Dreamflight gasped as she broke the surface of the water. In her right hand, rising up above her, was her spear. On it a fish struggled to regain its freedom, though it wouldn’t win its life with it even if it would. The spear had skewered the fish perfectly and it wasn’t the first of the day. Dreamflight had started her fishing early this night. It suprised her how quickly she had gotten used to having her mother denning with her, or how lonely it would feel again after Honey moved out. Having awakened to the empty den she couldn’t manage to catch her sleep again.
It turned out that she hadn’t been the only one.
On the bank sat Greenweave and Newt, both bent over one of the nets. It seemed like it had been damaged and Greenweave was showing the young boy how to fix it. From where she was, she couldn’t see what the exact problem was, though, and it didn’t matter to her.
The blond fisher shook the water from her hair and started making her way to the bank. The last light of the day cast a gold and orange glow over herself and the water, making both sparkle like gold dust. Crawling onto the bank, she added the newly-caught fish to the ones she’d already caught so far.
“Weaving nets seems to be a family trait.”
One-Leg leaned on his staff, looking over Newt's shoulder at the work they were doing. Dreamflight hadn’t seen him coming and from the look on her so-called foster brother’s face, neither had he.
Newt’s face broke in a shy smile at the comment as he turned to peek at One-Leg.
“I hadn’t expected him to learn quite so fast either,” Greenweave confessed with a soft laugh.
Dreamflight couldn’t help but look at the trio as the two elves fawned over Newt, apparently fighting for the opportunity to compliment him next. One-Leg looked her way and she nodded a smile of hello to the older elf before turning her eyes back to her fish. Greenweave’s head turned but Dreamflight didn’t see this anymore. Her eyes were on her fingers which were working on attaching the fish to some string.
“Father always let me help,” Newt replied, seemingly having gotten his voice back. “He showed me how to do it. He even made me a little net to practice with in the den.”
“That surely sounds like something Turtle would do,” One-Leg added, a clear sound of approval in his voice.
Dreamflight's eyes switched from the fish back to the trio, overhearing the conversation they were having only a few wolf-lengths away. The sound of a bird close-by was a very welcome distraction from the scene that she tried to ignore but couldn’t help but listen in on. Her green eyes scanned the foliage around, recognizing it as a bird who could often be found hopping along the ground, searching for food.
Green-yellow eyes locked on the small bird who hopped twice and called out a second time. The corners of the bird-caller's lips curled up subtly as she brought her hands to mouth. A near-perfect reply followed to the bird. One that even the bird itself recognized as a reply from one of its own. Dreamflight smiled at the successful call but the sparkle in her eye was quickly diminished as she heard her name called from further along the bank.
Newt's eyes had been drawn to Dreamflight and her call hadn’t escaped his attention. It wasn't his voice, however, that called out to the girl but that of One-Leg. “Maybe you’d catch more fish if you weren’t twittering around all day, Dreamflight.” It had been a jovial call but the comment struck a nerve with her nevertheless. Could she not have a moment to enjoy just one thing in her life?
She stood up and turned her eyes towards the elder. The smile on Greenweave’s lips at One-Leg's comment didn’t help matters much.
“Thankfully I was up early this day and caught plenty of fish. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll tend to those now.” Without another word she picked up her fish and walked in the opposite direction. ‘Thanks for sticking up for me, father,’ she thought as she walked.
One step after another and in moments she felt far enough away to wager a sigh.
She felt annoyed at the trio back at the riverbank, she hadn’t been bothering them, why couldn’t they leave her alone? For the second time that day she found herself distracted by the call of a bird. A songbird this time. She felt the pressure release from her chest at the sound of that free song and smiled again. A little while she listened to its song, walking closer towards it. Then she put down the fish she’d been carrying and brought her hands back up to her lips. Dreamflight controlled the smile on her face, if she didn’t her call would be ruined. Closing her eyes she mimicked the song of the bird. The sound was uncanny, only a well-trained ear would have been able to distinguish it from the original.
“That’s amazing!” Newt exclaimed some ways behind Dreamflight.
The elf maiden felt her heart jump in her chest and turned around with a shock. “Newt! High Ones! You scared me!”
Her hand on her chest, she took a breath and shook her head. “Newt, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be working with f-, Greenweave?” Dreamflight corrected herself just in time. After all, Greenweave wasn’t much her father anymore, now that he had his new family.
“I’m sorry Dreamflight. I didn’t mean to startle you. He said that we were done for now and that I could go do what I wanted. I heard you make that call earlier so I came to look for you!”
In all honesty Dreamflight stood a bit taken aback. Such unbridled enthusiasm was not something she saw often. Especially considering who it came from. Dreamflight had made it a point to avoid Newt almost as much or more than she did Greenweave. Seeing Newt, Greenweave and Cloudfern made her stomach turn, remembering the family she once had. Although she didn’t intend any hostility towards Newt she couldn’t stop herself from snapping at him just a bit more than she would anyone else.
“Can I join you?”
“Yes! I love birdspeak. Birdcatcher used to show me some birdcalls... you know, before.” The boy’s voice wavered at the end of his sentence, the memory clearly still hurt. The look in his eyes though remained the same. A mix of curiosity and enthusiasm.
“Can you show me how you did that? It sounded so real! So much better than mine.”
Dreamflight’s eyes looked down at Newt. Part of her felt sorry for him, all he had known was gone by the time he awoke from his slumber. A stronger and longer-existing part of her did not feel sorry for him. He was part of the reason that she was alone and she wouldn’t waver now and give him what he wanted. She wouldn’t melt for him like everybody else in the tribe.
