Today is my 3 month anniversary on Fanfiction and today I submit the last chapter of the last story I'm writing before I embark on my own book. Isn't that a funny coincidence?

Disclaimer: It's Tamora Pierces'

A/N: I know everyone is mad about Miri. I read somewhere that she died just after the war, though I'm not absolutely sure where I read it. I think it was an interview with TP but it might have been a fanfic. Since I'm not sure, I cannot tell you one way or the other. But I thought it made sense because she never appears again. So anyway, sorry, but it was necessary to illustrate the pain of war.

I actually squeezed everything in to this one chapter, so this winds up my story. This whole story was one born more of request than desire to write. So I figured I couldn't give people what they wanted in one area and not another. So this goes to the first time and ends.

Pretzel: You have got to be psychic. When I finished the chapter and went back to add the responses, I nearly passed out. Yes, he does wolf-whistle.

Goldeneyedwildmage: Thanks for passing messages through Sarah. I'm glad you didn't give up on me.

Silverlake: I'm not sure if anyone else realized that I was including those. If they had, they might have known that Jon was not completely clueless.

NaturallyInsane: Thanks and sorry about Miri. I hated it too. She's a character I loved, but she had to go away or else Evin would definitely have married her.

Hoshi-Ko88: I've had that line bouncing around my brain since before I started so I'm glad it was well received.

Sarramaks: Thanks. Lot's more fluff coming too.

OneChuThree: Thanks for the compliments. Reviews cannot be too long if they tell an author what was great. When you learn what your audience really likes it's easier to do it again. I'll put some stuff about the book at the bottom.

Impossible-dreams: TP was very tricky about the marriage thing. I'm not even sure when it took place because TQ starts right after LK. If you look at the end of each of those books, there's a glossary of characters. In the PotS series, Daine is always listed as Veralidaine Sarrasri. In the end of TQ her name is Veralidaine Salmalin. Obviously they did get married, we just don't know when or if she was pregnant first.

Sunfish Sailor: Sorry to say I squeezed it into one chapter. This is it.

Nativewildmage: Thanks. I hope you like the reactions. I'll still drop by and visit and might do some one shots here and there in between my own stuff, though I will mostly focus on my book.

Ethalas Tuath'an: Thanks so much. I wind it up below. I hope you like it.

Bitterosemary: I'm evil and ingenious – heehee! I'm glad you liked those lines. They were my favorites too along with "You carry it around with you?" Many people were upset about Miri, and I cannot imagine what poor Evin would have felt. He does recover and becomes quite the ladies man in PotS. This is the wind up. I hope you like it. Then I'm off to work on my own book. I will very much miss your reviews. You have really helped me so much. Every time you pointed out a line you loved, I understood better what works and what doesn't. You are a great reviewer, even able to highlight mistakes without making a person lose confidence.

Purple Eyed Cat: No, Jon is not really THAT clueless. I made him appear that way and you'll see why below. I love Jon. He isn't always the quickest to pick up on romance (cannon proves it) but he is well intentioned. THIS is my last chapter. I will miss you too. I might drop in to do one-shots, but you won't see any more long stories until my book is done. At the rate I write it might not be that long. Oh and this is a very fluffy chapter.

Celuna Cirrus: I explained Miri above. Sorry. I hope you like the wind up.

Twilight Shades: I hope you have passed all those midterms. Anyway, glad you liked the story. This is the last chapter.

Chapter 31 - Lovers

The world came rushing back when some of what was going on around Daine and Numair started to sink in. Someone had knocked over what sounded like a chair and it hit the floor with a loud clunk. When the kiss was broken, Numair looked in the direction of the noise and saw Nealan of Queenscove picking himself off the floor and then repositioning the chair he had apparently walked into. He looked very shocked. Numair had known Nealan had a crush on Daine for sometime and could imagine how the boy felt. Next to Nealan, Duke Baird was actually smiling for the first time in weeks. Numair saw him wink at them.

"I'm almost positive the loud whistling was George," Daine whispered, stifling giggles. Numair hadn't even heard it.

A soft voice behind them said, "It's about time." Numair turned to look at Lindhall Reed, one of the people he had been most nervous to tell. He was standing there with his lover, Elyra Kelton, who looked mildly surprised, but smiled warmly. Lindhall continued, "Do I have a new student, then?" Daine looked at Numair, obviously surprised.

"Numair can't be my teacher anymore?" Daine asked.

"I haven't really been in a long time, have I?" he asked her in return.

"No, I don't suppose. So if I need any lessons, I go to Lindhall now?" she seemed confused.

