(Ed. Note: This story is based on an idea by Mel and Lyn, and takes place a few days after "Hope Lasts Eternal").
The bundle of fish weighed heavy against Greenweave’s back but the pressure against his spine filled him with satisfaction. The river still offered some fish to a patient elf, and Greenweave was a very patient elf. The first half of the evening he’d felt Otter lurking around, observing him with the look you’d expect from someone who just had discovered his heritage. Greenweave had invited the youth to join him, and for a moment it’d looked as if Otter would, just as he had often done as a cub. But in the end the young elf had expressed his wish to join the hunt Windsong had called and that he needed to prepare for it.
Greenweave’s easy smile slipped for a moment, feeling the slight sting of disappointment but also the certainty that he needed to give Otter all the room and time he required to come to terms with the situation and figure out what he wanted from Greenweave. He hoped Otter would join him while fishing again, once he’d sorted his feelings.
Before his mind could venture towards his other offspring and and how familiar this thought felt, he was interrupted by a sudden rumbling in the work den he had just passed. Curiosity got the better of him and he peeked inside to find Newt wrestling with one of the tightly-knotted fishing nets.
Immediately, the weaver sensed something was off. Newt’s jaw was set tight, his eyes wide and his eyebrows knitted into a deep and dark frown. His hands and fingers, usually closely rivaling Greenweave's own skilled and graceful movements while weaving and untangling strings, were instead cramped down around a messy bundle of knots in the net. The younger fisher tore and ripped relentlessly at the few loosened nooses only to tighten the mess on other parts.
Greenweave couldn’t help but chuckle at the perfect image of a frustrated elf. He entered the den and set the bundle of fish aside. They could wait a moment.
“Now there… this is not how I taught you to mend a net,” he declared while approaching Newt.
Pale eyes flashed up to him in mild surprise and confusion, but quickly the tension came back to his features, and he stared down at the net in his hands.
“It’s not my fault this stupid thing refuses to work with me!” he spat, looking as if he was about to toss the uncooperative thing away from him.
Instead of answering, Greenweave held out his hand in an offer to take over the net. After a moment of hesitation Newt stopped himself from tossing the victim of his frustration and loosened his grip, handing it over.
With a nod Greenweave sat down next to Newt, who, as he noticed with a warm feeling in his heart, leaned into him seeking out his closeness almost unconsciously. Newt wasn’t a cub anymore and was growing into a fine young elf, but there still was an easy bond between them that had gone past foster son and foster father. Newt was the offspring of his heart.
“Let’s see,” Greenweave said more to himself, examining the tangled net. “Someone did a good job with this,” he realized with a chuckle as he started to run his fingers over the plaitings to track down their patterns and a place to start. “I’d say an impatient fisher might have tossed this one into the bulk of other nets without bothering to straighten it after they were done with it.” In his mind Greenweave went through the most likely options. Probably one of the cubs getting bored with fishing, one of his fellow younger fishers, or even One-Leg in a rush. The thought amused him, but Newt not so much.
The scowl was still on the youth’s face as he stared at the knots and tangles while Greenweave’s fingers gently but steadily pulled loose some loops and nooses without jerking on them. The brown-haired elf raised his gaze to look at Newt, who met his concerned look with the silent plea not to ask. Greenweave followed his wish and turned his attention to the tangles again.
“With a mess like this, you can’t hope to rip it free,” he said gently. “Whatever you manage to loose, you’ll tighten and set in other places. It’ll only make it worse.”
He felt Newt resting his chin on his shoulder while he watched Greenweave work his magic.
“But it can’t stay like this, either,” Newt complained. “This mess needs to be fixed. If it stays like this, it’s no good.”
“That’s true.” Greenweave said. “But you need patience to work it out. It’s way too much of a tangled and complex mess, and you can’t just rush in and hope to fix it as easily as you wish. If you give it some time and pay close attention, you might realize it’s not as bad as it looks right now.”
Newt sighed and pressed his face against Greenweave’s shoulder, seeking a steady presence more than anything else.
“I can’t do this right now,” he said miserably. “I just want it to be fixed and ready to work as it was meant to.”
The mere heartbreak in his friend and fostercub’s voice made Greenweave’s own heart ache. Gently he reached out to wrap an arm around the slim shoulders of the youth and leaned his forehead against Newt’s temple. He didn’t know what was troubling the pale boy but he felt that, more than anything, Newt needed some peace of mind. Greenweave trusted him to come and talk when he was ready — be it to him or someone he saw as more suitable for the issue. For now the fisher could only do as much as give Newt the certainty that he’d offer him a shoulder to lean on.
“Maybe you’re not meant to solve this mess right now,” he offered after a while of just sitting there, feeling Newt slowly relax a little. “Take a break from it and let me see what I can do.” He nodded over to the bundle of fishes he’d placed down when he’d come in. “You could take my catch and clean it if you like. I wanted to save some of the fish for supper. Brightwood will drop Copper off when she leaves with Windsong’s hunting party. Cloudfern is already preparing the herbs. Why don’t you go and assist him?”
Newt sighed heavily and nodded against his shoulder. “That’s something I can do,” he said, and there was the hint of a smile. “I have to make sure Cloudfern gets it right this time. Copper doesn't like too much of his special mix on her fish.”
