The dinner is getting cold on the table. The candles are getting shorter, their flames trembling in the cold breath of wind from the half-open window. The room feels empty and cold despite the warmth of the fireplace and the soft fur rugs under your feet. You wander from a wall to a wall, absent-mindedly touching the armour and the weapons covering the shelves and tables. You trace the lines on the crafted metal, your fingertips almost caressing the intricate patterns, your lips whispering the harsh words of Khuzdul. Years ago the language seemed so far from melodic that you would cringe even when the words were enveloped in the velvet of your prince's voice. Now you laugh at the silly misconceptions of the petulant child you were.

Your prince has gone on a scouting expedition, and your heart is disturbed. You mind is stormy with worry and uneasiness. The visions of torn armour and bloody clothes plague your head. Your imagination is betraying you, bringing up ghastly memories, mixing them with terrors yet to happen. You have seen your prince on the ground, breath almost leaving his body, the cold blue eyes closed, the darkest shadows of his lashes under them giving him a lifeless look. You remember the pale face and the cold claws of terror around you heart. His eyes are the most expressive of his whole appearance, containing all of the tempest of his temper. While his lips so rarely reflect his moods, usually pressed tightly together, except for the rare intimations of a smile, his eyes and brow are the traitors of your prince's reserve.

You sit down on a bench and close your eyes. You take a deep breath and will yourself to calm your anguish. You envision the beloved face, not on a cold stone of a battle field but on the delicate bedding in your chambers. His eyes are closed, his luscious mouth carefree, tranquil. You trace the dear features with your index finger, slightly tapping the tip of his long nose. The corners of his lips twitch but he keeps his face relaxed. Along the bridge of his delicious nose, you move to the brows, smoothing the black hairs from the center to the side, first the left one, then the right one. Lightly you caress the lids, slipping the tip of your finger to the crinkles in the corners of the eyes. Suddenly his lashes tremble and you are staring in the deep blue irises. Your prince, your âzyungâl, your kurdu. Your king.

You are sitting on the bench, lost in thought, when a pair of familiar hands lie on your shoulders. You nose fills with the smell of the woods, smoke, leather and your melhekh. "The dinner is cold, zundush," low rumble of his voice rolls into your ear and hot breath licks your neck. You take a sharp breath and smile.