Soon, when Asa and Samara rounded a corner, Samara saw a man walking toward them. Lean but lithe, with a tall and regal presence. His light brown hair caught the sun and accentuated the green in his eyes. He was wearing some of the finest robes Samara had ever seen. He stopped before them with a brief bow.
“Samara, this is Liron. He will be your tutor for the rest of the day. You know where to find me if you need me.” Asa passed the information with no hint of emotions, turned on his heel and walked away.
“Well, Samara.” Liron’s voice was strong and calculated. “How has your training gone so far?”
“Well, thank you.” Samara responded. What do I even mean. I failed this morning. I don’t have to tell him that, though.
“Good to hear. Then you should be ready to learn with me. Welcome to my space.” Liron opened a door to an outer room that looked similar to Samara’s space. The table was set with cups and tea.
“Liron, what is it that you are teaching me?” Liron gestured for her to sit, and then sat himself at the table. Placing one hand on top of the teapot and one hand on the handle, he poured tea for both of them.
Then he looked into her eyes. “Grace. Etiquette. Poise.” His eyes stared deeply at her as if he could see her thoughts. “Firstly, for being considered graceful you must sit tall.” Samara straightened her back automatically from the criticism.
“That’s almost right, but here.” Liron stood up and walked around the table to Samara, placing one hand on her lower stomach and one on her back. “Push back here, so that you aren’t adding an arch to your back. It will help you use the right muscles to sit so that you are not tired if it lasts longer than you expected.”
Samara tried not to tense at the unexpected touch. Liron returned to his seat. “You need to be comfortable in any situation the Queen may be in. Whoever she talks to, whatever places she visits, whatever dances she attends. You must be in control of the situation at all times.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to choose someone who had all these skills already? Knew how to fit in?” I don’t know how to be this person. All I know is the intentional poverty of the Sisters of Mercy.
Liron’s eyes narrowed just slightly. Not enough to really reveal anything. He had the kind of face not to let on to any of his true feelings. “You’re slouching again, Samara. I think you need more help.” Liron got up and started going through cabinets on the other side of the room, eventually pulling out a corset. “If you can still manage to slouch while wearing this, I’ll be surprised.”
Samara was still while Liron wrapped the corset around her. It dipped past her waist while riding above her hips, and came up to just above her breasts. Then he pulled hard while lacing it, causing Samara to gasp out.
Liron finished and resumed his seat across from her. “There you go, Samara. Looking much more a proper lady.”
Samara blushed. I just added another layer on top of my uniform. Why do I feel more exposed now?
“If you’re going to need to wear it to keep the posture, you should do all your training in it. That way you won’t be surprised by how much less you can breathe.”
Breathe? Samara took a deep breath and then she understood.
“Now, on to more important business… learning the proper way to have tea.”
Liron grilled her over and over on holding cups properly and how to sit, talk, eat, act… it felt like everything. After the sun began to go down, he returned her to her room and she slept, exhausted.