Honey fingered the tiny blue petals of the flowers she had been gathering, humming quietly to herself. Foxtail thought about saying something to startle the other, but decided to quietly observe. The blonde elf looked calm and peaceful there in the meadow and the tune she made was one Foxtail remembered her own mother humming sometimes as she would work with her silk.
She could almost see Whispersilk in the work den, long black hair draped over her shoulders and down her back, seeming at times to be black silk. Whispersilk had always been happiest when working with the Preserver goo, or with the resultant light and airy fabric. Foxtail blinked back tears at the thought, remembering times when they had worked together, and how hard it had been to stay still… that’s when her mother would sigh and send her out. Foxtail wished she had only had more patience back then, that she had appreciated her mother more.
Foxtail could tell when Honey realized she was being watched, because the other elf stiffened a moment, then continued humming, not acknowledging the chief’s daughter. There had been little love lost between them during the time after Whispersilk’s death, but seasons had passed, and now that Cinder was weaned and Honey had returned to her own den, the two females had rarely interacted.
Foxtail stood there, wondering what to say. She felt momentarily rooted to the spot; part of her wanted to turn and go, the other part wanted to force some sort of conversation, for good or for ill. It would be easier if the blonde elf would pick another fight; Foxtail would know what to do in that case. That Honey was, surprisingly, not provoking her, was unnerving.
Fortunately, the feeling didn’t last long. “Are you going to stand there gaping at me, or don’t you have something you are up to?” the fisher-turned-hunter asked pointedly, turning her narrow, yellow-green eyes upward to meet Foxtail’s deeper green-grass eyes.
Foxtail felt her ire flash and responded without thinking, “I have something more important than picking flowers, surely. Is this all you’re doing tonight?”
Honey deliberately laid her gathered flowers on the ground, then put her hands to her knees, moving into a squat and then standing, so that the pair were almost eye to eye. “You think this is nothing, but it means more than the pranks you and your friends so like to pull.”
Foxtail felt defensive. She hadn’t been pulling as many pranks; she’d learned her lesson when she, Notch, and Beetle were shunned. She had been trying to do better even before Whispersilk’s death. Were her increased efforts since then really that unnoticed? Foxtail wasn’t about to let her own insecurities come out in front of Honey, however, so she asked, “Where are your friends tonight? Do you even have any at this point?” She knew it was unfair as soon as it was said, but she didn’t back down or show remorse. Honey had started it, after all.
To Honey’s credit, she didn’t run away. Instead, she merely stood there blinking back tears. After a few heartbeats, and a deep breath, the blonde elf quietly said, “Did you know your mother was one of my friends?”
The change of topic was so abrupt, it startled Foxtail. “What?” she asked, not in disbelief, but confusion. Why the sudden change?
Honey took a deep breath and forced a smile, then said, “Yes. She was. We used to gather flowers like this together at the end of each spring. They remind me of her, and I miss her.”
Honey sounded genuine, but Foxtail couldn’t really remember seeing her mother and the then-fisher together that often. It made her suspicious, but she had also realized after Whispersilk’s death that she hadn’t really known her mother as well as she’d wanted to. So, maybe it was possible. Whispersilk was good friends with Dreamflight while she was alive, and Dreamflight and Honey had, at one point, been practically inseparable. So it was plausible, she supposed, that the former fisher and weaver had been friends. Why hadn’t she noticed?
“I miss her, too,” Foxtail admitted softly, then added, “But sometimes I feel like I didn’t really even know her. She was so wrapped up in her work most of the time.” A hint of bitterness welled in Foxtail’s heart, and she worked to let it go. Her mother had not been anyone other than herself, though Foxtail had often craved for Whispersilk to be different. She had never really seen her mother as someone who had much fun, and that had chafed against Foxtail’s enthusiastic nature.
Honey let out a soft chuckle. “That she was. Then again, you didn’t seem to have much time for her once you had your feet beneath you, either.”
Foxtail bristled, but she could tell that Honey hadn’t meant it as anything but a statement of fact. It was a hard truth, and one she regretted but still true. In hindsight, she knew her mother had offered so much, and knew that she had missed so many opportunities to learn from and spend time with her mother. It was a mistake she didn’t want to make in the future with others; even with Honey. Everyone in the tribe had something to teach or share. Foxtail didn’t want to miss any more opportunities. “No, I didn’t,” Foxtail agreed softly. “And it’s too late to change that. I wish I could.”
Foxtail couldn’t believe the conversation was going as well as it was. Seasons before, the two were ready to claw one another’s eyes out, and here they were, having a genuine conversation. Honey, when she wasn’t spitting out barbs, could possibly be sweet, she realized.
“There’s a lot I wish I could change, things I wish I’d done differently,” Honey said softly. “But living in the past won’t really help us. And neither will regret. We can’t change what’s already happened, but we can make the future better.”
Foxtail watched as the slightly shorter elf knelt down again to resume flower picking. She considered whether that was a signal that the conversation was over and a dismissal or whether it was an open invitation to join her. The chief’s daughter decided to make an invitation of the movement, and she knelt down beside Honey. The other elf was right. The future could be better, if only one could learn from the past. It was time to put some of that into action.
“You said these were some of my mother’s favorites?” Foxtail asked as she began gathering the pretty blue flowers.
Honey looked up, smiling at her. “Yes, they were. For her, they were memory flowers of sorts. Whenever she picked them she would tell stories of her parents and grandparents. We would reminisce. It’s not something we wolfriders do every day, but every once in a while, it’s good to remember.”
It made the red-head laugh. One moment Honey was talking about not living in the past, the next moment, talking about reminiscing. She could see the paradox, and thought she understood. Regret wouldn’t help, but remembering loved ones out of love could. She wanted to remember her mother, and maybe learn more about her; for her own sake, as well as for her brother’s. “Tell me more about her?” she requested.
Honey smiled at her then. She began telling stories, and together, the pair gathered flowers while Foxtail listened.