One-Leg had been watching Greenweave sitting hunched over the large hunk of wood in the middle of the floor for a handful of minutes before he chose to announce his presence.
“You've been staring at that lump of wood an awfully long time. Do you think it will blink first?”
The remark from the elder elf, accompanying the bemused smile that split his moustachioed mouth, jostled Greenweave from his state of concentration with a start. His newborn daughter was sleeping in her furs nearby, unconcerned by the attempted gift-making — if you could even call it that yet. Greenweave shook his head in an effort to wipe away the somewhat waxy veneer from his eyes as he looked to his friend.
“You weren't listening to me, were you?”
“Sorry,” the younger elf replied apologetically. “I didn't even notice you come in.” While this was true in the strictest sense, the fact was that he had been so engrossed in his wooden staredown that a stampede of shagbacks could have caromed through and trampled him with nary a stray glance from Greenweave. It wasn't as if One-Leg had attempted to mask the dull thud of his wooden leg as he entered.
“Piper's peepers, that much is plain. What exactly are you doing?”
“I'm waiting for the wood to tell me what it is.”
“I thought you said it was going to be a hairpiece. Doesn't that tell you enough?” One-Leg asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Well, yes, but it's not that simple.”
“Why not? Honey's your lifemate; it seems to me —” One-Leg began, but was interrupted by Greenweave before he could get any farther. The young weaver's dismissive shake of his head seemed odd to One-Leg, but the interruption didn't afford him the opportunity to get a word in edge-wise.
“The picture keeps shifting in my head. I can't keep a firm grasp on it for more than a few moments at a time. It's like I know and don't know what I want, at the same time. It's confusing,” Greenweave said, his brow furrowing to underscore the jumble of words that tumbled out of his mouth so swiftly. One-Leg tilted his head to one side, appraising the younger elf's demeanor.
“You know, you may have some luck going to Cloudfern.” One-Leg's words were pointed, and cut deep despite being well-intentioned. Greenweave's relationship with the plantshaper hadn't ended very long ago — a little more than two turns of the seasons — but the wound still burned fresh when he allowed it to.
“As if you don't know why I can't do that,” Greenweave replied, avoiding the elder's gaze.
“Hey, I never said it was a good idea, just that he might help if you asked.”
“I think I may ask Nightstorm,” Greenweave said, disregarding One-Leg as he moved the topic to one less tender. “She always seems to be looking for new projects to work on.” He finished his thought with a short burst of laughter, hoping it effectively covered up his discomfort.
“Yeah, at the expense of whatever project she's working on,” the elder replied, joining in the laughter. They remained that way for a few moments until their mirth abated somewhat, and One-Leg spoke again, “You would have had an easier time weaving something, you know. You do so love to use those beads you're fond of.”
“Maybe,” Greenweave said, as he picked up the piece of untouched wood and slipped it into a rucksack for transportation. “But easier isn't always better.” He slung the pack over his shoulder and walked past One-Leg and out into the evening air, calling out behind him, “And besides, who says it won't have beads?”
One-Leg's mouth dropped open momentarily in confusion before he started to guffaw, following Greenweave out of the den with a steady clod of his carved leg.
“And explain to me why you don't want to do this yourself?”
Greenweave had found Nightstorm in her den, focused intently on her current project, though he couldn't quite make out what that project was.
“It's not that I can't,” he replied, scratching idly at the back of his neck. The rucksack he had used to carry the large block of wood rested at his feet, with its covering flap half-open to show the contours of the material it bore. “I just think you would do a good job with it.”
“Don't give me that. You could easily go to Blacksnake or Farscout if you wanted a skilled carver, or even do it yourself! There must be another reason.”
“I just like the way you handle the details. You do really good work, and I think it would go particularly well with the design I have in mind for the leather.”
“Wouldn't it make more sense for you to do the carving and have me handle the leather?” Nightstorm asked, tossing her work-in-progress off to the side to land safely on a pile of clothing near her furs.
“I know it may seem that way, but not in this case,” Greenweave replied, shaking his head. “I want to be able to tell her that I crafted it with my own hands, and besides, it's the only part I have a specific idea in mind for. It may not be the easiest way to go, but I think it's the best way... if that makes any sense to you.”
“I think it does,” Nightstorm replied, watching him thoughtfully. “But you realize I still don't know what you want from the carving, right?”
“I'd tell you if I had any idea,” Greenweave said with a laugh. “I have this picture in my head that I can't quite get to stay still.” He did his best to send her the image he had in his mind; from her shocked reaction, he figured it hadn't worked very well.
“Wow, you really don't know what you want, do you?” she asked, flabbergasted at the cacophonous series of images he had sent her. Greenweave shrugged and smiled with a sheepishness that belied his years.
“I just want it to be special for her. Your designs always turn out so well, so I know that even if it isn't exactly what I had in my head that it will be amazing! I'll make you anything you like in return.” Greenweave watched Nightstorm pensively as she considered his proposition for a handful of long moments before a smile broke her face open wide.
