Disclaimer: It's Wizards of the Coast and R.A Salvatore's sandbox, I'm simply destroying the sandcastles
Title: Coming of Age
Characters: Drizzt & Catti-brie
Timeframe: Icewind Dale Trilogy - AU (several weeks before Wulfgar's release from the Dwarves)
Summary: Drizzt has missed Catti-brie's birthday and failed to bring her a gift. What will she ask for?
Coming of Age
Bruenor's climb was one of Catti-brie's favorite places in all of Icewind Dale, if not only for the view, than for the company she was sure to find there on any night. Tonight, she knew as she settled onto the outcropping her adoptive father Bruenor loved so much, would be no different. It was the reason she found herself looking across the dale even now, the cold winter winds teasing her exposed skin with hints of snow.
There was no warning, no whisper of sound to announce the change from solitude to company, no indications beyond the feeling, the knowledge that she was being watched coupled with the shiver that slid down her spine. A feeling that had become more and more prominent the more time she spent with her friend - and more confusing. Without turning, her gaze on the tundra, she addressed her silent shadows at her back.
"Are ye plannin' tae join me, or just tae sit and skulk all night?"
A shift of the air beside her was the only indication of movement as the shadow behind her materialized into a slender, cloaked figure. It didn't sit. "I wasn't sure you'd want my company."
"After ye went and missed me day? Now why would ye think that?"
Lavender orbs twitched in a wince, hearing the bite behind her words and the pain; today had been her sixteenth birthday and he'd missed it. "The day is not over yet; the sun isn't yet set, nor the moon risen."
Rounding on him, her blue eyes spitting fire, Catti-brie leveled an icy glare his way. "For all the good it does! The day is gone and ye... ye were nowhere to be found."
"Was my absence so marked?"
A harsh laugh escaped her lips and she irritably brushed tears away. She'd been hoping he'd attend the party thrown by the dwarves - he'd been invited by he adopted father, Bruenor - but, for all she'd watched for him, the day had waned and he hadn't come.
"Ye claim tae be me best friend, Drizzt Do'Urden, and ye missed me birthday!"
Which was the crux of the matter; of all the people she'd wanted to celebrate with, the Drow hadn't made an appearance. She turned away to stare at the glow of the sun, disappearing on the far horizon. Pulling her knees up, she wrapped her arms about them, and stared at the dying aura, waiting for him to offer his excuses, to find some event that was more important as a reason for his absence; to try and make her feel better.
To his credit, he didn't offer excuses; he didn't even try. "I'm here now."
Silence, strained and tense, descended between them - a marked difference from other nights, and Drizzt was at a loss for how to break it. The rigid line of Catti-brie's spine indicated her temper, and today's slight wasn't one she'd likely soon forgive. No matter how mature she became, there were some ways in which she was fundamentally human - and Bruenor had told her that sixteen for a human was a right of passage; a big step beyond being a child and into adulthood. Not unlike his own sixteenth year, when he'd become a full member of the family and no longer a page prince. He shied away from a memory, but the reality lingered. Along with the guilt.
Drizzt should have been there.
Easing closer, Drizzt slid onto the rock shelf next to her until his shoulder brushed hers. "The day's not yet finished," he tried softly, "we can do whatever you wish."
A choked sound emerged from her lips and she turned sparkling, guarded eyes to his. "Whatever I... are ye sure?"
He nodded, spreading his arms wide as he spun off the rock and dipped into a low, flourish of a bow. "Anything, Princess Battlehammer. If it is in my power to give or do, you've but to name it."
"Anything," she cocked her head, lying it flat along her knees as she regarded him. "The head of a dragon, mayhap?"
"Within reason," he amended with a grin, knowing she was being facetious. It was a good sign her irritation was ebbing.
"A kiss, then."
Drizzt froze at her soft and immediate response, his smile fading as he stared into her eyes. "What?"
"A kiss," she lifted her head then, examining his expression with a shrewdness that belied her years. "Surely ye aren't afraid o' a little kiss."
"No; but Bruenor would have my ears."
"Me da isn't here." Uncurling from her position, she turned to face him completely, stretching her legs out over the rock as she did and unconsciously drawing his gaze. Sometime, somehow in the time since he'd last seen her - well over two months ago thanks to winter storms - she'd gone from being a child and bloomed into womanhood. "'Tis just me and you - and yer promise."
"I said within reason."
"Ye said anything that was in your power to give."
Caught, Drizzt stared at her, examining her in silence as if he'd never seen her before. Weighing her words, it seemed, against their friendship; judging her.
"'Tis not an extraordinary request," she finally bit out in irritation, pushing to her feet. "If ye won't give me a kiss, simply say so and be gone. I came up here for peace, and with yerself here I'm finding none!"
"You don't know what you ask."
"You don't know what ye refuse." Spinning from him, she clenched her fists at her side and looked back to where the sky had was fading to the various colors of blue that preceded night fall. "Go then, me friend; leave me be!"
"'Tis easy," she snapped back, feeling the shame of her request bow her shoulders.
