Honey was changing from hunting attire into something more comfortable when she heard her daughter singing her way up the stairs. Something about the tone of the song gave Honey the impression her daughter was sweet on someone, so she quickly finished pulling up her blue silk skirt and stepped out of her den just when Dreamflight was passing it.
“Mother! You startled me,” Dreamflight exclaimed. “I didn’t expect to run into you — er, anyone, really!”
“I was just changing into comfortable clothes,” Honey explained as she watched a telltale blush creeping up her daughter’s neck.
Dreamflight started fidgeting.
“I heard you singing as you were coming up the stairs,” the mother stated, wondering if her child was going to share any information, or if this would be a fishing expedition.
“Oh! You did? Um… that. Yeah, I was,” Dreamflight stammered.
“Were you coming up the stairs for a reason?” Honey prompted.
“Well, yes… sort of. I’m tired, so I was going to go to bed. But, well, I don’t think I can sleep, really.”
Honey knew her daughter well enough to know that Dreamflight, when she was excited, had a very hard time falling asleep. She could remember many times when either she or Greenweave would have to stay up with Goldfinch, trying to tire her out so that she would sleep. Many times, it had only resulted in sleepless parents. Goldfinch rarely slept without being good and tired.
“Would you like me to rub your back?” Honey asked.
Dreamflight’s eyes brightened. “Would you? Oh, that would help! I’m sure of it.”
Honey smiled knowingly, then motioned her daughter to come into her den.
“Make yourself comfortable,” Honey said. **I just need to get some oil for the massage.** Then, she approached the wall and reached up toward a rockshaped container, which sat on the highest shelf. Lifting it, she removed its lid and took a whiff of the walnut-oil held within the wax-coated bowl. It had been scented with lavender, chamomile, and rose, and the amount in the container was all she had left — but Dreamflight was worth it. Honey knew she could always work to make more sometime in the future. Tonight, she just wanted to know who her daughter was sweet on.
Honey turned from the shelf, bowl still in hand and said, “Here it is… the last of it, too.”
Dreamflight’s eyes lit up at the sight and scent of what her mother held. “You’re going to use it? On me?”
Honey smiled at her. “Yes, I’m going to use it. On you, my dear.” She stepped into the bedbowl, then knelt beside her daughter. “Are you comfortable?”
Dreamflight nodded, humming to herself. Honey recognized the tune as the one her child had been singing earlier. She tipped the bowl, spilling some oil onto Dreamflight’s back. She waited for the reflexive shiver, then set her hands into the oil and began working the muscles. She kneaded for a while, waiting for her daughter’s breathing to even out, and for the song to cease. When Dreamflight was relaxed, Honey knew it was time.
She sent, both to prevent being overheard, and to allow for a smoother conversation. **The song you were humming earlier, what was it?**
Dreamflight shifted, and Honey kept massaging, waiting for a response. **It’s a song Beetle taught me.**
**Oh? I haven’t heard it in so long — what are the words?** Honey knew her curiosity was evident in the send, though she doubted Dreamflight realized the direction she was headed.
Dreamflight laughed, then turned. Honey noted her daughter had a suspicious smile. “You know the words. Or at least, you should. It’s an old crafters’ song.”
Honey folded her hands in her lap, then stated, “Humor me. I honestly don’t remember them.”
Dreamflight pulled a fur up for warmth and said, “All right, I will.” She sang:
“When you go hunting what will I do then?
How many days till we greet again?
How many baskets will I weave until
I see your face once more?
How many days must we work towards the winter?
I can’t stand to sit and craft anymore!
I must go on the trail with my bow and arrow
For the small chance to run into you once more.”
Once she heard it, Honey recalled hearing it when she was younger, and it definitely indicated an interest in someone. Instead of digressing into conversation about when she first heard it, the determined mother stuck to her goal of finding out who Dreamflight was sweet on and asked, **When you sing that song, who does it make you think of, Daughter?**
Dreamflight slid under the fur, holding it tightly over her head so that Honey couldn’t pull it away, and unconvincingly said, “No one.”
**Send it,** Honey ordered.
**No one,** Dreamflight managed to say, followed almost unwillingly by, **Except our chief.**
**Windburn?** Honey asked, her mind voice incredulous. She grabbed the blanket and yanked it from Dreamflight’s hands so that she could stare at her. **Windburn?**
Dreamflight nodded, meekly adding, “Mmhmm.”
Honey could hardly believe it and would not have guessed it. Windburn! Honey felt grateful that she wasn’t, at this point in her life, looking for love, because Windburn might have been someone she was interested in, given the right time and circumstances. He was a good friend of hers, and though she enjoyed sharing furs with him from time to time, she had no romantic interest in him. But apparently, Dreamflight did.
**What are you going to do about it?** she asked her daughter.
“Do?” Dreamflight asked, slowly pushing herself upward. “I wasn’t planning to do anything. At least, not yet. He hardly notices me.”
**You could try being more helpful,** Honey sent plainly.
Dreamflight’s eyes lit up, and she exclaimed, “Ooooh. That’s an idea!” She jumped upward, all thoughts of sleep lost in a new and exciting idea.
“Ummm, Dreamflight?” Honey asked, suddenly wary about what her flighty child might be thinking.
