(This story is part of the "Early Romance of Farscout & Brightwood" set of stories -- see listing for related stories.)
Briar could not see him, but he could feel Lynx watching. From somewhere... he scanned the trees around clearing he lay in, Fawn's head resting on his chest and her hair draping them both in gold. Ah. From that tree. Briar's eyes couldn't penetrate the thick foliage, but there was something that moved under it -- he felt it, more than saw it. It had been less than a moondance since Briar and Fawn had lovemated, delighting in each other's company -- a company that had taken on a new and exciting flavour. They were perhaps getting a bit drunk on it, but it was a pleasant feeling, with no sluggish, painful head the next evening.
The tribe had thought it natural that the two young elves paired up as they had, and everyone seemed happy -- especially Lynx and Frost. But yet Lynx watched them, and was watching them even now. He made no sound and did not show himself, but Briar knew he was there all the same. Did he secretly disapprove? Did he not want his only daughter and his almost-son to find happiness in each other? Briar's forehead knotted with unease, and he slipped his hand around Fawn's slender waist. She sighed and nestled against him, her eyes closed. Lynx flowed out of the tree like water, silent as a shadow, his eyes piercing through the night. He did not speak or send, but his look plainly said: Keep your promise.
A part of Briar was somewhat affronted that Lynx thought it necessary to remind him. But another part recognized the strong paternal instinct that gripped Lynx. He supposed he would do no less in the same circumstances. Briar moved his hand up to cup the back of Fawn's head and neck. He placed his chin on the crown of her head and held her close, watchful: I will.
With the ghost of a smile, Lynx melted back into the gloom of the forest, and after a time, Briar wondered if he'd even been there at all.
Lynx's voice was like supple leather draped over rough stone; at once smooth and solid, with the potential to be either comforting or crushing, depending on his mood. "Fawn," he said, his tone inscrutable. Was she in trouble? Or had she done something well? Young Fawn froze, wondering what was to come. "I want to talk to you," he said.
Fawn could deal with talking, although treewees still tickled the inside walls of her belly. She hoped she hadn't done anything to disappoint him. She secretly thought of the larger moon as "Father Moon" instead of “Mother Moon” as her own was so big and bright in her life. She lived to make him laugh, the booming thunder that rolled over the Holt and warmed everyone like a thick blanket. "What is it, Father?"
He gestured for her to follow him as he slipped between the shadows of the trees. She did, terribly conscious of the amount of noise she made in comparison to his silent stride. She wished Briar was with her, her childhood friend and constant companion. Well, as constant a companion as a budding young scout could be. He'd taken to going on long trips of late, and she missed him, although she would not dream of holding him here. Although he was no healer or rockshaper, his talent was a magic of its own sort, and she would not ask him to curb it.
Her father came to a halt by the thick brambles that skirted the immediate Holt. He didn't so much stop moving as he became suspended in time. She had to watch carefully to see if he was still breathing. She wondered how he did that.
"I'm sorry, my cub" he said, his voice as smooth and clear as summer honey. "I didn't mean to alarm you. I just wanted to talk to you for a moment."
Fawn took a step towards him. "You can always talk to me, Father."
He smiled. "I know."
His smile gave her confidence that whatever Lynx wanted to speak about wasn't anything bad, and Fawn settled herself on a flat stone, still radiating heat from the daystar, although the stars had since come out. "What's on your mind, Father?"
He paused for another moment, as though unsure. "Briar," he said.
Fawn blinked. It had only been recently that she and Briar had become more to each other than mere best friends. Well, truth to tell, they'd always been more than mere best friends, but it was only recently that they'd admitted that to both each other and the rest of the tribe. Her time with him of late had been deeply magical. Her father surely couldn't object to this. Both she and Briar were cherished by him, she knew. What could he possibly be worried about?
"Are you not happy for us, Father?" It broke her heart to think that she was doing something that he disapproved of, although she simply couldn't understand why he would.
**I am, bright cub, I am.** The warmth in his sending chased away her fears. **I can see your joy, and I share in it.** He reached out and stroked her cheek with a long finger. "You are so beautiful, quick of mind and kind of heart. Briar adores you, as do we all."
Fawn held her breath. She could sense there was more coming.
"But you have a sharp tongue when moved to use it, young one. We share that trait, among others. I have had to be careful with myself, and you need to be the same."
Fawn frowned, and tried to keep the defensiveness out of her voice. "What are you trying to tell me?"
Lynx sat beside her, his long limbs easily folding under him. "I am telling you to be careful, Fawn. Be careful with Briar. He loves you too well, and would be cut to the quick by one sharp word from you. Briar is..." Lynx trailed off and gazed into the distance, as though listening for the right words to come floating to him on the evening breeze. "Briar is as much a part of my heart as you are. It gives me the greatest joy to see you together as you are. But if one of you is going to be hurt by this union, it will be him. I would not see that."
Fawn blinked again. She hadn't expected this. "I would never, ever harm him—you must know that."
He nodded, somewhat sadly. "I know that you would never intentionally harm him, yes," he said. "But I know you as I know myself. Our tongues do not take intentions into account sometimes. We must be vigilant." He looked at her, and she felt pinned to the spot by the intensity of it. His eyes held her, weighed her, expected much of her. **Promise me you will be careful with him,** he asked. The gravity of his expression made her hesitate, and consider her words with utmost care.
Under the sheer weight of his gaze, she could not utter an untruth, not that she would ever want to. **I promise,** she sent with the passion and conviction of the young in love.
Lynx smiled, and the stars and moons shone from it.