Alright, we're gonna rewind it just a tad and start the night before Briar and Sandry's conversation (which ended the last chapter). After that, time moves as normal.
Trisana Chandler was having problems falling asleep.
No matter which way she moved her head, she could feel the bobbin that rested beneath her pillow. She fidgeted, trying to get comfortable. In her efforts, she woke up the man sleeping next to her.
"Coppercurls, what's wrong?"
"I can't sleep," she told him, a slight pout on her red lips.
"I can fix that," he breathed in her ear, placing a kiss on her neck. Tris' hips arched as she felt Briar's fingers skim up her thigh and under her nightshirt, lifting it as he went. His touch skipped over her right hip to settle on her abdomen.
Briar's playful demeanor dropped, and he looked Tris in the eyes, his face serious.
"You are amazing," he told her as he dropped a soft kiss on her lips. "Thank you. Thank you a million times over." He lifted her nightshirt over her head, dropped it off the side of the bed and climbed over her. Briar kissed her deeply, and both of them moaned when Tris slipped her tongue into his mouth, gently tracing patterns on the roof. She pulled away, her hands fisted in his hair.
"Why so thankful?"
At first Briar thought she was just teasing him, but then he met her gaze. She really didn't understand…?
"I am thankful," he said in between kisses, "because the world's most beautiful weather witch loves me and is giving me a child. I am thankful because you above all others have stood by me through everything. Finally, I am thankful because you are giving me the most a man can hope for: the chance to spend his life with a woman he loves and who loves him back. So, again, thank you."
They kissed again, slowly and gently, enjoying the give and take of it. Tris opened herself to him with a whispered, "I love you," and they began a dance that had been performed many times before them and would be performed many times after.
When they had finished and came down together, Tris pressed herself close to Briar's side and got ready to asleep.
"Tris, how long have you known about the baby?"
Apparently, Briar had no plans to let her get to sleep that easily.
"About three months."
He went quiet for a moment.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"Briar, the midwives at Water Temple advised against saying anything, since a pregnancy is most likely to fail within the first three months. My expectations were through the roof; if something bad had happened, I would have been a disaster. I didn't want to put you through that, too. Other than that, we were just so new together. I was afraid that if I told you, you'd bolt before we could even work anything out."
"I'd never run," he scoffed, hugging her tighter to his side.
"Hmph. That's what all men say to any woman's face and not two weeks later, they're gone from the face of the earth. Either way, I had been planning on telling you sometime soon. You asking me to marry you just sped that up a bit."
She grinned and kissed Briar's cheek before settling in to sleep.
After breakfast, Tris was summoned to the healers at Water Temple; she was due for another check up. Before leaving, she stopped before the gate and asked Briar if he'd want to come with her; he looked to Rosethorn for permission and when she nodded slightly, he bound out of the garden to take Tris' hand in his own.
They walked in silence, just enjoying a morning spent in each other's company.
Truth be told, Tris had not planned on having children until later in life, and she had always planned on being married before becoming pregnant. Subconsciously, her right hand drifted over her stomach. She wondered if the child would look more like her or Briar and what kind of magic he or she would have, if any at all.
Her mind drifted over Glaki, and wondered if she was doing well with the teacher Niko had set up for her near Lightsbridge. The last letter she had received from the orphan who had become a surrogate daughter had been two weeks ago, and she'd yet to write back. Tris grinned as she imagined the girl's excitement at having a little brother or sister and a father.
They would need to leave Discipline, and probably Winding Circle altogether, to find a home they could build for themselves. She somehow doubted that Lark, Rosethorn and the others would want an infant waking them at all hours. Tris made a mental note to talk to Briar when they got back to Discipline; perhaps they could go into Summersea as soon as this afternoon and speak to a broker about purchasing a home.
When she arrived at the Water temple, she found Dedicate Peachleaf waiting for her.
"Good morning, Trisana; Briar." the dedicate said as she lead Tris to a cot. The redhead sat down and allowed Peachleaf to take her hand as Briar leaned against the doorframe.
She felt coolness flow from her fingertips to her belly as the exam began. After a minute, Peachleaf released her and met Tris' gaze with an impish smile.
"Everything looks perfect, Trisana. I could tell you the sex of the baby, if you'd like."
Tris debated for a moment and looked to Briar. He tried to school his expression to hide his eagerness, but she knew him too well.
"Please, Peachleaf, we'd like to know."
If it was possible, the dedicate's grin grew wider and slightly wicked.
"You're carrying both."
Tris froze in shock and looked to Briar. He didn't look as if he believed it, either.
"Come again?" he asked Peachleaf.
"Twins, a boy and a girl." When she saw the young mages still had looks of disbelief on their faces, she rolled her eyes and hauled Tris to her feet saying, "Come, you two, no one from Discipline cottage has ever done anything on a small scale. Why should the pair of you, or your children, be any different?"
Their latest surprise was greeted by silence at Discipline, until Rosethorn told them point blank to find a home before the children arrived, since she was too old to be playing maid to infants.
Thanks to that bit of insight, Tris and Briar found themselves following a broker, one Silas Imogen, to number 8 Archer's Row. The neighborhood was a good one, made up mostly of wealthy merchants and craftsmen.
The house itself was white stucco with a red tile roof and a small patio on the roof, much like most of the homes in Summersea. It was walled in and had a good sized yard and small stable. An indoor privy was on the ground floor, along with a room that could be a library or sitting room, the kitchen and dinning room, and two smaller bedrooms. The upstairs held the master bedroom (which had direct access to the roof-top patio), two rooms that Tris and Briar could easily convert into their workrooms, and another room that could be a nursery.
