“Get on out of the kitchen. Shoo…go on with you now.” Haleth waved a threatening dishrag, but seeing Ilmarë’s crestfallen face, she said, “If you want to be of use you can help Adanel in the dining room. You can’t do much damage there.” She thought better of this and added, “Just don’t handle the glassware…or the china. I think you’d do just fine helping with the silverware.” Haleth picked up a box from one of the tables and pushed it into Ilmarë’s hands. “Here, you take this silverware with you and give it to Adanel. Tell her it needs to be polished. There’s a good lass…”
Haleth gave her a light swat on the rump and Ilmarë jumped then turned to study the woman with a questioning look. Finally Ilmarë heaved a great sigh and walked away. As she shuffled toward the kitchen door she cast guilty glances at the people hurrying around the room, some opening windows and some fanning dishtowels.
In the dining room, Adanel stepped back from the china cabinet and sniffed the air. One of the doors on the far side of the dining room swung open and a disheveled Ilmarë entered the room, her dress and hair splattered liberally with pale brown flour and a sooty black streak smeared across one cheek. A cloud of gray smoke and a suspicious burnt smell followed close behind. Adanel shook her head as she walked to meet Ilmarë.
“What happened to you?” Adanel asked, taking the box from Ilmarë and setting it on one of the dark wooden tables. She pulled a rag from her apron pocket and dusted off as much of the flour as she could before trying to clean the black from Ilmarë’s face.
Ilmarë sighed and said, “I only wanted to help. Elrond has been in meetings all day and I cannot go outside for he deemed it too cold, so I asked Haleth if she would allow me to help prepare the food for this evening.”
Adanel stopped wiping and looked at Ilmarë in surprise. “You know how to cook, then?”
“Well, no…but I have watched other people do so many times. The process appeared simple enough.” Ilmarë finally met Adanel’s gaze with an incredulous look and said, “Your mother seemed very upset to discover that I had never cooked before.”
“And when did she discover that?” Adanel asked, beginning to suspect where this was leading.
“When she and the others were trying to put out the fire.” Ilmarë said. Adanel made a choking noise and tried to suppress a smile. Ilmarë eyed her doubtfully for a moment and then continued. “After the fire was extinguished your mother informed me – and in a very loud voice, I might add – that I had overfilled the pan. I do wish she would have told me so before I placed the pan in the oven.”
“It caught aflame?” Adanel frowned and said, “What in the name of Aman were you cooking?”
“Something called a fruit wedding cake,” Ilmarë answered and frowned, too. “Apparently Haleth felt I added far too much cooking sherry, as well.” Her frown deepened when Adanel laughed. “You would not find it so amusing if you were in my place and had just ruined a morning’s work. I burned not only my cake, but also everything else in the oven, and angered all the workers in the kitchen. They certainly did not find it amusing.”
Seeing that Ilmarë was truly upset, Adanel’s laughter quieted. “Don’t take it so hard, Miss Ilmarë. There’s several hours yet before supper; I’m sure everything can be remade,” she said and slipped her arm through the crook of Ilmarë’s arm. “Come and help me with my chores. I was just on my way outside.”
Ilmarë nodded dejectedly and allowed Adanel to lead her across the wide dining room. They moved quickly through the room, skirting around the bustling servants who busied themselves unfolding tablecloths, dusting furniture, and polishing crystal. After leaving the room through a side door and walking down a long hallway, they reached a heavy wooden door. As they stepped out into the backyard, Ilmarë glanced around, looking out over the yellowed lawn crisscrossed with brick paths leading to stables, many buildings, and several empty garden beds. She thought briefly of Elrond’s admonition that she stay indoors but decided he was being overcautious, although that decision was influenced by her eagerness to see where Adanel was leading her.
In the next moment, though, she reversed that decision and came to agree with Elrond that it was far too cold. The winter wind blew bitter and chilled their skin for neither she nor Adanel had worn cloaks. A blast of frigid air hit them and Ilmarë bent her head away from it, allowing Adanel to lead her down one of the brick paths.
I will never grow accustomed to the cold here. How I long for the shores of Eressëa
Ilmarë thought. A gnawing sense of loneliness filled her, rivaling the biting wind.
