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among all the lights i've seen so far

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When Lisa first meets Jean, she doesn't feel the world come to a stop— on the contrary, it feels more like everything speeds up, leaving her in awe as she tries to catch her breath.

There's shock at first, because of course there is, but what follows is a feeling of just knowing, of easy acceptance, of excitement . It’s almost comforting, actually; the feeling that washes over her the moment she shakes hands with Jean, meets pale blue eyes, and realizes that, yes, this is her, the woman I’ll one day spend the rest of my life with.

She will remember this moment clearly for the rest of her life, this she knows, because ever since she’d received her Electro vision – that tricky little orb – she’d been able to see the lightning.

(She remembers the way her eyes had been drawn to the purple sparks that had erupted when she’d witnessed her father’s hand brush against her mothers’s at the dinner table.

Not even half-an-hour later, she’d broken the news about pursuing magecraft beyond Mondstadt, about taking her studies around the world, and she’d seen the sparks again. It had been a quiet, oddly comforting showcase of electricity, as her father had smiled encouragingly at her, and rubbing his wife’s arms as a mother cried about letting her daughter leave into the world.)

During her travels, Lisa had seen the lightning everywhere— between old couples, newlyweds, and even between those who had no idea they'd be destined for each other. It's romantic, she'd think to herself, the way the sparks flash and crackle at even the barest of touches between soulmates.

And yet for all of her observations, she's never experienced it herself.

It's not as though she had been anticipating, no. But Lisa's learned from the scholars in Sumeru that patience is a virtue, and that sometimes, things simply may not happen. Not everyone has the luxury of obtaining a Vision, not everyone has the chance at love. And with this knowledge in mind, she'd thrown herself into her studies, because at the very least, her academia is something she has control over.

But then one day, it all leads to this:

She's standing in Grand Master Varka's office, and this beautiful young woman has extended her hand in greeting as Lisa is reaching out to meet her halfway. Their fingers brush, familiar purple sparks blossoming like flowers in the spring, and a small gasp escapes Lisa's lips.

She instinctively jerks her hand back, purely from surprise, and she blinks, disbelieving. Was that…?

"Is something wrong?"

In front of her, a frown mars Jean's lovely features— far too fair and lovely for any knight to have, damn it all, everything is moving too fast.

"No, no, I apologize," Lisa quickly says, sending the younger woman one of the warm smiles she's become well-known for. She reaches for Jean's hand again, this time successfully slotting hers against the knight's with what she hopes looks like ease. The sparks surface again, purple and vibrant, dancing between their touch, pricking at Lisa's skin in that same oddly comforting fashion that Lisa had recognized between her parents, and she just knows.

This is her.

Jean's face relaxes into a smile.

"I hope we can work well together, Miss Lisa. I wish you a good stay during your time here in the city."

Something twinges in Lisa's chest, and it's almost overwhelming, the wave of affection that rushes over her for this woman she doesn't even know.

"Thank you, Captain," Lisa hums, thoughtful. "I look forward to getting to know you better as well."

--

Her time with the Knight's of Favonius in Mondstadt is a pleasant one— call it additional field experience, if you will. After so much exposure to such uninhibited erudition, it only made sense that she'd want time away. Still, anything can be a learning experience if you make it one, so after a few exchanges, it had been decided by the Academy that Lisa would accompany Mondstadt's Favonian Knights for some time.

It's not a bad gig by any means— Mondstadt is Lisa's nation of origin, after all, although she'd never set foot in the main city herself until recently. It’s a funny thought, given how she’s traveled all over Teyvat before exploring the city much closer to her home…  Perhaps she'll take some time to visit her parents sometime. 

Grand Master Varka is a jovial man whose carefree disposition masks a power of gargantuan proportions. Lisa likes him very much, and he always makes sure to check on how she's doing every time they cross paths.

Jean, on the other hand, is diligence and formality drawn down to a tee— while Varka is boisterous and impulsive, Jean is schedules and calculation, the blonde woman seeming to carry out each of her duties with an air of elegance and poise that few could ever match. Perhaps it's for their seemingly opposite natures that Varka keeps Jean particularly under his wing, Lisa muses.

After their initial introduction, Lisa finds herself paired more and more with Jean— or the Dandelion Knight, as the Mondstadt's population had come to know her. For a solid week, Lisa had begun to wonder if Varka knew more than he let on, although after a few curious inquiries, Lisa had come to the conclusion that he'd simply thought Jean needed a friend.

Lisa can't really blame him.

As well-liked and incredibly well-respected as Jean is, Lisa can't really say the younger woman has much of a social life. Make no mistake, Jean is far from an unfriendly individual— Lisa's never met a human with more genuine kindness pouring out from every pore. Nevertheless, it's not hard to see the way Jean puts her duty before everything else, leaving her with very little time to make other meaningful connections.

Lisa is quick to notice this. She decides to take matters into her own hands.

One late night, she ambles her way into the offices, every other desk in the vicinity empty, save for one.

Clicking her tongue, Lisa shakes her head, chuckling to herself as she makes her way over to where Jean sits, hunched over a desk, pen making its way across the paper as the captain diligently continues detailing her report.

"It's rather late," Lisa comments, breaking the silence as she lowers a teacup to Jean's desk. The blonde woman startles, wide-eyed gaze darting up to meet Lisa's, pale blues meeting jade greens.

"Miss Lisa."

Lisa smiles, shaking her head.

"When will you simply call me Lisa?" She pouts. "I'm not that much older than you."

"You're my senior in experience," Jean says easily, smiling despite her fatigue. Her fingers curl around the steaming teacup. "I figured it would be better to be respectful."

"We are friends, are we not?" Lisa casually rests a comforting hand on Jean's shoulder. It's not the first time they've touched since that initial handshake— Lisa has done her best to get used to the sparks, as easily excitable as they remain.

"Then if you insist," Jean chuckles. "What can I do for you, Lisa?"

"Get some rest, Jean," Lisa offers, only half-joking. "It's nearing midnight, and we just got back from a mission that took most of the day. Why are you still here?"

"I could ask the same for you," Jean replies pointedly. At the way Lisa motions to the teacup, Jean makes a noise of compliance as she gingerly raises the cup to her lips and takes a sip.

"I came to make sure you don't collapse on the way back to your residence," Lisa says, amused. “But it appears that you’re still busy.”

“You don’t have to wait for me,” the blonde knight insists, although Lisa pulls over a nearby chair to accompany her nonetheless. “I’ll be done soon enough.”

“All the more reason to stay with you, no?” Lisa regards her with a tilt of her head.

“I wasn’t the only one on that mission,” Jean points out. “You must be exhausted as well.”

“Perhaps.” Lisa shrugs. As well. She chooses not to comment on the younger woman’s slip of tongue. “But I meant what I said when we first met— I do want to know you better.”

“I don’t see how watching me work in silence cues you into anything new regarding me,” Jean says, seeming to be genuinely confused.

“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong! Body language during even the most mundane of tasks can reveal much about a person!” Bridging the gap with a grace no one should possess at this hour of night, the Rose Witch finds herself leaning forward, reaching out to tap her younger Dandelion counterpart on the nose, and there's an electric tinge that has Lisa biting back a smile.

Jean blinks adorably at the action, and that increasingly familiar feeling of affection sweeps over Lisa.

"If you truly wish it," Jean says slowly, almost shyly, "Then I would love your company, Lisa."

Lisa beams, probably far too brightly for this late at night. "Then I will stay, observe, and catch up on my light reading until you are done."

--

She walks Jean home, just as she'd intended to.

"I'm a knight," Jean had protested, finally having been coerced from her desk. "Shouldn't this be the other way around?"

"If I do not protect you, then should something happen, who will protect Mondstadt?" Lisa merely inquired.

Jean had chuckled, pushing open the door to her hallway, stepping aside to let Lisa pass first, ever the gentlewoman.

"I don't even live far."

"Then it shouldn't be any further trouble for me, correct?"

Jean had halted in place, furrowing her brow in what looked like amused wonder.

"You're a very interesting woman, Lisa."

"And I'm honored to have caught your eye, my knight," Lisa had replied with a wink, and she'd decided then and there that the resulting weightless laugh from Jean had been worth the shorter hours of beauty sleep that night.

--

Being back in Mondstadt is… a change. After years of traveling and perfecting her craft, it’s almost a new experience, having an apartment to come home to at the end of every day instead of returning to a nearby inn.

Her residence remains mostly empty and undecorated, for the most part. She’d rented the place on the basis that, soon enough, she’ll be back off to Sumeru to finish her studies, and eventually she’ll tire of even that place before moving on to the next location.

At least, that had been the plan.

Jean had not been in the plan.

The Knights of Favonius as people hadn’t been accounted for either. Given how she hadn't forged as many lasting friends during her travels, Lisa hadn't expected it, but she's already become attached to some— Amber is an excitable girl and the sole Outrider of the knights, and she's eager to show Lisa the ropes. On the other hand, Kaeya is more suave, more cunning, quick to charm. He's not Lisa's type, but she humors his wit with laughs that feel earned, chuckling to herself whenever he purposefully gets under Jean's skin.

