Amity was floating. She had a dream like this before. Back on their garden, where she would see Hyacynthia's song in her slumber. It was similar, if not vastly overwhelming.
The entity before her did not speak. It did not need to speak. It was an eternal celebration of life, music so potent one would find it impossible to resist the temptation to dance to. Was this… The Everbloom?
It had to be. Something in her mind just wrote itself in the positive, and the rest of her body followed suit soon after. Even if she wasn't looking at it, she knew. Something so grandiose, so majestic, no wonder the Affini were so full of affection. It emanated it all over. Imbuing every single being that was related to it with endless compassion and care.
And that need that now ticked at the back of her head. This was truth unimpeded. She had to spread this, she must. There was no other way, everyone had to feel this way. They deserved to be joyful. To be filled with affection and understanding that they are valued and precious to this universe, no matter what.
Love that went beyond words. Beyond time. Beyond the concepts of sophonts and races, domestication, and anything else. Love in its purest form, wordless but boundless for it. Love that beckons one to love themselves as well, fill them with this eternal bliss of happiness that doesn't ever go away.
And that love called her. To stay. To dance, and laugh and cheer. To simply let go and let herself be immersed within this garden of eternal dreams that would make every second of her existence nothing short of paradise itself.
And for a brief moment, Amity wanted to go. To dance in this eternal garden of love and wholeness. It would've been so easy, to just let go and float away, dissolve herself and be filled with this bliss that did not care where she came from and who she is.
But then she remembered. At the corner of her mind, a different melody played. It was weaker, and far smaller. The radiance it shone with allowed it to seal itself into her mind. The familiar, the caring confines of a home she could return to. She wasn't alone. She had love of her own now. Her Mistress, her friend, the people she's met. Even her vet, in a sense, showed her love. In its own way, but still. They all loved her, and all wanted her to return to them. And at the end of the day… Amity wanted to return to them as well. She could share this love with them. She understood, really and truly understood.
The dance continued, however. She could feel it sprout from her very heart outwards. She too, was full of love. Even if she wasn't an Affini… She could very much relate. It was this very love that allowed her heart to grow and blossom. Both figuratively and… In a sense literally as well.
Still, the dream could not last forever. The song managed to keep her away from the world, but she soon felt her consciousness pulled away. Some part of Amity didn't really want to go even. She just wanted to dance on the edge of this eternal bloom, but a more coherent part of her reminded her she had a place to return to.
And just like that… The song pulled away. She felt something new, coiling inside her. Merging with her being. And as the void of a more peaceful and less turbulent sleep claimed her, Amity smiled internally.
And so… Amity Whitebloom opened her eyes, to the loving and tender hands of her Mistress holding her close.
"I-Is it…" Before she could even respond, Hyacynthia had a finger against her lips. "It is. But for now, you need to rest, my darling Amity. And I promise that when you wake up… You'll feel better than ever."
She curled in, slowly but surely. In the background, she could hear the humming voice of Hyacynthia chatting with the frazzled buzzing of Xaxavex about something in Affini. Such a short stay in the world of the awake, but she knew it wouldn't be like this forever.
And so… The days passed. Each one gave her more and more control back. She had to stay in the clinic, since doctor Xaxavex insisted it wanted to check up on her regularly, relinquishing the idea that any of this is normal procedure all the same. She could move her head, and her arms, and her legs. She could feel it, this implant that was put into her, growing healthily. Merged with her heart, she felt closer to her Mistress than ever. Every touch, every vine slowly draped over her, consumed her senses with such delights that she could not even bare to describe them.
And yet, she never forgot it. The song. The melody of love eternal that came from the source of all Affini itself. Even if she was far enough now for it to not overwhelm her, it was as if it wrote itself into her consciousness, each day lasting with dreams of the bright future that awaited her.
Until finally, she was able to sit up, and Hyacynthia greeted her.
"Hello, my dear. Good morning."
"Good morning Mistress." She sighed happily and leaned into her embrace.
"So, how do you feel?" Hyaycnthia pat her head. It felt good, and she leaned into it. An entire new mode of emotion beckoned her to follow, and she did wholeheartedly.
"I feel… Loved." Amity smiled. "Like that song never went away."
To which, Hyacynthia beamed with pride. "I knew you'd be able to hear it. Usually, only Affini can hear and attune themselves to the song, but I knew that with your new heart, you'd be able to hear it too." She felt pride swell inside her as well. Was it because her Mistress felt pride too? She didn't know, but it didn't matter. Amity realized she was able to experience something that not many outside of the Affini themselves could, and it made her exceedingly happy.
That actually caused Amity to have a puzzled look in her eyes, tilting her head a little. "B-But… W-Wouldn't I need my ears to hear it?"
"Not everything is as simple as human biology, my dear. Your heart… Acts as your own core. The center of your life. You nourished it, and let it grow. And in return, it has given you a gift unlike many others. Hearing the song used to be something very sacred to many Affini, and even if these days our traditional roots aren't as prevalent… I still hold them dearly." Hyacynthia moved closer, draping her vines over her beloved floret and letting her stir at her own pace. "It's a shame. So many Affini who's zeroth bloom happens so far away never got to know what the song of The Everbloom sounds like. And yet… It guides them all the same. And now, it'll guide you too."
Amity nodded, smiling happily while regaining control over her form. She took the time she needed, shifting and getting up, until eventually managing to sit upright and stare into the ivory eyes of her guardian and caretaker. It never got old. "Does this mean we can go home now?"
She was elated to see Hyacynthia smile and rub her cheek affectionately. "Yes. We can."
On the way back to their hab, the two kept talking. Hyacynthia was going to have to renovate her old hab, though she definitely wanted to keep the massive tree that grew through it. And Amity wanted to take her little garden with her back home. Even if they were tiny, she wanted to keep nourishing those little seedlings until the grew to be mighty big trees and other plants.
