Disclaimer: I do not own any of Tamora Pierce's characters, namely: Sandry, Briar, or any of their friends.
Meagan and Dallin are mine, though. Especially Dallin, because him I like.
A/N: Look! Not the end! I agreed with everyone who said that chapter ten would make an incredibly lame ending (okay, no one actually said that, but I can read between the lines…J ) so I wrote this chapter in hopes that it will make the story better. Oh, and I couldn't remember what Sandry and her Uncle lived in, so I'm just calling it a manor, K?
White-wolf: *hugs* You are so great! I love reading your reviews.
TiGgEr: Yes, Sandry and Briar are just so great together…
Lady Sandrilene: You were right, about needing it to end on Briar and Sandry.
Morgana: Thanks! And I read your stories, and reviewed too…after all, one good turn deserves another!
Shnickers: I don't know if I'm going to write another S/B or COM fic, but I wrote another chapter for this one….*grins*
SilverRunningWater89: Thank you!
Alright, for those of you who haven't fallen off of your chairs in amazement because I've actually written another chapter, read on!
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"You'd better hurry with that laundry if you want to make that date with your handsome lord, my dear!"
Meagan looked up, flustered. "What time is it Ana?" she asked her friend, her deft fingers rapidly taking the sun-dried clothing down from the line and dropping them into the waiting basket.
"Tin ta' nun…"Ana mumbled around a mouthful of clothespins.
Meagan groaned; ten to noon. She was supposed to meet Dallin at the stables at twelve for lunch! Normally, she would have been off for lunch by now, but the sudden illness of a fellow maid had kept Meagan working longer than expected. She was determined not to keep Dallin waiting though. With a sudden burst of energy, she managed to increase her speed and within a matter of seconds, she was done. Flinging the large and rather heavy basket of clean laundry up to her hip, she dashed into the manor.
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Sandry walked quickly down the hall, staring intently down at a loose sheet of paper that she held in one hand as she went. Under her arm was a thick sheaf of more papers; she was late for her meeting with her uncle. Sandry's frown deepened and she quickened her pace; she hated to keep them all waiting, it was very…..unprofessional. She began reviewing.
"Five-hundred for the stables…Two for the latest banquets…Six on the…" Her list was interrupted as she suddenly slammed into a large wicker basket.
"Oof!" echoed two voices as two slender figures bounced apart, falling to the ground under a shower of household accounts and clean laundry.
"I'm so sorry!" Sandry exclaimed, rising to her knees to scoop the nearest articles of clothing into her arms. "I should have been watching where I was going."
"No! It was my fault, I wasn't paying any attention to…" They both looked up, their eyes locking.
There was a moment of silence as the two girls stared at each other in astonishment.
"Well," Sandry said finally, reaching out absently for a nearby sheet. "Hello."
"Hello," Meagan echoed, focusing intently on the large stack of papers in her lap.
The tension mounted.
Sandry was carefully dusting off a pillowcase when a loud snort suddenly erupted from the other girl. Startled, Sandry lost her balanced and tipped over. Meagan burst into giggles.
"I'm sorry!" she exclaimed, rising to her feet to pull Sandry upright. "It's just…we were acting so silly. And for no reason! I couldn't stand it anymore."
Sandry struggled in vain to keep a straight face amidst Meagan's infectious laughter. "We were, weren't we?" Sandry laughed, brushing off her skirts.
They stood their together for a few more moments as their laughter died down.
Sandry cocked her head. "You know, I'm glad that we ran into each other," she said, sticking out a hand. "Friends?"
Smiling broadly, Meagan put her bronzed hand in Sandry's and pumped it firmly. "Of course. After all, we weren't ever really enemies, were we?"
"I don't know," Sandry drawled as Meagan picked up her basket. "I had some unfriendly ideas in mind for you when I glimpsed you in Briar's room." Slowly, the two new friends walked down the corridor.
Meagan grinned widely. "I'd say that it all worked out for the best. You've got your handsome plant mage, and me....well, let's just say that tonight I'm meeting the family of a very handsome young lord."
Sandry smiled. Yes, it was all working out for the best.
