“High Ones above!” Cloudfern yelped when the strange sound went through his bones and seemed to scratch along his eardrums and leave painful traces on them.
With a sigh he started to gather up the herbs he had thrown through half the den and massaged his forehead with one hand while dropping them back into the bowl. It had been almost two hands of nights by now that Newt had voiced his interest in learning an instrument. With joy and pride, both he and Greenweave had supported Newt's wish and quickly the choice had fallen on the flute and even quicker Moss had one ready for the lad.
Right now it was written clearly on Cloudfern's face that he had started to regret this step. Newt, High Ones bless him, tried hard, but he had none of the talent his mother Lacewing or his brothers had had.
Pale violet-blue eyes looked up and met Greenweave's apologetic gaze.
“He might be just a slow learner,” the fisher tried to comfort Cloudfern, but even his voice didn't sound as if he believed in this faint hope.
If only the boy wasn't so determined to learn. Some other cubs might well have given up at this point, accepting that the music wasn't just theirs, or at least would have shifted to another instrument that was easier to learn. But Newt had set his mind on this particular flute and no kind words could lead him away from it.
Cloudfern groaned with the fond distress only a parent could show, torn between pride and the wish that their cub would just give up. His head was hurting from the noises Newt made and he wasn't sure how much more he could take of it.
Greenweave seemed much more patient but his forced smile showed the herbalist that he was growing tired as well.
**Newt,** Cloudfern finally reached out, and the pale lad popped his head in through the window.
“Yes?” he asked, his cheeks flushed from the excitement, yet he would not have missed the undertone in the sending.
“Don't you think you've done enough practice for today?” Cloudfern asked and saw from the corner of his eye that Greenweave was nodding hopefully, trying still to keep a reassuring smile.
Newt pursed his lips, already dry from trying all day. He looked at the instrument in his hand and thought about the option. “Well... I don't think so,” he said and shattered the hopes for a little quiet time.
Yet Newt was not stupid. When he looked up at his fathers again he gave them a little smile. "But I can practice near the stream a little,” he offered.
“Well that doesn’t sound too bad.” Greenweave agreed and nodded. “Just be careful not to startle anyone, all right?”
“Will do,” Newt said, his smile cheerful again. He left both of his fathers with a rushed mindtouch and set off.
Cloudfern gave a sigh of relief. He loved the determined cub, but was also glad for a bit of peace. Looking over at his lifemate, he managed a half smile. “Let's hope fish are really as deaf as they seem to be.”
“If not, we are bound to find out now,” Greenweave sighed.
With a skeptical look at his flute, Newt sunk down on a branch reaching over the Laughing Creek. He knew that he wasn't the most talented player, but as it was, that couldn’t keep him from trying. Ever since he had heard Moss and Rainpace practicing the human songs, he wanted to be able to play with them.
He always had loved music but this was the first time he was all fire and flames to learn to play himself. When this thought had started to form, all the other things had come to his mind. Like the possibility to pick up the songs and melodies his mother had sung and played for him. He could share them with Moss and Greenweave – even if his father couldn't really sing...
No, however long it might take, Newt wanted to learn to play the flute, even if he had to get as old as Kestrel before he managed a clear tone.
Putting the mouthpiece back to his lips, he tried again to play the melody Moss had tried to teach him. A simple one for the start.
The sounds came out but Newt heard himself that it was far from being right. He could hear Browncoat whining pitifully below him and gave a pout.
“What, you too, my friend?” he asked, his feet dangling into the open space. “You of all people should support me, my root,” he chided him fondly, and giggled when the answer was a low growl and a sneeze.
“I know. I am not as good as Kestrel, or Rainpace... Not yet!” he informed his bond, who looked rather unimpressed at the elf's self-made pep talk. “But you'll see, Browncoat... no, hear, that I will be at least that good -- that I can play a melody that others can enjoy.” He went on, talking himself into more self-esteem, “I will be able to play at least one song perfectly. I mean, I can sing … so I should be able, right?”
Another snort came from the wolf and he turned away from Newt, curling up in the shadow of the willow tree nearby.
Newt didn't let it get to him and instead placed the flute back to his lips and started to play again. This time he didn't let the howls distract him.
It was near sun-up when Rainpace walked along the Holt's River, heading to check on some traps he had left near the Laughing Creek. He almost jumped hearing the shrill tones distantly resembling a melody.
Rubbing his ear, he walked up a bit further and saw, clear as the moon against the night sky, Newt sitting on his branch and playing the flute Moss had handed him a few nights ago.
The trapper leaned against a trunk and listened a while, flinching at a note not only gone wrong but going terrible wrong. It did hurt in the ears, but Rainpace couldn't help but stay around and listen. As awful as the playing was, he admired the stubbornness and – true to the word – long breath Newt showed on this early morning.
Then all of a sudden, the boy stopped and looked up. Rainpace assumed someone had sent to him, by the look of it. The lad was hurrying down the tree and called for his bond, hopping on his back.
Rainpace himself felt the tingling of a sending in the back of his head. It seemed Newt wasn't the only one being called back into the furs. The trapper pushed himself off the tree and answered his Recognized that he would be back soon, silently humming the melody Newt had tried to play for half of the night.
He'd check for sure, if Newt kept up his stubborn practice. His own curiosity was awakened.