(A/N: So, I've decided to do something original for once. That means it's not a KD fic, or even a KN fic. In fact, the pairing doesn't have much to do with Kel, Neal, or Dom at all..

It's a Tobe/Loey fic.

I mean, think about it. They both played pretty important parts in Lady Knight (especially Tobe), but they're hardly ever mentioned in fanfic. hmm.

Well, L.Q. is here to CHANGE THAT! *wicked laugh*

Yes, I know the plot needs work...this fic is kind of an odd combination of a rabid plot bunny biting me on the rear last night, and all the Healer's Touch fans complaining to me that they want a TL fic. [that means you, Shira.] [just kidding, guys. I love you all.]

It's set five years after LK...Tobe is about fourteen. I know Loey's age is messed up, but I'm making her fifteen anyway. ^_^ It's mostly canon, except there's a teeny bit of KN action going on. okay, don't shoot me. It's my favorite ship...what can I say?

Without further ado...[I've always wanted to say that]


(okay, a little more ado here. I hate the title. I'm thinking up a new one.)

(okay, here we go. for real this time.)

Perhaps it was the cool autumn wind blowing in through his open window that woke Tobeis Boon. Perhaps it was the sudden, heckling sense of doom on the horizon that was carried in with the crisp air, making Jump toss uneasily and the horses in the nearby stables whicker nervously.

Whatever the reason, the fourteen-year-old, broad-shouldered youth suddenly opened his eyes with a start far before dawn. He swore and sat up, dripping with fear-sweat and still trembling from a nightmare he couldn't remember; however, the residue of terror remained. Breathing heavily, he looked at the night sky. The moon was still at its peak, telling all those who failed to sleep that daylight was still hours away.

Tobe lay back with a sigh and closed his eyes, willing himself back to sleep, to no avail. The fear that the nightmare had brought still pricked at the scalp behind his neck. Every time he felt himself being lulled back into slumber, a slight sound would make his eyelids snap open. Finally, he sighed and kicked off the bedclothes, intending to go for a walk in an attempt to clear his head.

Slipping on leather boots noiselessly, he paused at the slightly opened door that adjoined his rooms with the ones of the woman he privately thought of as a kind of combination of much-older sister and foster-mother. He heard nothing unusual there, only the deep, even breaths of someone deep in slumber. The relaxed sounds were misleading, however; Tobe knew that at the slightest creaking of a door or floorboard, Kel would be up and demanding to know what was troubling him. The thought made him roll his eyes.

He exited the room, closing the door with as soft as a "thump" as possible. A furry body brushing against his legs made him jerk with surprise; he looked down and scowled at Jump, whose sleepy chestnut eyes seemed to query what he was doing out of bed. "You c'n come, but hush," Tobe whispered sternly to the blocky-headed terrier, who wagged his tail in response.

He started down the hallway, Jump trotting on his heels. No sound came from the rooms on either side of him; at this time of night, the entire world seemed deathly silent. He reached the double doors that led into the rest of New Hope and pulled them open as quietly as possible, letting in a burst of cool night air. He shivered as a chill washed through him and continued up the stairs to the outer wall; on a sleepless night like this, he was glad for the unchanging stars. They always seemed to be good for clearing one's thoughts.

Stepping on to the flagstone, he froze at the sight of the slim figure clad only in a nightshirt that walked some ten yards ahead, its back to him. It half-turned to look at something on the ground, and he recognized the unmistakable profile of Loesia, his best friend, six months older than his fourteen years. She held an armful of white, heavily pregnant dog. He recognized Loey's beloved terrier, Scruff. As he watched, she kissed the top of Scruff's head and murmured to it soothingly, then turned again and kept walking.

Her bare feet made no sound as she stepped carefully on the cold flagstone, clutching her dog. Jump ran ahead to her and barked softly in greeting, and she half-knelt, letting Scruff and Jump touch noses. Scruff's tail wagged slowly as Jump licked her nose. Loey was so distracted by the interaction that she didn't hear Tobe's soft footsteps, and jumped about a foot in the air when he laid a hand on her shoulder. "Out late, are we?" he inquired.