When the wind died away Ilmarë raised her head and saw the building they hurried towards. Sunlight glinted off the roof and she raised a hand to shield her eyes. Only then did she realize the building was made entirely of windows. No solid walls of stone or wood – not even the roof; that too was made of glass.
“A house of glass. Who resides here?” Ilmarë asked, slowing her pace a bit and peering at the vague shapes on the opposite side of the opaque windows.
Adanel tugged on Ilmarë’s arm and said, “If you hurry I will introduce you to the occupants.”
Another world greeted Ilmarë across the threshold. Warm, humid air enveloped her, clinging like a mist that Ilmarë’s cold, dry skin eagerly soaked up. The room reminded her of Elrond’s bedroom during her convalescence, the thick moist feel to the air, but here the sweet fragrance of flowers lingered…
Flowers…Ilmarë looked around in wonder at the rows of tables overflowing with greenery ornamented by many different flowers. Their scent seemed to have replaced the very air inside the building and Ilmarë closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply. For a moment she escaped these shores of unforgiving cold and returned to her gardens near Avallónë. Pulling in another deep breath of perfumed air, she swallowed a gorge of homesick longing. She cleared her throat, hoping to allow ample time for the tears behind her closed eyelids to recede. When she felt it safe, Ilmarë opened her eyes again.
“You outwit the harsh winter with this sheltered garden,” she said to Adanel, who was retrieving a large straw basket from a high shelf just inside the doorway.
“Oh no, not me,” Adanel replied, shaking her head, “I help here and there, but Master Elrond built the hothouse and he’s the one what tends to it. Very particular about having his herbs year round, he is. But the flowers now…I believe he grows those simply for enjoyment.” She took a pair of shears from the shelf as well and placed them inside the basket. “Oh sure enough there’s a few in the city who keep hothouses, but none do so well as Master Elrond’s. He used to spend quite a bit of time out here and in the gardens. Though now I expect he’ll be spending all that time with you instead,” she added with a wink and a grin.
Ilmarë walked to a table set against the wall, empty of plants but covered with gardening tools and containers of soil. “I would not want Elrond to forgo his time spent here. Perhaps we can spend time here together.” Ilmarë said, picking up a pair of well-worn leather gloves from the table, obviously a man’s from the size of them. “Clearly, I have a good deal yet to learn about Elrond.”
With a knowing smile, Adanel watched Ilmarë set the gloves back on the table, then said, “You look around, Miss Ilmarë, and I’ll be off to cut flowers for the dining room tables.”
Ilmarë nodded her head and Adanel walked away, singing to herself as she went about her work. The tune floated along the humid air and Ilmarë leaned over one of the containers to inhale the rich scent of the soil. She grabbed a handful of the black dirt then let some of it fall from her fingers and back into the pot. She had worked daily in her gardens on Eressëa and now vividly remembered the feel of the loose earth around her hands as she buried them in the soil.
A jolt of realization ran through her body. She stilled with shock and her fingers clutched the clumps of earth she held as she stared absently at her hands.
She remembered working in her gardens on Eressëa and this memory came not from Melian but from Ilmarë’s own mind – of digging in the soil with a trowel and her bare hands while a fair, scented breeze drifted over her. Ilmarë allowed the soil to fall back into the container and she studied her hands intently as a new realization struck her – the dirt on Eressëa had not felt as this soil did, not grainy and moist, clinging to her fingers. Neither had its dark residue filled the many lines now traced on her skin, nor had the dirt lodged in the space beneath her fingernails.
Understanding washed over her - gently at first like the fair breezes of Eressëa, but within moments it grew to such strength that she at last fully comprehended. Certainly the soil of Eressëa and Middle-earth differed, but this was not the cause. The true difference lay in the body now housing her. The dirt had not stained her assumed form because, despite the similarities with her present form, it had not been a true incarnate body. Dirt had never attached to it, odor had never touched it, hunger had never filled it, injury and illness had never afflicted it, and all because it was truly a shell. Her form had experienced feelings of pleasure or unhappiness, but her spirit experienced those things to a degree far beyond what her assumed form could ever know.
But this new form…this body…its sensations rivaled that of her spirit and on some levels exceeded it. Everything she experienced now felt more vibrant, more real…more alive. Ilmarë had exerted complete control over her assumed form, yet this body functioned of its own accord and she had little control over the majority of those functions. Her body truly lived, truly entwined with Arda, and as such Ilmarë’s spirit now connected to this world in a way she had never imagined possible.