"Only if you want to," Lindhall said. "Teachers try not to fall in love with their students. It's a relationship we don't usually mix. I have subtly offered before to take over for Numair, but I didn't want to suggest there was something between you if I was mistaken."

Numair processed this silently. There was one discussion that had started by Lindhall asking him to teach Elyra things since their relationship had changed. But the lessons never materialized. At the time, Numair felt that Lindhall might have been suggesting that Numair's feelings for Daine were going past the boundaries. But at that time Numair never thought Daine would return his affections and he did not see a point in changing the arrangements for unrequited love. He had not thought about the lesson issue since.

Elyra said softly, "I guess she wasn't that far away at all," finally figuring out that when Numair once told her his heart belonged to another, he had been talking about Daine. He nodded. "You do make a nice match," she said. She turned back to Lindhall and responding to the inquiring look, she explained, "He told me he thought his heart belonged to someone last November, though he led me to believe she was far away."

Numair turned his attention back to Lindhall and searched his face. "Don't worry so much," Lindhall said, patting his shoulder. "I thought you were a little too attached when I first met Ms. Sarrasri in Carthak. But you two seem to have been made for one another. If that's the way the gods intended it, it would be foolish to fight it." He smiled and Numair felt himself smile in relief. He wouldn't have given a damn what his own father thought if Salam Draper were alive to care, but Lindhall, who he thought of as a real father figure, was another matter. His blessing meant everything to Numair.

"Thank you, Lindhall," he said sincerely. He felt Daine's hand slide into his own and their fingers automatically laced together.

Feeling more confident, Numair began to search the room for other reactions. He could see Buri grinning and talking to Thayet. Both women caught his eye and beamed. Alanna and George were conspicuously laughing and glancing at them. Raoul was standing next to Gary. Neither man seemed particularly surprised or irritated.

And then he found Jon. Jon was not happy. He could see Lady Eldorne standing with him. She was clearly ranting about something and Numair could not begin to guess what that was about. But he knew Jon well enough to know that he had better go try to smooth things over.

"Jon seems to have reacted similar to your father," Numair told Daine. "I need to go talk to him." She nodded but did not let go of his hand. She apparently planned to help. "Excuse us, please," Numair said to Lindhall and Elyra.

"Good luck," Elyra responded.

Hand in hand they walked toward Jon. When they reached him, he said, "Come with me." They followed him to his study. He closed the door behind them and sat, looking very irritated. "Why can't the two of you ever do anything normally?" he asked. Numair had to admit that was not what he had expected.

"You knew," Numair said, feeling really awkward. Daine stifled a giggle.

"I guessed." Then his expression changed to a look of confusion. "Or maybe Thayet guessed for me. Anyway, when we were in Pirates Swoop a couple weeks back, we saw the two of you flying around in bird form, chasing each other. But no one would confirm it for me. Couldn't you just tell me? I've given you a dozen perfect openings in the last two weeks and I even baited you this evening. Surely you must realize that I know Daine wouldn't want to be presented at court. Do you know that I even gave Alanna an opening to make me feel like a fool tonight? That's something I loathe to do, by the way. Either she didn't know either or you've convinced all our mutual friends to keep tight lipped about it."

Numair knew he was blushing crimson. "Sorry." He thought about telling Jon that Thayet and Alanna did know, but decided against it.

"There is a proper way to do things. I could have announced you publicly. I could have kept quiet if you preferred. But no! You have to go and kiss in public and while the rest of your friends get to tease you and pat you on the back, I'll get to tell all the loud-mouthed conservatives that 'No, you really weren't going to start ripping each other's clothes off in the middle of the dance floor'." Numair couldn't help but be amused. In the past two months there had been many kisses with much more passion than that one – a few that did result in removed clothing and embarrassed apologies.

Daine began to laugh most unhelpfully. But to his surprise, Jon joined in. "Is that what that old woman was bending your ear about?" she asked.

"Yes." And despite how angry he had come across, Jon was wearing the lop-sided grin that he only wore when extremely entertained.

All nervousness evaporated and Numair felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "I'm so sorry, Jon. I should have told you, but she only just agreed to accept my ring tonight. Engagements are always sealed with a kiss, yes?"

Now Jon beamed at them. He reached for Daine's hand but looked confused when he found no ring. "If I wear it the normal way, I'll lose it the first time I shape shift," she answered. She removed her necklace and handed it to him.

"It's a very beautiful ring," Jon said kindly. Then the mischievous look appeared again. "You're getting quite an assorted collection on this chain." He was now holding out the anti-pregnancy charm. Numair felt his face heat up again. He wasn't sure why since he had nothing to blush about.

