Maerad was annoyed with her brother. That much was obvious to Dorn as he and Milana walked into the nursery. He watched them for a moment.

Cai was sitting on the floor, playing with one of his toys, while Maerad moved around him. She stood in front of him humming a folk song that Dorn had taught her. Next, she moved closer holding Cai's face up so that he was looking at her. Finally, she ran around behind him and corrected his posture before starting the process over again. Each time she did it he'd just look at her for a moment before returning to his toy.

Eventually Dorn walked over to them and asked, " What is my Maerad doing with her brother?"

"I teach Cai to listen to music," She said, before resuming her motion around him.

Dorn laughed and looked over his shoulder at Milana before focusing on Maerad.

"Is he being a good student?"

She shook her head emphatically.

"No! Cai play and not learn."

"Can I help?"

"No, Dad music make Cai sleep. "

"I promise I won't make him go to sleep."

"Alright."

So Dorn sat down and sang silly songs while Maerad moved around trying to make Cai sit up and pay attention. Milana sat in the doorway smiling. Look at my little ones, Maerad flitting around her brother like a little bird.

Milana remembers the last time that Maerad got it into her head to teach Cai. She had been so frustrated when he wouldn't learn to talk. She remembers that an unfamiliar Bard had approached them in the garden during her "lesson" and the way that Maerad had stood and moved to stand in front of Cai. She couldn't imagine a girl more protective of her brother. She also had trouble imagining a child more eager to learn, so it was easy to see why Maerad was so determined to share knowledge with her brother. All the same, Cai already tended to dislike stillness and quietly listening, or being read or lectured to, was not going to hold his interest. It was an impasse lived out regularly.

"No more," Maerad said decisively, before noticing Milana in the doorway and running over to her crying, "Story? Story please?"

"No more teaching for my Maerad?"

"Not today, Mom. Story?"

"Alright, let me tell you about Ardina, the Elidhu who fell in love with a king."

"What's an Elidhu?"

Dorn, who'd continued to watch Cai after Maerad had given up, smiled and had to try very hard to hold back his laughter.

Cai was humming. He was still playing and was rather focused on his toy, but he was humming the folk song that Maerad had been humming earlier.

Apparently Cai was a better student than Maerad thought.


Hey guys, this is another Before the War fic, still set in Pellinor before the School was sacked. This one has more of the kids than the last one did. As finals approach I'm going to have to focus less on fanfiction but after about the next 2 or 3 weeks, I'll probably have more time to spend on things like this.

Thanks as always to my reviewers and people who have alerts out on me and this story. Happy Easter!

P_M