tuxedo_elf: (Fading from the Earth)
Title: Once Around the Sun 4/6
Author: Tuxedo Elf
Rating: NC17 (Eventually)
Beta: enismirdal
Pairing: Lindir/Namo
Summary: Namo answers a challenge to live with the Elves and learns a lot about life - and love.




It was the first kiss, but not the last. Lindir had been momentarily shocked when Námo kissed him, yet his body had responded willingly, moving closer to the Vala to seek more of what had been offered.

When that kiss had ended they had looked at each other, no words spoken. Then they had kissed again, and yet again moments later.

The realisation that he was attracted to the Lord of the Dead had come as a great shock to Lindir. He had never intended such a thing – his challenge to Námo had been born purely from grief and frustration.

Yet somehow, more had formed between them, curiosity becoming friendship – friendship becoming attraction. Now they seemed to be heading towards a relationship – and Lindir could not find it in him to resist.

Though the budding relationship did not come without some questions. Although they had not arisen immediately, he had soon come to realise that it could not be a simple romance between them. Before long Lindir needed to learn the answers, knowing he could not in good conscience go into this without knowing what it was he was getting into.

“I do not understand,” he said softly. “I thought you were married?” He looked up at Námo as he lay in the grass, his head in Námo’s lap as the Vala leaned against a tree.

“I am,” Námo replied. “Though the marriages of the Ainur were determined by Eru, so that our talents could be best combined to shape and oversee Arda. They are not based on love, as Elven marriages are. As such, we are not bound so stringently to them; my wife has had a lover for many ages now. It is my hope that one day, when the call of duty in the Halls ends, we will be released, freed to marry as we would choose.”

“So, she does not mind you being with me?” Lindir smiled, encouraged by the thought. He was saddened to hear of marriages formed out of convenience rather than love, but at least it did not hinder Námo in loving him.

Námo chuckled. “Quite the contrary; she has been wanting me to find someone for a very long time.”

“And now you have.”

“Now I have,” Námo confirmed. He caressed Lindir’s face gently. “Though I would not have, had an angry, petulant Elf not challenged me to come here.”

Lindir laughed. “Yes, that sounds like me! I trust you are glad of it now?”

Námo nodded. “I most certainly am.”

********************

They had been on their way to the stables, to spend the day out in the woods, when the horn sounded. Lindir’s head shot up, his calm expression replaced by one of anxiety.

“What is wrong?” Námo asked, seeing the change in Lindir’s demeanour.

“That horn means there are wounded coming. I suspect it is the patrol that left yesterday. I must go to the healing halls; usually when the horn sounds they need all the assistance they can get.”

Námo nodded. “I will go with you.”

“As you wish, but I would ask that you stay at a distance.” Lindir smiled apologetically. “I mean no offence, it is just likely to be very busy – Vala or not, if you are underfoot you will be asked to leave.”

Námo looked annoyed for a moment, not used to being told he was in the way. However it was not the time to discuss the issue, so he nodded, agreeing for the sake of time.

They turned, heading back the way they had come, then along the winding hallways to the Healing House. Lindir hurried in, finding Elrond and Elrohir already there, looking concerned as they laid out bandages, salves and surgical knives in readiness. Elladan, Lindir suddenly remembered, was out on that patrol.

“I came in case you required assistance,” he said.

“Thank you, Lindir – we may well do,” Elrond replied. “They will be here any time now.”

He spoke the truth. Moments later the clatter of horses’ hooves was heard, as the patrol rode into Imladris, days earlier than it should was expected to return. Elrond nodded to his staff and they stood by their stations, save the two that ran out to meet them, so that the most severely injured would not have to wait for care. There was no need for instructions, they knew what to do. Only Námo stood alone, a silent observer.

Glorfindel entered first, his expression one of great concern. He cared deeply for all those under his command and it pained him to see any fall. Behind him, to Elrond and Elrohir’s relief, was Elladan. He was in a similar state to Glorfindel, though also appeared thankfully uninjured.

The relief was short-lived, however. Between them they carried a make shift stretcher, to bear a terribly injured Elf to Elrond’s care.

“What happened?” Elrond asked.

Glorfindel shook his head. “We were outnumbered. The enemy must have sent reinforcements in the few days it took our scouts to return. We did not stand a chance.” He helped Elladan lift the Elf onto the table. “He was separated from us when the attack started. He fought bravely but... it is a miracle he has survived this long.” He turned away from Elrond to glance at Námo.

At first, Lindir didn’t recognise the Elf. All he could see was the blood that covered everything, even his face. Then Elrond wiped away some of the blood and Lindir saw who lay on the table. It was Lantion.

Lindir gasped, disbelieving. He had seen the Elf just a few days before, cheerfully taking Indwen back to Thórod after his own duties had finished. Now he was lying on the examining table, pale and still, his eyes closed.