She gasped and swiveled, greenish eyes huge in her white face as she launched herself backward off of her heels. She landed some three feet away, gasping as she held a hand over her thumping heart. "Gods above, Tobeis Boon!" she chided angrily, looking as if she'd seen a ghost. "Don' sneak up on people like that! 'Specially not me!"

He gave her his most innocent, apologetic face. "Sorry, Lo," he said, but the half-grin he twitched over his mouth as he gave her a hand up betrayed his mirth. She snatched her hand away and scowled at him, preferring to stand without his questionable help.

Petting Scruff's ears, she cooed to her, "He's so idiotic, isn't he? We don' need silly boys like that, do we, darlin'?" Scruff panted happily and licked her cheek as Tobe made a face. Loey was more sensible than most of the twitter-brained girls that lived at New Hope, but she got lovey-dovey over the dog she had found wandering the remains of Fort Giantkiller as an orphaned puppy.

He cleared his throat, but Loey pointedly ignored him. He got in her line of sight and grinned at her appealingly, but she turned away. He followed her around and readied his best please-forgive-me eyes. "Aw, I'm sorry, Loey," he said, scuffing his boot against the stone and exaggerating his native accent for effect, sounding a bit like Adner the plowman. "Can y'ever f'rgive me for sneakin' up on ye and scarin' ye half t'death, lass? If y'don', I b'lieve I'll be terrible sad." Here he turned his bright blue eyes on her, pouting his lower lip out comically.

She stared at him and finally cuffed him on the shoulder, rolling her eyes. "Hasn' Lady Kel been teachin' y'to talk right?" Truth be told, Kel had been attempting to teach Loey herself how to "talk proper", as Loey dubbed it, but Loey stubbornly refused to talk like a noble's child.

He grinned—she was a sucker for the northern accent. "The nearness of ye sets my soul aflame, lass, an' it loosens my tongue so's I've no control over the blasted thing."

She scowled at him. "I've known y'too long."

Tobe smiled at her winningly. "And ye've loved ev'ry minute." After she cuffed him a second time, he decided not to press his luck—her slaps HURT, after all, though he tried to deny it—and changed the subject, though still keeping traces of the accent to humor her. "So what's a fine young lassie like yerself doin' out here on a night like this?"

Tugging on Scruff's ears gently, Loey perched on the outer wall and explained, "Scruff here's with THAT scoundrel's pups." Here she pointed a finger at Jump, who wagged his tail innocently. "She's been whinin' a bit, an' I thought I'd take her t'Daine to see whether she's ready to have 'em." She sighed dejectedly. "But Daine's nowhere to be found t'night."

"Do y'want me to ask Peachblossom? Or Magewhisper? They migh' know," Tobe offered, dropping the accent as he saw her frank worry. To others, she might seem slightly concerned, at best. He knew differently.

"Would you?" The gratitude in her eyes warmed his heart, and he went to go talk to the horses.

* * *

He entered the stables quietly, expecting to have to sneak around the sleeping equines. Instead, he found most of them awake already; most looked skittish. A few of the more excitable ones even whinnied nervously when they heard the door shut. Only Peachblossom, Hoshi, and his lady's best friend's horse, Magewhisper, remained completely placid; they were the oldest at the stable, and not much surprised them anymore. Tobe unlocked Peachblossom's stall and walked in quietly, placing a hand on the horse's flank. Peachblossom appeared to be sleeping, but Tobe knew better from the way one of his ears flicked back when he sensed Tobe's approach.

He opened one eye unconcernedly and shut it again. ::Must you disturb my sleep?:: he grumbled.

Tobe rolled his own eyes, a habit he was beginning to pick up from Loey. ::S'not like you were sleepin' anyway, what with this lot about.:: With a hand, he indicated the rest of the stable. The horses in surrounding stalls shifted nervously, the faint, tangy smell of fright rolling off of them. ::What's wrong with 'em?::

Peachblossom replied hesitantly, ::They claim they can smell danger coming.:: He paused for a moment, then added with more force, ::As if these fillies could smell a wolf at fifty horselengths!:: He reached up and lipped Tobe's hair gently. ::Probably just bad dreams.:: He snorted to show his opinion of young horses who scared so easily.

