Sunlight streams down into the secluded garden where his Empress sits having her afternoon tea.
Guarded by the castle walls that seem to fade away behind the multitude of blooming blue flowers and flourishing green trees that thrive about. Above, the blue sky stretches out without a cloud to mar it, the bright sun hanging up within it on this clear day. Falo is grateful to return at such a lovely hour.
Especially to see such a sight.
The light that touches her pale gold hair, from how it sets it is as if a luminescent halo shrouds her brow and clears his vision. Already he can feel his body relax at this calming view of her. To see her, to be near her, all his weariness of this world when he can know by his own eyes and his own sword that she is well and safe. To behold her beauty, her warm gentle clarity. In this world of theirs that insists upon the madness of war (their Holy Kingdom who will not allow their rightful Empress to rule as she should; the wicked court a blight to her name, her just existence) her pure sincerity is what brings him peace. And here in the garden, he can be at ease as much as any Knight is allowed to be.
He has returned from a rare errand in town since his place is to be at the Empress's side protecting her.
Falo has used this rare opportunity to splurge.
He has already tried out for himself the confectionery he purchased, in case there may be the chance of poison. But he doubts the sweet shop he bought from knew his identity or his intentions so they should be safe for his Empress to eat.
While it was rather shameful to not announce his arrival right away. Falo tries not to beat himself up too much on what he could not help. A glimpse of the Empress enjoying at her leisure her afternoon drink, alone to her thoughts he did not want to disturb. While the mere sight of her calms him, her pensive expression revealed to him perhaps a storm was brewing inside her. Concerns for this country, her people, that young man-
Falo does not want to dwell on these subjects, and neither does he wish for the Empress to. Least for now. Even if it is only for a short while, during her teatime.
"Please excuse my tardiness, Your Majesty," Falo announces himself finally. Though the clink of his armor in each of his steps had already given him away the moment he set foot into the garden, making his way to where Matin sits. Her eyes as blue as the sky above, her silk dress. The flowers of dahlia she so loves adorning her hair. She has turned to him, her thoughtful expression melting away as she melts him. An easy and sweet smile upon her lips as she sets her cup down and welcomes him back.
"Good Afternoon, Sir Falo," her voice as clear as a bell, all that he can hear though bird song had rung through this small enclosed haven. One of the only places in the castle the Empress has jurisdiction over and can relax herself at.
"Have you finished up your task already?"
Her full attention is upon him as she wishes to know, with concern and curiosity, how his day has been so far.
Falo is touched immediately by her interest, though this was simply the Empress being the Empress.
"Yes, my Empress. I can resume my usual duties immediately."
Matin gives a short nod, a slight dip in her brow. Ah, she looks almost disappointed Falo will not tell her what he'd done while he was away from her. He's sorry to disappoint her, since none of it will be interesting... he doesn't want to bore her, except-
"But before I resume them, I have a selfish request of you Your Majesty if you will permit it of me."
Matin seems surprised by that, but her smile remains.
"Permission granted, please do go on my Knight."
Falo nods, a touch too serious given it is not by duty he does this simply-
"If your teatime is not yet over. I have this for you, Lady Matin."
Falo unwraps the paper from the box. And sets the box out before her. Matin carefully removes the lid. Wondering what it could be, her face lights up with the exact smile Falo had been hoping to see.
"Oh my! How wonderful! You chose them out yourself Sir Falo?"
A colourful array of macarons line up in the box. Falo had been careful not to rush. It'd be a shame to accidentally break them, and unacceptable then to be a gift to the Empress. He's glad to see all are in one piece.
"Yes. Please excuse that one is missing. I wanted to make sure they were sweet enough for you."
So he says, not stating the real reason. It wouldn't even have crossed her mind that someone might do such a thing. An attempt on her life... never will there be so long as he is here for her.
Falo falters as he realises how brazen and forward his words could be taken for as a knight. Falo tries to ignore how warm his face feels at the thought, as he tries not too linger too long on the sentiment.
As the Empress bestows him that smile further, overjoyed.
"They look delicious Sir Falo! They will be lovely to have with some tea, ah! That is why you have brought them at such an hour, is that not so?"
Falo nods, knowing he is overly pleased as he replies, "Yes, my Empress."
Matin reaches to refill her cup.
Her delight in her very fingertips as she picks up a macaron, yes, as blue as her dress, her eyes, the sky. He knows exactly how that macaron tastes, for he'd tried the exact same flavour as a test.
These macarons are large enough for two bites and so two bites she has, between sips of darjeeling.
"Thank you very much, they are wonderful..." Matin starts, wiping at her mouth beforehand. Not forgetting her etiquette as she speaks. Falo bowing his head in slight. Happy to bring her this enjoyment. Yet she suddenly seems- almost downfallen.
"Is something the matter Your Majesty?" Falo asks, worried the confectionery was not as good as he'd thought. Perhaps it was not to her liking at all and Lady Matin merely wanted to spare his feelings?
Matin's look is almost sheepish, sending his heart aflutter as she peers over at him and answers.
"It would be a waste to not eat them all as fresh as possible, do you not think so my Knight? And so I am at a dilemma. While I am most grateful to receive this from you, I do not think I am capable of eating the entire box by myself. So that's why... will you heed this selfish request of mine, Sir Falo?"
"Anything for you, my Empress."
His heart beating rapidly, he's worried its pounding can be heard rattling from his chest to against the breastplate of his armor.
So Matin asks him.
"Will you please sit down here with me, and allow me to share with you how wonderful a gift this is?"
Falo almost sputters as he replies, "S-s-such a thing, I am not worthy Your Majesty! It would not be appropriate for me-"
It was already inappropriate he'd brought her a gift, he knows.
He cannot help but want to give into her request, especially as she had indulged his. And truth be told, it was most gracious of her to offer him a seat before her. Truly, he is not worthy.
"Excuse me, my Empress," he says, calming himself. If it is a request, an order by the Empress. He must do it, mustn't he?
That smile he wants to protect at all costs, it is almost too much to be had as he sits across her. Before his view, in clear vibrant sight. Sharing the sweet macarons between them. Commenting on the new and delightful flavours that differs between each change of colour. Falo almost overcome, too happy and ashamed all at once. Each time his Empress refills his cup for him.
It is not until the box is down to one last macaron, that he realises, two cups had been set for tea time this whole while-
As if from the beginning, regardless of him bringing her this gift.
His Lady Matin had been waiting for him, wanting to spend her teatime with him.
And so in her hopes he would return to her soon, she had set this cup out for him.
"This is the last one, my Knight."
She says, her tone surely as sweet as that macaron.
Her lips even more so, curved into a most joyous grin as she regards him before her.
She takes a bite from the macaron and then to him-
After she's had her share.
Matin holds out the other half to him.
The macaron crimson like his cape.
A taste they will share.
She tells him.
"After you've tried it, allow me your opinion Sir. What flavour does this macaron have?"
Whatever its flavour was, to be given the privileged to eat from Her Majesty's fingertips, Falo only knows.
It had not been nearly as sweet as his Empress.