Inara of Queenscove isn't your typical female page. She's half-yamani and in procession of a power thought to be extinct that she doesn't get to control. No longer is she the hated half-breed girl among the pages, but a respected member of the group. Her struggle to acceptance seems to be ending, but her battle to control her self, her life, and her new power is threatening everything she holds dear. Can she continue her journey towards her shield and learn to master her power? Or will she have to give up her dreams?
Anything: names or places, or anything else for that matter, that you may recognize, is property of Tamora Pierce. Anything you don't is mine.
The Magician's Apprentice is the second story in a four story series The Healer's Daughter about my main character: Inara of Queenscove. It is extremely advisable that you read Gift first as nothing will make sense otherwise, because I will definitely be referring back to past events.
Other than that, I want to welcome back those of you who have been begging me to get this started, as well as those of you who just politely nudged me to hurry up as soon as Gift had ended. I hope you didn't feel your wait was too long. I also want to welcome anyone who randomly stumbled on The Magician's Apprentice and Gift recently. I hope you'll enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Once again, I'm going to try to do regular updates on Mondays since that seemed to work best for me. It also gives people something to look forward to on Mondays. More often then not, if I miss a Monday, I'll post the following week so that I don't update on a different day of the week and confuse people. Ok, enough of my rambling. Onward!
The Healer's Daughter
The Magician's Apprentice
Soft running footsteps filled the corridors of a partially empty palace. It was nearing the end of summer, the harvest season for Tortall, and most of the place's inhabitants were just now beginning to return. As it was, the mage's wing, where the footsteps resounded the loudest, was nearly empty. The day was just cool enough that all but the stuffiest old mages were out on the grounds.
A young girl wearing a pair of worn breeches and a light silk shirt turned the corner of the hallway and sped down it, glancing up at the doors on either side every so often to make sure she hadn't bypassed her destination. As she passed, those who were in the area frowned at her, making comments of how improper she appeared, dressed and running as she was. The girl, used to hearing such things, ignored them and continued on her way, long, plaited, black hair flapping wildly behind her.
Finally she reached a plainly marked wooden door, baring no name plate. Its owner had continuously refused to tell people where exactly he lived. The girl often wondered why and would constantly ask. It was a request he continuously refused to answer.
Surprisingly un-winded, the girl reached up to the door and knocked several times in a prearranged pattern. She waited a moment before the handle clicked and turned, revealing a young man dressed rather similarly to the girl. He stepped aside and let her in, watching her through his dark brown eyes. The girl met his gaze with steady, slightly narrowed green eyes.
Her entire appearance was one that couldn't be placed. It was obvious that she had Yamani blood in her as well as Tortallan, but there was another aspect about her, one that no one could name. Well, almost no one. Only a few people knew that she radiated a different type of power; one thought to be long extinct. It was the Healer's Touch that gave her that one unique quality.
However, it wasn't only her physical appearance that confused people; rather, her very nature often gave them trouble. She was a girl, but she didn't look or act like any of the other young ladies her age did. At twelve years old, the girl had already survived two long years of page training, as well as two encounters with creatures known at immortals. At the time, she'd thought that the Spridrens, large spider like creatures with human heads, were the worst she'd ever face. It wasn't until her near death battle with the Odocoileus the following summer that she knew she was wrong. That fight with the deer-like immortals, which had nearly cost the life of one of her best friends, had only been about three months ago. While her outer wounds were healed, she knew that she, and the other six pages that had fought beside her, might never fully heal from the emotional scars it had caused.
"You're late," the man told her as she took a seat at a desk he'd set up in his quarters for her. He had one eyebrow raised.
"I know," she replied, watching him. It was a game she played. Even after three months of lessons, she still didn't know much about him. She promised herself she would be the most difficult student he ever had until he told her more.
The man sighed and ran a hand through his brown hair. The only thing the girl had confirmed was that he did have Kmiri blood, just as she'd first thought when she met him. He was only twenty-two years old, but the girl made him feel so much older.
"Inara, you're also flushed!"
"I know that too," she replied with an exasperated look on her face. Her teacher often stated the obvious.
"And it's not from running. You tried to heal something, didn't you?" he asked, stepping towards her. Inara of Queenscove was tempted to lie for a few moments before she reluctantly nodded her head.
"I couldn't help it Gavin," she complained. "The bird's leg was broken. I couldn't just leave it there."
"Did it work?"
"No," she admitted, defeat obvious in her tone. "I took it to Mistress Daine. But I should have been able to! I did it before." She was talking about the wild mage who was a permanent resident in the palace. Daine had the power to heal as well as talk to and become animals.
Inara was no longer sitting still, but rather she was pacing back and fourth beside desk, her hands behind her back. Gavin Moonstone, the resident expert on rare magics, knew from experience that this behavior meant his student was frustrated, almost to the point where she might go into hysterics.
"You did it once," he reminded her calmly, seizing her by the shoulders and pressing her back into the seat. "You healed on purpose one time, and that was an extreme case. Your friend was dieing. Did you know this bird personally?"
"Was the bird dieing?"
"No," she repeated again, looking away. She hated it. She hated her power. For years the only thing she'd wished for was the ability to heal like her father and her four older brothers, and finally the gods had seen fit to give her that ability, but with the cruel twist that she wouldn't be able to control it. How was she supposed to be knight if at all times there was a distinct chance that she might accidentally heal her enemy?
"You've got to give it time," Gavin told her, using as much patience as he could. While he understood that she was frustrated, he knew he could never emphasize with how she was feeling. No one in Tortall could.
"I've given it time, Gavin. I've given it four months of my life. Four months of being here each and every day for hours. Hours of meditating, and memorizing, and reading, and researching, and more meditating, and I still can't do anything!"
"That's not true and you know it, Inara," Gavin snapped at her. It was a usual occurrence for the two of them. Inara would lose her cool, and any patience that Gavin actually had would follow shortly. They'd end up in a shouting match until they both calmed down.
Inara glared at him in response. She wouldn't admit he was right. She wouldn't admit that even though she had yet to use the healing of her own free will, she'd grown since her power was finally discovered.
There had been several occasions where Gavin would expose her purposely to an injured animal or even a badly burnt tree. Once, Inara had actually managed to withhold her magic from completely draining her body. She hadn't been able to stop the healing, but she had stopped the bat from taking her entire store.
