Authoress Chat: I'm back. I finally found the time to start some new writing. It's exciting for me because I haven't begun anything new in two years. This story is more mature and it may not be the way you imagine Middle-earth. Still, expect to come across hard subject matter. So, without further ado, I present this fiction to you, hoping that you'll keep an open mind.

Lesson One- Drudgery

In the time after the War of the Ring, Minas Tirith enjoyed a time of unprecedented peace. The pains taken to rebuild all of what had been broken seemed somehow worth it in light of the glorious coronation of their long displaced King. King Elessar no longer looked the ranger's part. Rather, he looked like some shining beacon, the embodiment of the finest qualities of the race of Man. And then there were the Elves…

Rodwen stood in the crowd, holding her little sister's shoulders tightly. It had been a rough year for them. In the war, she had quickly lost both parents, in circumstances fitting only for Orcs. And now she wished that she could die. She doubted she would find the resolve to live were it not for her younger sibling. But the pain she felt, how she felt herself dying just knowing that she couldn't leave her sister to someone else's care…that was truly grim.

Her father had left them some money to live off of. Rodwen had been sure to use what she had access to to dress her little sister, Mellwen. Mellwen was dressed in a summery pink dress with a white and pink laced bodice. Over top of her long deep brown hair, Rodwen had placed a white scarf, held in place by a silver droplet. Rodwen had dressed herself in a maroon ensemble with gold laces winding up the front. Around her shoulders was a dark brown cloak with a lining and collar of mink, held in place by a golden broach. Her own dark hair was parted into two pigtails and plaited. And then there was her guardian, the dark and menacing Fuinron.

Fuinron had been instructed in her father's will to care for the two girls. Mellwen being only ten and Rodwen being a meager sixteen, it was a sound decision. He had known all of them practically since her father married her mother. He drawn swords with her father for the army of Gondor. He was the perfect choice to maintain what was left, he being a mighty, towering man. His hair was salt and pepper with age, his eyes a cold shade of brown, with the left eye displaying an old poorly healed scrape starting above his eyebrow and extending to the side of his eye. He wore a black tunic with leather arm guards. His leggings were dark grey and his leather boots came up to his knees. He looked sturdy, stately, and intimidating.

White petals fell from the high towers onto the citizens. Rodwen still held onto her sister tightly. Mellwen had her hands stretched out in reverence, watching the petals slip through her fingers. This moment must have seemed like magic to her. Rodwen watched as a company of Elves came walking up to meet the newly crowned King. They seemed to stand like the last of a sweet blessing over Middle-earth. To Rodwen, the flowers only seemed to mask the true ugliness of what had happened here. It was like pouring honey over a gaping wound…and to have the Elves marching up to their newfound King like some mystical emissaries made her blood boil.

She saw a blonde elf-woman dressed from head to toe in white. She had diamonds and pearls in her hair and a slight smile. She was looking around to everyone and yet no one and just when Rodwen wanted to tell her where in all Arda she could go, the woman seemed to look directly at and into her. An echoing whisper sounded in her head. 'You are too young to look so serious. Ease yourself, you are hurting the child.' She smiled wider and then faced forward, towards King Elessar.

"I'm sorry, Mellwen. Are you having a good time?"

She looked up at her sister with eyes of innocence.

"I'm sleepy, Rodwen. Can we go home?"

Rodwen's throat seized up as she looked over at Fuinron. She leaned down and kissed her sister gently.

"In a little while. We would be rude to walk out on a wedding before it concluded," she said reluctantly. She felt a bit ashamed to be the only glowering face in the crowd. She felt even worse to have an Elf chastise her…in her mind!

Her eyes fell on the Elf maiden carrying a banner with the symbol of Gondor sown into it. The woman was absolutely beauteous in a way that could haunt. She was dark haired and her skin was pale like moonlight. She fell into the King's arms and she could see the pure elation in those around her. Finally she couldn't take it anymore. Turning her head towards Fuinron, she began to speak to him, making sure not to make direct eye contact with him.

"I'm taking Mellwen home," she stated bluntly.

His eyes looked down on her in a way she could feel, compelling her to meet his gaze.

"You shouldn't leave without me. I intend to speak to the King about my service. I want you to be a royal attendant. How else can I recommend someone for a position? This is important."

That bottled rage and terror came up at once. She had to clench her teeth together to stop from whimpering like a child. What could she do against his might? He alternative to his offer was an unbearable choice. To serve a high ranking citizen would give her and her sister some safety outside the walls of their home. Mellwen would just have to suffer the sleepiness.

"May I at least escort her home and return? She's tired…"

"You have my answer. Return to your silence."

She turned away and bit her lip, closing her eyes tightly.

'That elf-witch! What does she know about losses?'

/ / /

Rodwen, Mellwen and Fuinron stayed in the upper ring of the city for quite a long time. They, as long established and well-respected citizens, were openly invited to attend a court with His majesty. Mellwen had been cranky from a distinct lack of sleep, partly because she was haunted still by dreams of frightful times, but mostly due to her excitement.

When Fuinron finally got the chance to speak before his Lord, Rodwen took the opportunity to find a solemn corner nearby. On a bench, she sat, leaning back on the wall to better cradle her sister's tired form. As sleep was quick to overcome her sister, Rodwen was left with a great deal of thinking time. An odd person here or there had acknowledged her presence, but most had seen the girl in her lap. To an unfamiliar observer, it may have seemed that the little girl could be her child and nobody was going to try and interrupt an intimate moment.

Rodwen tried to imagine what it would be like to wait on a Lady. She imagined it in her mind as similar to her duty as an obedient daughter and now as the only mother figure of a prepubescent child. She could do this, if it would offer her some peace of mind. She just had to remind herself of her purpose. If she forgot, she would be ruined. She rubbed Mellwen's head before resting her chin on it.

'But why did he even offer? Why would he agree to do this for me, for us…knowing this goes against his will?'

She didn't have long to reflect on that particular question, for Fuinron came back, smiling at her.

"Come, Lady Rodwen. The Queen would like to meet you. She will survey you for qualities that she likes and may very well decide to pick you."

Rodwen shook her sister enough to rouse her from sleep. Mellwen protested, looking like she was starving for sleep and couldn't bear to be separated from it. Seeing that the young one could start to cry again, she hushed her.

"It's alright, love. I need to move, so I would love you to come with me. Can you do that? For me?"

After a moment, she nodded and slowly slid off of her sister's lap.

"Good girl."

Authoress Chat: Please review. I hoped you like it. Constructive criticisms please, I'm allergic to flames!