The darkening of hearts


To avoid a scandal Fëanor forces his oldest son into an arranged marriage, the Young elleth he has chosen has to face a Whole different life from now on, is she strong enough to survive the darkening?

Drama / Romance
Age Rating:

The greatest deceit

Finwë was staring at his son with a sense of foreboding, he felt his insides clenching and he just knew that this was serious. He tried to remain calm, to hide his worries, Fëanor was agitated enough as it was and he didn't want to add fuel to the fire. "You are sure about this?"

His son nodded, the grey eyes dark with emotions Finwë couldn't recognize, there was so much of himself in his son and yet sometimes Fëanor seemed almost feral, untamed like some wild beast. The fire burning in those eyes sometimes frightened even Finwë and he regretted that their relationship had become so strained, but his son would never forgive him for having remarried. " Yes, there is no doubt about it, I have seen it for myself."

Finwë sighed and turned towards the window, the city lay bathed in the light of Telperion and he did feel weird. It was almost a sort of anger burning within him, a sort of resistance. " The idea is terrible son, it will ruin him"

Fëanor stepped forth. " He is strong, he will cope. It is better that way, it will provide him with a much needed shield. We have enemies atar, if they find out about this they will…"

Finwë pinched the bridge of his nose, took a deep breath. " Use it against us yes, I know. But it is taking it a bit too far wouldn't you say? We are not Vanyar, I know they have a custom of doing this but the noldor have never been meddling with the hearts of others this way"

Fëanor almost growled. " I am doing it for him damn it. Imagine the scandal? He is a good son, a respected member of court, he has influence. And his brothers will suffer too, it will affect us all if it gets out."

Finwë closed his eyes. " And yet, if he really loves him then…"

Fëanor interrupted him harshly. " He can continue shagging his cousin for all I care, but under the cover of a marriage. I have already found the perfect nis for him, everything is organized"

Finwë almost moaned. " Sometimes your impatience is frightening! You ought to think this through son, and have you even bothered to ask him what he may feel about this arrangement of yours?"

Fëanor sent his father an almost wry grin. " No, he won't have the time to protest. He will do as he is being told atar, I am his father after all"

Finwë wanted to protest, to say that he after all was the grandfather and should have some influence on the family affairs too but he knew that Fëanor never would obey him, not anymore. "Still I think this is rather rash, and unwise."

Fëanor shrugged. "He'll get married, so what? We both know how little that word is worth right?"

The words were spat out and Finwë managed to restrain his own wrath but only barely. " He is not me son, nor is he you. He ought to rule his own fate!"

Fëanor sneered. " And ruin the rest of our family, our reputation and honor? No atar, I didn't come to ask for permission, just to let you know that it will be done. Do not think that your arguments are valid here, for they are not!"

The king of the noldor felt something constricting within his chest, when did his son become so resentful, so adamant and willful he refused to listen to common sense? " I see, but for the sake of your son, please, reconsider this."

Fëanor sent him a flaming glance, there was something almost malevolent in those eyes and Finwë felt a sudden urge to back away from him, but he didn't. " I won't. I have made my decision atar. You can tell those bastards of yours that they are welcome at the wedding, even that brat my son is fucking."

Fëanor walked out of the hall with his robes flowing behind him and Finwë wondered yet again how his mild and gentle Miriel could have given birth to something that frustratingly stubborn and wild. But this would not end well, he just knew it. It would result in a disaster and he sat down and closed his eyes. He loved his son and he loved his grandchildren dearly and he wanted them to be happy. But Fëanor was at least partly right, if his grandson went public with his relationship to his own cousin there would be an uproar, made even worse by the fact that they both were male. The noldor didn't care that much about same sex relationships but the Vanyar did and those darn pious families were powerful enough to cause them all problems.

He sighed, felt old all of a sudden. He felt a sudden urge to rush after his son and beg him to listen, to call this scheme of his off but he remained sitting and stared at the gilded statues of the valar that adorned the wall at the other end of the room. They were as blind and deaf to this as their real living counterparts and Finwë got onto his feet. He would keep this to himself for as long as possible, his wife didn't need to know and the rest of his children would find out soon enough. It was a very difficult situation and the high king didn't find any rest that night. He already knew that Fëanor probably had the marriage contract ready and he couldn't help but pity the poor nis that was to get married into this family, and probably on false premises too.

