The Only Volunteer

Disclaimer: Tamora Pierce owns all of PotS and everything in Tortall. I just like to play around in her world.

A/N: Alright, alright, Kel/Joren just won't let me go. I didn't think I'd like this pairing so much, but I do. This may have been done before, but here's my version of 'what if Joren had been Kel's sponsor?' Let me know what you think. Enjoy! :D

A Sponsor for Kel

The blond youth at Wyldon's side raised a hand. "May I, my lord?" he asked.

Lord Wyldon stared at him. "You, Joren of Stone Mountain?"

The youth bowed. "I would be pleased to teach the girl all she needs to know of life in the pages' wing."

Kel eyed him, suspicious. From the way a few older pages giggled, she suspected Joren might plan to chase her away, not show her around. She looked at the training master, expecting him to agree with the blond page.

Instead, Lord Wyldon frowned. "I had hoped for another sponsor," he commented stiffly. "You should employ your spare hours in the improvement of your classwork and your riding skills."

... "I believe I can perfect my studies and sponsor the girl," Joren said respectfully. "And since I am the only volunteer --"

--Tamora Pierce, First Test

Kel felt so embarrassed. All of the other new pages' sponsors seemed eager to step forward and volunteer their time to help. She knew that being 'The Girl" would be difficult, but she had never felt so unwanted. Sure, this impossibly beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed boy had volunteered, but Kel didn't think he really meant it. Another page, an older-looking boy with brown hair and mischevious green eyes, had grudgingly offered to be her sponsor, but he did it in such a way that it started a verbal sparring match with Lord Wyldon. Finally the training master gave the tall, green-eyed page a lot of detention and disciplinary duties for his insolence, and then he snapped that Joren could be her sponsor after all. He did not want or need for the other page, Nealan of Queenscove, to 'infect' any of the new pages with his bad manners. Then, he led them all to the dining hall.

"Walk behind me, wench," Joren whispered into Kel's ear through clenched teeth, and he thought, "The first thing I'm going to teach you is your proper place."

Kel turned to look into her new sponsor's sky-blue eyes. Joren's face was perfectly angelic and his smile looked innocent, but Kel heard the venom in his voice. When she didn't move, he quickly pinched her on the soft underside of her upper arm and made it look like he was straightening her sleeve instead. Only Kel's strict Yamani training prevented her from yelping in pain. She made her face calm and told herself to become like stone. The rest of the group swiftly moved along after the training master. Only the page Nealan glanced back at Kel and Joren as they stood there in the hallway.

"My name is Keladry," she said without emotion. "I knew it! You don't want to help me at all, do you?"

"I really don't care what you call yourself," Joren whispered again, "Vinson is right - you look like a lump, so that's your new name. Welcome to the palace, Lump." And he smiled his deceptively innocent smile again. "I'm going to wipe that look off your face!"

Anyone looking in their direction would see a nice-looking young page speaking pleasantly with a plain-looking girl in a rumpled dress who was only a few inches shorter than him. Now that they were alone, Joren stopped whispering, but he still spoke through clenched teeth.

"Everyone knows that girls belong at the convent, not the palace," he stated. "You've made a big mistake, Lump, but I believe I can show you the error of your ways. Then you can be on your way - back to the convent school, where you belong." "Gods, she's annoying - she shouldn't be here at all."

"The law says that I can train here and earn my shield just like you can," replied Kel, unmoved. "I'm going to prove that girls can become knights, too." "Lord Wyldon made a mistake in placing me with you, but I won't let you drive me off."

Joren walked around Kel and pushed her forward forcefully. "We don't have time for this, Lump. We'd better hurry or we'll be late - and I'm not taking any punishment because of you. Next time, you will walk when I say walk, and you will do as I say, or else I'll let Lord Wyldon know that you're really quite disagreeable. I'm sure he already knows that, but he's being forced to accept you here for now. " "Come on, move it!"

Kel stumbled forward and began to walk stiffly in the direction of the dining hall. When they came to an intersection of the hallways, Joren told her that the stairwell to their left was a shortcut to their classrooms. Kel took note of that information so she could use it later. It seemed to her that the 'pretty boy' would have to help her with some things for a while, even though he had just admitted to her that he was trying to drive her out. She knew that this Joren character liked to look good in front of certain people and that he was very good at it. Kel might not know much, but she knew she could not complain to Lord Wyldon - or anyone else - about her sponsor. She would just have to figure out a way to survive here in spite of his efforts.

A/N: Well, it's a start. Should I continue? Does anyone want another story like this one? Let me know. Thanks! Ally-Marty :D