Upon Return
By
UnperfectWolf
Archive: fandomaid only until 14 march 2005
Rating: g
Fandom, Pairing: Emelan Un. Tamora Pierce, brairsandry
Summary: ""Well," she grinned at him, the same spark of mischief he'd known for years reassuring him that this was still the same Sandry, still his Sandry. "If I don't, I'm sure you'll enlighten me.""
Disclaimer: all belongs to she who can write fast, well and lots. In other words, it all belongs to Tamora Pierce.
Written For: fandomaid
Beta: Cara, cause she's cool.
Word Count: 1183

UPON RETURN

He hadn't counted on her looking like the princess he knew she was. In his mind she'd stayed wearing everyday dresses, her hair plaited down the middle of her back, barefoot in the garden behind Discipline, threads sticking every which way in her hair because they loved her so. In his mind, she hadn't made the transformation into the Princess in front of him. Either way she still took his breath away.

When he appeared, she was dressed up for riding with a court, standing in front of the great front stair with several others as a group of guards brought up their horses. Those around her included several who appeared to be attempting to court her. It didn't look like they were succeeding, if the bored look she wore was anything to go by.

One of the guards that was with them had tried to step in front of him as he led his horse towards the group but was stopped when she practically flew into his arms, causing him to drop his mounts reigns.

"Briar! You're back! You're really back!" she cried, her arms tightening around his neck even more than her initial grasp.

Briar chuckled, holding her to him. "Way to state the obvious, Freckle Face."

Behind them, several people gasped at his impertinence, and he could hear the hurried whisper's explaining his presence to those who didn't already know the story. He ignored it though. He ignored everyone but the slight figure tucked securely in his arms.

"Always with the nick names, aren't you, Street Rat?" she grinned as she said it, leaning up to kiss his cheek, then the corner of his mouth. "By Mila, Briar! It's so good to see you!"

"I know, Sandry, I know," he smoothed her hair. It is rather good to see you face to face, he told her, via their magical connection. It was something he reveled in, being back within thought distance of one of them again, one of the other three of that were bound to him, and he to them, by Sandry's spinning.

On a whim, he picked her up and swung her around, laughing. He was taller than her by at least a head and a half, if not two by now, his shoulders broader than before, his dark, unruly hair falling into his eyes.

Sandry was near the same as she'd been before, her height up by maybe a few finger's widths, though she seemed refined, as some would call it. Her hair was some what sleeker, back into an intricate braiding pattern, and no threads seemed to cling to her as they had once. Her fingers, though, that brushed along the back of his neck, were rough as ever from her weaving.

She laughed with him as they spun around, her laugh far truer than any that were in the courtyard with her had ever heard before, save maybe the guards who were always with her. The other's watched almost in awe at the real emotion so present on her face.

"And what have you been up to, Meddle Nose?" His voice, while jovial, betrayed his concern and curiosity as he set her down and tweaked her nose.

She grinned. "Meddling!"

Briar grinned in return. "Yeah, yeah. So where's this student of your's? Do you still need help pounding meditation into him?"

"No," she drawled, "And where is yours and her stones?" Her counter was playful, and her hold on him tightening again, almost as if she was afraid he'd up and disappear should she let go.

"With Rosethorn, at Winding Circle," he answered, unperturbed by her flippancy. His hands settled on her hips, holding her flush against him. "I came straight here instead," he told her, his voice softer.

Sandry smiled up at him. "I'm glad." She laid her head against his shoulder then.

From behind them, someone cleared their throat. "I believe we were going on a ride, Lady Sandrilene?" asked one of the would-be suitors.

Sandry didn't lift her head, just waved a hand over her shoulder. "You all can go, but I think I'll have to sit this one out." The relief was evident in her voice, at least to Briar. Thank you thank you thank you for getting me out of that! They're so boring! she thought to him. Brair chuckled just low enough for her to hear in response.

One of the ladies huffed indignantly at Sandry's dismissal, but no one actually dared speak out against what she said. Her protectiveness around the subject of her three friends, Briar, who was a former street rat, an ex-trader named Daja and a merchant's daughter named Triss was legendary. They were linked together by magic, but even before that Sandry had never stood to courtesies and had protected them against others by using her status.

It didn't help the indignant lady's cause that Sandry was also the Duke's niece and one of Her Highness' heirs. One didn't speak against her, not if they wanted to keep their current standings.

After a few more moments Sandry pulled back. "Gah! Look at me, I'm being a terrible hostess. Come, come. We can find you something more suitable than this to wear," she told him, fingering the material of his shirt distastefully. It quivered on him, somehow afraid of her when she turned her attention to it, like she would see every flaw in it, and blame the poor cloth for them.

Briar laughed at her dark look, the other's watching in careful trepidation. She had just completely insulted one of her closest friends, and now he was laughing about it. It was like watching foreigners in the market, struggling to get their courtesies right.

"I grew out of the last things you sent, Sandry. You forgot to use the material with the growth properties, again," he told her off handedly.

Her eyes widened into saucers. "OhbyMila, you're right! I did. I completely forgot, again." She looked aghast. "Briair, how could I? I'm so sorry!" she hugged him quickly before pulling back and grabbing his hand.

"Oama, can you see to his mount and unsaddle mine?" she asked one of the guards. The guard nodded, and over Briar's protests led his mount away.

"Sandry, I can very well take care of my own horse, really," he told her dryly, "just like I can wear normal clothing." He grinned at the dirty look she threw over her shoulder at him.

"I know very well what you're capable of, thank you very much," she told him pertly.

"Oh really?" he asked, dropping her hand as they entered the Duke's Chitral by way of the main stairs. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. She didn't protest, but instead leaned back against his chest.

"Well," she grinned at him, the same spark of mischief he'd known for years reassuring him that this was still the same Sandry, still his Sandry. "If I don't, I'm sure you'll enlighten me."

His arms tightened around her as he kissed her temple softly. "That," he told her, "is a promise."

Finished 8 February 2005.