“No time to talk, Mother, I have work to do!” With that, Dreamflight put her shirt back on, headed out of Honey’s den and down the steps of the Dentrees.
**What are you going to do?** Honey asked, her curiosity piqued.
**I’m going to start by cleaning the storage dens. Maybe that’ll help!**
**It’s a long shot, but I suppose it’s worth trying,** Honey responded, trying to be encouraging. She figured that Dreamflight would likely lose interest not long into the project anyway, and whatever work she did get done would at least be helpful.
Honey yawned. The massage she had given had tired her out. She curled up in her bedbowl, pulled the covers up over her head, and went to sleep.
Dreamflight herself didn’t know exactly when her crush began. Perhaps it was when Beetle had lock-sent the old crafter’s song that she saw Chief Windburn in a new light.
But right now great clouds of dust billowed out from the basement entrance of the Child Tree. Her mother had suggested she be helpful, so Dreamflight was organizing the storage dens.
Dreamflight was wearing a small silk head scarf. Big leather gloves made her thin arms look even more delicate, and she was wearing no more than a shift. She wiped the sweat off her red face, her skin glistening.
“This is hard work, and I’ve barely even started. Maybe I should take a break and cool off in the river.” She shook her head decidedly. “No. Let’s do this!”
The elf slowly turned her head and looked down the winding stairs.
Dreamflight held her breath and plunged down to the inner depths of the storage dens. A moment later a bear pelt that had been put away until the bitter cold of winter seemed to shuffle itself up the stairs. Dreamflight collapsed onto it outside, panting.
“If my heart is my Holt
Your words are my Den,” she sang, encouraging herself.
“Now it’s even more dusty,” she lamented, picking the bear pelt up off the ground. With an effort, Dreamflight threw it over a branch and beat it with a stick. Dirt and dust hovered around it like fog. “Oh my goodness, it’s filthy!”
At that moment Dewdrop, who happened to be on guard over the storage dens that day, overcame its usual shyness once it saw that something was outside the Child Tree and not going back inside.
“Naughty Whistle-Voice Highthing!”
“Don’t worry, Dewdrop, I’m helping! I’ll return it in better condition than it’s in now! Let’s take it to the river to clean it.”
“Bigthing no take to big wet!” the Preserver chided her, tugging her hair. Dreamflight tried to soothe it.
The young elf had the pelt by its front paws. She wolf-sent the picture of what she wanted her wolf to do. Fumble, understanding the image in the send, helped by taking its other end in her mouth so the whole thing wouldn’t drag in the mud.
“Ever since I saw you again,
I was so blissed out,
My bliss became a wolf.
It runs through the Holt Territory
Always tracking you down,” Dreamflight waxed poetically.
Once at the river, she took some soap and a brush she had in a pouch and expertly washed and rinsed all the dirt out of the pelt.
“I am your best kept secret
Even from yourself,” she lilted to the sky.
A few hours later, Dewdrop had calmed down sufficiently to ride back to the Holt in Dreamflight’s hair. The elf and the wolf carried the pelt back up the trail the same way as before. The sun was climbing in the sky. It was an unseasonably warm day, perfect for air drying. Dreamflight hung it over a branch and started to head back to her den to change her clothes.
“I had eight-eights of projects.
But when I found you
I lost all my materials
And so forgot my craft.
The forest would die if the sun stopped shining.
Does that mean that if you look at me with shining eyes, that then I’ll be born?
In the epic journey to win your love
I will sit here until you find me.”
Dreamflight was so blissed out from her singing that she didn’t notice Thief poke his head out from behind the same tree the pelt was hanging from with a gleam in his eyes. Just as Dreamflight happened to turn her head, she saw him lunge at it, take one end in his jaws, and pull it backwards, bending the branch along with it.
“Thief, no!” Dreamflight yelled. Without her having to send, Fumble grabbed the other end of the pelt. The golden-haired elf ran back over and did likewise.
Now Thief was certain this was a game. Growling, smiling, pulling, tugging, digging his paws in, he was not giving up this tug of war without a fight.
**Thief, let go! Now!** Dreamflight commanded.
And the wolf did. The bear pelt went flying, Fumble knocked into Dreamflight, the elf landed on her butt, and the wet pelt unceremoniously covered them, all in the mud. Dewdrop, who had been forgotten, started shrieking in her ear.
“Dreamflight, what’s going on?” she heard Windburn demand while she was under the dirty-all-over-again pelt. Of course, she thought, it had to be my crush who just happens to see me like this now!
She scrambled out from under and sprang up, a look of red fury in her eyes. Surprised, Windburn backed away a step.
“Ruined,” Dreamflight hissed, glaring at Thief who now had his tail between his legs. “All ruined! Me! Why me!? No good deed goes unpunished!”
The Chief frowned at her, perplexed. “Looks like it’s just some mud,” he stated, “it can be washed off.”
“You don’t understand!” Dreamflight wailed. “It’s not just the bear pelt!”
Windburn stared at her.
“What do you mean?”
Dreamflight gasped, and her hands flew to her mouth.
“Never mind!” she cried, grabbing the pelt and fleeing to her den.
Windburn stared after her questioningly. Honey came over and put a hand on his shoulder.
“She was trying to be more helpful around the Holt,” she explained.
Windburn whistled, shaking his head and moving on.