On Moonsday, Tris told Briar, “If you see a mind healer, I will bake you fresh spice cookies every day for a week.”
“That’s not healthy,” Daja said mildly.
Tris glared at her. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is that his mind isn’t healthy.”
“My mind is fine,” Briar said.
Tris rolled her eyes. “Fine. Then you don’t need cookies.”
On Starsday, Tris said, “See a mind healer and I’ll make the spice cookies every day for a month.”
“I’m not some starving kid you can bribe with sweets, Coppercurls. Leave it be.” Briar walked out of the kitchen.
Earthsday Tris said, “Briar, if you see a mind healer, I will accompany Evvy to the lecture on the protective properties of stones at Winding Circle, and take notes.”
“Evvy can go her own self. She don’t always need a nursemaid,” Briar said softly. “She’s growing up.”
Tris huffed and climbed the stairs to her room.
Airsday Sandry was visiting. “Sandry will tell you what nice things to say to Halmaedy Acalon when you next see her if you’ll see a mind healer.”
Sandry looked at Tris, bewildered. “I will?” At Tris’s glare she declared, “I will! And she might actually go ‘walking’ with you this time.”
“I don’t need any help with girls,” Briar said, his blush giving the lie to the words. “’Specially not some harrier dame, they get all excited about thieves already.”
Sandry didn’t bother to cover her giggle as Briar left the room in a hurry.
Firesday Briar interrupted Tris before she could make an offer. “I told you, I don’t need any help! Go play with lightning or something and stop pestering me!”
After Briar had left, Daja turned to Tris. “I don’t see why you don’t just threaten to hold the rain off his garden or something.”
“For your information, I am not interested in blackmail. I’m above that.”
Daja raised her eyebrows.
Tris turned red and crossed her arms over her chest. “All right, Lark may have told me that threats don’t offer proper motivation. If he’s unwilling, it won’t work.”
“Suit yourself,” Daja said. “I’d put shackles on him and melt them shut until after I’d dragged him there.”
If she was honest, Tris was tempted.
Watersday Tris didn’t speak of mind healers to Briar at all. Instead they debated the merits of having a female shakkan in her room, and if its magic would enrich the house or bring chaos.
“In a normal house I think it might be fine, but everything that’s been around you for too long changes its nature.”
“I can have things without changing them, Briar.”
“Can you?” Briar’s eyes twinkled. “Would you be able to resist tinkering with its magic? Trying to reshape it? Adding tidal strength to its roots?”
“Tides would be incompatible with roots, Briar, don’t you know anything?” Tris pushed her glasses up her nose. “Besides, that’s more power than even your shakkan could handle.”
“Don’t tell me what my shakkan can and can’t handle, it’s been my family longer than you have!”
“By what, a month?”
“Don’t go thinking we were instantly family, I had a very healthy disdain for merchants in my day.”
“As if thieves are any bett—”
“By all the gods, shut up!” Daja thundered from her workroom. “It’s getting so a girl can’t make living brass birds anymore!”
“Things going well with Osprey, are they?” Briar called wickedly. The Air temple dedicate had been visiting more often lately, and it was well known that she loved birds.
“I said shut up!”
In the wee hours of Sunsday morning, Briar was dreaming. He could see the gardeners bound while the roses around them went up in flames. He saw Evvy dragged away by Imperial mages. He sent his magic towards the beads they wore but it wouldn’t reach. They were going to torture her again. Rosethorn was already being cut to pieces by soldiers. They—
Briar woke up drenched in sweat. A lamp was already burning in his room. Tris put down the book she was holding and looked at him. “I see them, sometimes, you know.”
She shook her head. “Not who. What. Sometimes I see your dreams.”
Briar clenched his sheets in his hands, then slowly let them go. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was spreading.”
It’s only getting worse, Tris told him mind-to-mind. I’ve seen plenty bad, but even my nightmares faded after a time. Yours aren’t.
Briar swallowed. Did you ever go? he asked silently.
Not soon enough. She tentatively reached for his hand, stopping short of touching it.
Briar exhaled shakily. Tomorrow, he told her. I’ll go. Will you…
Tris waited patiently.
Will you go with me?
She squeezed his hand.