She'd also managed to heal a gash properly without leaving a scar. Sure the magic had been sucked out of her by the dog, but the tear in his leg from where the fence had trapped him had been healed properly, leaving not even a trace of stiffness behind, or so Mistress Daine had told them.
Overall, Gavin had said Inara was making remarkable progress. But it was all moving too slow for her. In less than two years, she was supposed to take her big examinations to become a squire. If she passed, she'd go on to serve a knight in the field, hopefully. However, all that was dependent on her ability to master her Touch, as she and Gavin had decided to call it for short. If she failed, no one would willingly take on a squire who could potentially get them killed, despite her expertise with a sword. Inara was just thankful she didn't have the ability to heal something that was already dead.
"You don't have to shout!" she retorted.
"Neither do you," he replied back. The page sighed and rested her head in her hands. "I'm sorry. I know this isn't easy on you."
"I shouldn't have yelled," she agreed. "I'm just tired."
"Well, even trying to heal is draining you power. You're still using your energy," Gavin agreed, pulling his chair across from her. "Tell you what, lets go over what you did, meditate for a while, and then we'll call it quits for the day. We could both use a break," he added, so that she wouldn't think he was being soft on her.
Inara let a small smile grace her lips as she nodded. A break definitely sounded good to her. "I saw the bird in the court yard on my way up. I did just as you told me; found a nice quiet place where I wouldn't be bothered…"
Inara was more than pleased that Gavin had given her the day off. It meant she would have more time to spend with her brothers, three of which were home for a summer break. However, they would all be returning to their lessons in a few weeks, so the minutes, in Inara's opinion were precious.
Whistling happily, hands stuffed in her pockets, Inara wandered through the gate that led to the inner courtyard of the family's city town home. All three of the young male occupants were lounging somewhere in viewing range. The oldest, Donalin, sat on the bottom step by the door, book in hand, nose buried deep in the pages. The sixteen year old had the same black hair as his sister, but his brown eyes were his mothers, where as Inara's and the other three Queenscove siblings all got the green from their father. The other two boys were Inara's fourteen year old twin brothers, who were nearly splitting images of their father, with only a bit of Yamani appearance thrown into. The elder, Emry, wore his hair in a horse tail and was at that moment sitting in a tree, eyes closed. His younger twin, Kennith, whose long hair was hanging on his shoulders, leaned against the tree's trunk, eyes closed, breathing slowly. It was a position Inara had become all too acquainted with over the past few months.
It was Donalin who noticed his sister's arrival first. "You're back early," he told her, barely glancing up from his book. His words however, got the attention of the twins. "Gavin actually gave you the day off?"
"Not completely," she replied, plopping down into the grass across from Kennith. "I still had to meditate. It's so boring! I don't know how you two stand it," she directed at Kennith and Emry, who'd joined them on the ground. The twins were studying to be healers, while Donalin worked his butt off at the University to become a great scholar, or so he said.
"It's not boring," Kennith told her. "It's relaxing."
"Much more relaxing that smacking sticks together," Emry agreed with his brother.
Inara shook her head. If there was one thing she and her brothers never saw eye to eye on, it was Inara's love for combat; for fighting to defend honor and Tortall. Most people were often surprised that it was the youngest, and only female, of the five Queenscove children that was attempting to win a knights shield. However, most people didn't know her brothers like she did.
"That's because you would get your fingers smashed more times than you'd hit the stick," she retorted.
"At least I can sit still and do something as simple as meditate," he replied, tongue sticking out at her. Inara reached forward lightning fast and pinched it between her nails causing the older boy to yelp in pain. Sure they were siblings and she loved them, but they were siblings. They often acted like it.
"You cheated," he told her. "You're not supposed to use tricks they teach you up at the palace."
"Why not?" she laughed. "You used the stuff they taught you at the City of the Gods all the time on me."
"She has a point there, Em," Kennith told his brother.
"Neither of you has a point. I'm trying to read! Can you keep it down?" Donalin called to his three younger siblings. All three rolled their eyes in response. They were used to the older boy's crabbiness.
"How about we help you with your meditation, Narie?" Kennith offered. Inara sighed. The twins were constantly pressuring her to practice ever since they found out about their sister's Touch. They'd been doing everything in their power to help her succeed, but they couldn't force her to do something she didn't want to. It was something they'd learned early in life.
"Do I have to?"
"You should," Emry told her.
"How about you let me practice some staff work with you, and then I'll meditate?"
"How about you get real?" he laughed. "There wouldn't be enough of me left."
"Please," she pouted. "I haven't had any real practice in months. Lord Padraig is going to think I was being lazy." She was being truthful. Lessons with Gavin had kept her so busy that she never got to see any of her friends over the course of the summer; not even her cousin Corin of Masbolle. And ever since Sir Nealan of Queenscove had been called to Fort New Hope once again, she'd lost her own practice partner.
"For once, Narie, I wish I could, but I can't," Emry told her. Kennith shook his head.
"Don't even ask," Donalin called before the words even left her mouth.
"Well, then I've had enough meditation for one day. I'm going to find Mama," she told them matter-of-factly, as she pushed herself off the ground and brushed off the dirt. Her brothers just laughed as she marched into their home, nose held high. That was Inara.
Inara spent the remainder of the week splitting her time between Gavin, her brothers, and her mother. One thing Inara realized very early in the summer was that her little adventure hadn't gone unnoticed by her mother. Yukimi didn't show her emotions like the rest of the family did, but for once Inara realized exactly how scared the woman was for her youngest child. She also figured out that her mother had also noticed her daughter's blossom into woman hood. Any free time that Inara had during the break was spent shopping for dresses or learning how to curtsy properly. It drove her crazy, but it made her mother happy, and if it made her happy, than Inara wasn't going to complain.
One afternoon, Inara wandered into her room and found the gown the three Lady Knights had given her after her completion of her first year laid out on the bed. The sage green and yellow dress had been altered to fit her new height and figure, just as the rest of her clothing had been over the summer. Frowning, Inara left the room and went in search of her mother. She didn't have to go far as she found the woman standing in front of the mirror in her parent's bedchamber.
"Um… why is there a gown on my bed?"
"It's for you to wear. We're going to be hosting a Yamani tea service this evening."
"Mama," Inara whined. The woman turned and looked at her child. As usual, she wore a mask to hide her emotions, but what she was feeling was quite clear to Inara. She wanted her daughter to do girl things as well as run around with a sword in her hand. She didn't want Inara to choose between the two, but rather learn both. If she learned the knight things at the palace, she'd have to learn the lady things at home. Inara sighed and nodded slightly. "As long as I don't have to pour. I always spill."