Daine took the chain back and put it around her neck. "My ma was a mid-wife," she said simply and Numair noted that she hadn't blushed at all. "A girl has to be prepared."

There was a knock at the door. Jon stood to open it and there was Alanna, George, Onua, Sarge, and Thayet. "Reinforcements?" Jon asked. Alanna pushed her way in and the others followed. "Save your breath, the scolding is done." But when Thayet entered the room, Jon said, "You have some explaining to do." In his most sarcastic tone Jon said, "Haven't heard any confirmations, ri-i-i-ght." She laughed and shrugged. "Go get Buri, Gary, Raoul, and any of the rest of the inner circle. No conservatives allowed. We'll have the real party in here – an engagement party."

"Really?" Thayet asked, smiling brightly.

"Yes," Jon said. "For once I get to know something first."

The study became very crowded. Lindhall, Elyra, Harailt, and Kuri Taylor were also part of the festivities. Tkaa and Kit joined them after about a half hour. Numair wondered if any of the conservatives had noticed that the King, Queen and their closest friends had disappeared.

Daine had been asked to show her ring so many times that Numair had finally unspelled it so she could put it on her hand. It was easier and a little less embarrassing than letting everyone see the anti-pregnancy charm over and over.

There was one awkward moment when Thayet, in her enthusiasm, began to talk about wedding things, and Daine informed her loudly that they were in no hurry to be married. It sounded to Numair like they might not ever actually get married. He supposed he couldn't complain though. Daine loved him, she had returned to the mortal realm for him, and she was willing to call herself engaged to him. It would have to be enough. He had to admit to himself that he was getting caught up in societal rules. He generally thought societal normalcies were an oxymoron and that too many people allowed such nonsense to rule their lives. Now he realized that he had been guilty of that. He supposed it was because of the fact that he had been her teacher and because of the age difference. The age difference, of course, was not that unusual, though as a consequence of arranged marriage, not love. So maybe that was his push to get married. He could wait as long as she needed – even if it never came.

Numair kept one arm around Daine as the night progressed. This was nice. He had the woman he loved beside him in front of most of their friends. This had been much easier than he had ever imagined. Everyone he cared about seemed to be happy for them. Suddenly, Numair couldn't remember why he had ever been worried.

"…a whole new meaning to love birds," Jon was saying above the din. Laughter followed. He was apparently recounting the day that he saw them flying together at Pirates Swoop. This was apparently the amusing story phase. Numair looked at Daine. She had a strange expression, somewhere between being perturbed and charmed. He suspected he was wearing a similar expression.

"…should lock 'em in a room together naked," George was saying. "She settled for leavin' 'em ta sleep in the same tent when he was drained and she was delirious."

"When Numair woke up, Daine was laying squarely on top of him, face buried in his chest hair," Alanna added.

Numair covered his face with his free hand. "You never told me that," Daine whispered to him.

"George was teasing him so much he started making fun of himself. He said we all knew Daine likes furry things." Alanna finished the story, "So he lifts up the blanket and there are six or seven rabbits hiding underneath it." This was followed by another roar of laughter.

"Do you think they would even notice if we left?" Daine asked.

"Probably not, though it might be difficult to get Kitten without being observed," he answered.

A quiet voice behind them said, "I will take care of Skysong if you want to escape the embarrassing stories." Numair turned to Tkaa. "You should celebrate this engagement privately anyway."

"Thanks, Tkaa. You're fair wonderful," Daine said.

George had moved on to telling a story about Cloud referring to Numair as Daine's "stallion". Numair was grateful for the escape. "Why exactly did you translate that for him?" Numair asked Daine as they slipped out the door. She just laughed.

They walked through the castle grounds toward Daine's room under the rider barracks. Numair intended only to put the ring back on the chain, but no sooner had they closed the door, then Daine pulled him into a passionate kiss. That turned into a heavy petting session and before he knew it, Numair found himself kissing Daine's neck, while her black dress lay discarded on the floor.

"I'm so sorry. I got carried away," he said, trying to remember how to breathe.

Daine sighed heavily and looked at him imploringly. She said nothing but pulled a robe on over her shift.

"I should go," Numair said. He leaned over and kissed her softly on the cheek. "I love you. Thank you for wearing the ring. I'll see you in the morning." He left rather swiftly, but it was necessary. He stopped at the water bucket outside of the barracks and splashed his face with cold water. Then, for good measure, he stuck his head in the water. It was getting to be a ritual. There was part of him that wondered if she might want to take the next step now but was just afraid to say so. But the more reasonable part of him pointed out that Daine was never one to keep quiet about anything, much less this. She would let him know when she was ready and until then he had promised he would show restraint. And if that weren't enough encouragement, he could always think of creative ways that Weiryn might invent to punish him for going too far with his daughter. Weiryn provided an effective deterrent.

