Bitterblue realises she misses the feel of embroidery against her cheek in fits and starts. It has been a little more than a year since she put her mother's sheets away, the first in a wave of revisions to her life and her kingdom that still startle her with their weight and breadth when she catches the edges of them by accident.
Bringing out Ashen's sheets is not the answer. A night with a single embroidered pillowcase leaves her sleepless, wondering what horror is knotted into the cotton by her cheek. She doesn't want to have them made for her, though, either; the idea of sleeping against a stranger's work in this way feels intimate and wrong. She will have to do it herself.
It has been years since Bitterblue embroidered anything, and she wasn't very good to start. After she was crowned, she has not had much time or purpose for embroidery. When she asks, though, Helda procures a single pillowcase for her and silk thread, needles, and a hoop.
In the evenings, after days of speaking to people and reading reports, Bitterblue sits in her sitting room, pricking her fingers and frustrated with herself for not being better. On the fifth evening of this endeavour, Po and Giddon arrive at court; she gladly sets it aside for them. As much as she would like the comfort of the embroidery, she would like their company more.
She is working, cursing the needle and her useless fingers, when Giddon comes to her rooms a few nights later.
"Lady Queen. This is an unexpected domestic surprise." He is grinning at her, and she scowls.
"Leave off, Giddon. I wanted...I miss my mother's embroidery, but the contents don't let me sleep easily. I thought if I could make my own..." She trails off into a sigh, and is surprised when he comes to sit beside her on the sofa. He takes the pillowcase and hoop from her lap, and the needle and thread from her hands. After a moment's consideration, he begins to work, not swiftly but with a certainty that confuses her. "Giddon?"
"I had to learn to do this for myself in the past year. I am not a lord any more, and I don't have anyone to mend my clothes. Embroidery is like fancy mending. And it gives my hands something to do when we are camped at night."
She hugs him, arms tight, and kisses his cheek. Before they leave the city, Giddon presents her with a pair of pillowcases, a delicate floral edge on both done in a deep, pure blue and blush pink. When she sleeps, that night, she feels wrapped in love, and her dreams are easy.