Wind rushed down Trisana Chandler's back

Trisana's Return

*Notes: um, none really. I decided that there weren't enough Tris/Briar fics out there, that there were more Sandry/Briar, so I decided to switch it up. As usual, pure fluff, some action, hardly any magic, and I DO NOT BELIEVE IN DISCLAIMERS. It starts.

~~~Part 1: Returning to Stable Life~~~

Wind rushed down Trisana Chandler's back. She looked out over the ocean and sighed a deep, long sigh. They were all so far away; she felt so empty. Why did she feel so lost? She knew that her friends from Winding Circle and herself would one day have to leave their home at Discipline, but after only a year and a half of studying, their teachers had decided it was time for them to get the "Real world experience", as the Great mage Niklaren of Goldeneye had put it. Her friend Sandry, or Lady Sandrilene Fa Toren, was originally going to stay at their home, but her Uncle's health problems had called her away. Her other friends, Briar and Daja, had each gone their separate ways as well. The difference was that while Tris and her teacher Nicko had gone to the southern most parts Pebble Beach, the others had either gone north, or farther east. She missed them terribly, and though they had once been able to communicate telepathically with one another, now they were all too far away from one another for their magicks to stretch.

She had had quite enough of all the traveling she was doing, and was ready to go home. She was tired of it all. As much as she had loved the open road, she missed having a stable place to go home to at night. She missed having a warm, soft bed and knowing her friends were only a hop skip and a jump away from her. It was worse now that Niko had left her alone. He had been called away over a month and a half ago, and ever since then, her feeling of pure homesickness had gotten the better of her stomach. Even the letters she received form her friends of their adventures didn't seem to help with the pain in her chest.

She looked over the letters she kept in her pocket. One was from her friend Sandry. It told of her adventures in training a dance mage and ultimately solving a murder. Then came Daja the Trader's letter describing how she had found herself a mage who could create and then put out fires out of thin air. Her friend Briar had gone back to his home city, the city of Hajra. He had not only stopped a crime ring from succeeding in smuggling valuable trade goods, but he had done it so fast that he had shocked the guards who had once nearly taken his freedom. She missed her friends so much. Climbing down the tree she had perched upon, she sighted thick, black clouds come in her direction. She climbed back up to the branch she had been sitting on and closed her eyes; thinking to figure out how strong the storm system was.

"Lady Trisana, if we are to reach the inn by night fall, we must leave now." She looked down at the guard Niko had left with her. He was rather annoying when all was said and done. Every time she tried to meditate or perform any simple magic, he pulled her concentration out of it and she would either blunder the spell, or lose interest in it all together by the time she was finished with him. However, he was nice about everything he did, which was what made him so annoying. She couldn't just tell him off. She sighed heavily, drinking in the damp, heavy storm air.

"Alright, let's move then." There would be another time for reading the weather.

Not one drop. All day, and not one drop of rain, although clouds hung perilously close to the ground and the air was damp enough. The funny thing was, all summer long, and all the last winter, it had hardly rained at all. Tris was glad to finally see thunderclouds, but when they didn't open and pour their contents upon her and the guard, she became vexed and contrary in mood. No it looked as if the storm system would pass her by without so much as a taste of the thirst quenching water it carried in it's billows.

"The inn is just up the road, Lady Trisana." Said the guard in her ear, so close in fact that it startled her out of her reverie and nearly gave her a heart attack.

"Jacob, next time you decide to tell me something, don't whisper it in my ear without me knowing about it first, alright?" She snapped at him.

"A thousand pardons Lady Trisana. We have reached the inn."

"And don't call me Lady Trisana. It's Tris. And besides, I'm certainly no Lady." She smirked, looking down at the fashion in which she road her horse. Not sidesaddle as a proper Lady would, but her legs straddled the saddle. The one Lady she did know, Sandry, didn't even ride sidesaddle anyway, so there was almost no point in it. Focusing her attention upon the inn, she noticed the warm glow from the windows and the heat emanating from the little building were making her drowsy. As soon as she had given her horse to the guard and arranged rooms for them, she settled down for a long night.

Tris tossed and turned in her sleep. She was having a horrible nightmare. When she awoke, she found herself breathing heavily and tangled within her own sheets. The heat from the sheets becoming too much, she slipped out of them and stuck her shawl around her shoulders. Quietly sneaking down the stairs of the inn, she walked outside, trying to clear her mind. Though she couldn't remember what her dream had been about, it must have been rotten, eve for nightmares to have been able to awaken her. All she could remember was that it had to do with home. Winding Circle Temple; more specifically, Discipline, the cottage she and her friends had shared while first training their unusual magicks. Pushing back one of her unruly brownish red curls, she made a decision. It was time to head home. Entering the inn again, she settled back down in her bed for the rest of the night in a dreamless sleep.

===#===

"Go to the guards station and tell them you've just ridden in with me. They probably won't recognize my name, so just tell them I'm one of the Four Mages that stayed at Discipline. They'll know who I am then. Tell them Niko's plans and then get yourself some rest." She ordered the guard.

"Yes, Lady Trisana. May I say, Lady Tris, it has been a pleasure accompanying you north to this fine Temple. May the magicks you work be great and strong in your future." The guard slightly bowed to his mistress. Tris was shocked. Darn it, this guy was just too nice!

"Thank you, Jacob. I hope much luck falls upon your path in Winding Circle Temple as well. Good bye." With her good bye said, she swung her horse around and rode hard across the Temple grounds. She couldn't wait to get back home. As she rode, she looked up. The storm clouds that had been above them the day before were here above Winding Circle as well. Maybe she would get her thunderstorm after all.

As she road over the final hill, Discipline came into view. Stopping to look at it, she sighed. It almost looked empty. There was no Rosethorn or Briar tending to the plants, and the noise of the smiths was faint due to the fact that both Daja and Frostpine had gone east on a tour of metal workings and smiths. She could barely hear the looms of Lark. But it was still home. She galloped her horse down and stopped at the wooden gate in the front yard. Kicking off her riding boots and her heavy riding clothes, he ran barefoot through the garden and into the back door of the house.

"Lark! Lark?" She called out. "Lark, where are you?"

"I'm sorry, Dedicate Lark has gone to visit Lady Sandrilene Fa Toren at the Duke's citadel. I'm her student, Comas."

"And I'm Sandry's student, Pasco. Who are you, what do you want, and how did you get in here? Huh? Huh?"

"Mila. If I had known I would be drilled in my own home, I would have gone to see Dedicate Moonstone and asked for a bunk in the guard's barracks."

"This isn't your home. This is…"

"Lark and Rosethorn and Niko's, I know. And as for your first questions, I am Trisana Chandler, I wanted to say hello to my old friends, and I got in through the door. However, I probably would have gone in through the roof if the door had been locked. Does that answer all of your questions you nosy little boys?" She snipped. She watched as one of the boys, the one named Comas, had immediately shrunk back behind the one names Pasco, and Pasco had moved forward to confront her. Then something hit her.

"Pasco? As in, the dance mage that Sandry was teaching?"

"Yeah! What's it to you? How did you know about me?"

"Sandry wrote me about you and your daring escapade with the murderers."

"You know Sandry?"

"I hope so! After all, we all lived together for long enough."

"You lived here? That would make you a mage!"

"I'm Niklaren of Goldeneye's old student, the weather mage of the Four Mages of Discipline. Now who are you, Comas?"

"I'm Lark's new student." The boy shied back even farther at being noticed by Tris.

"Don't be shy. Speak up then. So then, Lark and Sandry are away and they left you two all alone together here?"

"Yup! But every once and a while Dedicate Crane comes in to check on us." Pasco sighed. The old man was due for his nightly visit soon, and he would be taking the boys to get washed up. Pasco hated getting washed up.

"Dedicate Crane comes in to check on you? I haven't seen him since the Blue Pox epidemic two years ago. When is he coming exactly?"

"In about an hour. Then he'll take us to wash."

"Hmm. Go do your chores. I'm going to make some tea. Before he comes, I'll let you have a cup."

"You mean your staying?" Said Comas, completely forgetting to be shy.

"Of course. This is my home, and whether you to knuckle headed boys like it or not, I'm coming back home for a while."

"But…" Started the two.

"No buts. Get your chores done." And with that, she entered the kitchen to begin some tea. After about a forty-five minutes, the boys joined her at the table, and she poured each of them a cup of tea. They drank in silence, neither knowing what to say to the other two. When a knock came upon the kitchen door, Tris turned to the two boys.

"Well? Let him in." Comas stood and opened the door. A man in his mid thirties entered the cottage and gave slight nod to both Tris and Pasco.

"Good evening Trisana, Pasco, Comas. Boys, get your things."

"Yes Dedicate Crane." Coursed the two boys as they left the room for the needed bath supplies.

"Would you care for a cup of tea Dedicate Crane? It's the good, strong Trader tea that Daja hid before we all left."

"Yes, thank you. You know, I haven't had this Trader tea since those four mages left Discipli… Trisana?" She smirked. It had taken him about five minutes to notice her.

"Hello. I don't suppose word had reached you I was back."

"No."

"Good." At the strange visage he wore, she responded to him simply. "I only just got back an hour ago, don't worry, you're not old enough for memory and hearing loss yet Dedicate Crane." He gave a short laugh.

"I'm certainly glad you've set me straight. Does this mean you'll return to me for some work soon?"

"After a good night's rest and a little refresher course in the ways of Discipline and I'll be around soon enough."

"Good, I'm glad to hear it. Will you be staying here, with the boys?"

"Yes, I don't really want to share the cottage, but since they were here first, I don't see how I could kick them out."

"Very good, very good." Just then the two boys came tromping down the stairs.

"We're ready." Announced Pasco. Comas just nodded his head in agreement.

"I'll see you later then, Tris. Good night."

"Good night Dedicate Crane."

After he and the two boys left, Tris went up to the old attic. She could remember how many nights she and her friends couldn't sleep, so they had come up to the attic to chat with one another. It seemed like only yesterday when they made the ball of light for Sandry. She and Briar to start with, then adding in Daja's power, and finally presenting it to her friend. All within the small confines if this little room. She could remember laying on the floor and listening to the storms, their beating rain drops and their windy gusts. She loved this room, it gave her good memories and good feelings. Dragging a blanket out from her old bedroom, she laid on the floor of the attic and fell asleep instantly.

