Chapter Two - 169th Cycle of the Trees, 1273


By the Valar, why am I such a fool?! How could I let such a thing happen? How could I do this to my father and mother? How could my fëa be so fickle? If indeed, it is fickle. I suppose that inconstancy should be something I should hope for from my heart now, but I fear it will not be the case, and that my heart - and my fëa - are truly lost forever.

To Prince Nolofinwë.

To someone who would never notice a brown mouse among all the lovely ladies attending the ball, dressed in their finery, and with their shining, almost overpowering beauty. To someone I must never hope for. Daughters of scribes do not marry princes. Especially less than beautiful daughters of scribes. Less than beautiful daughters of scribes who find themselves awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. As if I could ever make him a good wife! The wife of a prince cannot be shy and fear society and balls, as I do. Could anything be more absurd?

Ah, yes, Anairë, you are indeed the most foolish of ladies.

And yet...

I only saw him for a brief moment, his back to me as he spoke to a guest. But...but I found myself drawn to him immediately. To his proud bearing - showing a confidence that I do not have. To his broad shoulders and strong arms - seeming to offer me a protection and a security I have never before known. But most of all, to his fëa, which I felt as soon as he stepped into the room. I wish I could explain what it felt like when he came into the room. The overpowering feeling of being no longer alone, of having found someone who could understand me on a level that I have never been understood before...perhaps even on a level I have not understood myself. The feeling of security, of protection, and yes, of joy. The joy of finding someone from whom you have been long sundered, and knowing that you were always meant to know them. And to love them.

And I love Prince Nolofinwë.

He, on the other hand, did not notice me. I left the room as quickly as I could, fearing that he would see me and think me silly - or worse. I did not want to trouble him with my feelings; I did not want him to know that I - like every girl in the room - loved him.

Is this what love is? This empty, gnawing ache? This hunger, this longing? It is not at all, then, the joy of which poets speak, but a horrible, burning pain! I close my eyes and I see him - I lie in bed and I think of him, tossing and turning, and unable to sleep. And yet I will not burden him with my feelings. He deserves better. My life must continue on as if I had never met him, never loved him. Perhaps I can still marry - although the idea seems repugnant to me now.

I must pull my head from the clouds.

You are a practical girl, Anairë, and practical you must remain. You cannot afford such dreams. There is work to be done. Tomorrow I must fire the cups I have made, and perhaps complete another statue to take to the market next week. If I can sell enough, perhaps there will be enough to make Raimë a new dress. It has been a long time since she has had one, and it is truly sad, when my sister is so lovely, to see her clothed in rags. I do not need such things, but it gives me joy to see her finely dressed. I do not resent being the plain one. Eru has given me other gifts. I should prefer to have my skill with clay - and the peace that comes from working it - than to have Raimë's beauty. Although -

No, I shall not think such things. I shall not let him enter my mind again. I shall cast all thoughts aside and banish him forever from my mind.

If only that were possible.


Business Agenda for this morning's meeting: Tonight's Ball.
Attending: Father, mother, Arafinwë, myself.
Proceedings: Mother says that everything is under control.
Meeting adjourned after half an hour.

I'm so tired I can hardly write. The Ball was a lot more stressful than I had anticipated. What a fool I was to think that with Arafinwë also present, we could share the load between us and thus halve it! There were twice as many maidens there to throng around both of us, so it didn't help at all. The whole city must have realised that we would both be attending. I've hardly ever seen the house so tightly crammed.

I'm getting quite good at faking, though. I'm smiling at one young maiden after another - it is after all part of my duty to make sure that she has a good time. I just hope I won't welcome the same maiden twice, thus making it obvious to her that she has made no impression on me whatsoever ...

Fortunately it is not my duty to choose a bride. At least not yet. Father and mother never put any pressure on us. They want us to wait for the right person. Mother especially knows what it's like to have your relatives - not her brother, though - whispering about you, wondering why you can never make up your mind. In her case the worrying went on for decades. With my brother and I, no one is really worried yet.

And father has got some grand-children already, from his favorite son - so he is in no hurry to get any from me.

My sisters, on the other hand, think that I should make up my mind soon and bring them a beautiful noble lady for a sister-in-law. They're teasing me, knowing how much I hate being on display like this. Findis is forever pushing candidates at me and asking me afterwards why I didn't fall in love with them on the spot.

I cannot fall in love on command, thank you very much.

They also say that if none of the Noldor are good enough for me, then perhaps I should go find a Vanyar princess, like father did. But I hardly know the Vanyar princesses! I meet them at balls like tonight's, and it's not very conductive for getting to know each other - goes for all those trying to catch me as well, although I doubt that any of them think about that. And those Vanyar princesses that I do know, are too close kin to be suitable for marriage anyway.

Then, to top off my dread of the Ball, there is my usual nightmare to avoid. Fortunately, tonight Fëanáro wasn't attending. More often than not, he's sending a son instead, and his eldest son especially is a lot more civil than his father. He was there tonight, we greeted each other friendly enough - but even with him, most of the time I still feel some tension.

I should stop writing now, it's awfully late and I really need my sleep. There was one strange incident, though - I really don't know what to make of it. I should write about it tomorrow, rather - maybe it will make more sense then.

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