Numair dripped his way back toward the castle, finally using his gift to dry himself when all his blood had returned to the proper places. He walked silently to his room and removed his shoes and set them by the door. He pulled his socks off before he realized he wasn't alone. There was a starling perched on a chair in his sitting room. Daine shifted smoothly to herself and stood there naked. He averted his eyes and swallowed hard, standing absurdly holding his socks in one hand.

He heard her bare feet as she approached and he wanted to say something, but he didn't have the faintest clue what, so he remained silent.

"It suddenly occurred to me that you were running away because I didn't tell you not to," Daine said. She placed a hand on either side of his face and directed him to look down at her. "You don't even have to worry about taking my clothes off me. I did it for you." She didn't even sound the slightest bit nervous. She should be nervous. I was nervous the first time. He could only vaguely remember it at the moment through the haze of excitement building in his mind. He had done some truly asinine things because of nerves. He could remember that at one point he and Emma (that was her name) actually smacked their foreheads together when they both bent at the same time to untie his breeches.

"Daine, are.." She placed a finger over his lips.

"You always stop the kisses if you think too much. So tonight I'm starting the kisses," she stopped long enough to pull him into a brief kiss. "And I'm not going to stop until I've kissed," she stopped long enough to kiss his top shirt button, "every," she kissed the next button, "square" she kissed the next button, "inch" and the next button, "of," and the next, "you," she ended on the button just below his rib cage. If the intention was to arouse him it had worked magnificently. "I'm not that crazy about buttons though. This needs to come off."

He nodded stupidly, completely hypnotized by her. He might have asked if she was sure, but she was leading. One very hot kiss later, his shirt lay in front of the door and he was following Daine toward the bed chamber.

They stopped to kiss again just outside the bedroom door and she began to tug at the tie on his breeches. "Sweet, slow down." She backed off looking hurt. "I didn't mean you had to stop. I mean -- we can if you want to – you don't have to…" He was actually stuttering.

She started to giggle. "You sound as nervous as I feel."

He laughed a little too and it helped a lot. "I am nervous. I don't want you to regret this and I don't want to hurt you in any way." He pulled her against him and kissed her gently. "If you want to stop at any point.."

"I won't," she said defiantly.

"If you do," he insisted, "Just tell me -- and umm you might have to remind me to breathe."

She laughed shakily. "I love you," she said seriously.

"I know. And you know I love you -- completely." And now he could feel her tremble slightly. She was nervous and very vulnerable without a stitch on. Realizing the unbalance of the situation, he stood right there and stripped the rest of his clothes off. Then he pulled her into another gentle kiss and when they broke for air he pulled back to search her face. He needed to know she was sure.

She smiled at him a little shyly. "I'm sure. Suddenly fair nervous, but sure."

"We don't have to rush this," he said, trying to let her know she had an out. She just opened the door and led him into the bed chamber.

"It helped to laugh a little," she confided. "But I've never been so sure about anything."

She pulled him into another kiss so ardent, all thought fell right out of his brain. He had to scramble to remember something he had been telling himself before. Laughter helped – that was it. "Magelet, do you need to be in cat form to purr?"

She grinned at him. "I don't know."

"Let's find out." She laughed. He closed the door.

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Finis!

My book will be called "Something Special" though I'm not yet sure if I will write under my name or a pen name. I learned a hard lesson on this site about the wonders of anonymity. The story is a fantasy tale about a girl who is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Her mother was a powerful sorceress and everyone was certain she would be too. But Zalene has no apparent power and is hence referred to repeatedly as 'nothing special'. Her mother decided it was because she had seven daughters but six pregnancies, so she tried again. This time she had a boy and she died in child birth. The children go to their mean Aunt who treats them terribly. She sets up a marriage for Zalene (who is now 13) to a man 40 years older that she doesn't know and then the aunt sells the little brother into slavery. Zalene runs away both to escape a future she can't settle for and to find her baby brother. And she hopes along the way that she will find someplace where she can be considered something special.

I've no publisher and no time frame to give you for publishing, but I will have the first draft done soon and hopefully I'll get lucky enough to go somewhere with it.

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Thank you so much to everyone who read my stories and encouraged me so. I will keep my own favorite list updated so you can see who my favorite authors are if you're looking for something great to read.