~~~Part Two: Persistent Rain Causes Problems~~~

The dark clouds loomed ahead of the small brick building. Trisana looked over the whole of the Winding Circle Temple and shuddered. She loved weather. She truly did. But when an absolutely icy wind whipped and tossed her around after beating pelts of small frozen raindrops upon her head, enough was enough. It had hailed for five days straight, and before that, drizzled heavily for two.

During these rainy days, Tris found enough chores to keep her busy both with Dedicate Crane and helping to maintain Discipline as long as Lark was gone. Due to the abominable weather, and Sandry's Uncle's poor health, Lark had been detained much longer at the Duke's citadel than she had first thought she would be. Sandry, too, had been forced to stay at home, and had not been able to ride out to pick up Pascal for his daily lessons in magicks.

Instead, Trisana had taken over the temporary training of the two demi-mages. While she taught them meditation and the rules of magic, there was not much else she could teach them without knowing them or their specific magic like their usual teachers did. In spite of her lack of knowledge, she did make sure they completed their chores around Discipline, went to wash with Dedicate Crane, and were fed and well rested. Suddenly, from her perch a top the roof of Discipline, she could see riding towards her Jacob, her old guard and distant friend.

"Lady Trisana! Lady Trisana!" He called out to her, obviously not seeing her amidst the dark backdrop of the looming thunderclouds. She quickly undid the latch that kept the patched hole in the roof closed and slipped back inside the warmer house. Running down the stairs, her eyes met with a mess.

Somewhere along the lines of her coming back inside and racing down the stairs from the attic, Jacob had dismounted his horse and stumbled into Discipline, soaking wet and drip and flinging water every which way possible. Trying miserably to assist him were the shy but concerned Comas and the outgoing but often panicky Pascal.

