visitors.'
'You know Námo sent them here, darling. They found his service too… taxing.'
'Who would not?' mused Varda. 'Anyway, about the entrance. Have you ordered the servants to clear a path?'
'Better than that,' said Manwë, feeling smug. 'I did it myself. Not just the road and the entrance, though…' He paused, to add some suspense.
'What else, then?'
'I had grown sick of having Melkor's most praised creation piled up on top of our mountain.'
'You are just jealous that hexagonal flakes never occurred to you,' she scoffed. 'For all his faults, Melkor wrought some pretty things. Icicles, for example, I just love them, they are so like glass...'
'I care not for his warped creations, pretty or not,' interrupted Manwë, hurt by his wife's indifference to his efforts. 'This is meant to be a holy place, the holiest in Arda, actually, and yet it was covered in that marred white stuff…'
'What do you mean, was?' Varda said sharply.
'I cleared it all, every speck of it,' he boasted. 'I blew it down the mountain just before coming to see you. You should have seen the avalanches, they were awesome!'
The vast masses of snow thundering down the slopes had been a most impressive sight; a rare chance to display his true power, now that his brother was captive in Mandos.
'Oh, Eru!' Varda dropped the parchment with her list.
'What, you are not pleased?' he queried, puzzled. 'I know, instead of Oiolossë, the peak of Taniquetil can only be known henceforth as Elerrína, because Oiovarnë does not exactly sound poetic or grand but…'
'Stop prattling about the name, you birdbrain!' she snarled. 'What do you think has happened to the Children, our guests, who are, or should I say "were", climbing up the mountain? They may be able to walk on snow, but not if they are buried up to their eyes in it! And what will be the fate of your beloved Vanyar when all that snow melts?'
If Manwë had owned a real heart pumping real blood, it would have stopped at that time. Luckily, his fana did not suffer from such weaknesses. However, he thought he saw his own luminous hand flicker in shock.
'Bother!' he boomed. 'I hope this... difficulty does not ruin our dinner plans, after all the effort.' His blast of ósanwë almost rent the fabric of Eä. 'Námo!'
An unusual pause followed. Where in the Void was the older Fëantur?
'Yes, my lord king?' The sarcastic response of the Lord of Mandos dripped irritation. 'Will I ever be able to conduct my experiments on sensory deprivation therapy without interruption?'
'I am sorry to disturb, truly, but do you happen to have noticed a group of fëar crossing your threshold recently?'
'Well, maybe in the last hour or so?' He tried to radiate a serenity he did not feel while waiting to hear the answer.
'Why, have you lost someone?'
Manwë growled. Námo was enjoying himself at his expense.
'You see, we are expecting visitors...' he began. 'Actually, would you like to join us for dinner tomorrow night? And Vairë, of course.'
Varda was frowning. No, this was definitely not the time for social chatter.
'Anyway, those fëar...'
'Not here yet, but you should not tarry in sending out a search party.' A snicker followed, then the link was broken.
'A search party. Of course, great idea,' muttered Manwë nervously. 'Now, who should I call?'
'Who is always followed by a pack of rabid wolfhounds?' snapped Varda.
'Oromë! Tulkas!' Manwë's thought, imperious and calm, or so he hoped, leapt out to the two Valar. 'We have a small crisis in our hands. I need you by my gates without delay. Now. Oromë, bring those dogs of yours!'
'A crisis that sounds like hunting? Perfect! We are on our way,' replied the Lord of Forests.
'Has he escaped?' came the second answer. 'I am dying for a good fight! ' Tulkas' deep laughter in Manwë's mind all but made his teeth rattle.'
Varda rolled her eyes and picked up her list.
A din outside marked the arrival of the search party. Manwë discarded his fana and rushed, a dazzling bolt of lightning, through the doors of Ilmarin.
'Next time, use a shovel!' cried Varda behind him.
~ o ~
Tintallenya (Quenya) from Tintallë (kindler), I have made up "my kindler"
yén (Quenya, plural yéni) a long-year, equivalent to 144 of our solar years
fana (Quenya, plural fanar) the raiment of the Ainur in imitation of the shape of the Children of Ilúvatar
vanimelda (Quenya) beautiful
ósanwë (Quenya) thought-speech, or telepathy
Oiolossë (Quenya) ever-white, or ever-snow-white; in contrast I have created Oiovarnë, ever-brown
Elerrína (Quenya) crowned with stars, another name for Taniquetil
Ilmarë is a canon Tolkien character, a Maia, handmaid of Varda and sister of Eönwë, Herald of Manwë.
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.