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Sandry flopped down on the hay roof besides Daja, face scrunched in agony, arms outspread, “It’s so hot,” she moaned.

“It’s not so bad,” Daja smiled back diplomatically, rather enjoying the heat herself. She passed Sandry a waterskin who took it gratefully and gulped several mouthfuls, and after careful consideration dumped the remainder on her head.

Sandry blushed as she met Daja’s pointed look, “Oh, I’m sorry about your water, I just…it’s just so hot!”

“Now that we can agree on,” came a crotchety voice as Tris clambered up to the roof, face hidden under the brim of a giant hat. She moved across the roof gingerly and winced as the light hit her bare skin.

The figure on the other side of Sandry rose and yawned, stretching like a lazy cat. Eyes blinked at them as Briar remarked, “I think it’s perfectly nice. And why would you come outside if you know it’s summertime and bound to be hot?”

“I was bored,” Sandry whined, rolling her eyes and flicking a piece of hay at him, “It’s the first afternoon where I haven’t a thing to do.”

“Ah, the pleasures of laziness,” Briar’s teeth gleamed as he spoke silkily. His toes pointed as he stretched his back, before sighing with contentment and relaxing into the hay.

“Shouldn’t Rosethorn be hounding after you to water or weed the garden?” Daja commented, bushy eyebrows raising as Briar smirked.

“She’s with Crane. Something about Moonstream wanting them to fix her private herb garden and team spirit.”

The four snorted in unison. Sandry threw a handful of straw up into the air and watched it dance lazily in the air before settling back down. “Good luck with that.”Daja grunted in agreement.

“Moonstream is a force to be reckoned with, but I think she’s underestimating Rosethorn in the summer,” Briar added, “You’ve all seen her.”

Sandry giggled, thinking of how the dedicate valued her smooth pale skin and the care with which she took in keeping her plants alive and healthy in the heat. Definitely not someone to cross without care.

A hot wind came through, sending hay flying into the air, catching onto Sandry’s frizzy plaits as she sat up in hopes of relief. She moaned, annoyed by the heat that came instead of the cool, and brushed her fingers through her hair trying in vain to comb the hay out. “That reminds me, Tris, can’t you summon a cool wind?”

“I could,” the girl in question commented, “And I have. I’ve got this perfectly lovely breeze wrapped around me.” Tris’s eyes flashed with mirth behind her spectacles as Sandry huffed.

“And send it my way?” She pouted. The other three’s eyes met and they smiled. Now this was an opportunity they could not pass up.

Laughing aloud, Briar teased, “But it’s so much fun to watch you complain.”

“I’m not here for your entertainment,” Sandry shrieked, indignant.

“What else?” Daja hid her small grin as Sandry turned her glare to face her.

“My family’s laughing at me, I’m dying from the weather,” Sandry proclaimed dramatically, hands flung into the air.

She turned her face away in mock horror and so did not see the crinkle in Daja’s eyes, the smile Briar tried so hard to hide, and the way Tris’s face softened, just a little. Family. The way Sandry threw it around so flippantly, so recklessly…the way it made them feel wanted in a way that they hadn’t felt for a long time.

Daja was the first to wrap her strong arms around Sandry, followed by Tris tentatively moving over and Briar flinging himself atop them.

“I don’t know what this is for but I love it,” Sandry sniffed, swallowed by the embrace.

Daja, Tris and Briar’s eyes met and they smiled. Family.