Ok, welcome to my first fic! Basically, i was always curious as to what happened after the RotG, so this is my version... the plot's gonna get a little twisty, and it's really kinda long - i'm not very good at getting straight down to it if I can drag it out for as long as possible... Oh, and nothing much really happens for the first few chapters... just fluff... but it gets better after that, honest!

Anyway, enjoy! Please be nice and review at the end!

Disclaimer: none of this, unfortunately, belongs to me... wish it did though...

Veralidaine Sarrasri, astride a shaggy steel-grey mountain pony, sighed with relief as she crested a hill. Her companion, a tall, tanned, black haired man grinned at her. "We're home, my sweet."

Numair Salmalín's tower stood before them, brown-grey bricks rising above them. They entered through the gate, its tall wall rising eight feet above the ground. Numair took the packs as Daine unsaddled and groomed the two horses – they were well practiced in this routine. Cloud, her mare, whinnied – I'm glad you're back here, but if the Stork-man upsets you at all, I'll bite him. – Daine giggled, and kissed her friend's nose. "Don't worry Cloud. I'm sure I'll be just fine, but if I'm not, you'll be the very first to know," she promised. "You too, Spots," as Numair's mount whickered.

A dragonet raced into the courtyard, closely followed by a basilisk. "There you are Kit! Where have you two been?" The dragon chirped her annoyance at Daine, as she giggled.

"Skysong believed that we would arrive hear before you, despite our coastal route." The basilisk spoke in his whispery voice, sending shivers down the girl's spine. His grey, beaded skin shined, as Kitten's pale blue and silver scales were tinged with red, a sign of her annoyance. Daine scooped Kitten up and followed Numair into the tower, Tkaa behind.

The girl found the mage in his workroom, where she had expected him to be. Setting Kitten down, she walked over to the man, slumped in a chair in front of a desk, and kissed his nose. He looked up in surprise and delight at her. "I didn't hear you come in."

"Too busy reading whatever it is this time." She grinned as Kitten sneezed. "You know Numair, if you expect me to marry you, you'll have to find a new maid. The dust in here is atrocious!"

He sighed, smiling up at her as she perched opposite him on the desk. "Where can I find a maid? The entire village is afraid of me – they think I'm irresponsible, have no reputation, and that I'm a danger to the realm!"

"Well, it's true, you are!" Numair looked at her questioningly, so she explained. "Well, apart from the bit about 'danger to the realm'. You have no reputation, with all your past affairs –"Numair started to object, but Daine quickly covered his mouth with the palm of her hand "- and now you're corrupting a young girl, and you have a dragon and a basilisk living with you. It's just not natural Numair!" Numair laughed, and kissed her hand.

Kitten chirped and sneezed again. Daine walked over to a window and opened it, immediately glad of the fresh breeze drifting through and blowing the stale air out. Numair made a face as his papers ruffled, and, picking Kitten up, walked over to the girl.

"I did not corrupt you," he said in a deep husky voice that made Daine shiver. "Not yet anyway," as he began kissing her neck. Kitten squawked her objection as Daine giggled.

"Quite right Kit. C'mon, let's go find Tkaa." Leading the dragon out of the room, she asked Numair over her shoulder. "What were you reading anyway?"

He picked up the role of paper and followed her out of the room. "A letter from George." Daine smiled. George Cooper, Baron of Pirate's Swoop, the King's Spymaster, and husband to the Lioness, the King's Champion, was a friend. They lived three hours ride away on the coast, with their three children. It was at the Swoop that Daine had found Kitten, after her mother had died fighting against Carthaki raiders.

"How's life at the Swoop?" She enquired, smiling as Kitten wriggled free of her gasp to run ahead.

"Not good." Numair frowned as he took Daine's hand. "Alanna and Jon have had a falling out. There's a new page at court, a girl, but the King's forbidden Alanna to have any contact with the girl whatsoever, not even a word in passing. As you can imagine, the Lioness in not happy."

Daine grimaced. The Lioness's temper was legendary, and not something Daine wanted to ever be on the receiving end of. The King had had to ban Alanna from duelling those who had challenged her reputation as a knight, despite the fact she was the Champion of Tortall. For most that was enough to prove Alanna was good, the best even, but not for all. Numair continued, "Lord Wyldon, the training master has insisted the girl face a probationary year, as he doesn't believe she can keep up with the boys, and the King has agreed" He put the letter down with a sigh. "I'm surprised we can't hear her roaring from here." Daine nodded. Lord Wyldon was one of the few remaining objectors to Alanna's role, and who did not like the changes the King and Queen's reign had brought.

Numair sighed. "We should go to see her soon, see if we can't calm her down a bit. George writes she wants to go to her Bazhir tribe for the winter, despite that they will be communing with the Voice." Numair referred to the Bazhir tradition of talking to the Voice of the Tribes every night, a position currently held by King Jonathon.

"Well, in that case, we should. But I wouldn't mind going to the desert either." She smiled, thinking of all those new animals she could meet. Numair, guessing what her smile was about, told her: "But it would be too hot for you, Magelet. Remember the last time we were there? You were ill! And you know the animals already." Daine, whose eyes had a pleading look about them, sighed sadly. Numair laughed, and kissed her swiftly. "One look from those big blue eyes, and I melt like butter."

Daine grinned and fluttered her eyelashes for emphasis. "I knew you couldn't resist." She laughed, and skipped off after Kitten, dodging Numair's grab for her.

She found Kitten and Tkaa on the top floor of the tower in Numair's workroom, looking out the window. She wondered over to them, as Numair breathlessly burst through the door after his run up the stairs after her. "Caught you," he murmured in her ear, taking her by the waist and kissing her hair.

"You need to get fitter," she told him over her shoulder as they looked out the window. Kitten chirped, as Numair pouted at the insult, muttering something about being one of the most powerful mages under his breath. Daine ignored him, smiling at the view before her, relaxing into Numair's grasp. They had stayed in Legann, helping with the clean up after the battle, and now autumn was upon them. The leaves were turning golden on the trees, and some were already scattered over the ground. All she could hear from nearby animals was talk of the new season and preparation for the Big Cold. Already, animals were preparing for hibernation or migration. At the edge of her range, just off the coast, she heard a pod of dolphins making their way south to the warmer currents of the Inland Sea. She sent a greeting to them, as she did so to all of the animals within her range.

Tkaa turned to the three. "If you no longer require my presence, I think I will go to the capital. The King wants me there soon, for the start of the new term for the pages. He wants me to aid in their lessons of immortals."

"You don't have to go yet, Tkaa?" Daine asked.

"Lady Maura requires my presence at Court also," he explained to the girl.

"How is Maura? And the Pack?" she asked quietly.

"She assures me that she is fine, and she thinks the wolves are. The get on much better now. Apart from with Frostfur."

Daine nodded, "I will write her soon. I would like to go and see her and the wolves soon too," she added, glancing at Numair.

Tkaa nodded. Bending, he lifted Kitten. "Well, young Skysong. Be good and I will see you soon." Kitten chirped in dragon, as Tkaa replied. "Goodbye Kitten. And you Daine, and Numair. I will see you at the Palace soon." Numair nodded, as Daine hugged the basilisk farewell.

After Tkaa had left, and Daine had comforted an upset Kitten, she turned to Numair. "We're going to Court soon?"

"Yes, did I not tell you?" Seeing Daine's look, he sighed. "You know Daine, if you married me, I might not be so scatterbrained."

Daine laughed. "Now that I doubt very much."

Numair sighed. "But my love, you would not know until you tried."