"And that's why you will be. You need the practice," Yuki responded, turning back to the mirror. "You'd best go get ready. They'll be here soon."
Inara was tempted to ask who the guests were, but a dismissal from her mother was just as powerful as one from any other adult in her life. Reluctantly, Inara went back to her chambers and dressed. Everything fit perfectly, just as she knew it would. In the dress, Inara looked almost like a whole different person. She remembered that the first time she'd worn it, her friends Samuel of Tirragen and Benton of Naxen hadn't known it was her. She laughed a bit at the memory as she pulled her long hair into a bun on her head, letting a few locks fall around her face to frame it. She placed the gold headpiece she'd received with the gown in place and twirled in front of the mirror when someone knocked and came it.
"You look beautiful," her mother told her, eyes crinkling. Inara gave her mother a small smile. "But I know something that will make you even prettier," she added, holding up a small case. The Yamani woman was dressed in a floor length white and tan Kimono, her hair done up exactly like her daughter's.
"Face paint?" the girl asked eagerly, following her mother to the vanity in the room. Yuki nodded and sat the child down. "I'm old enough?"
"Yes, I do believe you are. Plus, your father isn't here to freak out. Now hold still," she told Inara. The girl did her best to comply. By the time she was done, Inara barely recognized herself in the mirror. She stared at her reflection in near amazement, blinking. Her mother had chosen a rice based matte for her face, making her look more Yamani than she usually did. Her lips were a much darker red, and her eyelids were graced with a pale green, accenting her own green eyes perfectly. A smile broke out on her face. "I take it you like?" Yuki ask with a bit of laughter. Inara nodded enthusiastically.
"Could you teach me?"
"We'll work on it," Yuki agreed. "I'll meet you down in the sitting room. Your brothers are in the library. You should go show them," she told the girl. Inara nodded and pulled on her slippers, before dashing out the door. "WALK! You're supposed to be a young lady!" Inara heard her call, not that she listened.
She only slowed when she reached the small library her father had insisted upon having. There was, of course, a much larger one back at the Queencove fief, but the one in Corus served the family just as well. Inara pushed the door open slightly and took a few steps inside.
"Are you lost?" Kennith had been sitting closest to the door. As soon as their mother had told them about the tea service, they'd dressed and then fled to the library. If they were lucky, no one would bother them with the earlier pleasantries. Inara just turned until she was looking at him directly, instead of showing her profile. Kennith's eyes bulged and he sprayed the water he'd been drinking onto the floor. "WOW!"
"What is it?" Emry's voice called from the back corner. He and Donalin both had their backs to their sister. Kennith couldn't seem to grasp anymore words and just continued to stare at the girl who just smiled in amusement. "Ken, what is it?"
"Um… we have a problem," he finally told his twin. Emry frowned and turned around, his eyes going nearly as wide as his brother's.
"Our sister is a girl!"
"Obviously," Donalin remarked. "It took you this long to figure that…" he was cut off as he looked down from his position on the ladder to see his sister standing in the doorway. "Da is going to kill you," he told her. "If Baird doesn't get to you first."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Inara told him, giggling. "Do you really think it looks alright?"
"Narie, you look more than alright. Mama said it was ok?" Kennith asked her. Emry was still frowning. He wasn't sure he liked the way his sister looked. Inara nodded.
"She did it for me. I haven't got any skill at it," she reminded them. "But you're sure?"
"I wish I wasn't," Emry told her. "You stay away from boys dressed like that, you understand me," he added. Inara just laughed. "I'm serious!" She was near hysterics by that point. "INARA!"
"Trust me, Em. They sort of frown on showing up to sword practice in a gown," she said through giggles. "Besides I'm twelve!"
"That won't stop some of them, Inara," Donalin told her. Inara looked up at him, her face going serious for a moment.
"What do you mean?"
"He means that there are some who won't care that you're only twelve. That you're not interested in men yet," Kennith told her gently. "They won't care that you only want to look pretty."
"Just remember that there are laws to protect you," Donalin added.
"Guys," she muttered, feeling slightly embarrassed that her brothers were having such a discussion with her. She knew they were worried, and she'd already heard all of this from her mother earlier in the summer, but it was still a lot to handle from the boys.
"We just want you to be aware, Inara," Emry put in. "Baird would kill us if we let something happen to you," he reminded her.
"I know," she told them. "Thanks. I know what to do," she added. "Can I go back to feeling pretty now?"
Emry rolled his eyes and hugged her around the shoulders. "Sure. Besides you ought to go practice pouring. Mama will be ashamed if you the tea in someone's lap, again," he teased. Inara kicked him in the shin and he winced in pain.
"You shouldn't have forgotten who I am under this dress," she laughed as she left the library.
Granted, Emry was right. For the next hour, Yuki kept Inara practicing pouring from the tea kettle until the girl seemed to have mastered it. Inara had sighed in relief when her mother finally told her they could retire to the sitting room to wait for the guests. Unfortunately, Yuki had then insisted Inara practice needle point, something she'd been teaching her ever since the bandages on her hands from using her Touch were removed and she gained the use of her fingers. Inara had been right about not being able to sew. Her hands were permanently dotted with miniature stab wounds from where she'd stuck herself with the needle.
Several yelps and muttered curses later, the head manservant appeared in the sitting room door. Inara and her mother looked up from their work when he cleared his throat.
"Madam?" he asked politely of Yuki.
"Go ahead, Benjamin," she told him. The old man bowed and turned to stand to the side.
"Announcing her Royal Majesty, Queen Thayet of Conte," Benjamin began. Inara's eyes widened and she almost dropped her needle point. She'd seen the queen at various points during her two years at the palace, but she'd never really interacted with her. "Her daughter-in-law, Princess Shinkokami, and her granddaughters, Princess Liankokami, Princess Kimiko, and Princess Mihoshi." The manservant bowed low to let the five royal ladies pass before excusing himself. Inara was in so much shock, it took a moment for her to realize her mother was already standing and curtsying to the guests. And even then she started to bow before she remembered she was wearing a gown and supposed to be a lady.
"I beg your pardon, your majesty," she told Queen Thayet nervously.
