*~*~*~*~DIACLAIMER: I Do Not Own Arda. Nor do I own her peoples, places, or things. Thanks to all my loverly Reviewers! And, of course, thanks to J.R.R. for creating Middle Earth!!~*~*~*~*
The room went from pitch black to being flooded with light in seconds. Ilmariel groaned and snaked down farther under the blankets on her bed, pulling them over her head to block out the light. However, this was not very successful, as they were yanked out of her hands not long after.
“What gives?” she mumbled as she squinted her eyes open; they had felt much better shut.
“Now, now, haven’t you ever heard of the early bird getting the worm?” the one distinguishable shadow in the room inquired of her.
“I have heard that,” said Ilmariel. “But you are not a bird, and you are not looking for worms, so that was a stupid thing to say.” She reached down to try and recover the blankets, but her hands met empty air.
“I have this wonderful theory that, if you do not have your blankets, you will get up because the room is too bright. From all the signs, it seems to be working.”
“The light is not what is keeping me awake, you are.” Ilmariel said. “Wait a minute… I thought you were supposed to be tired.”
“I was, and so I slept. Remarkable thing, that— who would have thought that sleeping could fix things so that you were no longer sleepy?”
“They said it would take a while,” Ilmariel muttered. “…I feel cheated.”
“It might have taken a while,” Sauron replied, “but I just sucked away all of your energy and am now using it for myself.”
Ilmariel opened her eyes a bit wider, propping herself up on her elbows. She did not find that thought particularly appealing; it was a bit creepy …no, it was very creepy.
Sauron shook his head. “Not really. I figured that if they told you I was going to be tired, they would have told you why. …Apparently not.”
With a sigh of relief, Ilmariel leaned back. “No, they told me.”
“So, you know, and yet you were unable to figure out that I could not have been serious? Honestly, if I am only as powerful as yourself, and you cannot go around draining people’s energy, how do you think I would?” he asked. By the way he said it, it was apparent that he was nowhere near happy at the thought that he was now on the same level as Ilmariel.
“I’ve just woken up;” the elleth rejoined tersely, “you cannot expect me to think of everything in an instant. Besides, there are ways of sucking people’s energy other than just using voodoo magic.” A curious expression crossed Sauron’s face at this remark, but Ilmariel did not see it. She reached out again to try and get her covers, but her hand was promptly slapped away.
“None of that,” Sauron said. “You have to get up.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” Ilmariel replied. “Now, give me back my covers. I do not need you fouling them up when they are clean,” she said as she sat up, squinting, and tried to snatch the blankets out of Sauron’s hands. She was still not quite used to the light, not in the amount that was coming into the room. Of course, she had picked a room that faced east.
“That’s odd…” Sauron said, a false look of pondering on his face. “Why does this seem like a conversation we’ve had before…?”
Ilmariel tried to take this opportunity to regain her sheets, but Sauron pulled them away again. “You remember that I took a bit of a swim yesterday, right?” he said.
Ilmariel considered this for a moment, noting that what fear Sauron had felt concerning the event seemed to have already dissipated. That was fast… No wonder he was such a slow learner. “Yes, I recall that very clearly,” she said. “Nonetheless, you probably have salt all over you now, since you fell in the sea. I hear that it does horrors to your hair, and it makes you itchy.”
“Well, as you have so kindly pointed out on multiple occasions, my hair was not in lovely condition to begin with. And I do not feel the least bit itchy. A bit of salt isn’t bothering me, so it shouldn’t bother you, either.”
“I still don’t want it on my sheets!” Ilmariel reached out quickly and wrenched the covers from Sauron’s hands, instantly pulling them around herself. “And I think there are probably a lot of things that do not bother you but would definitely bother me,” she muttered into her pillow.
“You are not much of a morning person, are you?”
“Actually, I tend to be more of a do-not-pour-sunlight-in-my-face-and-steal-my-sheets-when-I-am-trying-to-sleep person,” Ilmariel replied. “It is not really the most pleasant way to wake up.”
“You have to get up sometime. I was just helping speed up the process a bit.”
“My being awake does not necessarily mean that I am going to go anywhere just yet,” said Ilmariel. “Or at all,” she added, as an after thought.
“I want to get out there before the crowds,” said Sauron. “Crowds… ugh…” he ended, a look of distaste painted across his face.
“You are not much of a people person, are you?” Ilmariel replied, recalling what Sauron had said along the same lines a few moments before.