"Jacob? What's the news? What's happened? And stop wriggling around so much; you're splashing water everywhere! Oh. Pascal, stop fiddling with the sopping wet cloak and get a mop. Comas, tea." She commanded, taking control of the situation.

"Lady Trisana, no time for tea! The southern gates are being over run by water, and the damns on the end can't take much more. At least, that's what Honored Dedicate Moonstream says. We need your help. They want all of the older mages there to try to save what they can of the lower buildings and barracks." Jacob finished, out of breath with worry.

"Alright then, give me a minute to get ready. Why don't you stay here and watch these two? You're tired and soaked through to the bone. That and I don't trust them in this sort of a situation alone. Just watch them, I'll make your excuses to your guard sentry." Tris said, handing him a cup of tea and beginning to head up the stairs. If she was going to be trudging around in the rain, she'd want some lighter more water resistant clothing. She heard a brief answer of 'yes' fall from the guard's mouth, but didn't really hear what else he said. She had other things to worry about.

===#===

"Trisana! Good to have your help again!" Called Kirel. Kirel? What was he doing here? She had thought he had gone with Frostpine and Daja north. Were they back?

"Kirel? What are you doing here? Is Daja with you?" Well, she had always been blunt to start with.

"No! I volunteered to come back with letters and new supplies for mail and other supplies. I got back only just yesterday afternoon!" He yelled over the sound of violent thunder. Tris shuddered in response. What was this, weather week mania?

"Trisana! Is it possible for you to do a weather reading of these clouds?" She heard Dedicate Moonstream call to her.

"If I have enough time without interruption!"

"Then do it! We need to know how long this weather system is going to play out!"

"Alright then." With her instructions given, Tris raced to the top of the wall and sat, watching the crashing waves of the cove.

Closing her eyes and letting the rain ruin and melt off of her slick form, she concentrated hard. Drawing herself out of her body and into a higher sense of elevation, she floated high. High and higher, until finally she levitated well above the sickeningly black puffs of clouds. Stretching herself and her vision farther, she could see nothing but the vastness of the clouds. It was as if all the world had somehow been forgotten amongst the sheer oblivion of the ominous tumbling mass that she now looked down upon. Ripping herself away from the astonishing site, she was able to gather herself together enough to pull back to the plain at which all of her friends resided upon.

With the new information seeded within her head, she shimmied down from the flooding wall and searched through the rescue masses in search of Honored Dedicate Moonstream. "Moonstream! The clouds go on forever! And they are completely natural too! Not one sign of magic in them!"

"Are you sure Trisana?' She answered back, the heavy frown on her face beginning to weigh more with each new piece of information as it was brought to her.

"Positive! And, it's only going to get worse! This place will be flooded if the rest of the storm doesn't change course, and I really don't think it will!" Trisana called out.

"Alright, thank you! Have Kirel tell you where to put things, he's over there!" She pointed to where Kirel was standing and Trisana nodded and raced towards him to see what she could help with.

"Tris! You ready to get in the water?" Kirel asked her.

"Yeah! Just tell me where and what and I'm game!"

"Good! The stock bins in the lower southern end need to be emptied out. Take a few others and start the process! When I can, I'll send more people to you!"

"Sounds good." Tris grabbed the arms of the four closest people and explained to them what they were going to do. Taking a wagon and a drenched horse, they carted up and back down a small hill. As they broke into the storage rooms, they began lifting the pots, pans, jars, and equipment out of them and into the wagon. Every ten to fifteen minutes she sent two of the workers back to unload the supplies and bring the wagon back empty. This continued for almost a full twenty- four hours before someone came to relieve her from her job in the pouring rain.

As Trisana drugged back to Discipline, she tried to pick up her feet, but failed miserably. She was so tired, so dead, that she couldn't. Her hands and feet were numb, and her nose? What nose? She had lost all feeling in it and her ears long ago as well. Finally walking through the gardens, she reached the front door. When she found it locked, she sighed in annoyance and pounded on it.

"Jacob! Pascal! Comas! Open the door!" She called out in her raspy, almost non-existent voice. As the door opened, she sighed in relief at the warm sight of a comfortable home. Walking in, she was greeted with a million questions at once.

"Stop!" She screamed, only it came out as a whisper instead. Once the room was quiet, she began again. "That's better. Now then, I'm sure you all want updates. Jacob, I'm sorry, but they're expecting you back now that I'm here."

"I figured as much. What's the news?" Said the large guard with a grim smile on his large face.

"Yeah Copper Curls, what's the news?"

"Nothing to you Thief Boy." She stuck her tongue out at Briar, then began to unravel the top layer of the four layers of clothing she had put on to try to keep her remotely warm. Then she stopped, but kept her eyes focused on the scarf she was holding in her hands.

"Thief Boy? Briar? Briar Moss? Is it really you?" She asked in disbelief.

"Yeah Copper Curls, it's me, Briar Moss, the one and only." He gave a cocky lopsided grin when she finally gathered enough courage look at him. His skin was still the same dark tan, maybe a shade lighter than it had been when she had last seen him. His raven hair was still cropped close to his head and his eyes were still the same sparkling green that they had been when he was a boy. Of course, now he wasn't a boy. Now he was nearly a grown man, and he looked the part.

Briar studied his old friend from almost three years ago. She had changed, this girl he had once known. Remembering back to when he used to call her copper curls made him want to laugh inside. She didn't appear to have changed much, but then again, she was sopping wet and dead tired, he was sure.

"Why don't you let me help you take those wet things off and I'll get some of Daja's good Trader tea out for us." Briar said.

"Sure. So when did you get back?" She questioned him.

"Early this morning while you were out in the rain I guess. I would have come out to help, but I fell asleep when I got here, and I only woke up a half hour ago." He said as he struggled with the shirt buttons of the top shirt she had on. There were still three more shirts beneath it. The water had swelled the buttons so that they wouldn't fit nicely through the holes they usually did.

