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Old 09-15-2015, 02:39 PM   #128
Thinlómien
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Modtryth and Brith

Modtryth had been awake since before dawn. She and Leodthern had quickly tidied the hall for breakfast, then fed the precious new chickens, then done what they could to make their makeshift shed more waterproof and make sure the chickens were warm. The last thing anyone wanted was for the poor birds to catch a cold and die away. Stigend would have to look at the shed, as well as many other things.

Leodthern had been quiet all morning - the girl had grown more solemn after her father's death, and she had started to worry about things. There was a tiny crease on her small forehead, and Modtryth resisted the temptation to plant a little kiss on it and tell Leodthern everything would be alright. She didn't want to lie to the child, and besides, Leodthern was growing up. Modtryth could tell she didn't like her almost-mother fawning over her half as much as she had when she had been little and greedy for hugs and praise. Well, Leodthern was still a child, and sweet-tempered despite everything. The same couldn't be said for Cnebba - not to mention Garmund, Leodthern's older brother - but that was a whole another kettle of fish. Those boys really need something sensible to do, Modtryth thought.

"Ma?" Leodthern asked.
Modtryth smiled, a little sadly. She often thought of the poor child having almost no memory of her real mother. "Yes, honey?"
"I have a feeling like something is going to go wrong again," Leodthern said.
Modtryth looked up to the sky. "Well, it looks like more rain. Laundry will have to wait, but as long as we can keep ourselves, our animals and our stocks dry, we should be fine. Rain in the spring is only as it should be."
"I didn't mean the rain," Leodthern said.
Modtryth waited for a moment, but the girl did not continue. "Well, I hope you haven't become a seer then, even though Lord Eodwine might find one useful," she smiled.
Leodthern smiled back, a little uncertainly.
"Come on, Leodthern, you are useful as you are. There are more than enough hands than Frodides needs in the kitchen, so what about we..."

"Excuse me?" someone interrupted. Modtryth turned to see the Gondorian seamstress Brithiel - or Brith, as she insisted people call her - looking a little distressed.
"Yes?" Modtryth asked evenly.
"Lady Saeryn said we may start sewing clothes from the new linen today. Would you have time to join in after breakfast? And maybe Leodthern would like to learn too?"
Modtryth had to concentrate to understand what Brith said. She had travelled a lot in Riddermark and served in many households, and picked up a good amount of the common tongue on the way. Still, she wished the Gondorian would talk more slowly, or use less flowery language. Well, she was from a wealthy family, so what else could you expect from her?
"Obviously if you have too many chores, I understand, I just wanted to ask if you too would like to join, Modtryth. I thought maybe your children have outgrown heir clothes, hm?"
"Yes," Modtryth said. "They have indeed." She smiled, and decided not to brave explaining in her broken Westron how they were used to there people's hand-me-downs, and that she had not discussed with Saeryn if they should get brand new clothes of their own. It seemed like the seamstress's business anyway. "I will come, if Saeryn doesn't need me elsewhere. And Leodthern too, if she wishes."
"Excellent," Brith smiled.

Modtryth returned the smile, but she did not feel it. She had nothing against the friendly Gondorian, but she suddenly missed Ginna, and how they had sat together mending clothes in the evenings with Leodthern pestering Ginna for stories or pinning needles in Modtryth's skirt for amusement. The winter had really changed everything.

~*~

Brith left Modtryth and Leodthern by the chicken shed. She was looking forward to something to do, and the thought of having a needle in her hands made her feel more confident. She felt awkward still, and an outsider. She had learned the names of all the household women in a couple of days, and a little more of some of them, but they were still strangers to her. For the most part, they were a chatty and kind bunch, and she had done her best with the language barrier. She had kept a distance from Fréa and Caranthir - they were in service of the Meadhall now, and busy with getting acquainted with their new brothers in arms. Furthermore, they might have reminded her of the actual reason she was in Scarburg.

Three days had already passed, and Brith had done nothing to find her first fiance after her initial discussion with Saeryn. It has been raining a lot, she told herself. And she needed to show that she could earn her keep, and that she wasn't a pampered noblewoman like some in the Hall seemed to think. The day after her arrival one of the soldiers had come to talk to her, being excessively polite all the time and calling her "m'lady", until he had ventured to ask which part of Gondor did her family rule. Brith had failed to suppress a giggle, then gently explained she was not highborn and her family were merely valued craftsmen on her mother's side and distinguished soldiers on her father's side. The man at arms had seemed a little confused by this, and Brith had remembered a thing her mother had used to say - the servants of Gondorian lords have better manners than the lords of Rohan, generous as they may be. That was an ugly thing to say, though, and very untrue. Well, Brith had travelled a lot more extensively than her mother by now. Maybe it wasn't a wonder she was the one to know better.

Well, I still know very little, Brith thought. Most of all I need to learn the Eorling tongue. She wondered if Fréa and Caranthir could teach her, then rebuked herself for the thought. She had let the two men become her guardians, her uncles like she liked to think of them, but she could not hold onto them forever. They had lives of their own. Maybe she could ask little Leodthern to teach her, and teach the girl the common tongue in turn. She seemed to be of gentle nature, and even though they did not share a tongue yet, Brith didn't feel half as awkward with her than with most of the adults. She suppressed a sigh. She knew she couldn't use the girl as her shield any more than she could her uncles.

It will get easier day by day, she told herself. Maybe I will even make friends. And at least no one hates me here.

At that moment, she could hear the bell ringing for breakfast. Don't be a coward, she told herself. Go talk with people. They can't read your thoughts, they know nothing of you and your shortcomings. Brith straightened her back, and armed with a smile, she made her way to the hall.
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