Author's Note: The POV kept switching all the way through, but I blame the characters and the plot for that.
"This makes Tris the oldest of us," Sandry commented, wrinkling her button nose. "That can't be right."
"Hey!" Tris squawked. The four were sitting on the thatch roof after the celebration of Briar's birthday party, while the adults recovered from all the excitement.
Briar poked her lightly in the ribs. "I second the motion, Coppercurls. You in charge? That's a fearful thing."
Tris shut her book solemnly and brought it down on top of his head with a soft thwack, more of a warning then a punishment. Briar grinned back up at her unrepentantly.
Sandry scoffed. "I'm serious. Briar's new birthday makes him a few months younger than Tris, and Daja and I are a full year younger."
"You said that I get to choose," Briar reminded hastily.
"I'm not taking it away from you," Sandry retorted. "I just wanted to point out how odd it is that Tris is the oldest now. I always assumed it was you, being the boy and so overprotective-and-all."
"So being the oldest is gender-based?" Tris snapped.
"No, there's more to it than that," Daja shook her head. "The oldest makes all of the decisions, the bad ones as well as the good. He is responsible for the younger ones. My older brother protected us whenever he could, but taught us to take our knocks with good grace."
Tris blinked. "Briar can have it then," she waved her hand dismissively. "I in no way want responsibility for the three of you, and I have no good grace."
Daja shook her head solemnly. "For mercy, it can't be either of the twins," she declared.
"What twins?" Briar and Tris chimed, turning at the same moment.
Sandry giggled, as the pair exchanged dirty looks. "Daja is right. Even spinning us into separate people couldn't diminish the similarities between you two."
"Similarities?" Tris sounded insulted.
Daja just smiled indulgently. Her foster-brother and foster-sister would never admit exactly how close they were, but she suspected it might be similar to the bond that Daja shared with Sandry. They were so alike that it wouldn't have surprised Daja at all to learn that Briar shared the merchant girl's birth date in reality.
Sandry stuck her nose up in the air and flung out her spindle like a great sword. "By the power vested in me, the adored Sandry, by the mighty Daja, I do dub thee Briar Moss and thee Trisana Chandler to be twins from this day forth in complete disregard of name, date, parents, and desire. So let it be."
Tris glared at them all, and Briar stuck his tongue out at his foster-sisters. "Maybe I want Coppercurls to be my twin even without your say-so." He gave a mocking bow, despite the fact that he was lying upside down on the thatch. Daja wasn't sure how he managed it. "Your highness."
Tris was scarlet now. Sandry could be laughed off. If Briar shared the sentiment, then so did Tris, and this new status would stick. "Alright, alright," she muttered crankily. "Now that that's settled, we were talking about the position of oldest. I don't want it, and Daja doesn't seem to think Briar could manage it. If Sandry mothered us all anymore, I'd suspect she wanted the position."
Sandry beamed. "That'd be nice."
"No," Briar said flatly. "Sandry is the youngest." It was so matter of fact and Daja knew that there would be no changing of his mind by the set of Briar's shoulders. Tris nodded contemplatively at whatever explanation he had offered through their bond. Briar had decided on this one position in his head, and Tris agreed with him. Well, if that were the case, Daja wouldn't argue.
Sandry huffed. "Why not?" she demanded, her button nose high in the air.
Briar reached out and tweaked it. "It's all in the nose," he teased. "Besides, weren't you listening to what an oldest should be?"
"Responsible, protective, but not afraid to take you down a peg," Sandry recited.
Briar nodded. "So we agree?"
"Yes," Tris and Sandry said in unison.
Briar sat back in satisfaction. "It's Daj'," he proclaimed.
"But I'm a year younger than you and Tris," the Trader protested.
"Why should time bother us when blood and names and parents don't?" Tris argued sensibly. "If it comes down to it, you're a wise sort for a Trader, and if Briar and Sandry listen to anyone, it's you."
"You know she's right," Briar protested in defense of his twin. "I never knew a girl who could make me feel so ashamed of myself until you got a hold of me."
Daja raised an eyebrow. "Rosethorn?"
"Rosethorn's not a girl," Briar returned smartly. "She's Rosethorn."
Tris snickered. "Your distinction notwithstanding . . . are we settled?"
"We already were," Briar snorted, poking Sandry. The noble nodded peacefully, already leaning against their brother's propped up knees. Daja seemed ready for a nap herself, and the boy had a point.
Tris went back to her book.