**You're sure you don’t remember?**
Newt continued to tread water as he sifted through his memories. He still couldn’t come up with anything but he desperately wanted to. The hopeful sound in Otter’s sending made him want to find some memory of the event for his friend's sake.
**No, I’m sorry.**
The silence was only disturbed by the sounds of the river and some distant insects chirping. Newt scanned the water looking for some physical sign of Otter in lieu of the sudden silence from their mental conversation. Was Otter upset that he couldn’t remember the times he had come to send to him while he slept in his wrapstuff cocoon? He had only just now confessed that it had ever even happened. Newt wasn’t sure yet what to think about the whole thing but felt kind of special that someone he hadn’t even known had been that anxious for him to awaken.
Suddenly, as the anticipation was becoming to much for him, Newt felt a sudden pinch on his backside and yelped loudly. It was hard to jump, squeal and tread water all at once so for a brief moment he managed to lose control of all three. Slipping under the water's surface he made a faint gurgling sound, thrashed for a moment and then got his head above water again. Surfacing, he caught the sounds of laughter and turned to focus on Otter.
“That wasn’t very nice,” he said without conviction, realizing he might well have done the same thing to the other boy.
“I couldn’t resist,” Otter said. “Do you realize your butt almost glows in the dark when seen from underwater?”
Newt could only shake his head and grin. Not that he had seen his own butt from that perspective but given how pale he was it seemed likely that Otter was right. Looking towards the other boy he was surprised though to note an odd blush on his face. Before he could comment or wonder further about this it seemed that Otter was anxious to change the subject.
“Well, no matter. I gathered up a snack for us from the river bottom.”
With that the older elf held up the small sack he had carried underwater and as he did so Newt was pleased to hear the sound of shifting clams from within. Otter must have found quite a few of them for the bag to make that much noise.
“You found all of those that fast? You were only down there for a few moments.”
Otter grinned and waved off the younger boy's surprise.
“I spend a lot of time finding them. Sometimes when I’m bored I rearrange them so that I know where to look later. This time I just dove down and gathered them up. They were just sitting there waiting for me.”
The two boys made for the bank and found a comfortable place to sit. Once settled in they began to pry open the clams one by one and eat them raw. They weren’t as tasty as the ones from the great waters down river, but they were good enough to slake the hunger of two young wolfriders.
Soon they were down to only one clam left. Newt, thinking that it was only polite to do so, offered it to Otter, who declined.
“No, you go ahead. I’ve had enough.”
Newt smiled and began to pry the shell open. He still thought that Otter was acting a bit oddly though he couldn’t quite put into words what he was doing that was so strange. It was just that Otter seemed to act a bit peculiar when he was alone with Newt. He didn’t act the same as he did when all of the young wolfriders were together. At least that was how it seemed to Newt and he was unsure what to think of it. Part of him was confused and, when he was honest with himself, another part of him rather liked it.
The shell popped open with a wet, popping kind of noise. Newt was about to scrape the innards of the clam into his mouth when he noticed something odd.
“Will you look at that?” he said in an awed whisper. “Look what it was hiding inside.”
Otter leaned over and looked and his eyes widened just as Newt's had. There, sitting in the slimy remains of the clam was a small, irregularly shaped pearl. It wasn’t large as such things go, but it was rare to find one in the river clams.
“You got lucky,” Otter said with some excitement as he gently picked up the pearl to examine it. It was maybe the size of a small berry but it had a very nice, uniform creamy color to it. The shape was rather like that of an egg. “We don’t find many of these. It would make a nice piece of jewelry or something for you.”
Newts eyes were wide as he looked at the small pearl. Then, still trying to be polite, he thought it best to offer it to Otter.
“But…you found it. It should be yours.”
“No, it’s yours. You found it fair and square,” Otter corrected him. “Besides, it matches you. See, it glows in the moonlight just like you do.”
For a moment they looked at each other and didn’t say a thing. Then, after a moment's hesitation, just when Newt thought Otter would say more, he instead got up quickly and strode over to where his clothes were.
“You keep that, Newt, no arguments. I have to go now. We’ll talk later.”
With that Otter gathered up his clothes and walked down the path that would take him back to the Holt. For a long time Newt just watched the spot where he had disappeared from sight, wondering if he had said something wrong. But no, Otter didn’t seem mad. Quite the contrary, he seemed happy when he left. It was a mystery to poor Newt but it seemed to carry a lot of significance which was just beyond his understanding.
Finally, after examining his new treasure one last time, he stood and gathered his own things for the walk back to the Holt. He would show Greenweave his new pearl and maybe ask him if he could understand why Otter was acting the way he was. Or maybe he would just keep that little observation to himself. For some reason it seemed more fitting that he discuss it alone with Otter. Yes, that was probably for the best he thought as he returned home with his new trinket and a happy smile on his face.