1. Chapter One
She had been doing well so far and I was just beginning to relax when we were assigned to clean the royal rooms. We were changing the sheets on the bed when the Queen herself walked in. Marië looked around to stare at her and as we were on opposite sides of the huge bed I had to whisper to her to get back to work before we were noticed. I couldn't really blame her though. I could see why she was the Queen - she was so pretty and poised with it. She had hair I dreamed of and how long had I wished for her height!
I was mortified when the Queen looked round at us. My whisper had not been particularly quiet and she must have heard. Fortunately I recovered myself enough to remember to curtsy and was pleased when I saw Marië do the same. The Queen nodded at us and I returned to our work when Marië spoke up.
"Are you really an elf?"
I closed my eyes and pictured myself telling our mother what she had done. I did not want to return home empty-handed so I tried to recover the situation.
"Please forgive my sister, your majesty. She is but fourteen and a little excitable."
The Queen stopped. She was going to dismiss us herself!
"Fourteen! That is young to be working."
"It is because we need the money, your majesty." Why did I say that? What would a Queen know about money? But she had been expecting an answer and I only had the truth to give her.
"Do your mother and father not work?"
"Father died in the war and mother has the baby now to look after," which was also the truth. She did not need to know any more than that.
The Queen actually looked sympathetic. "I am sorry for your loss. You should not have to go without when your father gave up his life for this city. I must speak to the King about this."
"Please don't trouble yourself on our account," I said quickly. Now I had made the situation worse. If it wasn't bad enough that my sister had asked a question of royalty, now I had made her feel we were ungrateful.
She came over to me and took my hands. I admit I shook a little. The Queen was touching me and talking to me!
"What is your name, my child?"
"Mae, daughter of Lothronor"
"It is no trouble, Mae. The city owes your family for its sacrifice. The same goes for every other family that lost a son, a husband or a father in its defence. Thank you for pointing this out to me."
"You're welcome, your majesty." I curtsied again for good measure once she had let go of my hands.
She turned to my sister. "I did not answer your question, Marië."
I was shocked. We had both been told this very morning that you did not speak to royalty unless spoken to. I thought we would both be dismissed for Marië's remark and then neither of us would have references. Perhaps the Queen is not as distant and as easy to shame as I had thought.
"I am indeed an elf," she continued, "Although you may find that you do not always want to listen to rumours. They often contain unkind comments about their subject." She curtsied to us and said "Good day to you both" before leaving.
I managed to mumble, "good day," back but I admit I forgot to curtsy. I had been so thrilled to get this job, not just because it paid more, but also because I would be closer to the King and Queen and who would not want that? I had seen them from afar and had even been given the day off for the coronation and the wedding. But now I see that they are just like us. They may be royalty but they are people all the same.
I smiled at Marië and we giggled as we imagined telling the story of our encounter to the other girls later, although I feel sure they will never believe us.
Partly inspired by the first episode of the BBC series Servants.
Lothron actually means May in Sindarin (according to Dragon Flame)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.