Hello, everyone! I know it's been a while since I've posted something here, but I've been crazy busy lately. Anyway, yes, this is another one of my Silmarillion-characters-as-awkward-teenagers deals. Hey, it's my trademark!

First of all, I named the story Leaving Neverland because most of it consists of Meleth not wanting to grow up, much like Peter Pan. Ah, literary references.

Secondly, you will notice that I measure people's ages differently in this story. Since this takes place in Middle Earth, I figure they might've measured people's ages differently than they did in Valinor. Yes, I know I'm inconsistent. Just ignore that.

As usual, the style of this story is pretty modern, so enjoy that.

And since this is a prequel, of sorts, to my story Wicked Smart, I did the same thing as I did in that where there's quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

Have fun reading, and don't forget to tell me what you think!

Leaving Neverland

Prologue: Departure

"You are young, life has been kind to you…You will learn."

-from Sweeney Todd

"So you think you know better than me, do you?" snapped Mama, with her hands on her hips and a scowl that could curdle milk.

I sighed. So you think you know better than me, do you was the argument Mama always used when she couldn't think of anything else to say. And there was absolutely no way to fight back.

"No, Mama, I don't think I know better than you," I said desperately. "I just want to know why."

"Because I said so, and because the women of this family have worked as ladies' maids since the beginning of the world, and because Eru knows there's no other way I'm going to turn you into a lady."

"But…Mama…" I whined. "I'm too young to go off and work! I'm only thirty-eight!"

"I became a maid when I was five years younger than you," said Mama.

"Yes, but you were only a maid for seven years before you married Papa. I doubt some overly romantic young knight is going to snatch me up right away."

"Don't you talk about your father that way, young woman!" snarled Mama. "You're going, and that's that! I don't want to hear another word about this, Meleth!" She crossed her arms over her ample chest and turned away, indicating that the argument was over.

Drat, I thought. I had absolutely no desire to be a maid to some princess I'd never met and who I'd heard was pretty queer, not least because in my family, going off to work meant you were grown up, ready to be married. I didn't want to be married. I wanted to stay a kid.

I tried once more. "Mama…"

"Go pack, Meleth."

With a growl of frustration, I stomped upstairs. That's another annoying thing about women in my family—what we lack in height, we make up for in always getting our way. But I still had one final plan—surely Papa wouldn't want me to go!

"Papa!" I cried, bursting into his study. "Mama's trying to send me away to be a ladies' maid. Is there any way you can change her mind?"

Papa shook his head. "Meleth, dear," he said, "come sit on your Papa's lap."

I did so, smiling. How Papa ever got to be a knight is beyond me. He seems much too kind and civil to ever run a sword through anyone.

"Now, Meleth," said Papa. "Your mother is right. It's high time you learned how to live without your mother and me protecting you. After all, you're nearly grown up now, and…"

"I don't want to be grown up! I want to stay a kid and live here forever! And I don't want to get married!"

"Well, I certainly wouldn't be advising getting married at your age," laughed Papa. "But your mother and I—well, perhaps we've been unfair, keeping you in this house all the time. You need to learn to interact with people your age. Vinyamar will be the perfect place for this. It's an excellent city, Meleth. I know you'll love it there."

"Princess Idril is crazy," I said. "At least, that's what Cook told me."

"Cook is a mean gossip," said Papa. "I've met Princess Idril, and she's no crazier than any other girl your age. I think you and she will get along very well. Meleth, please just try to be good and have fun. Can you promise your Papa that?"

I sighed and nodded. Clearly both of my parents were mad.

I was up at five the next morning—certainly not by my choice, since I had stayed up late the night before saying goodbye to everything in the house. Mama woke me up by pulling all the covers off my bed in one swift motion.

"Up, Meleth," she ordered. "You leave for your new home today, or have you forgotten?"

"How could I forget something like that?" I muttered. Unfortunately, Mama mistook this as excitement and beamed as she bustled around the room.

"You should wear your second-best-dress today…that way you'll make a good impression but your best dress won't be ruined by the dust on the road. Perhaps we should curl your hair, too…no, that'll take too long. We'll just put it up. Get up, Meleth! You have to leave in an hour!"

Eventually I did get up, and consented to being poked and prodded and dolled up by Mama. Although I couldn't see the point in trying to impress a princess who everyone said was crazy and, moreover, plain as a board, I did want to make a good impression on High Prince Turgon and all the rest of them. After all, I was the daughter of a respected knight, not some dirty peasant girl, even if I did live in the country. If I was going to be banished from my home, I'd at least look nice while doing it.

Mama finished putting up my hair and sniffed. "Oh, Meleth, you look so grown up! Here, look at yourself." She pushed me in front of the polished silver mirror that hung on my door.

I looked myself over carefully. Mama was right—with my good dress on and my hair up, I did look more grown up. Especially since my figure had started filling out over the past year. No matter how much my mind stayed a kid, it looked like my appearance was starting to make me into a woman.

Holding back tears, I turned away from the mirror. "Let's go, Mama."