And there's another girl— Klee.

Despite already owning a vision, Klee is young, which isn't a word Lisa uses lightly. Technically, Jean is still young, and Amber even younger— but Klee is an actual child, younger than the highest Lisa can count on two hands, and it's not that she doesn't trust the Ordo Favonius, but she still wonders what kind of mother would leave her daughter to be raised by a bunch of knights.

"Mama went somewhere dangerous and far away!" Klee tells her brightly, one late afternoon as they sit on the headquarters step.

"Is that so?" Lisa raises an eyebrow, shooting a look at Jean, who sits on Klee's opposite side.

"I wish you could've met Alice yourself." Amusement dances in Jean's eyes. "She's quite the character, and double the adventurer."

"Mama knows all sorts of things!" Klee says eagerly. "She even taught me about gunpowder and setting fuses, and where Starsnatch Cliff's load-bearing points are, and where to place—"

"She sounds like an extraordinary woman!" Lisa giggles, patting Klee on the back, thoroughly entertained at the way Jean's face seems to pale. Better to save her from a premature heart attack. "Where did Alice learn all of this?"

"Everywhere!" Klee enthuses.

"Alice is a notorious world traveler," Jean explains, color having started returning to her face at the slight change of subject. "If I recall correctly, she's been to every nation in Teyvat."

"Has she now?" Lisa muses, smiling to herself in what she hopes comes across as mysterious. "Well, it looks like she has me beat, then! I've yet to visit Snezhnaya myself."

Klee's eyes widen at the same time a surprised expression takes over Jean's features.

"You've been everywhere else?" The knight asks.

"For the most part," the Rose Witch confirms. Flourishing her hand out, she seamlessly summons a map in a flicker of light, rolling out the scroll midair. "Everywhere marked with an 'x' is a place I've visited during my journeys."

"Wow!" Klee marvels. Her small hand runs over the worn parchment, her excitement palpable. "You've been to a lot of places, too, just like Mama! What's your favorite?"

"Why, Mondstadt of course!"

"How boring!" Klee sticks her tongue out as Lisa laughs, and the younger girl huffs and dashes into the Headquarters, easily distracted by whatever ruckus had begun inside.

Lisa watches her run off affectionately.

"Where is Sumeru Arcademia?" Jean suddenly inquires, peering at the map over the witch's shoulder, and Lisa inhales, caught off guard at the sudden close proximity.

It's just the two of them now, Jean having moved to take over the space Klee had left behind, and Lisa mentally pleads to Barbatos to help keep her composure.

"Ah, it's here."

Gingerly, she takes Jean's hand, crackling sparks and all, and leads the younger woman's pointer figure to an area of sandy browns and lush greens.

"Sumeru is a region of both desert and forest," Lisa explains softly, and she doesn't know why she's suddenly speaking at the same volume as she would in the library, but Jean makes a noise of acknowledgement nonetheless. "An oasis of knowledge, a mirage in a desert of ignorance."

"I suppose it's a fitting place for an academy of arcane knowledge," Jean says. "It must be non-stop learning all the time in such a place."

Lisa hums, thinking of her peers, power-hungry for knowledge, for glory. Trapped at the oasis, indeed.

"You wouldn't be wrong," she agrees, and right then and there, she is thankful to be at Jean's side in Mondstadt instead.

--

For a while, Lisa wonders if she should tell Jean about the lightning that connects them.

Ultimately, she chooses against it. Their age gap isn't that wide, but Jean is still young and ambitious after all— she doesn't need any distractions, and Lisa knows just how much of a distraction she could be if she so chose.

Still, that doesn't stop her from indulging whenever Jean initiates conversation.

"Lisa?"

"Yes, Jean?"

They sit in the Grand Master's office, just the two of them. Lisa pages absently through a book— some text she'd found while parsing through the rather unkempt restricted section of the Favonius library. Meanwhile, Jean stares out the window from where she sits on the other end of the table, having been uncharacteristically lost in thought.

"Would you happen to know what type of flower this is?"

Her attention successfully captured, Lisa raises her gaze to observe the beautifully luminescent blue flower held daintily in Jean's hand.

"Oh," she says softly. "Where did you get one of those?"

"It was handed to me as I was walking past on the way to the headquarters this morning." Jean rolls the stem between her fingers carefully, as if afraid the flower would break at the slightest breeze. "It's… rather beautiful, I think."

"It is," Lisa agrees, smiling gently. "It's a Glaze Lily, native to Liyue. I was fortunate enough to encounter a few during my travels. In ancient times, they used to grow in abundance, but their numbers have since dwindled. Nowadays, they're an incredible rarity— a true shame, considering their beauty."

"I see," Jean says, quiet. She pauses. "It was a man who handed it to me. He said I was beautiful, and that the flower matched my eyes."

Something drops in the pit of Lisa's stomach, and if Jean notices the way her smile seems to slip, she doesn't say anything. Lisa is grateful— she's being irrational, she knows it is. After all, Jean is still Lisa's soulmate. It's not like that could have changed, right?

"Did he now?" Lisa murmurs.

"So I thanked him politely and went on my way." Jean laughs lightly. "I think he wanted to ask me for something more but," she shrugs, smiling sheepishly. "That's out of the question. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings too terribly."

Oh, there's a bit of weight off the shoulders. Inwardly, Lisa sighs in relief. Thankfully, she's not too bothered by Jean's apparent disinterest in romance— nothing Lisa didn't already know. Still… 

"The flower is beautiful though," the blonde knight continues.

"It is," Lisa agrees.

"A shame he had to waste it on me." Jean chuckles.

Don't say that. Pretty ladies deserve pretty things— Jean in particular deserves pretty things.

"Do you have a favorite flower, Lisa?"

"A favorite flower?" Lisa tilts her head, expression thoughtful. Her smile returns, albeit waveringly. "Well, I suppose I'm rather fond of Cecilia flowers, myself."

"Cecilia flowers," Jean ponders. She returns Lisa's smile with a more reassuring one of her own. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind."

--

Despite their conversation eventually slipping back into silence, Lisa's mind is as tumultuous as ever— how unlike her, she's never been one to overthink things. Nevertheless, there's something restless stirring within, something uneasy, and suddenly, Lisa can't concentrate on the text in front of her.

"Lisa?" Jean's worried voice cuts through the fog.

The mage snaps out of her daze, taking a deep breath.

"Yes, Jean?" She asks.

"I'm sorry, I've just never seen you frown like that before," Jean says, gentle in her explanation. How unfair; that this brave knight can have so many facets to her, that Lisa knows she'll grow to adore every single one of them. "Is there something wrong?"

"No, I—" Lisa pauses, chews her bottom lip before smiling reassuringly. "It's just my thoughts getting the better of me."

In an instant, Jean is sliding into the chair directly across from Lisa, concern riding off of the blonde knight in waves.

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Would you hold my hand?" The words are out of Lisa's mouth before she realizes what was just said. Instantly, she scrambles to take it back. "Or, wait, I—"

Gloved fingers curl around Lisa's palm, and she finds herself teary-eyed in relief as her purple lightning shimmers between them, a reminder.

It's still her. She's still Jean's, and Jean is still hers.

"Is that any better?" Jean asks, quiet as though to not break the moment.

"Yes," Lisa murmurs. It's so very, very unfair, how she's gotten so attached in such a short period of time. "Much."

"I'm glad. I suppose I wouldn't be much of a knight if I couldn't comfort a lady in need, now would I?" Jean chuckles, something cheeky glimmering in her eye as she smoothes her thumb over the back of Lisa's hand.

And Lisa's still shaken— it's the first time she's questioned her lightning. How much of it is fate? How much is inevitable? Had Jean shown interest in that man, would the lightning change? Could a soulmate change? She doesn't know, and it's a scary thought.

Still, Jean's comforting smile is more than enough, and Lisa chuckles under her breath, soothed for now by the blonde-haired woman's company.

"I doubt your vigilance will ever waver," she says, allowing herself to giggle. "But… thank you, my knight."

--

She finds a bouquet of cecilias on her doorstep the next morning, the dainty flowers sitting in a pretty glass vase, waiting for her.

'To make this place feel more like home,' the note reads in familiar, perfect calligraphy. There's no name attached, but it's pretty clear to Lisa who the sender had been.

The very thought of Jean standing outside her doorway, flowers in hand, makes Lisa's heart quicken its tempo.

"Silly girl," she murmurs, smiling to herself. "You didn’t even have to."

Having placed her new flora on a sunny windowsill, Lisa heads off to the headquarters, humming a tune she'd heard on her travels through Fontaine. 

--

She tends to her flowers every day before departing. Time seems to pass quicker when you measure it in did I water the flowers today' s, and tomorrow I've been assigned to work with Jean' s.

Eventually, the time approaches for Lisa to return to her studies. She feels strange about it— prior to her time in the city, there hadn't been many strong feelings beyond some sort of patriotism towards her home nation, but having bonded with so many of the Knights, Lisa finds herself almost sad to leave.