"That's quite alright, Inara. I understand how confusing it is. A bow would have been perfectly fine," the queen laughed gently. Inara smiled a bit, glad that the ladies had come relaxed. She still wasn't completely sure her mother's idea of a tea service was a good one, but she had no other choice but to do her best to behave. She retook her seat only when the queen had settled herself and watched as her mother and the Princess exchanged a Yamani greeting.
"Is this all, or are we waiting on anyone else, Yukimi?" Queen Thayet addressed Inara's mother.
"A few more your majesty; we'll wait in here if you don't mind. My sons will join us once tea is being served," she added as everyone else sat.
"Your sons are home?" Princess Shinko asked her politely.
"Only three of them; Baird's still busy trying to win his mastery," Yuki replied simply. "Emry and Kennith are on a break, and Donalin has been staying here when not in class since the others are around. He'll probably return to the University as soon as his father comes home," she added.
"He mustn't want his mother to be alone," Queen Thayet commented. Yuki smiled politely and nodded. "What do you think of having your brothers around, Inara?" she turned to the page.
"I like it, your majesty," Inara replied, slightly startled that she'd been addressed. She'd been trying to continue her needle point was having very little success of it. Yuki placed her hands over her daughters.
"Inara, I don't believe you've ever met Princess Shinkokami's daughters, have you?"
"No Mama; I've never had the pleasure," she replied politely standing to curtsy to the young ladies.
"Oh lets not make introductions formal," the middle girl said, a small smile on her face. Princess Kimiko and her sisters looked almost as if they could have been full Yamani's save their brilliant blue eyes that they got from their father's line. "I hate having to stand and sit constantly," the nineteen year old told her.
"Kimi," Princess Shinko and Queen Thayet laughed.
"I agree with Kimi," Princess Mihoshi put in. She was only seventeen; a year and a half older than their brother. "Jasson's told us so much about you, I feel as if I already know you, Inara."
"Well, if they're not standing, I'm most certainly not going to," Princess Liankokami replied. "It's a pleasure to meet you Inara," she added when her mother gave her a look.
"It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Princess."
"Lian, please," the oldest of Jasson's sisters told her. She was nearly twenty years old, and she looked tired. Inara knew from Jasson's letters that their grandfather and father were having difficulties arranging a marriage for her because Lian refused to marry just anyone. Kimi's marriage was already arranged. In two years she'd marry a young Duke in Carthak that she'd met while visiting her aunt with her father. The family had been considering the young man for Kimi, and when she admitted that she did indeed think she could love him, they had sealed the deal, but promised to wait until Kimi was twenty one. Mihoshi contested that she thought herself to young to marry, and refused to even consent to searching for a husband.
Jasson's sisters moved so that they were seated closer to Inara and began to engage the young girl in conversation, while Yuki played hostess to her friend and the Queen. For Inara the minutes ticked by slowly. It wasn't that she didn't like the princesses; it was just that they were very much young ladies, and well, she wasn't. Most of their talk revolved around the latest fashion, or what young noblemen and women were meeting in secret behind their parents' backs. Once or twice, Inara even heard that there was rumor her cousin Tobeis of Masbolle was preparing to ask for Lady Evinany of Jesslaw's hand in marriage. However interesting that bit of news had been, most of what the girls said seemed dull and unimportant to her. Whenever the one of them asked for Inara's opinion, she attempted to give one, but she wondered if she was coming across as dim. It wasn't as if she had a lot of time to learn about fashion and men. She had never even taken part in court gossip before. Inara did venture an attempt to two to turn the conversation to something she found a bit more interesting, but the princesses would just smile politely and bring the conversation back to the same mundane prattle.
Only the sight of Benjamin in the doorway lifted the girl's spirits. "Lady Knight Keladry of Masbolle, her son Master Corin of Masbolle, and Squire Evan of Jesslaw," the manservant announced, bowing politely to Yuki as well as the new comers.
"Sorry we're late, Yuki, Shinko, your majesty. My son was having some issues."
"I said I was sorry, Ma," Corin blushed, as his eyes fell on the Princesses in the rear of the sitting room who were giggling. Inara's cousin was a tall boy with his mother's mouse brown hair and his father's blue eyes. The now fourth year page usually wore a smile and was pretty easy going. He'd been with Inara during the battle at the beginning of the summer, and sustained several severe burns from the Odocoileus saliva on his chest. The other youth was Evan who smirked slightly at the lady knight's comment, but Inara could see his attention was not on her cousin. Evan of Jesslaw was Lady Keladry's new squire, one Inara's best friends and he'd also been her sponsor her first year. He'd started to let his curly brown hair grow so it now reached halfway down his neck as he looked around the room with bright grey eyes. However he didn't appear to see what he was searching for.
"That's quite alright, Keladry," Queen Thayet told her. Shinko and Yuki nodded agreement. "It gave us all a chance to catch up. Although, I admit, I am famished."
"I'm sure tea will be ready in a few minutes," Yuki told them. "In the mean time, Corin, Evan, the boys have retired to the library to wait there. You could join them in you like?"
Inara's heart sank. Etiquette, not to mention her mother, prevented her from jumping up and running to her friends who obviously hadn't noticed her with all the ladies in the room. Try as she might, Inara couldn't grab their attention with her eyes. "Corin I trust you remember where it is?" Yuki asked.
The boy went to reply, but anxious, and not caring if she was being rude, Inara interrupted.
"It's been a while since he's been here Mama. I'm sure the princesses wouldn't mind if I excused myself to escort them?" She bit her lip, hopeful her mother wasn't going to yell. Evan and Corin were now staring at her, much the same way her brothers had earlier. Kel and Shinko wore amused smiles on their faces.
"Very well, but you're to come straight back," Yuki stressed. Inara curtsied to her mother and then to the royalty before slipping around the ladies and brushing past the boys, who continued to stare. Only when Kel nudged her son did Corin remember they were supposed to follow.
Both boys found Inara out in the hallway, waiting for them, leaning against the wall, arms folded across her chest in a most un-lady like fashion.
"What?" she asked them when they only continued to stare. She sighed and began to lead the way down the hall.
"You," Corin blurted out.
"Yes me," Inara stated. "Me what?"
"Wow is an understatement. I didn't even recognize you until you started talking," Evan told her. "Mithros, Pup," he added, using the nickname their group of pages had given her during her first year. He whistled slightly.
"Ok, see now you're acting like my brothers. I don't look that different do I?" she asked them.