Briar asked Silas for a minute and guided Tris onto the patio.
"So, Coppercurls, what do you think?"
"Well," she said, chewing on a thin braid, "it's rather fantastic. There's enough room for us, the babies and Glaki should she decide she wants to make her home with us one day. But can we afford it? I have enough in my accounts to buy a small apartment, perhaps, but not enough to pay for even a fourth of this." She watched Briar with some measure of concern as he leaned on the railing.
"Well, I have enough to pay half the cost upfront," he told her. Ignoring the soft gasp from his fiancé, he continued, "With the next batch of shakkans, I should be able to pay the rest off in a year. After that, it's simply a matter of spreading word to different caravans where my goods can be purchased, and perhaps setting up a booth in Market Square."
"Briar," Tris protested, "you shouldn't be paying for all of this-"
"And why not? I have no business marrying you if I cannot put a roof over your head and food on the table for you and our children. I can do both, and while we wait for the shakkans to sell, we can use your savings to buy furniture and worry about other expenses." He placed a kiss on her temple and gave her a brief hug. "Let me settle this, and we can go back to Discipline.
"Master Imogen! I'd like to speak to you about price…"
One Month Later
18th of Blood Moon
The wedding had been an understated yet beautiful affair, held at the main temple of Winding Circle. Niko gave the bride away, even though her biological family had been in attendance. Tris reasoned that since they hadn't tolerated her strangeness when she was young, they had no right to act a part in her nuptials.
Tris and Briar had made as handsome a couple Summersea had ever seen. Sandry had of course made their clothing. Tris was beautiful in a white silk shift, over which she wore a golden outer gown. Briar was dressed in black breeches with polished leather boots, a white silk shirt and a black tunic. He had even managed to change the flowers on both his hands to black roses to match the occasion, and somehow, despite their powers being separated, lighting occasionally jumped between the flowers.
The newlyweds received their guests after the ceremony at the Duke's Citadel with a banquet and dancing. However, Tris and Briar only stayed as long as they were required to; they slipped out of the hall sometime after the cake was cut, and left their guest to enjoy the rest of the evening.
The last person to see them was a guard, who told a fellow guardsman who whispered to a scullery maid who tattled to the cook that they had locked themselves into a bedroom on the fourth floor and refused to come out for a week's time.
Upon hearing the news, the Duke laughed and called for the guests to keep dancing.
Twelve Years after the Fact
"Momma, wake up!"
Tris cracked one sleepy eye open to see her two eldest (biological) children staring at her. Both of them had their father's dark bronzed skin with a reddish tint to their dark hair. The only things they had noticeably inherited from Tris were intense grey eyes and a sharp nose.
"Nathalie, we've discussed why you're not to wake your mother up before her morning tea," Briar mumbled with his head buried in Tris' hair as he lay wrapped around her.
"I'm sorry, Papa, but Glaki's vexed and pacing."
"She won't stop talking to herself, Da," her twin, Verrun, added.
Tris made to get out of bed, but was stopped when Briar pulled her tighter to him.
"Sleep a little longer, Coppercurls. Our eldest gets married today, and having two agitated women roaming this house won't help things."
He was jabbed in the ribs by a sharp elbow for his joke. He leaned over the bed to kiss his wife and pulled on his robe as their children made disgusted sounds.
"Wait until you're in love and want to kiss someone," he teased them as he took them by the hand and brought them to the kitchen.
"I'm never getting married, Papa. Boys are icky."
He beamed at his daughter and patted her head. "That's my girl. No boys, at least not until you're thirty."
Settling them at the table, he put a bowl of grapes in front of Nathalie and Verrun, and quickly making tea.
"Now, where's your big sister?"
"Library, Da," Verrun got out around a mouthful of grapes. Unluckily for the boy, his mother came in just then.
"Verrun, honestly, don't put that many in your mouth and chew and swallow before speaking," Tris admonished from the kitchen door, bouncing their newest son, Den on her hip and loosening the grip their four-year-old daughter, Karenna, had on her robe.
"Yes, Momma," he responded, looking properly shamed faced. She kissed both of the twins good morning as she handed Den off to Briar. Silently, she grabbed her mug from a cabinet and poured herself her morning tea.
After taking a sip, she looked at Briar.
"Glaki's in the library?" He nodded as he focused on cleaning the milk from Den's face. Without another word, Tris went to find her surrogated daughter, mumbling something about not being this nervous on her wedding day.
Briar smiled as he watched her go and then looked at his children. He would never cease to be amazed at how life worked.
At twenty nine years of age, he had been married for twelve fantastic years, been granted four children by the most beautiful and cleaver witch he had ever known, and was now lucky enough to watch their eldest get married to a man who, albeit young and foolish, loved his daughter dearly.
He harried Verrun and Nathalie from the table and into the privy to wash up. As he did so, he rapped his knuckles on the wall, changing the flowers on his hands from their multitude of colors to the black roses with lightening he'd worn on his own wedding day.
Life was cyclical, indeed.
This is it, ladies and gents, the end of the road. This is the final chapter of Black Lightening Roses, and I'm sorry if it feels rushed to you. I think the problem with this story is that I let it get away with me, due to the long breaks in the writing. I'm working on another Tris/Briar fic that takes place during The Will of the Empress and hopefully will be a more satisfying work. Thank you all for reading and sticking with me and reviewing and asking me to keep writing. Sometimes that's all a writer needs, being told that someone enjoys either work and wants to know what happens next. So, for that, thank you!