She brings up this point quite frankly to Jean as they're parsing through research books in the library one afternoon, a mere week away from her departure. The young woman seems startled for a moment, as if the knight hadn't realized how quickly time had passed. A split-second later, however, and Jean's composure has already recovered as Lisa is stifling a giggle.

"The headquarters will be boring without you," Jean comments, trying to sound off-handed about it all, although an amused Lisa sees through the facade with ease. "What will I do when you're gone?"

As if the headquarters will ever be boring with Kaeya, Amber, and Klee running around, Lisa thinks, affectionate.

"Enjoy a good novel, courtesy of me," Lisa suggests teasingly, only to be surprised when a thoughtful look overtakes the knight's expression.

"That's certainly one way to pass the time," the blonde-haired woman considers, tipping her head.

"Are you sure?" Lisa jokes. She deftly spins her pen around her fingers. "I know novels aren't quite as interesting as, say, those handbooks I get the sneaking suspicion you'd try to pass off as interesting."

"Excuse you!" Jean laughs, and the sound rings through the otherwise empty library, captures itself in the dying light pouring through the nearby window, simply filling the space, warm. "Contrary to popular belief, my favorite books are novels!"

"Really?" Lisa questions, crossing her arms and raising a challenging eyebrow. "Tell me."

"The Legend of Vennessa."

"A good choice, but one that is steeped in more truths than fiction, so it doesn't count." Lisa tuts dramatically, shaking her head. "Try again."

"The Boar Princess?" Jean offers playfully, suppressing a cheeky grin.

"You can't be serious."

(She'll never admit to liking this side of Jean— this rare playful side that only seems to reveal itself when they're alone, away from other prying eyes.)

"Fine, fine!" Jean laughs again before Lisa can give her friend a piece of her mind. "What about The Fox in the Dandelion Field?"

"Finally!" Oh, rejoice, the Dandelion Knight does have taste in literature after all. "An actual good piece of total fiction I can approve of!"

“I’m glad I was able to satisfy.” Jean chuckles. "It's a piece that's surprisingly darker in tone, but the story itself teaches a good lesson of the value of thinking through your words."

"A tragic ending, wouldn't you say?" Lisa ponders, raising a considerate hand to her chin. "Although, I must say the protagonist had his final fate coming— the fool he was."

"A sobering lesson," Jean agrees.

"Do you think you could go as far as to call it a romance?" Lisa inquires, curious as to how the blonde woman had interpreted the main character and his attraction to the mystical fox woman.

"If it can be considered a romance, it was a tragic one." Jean chuckles, shaking her head. "The protagonist was doomed with his one-track mind."

"Right you are." Lisa huffs out a quiet laugh. "Say, have you ever read Vera's Melancholy?"

The knight furrows her brow. "I can't say I have."

"Then take this as my recommendation," Lisa says kindly. "I have all the volumes that have been released— I'll lend them to you. The job I'm assigning you is to read them while I'm gone."

"While you're 'gone'?" Jean perks up, suddenly appearing akin to an attentive puppy. The book in front of her lies open, completely forgotten about at this point. "Does that mean you'll be returning?"

"I've been thinking of joining the Knights of Favonius officially," the witch admits, dipping her head to hide her warming face beneath the rim of her wide-brimmed hat.

She doesn't even need to see Jean's face to know that the other woman is beaming.

"That's wonderful! I— we'd love to have you on board!"

"I'll be in your care." It's Lisa's turn to smile, raising her head to meet Jean's warm gaze— Jean's expression that reminds Lisa of Mondstadt, of blue skies, lush forests, shimmering waters; every feature that, before her arduous journey for knowledge, Lisa had taken completely for granted.

And when Jean wordlessly reaches across the space between them with one gloved hand, Lisa is eager to grasp it in turn, fingers curling around Jean's, electricity sparking at the seams, dancing in glee at the contact.

"I will come back, Jean," Lisa finally tells her, soft. She doesn't let go of Jean's hand. "I promise."

"Then I will be waiting for your return, Lisa," Jean says steadily. She pauses, then— "It's a bit early to say this, but I'll miss you a lot."

Lisa chuckles wryly. Surely, Jean's days will pass by just fine, with all the work to be done. Jean will see— Lisa's not someone to be missed.

"It's not good to say things you don't mean, sweetie."

"I am your loyal knight, am I not?" Jean simply says, smiling and undeterred.

Lisa blinks in surprise, not expecting that, but then she catches the twinkle in Jean's eye so she tips her head back and laughs.

"Yes, I suppose you are," she relents fondly.

--

Jean sees her off the morning she leaves. It’s still early, the sun barely peeking over Mondstadt’s mountain peaks in the distance, and the air is still misty, rays of light reflecting off the morning dew.

“Take care of my flowers,” Lisa tells her with a hint of a smile. “I rather like them.”

“They’re right next to my windowsill,” Jean reassures her. “It’s sunny, and I’ll water them every day.”

“Good.”

There’s a beat of silence before Jean extends her hand, and Lisa smiles to herself as she fits her hand against Jean’s with ease. She commits the sight of the purple lightning to memory, very well knowing she won’t be witnessing it again for a year.

“I’ll be seeing you,” Lisa finally says, because she will.

“I’ll be waiting,” Jean replies easily, like they’ll be seeing each other again come nightfall.

It’s not so much a goodbye as it is an I’ll be back soon, and Lisa finds that just fine. With one final wave, she sets off to Starfell Lake to pay one final visit to the Anemo Archon, wishing to thank them for this chance, for the Electro Vision around her neck and for the electricity that buzzes from her fingers, the same of which connects her to Jean and would make this last year pass in a flash.

--

A year passes, and Lisa returns to Mondstadt with a wind of dandelions at her back, and it’s strange yet wonderful, how a feeling of nostalgia encapsulates her as she passes over the stone bridge, so visceral she stops in her tracks and simply takes in the view of the city, its stone walls and bustling crowds inside.

The days in Sumeru had gone by quickly, but everyday, when she’d still in her research, her mind would drift to the City of Freedom and the Knights of Favonius. Had Kaeya finally bridged the gap with his brother? How was Klee growing up? Perhaps Amber had met her match in gliding?

She’d hoped Jean was taking more breaks. (Admittedly, Lisa doesn’t have much hope for this one.)

“Oh, I caught you!”

Speaking of which—

“How are the flowers?” Lisa inquires, spinning on her heel.

Jean hums, and she looks as beautiful in the early morning light as she had the day of Lisa’s last departure— it’s like she’d never left.

“They’re blooming beautifully. Spring is a wonderful season, don’t you think?”

“It is,” Lisa agrees, her breath getting caught in her lungs.

It’s Jean.

“I’m home,” she breathes.

“Welcome home,” Jean says, gentle, smiling.

“You’re back from morning patrol?” Lisa asks. She steps closer, her fingertips graze the white fabric of Jean’s sleeve.

“No, actually.” The knight chuckles, sheepish. Without acknowledging it, Jean holds out her arm and Lisa wastes no time in taking it, linking their arms amidst purple lightning with a noise of content. “I wanted to see the sunrise from Starsnatch Cliff. I wanted to meet you on the bridge, but I’d lost track of time. I’m glad I caught you waiting.”

“Perhaps it was fate,” the witch jokes. “Or maybe an Archon willed me to wait for you.”

“Perhaps it was,” Jean agrees. Lisa raises an amused eyebrow, huffing out a laugh but allowing Jean to lead her into the city, arm-in-arm, nonetheless.

--

She joins the Knights of Favonius officially, because of course she does.

Jean is as hardworking as ever, if not a tad more serious than before (if it's even possible), and Lisa has no doubt she'd spent the months between their first acquaintance and the present being incredibly productive, working her way up through the ranks. (She's second-in-command to Varka now, a position that suits her greatly, Lisa thinks.)

Lisa could’ve risen in the same manner, and perhaps with more ease, even. She's offered a captaincy only a month after her return, the chance to lead the 8th Company, and she declines the position with an effortlessness that has her fellow knights in jaw-dropped awe— an observation that fills her with a smug sense of satisfaction as she bids Grand Master Varka adieu, strides out of the office with nothing more than a polite smile and an elegant tip of her signature wide-brimmed hat.

Behind her, Varka lets out a loud guffaw of laughter that has her lip twitching into an involuntary smirk.

Lisa doesn't look back, instead opting to continue her stroll to her new position in the library with her head held high with pride. A library and a personal workshop? It’s all Lisa could’ve ever dreamed of.

There's a telltale sound of heeled boots against tile behind her, and as Lisa comes to a halt, the footsteps behind her follow suit, stopping a few places away.

“Why didn’t you accept?”

It’s Jean.

“You were in the room, Captain,” Lisa giggles, spinning on a heel to smile charmingly at the blonde-haired woman. There’s a small frown that mars Jean's expression, as if she doesn't understand, and it takes Lisa all she has not to reach across the expanse between them and wipe it away with a thumb. "I thought Captain Nymph deserved the position more than I— after all, I am an academic before a trained knight. I could see where he was coming from.”