"Inara, you look like a whole different person. You look like a girl," Corin told her. "Wait a minute," he suddenly exclaimed grabbing her shoulder. "You're coming back, aren't?"
Inara sighed, and nodded. Relief seemed to fill both boys' faces. "Of course I am. Why would you think I wasn't?"
"Well, you're all girled up," he told her.
"That's not a word," Evan injected. Corin just ignored him.
"And I hadn't heard if you'd mastered, well, you know," he stated, afraid to fully finish his sentence. Inara shook her head.
"I haven't," she told him. "But I'm not giving up. I've got two years to do this. I can do it… I hope."
"Have you been meditating?" Evan asked her.
"Now you really are acting like my brothers," she responded.
"Have you?" he pressed her.
"Yes, Evan. I have. I hate it, but I have," she replied. "Gavin won't let me not."
"I'd forgotten about him," Evan told her sourly. Inara smirked slightly, remembering how Evan didn't seem to trust her teacher at all. He'd left with her aunt and cousin just a week after the pages had returned to the palace, so he hadn't seen much of Inara or her mage instructor. "He's good to you, right?"
"You have nothing to worry about," she told him.
"I do if you show up to lessons looking like this," he responded dryly. They'd reached the library, and Inara went to open the door. Corin pressed his hand against the wood.
"You go back to that sitting room. Aunt Yuki will kill you if you don't."
"Please don't make me!" Inara begged. "They only talk about face paint, and dresses, and boys, and please don't make me go back there without you."
"You're the one that dressed up," Corin laughed, shaking his head and heading into the library.
"Hate to say it, but he's right, pup," Evan laughed, hugging her around the shoulder. "Can't be worse than the Odocoileus right?" he added before following Corin. Inara just glared until the door had once again closed. She sighed and finally willed her feet to move back in the direction of sitting room. It was going to be a long evening.
The tea service went smoothly. Inara, who was required by her mother to pour, managed to keep from spilling anything on anyone. For once she thanked the gods that the pages were required to serve at Midwinter services, as it kept her nerves lower than they otherwise would have been. It didn't hurt that everyone was relaxed and that only Corin and Evan were teasing her about how she looked.
At the end of the meal, Yuki suggested that the ladies return to the sitting room for a while longer. It was Kel who politely asked Yuki to let Inara accompany her friends to a separate parlor. Reluctantly, Yuki had agreed, but reminded Inara to be on her best behavior.
Much more relaxed than she'd been the whole day, Inara sat between Emry and Evan as they sat around talking. At least now whenever her brothers brought up something dull, she had Corin and Evan to back up her comments on the newest forms of Shang combat. The two other knights in training had finally relented on teasing her about her appearance, after she'd threatened to fetch her sword from her room.
"You'd duel in that dress?"
"I would. And I bet I'd beat you both," she remarked, confidently. Evan had patted her on the shoulder shaking his head.
"Ok, ok, you win," he paused and pressed down on her shoulder slightly. "Are you wearing your harness?"
Inara just smirked and nodded. She was indeed wearing the weighted harness all second year and above pages were required to wear during training. It had been Evan who advised her that it should only be removed for bathing and sleeping.
"I officially have an immense amount of respect for you," he told her, with a laugh. "I can't believe you're wearing a gown and the harness."
"She wore it at the ball, too," Donalin put in. He'd been the one to carry her to bed that night.
"I still have no idea how I slept in it," she added. Corin and Evan shook their heads.
Their conversation was interrupted when someone rapped lightly on the door before opening it.
"I hope you don't mind. I asked your manservant not to announce me," a young man said sticking his head in. "Thought this might be a better surprise," he added. Inara, Corin and Evan's faces broke into smiles.
"Jasson!" Corin cried out, motioning the fifteen year old closer. The prince had his black hair tied into a horse tail. Just like his sisters, he had his father's sapphire eyes, but he also looked less like a Yamani than they did. "When did you get back?"
"About an hour ago; Father said Mother had taken my sisters to a tea service at Queenscove's. Thought I'd come visit," he stated. None of the three had seen their friend in over a year and all three were thrilled to see him now, healthy and alive after a year as a squire to Lord Sir Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak; the knight commander of King's Own army. Jasson nodded to the three brothers and looked around the room. "Forgive me miss," he stated, his eyes settling on Inara. As soon as the words left his mouth, her smile faded. "I should have introduced myself," he added.
"Uh… Jasson," Evan tried to interject, but the prince ignored him.
"I'm Prince Jasson."
Inara's expressionless face changed to one of anger, her eyes shown with fury.
"Really," she spat. "Because last I heard, it was Jase." The last part came out almost as a sob, as she pushed passed him and ran out of the room.
"I… what did I do?" he said, turning to the other boys, confusion written on his face. Donalin, Emry, Kennith, and Corin looked away, rolling their eyes slightly. Evan just shook his head. Jasson's eyes widened. "No?"
"Yes," the younger squire told him.
"I'm in so much trouble, aren't I?" Jasson groaned, realization hitting him. "She's going to kill me."
"As soon as she stops crying," Donalin told him.
"We just managed to get Corin and Evan to leave her alone and now this," Emry sighed.
"You could have warned me," Jasson tossed at his two friends. Corin shrugged and laughed.
"I tried to, Jasson," Evan smirked. Jasson sighed.
"Where do you think she went?"
"Ten to one odds she's in the hall," Kennith told him. The moment the words left his mouth, the door clicked shut. "Told you." Jasson nodded and went to the door. He glanced up and down the hall until he saw Inara's back retreating out into the courtyard. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and followed her.
Inara collapsed sobbing beside the fountain and began scooping handfuls of water onto her face, causing her sleeves and the front of her gown to become soake. Jasson sat down beside her and grabbed her wrists, forcing them down.
She glared up at him.
"You shouldn't do that. You look beautiful," he told her.
"I do not. I look stupid," she argued, searching herself for something to wipe her face on. Jasson handed her a handkerchief.
"Pup," he began.
"Wasn't it just Miss a few moments ago," she spat. She wasn't angry with Jasson. She was angry with herself that she'd tried to look different from how she normally did. She hadn't wanted her friends not to recognize her.
"Inara, you could have been wearing breeches and a shirt and I wouldn't have realized it was you. I haven't seen you in a year, and you've definitely, um… changed."
"I know," she replied truthfully, sighing and looking down at her hands. Jasson snorted a bit of a laugh.
"Mind if I help you get the rest of your face paint off? You've ruined it completely."