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"There!" Sandry said with satisfaction, stepping back to survey her handiwork. "You look perfect."
Briar frowned at his reflection in the mirror. "I look silly," he said sullenly. "Why do I have to wear this? I've never dressed up this much for any of your other balls or banquets." He stepped closer to the glass, scowling. The pants were way too tight and the jacket was too short for his taste. Why, a fellow could hardly move in all this! No wonder all the court dandies looked so unhappy.
"I know, but then you were just 'Briar, plant mage.'" Briar lifted an eyebrow and Sandry grinned, stepping closer. "Now you're Briar, my plant mage."
"Ah!" Briar said, a grin sneaking onto his face. "So now that I'm yours, I have to dress the part, is that right?"
Sandry looked flustered, stepping back and jamming her fists on her hips. "Oooo…that's not what I meant!" She shook a finger at him, eyes flashing. "I can't believe that you would even think that I'd be embarrassed of you! If you really feel…"
Briar stopped her rambling with a quick kiss. "The clothes are fine, Sandry, if you want me to wear them," he said softly, pulling her into his arms and holding her tightly.
"Mmmph hmnmmumph," Sandry mumbled against his shirt.
Briar laughed into her hair. "What was that?"
Sandry lifted her head and smiled wanly. "I said, 'you're wonderful.'"
Heart suddenly thumping wildly, Briar gulped, leaning down. "Sandry, I was thinking…" Sandry looked up at him, her sultry smile sending every thought flying at of his head. Ah! He thought frantically. Concentrate! You are the cool, collected street rat, remember? "I was thinking: you may own my heart, Sandry, but you can't exactly wear it around your neck for all to see, now can you?" Sandry's eyebrow went up, and Briar flinched inwardly. Nice imagery there, street rat. Sure to set the mood. "I mean, if you don't mind the thought of everyone knowing about us…"
Sandry's head was suddenly shaking back and forth, her wide eyes sparkling. His hand slid into his pocket, his fingers curling around the tiny object he had been carrying around for weeks. "Then maybe you wouldn't object to wearing this?" he asked softly. Pulling his eyes away from hers, he lifted her tiny left hand and slid the ring onto her slender finger.
Face shining, Sandry barely looked at the ring, flinging her arms his neck with a happy shriek.
"Don't know what you're so excited about," Briar joked, taking in the wonderful scent that was Sandry and noticing once again just how tiny she was; her feet weren't even touching the ground. "It's just a ring."
Her shoes hit the ground with a light thump, her fists flying to her hips. "Briar Moss!" she cried. "That had better have been a proposal, or I'll…I'll…"
Briar grinned, pulling himself up to his full height. "Or you'll what?" he said, towering over her.
Sandry turned with a flounce of her skirts. "Or I would have regretted the fact that we are late to the dance." With that, she started out the door. Laughing, Briar leaped across the room, wrapping his arms around her tiny waist and lifting her into the air.
"Lady Sandrilene fa'Toren," he cried, spinning her about. "Will you marry me?"
Sandry laughed happily and raised her hand into the air, the ring sparkling fantastically. "Put it this way, mage: there's no way this ring is coming off my finger."
Briar could have exploded with happiness. Unable to keep still, he crowed happily, picking Sandry up again and swirling her around the room.
"Put me down!" Sandry laughingly protested. "We really have to get going, Briar; everyone will be wondering were we are." With a nod, Briar set her down. Straightening his jacket, he offered her his arm. She took with a smile. Sure that his face was going to crack if he kept smiling like he was, Briar led her out of the room.
Halfway to the dance hall, Sandry suddenly stopped. As Briar looked at her curiously, she stood on tiptoe and stretched her hand to the top of his head. With a few flicks of her wrist, Briar's curls were restored to their natural state of chaos.
"I like you just the way you are, street rat," she said softly in response to Briar's questioning look. And with that, she slid her arm through his.
Happier than he had ever been in his life, Briar strode into the ballroom with the most wonderful girl in the world standing beside him.
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This isn't the end! I promise. And if you actually want to read the next chapter, just review! I'll post it. Soon.