Melian lived this existence all these years…now I understand her attachment to it. I allowed this body to overwhelm me because I have not fully understood the experience…nor fully appreciated it…
Yet something else had jolted through her body, something that coursed through the soil when she touched it, helping drive these realizations home for her. Ilmarë could not identify this power, but she had the disturbing impression that it had recognized her presence - and had risen to greet her…
“All done,” Adanel called in a cheery voice, shattering Ilmarë’s moment of epiphany.
Ilmarë turned slowly toward the sound of the voice, feeling as though she had just awakened from one of her disorienting dreams. She watched Adanel walk toward her and hold out a basket now heavily laden with cut flowers.
“Would you carry this one for me, Miss Ilmarë? I’ve another to carry and I wouldn’t want to be spilling flowers all the way back to the house.” Adanel asked, pointing to another full basket of blooms sitting on the floor near her feet. “If you’d like, you can help me fill the vases and then we’ll take you upstairs and begin getting you ready for this evening.”
Ilmarë said nothing, only nodded. She took the basket from Adanel and followed her to the door. As they left the building, Ilmarë turned around and took a final look inside. Something had changed but she could not explain it, nor could she explain this new feeling working inside her. An odd sensation, like a pile of stones rested in her belly and a pervading sense of worry, as though something were terribly wrong yet she could not say what. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and left her warm haven to follow Adanel back into the cold winter wind of Middle-earth.
Ilmarë could not have known the feeling, never having experienced true dread before - though her body seemed to instinctively recognize the danger and tried its best to warn her. But she did not know, nor could she have known that the path of her life had been forever changed, and from that one brief moment on nothing would ever be the same again.
“Are you nervous?” Elrond asked. He tightened his grasp on Ilmarë’s hand and felt her damp palm press against his.
“Perhaps a little,” Ilmarë said and shrugged her shoulders as they walked down the hallway. She looked toward the open dining room doors coming ever closer and could now see and hear the people milling about inside. “Very well then…perhaps a great deal. But the prospect of meeting new people is also exciting. You regularly meet new people, so I would imagine gatherings like this do not make you nervous.”
“Nervous? No,” Elrond said, shaking his head. “In the past these gatherings usually caused me no small amount of apprehension. I find no enjoyment in large crowds. Tonight, however, I am eager to attend that everyone may see the beautiful woman accompanying me.”
Though said in a light-hearted manner, Elrond was quite serious. His appreciative gaze traveled over Ilmarë and he found that his height had its benefits. It offered him an occasional glimpse of the swell of her breasts beneath the low neck of her gown. Her hair had been pulled up, also affording him a distracting view of her slender neck. The only part of her appearance of which he disapproved was the full skirt of the dress for the silken material hid the curves of her lower body from his view. Although now that he thought on it, perhaps her body being hidden had its benefits. While he looked forward to presenting Ilmarë in public as his companion, he did not care for the idea of other men looking too closely at her body and made a mental note to make certain she did not stand too close to any overly tall males.
Ilmarë saw him peek down at her breasts again, as he had done several times since they’d left her room, and she shook her head. What pleasing traits he saw in this body still eluded her though it gave her some small sense of pride to know he found it so attractive. Ilmarë had no difficulty in finding many pleasing traits about Elrond’s body and snuck sidelong glances at him, yet the irony of that double standard escaped her. Beneath a formal gray robe embroidered with silver, Elrond wore a black shirt and trousers and his dark hair had been left unbound, held back by the silver circlet he wore. Elrond will not be the only one proud of their escort this evening,
she thought and smiled as she looked at the dining room doors just ahead.
Ilmarë gasped in surprise when Elrond suddenly pulled her aside, leaving them partially hidden behind a tall statue of an armored warrior. Pulling her against him, Elrond lowered his mouth to hers and when his tongue parted her lips, he heard Ilmarë moan softly as her hands slid up his back. In those brief stolen moments they paid attention to nothing, save the feel of the other’s mouth and body. They both jumped slightly when the sound of someone clearing their throat intruded.
Ilmarë pulled away just in time to see the back of a golden skirt disappearing into the dining room. She looked up at Elrond with a smile and said, “What possessed you to do that?”