The sound of the quill against the parchment was the sound of doom, of the very end of everything she had ever hoped for. Every dream, every vision came crumbling down with that moment and she just sat there, staring into nothing as if her very fëa had evacuated her body. She had never thought that they would do this to her, but now she knew otherwise.

It had started a couple of weeks earlier, she had been sitting in the garden working on a very difficult embroidery when a messenger arrived from Tirion, the ellon rode a very expensive horse and he wore the uniform of the high kings courtiers. She got curious, they had never received any messengers from the court before, it had to be something very important.

Slowly she had sneaked her way through the house and stopped behind a door that was slightly ajar. It was far from the office where her father would meet guests but close enough for her to hear at least a few words. She had pressed her ear to the wood, her mother was there too and she sounded as if she was in shock and yet very excited for some reason. But the door to the office had been closed and so she could not hear what they were talking about. The messenger had left and she had hurried back to her needlework, Her mother would be furious if she caught her daughter doing nothing.

She didn't even look up as the messenger passed by, a lady should never show curiosity but be humble and demure. The rules of good behavior had been pushed down over her head since she was a toddler and there was no escape from them. To her mother she was a project and the outcome of it would determine whether or not her mother was good enough in her role as a housewife and mother. Her mother had only one fear and that was the fear of her family being anything less than perfect. Everything had to be in order, when they received guests she would work herself into a frenzy, making sure that every little detail was just right, it all had to be impeccable, stunning and without the smallest flaw.

Lerina was the youngest of three children, her brother and sister were already married with children of their own when she was born and since they were so well respected and with both influence and status Lerina's mother was determined to create a perfect lady out of her daughter. Lerina's father was a very wealthy merchant, he was selling everything from fine cloth to horses to the nobles of Tirion and the family mansion was grand and beautiful with many servants and plenty of luxury. But it was a cold place, a place where feelings didn't matter at all. All that mattered was that perfect façade where conversations were empty and orchestrated and false and the smiles and laughter sounded like the cawing of vultures. Lerina hated it, she hated it all.

She hadn't been allowed to learn how to read and write for it wasn't feminine in her mother's opinion. A nis was supposed to sing and dance and take care of her family and the needs of her husband and that was it. Lerina was dead tired of it all, having to sit there like a doll, keeping a stiff and artificial grin on her face while everybody else seemed to live in a very different world. Lerina's father was a noldo, and he didn't involve himself in the raising of his children at all, he was busy with his business and the only thing he required was for Lerina to stay quiet and out of sight unless they had guests. Then she would be shown off like some gem and it just wasn't her. But she couldn't protest, she had to be obedient like some thrall without her own voice or opinion. Lerina's mother was half teleri and half vanyar and unfortunately it was the piousness of the vanyar that was the most striking part of her personality.

She did worship the valar with a dedication that was close to fanatic and Lerina had to partake in it every day. The two hours of prayer every morning was okay with her, she gladly participated since it was the only time of the day when her mother didn't talk. The silence was like a calming balm upon frayed nerves and even though Lerina didn't share her mother's dedication she pretended to, just to be left in peace. Lerina had been a disappointment to her parents from the start. Her father had wanted another son, and he had hardly spoken to her at all. Her mother wanted a daughter that would outshine the other ellith with wit and charm and beauty and Lerina was neither. Oh she wasn't ugly, in fact some said that she was a very exotic and different beauty but she was far from her mother's ideal. She had come of age just two years prior and her mother had been beside herself with worry since she hadn't received any suitors yet. To get her daughter married off to someone with money or influence was her ultimate goal and Lerina was glad she apparently was unattractive.

She hadn't changed at all since she was a mere youth, she had gotten taller of course but she had a flat chest and no shapes and she did look rather prepubescent still. Her face was lovely, huge eyes and high cheekbones, a pair of very lovely pink lips and a cute nose but she was just too darn well behaved to attract the ellyn. In fact she was painfully shy around others and pretending to be some sort of living doll had become her shield and protection.

Her hair was nice, she was proud of it, it reached her calves and was thick and shiny with a dark silvery color, some said it looked like thin strands of Mithril and praised it and she just mumbled the appropriate answer and tried to smile. It was in fact ironic that her name meant the free one when she was everything but free. Oh how she longed to be just anybody, even the poor had more freedom than her. She longed to just stroll through the streets without a chaperone and go for rides in the woods or run along the beach barefooted. Her mother had never allowed her to ride a horse and when she asked why she was given a vague answer, something about it being harmful for young maidens.