Greenwave smirked at that. “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with Cloudfern,” he teased. “I’ll not catch my foot in that snare.”
There was still some heaviness and gloom in the laugh Newt gave, but at least he had laughed. Squeezing his foster father tight and lovingly, Newt got up and grabbed the fish. “Oh, I will. Someone has to make a stand against over-spiced fish,” he joked, then sent a warm and heartfelt **Thank you,** before he left.
Greenweave smiled to himself, preparing mentally to walk into a heated discussion over spices and herbs later on, and looked at the mess of a net in his hands again. Newt’s heartache was soothed for now but the net would prove a bit more time consuming. Greenweave didn’t want to just put it back. Right now he couldn’t do more than distract Newt from whatever troubled him, but he could try and solve this. “What did I get myself into?” he sighed, not without seeing the humor in his situation.
**Getting caught in a tangled mess. Like usual.**
Greenwave paused and looked up to see Honey standing in the mouth of the den, her arms crossed, her expression unimpressed, though slightly amused. He managed a smile, even if it was not as open and free as he wished it could have been.
“I didn’t sense you coming. Are you preparing for the hunt as well?” he asked, adjusting his seat with the net on his lap.
Honey dropped her gaze as if she was thinking about something, then she entered the workden and sat down across from him, taking up the other end of the net. “I was, yes,” she said, looking over the tangles as well. “Though I think I might be more useful here,” she said pointedly.
Greenweave knew his former lifemate still had a keen eye for nets and knew how to mend them. Still, he wondered what in the wide world of two moons was on her mind that she was considering not going on a hunt. Ever since she had left her fishing spear behind, she rarely missed an opportunity to go out with a group of hunters.
“You didn’t sense me coming,” she said slowly, seeming to measure her words, “because I’ve been out here a while and the wind was in my favor.” With the confession, her green eyes met his brown for a moment, then she started loosing knots and snares just like he had done. Without thinking Greenweave fell into the same routine. Then she said, “I heard what you said to Newt.”
Greenwave raised an eyebrow, but Honey huffed in response, a faint blush rising to her cheeks. “What?” she asked defensively. “I worry about him, too. I knew something was wrong, and I was going to check in on him. When I realized you were in here, I didn’t want to barge in.” She opened her mind sharing the image of Newt leaving the den and smiling at her when she briefly caressed his cheek.
The feelings of care, love and concern that attended the brief sending filled Greenweave with warmth. This was the Honey he’d loved and still loved. He let the subject of Honey eavesdropping on what had been a private moment slide, not to spoil the tentative peace between them. It was forgivable and not worth raising a fuss. For a while they silently worked through the tangles together. It wasn’t the same easy silence they had shared before their Recognition, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been after she’d woken up, either. Honey had dropped her enmity toward him seasons ago, though there was still tension between them.
After a while, Honey spoke. “What you said was very… good.” Greenweave guessed that it was hard for her to say these words but after she’d said them, the tension in her shoulders had eased. Then she added, “The part about making a bigger mess by trying to solve it with force, I mean.”
He nodded. “Thanks.” He kept working at a knot.
“You forgot to add something important, though,” she said assertively, dropping the net in her lap and looking at him in earnest.
“Huh?” he asked, looking up at her.
“Yes, you did,” she insisted, leaning toward him. Honey always liked having a bit of wisdom to offer in a situation, and he knew she wasn’t about to let him down. “You forgot to tell him that he shouldn’t try to solve a tangled mess like this on his own. The person who helped cause the mess should be there, too, and do their part.”
He watched her attentively and nodded again. “You’re right,” he agreed. “Everyone has to do their part to make sure it gets fixed, and then they all have to watch that it won’t get this bad again.”
Now it was Honey’s turn to nod. Greenweave also noticed that she looked down, not willing to meet his eyes.
He sighed, picking again at the same knot while Honey also resumed her work. Silence fell between them once more, and though it wasn’t uncomfortable, Greenweave wanted to talk. “Copper is staying with us tonight since Farscout is scouting, and Brightwood will be hunting. Cloudfern is making the spiced fish she and Newt like so much.” He paused, looking up to see her reaction and if she was willing to engage in small-talk.
He could tell Honey had heard him, but she was picking at a snarl, not responding. The intent focus on the net told him her hackles were up. He knew she was waiting to see where he was taking the conversation, and, he realized, protecting herself. Suddenly, he knew what he wanted to say next. “Honey? Would you like to join us later?” he asked, then added, “Dreamflight, too, if she wants. I could ask Cloudfern and Newt if we have enough for two more dinner guests. It might help Newt get his mind off things.”
Honey paused in surprise. He watched as an array of emotions danced over her face, wondering what she was thinking. There had been a time when he might have known. After a moment, she regained a neutral expression and said, “If Cloudfern and Newt don’t mind, I think I’d like that.” Then her fingers picked up where they left off. After a moment, she casually suggested, “Maybe you could ask Dreamflight? I think she’d like it if you did.”
“Alright,” Greenwave said with a smile on his lips. He sent to Cloudfern, who was tentatively receptive to the idea of more dinner guests, then to his daughter, who reservedly agreed. “When we’re done here,” he said to Honey, “we’ll eat.” She offered only a smile in response, and quietly they kept working. He felt as if one more knot was loosening under his touch even if there still were a lot more to work on. It would take a while to get it fixed, but at least they were working on it, together.