“Not really. Now, can we just go and get this over with? I don’t want to go out, but I sort of need to.”
Ilmariel rubbed her eyes to clear them a bit more. “Oh, you don’t need to get new clothes; that is such a lovely non-color on you, I must say.”
Sauron frowned. “I don’t have time for this. I’ve already been up for a couple hours waiting for you, and I am not going to wait much longer.”
“Patience is a virtue— one that you should get a grasp on quickly.”
“How about I try to grasp it after we get back, hm?”
Ilmariel ran her hands through her blue-black hair, trying to put it back into place after having slept on it. “Fine,” she said at last, with a sigh.
Obviously quite pleased with this, Sauron helped Ilmariel up, which was a bit more of a novel thing than she had time to comprehend. With one hand resting on the small of her back, Sauron ushered the elleth down the stairs, still half asleep, into the kitchen. When they got there, Cirnil was already sitting at a table, having something to eat.
“So, you’re finally up? Sleep well? I’d think so; you were out long enough. Looks like you slept in your clothes, too,” Cirnil said to Ilmariel as a way of greeting.
“Actually, I only fell asleep a few hours ago— I’m afraid I neglected to follow your advice,” Ilmariel stated ruefully. “But yes, I did sleep well “…for what time was allotted me, she added in her mind, though she disdained, at the moment, to let it show that Sauron had been able to get on her nerves. “Thank you for asking,” she ended, offering Cirnil a small smile.
Cirnil replied with a nod and a bright grin.
Ilmariel then looked down at her crinkled tunic, and shrugged. “Hmm… I guess I was a bit more tired than I thought… It really does not look too bad, though.”
“Oh, heaven forbid that you would ever have to go out in public wearing clothes that are less than perfectly flat,” Sauron remarked.
Not even taking the time to frown at Sauron’s statement, Ilmariel continued to speak to Cirnil. “And how was your night?”
“Just peachy, thank you.”
Sauron tapped his foot at this considerably brief exchange, and Ilmariel finally gave up trying to ignore him, and sent him a slight glance. “What did I say about patience?”
“That it’s a virtue, blah, blah…” he said, waving his hand to dismiss the statement. “Get on with it. Once you’ve had something to eat, we’re going to leave.”
“Have you already eaten, then?” Ilmariel asked as she sat across from Cirnil.
“When do you plan to? I highly doubt that you would want to be the one holding up the party.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You have not eaten a thing since we got out of Mandos, and you are not hungry?”
“I had that tonic thing of Cirnil’s on the boat.”
“That bottle was only about this big.” Ilmariel rejoined, holding up her index finger and thumb to illustrate the size. “Not really anything substantial. You should have something to eat.”
“I told you, I’m not hungry.” Sauron paused and frowned contemplatively. “At least… I don’t think I am.”
Ilmariel arched a brow and looked up at Sauron, finding the thought of him being unable to determine whether or not he was hungry a bit silly. “How can you not know if you are hungry?”
Sauron shrugged. “You forget that I have not needed to eat in a long time. I don’t really remember what it was like to be hungry.”
Ilmariel shook her head. “You have a terrible memory, don’t you?”
“Hey,” Sauron shot back. “I was around long before you, before this world was even here. I have a lot of things to remember. I can’t keep everything in mind, and so I tend to forget trivial stuff like that.”
Trivial..? Ilmariel shrugged. “Then eat something anyway, just to be on the safe side. Besides, it’ll keep you quiet.”
“My, my, my, we’re a bit cranky today, aren’t we?” Sauron answered, coming to the table and depositing himself in a chair.
Ilmariel looked over the food that was on the table, and decided on some bread. “I tend to be so when I do not get to sleep as long as I need to.” She broke off a bit of the bread and popped it into her mouth, chewing and swallowing it before she continued. “Now, what I want to know is how you plan on paying for whatever you want to buy, seeing that you have no money.”
Cirnil swallowed quickly at this, and Ilmariel turned to him. “Don’t worry about that,” he began. “You have an allowance here that you can use to get what you need. By the size of it, it seems that it will be replenished every month or so. It is over there on the counter.”
“Are you coming along?” Ilmariel asked him when he rose from the table.
“No, there are a couple of other things that I need to see to. I will be back this evening, however.”
Ilmariel nodded, and, as Cirnil left the room, a peaceful quite fell over it… This, however, was soon shattered.
