Alatoria almost felt like she was spying. She wasn’t really, and even if she was, it wasn’t like Melora would mind. And she take a simple joy in just watching her partner, especially when the morning light was coming through the curtains in such a nice way. They were currently eating breakfast, although Melora was somewhat engrossed in her data crystal. It was primarily her diary, Alatoria thought, but in the six years they had been partners, she’d never let her look. It wasn’t a big thing, Melora always told her if there was anything important, but she did wonder what went on in her lover’s head.

Melora reached out for her fork, absently stabbing a piece of food and bringing it up to her mouth. For a second her eyes flicked over to the other side of the table, and caught Alatoria looking at her.

“What’s on your mind?”

She smiled to herself a little, of course she’d caught her.

“Just admiring you.”

Melora lifted both eyes up to look over at her, before smiling, and then going back to her tablet, leaving Alatoria to her admiration.

The slow breakfast eventually came to an end, someone coming in to tidy the remains away as the two of them linked arms and slowly walked through the castle to the throne room where Alatoria needed to attend court.

Entering into the large and ornately decorated room, she leaned over and kissed Melora on the cheek, before her lover slipped her arm out of hers and went to find a space where she felt comfortable. She wasn’t really fond of courtly interactions, and tended to be elsewhere when Alatoria attended. Just one of her idiosyncrasies.

Alatoria moved across the court, stopping and talking to a few fellow Flowers, exchanging pleasantries, recent news, thoughts about the upcoming fair, the sort of polite interactions that characterised the court of Hearts.


The gentle call came over the court, and Alatoria immediately excused herself from her current conversation to present herself to her Queen. She knelt, before being bade to rise, a few words were exchanged, and then she could move over to the side where the Rose Groom was standing.

He had a data crystal in his hands that he was scrolling through, but gave her a smile as she approached and saluted him.

“Good morning Tori, I hope it finds you well.”

“It does, and yourself?”

“Most agreeable. Now, we’ve got you down to patrol out to Dallarn and the surrounding areas, have you done that one before?”

“I know the route.”

“Excellent,” he flicked over the surface of the tablet and a rota came up, “We’ve not scheduled anyone else with you, as usual.”

Alatoria looked over her should, and as expected, Melora was waiting there, near the edge of the room, looking over at the two of them. As she was courtless, she couldn’t be placed on the schedule with her, even though everyone knew that despite her name appearing by itself, she was never alone in performing her duties.

Alatoria did occasionally wonder why she didn’t join a court, but all Melora ever said when asked was ‘I used to, but don’t anymore’. Alatoria wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, given that there didn’t seem to be enough time for her to have tried joining a court in this lifetime. Melora has always been countless since she’d known her, and that was quite a few years now. But, again, another idiosyncrasy, it didn’t change her she felt about her.

“Thank you.”

“Our pleasure,” The Rose Groom flicked his eyes over to her lover as well, and then back to her with a smile.

“Anything else I need to know?”

“There’s nothing listed. We’ve not had any reports of trouble out that way for a while, so I expect it should all be routine.”

“By your leave then.”

He nodded to her, and she left with another bow, before walking over and joining Melora.

“Where are we going this time?”

“Dallarn,” she said, before taking her hand, and leaning over to kiss her, “thank you.”

“For what.”

“Many things,” Alatoria couldn’t help but be happy that she had a women like Melora at her side, in work and life.

Melora gave her a bemused little smile as the two of them returned to their rooms and then the kitchens to pack a small amount of rations for the trip, before going down to the stables and saddling horses up. It wasn’t even midmorning by the time that they were underway, gentle trotting out the gates of the outer wall. Alatoria looked up, not catching her eyes to shield them from the bright sun in time, and her vision blossomed out into bright spots.