She had never been alone with an ellon and her mother was very careful when she picked out who Lerina was allowed to meet.

It felt like choking, like drowning and Lerina had become more and more desperate over the years. Her sister had often visited with her children and that was like an oasis of joy in a desert of constant demands and never ending criticism. But Lerina had never been allowed to visit her sister in return and she had barely seen anything of the world outside their home and the area of the city it was built within. She burned and yearned to see more, learn more but they wouldn't let her. She had one secret though, she did know how to read. One of her nannies had taught her when she was much younger and she had kept it a secret ever since. Her mother was afraid that the ellyn would shun an elleth that was too smart, after all, a pretty face and the ability to bear heirs was all that was needed wasn't it?

Lerina had understood that something was off rather quickly, the house had sort of buzzed with energy and she had started to feel nervous. There was such a strange light in her mother's eyes and her father had looked rather satisfied too, like a cat which have caught a very fat rat. But they didn't tell her why, they didn't speak to her at all and she was starting to feel a bit desperate. Her mother had ordered the maids to take Lerina's measurements and she had overheard a conversation with the seamstress which indicated that Lerina would receive a whole new wardrobe. Dresses, skirts, everything. She realized that this only could mean one thing, she had a suitor but she had no idea of who this could be. She feared that it was one of her father's business partners, they were much older than her and very strict and she felt like she was trapped in a cage that slowly shrunk around her.

Then they asked her to come to the room which served as a sort of family meeting chamber, it was small and rather nice but Lerina had never liked it. Even there the hunger for influence was apparent and so very visible. Her parents were waiting and they seemed glad, joyful even. Lerina had done what she always did, she kept her eyes on the floor and her hands at her side, sat down with elegance but only when she was ordered to. Her mother almost smiled, it looked odd and Lerina found it almost unnatural. Her mother never smiled, that mouth of hers was always squeezed into a thin hard line. " Lerina, dear child, we have wonderful news for you"

Lerina doubted the truth of those words, wonderful for them maybe, hardly what she would have wanted to hear. But she didn't protest, she just stared at her feet. " Yes mother."

Her humble voice soft and low and melodic and her father held a piece of parchment in his hand. There was a quill and ink on the small table and Lerina felt her heart sink within her chest. She knew what that parchment was, she could see the title from where she was sitting but she managed to keep her face neutral, didn't reveal her secret. It was a marriage contract and she wished that the very ground itself could open up and swallow her, hide her forever. She didn't want to get married, ever.

Her father looked very pleased with himself. " Our hard work has paid off, a messenger arrived from the court with a most welcome letter. Your hand has been asked for in marriage daughter."

Lerina managed to avoid a frown from forming on her brow, court? None of her father's friends were a part of the court? What was this? Her mother was so eager she almost shivered. " Oh Lerina, the letter came from the crown prince himself. He is asking for your hand on behalf of his firstborn son."

Lerina felt as if she was about to pass out, a prince?! Why would the royals bother with someone like her? Oh Eru have mercy, if her life had been miserable before it would be ten times worse from now on. Being part of the court meant being under constant scrutiny and surveillance, never to be left alone for a single moment, always to be judged and compared with others. It was a nightmare! Her mother clapped her hands. " Oh see, she is so happy she is unable to speak!"

Lerina felt like screaming, like breaking into tears but she somehow managed to stay calm, to look as controlled as ever. I am dead! That was her only thought, the halls would be a much better place for her than this. Her father grasped the pen and the ink and signed the contract, also on her behalf since she officially didn't know how to write. Lerina stared at his hand, it was signing what to her was the end of her life, of her hopes and dreams. How could this be? She managed to squeak. " Why me?"

Her mother obviously believed that Lerina was so overcome with joy she was unable to talk properly and her eyes were shining. "The crown prince have contacts everywhere, and has spoken with your uncle. He recommended you since you are young and have a flawless reputation."

Lerina had met the crown prince once, at a festival. She had only seen him from a distance but she remembered the energy that seemed to flow from the dark haired ellon, and she remember his son too. Oh Eru, was she to marry Nelyafinwë? It could not be true, it was impossible! She could not become the wife of a prince? She wasn't ready, nor was she worthy!

Her mother got up and her smile was wider than ever. " Imagine, a daughter of ours, in the royal family. It is such a day of joy and such an honor. We will become more influential than ever before."

Lerina just stared out into nothing. " Yes mother."

