A/N: Hey everyone! I know I haven't updated in awhile, but I put a new chapter in only a couple days ago, so don't get too agitated. Here's a new one for ya! I've had a little bit of inspiration lately, thus the new chapters. Hope you enjoy. ~*~

Timbrea Skysinger glanced up quickly, smiled. She rose from the waters edge and dropped the wet clothing she held in the thrush-woven basket next to her. She gave a small cluck with her tongue as she waded into the stream, eyes still focused on what lay on the opposite bank. The beautiful creature's head snapped to attention, apparently startled. It's deep brown eyes remained alert as Timbrea waded deeper into the warm Spring water towards it. As she neared the edge she extended a soft tan arm as a sign of peace. The deer sniffed her hand as she reached it, then buried its head in the fold of her arm when she climbed out.

"Rhynn, I've missed you," she cooed, voice soft as silk. The girl stroked the creature with reassuring hands, sat. Rhynn lay next to her and rubbed his head against her belly. He pressed himself against her until she was forced over onto her back. He stood and nudged her as she lay there, laughing. The sound rang through the forest like tingling bells. Rhynn thought it was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard, and blew softly on her stomach again, making her whole body vibrate with authentically beautiful laughter. She managed to stop, sit up, and calm herself.

"Okay, okay Rhynn, I'm happy to see you too!" Timbrea moved into a sitting crouch and continued to run her hands along Rhynn's luxuriously soft coat. They remained like that until something on the breeze had them both pricking their ears. Another sound left them moving swiftly through the trees, girl and animal side by side; the wet laundry left behind, forgotten. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tris rubbed her temples and tried harder to concentrate. She held her open hands about three inches parallel to each other. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, focusing on the space between her hands. After several minutes her hands began to glow a dull red shade and little lances of lightening began to shoot back and forth from each open palm.

"Now try and put it into the bottle without breaking the glass," Jamisom Elaconte breathed softly from somewhere behind her.

Tris concentrated on pushing out her power, She nudged the first bit of it over the lip of the bottle and tried to moderate the amount that went in. Slowly she felt the bottle begin to fill with her magic. Suddenly the bottle began to glow and pulse, expanding until it exploded, shattering into tiny shards.

"Blast it!" she cursed.

"That's precisely what you just did," Jamisom said wryly.

"I'm sorry James, I tried, really I did!" Tris cried. She let out a loud sigh and sat back on her haunches. She twisted a stray strand of red hair around her finger as James laid a hand on her shoulder.

"I know dearest. You've just too much power to contain. You'll learn in time," James replied, reassuringly. "We'll give it a little while, then try again yes? Why don't you eat something, you'll need the energy." He moved to face her, cupping her chin in his hand and bringing her eyes to meet his as he spoke. She nodded and stood to retrieve the food set on a tray across the room.

Tris had grown quite accustomed to this routine over the past few months. Ever since the first spell she'd performed with James and Raja, she'd been working to get her built up energy under control. James had been instructing her on how to go about it in weekly sessions. Lately the lessons had become more frequent, and, Tris thought, more urgent. Tris' like for the beautiful blond haired man that had become her teacher had increased, as had her distaste for the tall and hard faced Raja who often cursed her existence for minor accidents she'd caused.

In the beginning, she'd tried often at escape, never succeeding. Now, with the knowledge that she'd never escape of her own will, even the ache of longing she had for her foster-sisters and brother had ebbed to a dull hum of want. Whereas all she could focus on a few months ago were the wonderful teachers and friends she'd left behind, she found herself now thinking more and more often of her newly acquired teacher. She still didn't understand the hard contrast between the seemingly tenderhearted James to the rough and cold Raja. How could two so different people be collaborating in her kidnap and other secrets she'd yet to learn of?

Tris sighed, pushing a piece of dry bread into her mouth and following it with a swig of bitter wine. She glanced over at the glass case that contained the beautiful gown she'd found months ago in the cart when she'd first been taken hostage. She still didn't understand it's meaning and why it was now locked away behind clear glass. She had asked about it frequently, never receiving a direct answer. Tris had finally given up and focused her attention on other things. After a moments pause, she decided now would be as good a time as any to ask about it again.

"Ready to start again my sweet?" James asked.

"If you answer me something first," she answered coyly.

"What did you have in mind?" He followed Tris' gaze, smiled. "Ahh that."

"Yes, that. What's it for? And why does it insist on teasing me so?"

"It need not tease you, my dear," he said, walking over to the case and opening it with ease. Tris' had tried to open it before, and failed. She glared at him now and folded her arms across her chest.

