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Dedication: For my younger sister and cousin who served as models for Aredhel.

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3019
Minas Tirith, Gondor

They say Lord Denethor was a cold man, a man who was too high and proud for a common person's emotional entanglements. Every one of them is wrong for I knew him well when I was a child, and he was far from being a man with a heart of stone. Yet, there was a time when I held the same opinion as those who judge people they do not know, and the time my perception of him changed stands as sharp as a glowing star against the coal-black night.

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2988

Minas Tirith, Gondor

"Aredhel!"

I giggled in my hiding spot as Naneth called me for a bath. I hated baths. Why take baths when you're going to get dirty again?

"Aredhel, daughter of Esgalvir, come here now! You don't want to be crusted with dirt when Aunt Morwen comes for tea!" Naneth said with a louder voice. I peeked out from behind my hiding place, Adar's big wooden bookcase. Naneth was running her fingers through her hair which meant she was annoyed. Good. Maybe she'll tell Aunt Morwen not to come for tea today. She was so annoying, Aunt Morwen. Never stopped chattering about boring things like history and bloodlines and politics. I wanted to tell her to stop talking for once, but Naneth wouldn't let me. She said it wasn't good manners.

Naneth paused and cocked her head in a certain way. Uh, oh. That wasn't good. Naneth only did that when she was going to punish me. "Aredhel, if you don't come right now, I'll ask Master Celeblas to discontinue your lute lessons for a few days," she said with a smug smile on her face.

Before I knew it, I was on my feet. "Naneth, don't do that please!" I pleaded, hardly noticing I gave myself away. "I promise I'll always take my baths and keep my bedchamber clean and not hide Anardil's sword under my bed! I'll even listen to boring Aunt Morwen and be nice to silly Gwenel! Just don't stop my lute lessons!" I felt my heart pounding with fear.

"Aredhel, that was rude to say such things about your aunt and cousin," Naneth scolded. Still, a smile spread out on her face. "Don't fuss, I won't stop your lessons, even for a few days. You love it so, and it's a shame to force people away from the things they love."

I suddenly felt a lot happier. "Thank you, Naneth!" I said, running over to her. "I promise I'll be good from now on."

Naneth gently took my hand. "Don't make promises you can't keep, Lin," she said, using my special name. "After all, you're the messiest little maid in all of Gondor. I've never seen a little girl so covered with dirt and her chamber so disorganized as yours in all my years." Naneth's face went from gentle to stern. "You still have to bathe, Lin. I'm not going to have a barbarian sitting in my lovely solar, leaving dust wherever she sits."

"Naneth!"

Naneth simply hushed me and led me over to the bathing chamber. I groaned. Naneth was right. I couldn't keep my promise to keep clean. I hated baths too much.

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1 hour later. . .

"Aredhel, meleth nin, you're turning into such a lovely young lady!" A tall maiden grabbed me and squeezed, dropping a large parcel on the floor. I felt like one of the grapes being pressed at the vineyard I visited with Adar. "I'm sure there's many lads asking for your hand at this very moment!" Aunt Morwen said and winked. She released me from her tight hold.

"I hate boys, Aunt Morwen," I said with a scowl. "Boys put beetles in your hair and call you pudding-head." I fiddled with my new gown. It was a blue linen with loose sleeves and a snug, smooth bodice. Now it was crumpled from Aunt Morwen's embrace.

Aunt Morwen shook her head. "Someday, you'll think differently," she said. "My, you've seem to have grown since last week, Lin. How old are you now?" She straightened her ruffled lavender gown and rearranged her long dark hair while saying this. Aunt Morwen was rather vain.

"I'm nine years of age." I said.

"Nine! What a wonderful age!" she beamed. "Why, I remember when I was nine and your naneth was eleven. Such wonderful times we had! I recall the time we had a gamble. I said that Lord Ecthelion, may the Valar bless his fea, would order pheasant at the Midsummer's Festival, and your dear naneth said he would call for venison. Well, Midsummer's Festival rolled around, and Lord Ecthelion ordered pheasant! And do you know what the penalty was?"

"Wh-" I tried to say, but Aunt Morwen interrupted before I could finish.

"She had to go up to Esgalvir, your father, and tell him she was in love with him! They, of course, didn't know they would eventually wed and have you and Anardil at the time, but I always thought he fancied Gilmeren, your naneth, that is. I remember he turned this amusing shade of red when Gilmeren did so, Lin, and then emptied his stomach on her lovely silver slippers! Wasn't that a delightful memory, Gil?

Naneth turned crimson. "Morwen, you know I begged you never to recollect that memory again. I was humiliated, and it was only after a year that I was able to look Esgalvir in the face. I'm amazed we got married at all!" After her outburst, Naneth composed herself and changed the subject. "Morwen, what do you think about Prince Adrahil's decision to increase the number of ships in the Swan Fleet?"

Aunt Morwen tittered and picked up the package on the ground. "A good plan, but the number he's proposing is not enough. With the Corsairs raiding the coastal villages at all times of the day, we're going to need at least twice that amount to adequately protect those villages. By the Valar, it's like the the early days when Umbar was at its height, and Gondor was merciless under their sea power. Of course, that was until King-"

"Morwen, why don't we go into the solar and continue our conversation there? It's far more comfortable than standing in the foyer." Naneth said.

Aunt Morwen nodded. "You're right, Gilmeren. Who wants to stand in a foyer when there's your comfortable solar to have tea in? Lead the way!"

Naneth gracefully walked down to her solar with Aunt Morwen following, babbling all the while. I was the last, bored to tears by Aunt Morwen's chatter. At least I'll have apple tarts to nibble on during her visit.



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Author's note: Is Aredhel a Mary Sue? What do you think about the title? Is this even good? Please review and tell me! And don't worry, characters that actually exist in canon will show up in chapter three!

Notes

Corsairs of Umbar: Pirates from the Havens of Umbar in Harad who raided the coasts of Gondor. By the War of the Ring, their power was greatly diminished.

OCs

Aredhel: "Noble Lady." Gondorians liked to recycle the names of famous Elves and Men so I borrowed her name from Aredhel Ar-Feiniel.

Lin: "Song." Aredhel's nickname.

Gilmeren: "Joyous Star."

Esgalvir: "Hidden Jewel."

Anardil: "Sun Lover."

Aunt Morwen: "Dark Maiden." Morwen was also the name of Morwen Eledhwen and Morwen of Lossarnarch.

Gwenel: "Maiden of the Star."

Master Celeblas: "Silver Leaf."

Sindarin

Naneth: "Mother"

Adar: "Father"

Meleth nin: "my love"

fea: "spirit"
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