Roen is fifteen the first time Aliss kisses her, embroidery in their laps. They have been talking for hours, working together on embroidering new sheets, and it takes Roen by surprise.

"Oh," she says, later, when she has her breath back. "Oh."

Aliss smiles, and touches her cheek. "It's been something I've wanted to try for ages. With you. I just spend all my time when we're apart thinking about you, and when I last saw you, and when I'll see you again. I'm always thinking of you, Roen."

They are both blushing, but Roen smiles, and covers Aliss's hand with her own. "I don't mind. Could we...can I kiss you again?"

They have always shared a bed when staying at each other's homes, a solid four hour ride each way, and Roen is glad of more than just the warmth this night. The sweet, lavender smell of Aliss's hair spills over her fingers as she undoes the pins holding it up, and Roen knows she will never love anything quite so much.


Roen is older, sadder when she breaks it off, pregnant with Nax's first child and presumed heir. She feels heavy and tired with the weight of carrying a child who seems increasingly predisposed to reckless somersaulting in her belly, and she has noticed how Aliss stares after Brocker.

Brocker's estate is a full day's ride south of Roen's, and she knows him well enough to know he is worthy of Aliss. She makes the suggestion to him, in passing, when he is in the city between peace campaigns. He seems to spend more time out of the city than in it, though now that she has met Cansrel, Roen understands why that might be.

"You remember Aliss, don't you, Brocker? From the estate between us."

His smile is soft and warm and feels like melting snow. "Yes. I do remember her."

"She is at court with me, and I am no fit company for anyone these days. She might like news of home."

When Aliss tells her they are to be married, Roen, holding her firstborn son close as he sleeps, kisses her cheeks and promises to attend.


Roen has lost her faith in Nax by the time Nash can speak. The twins have been born, and while they are perfect, pretty children, the sight of them stings her heart. She lives almost always in her green house now.

When Aliss comes to the city from Brocker's holdings in the north to visit, Roen asks her to stay in the green house. It is easy to slip back into old ways, touching and kissing and laughing together. Brocker's return to King's City doesn't stop them; they simply include him.

Being with Brocker and Aliss is easy in a way that Nax never was. With Nax, a small part of her had always worried that his actions were Cansrel's doing, or that at the least he would tell every detail when asked. Brocker is openly Cansrel's enemy at court, and he and Aliss both are strong-minded enough to be safe.

Aliss kisses her when Roen finds she has fallen pregnant.

"This is wonderful, Roen. Truly."

Roen takes her hands. "But he is your husband, Aliss. You'd have a right to be angry with me."

Aliss's smile is wistful and sad, but she squeezes Roen's hands. "I could be. Yes. But the baby belongs to all three of us, and I have loved you since we were children, ourselves. I haven't been able to give Brocker a child. I am glad that you can."


The worst thing is that she knows Aliss forgives her when Brocker's legs are broken in front of them. Brocker forgives her. She presses her back to the green house's door and feels her second child kick as his father's legs are destroyed, holding tightly to Aliss's hand.

She doesn't see them again for over twenty years. Aliss dies, her punishment for her involvement worse than Brocker's, and Roen could not even go to the funeral.

When she first sees Brocker again, she openly weeps.

"Your son. Aliss's son. He needs to know."

Brocker kisses her hair, and holds her, and Roen imagines she can smell the faintest trace of lavender in the air around them as she collapses against him.