After he has spent the night curled up like a beaten dog between the cushions Hralien usually keeps for guests who come for tea and a few words, Tos'un opens his eyes to a bleak day of waiting. At first he waits a few hours for Sinnafein to show up after all, but his hope dwindles quickly. If she had decided to come to him then she would have done it early in the morning, of that much he is sure. His wife is not one to wait long once she has made up her mind.

Why did he never tell her? Tos'un asks himself that question over and over. Does it mean that deep inside he does not trust Sinnafein? The thought makes him feel all hot and cold at the same time. It is almost like he cannot trust even himself any longer. The uncertainty grips his mind and paralyzes him until he is afraid to think about anything at all.

When Hralien puts some bread and a few cut up pieces of fruit in front of him he forces himself to eat at least half of it, even though it makes his stomach turn in protest, as if there is no space for food in his body right now, because it is all taken up by his worries and fears.

Does he even deserve what he is so fervently hoping for? All he wants is for his wife to stop hurting, to make up for his failure. But if he is the one who caused the hurt, does he still have the right to ask her forgiveness? The guilt and uncertainty is crippling and very soon Tos'un wants nothing more than to shut everything out. He has no idea how to fix this. All he knows is that he hates that empty, aching pain in his chest, which does not let him rest, but also paralyzes him at the same time.

In the end it is almost evening before he can dredge up the courage to walk to his home and knock on the door.

"Go away!" Sinnafein shouts from the inside. She still sounds terribly angry and hurt. "If I ever want to talk to you again, I will let you know!"

"Sinnafein please", he begs quietly, one hand resting on the wooden door, but not brave enough to push it open against her wishes. "Just let me explain. I will leave afterwards if you want me to."

"No. I want you to leave now!"

"Sinnafein, please!"

But no further sound can be heard through the wood in front of Tos'un.

What he wants to do most is to just let himself slide down and curl up in front of his door crying, but Tos'un forces himself to take a deep breath and merely say: "I will come back tomorrow", before he turns away to drag himself back to Hraliens home. Once there he only shakes his head at the other's questioning gaze and proceeds to pace like a caged animal.

"What can I do to make her listen?" he finally wants to know desperately. "If she won't even let me talk to her, how do I explain? I don't know how to do this."

Hralien sighs.

"Give her more time."

"It hurts a lot more than I could ever have expected it to", Tos'un admits weakly. "I don't think I'm very well prepared for this experience."

Another sigh.

"No one ever is", Hralien tells him. "It is the price we all pay and even though it may feel terrible now, personally I have always considered it worth it in the end. I expect you will as well, even if you may not think it possible at the moment. Do not give up yet."

Tos'un's answer is only a glare.

"Bowing under a Matron's whip was easier than this!" He laments darkly. "At least that kind of pain always fades after a while. But this feels like it is never going to leave me, as if I am being split apart on the inside, with no way to put the pieces back together!" Tos'un puts up his hands in front of his face, as if he cannot bear to really say the next words, and speaks through his fingers. "And knowing that Sinnafein is probably feeling like this as well, and only because of me... it is simply unbearable. It seems so unfair."

"It is not a matter of fairness", Hralien reminds him gently. "The heart does not necessarily bow to logical arguments."

"It should", Tos'un growls at him somewhat childishly, but unable to give voice to his frustrations in another way. Hralien merely puts a comforting hand on his shoulder, which does not make things better, but calms him at least marginally. At least he is not completely alone.

This night he spends a long time staring into the dark room before he manages to sleep a bit. He wakes to the sound of voices early in the next morning. They are too quiet and too far away for him to understand the words, but Tos'un is sure that they sound strained.

He is not quite sure if he actually wants to get up and find out what this is about, but a vague sense of urgency compels him to shake off his lethargy for long enough to roll off Hralien's cushions, put on his shirt and drag himself towards the door.

"... given me a good enough reason yet!"

That sounds like Hralien. An unusually agitated Hralien. Tos'un hesitates.

"I already told you! I merely want to talk to him."

The drow almost gasps as he hears the clipped words, full of forced politeness. There is no way he would ever mistake the owner of that voice. His blood runs cold. What possessed Jaellien to come here?

"And I do not trust you not to make things worse", Hralien is saying now. It sounds as if it is not the first time.

"What would you know about that?"

Clearly the mage is already losing his patience. Apparently that never takes very long, even when he is not dealing with Tos'un directly. If he was not already torn between anger and despair Tos'un would have rolled his eyes in exasperation. For now he still hesitates to make himself known though, trying desperately to get his roiling feelings under control first.

