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Édebar by Urloth

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Story notes:

Rating up to =  NC-17


Requested pairing = All of these are either/or.   Anairë/Eärwen, Fingon/Maedhros, Finrod/Edrahil


Story elements =  Loyalty kink, leaving home, a disguise (either literal or figurative)


Do NOT include =  Rape, modern AU


--<br />

This got away on me. I also had trouble understanding what a loyalty kink was. I hope this is okay.


Beta credit: a profound thank you to Greenekangaroo who proof read this in like one day.

<p dir="ltr">It was prince Ñolofinwë’s fifth visit that broke Eärwen.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Not in any dramatic way but her mother came to find her and found her huddled up under her bed sobbing and rocking herself as much as she could given the limited space beneath her bed and the tight curled up position she had assumed.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Her breaking was due to a number of factors, in hindsight. A lack of sleep and the heightening dread that had overcome her when her father had gently asked her about her feelings in regards to the Prince Arafinwë were the main two factors. Others certainly had their part in the eventual sobbing mess she became one mingling.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It was not the first time her father had asked her about Arafinwë, it was not even the tenth. Prince Ñolofinwë’s visits usually lead to a plethora of such questions. He usually asked her as they had enjoyed the after dinner wine that was served, for Eärwen a new treat she was still discovering. However he wasn’t limited to that. He asked her during the morning meal sometimes. He asked her when sometimes coming across her reading in the garden outside her quarters.</p>


<p dir="ltr">That night had been the first time he had added a reference to the truly staggering debt that he felt was still owed King Finwë for … basically all of Alqualondë; its infrastructure, its original docks which had allowed it to expand enough to create its now famous seascape, and the original houses that had stopped the late Teleri from simply expiring on the coast before they could plant their feet.</p>


<p dir="ltr">And how nice it would be if he could do something… just something. And look at how close Arafinwë was to their family. Would it not be nice if Arafinwë could truly be a part of their family?</p>


<p dir="ltr">Then he mentioned that Prince Ñolofinwë had already come to discuss the grooms-gild that would be settled on Prince Arafinwë’s marriage… if such a marriage happened.</p>


<p dir="ltr">He was such a nice young man Eärwen. Your brother’s best friend Eärwen. I wish you knew him better but I supposed it’s not the done thing for a girl to be close to her brother’s friends. But you at least already know him. What do you think?</p>


<p dir="ltr">And thus she curled up beneath her bed and let herself fall apart messily for reasons she didn’t like thinking about too much.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Oh dear,” her mother sighed over her, calling for a maid to help drag Eärwen, covered in dust (the cleaning staff were later disciplined) from beneath the sturdy frame of the bed, “he’s been a little forceful I admit but really Eärwen you’re at such an age that you should be ready for this. Dry your tears, I think you need a little time away from the palace. I’ll arrange for a retreat to Édebar for you to clear your head.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen was cleaned up and then just like that, Eärwen’s bags were packed, with a messenger already sent ahead. Osanwë enhanced by a Noldor far-reach stone meant that the messenger had not even begun the return trip as Eärwen was being bundled onto a horse with two of her father’s favourite’s on either side of her to make sure she reached her destination.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Though the dust and grime beneath the bed had been cleaned from her and her clothes had been changed, by the time she reached the horse she was dirtied anew, garden dirt on her skirts and also a caking of blood and a little bit of flesh beneath her nails.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Her brother’s face would heal eventually. He had been gracious enough to simply flip her over and pin her to the ground rather than retaliate with any force despite her inflicting her nails upon him.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Édebar was a tidal island. It had been a resting place of the Lady Uinen who had gifted it to a group of those who had pledged devotion to her to create a sanctuary for those who were mentally distressed or unhappy to find peace again. It was a far more discrete option than the long trip to Lorien, and Lorien was usually reserved for extreme cases.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Girls crying about their marriage prospects was not considered extreme.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Édebar was not unfamiliar with treating young ladies for the hysterics that might occur as the prospect of marriage loomed before them. Eärwen was less than enthusiastic about the prospect. She had never left Alqualondë once in her life.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Well now is a perfect time,” her father said, unable to look her in the eyes, “there is no guarantee you will live in Alqualondë all of your time.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">So just like that it was done. Eärwen had imagined the first time she left her home. It was to have been some sort of adventure, perhaps at the side of her sister Umawen who was frequently to Tirion and to Taniquetil, the diplomatic treasure of her parent’s brood.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Being packed up as a dirty secret and ushered out onto the roads at the most intense time of the mingling when the streets of Alqualondë were deserted was not how it was meant to be. She was not filled with excitement as they reached the furthest part of Alqualondë that she had ever had a reason to stray to.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Tol Eressëa was in the distance if they looked left out over the great harbour, and though she had been there, visiting that isle did not count as leaving Alqualondë in her mind. There was a connection, unseen but felt, between the island community and the mainland.</p>