As Elrond examined Lantion, Lindir’s desperate hope that the Elf might live faded away. He had taken a long and deep gash from an Orc’s scimitar straight across the stomach, his innards held in only by the bandages that had been applied. He had sustained a horrifying injury to his head, too – even now, blood continued to flow, matting in the once well-kept hair.

Elrohir worked on the head wound as Elrond tried to fix the terrible gash to his stomach. Lindir knew he should be assisting with the other less severely injured Elves that were arriving, but he found that he could not move. He failed to notice that there was one in the room who was more shocked than he was.

Behind him, Námo stood, watching as the whole ugly scene unfolded. For all that he had seen death, he had never before been so involved in it – so profoundly touched. He realised, suddenly, that it hurt, deeply. There were no words for it – he had not even known he could feel such pain.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned. Irmo stood there, a sympathetic look on his fair face. His experience in dreams was great, and in dreams burdens often surfaced, feelings and emotions that were hidden from the waking world. He had seen the effects of death and pitied his brother the lesson.

Námo felt a sudden stab of resentment for his brother, angry with him for coming to take Lantion to the halls – and in that moment, he knew. He understood, completely and utterly, why he was resented. He came when all was lost, when lives had been irrevocably changed, even shattered.

“I am sorry, brother,” Irmo said sympathetically. “This was a lesson I would not have taught you.”

Námo found he could not face his brother. “I did not understand… it is… so painful.”

Irmo smiled sadly. “I know. I always believed that not knowing was better for you, that understanding too much would break you. I hope that does not prove to be the case.”

Taking his hand from Námo, Irmo stepped forward, unseen to the Elves, and extended it instead to Lantion. The Elf’s spirit rose from his body as he reached out to Irmo.

“My Lords?” The spirit of Lantion was confused, faced with both death and dreams.

“Go with my brother,” Námo told him gently. “He is caretaker of my halls until I return.”

“Yes, my Lord.” Lantion looked back, just as Elrond covered his body with a shroud and Lindir covered his face with his hands. Sadness filled the dead Elf and he turned desperately to Námo. “Please… tell Thórod and Indwen that I love them? I did not want to leave…”

“I promise,” Námo assured him, maintaining his calm, despite his own feeling. “Go and rest now; you will see them again.”

Lantion nodded and let Irmo guide him away, the two fading into the mists within moments.

Left alone, Námo could take the scene no more and fled the room.

*******************

Indwen was crying. She understood death – she had already lost her parents. Now a beloved uncle had been taken from her as well. Thórod did his best to comfort her, but his own anguish could not be hidden, nor could the tears on his face. He held her tightly as they cried together, their world torn apart by the sudden and cruel death.

Seeking solitude, Námo had gone into the gardens, thinking he would be alone. Yet instead, he had come across the twice-broken family, lost in a pain they should never have had to bear.

Loathing himself as he never had before, Námo turned and left, hoping that they had not seen him. Certainly, they would not desire his company any longer, and that loss added to his burdens.

*****************

Námo stood on the balcony, looking out. He heard Lindir coming in, but did not move, only sighing softly when the minstrel’s arms wrapped around him.

“I have been looking everywhere for you,” Lindir chastised gently. “I thought… I feared… you had left.”

Shaking his head, Námo searched for the words to adequately express his feelings. “I thought I understood,” he said quietly. “When Thórod spoke of Indwen’s parents I was sad and I thought I had truly learned the effects of death. And then today… when Lantion died… I realised that I did not. Never before had I begun to know someone in life, let alone liked them. I did not realise how it felt, to see a healthy, happy being go so quickly to death. I never knew the true sense of loss.”

Lindir rubbed the Vala’s hands soothingly. “I know. The first time someone I knew died… the whole world fell apart. All I knew was called into question and nothing seemed certain any more.”

“What did you do?” Námo asked. Insecurity was new to him and he felt like the child he had never been, lost and afraid.

“The best I could,” Lindir answered honestly. “There was no easy way. In time the pain dulled, the memories became easier to bear. Eventually, they even gave me pleasure to think upon. It was a slow road, yet I was able to walk it, especially when I was not alone.”

“I have never felt such pain,” Námo admitted. “I did not even think I could. I was cold for so long. These feelings – how do you bear them?”

“We bear them because we must,” Lindir replied. “We do not have a choice. And because the ones we lost loved life and all it held – the best way to honour them is to treasure what we still have. It was difficult at first, yet in time I learned.” He moved to stand facing Námo. “There is beauty in life, even when it has been marred by loss. Trust me, and I will prove that to you.”

Námo pulled Lindir closer. “How could I do anything else?”

**************

It came as no surprise to Lindir that Indwen took Lantion’s passing especially hard. She was seen little in the days after the fateful patrol and when she was, she was clinging to Thórod desperately. It was utterly heartbreaking, especially since Thórod was able to do little to console her, struggling as he was with his own grief.

Lindir felt helpless, but he knew something needed to be done for the Elfling. He urged Námo to speak with her, knowing that his unique perspective might bring her some peace.