"You know very well I could never fit into that. Now you're just being cruel," she said huffily. James let out a soft chuckle and walked over to Tris, holding the dress.

"Stand up," he commanded. He inspected her a moment then held the dress up in front of her. "Sure looks like it would fit to me," he said with a smile. She snorted and looked down at herself. Her eyes widened as she realized her body no longer held the extra weight it used to contain. James led Tris to a side room she'd never been in before and positioned her in front of a large, full body mirror, still holding the dress. She gasped and ran her hands along the length of her body, mesmerized. The human frame she now stared at was lean and sculpted. When did this happen? She thought. I'm thinner than Sandry! She realized suddenly. She felt giddy with glee and began to dance in front of the mirror. She twisted her body in slow circles and raised her hands in the air. Tris turned to James and wrapped her arms around his neck, giving him a tight squeeze. When his arms slipped around her slender waist, she pulled back slightly and looked up into his eyes. He gazed back down at her with a smile on his face and emotion in his eyes. He lowered his lips to hers and pulled her closer. She returned his kiss haltingly, then gave in and opened her mouth partially to meet his desires. They kissed heatedly for what seemed like endless moments, then pulled away.

"You look different," she said.

"You look beautiful," he said with a smile. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sandry laughed as Little Bear knocked her from her feet.

"Little Bear! Calm down you scoundrel!" Lark cried as she rushed out of the cottage to greet Sandry.

"It's okay Lark, he's just glad to see me," Sandry said. She rose to her feet and gave her teacher a tight hug.

"So, and news?" Lark asked as soon as they'd released each other. Sandry shook her head.

"Not much. More magic has returned but there's been more kidnaps and disappearances," she replied. The rest of the occupants hurried out of the cottage and Sandry hugged them all in turn. She repeated what she'd just told Lark and sighed.

"Uncle Vedris says that it seems the more children kidnapped, the more power the rest of us get back. It's strange. But he says he believes it's because they can now spare the extra energy." She followed the rest of the inside and seated herself at the table next to Briar. He smiled at her and she squeezed his hand.

"So when we initially lost all our magic, that was just the bad guys building themselves up to get more," Rosethorn said thoughtfully. It appeared she had said it more to herself than anyone in particular. Sandry replied anyway.

"Mmmhmm. That's what Uncle says anyway." She grabbed a chunk of bread and bit into it. She chewed, then reached for the container of honey and added a layer of it to her bread.

"It's pretty unfortunate that we are only now figuring out what's happened months happened months after Tris was taken," Rosethorn said. They all nodded then fell silent.

"Do you think we'll find her soon?" Sandry asked.

"Do you think we'll find her at all?" said Daja.

"Bite your tongue!" Rosethorn said. "Of course we will."

That is, if she's still alive to be found, Briar thought to himself. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Later, in Sandry's room, Briar lay next to her, arms wrapped around her.

"I'm glad your back from visiting the duke," he said. He fisted his hand in her hair, kept it there.

"Me too," she replied. "I missed you." She stared into his eyes and smiled. He smiled back and breathed her in, becoming intoxicated with her wonderful scent. She even smells delicate, he thought.

Their relationship had progressed in the past months into something more serious. They both felt strongly for each other and tried to be in each other's company as much as possible. Still no one knew their of relationship, excepting Daja, who had found out quite by accident. She held no grudge for not being told, as they had feared, and she instead wished them luck. Both Sandry and Briar were grateful and debated about telling Lark and Rosethorn, but decided against it, reasoning that they didn't know what the consequences would be. Lately, though, they'd both begun to suspect that they knew something and thought it might turn out better for them if they let the cat out of the bag.

However, that could wait. For now they worked on strengthening their relationship and also their plan to find Tris.

"We should do it soon," Sandry said.

"Hmm?" said Briar.

"Go out on our own to find Tris. We should do it soon," she repeated. He murmured his agreement and snuggled closer to her.


"Yes, Briar?"

"I love you," he said. She smiled slightly and opened her eyes to look at him. He ran his fingers through her hair and leaned in to kiss her. She pressed her lips to his and pressed her body into him. She held her slight surprise inside her and inwardly glowed with joy.

"I know," she replied.

~*~*~*~* Aren't you just so happy? Another chapter! Woo! Okay, everyone read & review please! If you have any good ideas or want to help me out and give me some new names to work with (one's you've made up yourself, don't plagiarize!) send me an email! I'd be happy to hear from you! Enjoy! -Kylee