“Get started on your leatherwork, then,” she said, her voice light and playful. “I have work to do.” Greenweave smiled broadly and nodded his thanks before traipsing from the den, making a beeline for his den and his materials.
She wasn't the only one who had work to do.
The craft-den was empty when Greenweave entered to see the fruits of his labour from the previous day; the excitement balled up in his chest was practically overwhelming. Working with the dye had been time consuming and messy, if only because his lack of experience doing so led him to sully the first batch of leather he had attempted the process with. This memory of his initial failure was trumped by the happiness that washed over his face as he stood before the drying rack, lifting the bone-dry pieces from their stationary positions towards his eyes for closer inspection: his effort had been rewarded with a lovely and deep blue, as if they had once been part of the Braided River and made solid.
He smiled cheekily, despite nobody being around to witness his moment of triumph, as he pulled the remaining pieces from the rack and transported them to the nearby workbench where the necessary tools were already prepared for him.
Since Nightstorm wasn't necessarily the most skilled carver, the time she needed had allowed Greenweave to take his time until the design was perfect. He knew precisely what cuts to make as he used his utility knife to trim the leather down, leaving him with three vaguely teardrop-shaped strips that grew narrow at each end until they were no wider than a finger.
Nightstorm's borrowed etching tool rested in its stand point up. Thin plumes of smoke curled up from its heated tip, mingling with those of the small pile of kindling used to heat it in the first place. Nightstorm had only been half right; he hadn't been entirely certain what he wanted out of the wood, but the leather? He knew exactly what he wanted out of the leather, and had made it so. From a certain point of view it was a very simple design, the lines thick and obvious; laying it out as it was, across all three of the criss-crossed strips, provided the complexity and elegance he had been going for.
The etching took longer than he had originally anticipated, through no fault of the design. Greenweave hadn't taken into account the wooden pins he had hammered through the leather to keep the pieces taut and unmoving while he worked. By the end of his time in the craft-den he would have to pluck more than one thin sliver of wood from his hands, but that didn't matter. In those moments, he was entranced by his work. The tool's tip burned deep into the blue leather, letting out a high-pitched sizzle with every touch. The lines were thick and confident, curving and swaying across the overlapping layers, sending up thin tufts of smoke from each intersecting point like wafting steam from a stew pot.
With the design completed, he turned his attention to the beadwork while the singed leather cooled. He retrieved three more strips of leather from the drying rack, these ones cut down to the length of a finger and as thin as Greeweave had been able to manage. The work — stringing alternating light blue and green beads the length of each piece — went swiftly, his fingers working largely from muscle memory as his eyes flitted back and forth in observance of the pattern.
Eventually, he leaned back, stretching muscles that had grown stiff and knotted from hours of being hunched over the small workbench. All that remained was the assembly.
“Are you trying to make it look crawly like that?” Greenweave leaned back farther and looked behind him to see an inverted image of One-Leg standing in the entrance to the craft-den. Unfortunately for the younger elf, he didn't have the foresight to plant his hands before he did so, making his eventual loss of balance and thud onto his back something of an eventuality. One-Leg burst out laughing and strode forward, pulling the younger elf up by the scruff of his shirt.
“I take it that was intentional?” the elder asked lightly, brushing dust off Greenweave's shoulders.
“Very funny,” Greenweave retorted, patting off his thighs as he struggled to ignore the warmth rushing to his cheeks. “And it's not crawly, it's just flat.”
One-Leg glanced over at the leatherwork, taking a moment to appraise it before his mouth curled into a smile of approval. “It looks nice, but I think it will look nicer —” he paused dramatically before reaching into the sac he was carrying and taking something out, “— on this.”
Greenweave's eyes widened appreciatively at the sight of the wooden piece, polished to a glossy sheen and engraved with multiple overlapping leaf patterns. On first glance it looked as if it had always been so, and only close inspection would show the minute imperfections brought on from the carving, whittling and polishing that extracted the form from its wooden ensnarement.
“It's lovely,” he said, taking it carefully in his hands.
“It really is. Nightstorm would have brought it herself, but she's busy working with Whispersilk.”
“Of course she is. She isn't one to sit idly for long,” Greenweave replied with a chuckle. He felt light and giddy, his project nearly complete. He couldn't wait to see the look on Honey's face.
A few hours later...
The candlelight shone dimly in the den, leaving nothing but shadows reflecting off of every surface.
**It's wonderful, Arn,** Honey sent, caressing the gift in her hand. Now a single unbroken piece, it could be seen for what it was: a hair clip, of both form and function. Greenweave had even managed to work in the beads he told One-Leg he would. The strips of leather were affixed to the top of the carved wooden clip, forming an overlapping tapestry and sat just above its surface; its borne image, a dark finch, was easy to see.
**Thank you, beloved.**
**But I think your timing with it could have been better.**
**Perhaps you could have waited until she had enough hair to wear it?** she said, amusement playing over her features as she gestured to their daughter, young Goldfinch, nestled deeply in her furs with barely a tuft of golden hair atop her head.
**Well... she'll have enough eventually!**