AN ~ For a long time, I have been interested in the relationship between Kovarian and River. I think her upbringing with the Silence is a major influence on the River we know, some effects more subtle than others, but this upbringing is what I hope to focus on in this fic. Any questions or suggestions, or things in River's life that you would like to have explained or anything, let me know and if they work I'll work them in (and if they don't I'll probably write a separate fic)

Lessons

Chapter 1: The Girl Who Waited

The night was dark, cold and stormy, and the wind howled through the near-abandoned grounds of Greystark Orphanage. The once esteemed Doctor Renfrew cowered in his office, clothes and hair as tattered as his mind as he rocked and muttered over his witchboard: there were demons in this house, he was sure. Upstairs, Renfrew's one remaining ward, a little girl with mousey hair who was stronger than she looked, dangled her feet over the side of her bed, kicking them aimlessly. Her raggedy doll lay comfortably twisted beside her on the perfectly made baby-pink covers she slept under every night, except the nights where she waited.

Tonight was one of her waiting nights, but as she heard footsteps in the hall she realised her waiting was nearly over. She stopped kicking her legs, and straightened her back, and watched for her visitor to enter.

"Hello, Sweetie," the woman greeted with a smile, making her silver eye-patch glimmer in the sparkling moonlight as it moved with her cheek. Sometimes the girl wondered why the woman's dark red-brown hair was still in a bun at night, and why she still wore her suit, when the girl's hair was loose at night and she wore her nightgown. Aunt Kay is busy, Melody dear, the woman would always reply. I am always busy helping you. Can you help me tonight? And so the girl would hold out her arm for a needle or a blood test, or let her Aunt pluck a hair or two from her head, and drink the things they gave her even though most of the time they tasted like shoes.

But tonight the girl did not ask. She drew her doll into her lap to make room for Aunt Kay, and mumbled a greeting as the woman sat down.

"How is Doctor Renfrew today?" Aunt Kay asked.

"He's okay," Melody sighed, picking at a thread coming loose on her doll's dress and kicking her legs once before she stopped herself.

"Now, Melody, what is that voice for?" Aunt Kay frowned. "Doctor Renfrew is nice, isn't he? You like him, don't you?"

"I dunno." Melody screwed up her nose. "He's a bit weird. He talks to himself a lot. And he's very boring. He's stupid."

"Melody!" Aunt Kay scolded, with an exaggeratedly shocked voice. "Doctor Renfrew looks after you. He deserves your respect and your love. All the things you have here, and all the training we do together – we couldn't do that if he didn't take such good care of you. Most little girls don't have their own bedroom, especially not one this big, or their own kitchen with their own microwave. You're a very lucky girl, Melody? Do you remember why?"

"Because I'm special?" Melody looked up, a smile creeping onto her face. Aunt Kay mimicked her, and kissed her forehead gently.

"Exactly. You are very special indeed, Melody Pond."

Aunt Kay reached inside her jacket and brought out a small plastic box. She clicked it open and pulled out a needle with a small bottle screwed onto it, upside down.

"What's this one for?" Melody asked, sticking her tongue out a little with concentration as she struggled to pull the belt tight around her upper arm with her only free hand, small as it was.

"Aha, this one is a surprise, Sweetie. I have a special present for you soon, if you be a good girl. Actually I have two special presents, and one of them I'll even show you tonight!"

"Really?" Melody's eyes lit up, watching her Auntie's eyes as the woman gently slid the needle in and took her sample. Melody loved getting presents – there was probably no one in the world that did not. Her last present had been the microwave, and before that a rocking horse, and before that a set of paints…and a long time ago, a raggedy doll with red hair and a white dress which hardly ever left her person while she was home.

"Yes, really – if you aren't too tired, of course," Aunt Kay teased as she put the needle back in its case. "It's a special place, far away. We're going to take the car."

"I'm not too tired!" Melody declared, leaping off the bed as Kovarian got to her feet. "I'm never too tired. Rule Two: always be prepared!"

"Good girl, you've been studying!" Kovarian praised, clapping her hands.

"I have! I studied all day! Test me! Test me!"

"Test me please, Melody. Even special little girls like you have to use their manners." This spoiled Melody's enthusiasm for a moment, and she dropped her shoulders. But her Auntie smoothed her skirts, and smiled, and continued toward the door, plan unchanged. Melody trotted after her, dragging her raggedy doll.

"Can I bring Amy?" she asked as they approached the stairwell. It was easy for her to get up and down them even though the steps were big; she'd had a lot of practice.

"Of course you can," Aunt Kay replied without looking back. "I'm sure Amy will love it where we're going."

"Thank you, Aunt Kay." Melody hugged her doll to her chest – just a little tighter as they passed the looming GET OUT painted in blood-red on the wall.

.o.o.o.

Thunder and lightening raged outside and the world was grey and black, but Melody stared out the window with wide, fascinated eyes, Amy in her lap watching too.

"What's rule three?" her Auntie asked.

"Anything can be a weapon," Melody replied instantly, significantly more interested in the rain and how it sounded different when they turned a corner.

"Rule nine?"

"Know where your exits are."

"Rules seven and eight?"

"Don't turn your back on your enemy, and don't let him talk. You're picking all the easy ones!"

"Nothing is easier than anything else, Melody; difficulty is a construct of the mind."

Melody sighed and looked down at Amy. She should not have said something like that on an outing like this: she should be showing the gratitude and respect that her Auntie deserved for taking her out. "Rule four. I know. I didn't mean it like that."

There was a moment of silence in the car, broken only by the wheels rolling to a halt and the engine winding down outside their fabled destination. Melody waited for Aunt Kay to speak.

"I know," Aunt Kay told her. "Now, get out of the car."