"Do you know how?" she asked him, with a bit of a laugh. Jasson smiled.
"I have three sisters and they tend to mess up their face paint quite often," he told her, taking back the handkerchief and dipping it in the fountain water. "Hold still." Inara obeyed. "Done," he told her finally.
"Thanks," she muttered.
"You're welcome," he replied. "You know I'm sorry right?" Inara just nodded. "I heard you've had a pretty rough summer. You probably didn't need me making it all harder on you."
"I'm glad you're back. We've missed you," she told him as they stood. She wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him.
"I missed you guys too; ready to head back in? I'm pretty sure your brothers want to kill me right now."
"I'll meet you there. I think I'm going to change."
"Why? You know I meant it when I said you look beautiful."
"Thanks," she laughed. "But I'm soaking wet. Besides, I want to be comfortable. And you officially owe me."
"I owe you what?"
"It's been nearly two months since I've had a proper duel. Your choice: weapons or hand-to-hand?"
"No way," Jasson laughed. "I am not going to face you with a sword."
"Chicken," she teased, as they headed inside the building.
"Yes I am," he replied, shaking his head. "I'll get the others, we'll meet you in the yard," he told her. Inara laughed and nodded, running up the stairs to change.
An hour later, only Emry, Kennith, and Donalin were clean. Inara had changed into a pair of plain practice clothes, and the others had taken off their outer dress clothes, leaving them in only a shirt and a pair of breeches. Jasson had even gone as far as removing his shirt, claiming his father would kill him if he got one of his best torn.
The three Queenscove brothers were in the process of cheering their sister on as she attempted a pattern against Corin when their mother's voice reached all seven of them.
Corin managed to trip her, sending the girl crashing backwards toward the ground. She spun and rolled as she'd been taught, saving herself from any injury, before she pushed herself up and met her mother's eyes, timidly.
"What is going on here? What are you wearing?"
Inara didn't answer and only cast her eyes down at her feet.
"Well you see mother, Prince Jasson showed up and he thought Inara was a young lady. So she cried, and changed and challenged him to a fight. And Evan and Corin couldn't stand not getting in on it, so Donalin, Kennith, and I decided to be cheerleaders," Emry explained, grinning up at his mother. Donalin smacked him upside the head and his twin sighed.
"Inara?" Yuki asked her daughter a little calmer.
"I don't want to dress like that Mama," Inara replied. "I… I guess the dress is fine. But the face paint was too much," she confessed.
"You can take the girl out of the page clothes, but you can't take the page out of the girl," Kel whispered, a small smile on her face. Yuki sighed and nodded.
"Fine; but it's getting rather later. Best wash up and turn in," she said, before turning and walking inside.
"Jasson, we'll see you at home," his mother told him. The teenager nodded and reached for his shirt, which was on a nearby bench as his family followed Yuki inside, leaving only Keladry outside.
"Do you think she's mad?" Inara asked her aunt.
"She's a bit upset," the lady knight confessed. "But she's not mad. Probably just wishing her daughter wanted to play dress up instead of warrior."
"I can't help it," Inara replied. "I like beating up the boys," she added, with a bit of a giggle as her brothers left.
"Don't we all," Kel told her. "Anyway, we'd best be going to. Corin needs to write his father about the pair of boots he left at the way house, and Evan, we've got some lessons ahead of us," she told them.
"Wonderful," Evan muttered. "Enjoy being a page while you can," he told Inara, giving her one more hug around the shoulders and he and Corin followed Lady Keladry.
"Sorry if I got you in trouble with your Ma," Jasson told her, his shirt now in its proper place.
"It's alright. It's so much easier when Papa's here, though," she confided in him. Jasson nodded.
"You would have beaten Corin if she hadn't interrupted," he added.
"Don't remind me," she laughed.
"Keep up the good work. I'll see you later."
"Don't stay away for another year," she called after him.
"I'll try not to," Jasson promised as he left. Inara sighed and trudged into the house a few minutes later. Best talk to her mother before she had long to brood.
Two weeks later Inara sat at her desk in Gavin's room, where she was supposed to be reading a tome he had on the Healer's Touch. It described what the power felt like pretty accurately, as far as she was concerned. However, her attention was on the courtyard below. Over the past few weeks, the squires had begun filtering back into the palace. Usually, at his time of year, the Odocoileus would have been massing along the coast, but strangely, they'd chosen to remain dormant. They'd started disappearing just after Inara and her friends had nearly been killed back in the beginning of May. With the reports of disappearing immortals came King Jonathan's decision that the progress he'd chosen to put off the past year would actually take place in one year. It didn't mean much to Inara, except that, at least for the time being, many of her older friends would be around while their knight masters found out if they were to be required to participate in the progress or not. If they were, they'd have to take care of other affairs in the coming year.
"You're not reading?" Gavin asked her, glancing up from his own book. "Weren't you the one who told me you needed to master the Touch before you finished your page training?" he laughed at her.
Inara wrinkled her nose. It was hard to concentrate when her friends were all out in the courtyard. "The year officially begins tomorrow," she told him, turning her attention away from the window. "We still haven't set up a schedule."
Gavin nodded and leaned forward. "What do you think will work best?"
"I hate giving up my weekends, but all day Saturday and half day on Sunday unless I have punishment work?" she asked him. Gavin nodded.
"And during the week, we can meet as well."
"I have extra sword lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays," she told him. Her training master had sent them all letters over the summer promising the continuation of their extra lessons. The fourth years would once again be required to have extra lessons in tactics.
"How about Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays then? For a bell or two after your supper?"
"So long as I'm not in the healer's wing, that'll work out fine."
"You planning to end up injured?" Gavin asked her with a laugh.
"It has been known to happen," Inara confessed, remembered how she'd actually ended up in front of her grandfather for actually falling.
"Fine; close the book," he told her. "We're going to try an experiment," he added. Inara frowned but did as she was told and followed him to the center of a protective circle the mage had set up. He sealed the circle as soon as she was in it and seated on the floor, her legs crossed in front of her. "Good, you remembered the position."
"I think my body does this automatically," she responded dryly. No matter what her brothers or Evan told her, she was never going to like meditating. Gavin just laughed in response to her and took a seat across from her. "What's the experiment?" The mage offered her his finger which looked like it had been battered. "You didn't do that on purpose did you?" she exclaimed, wincing.
"No! Not even for you would I mutilate myself," he told her. Inara rolled her eyes. "Spilt acid on it earlier and then closed it in a door. Both by accident."
