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The best laid plans

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Annatar was in a Mood. The plan had been simple - okay, the plan had been diabolically complex and nuanced as only a plan he had concocted could be, but it was a plan; he had done dry runs and rehearsals and everything and it wasn’t - he drew up his foot, holding back a blistering curse as he trod in bird shit for the third time that day - it wasn’t supposed to be this effing difficult.

“Is everything all right?” asked Celebrimbor solicitously over dinner.

Annatar smiled beneficently at him and was about to turn on the dear Tyelpe, you are so considerate number, complete with under-the-table-ankle-stroking, when a wine glass was overturned in his lap.

“Whoops,” said the horrible accountant thing, leering at him. “My bad.”

Annatar took a deep breath and counted backwards from infinity so as not to blast the creature into a simmering pile of meat juices. “No problem at all, my dear Carnistir.” He mopped the wine from his lap, silently stewing. This was a carefully chosen outfit with special laces and erotic sliding panels; it was going to be key to Part 35a of his seduction plan that night. Now it was purple and soggy and not at all fetching, and using minute and potent powers on spot cleaning seemed distinctly unimpressive. He covered himself with a napkin and turned back to Celebrimbor, his smokiest eye and most reassuring smile in place, and - by the smoking cunt of Ungoliant, Celebrimbor wasn’t paying attention to him. Again.

In the time it had taken him to mop himself up, Celebrimbor had been caught up in conversation with the ugly old Elf the accountant kept as helpmeet, and they were discoursing away in that annoying finger cipher and Celebrimbor was not paying attention to him, his discreet panels, or his sparkling dinner conversation.

Annatar seethed.

Loathe as he was to admit it, almost nothing had gone to plan since his arrival in Eregion. There was a reason he was five weeks in and all the way up to Part 35a, when he’d only budgeted for Step 2: Seduction to take six parts, seven max. He had intended, for example, to be the only new guest in the day of his arrival, but just as he was bowing low to Celebrimbor he’d been upstaged entirely by Celebrimbor looking over his shoulder and saying in delight, “Uncle Caranthir! Back so soon?”

Since then, the red-faced uncle and his consort - who gave Annatar a pounding headache and a sense of amnesia, for reasons he couldn’t explain - had made every step in Annatar’s meticulous plan absurdly hard to complete. If he wasn’t being cock-blocked at the dinner table (or lunch table, or tea table, or happy hour), then the wretched crow Caranthir carried around was flapping after him, cawing at inopportune moments to make him drop things in the forge or crapping on his best outfits. And Celebrimbor, who should have been so taken by his mind, ability, and charisma that he was blinded to all else, kept being distracted. If Annatar tried to bring up challenging and scintillating bits of philosophy or art, Celebrimbor would say brightly, “Oh, you know who would enjoy this conversation?” and get up to fetch the babushka’ed finger-talker, who - who was unsettling, and whom Annatar kept waiting to be introduced to by name and never was.

Annatar tried his best to undermine these underminings in turn, but he found himself in such a constant state of frustration and annoyance that the best he could do was use Caranthir’s mothername on him in a condescending manner and hope it made him uncomfortable.

It didn’t.

As Celebrimbor vanished into the anteroom to play chess with his companion, and Caranthir leaned back to split a glass of wine with the crow - who had just shat on Annatar’s favorite headdress again, bloody ainur - Annatar wrung out his underwear and trudged back to his rooms. He’d give the original plan another five weeks, tops, and then it was back to the drawing board. Maybe trying his luck with Gil-Galad would be more productive after all…