Alice's kitchen was a haven of delicious scents as the woman moved around from pot to pan, making sure everything was bubbling away.
When she saw someone attempt to sneak her way into the kitchen and help, she glanced at the woman with a feigned warning glare.
"Don't even think about, Sakuya".
Sakuya smiled, almost innocuous and placed her hands behind her as Shanghai and Hourai intercepted her path.
"Are you sure I cannot help you? You're going out of your way for me like this, just as you always do".
"Yes, you cannot help me" Alice said and walked towards the taller woman, giving her a quick kiss before going back to her task at hand, "And it isn't going out of my if I enjoy doing this for you. Besides, it is your day off so please just relax".
"I'm not sure I quite know how to" Sakuya laughed softly as she took a seat at the kitchen table.
"Considering where you work, why is that not a surprise".
There was a slight bitterness to that sentence, one Sakuya had become well-versed with when it came to Alice's thoughts on Remilia. She hoped that the blonde could witness the many sides to her eccentric mistress one day but as her lover, Alice's care towards her took precedence and Sakuya did appreciate it.
"I know" the blonde smiled, "I'm sorry" she said whilst plating the dishes up.
Sakuya grabbed her hand gently, pulling her closer before turning her hand over to expose Alice's wrist.
She placed a kiss above the wrist accessory, lingering for a moment.
The magician felt her knees buckle a tad at the delicate gesture when blue eyes looked up at her which rendered her to a diffident demeanour.
"Thank you, is what I wanted to say" she said, voice wispy and intimate, "As much as I love working for Lady Remilia, it is moments with you that offer me true fulfilment".
Alice's cheeks tinged to a reddish hue slightly, squeezing Sakuya's handd before letting her go.
"The things you say to me" she muttered whilst walking back to the stove, feeling her lover's pleased smirk on her back.
As rare as Sakuya's days off were, the maid made the most of them.
At one point, to even be away from the Scarlet Devil Mansion and Remilia made her anxious but with Alice, that worry diminished in ways she couldn't have pictured.
She felt like she could be selfish enough to enjoy her moments with the woman she loved, immersed in mundane tasks as well as the more loving ones.
Such as being cooked for, sitting at the table and talking about everything and anything.
It was the routine which Sakuya craved with Alice and when she had hours to spare, Alice would be on the receiving end of each one.
They ate their meal, making eyes at each other as dusk took over the Forest of Magic.
"You must teach me some of your recipes, Alice. This was delicious".
"Coming from someone as proficient as you, that is quite the compliment" Alice countered easily.
"It is nothing but the truth" the maid insisted as Alice stood up to clear the table.
It was second nature to move to help but one tap from Alice's hand to her head made Sakuya rethink her decision.
"But you cooked".
"Oh, is that what it is called? I had no idea".
The sarcasm made Sakuya laugh as she watched Alice, "Seems like I am not the only one with a way of words, hm".
"You left me no choice" Alice said, looking over her shoulder, "Besides, you appear contented and that makes me happy".
Sakuya's eyes never left her lover as she tried to refute that comment but she couldn't lie.
Being with Alice just made her feel in such a way.
Their night continued on till the couple were cuddled up on Alice's couch, the blonde in Sakuya's lap and legs outstretched to the otherside. They'd both changed into something comfortable as the candlelit room set the scene, the serene mood taking over everything.
Even now, Sakuya couldn't get used to it.
To doing nothing.
Alice leaned up and kissed Sakuya's jaw as the book they were reading together had reached a pause.
"What are you thinking so deeply about?".
The hands running through Alice's hair continued their ministrations, more so when Alice faced her.
"Well, at the back of my mind, I am hoping the mansion and everyone in it are okay" she teased, "But at the forefront, I'm just thinking of this warmth I feel when I am with you and we are like this".
"Hm, I feel that too" Alice replied, breath skimming Sakuya's lips, "Sakuya?".
The maid placed the book on the table, hand resting on Alice's hip as she motioned for the magician to continue, "Why..don't you move in with me?" Leave the mansion".
It was asked in a circumspect manner since this question had been voiced before but it often led to intense discourse between the two.
Sakuya's eyes expanded as Alice watched her.
To say she had thought about would be a lie, she felt like owed Remilia everything so to leave would be like throwing it in her face.
"You can work there, obviously but Ijust think it'd be better for you to live with me" Alice said, hands resting on Sakuya's face, "What do you think?".
"I'm sorry, Alice. It's not that easy".
"Why not? Because of whatever Remilia has on you?".
"Hey, Alice" Sakuya said and grabbed the blonde's hands as she got up to leave, pulling her back down on her lap, "Please don't. My situation with the mistress is complex. I owe her".
"She doesn't own you" Alice snapped, eyebrows furrowed, "The way she has you on leash. I..can't stand it".
Sakuya shook her head and squeezed Alice's hands in her own to attempt to ameliorate her, "It isn't like that. I stay with her because I want to, need to".
"Need to.." the magician repeated, tone low, "Does she even care about your happiness? Working you to the bone. You don't realise it because you are so use to it but it kills me to see you like that".
"Alice" Sakuya sighed and wrapped her arms around the blonde, tucking her against her shoulder and kissing her there, "I love you, please understand this. Regardless of my link to Lady Remilia, that does not impact how I feel for you".
She could feel the irritability radiate from Alice, body shaking as Alice gripped the back of Sakuya's nightshirt, a shaky breath exhaling against the woman's neck.
She already knew the answer in hindsight but if she didn't try, Alice would regret it.
Maybe one day, one day Sakuya would tear the chains Remilia had on her.
"Do you believe me?".
Sakuya's voice had a tinge of desperation, of fear, things she only showed the princess.
Things that Remilia probably had no idea about since she only viewed her as a tool.
That alone would suffice for Alice for now as she relaxed enough to reassure Sakuya that she wasn't going to leave. She placed her arms around the maid's back as she looked at her, one hand cradling her face.
"I do. I love you too" she replied softly, "When the day comes that you are ready to leave that place, I'll be waiting. This is your home".