Ilmariel woke with a start. For a moment, she was thoroughly confused, unable to figure out where she was, or why she was there. She glanced around and squinted as the golden light of the sun rising over the ocean poured into her eyes, causing them to dilate painfully. She gave a soft moan, and closed her eyes again, shutting out the sun’s rays.
“My sentiments exactly.”
Ilmariel’s eyes instantaneously reopened. Why did that voice sound so familiar? It took only a moment for everything to come back to her, and, when it did, she groaned.
“What? Have morning breath? You haven’t been asleep very long; I don’t suppose it’s all that bad.”
Ilmariel ignored Sauron as she sat up and rubbed her neck where it was sore from the rather odd position she had been laying in. After a moment, thinking she was ready to get up, she swung her feet off the bench where she had been sleeping and onto the deck, and stood. She wobbled slightly, but it was nothing much.
“Bit tipsy?” Sauron asked Ilmariel, promptly occupying the bench and stretching out along its length, so that there would be no room left for her.
“A bit, maybe.”
“A bit,” Sauron repeated, and then began to pick at a loose thread on his tunic.
“So, what have you been up to while I was out?” Ilmariel asked him.
Sauron looked up at her, a very dull expression coming into his face. “Cirnil was sharing some stories with me.”
Ilmariel could not help but smirk. “Was he now?” she said, with a soft chuckle.
“Why does that amuse you? There really is nothing funny about it,” said Sauron, finally pulling out the thread.
“Not to you, I am sure,” Ilmariel said. “You do not take being laughed at very well, do you?”
Sauron frowned. “You were laughing at me?”
“Not exactly. It was just an offhand observation for the most part.”
“You are correct, I do not particularly like it,” Sauron said after a moment, still looking at Ilmariel critically. “But that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since I do not like laughter, period! Well… unless I am the one laughing. That I can handle.”
“Figures,” Ilmariel said. Then, she had another thought. “Actually, I’m surprised that you even know how to laugh.”
“Well, I can smile, can’t I? If I can smile, why couldn’t I laugh?”
“Then perhaps I should say that I would not think you would know how to smile, either. Better?”
“But you know I can. I already have,” Sauron pointed out.
“Oh… yes…” Ilmariel responded. “Still, that is beside the point.”
“It is?” Sauron asked. “I would have thought that it was right on the point. Do I have to go frolic in a field of flowers, like you Elves, to prove that I am capable of some feelings of a positive nature, hmm? You might think that I am in a perpetual state of gloom, and all that, but that simply is not the case. I’ve had my moments, and, although I doubt that you would call them jolly, they were to me. Point taken?” he ended, ripping out some more strings from the frayed hem.
Ilmariel sighed. “Fine. It just struck me as odd, you know, with all that evil rubbish you were always doing. Somehow, something about the combination of evil and laughter just seems a bit off.”
“I wasn’t always evil, you know,” said Sauron, under his breath, as if he was only half sure that he wanted to rebut with such a statement.
It seemed to Ilmariel that this was not a verbalization she should reply to. Rather, she took the time to note that her legs were getting a bit shaky, although she did not know why. Deciding to fix the problem, she sat down on the deck.
“Ah, that’s better,” said Sauron, at a normal tone again, looking down at her. “It feels more natural to have people down below me, rather than at the same level.”
Ilmariel shook her head, but did not otherwise reply, as she saw that Cirnil was coming towards them.
This was not bad for Ilmariel. In fact, it was nice to think of having somebody else to talk to. However, when Cirnil arrived, he stood at least two feet higher than Sauron, who was still sitting on the bench.
“Well,” Sauron said with a sigh, “that lasted long.”
“What lasted long?” Cirnil asked.
Cirnil was able to momentarily pull his lips down, but they bounced back to their original position so quickly that it seemed the frown might have just been a trick of the light. “Well, I see that you got Ilmariel up, as I asked. Thank you!” he said.
“How nice of you to do as Cirnil requested!” Ilmariel said, stressing the word nice. Sauron scowled at her (but only mildly, to prevent attracting Cirnil’s attention).
“I had him wake you because we will be at port soon. I figured that you would like to be able to see the city as we arrive. You are Silvan?”
“Yes,” Ilmariel said, after a slight pause. “How did you know?”
“Rondae told me, of course.”
“Well!” Ilmariel exclaimed, smiling widely. For the first time, it was Sauron’s face that was painted with the expression asking ‘why me?’, rather than Ilmariel’s.
“If you would like the come to the bow now,” said Cirnil, “we should be able to see Eressea any minute. Right after it will be your first true sight of Valinor; the plains outside of Mandos do not really count, if you know my meaning.”
“Of course.” Ilmariel began to follow Cirnil towards the bow, but she paused momentarily. “Don’t you want to come?” she asked Sauron.
“No,” was the strained reply.
Although Ilmariel would discover the reason behind it later, she did not understand at the time.