Whatever had possessed her this night to demand such a boon, she didn't know - only that a part of her had recently begun to wonder what it would be like to be kissed, as she'd seen other kissed. Her desire to experience her first kiss with Drizzt seemed as natural as the stone beneath her feet... except he didn't think of her like that. She should have known better. Unconsciously wrapping her arms about herself, Catti-brie didn't so much as look the drow's way.
"Simply put one o' yer silent feet in front o' the other and disappear."
"You'd never forgive me."
"There's naught to forgive; ye've done nothing."
"Then I'd never forgive myself for leaving you like this." His strong, slender fingers closed about her upper arm, drawing her reluctantly back around. "It is not the request I envisioned from you when I made my offer of a gift."
"'Tis the only gift I want from ye," she shot back. "Me first kiss could be easily stolen by some rogue; who better to gift it to than ye?"
She laughed, the sound slight choked. "A finer man I've not seen, but 'tis ye in me dreams; Drizzt, not Wulfgar."
"A kiss," he repeated her earlier request, his thumb brushing across the thick fur covering her arm even as he avoided her soft declaration. It wasn't something either of them were fully ready to explore, Drizzt far less than she. "The consequences could be grave."
"Or the gains great." Searching his lavender gaze, she wondered if he was truly considering it and half-stepped towards him. "I wish a kiss for me birthday; 'naught more. No promises, no vows; a simple kiss."
"There's nothing simple about a kiss between friends, Catti-brie."
"Will ye treat me different?"
"Possibly." He smiled faintly. "You're a beautiful woman, but a young one, and I-"
"No younger than any other woman," she interjected quickly, dismissing the age gap between them with an irritated toss of her head. "Iffen I was livin' among the town folk, I'd be married with a babe o' me own by now."
Which was true, he knew; in Icewind Dale folks married young - the women younger than the men - and started families as soon as they could. That Catti-brie had reached sixteen without suitors seemed ridiculous, but Drizzt well knew Bruenor had been a strong deterrent. Catti-brie had no visitors Bruenor didn't approve of - and young men, aside from the Barbarian the dwarf held captive, were not invited to the mines. Drizzt knew he was an exception; but then, his friend had never considered that his adopted daughter would harbor romantic feelings for the Drow outcast.
Despite all of this, he was unwilling to give her what she asked without ensuring she knew what exactly she asked for. "Some day you may wish you'd saved that kiss if I accept it so selfishly now."
"Never," she caught his face in her hands, surprising them both, but was determined he see the measure of his worth in her eyes. "Me regret will be that it t'was not ye."
"And if one is not enough? If I become so enchanted by Catti-brie's kiss that I do not wish to share her with another? What then?"
Her eyes widened; he'd delivered it as a soft tease, but she could read the truth behind his words. She could see it in his eyes that he was serious, despite his tone. Lips parting to reply, she was amazed to find no sound come out; belong to Drizzt? Sixteen though she was, she possessed a wisdom beyond her years and she couldn't deny the thrill the idea gave her. The drow was a passionate friend, how much better would they be together as more?
"Then - mayhap - I will be enchanted by Drizzt's kiss - and not wish tae share him with any other."
"One can hope." He cracked a faint smile, drawing her a fraction closer with the admission. "Do you still wish it?"
"It's me birthday," she informed him softly, her gaze dropping to his lips. "Me wish is tae give a gift to ye."
"And gain one in return."
Shaking her head, she looked back into his eyes. "'Tis not your first kiss; the gift is mine to give, not yours."
"You sound so certain."
"Ye've already lived a long time, surely there's been someone-"
"No one; until now."
Understanding the magnitude of what she asked, Catti-brie's resolution wavered. She'd thought, though he spoke of no women, Drizzt to be world wise when it came to them. And, indeed he was, she conceded, but not in the ways she thought. "Forgive me," she murmured, starting to turn away, "I didn't know... ye never said... I-"
His hand cupper her face, cutting her off, and firmly - but gently - turned it back towards his. "As you say; it is a gift."
Her eyes widened as his lips settled softly over hers. With little more than a tilt of her head, their mouths sealed together and her eyes fluttered close. It was a chaste kiss, no more than a hesitant melding of partially parted flesh, but it was felt clear to her toes as Drizzt wrapped her in his arms and pulled her closer.
It was over too soon, thought he seemed as reluctant to part from it as she, brushing his lips against hers a second and then a third before pulling back completely.
Her arms, she discovered as he pulled away, had found their way around his waist. Easing her hold somewhat reluctantly, the very reality Drizzt had voiced imparted itself in her mind and she wondered then and there if she'd ever want anyone else to kiss her. Hesitant as it had been, as if he'd been afraid to frighten her, she couldn't help but wonder if he'd kiss her differently the next time.
In spite of the shadow that crossed her mind with the thought of there not being a next time, a wondrous smile curved her lips and she lifted her finger tips to touch them. They tingled - and not from the cold. The gift she'd given, and the one she'd received, were beyond price; ones she was glad to share with her best of friends no matter where life led them now.
The drow gently brushed a lock of breeze blown hair from her face with his fingertips, hooking it over one ear with an echoing smile.
"Happy Birthday, Catti-brie."