Stretching her arms high above her head, Firecat only barely managed to avoid giving vent to an audible moan. Instead, a grimace compressed and twisted her lips, and she ducked her chin before her mother could notice the expression. Quickly, she dropped her hands back to the sticky, tangled mess in her lap. As if to make up for her delay and traitorous longing for the glorious sun and trees outside the den, her fingers very nearly flew over the Preserver webs, sorting and smoothing. She bit down on her lower lip and dropped her head a degree further while she worked. There was an awful lot of silk to be made, she reminded herself. The tribe was growing and everyone needed both fine things and warm things. Her mother could never possibly make it all on her own. She, Firecat, knew how to help and, seeing as her mother consistently welcomed her to the weaving den, it seemed she had at least a passing skill.
So here she sat, inside during a beautiful day, fingers starting to stick together from the Preserver webs. Her mother hummed softly at her side, utterly content and at-peace. Firecat wondered if she should envy her or not. Working at a particularly knotted bit, she decided not to. After all, it wasn’t Cubmaker’s fault at all that she had such talent and found happiness within it. It also was an idea that was really only suited to cubs and not her. She was over four hands old!
A sharp crack of laughter from outside found its way into the quiet den, and Firecat’s head snapped up, golden eyes alight with eager anticipation. Then she caught herself, hissed under her breath, and dropped her attention back down to her work. One strand, two strands, three…
“You realize, my sweet, that you really don’t have to stay here with me. You are free to go and play outside with the others.”
Her mother’s soft words made the skin at the back of her neck tense, and she hunched forward, shoulders curved into herself. She had not realized that her inattention was so easy to see. She tugged through another knot only to have it come apart in her hands. Sighing, she straightened and sat back, dropping her arms behind her to prop her into position. “But I promised you I would help,” she answered.
That, as far as she was concerned, settled the discussion. A promise was a promise, and this was, more importantly, a promise to her mother.
Cubmaker shook her head but the gentle smile curving her lips indicated there was less denial and more amusement in her reaction. “I know you did and you have helped.” She set down her own parcel of the strands and motioned her hand to indicate the stacks of already completed work. “Just look at all of the web silk I have to play with when I’m ready to weave! My impatient darling, you have done more than enough to help. If you want to run outside, Firecat, you may.” Cubmaker’s smile grew more mischievous as she abruptly shifted her position to allow an extended finger to press down on the younger elf’s nose. “In fact, I think you should go before you can’t fight back the next sigh.”
Firecat’s cheeks pinked. “Mother, I…”
“It’s alright. It is.” Cubmaker shifted the pile of unfinished webs from her lap to the floor. Then she pushed herself upwards onto her feet and stretched. “In fact, I think it might be time for me to take a break myself. I could use a bite to eat.” She patted her stomach.
“Well…” Firecat hesitated another moment but, when her mother did not retract the offer, she grinned brightly. She scrambled to wind up her work, taking only the slightest care that it did not tangle again, and nearly fell over herself in her bid to return it to a safe shelf. Then she bounced to her feet and swept Cubmaker up in a tight hug. **Thank you! I’ll help again later. I promise! I’ll manage twice as much next time and sit twice as long and you’ll be proud of me.** She delivered a fond nuzzle to her mother’s shoulder and then spun on her heel to make good her escape.
Out of the den entrance in approximately four steps, Firecat sped her pace up until she was sprinting towards the river. On such a perfect day, that was the only place an elf with time on her hands would be. She fleetingly cursed the fact that there was no Wolf to her; if she had the nose of some of the other elves, she would know who she could hope to find at the water’s edge. It looked like, as always, she would have to find her playmates the old fashioned way.
**Barkmoss! Deertracker! Feather! Fisher! Anyone! Here I come!**