"Uh huh," Inara told him, giving him a skeptical look. Over the last few months, Inara had learned that there was one thing that made Gavin accident prone. If Inara hadn't known that the pages head instructor in magic, Master Numair Salmalin, hadn't liked Gavin from minute one, she would have said the younger mage's over abundance of attention to his daughter was the reason. Granted, it hadn't helped matters.
"Uh huh what?"
"You were busy watching Sarra, again," she teased him. Sarralyn Salmalin was the older child of the two mages, Numair and Daine. Inara had met her while spending her summer in Corus, while she'd met the twenty-year-old's brother Rikash during the page's trip to Persopolis.
"I was not."
"I'm just going to pretend that's true. Arguing with you never gets me anywhere," she laughed. Gavin just rolled his eyes at her.
"Behave," he ordered. Inara giggled. "Alright, you know the drill. Close your eyes, touch my finger."
"Can I use my pendent?" she asked him, pulling the jade stone she'd worn ever since her brothers had given it to her during her first Midwinter as a page. Only when they discovered Inara's Touch did they find out that the jade had been working as a conductor. Gavin nodded, and Inara gripped the stone in her left hand, while touching his finger with her right.
"Ok, now listen. I don't want to try healing completely," he told her. Inara nodded, still trying to focus on both his voice and finding her power. That much she had down. "You need to feel for the wound first," he added. Immediately her eyes opened. "Don't look at me," he commanded.
"But I don't get it."
"We've been trying to bring your power to the thing that needs healing. I want to try having you locate what needs healing first and bring that need to your power. I know you can feel the need; maybe it's just subconsciously, but you can feel it. Now we need to see if we can do something about it."
"I guess," she muttered. "Ok, let me try," she sighed when he gave her the look that meant he thought she was too scared to try. Inara shut her eyes and began breathing steadily. These days it only took her a few moments to fall into her meditative state. She didn't mind it when she was going to do something with it, but sitting still just meditating bothered her. She gently quieted her heart beat and looked passed it, seeing the pool of green tinged white light that she knew was her power. She wanted to go to it, just as she always did when she did this, but she forced herself to turn her back on it. Instead she tried listening with her mind. She didn't know what she was listening for. At first she thought she might hear squeals of pain like she heard from the animals Gavin tried to get her to heal, but she eventually realized the idea was stupid. She pushed the thought from her mind and started over. Yet she heard nothing and all she felt and saw was the pool of power tugging her closer. She had to pull away from it multiple times, even though it was begging to be used. Finally she felt Gavin's hand shake her.
Inara opened her eyes. The sun had sunk just below the horizon. Her hair and clothes were matted with sweat. "H- how long," she choked out as Gavin passed her a glass of water. She gulped it furiously. These experiments always made her feel dehydrated.
"Four hours," he told her. "What happened?"
"I couldn't find it. I don't even know what I'm looking for," she told him, wiping her forehead with her sleeve. Gavin just nodded his understanding.
"From now on, I want you to listen for what pain feels like in your mind; what it looks like. When you or your friends get hurt, I want you to try and meditate immediately. Don't try to heal it, just find it. Understood?"
"I think so. And I'll try. But I'm not going to stop in the middle of staff training," she told him. Gavin laughed and nodded, as he rummaged through his draw hunting for some bruise balm he had. His gift wasn't one for healing. Unfortunately, he also didn't have a gift for paying attention and he managed to slam the draw of his desk on his already injured finger. A string of curses flew from his mouth.
"Gavin! You dolt," Inara chided, coming to his side and grabbing the injured digit. The moment she did, she felt a rush of power and her head swam. Gavin pushed her off him, as she passed out.
Inara came too, sneezing at the scent of the wake flower Gavin was dangling under her nose. "Damn it," she cursed, holding her head as Gavin helped her sit up.
"I'm the dolt, am I?" he laughed, shaking his head. Inara gave him a look. "You know better. Or at least I thought you did."
"I forgot," she muttered.
"You certainly did. You know you stir up your power by messing with it. It reacted without your control and you used way too much for a little finger injury," he told her.
"Did I at least do it right?"
"It's a little stiff, but bendable," he laughed. "I'll live."
Inara shook her head. "Can I go now? I've had enough fun for one day," she told him as she stood up. Her head spun for a few seconds before she could see straight again. Gavin nodded, still highly amused.
"Just don't touch anything that's injured or even bruised for at least another hour. Not unless you want to take a nap."
Inara nodded understanding and waved him off, before grabbing her sword belt that she always brought with her and leaving his study. She wandered through the palace, deciding to take a detour to the practice courts to see if any of her friends were still there. To both her surprise and her delight, five individuals occupied one of the yards. The younger three leaned against the wooden railing while the two oldest went back and fourth with blades. The last time she'd seen them duel, both had been using practice swords. She leaned against the wall and watched as Jasson lunged at his taller opponent. The larger squire parried the attack perfectly. He wore his shoulder length curly black hair tied behind him and his brown eyes were focused completely on his opponent. Neither of the dueling boys noticed the new comer to the audience. The three other boys did. Evan and Corin waved to her, while the third, who had just arrived and had yet to see her, grinned and walked over to her.
"You look quite pale in the moonlight, puppy," Yancy of Nond told her. He was the same age as Evan but tended to act very different. The blond, blue eyed youth had always been the clown of their group. Year after year he gave Inara a dog bone for Midwinter as a joke. He went to put his arm around her. Inara stepped away.
"You hurt at all?"
"No, why?" he asked, a hurt look on his face. "But if I was, I'd definitely want a hug. Injured men need those."
"Not that I can think of; but I'm a squire, remember?"
"Then no hugs for you," she laughed.
"If my skin touches yours right now, any slight injury you might have is going to knock me out, that's why," she told him. Yancy nodded, and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, careful not to brush her skin with his hand.
"Evan told me about what happened on the summer trip. I'm just glad you're all ok."
"Me too," she confided, leaning her head against the older boys sleeve covered shoulder. She looked up at the practice court to see Jasson on his butt, the older boy's blade at his throat.
"Goldenlake, I'm beginning to hate this position," Jasson told the taller boy who offered his hand down.
"Not my fault my father hasn't taught you anything," Seth of Goldenlake replied. Both boys looked around as their four friends started applauding.
"Hey pup. Moonstone finally let you out for the night?" Evan asked her.
