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A Very Livable Arrangement

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“My apologies, Initiate Lark,” Moonstream said, as she unlocked the door to the thatched cottage known as Discipline. “Normally, we would have put a novice mage in the temple quarters, but I’m afraid that with the recent influx of students, we don’t quite have room.”

Lark looked around at the clean, spacious surroundings. Compared to some of the places she’s lived—in a tent pitched on a different patch of mud every night, in the Mire, in inns better known for housing rats than people—Discipline looked luxurious by comparison. Sunlight streamed in through the window in back. “No, no, this is lovely.”

“There are a few catches. Of course you won’t be living alone, you have a housemate who is a touch…” Moonstream’s plum colored lips pursed together as though looking for an appropriate word. “Well, many find her name to be fitting. And then there’s a matter of the students. You see, Discipline is for young students who are having trouble fitting in elsewhere at Winding Circle. It’s empty right now, but that’s rare.”

Lark looked around. “That’s fine.”

“That would be Dedicate Rosethorn, your housemate,” Moonstream pointed to the woman working in the liveliest garden Lark had ever seen. Lark pegged her as a green mage—not that a dedicate named Rosethorn could be anything but. Rosethorn with her dark eyes and short hair looked up at Lark, and that’s when Lark realized she’d been staring. Well, who wouldn’t? The indignant voice of her libido asked. Rosethorn was pretty—gorgeous, actually—in a solid way, with her short red hair and sharp features. Though it was the scowl on her face coupled with the utterly contradictory bare feet that sealed the deal.

Lark tilted her head to the side, taking in her new housemate. “I take it she’s a bit prickly.”

“At first. Care to get the introductions out of the way?”

“Of course,”

Moonstream escorted Lark into the garden. Rosethorn was no softer up close, though all around her, Lark could feel the plants almost humming with excitement. “Dedicate Rosethorn, I’d like to introduce you to Initiate Lark, who will be studying with us here at Winding Circle. Initiate Lark, this is Dedicate Rosethorn, who lives here in service of the Green Man and Mila of the Grain.”

“Good. You finally got someone else children can look to for their mothering.” To Lark, Rosethorn said, “Pleased to meet you. Just stay out of the workshop and the garden, and we’ll get along just fine,” as she offered a reluctant hand.

Lark took Rosethorn’s callused hand, and gave it just the smallest caress. “I’m sure we will.” Somewhere inside her, Lark caught herself flirting, and in front of the Honored Moonstream no less.

Was that a smile on Rosethorn’s face?

And Lark had thought this living arrangement couldn’t get better.