Tobe frowned, continuing to stroke Peachblossom's steady flank. Beneath the strawberry roan's constant, comforting (albeit grumbling) nature, he felt a sense of controlled fear. Despite his gruff attitude, Peachblossom, as well, knew something was coming. He felt the young horsemage probe into his deepest emotions and shook his head restlessly, forcing Tobe to retreat. ::Fear is catching,:: he defended himself hotly. ::I'm just afraid that one of the young ones is going to do something idiotic. I, for one, wouldn't put it past them.::

Tobe looked at him a moment more, but decided to drop the topic, remembering his task for coming here in the first place. ::Peachblossom? Do y'know where I could find Daine?::

Peachblossom turned his head to Hoshi, tethered nearby, then to Magewhisper. Magewhisper, a glossy brown mare that Tobe had always thought of as a beauty as well as intelligent, came forward. ::The last I saw her, she was ready to fly,:: she informed Tobe. ::Apparently the "stupid colts" aren't the only People to smell peril in the air tonight,:: she added, throwing a look at Peachblossom, who snorted derisively.

Tobe swore softly. In response to the horses' querying looks, he stated, "Loesia's dog's deliverin' her pups tonight, and she needs Daine's help." The horses knew Loey as the girl who often joined him at the stables; they also knew her as a good source of apples. This made her acceptable in the hooved-creatures' minds. They conferred quietly for a moment, then Peachblossom suggested, ::Try your lady knight. She is not one with the People, but she tries.:: He whickered, the equivalent of a horse's laugh, as he apparently thought back to his mistress's first attempts to ride him. ::She may be able to help.::

Brow furrowed as he considered the idea, Tobe broke into a grin. True, his lady didn't have wild magic—or so she claimed—but she always seemed to have animals following her to the ends of the earth and back. Take Jump, for example: a fellow didn't have to talk to dogs like Daine to know that he adored Kel, who had rescued him from a particularly angry cook with a cleaver. "Smart as always, Peachblossom," he said, smiling as he gave the gelding a friendly pat. "I'll talk to 'er firs' thing in the morning." Stepping back, he gave Magewhisper and Hoshi quick strokes as well. "Try t'get some sleep," he advised, turning to walk out of the stable.

* * *

To Tobe's astonishment, Loey was still present at the outer wall when he returned. She had fallen asleep, cradling Scruff, who was dozing as well. Tobe had to smile as he looked at her lolling head, stray curls falling into her face. It seemed cruel to wake her, yet he didn't want to leave her out in the cold all night. After some debate with himself, he finally stepped forward and scooped her into his arms—years of staff- and sword- training with Lady Kel and Sir Neal had strengthened his muscles considerably. She nuzzled against his chest and muttered something about Scruff and her pups. "Don' worry, Lo," he said to her softly. "It'll turn out allrigh'."

He carried her back to her room and set her gently down on the unmade bed, pulling the covers up around her. She snuggled in next to Scruff and smiled in her sleep. Tobe smiled back and shut the door behind him.

Going back to his own chambers, he shut the door quietly and turned, nearly jumping out of his skin when he saw Kel standing in his room, hands on hips. "Where have you been?" she whispered, too patiently.

"Couldn' sleep," he whispered back.

To his surprise, she didn't gently rebuke him for sneaking out. Instead, she sighed and went to sit on his bed, bouncing slightly. "Neither could I." He perched in a chair near the bed and stared out at the night sky with her, waiting for dawn to come so the world could begin again.


A/N: Wow...that turned out a heck of a lot longer than I meant it to...and NO, the plot is not just "Loey needs help with her puppies!". As hinted at, several times, *new evils* are brewing. *eyeroll* Okay, yes, it's lame, I know. Be nice.


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