“From anyone less qualified leadership-wise, I’d believe that,” Jean counters, and Lisa raises an eyebrow in amused fascination. Of all the topics for Jean to start first, of course it just has to be business related. “But Sumeru’s most distinguished graduate aside, I saw the way you took control over your current company after Captain Hertha was maimed— you remained level-headed, you took over the charge, and finished the mission flawlessly. You were a natural, Lisa.”

Lisa hums, contemplative. She crosses her arms, cocking her head. “Maybe you’re not wrong.”

“Then why?” Jean asks again.

“Because I didn’t want to.”

“I—” Jean reels backwards, mouth parting in surprise. “What?”

Lisa giggles again.

“I didn’t want to be a captain. I didn’t want that workload.” She shrugs. “Unfortunately, I’m just not as driven these days as I was back when I first started chasing magecraft. Is it wrong to want to simply wish for the comfort of books instead?”

For a heartbeat, the question hangs midair. Jean's lips part then close, and Lisa takes pleasure in the sight of the younger woman's conflicted expression.

Then—

“No.” Jean furrows her brow, as though trying to make sense of it all. She shakes her head. “It’s not wrong.”

“Oh? You agree with me?” Lisa prods. Well, that certainly is a surprise.

“You shouldn't push yourself too hard,” Jean tells her, as if it were that simple. “You’ve worked your whole life to learn your craft, it’s only fair you dictate how you choose to use your own abilities. I thought I was speaking towards your capabilities, but it's you who knows yourself best, Lisa.”

“And could you say the same?”

Jean tilts her head, eyes glimpsing out the nearest window, eyeing Mondstadt’s rolling hills.

“Perhaps,” the blonde woman finally settles on. “Or would it be hypocritical of me to say that what I do know is that I am not conscious of my own limits?”

“Just the slightest bit.”

“Ah, I see.”

Outside, the sky fades from its light blue, and a golden light streams in from the window. It catches Jean in its embrace, casting shadows that make the young woman look older, more jaded, than she should be.

With a brief chuckle to herself, Jean lifts one shoulder in concession. She moves to step past Lisa – their arms brush, Lisa shivers inconspicuously as that familiar lightning simmers at the touch – and Jean flashes the other woman a wry smile.

"Then at the very least, I know that I am a hypocrite."

--

The sentiment echoes through her mind for far too long for it to be healthy.

“Master looks… troubled?”

Lisa blinks, brought out of her daze by the voice of the silver-haired boy beside her. Razor peers curiously up at her, ever the attentive student despite his non-human upbringing— although perhaps it is those same wolf-like tendencies that make the boy that much more sympathetic.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Razor.” She flashes a reassuring smile his way, although it does nothing to ease the furrow in his brow. “I was just lost in thought for a moment.”

They sit together on one of Wolvendom’s cliffs, overlooking Cider Lake and the city in the distance. As the sun sets over the western mountains, the reddening sky dyes the lakewater a beautiful kaleidoscope of pinks and reds and oranges, and it’s at times like these that Lisa is almost envious of Razor, who gets to witness this view nearly every day.

“So you are ‘troubled,’ right?” The boy asks again insistently, and she sighs, affectionate, reaching out to pat his head as he makes a noise of protest.

“Yes, I am,” Lisa relents, finally giving into temptation and running her thumb over the crease in her student’s forehead. Razor is ever such a good boy, nowhere near the savage wild child some of Mondstadt’s citizens speculate him to be. “But it’s none of your concern, dear, I promise. I’m just worried about a friend of mine.”

Razor cocks his head, adorably akin to the canines he calls family.

“Dandelion friend?” He guesses, and Lisa resists the urge to laugh. Of course he would know; Razor has always been exceptionally perceptive. She remembers when Varka had first introduced them with the intention of Lisa teaching the boy how to use his Electro Vision— Jean had been in the room as well, and Razor had taken one sniff at the second-in-command before declaring you smell like dandelions. Dandelion friend.

“Yes, I’m worried about our Dandelion friend.” She chuckles before sighing once more. “Jean doesn’t know when to take breaks. One of these days, I’m afraid she’ll overwork herself.”

“ ‘Overwork’?” Razor repeats, not familiar with the term.

“When you push yourself too much without resting,” Lisa explains. “And then your body isn’t able to function properly.”

“That is not good.” Razor frowns, crossing his arms.

“It’s really not,” Lisa agrees. She tips her head back, looking up towards the sky, where the stars have begun peeking out from behind the nighttime veil. If only the celestial heavens could give her answers— perhaps she should have studied astrology. “Truthfully, I’m not sure what I can say to convince her to take more breaks.”

“Convince?” Razor shakes his head, not understanding. “Why not just make her rest?”

Make her?” Lisa fights down a giggle. “Shall I concoct a potion that makes her fall asleep?”

“No, no, not like that! I think—” The wolfen boy frowns again, scrunching his nose, and Lisa can virtually see the gears churning through his brain as he struggles to find the words.

Eventually, Razor’s frame slackens, and he shrugs his shoulders helplessly.

“I really like when you bring a basket of food,” he finally says. “And we sit down on the grass, and we eat, and I do not have to worry about things.”

Lisa’s mouth opens and closes wordlessly, and Razor suddenly looks sheepish.

“Did… that make sense?” He ducks his head shyly.

“Yes,” Lisa breathes, and she laughs as she throws her arms around the boy in gratitude. Razor yelps but makes no protest, only wrapping his arms around her midsection and returning the embrace. “Thank you, Razor! You’re such a good boy— that helped me plenty!”

“I am glad,” he says, clearly pleased from being of use. Then he pauses, pulling away from the hug. “Master, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, dear.”

“Is Dandelion friend— is Jean your mate?”

There’s a sudden heat that rushes to her cheeks, and having never expected such a thing from Razor of all people, Lisa has never been so flustered around the silver-haired boy in her life. Heaving a deep breath, she sighs and pats him on the back.

This is going to be a long, long discussion.

--

“You’re back later than usual,” Jean greets as Lisa treads back into the Favonius offices, mentally drained and not at all surprised to find the blonde knight still in the building despite the time nearing midnight. 

Stopping in her tracks, Jean raises an eyebrow as she takes in Lisa’s haggard form.

“You look exhausted!” She exclaims, abandoning the stack of papers to meet Lisa at the threshold, grabbing the older woman by the shoulders and looking over her up and down. Were she any less tired, Lisa would’ve found the whole gesture heartwarming.

“Tell me about it,” Lisa huffs, stepping closer to Jean and throwing her arms around the younger woman’s shoulders, sighing as she lets herself relax. Jean, on her part, doesn’t resist the exploit, merely giggling as she returns the embrace, rubbing circles comfortingly into Lisa’s back. All the while, Lisa takes solace in the lightning that sparks where their limbs touch, always a refreshing feeling.

“Did something happen?” Jean asks.

“No, nothing major. I just had a… rather difficult conversation with Razor today.”

“Difficult?” Jean echoes. “That’s not a word I hear associated with Razor a lot— usually he’s very well-behaved.”

“No, no, he still was!” Lisa quickly clarifies. This is definitely her fatigued brain slacking in its usual verbose vocabulary. “It was just a conversation I had never expected to have with him. You could say I was drastically underprepared.”

Indeed, it had been quite the spectacle. After explaining how she and Jeans weren’t mates, or even romantically involved per say, she’d gone on to admit to her little perk from her Vision— the one that let her see the lightning that connects two life-bound individuals together.

For the life of him, Razor simply could not fathom why she hadn’t told Jean about their metaphysical bond.

(“If I tell Jean, then I might get in the way with her ambitions,” Lisa had explained patiently. “I don’t wish to interfere with Jean’s dreams, let alone her future.”

“But if you and Jean are bound, aren’t you Jean’s future as well?” Razor had questioned, bewildered. “I am still confused.”

Lisa hadn’t had a good response to that one— she’d ended up remedying the situation by remarking how late it had gotten while laughing; apologizing profusely to a befuddled Razor as she’d picked herself up from the ground and made up some dramatic excuse about needing to water her flowers before midnight.)

“It’s nothing you have to worry about, Jean,” Lisa says swiftly.

“If you say so,” Jean says, amused. “But if there’s anything you do need me to do, please feel free to let me know.”

“Actually,” Lisa considers. She turns her head to smile into the crook of Jean’s neck. “There is something. My afternoon tea sessions have gotten rather lonely recently— I’d like to request your presence.”

--

There was a time when Lisa would find someone else imposing upon her teatime an absurd idea— leave it to Jean to help with expanding her horizons. She’d once suggested that Jean have her own tea sessions, only for the knight to kindly reject the suggestion in favor of spending her precious time working for Mondstadt.

Truthfully, Lisa doesn’t know how she hadn’t seen the answer before, given how all of Jean’s actions are inherently linked to helping others. Lisa hums to herself as she dwells on the topic— perhaps it’s a bit of trickery on her part, but it’s amusing how, after leaving herself and her affections out of the equation for so long, the solution seems to be inserting herself back in.

The funniest part is how Jean seems to know this too.