“No, I can’t show you. You shouldn’t be here.”
“No, Newt. I have work to do, go back to the Holt.”
A second time that day she turned and walked away from Newt.
Three pairs of hands were working on fixing a net. There had been bad weather and some nets had been damaged again, shortly after they’d been fixed. The first pair was slender and small, a female's hands. The second pair were larger and stronger but they tended with precision born of much experience. The last pair were small and pale, they moved unsurely and slowly but did their part to help.
Dreamflight promised herself that this would be the last time that she’d help the happy father and son to tend their nets. There was no reason for her to have to work with them this often. There were plenty of other fishers in the tribe that could tend nets just as well. When she had run into them and they had asked her to help them she had tried to say no but couldn’t find an excuse to avoid the work, or rather, the people.
Thus she worked in silence.
This was no hostile silence but one of calm, of labour. The words they exchanged were related to the nets they worked on together and nothing more.
A soft whistle sounded close-by. It was a bird, a female lark calling out to its mate, Dreamflight recognized the pitch clearly.
Newt's head popped up and his eyes searched around, eventually landing on Dreamflight. The albino boy seemed to expect something, another act of bird mimickry from the elf maiden.
Dreamflight's eyes remained fixed on her fingers though. Only a few days ago One-Leg had commented on her mimickry but not in a positive way. So she found it best to keep working. She didn’t feel comfortable enough for it either.
Newt's fingers raised from the net unnoticed by the other two, he was only young and it didn’t matter much if he felt like a break. He didn’t stand up though but carefully placed them before his lips. He tried to remember the position his fingers went in and gave the best bird-call that he could manage. At this both elves looked up.
Dreamflight recognized the bird he tried to do but the call had been too long, too slow and too pressured. It didn’t sound like a true bird at all. In fact, it sounded just like an elf, trying to mimick the bird.
“I didn’t know you knew how to do bird-calls. That was very good!” Greenweave praised the albino boy.
Newt's chin lifted in pride but his eyes quickly shot to Dreamflight. This would surely impress her and then maybe she’d teach him how to do more and better calls.
The blonde however snorted her disapproval of Greenweave’s praise but kept her mouth otherwise firmly shut.
Instead of going back to the work like she had intended she felt Greenweave’s mind connecting with hers.
**Don’t be so rude, Dreamflight. Newt is trying his best.**
At the send her eyes shut up to her sire. The send was one of disappointment and it irritated her. **Whatever you say, Greenweave,** she replied with a strong sense of dissaproval and annoyance.
Again she stood up. Giving no explanation or excuse for her leaving she just walked off.
Lately it felt like all she was doing was walking away. But Dreamflight felt they couldn’t blame her. Everyone who mattered to her had walked away from her first, she was just continuing the trend.
Dreamflight wasn’t walking towards a chore this time and held a firm stride towards nowhere in particular. What felt like mere moments after she’d left she could hear feet behind her.
“Dreamflight, wait.” It was the boy's voice. He sounded winded.
Stubbornly Dreamflight kept on going.
It was too loud to ignore this time. With a deep sigh, she stopped. “What is it, Newt?” Dreamflight snapped in reply.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to leave. I know it wasn’t that good. But I never really got any further. I didn’t mean to make you mad.” Newt’s voice rattled as he stopped, circling around her and stopping in front. His light brows were pressed together in a sad apologetic frown.
Even this was too much for Dreamflight to snap at. She felt the anger burn in her chest but it wasn’t him she was angry at. It was Greenweave. It was herself. It was the whole situation and the world. But not specifically at Newt.
“I didn’t leave because of that. I’m sorry I didn’t say so, I had something else to do,” she lied.
Not wanting to inflict any further harm she started turning away from the boy, thinking of her excuse for it at the same time. Newt, however, wasn’t old enough to understand such subtleties and responded to her turning away by standing in front of her again. “I really want to learn to do it the way you do. I know Greenweave said it was good but it’s not as good as yours.”
Dreamflight had wanted to receive such praise in the past, but this wasn’t the person she’d wanted it from. “I don't know what to say Newt, I don’t think I can teach you. I wouldn’t know how.” Her words had a harsh tone to them and she made a second attempt to leave.
The albino boy wasn’t a strong sender but his send was crystal clear at this time.
**Please... I just want to learn it again and Birdcatcher... he isn’t here anymore...** The heartache that he felt at the mention and thought of Birdcatcher was something no one could ignore. Birdcatcher was gone and he missed him. He missed their time together. He missed learning it and missed the life he once had. No matter how nice everyone was, the memories could still hurt him.
Dreamflight's shoulders slumped. She knew what it felt like to be alone. It was all she’d felt for such a long time. And she remembered what it had felt like when she had lost Birdcatcher, her grandsire. She remembered the time she herself had spent with Birdcatcher just as well. With him she'd gotten to know the world of birds and from him she had learned her bird calls. As the memories surfaced Newt's eyes kept looking up at her, pleading with her to say yes.
“Fine,” Dreamflight replied shortly, but less hostile than before. “I’ll try to teach you.”
Newt's mouth curved into a smile and the sadness finally left his face. “Thank you!”
Dreamflight replied to his smile with one of her own as she replied, “It’s all right. I'll try, but I can’t promise I’ll teach you as well as Birdcatcher.” As she said it she thought to herself, as if she felt obligated to do so, ‘or that I’ll like it'.
“Now get back to the Holt, I’ll see you later.”
Newt nodded and without sparing another moment darted back the way he’d come, back to Greenweave.