"Where's Rosethorn? Usually she's wherever you are."

"She heard the Duke's health was failing and that Lark was at the citadel. She went that way, and I, being me, decided to ride all the way here from the citadel alone in the rain. Bad choice."

"No kidding. You couldn't have picked a worse storm. And get this: it's not going to end for quite a while. It will be nice to have you helping around here again. Can you get Dedicate Crane to stop treating me like I don't know my way around his research lab?" He gave her a curt laugh and slight nod.

"No one can tell Dedicate Crane anything, you should know that by now!"

"I know, but wistful thinking. I'm going to go put on a dry dress. Have that tea ready when I come down." She ordered him with her still raspy quiet voice.

"Yes mame." He joked.

As Tris climbed the stairs, she sighed in happiness. Slowly, the Four Mages were being reunited, one way or another. She was sure that when Sandry found out that she and Briar were here at Discipline, she would ride over as well. And as for Daja, well, she would be back soon enough. She could wait a little longer to see the Trader again, even though she missed her as much as any one. When she got to the attic, Tris picked out the only dress she had clean left. To her utter disgust, it was a longer skirted periwinkle blue dress that she usually saved for special occasions. Because of the long skirt, she was going to have to put on those annoying petty coats and slips. 'Forget it.' She thought to herself. It wasn't worth it. She would just have to go down without them on, because she sure as Mila wasn't going to wear them after standing in the rain for more than a day. It was way too much work. Grabbing a blue scarf and her brush, she started back down the stairs. While Tris had gone up to change, Briar had made tea. Sitting down next to him at the small dinning table, she pulled her wet hair out of its current scarf and began brushing it.

"I'm sorry. I know I should have done this upstairs, but my fingers were too numb. I needed to warm them up." She made her excuses. She was quite sure he was inwardly laughing at her and her hair; he'd done it often enough outwards.

"That's alright. I'm surprised you managed with the buttons on those shirts you were wearing, I couldn't." He said, watching as she brushed her wet locks. They were much longer than he remembered, and he couldn't imagine how she got them to do anything. But then, she was a girl. She was supposed to know how to do that sort of 'lady' type of stuff. Sandry and Daja had. He thought anyway. It was a bit blurry; after all, they hadn't seen each other in so long…

"So what have you been up to these last few years? I haven't seen or heard form you in two full years." She asked him, startling him back into reality from his thoughts.

"Well, a lot. Rosethorne and I went east to study the native plants in the region far to the east. I saw animals you wouldn't believe lived! And, Tris, there were storms you couldn't imagine! They were all dust storms like hurricanes, only made out of sand and not water. And there was thunder too."

"They're called sand storms. I've read about them."

"But reading and seeing are two different things. Tris, these storms could pick up a person and burry them alive and you'd never know it. And when the wind whips across your face, it stings and burns because of the sand hitting it."

" Were you ever out in one?"

"No. When they started up, we immediately made camp and waited it out. The caravan we were with wasn't going to take any chances."

"Wow. Sounds like fun."

"Yeah. And guess what else?"

"What?"

"Guess. That's the point of me saying 'guess' the first time Copper Curls."

"Hey! I don't know. Just tell me!"

"I have a student mage." The room fell silent. Tris coughed.

"You? A student?" She giggled lightly, then tried to hold back her laughter. Unsuccessfully, she broke into a fit of laughter and nearly began crying she was laughing so hard.

"Hey! What's so funny about that?" He demanded, slightly hurt. Why couldn't he have a student?

"Nothing! I just can't imagine you teaching! The poor kid!" She finally slowed her laughing and was gasping for breath.

"Well I do teach. In fact, my student's here."

"What?" All laughing stopped.

"He's asleep in my old room, so don't go waking him up."

"Great. Another mouth to feed at Discipline. Yours is big enough, but two new ones?" She replied, half joking and half serious. He must have heard the tone of her voice, because he grinned.

"I know. Don't you hate me?"