“I know what you wanted out of this. You knew that I could never deny you, didn’t you?” Jean asks with a chuckle from the other side of the table, sighing in amused concession as her finger plays with the handle of her teacup.

“You’d be surprised how long it took me to come to this conclusion,” Lisa replies, a corner of her lip quirking up. She raises her cup to her lips, takes a sip of the warm liquid. Ah. Now that she’d monopolized Jean’s attention once, she never wanted it to end. “I didn’t used to want others to disturb my precious downtime, but this is rather pleasant.”

“This is going to become a regular thing, isn’t it?” Jean sighs once more, dramatic, as if in defeat.

“You sound as if you have no say in the matter.” Lisa pouts, crossing her arms. “It’s not as though I’m going to force you, Jean.”

“I know.” Jean flashes a smile her way, and Lisa has to remind herself to breathe. “And yet, while I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, this is very nice, and I like being able to talk with you in a state beyond work or panic or exhaustion.”

Somehow, Lisa’s hand ends up in Jean’s, their fingers intertwining when they meet halfway across the table, and she’s said this before, but it’s still downright unfair, how charming Jean can be without even trying.

“Apologies, Miss Lisa,” she says, smile widening. “But can you indulge your knight a bit more?”

--

A bit more turns into the next day, and then the next. The weekend comes up and they get lunch, and as the work week rears its head yet again, Lisa finds herself answering questions about what kinds of pastries she likes from Cat’s Tail, Jean promising to bring some for the following afternoon.

“You’re rather fond of tea, aren’t you?” Jean asks during one of their daily teatimes. “Have you ever considered joining that mage organization, Hexenzirkel? I heard they host tea parties.”

“I was invited, yes.” The witch scrunches her nose, face contorting in an expression of such distaste that it has Jean smothering back laughter. “And I will just say that the idea of Irminsul exploration and formal tea parties just leaves me cold.”

“Ah, so not to your liking, then,” Jean concludes.

“No, not quite.” Lisa tilts her head, resting her chin on a hand as she smiles sweetly at Jean. “I much prefer these meetings of ours.”

“What a coincidence!” Jean nods approvingly. “I was about to say the same.”

--

The days continue to churn by passingly, and before Lisa knows it, another year with the Knights of Favonius has come and gone. Her days tending to the library and mixing potions in her workshop are peaceful for the most part, although she’s no stranger to combat when she’s called out to deal with the occasional larger threat of rare Abyss mages.

(Although she doesn’t voice it aloud, not yet, Lisa finds herself worrying as these Abyssal encounters start occurring with more frequency— the trend isn’t noticeable to the average knight, but Lisa is no average individual. She vows to bring up the issue at the next encounter.)

For the most part, she remains faithfully by Jean’s side. Perhaps she isn’t Jean’s most trusted aide - that role goes to Kaeya - but she’s well aware of Jean’s affinity for her, entrusting her with tasks that no ordinary librarian would ever be trusted with.

The day Varka departs on his expedition with the city’s elite forces is the day Jean gets appointed Acting Grand Master, and Lisa stands just behind the young blonde woman’s right shoulder as they send off the group.

She looks at Jean with her head still held high, posture as perfectly tall as usual, not at all giving way under the weight of the burden now placed on her shoulders.

Sure, Jean had already been carrying Mondstadt’s weight even when Varka was here, but now it’s official and Lisa can’t help but think that’s terrifying.

She convenes with Jean in Varka’s— no, Jean’s new office at night.

“It’s strange,” the Rose Witch comments, idling by the corner of Jean’s grand desk, “Being in here without that jovial man.”

“Isn’t it?” Jean chuckles, the sound echoing through the otherwise quiet room. She sits behind the desk, at the chair Varka used to sit in, and Lisa thinks it fits her, sitting in this place of power. “I never came in here while he was out on quests. I’ve only ever been here at his side, and even then, this room felt… different.”

“Master Varka really knew how to make his presence fill the space.”

“He did.” Jean pauses, breath catching in her throat, and all of a sudden, she seems to shrink in on herself, looking smaller in that grand chair that had fit her so well just a second ago. “I know I was already handling much of Mondstadt for him, but… it’s still going to be hard, filling his shoes.”

“Silly girl,” Lisa says affectionately. “You don’t have to be Varka— all you have to do is be our Jean.”

She scoots closer, perching herself on the desk, before boldly reaching out to pull at the ribbon in Jean’s hair. She watches blonde locks tumble out of its hold, Jean remaining still and watching Lisa with wide, clear blue eyes; a whole sky.

“Make the Mondstadt you want to make,” she murmurs, threading her fingers through Jean’s soft locks. Her gaze softens as her purple lightning makes its appearance yet again, fizzling and crackling, intertwining them together, reminding Lisa why she’s grown to love this place so much. “I’m here, Kaeya’s here, Amber, Klee, and so many others. We all want to help you see your dreams through to the end.”

“Stay with me,” Jean says quietly, almost begging, and Lisa’s heart aches as Jean’s gloved hand comes to fist itself in the fabric of her dress. “Please, stay with me.”

“If you’ll settle for someone like me by your side,” Lisa replies, just as quiet, as if she’d ever have the heart to leave. She lets her guard down, letting Jean in instead. “Then I would be proud to stay with you.”

She wonders, belatedly, if she would’ve been this affectionate towards Jean had she never seen the lightning, never knew they were bound. I suppose that doesn’t matter, she muses, as she continues to comb through Jean’s hair fondly. Most people love their soulmate just fine without that knowledge, after all.

It’s comforting to think about— how she would’ve ended up here, at Jean’s side, regardless of her Vision’s quirk or not.

--

Lumine, interestingly enough, doesn’t even have a Vision.

She’s a curious girl, that Traveler, especially with her flying companion, Paimon, by her side, and her glowing, otherworldly-looking attire. The knights all take a shine to her immediately, Jean and Lisa included, with Lumine always eager to help them with their tasks. She truly is an Honorary Knight, befitting well for Mondstadt’s new savior from Stormterror.

(Lisa spies something interesting one day, when she’s taking care of business around the city and spots Amber instructing Lumine on what she can only guess are the “advanced gliding maneuvers” the Outrider loves to enthuse about.

Perhaps it’s just the way the sunlight hits, but Lisa swears she sees a spark of lightning when the two girls brush hands.

The witch smiles mysteriously to herself as she files this information away for later. How interesting.)

With all the running and gliding around Lumine and Paimon accomplish every day, Lisa wonders if she ever sleeps— a preposterous idea, truly. Nevertheless, Lumine is quite the morning person, and Lisa… well, Lisa isn’t exactly the most astute during the ungodly hours of the day.

“Good morning, Jean…” Lisa yawns before blinking. Wait. “Oh, it’s you, Lumine! Sorry, cutie, it’s still very early. What could you need in the library at such an hour?”

--

"I heard you went on a date with our new traveler friend this morning."

It's an off-handed observation from Jean early in the afternoon, and Lisa stifles a quiet titter of laughter as she indulges in Jean's attempt at nonchalance; as if she'd ever date someone as young as Lumine. Still—

"Was it a date? I suppose it could've been." 

Fighting back a broader smile, Lisa simply makes a noise of admission as she crosses Jean's office, coming to stand near the corner of Jean's desk.

Immediately, Jean reaches out and grasps at her wrist, effectively pulling Lisa closer. Something flashes in Jean's uncharacteristically cloudy blue eyes, and before she knows it, the witch finds herself switching spots with Jean— suddenly, Lisa is the one in the chair, and Jean is on her feet, one hand still holding the emerald-eyed woman's wrist, the other cupping at Lisa's cheek; electric, sizzling.

"Was it a date?" Jean asks quietly, unusually stiff, and Lisa, stunned beyond comprehension, merely parts her lips, words failing.

A certain silence rings through the office, different from the one that had permeated post-Varka's departure; a new type of silence, for a completely different reason that Lisa dares not put a label on— her heart can't handle it.

She doesn't know what she and Jean are. They're intimate despite having no label, without a doubt— Lisa wastes no time draping herself all over Jean like goo melting in the sun, and Jean continues to lean into her touches, just shy of asking Lisa for attention herself.

And they're soulmates, that much is incredibly clear to Lisa, but she can't get a read on Jean, can hardly see behind that veil of honor and duty.

Perhaps now is one of those times when the veil is inexplicably pulled back.

"No," Lisa murmurs, smiles dourly. "It wasn't a date." Specifics aside, Lumine isn't you.

There’s a beat of silence—

—But then it’s like Jean’s a new person, that unreadable expression clearing up like a sky after a storm. The tense air in the office seems to dissipate with the sudden change, and Jean is smiling like nothing was ever wrong in the first place, but the glimmer in her eye says that the knight had just received all the information she ever needed to know.

“Good.” Jean looks unbelievably, unfathomably pleased.

Lisa, on the other hand, still finds herself reeling.

“Is it?” She jokes shakily.

“Yes.”

Well. With such confidence from the other woman, Lisa is inherently inclined to agree.

The Rose Witch finally sighs, deflating in Jean's seat. All at once she’s hit with the scent of dandelions, the fresh smell enveloping her whole, and Lisa tries hard not to focus too hard on the way Jean lingers nearby, hovering less than an arm’s length away.

