Jan 27, 2023 11:56 AM
branches off from no promise of freedom to explore new and exciting variants of dubcon
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Hug. "Mmhmm. At some point I think she meant to go back to Valdemar and trade off with a different Mindhealer but it might not be soon."

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"Mmm." Leareth picks at his waffles for a minute in silence. "I - wanted to ask him to look at my immortality setup. Since I cannot do that. It would...really help...if I were not scared of him for stupid reasons." 

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"Are you worried about your immortality setup?"

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"To some extent. I do not think that Melkor could have interfered with it, but it is something he threatened he was able to do, in some of the iterations of trying to convince me to work for him. And - it would just take a weight from my mind, to know for sure." 

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Fervent nod. "It will work from Arda in general, right?"

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"Yes. I checked that soon after my arrival." 

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"Would you be reborn here or there - and how does that work exactly, would somebody get pregnant without expecting to?" Shiver.

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Leareth blinks at him. "...Oh, no. I do not come back as a baby, that would not really work..." He trails off, because Maitimo seems sort of uncomfortable and that happens so rarely and he has no idea what to do. 

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His face is back to pleasantly affectionate almost immediately but he does not ask any followup questions. "Okay. Just - if anything bad happened it occurs to me, perhaps belatedly, it'd be good to know where to look for you, and how long to wait -"

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Leareth is kind of stressed and it's making it hard to say words, but he takes a deep breath and tries anyway. "I cannot really say where, at this point it could be anywhere in Velgarth. And, a few months? I would try to return to the north and then send a message–"

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"Okay." Hug. "Sorry for bringing it up. We're not going to let anything happen to you."

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"I know." Leareth tries to relax into the hug. "I - should maybe have - told you about this sooner - when I was talking about the, the things I'd done..." 

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"I surmised that you had done lots of awful things including probably some I'd failed to think of because of growing up in paradise. I'm not upset with you about it. Probably someday you should tell me more, not everything necessarily but enough that I am better calibrated on the range of awful things that there are that I might run into. I think ...probably we shouldn't do that now? Probably we should do that in a couple of years or something, when it won't hurt you if I want to go sing about it for a month. Right now - I want to be here for you."

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"Oh. Of course." 

Leareth hopes it isn't obvious to Maitimo that his heart is suddenly racing - it feels like he just very narrowly avoiding some gaping chasm, that he didn't even see until Maitimo had already yanked him back from the brink, and he's dizzy with relief and also terrified.

He hadn't thought of it, because he's an idiot, but - of course it's fragile, this situation where Maitimo cares about him and wants to be there for him - of course there are facts about his past that, if they were out in the open, would break that delicate balance. And he hates the feeling that he's keeping secrets (weirdly, he's told no one the details of his immortality in - a very long time, and that never bothered him). But he needs Maitimo. He can't see a path to anything ever being okay without Maitimo there.

"I'm...glad," he says, shakily. "That you want to help." 

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It is fairly obvious to Maitimo that Leareth is slightly panicky but also Leareth is slightly panicky a lot because of all of the years of being tortured and then the stupid disaster of an incident last week.  

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"Everything - that happened in Velgarth - without it you wouldn't have been here in our world when we desperately needed you. I am glad that you are the person that you are. I admire the person that you are."

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"Mmm." Hugs are good. Leareth focuses on breathing and tries to relax in Maitimo's arms. 

And feels weird about it again, wondering if Maitimo is right now trying to suppress the fact that he wants Leareth. And - he's confused, still, he's been confused for a while about why Maitimo is willing to put so much effort toward helping him. It would explain it, the fact that Maitimo is in love with him, except that Maitimo isn't even doing anything about it, Leareth needs so much and Maitimo isn't getting anything in return and that - seems sort of unsustainable. Which is terrifying. 

Leareth knows he should just say something, but he still doesn't know what, he's thinking himself in circles, so he eats quietly and tries his best to concentrate on any conversation Maitimo tries to make with him. 

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Probably they should just avoid topics that make Leareth feel - anxious about being judged? Anxious they'll decide not to let him murder people for his own immortality anymore? - Maitimo can kind of see the argument that they shouldn't let him do that and yet it feels unimaginable, asking him to stop - he is not going to ask that and he is not going to bring up the subject again unless he has a better understanding of what stressed Leareth out this time.