"Yeah." It was a blunt statement, not a sarcastic response. Both of them grinned and then broke into a fit of laughter. This conversation was unusual for both of them. Tris couldn't remember the last time she had laughed, and Briar couldn't the last time he'd felt so comfortable. This was their home, they were family.

~~~Part Three: Relationships Grow and Change~~~

"What's so funny?" Asked another voice from the doorway of the kitchen. Spinning her head around, Tris saw a boy she had never seen before. He looked to be slightly older than they, and he was stretching.

"Nothing Darren. Tris, this is Darren, my student. Darren, Trisana the weather mage of the Four Mages of Discipline."

"Nice to meet you Darren. Thief Boy was just telling me about you." She said, trying to stiffen up. She couldn't let this new kid think she was one of those push over girls.

"Nice to meet you Lady Trisana Chandler. Briar has told me much about you." He smiled and bowed slightly, then took her hand and kissed it.

Briar watched with interest. Just what was his student thinking? Kissing Tris' hand! He had no right…no reason. Back up. Why did he care? He looked at Tris. He could see he face only tighten up more when Darren smiled at her. He looked again. Other than her making a face, she really had grown up very nicely. She was more tone, not skinny, but most definitely not as out of shape and pudgy as she had been when he had first met her. Her height had increased slightly, and she had filled out in other… areas… as well. Her long burnt red hair tumbled in perfect ringlets down past her shoulders, no longer was it the messy rat's nest it had been when they had left Discipline. She didn't wear glasses anymore, and he could see her clear grayish blue eyes framed by thick dark lashes. Complimented well by the light blue she wore, she looked extremely pretty. Briar shook his head. This would lead to his demise, looking at one of his best friends like this! It was an insane thing to even consider!

"Nice to meet you as well, Darren. I, however, don't appreciate you kissing my hand." Tris said. Briar had to laugh at that. She was just as blunt as ever. If she didn't like something, she was never afraid to let you know it. And besides, it was good she didn't like Darren. He didn't know why, but it was good she didn't like him, that was a certainty.

"I'm sorry then, Lady Trisana, I would not have done it had I not truly thought you would not mind." Darren answered in a lofty tone. Just who did this boy think he was? Tris could feel her temper rage and the sparks of electricity flow through her veins. He was a very impolite boy. Man. Well, he was technically a man, but he acted like a snobby boy.

"Just don't do it again. I'm not one of those kinds of girls, plain and simple. Hey, Thief Boy, it's too cold in here. Let's go into the parlor and sit by the fire." Tris suggested.

"Yeah, alright. You get the tea then Copper Curls." He responded without thinking.

"Copper Curls? Again with that nickname? No way. You can get the tea then, all mighty street rat." She stuck her tongue out at him and began walking into the parlor.

"You called me Thief Boy!" He argued with her.

"So?" Was her response from the other room. He felt a blush rise to his cheeks at beginning insulted in front of his student. 'Forget this'. He thought to himself as he left the tea. Quietly walking into the parlor, he caught Tris just as she was about to sit down. Gasping her waist with his hands, he pulled her into his arms and picked her up.

"I don't think so. You are going to at least help me carry that tea in here." He said as he dragged her into the kitchen again. Though she put up a strong resistance, he was able to easily keep his hold on her until they were standing in front of the table again.

"Why fight it Tris, you have no choice." He taunted her. She stuck her tongue out at him again, but the sighed and picked up their cups. He smirked and picked up the rest of the tray and carried in after her. Darren, quite forgotten during their little spout, watched on with amusement as his 'teacher' was almost stood up by a meek little girl. Finally coming back to reality, he joined the two others in front of the fire in the parlor.

"So then Kirel is back too?" Briar was asking her.

"Yeah, and I told him he could stay at Discipline if he wanted. So now, I'm stuck here with five boys. Where are Sandry and Daja when I need them?"

"They're all gone. What ever will you do?"

"I don't know!" They laughed again. They had been joking about who was staying in Discipline. As it turned out, Briar, Darren, Comas, Pascal, and Kirel, not to mention Tris herself were all going to be staying in Discipline for a while. That wasn't too much of a problem though. So it would be a little crowded, that wasn't anything new. Tris thoughtfully rested her chin in her hand as Briar turned to answer a question that Darren had asked him.

If all six of them were going to be staying in Discipline, where were they all going to sleep? She would undoubtedly stay in the attic where she was now. Comas and Pascal were already sharing Sandry's old room. If Briar was in his old room with Darren, then Kirel could have hers and Daja's old room. She would leave both Lark and Rosethorne's rooms alone for now.

"Tris? Lady Tris?" She heard a voice calling her. Looking up she saw Comas and Pascal had joined them, along with Dedicate Crane.

"Yes?" She answered them curtly. She didn't like her thought being interrupted.

"We were wondering if you had seen Dedicate Gorse around? All three of us have been looking everywhere for him and we can't find him anywhere." Dedicate Crane responded.

"No, he hasn't come by. I'm sorry. That does remind me, however. Pascal, Comas, time for washing."

"No!" They cried simultaneously.

"Yes." She whined back at them.

"But, but…"

"No buts. Go now." She ordered them. "And take Briar and Darren with you."

"What about Dedicate Crane?" Pascal wanted to know. "He doesn't have to go wash!"

"He'll do it when he's ready. You, on the other hand, have a curfew and bedtime. Get moving. When you come back, I'll give you your supper. Stay under the over hangs too, I don't want you getting sick."

"Yes Mother." Briar teased as all of the boys lined up at the door.

"Thief Boy?"

"Yeah?"

" You smell like a dead rat. Go clean up."

"Yeah. She cares! Just like I always say…"

"Get lost!" She pushed him out the door and slammed it in his face. Going into the kitchen and setting food out for them when they returned, she began to think.

Briar certainly was pushing her limits. The funny thing was, she didn't mind. She couldn't figure it out, but for some reason, she didn't mind. He was annoying, self centered, fun, intense, and… where was this list going? She had lost all rational thought after she hit fun. She must be so tired that she was losing it, because to think of Briar… that way… it was just, just strange. Sitting back down on the floor, she rested her head in the crook of her arms and closed her eyes. 'Just resting them, that's all,' She told herself.

===#===

Briar and the other boys walked back into Discipline half an hour later. The lights had been so dim they thought Tris had gone to bed. Tiptoeing as quietly as possible into the kitchen, they found a meal of bread, milk, cheese, and salad set out on the table for them. After sitting and eating their meal in silence, Briar took charge.

"Alright. Comas, Pascal, bedtime."

"We're not tired yet." Argued Pascal.

"You've been yawning all through your meal. I think you're tired enough. Go to sleep." He watched as Comas nodded and began to walk off. When Pascal tried to protest again, Comas came back and shoved him towards their bedroom. Shutting the door behind them, Briar decided they were going to go to bed.

"Hey, let's go sit in the parlor on the couches and continue that conversation on magic." Kirel suggested.

"Yes, let's. I do believe this 'metal magic' is something most intriguing. Almost as much as I found my own animal magic." Darren added. Briar simply followed the two as they lead the way into the parlor. When they got to the couches, however, their conversation cut out suddenly and Briar was intrigued as to what would stop them. Peering over Kirel's shoulder, he saw what had hushed them.

There, in a blue heap, was Trisana Chandler. He noted that her eyes were closed, allowing her dark lashes to rest on her peaceful face. A small smile graced her rose-tinted lips and her face was pale with flushed cheeks. The fire was bouncing off of her, causing her hair to have golden red highlights. Shadows danced around her and the dark room gave her the appearance of a helpless but steadfast ghost, or maybe a fairy. She was angelic sitting there.

"Well, do we leave her, or put her to bed, or what?" Kirel said quietly so as not to wake her.

"We should put her to bed. I'll do it, just tell me where to put her." Darren volunteered.

"She's probably sleeping in the attic." Briar said thoughtfully.

"Attic? Why would she sleep in such a dirty, musty place?" Darren asked, slightly disgusted. The longer Briar was with him, the more he disliked him and as high and mighty attitude.

"Because, she just would. It's closer to the storms, and being a weather mage, well, you can figure it out from there." He answered his student. But Darren wasn't listening. He was already trying to move and pick up Tris from her peaceful state. Briar watched as he got her bundled up in his arms, but couldn't hold onto her.

"What is she wearing, pure cotton and no petty coats? How distasteful." Darren complained.

"I'll take her. You'll drop her going up the stairs." Briar said to him haughtily. He watched as Darren lay her sleeping form on the couch. As gently as he could, Briar walked over to her and started to grasp her into his arms. Her eyes fluttered, then opened in bleary recognition.

"Briar? What's going on?"

"Shh. I'm going to take you to your bed. You fell asleep in the parlor. Where are you sleeping?"

"Oh. The attic…"

"Alright." By then, she had closed her eyes again. He picked her up and started the short trip to the stair well leading up to the attic. As he climbed the stairs, he felt her lean into his chest and sigh deeply. He too, let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and sighed. She was so warm and it felt so nice to be near her again. He had truly missed her. As he reached the attic, he kicked the door open more and spotted her bed below the window. Laying her down on her blankets, he pulled of her boots and the scarf around her hair. Placing a blanket around her lithe form and smiled down upon her.

"Sleep well Copper Curls. Tris." He bent down and pecked her forehead before turning and fleeing from her 'room'.

===#===

"So how long has Briar liked Lady Trisana?" Darren pounded poor Kirel with question after question once Briar had left the room with Tris.

"What? He doesn't like her at all!" Kirel answered him.

"What do you mean, he doesn't like her at all? Don't tell me that! I saw the way he looks at her. I saw how they act together when they're alone. You mean you haven't noticed it?"

"No. They don't like each other." Kirel said, standing firm to what he knew to be true.

"Yes, they do. Look at the way he looks at her. The way they tease each other, why, they even have pet names for each other!"

"Those 'pet names' as you call them are what they used to call each other when they teased each other a long time ago. Now they just do it for fun."

"You're getting behind. You can't expect them to stay the same forever you know. They've gotten past that 'boys/ girls have cooties' stage now. Face it, he's gone on her." Darren finished with a smirk. He loved being the first one to know everything.

"Alright, let's say he does like Tris. What if she doesn't like him?" Kirel argued.

"She does."

"And you know she does because…?"

"Because she wouldn't let me kiss her hand."

"What does that have to do with anything?" Kirel asked him, more confused than ever.

"She wouldn't let me kiss her hand, but she let him pick her up, twice as a matter of fact. That and when he says something, she hangs onto his every word."

"They're friends, she's supposed to 'hang onto his every word'!"

"Not the way she does. They way she does, you'd think it were a matter of life and death. It's a way of flirting."

"I cannot believe I'm listening to this!" Kirel practically shouted.

"Listening to what Kirel?" Briar asked as he came down the steps.

"Darren seems to think that you…" Darren put his hands over Kirel's mouth before he could finish what he was saying.

"Darren?" Briar said with a warning tone in his voice.

"Nothing."

"Speak. Or else. And you know 'or else' will probably end up with you knocked out cold." Briar had a funny fire in his eyes Kirel had never seen in them in the five years he had known the child.

"Nothing!"

"Last time this happened, you thought you could beat me in a brawl. You ended up with a broken rib. You may be older and bigger, but I'm stronger. Talk. Now." Briar was past playing games with his student. He had been rude and made fun of Tris. He was going to pay if he kept it up.

"I just mentioned how you and Lady Trisana got along so well." Darren tried to cover.

" He thought you liked Lady Trisana." Kirel added.

"I do like her. And she likes me. And we like you both. So what's new?" Both the other two stood staring at him. Had he said something wrong?

"No. I meant Darren thought you were falling for Lady Trisana." Kirel clarified.

"What?" It wasn't a loud 'what', it was a quiet, shocked 'what'.

"I think you care for Lady Trisana more than you let on. And I think she does the same for you. So there, I said it."

"What?" Briar repeated, this time more to himself. In a trance-like state, he slowly wandered out of the room and let his feet carry him wherever they might. When Briar looked up, he found himself staring at Tris' sleeping form.

"Is that true Tris?" He whispered, afraid to wake her. "Do you like me? Do you care for me more than as a friend? If so, why didn't I even notice it before?" He sat quietly next to her sleeping platform and leaned his back up against it, turning his head to stare out the window.

"Do I like you? Is that true? I mean, I know I thought you were pretty, alright, beautiful, but… do I fell more than just attraction to you? How do I know?" He ran his hand through his raven hair and sighed. Ever time he heard her name mentioned he felt his heart beat speed up. But that could have been just him missing her. He had written her hundreds of letters explaining his adventures, but he had never had the courage to send one. Why not? What made her different from Sandry or Daja? And their mind link… mind link! He had completely forgotten about it! Could she read his thoughts? Did she know he loved her? Loved her?? Where had that come from? A clap of thunder was heard in the distance as Briar Moss settled down for a long night next to Trisana. He had so much to think about, would he ever figure it out?