"I fear you've begun using my own tactics of vulnerability against me," she says, laughing warily.

Jean smirks, a mindless hand running through Lisa's hair before pulling loose.

"I've been told I'm a fast learner."

"It's one of your virtues," Lisa agrees, albeit begrudgingly and while pouting. Jean’s always been an intuitive individual, and even doubly attentive. Perhaps it’s why they mesh so well— Lisa’s never not considered herself a scholar, and being able to match wits with someone beyond the power-driven individuals she’d encountered while on her studies had been refreshing.

Right now, however, she can’t help but mentally curse Jean’s adaptive tendencies.

“I’m happy you think so,” Jean says, seemingly delighted. Her hands dance up Lisa’s arms, coming to rest on her shoulders, rubbing circles comfortingly and completely ignoring the sound of surprise that escapes Lisa’s throat as purple electricity sparks beneath Jean’s fingers. “You’ve seen so many things during your travels— I’m glad to hear that I can still keep you on your toes.”

What an interesting woman. Lisa breathes out a laugh. “Why does this feel like a reversal? Where did this assertiveness come from?”

“I’m simply honored to have caught your eye, Miss Lisa.” Jean winks before stepping away, lightning sizzling in the air before fading completely. “And now that we have that out of the way, shall we have our usual tea?”

--

She should’ve known things wouldn’t stay peaceful.

If only Dvalin had simply stayed away.

“Go home early, Lisa,” Jean had said in passing, gripping Lisa’s hand as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder in an empty hallway, stained by the dying afternoon light. The lightning between them flashed more hauntingly than ever before. “I’ll be out late tonight dealing with unfinished business. Please, go home and stay safe.”

And then Jean had headed out, off to fight Stormterror with Diluc, Lumine, and a familiar-looking bard in one final, terrifying showdown.

As she lies in bed, her room bathed in darkness, Lisa worries for her the entire time.

It’s a night with no sleep.

--

The following morning eventually arrives and Jean is in her office, sitting behind her desk and amicably writing her address to Mondstadt’s people like nothing major had ever transpired the evening prior.

Not having even visited her workshop yet, Lisa strides into the room with a vigor. She throws the book in her arm to the side, even taking off her signature hat as she purposefully crosses the space.

“Lisa!” Jean exclaims in surprise as the witch agilely steps around her desk. “What do you— Oh.”

The Acting Grand Master settles into the tight embrace quite nicely.

“Welcome home,” Lisa says softly, relieved to feel Jean’s frame in her arms, electricity and all.

“I’m home,” Jean replies, just as warm.

--

She hears about Lumine’s upcoming departure from the other knights - news travels fast in the Ordo Favonius - before eventually hearing it from Lumine herself.

“Oh, I do hope you take the time to take in all of Teyvat’s sights!” Lisa had said enthusiastically. “There’s so much variety in this land, although perhaps you wouldn’t be able to tell from just Mondstadt alone. But trust me, dear, when you set foot into Liyue and its culture, you will understand.”

Traveling had always been a spectacular concept to her— as a little girl, it had been her dream to travel for her studies, after all. Although, she will admit that it’s a new feeling to be the one sending another off into the world, for once. Varka had been different, as a well-worn adventure himself whose eventual return was nearly inevitable, but Lumine was just starting out on her journey, much as Lisa once had. Despite Lumine’s I’ll definitely make sure to stop by with new books, Lisa can’t help but wonder if that would actually be the case.

It makes her think: how often had Lisa been that fleeting presence in someone’s life? She’d met so many people on her travels, had come and gone after conversations, after dinners, after days of brief camaraderie. Would Lumine be one such presence in Lisa’s own life?

She tries not to dwell on it— after all, she’d become awfully fond of the young blonde girl, and would definitely like to think that this hadn’t been a last conversation.

Lisa isn’t the only one who’d grown fond of Lumine, though.

Much like the news of Lumine’s departure, she hears Amber’s sadness before she sees it.

Rather, from a distance she spies the brunette girl behind the headquarters later that day, and Lisa bites down on her lip, a chisel at her heart from the sound of Amber's muted crying. For a moment, she debates whether she should tell her, for Amber's mental state of mind, of the lightning she'd seen flickering between the Outrider and the Traveler; of the bond she knows their souls share, of the knowledge that Lumine is Amber's soulmate, that they're destined to be each other's happy ending and new beginning.

Should she tell Amber? While it had never been her intention to keep the binding lightning a secret, she’s also never exactly told anyone outside of fellow Electro users, mostly to see if they’d had similar experiences— and she’s never told anyone their soulmate before.

Would it even be right if I do? Is that what Amber needs?

“She’ll come back.”

Lisa inhales sharply at the new voice.

"It'll be alright," she hears Jean continue gently, probably laying a steady hand on Amber's shoulder, that soft, reassuring smile Lisa loves so much undoubtedly on her face. "Lumine will return."

"How do you know?" Amber asks, sniffling. Her voice is muffled, head buried in her arms. "Why would she even want to, when she can see so many different worlds?"

"That's something I used to wonder as well."

"What do you mean?" Amber sounds confused, and Lisa furrows her brow. Jean hadn't been talking about Lumine just then, had she? 

"Nothing," Jean says with a chuckle. "Amber, you're someone special to Lumine— I know it. You were the first person to reach out to her, and you're the first person she let know that she was leaving." The Dandelion Knight's voice takes on something soft. "You share a bond with her that's special not just to you, but to Lumine as well. I promise you, this isn't the last time you'll see each other."

“You really think so?” The Outrider asks weakly, her tears starting to ebb.

“I do,” Jean says, kind. “I bet she’ll even be back for the Ludi Harpastum festival.”

“Lumine would never break a promise, would she?”

“She would never.”

Blowing out a soft sigh of relief, Lisa pushes herself off the wall, a hand held over her heart. Jean had known just what to say, bless the Archon, and somehow, Lisa knows that this is what Amber had truly needed to hear.

Comforted by the knowledge that Amber was being taken care of, Lisa moves to return into the Favonius Headquarters.

“I’ve never felt like this for someone before, Master Jean…”

“I know, I know…”

“Did someone come back for you?” Amber wonders aloud.

And as she walks away from the pair, Lisa hears the smile in Jean’s next words—

“She did. And I thank Barbatos every day for never letting me lose faith.”

--

Two months later and Lumine does return to Mondstadt for Ludi Harpastum, just as Jean said she would.

Lisa, Amber, and the Grand Master herself are outside the headquarters when it happens, stringing up streamers along the nearby walls and bushes that adorn nearby walkways, having offered to contribute to the decorating effort to help the festival committee, when—

“Do you need an extra pair of hands?”

“Two extra pairs of hands! Paimon can help too!”

And Lisa’s seen Amber run before – Amber hardly ever doesn’t run or glide – but she’s never seen Amber run like this, a surprised squeak leaving the red-donning girl’s lips as she spins on her heel and dashes to throw her arms around Lumine’s neck in a big embrace.

Bless Lumine’s quick reflexes. Lisa giggles at the endearing scene, sharing a knowing look with Jean. Her heart warms at the purple electricity that crackles between the younger girls, Paimon energetically flying circles around them.

“You’re back!” Amber exclaims, absolutely glowing with elation and positively beaming.

“I promised, didn’t I?” Lumine laughs, squeezing Amber in return.

“I’m so glad you made it back in time!”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I’ll be back for all fifteen days— you’ll show me around the festival, right?”

“Of course,” Amber says breathlessly. “I’d love to!”

"Great! I won't leave your side!"

There's a chime of laughter to her right, and Lisa turns her head to see a smiling Jean, who wordlessly motions the Rose Witch to step closer.

"I'm glad everything has worked out for them," Lisa murmurs as she takes the hand Jean holds out to her, the knight steering her away from the reunited pair, back into the headquarters. "Amber, the poor dear, was trying so hard not to get her hopes up."

"I'm glad as well," Jean hums, bumping her arm against Lisa's before letting go of her hand to hold the door open for the other woman. "I won't lie, I got in contact with Lady Ningguang, to ask if she could relay a message to Lumine for me. Thankfully, Lumine's response was that she'd already been planning on partaking in Ludi Harpastum before traveling to Inazuma."

"Oh?" Lisa raises an eyebrow. "How did you manage to contact the Tianquan?"

"Mona's connections."

"Ah, to the Liyue Qixing! Did she get in contact with Keqing?"

"Surprisingly, no," Jean says, chuckling. She leads Lisa into her office. "Apparently something happened a few weeks ago that allowed her to become acquainted with Lady Ningguang personally. When I inquired further, Mona just shook her head, rolled her eyes, and muttered something about 'reckless idiots' before telling me not to worry about it."

"That girl sure has her secrets." Lisa giggles. "Although I suppose it suits her, being a powerful astrologist and all. Do you think she'll be inviting Keqing for the celebration?"

"I'd say there's a good chance."

"It's wonderful that everyone seems to have someone to attend with."