<p dir="ltr">There was no such connection between Alqualondë and the lonely looking isle in a northern situated bay. They rode through Laurelin’s dominance and well into the next mingling to make it to the isle in time for the tides to be right, but the water was still too high to cross when they arrived. They waited at a tavern, Eärwen sitting between her escorts with her cloak drawn up over her head to cover her distinctive hair, and ate their way through a platter of periwinkles.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Or they tried to, but the atmosphere was disturbing in the little town that likely existed only to service the retreat on the isle. The light here was less prevalent, and Eärwen found her eyes were beginning to ache as she adjusted to the gloomy cast everywhere. The shadows everywhere were three times the size that she was used to, and lay entirely at odds with what she expected from shadows. They stretched out, yawning and greedy, over the ground instead of staying compactly next to the object casting them.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen had heard of the northernmost lands of Aman and their shadow drenched chill. Alqualondë was constantly lit with violets and blues as the light of the trees filtered through the distance between them both. The light of her home had threads of tell-tale silver and gold to it to mark which tree was prevalent, but such threads were lacking here on the northern coast. Instead the light made an attempt at gold and silver, but ended up a muted, dingy, and sallow nothingness.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It didn’t help her feelings of unease or quell her longing to go straight back to Alqualondë.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The plate of periwinkles was empty and the bowl for the shells full by the time the tide was low, even with the atmosphere affecting their appetites. They set out, following a stone road that had been uncovered by the retreated water, and Eärwen feared the entire time that her horse would slip on the wet stone.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It took them one turn of a sand clock to reach the isle and the sturdiness of the dry road leading up the slope of it. Eärwen nearly flattened herself to her horse’s neck in relief. She was near to flattening herself to the horse anyway. She had been awake through two minglings and a turn of each of the trees. Her joints were aching and her head was pounding. The gloominess of the isle drew on her eyelids, trying to close them. By the time she was helped off her horse she wasn’t sure if her legs would support her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She was lead through a quiet hall where she saw people sitting in fanned wicker chairs, and the hushed murmurs of quiet, calm conversation rustled around them.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She was undressed without much protest at being treated by a child, and the bed seemed to rise up to meet her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She slept immediately and deeply, and rose only once to relieve herself, groaning in protest as her body informed her that a whole tree’s dominance of riding wasn’t something she’d ever done in her life.</p>


<p dir="ltr">-</p>


<p dir="ltr">The next morning a gentle hand on her shoulder roused her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She gently batted at her mother’s shaking, moaning into her pillow. The blinds drawn against the tree light had her room nicely gloomy, the perfect environment to simply nap all day.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It wasn’t like she had anything she needed to do anyway.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Umawen was away and Mairolwë h-</p>


<p dir="ltr">She opened her eyes and looked at the woman looming over her, then shrieked and jerked away because she could not place her anywhere in Eärwen’s acquaintance.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The room was unfamiliar. The bed was too narrow, the walls too plain with only a single tapestry of waves that Eärwen would never have allowed hung in her personal quarters.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Pardon me,” the woman bowed a little, bemused but not alarmed at Eärwen’s reaction. Her clothing was sewn from a plain beige cloth and a style that couldn’t be mistaken as being anything other than the uniform of a holy order, “I am the attendant on this floor and I noted that you were allocated time in the tidal pools this morning.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen just blinked, mouth tacky and sore from how dry it was and her heart still racing.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“I understand you arrived at towards the end of a mingling,” the attendant was opening the curtains which were thin and would not have kept the light back in Alqualondë. Opening them barely affected the prevalent gloom in the room as it was, “But it has been a full turn of Telperion and another mingling since you arrived. It is unhealthy to sleep so long. Please arise.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">There was a plain looking wardrobe which the attendant opened. Eärwen recognised the shift pulled out as one of hers.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Oh,” the woman lay the shift out on the end of her bed, then a wrap-dress to cover it, the type usually worn by those intending to go swimming “Your companions left mid Laurelin but they have left you a note, it is in your bureau. Drying linens are provided at the tidal pools. Will you require a guide there?”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Aah,” Eärwen opened and shut her mouth, overwhelmed, “I don’t know where they are… yes?”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“I will wait down the corridor for you to change.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">The door clicked shut. Eärwen was left to sit in silence, still stunned at the rate everything had changed.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She looked around the bare room, skin prickling in discomfort, then reached for the clothing since the air was so much colder than she was used to. The bureau wasn’t really a bureau. It was a narrow table. There were no drawers and there were no shelves. There was a lone bottle of ink and a small stack of paper. Next to this was an envelope but whatever it was she expected to be written by her father’s favourites she was disappointed to find that all they had left in ink was their apologies for not personally saying goodbye, and the knowledge that her stay was scheduled for a month and that the cloister that ran the retreat knew whom she was and would take care of her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The final line of text informed her that her father wished for her to use the name Mairawen. He was worried that if it was known that she had gone to Édebar when the rumours of her impending betrothal to the Prince Arafinwë were so prevalent that it might hurt her prospects, and also cause problems for her kin. Her eldest niece was almost the same age as her, and they had to keep in mind her future prospects as well. A family relation suffering hysteria at the thought of marriage would easily offset any connection to the royal family, especially since her niece was the daughter of a younger daughter.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen bit her lip, turned the single page of the letter over, looking for more writing.</p>