~~~Part Four: Floods of Rain, Floods of Tears~~~

Trisana awoke to yelling and screaming. When she was finally dressed, she raced down stairs and tried to figure out what was going on.

"Hold everything! What is going on?" She shouted at the top of her voice.

"Lady Trisana, the both the southern and western gates have been flooded and the waters are rising faster. The worst of it is, all of the Dedicates are so tired from helping at the southern gate that no one had been able to start in the western, and that's where the…"

"The medical facility!" Tris cried frantically, the problem suddenly dawning on her. "Oh Mila!"

"The patients have been evacuated to the mess hall, but they need their medicines and supplies, which are still in the medical facility." Dedicate Crane added with a worn out and tired expression on his face. Tris had to act fast.

"Alright then. Jacob, go find Honored Dedicate Moonstream and tell her that I'll take care of the medical supplies. Then fetch a wagon and meet us at the medical facility. Kirel, Darren, Pascal, Briar, all of you are going to come with me. We're going to help unload the supplies from the medical facilities. As for you Comas, stay here with Dedicate Crane. Make sure he rests and drinks plenty of fluids. He looks flushed. Briar, before we go, make sure he's not running a fever. Let's get ready!" All the boys gave her a giant smile. They had been wanting and waiting to help with the relief, but until now she had forbid it. As for Comas, he hadn't wanted to go out into the rain, so he was glad she had chosen him to stay behind. The only one unhappy with her decisions was Dedicate Crane.