"Yeah, but no touching; my Touch is all mixed up. I've already taken one unnecessary nap for the night."
"Any progress?" Seth asked her. Inara shrugged.
"Not really. I'm able to do a proper healing when I'm paying attention if the power decides it wants to heal something. Sometimes I can even heal properly without paying attention, but I still can't fully prevent a healing or heal on purpose," she told them. "I'm not sure which I want first," she added.
"Preventing the healing would be better, but you'll probably master the other first," Evan told her. "It's easier."
"Yeah, well, tell that to the Touch," she muttered.
"Want a go? A good spar will probably make you feel better?" Seth offered her. Inara pondered for a few moments before nodding. Even though Seth was more than likely going to bring her to her knees, it would be good to get some decent practice. She'd recently sunk as low as tricking Emry into picking up a blade, and then she'd proceeded to back him into a corner, with the simplest moves.
"Just promise none of you are going to laugh when I end up begging for mercy."
"Wouldn't laugh at that, princess of the pages," Yancy told her. Inara glared. "However, I would probably have laughed if I'd seen you at that tea service."
"Ok, whoever told you is so officially dead," Inara hissed. Evan, Corin, and Jasson turned away, innocent looks on their faces. "Make that you're all dead."
Alright dears, that's chapter 1 done. Funny enough, Chapter 12 of Gift was posted late afternoon on 2/13/08. Chapter 1 of The Magician's Apprentice was completed at 6:40 on 2/14/08 – Valentines Day. It only took me one day to write a seventeen page chapter. YAY! Ok, you all know the drill. Reviews tend to keep me in updating mode. And besides, I love reading and responding to all of them.
Before I leave you, and this isn't absolutely necessary for you to read, but I wanted to list my top 10 favorite review moments/guesses at the plot from Gift (and no, I'm not going to say if any of the guesses were right or wrong because some haven't been revealed yet).
10. The first to be sent to the infirmary for actually falling. I laughed so hard, that was pure genius. And nobody she didn't know would believe her if she told them! – Gingeh
thank you for that. I laughed when I read your review.
9. P.S. Have you found a love interest for Inara yet? If you haven't, I have some ideas. Seth if you chose a soon-to-be-knight, or some new character that goes to University, or has some kind of magic. He could be introduced when ever they discover her magic, and he could be the one to help her or something, or be in her class. – SarahE7191
Funny enough, I could actually picture both these things. Now you'll all have to wait to see if I use them.
8. Overall, I think this chapter left me with more questions than answers. What happened between Owen and Evan? And why was Evan so happy about it? What sort of mysterious gift does Inara possess? Is Asten going insane? Etc., etc., etc. – Lady Genevieve
I love the last question. I nearly feel out of my chair laughing when I read it.
7. Things that made me giddy/enormously happy:
1. "Ew Inara's acting like a girl." Seriously? Love it.
2. The Evan/Inara fight and subsequent make up. I love love loved this insight into Evan's past/feelings. I also think it's pure genius for you to make Owen's son the complete antithesis of "jolly". Brilliant, because I mean really, who would be able to follow in those enormously jolly footsteps anyway? As you might be able to tell, I'm slightly obsessed with Evan. Slightly. Ok a ton. I'm just in love with all her boys. She's a very lucky girl :)
3. That she actually fell. How bloody terrific! Who would ever have thought of this?
4. The future ballads about the Traitor and the Half-Breed. I'm sensing some foreshadowing (nudge nudge wink wink). I'd love to see the two of them fight together and be amazing and be rewarded in front of the entire court (especially poor little Sam, he definitely deserves it!) – claire of queenscove
I don't even know what to say. Your whole list amused me to know end.
6. After reading all of those chapters straight through I have to say it's a bit cruel to not be able to read this story straight through! It's especially cruel to hint at the titles for all three books, it's almost like JKR releasing the titles to the HP book... only on a less world-wide-frenzy scale. There's all this guessing and speculation!
Also, I've noticed that the ANs for the last few chapters have mentioned not having the time to edit, etc. These are brilliant for unedited chapters! I look forward to reading more.
P.S. Happy hundredth review. :D – pretty how town
You really know how to give a compliment. Oh yeah, and this was review 100, so it had to go in this list.
5. That brings up a good question though – is there anyway in the future that she could accidentally "heal" an enemy of some sort that she's trying to fight? Or does her power only work on worthy candidates? Having brought up Daine's wild magic, could what she has be some sort of branch of it? It's obviously not too similar otherwise someone would have detected the copper fire. I'm hoping for some ancient form of the gift that was though to have died off and has now emerged in her – maybe one of her ancestors (c'mon, there are TONS of Queenscoves) possessed it at some point too…the Queenscove healing gene might even stem from this more powerful gift or something? Ok I'm analyzing too much….I'll just wait and see what happens! – claire of queenscove
I am officially forbidding you from ever guessing anything ever again. LOL.
4. I'm not even going to pretend - I cried reading about Inara holding Sam's body and begging Mithros to heal him. Wow, that was powerful. Or maybe I'm just an emotional wreck. Either way, it definitely had the desired effect on me, and this was an incredible chapter. – claire of queenscove
I'm honored you felt that strongly about the moment. You're right. That was my desired effect.
3. After googling 'odocoileus' on a whim I don't think I can read the Odocoileus and take them seriously. But I can, because your writing is lovely, especially during action sequences. – pretty how town
I haven't googled it yet and I'm a little afraid of what I might find if I do.
2. Okay, this chapter, no, the ears-pierced-related part of the chapter ALONE would put this story on my favorites list. My first fit of laughter came when Neal explained Dom's "joke." I didn't even realize it was fake: I just laughed, laughed, laughed... Wow, did I laugh. Then I read about Kel cursing, and laughed harder. Then I read Neal's "don't mess with me" reply... I EXPLODED! My mother looked over at me and asked, "Is it legal?" She didn't think something so funny could be legal. If my mother thinks I've been doing something illegal - something that rarely to never happens - then that's a mark of how much I was laughing. That was the BEST. If I've ever read something funnier on FFN, I can't remember it. – Cheeseycraziness
Just the thought of someone thinking this could be illegal had me rolling on the floor with laughter.
1. OMG, I have fallen in love with your story. May I have its hand in marriage? I promise I'll treat it kindly...:)...please? – chair-chan
Your request just about floored me. That is truly the funniest thing I've ever seen in a review.
Until next week.