Disclaimer- I don't own the Beka Cooper series. It belongs to Tamora Pierce.
Summary- Eleven drabbles for Rosto the Piper and Beka Cooper, who could have made a fantastic couple and an interesting treatise on work, life, and how the human brain works
had Pierce tried. First in the Drabbles of the Coopers trilogy.
Rosto the Piper and Beka Cooper are legends in their own rights. Rosto went down in the oral tales throughout the Lower City and the Dancing Dove as the best Rogue there ever was- and the only one to retire. Beka Cooper was a footnote in the history books and held up as a shining example of what a good Dog should be- until women were banned, that is.
Though both were attracted to each other and had an interesting friendship, a relationship between them wouldn't have worked. Correction- It shouldn't have worked. For it did, though in secret for many years because Rosto was the Rogue with an (apparent) black heart, and Beka was a fierce Dog, nicknamed the Terrier and then the Bloodhound for very good reasons.
So to the eyes of the city of Corus, while Beka and Rosto liked to exchange verbal fireworks and had an odd rapport, there was no serious question about Beka being Rosto's secret Queen because no one truly believed it.
Except, oddly enough, Bold Brian, who one day many, many years after Rosto became Rogue, made a lot of money.
That, however, is another tale of another rusher of the Court of the Rogue for another day.
It was quite a shock to the Court of the Rogue when Rosto apparently settled down. No one knew who she was, though the rumors flew- she was a long lost love from his homeland, she was a sweet gixie from Patten, she was an exotic doxie who had the Rogue and another chief fighting, she was a rusher lying low and gathering secret information, or she was really another Rogue's queen.
No one, for all the rumors flew about Beka being a bought Dog, seriously considered the Terrier to be the Rogue's very own Lady Dove except Bold Brian, but considering the number of knocks he'd had to the head, no one believed him.
If Beka's eyes are sheets of ghost-ice when she's angry, then Rosto is frozen lava.
Whenever members of his Court compared their King to nature's fiercest (after all, only the Dogs, specifically the Terrier, called him the Rat-King), it was often to a fox or a falcon, with his pale color. (Ersken once compared him to a bear, but that's a story for another time). It was Aniki that knew the truth though- Rosto was an alpha wolf, snarling and fierce and ruling his pack with bloody dominance fights, cunning, and an icy-hot temper buried under slick moves. Still, when his temper was truly unleashed, Aniki knew better than go to near Rosto. She might be his Queen, but she was not his mate, and only a mate could calm the wolf without being torn to pieces. So she pushed Beka in his room instead.
They both had hard jobs that left them stained at the end of the day, but after Beka flinched at seeing him after one particularly difficult night, Rosto vowed to wash the evidence of taken life off his skin before waiting to be invited into his lady's bed.
It was an unspoken rule in the Rogue from the beginning, and one that would not change with the passing of time. No one sat on the king's chair but the rogue, and no one sat in the queen's chair except his personal lady love or the woman he had chosen to be his queen (sometimes said woman was both, sometimes not). Needless to say, when Aniki abruptly one night just stopped sitting in the queen's place, everyone was greatly confused, but since Aniki was still queen, no one dared to ask.
When the Dove caught on fire (a true accident) and Tunstall came to check on his former puppy the next morning, he choked on his roll to find Beka sprawled across the Queen's throne, asleep.
The only reason the princeling to Tortall's throne was walking freely through the Dove was the shy and sincere thanks that was stuttered out to Beka two months after she rescued him from the desert. He turns a blind eye, hours later, to his precious and precocious little Verene bossing the princeling around with the other puppies of Kora and Ersken's brood.
Beka will never leave the Dogs, but something fierce squeezes her heart when Rosto finally decides to quiet any rumors that he's displeased with Aniki and explains to his Court that his Queen is the Lady Dove and the chair is being held in reserve for her. All tension seeps from the court as Aniki crows about the money she made in a bet concerning Rosto and the Lady Dove, and when Tunstall questions her later about Rosto's new queen, all she can do is stutter.
Rosto was a spontaneous lover and liked to give gifts. Beka would find a fresh vase of gillyflowers in her room, a crystal pendant the color of her eyes on her dresser, a new dagger under her pillow, or yet another protective amulet waiting hidden for her to discover in some of the most interesting places.
Everyone in the city knew that when one of the Rogue's lady friends were pregnant- more specifically, his mage and his queen- that the upper floors of the Dancing Dove were off limits. When rumor flew that the Bloodhound was pregnant, the entirety of the Dove and Beka were declared off-limits. The news that anyone who touched a hair on Cooper's head during her pregnancy would be executed caused many raised eyebrows both in the Court and the Kennel, but most put it up to the odd respect held between the two.
Thankfully, since Beka and Rosto were both blond and Verene had her mother's eyes, no one saw any uncomfortable clues to her true heritage.
Rosto remained as handsome as the sunrise, even as he aged, but Beka didn't feel the same about herself. The shy, skinny gixie with nice peaches of old had been replaced by a lean-muscled woman with unearthly eyes and more than her fair share of scars. It isn't until Rosto has her mewling in bed one morning and she spies herself in the mirror, passion flushed, red-mouthed, hair around her face, and eyes soft that she remembers Rosto doesn't love her for her beauty but her strength.
For all that he is Rogue, Rosto the Piper is widely held as a gentleman. He holds doors open, whether for doxie or gixie or rusher, flirts politely with just about every mot he comes across, and doesn't allow the doxies to get abused too much.
So when he forbids anyone from calling Guardswoman Cooper some of the nastier things hard-working, honest, and successful women get called, his rushers put it up to his usual chivalry.
The truth of it is that Rosto knows a superficial appreciation will help gain him the loyalty of the women of his Court, and for Beka- well, she's his, and no one speaks bad of his woman. Not that he'd ever dare call her that to her face. He's rather vain of his looks after all.
So really, it wasn't any surprise that Rosto and Beka's many greats- descendant ended up as first the King of the Rogue at a very young age, managed to retire, became the spymaster for Tortall and its King, and married the first lady knight in hundreds of years who happened to be the Lioness, the King's Champion, the Goddess' favored, and a lot of other titles.
That, however, is another tale of another Cooper for another time.
I f you're interested in seeing the next piece, from George's POV, sign onto author's alert, because the next installment will be in the Song of Lioness section, not the Beka Cooper one. The final installment will be in a crossover between the two categories.
This is part of my challenge to myself to write every day- whether just some drabbles, outlining, or part of a chapter. While this certainly isn't meant to be a literary master piece, I always appreciate hearing what you think!
Yes, random reader considering the review button, that means you!