Briar finds his teacher first. Or, more accurately, ends up hiding behind a bush from her. It had been a normal day at the greenhouse, at least until SHE came in.
She stormed in with his boss, the two of them arguing furiously. Briar didn’t consciously duck behind the bush he’d been pruning, but he found himself peering through the bush at the arguing pair and struggling with a realization.
He worked for Crane. In Crane’s greenhouse. He’d be lucky if all Rosethorn did was hang him in the well.
When he met up with the girls that evening, he was visibly morose. When interrogated, he admitted to having seen Rosethorn. The girls ask how she reacted and he shakes his head frantically and says “You don’t get it! I work for Crane! She’s gonna kill me!”
The girls are NOT impressed and think he’s being needlessly dramatic. Over the course of the next few weeks the girls are thoroughly entertained and exasperated by Briar’s avoidance of Rosethorn, who keeps coming by to work on a joint project with Crane.
Meanwhile, Daja’s metalworking program is all abuzz about a guest lecturer. Phrases like “extremely talented”, “very creative”, and “solid skills” are thrown around. Daja doesn’t care about the hype, but she loves seeing how different smiths work metal, so she signs up for a class.
As she steps into the classroom, her eyes lock on the instructor and she hesitates a moment. She watches and listens intently during the class, but stays silent and at the back.
After the class she waits for the other students to leave before stepping forward and saying “Hello, Frostpine.”
He looks over at her and smiles that big, blinding grin of his and says “There you are. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Then he looks her over, cataloguing similarities and differences, before asking her solemnly “Are you ready to work?”
“Yes.” Daja says firmly.
“Good, then you come to me tomorrow and I’ll keep you busy.” He says.
She smiles at him and says “The others will be glad to see you, you have to come to dinner with us.”
Frostpine’s eyes light up and then he scowls.
“They’re keeping me busy the next few nights, but some time next week, for sure.”
Daja accepts and that night her quiet contentment almost wins Briar a break from the teasing. At least until Sandry and Tris get over their initial delight and he is informed that “that’s how you do it! You just walk up and say hi! It’s not that hard!”
A few days later, Tris is in the back room of the book store she works in with a cup of tea when her ears register and impatient voice and the increasingly hesitant and unhappy replies of her coworker.
With a scowl on her face and tea in hand, Tris storms out of the back room ready to release a diatribe on whoever is giving her coworker a hard time. She doesn’t get much further than “Excuse me-” before her eyes meet intent black eyes.
She’s not sure how the combination of outrage and surprise turns into her throwing her tea cup, but the end result is that Niko is covered in tea and she is bright red. Niko, fastidious as a cat Niko, is not exactly pleased, but he informs her they will be going to a cafe tomorrow before he stalks off to change.
When Briar hears about it that night, he crows, because ‘see? it’s not always that easy!’
The next day Tris apologizes again and invites Nico to the dinner with Frostpine that they have scheduled.
They have to reschedule when Sandry’s Uncle asks her to accompany him to an exhibition by Yazmin Hebet. Sandry enjoys the dancing but is more interested in the costumes, some of which are on display. The weaving is so even, and the stitchwork is both strong and subtle, and the embroidery is so delicate, and… it all looks incredibly familiar.
And Sandry is bustling through the crowd, looking, looking, there! Her eyes meet Lark’s and then they’re hugging and Sandry is beaming and Lark murmurs “Hello, Sweetness.”
They spend the rest of the evening talking. Sandry tells Lark all about finding the other three, and how they’ve been finding their teachers, and Briar’s being silly about Rosethorn. Lark just smiles, and listens, and accepts an invitation to the dinner.
The others are thrilled to learn that they’ve found Lark. Then the girls all glare at Briar and tell him it would be a huge shame if Rosethorn didn’t come to the reunion dinner.
Finally, on the day of the dinner, Briar drops to his knees at the same patch of dirt as Rosethorn. He buries his hand in the earth to hide their shaking and it takes him a minute to look at her.
When he does, he sees green eyes glinting at him in wicked amusement from under the brim of her hat. He sputters and she smirks.
“I was wondering when you were going to stop hiding.” She says.
“Aww hells.” He groans.
“Dinner tonight, yes?” She asks.
That night, at Gorse’s restaurant, their table is filled with laughter and love as they celebrate finding their family again.