Her happiness meant nothing, her life meant nothing, but their power and influence was everything. She couldn't cry but she wanted to, by Eru how she wanted to. Her father folded the contract and put it into an envelope. " Your betrothal starts today, a ring will arrive in a couple of days and the wedding is one year from today. Rest assure that your wedding will be grand! "

Lerina had problems breathing. A year? A year was nothing, what was she to do? She managed to keep her façade up, to say what they expected of her. " Yes father, thank you father,"

He smiled at her, the first real smile she had received from him for many long years. "Go to your rooms daughter and pray, the valar have blessed us all. This will be a day worth celebrating"

Lerina got up, curtsied and walked towards her room like a doll in the hands of a puppet master, her eyes were empty and her hands trembling. One year, that was all she had left of her real life. What awaited her afterwards she could only dread. And there would be no escape, no chance of avoiding this. She was doomed. As soon as she was safe in her own room she threw herself down onto her bed, shivering all over. But she didn't cry, her eyes were dry and her body felt stiff and cold, the shock had been too great, and her fear too strong. She had nothing to look forward to now, she would be a pawn yet again, this time to a husband rather than her father but it would be no less terrible and the demands no less harsh. If the lord of the dead suddenly had appeared in front of her now she would have begged him to claim her fëa right away. The halls seemed to be her only way out of this nightmare.

He saw him from afar, the horse he rode was running as if it had been whipped and the long dark hair flowed behind him. It was a mesmerizing sight, and yet it caused him to frown and climb down from the branch he had been sitting on. The distraught expression on Fingon's face told him he knew and Maedhros sighed and waited. His cousin brought the horse to an abrupt halt and the animal skidded and it almost lost its balance and fell.

Maedhros didn't even have time to react before he had his arms full of a trembling ner who grasped onto him like he was the last hope of someone drowning. " Tell me it isn't true! Eru! Say it isn't so!"

Maedhros swallowed hard. "Who told you?"

Fingon was staring at him with eyes that were desperate, huge! "I met Tyelko at the market, he didn't mean to, but he had a slip of the tongue. How could you!"

Maedhros sighed, a deep sigh that made his chest heave. "I wasn't given a choice! And that is the truth. Atar demands it, and I cannot disobey him, not in this!"

Fingon grasped onto his collar with both hands, Maedhros could feel them tremble. "It will be the end, the end of all that we are! Can't you see it? She will steal you from me!"

Maedhros grasped his hands with his own slightly larger ones. " No, she won't. She'll never own my heart, for it only belongs to you and this you know. My father has picked her out and I have never even met her."

Fingon made a whimpering sound. "Then how can you agree on this….this lie?! It isn't you"

Maedhros nodded slowly, the hurt in his eyes was very obvious. "I have agreed just to please my atar, and to protect us both."

Fingon scoffed. " Protect? What are you talking about?"

Maedhros grasped Fingon, held him close and felt how he relaxed into the embrace. " You know just as well as me that our relationship is something others will deem as shameful and wrong, even sinful. But if I am married it will shield us, they will not see anything wrong with you visiting me when I have a lovely wife as an alibi."

Fingon groaned. " It isn't right, you will spend your days with her, your nights too, when you ought to spend them with me!"

Maedhros nodded slowly, kissed Fingon's forehead and let long dexterous fingers slide through the long silky dark hair. " I know, and I wouldn't want anything more than to have you by my side forever. But it cannot be, and you know that too!"

Fingon had a grimace of near agony on his face. " I hate them all for not letting us be together."

Maedhros let a finger glide across the soft lips of his lover, stared into those lovely blue eyes and knew that no gem ever could shine as exquisitely as them. " You do not mean that, we just have to adapt."

Fingon grasped his hand, kissed it with passion and not a small amount of desperation. " You are the one strong enough to stand against any storm, to hold your head up high no matter what life throws at you. I am not as strong as you are my love"

Maedhros smiled and kissed him again, softly and slowly. " Strength has nothing to do with it, only love. It is the only way we can stay together without causing a scandal. Do you really want to hurt our families?"

Fingon sighed and he stared at the ground with a sad expression. " Of course not! But I am scared Maitimo, so scared. What if you fall in love with her?"

Maedhros shook his head. " That will not happen and you know it, my heart is already taken, by you!"

Fingon put his arms around the taller ner and breathed in his scent as countless times before. "Still I feel worried, you will have a home of your own, people will have expectations you know."