Námo was uncertain, but he liked the child and wanted to offer her some respite from her grief, if only for a moment, so he accepted Lindir’s request and sought her out.

Making his way to where she lived, he was greeted by a worn looking and pale Thórod, who showed him down the short hallway to Indwen’s room.

He went in and saw her curled up on her bed. She was clutching a stuffed horse to her chest, crying into it quietly.

“Indwen…” Námo sat down next to her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Will you speak with me?”

She looked up, her usually bright eyes dull and full of tears. “Uncle Lantion is gone,” she sobbed, clutching the horse a little tighter.

“I know, little one,” Námo said sadly.

“I want him back. It is not fair, I want him back!” She sat up, her tear-stained face going red and angry for a moment.

“You will see him again,” Námo tried to assure her. He reached out, taking one of her hands in his. “He is Elven and death is not forever… one day, on the shores of Valinor, you will meet him again.”

She squeezed his hand as fresh tears started to fall. “But that is forever away!” she cried, wiping her eyes with her free arm. “I will be old and grown by then! I want him now, it is not fair… he was not supposed to die!” She spoke fiercely though her sorrow, her blue eyes glaring at Námo as if she knew that he had a hand in Lantion’s fate.

“Oh, Indwen…” Námo looked regretful and hesitated before he spoke, unsure he knew the words that would soothe. “So many die when they do not deserve to, when they seem to have everything to live for.” It was an understanding he had only recently come to himself and he found himself sickened by his own actions.

“Why?”

It was a simple question, yet Námo felt hard-pressed to answer it. How could he explain the marring of Arda and the doom that he himself had pronounced?

“The world was made with only good intentions, but where there is good, evil slips in too. We fight against it always, but there is always a price, paid in suffering and death – often unfairly. Though I believe we must keep fighting and one day there will be no more sadness.” He hoped he made sense, that he could make this loss more understandable for the hurting child. Had he even made it better for her? He did not know.

“I hate the ones that killed him. I hate them!” She threw the horse down in a fit of grief-stricken temper.

“Do not hate, little one, for then they have won.” Námo picked up the horse, examining it. “Did Lantion give you this?”

She nodded, taking it back from him and hugging it. “I miss him… we always did fun things together… I need him!” She shook as she sobbed and, although he was unused to such things, he pulled her onto his lap and hugged her.

“He will always be with you, Indwen. He is in the toy horse, in your mind and most importantly - in your heart. Do not forget him and he will never be far away.”

Resting her head against the Vala’s chest, her sobbing quieted. “He must be so lonely now,” she whispered. “He had Uncle Thórod and me – and now he is all alone.”

“Not alone,” Námo said softly. “I know the one who oversees those halls and I know he will be well cared for. His spirit will be healed so that when you meet again, he will be just as you remember.”

Looking up, she stared into his deep, dark eyes. “You promise?”

Feeling a surge of protectiveness and loyalty he had never before experienced, Námo nodded. “I promise.”

**************

In the weeks that followed Lantion’s death, Lindir and Námo dedicated themselves to helping Thórod and Indwen. Námo found solace in trying to ease their sorrow and did anything that was asked of him. Lindir soon found himself redecorating his tiny spare room, so that Indwen at least had a place to sleep when Thórod was away. It was barely big enough for a bed and a chair, yet Indwen seemed happy with it. She still grieved the loss of Lantion and would for some time, yet with the help of the Elf and the Vala, she was often distracted from the worst of her sorrow. From music lessons to picnics, they worked to keep her smiling.

Thórod, in discussions of Lantion’s passing, had tactfully referred to the keeper of the Grey Halls only as 'Mandos', sparing Námo from uncomfortable and painful questions, for which he was grateful. Although he had not been the one to call Lantion's soul, it was his usual responsibility and would be again. Thórod's care in protecting him was surprising to Námo.

“Why does he do this?” Námo asked. “Why does he care for my feelings, when I will be gone in a few months?”

Lindir shook his head, a small smile on his lips. “What good would hating you, or turning Indwen against you do? Lantion is gone – not even you can reverse that. He grieves, yes, but he will not let that grief turn to hate, for it would be pointless and only cause even more pain. Thórod and Indwen will do what we all do when faced with death: grieve, remember – and keep living, knowing that they will be reunited one day. As much as it hurts, you cannot let it destroy you.”

Lindir’s wise words reminded Námo of what Irmo had said to him. “You are… remarkable creatures,” he said, a smile showing at last. “Millennia ago, I believed that only Lúthien had any qualities worth admiring, as she alone moved me. Now I see how blind I was I thinking that. Indeed, perhaps, she was weaker, for not accepting her fate with the same dignity and grace that I have seen here.”

Lindir pulled Námo into his arms and kissed him softly. “There is strength in all of us when you know where to look.”

“I know where to look for mine,” Námo said, gratitude in his voice. “You are my strength, Lindir – and for that I will always be grateful.”

*******************
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