A chorus of howls echoed through the Holt as Raven and Sunlight’s newborn cub was heard crying after her birth. Sparkle clapped her hands happily. Fletcher, whose den she was in, asked, “Does this mean that you’re going to finish it?”
Fletcher knew that she had been working to finish a gift she had wanted to give to the new cub, though she hadn’t let him see it. She wanted the first one to see it to be the babe and her parents. His question had reminded her that it was time to add the finishing touch. Nuzzling him in thanks, Sparkle hastily dressed and headed out of the den, down the steps and toward the forge.
On her way there, she saw Moss and Nettle heading toward her. Moss had his drum in one arm, and Nettle was chattering at him as they walked. She wasn’t watching where she was going, and Sparkle was distracted looking at Moss. She collided with Nettle, and started to fall. Moss caught her and put her back on her feet. Sparkle felt a blush spread throughout her body, and she looked at the ground. After regaining her composure, she looked at Nettle. “I’m so sorry! I wasn’t paying attention.”
The brown-eyed weaver laughed and replied, “As you can tell, I was too busy talking with Moss to pay attention. I should be apologizing to you, too!”
Sparkle felt relieved, but she was still distracted by Moss. Though she and Fletcher were furmates, the green-eyed tanner appealed to her every sense. She didn’t think he really noticed her, though, so she kept her feelings to herself.
“Why are you heading to the forge when we’re gathering to greet the new babe?” he asked. “You’re not going to miss the celebration, are you?”
Sparkle shook her head, her long hair falling around her shoulders. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I just want to get the gift I made for the baby.”
Nettle leaned in and asked, “Can we see?”
The young smith shook her head again. “It’s not quite finished. I need to add a gem to it, and then I want to give it to the cub and her parents before others see it. I’d wanted to make something similar for Meep when she was born, but I couldn’t get it right. I’ve been working on this one since Raven and Sunlight Recognized again.”
Moss whistled appreciatively. “That’s dedication.”
The smith beamed at the compliment and then, despite the fact that she’d have loved nothing more than to stay there talking with the pair, especially Moss, she knew she had a task to finish. She said, “I’ll see you both at the base of the Dentrees in just a little while.”
Making her way into the forge, Sparkle was humming happily. She headed to her workbench, where she had been working to make a very delicate piece of jewelry. It wasn’t something the babe would wear now, or maybe even ever, but it was what had come to mind when the announcement of Sunlight and Raven’s second Recognition had been made. In her mind, she had pictured a small, jeweled ornament mounted on a circular strap of leather. She really wanted it to have a jewel that would match the eyes of the babe, but she knew she would have to guess at that — her grandmother had told her that a baby’s eye color sometimes took time to develop.
Raven’s gold eyes and Sunlight’s greenish-blue came to mind, which led to her thoughts drifting to Finch. The firstborn of Raven and Sunlight had amber-colored eyes. Sparkle wondered if she ought to wait to present the pair and their cub with the small gift; if, perhaps, knowing the color for certain, and matching it, would make the present more meaningful.
**Are you coming?** Fletcher sent to her, sharing that it might be any moment that the babe would be brought out.
**Yes. I just need a little more time!** she responded, sharing her indecisiveness about what color to choose.
**Go with blue-green. Then, if the cub’s eyes are a different color, you could always make a new one, and let Sunlight have this one.**
It was practical advice, and gave her some direction, though she hoped that she wouldn’t have to make a new one. Wanting to finish quickly, Sparkle looked over the straps of leather, and picked the lightest color. Then, taking the delicately woven ornament, she slipped it onto the strap, sliding it down, adding knots to either side of it ensuring they were close enough that the knots were hidden by the ornament.
Finally, Sparkle looked up to one of her shelves and took down a bowl that held unused jewels. The smith thought she had a stone that was bluish-green, but she couldn’t find one at all. She sorted through again, trying to decide what to do. A dark green gem caught her eye. It wasn’t what she had been looking for, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Smiling as she turned it over in her hand, Sparkle decided which angle she liked best, then set it into the center of the ornament and using the thinnest strands of gold that she could have made, the smith’s delicate fingers worked them around the jewel and through the twinings of the ornament, until it could not come undone.
Satisfied with her work, Sparkle placed the headband into a small sack of Preserver silk and carried it out of her forge. As she made her way, Fletcher again sent to her, **It’s time! Hurry!**
Sparkle picked up her pace and was arriving just as Raven stepped out of the Dentrees holding his bundled newborn daughter. “Her name is Whistle,” he announced, “and she’s just as beautiful as her mother.”
Those gathered around cheered and offered hearty congratulations. Sparkle slid into the group, settling next to Fletcher. “It’s finished,” she whispered to him. “I think, though, that I’ll wait till later to give it to them.”
**You still won’t let me see it before you give it?** he asked, teasing her.
**No,** was her happy response. She wanted to wait until she had a chance to hold little Whistle, and to give the gift to Sunlight without the attention of the tribe on her.
Sparkle was sitting in the den with Sunlight. “May I… hold Whistle?” she asked tentatively.
The blond elf smiled at her. “Of course you may, Sparkle. Just remember, be careful with her head. She can’t hold it up on her own yet.”
Sparkle nodded; carefully taking the babe into her arms, she smiled at the mother and said, “I brought a gift for her. I’ve been working on it for a long time. She can’t use it yet, but I wanted you to keep it for her.” Then, nodding at the silken pouch that sat next to her, she turned her attention to the baby.
Sparkle marveled at the feel of the soft skin, and the fuzz of baby hair as she nuzzled the newborn’s scalp. She’d held babies before, and would again, she assumed, but each time, it was a marvel to her. She wondered about the little one in her arms, who the babe would become. Whether she would grow into a huntress, a crafter, a forge-worker (this thought made her smile), a musician, a storyteller, or a combination of any of those.
“Whatever you become, little one,” she whispered to Whistle, “I’ll always be a friend to you.”
Raven and Sunlight’s daughter peered up with deep, dark green eyes at the goldsmith and made a cooing sound, almost as if she understood what Sparkle had said. She smiled back at the babe.
The interaction with Whistle must have happened very quickly, because when she turned her attention back to Sunlight, Sparkle saw that the plantshaper was just pouring the contents of the bag into her lap.
Sunlight inhaled as she reached down to pick the headband up and examine it. “Oooh, Sparkle. It’s lovely!” Sparkle grinned as the other elf held the present up for Whistle to see. The baby reached up, batting her fist against the leather. “I think she likes it,” Sunlight said happily. “It will look good on her when she’s a little older.”
Whistle began to squirm in Sparkle’s arms, and then grunted. The sound that followed indicated to both that it was time for Whistle to have some attention. The smith watched as the young mother quickly shaped a small shelf to lay the present on. Then, Sunlight reached out to take the baby back. “Thank you, Sparkle,” the older elf said.
“Can I come back to see her tomorrow?” she asked.
The mother nodded at her, then turned her full attention to the baby. Sparkle quietly said goodbye, then stepped out of the den and smiled. The smallest, most delicate thing she had ever made had come out well. It was something to be proud of, she told herself, feeling taller, happier, and more confident than before.