Maedhros laughed. "And I will laugh at them, oh worry not my heart, it will be okay. The wedding is in a year from now and then you can visit me whenever you like, and we can live as if we were bonded also in the lawful way."

Fingon had a dreamy expression within his eyes, but he made a strange grimace. " What about your wife then? What if she disagrees?"

Maedhros scoffed. " She will have to obey me, I know she has been raised as a Vanyar and I do not care if she doesn't like it."

Fingon grinned and kissed Maedhros neck, let his tongue slide along the smooth silky skin and nipped at his chin, very gently and yet with enough force to leave a tiny mark. "Fingon?!"

He grinned again at his lover's voice and purred. " Well, it is just normal to celebrate a betrothal isn't it? And I know just how to celebrate yours."

Maedhros swallowed hard, Fingon's hand was already sliding over his crotch, teasing him and causing him to harden and stretch against the fabric of his pants. He hissed and grasped the hand, pushed himself against it and Fingon gasped and blinked a few times. " Indeed you do!"

"Let me worship you, let me show you pleasure your betrothed never will give you"

Maedhros licked his lips, he liked this side of Fingon, and he had never seen it so openly displayed before. " Please do then"

Fingon just nodded and started stroking Maedhros hard length through his pants as he slowly and very deliberately unbuckled his belt and removed the long outer robes the tall redhead was wearing. Maedhros was leaning against the tree as Fingon got his clothes out of the way, he knew that his lover tried to reassure himself that everything was okay, that Maedhros still would be his. Fingon grasped his hips and crouched down and before long a warm tongue was caressing his cock, it was done with great care and excellent technique and Maedhros moaned Fingon's name and had to fight hard not to thrust into that welcoming heat.

Fingon could take him rather deep too, he had gotten used to it and taught himself not to gag and this time he obviously wanted to outdo himself for it had never been thus, ever. He was shivering as pleasure surged through his body and he felt how Fingon used one hand to gently caress his balls too. It was almost too much, it felt too good and he knew he couldn't last. They hadn't seen each other for more than a week and Maedhros had missed him and longed for his touch. He tensed up and howled as he released and Fingon drank it all down, licked him clean afterwards with slow and seductive movements. Eru, he was amazing.

Before long he was hard again and Fingon stepped back, started to remove his own garments. Maedhros stared at him, his eyes hungry and his heart beating hard. His lover was the most beautiful thing there was, the soft creamy skin, the silky dark hair, his eyes glazed with arousal and passion. Fingon was breathing hard by now, he was fully aroused and Maedhros had always thought that the sight of him thus was just as exquisite as his mother's finest statues.

Fingon stretched, languidly and deliberately like a cat, his eyes dark. "Do you like what you see?"

Maedhros just growled. " Yes, do not tease me"

Fingon took a step back, turned around and fell onto his knees and hands, his head lowered and his long hair loose. " I am yours, please, do what you wish to me."

Maedhros chuckled, he got the rest of his clothes off. " You are eager aren't you? So wanton, but I like it. I wouldn't have you any other way"

He was kneeling down behind his lover and let his hands explore and tease and prepare the shivering body in front of him. They had coupled several times before but never like this, out in the open. Fingon gasped and arched his back as Maedhros started to prepare him. " My left pocket, a small vial"

Maedhros grinned. " You have come prepared, how considerate of you."

He found the vial filled with oil and coated his fingers with some of it, started to stretch and tease his beautiful partner and Fingon keened and started rocking back and forth against the intruding fingers. " I want you love, now!"

Maedhros moaned, the sight of Fingon's passion and need turned him on too, he felt as if he was on fire. He quickly prepared himself before he grasped onto Fingon and replaced the fingers with his cock, slid inside with one smooth thrust. Fingon threw his head back, eyes closed, mouth open and a wordless cry upon his lips. It was wonderful, it was sweet madness and overwhelming desire and before long they both were grasped by their insatiable need for each other. Moans and gasps were soon replaced by cries and howls and Fingon finally keened and released, shuddering almost violently. Maedhros followed suit and roared his lover's name and they collapsed into a heap of shivering flesh and bones.

Fingon finally managed to form a coherent thought, he kissed Maedhros softly and put an arm around him. " Promise me you'll never let her take my place."

Maedhros just grinned and kissed Fingon back. " I swear, I will not even touch her."

Fingon smiled, a very content smile. " Good, I know the reputation you have gained, but that will have to stop whence you are married right?"