<p dir="ltr">There was nothing.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Her stomach hurt a little and her hands had a slight tremble when she finally put the paper down, unsure of what else to do. There was a hollow feeling in her head, and she wondered if this was what ships felt like when they slipped their moorings and wound up drifting out to sea without their crew.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The corridor she stepped out into was eerily quiet. The attendant was not talkative, and moved in a bubble of silence that was impenetrable to Eärwen who had been raised to always put a respectable distance between herself and any person of the cloth.</p>


<p dir="ltr">They went down the corridor to a wide staircase that spiralled down to further hallways. It seemed a straightforward route but the walls blurred together, all the same white washed simplicity. By the time their feet moved from terracotta tiling to a blushing peach coloured tile with a shimmering glaze, Eärwen had forgotten whether they had descended three floors or four.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The quiet hall she remembered from the night before turned out to be far larger then she recollected, a cavernous space with small clusters of wicker chairs and pot plants with trellises to allow flowering vines to crawl up and give each cluster an illusion of privacy.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It was empty, at least she thought it was empty. There was no whisper of echoing voices through the room as she remembered earlier.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Where was everyone?</p>


<p dir="ltr">-</p>


<p dir="ltr">They walked out of the large sanctuary buildings and across a wide and well cared for lawn, the grass soft enough that Eärwen wondered for a moment if it might be a strange type of moss. They followed a path across it laid in a sandy type of stone, and then down a wooden ramp-way through the dunes which created a path across the stony beach to what looked like a massive canopy somehow suspended over the water.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The tidal-pools had not been left in their natural forms. They were carefully sculptured smooth and widened so each was likely a similar size. It was nice that bare feet could walk without fear of being shredded, Eärwen supposed. There was wide canvas set over them resting on poles she had not seen approaching the pools, to create shade from the reflection of tree light on the water added to the bizarre feeling. For one thing the tree light was not nearly strong enough that she thought it would create a glare.</p>


<p dir="ltr">It just felt wrong. Completely wrong. And looked wrong.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen looked down at the rock pool and then over her shoulder at the attendant who was hanging up her dress on a clothes horse in the little closed off area of land leading up to the carved (carved!) steps into the pools. There was a gate system she supposed that was closed during high tide to keep the water in once the water had gone out. She couldn’t see it though, or much beyond her rock pool since there were bright canvas screens set up for modesty.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Strange.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Bizarre.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Wrong.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen stepped into the water with a grunt of dismay at both the bitter chill of the water and the stagnant feeling of a tidal pool with not even a hint of tidal flow.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Her shift puffed up from the air caught in it and she irritatedly poked at the bubbles of fabric until it finally began to float out around her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Please let your body float naturally,” the attendant intoned, “and clear your mind of thought. Focus on the sounds of the water. This is a time for reflection in the mornings. You have come to us because of naturally occurring maidenly fears as your adulthood approaches. Let the water ease away some of your worry, and heal your distress.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen tried not to roll her eyes. Her ears had that blocked feeling that meant that water had well gotten into them and the attendant’s voice, already bland, gained a tinny quality.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Did she have to do this every day?</p>


<p dir="ltr">She wasn’t sure exactly what her ‘maidenly fears’ were and how they were supposed to be healed. She simply … wished not to be married. To Arafinwë Finwion.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Marriage wasn’t something she objected to. Marriage wasn’t something she aspired to either.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Her sisters were married as was her only brother. Umëawen and her husband kept a house just outside the city for when they were in Alqualondë. Arawen and her husband lived on Tol Eressea. Mairolwë and his wife lived in the palace. With their examples and her parents she felt she had seen everything that marriage could offer. From what seemed like unfathomable love such as Arawen’s, to the uncomfortable travesty of Mairolwë’s.</p>