"No, no. No need for worry. I'm fine. I just need some strong tea and I'll be ready to be out there with you all again." He tried to reassure them.

"No. Dedicate Crane, even I had to come in and sleep. If I did, then so do you. We don't want you getting sick now. Besides, what would Rosethorne say if she knew you were brought down by a little head cold?" Tris told him sternly.

"I don't care what she'd say, she'd… ah.. ah… achoo!" He sneezed very roughly.

"Unhuh. Sure. Talk all you want, but I want you up in bed." She pointed her finger towards the bedrooms. "Comas, show him to Rosethorne's room and let him sleep in there."

"Rosethorne's? Oh no! Not her room! Anywhere but her room, I can't…"

"Now. And make him some strong willow tea afterwards. Chances are he'll have a headache."

"Well, we always knew she was bossy. Now she's just more openly forceful about it." Briar joked. He saw her glare hit him and froze. It was icy. No emotion lay within it, yet it conveyed more than he had thought humanly possible. Shuddering, he felt a chill race up his spine and run through his veins. What was wrong? Had he done something? All last night he had sat up and thought about her and their relationship. If she really liked him so much, how could she possibly look at him with such, such, utter loathing?

"Briar!" She quietly yelled at him and pulled on his sleeve. Tugging him into the warm parlor, she stared at him. When her eyes met his face, she reeled. It was so perfect. She couldn't see how he had grown up to look so nice. Was this really her childhood friend? Her Briar? Wait a minute. Where had 'her' Briar come from? Shaken off of her balance, she stuttered to find the words she had meant to say to him only minutes before.

Briar saw her suddenly change in demeanor and wondered. Had he been the cause of her shift? He caught the look that rested in his eyes and took the chance. Drawing in his breath, he breathed a small prayer to Mila and went for it.

Tris was so caught up in her thoughts she neglected to watch Briar. Suddenly she felt a new warmth and slight movement in front of her. Coming back to her sense, she blinked and opened her once blank eyes to a solid white cloth. Tracing the white shirt upwards, her eyes fell across a tan face framed by sable hair. Keeping their movement, they suddenly stopped when they met the piercing green eyes of the face. She couldn't breathe. There was something in them… an undistinguishable fire that caught her breath and made her heart speed uncontrollably. She could feel his breath upon her face. He was so close to her… so very, very close…

Briar pulled her in closer to his body, wanting to feel the pressure of her warmth; needing to feel it. Sighing deeply, he caught a whiff of what smelled like cinnamon and fresh air… Tris' smell. Wrapping his arms around the small of her waist, he hoped she wouldn't slap him for touching her in such a forward manner. Leaning down, he first lightly pecked the top of her red ringlet head of hair. Making his way down, he pecked her forehead next, then her cheek, followed by her nose, and then, he stopped when he reached her mouth.

Was this really Briar? He was kissing her! She felt his light touch as he bent down closer towards her head. When she felt him kiss her hair, then forehead, cheek and nose, she nearly fainted. What was he doing to her? Her insides were in a tumult of disarray. As she tried to tense up when he got closer to her mouth, she merely lost it more.

Softly and tenderly, Briar placed his soft lips upon hers. A brief moment of bliss settled over him. Her lips tasted like sweet honey. Hungrily, he intensified his kisses, and when he felt no resistance from her, he just continued. Mila, what had taken him this long? Everything he had tried to reason the night before while sitting beside her was lost. Suddenly it was so trivial. This said so much more than his brain had told him.

As the shock of him kissing her died down, Tris began to respond. Bringing her arms up, she wrapped them around his back, running her hands up and down. Small yet intense shivers were racing through her spine. Was this what she had been missing? Was this why she had felt so homesick? Suddenly she realized the difference. The loneliness she had felt, the empty incompletion she had had her entire life was gone. All that mattered now was Briar and his sweet, soft and tempting lips dizzyingly crashing down upon her own, sucking her breath from her, always pushing and wanting more and more. They finally broke and tried to catch their breaths.

"Trisana? Briar? We have to go now if we're going to get those supplies… what are you two doing?" Asked Pascal as he stepped into the parlor.

"Nothing. Let's go, or we won't be able to save anything." Tris said, glancing back at Briar. He gave her a quick wink and followed her out of the room, just barely catching the pinkish blush on her cheeks.

===#===

"I'm going in on the bottom floor to get the things there. Pascal, you and Kirel go in on the second floor. Briar, you and Darren take the third. I'll get this bottom one by myself."

"It's too dangerous for you to go alone Tris!" Briar yelled over another thunderclap.

"Nonsense. Get moving! The faster we move, the more supplies we save, the less we have to replace and the easier we can treat the sick." Without waiting for a response, she took off. The building was already beginning to flood. As Tris watched the other two groups climb the stairs, she sighed and hoped they would be alright. Wading through knee high water, she walked carefully through floating debris of all types. Wooden chairs floated about, wooden toys, and other floating things all blocked her way, making it difficult to get to the locked up supplies.

Each trip in and out of the first floor she took, she got more and more supplies out. She also noticed the rising water level. When she had begun, the water had been knee high. Now it was almost past her hips, and still rising fast. Turing down a new corridor, she saw a giant cabinet with a huge old lock on it. Figuring it held some more supplies, she looked through the key ring she had for a key to fit the lock. The water level was getting higher. Now to her waist, it was freezing cold. She could hear the mixture of hail and cool raindrops falling on the roof two floors above her. Frustrated with the lock, she closed her eyes and pointed a finger at it. Concentrating hard, she grunt and chanted a few words. A small jolt of lightening zipped from her finger and hit the lock accurately. Opening the closet, she found blankets, magically woven bandages, special salves for wounds and scrapes, and a few other knickknacks. Picking up what she could, she once again waded back through the debris filled water to the wagon.