Maedhros nodded, feeling a wee bit ashamed of himself. He had gotten a reputation that was a bit naughty to say the least. Rumors said that he bedded a new nis every night and even though it was a great exaggeration there was some truth in it. He had no problems bedding females and liked it too but he did it all to mask his real interest. There were countless broken hearts in his tracks but he didn't care about them at all. The nissi he had slept with had been a nice way to relax and distract him but nothing more. He had never met a nis capable of catching his attention and keeping it, after a night of pleasure he was bored of them all. He held Fingon close. " I promise that I won't fool around again, I have no need for that now."

Fingon let his hand slide through his lover's red locks, his eyes distant and his expression almost dreamlike. " Know what, maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all. I bet you will get your own house, a great one, with many rooms. We can explore them together and pretend as if we both live there."

Maedhros nodded. " You make it sound so wonderful, yes, that is how it is gonna be for sure."

Fingon buried his face against Maedhros neck, breathed in his scent yet again. " It will be fantastic, I am sure of it."

The tall ner kissed his forehead, closed his eyes. " When I am with you love, I could live in a hole in the ground and I wouldn't mind at all"

Fingon just mumbled and enjoyed the sensation of skin against skin and the warmth of his lover. "Just one year, and we won't have to fuck out in the woods no more."

Maedhros snickered. " Not that I mind doing it out here, but a bed and a warm room will be nice. "

Fingon lifted his face towards his lover's. " And a bath, a warm bath with lots of oils and ointments and perfume, we can enjoy each other for hours"

Maedhros almost purred. " Oh aren't you the eager one, but that gives me ideas. Yes, come here and let me show you what those mental images of yours are doing to me"

Fingon squealed with delight. " I already know, tall one indeed."

Maedhros rolled them over, pinned Fingon underneath him. "Yes, and completely yours, eternally yours!"

Lerina had never believed that things would change this much, that her entire life would seem to have been turned upside down. She had never been anybody special, she was just a partaker in her mother's tea parties and nobody had ever paid any attention to her but now it all of a sudden changed. Suddenly she was invited to elves she never even had heard of, and countless others came visiting her. She managed to act the way she was supposed to, and her mother seemed to be proud of that, but it left her terribly confused. Lerina wasn't stupid at all, she was very well aware of the fact that these people wanted to gain influence through her, to use her to their advantage. It hurt her a lot but she couldn't let anyone see that.

The constant attention was causing her nerves to itch, she was unaccustomed to it and it made her feel as if they all were hunters and she the deer. She knew that she didn't come out as a very open or warm person, her behavior was controlled and she kept her distance, for once her mother's rules and upbringing was a good thing. There were ladies arriving almost every day, some brought her gifts, others just wanted to chat but she knew that they all just wanted to gain a piece of the cake. She would be a part of the royal family, they wanted her to recommend them, to give them a chance at increased influence. It was sickening.

And yet she sat there, endured boring tea parties and meetings with that stupid benevolent grin upon her face while she really wanted to scream at them all and just make them leave her alone. As the months went by she started to realize that there was also another side to it, not all wanted to flatter her or fawn up to her. Some were angry. There were nissi out there who felt that she didn't deserve any of this, who had dreamed of being the one getting married to the high king's grandson and they were without mercy. Rumors were being spread, some rather vicious, while others tried to bring her reputation into question.

There were hateful remarks being hissed at her at the many social gatherings she now had to attend to, some even tried physical assault. One nis poured a whole glass of red wine onto Lerina's best dress, and another one tried to replace her small jar of lip balm with one containing a very irritating ointment. It only made Lerina even more terrified of her future life and she slowly managed to get some more information about her future husband. It didn't do anything to make her feel better. He had a reputation for being far from celibate, they said he had bedded countless nissi and that his appetite was insatiable. Lerina felt physically ill when she heard this, she didn't want anything to do with him, but how was she to escape from this nightmare?

Some of the nissi visiting would get rather rowdy whence the wine started flowing and there were lots of tales being shared of friends of them who had bedded the prince and the descriptions could become rather explicit after a while. Lerina felt her cheeks burn, she had no interest in knowing whether or not he was hung like a horse, or listen to warnings about his preferences. When these days came to an end she usually wept for hours, completely drained emotionally and absolutely terrified. Her mother didn't see how distressed Lerina had become, she only basked in the glory of being the law mother of a royal and used it for all it was worth.

