Sandry's hand was still swollen the next morning.
Briar was changing the bandages for her before breakfast.
"I still can't believe you hit him!" Briar exclaimed, marveling.
"Briar, could we not talk about it?"
Completely ignoring Sandry's request, he continued, his grip on her hand
tightening to the point of pain.
"I never thought that you'd be the one to pop him in the nose! I thought I
would have beat you to it."
"Briar," she tried again, but to no avail.
Now she was cringing because of his hold on her.
"I would have beat you to it," he went on, oblivious to the pain he was
causing Sandry,
"But Tris and Daja were holding me back. Then Rosethorn and Lark came over
and told us to let them deal with it. Then, you punched him, and Tris
screamed. It was amazing!"
"BRIAR!" Sandry screeched and yanked her now throbbing hand away.
He grinned sheepishly, and apologized.
"Apology accepted. But, Briar, I know what happened. I was there. Please
don't discuss it anymore. I feel bad about hitting him. Besides, Wilbur was
right, in a sense. He might not be one of the most intelligent of
creatures, but I should have known better than to hit him. I do know
better, I just couldn't stop myself. Not after what he said."
"As you should have, him saying all those nasty things about you. It's not
right, and you dealt with the pressure beautifully."
"It wasn't what he said about me. It was what he said about Tris, and Daja,
and Lark, and Rosethorn. What he said about you. I don't care if you were a
thief, you've changed so much since we first met, and I don't care what
Wilbur thinks, either! However, I am an heiress, and therefore have a
certain responsibility to behave like a-"
He cut her off with a kiss before she could say "proper lady".
Briar was overcome.
He hadn't meant to drag out the discussion, especially after she'd pulled
out of his hold.
But when she'd said that what Whiny Wilbur had said to him had upset her,
Briar couldn't stop himself. He knew he loved her.
Probably had for a while, without ever realizing it.
She was right. It didn't matter that she was an heiress, or that he was an
All that mattered was that he loved her.
Hopefully, if he played his cards right, he could convince Sandry that she
loved him too.
Slowly deepening the kiss, he eased her back onto the bed.
They were so into each other, they didn't hear when Rosethorn knocked on
the door.
They didn't even realize she was there, until she tapped Briar on the
shoulder and told him,
"You might want to wait until Sandry's hand is feeling better to romance
With a gasp, Briar and Sandry threw themselves apart.
Smiling, Rosethorn added to the red-faced Sandry,
"And I'd get a promise of marriage before you let him kiss you like that
again. Why buy the cow if the milk is free?"
She chuckled and went back to the door. Calling over her shoulder,
Rosethorn announced,
"Breakfast is on the table."
Smiling shakily, and breathing rapidly, Sandry stood and went over to the
small mirror by her washstand to fix her hair.
"She's right you know." Sandry told Briar, who was sitting up on the bed,
running his hand through his hair.
"About what?"
"You've just compromised my virtue."
"Oh that."
Yes that," she said laughingly, "Briar may I remind you that I am a lady.
Furthermore, if I were very serious about such ladyship, than you would
have to be on bent knee, proposing marriage to me."
Laughing outright, Sandry turned away from the mirror to find Briar with an
odd look in his eyes.
"Sandry," Briar said in an even stranger voice,
"Rosethorn was right."
"I know. That's what I just said."
She came over and took his hand in a comforting gesture.
"Briar, I will understand if you only want to be friends after this. I
don't expect you to marry me."
She searched his face for an answer.
What she saw was an amount of love that made her shiver.
She was half anticipating, half dreading his response.
"Sandry I love you. I could never live with myself if I didn't tell you."
"I love you too Briar, but that doesn't-"
He put a finger to her lips to silence her.
"Listen to me. I want us to be together. Will you marry me?"
Her sigh had him removing his finger.
"Oh Briar. I want us to be together too."
"Does that mean you'll marry me?"
Nodding, Sandry threw herself against him, sobbing into his shirt.
Rosethorn had come back to the door.
"Didn't you hear- what's going on?"
Sandry's tear-streaked face came up off of Briar's tear-stained shirt.
Briar gave her a small white lace handkerchief, edged in black. One of his
Lark came to the door.
"Rosie, what's wrong? Are Briar and Sandry all right?"
"We're fine," Briar's voice was husky, so he cleared his voice and
"We're just engaged, that's all."
There was a scream from the main room, and Tris came in at a run, followed
closely by Daja.
"You're actually going to marry him?" a disbelieving Daja asked Sandry.
Briar was talking to Tris, his arm going around Sandry's waist.
"Gee Coppercurls, you seem to be screeching an awful lot lately. Maybe you
need a healer to get the starling out of your throat. Or a cat."
Sandry smiled, wiping the tears from her cheeks with the handkerchief Briar
had handed her.
"Yes, Daja, I'm actually going to marry him. I love him."
She looked down at the tear-soaked handkerchief, then back at Briar.
"I can't believe you kept this."
He just smiled and shrugged.
"Well, we'll have to have a party to celebrate, but right now it is time
for breakfast."
Lark was smiling, even as she ushered the others out of the room.
Looking into Sandry's shining face, he saw his love for her mirrored in her
over bright eyes.
"Let's go eat."
Taking her hand, Briar vowed that he would always be there when Sandry
And that he would try not to cause those tears.
And that if anyone ever insulted her again, he'd make sure that he was the
one to do the punching.

This is the end of the story written by me,
but it's just the beginning of Sandry and Briar's life together.