<p dir="ltr">And Mairolwë’s marriage was why she was uninterested in…</p>


<p dir="ltr">She glared up at the canvas, dim beige nothingness that gently moved from time to time with the wind. The water was warming up the longer she rested in it so that unpleasantness was slowly fading away. It still felt wrong though, to rest in salt water without movement.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Prince Arafinwë was the reason she was uninterested in…</p>


<p dir="ltr">It would be nice if there was a sunken bench or something. The feeling of water in Eärwen’s  ears was becoming slightly irritating. Maybe a chair that could be submerged.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She thought about her mother’s distemper at the summer humidity when Eärwen had just been old enough to wear her hair long, resulting in a formal dining suite ending up in the large fountain in the central courtyard. Her father had commissioned a bench to be installed around the rim of the fountain the next year before the summer had started.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She chuckled but the noise died out as she came back to herself and remembered where she was. And that there were sea-stars livelier than her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Actually sea-stars were very lively if you waited and watched them on the reefs, lying and letting your body be rocked by the roll of the sea.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen deliberately breathed out and let her body just … sink.</p>


<p dir="ltr">And promptly discovered that these tidal pools were a lot more natural at the bottom than the sides.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She rose, coughing out water and desperately trying to get a startled hermit crab out from where it had tangled in her shift’s belt. Next to her pool there was a sudden explosion of water that managed to rise above the modesty screens. “Ma’m are you alright?” she heard the attendant ask.</p>


<p dir="ltr">There was an angry grunt and splashing violent enough that the modesty screen rippled from the force of the water hitting it. Eärwen, despite her earlier maudlin mood, couldn’t help a grin as there was further splashing and then a violent barked curse so foul that Eärwen could almost believe her mother’s tall story about profanity turning your spit to vinegar for a moment.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Ma’m please don’t splash so much you will disturb the other guests. Please. Perhaps if you removed your wrap. I understand that in your condition you are modest about revealing yourself but you are perfectly safe behind the screens.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">-Poor you,- Eärwen thought to the Ma’m behind the screen, -I wonder why you are here.-</p>


<p dir="ltr">The splashing was dying down but wasn’t stilling. Eärwen detected an almost petulant tone to it, or really fancifully imagined a petulant tone to the occasional sharp splash against the stone.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Please try and relax Ma’m, you need to rest during such a delicate time. Please let the water hold your body and clear your min-“</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Please go away,” a thickly accented voice interrupted her, “I don’t need instruction to float like a dead seal –“</p>


<p dir="ltr">-Dead seals get eaten before they float usually- Eärwen righted herself and gripped the side of her pool, leaning in to listen, interested.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“-and your voice carries further than you likely think. I will lie here and float until its suitable to get out. Thank you.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Very well.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen marvelled at how the attendant’s voice hadn’t changed its smooth tone. Surely being dismissed like that would invoke some sort of ire. She flopped over, kicking out her feet and rest her chin on her arms where she was still clinging to the side of the tidal pool.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Well that had been in-</p>


<p dir="ltr">There was a curse word fouler than the one before, enough to make Eärwen’s eyes pop open and she had a brief flirtation with being scandalised for a heartbeat before curiosity won.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Fucking piece of shit.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">The violent splashing that had introduced her neighbour started up again.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Ma’m please be calm,” the attendant possibly hadn’t even stepped away from the canvases.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“My wedding ring is gone,” the accented voice rose in pitch with the last word, “the chain it is on is broken. The ring is gone!”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Please be calm,” Eärwen snuck forward and wriggled her hand under the canvas, peeking under it and receiving a stunning view of…. wet cotton over shoulders and dark hair, “ma’m I will have the pool checked when you get out. We drain the pools as the tide goes out, your ring will be found.”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“When is low tide?” Eärwen pushed the canvas up a bit more, wanting to see the face that went with the accent, and that was when one of the poles holding up the canvas snapped, the screen came down on her back, and echoing across the gloomy canvas cavern she heard the chain reaction of wood, long exposed to sea air and sea water, giving in to time.</p>


<p dir="ltr">The previous quiet broke down into yells of surprise and annoyance, and a couple of screams of distress here and there.</p>


<p dir="ltr">With canvas and a broken pole against her back, Eärwen crawled forward and tipped herself headfirst into the pool in front of her.</p>