"What does the room look like to mage-sight?"

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Oh, perfect, a new topic! "There are quite an impressive number of wards - I did not realize Vanyel had done so much, he did not say anything about it..."

Leareth can share his senses with Maitimo and point out the various types of ward. None of them are the kind that will actually injure a stranger trying to enter, they'll just send alarms to Vanyel if anything weird happens, but the shielding is thorough enough that Leareth could probably sleep through a mage-duel happening right outside his door. 

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It is a relief to see Leareth a little happier. He suppresses more futile frustration with the easily-frightened locals near Cuivienen and reminds himself that this will take time (less time, because Leareth is very clever and very good, but time) and that the best thing to do is just to be patient, and careful, and as unlike Sauron as it's possible for a person to be. 

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Leareth is able to hold a thread of conversation until he's done eating, and then tells Maitimo he wants to go for a walk by himself for a little while. 

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"Of course. Have a good afternoon." And he'll get back to work.

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Leareth goes out to near the water, moving carefully in the near-darkness of the city - it's lit for Quendi eyes, not human ones. He finds a bench by a fountain, and sits. 

It feels like the ground is sliding out from under his feet. He needs to - reorient, figure out which way is up, form a more accurate understanding of the resources and constraints of his current situation.

One: Maitimo is in love with him. Which explains why he's so motivated to help Leareth recover; Leareth is glad to know, he doesn't like being confused.

Two: Maitimo is, right now, not getting something that he wants a lot. He's sort of not even trying to get it? Except for the part where he's there for Leareth all the time and trying to give him everything he needs. It would make a lot of sense if he were hoping - expecting, maybe, Maitimo is very good at predicting other people - that Leareth would fall in love with him, and so he doesn't need to push at all, just - wait, patiently. Quendi are very patient. But it still means there's a tension there, an expectation, that Leareth hadn't known about before now. 

Three: Maitimo's support is more fragile, and conditional, than Leareth had realized. Because, like an idiot, he hadn't been thinking at all about the part where Maitimo grew up in paradise, and of course he can't imagine from first principles all the things that someone as ruthless as Leareth would have done.

Leareth wouldn't have thought to ask the question of whether he loved Maitimo without prompting, because - well, that's not a framing he's used in centuries. Maybe ever. It wasn't safe to need anyone, in Velgarth; it was a vulnerability. But Arda is different, and Leareth is different now. He doesn't have a way not to need Maitimo's help (and Vanyel's) in putting himself back together - and he's so fortunate, that Maitimo is very good, and understands what Leareth-before was fighting for, and wants to help him get that back.

The closest he ever feels to safe is when he's in Maitimo's arms. Is that what being in love feels like? It's not like Leareth has anything else to compare it with. 

...It would be good, he thinks, if he loved Maitimo back. That would be a helpful shape for a Leareth to be, in these particular circumstances. It would be more stable and sustainable for Maitimo, giving Leareth so much help and support, if he were also getting the thing he wanted; it seems sort of unreasonable not to want to give him that, actually.

Leareth thinks that he's mostly that shape already? He feels very positively about Maitimo, wants to see him and talk to him, wants Maitimo to hold him when he's falling asleep. He's - confused - about whether he wants to have sex with Maitimo, but that seems mostly explainable by the fact that he's never had sex with anyone in this body. Also some of his fake memories contain - that - and then horrible things, so it makes sense for him to have mixed feelings. Mostly with Vanyel, though. There are a small number involving Maitimo but even when he was blocking off having any beliefs about reality, they were very unconvincing, and he trusts the real Maitimo utterly, so it really should be fine.

A sensible next step, Leareth decides, is paying more attention to his actual, current feelings about Maitimo over the next couple of days. He gets up and heads back to his room. 

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Maitimo is writing a lot of apologetic letters to the various people who he passed off handling of the Valdemaran delegation to. He stops by in the evening because Leareth is likely to want to be held and sung to sleep.

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Leareth does want that! He smiles when he sees Maitimo, more than usual because he's paying a lot of attention to whether he's happy to see him, and in fact he is! "How was your day?" 

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