"I know enough not to want you in my house right now", Hralien is saying with a frosty coldness Tos'un has never before heard from him. Is it wrong that hearing this kind of tone used in his defence makes his hurting heart warm up just a little bit?

"Oh, is that so?" Jaellien matches the coldness effortlessly. "Well, whatever you think I have done to him that offends your delicate sensibilities so much, I can assure you I have received tenfold."

"So you admit that you took him unwilling?"

Jaellien's first answer to that is a worthless hiss.

"He said that?"

"No, I most certainly did not!" Tos'un answers even as he is ripping the door open so violently, that he is almost surprised he does not break it.

"That does not make it any less true", Hralien insists despite his obvious surprise as he turns around to the drow who has so suddenly appeared behind him.

Jaellien is equally startled, but concentrates on Tos'un quickly, dismissing Hralien's presence as if it was inconsequential now. His eyes are probing, searching for something in Tos'un's face, but he has no idea what it might be.

"Why are you here?"

The question is just as tense as Tos'un's whole body, but it does not seem to deter Jaellien from his intensive scrutiny.

"Something happened", he says after a few moments, as if he had not been sure before, but has now found some kind of confirmation in the clenched muscles of Tos'un's jaw. "If you are going to say now that it does not concern me", he hadds almost viciously when he sees the red eyes go blank, "I will disagree most violently!"

"Light take you!" Tos'un hisses back in a sudden fit of explosive anger. "Of course it concerns you. If you had come any earlier than last night I would have killed you."

"This is about Sinnafein then", Jaellien only says very matter of factly as if he is not facing an angry drow, who looks as if he is about to gut him any moment. "I will go talk to her."

With that he turns to walk away.


Tos'un's attempt at following the mage is abruptly interrupted by Hralien's arms and an unyielding grip.

"Let go!" the drow hisses, struggling against the restraining arms, but too distracted for the moment to really break free.

"Tos'un wait", Hralien pleads still not letting go. "You said you were sure he would not hurt them. Why are you struggling this hard?"

"No, I do think that he will!", the drow growls angrily. "But I also think that he is not above lying to get what he wants, so now for the love of all that is holy, let me go! Please!"

This time Hralien relents. He does not like the way Tos'un grimly focuses of the retreating back of the mage.

When they finally catch up with him Jaellien has already reached the small hut where Sinnafein lives with her family and is knocking on the door. He does not turn, but he must have heard enough to know that he is not alone.

"What are you doing?" Tos'un hisses, stepping up into his personal space from behind, but not touching. "Stop this!"

"Why should I?" the blond elf wants to know, still staring at the door intently. "Sinnafein!" he shouts then, making the drow twitch nervously. "Sinnafein, stop being childish and open the door!"

"Go away!" Sinnafein still sounds just as hurt as she did when Tos'un first came here yesterday. It almost makes him weep. "I do not care what new lies he has told you to feed me. I just want you to go! Leave!"

"Don't be stupid", Jaellien answers sharply. "Tos'un could not make me do anything I don't want to. Not now. Not when I could destroy his life so easily."

The blond elf looks around at the strangled sound Tos'un makes when he hears this. He has always known of course, but to actually listen to the words spoken by someone else makes it even more real somehow. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Hralien frown at the claim.

"What?", Jaellien says with an air of impatience, speaking to Tos'un now. "You must know it as well as I do, or you would have tried to put an end to this long ago."

"You sound bitter about it though", the drow notes, not quite surprised. "Do you not like the power it gives you after all?"

The question should have been scathing and it mostly is, but it also comes with a faint note of breathless excitement and challenge that causes Jaellien's eyes to widen slightly and Tos'un to curse himself.

"Are you saying you actually want to discuss this here and now?" the mage asks quietly. He seems almost amused when Tos'un only shakes his head emphatically.

All three of them are startled when the door in front of them suddenly opens.

"Do you really have so little respect for me, that you are going to discuss your sordid little affair in front of my door, while I can listen to every single damn word?!" Sinnafein is shaking her hand clutching tightly at the worn wood beneath her fingers and anger is written clearly across her expressive face.

"I will go a step further still", Jaellien answers before any of the others can find their voice. "I will come inside and discuss it directly with you."

With that he simply pushes past her, taking advantage of the sheer surprise, which freezes her a moment too long.