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Those Also Serve Who Stand and Wait

Chapter 1: Those Also Serve Who Stand and Wait

by Haleth

Lalwen is alone.

They say it when they think I cannot hear them, when I am too far inside of my thoughts to notice the subtle shake of their heads or their self-conscious sighs of pity. I have no need of pity, no more need than any of the Exiles now on Tol EressŽa. If I am alone, it is by choice.

Few know of me, for I did not stand in the great battles of the Elder Days of which the minstrel sing. Mine was not the bright path of the warrior, though that is what I would have chosen, hadf circumstances been different. It is always left to some to remain behind, to keep the fires burning, to stand the final guard of the home. I played my part in that battle, but I remained firmly in the background. 'Safe', as my brother would call it, as though there was any safety from the malice of Morgoth.

Irien my father named me. My mother, who perhaps knows me better than anyone now in the world, called me LalwendŽ. I am my parents' third child, born between NolofinwŽ and Arfin the golden, who now rules the remnant of our people in Tirion. Ours was not a peaceful household, with my father's eldest son, FŽanaro, deliberately baiting NolofinwŽ to anger at every turn. Arfin, ever the peacemaker, would ever speak soft words to soothe our brother's rage. When he was not present, it fell to me to lighten my older brother's mood. I have not Arfin's diplomatic skill, nor his tranquil disposition. At a loss for anything else to say, I would poke fun at FŽanaro until NolofinwŽ laughed. How often our mirth rang through our mother's garden in the morning of the world and the Noontide of the Trees. But that time is long passed and it does no good to dwell upon it. The memories are still painful because of all that has since been lost.

FŽanaro was proud and flawed, but he had charisma and the power of words that make our hearts hot within us. On the day that Melkor slew our father, he enflamed our hearts with desire to see the lands of Middle-earth that our parents had forsaken. Our host followed him out of Tirion, determined to forge our own free kingdoms beneath the stars. The atrocity of the Kinslaying did not make us pause in our quest, so drunk were we on the words of my father's heir. Not even the Prophecy of the North could force us to see beyond his sorcery, though Arfin turned back at this time, taking a tithe of our people with him.

We could not guess how we were deceived until we saw the red, flickering light of the Swan Ships burning at Losgar.

But we persevered, under great hardship and loss, across the cold hell of the HelcaraxŽ. Our people drew their strength from NolofinwŽ while he drew his from me. We arrived in Beleriand and, for brief, shining time, it seemed as though we would fulfill FŽanaro's promise of greatness.

With AnairŽ still in Aman, it fell to me to organise my brother's household in Eithel Sirion. The daily dull but necessary tasks were my province; the provision of the kitchens, the cleaning and maintenance of the house, even the petty squabbles of my brother's followers. I longed to ride with the others on patrols, but there was always some reason to keep me within the walls of his house.

Ironically, I was not at Eithel Sirion when news of the Dagor Bragollach arrived. Though such things are fated and we cannot change the course of our destiny, I like to believe that events would have fallen differently if I had been present. I tell myself that I could have stopped my brother from riding to challenge Morgoth, that I could have forced him to listen to reason. Failing that, I could have accompanied him and died with him.

But I was not there, and NolofinwŽ rode to his destruction alone. The news of his death demoralised our people, and FindekŠno turned to me to help stabilise the kingdom. There was scarcely time for me to think of my brother, let alone mourn his loss.

I begged FindekŠno to allow me to fight at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, but he refused, saying that someone was needed to lead the weak to safety if the unthinkable happened. And happen it did. My people were utterly defeated by the forces of Morgoth and my nephew slain upon the field of battle.

Holding them together as I had seen my brother do over the HelcaraxŽ, I led the refugees south to Cirdan's Havens. There we waited, hopeless, for the final stroke to fall. By the time we learned of the War of Wrath, it was too late to take up arms and join the fight.

With the Ban lifted and the Enemy defeated and cast into the Void, I found my taste for Middle-earth diminished. I joined those who returned to the Blessed Realm and dwell upon Tol EressŽa. My only regret; leaving my brother's descendants in Middle-earth.

Two ages of the world have passed and still I am here upon the Lonely Isle, too broken to truly live. Others have gone back to Aman, pardoned by the Powers for their earlier defiance. I remain here, seemingly too proud to ask for forgiveness. In truth I am too weak to face the empty places where I once laughed. I will wait here, an Exile, until the end.

Author's note. The original Quenyan names are used throughtout this story.

NolofinwŽ = Fingolfin

FŽanaro = Feanor

Arfin = Finarfin

FindekŠno = Fingon

Lalwen is a very obscure canon character. The younger sister of Fingolfin, she is mentioned briefly in Book 12 of the Histories of Middle-earth.