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All Things That Grow

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Rosethorn was in the garden when Honored Moonstream arrived at Discipline. Moonstream waved cheerfully at her from the footpath, let herself into the gate, and went to knock on the door, trailing a small weed of a boy behind her. The flowers that lined the walk perked up their leaves as the boy passed, like a line of cats twitching their ears at the passing of a mouse. Rosethorn grumbled irritably and sank her magic into the bean plant curled around her fingers. Let Lark deal with them. She may have to live with children now and again, but she didn't have to like it.

Moonstream knows better, she thought. And you, she added to the rows of flowers, you little tarts, you'll smile at anyone who looks at you too long.

They stretched smugly under the sun and ignored her.

Rosethorn had moved on to inspecting the blueberry bushes by the time she felt Lark step into her garden. Lark picked her way carefully through the rows of plants and settled down in the only empty space she could find, disregarding any dirt that might dare to cling to her. The plants turned their faces to her as she passed, and any that could reach brushed gently against her when she sat. They weren't fond of others as a general rule, but they knew Rosethorn loved her, so they loved her too.

Lark gently patted the plants back into place and dug her toes into the dirt.

"You could come and say hello," she said.

"You're right, I could," Rosethorn agreed. She took a step deeper into the clump of bushes. Lark sighed.

"It would be easier if you just admitted it," she said. Rosethorn frowned at her.

"Admitted what?" she asked. Lark stood, brushing dirt from her habit.

"That you like all things that grow, even children," she said. "And from the look of him, that boy is going to grow like bamboo." She began to pick her way back to the path.

"You know the Yanjing emperor uses bamboo to torture Namorn spies," Rosethorn called after her.

"That makes sense," Lark replied absently, "Niko did mention something about knives. Oh hello, aren't you lovely?"

The flowers lining the path turned their faces up and beamed at her.

Traitors.