Matters of the Heart: Part II
by Amber Wood-Brasher (rogue)

She’s always heard that first impressions are the most lasting. Personally, she’d always found that expression to be quite silly; a person’s mind is flighty and finicky. Their impression would change almost daily.

Nonetheless, Senia collected herself, titling her chin and gathering her shield around herself. The King smiled, and went over to his son. “Legolas. Your hunt was successful?”

”Not really, father,” Legolas said, returning his father’s smile, though Senia noticed it was forced. “I was simply enjoying being outside, in the forest.”

“Yes, well, it’s about time you came in,” Thranduil said, giving his son a brief disapproving look. “Holding up everyone’s dinner, you should be ashamed! Especially considering you betrothed and her mother having been on the road all day.”

At the mention of her name, Legolas stiffened, his smile fading from his eyes, leaving his mouth in a frozen parody of the expression. Thranduil led him over to her, and Senia could clearly read in Legolas’s eyes resentment and even anger. She felt taken aback by this, though once she thought about it, she didn’t know why. She felt the same way about him.

“Lady Senia Skyfire, Daughter of Ethasean and Sothiel Skyfire, and your soon to be wife,” Thranduil said with pride, not noticing his son wince.

Senia met the Prince’s gaze evenly, keeping her own expression as even as she could, but only for the briefest of moments. Then she gathered her skirts in her hands and curtsied, dipping her head. “It is my honor, my Lord.”

Legolas stood there for a moment, then bowed, returning her gesture of respect. “Likewise, Lady.”

”Well then, I’m not sure about the two of you, but I am ravenously hungry! Come come, plenty of time for the two of you to get to know each other later. Stop gazing at each other like that!” Thranduil shook his head and laughed, muttering something about budding lovebirds.

Had he been paying a shred of attention, he’d have thought differently.

Legolas’s gaze was hard and cold, Senia’s resentful and challenging.

The battle lines were clearly drawn.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was the longest dinner Senia thought she’d ever had to sit through.

The most boring of conversation she’d ever heard…the only highlight of the dinner was that her brother, dearest Delithral, sat beside her, occasionally whispering comments about the women’s dresses or the giggling servant girls, making Senia laugh. At least she could have the illusion of happiness.

And of course, the Prince had to be seated right in front of her. The few times she did raise her head, she found him looking at her coldly, resentfully. I should have expected this, Senia thought to herself. Why should he be any happier about this stupid arrangement that I am?

The food would have most likely been good, but Senia only at a few bites. The misery she felt had settled into her stomach, making no room for nourishment. Mostly, she pushed the vegetables around her plate, cutting them into smaller pieces, making it look like she’d eaten more than she really had. Legolas, however, was not going to let her get away with it.

“Why, Lady Senia, I can’t help but notice that you’ve barely eaten. Either the food isn’t to your liking, or you’ve taken ill. Are you feeling all right?”

Complete silence took over the room, all eyes turning to look at her. She felt a flush in her cheeks, and a rush of anger towards the Prince, but she’d be damned if she’d let him win. Clearing her throat, she folded her napkin and turned to look at the King with a shaky smile.

”The food is most delicious, Lord, but I have been on the road all day, and I am very tired. With your permission my Lord, I think I would like to turn in for the night.”

“Of course, child,” Thranduil said, waving his hand and sipping his drink. “Of course.”

Senia smiled again and stood, her brother looking up at her with worried eyes. She smiled at him once to reassure him. Without so much as glancing at Legolas, she turned and walked out of the lavish dining area, ignoring the smothered giggles and comments of the servant girls.

She knew somehow, that the Prince stared at her the whole way.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For many hours it seemed, Senia stayed awake, staring at the ceiling of her room. She could not slip into that restful state, the sleep of the elves. Her mother had come in about an hour or so after Senia had left dinner, placing a hand on her forehead and asking her if she felt quite all right, if she had really gotten enough to eat…but mostly, she spoke of the Prince.

“He’s grown very handsome,” Sothiel said, practically glowing. “I think he’s quite taken with you! He hardly took his eyes off of you at dinner.”

And if you weren’t so naïve, you’d understand why, Senia thought to herself. “Maybe,” was all she said aloud. “Good night, mother.”

She of course could not slip into a restful state, the sleep of the elves. The bed and the place were strange, the company even stranger. She felt like an outcast, which in truth she was. The Prince and most of the court did not want her here, so why could she not just leave? Her Lady had said that the King was a stubborn one, which meant that perhaps if she left, the Prince would still not be free to choose his own wife.

That struck her for some reason. Perhaps because she’d thought almost her entire life that it seemed the men had so much more freedom that the women. But it was obvious (At least it was obvious to her) that Legolas, if he had his way about it, would most certainly not marry her. He was as angry and helpless in this as she…

“Listen to you,” she said quietly. “Feeling sorry for that bratty Prince. Get yourself together.”

The mature, no-nonsense sound of her voice was comforting, and she dropped that train of thought entirely. But still, she couldn’t sleep. Rolling out of bed, Senia stripped off her nightclothes and grabbed her traveling clothes. If she tucked her hair up, perhaps no one would realize who she was…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The lands of the Mirkwood were beautiful indeed. Fireflies danced around the woods, the sound of crickets a soothing melody. If this must be my home, perhaps it is not so bad, Senia thought. There were several trails for horse riding, and once her mother went back to Llothlorien, then maybe she could learn to ride…

“It’s awfully late at night for you to be gallivanting around, don’t you think?”

Senia gasped and spun around, finding an amused Legolas staring back at her, an awful smirk plastered across his face. She collected herself and raised her chin challengingly. “I could say the same of you, Lord.”

The smirk did not move from Legolas’s features, in fact seemed to become even more amused. “Ah, but I am not the one who was so tired that she could not even eat. Tell me, why is it you could not sleep Lady Senia?”

Senia’s jaw tightened. “Your contempt for me is most obvious, Prince-“

“How perceptive of you.” Legolas’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

”-And you should know I feel nothing but the same for you. I do not wish to be here. The company, the land, the bed, and the food: it is all foreign and unwelcoming to me. I am not wanted here as is painfully obvious. I tried to sleep; sleep did not come. So I thought I would walk.” Her gaze was hard and angry, her eyes locked with Legolas’s. “But now even that desire has soured. Good eve to you.”

She began to stalk away from him, but Legolas grabbed her arm. “I do not pity you,” he said in a low voice. “For you’ve not even tried to be accepted here. You make it very obvious in your every gesture and expression that you hate it here-“

“How perceptive of you,” Senia interrupted, using the same tone of voice as he had used not moments ago.

Legolas let go of her arm, his expression one of disgust. Senia stood for another moment, and then turned and left, making sure her hair was tucked into her hat.

The Prince merely watched her go.

The battle lines were now very clearly drawn.

| Part III |
| Index |