A/N Thank you, Sarah! I'm not sure if you should have encouraged this, but I did appreciate it.

1. "This is made from what? Oh, ew!"

"There's a basin of water in the kitchen," Daja said. She watched impassively from where she lounged against the house as the girl ran past her spot near the doorway, her hands held out in front of her. Briar looked after her from the garden and sighed.

"Next time..." Daja started.

"I know," Briar snapped. "No fertilizer."

2. That is not true, Sandry said, her mind-voice hiding amusement.

Sandry, you know very well that it is. You put on your I-am-so-much-more-noble-than-thou face and he absolutely wilted.

No, no, no. Daja, it was your fault! You came out of the forge just as the poor young man came with his delivery!


So! You were holding a hammer in one hand, a red-hot iron bar in the other, and you were covered in soot! Even I was startled for a moment, seeing you.

None of this explains why I do not have my powders that he was here to deliver! Tris said, irritated.

"If you're not even goingto look at me when I'm talking to you, then you obviously don't need me here, Briar Moss!" his young woman snapped, slamming the bedroom door behind her.

There was a long moment of silence, but Briar could sense the stifled giggles.

"You all did that on purpose!" he yelled.

3. (inexplicable storms, sparks in her hair, wind moving through the house, an invisible bubble blocking the rain, scowls, earthquakes, hail on the roof, catching lightning in the garden, tales about pirates, one raised eyebrow, a woman floating down from the roof)

Trisana Chandler.

4. "Aren't there bugs in the dirt? I don't do bugs."

5. "Briar Moss! If you have brought yet another woman into this house and have used the kitchen for purposes I will not go into, I am going to take you and bend you around my anvil in ways you do not even want to begin to imagine, you insufferable – oh. We have a guest. Hello, I'm Daja..."

6. "What are you doing?" she asked, holding the sheet against her chest.

"Just pruning the shakkan. You were sleeping."

"Oh... Isn't gardening a woman's job?"

7. Briar caught her as she practically fell down the front steps.

"What – ?" he tried to question her hasty exit – he had only been gone five minutes, to get fresh buns for breakfast, and he had learned from past mistakes; none of the girls were home – but she cut him off.

"There is a monster in the house, and I am never coming back!" She ran down the street, one slipper still clenched in her hand.

Briar went into the house, with his power at the ready, to find one of his potted plants had been moved to the kitchen table. The monster was sitting there with her hands on its stem.

"You've let it wilt, my boy. Should have moved the snowdrops outside last week, when the frosts first lifted."

8. Raised eyebrows met her when she entered the kitchen to find a pretty blonde-haired stranger making tea. "Oh," said the stranger, "you must be Briar's latest... friend. I'm Sandrilene fa Toren. Have you known my brother long?"

9. "You live with how many other women?"

10. Briar was walking back to his room, but she met him in the hall. His smiled greeting was cut off with a sharp slap to his face.

"How could you? That poor maid never did anything to deserve being corrupted like that! And in her papa's house!" Another slap, to the other cheek, and she was gone.

Dumb-founded, Briar walked into his room to find the source of the confusion. Appearing as innocent as a child, especially in those pure white robes, Evvy smiled at him from where she sat cross-legged on the window-ledge.

"That is not funny, Evvy," Briar said, still rubbing his cheek.

"She hates plants and rocks, Briar," Evvy said. Her voice was conciliatory, but her eyes still spelled mischief.


"And she said she would break you of your bad habits of getting dirt under your nails,"


"And she was mean to Cakes!" Evvy said, holding the cat up from where it was sitting on her lap. Legs hanging, the cat lifted its squashed face up and meowed piteously, as if in on the tale.


"She doesn't deserve you, Briar," Evvy said, her eyes serious.

And Briar couldn't find it in his heart to be angry.

The End. Thanks for reading!