"Speaking of which," Jean comments. She crosses the office space with ease, propping herself up against her desk, tossing Lisa that unfairly charming smile. "You'll be attending the banquet on the seventh night, won't you?"

At the mere mention of the banquet, Lisa tips her head back and lets out a low groan. She loves Ludi Harpastum dearly, and this would be her second celebrating with the Knight of Favonius— however, after attending the annual banquet once the year prior, Lisa had already had enough for a lifetime.

The essence of the particular event had been to appease Mondstadt's aristocrats more than anything— after Barbatos had returned to free Mondstadt of its prior aristocratic reign, this banquet had been made to appease the wealthier off, to at least acknowledge their presence as they'd so often demanded to be.

Every Favonius knight is invited, but in all technicality, only the Grand Master has to attend. Lisa hardly knew of any fellow knights who willingly participated— all of those who attended were either knights from well-off families, or those who'd somehow gotten bribed into it. Kaeya was in the former category, being the adopted son of the esteemed Ragnvindr Family. Last year, Amber had also attended, albeit in the latter category— Kaeya had promised to treat her to Cat's Tail cooking the following day.

Lisa had hated every minute of it— the grandeur, the facetious pretentiousness of it all, the formality, all of it. Nevertheless, she'd bared through it for her friends, and she'd watched Jean from a distance as the blonde knight would indulge in the many stuck-up aristocrats in mingling about. Lisa had done her best to do the same, but she'd tapped out near midnight, completely exhausted.

This year, she'd planned on sitting this one out, but—

"Well, I hadn't been planning on it," the Rose Witch admits, wincing, "But if you wish for me to attend, then perhaps I can show up—"

"Will you go with me?" Jean interjects casually.

What.

"Wait." Lisa makes a timeout motion with her hands, disbelieving. "With you?"

"Yes. Will you be my date, Lisa?" Jean's smile broadens, somehow making her even more attractive than before. "I'm sure the night would be ten times more bearable with a beautiful lady such as yourself by my side."

She feels the heat rush to her face, and suddenly there's a pounding in her chest, hammering with such ridiculous force that Lisa wonders if it'll burst from her chest. The girls around Mondstadt like to throw around the phrase “knightly like Jean” without a thought in the world, but Lisa knows they’ve never been enchanted like this.

"Well," she mumbles, dipping her head to hide her eyes beneath the rim of her large hat. "If you ask me like that, how could I refuse?"

--

The prior year’s Ludi Harpastum had been fun, yes, but were she to choose between last year’s festival and this year’s, Lisa finds that there’s absolutely no contest.

“You’re going to enjoy yourself,” Mona had told her earlier, out of nowhere. The astrologist had been visiting Lisa’s workshop to drop off some documents the Rose Witch had requested, when Mona, in a spontaneous spark of interest, had suddenly whipped out her astrolabe sigil and performed an on the spot reading of Lisa’s immediate future.

“Well, isn’t that very vague,” Lisa had quipped in return. Really, you'd think such a powerful mage like Mona would be a bit more specific.

“I don’t think I should spoil it for you,” Mona simply smirked, raising her shoulders in a theatrical shrug. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

It's only the first day, and Lisa’s still not sure what the other mage had been specifically referring to, but as she strolls through the festive city streets with Jean at her side, filled with the laughter of people joyously celebrating, she figures it doesn't matter that much— she'll enjoy it all instead.

"I see even Razor's joined in on the fun," Jean notes in amusement as she points out a confused and slightly concerned-looking Razor getting pulled through the crowd by an energetic Klee.

Lisa giggles. "I hope the poor boy doesn't get too worn out by our little Spark Knight."

"For my sanity's sake," Jean sighs, "I hope he doesn't either."

"Isn't mothering difficult?" The witch teases, green eyes glimmering.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Jean looks elsewhere.

"Whatever you say, my knight." Lisa singsongs but wisely chooses not to press further.

They pass by Angel's Share, and Lisa waves as four familiar faces come into view— Lumine, Amber, Mona, and Keqing all seated around an outdoor table.

"Enjoying yourselves?" Jean asks, to which she receives an enthusiastic chorus of yes!

They mingle for a little, exchanging pleasant idle talk before beginning to bid the younger girls goodbye.

"Lisa!" Keqing calls out as the Rose Witch is about to walk away, arm already linked with Jean's. "I’m hesitant to admit it, but while I'm not staying permanently, I did realize that I'd found something in Mondstadt."

"Did you, now?" The smile on Lisa's face grows. She remembers the first time she'd met Keqing, the lavender-haired girl casually locking hands with Mona, sending purple electricity sparking animatedly through the air around them. Feeling playful, Lisa had decided to hint at their budding feelings, feeling a kinship with Keqing right off the bat due to their shared Electro Visions.

"Yes," Keqing slots her hand against Mona's just as easily, if not easier, than she had before. "It came to me rather effortlessly."

"What did it take?" Lisa inquires, blatantly ignoring the way Jean shoots her and Keqing questioning looks, one to the other. She’s curious— she hadn’t expected either twin-tailed girl to move so quickly. "For you to realize, I mean."

"Only a near-death experience," Keqing chirps, to which Mona shrugs, Lumine looks strangely sheepish, and Amber looks downright concerned.

"Wait," the Outrider interjects, gobsmacked. "You nearly died recently?!"

"Yeah, sorry for not being there…" Lumine dips her head shyly.

"It's fine," Mona says, answering for the Yuheng in a blasé manner, waving the other girls off with the flick of her wrist. "Ningguang was there and I made it in time. Baobei was just confined to bed rest for two weeks."

Jean's mouth parts in shock. "Two weeks?!"

“Give or take,” Keqing says before shooting her partner a scrutinizing look, narrowed eyes and all. “And what did I say about calling me that?”

Mona shrugs again, simultaneously not apologizing whilst somehow managing to harbor the smuggest expression Lisa’s ever seen the astrologist wear.

"That doesn't sound easy at all," Lisa says, skeptical.

"You'd be surprised how eye opening it was," Keqing insists before grinning wickedly. "You know, I heard from Mona that there are some great Ruin Guards at the Thousand Wind Temple nearby. And those things— let's just say that they can literally knock some sense into a person. Perhaps, if you're really desperate for progress — as I know you must be, Lisa, always the erudite — then maybe—"

"I think we'll pass!" Jean cuts in, sending Lisa into a peal of laughter as the knight pointedly drags her away.

--

Lisa spends the next few days attending the festival and making her rounds in content obliviousness. Occasionally, she even mentally hopes that the seventh night will never come.

Perhaps then, the banquet, its sleazy aristocrats, and the unfortunate amount of men making passes at her body or asking for her hand (and looking for a trophy wife), could finally fall into a state of oblivion.

At the very least, she’ll be attending with Jean. Maybe that could ease the weight of the whole ordeal.

--

So perhaps she’d underestimated Jean’s influence, just the slightest bit.

A few hours into the banquet and, despite the typical sleazy aristocrats present, there are absolutely no attempts on her body or for her hand; not even a single passing remark beyond the courteously polite you look beautiful as always tonight, Miss Minci before political inquires get directed to the woman at her side.

It’s all because she’s hanging off Jean’s arm.

Or something like that— it’s not like she’s clutching onto her friend or anything, but more like Jean’s always there. Even when Lisa detangles herself from the blonde woman, whether to take food or a beverage from a waiter, or to greet an acquaintance she hasn’t seen in a while, Jean always casually hovers— a hand on Lisa’s shoulder, a hand on Lisa’s waist, a hand grazing Lisa’s hand.

Not enough to be overbearing, but just enough to be present and — dare Lisa say it — possessive.

Her lightning is having a field day today. Thankfully, the sparks have never been intrusive, and Lisa likes to think of it as something akin to comforting background noise.

“Aren’t you the perfect gentlewoman tonight?” Lisa comments, giggling as Jean politely waves off another male who’d dared tried to speak about Mondstadt’s tax situation before civilly getting turned down.

Jean makes a sound of acknowledgement, turning to Lisa with a serene smile.

“I’m glad I’m coming across as such. Though, I will admit, I’m growing rather tired of socializing. Let’s go to the balcony?”

That’s how Lisa finds herself leaning over a railing, enjoying a pleasant evening breeze that Lisa just knows is unique to Mondstadt, the scent of dandelions and everything.

Meanwhile, Jean lingers by the glass doors— Lisa feels her gaze lingering on her frame.

“Are you enjoying yourself tonight, Lisa?”

“Surprisingly, yes.” The librarian turns around, lips curling upwards. “Though, I believe my date may have something to do with that.”

“I’m glad,” Jean says earnestly, rocking back and forth on her heels. “But I will say, I’m sorry you’ve had to bear through so much political talk. It must have been boring.”

No, no, I treasure any time when I’m with you.

“I feel like I should be telling you that,” Lisa reasons instead. “You’re the one who such things are directed to.”

“I’ve gotten used to it,” Jean admits, breathing out a short laugh. “I’ve had to attend so many gatherings of this stature ever since I was a child. Motivated individuals are always looking to take advantage of any opportunity— what better place to grab a conversation than a party?”