He ran his fingers lightly along her cheek and let out a satisfied sigh. “The last time we walked into this room together I wanted to kiss you and I have spent the last several days regretting my decision not to. I do not wish to make any more decisions concerning you which I will come to later regret.”
Despite his newfound resolve, Elrond looked up guiltily as more footsteps sounded from the hallway. “I suppose we should go in now.” He paused and looked back down at Ilmarë, and said, “You should not mention your illness to any of the other guests. It would look very odd for you to have awoken from such a serious illness only yesterday and be moving about today as though nothing had been wrong. It will raise suspicion. None know you were ill but Ereinion, Círdan and myself, and the few servants who helped tend to you. I think it best to remain that way.”
Ilmarë nodded in understanding. “I agree. I will say nothing of it.”
Elrond gave her a quick kiss and walked from behind the statue, entering the crowded dining room. Many guests greeted Elrond and looked curiously at Ilmarë as they walked across the room but she saw no familiar faces among them. A sigh of relief escaped her when she saw Círdan raise his hand in the air to catch their attention. As they walked toward him Ilmarë studied the woman standing next to Círdan, golden haired and clad in a form fitting white dress. Her dark eyes studied Ilmarë as well, but Ilmarë relaxed when she saw the open, friendly smile on the woman’s face.
“Ilmarë, may I introduce you to Írien?” Círdan said, gesturing toward his companion.
Elrond bowed his head in polite greeting, as did Írien, but Ilmarë gave only a quick nod. She lifted her head quickly to smile at Írien, thinking here was one who could be considered beautiful for she had a grace of spirit that shone through in her features.
“You are the woman Círdan has been coming to Mithlond to see?” she asked.
“So Círdan has spoken of me, has he?” Írien said and her smile widened to see Ilmarë nod in assent. “And so he has spoken of you, as well. I am pleased to meet you, Ilmarë. Are you enjoying your stay here in Ereinion’s home?”
“And why would she not, my dear cousin?” Ereinion said as he emerged from the crowd of people just behind Círdan.
“Because you have been mothered by Haleth and her kin for too many years now,” Írien said, offering her cheek for a quick kiss from Ereinion. “There are times when you behave like an errant child.”
“I shall remember that the next time you wish to come stay with me to escape your father,” Ereinion replied with a laugh, then turned to Elrond and Ilmarë. “I had begun to question whether the two of you would come downstairs this evening.”
“I wondered the same thing myself,” Ilmarë replied, thinking of Elrond’s hesitation at allowing her to come downstairs, which he considered too exerting. Elrond’s warning gaze reminded her not to speak of her illness and she sought to change the subject. “Cousin, you say? Then you are kin to Ereinion?” she asked Írien.
“Distant cousins, yes,” Írien said. “His forefather, Finarfin, was brother to my foremother, Lalwen. Now my father aids Ereinion in maintaining good relations with other rulers and their kingdoms. Ereinion has done a remarkable job of keeping the scattered Elven kingdoms on good terms…although I do not always agree with my father’s methods.”
Ilmarë could see the irritation on Írien’s face as she stared into the glass she held and apparently Ereinion noticed this as well.
“Well, then,” Ereinion said in a cheerful tone, “let us change the topic to something more pleasant…”
“I do not believe that will be possible, Ereinion,” Elrond interrupted in a dry tone and Ilmarë felt his arm tense beneath her hand.
She looked up to see Elrond staring unhappily toward the crowd and noted that Írien and Círdan did the same. Ereinion, however, did not look unhappy. He stared off into the crowd as well but his face appeared to show no emotion whatsoever. Though she did notice the stiffness in his stance, as though he were frozen in place. Ilmarë followed his gaze and saw the Elven couple who approached.
“Good evening, Lord Elrond,” the man said with a polite nod, “forgive us for intruding, but my daughter and I wished to meet your charming new companion.”
Elrond hesitated for a moment, but then covered Ilmarë’s hand on his arm with his free hand and said, “Ilmarë, this is Rillion, one of the visiting Noldorin lords from Harlindon, and his daughter, Anarríma.”
The tone of in Elrond’s voice surprised Ilmarë but she ignored it, as did the dark-haired Elf who gracefully bowed to her.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Ilmarë,” Rillion said as he stood again.
