"You are a very handsome cat. Yes, you are. Such a good cat."

Of all the things that might have surprised Death in his own library a year before, someone being overly affectionate with Lovejoy was near the top of the list, just after destructive fire and the discovery of a new language. He has learned to stop being surprised.

Lovejoy is purring in the woman's arms when she comes around the shelf to his desk, smiling wide enough that he could nearly believe she could purr, herself. Her dark eyes are warm. They remind him of a young woman lifetimes ago, long before Leck. When the lady queen had suggested he take on this young woman as his assistant, Death had been unsure if it was a good idea, but she has become invaluable. And Lovejoy likes her. He is a very good judge of character. Also Death may have checked into her family background.

"Should we keep working on the histories today or did you want to switch?" Lovejoy protests when he is set down, acting like a kitten again, trying to push his way into her arms. She pets him patiently. Death likes that she likes his cat.

"The histories would be most expedient. Gather your papers and we'll begin."

After another afternoon of work, while she rushes down to the kitchens to see if they have any tea and maybe the cookies Death likes best, he holds Lovejoy himself and wonders how this young woman, of all the potential literate and helpful people the lady queen could know, somehow found herself working with him. He is overwhelmed, sometimes, how much she reminds him of his sister. He wonders when he should tell her that.

She returns with a tea tray laden with more than one type of cookie, and the lady queen helping with another tray with the tea pot, cups, and assorted paraphernalia.

"I hope you don't mind me joining you, but Tilda was telling me about the books you've been doing most recently and they sounded fascinating," explains Bitterblue as she sets the tray down. Death does not smile, but he touches her hand.

"You know you are always welcome, lady queen. For any reason you wish." She pours tea for him first. Death enjoys a quiet break with the woman he feels is as good as any granddaughter could be, if somehow his granddaughter were the Queen, and his grandniece, and his cat, and he is, unsurprisingly, happy.