“When you put it that way, then I can’t entirely blame them. In the end, there is all sorts of merit to chasing after what you want.” Lisa sighs wistfully. She loves Ludi Harpastrum, but these moments where she’s truly alone with Jean are scarce. She’ll miss this when they return to the ballroom. “Although, if I were the one in their shoes, I would read the room and try to gauge the atmosphere.”

“Is that so? I can agree with that.”

With a considerate look, Jean hums to herself and crosses the expanse with ease, the action so fluid that Lisa hardly registers the motion at all. But then suddenly Jean's arm is curling itself around her waist, the other woman's hand coming to press against the small of her back, fingers curling into silky purple fabric, and Lisa can hardly breathe.

“And if I want this?” Jean asks, low.

She has never been bothered by her lightning, but Jean’s touch has Lisa outright shuddering as sparks fly down the course of her spine—

“Oh.” A faint breath escapes the Rose Witch’s lips.

The close proximity leaves her stunned— Jean has never been this close before, occupying her space, breathing her air. Her back is pushed against the stone railing, and there's a whole ballroom of people just a glass pane away. Still, all the bustling, the music, the chatter, it all fades to nothing as Lisa finds herself enchanted by pale blue hues and a soft, warm smile that she wants nothing more than to drown in.

“Is this okay?” Jean asks, because of course she does; because for all of her unfaltering dedication to their City of Freedom, Jean herself is gentle; because Jean has to be near enough hard edges, because some people just deserve soft things.

Lisa nods, a little desperate, more than a little flustered. She’s the older one, she’s the one who does the teasing and has vowed to be Jean's steady brace, and yet here she is, falling apart at the seams as she sees a distant world reveal itself, finally within reach.

“Please,” she murmurs, purple flickering at the edge of her vision.

All of her studies from Sumeru, all of the knowledge in the world, all of the lightning concentrated in the palm of her hand— none of it could've prepared her for this.

And when Jean leans down to kiss her, presses a smile against Lisa's lips, cups Lisa’s cheek with a hand and coaxes her through it all with such adoration that her heart might burst with the sparks dancing in her chest like fireworks, Lisa closes her eyes and tangles her fingers in whites and azures; closes her eyes and loses herself in blue skies and dandelion fields, embraces the lightning and it feels like coming home.

--

“Do you think it would be suspicious if we just left?”

“I suspect it might be, considering how you’re the Acting Grand Master.”

“Do you even care about that, or should I just stop thinking?”

“I think we could easily come up with an excuse for your absence later on, should the issue arise.”

“True. I arranged our schedules so that we have no rounds tomorrow.”

“Oh?” Lisa is amused. “So you knew this would happen?”

“While I do love how you go with the flow,” Jean smirks, smug. “I’ve learned that sometimes, it pays off to think ahead.”

--

The sun is rising, just barely peeking over the mountainous horizon, when Lisa finally settles into Jean's embrace with an exhausted smile, utterly spent but satiated. Bare skin against bare skin, Lisa tilts her head up, pressing a soft kiss to the underside of Jean's jaw and sighing, more content than she's been in years.

The sparks are still there, and they'll never leave, Lisa knows. But they fizz and whir into warmth, skid across her skin in a different way from last night— one of comfort, safety, and increasing familiarity, not commanding her full attention, but present enough for Lisa to know they're there; that this is real.

"You know," she purrs, teasingly. She feels Jean's fingers dance their way around her waist before settling and pulling her closer. "For someone with supposedly no experience, it sure felt like you knew what you were doing, my dear Jean."

"What can I say?" Jean drawls, equally as coy as she drops a kiss of her own into Lisa's hair, and the Rose Witch feels the younger woman's lips curve into a smile. "I'm a fast learner— I believe it was you who once called that one of my virtues."

"One of your many, many virtues."

"Did you discover more just recently?" Jean asks, bold.

Lisa giggles, pleasantly surprised. She closes her eyes, tucking herself beneath Jean's chin, feeling the first tendrils of sleep start to stake their claim over her.

"They've been added to a list that had already been long enough."

"You say that as if it's a bad thing." Jean sounds amused.

"It means even more people will fall for you," Lisa complains tiredly. Not that Jean could ever belong to anyone else, but still... She grips Jean's hand, intertwining their fingers. "Speaking of which, you are never to take your hair out of your ponytail while working, especially around others. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, ma'am," Jean chuckles. With one hand, she reaches out for the discarded blanket, pulling it over their bodies with ease. "For your eyes only."

"Good girl."

In her last waking moments, Lisa doesn't miss the way Jean shivers at the term of affection— not unlike herself and her special sparks. She smiles at the reaction, filing away the information in a safe place, storing it for a later reference.

--

Breakfast is more than a comfy affair. They’d returned to Lisa’s apartment last night, being closer to the ballroom that Jean’s, and in the early morning light, the younger woman has already made herself at home, leisurely lounging around Lisa’s kitchen table nursing a mug of coffee, flipping through volume 9 of Vera’s Melancholy with her free hand.

“I still find it hilarious how volume 9 ended with Vera’s demise,” Jean says, laughing silently to herself as her new lover steps into the kitchen, freshly showered. “What an entertaining series! I forgot to say it earlier, but thank you for introducing it to me.”

“You mistake me, I simply needed someone else to suffer through the long wait periods with me between volumes,” Lisa teases, running a hand through her damp hair before gratefully taking the steaming tea Jean holds out to her.

“Well, your wish came true.” Jean’s eyes twinkle humorously as she snaps the novel closed. “We can wait together.”

“Thankfully, you won’t have to wait for long,” Lisa comments. She sets her tea down and begins making her way across the kitchen. Adoringly, she pauses for a moment to run her fingers through Jean’s hair, still down from its usual ponytail, sparks dancing, dropping a quick kiss to the side of Jean’s head — the content sound the Grand Master makes causing Lisa to smile wide — before heading towards the living room.

“Lisa?” Jean calls after her. “Lisa, you can’t tell me—”

“Volume 10 arrived at my doorstep yesterday,” Lisa smirks, returning to the kitchen with the aforementioned book in hand. “You’re one lucky lady.”

“And here I thought I’d used up all my luck last night,” Jean jokes. She reaches out, pulling Lisa onto her lap, hugging the older woman and resting her cheek against her back.

“Archons,” the knight breathes out in disbelief as though the weight of everything that had transpired had just caught up to her. “I love you so much, Lisa.”

“And I love you too, Jean,” Lisa says warmly, affection pouring out of her very being for this woman. She’s loved Jean for a while, and yet, despite knowing of their inevitable bond, she knows her love has grown from it all— she let their story play out, with no regrets to be found.

As if in agreement, her lightning sings in return over their skin, flashing bright before simmering down— always present, never intrusive, a welcome old friend.

"So you've never seen that purple lightning connect you to anyone else, have you?" Jean suddenly asks, out of the blue.

The world comes to a halt.

In shock, Lisa's eyes widen, her mouth parting as Vera’s Melancholy vol. 10 drops to the floor next to them with a slam.

"Well, besides between you and me, I suppose," Jean continues, undeterred and presenting the question as if she'd been talking about the weather. "I won't judge you if you have, but I was under the impression that it was our special thing."

“Timeout,” Lisa stutters, her mind slowly starting to resume normal functionality. She twists around in Jean’s lap to stare at her lover, still astonished. “You can see it?”

“Was I not supposed to?” Jean frowns. Belatedly, she peeks over at the floor, to where Lisa’s new novel lays forgotten.

“I— I don’t know.” Nothing, not even the most groundbreaking magical breakthroughs, have ever caught Lisa this off guard before. “Just… how long have you been able to see it?”

“Since we first shook hands in Varka’s office all those years ago.” Jean’s tone is sheepish. She tilts her chin up, blue eyes big and earnest. “It’s just that after your initial surprise, you never acknowledged it again, so I thought it was something I was supposed to ignore.”

“I just… Wow.” Lisa blows out a breath, shaking her head. She huffs out a laugh. Who would’ve known? And she’s not angry— just more stunned than anything. “I’ve seen the lightning connect pairs of other people before, but they were never able to see it— it’s always been just me.”

“Ah, so that explains it.” Jean nods. She takes Lisa’s hand, threads their fingers together, and as they both pointedly watch the resulting lightning, Lisa heaves out a sigh of relief and sinks forward into Jean’s embrace.

“I’m glad you can see it,” she mumbles into the crook of the blonde woman’s neck.

“I’m glad too,” Jean smiles. “Doesn’t that mean it wasn’t one-sided from the beginning?”

“I don’t know,” Lisa says, but smiles into Jean’s skin nonetheless. “But that’s what I choose to believe.”

“Good. You know, lions are very possessive, Lisa.”

There’s a gust of wind, and Lisa feels the faint tickle of a dandelion against the back of her hand.

“Are they?”

With a flourish of her hand, a single Electro rose appears at her fingertips.

“Yes.”

Well. With that confidence — perhaps coupled by the mouth nipping at her neck and the laughter that bubbles up from her lips — Lisa is more than inclined to agree.

 

End.