Ilmarë bowed her head in thanks before offering Rillion a smile, although it had little effect on the stony expression he wore. His daughter bowed politely as well and Ilmarë studied her as she did. Anarríma’s dark hair gleamed as did her father’s, but hers spilled down over the skin of her bare shoulders. Ilmarë noted the decorations covering Anarríma’s golden gown, and the way the jewels sewn into the skirt sparkled when she moved. The extremely low neck of Anarríma’s dress also caught Ilmarë’s attention; she felt certain the Elven maiden was wearing a corset. Her breasts protruded above the neck of her gown and from what Ilmarë could tell, the dress exposed more of Anarríma’s breasts than it covered. If Ilmarë had thought the corset she had been forced into made her breasts appear akin to a glass of water about to spill, then surely Anarríma’s barely restrained bosoms were apt to cause a flood.
“I am pleased to meet you, as well, Lady Ilmarë,” Anarríma said and her assessing look made Ilmarë uncomfortable. “Ilmarë…” she mused, “hmmm…yes, I have heard King Gil-galad mention your name before...just yesterday evening, as a matter of fact.” Anarríma looked pointedly at Ereinion and smiled.
A dull red blush rushed to his cheeks, but Ereinion met Anarríma’s overly innocent gaze with an unhappy, level stare. Ereinion felt the group’s questioning gazes on him and he said, “Yes, I related to Lady Anarríma how pleased I was that Ilmarë had come to stay in my home.” Not wanting to remain and take the chance on Anarríma hinting at the particulars of their evening in front of Ilmarë, Ereinion cleared his throat and gave a quick nod to the group. “The servants are far too slow this evening. You will have to excuse me. I am in need of a drink.”
Ereinion ignored Elrond and Ilmarë’s questioning gazes - and Círdan’s accusing gaze - and turned on his heel, walking quickly across the room. Anarríma smirked as she watched him leave and after a moment moved to follow him.
“I find my thirst bothersome as well, Father. Would you excuse me, please?” Anarríma said and gave her father a quick, distracted peck on the cheek.
“Of course, my dear,” Rillion said with an indulgent smile. “It would not do to allow your throat to become dry if you’re to sing this evening.”
Ilmarë did not miss the subtle roll of Írien’s eyes nor Círdan’s suppressed smile in response. When Ilmarë looked up at Elrond questioningly, he gave a quick shake of his head as if to say they would discuss it later. Though she did notice Elrond’s marked look of relief as Anarríma disappeared into the crowd. His relief appeared to dissipate when Rillion spoke again.
“My daughter is a very accomplished singer. It is not often that she graces a gathering with song and there is no doubt much anticipation about her performance tonight. Do you sing, Lady Ilmarë?” Rillion asked, his condescending tone clearly showing that he expected her answer to be no.
Elrond narrowed his eyes at the Noldo but Ilmarë appeared not to notice as she considered Rillion’s question. After a moment’s thought her eyes took on a far-away look.
“Upon a time, I sang in a great chorus with my people,” Ilmarë said and closed her eyes.
For a fleeting moment she could hear mingled voices ring out across the depths of sky and space, and caught a glimpse of the stars flaring and glittering in tempo to the rising song. Then underlying notes of discord infiltrated the perfect harmony and the sound jarred her out of the fragmented memory. Though to Ilmarë it felt as though Ages had passed since she closed her eyes, in truth it had been no more than a second. She became aware of Elrond’s tightening grip on her forearm and when she turned to him she saw a look of comprehension and surprise on his face. Círdan’s face, however, wore a warning frown, reminding Ilmarë of where she was and to whom she was speaking.
“Although the songs of my homeland would likely grate upon Elven ears, and I do not know any songs of Middle-earth,” Ilmarë said, facing Rillion again with a smile. Her smile widened as she had a thought. “I must correct myself, for there is one song of Middle-earth that I am familiar with. I heard it sung by the mariners often enough to remember the words. Being a male, I am sure you would enjoy it, Lord Rillion. It was about the mariner’s shared admiration of the usefulness of women with large breasts…something about their having better buoyancy in the water…”
Írien let out a short burst of laughter, which she quickly stifled, and Círdan cleared his throat as he waved his hand warningly at Ilmarë.
“Ilmarë, my dear,” he said with a shake of his head and a bright but uncomfortable smile, “you have a lovely voice, but perhaps we should save that song for another time. I believe Lord Rillion’s musical tastes differ dramatically from those of myself and my mariners.”
