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Pairing: Simon Illyan/Alys Vorpatril
Alternative name(s):
Gender category: het
Fandom: Vorkosigan series
Canonical?: yes
Prevalence: popular
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Simon/Alys is the canonical m/f pairing of Simon Illyan, a prole who is the former chief of ImpSec, and Lady Alys Vorpatril, a high Vor widow who is the Emperor's hostess & social secretary, in the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. After years of acquaintance, Simon and Alys become lovers in Memory, after Simon has suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown when his chip is sabotaged; both are in their fifties/sixties.


The introduction of the pairing in Memory was well received, and it remains a popular pairing, particularly considering the age of the characters and the fact neither is one of the principals. In July 2016, it was the second-most popular pairing on Archive of Our Own for the fandom, after Aral/Cordelia, and beating both slash & het pairings for the hero, Miles Vorkosigan.[1] It dominates pairing-centric stories for both characters.

Many stories examine the motivations of the characters, particularly Alys; Beatrice Otter writes:

Lady Alys was widowed young, and made a life for herself as the arbiter of the Vor social scene, acting as the Emperor's political hostess and ensuring that the social end of the sociopolitical life of the Barrayaran Empire flowed as smoothly as possible through turbulent times of great change. And then ... things quieted down, the Emperor grew up, her son grew up, the Emperor got married, and Simon Illyan was injured and forced to step down from his post as head of Imperial Security, and she and he started a discreet affair. But in the books we never get her POV, we never get any explanation of how and why this proper lady did something so ... improper.[2]

Other common topics in fanfiction include:

  • Simon's ongoing memory issues
  • the class difference between them, especially whether they marry
  • the reaction of Alys's adult son Ivan
  • the possibility of children in late middle age
  • Alys' earlier marriage to Padma

Much fanfiction is relatively fluffy although sometimes tinged with hurt/comfort, with Alys comforting and reassuring Simon. Casefic with the two solving a mystery together is another popular genre. There is little explicit fanfiction. Authors noted for writing Simon/Alys include Philomytha, whose prolific series started in 2009 popularised the pairing. Fan art for the pairing appears rare.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.


  1. As of 1 July 2016, 65 works were tagged 'Simon Illyan/Alys Vorpatril' compared with Aral Vorkosigan/Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan (147), Ivan Vorpatril/Byerly Vorrutyer (54), Ekaterin Vorsoisson Vorkosigan/Miles Vorkosigan (51), Gregor Vorbarra/Miles Vorkosigan (49), Gregor Vorbarra/Laisa Toscane Vorbarra (46) & Aral Vorkosigan/Ges Vorrutyer (40).
  2. fancake: Vorkosiverse: Domestic Affairs (accessed 1 July 2016)