“Are you about done?” Sauron asked.
“I won’t ever get done if you insist on interrupting me all the time.”
This seemed to be a reasonable excuse, and Sauron was silent until she finished. However, the instant she was done, he got up.
“Cirnil said there was money on the counter, right? I wasn’t really listening,” he said as walked over to the counter.
“That is a terrible flaw,” Ilmariel remarked. “If you don’t listen, how can you ever learn anything?”
“I pick up on it if it is important.”
“And having the money to get what you want is not important?”
“You were listening to Cirnil, so I didn’t really need to.”
Ilmariel decided to just let it go. “That’s what he said,” she stated. “I suppose we will just have to figure it out on our own. It shouldn’t be too hard, though; it isn’t as if people will be underhanded, or anything like that.”
Sauron gave a derisive huff. “How do you know? They’ll probably try to cheat us out of the money.”
Ilmariel shook her head. “No, the only person that would possibly try to cheat in this would probably be you.” Sauron actually smirked a bit at this, but did not say anything. “I’ve never been swindled among my own kind,” Ilmariel continued. “I know it will be hard for you to grasp the concept that people are not always out to better you, and can actually be friendly and want to help, but at least try to understand it.”
“Whatever you say, you who is so wise in the ways of the world.”
Deciding not to answer that, Ilmariel looked at the money and tried to figure out how much she should take; it would not do to bring along all that they would get for the whole month and end up losing it somehow. She picked out several different pieces and put them in a pouch that was in the box, and then turned to Sauron, who was amusing himself by playing with the remaining coins. “Do you think you could tear yourself away from those, or are they just too entertaining?”
Sauron looked up at her and blinked in a way that made her think he had more than likely not heard what she’d just said.
“I’m ready. Let’s go,” Sauron said, and then began to make his way to the door. However, Ilmariel stopped him.
“Not so fast; I still want to get something out of this.”
Sauron almost succeeded in covering the cringe that was briefly on his face. “Oh, yes, I’d forgotten.”
“Mhmmm… I’m sure you forgot. Anyway,” Ilmariel continued, “I thought about it a bit in the few seconds of quiet I got this morning.”
“And you managed to come up with something? Good for you.”
“Yes.” Ilmariel paused a moment for suspense. “…You have to bow to me.”
Again, there came a look of surprise, but this time it mixed with annoyance. “I’ve already told you that I will not bow to you.”
“Then I am not going out.”
“Oh, come on,” said Sauron, sounding more and more irritated with the situation, “that is ridiculous. Why would you want me to do that anyway?”
“Because I know how much it will irk you,” Ilmariel answered, not bothering even to subdue the grin the spread across her face.
Sauron scowled. “Listen here, I am capable of doing something a little more worth while than just bowing. You do realize that, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” Ilmariel replied. “Be that as it may, I still want the bow.”
“Well, you’re not going to get it!”
Ilmariel folded her arms under her breasts. “Then you are not going out.”
Sauron uttered a sound of frustration, which only made Ilmariel laugh. “You must have a bit more of a passion for appearance than you’d like to let on if this is so important to you that you are still trying to bargain on it,” she said.
It seemed as though a sharp retort was soon to spring from Sauron’s lips; however, he bit back whatever comments he might have made. “So… there is no way that you are going to go… unless I bow to you.”
Ilmariel gave a slow nod. “That is correct.”
Sauron drew a sharp breath in and held it for several seconds. “Okay, fine,” he said at last, looking rather ruffled and highly agitated.
First, he took a few steps back, and sank down to one knee, crossing his right hand over his chest. Then, with overly dramatic flourish, Sauron bent his head down and swept his left arm back, paused for a moment, and then raised his head. “Was that a good enough bow for you, Lady Ilmariel?” he asked, quite heavy on the sarcasm.
“Oh, yes, that was very nice,” said Ilmariel, smiling sweetly with a little flutter of her eyelashes. “You must have had a lot of practice.”
“Hush up,” Sauron replied grouchily.
“Well, now that is taken care of, shall we away?”
Sauron got up, straightening out his tunic (the appearance of which could not have been improved much by him doing so). “You do know that I only did that because of the circumstances, and you should not be getting any ideas.”
Ilmariel continued on her way to the door, still smiling. “Yes, yes, I know. Now, come on. I thought you said you wanted to get out before the crowds.”