It was only when they opened the doors that they realized something was off. Someone turned off the lights and closed the windows. "Hmm. Well that's odd." Hyacynthia seemed to muse for a few moments, pulling Amity a bit closer to her. "Stay close while I go turn on the light, okay?"
She nodded, but wouldn't be given much time to do so anyway, for as soon as the two too a step closer, the lights turned on themselves. Inside, Argonia, Aqua, and a bunch of other Affini that Amity didn't recognize all waited, ready to cheer.
"Happy 101th bloom, Hyacynthia!"
Hyacynthia paused for a moment, before starting to laugh uproariously. She practically collapsed into a mess of vines that kept on laughing at her own silly mistake. Could she really have miscounted her own blooms? That garnered a few puzzled expressions from the onlookers, while Amity just stared there and looked a bit flustered at the situation.
With the party ongoing, and Hyacynthia finally calming down, she was left to her own devices. Amity didn't really mind the party, but she soon realized being around so many sophonts and their florets, Affini or otherwise, made her a bit queasy, so she retreated to their bedroom to relax. Which is when she saw Aqua enter the room after her. "Heavy time at the party?"
Amity smiled softly and pat the grass she was sitting on. "Yeah, but it's okay. We're going home soon! I'm really excited, it's been so long. Though something tells me Mistress is going to have a really hard time taming the whole thing now that she's no longer rooted into it…"
"Well." Aqua walked closer, sitting next to her and putting a hand on Amity's shoulder. "That's what she got you for, right? So you can do this stuff together. And hey! Maybe I can come visit sometime. And you can show me around there too. Argonia told me that it's very pretty, since your Mistress had taken so long to care for it."
"Yeah!" Amity looked a bit excited. "I can show you around, too! Maybe we can even find the old pod that I used, who knows." Amity's happy mood faltered for a moment, however. "It's still hard to imagine, until not but a few months ago we were still… there. Slaving away in those conditions under the mad captain."
"Heard he was one of the first to be put on Class O's." Aqua sighs, and leans back. "But… Yeah. It does kinda feel like several lifetimes ago. Not gonna lie, I've had to get a transplant myself as well, though since I wasn't as close to dying as you, they could just print what they needed with a compiler."
A quiet moment passed between the two of them. Amity looked at her friend, and sighed. "I…" She began, and Aqua's head turned to pay her attention. "About… Spite. You know…"
"I know. I was there, remember?" Aqua pet the other floret some. "I know. But it's okay. It wasn't your fault, the captain was hard on all of us way too much." Amity paused. Somehow, this wasn't enough. While Aqua was correct, the idea of her causing harm to someone else just felt so… Wrong now. Perhaps it was the implant, she had no idea. Not that it mattered in the long run.
"You're not mad?..." She asked with a shaky voice, and her friend pulled her in for a close hug.
"Nope." The blue haired floret grinned. "Sad? Sure, I'm sad. But I'm not mad at you. You don't deserve anyone's ire."
Amity took another moment of solace before smiling ever so softly, just barely visible to the naked eye. "...Okay."
When she thought about it deeper, Aqua was right. She didn't need to carry that burden. At first, it was easy, because it was just her and her Mistress. But now, she knew that even others who were involved didn't really see her at fault. And it felt… Good. Maybe she can live with this memory. Live with the support of those close to her and their love.
The conversation had died down a bit after that. They just talked about simpler, smaller things. Like Aqua's extended family, that included all of Argonia's other florets, and how interesting it was to live with different xenos from all across the galaxy. Amity talked about wanting to return to the gardens, where she can peacefully tend to it with her Mistress in peace. And at the end, the two of them discussed meeting up again, in the future.
before finally, Hyacynthia came into the room.
"Ah. There you are my dear." She scooped Amity into her loving arms and hugged her tight. "I'm sorry this came out of the blue. But as it turns out, perhaps my memory was a bit foggier than I imagined." Shue chuckled, which prompted Amity to smile and chuckle as well, nuzzling her Affini gently. "It's okay. I'm glad you had fun though."
Hyacynthia sat down, and Aqua quickly got the hint and got back up, giving Amity a wink before walking out. "Absolutely! Oh, so many old friends I haven't seen in so many cycles. Remind me that we must have more visitors when we go back tomorrow."
Amity laid there, resting against Hyacynthia's soft flowers. Her scent was there, something that Amity didn't really get to appreciate until those small moments when it was just the two of them. A rich aroma, and yet, also not too overbearing, making it just right for her little nose.
And even through her own vision, she could tell how pretty her owner was. How gorgeously she carried herself about. Covered in white blooms, even her vines had her trademark growths on them. And each and every one was soft to the touch and snuggly to be around.
And of course, her rhythm. By now, she could hear that rhythm no matter what she did, and she loved every second of it. It was a part of her now. Innate to her very soul. Imprinted on her and never changing. And now, thanks to the implant, she could hear it even clearer than ever when her Mistress was with her. A melody that both lulled her to a blissful sleep and to a joyful wake at the same time.
The two of them decided it was late enough. The hab's auto-cleaning mechanism was busy tidying up the living area either way. No better time than to catch a much needed rest before they head out.
Not before, however, Amity approached her little sprouts, growing idly at the edge of the room. She pat the bigger ones, grinning. "Don't worry. Tomorrow we'll take you to a bigger garden where you can grow as big as you want."
She waddled back to her Mistress, who pulled her in for a hug. Amity laid her head against Hyacynthia's chest, letting the familiar rhythm carry her off, wrapping her pale arms around the Affini softly. She was loved and cared for, and she felt content.
And tomorrow… She'd finally get to return home. To where her life truly began.