“Indeed,” Rillion said, his dour countenance growing even more grim, “my tastes are a bit more…refined than those of Lord Círdan and his men. Apparently your overly long stay in their company has affected your tastes as well. Clearly it is fortuitous for you to have come to stay in the King’s household. Your tastes appear to be already improving; I see you wasted no time in becoming…” he paused to glance at Elrond’s hand wrapped firmly around Ilmarë’s forearm, “…very comfortable with Lord Elrond’s influence.”
Ilmarë’s face showed her transitory emotions as she listened to Rillion speak: confusion, understanding, and then hurt. Círdan’s jaw had clenched ever tighter with each word and Írien watched him with worry. Círdan opened his mouth to address the Noldo and Írien noted with relief that Elrond was quicker, answering in the dry, implacable tone that always heralded his irritation.
“You display your usual intuitive nature, Rillion,” Elrond said and the curving of his lips was more a show of tolerance than it was a smile. “Ilmarë and I are quite comfortable with one another. So comfortable in fact that if someone were to insult Ilmarë, I would take it as a personal affront. And I assure you, my reaction toward the offender would be...highly unpleasant. Clearly it is fortuitous for you to have meant no insult by your observations.”
Elrond paused and watched the Noldo with a hint of enjoyment, waiting to see if Rillion's enormous pride would choke him on the way down as he swallowed it. Though it was difficult to hold his anger in check, Elrond had dealt with Rillion many times and he did not wish to cause a public scene unless it were absolutely necessary.
Rillion assessed the situation and reluctantly decided that making an enemy of someone such as Elrond would not be a wise course of action…especially over some insignificant Mortal whose life would be over in the blink of an Elven eye. And besides...even had Rillion not considered fisticuffs and physical violence beneath him, the thought of engaging in either with Elrond was not an appealing idea. He considered the half-Elf's bodily stature to be unrefined and almost brutish....and more than a little intimidating...
“No, Lord Elrond, I apologize for not choosing my words more carefully. I meant no insult to the lady - merely commenting on her wise choices,” Rillion said and offered Elrond a brittle smile. “Now I ask that you excuse me while I join King Gil-galad and my daughter.” With a quick bow in their general direction, Rillion turned and left the small group without another word.
Ilmarë stood silent and tried to think of what she could have done to cause such obvious antagonism from a total stranger. She had never met either one before that moment, yet both Rillion and Anarríma seemed to intensely dislike her. The thought of it baffled Ilmarë.
“They are always unpleasant, Ilmarë,” Elrond said and Ilmarë found him smiling down at her. “It is their way. Rillion enjoys sitting in judgement of others and Anarríma does not like anyone who threatens to steal any of the attention she so thoroughly desires. There are also other reasons for her behavior, but I will tell you of those later when we are alone. Just know that you did nothing to call it upon yourself and I will make certain that neither of them have the opportunity to bother you again.”
"It 'tis not something to concern yourself over, Elrond. I have had dealings with unpleasant beings before," Ilmarë said, thinking of Yavanna. “I will learn to tolerate the unpleasant beings in Middle-earth as well.”
The dinner bell rang, catching the attention of all in the room and the crowd slowly broke apart, moving toward the tables on the far side of the large room. Ilmarë frowned at the many settings of china, crystal and silverware covering the tables.
“Whom will we be sitting next to, do you think?” Ilmarë asked, now almost wishing she had listened to Elrond and remained upstairs with him all evening.
“Not ready to begin cultivating your tolerance of Rillion so soon, Ilmarë?" Círdan laughed and reached over to pat her shoulder. "Well…I cannot fault you for that.” He led Írien toward the tables and motioned for Elrond and Ilmarë to follow. “I see Adanel helping to seat the guests. We will ask her to seat us far away from any unpleasant company.”
As the four of them walked toward the tables, Círdan surveyed the crowd ahead of them and said, “Although considering the number of Noldor here, avoiding unpleasant company may well mean we will be forced to eat in the kitchen.”
Círdan let out an exaggerated hiss of pain when Írien pinched his arm then gave him an innocent smile, and Elrond laughed at the pair. Listening to Elrond's laughter and seeing many people turn in surprise at the sound of it, Ilmarë felt her mood lighten considerably. The prospect of the evening ahead now seemed almost tolerable.
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.