<p dir="ltr">She surfaced to look into two sets of eyes. One belonged to the attendant; as calm and meditative as before despite the increasing chaos, a rather pretty shade of hazel if Eärwen  thought about it, almond shapped in a narrow, strongly jawed face. The other eyes were wide and blue, set with a thick fan of lashes beneath generous brows in a heart shaped face.</p>


<p dir="ltr">This was the face she was far more interested in.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Because taking in the black hair snaking wildly out over wet shoulders that wore both shift and wrap defiantly, the sharpness of the nose and of course the accent informed her she was in the presence of a bonafide Noldor.</p>


<p dir="ltr">A <em>real</em> live <strong><em>Golodo</em></strong>.</p>


<p dir="ltr">

  <em>That wasn’t Arafinwë Finwion or his brother.</em>



<p dir="ltr">The disappointment that she wasn’t looking at her very first Vanyar was minor in the face of such.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“He..hello,” she paddled to keep herself upright, “pardon me. Should I try and get your wedding ring?”</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Miss did you push up the canvas and cause the pole to snap?” the attendant inquired.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen dunked herself to avoid answering, and let herself sink down till her knees hit the sharp, natural rock bottom of the little pool. A foot nudged her cheek. She pushed it away, then steadied herself with it since it was available, her other hand feeling its way through the rough puckered stone for something unstone like. Something fell on her head from above and she caught it, running her fingers over the necklace chain.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Now, the ring. The ring.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Metal. Round. Hole in the middle. Ooh that felt like it was set with a stone. How fancy.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Wait was that it? She’d definitely found a ring of some sort. She should let go of the foot in her hand probably.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen gripped the ring in her hand till its metal edges pushed into the flesh of her palm and let go of the foot. Truly though it was small. She felt for her own foot, frowning at how much larger it felt. Then her lungs reminded her even she required breath and she let herself surface, looking for the stranger.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Those blue eyes had not become any narrower in her brief escape. Eärwen felt suddenly unnecessarily shy in the face of such a gaze and ducked her head to the broken necklace and the ring in her hand.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“It looks like the catch simply got loose, I think I can fix it,” she turned the loosened catch over, put it between her teeth, and bit down. It closed up. She dunked it in the tidal pool and then offered it proudly back to the Golodo.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Wide blue eyes blinked and then a hand that was both delicate and narrow and all the things Eärwen admired about her sister’s hands reached for the chain and took it, little finger slightly raised.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Thank you,” the Golodo said, softly, and ducked her head with a blush coming to her cheeks that was probably modesty. Eärwen got the feeling that she might be sitting in a fake tidal pool amongst downed canvases and disrupted swimmers with a ~Lady~ of some variety. She was fond of ~ladies~. They were the best form of amusement in court since they were three parts delicate flower and one part a-piece-of-glass-deliberately-placed-in-your-shoe.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Been here long?” Eärwen wanted to grasp onto the familiarity of such a disposition wrapped up in a foreign package and not let go.</p>


<p dir="ltr">“Ma’m…. Miss, we are clearing the pools so we can fix the canvases, if you would please…” the attendant’s voice, if the attendant had been a normal human, should have had a hint of censure in it, but it remained a placid lake.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen’s feet found the stairs first but she maintained some grip on her manners given how well they’d been beaten into her by a myriad of tutors and she turned and offered a hand to the Golodo to help her out of the pool</p>


<p dir="ltr">She had expected a delicate wrist to go with that delicate hand and she was not at all disappointed what she got in that respect, but what took her attention away from the blown glass elegance of the complicated join of hand to arm was the cuff of green-yellow-murky-dark that wrapped around the arm just beneath said wrist. The sodden sleeve of the wrap dress had covered it but raising her arm had dragged the material back when the sleeve around the upper arm remained like an anchor in the water.</p>


<p dir="ltr">A delicate hand pulled a sleeve quickly over it but the same effect pulled down the other sleeve to reveal the same thick circle of bruises. The Golodo looked at her and then with a visible swallow tilted her head up and walked past Eärwen, letting go of her hand and walking to collect one of the towels the attendant was offering.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Disheartened and confused Eärwen let her walk past, noting another interesting fact about the Golodo – she was pregnant. Enough to make her stomach bump out beyond what could be mistaken for having eaten too large of a breakfast. It put a further damper on her mood. Eärwen had guessed her to be the same age as herself.</p>


<p dir="ltr">Eärwen counted to ten in her head once the Golodo had gone out of sight and then collected her own towel, getting neither glare nor reprimand from the Attendant.</p>


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