Lerina lost her appetite completely, she forced herself to eat but lost weight and soon her father started to make remarks about her hollow cheeks and skinny frame. That sent her mother into a fit of panic and before long Lerina was literally force fed food that made her utterly disgusted. It was all made to make sure she put some weight on but it served to make her feel even more depressed. Her mother kept her busy all the time, the customs required that a bride was to bring a chest of things to her new home and that chest had to be impeccable if she was to be considered a good wife. Lerina had to embroider everything from handkerchiefs to sheets and towels and napkins and shirts and all sort of household articles and there had to be at least eight of each. The embroideries had to consist of their first letters and the emblems of their houses and Lerina had never hated embroidering as much as she did now. Her eyes were aching and her fingers too and her mother never stopped complaining about her stitches being too sloppy or the colors wrong.

She had to endure also her mother's countless attempts at making Lerina look better. Skin treatments were the new craze and she had her nails done each day, and her entire body massaged to make sure her shape was right. It could have been nice if the nissi her mother had hired to do the job had been left alone with Lerina. But her mother insisted on being present and she was obviously physically unable to keep her mouth shut.

Lerina wondered why her father had married that nis in the first place, she knew that their parents had a rather platonic relationship and that she and her siblings were born because her father needed heirs. To her mother the physical part of marriage was simply a duty to be endured, not enjoyed and Lerina started to realize that her father probably was rather unhappy in many ways. She had seen him smiling at other nissi in a way he never smiled at her mother and it sort of made her slightly disgusted. But at the same time she did pity him and she started to realize that her parents in fact were terribly shallow.

She prayed every day, prayed that something would happen that would mean that the wedding could be cancelled but the valar didn't listen. She prayed that lord Namo would come for her fêa but the lord of the halls obviously turned a deaf ear to her pleas. Lerina knew that the main tower of the mansion was rather tall, if someone threw themselves from that they were surely to die but how the heck was she to get up there without anyone stopping her? Her mother was watching her like a hawk now, at all times. It felt like being imprisoned and she had suffered a few panic attacks which her mother had scoffed at and deemed as being wedding jitters. Lerina was surrounded by people all the time and yet she felt more alone than ever, every decision was made without her being asked even once, she just sat there like a statue while her mother ordered everything from flowers to dresses and Lerina knew that her mother was planning the dream wedding she herself never had.

As the day crept closer gifts started arriving, some were from her fiancé but she strongly suspected that it was his father who had sent them in his name. It usually was jewelry of the most exquisite kind and her parents were in complete awe of it all. Lerina never got to wear any of it, it went straight to the vaults but Lerina had caught her mother wearing a nice necklace with moonstones and rubies once, as if she was the bride to be. Others too sent gifts, she even got a horse and her father told her it was a mare from Oromë's own stock. Of course she wasn't allowed to ride the gorgeous palomino but they kept the horse since her father never had owned such an exquisite animal and he already made plans for which stallion he ought to use to produce foals he could sell.

Lerina sort of resigned by now, she no longer had the will or the strength to do anything except going with the flow. She lived one day at a time and tried to forget about that terrible fact that the wedding was getting closer and closer.

Then her mother got her maids, she was to become a princess and as such she ought to have personal servants. The two nissi her mother had hired were older than Lerina and both were obviously jealous of her and neither was very nice. They were sucking up to Lerina's mother all the time but when they were alone they treated the young nis like trash. She was told she was too skinny, that she was stupid or unattractive and that her husband would continue to screw around. She was being accused of being unworthy of such a union and one of them even managed to claim that Lerina probably was barren since she had such an appalling lack of female shapes. She feared them both, her mild and conflict shy personality didn't allow her to fight back, she just allowed them to verbally abuse her and she just knew it, when she had to appear in court everything would be a hundred times worse.

And then the day was just a week away and the entire house went into a frenzy, preparations were made everywhere even though the wedding itself was to be held in the royal palace, there were servants running around everywhere, the level of stress was sky high and Lerina was sitting in the middle of this hurricane of activity and felt as if she was caught in some weird dream. Her mother was everywhere at once or so it seemed and she was beaming with joy, in fact Lerina had never seen her this happy and so she just went along with every suggestion, it wasn't as if she cared anymore. The day before the wedding they all went to the palace in a huge convoy and Lerina sat in the carriage and felt dead inside. Tomorrow would be the most terrible day of her life and she had no idea of how she was to endure.

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