Dance with Me, Drizzt
The world was dying, and Drizzt was powerless to stop it.
Icingdeath and Twinkle rested helplessly in their sheaths. Drizzt could slash and cut until he could raise his arms no more, and still Obould's new horde would overwhelm him, opening the path into Mithral Hall, to his friends, to Catti-brie.
The sun had set; another day of battle was over. Drizzt wondered if he could last another one.
He looked out his window, shifting to the infrared spectrum to observe Obould's forces. The orc campground fairly blazed in horrendous glory. If he looked hard enough, Drizzt could make out the white centers of the heart, busily pumping small orange streams of blood throughout the orcs' ugly bodies.
He wondered how much of that blood he would spill tomorrow.
With a muffled sob, Drizzt shifted back to the normal spectrum of light and crumpled into his bed. After the battle, even Thibbledorf Pwent was disheartened. All the dwarves knew that they could not hold out another day, and the larders were emptied for a feast, a last supper, though nobody admitted it.
None of the Companions had eaten anything; Bruenor did not even touch his holy water. Conversation was nonexistent. The Companions looked dolefully at each other, as if silently asking how this could have happened.
Drizzt was fatigued, drained down to the pit of his soul. Days of fighting had turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Most of the forest surrounding Mithral Hall had been chopped down in the use of the orc war machine. The few remaining shed their leaves in preparation for winter.
The trees would not survive to feel the warmth of spring.
He laid his scarred face upon his pillow for what he was certain was the last time and closed his eyes to enter a Reverie that would not revive him. Sometimes Drizzt felt he stayed alive on sheer will alone.
If so, then death was near, for Drizzt had little will left.
Unable to calm his mind for what was necessary for Reverie, Drizzt called Guenhwyvar. It was a selfish move, for the panther was exhausted from much too much time spent in the Material Plane, endlessly fighting in a battle that wasn't hers.
The majestic cat came willingly, though, sensing her friend's distress. Upon materialization, she nuzzled Drizzt under the chin, even licking his face. Drizzt broke down and clung to her, weeping into her fur, a coat even darker than the drow's skin. She endured the unpleasant wetness and repeatedly nudged Drizzt in what she hoped was a comforting way.
Finally, Drizzt's tears slowed, and his uncontrollable shaking decreased. "Everything I've fought for, Guenhwyvar, my shadow, everything I've sacrificed for and accomplished will be gone tomorrow. I am lost. The name of Drizzt will be nothing but a curse amongst orcs for centuries to come. I have failed Zak, Mooshie, and my friends."
Guenhwyvar growled and jerked away, pushing through the half-open door and padding outside. Drizzt, shocked at his abandonment, merely sat leaning against the wall, wiping his nose on a handkerchief, staring blankly into space.
Minutes passed, and Guenhwyvar returned with Catti-brie in tow.
Catti-brie saw the state the dark elf was in and nearly burst into tears herself. Instead, she went to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Wiping tears off his face, she murmured words of comfort and raked her fingers through his hair.
Drizzt remained unresponsive, though a few more tears leaked from the corners of his eyes.
After a while, Catti-brie backed away, at a loss as to what to do. What could she do? When despair was eating away at her heart like a vile, parasitic worm, what true comfort could she possibly give?
What was good about their situation?
They were still alive.
Her breath caught. Of course: They were still alive!
"We do not live life dreading death," she intoned, "for that is not a life worth living."
Drizzt slowly raised his head, a semi-puzzled look upon his face.
Catti-brie began humming a tune she had learned as a very small child. It was not playful, it was not somber. It was not inspirational.
The only word to truly describe such a tune is magical. There was no magic in the notes, not the kind used by mages or clerics anyway.
Slowly humming the rising and falling notes, Catti-brie began to turn on the spot, lifting her hands above her head, as if she were in the middle of a meadow during a spring shower.
The tune rising in tempo, she began moving her feet to and fro, not in the way one rehearses steps for hours, but in the way one follows a tune and instinctively knows how to respond to it.
Very soon, she was twirling through the air, navigating around the sparse furniture effortlessly, even though her eyes were closed, lost in her dance.
Drizzt watched her dance, all thoughts of sadness forgotten. Very suddenly, he realized that he had never seen anything so beautiful in his life, not in Menzoberranzan, not in the splendors of Mithral Hall, and not in the cheap looks of lesser women.
Catti-brie spun through the air, her auburn curls bouncing carelessly about her shoulders. She looked like a wingless fairy, no, an earthbound goddess. On impulse, Drizzt limned her in lavender fairy fire, which magnified the magical effect a thousand fold.
Catti-brie was a star that had fallen from the heavens to dance for Drizzt, a dark elf from a land that knew no stars.
The fairy fire faded, and Catti-brie stopped the moment they did.
Still looking like an immortal beauty, she held out her hand. "Dance with me, Drizzt."
Drizzt leapt up and took her into his arms. He kissed her fervently, as he had never kissed anyone before. When their lips separated, they embraced even harder, feeling heat rush off each other's bodies and listening to the sounds of their ragged breathing. Drizzt felt such a surge of emotion he had never experienced before, a moment of absolute happiness: pure, untainted by the agonies of the world, and overwhelming happiness.
The moment passed, and his lavender eyes locked on her eyes. "I love you, Catti-brie," he whispered, kissing her again to accentuate his statement. "Thank you."
She hugged him. "Dance with me, Drizzt."
He took a tentative step with her, and she laughed. He laughed too.
And they danced away into the night.
Guenhwyvar lay in a corner, watching them; her infamous expression of feline indifference was tinged with something close to satisfaction. She rested her head on her paws.
For now, Guenhwyvar's work was done.