Unfulfilled Duty by Celadriel
“My Lord Manwë, the Lady Nienna requests an audience with you.” Eönwë’s voice was a welcome distraction from his thoughts.
Settling himself more comfortably on his throne, Manwë nodded to his herald. “Let her come.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Eönwë bowed deeply before withdrawing from the throne room.
Moments later, Nienna entered the throne room herself, her face more somber than it usually was. Coming to a stop several paces away, she curtsied. “My Lord Manwë.”
“Lady Nienna,” he replied formally, “please, come and tell me what has brought you here.
Nienna moved forward and took the seat Manwë offered her. “I’ve just been to the Halls of Mandos.”
“Something distresses you,” he commented quietly when she did not continue. “Who did you find in your brother’s domain?”
Her voice was soft when she made her reply. “I found Olórin there.”
“Olórin?” he asked, surprised for once.
She nodded, closing her eyes against the tears she would shed for herself. “Yes. I spoke with him and he told me that Curumo has joined Sauron.”
“I feared he would and hoped he would not.” Manwë sighed. “What else did Olórin tell you?”
Nienna sighed as well. “Aiwendil, Alatar, and Pallando have fallen away from their purpose, though they are not servants of Sauron.”
“Then Olórin is our last hope,” Manwë commented thoughtfully.
Nienna looked at him with hope in her gray eyes. “Manwë, what are you saying?”
“The duty he was sent for remains unfulfilled and it would appear he is the only one who can fulfill it,” he told her, well aware of what this decision would mean to her. “He must return to Middle-Earth and fulfill that duty.”
She favored him with a rare smile. “Thank you, Manwë.”
He laughed as she hugged him. “Go to your brother and tell him what I have said.”
“Yes, my Lord Manwë,” Nienna curtsied before hurrying from the throne room.
Manwë smiled to himself as he sat back in his throne, glad he could do this small service for Nienna. “What, pray tell, does my husband find so amusing?”
“Ah, my wife, I cannot speak of it here,” he replied, rising from his throne.
Varda smiled serenely as he crossed to where she stood and bestowed a kiss upon the back of her hand. “I will forgive the delay only if you greet me as a husband should greet his wife.”
“As my lady commands.” Taking her in his arms, he kissed her.
A long time later, she murmured. “You’re forgiven.”
It is beneath the dignity of the Valar to run, but Nienna wasted no time traversing the distance between Manwë’s house and the Halls of Mandos, her brother. Entering, she found him speaking with Vairë. “My brother.”
“Sister.” His smile was small as he embraced her. “What brings you back to my Halls?”
She nodded to Vairë before answering Námo. “Manwë has decided that Olórin must be sent back to Middle-earth.”
“Sent back?” he asked, startled by the news.
“Yes, sent back,” she confirmed. “He is the only one of the five we sent who can do what needs to be done against Sauron.”
Námo thought for a moment. “What of Curumo and Aiwendil?”
“Curumo has joined Sauron and Aiwendil cares only for the kelvar,” Nienna reported, calm despite the hammering of her heart. “Alatar, and Pallando went into the East and have not been seen since.”
Námo absorbed the information without comment before nodding. “Olórin will return to Middle-earth.”
“Thank you, my brother.” Nienna leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “I will inform him.”
Before he could say yea or nay, Nienna had entered the Halls where the spirits of the dead waited. It did not take her long to find the one she sought. “Nienna.”
“Olórin.” She longed to touch him, but he was merely a shadow. “Manwë has decided to send you back to Middle-earth.”
The shadow blinked and stared at her. “Send me back?” She nodded. “Why?”
“Your duty remains undone. You alone can complete it,” she explained.
He remained silent for several moments. “I…do not know what to say. It’s not often that Lord Manwë would do such a thing.”
“I told you his reason, Olórin,” Nienna countered. “Would you question the judgment of the Lord of the West?”
Olórin shook his head. “No, of course not, but that means–”
“–that we must wait a while longer,” she finished for him. “I know.”
He sat and thought for a few moments. “I will not go against my Lord’s wishes.”
“Take care, Olórin,” she instructed him. “Guard the gifts that were entrusted to you, both here and on the shores of Middle-earth.” He looked at her, surprised. “Your secret is safe with me, my love.”
He smiled. “I will, my love.”
With that, he faded away and Nienna was left alone. Sighing deeply, she left the Halls of Mandos and went to her own halls to await Olórin’s eventual return.