"Alright, that's everything we can get!" Called out Kirel. "It's time to pull out."

"Right! Let's get going!" Darren confirmed through the loud noise.

"Wait! What if we missed something?" Cried Tris. She had this feeling… just one of those things…

"Tris, we can't do anymore! Let's get out of here!" Briar called to her.

"Just one more trip! I'll be right back!" She called and dashed back into the medical facility.

"Tris!" Called Briar, but it was lost amongst the din of the storm.

Tris raced through the corridors. Any longer and the water would be up past her chest. But she just had this nagging feeling she was forgetting something. Passing one of the patient's wards, she briefly ducked her head in to make sure there were no supplies. Just as she was leaving the room, she heard what sounded like a light sob. Whipping her head about, she settled her eyes upon a dark corner. Making her way over to it, the sobs noise increased. As she got closer, she made out the form of a small little boy.

"They left a child here?" She cried out in horror and disgust. Assuring the child she wasn't going to hurt him, she picked him up and brought him into the icy water. She didn't want him to get wet, but there was no other way to get him out before the water covered more than just her neck. Looking towards the door, she slowly made her way to it. She would never get out in time.

"Tris! There you are! Come on! There's nothing left we can do here!"

"Bri… Briar?" The water was beginning to flood over into her mouth.

"Tris? Come on!" he called to her.

"I can't! Briar, I found a little boy! He was left behind!"

"A boy?" He was closer to her now, and he could see the little huddled mass that she carried in her tired arms. "Here, let me take him. Come on!"

"Take him! Go! I'll catch up, I just need to get my breath!" She handed the little boy over to Briar and he nodded in agreement. He began on his way back out.

Tris was fighting to keep her mouth and nose free of water. The water level had risen considerably, and the cold was beginning to affect more than just her knowledge about temperatures. It was mentally and physically taking it's toll on her. Barely able to stay afloat, she wondered whether or not Briar had gotten himself and the little boy to safety. Ready to give up, she made a last grab for anything that might help her stay floating longer. There was a large beam in the wall that she caught her hooked hand on and she clung to it for dear life. Was this it? Would she really drown? 'Help…' she thought. But it was too late, who could help her now?

'Tris.' She opened her eyes and looked around. Who had said that? There was no one else around her. Was she hallucinating? 'Tris! Tell me where you are!'

"Where are you? Who are you?" She yelled and thought at the same time.

'It's me Tris, Briar. Did you forget about the mind link? Come on! Tell me where you are so I can help you.' The mind link? Now she remembered. How had she forgotten?

'Briar… I… I don't know… I'm close to where I was before you took the little boy from me.' She thought, hoping it would be enough information. She closed her eyes and nearly lost it. Suddenly, she felt the water around her become warmer. Opening her eyes, she saw a bigger figure gathering her up in his arms and hauling her away, out through one of the doors and pulling her through the water to higher ground.

"Tris?" She heard a familiar voice say. In response, she tried to say she was fine; that she was just tired, but all that came was water in a huge coughing fit. Then she let darkness claim her in it's warm and welcoming embrace as she lost consciousness.

===#===

One eye cracked open, then shut. Then both fluttered open and Tris looked around the room. She was in the attic of Discipline, in her nice warm bed, in her nice warm nightgown. How had she gotten here? The last thing she remembered was coughing outside of the flooding medical facility.

"You're up!" Said a cheery voice from the doorway. Pascal was standing there with a try of food. "I'll go get Briar and he'll give you some food. This is mine. I was going to sit and keep watch on you but now… I'll be right back." He said. She wondered how anyone could have that much energy after the events of… how long ago had it been? One day? Two? Even three?

"Tris! You're really awake! How do you feel?" She was bombarded with questions from a worried Kirel.

"She looks like she feels better." Said Darren.

"Out. Now." Briar ordered them from behind. Stepping into the attic, he shut the door behind him.

"Hey…" She drawled out. What was she supposed to say? She really had no idea… all of this was so new and confusing…

"Hey. How do you feel?"

"Fine." An uncomfortable silence settled in the room between the two.

"Briar… I wanted to say thank you. You saved my life." She said, breaking the silence.

"It was nothing. I mean, you'd do it for me, right?"

"In a heart beat." She answered him without hesitation.

"Hey, Tris, I was wondering… about what happened before we left… what did you think about it?"

"So it's an 'it' now, huh? Briar, 'it' was a kiss. In fact, 'it' was many kisses. Let's not be too cryptic here now. You're asking if I liked them?"

"Always so blunt, huh Copper Curls? Yeah, I guess that's what I wanted to know." He said, a reddish tint coming to his tan face.

" Well then, Thief Boy… yeah."

"Yeah?"

"I mean, yes, I did enjoy it." Now it was her turn to blush.

"I thought we weren't going to call 'it' 'it' anymore." He smirked, elation high in his mind. She really did like it… maybe there was a chance…

"So? And anyway… Mila, why is this so hard?" She cried in frustration.

"What's hard about it Trisana?" He asked her, trying to be understanding.

"I don't know. Every time I see you, I'm near you; I nearly lose it. But I can't figure out what that means.

"I felt the same way before I kissed you. But now I know."

"Well? Care to enlighten me then Thief Boy?"

"Tris, I thought I was falling for you. And after I kissed you, I knew I had fallen for you. I love you Tris."

"You… you love me?"

"Yeah." He blushed and gave a short, sheepish laugh. Running a hand through his hair, he diverted his eyes from looking into hers. He felt her moving positions. Soon he could feeling her warm breath against his lips. Focusing his attention on her, he caught his breath. She was so pretty.

"I thought I was missing something in life. I could feel a void in me every time I saw you, and didn't know why. Now I do know. I love you too Briar Moss." He caught her grayish-blue eyes and held them with his own green.

"Took you long enough Copper Curls. You can be so slow some times." He smirked, then leaned in and captured her lips, sealing the deal.

End

Well? How was it? Let me know!!!!!! Rix13Rix@aol.com!!!